When I talk to people who are not Christian, Jewish or Islamic they very often have a block to God that always starts out with a statement like, “It’s wrong for God to send someone to hell forever for not believing in Him.” There are three primary flaws with this statement. I’ll work through them as they appear in the statement.
The first part I would like to look at is the “it’s wrong for God” part of the statement. I will skip past the arguments for or against God per se as they are not germane to this particular discussion. How does one define what is wrong or right? Particularly how would one decide that God was wrong? God must be infinite or He is not God at all. Perhaps a god in the sense of a very powerful being that may or may not seem immortal to us could be viewed as not infinite but not a “big G” sort of God. As such He would be able to know all things, to see all things, past present and future. Not because He has precognition, but since He is infinite, time is irrelevant. He exists outside of time. He is at the past, present, and future all at the same time. There is no difference to him. He knows what will happen because He is there at the future while He is here in the present. When He says that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that He is the God of the living and not the dead it is a hint at this. God is with those people just like He is with you and me. He sees no difference. With that as a frame of reference, God is also the definition of right and wrong. Something is right, because it is in line with God’s character. God is the objective standard.
God is also described by the Bible as Love. It doesn’t say He is loving (though He is). It also doesn’t say that He is might. It says He is mighty, which is different. Love is the only thing that God is said to be. He is described as mighty, but He is love. That’s important because while God has the power to do all things, He will only do those things that are in line with love (not our sentimental view of it though). So even when something seems horrible God knows it is for the best. Now to play devil’s advocate, let’s say I think God not stopping the shooting in Paris was wrong. How do I judge God and his prerogatives? How do I know that the way He handled that situation wasn’t the best possible outcome (without removing free will). God’s ultimate goal is to save as many people as possible. His goal isn’t to see that you get everything you want but that you will be saved. Can I know that stopping the attack would have resulted in more people being saved for Heaven? Of course not. By acting or saying that we know better than God we are actually placing ourselves in God’s position. That’s idolatry.
The second part of the statement “hell forever” might be a controversial topic to talk about so I’ll be brief. But in a nutshell I believe that since the Bible says that the wages of sin are death, the soul that sins shall die, I believe that the unsaved will be destroyed. There will not be an eternal torture chamber that lasts throughout eternity with burning people in it. Everyone stays dead until the resurrection (either of the saved or the lost) and then they are judged. In acts it says that David is still in his grave, not in Heaven yet. There are some confusing verses but I believe that overall the Bible is fairly clear on this. There are two websites that cover this pretty good. They are:
The last part of the statement is “for not believing in Him.” This is a misunderstanding. It’s easy to understand why it’s made though. When you say things like, “believe in Jesus and you’ll go to Heaven” it seems logical to say that not believing in Him sends you to hell. But that’s not the case. I’ll use a couple illustrations to help make that point.
Say you committed a crime with a penalty that was either pay $1,000 or spend 6 months in jail. And assume you don’t have the money. Do you go to jail due to your lack of money? No you go to jail because you committed the crime. Or say you are on a sinking cruise ship. Does not getting in a life boat kill you? Not really. Drowning kills you. In both cases there is an escape. Either paying the money in one case, or getting in the lifeboat in another. Those are escapes from the consequences (either jail or death) but not utilizing those isn’t the cause of the problem. It’s the same with belief in Jesus to take away your sins. Your sins are dragging you down. Jesus is the lifeboat that can save you but if you don’t believe, it’s not the unbelief that makes you lost, it’s your sins. Jesus, by taking the penalty Himself, has provided an escape. It’s up to you to take that escape, He won’t force you to.
So that’s it in a nutshell. That’s why that sentence does not work on a logical level.