From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

The Importance Of Hell

One of the books I’ve been reading is Tim Keller’s The Reason for God, which led me to poking around the internet for more about and by him. I found the website for his church (Redeemer Presbyterian – click here) and read one of his articles there entitled “The Importance Of Hell” (clickhere). Here’s a quote that caught my attention:

“Fairly often I meet people who say, ‘I have a personal relationship with a loving God, and yet I don’t believe in Jesus Christ at all.’ Why, I ask? ‘My God is too loving to pour out infinite suffering on anyone for sin.’ But this shows a deep misunderstanding of both God and the cross. On the cross, God HIMSELF, incarnated as Jesus, took the punishment. He didn’t visit it on a third party, however willing.

So the question becomes: what did it cost your kind of god to love us and embrace us? What did he endure in order to receive us? Where did this god agonize, cry out, and where were his nails and thorns? The only answer is: ‘I don’t think that was necessary.’ But then ironically, in our effort to make God more loving, we have made him less loving. His love, in the end, needed to take no action. It was sentimentality, not love at all.”

I hadn’t thought about it that way before. The “loving god” of people I meet who deny the reality of hell or the cross, is actually a squishy god, unable or unwilling to bear the cost of love. In my own experience with my wife and children, I know that love costs. And the deeper the love, the more the cost. But this ‘loving god’ who makes no demands, pays no cost, bears no cross, endures no hell, is more the figment of my self-absorbed and self-affirming ego than the God of the Scripture.

Funny how important hell is to my happiness.


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