Rant, theology

Why Do People Go to Hell?

Okay, most people reading this blog for any period of time know that I believe in hell. I think that people who do not come to faith in Jesus Christ continue in their sin, and so must bear the punishment of sin themselves.


Now this leads to a slight problem when talking to nonbelievers. Most famously, I’ve heard it attributed to Christopher Hitchens and one of my favorite political bloggers (who writes for hotair.com). The objection simply asks why Christians keep saying to atheists that God loves them, yet also claims that this same loving God will send them to hell simply for not believing in Jesus.

Needless to say, if they’re correct, Christianity is a very crazy religion, and is more than a little psychotic. That is true, though I fear they have underestimated the coherence of Christianity.

For a Christian, God is above all else good and Holy. Both those terms, as they are used by Christians, are explained in the Bible (and anybody wishing to buy me a Smithwicks and a plate of Nachos can talk to me about it).  Being also very intelligent and discerning, God values things based on how valuable they actually are. For this reason, humans are not the primary object of his affections. God himself is

This is not the same as human vanity, as God really is deserving of being the object of affection. Indeed, He’s also the best object of affection for we humans.

This causes a problem for humans. Dr. House is quite correct when he says that humans are generally bad creatures, capable of good acts now and then, but still mostly bad. The problem isn’t those actions, it’s that we are basically bad creatures.

So now we have a problem. God is good, and we are bad. If God were to be fully consistent at this point, he’d destroy us all. In fact, given how bad evil is, he’d actually start punishing us now. This is the extension of the problem of evil most people are unwilling to note. We are actually evil too, and part of the fact that evil exists is that we exist.

That’s not the whole story for Christians though. The Bible tells us (in Genesis 1) that we were created in the image of God. We are created to give glory to God, yet we fell into sin, making us evil. Now God has two options for justice. Either wipe us out and send us all to hell, or make some way of saving some of us. He chose the latter, and that is the reason for Christ. Faith in Christ for a Christian is roughly equivalent to a rope thrown to a drowning man. If you don’t take hold of the rope, you drown.

Similarly, if you don’t take hold of Christ, you get destroyed by God’s justice. Similarly, contrary to the above noted objection, God does not send you to hell solely for refusing Christ any more than you are damned to drowning because you refuse a rope. You drown because you are in the ocean and have no gills, and you are damned because you’re evil.

Thus the question is not one of getting “punished” for refusing Christ alone, but also being punished for being evil. Christ is grace, He is a rescuer, That’s why Christians call him “Saviour”. If the universe is fundamentally just, well, we’re in trouble and need a Saviour.  God grants that in Christ. He is the only way to heaven.

As a famous pastor once said; All sin is punished. Either Christ takes the punishment  you deserve on the cross, or you take the punishment you deserve in Hell.


Your choice.


55 thoughts on “Why Do People Go to Hell?

  1. (From Sondheim & Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd:) “We aaall deserrrve to die; even you, Mrs. Lovett, even I!”

    So it’s like this: I’m bad (sometimes I shirk obligations, and I don’t treat myself well nutricionally), Adam and Eve were bad (having disobeyed the Lord), and Hitler was bad (having sent millions to horrible deaths). Sounds to me like we all deserve eternal torment! Still, assuming Hitler was smart enough to repent on his deathbed, at least one of us’ll be spared. Sweet, sweet justice.

  2. Stephen Dawe says:

    Correct, though with some commentary

    Repentance and intellect have little to do with each other. Indeed, it’s often those of higher intellect that are most capable of convincing themselves that they need no repentance.

    That said, it does seem unjust, unless of course you note that: 1)Christ did actually pay the penalty, thus there’s actual payment for the murder of the 6 million jews (not to mention the millions of gypsies, disabled, and homosexuals) in the case of the atheistic Hitler’s hypothetical repentance 2)You can repent too and 3)perhapsour standard of justice is off kilter.

    On the last one, perhaps you should check your sense of justice. Where did it come from? What is just? If Plato (in his diatribe on Justice “The Republic” is right, it is balance, thus in a real sense Jesus fits the role of justice)

  3. I really appreciate the personal response, and don’t really have much more to say to it, since it looks like we’re pretty much always both going to look at the question in completely different senses. I don’t think that anything, even God, is valuable strictly for the nature of what it is (“God really is deserving of being the object of affection”) but for the nature of what it does; a God who does nothing to prevent the suffering of the innocent is, to me, one not worthy of the title.

    You said, “God has two options for justice. Either wipe us out and send us all to hell, or make some way of saving some of us.” But why not “make some way” of saving all of us, or at least those of us who deserve to be saved? Why not say, “Hey, children don’t actually deserve eternal punishment, so they won’t have to endure it? How does that sound, children?”

    That’s what I would do, if I were God. Sorry if saying “if I were God” sounds a little presumptuous, but I was born in a country where anybody could, in theory, be the freakin’ President (thanks to the rights supposedly endowed by our Creator), so, you know…

    Anyway, good job taking these questions and answers seriously, and not just wafting them away with cop-outs like “He has His reasons…” I don’t deny the internal consistency of what you’re saying. I only object to the part where that internal consistency claims that eternal torture (or eternal bliss, for that matter) is a vital part of a complete ethical system.

    Oh, fine, I guess I’ll answer your question… what is justice? I dunno. I guess I would say that, very simply, justice is the bringing about of what everyone deserves, as best as possible. Which, of course, raises the question of what everyone deserves. Which I would say is… a matter of debate. I know, that’s a cop-out, sorry. But I’m not sure I ( anyone) can answer it perfectly; at some point, it becomes turtles all the way down. Anyway, world bless!

  4. Stephen Dawe says:

    You seem to have what is a very common understanding in the world. Namely that ethical value comes from functionality. (or, things are valuable based on what they do).

    Of a sense, that’s correct, and God is valuable as being creator of the universe in that sense. But there’s also the value of some things based on what you see in them. That’s what Christians mean when we say that God is also glorious.

