“That is why I stubbornly believe in an ‘Apocalypto’ —which means an end of an era of this age. God at some time in human history (which you and I may or may not see in the flesh) will balance the books. It is His nature. For anyone to coldly and stoicly argue the opposite does an injustice to the ‘justice and fairness’ of God. Plus having a belief in God balancing the books keeps me sane, though others seem to enjoy being afraid of the concept.”
I agree with Felix overall. The problem of evil does pose a significant challenge to Christianity, but (unlike atheism) Christianity at least offers the hope that God will bring evil to an end.
And that is why there are people in the Bible who actually rejoice in God’s wrath. Isaiah 14:5-7 says about the fall of Babylon:
“The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of rulers, that struck down the peoples in wrath with unceasing blows, that ruled the nations in anger with unrelenting persecution. The whole earth is at rest and quiet; they break forth into singing.”
Similarly, the final verse of Nahum says concerning the destruction of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria:
“There is no assuaging your hurt, your wound is mortal. All who hear the news about you clap their hands over you. For who has ever escaped your endless cruelty?”
As these passages make clear, Assyria and Babylon wreaked destruction and terror on a lot of nations. So it is no surprise that these nations are happy about their oppressors’ downfall. Not only do they have a sense of satisfaction that justice has been done and that God cares about their pain, but they also get a respite from oppression. What victim wouldn’t be happy about this? It’s like the defeat of the Empire in Return of the Jedi, or (more realistically) the deaths of Hitler and Saddam Hussein.
But here is my problem with the whole wrath issue, and here is why some may be afraid of the concept: For evangelicals, anyone without Jesus is going to hell. And this does not only apply to Hitler, Stalin, and Saddam Hussein. It applies to your nice Jewish or Buddhist neighbor, or that happy-go-lucky secularist you know who has problems with religion and church. Some of them are really good people who help others. And many are not particularly good or bad–they’re just regular people, like me. I have a hard time rejoicing in God’s wrath against them.
I often feel that, when evangelicals defend hell, they appeal to the worst examples of human wickedness. In Christian scholar N.T. Wright’s defense of the doctrine, for example, he refers to people who sell young girls as sex slaves. For N.T. Wright and other Christians, such activity cries out for justice.
But not everyone going to hell in evangelical doctrine is that bad.
At the same time, evangelicals have a point. If they are wrong, then there is a question that confronts us: How good do you have to be to go to heaven? And how bad do you have to be to go to hell? At least for evangelicals, one has to be perfect to go to heaven, period, and, since no one can reach perfection, we all need Christ as our personal Savior. Such a binary system seems less fuzzy than other systems.