Why are so many repulsed by the idea of eternal damnation?
Modern society has often sought ways to minimize punishment or offer the ability for a person to rehabilitate to become better. These ideas have also been puzzling for those who try to reconcile such human reasoning with Scripture. If a person can be punished and offered an opportunity to improve, why can't God offer a similar process in the afterlife?
Two flaws are inherent in such an understanding. First, humans view sin from their own perspective rather than from God's perspective. In other words, we do not think our sins are that bad, yet God has a perfect perspective regarding how sin separates us from a holy God.
Second, people fail to realize God has already provided a very generous way to know Him based on grace through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. He offers one specific way to escape the punishment of eternal damnation to anyone who will choose to believe in Christ (John 3:16; 14:16; Acts 4:12). Rather than requiring a list of works or multiple ways to reach Him, He has revealed one clear path based on Him rather than on our own inadequate efforts.
When we see how wicked and sinful our human hearts can be and often are, we realize we deserve eternal punishment. We also then greatly appreciate a way of salvation, the way offered through Jesus Christ.
In addition to these two basic flawed ways in which humans view God and eternal damnation, other religious perspectives have often sought to provide alternative views that have appealed to and deceived people from the Bible's teachings regarding sin and salvation.
Among these include the idea that people are not sinful and therefore do not need to be saved from sin. This is often the perspective of those in Wicca or in eastern religious traditions (for example, Buddhism and Hinduism).
Further, some religious movements offer a false sense of approval before God by offering some series of works to achieve a right standing before God. This can include volunteer service, baptism for one's self or on behalf of others, membership, financial giving, eating certain foods, observing certain holy days, or other religious practices by which people believe they earn God's approval.
Finally, some are deceived through teachings that claim there is no hell or at least no chance that someone would spend eternity in hell. If a person has been taught hell does not exist (as in atheism) or that all people go to heaven (as in universalism) or that everyone who does not believe will be annihilated (as in Watchtower teachings), then the idea of eternal damnation sounds inaccurate and even harsh. However, God's Word teaches all people spend either eternity with Him or in torment apart from Him (Luke 16:19-31), indicating the clear need for salvation and to share this salvation with others.
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