Post 2: Hell: From James to John

read Post 1 HERE

In a previous post we looked at what Jesus taught about hell. The traditionalists contend the rest of the authors of the New Testament tow the line alongside Jesus. Today we want to sketch what Edward Fudge, in Hell: A Final Word, summarizes about James, Acts, Peter, Paul, Hebrews, and 2 Peter-Jude say about hell.

James speaks of the end of the wicked five times: death (1:15), destruction (4:12), consumed (5:3), slaughter (5:5), death (5:19).

The Book of Acts does not motivate by fear. Four refs to final judgment, and they are stated by Peter and Paul, and Fudge turns to them.

Peter: the only reference to the kind of final judgment in the preaching of Acts, from the lips of Peter, is destruction (3:22-23). Paul’s preaching: Acts 17 we see from Paul that God will judge the whole world, his judgment will be just, Jesus Christ is the judge, God raised him from the dead, and in Acts 24 Paul mentions “future judgement.” Not a word on the nature of that final judgment.

What about Paul’s own writings? Paul talks about “hell” more than anyone, though he doesn’t use the word “hell.” Instead, he says the wicked will not inherit the kingdom (1 Cor 6:9-10); they will perish (Rom 2:12); they are anathema (1 Cor 16:22), they will be destroyed (Rom 2:12; 1 Cor 3:17) — sudden and everlasting (2 Thess 1:9). … it is marked by distress, fury, tribulation, and wrath.  ”It is strange beyond understanding how anyone can read these words… and explain them to mean anything other than total extinction, unending cessation, and complete annihilation” (128). These words are countered by the opposite: eternal life. Paul teaches, Fudge argues, endless death.

Hebrews warns the apostate of worse than physical death (2:2-3) — of destruction (10:39), one created by a raging consuming fire (10:27-31; 12:29) — torments, purifies or consumes?

2 Peter-Jude: swift destruction and condemnation (2 P 2:1, 3), like those of Sodom [above image] (2:6); Jude 7 says Sodom illustrates “eternal fire.” They will experience blackest darkness, total darkness (2 Pe 2:17; Jude 13). The Flood — destruction again (2 P 2:5-7).

John: John’s Gospel speaks of perish and destruction and death (3:36; 1 John 5:16-17 too).

Next post… the Lake of Fire.

If the rest of the NT followed Jesus, then the emphasis is destruction. The evidence for endless torment is not evident to Edward Fudge. What do you think? Any evidence for endless torment?

120 thoughts on “Post 2: Hell: From James to John

  1. I’m far more moved by the Eastern Orthodox concept of hell. The teaching that all things return to God, the purifying and consuming fire makes a whole lot more sense then a maniacal, inhumane being who destroys his own creation and is the antithesis of the good father. Ialso like their teaching that Gods grace is in all of creation from the time of creation. For the wicked, hell is to be in the purifying love of God.

  2. With death people have paid for their sins. Perhaps they received already some punishment from people, for what they had done wrong in their lifetime? when they die, they have paid for it for God. It would be strange if there would have to be done another penalty. God is a God of Love. Once we have contributed for our faults, He will not come back on them. According to the Holy Scriptures when we die life just ends and we shall return to dust, having nothing going out of our body except the breath of life. We can not take anything with us in our death, nor can we feel or do anything. Life will be finished and we return to the situation as before we were born. Sheol is the word for “grave” and not a place of torture. (it was the place out of town were corpses were burnt so that they could not infect the living.)
    Only after Armageddon the dead shall be taken out of the graves and be judged with those still living. Then Jesus shall allow them to enter the Kingdom of God or send them back into death (2nd death).

  3. So, Christadelphians, why don’t you just go out and sin your way to death, knowing that when you die you will just be vapour and there will be no consequences?

    Isn’t that what the world says? Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die?

    But Jesus, when he was on the cross, said “Father, why have you forsaken me?” He felt the emptiness and vacuousness of separation form the Father. He knew the torment o isolation from the presence and love f God, which we all take for granted, and all receive regardless whilst we live, even if we do not believe.

    Your error requires the deliberate misrepresentation of scripture, similarly adopted by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh day Adventists, and sadly for us, Greg.

    In fact, Christ made it clear on more than one occasion that the dead would know either separation from God or relationship with God.

    Jesus said to the man who was about to die on the other cross that that very day, when he died, he would be in paradise with Christ.

    You are saying, in effect, that when Jesus died and went to the grave he became as nothing for three days and three nights. You reject the doctrine that he returned from the dead in bodily form. You say his body was merely vaporised in some way and no longer exists.

    Yet Christ was dead and in the grave for three days and three nights, and was raised in bodily form. He showed that thee very much is life after death. He preached to the spirits in prison, that is the grave. How did those spirits know and hear and respond to his preaching if they were not conscious of his voice?

    You make the story of Lazarus the poor man who was crulely treated by the rich man into a parable, when Jesus was relating a story which illustrated the condition of the dead in the grave. So often, when people attempt to make this a parable, they are unable to reveal exactly what the parable tells us, when it is clear H=]jesus is saying to people around him that even if a man was sent from amongst the dead to reveal what it is like to be dead no one would believe him if they do not believe Moses in their lifetime.

    How will it be any different for a person who is asked to believe that Christ was risen from the dead for the salvation of all who will believe?

    It is written tat no man would pay for their sins through death. Death was the payment for sin, not the way to end sin. Only a sinless man could pay for the sins of the world. that man was Christ, the Word made flesh.

    But you do not believe that the Word, Jesus, is God, so you cannot see the significance of the sacrifice and why a sinful man could not pay for sin in a ransom which would free him from eternal separation from the Father.

  4. More moaning from Steve. Well at least they’re not Catholic. So is Jesus going to cast the Christas into the lake of fire too?

  5. ” We can not take anything with us in our death, nor can we feel or do anything. Life will be finished and we return to the situation as before we were born. ”

    Sorry , Greg, it seems as though it’s this nutter (Christadelphians) that has a tme machine. I hope that the NUTTER can still operate the time machine when he returns to the state of non-existance, in order that he can bring himself BACK TO THE FUTURE.
    And BTW, NUTTER, i still want my hover-board.

  6. AH, so, Christadelphians, you must be one of those dipsticks who believe that when one dies he is snuffed out (soul is the flesh,flesh is the soul) and then returns to the living at the time of the resurrection?

  7. Talking to Christians About Hell–It’s Harder Than You think

    Anyone who thinks filmmaking is glamorous should try making a documentary sometime. Better yet, try promoting one.

    For a high profile film like The Hobbit, promotion means having Peter Jackson premiere an exclusive clip to hundreds of adoring fans at Comic-Con and then flying back home to New Zealand in his private jet. For a low budget documentary like Hellbound?, it looks more like some poor schmuck (usually me) standing outside a big, black tent at a dusty, blazing hot Christian music festival handing out swag and asking—begging—people to come inside and watch our trailer.

    I shouldn’t complain. As we’ve travelled to various festivals across the country, I have met literally thousands of potential viewers—something I doubt Peter Jackson ever gets to do. It’s been a fascinating, educational journey, and I’ve made plenty of new friends. But at times it’s also been frustrating. You’d think talking to Christians about hell would be a slam-dunk. But my experience has shown me it’s anything but.

    Here’s a typical exchange that occurs when an unwary soul passes by our booth:
    Me: “Hi there. Have you seen the trailer for our new movie?”
    Unwary soul: “No, what’s it about?”
    Me: “It’s a feature-length documentary that looks at the debate Christians are having about hell.”
    Unwary soul (a little warier now): “Debate? What debate?”
    Inside I want to scream: Haven’t you heard of Rob Bell? Don’t you know he put hell on the cover of TIME magazine last year? Have you not read Love Wins, one of the several books or some of the thousands of blog posts and news articles written about it?

    Instead of screaming, I convey the same information in calm, measured tones, hoping for that glint of recognition in their eyes. But it rarely comes. Instead I get something like, “Well, I don’t know what there is to debate. The Bible is clear. There’s a hell, and you don’t want to end up there.”
    At this point I typically clench my teeth like Tom Cruise doing a close-up. Then I say something like, “If the Bible is so clear, why do so many Christians disagree on how we should interpret it?”
    Confused look, often followed by, “I don’t know. I just go with the plain reading of the text.”
    “Oh really?” I respond. Deep breath. “Let’s assume you believe in the ‘traditional’ view of hell as a place of eternal torment for the wicked. How do people get there—is it a fate we choose or does God choose it for us? If God chooses, how do you reconcile that with his goodness? If we choose, what ultimately qualifies us for hell—wrong beliefs or wrong behavior? If it’s wrong beliefs, what’s the cut-off point? How wrong do our beliefs have to be before we are beyond redemption? And if it’s wrong behavior, at what point have we committed the ‘unpardonable sin’? Finally, if we are so unfortunate as to end up in hell, will the torments we experience be active or passive? That is, does God actively torture us or will our torment be the result of God withdrawing his goodness?”
    By now the poor soul is wondering if he or she has unwittingly died and is now in hell.
    So as to remove any doubt, I crank up the heat and say, “No matter how you answer these questions, you’re making a judgment call. So even if you want to stick with the ‘traditional view’—which isn’t as traditional as you might think, by the way—you’re not going with the ‘plain reading’ of the text at all. You’re interpreting it—prioritizing some texts over others, taking some things literally, others figuratively and so on.”

    If you listen carefully at this point, you can hear weeping and gnashing of teeth. But that never stops me.
    “Furthermore, if you’re as avid a Bible reader as you seem to be, surely you realize the Bible contains three sets of texts: those that seem to teach eternal torment, those that appear to teach annihilation and those that suggest all people will ultimately be reconciled to God. So even if you prioritize one set of texts, you still have to interpret the other two in a way that neither negates them nor explains them away. Of course, you’ll also need to explain why someone who disagrees with you would go to hell for rejecting what appears to be an entirely subjective decision.”
    Now they realize they’re not only in hell, they’re face-to-face with the devil!
    I may be exaggerating things a tiny bit, but experience has shown me that too many Christians have a strong emotional investment in a doctrine of hell they’re unable to articulate, much less defend against rival interpretations. Worse, they’re not even aware such interpretations exist. And then they treat their subjective, ill-informed beliefs about hell as the litmus test for orthodoxy.
    For example, another common question I get after someone watches our teaser trailer is, “Interesting. How does it end?”

    This also makes me want to scream. Does anyone ask Peter Jackson how The Hobbit ends? Of course not! Why watch the film if you already know the ending?
    To be a bit more charitable, I realize what people really want to know is, “What’s your position on hell?” Of course, I’m far too cagey to give a direct answer. Instead, I say, “We’re taking a critical look at multiple views on hell in order to provoke informed discussion. I’m not interested in telling viewers what to think. My goal is to help them learn how to think about hell and other contentious theological issues.”
    That usually satisfies, but I still get my share of suspicious looks, because deep down what they really want to know is, “Are you one of ‘us’ or one of ‘them’?”
    At such moments I wish I could abscond in my own private jet. But Peter Jackson I am not—at least not yet.

  8. I think this guy needs to realize that there are many Christians who don’t read Time or blogs about Christian controversies.
    I know lots of people who don’t know who Rob Bell is.

    Just like I’m still hazy on who or what a Kardashian is, and still haven’t heard a Justin Bieber? Beaver? song all the way through yet.

    I’ll get around to it one day yet.

    And many average Joe Christian types would be just as surprised to hear that
    people don’t believe in angels, heaven, demons etc.

    I’d go further to say that Phil Pringle, Brian Houston still aren’t that well known.

    Maybe the percentage of people who love debating on Christian blogs is even small.

    I usually find most of them are weird actually…..and some of them refuse to listen to reason!

  9. But back to the topic, I don’t think evangelicals are really that sure about what they believe.

  10. Yes people believe things because that’s what they are told to believe. And if they question that belief they won’t collect $200, they’ll go directly to Hell.

    Any questions have to pushed back into the deep dark recesses of one’s conscience where hopefully they’ll stay.

  11. Well, no. People believe things because they read their Bible and take it at face value.

    I agre that we should question what we’re told. My wife and I will always work through what we’ve heard at a meeting. We don’t always submit to everything that is said if we know it doesn’t measure up against scripture. We’e always taught this, too. That’s because we were taught this way. It’s pretty obvious really.

    What Bones wants to do is not only question everything he reads, hears or sees. He wants to take it further than this and actually challenge everything, push every boundary. Cross every line that can be crossed.

    This is OK if he wants to go down this line, and the are obviously others on the same trip. But it’s a very tricky journey fraught with pitfalls and detours, misleading signs and often lacking a compass to get back on track when lost.

    The problem is when he thinks that everyone should take this road when most of us would rather stay on the Way with Jesus led by the Holy Spirit, who knows which direction to take, what lays up ahead and how to deal with any road blocks on the journey.

    As far as most believers a concerned the Bible is alive enough and accurate enough for them to base their lives on and are confident they can take Jesus at his word. In fact, faith is based on confidence in God’s Word.

    So if the Word talks about heaven and hell and how to access or avoid them the majority of us can workout through the Spirit what Jesus and the Apostles are saying to us. We don’t have to challenge Jesus. We don’t have a need to deconstruct scripture or deny it or rationalise it away like Bones and people of his mindset does.

    We all read the same scripture and many come to the same conclusion. It is written. It is in front of us. We are more likely to reject those come up with contrary claims than accept them simply because they are easier to take in a secular humanistic way.

    It has nothing whatsoever to do with being told what to believe and complying like lemmings. Again Bones insults the intelligence of believers simply because he can’t, himself, believe.

  12. Yeah! Don’t know what happened there, so you’ll have to sift through the comment. It’s neither déjà vu nor double minded thinking.

  13. I think the believers in hell are the rationalists. As we learn more about the earth and the universe we know there is no underworld or abyss. So the hell believers who once believed in a physical place below the earth now have to rationalise hell as some other way. It’s a place where God sends those to be tortured forever. Or is it a spiritual place of loneliness, a spiritual place where God withdraws His presence. Here we have the classic case of modern Western Christians believing the archaic ancient view of the heavens and the underworld.

