Andy Stanley vs Jeff Durbin debate on "unbelievable"

He did say that, BUT Andy forgets that the Nazis exterminated 6,000,000 Jews largely based on NT scripture detailing the Jews sending Christ to his death death. Andy did not think this through

That’s a good answer. Yes.

When I spoke of hatred I was thinking as it would apply to people, not the evil that enslaves us (though it is easy to see how we quickly come to represent that evil in each others’ eyes). In the sense you raise here, I think the case could be made that such perfect hatred is itself born of love… At least that’s where I think I would go towards in seeking more answer. But I too am eager to hear more thoughts.


Oh contraire, Paul constantly reiterated the Old Testament to the Greeks. Paul explains mankind was created from one man. A teaching that contradicted the Greek’s belief of originating from the soil. Paul speaks of God dividing nations-setting boundaries, which references the tower of Babel

Why God’s judgment? Why would Jesus have to die?

C. S. Lewis in the 1940s, and many, many people have been drawn to faith in Jesus due to Lewis’ influence, and many continue to find faith in Christ today, through Lewis’ writings.

One could make the same argument for Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar and co. People were not saved, because of their writings. God saved them in spite of their writings. God uses everything for those who love Him.
My personal testimony, is that God used a bad “Christian” movie “Constantine” to draw me. Does that mean, that I try to draw others with that bad movie? We are Christians and Christians should NEVER be pragmatists.

That is what Andy Stanley, Frank Turok, William Lane Craig call, “setting the bar low” Tell me, when Jesus said, “Deny yourself and pick up your cross…” Is that setting the bar low? if not, then why should we?

It is an intriguing dilemma. And I see why it is something people struggle with, myself included.

It is absolutely true, that we should be ready to “love the sinner, and hate the sin.” However, this is still inextricably linked to questions of justice.

To take it one step further, sometimes I offer the following thought experiment. Imagine reading something absolutely horrific in the news. Innocent children trafficked, raped, used, and murdered, or something in that category. Imagine if someone took the “love the sinner, hate the sin” to an extreme position. They said, yes, I totally hate the action that that person did, I hate it with a passion. But we absolutely must love the sinner, so we should exact absolutely no justice of any kind on the perpetrator of these atrocities. Simply let them go to live and enjoy their life, and remind them not to do it again. Most people would be up in arms over that kind of (in)action.

In fact, it isn’t too hard to imagine. There are those examples I have heard of where a judge gives a ridiculously lenient sentence, a simple probation, to a confirmed serial child molester. And people cry out about the injustice of this, and I think rightly so.

I wonder how would we feel about God…, really, if he were just as lenient toward such individuals? How would victims of such assault and rape feel if they thought God was not angry at their abusers? It would essentially communicate that he didn’t care about such deep atrocities, no?

So I cannot help but admire and respect the concept of God’s holy wrath and justice, not simply against actions, but against actual perpetrators.

Hence the beauty I find in the gospel and the cross… where God demonstrates both his justice and mercy, that he forgives the absolutely worst of sinners, yet in a way where he does not leave the guilty unpunished.

The notion that people came from soil must have been common to lots of mythologies then, from Greek to the ANE. It would seem Paul wasn’t averse to capitalizing on such overlap as he could to bring his audience home … maybe much like the original Genesis narrators and redactors?

In any case, Paul doesn’t seem eager to point out to them the scriptural connection that I believe he does so many other times with “it is written…”. Which, by the way, may score a few points in your favor now that I look it up… the ‘it is written’ phrase comes from Paul’s pen quite a bit in Romans, both letters to the Corinthians, and in Galatians. And if I’m not mistaken, those audiences included (primarily?) gentiles. Though there were Jews among them as we know from the tussle Paul had with would-be Judaizers (Galatians) - who, like you, did not want to see any of the old law dropped or passed over. [and that broad stroke is not in your favor so much.] Also, Stanley did acknowledge that there was interest in the Hebrew scriptures that did grow among the gentiles largely because of Christ. So that may go a good way toward answering this too. So I think the scriptural case against Stanley here is still searching for its footing.