    Christians generally would deny the existence of “the innocent” from God’s perspective, so the question of doing things to protect the suffering of the innocent is a moot point. He’ll protect the completely innocent from suffering when he finds some.

    I think religiously Christians would have it easy if we could invent our religion and be able to say things like “children don’t deserve hell”, rather than the statement that we believe that everyone deserves hell. Unfortunately, we’re bound not by what we want God to be, but how we see God revealed. I can probably show you much of what I express as the theory here in the Bible, since this system isn’t properly something I came up with myself (I’m honestly not that bright).

    Essentially though, what you say what you would do as God is precisely what God did. In fact, He went further. Christians do not deserve salvation any more than nazis, we simply throw ourselves on the mercy of God, purchased through God’s own act to pay the price that would put us in hell eternally. He then alters who we are to be slowly more and more deserving of heaven.

    I also agree that eventually everything becomes broadly circular, and then the question is what paradigm (or worldview, or experiential conditions) actually makes comprehensive sense of the universe as we experience it.

    I am glad that you see my worldview as possessing of some internal consistency. There are two more important questions you may want to look into though. 1) Does the system the strange newfoundlander is proposing make sense of the universe? and 2) Can I propose a system that makes better sense of the universe without falling into internal inconsistency?

    In any case, thanks for the discussion. May God bless you as you search for truth. I pray that you find it.

    • Ethan says:

      I want to thank you for helping the lost find their way to Jesus. I believe your heart is in the right place for God and I pray you continue to grow in the Word of God and find great peace and joy. I think using the Word of God is important to the unbeliever as well as to the believer. (Second Tim 3:16-17), “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” I’m not trying to debate anything here, just some things I’ve learned along the way in my walk with Christ Jesus. Quote: “Christians generally would deny the existence of “the innocent” from God’s perspective”, end quote – Jesus tells us in Matt 18:3, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” I believe God does see the innocence in his earthly children. That’s not to say we are innocent, Jesus IS THE ONLY INNOCENT LAMB WHO BORE OUR SIN ON THE CROSS. I think its also important to note Rom 2:12-16,”For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. What I see in this part of Scripture is this: We learn that if people, i.e. Gentiles have the law written on their hearts they have lived by Gods standards and will be accepted into the Kingdom of Heaven. The NIV Bible reads this part of scripture like this: “since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.Now for some of what I believe about what the Bible says about Hell.The devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:10-15)
      “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ …Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Mt 25:41, 46)
      Hell is a place of eternal, conscious suffering that serves as punishment for sinners. Everyone deserves to go to hell for their sins; the only way we can be saved from it is by accepting God’s forgiveness as provided through Christ’s sacrificial death. (That is, people have to truly repent and accept Christ as their Lord and Savior in order to be saved; mouthing words without truly believing in and loving God doesn’t qualify as repentance.) God desires for everyone to repent and be saved: “‘As surely as I live,’ declares the Sovereign Lord, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live'” (Ezekiel 33:11; see also Ezek 18:32). Yet not everyone will repent, so hell is necessary.
      Type of punishment:
      While hell is often depicted as a place of unquenchable fire, this is not necessarily a literal depiction, for it’s also described as a place of “darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 25:30). Thus at least one, if not both, of these images is figurative. Consequently, one cannot say whether the punishment of hell consists of both physical and mental anguish or mental anguish alone. (Personally, I suspect the latter, since we won’t have the same physical bodies that we do now – see Mt 22:30, 1 Cor 15:42-54.) It’s generally believed that the anguish of those in hell is at least partly caused by their separation from the perfectly good and loving God.
      Degrees of punishment
      Many people don’t realize that there are degrees of punishment in hell, just as there are degrees of reward in heaven. That there are degrees of punishment is made evident by the following passages:
      “That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.” (Lk 12:47-48)
      “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” (Mt 11:21-24)
      According to the above passages (and also Jn 9:41, 15:22, 24), those with greater knowledge of morality and/or greater knowledge of God (via exposure to the Gospel, witnessing of miracles, etc.) will be held more accountable and consequently receive greater punishment than those who are ignorant through no fault of their own. Allowance is also made for children too young to be held responsible for their actions (Dt 1:27-28, 34-39).
      It’s not directly stated that one’s degree of punishment is also based on the severity of one’s sins, but this is implied in several places, such as Matthew 16:27. It’s also implied by the different degrees of punishment given for different sins in the Mosaic Law. One could argue that every sin is sin against God and all sins therefore deserve severe punishment or death, and explain the differing punishments in the Law as God’s leniency towards people’s hardened hearts (e.g. Mt 19:8). Yet the notion that all sins merit the exact same punishment goes against humanity’s instincts; therefore it’s something we would need to be taught to us by God. One would think that God would therefore have taught this lesson in the Law by decreeing that all sins receive the same punishment (e.g. exile, or a large fine or sacrifice). Yet not only are there degrees of punishment that precisely match the crime (e.g. Ex 21:23-25), there is a command about not punishing those who deserved to be whipped with more lashes than is right (Dt 25:2-3).

  5. Ziggy says:

    So, here are soem questions:
    If God is 100% good, and we are created in his image, how could humans be inherently bad? how could the thought of rebellion even exist to Adam and Eve? how coudl Lucifer, an angel created by God, rebel in the first place, to tempt Adam and Eve?
    And if God is omniscient (all-knowing), than how can we be blamed for our actions and thoughts? isn’t that the opposite of free will?
    And if God wanted to forgive our “sins” than why didnt he…just…forgive them? Why does he have to make himself incarnate, and then be killed?
    Hs anyone noticed that the Bible condones slavery, mass murder, sexism, and that Jesus was a jerk? He is like a ancient version of David Koresh!

  6. Stephen Dawe says:

    Hi Ziggy,

    The shotgun form of your question makes me wonder if you really want answers to these questions, especially that last 3 lines of invectives. But just in case you were actually asking and not simply trying to validate your own discrediting of Christianity, here goes.

