Cruelty In The Bible?
Are people punished for mere disbelief?
THE CLAIMED CRUELTY: In the New Testament, God became far worse in regard to imposing excessively severe punishments. It would be hard to imagine anything more cruel and disproportionate than punishing people with eternal torture for mere disbelief that Jesus was the son of God.
The inability to believe that proposition harms no one, and it has been disbelieved by some of the greatest benefactors of humanity. Nonetheless, God promises to punish them and all other nonbelievers with the most horrible pain conceivable.
Let's get right to the root of this one... why are people punished in hell (the eternal lake of fire).
Yes, they only way to be saved from the eternal lake of fire (hell), is to fully believe (trust) that Jesus Christ paid your penalty for sin in full. If you are not believing in Jesus Christ, then you will spend eternity in hell.
But there is more to story... a lot more. Let's answer a few questions:
- Is punishment with "eternal torture" excessive or disproportionate?
- Is eternal punishment the consequence for mere disbelief?
- If you don't believe in Jesus, is that harmful?
- Is the fact that some of the greatest benefactors of humanity did not believe of any significance?
So let's get started..
Is punishment with "eternal torture" excessive or disproportionate?
No, it is not.
A typical analogy that is brought up is that of a child disobeying their parents. The parents tell them to clean up their room, and they don't do it. As punishment the parents hold the child's hand over a hot stove until his hand has a burn. Is this a fair punishment, or is it excessive and disproportionate?
It is excessive and disproportionate... not at all appropriate.
So why then, is it okay for God to burn someone in eternal hell forever, just because they disobeyed Him?
The problem with this is that this is an apples to oranges comparison. The severity of the punishment is related to both the severity of the "crime," AND the person against whom the "crime" was committed. Here is an example:
Let's say a tell a lie to my three-year-old son. What are the consequences? There are none.
If I tell a lie to my wife, there may be consequences. I may spend the night on the couch.
If I tell a lie to my boss, I could very quickly become unemployed.
If I lie to a grand jury, I could find myself in jail.
In each case the offense was the same, a lie. But, the consequences increased because of who the offense was against. To lie to a grand jury is a much more serious offense than
to lie to a three-year old child.
Sin is an offense against the perfect, holy, eternal, creator God who has given us everything we have, and who continually upholds the entire universe. This makes the offense infinitely serious, and the punishment is appropriate in being infinite.
So eternal torture is not excessive or disapropriate... it is the just and appropriate punishment.
Is eternal punishment the consequence for mere disbelief?
Yes and no. The problem is the use of the word "mere." It creates a loaded question in which the answer is presupposed. By adding the pronoun "mere" the act of disbelief
is made to seem insignificant or inconsequential. The truth is, disbelief in this case is the most significant and consequential act of every human beings life.
In addition, the entire question is worded in a way such as to make "disbelief" seem to be something minor... of no significant consequences. That may be true in some cases, but not when it concerns you and your relationship with Jesus Christ.
I just checked out a web site that list the top 20 foods that are bad for you. At the top of the list are sugary drinks (soda) and pizza. If I don't believe what the web site says, what are the consequences? I'll have a number of enjoyable meals and I may die very slightly sooner... if I'm not killed in a car crash or some other accident. As far as I'm concerned my disbelief in this case does not have significant consequences.
However, if you choose to not believe in Jesus Christ the consequences are significant and eternal. If fact this is the ONLY decision that has eternal consequences. So this is not quot;mere" disbelieve. It is the most significant decision you'll make during your entire lifetime.
Not believing is the ultimate sin. Why? Because it is belief that saves you from the just consequences for having disobeyed God. If you believe in Jesus Christ, trusting Him to pay your penalty for sin in full, then He does that... as a free gift.
Here is an analogy:
Let's say that I've committed a serious crime. I was caught and I'm in a courtroom standing before a judge. The judge says the fine is one million dollars, or life in prison. I can't pay that huge fine, so I'm off to prison. Why am I going to prison? Because I committed the crime.
