Which is it?

question-mark.gifWhenever tragedies happen (9/11, Virginia Tech, etc.) people often ask, “Where was God?” as if He were asleep at the wheel.  (Oddly, we usually ask that question for our tragedies and not for those endured by others, but that is fodder for another post.)

Yet many people – Christians included – tend to be repulsed by the doctrine of Hell, even though it is thoroughly and clearly taught in scripture. 

So my question for those people who hold both of these views is, “Which is it?”  Do you want God to judge evil or not? 

When Christians object to the doctrine of Hell I wonder if they are as familiar with the holiness of character of God as they should be.  God will punish all evil.  People will either pay the penalties for their own sins, or they can trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. 

It seems that God has three options with respect to evil:

1. Restrain all evil.  But to eliminate all evil in the present world would require eliminating every human being or our free will.  As the saying goes, if God eliminated all evil at midnight tonight, where would you be at 12:01 AM?  Be careful what you ask for.

2. Permit all evil – I think it is pretty obvious that we don’t want this one.

3. Restrain some evil, and eventually judge it all.  That may seem tough in the short term, but I think it is the best scenario.  For all we know, the 9/11 attacks may have been restrained by God for his own good purpose. 

If someone had described the circumstances of the attacks before you knew the death toll, would you have guessed that it would have been around 3,000?  I would have estimated it to be much higher.  And what if nuclear weapons had been used?  Perhaps it was good that a serious attack happened so that we would work more effectively to prevent an attack on a much larger scale.  I’m not trying to put a happy face on 9/11; I’m just offering a perspective.

God is not asleep, and He will eventually judge all evil.  We may not understand everything that happens, but He is sovereign over the universe. 

14 thoughts on “Which is it?”

  1. Man, if you ended every blog with the folliwjg, why, we’d agree on everything!

    “We may not understand everything that happens, but He is sovereign over the universe. ”

    I think your list of God’s options re: hell — three! very generous! 🙂 — is too short. I’d say God’s options with anything are infinite, by definition. God is ABLE to do, or undo, anything; what we rely on are promises that God *won’t* do this or that.

    As for your first graf, I more often see the opposite. Every time I’ve ever seen footage of the aftermath of a tornnado, for example — whch is a LOT — a survivor is shown standing in the rumble of his house, dogs missing or dead, car crushed, kinfolk missing or dead — amd says something like, “I just thank God for blessing me. This just goes to show how He protects us. Praise be.”

    With press like that, God needs no detractors.

    I’m being somewhat facetious. Brushes with death do tend to give one perspective.

    Oh, on hell in general: I don’t have a problem with hell; I have a problem with it being used to scare people into church , or into a fear-based relationship with God. “You’re going to hell” is not the Good News. “You don’t have to go to hell” is. Oh, I also will gladly quibble with what “hell” means, exactly. “Eternal separation from God” does it for me. Not sure, though, that someone whose Self has run so amok would “miss” God — just be sick of him or her Self before too long.


  2. I might like to hear your definition of “evil” before considering whether “judge” is the right word for what God might do with it, or about it.

    I tend these days, myself, to think “spiritual sickness” when I think “evil,” and that leads me to think of God as “healing” it, or being willing to, rather than “judging” it.


  3. I think a lot of people agree with the Blood, Sweat and Tears song “I can swear there ain’t no heaven, but I pray there ain’t no hell.”

    ER, you said “what we rely on are promises that God *won’t* do this or that”. I also rely on His promises on what He WILL do.


  4. Ah, well, I do, too, Randy. Of course. I said that within the context of God’s ability to do anything; in other words, he doesn’t annihilate all of us right now on general principle, not because God can’t, but because we believe promises that God won’t. Which is another way of saying God WILL sustain us, I reckon.


  5. Another good post, Neil.

    Free will entails the ability to do evil. As for where God is during the Holocaust or 9/11…. probably with his head in his hands, shaking his head, muttering, “There they go again.”


  6. Hi Neil,
    Another good post, and another great question. I’ve often found it interesting that those who oppose to the doctrine of hell never realize that Jesus is the one that develops that doctrine more than any other person of the Bible. We know what we know about hell because He spoke to the issue.


  7. Um, I live in the very epicenter of Tornado Alley. .. My garage door faces south. That means that a tornado, even a little one, if it came the usual way, from the southwest, over my neighborhood, would send wind crashing through that door, up into the attic access, and peel the top of this house like a sardine can; then, with the weight lifted off the exterior walls, they would be knocked down. Every house on my side of the street would be in the same shape. The ones on the other side of the street, with garage doors facing north, would be damaged, but would probably still be standing mostly intact. I’ve seen aerials that show this. Not that I think about that much. Ha.


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