Youth Group Tough Question

Status
Not open for further replies.

Wynteriii

Puritan Board Freshman
So the question I received this week from my Youth Group came from a kid who describes himself as an Atheist. His question:

"Why would God create billions of people knowing before hand that a majority of them would end up in Hell?"

When I was given this question, I figured it was pretty easy to answer. However, the Leader of the Youth Group was shocked that I thought that because of the fact the world renown theologians had to write lengthy books on the subject and still have not answered the question. When I asked for a list he gave me zero references and he told that it's all about "God's Sovereignty".

I would to read how you guys tackle this issue. It's not common for me to be able to give a "Reformed" perspective on things to the youth so I am excited.
 

nicnap

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
This is not going to answer all the questions you ask--but I will ask you, who says that a "majority of them will end up in hell?" The Scripture says that Abraham's descendents will be as the sand on the seashore or the stars in the sky. Sounds to me like the majority (down through ages and time, not necessarily at one given moment in time) are/will be Abraham's descendents. Number two--if this kid is a self-proclaimed atheist, he has no understanding of the promises of Scripture & should be told as much. That is, unless the youth guy was touting that most of those who have been created will end up in hell...to which I say, he should brush up on his theology. And to some extent, I would point you and this other leader to Deuteronomy 29:29; there are some things that are not to be delved into beyond what God has revealed. All things are from him, through him, and to him -- that is, to his glory; even the number of people who go to hell.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Sounds to me like the majority (down through ages and time, not necessarily at one given moment in time) are/will be Abraham's descendents.

The context is one man, who likely would be barren being told that the redeemer would work through His physical seed to redeem a people from every tribe, nation, kindred and tongue- and work that through the ages.

We really don't know how many, in total, or how many relative to percentages.

Rather, there is more to suggest that few, not many (relatively speaking) receive mercy and pardon for their sin. E.g.
Matthew 7:13

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

And, God speaks often of a "remnant," which implies more a smaller portion. That certainly was the case in past history recorded with Israel and in the early church.

But it is true, we do not know how many or how few the "remnant" is.... or will be.
 
Last edited:

Randy in Tulsa

Puritan Board Freshman
The inquirer’s argumentation seems to be something like this: If there is a God, he must be all powerful and ultimately benevolent concerning the majority of people. The ultimate destination of a majority of people is hell, an entirely malevolent place. Therefore, God cannot exist. Some suggest disputing the second premise, that is, whether a majority of people end up in hell. I don’t think this would be an effective response as the inquirer ultimately will question the existence of God even if a minority of people, perhaps even if any people, go to hell.

Help the inquirer to analyze the first premise. Go back to the beginning. Which people did God first directly create? He created Adam and Eve and placed them in a perfect, “sustainable” environment, and gave them plain, simple rules to obey. He also gave them the perfect ability to obey those rules. He also gave them liberty to choose to not obey the rules, and told them in advance what would happen if they disobeyed. So far, would the “atheist” agree that God was benevolent to his creation? From, here continue to the fall, at which point the concept of a vague benevolence must be more carefully as defined justice and his mercy. This is the key – the error in the original argument is that the absolute attributes of divine justice and mercy have been replaced by humanistic benevolence. The word of God is effective and powerful. For the inquirer to come to faith, he first must be convicted about the truth of God’s justice concerning Adam and Eve. Then the truly greatest benevolence known to man – the mercy of God (expressed in the plan of redemption and God’s continual faithfulness throughout his covenants with man) may not only change his mind, but break his heart and lead him to faith and repentance. Trust the living and active word of God. It alone is authoritative and powerful.
 

Wynteriii

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for the references to the verses in Romans. I find that some of the tough questions I get and answer just makes insubordinate pieces of pottery.

I also am thankful for referring me to Deut. 29:29. There are many times when the questions are trying to make me find this hidden knowledge but must respectfully bring up this verse.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
"Why would God create billions of people knowing before hand that a majority of them would end up in Hell?"

This is one of the atheist's favorite shockers, but it is not a 'question'. It is an accusation and needs to be treated as such. The Sadducees and Pharisees were fond of asking such "questions" as well. It needs to be treated as if the atheist said, "There is no God of the Bible because a God who creates and also destroys is a contradiction," to which, as Vic mentioned above, Rom 9 is an excellent answer. How can you prove that it is a paradox to both create and destroy? It's ridiculous. It's not a 'tough question' at all, yet the atheist will pretend like it is in order to encourage others to doubt their faith.