Then someone comes into the courtroom, pops open a brief case full of cash, and offers to pay my fine. If I accept their offer, I go free. If I don't believe they really intend to pay my fine, so I decline their offer, I go to prison. Why am I going to prison? Primarily because I committed the crime... but also because I didn't believe and declined the offer that would have saved me from prison.
It is the same with God. We are guilty. There is no doubt we have broken God's law. Then Jesus walks into the courtroom and offers to pay our "fine." If we believe Him and accept His offer, we go free. If we decline Jesus' offer, we must pay the penalty we've earned.
So yes, eternal punishment is the consequence for disbelief, because it results in our having to pay the just penalty we've earned for everything we've done wrong.
If you don't believe in Jesus, is that harmful?
Yes. That would seem to be obvious from the previous question. Not believing in Jesus has eternal consequences... it is very "harmful."
But, I think the humanists are again trying to flip the question to be about something other than what it is truly about. They are exclusively referring to simply this physical life. So let's answer their take on this question: Can people not believe in Jesus, and still have a good life here on earth? Yes, of course they can -- based on a human definition of having a "good life." In fact, becoming a Christian in many cases brings more problems and troubles into a person's life.
You will be hated by all because of My name [Jesus speaking] - Matthew 10:22
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. - 2 Timothy 3:12
So yes, you can have what is commonly called a good life... be very wealthy... have a wonderful family.... have everything you could ever want... and give a lot to charity to help other people... and still spend eternity in hell. In the end. No matter how "good" your life on earth was, the result of rejecting Jesus is always the eternal lake of fire. Why? Because you are not good. (Take the Good Person Test.)
There is none righteous [good], not even one. - Romans 3:10
For all have sinned - Romans 3:23
Is the fact that some of the "greatest benefactors of humanity" did not believe in Jesus of any significance?
First I need to know who they are talking about, and what did these "benefactors" do to help humanity? Do they include some of the most best known humanists such
as Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot? And where does Jesus come on their list of benefactors of humanity?
I did a Google search to learn who humanity's greatest benefactors have been. Google responded with a list based on the amount of money given. Names such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and George Soros came up. But, I don't think money determines whether or not a person was a benefactor of humanity. Don't you think it would be important to know how that money was used? Google is not going to be any help.
BUT... to get to the answer: no matter who the person was, or what they did, other than Jesus Christ, being a benefactor of humanity is of no significance. It is not relevant. Atheists can do good things, based on human standards. So what? Good works and generosity do not open the gates of heaven. You still have the problem of sin. No matter how much "good"
someone has done, that does not negate the fact that they have disobeyed God.
Let's once again put me in a courtroom. I've committed a very serious crime and the judge is about to sentence me. "But," I say, "look at all the good I've done. I've provided homes for the homeless. I've provided computers for disadvantaged children. I've built dozens of free clinics. I've funded political causes supporting justice. Look at all the good I've done, judge you should let me go free."
Will the judge set me free? Not if he is a good judge. Our good works do not excuse our breaking the law. Our good works do not remove the penalty we've justly earned for disobeying God. We are created in the image of God, and to misrepresent God in any way (by lying, stealing, lusting, etc.) earns us the just penalty of eternity in hell.
We all have sinned and are facing the just consequences we have earned... eternity in the lake of fire. Whether you are a poor person just barely getting by, or a wealthy "benefactor"
of humanity, both are in exactly the same situation. Without Jesus Christ you'll spend eternity in hell.
Conclusion: People are punished as a consequence of their sin. That punishment is just and fair. Everyone has sinned and falls short of the glory of God. The only way out is to repent and trust Jesus as having paid your penalty for sin in full (believe).
Next humanist accusation: Gods Violence Incites Human Violence
A serious problem with the violence and injustice in the Bible is that, all too often, the teachings and example of the biblical God have incited cruel acts by his followers.
Many of them reasoned that since God, who is considered just and loving, committed or approved of the most brutal acts, good Christians need not have qualms about
behaving likewise. Such logic led the American patriot Thomas Paine to say, The belief in a cruel god makes a cruel man.
Is this true? Do the teaching and historical record of the Bible open the door for people to commit violence and be cruel? Let's find out... (click here)