Many Christians as well as the representatives of other confessions ask this question: why do loving God allow His creatures to suffer in Hell? Can an idea of eternal punishment be compared with the love of God? Clark Pinnock says: “How can Christians possibly project a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness whose ways include inflicting everlasting torture upon His creatures, however sinful they may have been?” (Pinnock 1990, 246). Obviously, it can be difficult to comprehend this idea that God can be compared with Satan in his disgrace. I think that God is mercy and He gives many chances to be good and to live according to His law, therefore, those people who live in sin, crime and evil, should be punished.
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According to Elwell, “the basic reason is that it is not easy to reconcile the idea of hell with the love of God” (2001, 532). I completely agree with this statement as it says about the comprehension of the idea of Hell as the place given by God. Such notions as eternal punishment, annihilationism, and universalism that happen after death can be considered in the following ways. For instance, according to annihilationism after death, people go nowhere. Such a statement is typical for atheists. Universalism as the popular idea of the last quarter claims that it does not matter what God one believes in since all of us will go to Heaven after death. For universalists, a hell is an empty place. As for me, this idea seems quite confusing. If hell is empty, why does this place exist?
There are different terms for hell such as Sheol, Hades, and Gehenna. In the Old Testament, it is possible to find the term Sheol that explains the way from life to death. It is commonplace for both good and bad people where they stay until the coming of Christ. In later texts, it is written that Sheol is the Hebrew term and Hades is a virtual synonymous with this place. Gehenna is more associated with metaphorical hell fire; therefore, this term better corresponds to the traditional understanding of the eternal adobe of the wicked.
My understanding is related to the biblical view of eternal punishments. The conceptions of annihilationism and universalism are not close to my comprehending. I believe in the eternal life for the righteous and the eternal punishment in hell for the wicked. This idea can be found in the Bible in Matthew 25:46 where it is written that the righteous will go to eternal life and the wicked will go to eternal punishment. Besides, the same idea can be found in the Bible in John 3:36.
To sum it up, I would like to say that I agree with Towns in his statement that “God is just and this justice requires that he judge those who violate His law” (2008). Everyone should be treated according to one’s affairs. I think that God is love and it is absolutely wrong to claim that He can be compared with Satan because of the existence of punishment. Wherever people believe that God can be unfair, I stay upon the idea that everything in our life is logical and God knows better what is right and what is wrong than we know.
Elwell, Water A. 2001. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: BakerAcademic.
Pinnock, Clark H. 1990. The Destruction of the Finally Impenitent. Criswell Theological Review 4: 246 – 7.
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Towns, Elmer L. 2008. Theology for Today. Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning.