Posted by: Caleb | March 13, 2011

isn’t god just an angry judge?

In our current series at church, we’re discussing “The Trouble with Christianity”, and the topic this week is “Isn’t God Just an Angry Judge?”

As luck would have it, we’re also discussing it in our Life Group on Tuesday night. I sent the following in an email to the entire Life Group, detailing some things we’re going to discuss. I thought I’d share, and see if I could get some good feedback from the interwebs:

LAUNCH QUESTIONS:

1.) What is one of the most memorable punishments that you received as a child? (Feel free to have some fun with this one.)
2.) How can a loving God send people to Hell? Have you ever struggled with this question? If yes, have you ever satisfactorily resolved your struggles with it? How?

READ: Matthew 25:31-46 | Mark 9:42-48 | Luke 16:19-31 | 2 Peter 3:8-9

DISCUSS:

1.) Do you find the doctrine of divine judgement, or the idea of God’s “wrath”, offensive or troubling? If not, why do you think some people might?

2.) John talked about Hell being a state of self-centeredness, about how people could center their lives on something other than God, and that these things are often good things (being a good father or mother, for example). What are some other things that people could put in the place of God? Do you think people ever put something ahead of God on purpose? What is something on which you focus much of your energy that could be taking the place of God in your life, that might be giving you a sense of who you are?

3.) In response to the objection that a God of love cannot be a God of anger, Tim Keller says [in the book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism], “all loving persons are sometimes filled with wrath, not just despite of but because of their love. Anger isn’t the opposite of love, hate is, and the final form of hate is indifference.” [pg 73]. Do you agree? Why? Do you find this true in your personal experience, especially the bit about wrath coming about because of love? If you find that little or nothing in the world angers you, what does this say about you? Do you find it a good response to the idea that a God of love cannot possibly be a God of wrath?

The parting thought comes from C.S. Lewis:

“In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question: ‘What are you asking God to do?’ To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But he has done so, on Calvary.”

Again, please feel free to have a good, sane, courteous discussion in the comments.

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Responses

  1. I’ve heard it argued that God does not actually send people to hell. The only people that go to hell are those who willfully choose to reject God, and therefore don’t desire to spend eternity with God. While I cannot fathom anyone making that choice, it would actually be a loving act by God in fulfilling his or her wish.

    I’m not sure how fully I agree with this viewpoint, but I think it’s worth consideration and discussion.

    • I agree with andy, that God lets you choose your own will and if it’s so self-absorbed that you reject Him then your path will be to hell. The crazy thought to me is that that even in hell, they are still self-absorbed. Example – Luke 16:19. The rich man doesn’t even ask to be let out, he asks for Lazarus to serve him. Even with him in hell and Lazarus in Heaven, he still sees himself above Lazarus. Crazy. Now how do you know that you are not that self-centered? That’s the scary question.


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