How can a good God condemn innocent people?

Posted: December 12, 2008 in agnosticism, atheism, Bible, bible study, children, Christian, church, faith, family, Personal, Religion, Thoughts, women

In response to Walton-

You have raised a question that I had wrestled with for many years.

 

“If God exists, then He must be Omni-benevolent. But an Omni-benevolent God would not condemn innocent people to hell.”  So how do Christians reconcile this? I did not find a satisfactory answer until I attended seminary, in spite of grilling every pastor and Sunday school teacher I ever had.

 

I don’t do this with unbelievers, but since you profess Christianity, I will respond with scripture.

 

It appears from your comment that you agree that God is Omni-benevolent, so I will begin with the question of how an all-good God can condemn innocent people.

 

One error is in the assumption that innocent people exist. Reading Romans 3 we learn that no one is righteous, not even one. We all fall short of the glory of God. This means that everyone is guilty of sin, of missing God’s perfect standard. We are all guilty. No one is innocent. Not the suburban housewife, not the pygmy in the tree, no one.

 

Now, since you claim to be a Christian, I am also going to assume that you claim Christ as your Lord and Savior bringing me to the next point. With the certainty of eternal damnation, eternal salvation is necessary. The wages of sin is death. But how can someone who has never heard of Christ be held accountable for what has not been revealed to him? The answer is: we are each held accountable to the revelation we have received.

 

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Romans 1:18-25

 

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.g 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” John 3:16-21

 

This still leaves the suburban housewife and the pygmy in the tree held to a standard they cannot keep, and owing a debt they cannot pay. We are all given general revelation concerning God’s existence Rom. 1:20, and concerning our moral condition Rom. 1:18, John 3:19. So what is the solution? The Omni-benevolent God we serve provides special revelation, if we seek him through general revelation.

 

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  Matt. 7:7-11

 

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Rev. 3:20

 

Finally, our salvation relies upon the sovereignty of all good and all loving God. If God is all powerful and sovereign, then He will save all those who seek and trust Him. Because He is all loving, He does not force anyone into His presence against their will.

 

It is appointed to every man, once to die and then judgment. Heb. 9:27

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Comments
  1. morsec0de says:

    “We are all given general revelation concerning God’s existence”

    No, we’re not.

    Your book says we do. But this is just one more thing about which your book is wrong.

  2. pastoralmusings says:

    morsec0de,
    Just because you refuse to see something does not mean that it is not there.
    Each sunrise testifies to the wisdom of God. Every atom in the universe testifies to His power. The regular passing or the seasons testifies to His creative power, wisdom, and personality. They also testify that He is there sustaining it all.
    I know that you do not believe that. I know that you think it is wrong. On the other hand, that does not change the unchangeable. God is there and He speaks loudly.
    If He did not do so, why do you try to shout Him down?
    Sincerely,
    Jason

  3. morsec0de says:

    “Just because you refuse to see something does not mean that it is not there.”

    And just because you insist that something is there that the majority of the world doesn’t see (because the majority of people don’t believe in your particular god) doesn’t mean that it is there.

    “Each sunrise testifies to the wisdom of God. ”

    You, my friend, need to read a science textbook. Each sunrise is testament to the rotation of the Earth.

    “If He did not do so, why do you try to shout Him down?”

    Because what you consider “loudly” is actually “silent”.

  4. pastoralmusings says:

    Morsec0de,
    It is very sad that you refuse to examine the issue.
    Even the fact that there is an intelligent design community made up of reputable scientists should give you cause to think.
    I am going to leave you with this, because I can tell that you are very angry with God for some reason.
    God still loves you and will forgive you if you will simply look beyond your problems to the source of your existence and trust His Son who died for your sins and rose from the dead to conquer sin.
    Praying you’ll find His grace and joy,
    Jason

  5. morsec0de says:

    Wow. You’re just about every Christian who knows nothing about atheists stereotype, aren’t you?

  6. pastoralmusings says:

    Morsec0de,
    I had not intention of replying further, but your words need one.
    I wrote what I did because your track record on my blog, as well as what I have read here, shows that you despise the thought of the existence of God.
    That does not come about accidentally.
    I have no idea if there is actually anything common to atheists besides a disbelief in the existence of any God.
    My response to you was based upon my experiences with you. Your reply proves my point, but you refuse to see that.
    You may respond as you wish, but I shall not reply any further on this post.
    I shall only say that I intend to be an online friend to you in every way that I can (though we disagree on the fundamental issue of life) and shall pray for you.
    Jason

  7. Zacharias says:

    Pastoralmusings, please, do not feed the trolls!

  8. Nance says:

    Zach-
    I have my share of trolls, but I don’t consider morsecode to be one of them.

  9. pastoralmusings says:

    Morsec0de may not agree with Nance and me, but he does come back and comment.
    I’ve always viewed a troll as a hit and run sort of person when it comes to comments. Morsec0de hits, stays, and hits again 🙂
    My guess is that he’s a nice guy who like all of us, needs Jesus.
    Jason

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