Loving God Would Never Torture People In Hell

There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ's moral character, and that is that he believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Hell is God's great compliment to the reality of human freedom and the dignity of human choice. Judge Cortland A. Mathers was in a quandary. Standing before him was a defendant who was guilty of playing a minor role in a drug case. She was a thirty-oneyear-old impoverished mother...

Objection 9 Isnt Reincarnation More Rational Than Hell

Instead, they believe in reincarnation, where people return to this world in another form after their death and are given another opportunity to work off the bad karma they generated in their past life and move toward enlightenment. Wouldn't reincarnation be a rational way for a loving God to give people a fresh start so that they might repent the next time around and he wouldn't have to send them to hell I asked. Wouldn't this be preferable to hell Remember, we...

Sin 3 The Salem Witch Trials

The Salem witch trials at the end of the 1600s are frequently cited as a kind of Christian hysteria. In all, nineteen people were hanged and one pressed to death for refusing to testify.20 Isn't this another example of how Christian beliefs can result in the trampling of the rights of others I asked. Yes, it's an example-if, in point of fact, true Christianity is involved here. When you unpack the episodes leading to the trials, you see there are many factors that precipitated them. There are...

The Sixth Interview J P Moreland

It didn't take long to get my rental car and drive to J. P. Moreland's house, which is located not far from the Talbot School of Theology, where he is a professor in the master's program in philosophy and ethics. Moreland's book, Beyond Death Exploring the Evidence for Immortality, showed that he had done a lot of thorough thinking and personal soul-searching about the doctrine of hell. He and coauthor Gary Habermas also delved into the nature of the soul, near-death experiences, reincarnation,...

Why Is It Hard To Believe

It was almost time for lunch and I was getting hungry. Do you want to get a bite to eat I asked Geisler. Sure, he said. There's a little sandwich place down the road. I glanced through my notes. I thought I had covered everything I wanted to discuss-but then I noticed a quotation I had brought along with me. It was a sentiment that reflected the frustration of a lot of people why does God make it so difficult to believe in him I didn't want to end the interview without asking Geisler about it....

What Faith Isnt

I knew that misconceptions about faith often open the door to doubts because they can create false expectations or misunderstandings about the nature of God. For instance, if people incorrectly think God has promised to heal everyone or make everyone wealthy if they just exhibit sufficient faith, they can fall prey to doubts when illness strikes or bankruptcy looms. In order to arrive at an accurate view of faith, I decided to first clear out the theological underbrush by defining what faith...

The Arrogance Of Christianity

Forgive me for being blunt, I said in prefacing my question, but isn't it grossly arrogant for Christians to claim Jesus is the one and only way to God Why do Christians think they're justified in asserting that they're right and that everybody else in the world is wrong While Zacharias' accent and conservative business attire-a starched white shirt and muted tie-gave him an air of formality, he was invariably enthusiastic, warm, and engaging in his answers. Lee, I hear that question so much,...

Confirmation By Prophecies

Geisler began with a sweeping sentence The Bible is the only book in the world that has precise, specific predictions that were made hundreds of years in advance and that were literally fulfilled. Gesturing toward one of the books packed into his shelves, he continued by saying, According to Barton Payne's Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, there are 191 predictions in the Old Testament about the coming of Christ, including his ancestry, the city in which he would be born, that he would be born...

God Isnt Worthy Of Worship If He Kills Innocent Children

The Bible tells us to be like God, and then on page after page it describes God as a mass murderer. But you, 0 Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. As I walked through the metal detectors and past the uniformed guards, I could sense an undercurrent of expectation at the White House. Despite efforts to project a business-as-usual facade, it was clear that something big was going on behind the scenes. The Monica Lewinsky scandal had been...

Reason 4 God Makes Sense of the Resurrection

With this point, Craig said he was going to switch gears a bit. We've been saying that if we have good reasons to believe in God, then we can believe in miracles, he said. I've been giving reasons that point toward God's existence. But miracles themselves also can be part of the cumulative case for God. That's true, for instance, of the Resurrection. If Jesus of Nazareth really did come back from the dead, then we have a divine miracle on our hands and, thus, evidence for the existence of God....

Reasoning By Analogy

The analogical method was described in the nineteenth century by astronomer John F W Herschel, who wrote If the analogy of two phenomena be very close and striking, while, at the same time, the cause of one is very obvious, it becomes scarcely possible to refuse to admit the action of an analogous cause in the other, though not so obvious in itself.58 How does this apply to the origin-of-life issue I asked Bradley. If the only time we see written information-whether it's a painting on a cave...

Objection 7 Why Didnt God Create Only Those He Knew Would Follow

If God knows the future, why did he create people whom he knew would never turn to hint and who would therefore end up in hell I asked. Couldn't he have created only those whom he knew would follow him and simply not created those whom he knew would reject him That option would seem to be much more humane than hell. It depends on God's goal, said Moreland. If God had chosen to create just a handful of four, six, or seven people, maybe he could have only created those people who would go to...

Flames Worms And Gnashing Teeth

There was that torture chamber imagery again. No wonder that's a popular vision of hell, I said. When I was about ten years old, I was taken to Sunday school, where the teacher lit a candle and said, 'Do you know how much it hurts to burn your finger Well, imagine your whole body being in fire forever and ever. That's what hell is.' Moreland nodded as if he had heard that kind of story before. Now, some kids got scared, I added. I just got resentful that this guy was trying to manipulate me. I...

Theory 6 Life from Clay

Another hypothesis popularized by the media in recent years was Scottish chemist A. G. Cairns-Smith's suggestion that life somehow arose on clays whose crystalline structure had enough complexity to somehow encourage prebiotic chemicals to assemble together.49 What about that approach I asked Bradley. In one sense, the clays might help, because molecules don't like to react in water, and the surface of the clay might give them a less-wet environment, Bradley replied. But how would the clay be...