    Evil does not get created, I think of evil as a privation of good (Augustine of Hippo’s words). In the case of humanity, we were created good and became bad through the rebellion of Adam which was done as he was convinced (as was his wife) that the fruit was desirous to make one wise. He valued the fruit more than he valued God (though he valued both) and the resulting interchange resulted in sin. This is the normal existence of evil. Lucifer (bringer of light) was the greatest of angels, but in reflecting in the beauty God had created in Him, forgot the greatness of God and thought himself equal to God, and then made the step of believing he’d do a better job. Of a sense it’s a very good metaphor for the way most humans think. We’d do better as God, so why believe in God?

    Of course, the existence of evil at some level had to be allowed by God. Many say that that is so that free will could exist, which brings me to your next question.

    God’s omniscience isn’t really a problem for free will generally, as to know someone is doing something is not to make them do it. The question is God’s omnipotence, by which God could have stopped it, and indeed created me knowing that I’d do that evil.

    Properly speaking though, I don’t believe in a completely “free” will (and I’m betting you don’t either) since in my experience people do what they think is right at the time. In that sense our will is not free but bound by our knowledge, our conscience and our ability. That is true of even crimes we punish people for. What we mean by free will is only that we could choose to do differently, but didn’t. We didn’t because we, like Adam, like Satan, act on terrible value systems. What we see as good rarely is.

    The question about “just forgiving sins” was already answered. But to repeat, God is just as well as good. If that’s true, he can’t just sweep our sins under the cosmic rug and be just any more than a just judge can call someone innocent when they aren’t.

    As for the final Hitchenesque scatter-shot of what the Bible “condones”, you may want to look a little closer at each of those. Why did Bible-believing Christians in England work so hard for the abolition of slavery (which was achieved a great deal earlier than the Americans managed to end slavery) when the Bible they put so much stock in “condoned” it (which, BTW in the modern sense of slavery, I do not believe the Bible does condone)?

    The “mass murders” are another question, as it is a question as to how you define the mass killings sanctioned in the Bible. Were these killings unjust? Did God not have the right to condone these killings? Because if the killings were just or if God had the right to condone them, your calling them “murders” is simply incorrect labelling.

    Sexism is another one. What do you mean by sexism? If you mean that the Bible has role differentiation for men and women, I agree (I will never give birth). But if you mean that the Bible posits relative value for men and women based on sex, I have to disagree. Indeed, it states that to reflect the glory of God, humanity needs both the masculine and the feminine.

    The last little bit about Jesus seems like a simple ad hominium. Do you have something a little more tangible to say than “jerk” about Jesus?

    As to the David Koresh thing, I don’t remember Jesus holing up in a compound, shooting police and working to burn his followers alive in hopes of triggering the apocalypse. the Scriptural Jesus looks a little different to me.

  7. Normal says:

    Seek help..god is a sad saga for sick people in desperate need of something too belive in. Religon is a illness…

  8. Stephen Dawe says:

    Golly “Normal”, seems you want to believe that one of the most common facets of human experience (religion) is an “illness”. Do you have a reason for this, or are we to simply take it on your authority?

  9. Hello and good-day.
    I`m still quite young, and not sure where my beliefs lie, but I certainly dont think religion is an illness, more that people use it as an excuse for their own motives of hate towards other people, much like corporations using using laws that arent ‘quite there’ to exploit people.

    Like waging a holy war because it is apparently the law in their religion to kill those of another.

    I could be wrong but I dont think that any religion actually asks its follwers to kill infadels, and people who dont believe, but I know they do ask that people show love and compassion, and try to teach and build, instead of kill and destroy.
    Without man having that over the centuries, would there be any good people left, or would we have wiped each other out already?

    Can I ask Stephen, what do you believe hell is? What about Dantes Hell, being that the punishment would fit the crime, or the type of life, and morales a person lived by, or would it be a personal suffering to reflect on their life specifically? Going back to Lenoxus’ question, how would someonewho had murdered one be punished, in comparison to someone who had killed hundreds?

    Also can I ask you about purgatory, and what kind of person fits that bill?

    Thank you.

  10. Stephen Dawe says:

    Hi Scott,

    I tend to agree with you that people tend to use religion (and a lot of other things) to their own twisted ends. The fact that good things are used badly doesn’t necessarily mean that they are bad.

    That said, as with any ideological grouping, there may be bad parts of it. Atheists are quite correct when they point out that a lot of evil has been done in the name of religion, unfortunately including my own. The question you need to ask is whether the faith structure itself leads to the evil or if the problem is that evil people get a hold of it.

    Some religious sects actually do advocate violence. From my perspective, they are wrong, but you need to look at them each for yourself. I wish I could give you all the answers on that, but that would be negligent of me. I cannot think or discern religion for others.

    What I believe hell is. that’s a huge question, and from my own religious persuasion (an evangelical Christian) there’s some extrapolation that may not be correct.

    I believe that hell is, first and foremost, the just punishment of the wicked (which I believe to be everybody… which is why we need the grace of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ). As to what that will look like, I’m not sure. The Bible refers to the “lake of fire” and to a place where the worms never die. I believe that to be metaphorical imagery meaning hell will actually be far worse.

    I am not sure as to the gradations of torment in hell, though I believe that there will be such a thing… not that it matters much, as hell is still eternal conscious suffering.

    It’s a little morbid from my thinking to actually be thinking about which punishments are worse and better, because honestly, we can avoid it. When it comes to those who have already died, I can only say that I believe God to be both just and merciful, and I trust people into His hands. The point of Christianity is NOT hell, but that the universe is just, but that we can actually be made righteous through Christ. Actually, more to the point, God is good, and just and merciful, and we can be sure of receiving his mercy in Christ, and eventually come to enjoy God forever.

