Dan Popp
Hell is good
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By Dan Popp
June 8, 2017

In my previous essay I affirmed, against heretics like William Paul Young, that Hell is separation. Now I'd like to explain why Hell is good. That won't be as difficult as it seems.

Hell is good because hell is just, and justice is good. Those who imagine themselves nicer than God would actually give us an unjust universe. This rot goes back to a 2nd-century heretic named Marcion, who didn't like the righteous God of the Bible, so he invented another, "good" god to go alongside Him. But Christians mocked Marcion by showing that a god without justice can't be good.

I believe the reason people have a false view of hell is that they have a false view of humans. Of course God would be a monster to throw people into hell – if by "God" we mean the God of the Bible, and if by "hell" we mean the hell of the Bible, but if by "people" we mean something other than as described in the Bible! That's changing terms in the middle of your argument.

The new Marcionites want us to imagine that sinners are like rowdy teenagers knocking over a few mailboxes on a Saturday night. "How could you throw your own children into hell?" they howl. Their premise is a lie. Though everyone is a creature of God, not everyone is a child of God. "You are of your father, the devil," Jesus told earlier religious posers. John wrote, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name...." (John 1:12, NAS95)

Those outside of Christ aren't "children" of God, but "enemies" of God (Romans 5:10a). We were, and they are, "alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds" (Colossians 1:21). Like the devil himself, these are "the sons of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2b). God wants to adopt enemies as sons – that's the amazing grace we sing about – but if we won't lay down our arms against Him, He will treat us as what we are, not what we flatter ourselves to be.

Just as heretics have mistaken the nature of human beings, they misunderstand the nature of death and what comes after. Do you remember this strange passage from Genesis?
    Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" – therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. (Genesis 3:22-23, NKJV)
Adam and Eve could have eaten of the tree of life before this. We will eat of the tree of life later – it's mentioned in Revelation 22. What unthinkable thing would have happened if man had eaten of the tree of life then, in his fallen condition? Maybe he would have been "alive" permanently – in his dead and alienated state! Maybe this step into immortality would have made redemption impossible.

There's no hint in the Bible that those on the other side of death can change or be changed one iota, for better or for worse.

We think of eternity as being just like time, only longer. But what if stepping out of the stream of time means that "now" and "then" are no longer meaningful concepts; that to inhabit eternity is to experience all moments simultaneously? In that case, the fires of hell can't be a refining process, as Young would have you believe, because a process requires the forward movement of time.

God has created a solution to evil; it's called "hell." And He has given us an escape from hell in the death of His Son on the Cross. There is no third option.

© Dan Popp

 

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