Every once in a while someone posts a comment on a forum that encapsulates a viewpoint brilliantly, and in this post 'emr' says
I have asked many Christians, including people on this website, whether they believe Hitler would go to heaven if he had regretted all that he'd done and given his life to Jesus a week before his death - and whether the six million Jews he killed would go to hell for rejecting Jesus. A large number respond in the affirmative - the ones that don't tend to go around the houses a bit, or invoke a re-interpretation of scripture.
My point is that if that is the theistic concept of a loving god, one that punishes for eternity people who do not believe in him, and rewards for eternity people who commit the most terrible atrocities, then the whole concept falls flat on its face. Whatever your personal standards of love, justice, morality and goodness are, none of those standards would or could include torturing someone for eternity. If a god exists who can torture someone for eternity and still be considered 'good' then that god must be operating by completely separate standards from our own - and given that from our perspective we can have no idea what that standard is, statements like god is good, god is loving, god is just, god is moral become completely redundant and meaningless.
Well, I'd like to hear a Christian rebutt that.
The question/objection is based upon a faulty premise and interpretation of Scripture:
Crime #1: Person kills millions of people
Crime #2: Person doesn't believe in Jesus
According to the objection, the second of the two crimes is less serious. And in some sense, i'd agree, which is why I said that the question is built upon a faulty premise. The questioner seems to think that because a Jew is a good, morally upright person, then they are not deserving of God's wrath. But this is not what the Scriptures teach:
“for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,” “THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”; “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”; “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.” “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”” (Romans 3:9–18)
Here we see that, Scripturally speaking, Jews do not incur God's wrath simply because they rejected Jesus. Instead, they incur God's wrath because they are sinners. Of course, the Bible is not arguing that all sinners will be equally punished, as some will receive a greater judgment (Matt. 10:15). But it must be understood that both Hitler and the unbelieving Jew will receive their just punishment unless they repent and accept the only one who can save them from God's wrath, Jesus Christ (John 3:36).
As Paul would probably anticipate, I must raise a question: in a naturalistic worldview, why would it matter if a Jew receives a greater punishment than Hitler? In the natural world, both "good" and "bad" people suffer. Do you shake your fist at the universe when good people needlessly suffer? Of course not, because the universe doesn't care. Yes, you may object, "But I care!" And that's the thing. I have my worldview that is based upon God's judicial reckoning and you have your worldview that says, "Paul Baird is the judge of all things." And if this is not the case, then who are you to say that my theological persuasion "isn't fair?" I am one bag of cells uttering one thing and you are another bag of cells uttering something else. Who judges who is right?
The God of the Bible isn't simply a loving God; He is a just God and can only judge in accordance with His Holy and Righteous character. But there is a reason why the Bible calls the gospel "foolishness" to Gentiles (1 Cor. 1:23). The following should illustrate:
“And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.“The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’“I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9–14)