    Finally, the doctrine of purgatory, by which a person is purified after death in a limited kinda hell is not something I believe in, since I do not believe that we get into heaven through our own goodness at all (so you don’t get “purified” any more than you do when you actually come to Christ and let Him work on you).

    All people in heaven, save God, are there not because they deserve to be there in their own right, but because they are “in Christ”. Christians believe that we are saved by faith, apart from works of the law (good works must come, but they don’t save). Reading Romans is a good way to understand this facet of Christian thinking.

    Does that help?

  11. Dan in KC says:

    Pinnock wrote in regard to hell:

    “What purpose of God would be served by the unending torture of the wicked except sheer vengeance and vindictiveness? Such a fate would spell endless and totally unredemptive suffering, punishment just for its own sake. Even the plagues of Egypt were intended to be redemptive for those who would respond to the warnings. But unending torment would be the kind of utterly pointless and wasted suffering which could never lead to anything good beyond it. Furthermore, it would amount to inflicting infinite suffering upon those who have committed finite sins. It would go far beyond an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. There would be a serious disproportion between sins committed in time and the suffering experienced forever. The fact that sin has been committed against an infinite God does not make the sin infinite. The chief point is that eternal torment serves no purpose and exhibits a vindictiveness out of keeping with the love of God revealed in the gospel.”

    Is it possible that God asks something of us that he himself is incapable of? He says for us to love our enemies and forgive anyone and everyone that has offended us, yet he not only cannot forgive but will torment his enemies for eternity?

    I think the Catholic church instituted this mythology as a means to control the masses in the dark ages and we have bitten into the teaching as doctrine even though we may be protestant. There is a ton of writings from scholars all over the world on this subject and I think we have been believing a lie brother.

    Can we not share the good news of Christ without the coercion of hell? How come 14 epistles never threaten the unbeliever with hell but we don’t know how to share the gospel without it?

    Here is a good start on the teaching of hell in the bible



  12. Stephen Dawe says:

    Pinnock makes the error of assuming that for something to be good, it must be good for us primarily. I tend to think the display of God’s justice is a good thing. Humans are not the ultimate good of the universe, God is.

    God does love his enemies, that’s the point of Jesus Christ, the Cross, and the resurrection. Does he ignore evil in loving His enemies (us)? No. Are we to ignore wrongdoing in loving our enemies? No.

    Do you have any evidence of the Catholic Church having invented this mythology? To accuse the vast majority of Christian history, as well as many of your contemporaries of believing a lie, there probably should be some proof.

    And even if I grant that 14 epistles never threaten the unbeliever with hell, there are still 4 Gospels (including the direct teaching of Jesus Christ), the Acts, Revelation, and the remaining epistles that all do.

    Hell is not the central facet of the Gospel, but from what I see in the Bible, it is a true facet of it.

  13. metsteve says:

    Can you enlighten me on this one question.
    Can you give me Lucifer’s full definition besides the facts his nickname is the devil, hes in hell and he was once a decipil.
    who was he? what was his pupose? what powers does he posses and so on.
    also. do you believe in poltar guiest and such other related demons.
    how could you have the power to be a demon if you must pay for your sin in hell? is that stuff all just fairytale?

    thank you.

  14. Bob says:

    I am a firm believer in Christ! For everyone out there, you need to understand that Hell is a place created for Satan and the demons that followed him. Hell is not the wrath of God. It is the separation from God. Satan and his demons separated from God. Our sin separates us from God. Only Grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone can save any of us! Any sin can be forgiven EXCEPT one. That sin is unbelief in Christ. If you deny Jesus as your Saviour, you have committed the un-pardonable sin! By his blood we can be cleansed of our sins.
    What most people don’t understand is that there is a spiritual battle going on every day here on earth. Demons looking to cause sin. Angels watching out over us. The Holy Spirit binds the Demons to a point where they can’t hurt us, only cause us to stumble or fall into sin. If you die in unbelief, you go to Hell where the Holy Spirit is not binding the Demons there and therefore, they inflict pain and suffering on all who go there because we are created in God’s image and they hate God. Get it?
    By being separated from God, you are separated from the Holy Spirit. It is NOT the Father’s will that any man should perish. TRUST IN GOD AND BELIEVE IN JESUS and you will be just fine. Amen!Amen!

  15. bil says:

    i have read your blog and its great you believe in christianity and all, but thats besides the point, you have offered not one piece of evidence of the existence of God. I do believe that the bible does give an excellent guide as to how life should be lived, but that does not mean it is true. maybe hell does exist, but all you or anybody else can say is I BELIEVE, not a single soul on this planet can say I KNOW

  16. Stephen Dawe says:

    #13, Lucifer (literally “bringer of light”) was the best of the angels, who then rebelled against God and was kicked out of heaven. At present, he moves people to act evilly through temptation. Hell is his eventual eternal prison, not a place where they rule.

    Lucifer, and demons were never human. Nor will humans become demons (though some become very evil.

  17. Stephen Dawe says:

    #14 Hey Bob, nice to know you’re a believer and all, but the Bible does say that “whoever does not obey the son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unbelievers” (Romans 1:18), and Paul continues to say that the unbeliever is storing up wrath for the day of God’s judgment” (Rom 2:5) In Revelation 6, we have people asking mountains to fall on them that they might avoid the wrath of the lamb.

    Revelation 15 talks about the bowls of God’s wrath poured out on people, and when Jesus again appears in revelation it is said that he will tread the winepress of God’s fury and wrath.

    I can agree with your desire that people see Jesus and accept him, but let’s be accurate with what the Bible reveals to us.

  18. Stephen Dawe says:

    #15 Besides what point? I haven’t tried to prove the existence of God, only say what Christians believe.

    If you mean that you can’t see, touch, or taste God, then I’d point out that you can’t do that for reason, or for the trustworthiness of your senses to represent the world accurately (we can only say that the representation is consistent). We all believe things that are unprovable, the question is whether our beliefs are consistent.

  19. Stephen Dawe says:

    I really shouldn’t have approved that one, but for future reference, isiks comment is precisely why I sometimes wonder about people in the blogosphere

  20. Jake says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading the earlier blogs, and have learned much from your words. I myself am Agnostic. A fence-sitter if you please. I was raised a Babtist, and have attended a few Catholic churches, but I do not claim to be Catholic. I don’t know if its true or not, but I have heard that the old testament of the bible claims that our god is vengeful god, full of destructive power to rain down upon sinners. Yet, in the new testament, supposedly, he is depicted as the exact opposite. Are these correct? I have designed a theory of my own, and I’d like to hear your opinion. God is perfect. But in most opinions, perfection itself means to be all good. Well we have seen that god has a dark side, so maybe to be perfect, you have to do what isn’t good, OR bad, just what is necessary. For every good a bad. Ying-Yang of christianity. I haven’t been able to deciede whether or not god exist or not, but I have a hunch that there is something else after this. What it is, I don’t know, but there is something. Also, I don’t agree with the christian idea that if you don’t repent your sins, and embrace god, jesus, and the holy spirit, you won’t get into heaven. What if you lead a good, honest life? Shouldn’t that count for something? Does a small tribe in the middle of no where, who has never heard of our god, deserve to go to hell for not embracing him? I don’t think so… Well please help me with these ideas. Thank you.

    P.S. I find it hilarious that the word Catholic means “Universal”.

  21. Pingback: Responses: The Old Testament/New Testament God, Good and Evil, Salvation « (considering) 8:28

  22. SoundOfGrace says:

    hey. i’d like to add a reply

    if you take original scripture, facts get quite strange, like Jacob going to Sheol (often translated as either Hell, the Grave or Pit), Job hiding there, poeple returning from it, and so on.

    hell is one of the many lies the Roman Catholic Church has placed in Christianity, mostly around 300 AD

    also making Yahshua (Jesus) a white gay, changing the Sabbath to the first day of the week and all the rest.

    most people don’t even see that the ‘star of david’ on the Israeli flag actually is a most evil witchcraft symbol.

    i…was blind, but now i see! Grace is Amazing!

    the truth is so very liberating. always good to know that the sweet lady who died after 3 years of having breast cancer is not being continually tormented by demons. the wages of sin is death. that’s bad enough.

    Shalom & Love

    hans. (from the Netherlands)

  23. Stephen Dawe says:

    I am often struck by humanity’s ability to believe conspiracies. None of what I said comes from anything but the New Testament, of which the majority was finished by the end of the 1st century AD. By the end of the second century, all of the scriptures we have were in existence.

    The star of David, and Jesus as a white guy are NOT SCRIPTURAL. As for Sunday observance, by the end of the second centuries (again, a century before the power of Roman Catholicism as we know it) Christians were doing that, but they did not call it the Sabbath.

    Do you have any evidence that hell was “added by the catholic Church around 300 AD”?

    I have no idea where the “sweet lady” you refer to went after death, but we don’t get to decide either way. Jesus seemed to believe that hell existed and was the place people went if they refused him. Sin isn’t bad because we think it’s bad, sin is bad because God thinks it’s bad. We don’t define good and evil, God does.

  24. jim says:

    i have one questiion a child is bought into the world it has 1 choice before being born which is it’s religion well after awhile the child realises if it picks any religion it will be sent to hell by another so what should this child do?

  25. Stephen Dawe says:

    First off, not all religions say that a person goes to hell for choosing the wrong religion. Indeed, Christianity doesn’t technically say that either. What we do say is that sin sends us to hell, and Jesus takes away sin.

    Many religions say that you go to heaven anyway, or that you simply are reborn (instead of reaching oblivion) or something similar.

    What should the child do? Look into the claims and truth value of each of the religions, pray, and then move as God leads. I believe that if you seek truth you find it.

    The LAST thing the child should do is say “oh well, it’s hopeless”. That’s silly, especially if one of these religions really is true.

    After all, if I’m given a choice between 3 doors, 2 lead to death, as does simply staying where I am, I will choose a door. A small chance is better than none (and even a small chance is good, if I have reason to believe I know the right door to choose).

  26. Hungary01 says:

    Ziggy if Jesus was such a jerk why did he heal so many sick when he was on earth? and why did he come to earth from heaven just to save US who dont even deserve eternal life?
    16″For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

  27. Mind ur langguage says:

    Those who believe in GOD can think…

    It is easy

    Just try to note that who create the milk from your mother… did she?

    who created the gene that have all information to build a complete full grown human being…note that these gene are smaller than a single sperm..

    Who created love and justice?

    Who created colour in the fruits…noted that there are variety of fruits comes from a dull color of sand..who is that creative to create color from the mineral from sand… the fruits have different color and even have good smell…

    does evolution have that power to create such thing? use ur mind… I am an engineer student… to create even a robot it needs a hell of knowledge and hard work!!! don believe it..just try to make one ….!!

    When you create ur own creation, U notis that its is nothing to compare with human creation…

    back to the Milk… It is made between Shit and Blood… notis that!…how could anyone create such a thing?

    Who made this?

    Evolution…(stupid answer)

    How about the atmosfera… Who created the shield that can burn meteor before they can struck earth.. who created magnetic field that protect us from sudden explotion on the sun..

    who calculated how far earth should be from the Sun..If to near we will die because of heat, and if it is to far we will die because of to cold..

    Who calculated how fast does the earth should spin…(the change of day and night)… notis that if if it always day then we will die because of heat..it is like turning on and oven without turning it of again…Then if it is always night.. we will die because of cold….

    Now who did invent all of this?

    Then came a prophet telling us that we are created to be good..(noted the prophet bring humanity to people)..

