I got the following email today from pleaseconvinceme.com . It argues against universalism. Countering his arguments is probably like shooting fish in a barrel, but I thought I’d post it for people to take a look at and discuss if they’d like. What surprised me the most was how he claims that God “rewards” those who make the right decision about the gospel - and here I thought it was grace and faith, rather than rewards and decisions. But anyway, here it is:
We hope you are as excited about Summer as we are here at PleaseConvinceMe.com. We just finished a six week series on the existence and nature of Hell (in response to Rob Bell’s book, “Love Wins”), and we posted the series at Answers4Atheists.com and on our PCM Podcast Page. Along the way, we addressed a common objection that makes “Universalism” sound quite appealing…
OBJECTION: A Loving God would love all of His creation. He would make sure that everyone goes to Heaven (regardless of what they might believe in this life). A loving God would never limit Heaven to a select few and allow billions of people to suffer in Hell.
RESPONSE: In order to respond to this objection, we need to help our skeptical friends understand the nature of Heaven (and the nature of Humans). Heaven is the realm of God, and those who ultimately enter into Heaven will be united with God forever. While that sounds fantastic for some of us, it sounds ridiculous, boring or offensive to many who reject the existence of God and resist the notion that God has provided us with certain guidelines and obligations. If Heaven is inevitable, it is compulsory, and this type of eternal destination is contrary to the nature of God and the nature of human “free will”:
A Compulsory Heaven Would Eradicate “Free Will”
People who deny the existence of God, relish the fact that they have the freedom and ability to do so. Some of these same people, however, argue that a loving God would make certain that everyone goes to Heaven after they die. But this kind of “universalism” actually denies human “free will” altogether. If Heaven is the only destination that can possibly await us (based on the assumption that all who die eventually end up there) then Heaven is actually compulsory. In this view of the afterlife, we have no choice about where we end up; everyone is reunited with God. A compulsory Heaven actually denies the existence of human freedom, the very thing that those who deny God cherish the most. By offering (but not forcing) Heaven to those who freely choose to love the God who reigns there, God is actually honoring and respecting the “free will” choice of all of us. He is, in fact, treating us with the utmost respect and dignity; something we would expect if He is all-loving in the first place.
A Compulsory Heaven Would Embrace the “Unsuited”
But in addition to this, the concept of a Heaven that accepts anyone and everyone is counter intuitive and un-reasonable. Just think about it for a minute. Most of us would agree that a Holy place of eternal reward is simply not suited for people with a certain kind of character or for people with certain kinds of desires. All of us can think of someone from history who (by our estimate) is unqualified for eternal reward. Now we may not all agree on who should or shouldn’t be included in such a place, but most of us would hesitate while pondering the possibility that people like Hitler (or perhaps lifelong unrepentant pedophiles with murderous desires) should be rewarded eternally in Heaven. If there is a Heaven, it is surely unsuited for certain kinds of people and even the most skeptical among us would find someone that he or she would place in this category. A compulsory Heaven, including the most vile and dangerous people from history, is not likely what skeptics have in mind when they argue for a Heaven that includes everyone.
A loving God would make Heaven possible for all of us while respecting the free will desire of some of us. A loving God would reward those of us who have decided to choose Him while dealing justly with those of us who have decided to choose against Him. For this reason, Heaven simply cannot be the destination of every human who has ever lived. Heaven cannot be compulsory, but instead must be the destiny of those who love the God who reigns there and have accepted His invitation.
We hope this response helps you defend the Biblical Worldview related to Hell’s existence and the nature of Salvation. We’ve got lots of additional respources that can help you communicate the truth about Heaven and Hell: