Is Hell Unjust?
That is a fair question. To those who don't understand Christian theology or doctrine, the idea of hell and a loving God seem extremely contradictory. After all, how can the source of all that is good create a place where people are tormented day and night forever and ever for a finite amount of sins? In order to deal with this problem, it helps to first realize that this objection is almost always based on an emotional level, not a logical one. Because of this, you can't argue anyone into accepting hell, but you can help them understand it.
Before I start I think there are several misconceptions that need to be cleared up. First, the people who go to hell are not physically tormented ("nefesh" in Hebrew), rather they will be in a state of eternal misery and separation from God himself. Left alone with only his sinful heart and desires, knowing that he is cut off forever from the only source of true happiness and realizing that it didn't have to be that way. Second, hell is not infinite agony for a finite amount of acts, as some people claim. Rather it is a separation because of our condition and inability to be in His presence. Interesting to note here is the fact that the opponent of hell is appealing to a standard of fairness, when saying the punishment does not fit the crime, which requires a God to exist. It seems that the atheist is "leaping to the second story" in order to affirm what he doesn't have on the first.
The Bible clearly states that hell is a place of eternal punishment not punishing, implying an ongoing condition rather than an ongoing series of acts. Additionally, we seem to forget that to reject Christ is to reject God himself. Is it really any surprise that we spend eternity away from Him after we reject Him? Where we go is our choice, it always has been. The final misconception is that of God Himself. As I already mentioned in a previous post, the idea that God is a big sugar daddy in the sky is a very dangerous and wrong-headed one. We primarily developed this innate view because of the judeo-Christian heritage of our country and due to the media's portrayal of Christianity. Although God is perfectly loving, He is also perfectly just, and perfect justice demands that we "reap what we sow". In this way our inadequacies are revealed in His justice. Both His justice and His love must be present simultaneously. I'll elaborate on this shortly.
So what exactly is hell? Thanks to the modern stereotyping of traditional Christian values, most people think hell is a place where sinners are tortured and burned by a red guy with a pointed tail and pitchfork for all eternity. Some are quick to point out verses where Jesus threatens with the "flames of hell" all the while forgetting a somewhat obvious trend in how Jesus spoke: metaphors. Almost everything Jesus said was a parable, metaphorical speech or symbolic representation. Hell is identified as a bottomless pit, a lake of fire, a place of complete blackness and loneliness, a place of eternal separation from God and a place where "the worm never dies". There are many different ways of identifying this single location, but are they all literally true? Are there worms in hell? I don't think so, nor do most Biblical scholars. Simply put, a place of darkness cannot also have fire, because fire emits light. Some may say "well God just gives them the sensation of burning", but it seems to me they are missing the point, namely, that hell is such a terrible place because God isn't there. No one currently alive understands what it means to be truly separated from God. Even the most hardened atheist is exposed to God on some level due to the presence of the body of Christ on earth. In the end, however, those who say they don't want anything to do with the Christian God will get what they want.
Now in order for someone to logically show that a loving God is incompatible with the concept of hell, two assumptions must be made. First, if God is all powerful, then He can create a world where everyone freely chooses to give his life to God. Second, if God is all loving, then He would prefer a world a where everyone freely chooses Him. If both of these are true then the Christian God and hell are incompatible. It therefore follows that the opponent must shoulder the "burden of proof" and show that both of these requirements are necessarily true. Unfortunately for the opponent, we can furnish several different possible scenarios of hell and thus refute the objection. Remember how I said that both God's love and justice must always be present? Well this presents somewhat of a dilemma, on one hand we have Gods justice. His justice demands that we get what we deserve (eternal separation and punishment). On the other hand we have Gods love, in which He yearns to see all men "turn from their wicked ways and follow Him".
So how are these seemingly contradictory facets upheld? Simply through the person of Jesus. With the death of Jesus on the cross, all the sins of the world were "payed" for, thus fulfilling the demands of God's justice. Simultaneously the very act of Jesus' death was a demonstration of God's love. Should we choose to trust Him then we are saved by His grace. Should we reject Him, then we spend the future separated from Him. It's simple really. So why couldn't God create a world where everyone freely chooses to accept Him? Because it is logically contradictory to make someone freely choose something. It's not real love if the love is forced. A careful observer may object by saying that heaven is an example of where everyone freely chooses not to sin. This example is void, however, because it denies the doctrine of original sin. In heaven no one has a sin nature, so we are not obliged to sin like we are on earth. Thus we retain our free will, yet freely choose not to sin.
What about those who have never heard the Gospel? Would God send them to hell because they don't know about Him? That's a good question too. The Bible is very clear that God judges those who have never heard according to their response to the information they have received. What kind of information? Well those who have had heard the gospel and have had a chance to decide either for or against Christ are recipients of "special revelation", meaning knowledge pertaining to the exact identity of Christ and God as revealed in the scripture. Those who have not had the chance to hear the gospel are recipients of whats called "general revelation", meaning knowledge pertaining to the moral law inscribed on their hearts and the ability to recognize that they don't live up to the law-givers standard. Everyone instinctively knows that there is such a thing as real right and wrong. So if a pygmy in Africa realizes that there is a right and wrong, recognizing that there is a higher power and that he needs His help, then he will be saved.Always remember that God is just and will not falsely condemn someone to eternal separation simply because they were ignorant.
Then what about the infants, children and mentally handicapped who can't grasp or understand something like the moral law? The Bible is clear on this as well. (Deut. 1:39) clearly demonstrates a principle that God follows, known as the age of accountability. The age of accountability means exactly what it says, namely that if you have not reached the capacity to understand and acknowledge God's grace then you are not held accountable for your sin. It's important to recognize here that the act of Jesus' redemptive death is still needed. Although these people may not be able to grasp the gospel, their sins are still atoned for through Christ's death.
So to answer the original question of this post: God doesn't send anyone, we choose to go.