Perhaps the most disliked doctrine by modern man is the idea of people going to hell forever. The idea tends to promote several questions:
How can a good and loving God torture people in hell?
Why cannot God merely forgive people?
How can it be fair for people to suffer forever for a temporal sin?
Why not reform people and allow them into heaven?
Why did God create people He knew would go to hell?
Why not annihilate sinners instead of sending them to hell?
There are others, but these are representative of the common objections. Since these are too many questions for a single post, we will deal with these over several posts.
We must first recognize that the existence or non-existence of hell is not dependent on our desires. Just like the existence or non-existence of God does not depend on whether or not I want Him to exist, the existence of hell is not determined by whether or not I think it is fair. If it were up for a vote, I probably would not vote for hell. Frankly, the idea sounds repugnant to me. But we must realize that we do not determine things by feelings, especially the feelings of a finite, sinful human, as we all are. Instead we must consider logic, reason, and God’s revelation to determine what is the truth. We do not determine truth by wishful thinking, whether it be the existence of God, hell, or anything else.
We must also be careful to consider what the Bible says about hell, and not what we might imagine it says. As with anything, it is important to go to the original source and see what is actually taught, not what others have quoted or suggested. In the scholarly world, writers do not consider secondary quotes as reliable, and the same should apply with the Bible. We should carefully examine what the original source teaches. In the case of hell, the New Testament in general and Jesus in particular have a great deal to say about hell. For example, critics of Christianity often present a stereotyped view of the Old Testament as mean and cruel, and the Jesus in the New Testament as loving and merciful. The truth is actually rather surprising (as you can see here).
We must also realize that whether or not we personally agree with the concept of hell, the Bible is clear in that it teaches the existence of hell. At the end of the day, we can reject the entire concept, but we must realize that if we do so we are flatly disagreeing with what the Bible clearly teaches. For example, hell is taught in passages such as Matthew 13:40-41, 49-50; 22:13; 23:15, 33; 25:41; and many more. For a good account, and a good start to this series on hell, I suggest you read Luke 16.
So it will take a few posts to answer most of the issues, so you might want to hold off a bit with the criticisms until we are well on the way through the explanations.