Ask Anything: Multi Stage Philosophical Concern about Eternity

Thanks again to Keith Johnson for approaching this excellent question with an equally excellent answer.  

Keith’s Note:  This question was proposed to Discovery in the form of a philosophical argument with both premises and a conclusion.  We were asked to comment on the logic of the argument including each premise as well as the conclusion. The author’s “But” statement is positioned as a problem which from then which other questions are drawn.  In attempt to keep this to blog length and not book length, I will address each premise as well as it’s conclusion, but not all the specific follow on questions or positions which may arise.  Through this process, I will also attempt to address what I see as the author’s essential question or issue with Christianity: If God is a loving God, then why would God create a world in which most people are sent to torment hell?  Moreover this doesn’t seem very fair or loving.

Premises:

1) One must accept God’s grace through Jesus in order to be accepted into heaven.

2) This acceptance must be made during this life.

3) The only alternative to heaven is eternal torture in hell.

4) The majority of people on earth or who have ever lived have not accepted Jesus (or been law-abiding Jews).

Therefore:

5) God created a world in which the vast majority of his creation will spend an eternity in torture after a finite life.

But: (i.e. the problem)

6) God is Love

——————————————–

  1. One must accept God’s grace through Jesus in order to be accepted into heaven.
    1. Answer: In short; “Yes” this premise is correct and backed Biblically.  Reference:
      1. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
      2. John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
      3. John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
      4. John 17:3 And this is eternal life,that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
      5. Acts 2:21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
      6. Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
  1. This acceptance must be made during this life.
    1. Answer: In short; “Yes” this premise is correct and backed Biblically.  Reference:
      1. John 8:24 “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”
      2. Romans 10:9  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Note; Obviously, in order to declare with your mouth you must be alive.
  1. The only alternative to heaven is hell.  (Note: I have intentionally abbreviated the premise here so as to not side track into the specificity of what is “hell”.)
    1. Answer: In short; “Yes”  this premise is correct and backed Biblically. Reference:
      1. Matthew 25:46  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
      2. John 5:24  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who send me has eternal life.  He does not come into judgement, but has passed form death to life.
      3. Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  1. The majority of people on earth or who have ever lived have not accepted Jesus (or been law-abiding Jews).
    1. Answer: In short; “Yes”.  This is really just a question of math in that most people of the world today are not Christian and when one looks back from the beginning of time (especially  B.C.) the math compounds.
  1. God created a world in which the vast majority of his creation will spend an eternity in torture after a finite life.
    1. Answer: In short; “No”.  This conclusion is logically flawed.  Remember the specific question in premise 4 is past tense and does not consider the future (nor can it while also upholding logical reasoning).  It presumes that just because the majority of the people of this world, prior to Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, and perhaps because the majority of people up until this time, have not accepted Christ as their Lord and savior, that this trend will continue into eternity.  The plain fact is that we can not foresee the future.  We are not omnipotent.  And trends change over time.  Remember, God is playing for the long game.
    1. If that isn’t satisfying enough, then consider this; we need to understand that God gave man (meaning men and women) free will and choice to either join God in heaven or to not join him.  Reference:  Matthew 7:13-14  “Enter by the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  This means that many, after having heard the words of salvation through Christ may willingly choose the alternative.  At first blush, this may sound odd, but consider the fact that God is giving people what they want most, including the freedom to choose one’s own path in both life and death.  God blessed us with the free will to choose sin or salvation, and way back in the beginning of time, man chose sin.  Reference: Genesis 3:2.  This is why you hear many Christians say we live in a “fallen world”.
    1. The bible is also very clear in that the purpose for our creation is not to be cast into eternal hell, but to be united with him.  Reference: 1 Thessalonians 5-6 “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.”  1 Timothy 3-6 “who (God) wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.”
    1. Despite our seeming predilection with choosing sin over salvation, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16.  This is why the Bible is considered to be the greatest love story of all time.

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