Responding to Sam Burke's Argument That Christianity Entails Anti-Natalism




In the comment section of one of the posts on the Cerebral Faith facebook page, Sam Burke commented "If I found out Christianity was true, I would do everything in my power to stop people from having kids so that more people don't go to Hell. According to Matthew 7:13 only a few people will find the way to Heaven. Almost everyone who is born will end up being burned in eternal conscious pain for eternity according to the Bible. A trillion years and the person will not be a second closer to being out of Hell. Any parent who truly believes and understands this, and knows their kids will statistically probably end up in Hell, and has kids anyway hates them. Having children violates "love your neighbor as yourself" on that viewpoint. If Hell then Anti-Natalism. 

And not to mention if the Age of Accountability is true we should conceive kids just for the sake of aborting them and therefore "populating Heaven." And I am Pro-Life!! Or infants are damned unless they accept Jesus as their savior from the time they are born. Christianity is utterly hopeless, depressing, etc. No compassionate person could want Christianity and all that it entails to be true."

Is this the case? If Christianity is true, does it entail that you should either abort your children or refrain from even having them? I've already dealt with the Age-Of-Accountability-Entails-That-Abortion-is-ok argument in this blog post here and in chapter 4 of my book A Hellacious Doctrine: A Biblical Defense Of The Doctrine Of Hell. So I won't rehash those answers here. Rather, I'll address the more modest argument that if Christianity is true, and if more people statistically end up in Hell instead of Heaven, then it's basically our moral obligation to refrain from even conceiving!

First, God Has Made Salvation Available To All, Anyone Damned Has Only Themselves To Blame

Jesus said that "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Everyone who believes in Him will not perish but whoever does not believe in Him is already condemned because he has not believed in God's one and only son." - John 3:16-18 (emphasis mine).

God The Father gave up God The Son (i.e Jesus) to die for the sins of the world! The Greek word translated "world" here is kosmos and it is most often used to either describe all of humanity, the entire planet, or the entire physical universe. If you are a part of the world, then God loves you and became a man to atone for your sins. I'm a part of the world. You're a part of the world. Adolf Hitler was a part of the world. Osama Bin Ladin was a part of the world. The random person who drove by my house yesterday is a part of the world. Every human being is included in this passage. Moreover, whosoever out of the group that God loved (i.e the world) who places their faith in Jesus will not perish but have eternal life. Jesus said that God didn't send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save the world through him.

Because "God so loved the world", he therefore "wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4), and is "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). As a result of this love and desire, He "gave his only begotten son" and by that is meant that Jesus "gave himself as a ransom for all people" (1 Timothy 2:6, cf. 1 John 2:2, Hebrews 2:9).

God offers this salvation to all. We're not able to accept it on our own (see John 6:44, John 6:65), so God sends His Holy Spirit to enable us and persuade us to receive His offer of salvation at the preaching of the gospel (Acts 16:14, John 12:32). This grace can be resisted (Acts 7:51), resulting in the persons own damnation if they continue to resist God's grace until they die (John 3:36). The choice is up to you. Will you resist The Holy Spirit or will you yield to Him?

God became incarnate, died on the cross to take the punishment we deserved and then rose from the dead. God sends grace to all people to draw them to salvation. Some choose to resist God's grace and others choose not to. The ones who resist cannot indict either God or their parents for the choice they made. They have no one to blame but themselves. This is why it is often said that God doesn't send people to Hell, but rather, people send themselves. No one who ends up in Hel l has to be there. Their damnation could have been avoided.

Secondly, He Is Assuming That Parents Have No More Say In The Eternal Destiny Of their Children Than Birthing Them. 

Sam Burke is assuming that parents have no more say in the eternal destiny of their children than merely birthing them and letting them decide for themselves. However, Proverbs 22:6 says "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."

It is generally true that if you raise your child right, he'll grow up right. Theologically, one should expose their children to sound doctrine at a young age, and teach them apologetics from a young age. You can start with having them read books like "The Case For Christ For Kids" by Lee Strobel, "The Case For Faith For Kids" by Lee Strobel, "The Mystery Of The Picture: Where Did The Universe Come From? Did It Come From Nothing?" by Mary Katherine Mammen and Neil Mammen, and "The Awesome Book Of Bible Answers For Kids" by Josh McDowell and Kevin Johnson. When they enter high school, you can move them on to more advanced material like the regular "The Case For Christ" by Lee Strobel, "My Redeemer Lives: Evidence For The Resurrection Of Jesus" by Evan Minton, and others. See my blog post "Teach Your Children Apologetics" for a larger list.

