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Unjust as Hell


The concept of Hell is one of the most sickening aspects of Christianity. It is closely linked to another sickening aspect: salvation by grace alone.

Let me explain how this works. If you have been to church enough times to understand it, skip down a couple of paragraphs.

Our sins separate us from God. Jesus’s death paid for our sins, so now we can be with God: Romans 6:23 (NIV) “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ of Lord.” Unless, we don’t accept Jesus. Then we go to Hell and burn forever: Matthew 13:50 (ESV) “And throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

It doesn’t matter what we do, good works can never get us to Heaven, because we will never be good enough. Salvation is gained through Jesus paying for our sins and us asking for forgiveness and having faith: Ephesians 4:8-9 (NIV) “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

I was always taught that this is what makes Christianity better than other religions. It is about a relationship, not religion (works and practices). God came and saved us, we don’t have to work our way up to him. Now, I am thinking that it makes Christianity a lot worse than other religions because it means that no matter how bad you are, you can get into Heaven, and no matter how good you are, you can still end up in Hell. Where is the justice in that?

If Hitler had accepted Jesus right before he killed himself he would have ended up in Heaven, just like the murderer on the cross next to Jesus. Mahatma Gandhi, who worked all his life for a better world and future for his people will end up in Hell because he was a Hindu. He believed in the religion of his people and country that he loved so dearly and therefore he deserves Hell. Huh?

If you can’t see the injustice here, something is wrong with your morality. This video is a great illustration:

I don’t even like the idea of my own sins being paid for by someone else. I want to take responsibility for my own actions, even if that means death or torture. I cannot allow someone else to take the punishment and pretend that it’s okay. Sure, it was very loving and kind for Jesus to die for my sins, but I can’t accept his love if he won’t give me justice.

I think that if Jesus is only going to pay for anyone’s sins, then it should not be those who believe in him, but should be those who love others most fully and who have lived lives that have contributed positively to the world. That is so much more valuable than believing the right thing!

Another problem with Hell is unfair punishment. I believe that wrongs should be paid for. But Hell is a place of eternal punishment, not proportional justice. None of us deserve to be tortured in the burning fires of Hell for eternity! Not even the most evil mass murderer rapist asshole. Maybe they deserve a hundred years of torture, but it stops somewhere. It does not go on indefinitely.

Not all Christians believe in eternal punishment of course. Many view it as eternal separation from God, which means eternal separation of love, which is effectively torture. Others are annihilists who believe nonbelievers will be destroyed. Some are universalists who believe everyone will be saved in the end. The above version of Hell, however, is widely accepted in my community and so I am addressing it. It is also the version that needs to be strongly opposed in every respect, moreso than the other, less dehumanising versions. Even if I accepted a softer view of Hell, I cannot accept Jesus paying for my own sins for which I am responsible, and I cannot accept salvation by grace alone, with no consideration for the good/bad things one has done in their lifetime.



About Ellen Rose

Blogger curious about how travel helps us to lead more meaningful lives.

9 responses »

  1. I love questions like these. Would it not be also unjust if God saw the sins of man against the people he supposedly loves but did nothing?

    • criticofchristianity

      Exactly. It seems God loses whatever He does. So much for a divine plan from a perfect God.

      • I wouldn’t necessarily see it as that though. I mean – you could easily make the case that judgment proves love. Eternal punishment equals eternal worth. No judgment equals no worth. Ya know? I see where you’re coming from though. Thank you for asking questions like these those. They are worth asking.

        What do you think of the views popularized by Josh McDowell that hell is a state of eternal volitional existence – meaning you would rather suffer eternally than to become one with God in Heaven?

      • criticofchristianity

        I don’t see eternal punishment as love. But I guess it could be a sign of value. Like in movies where the bad guy wants to personally capture the good guy and put him through a slow, painful death. The suffering of the good guy is worth a lot because his life is worth a lot to the bad guy. But that sort of thinking isn’t really compatible with a loving God.

        I think that some people definitely wilfully reject God. That is the case with me. Although I suspect he does’t exist anyway. It seems to me like his character is not deserving of my love or worship, because of the things I’ve mentioned above and in previous posts. He just seems like a mean, sadistic person! If he is real, I don’t want anything to do with him. Heaven would be Hell for a person like me.

        However, I think that most non-Christians don’t purposefully reject God. They just live their lives according to what they’ve been socialised into believing and don’t really give it a whole lot of thought. I don’t think these people would deserve Hell.

        Thank you so much for commenting by the way. I really appreciate your willingness to talk to me about these questions I struggle with.

  2. I see why you would believe that. In fact – had I grew up with your raising and experiences, it is logical to think I would have had those beliefs and reservations.

    I think the difference in the way I perceive it is that man’s existence scripturally predicates that God desired for man to exist – which indicates value.

    If there was nothing – and God did create man, which man’s existence would imply, it seems that God would, indeed, value man.

    Another way of looking at it is that if I ruin a million dollar vase – I’m in debt until I pay the vase off. If I only have 500,000 bucks, I’ll never pay the debt I owe for ruining the vase.

    Likewise – if we have value to God who is eternal, then we have eternal value because we have value to God. If we harm ourselves or others, we would be harming that which has eternal value. So this would mean we would be in eternal debt for harming that which has eternal value. With that in mind, for me it seems logical for why we would have an eternal debt: aka. a debt that cannot be paid off.

