This is perhaps one of the most commonly used objection to Christianity. Notably, there are several misconceptions when it comes to this topic, and is likely the reason some Christians cannot give an adequate answer when the skeptic asks, or even the Christian himself questioning God. For example, some claim that God is unjust because He condemns those who do not agree with the Bible. Another objection is that Christians are narrow-minded in that they think they are the only ones who will enter into Heaven. In this entry, we will attempt to examine such things and answer the question, "How Can A Loving God Send People To Hell?" (Photo credit: Nashville Criminal Law Report, Daily Record)
Both of the aforementioned objections are fallacies. First off, let us examine the question itself. Author and Pastor Timothy Keller succinctly conveys, "Today many of the skeptics I talk to say, as I once did, they can't believe in the God of the Bible, who punishes and judges people, because they 'believe in a God of Love.' I now ask, what makes them think God is love? Can they look at life in the world today and say, 'This proves that the God of the world is a God of love'? Can they look at history and say, 'This all shows that the God of history is a God of love?' Can they look at the religious texts of the world and conclude that God is a God of love? By no means is that the dominant, ruling attribute of God as understood in any of the major faiths. I must conclude that the source of the idea that God is Love is the Bible itself. And the Bible tells us that the God of love is also a God of judgment who will put all things in the world to rights in the end."
Keller makes a good point. By examining the world around us, without the Bible, would we perceive a God of Love? Would we glean this from Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism? Most certainly not, for example, Allah (God) of Islam is an impersonal God, not a loving, personal God. In no other religious texts aside from the Bible have I discerned that God created the universe out of delight and love. The Bible is the text which claims that "God is love" (1st John 4:8), and also portrays God as a Judge. Is that contradictory? Not at all.
Now, consider the following analogy originally put forth by author and speaker Bill Wiese. Suppose you decide one day that you are going to move in with the one of the richest people in the country, say, Bill Gates. You bring everything with you, and knock on his door. "Hey Bill! It's me. I've decided to move in with you, because I'm a good person." What do you think Gates would say? He would say no, of course. Reason being: you have never personally met him. Or perhaps you have briefly. The issue? You do not have a relationship with him.
Likewise, if we expect to live "good lives" and be allowed into God's Kingdom, that is simply not the way it works. What right do we have to move into God's Kingdom? You never asked him to be your Father, despite the fact that he offered, numerous times, and you rejected him, for whatever reason. By denying the Father, you are also denying the Son, and the Bible clearly teaches that accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is the only way to get into Heaven. (John 3:36, 11:25-26, 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 3:30, 10:9-10; 1st Timothy 2:5, 1st John 5:12)
Another common objection about God is, "Don't all roads lead to God?" Though we have covered this in a previous entry, we will briefly touch on this, as it is relative to the topic at hand. Let's use another analogy. Say perhaps that yes, all roads lead to the same door. However, that door (God) is locked, and only one key fits the lock. That key is Jesus Christ. So even if all religions pointed to the same God, there is only one way to enter into God's presence. (For more, see entry: "Don't All Roads Lead To God?")
There is a non sequitur regarding God. Many claim that we are "all children of God." According to the Bible, which has shown to be archaeologically, historically, scientifically accurate in past entries, "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith." (Galatians 3:26) Here, Scripture clearly shows that one can only become a "child of God," adopted in His family, by faith in Christ. (See Matthew 5:45; Luke 6:35-36; Romans 9:7-8; Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 5:1; 1st Thessalonians 5:5)
For clarification, John 1:12-13 says, "Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God - children not born of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." John certainly gives us the answer: you are only a child of God if you have accepted Christ. Now, I want you to consider something. If God is pure love (including His fair justice), what would be the exact opposite? Hatred, malice, ill will, death, disease, unrest, the like.
That is a description of Hell, aside from the literal fire. The reason Hell is what it is - is simply this: God does not abide in Hell. Where there is an absence of God, such things are. That is Hell, the absence of God. Does God send anyone to Hell? A resounding NO! It is the antithesis of God's pure nature. God has given man a free will to do what he chooses to do. God has given us Commandments to follow, and if we choose to disobey and break His commandments, it is us to blame, not Him. Anyone who has broken even one commandment is guilty of breaking all of them. (James 2:10, see entry: "The Ten Commandments - Have We Followed Them All?")
Consider that there are many who simply do not want to be with God. They may acknowledge His presence, but resist Him. By this, Hell is your personal choice. If you choose to live an eternity without God, Hell is the only other choice, and as noted, God is not there. We are all without excuse. If you have only once heard of Jesus and Salvation in your life, you are without excuse. "What about the people in the jungle," people ask. God writes His law on everyone's hearts. We all know we should not kill, should not commit adultery, should not steal, should honor our parents, should not lie, etc. If an individual recognizes the existence of God, He will make himself known to them.
However, we are not saved simply by believing in God. James 2:19 says, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder." Will the man in the jungle be saved if he asks God to save him? Of course. But for those who know of Christ, we are without excuse. Only through Christ can we be saved. Bill Wiese gives another great analogy:
"Suppose I invited you over for dinner but told you not to open the large steel door that is next to the garage because there is a lion behind that door. Would you still open it? I even posted warning signs all over the door that a deadly lion is behind the door. The warning reads, 'Do not open the door under any circumstance, or you will die.' You then, have a choice. You can deliberately not listen, think you know all there is to know about lions, and lose your life by opening the door. Or you could heed the warning and choose not to open the door. My desire is that you never open the door. However, you decide to open the door and you die. It wasn't my will or my desire that you die. I didn't 'send' you to your death. It's the same way with God. The Bible says that it isn't God's will for any to perish (2 Pet. 3:9). Just because it is God's will for you to receive eternal life and not perish doesn't mean you'll listen to Him and make that choice."