    I believe in god and I am a Muslim…

    I believe in goodness

    I believe in Jesus is a Prophet bringging the same thing as Muhammad “There is only one GOD!”
    >like in da bible<

    Noted There are lots of new science discovery shows that the Holy Quran is right…

    Like the step of creation of a baby in a mother…

    The explotion of supernova that look like red roses…

    most of the human reseptor are at their skin…

    and the Holy Quran was send when humanity at the lowest and bring us to be become civilize..

    Noted that all science have proven the holy quran is right…

    science just prove the mighty of god and how complex and beautiful It’s Creation…

    ..Just try to express my self sorry…

  28. Kraigaford says:

    What kind of religion sends babies who were not capable of accepting Christ to be eternally punished? Or even better, very good people in the world who just happened to be born into the teachings of another religion? Doesn’t sound very just to me.

  29. Stephen Dawe says:


    I think you may very seriously misunderstand Christianity. Please reread the article you’re commenting on, but to answer your questions:

    1) What kind of religion sends babies to hell? I pointedly avoided the babies question, as I don’t know. God is just and He is good, I’ll trust Him over my own suppositions. For you, a person who is not an infant and is capable of accepting Christ. You should. So, which religion sends babies who were not capable of accepting Christ to hell? I don’t know. As I understand it, Christianity is agnostic on the question.

    2) What kind of religion sends very good people to hell because they were born in another religion? I don’t know. Christianity doesn’t. Only bad people go to hell in Christianity, though everybody’s bad.

    Honestly, in some sense only bad people go to heaven, too. It’s just that they are “in Christ” saved from their own badness. That’s why you should accept Christ, and not go about trusting in your own goodness.

    In any event, what standard are you using to call these hypothetical people “very good”? That they’re better than me? No offense, but that’s not saying much. Maybe you’re a good person, and you can tell who is also a good person.

    Though…. I will admit, I’d be skeptical of such a claim to goodness.

  30. Kraigaford says:

    By good person I mean someone who leads a selfless life and tries to help others whenever they can, but accepts another religion instead of Jesus Christ.

  31. Stephen Dawe says:

    That’s a common definition of a good person. The problem is that it is extremely vague (thus making it difficult to conclusively see anyone as good) and allows in people who are not “good” from a western standpoint.

    First off, a “selfless” life is a negative definition, and one that demands we understand the minds of others (that they are not doing this for their own perceived benefit, whether notoriety or anything else). Every suicide bomber seems selfless from the outside (they give their lives) but isn’t from the inside (many believe in eternal reward). I will go so far as to say that the ideal of selflessness simply does not exist. People do what they think is best, and act so that what they value most highly continues. The only question is what do they value?

    Your second delineator of goodness, that they do good for others whenever they can is also vague. By whose standards? Their own or yours? If it is their own, then Stalin, the Khemer Rogue, the Nazis, the Inquisition and the Crusaders (all sacrificial people who worked to help others, by their own definition, whenever they could) are all part of this hypothetical group of “good” people that follow other religions (or poorly follow Christ). If you decide that “helping others” is by your definition, then I will point out that you again posit yourself as the ultimate guide for goodness in the universe, and I find that questionable.

    Christians posit a standard for goodness, one we believe revealed from God to which we all must accede, and from which we all fall short. There are no good people.

  32. Damian says:

    People may seem flawed and capable of good at times, I agree but there is one fact I would like answered; if we are all flawed and must not doubt Christ, how can we get into heaven if every good thing we do, or even repent,is a desire to get into heaven?
    How can we get into heaven if the act of getting into heaven itself may be considered bad by God because of our desire to get into heaven?
    I am only 15 but would like to hear more, I have even read ALL the posts in this thread and am greatly interested in this all.
    My thanks,

  33. Stephen Dawe says:

    Well, in the first place, I’m not against doing things because you value them. The question is making sure that you value what is really valuable, and that should be God. So if you value God and you want to get to God, that’s a good thing.

    We “get into heaven” not by avoiding doubt of Jesus, but through the work of God learning to value God above all else. It’s about your desires. If you don’t desire God, pray to God for that. You need to value God because God is valuable.

  34. Kraigaford says:

    Dude, you are adding a bunch of stupid stuff. People that do good for others. People that don’t harm other people and dedicate their lives for helping people to best of their abilities. I mean, no matter what it says in the Bible I’m talking about someone who sacrifices their own well being to help others, not some rich person giving a donation. The only thing is, they don’t believe in Christ. How does that person end up in Hell?

  35. Stephen Dawe says:

    I do not define goodness as you do. So I deny the premise on which you base your question, namely that people are “good” because they do good stuff for others and don’t harm people. Having actually worked in aid agencies, I know that many who do this work do not share your high view of their goodness.

    Because, despite your protestations to the contrary, they are not good people. That someone manages to do good stuff doesn’t make them good.

    Thus my position is simple, if you want it put in stark terms.

    Why should they not end up in hell?

    What I am saying is that YOU are adding stuff, YOU are assuming things that I simply don’t, and that YOU have yet to explain why I should agree with you. To me your question is nonsense.

    I should think you would realize I’m also not talking about “rich people giving a donation”, I referred to people who gave their families, their wealth, their very lives to build what they thought would be a better world for everybody (many, many communists thought this way). We still think of them as evil today, because we have a different definition of harm and help.

    Do you actually think that our present ideas of goodness will last forever? That we are at the apex of moral thinking? Do you honestly believe that YOU are capable of defining a good person from an evil person objectively for all time? Many throughout history have thought that, and most of them have been wrong.

    So, to summarize 1) I do not see why I should call these people good and 2) I see your definition of a good person as having holes in it.

    Thus, my conclusion remains, I do not see any good people who in and of themselves should go to heaven, thus my answer to “How does that person end up in hell”, they go there because their good works do not make up for their evil.

  36. Stephen Dawe says:

    And I didn’t quote the Bible. Though I will point out that I am a Christian, and at least you know where my assumptions are. Where are yours?

