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). The answer: because they are law breakers. They have broken God’s laws, and reject Jesus Christ.
Yes, as much as humanists do not like it, the only way to be saved from the eternal lake of fire (hell), is to repent and believe (trust) that Jesus Christ paid your penalty for sin in full. If you are not trusting Jesus Christ as your Savior, God gives you want you want and have earned… total separation from Him… and that means you spend eternity in hell.
However, there is more to the story... a lot more. To get the rest of the story let's answer the humanist's 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?
Is "Eternal Torture" Excessive Punishment?
No, it is not.
A common analogy is that of a child disobeying their parents. The parents tell them to clean up their room, and they do not do it. As punishment the parents hold the child's hand over a hot stove until his hand is burned. Is this a fair punishment, or is it excessive and disproportionate?
It is excessive and disproportionate... not at all appropriate.
Why then, is it okay for God to burn someone in eternal hell forever, just because they disobeyed Him?
The problem is that it 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.
Let's say I 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 be replaced… in other words 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. However, the consequences increased because of whom 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 created us and has given us everything good that we have. This makes the offense infinitely serious, and the punishment is appropriate in being infinite.
So eternal torture is not excessive or inappropriate. It is the just and appropriate punishment.
The Consequence for "Mere Disbelief?"
The use of the word “mere” is a significant problem. 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 being’s life.
In addition, the question is worded in a way such as to make "disbelief" seem to be something minor. As though it were of no significant consequence. That may be true in some cases, but not when it concerns you and your relationship with Jesus Christ (God).
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 do not believe what the web site says, what are the consequences? I will have a number of very enjoyable meals and I may die slightly sooner, if I am not killed in a car crash, or by disease, or a natural disaster, or something else. As far as I am concerned, my disbelief does not have significant, eternal consequences.
However, if I choose to not believe in Jesus Christ the consequences are significant and eternal. This is the ONLY decision that has eternal consequences. This is not "merely" disbelieving. It is the most significant decision you will make during your entire lifetime. You need to consider the facts carefully and make the right decision.
Not believing in Jesus is the ultimate sin. Why? Because it is belief in Jesus 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... He gives it to you as a free gift.
Here is an analogy:
Let's say that I've committed a serious crime. I was caught, it is obvious I am guilty, and I am in a courtroom standing before a judge. The judge says the fine is one million dollars or life in prison. I cannot pay that huge fine, so I am off to prison. Why am I going to prison? Is the judge responsible for my going to prison? No. I committed the crime, I have to do the time.
Then someone comes into the courtroom, pops open a briefcase full of cash, and offers to pay my fine. If I accept their offer, I go free.
It is the same with God. You are guilty. There is no doubt you have broken God's laws. Jesus has stepped into the courtroom and offered to pay your "fine." If you believe Him and accept His offer, you go free. If you decline Jesus' offer, you must pay the penalty you have earned, eternity in the lake of fire, hell. Shall we call your not believing the offer to pay your fine “mere” disbelief? No.
Yes, eternal punishment is the consequence for disbelief, because it results in your having to pay the just penalty you have earned for everything you have done wrong. You are a law-breaker. You rejected Jesus’ offer to pay the penalty you have earned. You must now pay that penalty. That is justice.
If you don't believe in Jesus, is that harmful?
Yes. That would seem to be obvious from the previous question. Since not believing in Jesus has significant eternal consequences, it is very harmful.
However, I think the humanists are again trying to flip the question to be about something other than what it is truly about. I am guessing they are referring to only 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 your 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
SYes, you can have what is commonly called a good life... be very wealthy... have a wonderful family.... have “everything” you desire... 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. You have broken God’s laws. (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?
I am curious to know whom they are talking about, and what these "benefactors" did to help humanity. Do they include some of the most well-known humanists such as Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot? And where does Jesus come on their list of benefactors?
I did a Google search to learn who might be on a list of humanity's greatest “benefactors.” Google responded with a list based on the amount of money given. Names such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and George Soros came up. However, I do not think money makes a person a benefactor of humanity. Jesus gave little, if any money, to help others. In addition, if monetary donations were the criteria, don’t we need to know why the money was given and how it was used? Google is not going to be of any help.
HOWEVER, the facts are, other than Jesus Christ, it does not 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" you have done, that does not negate the fact that you have disobeyed God.
Let's once again put me in a courtroom. I have 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 disease prevention around the world, and I’m a major donor to political causes supporting justice. Judge, just look at all the good I've done. 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 have 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, the situation is the same. Without Jesus Christ, you will spend eternity in hell.
Conclusion: People are punished as a consequence of disobeying God (sin) and rejecting Jesus. 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.
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)