Is God a Bad Parent?

There has been an interesting transition over the last several decades whereby many people seem to reject God not because they don’t believe He exists, but rather because they believe that He is cruel and evil, demanding obedience to his tyrannical project. What can we say to someone who believes that God is primarily interested in making his creation toe the line? How do we respond to someone who believes God is saying, “Do things my way or I’ll destroy you?” In your life, how has your perception of God differed from what you have discovered about God’s true nature?

Listen to today’s Ask Away episode as Vince and Jo discuss the nature of relationship with God. How people’s assumptions about God, Heaven, and Hell don’t line up with what Scripture teaches and what Christians actually believe.


@Robert_Repke this is a really great interview, and something I’ve been looking for. Have you come across any teaching regarding why God has to send those who reject him eternally to hell to suffer (instead of annihilation)? Or why God would create people in the first place knowing they would end up in hell eternally? Thanks for the timely post!


Hello @ALandis! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the Ask Away podcast here on Connect. It was a good discussion! There are some really great podcasts on the RZIM site. This weekend’s post on Let My People Think was such an amazing sermon from Ravi, I hope to listen to it again this week. Are you a regular listener of Ask Away?

Robert Repke uploads the links to podcasts, but probably won’t be on here answering inquiries. So I’ll start us out, and others can join in.

There are several references to an experience of hell in the Bible as Jesus refers several times to a place “outside” where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (extreme agony) as well as a second death (or spiritual death) in Revelation.
Unbelieving Jews
Righteouss vs. Not
The Hypocrite
The Worthless Servant
Those who believe they can enter God’s Presence any way they like
The unbelievers and those who reject God’s gift of righteousness
The torment is forever

The philosophy that God destroys some souls with annihilation and sends others to heaven for glory seems quite inconsistent with scripture. It would appear that there is a conscious experience of eternity no matter where you end up. This is why our love for the lost and our commitment to evangelism is extremely important. (I do think there is reasonable evidence for an “age of accountability” that suggests children are not condemned, but that probably should be another discussion.)

I would add that God’s gift of soul is indescribable. It’s the part of us that has eternal existence and sustains our individual essence. That which cannot be destroyed.

I liked Vince’s comment in this week’s Ask Away podcast, “Heaven is not a reward ceremony for those who have been good enough. It’s a relationship with those who want to put their trust in God.” If we consider that heaven is the promise for those who have accepted God’s offer of relationship involving dwelling in His Presence through salvation in Christ, hell is the place where the soul is separate fromm God which is what makes it hell.

In their book The Bible Knowledge Commentary John F Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck of Dallas Theological Seminary state:

The doctrine of eternal punishment, though unpopular with liberal scholars and difficult to accept, is nevertheless clearly taught in the Bible. Jesus and the Apostle John say more on this subject than does all the rest of the Bible.

Love does not force itself by committing assault or rape, but rather extends itself in relationship and gives a choice of reciprocation. And that choice must involve an either or. God could have made us in the form of robots that do His will unconditionally and without question. But just as we may guess that a doll cannot return love, neither did God want that kind of relationship.

Here are a couple of vids from RZIM staff: The amazing John Lennox:

And Ravi Zacharias’ on hell:


Thank you for the thorough reply, April. I was asking in order to learn how to answer those questions since I have quite a few friends who think God is unkind to create people that He would ultimately have to send to hell. I’ve exhausted my answers and am searching for deeper ones. I suppose unless you’ve been touched by the Spirit of God there will always be questions to keep one away from truth. BTW I’ve read a few of your posts on different topics and have enjoyed them all. I lived in Austin for a few years when I was a teen and went to UT Austin for 2 years. Texas has a special place in my heart! Thanks again for the videos; I will listen to them a bit later.


Hello @ALandis,
I get what you’re saying about the perceived idea of God being unkind. I was just talking to my neighbor this morning about how many people struggle with the idea of eternal suffering (as we should). I think your question has a lot of import and it is coming up a lot.

I tried searching the archives to see if Ask Away has tackled the “hell vs. annihilation” topic, and I can’t find anything that sounds directly associated…Would it be OK if I send your question into the Ask Away team? Hopefully we could get some “pro” insight from Vince and Jo!

Thank you for your kind words, and it’s great to meet a Texas fan! My sister graduated from UT, as well as most of my inlaws! I’ve traveled a bit, and I have to say Texas is a unique place filled with wonderful people.

Oh yes! It would be fantastic to hear what they have to say. Thanks, April.

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Will do!