God and Justice in relation to eternity

A while back, I asked the question “If you could ask God one question, what would it be?”. You can read the post here. The reality was that people who answered that question in the comments box had many questions to ask God. And some users wanted to know my answers to some of those questions. So, I hope to answer some of those questions over the next few weeks. But we’ll see how that goes! I will want to write other posts, but there will be time, hopefully for me to answer some of your questions.

I have to say now that I may not be right in my answers, so if you have anything to add (or take away for that matter) then please do interact. Similarly, if you have any further questions, then please do post them in the comments section.

Right, now that’s out the way, one question I was asked to answer was this:

God, how am I supposed to be happy up here while people I loved and cared about on Earth are spending an eternity burning in hell? I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that. Moreover, how are you (being that you’re supposedly all loving) happy spending an eternity up here while billions of people are spending eternity burning in Hell – condemned by you?

Hence the subject God and Justice.

So here’s my answer to that question:

  1. The first thing to state is that the destination of one’s eternity depends on whether that person is in a relationship with God or not. To be in a relationship with God you must accept Christ as God, that there is nothing you can do to earn God’s favour and acceptance due to your sin, and that God himself came to earth as a man, yet being God to die in your place for your sin, thus opening the way for you to be right with God. Anyone who accepts this and loves Christ is in relationship with God and therefore has a place in heaven for eternity. Those who don’t have this relationship are destined for hell. That is what the Bible teaches.
  2. When those who are in relationship with God enter heaven and they see Christ, the bible says that we shall become like him. We won’t become him, and we won’t be God. But being like him means we will share exactly the same values as him. There will be no room for sin, sadness, crying, pain or any bad thing in heaven. Therefore, one cannot be sad in heaven due to being in that relationship with God which I mentioned previously.
  3. Part of God’s character is that of justice. Would you say that a father who never disciplined was really loving, or even a good Father? The same is applicable to God. God is holy, just, and righteous, and he cannot bear to look upon sin that hasn’t been taken away by an acceptance of Christ. With that in mind, there are two choices for the human, and he/she has to make one of those choices. There cannot be both. Either that person accepts God as the one who takes away the sin in the work of Christ on the cross, knowing that Jesus can finally and totally take that sin away. Otherwise, that person looks to him/herself as the one to take sin away. As humans are not perfect and even one sin will take us out of relationship with God, this is an impossible task to complete successfully. Therefore, the human will pay and take on their own sin in hell, out of relationship with God. This also applies to people who don’t think they sin, don’t believe in God etc.
  4. God hates it that people go to hell. In fact the Bible makes it clear that God doesn’t rejoice over anyone going there, but the reality is that God has decreed that those who aren’t in relationship with him must ultimately be banished from his presence. You may think this is selfish and self absorbing. But the whole reason we were made was to be in relationship with God. If God is the righteous ruler, then what right do we have to live in any case? After all, it is He who is keeping us breathing at the very present! If you follow this, then you can see the logic behind the theology.
As you can see, the question posed here ultimately asks about God’s love and whether or not it is in tension with his justice.
To be a God of love, then justice has to take it’s place. Because justice is something that humans (generally) want, and is part of our loving nature. It is the same with God.
If you have anything to add, ask or take away, then please use the comments below!

Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about

  • AgentCormac

    Oh, come on, Dean – how on earth can you call any god a ‘god of love’ when you believe that he routinely sends millions of people to an eternity of torment, just because they have transgressed his arbitrary, iron-age rules? How can you accept that nonsense? For example, when you say “part of God’s character is that of justice. Would you say that a father who never disciplined was really loving, or even a good Father?”  don’t you think that sending a flood to wipe out just about every living creature on the face of the globe (not just humans) is a little bit over the top, especially for a ‘loving father’? (I refer you to Genesis 6:7 – “And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.”) This is, as I’m sure you know, the very same god who made everything, yet he wants to destroy 99.9% of it by drowning! Nice.

    Then there are all those other lovely touches in the bible that can only make us wince if we are to believe that god is such a just and compassionate guy. Such as (I have chosen these examples randomly) the way he asserts that it is preferable to offer your virgin daughter to be gang-raped by a bunch of perverts than surrender two strangers to said crowd (Genesis 19:3-8). The way he asked Abraham to sacrifice his own son (Genesis 22:1-14) just to test his faith? And the assertion that any woman who can’t prove her pre-marital virginity should be stoned to death (Deuteronomy: 25:11-12) HonestlyI could go on ad nauseum.

    All of which leads me, inexorably, to believe that religion (all religion) is a self-serving, morally corruptible invention of mankind rather than the work of a morally superior being.

    • Thanks for commenting, AgentCormac,

      God doesn’t send people to hell for not obeying ‘iron age’ rules. In fact, he doesn’t want to send anyone to hell. People choose to go to hell of their own accord. As C S Lewis said, it’s like they bolt the doors of hell closed from the inside and throw away the key. And they go there because they don’t want to be in relationship with God, if you see what I mean.

      Also, in regards to Noah, there is indication in Matthew 24:37-39 that Noah warned the people that a flood was coming and to get inside the ark. Though, if you don’t want to have relationship with God, then why would you listen. Of course, surely people would have asked Noah why he was building an ark in a desert place, don’t you think? The flood is a mere picture of what Christ came to do; to give new life and everlasting life at that to people who want to be in relationship with him.

      As for the other rules often found in Deutoronomy, and in Genesis, a good book which I’ve dipped into and which I want to read thoroughly is ‘Is God a Moral Monster?’ which explores these rules in the OT. The whole thing is too complicated to discuss in a comment on the blog! I hope you forgive me. 🙂

  • AgentCormac

    Likewise – thanks for the response, Dean. But come on, God doesn’t want to send people to hell? According to the bible he seems pretty keen on it. And how on earth do you know what he does and doesn’t want? Have you met him lately? Spoken to him? Had an email? I would suggest that the answer is no, you haven’t. You just believe what you want to believe and bend what’s written in the bible to match/support/substantiate your preconceived view of a world that is, apparently, beholden to a very nasty and vindictive supernatural being. And on the subject of the ark, where do you suggest Noah found penguins and polar bears in Palestine? Also, how would you explain the fact that there is no DNA evidence whatsoever to show that all animals on earth came from single breeding pairs just a few thousand years ago? And if Noah and his family were the only survivors of the flood god sent to wipe out just about every last living thing on the face of the Earth, then how do you explain ethnic variety? I’m really sorry, but when you start to pick at the evidence the bible just doesn’t stand up to even the merest scrutiny. And if you can’t believe the bible, then can you really believe in the god it describes?