Anglican Diocese of Armidale

The Anglican Diocese of Armidale exists to glorify God by introducing people to Jesus and helping them home to heaven.


In Focus

A Hell of a Thought

Monday, April 29, 2019

Do people go to hell? Well sadly I am of the view that they do. Happily, I am also of the view that people don’t have to go to hell. My view is not unlike the view expressed by Israel Folau. Some things lead to hell but hell can be so easily avoided. But don’t shoot me, or Israel for that matter, as we are just the messengers.

If I was God, and you should be very thankful that I am not, then I would probably choose to remove hell. I am not much of a fan of hell but then I am not much of a fan of the likes of the ARU or Qantas who think that God will not hold all people accountable for the way we live. Hell is not my idea or Israel’s. Hell is God’s idea and his way of giving us a so much better heaven.  

If recent responses to Israel Folau are anything to go by, then there is no shortage of people who would play at being gods and force the removal of hell and anyone who would advocate its existence. But would they be consistent gods when it comes to dealing with the terrorist who bombed churches and hotels in Sri Lanka or would they think hell to be a good option in such circumstances? 

The difficulty for those who play at being god is where they will draw the line on who goes to hell and who does not. This is why I would never presume to play God because decisions about who will be in hell and who will be in heaven is something for one much wiser and greater than me. Hell requires the God whose love and justice must be kept in perfect harmony, such that in love justice is not ignored and in justice love is not absent. In this way the accountability of justice is certain and the possibility of mercy is a loving grace offered to the undeserving.  In anyone’s book, getting that balance right is beyond us, hence my appreciation of God looking after the outcome not you or me.

For people like Israel and myself there is the belief that God has given those of us who are not gods some information to help prevent hell ever being an option for us.

People complained about Israel’s examples of the kinds of people who could end up in hell. Personally, I want to suggest that Israel’s list, while consistent with what God has made known to our world, was not inclusive or specific enough. I did wonder why he didn’t just post, “Warning, sinners of all varieties, Hell awaits you. Repent! Only Jesus saves.”  That would have been a fairer comment because it would miss no one. Why single out certain groups rather than us all? My guess is that Israel did not include us all by name because the genealogy of a sinful human race would not have fitted on his twitter feed.

Do people go to hell? Israel and I believe that is the case. But both of us believe that you don’t have to. Israel and I both believe that the one who is perfect in love and justice can spare us the hell option. He pointed that out when his post read, “Only Jesus Saves.”  Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ entered hell on behalf of all sinners, suffering a judgement we all deserve, to lovingly deliver to us the gift of forgiveness. That forgiveness is a promise to those who trust in Him that hell is not an option we have to worry about.   

I feel for Israel and for all Christians as I listen to the ARU seeking to cancel his contract and the NRL’s decision not to let Israel back into their code. It is striking to think that a man of such integrity could lose his contract when both codes have continued to contract players guilty of being drunk behind the wheel of a car, domestic violence, being a public nuisance, using cocaine and other drugs and even sexual abuse.  I never thought I would see the day in Australia when Christianity is more reprehensible to the public than these things.