While your kids should look at the evidence for Christianity's truth, You should be a well informed Christian and be able their questions as well. As J. Warner Wallace once said, you are the first apologist your child will ever be exposed to. I think fewer young people would leave the church if we were prepared to make a reasonable case for Christianity instead of emphasizing feeling based experiences, and (this especially goes for youth pastors) entertainment. When I become a father, I will ensure that if my child grows up and apostatizes, it won't be for intellectual reasons (John 3:19-20).

The answer to the problem of your offspring going to Hell isn't to refrain from having them, but to make sure that they know the Living God.

Thirdly, While Jesus Said More Would Be In Hell Than Heaven, He Never Gave Exact Numbers

You have no idea the ratio of damned to saved and neither do I.  It's difficult to read Matthew 7:13-14 and not get the idea that Jesus said there would be more damned than saved. However, Jesus didn't give an exact ratio. For example, Jesus never said that for every 1 person who is saved, 100 are lost. For all we know, for every 1 saved, only 2 or 3 are lost. You can't calculate the probability that your offspring will, by the end of his life, have spurned The Holy Spirit. We're not in a position to tally the exact number of saved to lost. All Jesus said is that many would enter the death gate and few would enter the life gate. That's not exactly what I'd call mathematical precision.

Revelation 7:9 observes, "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands." Millions and millions of people will be in Heaven from all over the world.

Finally, Annihilationism Is An Option

Burke's criticism presupposes a very specific view of Hell; the Eternal Conscious Torment view. However, what if Annihilationism is true? Annihilationism is the view that the damned do not, in fact, suffer eternal conscious torment. Rather, on some forms of annihilationism, they suffer for a little while are eventually annihilated, or they annihilated immediately upon being judged by God. Thus, annihilationism is absolutely no different than Atheism and Deism concerning the afterlife. The only difference is that Atheists and Deists believe that everyone is annihilated, whereas the Christian annihilationist only believes some are.

Since I do not adhere to annihilationism, I have tried to respond to Burke's argument while presupposing ECT. However, in the case that Burke or others find my response unsatisfying, I would advise them to look into the case for annihilationism. I don't want Burke or others to reject Christianity on the basis of a secondary doctrine that I could be wrong about. If I did that, I'd be no different than Christians who require people to give up assent to Darwinian Evolution. If I'm wrong and annihilationism is true, then it has even less force than it would on ECT.


Comments

  1. I just subscribed o your blog after some poking around on your site. I find your mix of traditional established Western Church orthodoxy together with accommodationist and evolutionary creationism curious and intriguing.

    I am wrestling right at this moment with ECT as well as the essential character of God.

    I belong to a fundamentalist Baptist church in the Philippines and love the fellowship but feel stymied by the doctrinal conformity and anti-intellectualism. I’ve come to Christ at age 51 by His saving Grace and after coming to the “end of myself” with alcoholism and existential despair.

    The love I feel and the Grace I received is the anchor of my faith. But I finding with extensive and broad inquiry that I need to view the Cross as the fullest testament of God’s redeeming Love through the self emptying of His Devine powers to humble Himself for His creatures and His broken creation. It is broken because in order to allow free-will and natural law He is willingly self constrained in Love to allow for our fullest consent and participation. The incarnation is His Love manifested to allow His creation to be reconciled to Him.

    Christ is the fullest revelation of His Devine Loving nature. Like the prodigal Father he has His arms wide open and will only reform and rehabilitate out of Love with His purifying burning Love.

    I may be wrong but this is the God I can worship. It is consensual and not coercively placed on me through the threat of ECT. I am a willing participant in His Kingdom and I willingly and desperately allow for Christ Jesus to abide in me. I seek to model my life in His example and allow myself to be self emptying and see the true blessings of His Kingdom.

    Brad Jersak’s “A more Christlike God” has been hugely influential in pushing me to this perspective. However, as a baby Christian my walk is not finished. I will order your book on Hell to help me attain a balanced understanding and always asking the Holy Ghost to guide me.

    Blessings brother.




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    1. Wow! That is an awesome testimony! Thank you for sharing it. Our God is great and awesome! By the way, I hope you find this site and my book helpful in your Christian walk. God bless you. :-)

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