[And if I may help you out toward that end… I think Acts 15:21 would be closest to finding the footing you so desire (and maybe you already mentioned this above - my apologies if I missed it). But here James remarks that “Moses has been preached from generations past in every synagogue…”, apparently meaning that they were able to presume knowledge and at least familiarity on the part of more than just the Jews. This is what I think comes closest to making your case. ]

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I don’t think the “Love prevails” kind of God need lead to this kind of injustice (and I totally agree with you, by the way, I too would be up in arms about just letting said perpetrators off.) Here is where I think there is room for - no - make that “need for” God’s wrath - cleansing wrath I would even argue.

Try these thought experiments on for size. What if there were actually some way that a culprit not only was punished for their sin, but even taught to loath what they had done as a horror to themselves. E.g. somebody steals something from you (just to lower the heat a bit on the types of crimes we’ve been talking about here.) At one level you and/or God could inflict vengeance on that person and make them suffer for it. But your stolen item is not restored … no restitution made, and maybe even no repentance to be had on the part of the sinner - just eternal hatred between God and this thief. Where is the justice in this? Nowhere to be found. And in fact, if you were a Christ follower, you would already have forgiven the thief (even an unrepentant one; even if they destroyed / lost your item so the crime couldn’t even be undone.) As a Christ-lover and follower, would you not infinitely rather that the thief faced whatever punishment or wrath was necessary to teach him remorse, and in fact wouldn’t the ultimate “vengeance” be for the thief (the rapists, the racists, the murderers) … to come to feel and know the horror of what they’ve done and to be forced [come to a point where they] feel loathing for and utterly repudiate their own hideous actions? And in this scenario you may have lost something (that was unjustly taken from you), but in the end, gained a new brother or friend as they finally are finally able then to penitently accept your Christ-empowered forgiveness! Wrath, repentance, justice, redemption, love, … the Kingdom come! I think similar things have been seen (even in this life already) in situations like the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” after Apartheid fell in South Africa. I think these kinds of scenarios are the direction I would go to think of wrath, justice, and love as all part of one on-going and seamless scenario - like a refiner’s painful fire bringing our dross to the surface. So to be sure - this isn’t just for “those terrible sinners over there.” It’s all of us that face this. None of it will be easy - I can’t imagine how I could ever forgive somebody who had murdered or raped someone I love; [and Jesus’ sermon on the mount tells me that my imagined separation from murderers, adulterers, etc. is paper thin, and such self-righteousness evaporates when my soul is bared and revealed.] Some things cannot be undone in this world to be sure. Both victims and victimized (and I doubt the culprit exists who hasn’t also been a victim) would have much work to do (not via reincarnation - sorry, Shawn), but it could well be that being “perfected by suffering” is something that carries on beyond our earthly life here. Remember the rich man and Lazarus - it would seem that both had suffering inflicted - either here or there. The fixed chasm that prevents the Rich man from ever crossing - that I admit is hard for what I envision here and I don’t quite know what to do with it [though I note the word ‘permanent’ or ‘eternal’ is not used in describing the situation]. Nor can I ignore that it appears the rich man is being taught humility, care, and remorse, even while he’s confined to his freshly afflicted suffering state. Paul writes (I think in Corinthians) some ‘toss-away’ aside that shows his easy presumption that the dead are prayed for. I don’t build doctrines on a single verse like that - but when hints begin piling up, and the balance of scriptures shows us a God that does not want any to perish, where else can we take it? Thoughts?

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(John 5:39) “it is they that bear witness about me.”

Jesus himself makes the point that without the Old Testament as the Word of God, we really do not know who he is

When your philosophy is taking your focus off of scripture and placing it on a philosophy that tells to take your focus off of scripture. I say you are heading towards heresy.

Andy Stanley’s quote: “Let us take the spot light off of the bible and put it on the resurrection”

That is a contradiction.

Oh contraire, your contraire.

Your argument is oversimplified. Yes, Apuleius promoted the Athenian doctrine that the humans of Athens originated from the soil. But per Craig Keener’s work on the Book of Acts, there were other Greek traditions that argued more of a Biblical view of the unity of mankind. Much like what Paul did with the Pharisees and the Sadducees later in Acts, Paul gave testimony to his belief in the Resurrection. So, it should not be surprising if Paul uses a Greek argument, consistent with a Biblical view, as a type of polemic against Athenian belief.

Again Paul does speak of God dividing nations-setting boundaries, but this is not unique to the tower of Babel story. Keener again points out that there were Greek traditions that affirmed very much the same thing (see NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, on Acts 17).

The fact that Paul uses arguments that are to be found in the Hebrew Scriptures does not rule out the fact that parallels could be found in Greek thought as well, in varying ways, and that Paul could readily appeal to such pagan traditions to defend his own case for a Biblical perspective, without feeling compelled to cite chapter and verse of an Old Testament text.

Why God’s judgment? Why would Jesus have to die? Because it all flows out of the logic of the Resurrection. Unfortunately, Paul was cut short in his presentation at Athens, before he could expound on all of this.

The end goal for Paul was to get to the “self-authenticating” nature of the Scriptures, but doing so by way of an appeal to evidence, that would have been consistent with the framework of the pagan mind, that would have opened the door for the Holy Spirit to work, and bring about the conviction of sin.

Sure, it was not like a flock of philosophers came walking down the aisles singing “Just As I Am,” but we must not take too lightly the conversion of Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris. Dionysius became bishop of Athens!!

C. S. Lewis in the 1940s, and many, many people have been drawn to faith in Jesus due to Lewis’ influence, and many continue to find faith in Christ today, through Lewis’ writings.

One could make the same argument for Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar and co. People were not saved, because of their writings. God saved them in spite of their writings.

Lumping in Joel Osteen and Creflo Dollar in with C.S. Lewis?? Wow.

I can honestly say I have never in my life heard such a comparison. I mean, I get your point about God using people in spite of their shortcomings, and not because of them, but seriously???

C.S. Lewis… the Prosperity Gospel preacher posing as an Oxford don… I am just trying to imagine.


I think it revealing that you didn’t include that whole verse (and the next):

John 5:39-40

You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Note where Jesus says the source of eternal life is. Hint: it isn’t the scriptures.

That said, I’ve got another treasure for your case though … you should have read to the end of that very chapter (verses 46-7)

If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?

There it is! That’s even better than the Acts 15 verse I found. Granted, though, he is speaking to dyed-in-the-wool Jews here (Pharisees no less). And they are hell-bent on getting him to start acknowledging the Sabbath and other laws that they are convinced he’s breaking. So I don’t think Stanley’s quite out yet on this scenario either. Still - it’s a poke at his whole “Jesus first, and then Moses” sequence. You’re probably happy about that!

That is not “setting the bar low,” as you derisively frame it. It is about learning how to be “fishers of men,” instead of “hunters of men.”

I have never heard Stanley, Turek, or Craig say anything discouraging Jesus’ teaching about the discipleship of the Cross.

The point is that we should start where folks are at, and build the right foundation, so that folks are able to properly handle some of the more difficult matters of Christian faith, that tend to be stumbling blocks for people.

My own testimony worked like that. For a long time, I had great difficulty with considering the possibility of many of the miracles of the Bible. But once I was able to grasp the reality of the Resurrection, it was a lot easier to learn how to accept the possibilities of miracles elsewhere in Scripture. If Jesus is Risen from the dead, and I believed in Jesus, and Jesus performed other miracles, then why should I not also believe those miracles also?

Sure, you can hit people up beside the head with the whole load of Bible teaching, right from the start. Granted, that might work for some people, as a means of coming to faith. But chances are, such folks are already predisposed to accepting the inerrant truth of Scripture. For those who are more skeptical or cautious, Durbin’s brand of presuppositional apologetics is about as gentle as whacking someone with a 2x4.

A more gentle, persuasive approach, that builds on a sequence of arguments, need not water down anything of the message. But if Christians insist on the 2x4 approach, with all guns locked and loaded, then we should not be surprised if non-believers are freaked out by Christians. If you prefer to go that way in your apologetics, then go ahead and knock yourself out.

The problem is that by the time I meet up with folks who have been freaked out by the Durbin approach, I have to start over with them, by talking them off the ledge about how awful and violent the Old Testament is, etc., and get them to refocus on the Risen Jesus.

As I read Jesus and Paul, they model for us a better way.


I think, essentially, your ideas can be summarized using the word “repentance“, that I think is what the word really means, as I think you so aptly described. Not simply a, “I’m sorry I was caught“, but a true deep loathing of one’s sin. Not the consequences of the sin, not the punishment for sin, but the sin itself.

Hence why Mark could summarize all of Jesus preaching with the single line, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Also, I register my complete agreement, based on the sermon on the mount and elsewhere that the distance between myself and the worlds worst sinners yes very, very thin line.

Of course God does not want anyone to perish, “he commands everyone everywhere to repent,” after all. but neither does he want anyone to murder or rape. But he has set up this world to allow us our free choices in those matters.

So what, ultimately, ought God do, in the spirit of justice, for someone who, in their free will, simply, absolutely, and recalcitrantly utterly refuses to repent?

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Dear Daniel,
Thank you for pointing out the core issue that people have with loving their enemies (Matt 5:44) because we take on a human perspective, not that of the Good Father as exemplified by the story of the Prodigal Son. The Good Father loves his children all through their transgressions to the point where they finally repent. But “love” is not understood in this way by today’s society.

Today, a helicopter parent is considered loving, but this is not God’s love. God wants His children to learn what they have done wrong and a strong hand is required for this, not protecting the child from themselves - making their problems go away. Part of this problem is a misinterpretation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Jesus did not teach “Lead us not into temptation” but rather “Lead us through temptation.” The Love of the Good Father is unshaken when the child is tempted, falls and is punished for it. The Good Father still loves the child, knowing that their suffering, in the long run, is the best medicine for the child to heal the soul, making it perfect as God is perfect (Matt 5:48).

Heaven rejoices when one sinner repents (Luke 15:10). So why would the good father deny the sinner the opportunity to repent through the a just punishment that would lead him to repent? The helicopter parent would rather relieve the suffering of a dying “loved one” instead of encouraging them to mediate on the lesson the God wants them to learn before they die. It is God’s Will His children repent, not die free from pain.

What would a loving parent do if their child is being rebellious? We (speaking as a parent) would still love our children and would want to remove anything that comes between us, of course. But also in love, we quickly learn we can’t force them to love us back. So in those rebellious times that they choose to turn away, the loving parent becomes the long-suffering parent, hoping for the day when relationship is restored. A human parent’s love might grow cold - or dry up and eventually become embittered. But one would hope (especially with regard to your own child) that you could go a long way (probably a life time?) before that would happen. So the question to ask is: Is God better than we are? or are we superior to God? If human love might persist through a lifetime, how long could God’s last? One might ask as you do, well what if I never repent? (Sorta like the child who threatens to run away from home and never come back - or maybe hold his breath until he dies. The loving parent may indulge the fancy and appear to give in. Okay - hold your breath then.) So the answer for “how long?” may be … indefinitely. Which is not the same as “forever” (as the child holding his breath quickly finds out.). But one doesn’t inspire a child to get over his tantrum by telling him up front: you know this isn’t gonna last, right? You’ll be coming right back here soon enough. No - the parent would be quicker to warn the child that as long as they are rebellious, they will bring x, y, and z consequences to themselves and it won’t be pretty. These are “cutsy” examples, of course, and nothing like the rape, pillage, and murder that we’ve been discussing which are anything but. And yet on a scheme of eternity (and given that we believe this life is not the end of the story … so even murder does not ultimately separate us from loved ones) … on that scale, the loving condescension may still work along the same principles. While the child’s rebellion may last a few seconds (holding their breath) or maybe days or months as they get older, it is conceivable that some of us may take well nigh a seeming eternity to be taught to get over ourselves and our most embedded sins.

