Is God truly loving? And if He is, then how can He condemn millions of people to hell? If God is really good, then what about all the people in the world who have lived and died without ever hearing the gospel?
How can people be responsible for their sin if they never knew anything different? What if they were sincerely following their religion? Shouldn’t that count?
If God condemns people to hell who aren’t responsible, then He can’t be good and loving. He must be angry and horrible. Who wants to believe in that kind of God anyway?
“The space between doubting God’s goodness and doubting His existence is not as wide as you might think.” Rachel Held Evans, Faith Unraveled.
It wasn’t the first time I’ve heard those questions from people who have grown up in church. But reading them again was sobering. They are legitimate questions asked by people searching for real answers. Too often all they get in return is Christianese.
If you’ve been following my last few posts you will know that I have been on a journey of discovery, reading books that I thought I disagreed with. The first couple were a pleasant surprise. Faith Unraveled was a little more difficult. Written as a memoir, it explains how Rachel Held Evans left a staunchly right, evangelical worldview in search of answers to her many questions. I was left conflicted.
Often Rachel and I would be on the exact same page, using the same Scriptures for the same arguments. Then without warning we’d each take an abrupt 90 degree turn and end up with completely different conclusions. Ultimately though, I didn’t hate the book as much as I anticipated. And I appreciate the questions Rachel forced me to wrestle with as I read.
“There are millions of people, past and present, who have had no exposure to Christianity at all. Are we supposed to believe that seconds after Jesus rose from the dead, everyone on earth was responsible for that information?”
Rachel Held Evans, Faith Unraveled.
Again, legitimate question. Let’s tackle it.
This isn’t going to be a theology lesson. I just want to share my heart with you about the God Who Wants to Be Found.
It’s okay to ask scary questions. I really is! They are good. But as we ask, let’s not suppose too many things about the God of the Universe.
- We can’t suppose that our understanding of the gospel is the only way. That people must pray a specific prayer, or “walk down the Roman’s road”, or “repent and make Jesus Lord”, or whatever pet phrase you want to use. What if it’s easier than that
- We can’t suppose that God is either loving and let’s everyone into heaven, or angry and happy to condemn people to hell. What if His wrath has already been satisfied and everyone has an opportunity for eternal life? What if it’s our own choice that condemns us?
- We can’t suppose that God is hiding up in heaven, aloof and withdrawn. That the only way to find Him is through the Bible or the American version of the gospel. What if He is closer than we can imagine?
These questions sound almost heretical, don’t they? 😉
I’m not a Calvinist, or an Arminian. And if you want to debate theology with me, I’ll have to disappoint you. I’m just a girl who thinks that God is always bigger than we can imagine, always more powerful, more wonderful, more mind boggling. If we think we have Him in a theological box, we are sadly mistaken. He will never fit!
It’s okay to step outside and wonder. How do these questions make you feel? What have you been wondering about? It’s easy as people to become black and white in our thinking. But I think life might actually be a lot more gray.
I’m going to finish these thoughts tomorrow. Share some stories and verses from the Bible. Keep talking about the God Who Wants to be Found. Stay tuned!