The Eighth Interview Lynn Anderson Dmin

Outside his 1929-vintage house, filled with primitive typewriters, quaint candlestick telephones, and other antiques from that era, Lynn Anderson works in a cozy office above his garage. His working space has a rustic feel, with Indian and western art on the walls, wooden bookcases from floor to ceiling, and a photo of the cabin where he was born in Saskatchewan sixty-three years ago. There was no electricity on the homestead where he grew up, just one beloved battery-powered radio that kept...

Since Miracles Contradict Science They Cannot Be True

The virgin birth, the Resurrection, the raising of Lazarus, even the Old Testament miracles, all are freely used for religious propaganda, and they are very effective with an audience of unsophisticates and children. It is not just a provocative rumor that God has acted in history, but a fact worthy of our intellectual conviction. The miracles of Christianity are not an embarrassment to the Christian worldview. Rather, they are testimony to the compassion of God for human beings benighted by...

Why Christianity Spread

Historians have long marveled at-and theorized about the amazing speed with which Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire despite brutal persecution. I asked Woodbridge to assess the comments made by atheist-turned-Christian Patrick Glynn Part of the reason for Christianity's rapid spread, historians have remarked, was simply that the early Christians were such nice people. The very kindness of the Christians and their service to the poor and downtrodden attracted new adherents....

Theory 1 Random Chance

I had been taught in school that if chemicals had an ample amount of time to interact in the warm little ponds of early earth, eventually the improbable would become probable and life would emerge. Given Bradley's description of what would have to happen, however, I could see why this theory has lost support in recent years. Scientists once believed in the idea of random chance plus time yielding life, because they also believed in the steady-state theory of the universe, Bradley said. This...

Objection 4 Couldnt God Force Everyone to Go to Heaven

Let me go back to a point you made at the outset, I said to Moreland. You said God is grieved by the necessity of hell. Then why can't he simply force everyone to go to heaven That would seem to be a simple solution. Because that, replied Moreland, would be immoral. Immoral I said in surprise. More immoral than hell Yes, immoral. Follow me on this there's a difference between intrinsic value and instrumental value. Something has intrinsic value if it's valuable and good in and of itself...

The Fifth Interview Ravi Zacharias Dd

There's an old Indian saying that says there are two ways to get to your nose, Ravi Zacharias told me as he removed his black suet coat and sat down at a round wooden table en his office. There's this way, he said, pointing directly to his nose. Then he reached around the back of his head and touched his nose from the far side. And there's this way, he said with a smile. In other words, Indians sometimes prefer to take a long and circuitous route to an answer rather than getting to the point...

Its Offensive To Claim Jesus Is The Only Way To

I am absolutely against any religion that says that one faith is superior to another. I don't see how that is anything different than spiritual racism. It's c way of saying that we are closer to God than you and that's what leads to hatred. Moses could mediate on the law Muhammad could brandish a sword Buddha could give personal counsel Confucius could offer wise sayings but none of these men was qualified to offer an atonement for the sins of the world Christ alone is worthy of unlimited...

Bearing The Pain

I sat back in my chair and reflected on what Kreeft had said so far. Some of his arguments were stronger than others, but at least he wasn't merely offering canned explanations. The clues seemed to be leading somewhere. I decided to ask him about a quote from Augustine, who said Since God is the highest good, he would not allow any evil to exist in his works unless his omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil. After reading him those words, I said, Does that mean...

Primordial Detective Story

Everyone concedes that evolution is true to some extent. Undeniably, there are variations within species of animals and plants, which explains why there are more than two hundred different varieties of dogs, cows can be bred for improved milk production, and bacteria can adapt and develop immunity to antibiotics. This is called microevolution. But Darwin's theory goes much further than that, claiming that life began millions of years ago with simple single-cell creatures and then developed...

Origin Meaning Morality Destiny

Anyone can claim to be the only path to God. In fact, quite a few crackpots have made that assertion throughout history. The real issue is why anybody should believe Jesus was telling the truth when he said it. On what basis do you believe this claim by Jesus is true I asked Zacharias. Ah, yes, that is the heart of the question, he replied, his head nodding. On one hand, you can say that the resurrection of Jesus established him as being the son of God. If that's true, then all other faith...

Redemption Righteousness Worship

Comedian Quentin Crisp once said When I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, 'Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don't believe ' His humor was actually a sad commentary on the depth of sectarian strife in that land. Through the centuries, the world has seen plenty of acrimony and violence over differences in the way people view God. Disgusted by religious bickering, some people have...

Objection 1 Since Evil And Suffering Exist A Loving God Cannot

Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot or he can, but does not want to or he cannot and does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, and does not want to, he is wicked. But, if God both can and wants to abolish evil, then how comes evil in the world The fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith, and has been in every generation. Its distribution and degree appear to be entirely random and therefore unfair....

Attribute 3 God Is All Good

That left us with God's attribute of goodness. Good is a notoriously tricky word, Kreeft began, because even in human affairs there's such a wide range of meaning. But the difference, once again, between us and God is certainly greater than the difference between us and animals, and since good varies enormously between us and animals, it must vary even more enormously between us and God. Granted, I said. But if I sat there and did nothing while my child got run over by a truck, I wouldn't be...

The Power Of A Picture

Occasionally, I could see evidence of his Alzheimer's, such as when he was unable to recall a precise sequence of events or when he'd repeat himself. But for the most part he spoke with eloquence and enthusiasm, using an impressive vocabulary, his rich and robust voice rising and lowering for emphasis. He had an aristocratic tone that sounded nearly theatrical at times. Was there one thing in particular that caused you to lose your faith in God I asked at the...