Questions Project: Would a loving God cast people into hell? (Part 1)

Hell_1Our question for this article is: Would a loving God cast people into hell? (Part 1)

This is a very large question.  To answer it thoroughly would involve a good deal of history, theology, and Scripture.  Even a decent short response entails more than a short article can hold, so we’ll divide it into two articles.

In PART 1 this week, let’s just qualify a few concepts that the question demands:

  1. Who/ what is the God of the Bible, and what is His deepest desire?
  2. Who/ what is humanity, and what’s our part?
  3. What is the most foundational element that makes hell, hell and heaven, heaven?

There are additional questions we could ask, but let’s limit ourselves to these.

Since God is at the center of the question, let’s start there.  How does the Bible describe God?  In a nutshell, here are a few truths the Bible claims about God: He is spirit, He is called the designer, creator and sustainer of all creation.  He is light and life.  He is perfect; He is perfect in understanding, love, and justice.  He cannot become imperfect in one virtue in order to satisfy another.  That raises an interesting dilemma, doesn’t it?  What happens if perfect love and perfect justice come into conflict?

Is that possible?  Let’s take a look at God’s deepest desire according to Scripture.  The entire Bible is a love story.  It is the story of creation’s fall from God’s design because of man, and God’s plan to restore both.  From the first page to the last, Scripture is God’s story of restoration.  In a restoration to perfect innocence, love and justice are in such opposition that only God can resolve them.


So what does the Bible say about humanity?  We were made in the image of God.  That is to say, we are self-aware, able to create, to love, commune, and to exert our will.  The Bible says humanity fell from God’s design.  The divine image wasn’t totally lost but distorted by the fall.  We are ALL distorted images of our intended selves.  That is the essence of sin.  Sin is to be distanced from God, and since God is life, there can be only one outcome to sin, all things remaining the same- the final outcome will be the absence of life. (“The wages of sin is death.” Ro. 6:23, Gen. 2:17; Prov. 10:16; Eze 18:4)

Man is a three-fold being; body, mind, and spirit (or soul).  Our destiny is set by all three.  We are mortal, yet we have an eternal destiny.  The soul is the seat of conscience and human will.  We know our willpower can’t control everything, but we have enough free-will to choose.  We don’t know everything, yet we know enough to be held accountable for our choices.

And finally, since God is spirit and we are spirit, there is a means by which we can connect with God… if we so choose.

If we can process these realities about God and about ourselves, we’ll be in a place we can appreciate the most basic realities of hell and heaven which we’ll cover next week.  But I will share this spoiler; the most basic essence of hell and heaven is not punishment and reward, it is something far more profound.

In part 2, the perfection of God meets the imperfection of us all.  That’s where we’ll resolve this question of a loving God and a horrific hell.  Hope to see you then as we complete this food for thought.

The Questions Project: Does God exist?

Questions_GodExistTHE QUESTIONS PROJECT: How can we know that God actually exists?

If we started with information that already assumes there is a God (i.e. religious texts) we’d quickly find ourselves in a circular argument.  Although, ultimately we end up there for details.  But we really need to start somewhere else.

Let’s start with what we can observe.  Science has opened up an amazing vista of the universe for us.  We have peered into the expanse of galaxies, and even gazed on the birth of stars.  Thanks to advanced physics and space telescopes, we’ve wrestled with dimensions and numbers of heavenly bodies that defy human comprehension.

We have also looked inward, we have found the human brain has more neurons than there are stars in the heavens.  The genetic strands by which the simplest cell is composed contain specific information more precise than the most complicated computer program.  What’s more, the microscopic “factories” that replicate this complex information are even self-powering!

How did we even discover these things?  Science relies on constant laws and systems.  Under given conditions, the same result will occur every time.  If you follow the laws of optics, we can build a space telescope.  By observing those laws we can You can focus on an object, by the constant laws of physics, you can determine the distance and size of that object.

A definition of “design” by Merriam-Webster is: the arrangement of elements or details in a product or work.  It’s an indisputable observation: the universe works.  According to science, for billions of years.  Astronomy understands it as a collection of functioning systems.

The idea of all the particles and parts of the universe organizing themselves into systems wouldn’t be a big deal if we hadn’t discovered another law of the universe called, “entropy.”  Quantum physicists like to talk about it as energy dissipated in a closed system.  But for us regular folks, it really plays out in the simple fact that everything tends to flow from order to disorder.  Just don’t clean your house for a month and see what happens. Entropy is a physical truth of the universe, and yet something drives the universe from disorder to order.