  37. Bob says:

    Hey Stephen,
    I Like what you say. I like that you have a passion for Jesus. I like reading your responses to the those who need help. Keep up the great work Jesus has set up for you. Keep fighting the good fight. I find you an inspiration. Thanks

  38. Tom says:

    Ahahaha, “repent”

    man, none of this shit exists… its all fake

    religion was made up thousands of years ago to prevent people from lying and being “evil”

    before then, anyone could do anything WITHOUT consequence… so people made up a being higher than anyone in the world, ruler of all, to keep them in line

    either that or people were just extremely nieve and though there was something outhere
    like you guys…

    UGHHHH its all fake

  39. Stephen Dawe says:

    Wow Tom, I’m glad you’re here to be able to tell us what the ancients thousands of years ago believed. (/sarcasm off)

    Have you followed your thesis through though? If the only reason religion exists is a ground for morality, and religion is “naive”. That means that morality is of necessity false.

    This is even before we get to the trustworthiness of sense experience or of reason.

  40. Hank says:

    Hell was prepared for the DEVIL and his angels. The ONLY way you will goto hell is to reject JESUS CHRIST as YOUR personal savior. ThATS THE ONLY WAY, not what you do or what you don’t do. GOOD WORKS will send you right to bust HELL wide open. God hates this world. He destroyed it one time. Jesus is the only Mediator between GOD and man. If you ask Jesus to save you and believe GOD has raised him from the dead, and repent of you’re sins, and make a confession by MOUTH to him that you are a sinner and with your heart ask him to save you then you’ll be saved ETERNALLY. No you can’t lose your salvation, if you could Jesus would be worthless wouldn’t he? He’s salvation is forever. The bible says if we deny him he still can’t deny himself. IT’s all in the Bible, you gu ys need the WORD OF GOD. the KING JAMES AV1611. It’s all in there. It’s your choice, all of you! PS. Read your Bible

  41. Sammi says:

    I’ve been raised in a Christain home and been taught all this my whole life.
    Recently I went to a Christain summer camp to work as head consuler all for 8 weeks.
    All during that eight weeks the speaker stressed hell over and over again.
    It really got me thinking about how can God send people to hell? So I googled the question and stumbled upon your blog.
    It made me think…esp where you said we all deserve hell…which is true,.

    But in the back of my mind I the question remains. God is God. He can do anything…why would He create us knowing so many of us would spend forever in hell, a place of forever torment and seperation from Him?

    I hate when I question God, its like I’m not trusting Him…but the questions remain..maybe you could share some words of wisedom?

  42. Nick says:

    if you seek him with all your heart then you will find him.do not confine christ to the books of history.he is the past the present and the future.he wants+to become a reality in our lives.then the guessing will stop.

  43. Ian says:

    God’s plan is totally screwed up. Because of Adam and Eve, all of creation must suffer?!!!
    That means animals tear each other to pieces because of them??? Is that fair?
    I heard an animal screeching in terror the other day while it was being hunted down by domestic predators. Now you tell me that that’s all part of a loving God’s plan? – to have his beloved creation torn to pieces because of one man and one woman’s actions??
    How the hell can we be expected to pay the price for someone else’s stuff ups?? You call that fair?
    Oh and what about that other really good one: The sins of the father will be visited on the children up to the 3rd and 4th generations????????!!!!!!!!!! Shit!!!! What the hell????
    What the hell did the children do to deserve that?
    Once again a ‘loving’ fathers flawless plan. My word.
    The whole of creation groans under the weight of sin visited upon us because of two total idiot’s behavior.
    Then we have the subject of HELL.
    The bottom line is that if you’re not God’s buddy , you’re gonna burn forever in a lake of fire.
    That’s it. Final. It’s scriptural.
    Just because you did’ent pay any attention to God during your life.
    So you can be wonderfully good – exceptionally good,a wonderful person, but you’ll hear these words,

    “Depart from me ye cursed into the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels”.


    If God knows before the creation, who’s going to hell and whose not, coz He does know, why bother with the creation in the first place? What’s it some kind of sordid game He’s playing?

    And what Hank [above] says is not true, simply believing will not get you into heaven. No such thing as once saved always saved.

    And the Devil is winning and will win in the end. Scoreboard:

    Satan – 10 billion souls, God 500 000. [ E.G.]

    Coz apparently most of the world is going to hell. Surely God can’t loose?

    So God is ruling through fear. The English language has a word for that : Tyrant.

    I try to be a christian, but I fail miserably every day committing the same sins over and over.
    I ask God to help me but nothing happens.

    So I live in fear of hell. That fear turns to anger, hatred and bitterness towards God coz I know I’m not making it.

    Hitler and Stalin where hectically evil, but at least they killed their victims.
    So the suffering ended.

    But with God the torchering never stops. NEVER!!!

    Why does it have to be forever? In fact why should there be any torchering?

    Why not just say, “Ok you bunch did’ent want to know me so you go live over there and then you die. Over. Finished. Why torcher people forever?

    It does’ent make sense.

    Maybe the Bible was tampered with, coz it sure don’t make sense.

    My son can do the worst thing imaginable, but there’s no way I’d chuck him in a fire to burn.
    Even if it only lasted 2 mins. I could never hurt my children or anyone elses children in fact.

    It does’ent make sense. At all.

  44. Stephen Dawe says:

    As with some of the other above comments, Ian, the impassioned nature of your comments make me wonder if you want a reply at all, or are just raging at what you believe Christianity to be stating. In any case, in addition to the points above (in my actual post) you added a few things I’d want to respond to.

