I’ve been having some interesting conversations at work recently, one long one of which almost got me in trouble for ‘proselytising’ on government property.

One of the conversations got onto the subject of Hell. My friend was absolutely certain that the idea that even the worst offender should go to hell was unjust. No ‘sin’ could deserve such a promise. I queried whether or not he was saying that he knew more about justice than God. He answered that on anything else he didn’t – but on this he did. I tried to point out to him that of course he didn’t think that we deserve hell for rejecting God – otherwise he wouldn’t be doing it! We talked about how the punishment actually shows how bad our rebellion is.

I was talking to Rob Spink, one of the other elders from our church, about this, and he pointed out that often our defense against the punishment of hell is the same argument used by dictators when they’re charged with war crimes and the like. It is interesting that often the defense is simply – ‘you can’t do this to me! Do you know who I am? you’ve no right to judge me’ There’s no engagement with the crimes themselves. Rather the argument is that the process is unjust because of the status of the person being charged.

We can do the same thing. We say to God ‘you can’t do this to me! Who are you to interfere with my life? What right have you? It’s my life to do with as I please – you can’t judge me’.

I’m not sure how well it will go down with your friends if you liken them to a dictator in the dock for war crimes… having said that people often compare God to an unjust dictator…