Before we leave the objections to Christianity being the only way to God, we need to deal with the subject of hell because it often ties in to their objection. After all, skeptics wouldn’t have much bite to their argument if Christianity promised all people would be saved regardless.
The objection typically sounds something like, “ A loving God wouldn’t send people to hell.” But it is important to remember that people freely separate themselves from God against His will. Even Calvinists who subscribe to compatibilism (I’ll unpack that later) believe this. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, people who want a life with God gets it forever and those who don’t want a life with God get that life forever–either way, people get what they want.
But then the skeptic may come back with something like, “A just God wouldn’t punish people forever. Certainly, if He is good, He would give them a second chance!” This of course is the theme underlying Rob Bell’s controversial book Love Wins. This is where theology comes into the picture. Christianity teaches that to reject God is a sin of infinite gravity and proportion. Why?
We as a people will get very angry, very quickly when a child is injured in some way. We hear about murder, rape or other crimes committed against adults and we think, “how terrible” and then we put it out of our mind but when we hear about a crime against a child we are truly shaken to our core. We are so outraged because we look at a child as purer than we are. Yet, God is purer than anything any of us have ever encountered and every sin is first and foremost is a crime against God Himself because He is our creator. Thus, sin is the greatest crime a person can commit and, therefore, calls for the greatest punishment.
The skeptic may yet respond with something like, “Persons who are uninformed or misinformed about Christ cannot be condemned for their failure to believe in Christ.” When I was an atheist I used this argument often. I would say, “what about the guy on a desert island who has never heard about Jesus? I guess it is just his bad luck.” But what I didn’t understand at the time was that sin is not just about a lack of information but rebellion steeped in pride. Paul writes in Romans that creation itself reveals to all that there is a creator. We all have a duty to search for this truth in the wake of this revelation. If we fail to seek it, we are pridefully declaring that we don’t need God because we can handle all of this ourselves which is sin. Thus, we are all culpable.
This objection also fails to consider God’s foreknowledge. Part of God being God is that He is outside of time and can see the past, present and future as one. This led Wesleyans to argue that God never fails to get the Gospel message to those He knows will accept it and doesn’t bother with those He knows will never accept it.
The skeptic may yet offer another objection that God should not make anyone that wouldn’t accept the Gospel but that would truly limit our freedom to the point that it wouldn’t be freedom. It is important to remember, as William Lane Craig writes, there is “no guarantee that all people who hear will accept and you can’t make someone freely do something.” It is rather odd that atheists who want to be free of God object to freedom with eternal consequences.
I will address other various objections along this line as this series continues, so keep tuning in.
Until then, grace and peace.