    It would also seem equally illogical if he claimed to love us – but was not willing to pay off that debt to save us from a neverending debt.

    So I see it that if God exists and we exist, he desired for us to exist, ascribing to us eternal value. And if we harm ourselves or others – then we harm that which has eternal value putting us in debt to the eternal. But if he truly loves us – he would be willing to pay off that debt to prove he loved us.

    That’s just how I see it though. Your questions are a joy to me though, and I am so pleased with your cordial kindness. I feel welcome here, and I am thankful to have this time with you.

    • criticofchristianity

      I see what you’re saying. It totally makes sense. I haven’t heard it put that way before, and I’ve been going to church my entire life.

      I guess a relevant question here would be: What was God’s motivation for making man? I’ve been told that he created us to love and worship him forever – to bring him eternal glory. Is this where our value comes from? God gave bestowed us with eternal value in order for us to meet this purpose?

      I wonder if God views us as intrinsically valuable, or instrumentally valuable. Are we valuable independently of God, or are we valuable because we are a means to an end? That end being God’s eternal glory and relationship with him.

      In this analogy Hell still seems unfair on people who have been raised in other religions or other world views: they’re not even aware they’ve ruined the vase.

      Again, it doesn’t seem right that God would accept another person paying for the damage. Where is the sense of personal, moral responsibility in that? It gives everyone has a cop out excuse for sinning: my sins have already been paid for, so why stop? I’ll just ask for forgiveness on my death bed, etc.

      Thank you for writing such a thoughtful response. You are very welcome here 🙂

      • I can’t help but say you’re a joy to interact with, friend. Thanks for making me feel welcome.

        Another equally valid question you bring to mind: Are you intrinsically valuable or instrumentally valuable? Are we a means to an end – ultimately, being the glory of God?

        I need to think in depth on that question because being instrumentally valuable in contrast to intrinsically valuable could imply two very different images of God.

        In my thinking, it would seem awkward if it was merely instrumental value that would be a cause for God – who would by definition need nothing – to die to save something merely for an instrumental purpose.

        In contrast, if God has inscribed an intrinsic value to man that he would want to have relationship with them to the point that he would die to make such a relationship possible at their own volition – it would seem logical that man is not merely a means to an end, but rather a relationship with man is the end.

        Now with regards to those who do not know they broke the vase – I used to struggle with that myself. One of the great comforts I rest in is that if Jesus Christ really is perfect and loving as God- he would be the perfect person to be a judge. So He would be both just and compassionate. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man will come to the Father except by me.” “By me” in the Greek is understood to mean “by means of me.” This is a reference to Jesus as the one who grants others access to the Father. Romans 1 and Romans 8 also teaches that the Spirit of God pulls the will of men to follow it in contrast to the desire of the Flesh. Even in Genesis 6 when man is so violent that his own existence is in danger – it says God’s spirit is striving with man still.

        So with that said – it is my understanding that Jesus – who I can only presume loves all the people of the world of different religions because he died for them – will be compassionate but just. If a person who has no eyes or ears to read or hear the name of Jesus and no tongue to speak his name but has followed Jesus in his conscious – He will come to the Father “by means of (Jesus).”

        I hate that I keep writing so much, friend. I do apologize.

        If you would like me to comment on the moral responsibility point you brought up – I would be happy too. I just feel its appropriate for me to answer that at your request because I have written so much. 🙂

      • criticofchristianity

        Oh no, it is great that you are writing so much. I’m asking big questions so it makes sense for them to require big answers. It’s very kind of you to put so much thought and effort into our conversation. I will get back to you in a few days time, I’m moving out of home this weekend so I’ve got a lot of packing to do. Thanks again!

      • criticofchristianity

        I understand that God does not need anything, but the Bible seems to indicate that he does have desires. To me it seems possible that God could view man as instrumentally valuable and still be willing to die for us to make relationship possible. God desires relationship with us so badly he is willing to die to achieve that end. Kind of like the way I pay a price for the things I desire when I go shopping. Often, I don’t necessarily need the things I buy, but I desire them, so I pay the price. I’m not sure why it would be awkward for God to pay for his desires to be fulfilled?

        I guess the point I want to make is that if our value only lies in our instrumental purpose of fulfilling God’s desires and serving him, then those who are not willing to do this wouldn’t have value and therefore would not deserve eternal punishment. That is, if eternal punishment is justified by eternal value, as you explained above.

        That makes sense in my head, but I’m not sure if it’s right. I don’t really have any idea whether God views us as intrinsically valuable or instrumentally. I’ve just been taught all my life that our purpose is to bring God glory, so I guess I lean more towards that perspective of instrumental value. I will have to do some more research on this I think.

        To be fair, God has given us a pretty good deal: we get eternal life, we have him watching over our lives, answering our prayer etc. Even if our value only lies within serving God it’s not a bad life. Sure, it makes God seem a bit selfish, but if he has created us to be happy and fulfilled through fulfilling his desires, it doesn’t seem all that bad. It’s not cruel or capricious, it just means Hell wouldn’t be fair.

        Thank you for your patience waiting for me to write back 🙂

        Also, if you would like to comment on the moral responsibility point I would be very interested to hear your point of view. But I have probably bombarded you with too many questions and thoughts, so it’s fine if you want to leave that conversation for another time 🙂

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