In an online discussion the other day, a Facebook friend who is an atheist was pointing out what he believes are inconsistencies with the Christian faith. He said the following:
Hell…was created for those who don’t return the unconditional love of a god who sacrificed himself to himself to save all humanity from himself.
I have spent some time pondering his statement, which was really intended to point out what he saw as absurdities: a god sacrificing himself to save humanity from himself, and sending people to a place of eternal torment because they didn’t look past the absurdity and love him anyway. At face value these ideas do seem to be absurd, don’t they?
Believers should not be surprised when non-believers ridicule the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul said it would be so in his first letter to the Corinthian church:
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
(1 Corinthians 1:18-25, ESV)
The gospel is a “stumbling block” and it is “folly” to the world. But God has made foolish the wisdom of the world. God is the Creator. Prior to His creation of the universe, nothing existed. He is the Great Determiner of everything!! So when God chooses to create a universe, complete with things, angels, animals, and people, He sets all the rules. How arrogant we are when we sit in judgment and proclaim that His ways are foolish!
I am going to take the liberty to offer Mark’s amplified version of the statement made by my atheist friend:
Hell (which is an existence where God has completely removed all of His restraining influence, allowing those who dwell there to live uncontrolled by any rules whatsoever)…was created (as an self-chosen alternative) for those who don’t return the unconditional (other-centered, compassionate) love of a god who (of His own volition) sacrificed himself (by being mercilessly tortured, so we wouldn’t need to be punished) to himself (as the great righteous judge of the universe) to save all humanity (because all humans are in rebellion) from himself (who must exercise His holy, righteous wrath against all sin).
God took our punishment for us so we could dwell with Him for eternity. What is so “foolish” about that?