Why is Hell Eternal?2
Christians have long struggled with why hell is eternal. One of the principal reasons is that it seems unfair to them that supposedly finite sins, committed briefly in time, should warrant an eternity of judgment. Jonathan Edwards had this to say:
“The crime of one being despising and casting contempt on another, is proportionably more or less heinous, as he was under greater or less obligations to obey him. And therefore if there be any being that we are under infinite obligation to love, and honor, and obey, the contrary towards him must be infinitely faulty.
Our obligation to love, honor and obey any being is in proportion to his loveliness, honorableness, and authority. . . . But God is a being infinitely lovely, because he hath infinite excellency and beauty. . . .
So sin against God, being a violation of infinite obligations, must be a crime infinitely heinous, and so deserving infinite punishment. . . . The eternity of the punishment of ungodly men renders it infinite . . . and therefore renders it no more than proportionable to the heinousness of what they are guilty of” (“The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners,” The Works of Jonathan Edwards [Banner of Truth], 1:669).