[ skip to navigation ]
The House Church Network: Dedicated to Kingdom Expansion
Can God Hate Enough to Send People to Hell?

This week we continue our question about hate. Our writer asked, "In Malachi 1.3 it states that ' . . . Jacob I have loved and Esau I have hated. ' How can this be so if God is a God of love and is in essence love itself? Only to argue the fact that God can hate people, it states in Psalm 5.5 that 'The arrogant cannot stand in your presence, you hate all who do wrong.' My question now would be: Does God hate sinners enough to send them to hell, or hate people in general?" Last week we looked at hate in general and whether or not God was capable of hate. This week we'll look at whether or not God sends "sinners" to hell.

There have been two standard answers to the question about God sending people to hell. The answer that seems to be the most common is God doesn't send anyone to hell, but that people choose to go there. In support of this notion are a variety of scriptures. For instance, John 3.18 reads, "Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God." Again in Mark 16.16 we read "The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned." Thus, according to these and a variety of other supporting scripture, those who choose not to believe are in essence choosing to be condemned, i.e., going to hell. Therefore, according to this view, God doesn't send anyone to hell - people choose not to believe and thus choose to go to hell.

Some might argue, however, that making one choice (not believing) doesn't imply one chooses to embrace the consequences (hell). In a society that has trouble taking responsibility for itself (we are the most litigious society in history - it's always someone else's fault), this is a common chorus. And yet, our society chooses to endorse capital punishment because we maintain it is a deterrent to capital crimes. Hmmm.

On the other hand, this particular view doesn't satisfactorily answer the eternal question, "What about those who have never heard of Jesus or God?" Some say the Church has had nearly 2,000 years to get the word out "to every creature" (Mark 16.15) and it has failed miserably at its mandate. Therefore, according to Ezekiel 3.18, "Their blood I will require at your hand." In other words, the Church is responsible and it's in a lot of trouble. However, there are others who suggest that God is just (Deuteronomy 32.4) and that God will make provisions for those who have not heard (cf., Romans 1.20).

Then there is the second view to the whole doctrine of eternal punishment. Proponents of this teaching maintain that hell is a human construct and that it is simply a metaphor for our own guilt, shame, and the natural consequences we suffer by our sinful actions and attitudes (for an extensive look at hell and its origins, see the "Pastor's Ponderings" column published October 18, 1995 in the Walton Tribune or

view this column on hell). This is supported in part by the fact that the Greek word translated as "hell" literally indicates a specific garbage dump in Jerusalem and that this is the only word about "hell" that's attributed to Jesus. Indeed, Matthew 5.29 takes on a whole new tone when we literally translate the passage: "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into the garbage dump."

Finally, there is the teaching that God is our ultimate parent who would never abandon or turn away from God's own children. Jesus said that God isn' t willing to lose anyone (Matthew18.14) and Paul wrote that there is nothing that can separate us from God's love (Romans 8.38-39). Nothing - not even hell.

Go to top of page