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I resonate with your thoughts, to some extent, but am cautious given consideration at least part of how Jesus preached. He in many ways didn’t “make it easy” for people to come to him.

“Why do you speak in parables?”
…“So that those outside may be ever seeing but never perceiving…”

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
…“Sell everything you have and give to the poor…”

“Jesus, let me follow you, but first…”
…“Let the dead bury their dead.”

“Anyone who does not hate his mother, father, even his own life, is not worthy of me…”

“No one who puts his hand to the plow…”

“Consider the cost of building a tower…”

“This is a hard teaching, who can accept it?”

Not that there aren’t nuances to the above episodes, but I toss them in to remind that Jesus quite often and consistently didn’t simply make it absolutely easy for people to simply come to him. He reminded them there was a cost, a cost of absolute devotion, of utter sacrifice, of willingness to give up all to follow him. He didn’t go around saying, “Following me is the simplest thing in the world, just believe these simple things…” He demanded absolute devotion, willingness to sacrifice, complete commitment.

In other words, there were certainly times it seems to me that Jesus gave people a proverbial 2x4 when he evangelized. The rich young ruler got one, and he walked away… when all he wanted to do was get a simple answer to the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Part of me fears that if we don’t present all of Christ, or all of God, to people, inlcuding both the good and bad, then we may unwittingly be reinforcing the idea to them that they are free to worship a God of their preference, rather than reminding them that they must repent even of their preferences and worship the God who is. Is it possible we are potentially giving a false assurance of salvation, while they worship an idol of their making rather than the true and living God? They believe certain Christian doctrines (just as the demons do)… so they’re in, right? Thoughts?

This might sound horrendous to you, and I’d appreciate your honest feedback. But I love justice more than I love my individual children. And trust me, you’d have to see me, but I absolutely adore my kids. Adore them. Dote over them, enjoy them. delight in them in every way I can imagine.

But that said, if despite my best efforts, they committed some grievous crime, then I would be the first in line demanding justice for them. If deserving of capital punishment, I would absolutely support such. If deserving of life imprisonment, I would turn the key myself and throw it away without hesitation. With tremendous heartache and sadness, yes, but without hesitation. If they were truly repentant, and our justice system allowed, I would absolutely take their place in the execution chamber, but I would not ask for something less than genuine and real justice.

I hear what you’re saying (and have heard variations of the idea before… if I were able to forgive my child, why would I think God wouldn’t be as “good” as me?). But is God less just than we? Does he demand less holiness? Does he wink at sin where we cry out for justice? God’s goodness includes both his kindness and severity, his tender loving mercy and his exacting justice, no?

If I were able to execute a painful justice even on someone I loved, why would I think God were not as “good” as I am, and able even moreso to execute justice on someone he loved, if they were deserving of it.

Again, though, I go back to the cross. God is absolutely willing to forgive the worst of sinners no matter what. And yet he does not wink at justice and ignore it, hence why Christ took the punishment we deserved. Everything I read, everything I see in Scripture, confirms that God is absolutely, unquestionably, inhesitatingly willing to forgive ANY person who repents and receives his utterly free gift of complete and total forgiveness.

But essentially, what it sounds like you’re saying (in my ears, at least), is that God should be SO “good” that he should be willing to abandon justice because he should rather be nice to us. To me, though, that isn’t “good.” In that sense I’d still say, “Is God better than we are?” I’d still say yes. he is. He is more perfect in his perfect holiness and justice, and is willing to execute justice for those who refuse his mercy even though he is perfectly willing and desirous for them to rather choose to simply receive forgiveness freely. If we take the Bible seriously at all, we can’t get away from the idea, wiether OT or NT, that God is just and does not leave the guilty unpunished.

An illustration if interesting… I was speaking back at a military chapel throughout 2001. And I gave a message the Sunday after Sept 11 that touches on the topics here…

The sense of horror, and the desire for justice (and revenge) was palpable. Everyone was feeling it. The anger and desire to see genuine justice done was overflowing.