I hear another common objection, which has been explored in entries such as "Satan and the Origin of Evil," that goes something like, "If there is a God, why is there so much evil in the world." Question: "If there is no God, why is there so much good in the world?" Another point to consider: I have also heard it said by people, "God does not exist." No one can know this! By saying, "God does not exist," or "God does not exist," you are stating a universal negative.
In other words, you are making a statement you cannot possibly know. Thomas Edison, famous for inventing the lightbulb (and for a number of other inventions), has been quoted as stating, "We don't know one millionth of one percent about anything." Sir Isaac Netwon, one of the most renowned scientists of all time, said something similar. Let's shrink the number to 1% of everything. If man does not know 1% of everything there is to know in the Universe, in that 99%, is it not possible that God exists? Any logical and rational thinker must admit such.
To know that there is no God would require all the knowledge in the Universe, something no one has, and even if we put all of the people currently living on the planet together, we would still not know everything there is to know about the Universe. Even if you were the smartest person on the planet and somehow happened to know half of everything there is to know, there is still a 50% chance that God exists. One cannot simply deny the existence of God, the arguments against God are fallacious at best.
God does not send anyone to Hell, we send ourselves. We have all broken the law, and are guilty. That is the reason God the Son became flesh, the Creator entering into His Creation to pay the penalty for us. Consider this: if you and a friend were walking along a river together, and the friend turns to you and says, "Because I am going to save you, love me." The friend jumps in the river, and drowns as a fool. You would think less of your friend, because there was no reason whatsoever to have jumped in! If, however, you had fallen in, and the friend jumped in and saved you, you would be grateful. Likewise, all of humanity has fallen short, and due to the Fall of Man and successive generations of sinful creatures, this necessitates a Savior, who is Jesus Christ.
Another objection that has been prevalent for a long time goes something like this, "God will not send me to Hell because I am a good person." As noted earlier, God does not send anyone to Hell, that is personal choice. We are without excuse. Also, all of us have broken the law, and according to God the Son, "No one is good - except God alone." (Luke 18:19b) But before any hands go in the air, another point to consider. Suppose all of humanity was in a courtroom. God is the judge, and we have all been sentenced, because we have all broken the law.
Someone stands up and says, "But Judge, I was a good, kind person. I donated to charity, I spent time with the elderly and helped others to repair their marriage. I was a good person!" The Judge, if He is a good, fair, just Judge (which God is), will likely reply, "That's wonderful! However, you are not here for that, you are here because you have been convicted of breaking the law." Likewise, if you were convicted for breaking someone's vehicle, the Judge (if he was just) we say the same.
Luckily, Jesus already paid the fine, so that none of us have to. But we must leave the courtroom with Him, because if we choose not to follow him and accept his free gift, we are sentenced, not because of the Judge, but because of our own personal choices and actions. According to Yale theologian Miroslav Volf, a Croation who saw the violence in the Balkans:
"If God were not angry at injustice and deception and did not make a final end to violence - that God would not be worthy of worship... The only means of prohibiting all recourse to violence by ourselves is to insist that violence is legitimate only when it comes from God... My thesis that the practice of non-violence requires a belief in divine vengeance will be unpopular with many... in the West... [But] it takes the quiet of a suburban home for the birth of the thesis that human non-violence [results from the belief in] God's refusal to judge. In a sun-scorched land, soaked in the blood of the innocent, it will invariably die... [with] other pleasant captivities of the liberal mind."
Author, apologist, and theologian C.S. Lewis once said, "There are only two kinds of people - those who say 'Thy will be done' to God or those to whom God in the end says, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in Hell choose it. Without that self-choice it wouldn't be Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it." Lewis makes a wonderful point here, driving home our point. Hell is a personal choice, not God's choice. In fact, God does not want any of us to go there.
In Ezekiel 33:11, God conveys, "As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the turn from their ways and live..." There are several other times where God affirms this in Scripture, but is is certainly evident that God does not want any to go to Hell. However, the choice is ours, and He's left that choice to us. That choice, whether you believe or not, will irrevocably determine your eternal destination. So, How Could a Loving God Send People to Hell? He doesn't: we send ourselves.
Romans 10:9 says, "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and if you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." 1st John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." According to Scripture, to be saved, we must declare, "Jesus is Lord," and if we have confessed and repented of our sins (we sin daily, likewise pray daily for repentance of sins), and if you believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead three days later, you will be saved.
Thank you for taking the time to read this entry of "The Truth." We trust you have found it informative and insightful. Feel free to comment below (but remain civil in your comments), email firstname.lastname@example.org or the ministry team at email@example.com, visit the ministry homepage, or visit the facebook page. Take care, and may God bless you. Troy Hillman
 Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. 1st ed. New York City, New York: Riverhead Books, 2008. 85. Print.
 Wiese, Bill. Hell: Separate Truth From Fiction And Get Your Toughest Questions Answered. 1st ed. Lake Mary, Florida: Charisma House, 2008. 12-13. Print.
 Ibid, pp.15
 Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (Abingdon, 1996), pp.303-304.
 C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (Macmillan, 1961), p.116.