Personally, I wouldn't make a big deal about it because that is precisely what the atheist wants. It sounds like his "question" has already created some disharmony within the leadership. In addition, I would be wary of allowing this child to ask "questions" in front of a whole group of tender consciences. :2cents:
 

bug

Puritan Board Freshman
You might want to point out that unless he repents and believes he will 'likewse perish' at some point in your answer!
 

Romans5eight

Puritan Board Freshman
An atheist always presupposes that God's top priority should be our happiness rather than His glory. Until they realize that God is good and we are evil they will never get it. That comes only through the message of the cross of Christ.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I would say this to the group in answer to that question:

When Adam, the first of God’s created humans, rebelled against Him by disobeying His command, he turned from the life of God and partook of the living death – and destiny – of Satan and his demons. Adam was no longer alive to God, but dead to Him. As an apple tree only produces apples, so Adam could only produce dead-to-God creatures like himself, rebels destined for hell, Satan’s place.

An atheist is one who has rebelled against the knowledge of God and His saving mercies, so he is to go where the devil is. And such had better first seek to avoid that place and find mercy from God before trying to figure whether their fellows in hell would be the majority or not.

God had no obligation to save any of the wicked who hate Him and love to kill His people, but in mercy – and against all hope – He chose to redeem a great number out of the mass of humankind consigned to hell by Adam’s rebellion. Who would spurn such great and undeserved favor?

There are answers to the hard questions, but they will be received and understood only by those who trust and love God. Why not turn from wicked unbelief and find forgiveness, eternal life, and the friendship of God?
 

MarieP

Puritan Board Senior
"Why would God create billions of people knowing before hand that a majority of them would end up in Hell?"

The better question would be, Why did God choose to save millions of them anyway, although they justly deserved to go to hell?
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
"Why would God create billions of people knowing before hand that a majority of them would end up in Hell?"

The better question would be, Why did God choose to save millions of them anyway, although they justly deserved to go to hell?

Thanks for this reminder, Marie. When I was asking similar questions to the question in the original post the question you shared provided me with a better understanding of the grace of God.
 

Wynteriii

Puritan Board Freshman
Well I mentioned the fact that God only created Adam & Eve and the Youth Pastor got a little upset. He cut me off and said "I don't know about you but I know God created me". In hindsight, I should have asked how his Mother & God met, how they got married, and how they created him together.:D

We are made in his image. Perhaps someone one can write it better than I.

It seems like I have to hold my tongue more and more. The YP and I get along but we differ in theology. He is an Amyraldian and I a Calvinists. I have told him that If he wants me to talk that's fine, but I cannot stop my theology from coming out. I still try to contain it out of wanting unity in the church and out of respect for the YP.

I come to find out that the questions are not coming from the heart but from the internet. The atheist just writes it down and gives it to me. If he wants to do that one on one thats find but these tough questions are suppose to come from the heart of one struggling with the issue. I'm here to answer and help, not just speak on topics.
 

newcreature

Puritan Board Freshman
Are you not doing your training in q Reformed Church? There are so many good answers here already. Share with this young man the doctrines of grace, if he is to be saved, the Holy Spirit will do the work in his heart. I know when my daughter is struggling with theology or sin our youth pastor meets with her one-on-one. Is this an option?
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
Well I mentioned the fact that God only created Adam & Eve and the Youth Pastor got a little upset. He cut me off and said "I don't know about you but I know God created me". In hindsight, I should have asked how his Mother & God met, how they got married, and how they created him together.:D

We are made in his image. Perhaps someone one can write it better than I.

It seems like I have to hold my tongue more and more. The YP and I get along but we differ in theology. He is an Amyraldian and I a Calvinists. I have told him that If he wants me to talk that's fine, but I cannot stop my theology from coming out. I still try to contain it out of wanting unity in the church and out of respect for the YP.

I come to find out that the questions are not coming from the heart but from the internet. The atheist just writes it down and gives it to me. If he wants to do that one on one thats find but these tough questions are suppose to come from the heart of one struggling with the issue. I'm here to answer and help, not just speak on topics.

Well, if he wants to copy and paste stuff from online, then here is an article done by Mr. Paul Manata in response to the Rational Response Squad (a group of atheists).

It has been pointed out, but the more pressing matter is this kids unbelieving heart. He doesn't need an answer to this question as much as he needs to hear the Gospel. However, in light of this question, it's simple. God created for His glory. He created to demonstrate His power, mercy, love, wrath, justice, etc. This is plainly seen from scripture. Now, why did he create man, knowing that most would go to hell? Other then what is revealed in Scripture (God showing His mercy to some and justice/wrath to others) we don't know.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Wynter, I think the youth pastor is right about him also being created by God, although not initially. It might be better said, in the beginning God created only two humans. But Adam's children were no less created by God for not being initially and directly created. Here are some Scriptures:

Isaiah 43:1 But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

Revelation 10:6 ...him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein

Isaiah 54:1 For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

Psalm 100:3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Psalm 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. . .15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

1 Peter 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.


God had chosen us (and in His eternal purpose created us) even before the foundation of the world. We are no less created by Him for having been formed in the womb. I would use the Socratic approach with the Youth Pastor: with regard to the first issue you had with him, I would ask him respectfully – in the class – his take on the matter of the atheist's "majority of humans in Hell"; and on his being created, how he sees that.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
It seems to me that behind the question, "Why would God create billions of people knowing beforehand that a majority of them would end up in Hell?" is an assumption that the world and mankind would be better off without the fall. Well, surely the fall brought a horrible curse. But it's also true that if God is good, then he also ordained the fall ultimately for good.

We can only speculate on what life with God might be like without the fall. But let's do that for a moment. Let's speculate:

1. We might be left relating to God through the unsure foundation of our own good works, rather than through the sure and completely comforting foundation of Christ. Our hope might not be so fully in God.

2. We would not be experiencing the beauty of atoning salvation.

3. We would not know so richly the majesty and holiness of God, which we see so clearly in his punishment of sin.

4. We would not know so richly the love and compassion of God, which we experience most sweetly in the atoning work of Christ.

5. We would not know the supreme joy of being joined to Jesus and growing in him. Fall and redemption has brought us into a relationship with with God that is ever growing and brings new and deeper blessings daily.

Now, we can't expect an athiest to appreciate #3. And we can't expect a non-Christian to appreciate #4 and #5. But perhaps your challenger can at least understand that if he were to start from a believer's perspective, there's plenty of reason to believe that God ordained the fall in order to bring good things to his people. There's still some mystery there. But as with most mysteries of God, the better our grip on the utter majesty of God and the sweetness of the gospel, the more we start to see ways that it could, indeed, make glorious sense.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Forgive me Wynter, but I'm not understand who is asking you the question to which you are hoping to respond. If it the supposed "atheist" teen in attendance or the group leader?

As I've had to learn the hard way (some of that learning took place on this board!) - sometimes it isn't what you say, it's how you say it. Applied to ministry, sometimes it isn't what we say in response to a question, but how we respond to the question. It would be possible for you to somewhat curtly or abruptly state true doctrine propositionally and "win the argument" and yet come across like a cold, calloused jerk and thus "lose the war."

I recommend listening - especially with this kid. I was a youth pastor once. I doubt he's a hardened, studied atheist. Hardened studied atheists typically have no use for church based activities, so his presence makes me think he's probably trying to prove himself a man. But regardless, listen to him. Ask him to explain what HE thinks is the case. Ask him questions and let his own thought process show him things. Of course, you need to direct him - but if you do it right he won't even know you're driving the train! - and ask the right questions and point out the right Scriptures. But if you do it well, you stand much to gain longterm.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
You and this young person are not speaking the same language. Push on why this question is important to him personally. Keep the focus on where he stands before a holy God. Otherwise he will have an unending litany of questions raised only to showcase his sophomoric ways.
 

Wynteriii

Puritan Board Freshman
I was answering the question for the atheist but everyone else could hear and listen.

The YP does thing that I wouldn't do and vice versa. In fact, he would rather be called Youth Leader because he thinks that a Youth Pastor has to many responsibilities. :doh:

Frustations are just fantastic :D
 

DeniseM

Puritan Board Freshman
But regardless, listen to him. Ask him to explain what HE thinks is the case. Ask him questions and let his own thought process show him things. Of course, you need to direct him - but if you do it right he won't even know you're driving the train! - and ask the right questions and point out the right Scriptures. But if you do it well, you stand much to gain longterm.

This sounds like Charlotte Mason's philosophy of Masterly Inactivity...a wise and purposeful letting alone. She believed in putting good material into kids hands and letting them do the job of learning from it. If there's any philosophy on educating children that I would advocate using, Charlotte Mason's would certainly be one of them. We can only do the job of providing sound doctrine. The Holy Spirit is the one that must work on the heart.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top