So I preached from Revelation 19, to remind people what awaits the enemies of God, of those who do not repent… Jesus coming back on a horse to make war against his enemies, piling up the bodies in his wake, treading the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God almighty, his enemies being thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning Sulphur, and the vultures feasting. All that to affirm to the congregation that their sense of desire for justice was godly and right and biblical, and that Jesus shares in his hatred of evil and will himself avenge his saints.

Then, though, to throw everyone for a loop… I read about the message of the thief on the cross, who was receiving “justice” (by his own admission). And reminded them that Jesus simultaneously extends mercy to absolutely everyone and anyone.

Then I dropped it on the congregation, reminding them that Jesus died for the sins, to accomplish forgiveness, of anyone and everyone who comes to him. Including Osama Bin Laden. so I asked them how many of them were praying for Bin Laden’s salvation, that somehow the Holy Spirit might touch his heart that he might repent from his various sins and embrace the real forgiveness that God offers even him, so that we might possible have the honor of spending eternity with Osama bin Laden surrounding the throne of God and thanking him for his mercy.

And yes, you could have heard the proverbial pin drop. But it was vitally important I felt that we Christians grasp both truths simultaneously. That God absolutely hates evil. With a vengeance (figuratively and literally). That he will not leave the guilty unpunished, that he hates seeing wickedness in all its forms.

And simultaneously, he offered his son as a sacrifice of propitiation, by faith in his blood, to save, forgive, and rescue ANYONE from the punishment that genuine holy and goldy justice demands. And for years I myself continued to pray for Bin Laden, that he might repent of his sins, and receive the forgiveness that Christ bought on the cross and made available even to him.

But if the NT teaches anything at all, it tells that receiving of this forgiveness is not something automatic, but something that must be requested and received in repentance and faith. So, so far as I can tell, Bin Laden did not ever choose to embrace said forgiveness. And if it is appointed for a man to die once and then face judgment… and as far as I can tell, it seems he chose rather to receive the justice, rather than the offered mercy, of God, having died as God’s enemy.

But every Christian should recognize that every living person is a potential recipient of that mercy God offers. And we should approach every person with the attitude that we, ourselves, like Paul, can call ourselves the “worst of sinners.”


LOL…It is amazing what people see in scripture. Jesus was talking to the pharisees about their legalism and the traditions they heap upon the people in order to obtain SALVATION. Jesus, is saying that He is our salvation. He was not saying that the scripture do not talk about Him.

If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?

Imagine using the bible as an authority to what Jesus said. Do you see the problem? My whole point is that Jesus was CONSTANTLY reiterating the scripture to demonstrate who he said he was.

I think I can appreciate what you say here … it’s not a denial of your love for your children, but instead a profession of just how much it is that you love justice.

So ponder this: why is it that you love justice so much? Why is that? And I confess I am asking this as a leading rhetorical question, because I have a proposed answer: I don’t think you can separate your desire for justice from your love. If you have no love - then your motivation for justice vanishes with it. You want justice for your kids because you realize that other people’s kids exist in the world too and are also heirs of love. So if your kids violate that … your love extends beyond just your own kids and encompasses a need for that which could restore broken relationships and broken lives. So I do agree with you that love demands justice, just as justice must stand on love as its footing. So I don’t think I any longer buy into the notion that God’s justice is separate from God’s love. I don’t think God can be separated out into different agendas and offices like that. If God isn’t always perfect in everything all the time, then it seems to me our entire program founders.

