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Objection 1: The Notion of Judgment Is Offensive
First, many people are offended simply by the basic notion of judgment. Why should people have to stand before God as their Judge? Why should there be a separation of the righteous and the wicked? Can’t God just accept everybody? Isn’t that what love requires?
Here I think we encounter a basic misunderstanding of who God is and what His being God entails. For the Bible declares that God is not only loving; He is also good—absolutely holy and good. And a God who is good must not only love, He must also hate; He must hate that which is evil—that which is contrary to His goodness.
God created this world to display His own glory and goodness—and isn’t it right that He should hate all that would destroy that creation? Shouldn’t God hate the sexual abuse of children? Shouldn’t God hate the terrorist bombs that kill hundreds of innocent people? Shouldn’t God hate the wickedness that lurks in the depths of the human heart? If He didn’t, He could hardly be called good. In fact, if God didn’t hate those things, and if that hatred was not ultimately manifest in His judgment of those things, then would it really make sense even to talk about good and evil in any objective and ultimate sense at all?
The Necessity of Judgment
The judgment of God is necessary for the existence of a real moral order in the universe. It provides the ultimate sanction that underlies all moral demands, without which law breakers would go unpunished.
In contrast to the moral relativism of our age, the judgment of God provides the absolute objective standard to which all other moral judgments must conform. We may object to the idea of some final judgment, but, far from degrading us, God’s judgment actually gives great dignity to our lives. God doesn’t judge dogs. Unlike the way he treats all other earthly creatures, God treats us as responsible moral agents, conferring value to our choices by bringing them before His bar of judgment. If we are not held accountable for our actions, why not eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die? But because we will be judged by God, our choices have eternal consequences. They matter.
Finally, the judgment of God is necessary if divine goodness is to be victorious over evil. Because God will judge the world, His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven; justice will prevail; and the good will be seen to be good, finally and fully, by all. A world without the judgment of God is a world that ultimately lacks any ultimate meaning.
I think most people get this basic idea. When you pin them down, they recognize that there ought to be some difference in the ultimate fate of Adolph Hitler and that of, say, Mother Teresa. “Yea, maybe there should be a judgment,” they might say, “but it should be reserved for the really bad people out there—the terrorists, the murderers, those who abuse children. That’s who belongs in hell. Why don’t Christians see it that way?”
Objection 2: The Basis of the Verdict Is Unfair
The notion of judgment in Christianity may be understandable, but it’s the basis of the verdict that many object to. What does Jesus have to do with it? And here we encounter what Bill Hybels calls the Aunt Edna objection:5 Aunt Edna is the quintessential nice person—she pays her taxes, bakes cookies for the grandkids, and is kind to stray cats. But she’s just not into the God thing. Does she deserve to go to hell?
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