    1) We don’t go to hell because of Adam and Eve, we go to hell because we have sin, which entered the world through Adam and Eve. Sin is corruption of the good, we were made good, and are now corrupt, thus evil. We go to hell because we are evil, not because we are not “God’s buddy”. Desiring to be reconciled to God means that God saves us from what we deserve, but it doesn’t mean we deserve it any less.
    2) Fair. No word has as many poor understandings as this one. To be blunt, our understanding of what is fair or not is going to be wacky. Humans aren’t fair, so what are we going to use as our definition of “fair”?
    3) The scoreboard by which the devil wins according to more souls in hell than heaven assumes that the ultimate value in the universe is human souls. I wonder how you can get that kind of belief from the Bible, as it tends to state the precise opposite with relation to humanity. Even verses that seem to venerate humanity (who are we that you make us a little lower than the angels), actually state that we are nothing and are given value by God. To make human souls the basis of the battle is like making the number of fans in the stands at a football game the basis of which team wins.
    4) We are saved by grace ALONE, through faith ALONE, apart from works of the law. You can disagree with that if you wish, but no Christian is saved by law-keeping. Even our best actions have sin in them, and so would in themselves damn us to hell (one divine pointed out that there was enough sinful arrogance in his prayers of repentance to damn him to hell, and he was right).
    5) Your chain of failure, despair, anger is an accurate one for someone who thinks they are saved by their works. Romans (a good book of the Bible to read) points out that this is the reason the law exists, to make us despair of our own righteousness, and instead turn to God’s grace.

    Finally, I would point out that all your reasoning, while it probably feels rational to you, is essentially saying “it feels wrong to me and so it doesn’t make sense”.

  45. Elise says:

    I read through all this, and yet I still have a question.
    I believe in God, He is my savior, and above all, but I watch a show called Supernatural (This question is so stupid but it’s been plaguing me for a long time) The show is sort of dark, and well, in summary, two brothers go on demon hunting trips and they destroy demons that have come up from hell. In order to do so, they use blades, guns, holy water, they salt and burn bones,’devil’s traps’ and crosses and the bible. At first I thought it was okay because they are technically using the power of God to send these demons back to where they came from. But although I believe in Jesus, I am so worried that I will go to hell for watching Supernatural. I know it’s just a show, and it’s supposed to be all fun and games and all that, but it bothers me because it is against God, yet they use God’s power to destroy what is against him? I don’t follow the show’s ways. Sorry if I sound confusing, but here’s the jist of it:
    Will I go to hell simply for watching this show?

    • Stephen Dawe says:

      Well, as I think I say in the blog, hell is not just a punishment for individual sins, but for our own rebellion against God. My question to you would thus be, why do you watch the show? Does the show, in your experience, make you trust more in the power of God through Jesus Christ, or does it cause you to place other things ahead of Jesus? Does the show cause you to give praise and thanksgiving to Jesus more or less? Now, I know that sounds like a strange question, but I am quite serious. As believers we are called to do all things (whether we eat or drink) to the glory of God, so since there is a way to drink orange juice to the glory of God, I ask if there’s a way for you to watch “Supernatural” to the glory of God?

      To answer the question most directly, you will not go to hell simply for watching supernatural, but if supernatural is an expression of your desire to replace and rebel from God, the desire to replace God will send you to hell. Sins are a symptom of a sinful heart; if you are in Christ you have had your heart replaced, and so more and more should be desiring to please God. Is your enjoyment of “Supernatural” a symptom of sin or of grace? Check your heart, I am praying for you Elise.

      • Elise says:

        The thing with the show is, I watch it purely for entertainment values, but I would never ever place ANYTHING ahead of God. God is above all, and I know that. I could start thinking while I watch the show though. I mean, I don’t watch it, then when it ends, start to believe in all of the things I’ve seen in the show. And if I get scared because of the show, I remember that God protects me. I know that it’s all a purpose of entertainment and fun and games and all that. The show is nice and all, but I follow God. I would never rebel and replace God with anything or anyone. But what you are saying is that, as long as I do not rebel and reject God, that it s okay to watch the show? or should I not watch the show because it has un-godlike tendencies? (Sorry for taking up your time like this)

      • Stephen Dawe says:

        Nothing to apologize for, I’m procrastinating in updating my resume to get pastoral jobs, and you’re helping :-P.

        No, what I’m saying that if something is being used to worship God, it is a good thing (noting that something inherently sinful is not worshipping God), and anything no matter how inherently “good” is actually sinful if it takes away from a love and worship for God. I think there’s something in the background here, where I actually think all facets of our lives are either one or the other…. there’s a good article at http://www.desiringgod.org called “drinking orange juice to the glory of God” that is helpful here….

      • Elise says:

        Ohh, I see. (Oh no! Helping in procrastination is not good XDDD)

        So what you’re saying is to not watch the show. The show conflicts me as to whether or not it is being used to worship God though. I mean, in the show, they use Holy water, Crosses, and the Bible in order to destroy evil. I’m just confused as to whether or not God would be angry with me for watching it :( I’d rather not stop watching, but if God is going to be upset about me watching, then I have no choice :p

      • Stephen Dawe says:

        Well, if you are finding yourself conflicted about it, it might be sin for you to be watching it, but I’m not giving you a hard and fast rule. You may be watching Supernatural and not sinning at all. God seems (in the Bible) far less interested in the actions themselves than in the heart that underlies the actions. Now, don’t get me wrong, sinful acts need to be stopped, but it seems to me God is far more interested in you being a good tree that thus produces good fruit. If watching supernatural can be a good fruit for you, awesome, but if not, maybe you shoudl fill your time with a greater affection for Christ.

      • Elise says:

        I like the show, and I believe in God, and I know that none of the stuff that happens in the show is real, and I know that God protects us. I think that it can be a good thing, because it brings me closer to God to know that he could very well allow those things to come up and haunt us, but instead he protects us and keeps us all safe and happy :) But I’m glad to hear you say that he doesn’t care so much about our actions than he does about what’s in our hearts :) That makes me feel a lot better :)I think that I’m going to continue to watch the show, but instead of just moving onto the next episode when I’m done with one, Thank God for not putting my family and I in any of the situations in there XD Sounds weird, I know, but I think it’ll be my way of feeling better about watching it, and still keeping close to God :)
        Thank you so much for talking to me!

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