The greatest reality that flies in the face of entropy is life.  Nothing is a more ordered system of systems than life.  Even the simplest cell is a miniature factory.  Like your TV or car, all parts have to be working or it doesn’t work at all.  So for life to exits; not only must there be working systems, they must all come into existence at the same time.

Whether we are talking about constellations or human bodies, we are talking about functioning systems.  Functioning systems are by definition, the product of design.  That raises an assertion that just won’t go away.  If there is a design, there must be a designer.

Design also implies others things like intentionality and purpose.  We can be sure that whoever designed the first mouse trap definitely had a purpose in mind.

One final step in this path of reason.  Every creation is created by a designer greater than itself.  Whether it’s a mouse trap or the entire universe.  The creator is greater, or “transcends” the thing they created.  What do we call a creative entity that transcends all of reality?  We can use any label of our choosing, but the term, “God” certainly sounds appropriate.

Granted, this is only one line of reasoning that points to a Creator.  The truth is, it only takes us as far as this: such an entity actually exists.  But just the fact that there is a solid line of reasoning that leads to this conclusion should compel us to seriously search.  After all, if everything was designed on purpose and for a purpose, could there be a more fundamental mystery worth exploring?


Questions_1It’s pretty much official, we live in a post-Christian culture.  It is not that we have outgrown the concept of God, we’ve just strayed away from Him.  The result has been a profound loss in understanding the actual teaching of the faith.


Even if an individual has no desire to be in the faith, it is a loss of heritage, because like it or not, Judeo-Christianity has been infused in western culture since 200 BC.  That’s a lot of heritage!


The truth is, for all the information out there, it is rather difficult to get an honest and balanced answer based on Biblical teaching.  I’m by no means a scholar, but I am an ordained pastor who cares about this community in which I live.  I also have a strong passion for honesty and balance in approaching Scripture.


So here’s the deal.  I’m hoping for questions from the community.  Maybe it’s respectfully addressing a spiritually hostile meme or comment, maybe it just something you’ve wondered about, or perhaps it’s a conflict you sense within Scripture itself.  There are lots of honest questions out there.


I would love to hear them and do my best to address them.  Even if we can’t settle every issue, perhaps we can wrestle with them together.  I’d love to learn from you, just as much as I’d like to offer a thought that might help in your ponderings.


Here’s to looking forward to the community’s spiritual questions.  Just forward them to  I’ll do my best to offer an honest, clear, and Biblically balanced response.


3 Naughty_titleReady to be simply human as you pursue God?  Here we go with the naughty list, you can…



Following a God who is spirit is a venture in faith, the flip-side of faith is doubt.  They go together like two sides of the same coin.  Seasons of doubt come to even the most devout.  If we look through the Bible, we find people doubting God’s purpose, God’s promise, themselves, and even God!

It is natural to go through seasons of doubt.  What builds or destroys is not the doubt, but what we do with it.  All champions in the faith had a few things in common: They were honest about their doubt.  They faced their doubt.  They continued even as they doubted and they ended affirmed in some way.  That’s how it worked for Gideon in an impossible call, Moses in an impossible mission, Abraham’s impossible age, Peter denying Christ, and Thomas doubting the resurrection.  They were all understandable, but in the end, each was answered.


Get angry

Contrary to popular opinion, God says it’s ok to get angry.  It’s not wrong, just human.  The danger is, we usually doing something stupid while we are angry.

God expects us to get angry at times.  But He offers us a few guidelines:

Warning!  –Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.  Prov. 29:11

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.  James 1:19-20

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.  Ephesians 4:26, 27


Be a hot lover

The Greeks had three words for love; moral love, love of a friend, and erotic love.  Scripture offers wisdom on excelling in all three… yes, even the erotic!

On the steamy side; read the Song of Solomon.  In this intense love letter, Solomon writes:

The curves of your thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a skillful workman.  Your navel is a rounded goblet which lacks no blended beverage. Your waist is a heap of wheat set about with lilies.  Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. Song of Solomon 7:1-3

Ok, I’m going for a cold shower… be right back…

In today’s mindset, we equate sexual satisfaction in the thrills of novelty.  We see little more than boredom in the long-term or familiar.  But even psychological research is discovering that the most sexually satisfied people are those who have managed to stay in love over the long-haul and enjoy the depths of love that only time can provide.  The trick is, that type of love involves growth in the other two types of love.  (The Greeks had something there.)

So, there are 3 ways that God says, it’s ok to be “naughty”, just be honest about it- with Him, and with yourself.  It is certainly food for thought!