When sharing Jesus with non-Christians there are questions we want to avoid. It is not because we don’t have answers; it is because the answers are difficult for the listener and hard to unpack in a brief conversation. Hell is one of those doctrines that the vast majority of people hate and wonder why we would hold such a disgusting teaching.
The following are some questions Christians hope no one asks:
- Do you believe in hell? Why would you believe in such a terrible doctrine?
- How can you believe in a God who will torment people for all eternity? Isn’t that cosmic overkill?
- Am I going to hell?
- If Jesus is the only way to heaven, what about the billions of people who have never heard of Jesus?
Answering Tough Questions
The primary apologetic issue about hell is balancing the love of God with eternal punishment. People argue that hell and a good God are incompatible. Actually, no matter what answers we provide, the existence of hell is not a defeater for the Christian worldview. Christianity can be true and hell can be real. All a person can say is they don’t like any worldview that holds to the doctrine of hell. And yet many people try to use hell to argue against the Christian worldview. Just because someone doesn’t like the doctrine of hell doesn’t make Christianity false. The famous atheist Bertrand Russell once said…
“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.”
“I must say that I think all this doctrine, that hell-fire is a punishment for sin, is a doctrine of cruelty. It is a doctrine that put cruelty into the world and gave the world generations of cruel torture; and the Christ of the Gospels, if you could take Him as His chroniclers represent Him, would certainly have to be considered partly responsible for that.”
Russell obviously had some serious personal complaints to the doctrine of hell and about Jesus who gave us the most detailed descriptions of everlasting punishment. His opinions are not arguments. They don’t carry any weight when evaluating the truth of Christianity. In addition his assertion that hell promotes cruelty is without support. Mr. Russell how does the belief in hell bring cruelty into the world? Instead it should bring about compassion towards those without Christ and an endless stream of Christians reaching out to those without Jesus through selfless service and evangelism. It should be a motivator for believers to love those outside the kingdom of God, not to promote cruelty.
Objections abound from people who hate or don’t understand hell. I will provide answers to tough questions about eternal punishment. These will be café discussion type answers, ones that can be used in the public square when challenged.
Question: Are you saying that if I don’t join the Jesus group I am headed for hell? Why would God judge someone for choosing the wrong club? Why couldn’t I get to heaven in the Christian Science club or the Muslim club or even the Mormon club?
Answer: Many Christians miscommunicate why someone goes to hell. We make it sound like if you don’t join the Jesus club you’re out. No one actually goes to hell for not believing in Jesus; they go to hell because of sin. People have a sin problem and hell is where they will pay the penalty for breaking God’s law. Jesus is the solution and not the problem. If someone has cancer and doesn’t go to the doctor and he dies, is the doctor to blame? If he had gone to the doctor he would have lived. People who go to the spiritual doctor Jesus and place their trust in Him will have eternal life; they will be cured of the sin problem. If you don’t avail yourself of the solution, when you die you will pay the penalty for your sins and you will be separated from God for all eternity. People who don’t want to follow Jesus will get what they desire; separation from God. God doesn’t force Himself on anyone. Jesus is the only solution to the sin problem.
 Bertrand Russell, Why I am Not a Christian, Simon & Schuster, Inc. Publ. 1957, p. 16
 Ibid p. 18