I’m still researching some responses to DaGoodS’s remaining two questions that Christians hope no one will ask. But I wanted to put something up today, so keeping with the theme of questions posed to Christians, I’m going to answer two interesting questions.
A long time back, on Reddit, there was a thread collecting all of the questions that theists allegedly can’t answer. In a previous thread, I began to answer some of those questions. I would like to continue by answering two questions that relate to the eternal destiny of the soul.
The first question I’m going to break up into pieces so it’s a bit more manageable.
Guy is an adulterer without repenting and thus, goes to hell, right? Another guy kills a hundred people, without repenting, and thus, goes to the same hell, right? Now, do you think it is proportional to treat both guys with the same fate?
Yes, because in both cases they have broken the same laws issued by God. However, just because they are going to the same place (hell) doesn’t automatically mean that they are in for the exact same punishment. The gravity of the sin will determine the amount of pain one suffers in hell.
I guess this next part of the question is supposed to make some sort of big “court-room-drama-style” revelation that makes everyone gasp, but it really makes the writer sound stupid:
However, if they go to “different places” according to the gravity of their sins, do they go under authority of God? If so, does it mean that God actually determines the penalty, and not the Devil?
Yes, God determines the ultimate punishment. The Devil is a created being, and he himself is going to hell, but not because it is his domain. Pop culture depicts the devil’s “home” as hell and Far Side cartoons show that he is the master of it, deciding the fate of wayward souls. But theology tells us that the devil’s home is actually heaven, and he was ostracized for rebelling against God. In Revelation, the devil is cast into everlasting fire the same as rebellious humans. He’s not the warden, nor is overseeing anyone’s fate there. He is suffering in it, alongside the other damned.
On to the second question:
If I kill your whole family and by my last breath I repent, would you feel comfortable meeting me in paradise?
What most critics miss about Christianity is that “easy-believism” isn’t what is in view. After establishing that sin means certain death for the people who continue in it, Paul rhetorically asked the Roman church, “How can we who died to sin still live in it” (Rom 6:2)?
Most churches today practice Gospel Lite, telling us that if we believe in Jesus, then we get to go to heaven. Never do they peel away the layers of sin in our lives, trying to show us that we need to repent of our former selves and live according to Jesus’ teachings. Above all, we must practice grace and forgiveness. Not by becoming doormats, but by embracing the greatest of the commandments and loving God with all of our hearts, minds, and strength. Then, loving our neighbors as our own selves.
So, for the mass murderer who makes a deathbed profession, we have to ask ourselves, “How sincere is this guy, really?” He might just be trying to avoid hell by embracing that Gospel Lite prevalent today. If he isn’t sincere, God will know that and judge accordingly.
If he is sincere, and he is in heaven, then I will have my faith in God’s judgment to just and fair.
The bottom line is this: God does things at the counsel and good pleasure of his own will. He doesn’t ask his creatures how we would like to be dealt with, nor how he should deal with others. As he knows all, we should place some trust in his judgment.
In other words, just because a person once professed faith in Jesus doesn’t mean that he automatically gets the golden ticket and goes to heaven. There is a component of obedience that must be met as well.