I would also add that in contrast to the repentance, restitution, and redemption track, that it is actually the “lockem up and throw away the key” approach that winks at sin and denies justice. Think of it this way: I’ve heard the attitude expressed (back when spanking was more of a thing), that “I just wished I could get the spanking and get it over with…”. Meaning that one was suffering under a burden of guilt, compromised relationship, and fearful anticipation of consequence. If I threw a baseball through my neighbor’s window, the spanking is the easy way out. Because then I can just forget about it … the ‘wink’ at justice - let others take care of the neighbor). The harder path is for the parent to force me to pay the neighbor to fix the window (or even better yet, to labor and fix the window myself if that is possible!) The latter is a lot harder, longer, sweatier, and less convenient than the spanking. But it brings infinitely better results. Or another (real life) example. I have a friend who recently shared with me that he had always warned his son about checking the oil level in his son’s own much beloved truck. His son was negligent about it though, and ended up ruining the engine. The father (who had never done anything like this himself - I have nothing but admiration for what follows here…) contacted a mechanic friend and asked if he would be willing to shepherd his son through an engine rebuild. It took months (involving lots of spans of intermittent attention and with the engine spread all over their garage), but the engine finally did get rebuilt - always with the labors and presence of his son (with help, but never just doing it “for him” - if he didn’t feel like working on it at the moment, then it didn’t get worked on). What a pain! And how much easier to just go the “let’s just make him suffer”, or “he just can’t have a truck now”, or the “lockem up and throw away the key” routes. And guess who now is hyper diligent about caring for his vehicle (probably in many ways beyond merely checking and changing the oil)? Maybe that kind of trouble is not always possible (I have a million very good excuses why I couldn’t pull that off). But the lesson isn’t lost on me. His son suffered a lot of sweat and labor. But he is now a better person for having suffered that. None of us like to suffer (by definition). And yet, that is what makes us stronger and better. So while we humans may be prone to short cut justice by going to the easy vengeance route, I don’t think our God is so small that we can’t hope for (and in many real ways dread) actual justice from him.


Quite correct. My love would absolutely extend to other people, and if one of my own children violated someone else’s, then it is my love of the other person, and empathy with their hurt, that would feed my desire to see justice done to my own child.

As to your other points, it isn’t that I disagree with you; the demand for real repentance that comes with the blood of Christ, which is necessary for our forgiveness, is not easy. I am cut to the heart when I see what Christ had to endure to purchase my forgiveness, and that is nothing compared to what I imagine I will feel when I see him face to face, see the nail scarred hands, and realize it was me that did that to him. Thus far, we seem to agree entirely.

Where it sounds like we diverge is what God plans to do with those who refuse to repent. Everything I read in scripture tells me that the judgment comes at death, and at that point, He will separate the sheep from the goats, etc. Those who are invited into his kingdom (the sheep) are exactly those you describe above… who would almost prefer the punishment rather than deal with the personal horror of seeing what our sin did to our savior. Who would prefer the “simple” punishment rather than all that is entailed in real forgiveness - of confessing our real sin and recognizing the full weight of our wrong… and for the sheep, everything you say above I agree with, that God’s mercy is everlasting, never ending, and was willing to sacrifice more of himself than we can imagine in order to extend mercy, rather than justice, to us. He had to listen and ignore “My beloved son, whom I love” on the cross crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and refrained from rescuing, healing, preserving the one he loved more than you or me or the entire universe.

So, and I don’t mean this a personal barb at you - but when I think of what Christ did to save us, and what God the father endured in order to rescue us from justice… the charge, “Why isn’t God more loving?” falls rather flat to me.

All that said, our real divergence isn’t really those things you mentioned above, but ultimately, what to do with those who refuse to repent. Lewis gives the suggestion that Hell is locked from the inside, and in “Great Divorce” leaves us with the distinct impression that those in hell, while they hate it, have no real desire to do what would be necessary to leave. Not biblical, but an interesting insight.

Given all I know of the ridiculous height and breadth of the love of God in Christ, I have to infer that if there were a possibility of genuine repentance of any person, that God would extend to them the same salvation he offered to you and me and everyone else, at any time. No, Christ’s love is not limited. If, though, in his infinite wisdom, he knows unerringly that a person’s heart is such that they simply will literally never repent, then perhaps that is the reason that “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries,” why he will tell them to “depart into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

I have to take seriously Jesus sense that some people are simply uninterested - permanently - in being part of the kingdom, of being forgiven, and he casts them out not because of a lack of love, but in justice, given his proclamation of them as “evildoers.”.

“Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”