    No hell below us.
    Above us only sky. – John Lennon

    Yep. That pretty much sums it up.

  14. Cheers! For fixing it, I mean.

    Why would God be offended by his own decisions? He’s God!

  15. Since God said he would be burning up the existing earth and replacing it why is the material earth anything to do with anything?

  16. “Or is it a spiritual place of loneliness, a spiritual place where God withdraws His presence”

    Okay, so where is that in the Bible. Where is this spiritual place? Can you prove that it exists? What do the brilliant atheists think about your theory?
    Why does God make someone stay in a spiritual place of loneliness? And is that really forever?

    So, what comfort can you give someone who is emotionally tortured by the fact that their loved ones are going to be spiritually lonely forever?

    How can you love or respect a God who creates people, wants their love, but then if they don’t the others who love Him get to be in some ? spiritual place of what – happiness? fellowship? while the baddies are cut off.

    So a husband and wife and their two kids can love each other, but after they die you think the husband and two kids get to be in some kind of heaven and live happily ever after, but maybe the wife is in some spiriuatl solitary confinement?

    What kind of loneliness is this? There are people who are “so lonesome I could cry” , some commit suicide because of loneliness.

    How could people enjoy heaven (however you describe that) knowing that people they cared about are cut off from the presence of God. So, God is like a jilted lover who says hmmpf, and refuses to hang out?

    If I die and feel lonely, and cut off from God’s presence, can I then repent?

    Will God then put an end to my loneliness or will He leave me cut off and alone forever?

    I’m actually not having a go at you. I think most people have lots of questions about traditional teaching about hell – I know I have and still do. But, I have questions about every theory. And similar kinds of questions that are raised at the other positions can be asked of yours too.

    Maybe you could explain your ideas a little better and field questions.

    But here’s a question for all of you (and myself). How often do you tell others about God’s love and urge them to repent. For the traditional view holders, given that hell is so terrible and lasts forever, do you talk about it with people?

    And Bones, have you told or warned many people that people have this life in which to make decisions about how they live or respond to God or the conscience or whatever and that some of them will go on to be in spiritual loneliness forever and cut off from God’s presence?

    I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t come to a full complete understanding of this issue – and it bothers me because I should know.

    So Bones, forget about fire and burning and sulphur. You think there are people who will be eternally have feelings of loneliness and the agony of knowing there is nothing they can now do to be reunited with God or people they love?

    Some would call that hell indeed.

  17. And I don’t condemn you or Rob Bell for having questions.

    To me this question is bigger than who wins the next election, or anything to do with the Tea Party.

  18. Seriously, I’m interested in your idea.
    I saw a documentary about solitary confinement in US prisons. Inmates end up hallucinating.

    So given, all you have said about God and love, and how traditional concepts of hell don’t make sense, as you sure that God who IS love, would just leave a person in a statement of loneliness and solitary confinement (I guess they won’t be travelling much), forever? No conversation, no contact with loved ones, and no answer from God? What could a person do or not do in a lifetime do deserve that? And do you know anyone worthy of that punishment – because it is punishment right? I’d say most people would have enough of that after a million years.

  19. sorry for all the typos – but you guys are smart enough to work it out. If not, pray for the gift of interpretation.

  20. Not quite sure what youre on about q but there is no place called hell nor is there a place where god is not. I’m with the Orthodox view that we ALL go back to God. For some people being in the presence of God might seem like hell.

  21. So which god enjoys destroying his own creation, even the planet of his most prized creation.

    Steve’s god of course.

  22. ince God said he would be burning up the existing earth and replacing it why is the material earth anything to do with anything?

    So do you think second time around God will learn from His mistakes and I don’t know, maybe not put a frickin tree which will cause the eternal destruction of His creation.

    Do you think God’ll do that again?

  23. Maybe you could explain your ideas a little better and field questions.

    This basically explains what I believe re salvation

    There is much to learn from the Orthodox.

  24. ” Or is it a spiritual place of loneliness, a spiritual place where God withdraws His presence. ”

    Sorry Bones, I obviously read your comment way to quickly and siezed on that sentence as being your idea.
    No wonder it seemed strange!

    So all those questions you can ignore!

  25. And so Q joins the Universalists.

    Then, according to your theology, there is no judgment, because what would be the point of it?

    Q will have to adopt Bones’, wazza’s and Greg’s hypothesis that Revelation is neither prophetic nor written for those of us who are at the end of the age, but it is already completely fulfilled, including the predicted outpouring of God’s wrath, the judgment, the second coming of the Messiah with power to judge the earth, the New Jerusalem, etc, etc, and is totally allegorical, with no literal reference whatsoever, being an apocalyptic treatise of an unknown man called John, not a prophecy from Jesus handed down to the Apostle John whilst in detention on Patmos.

    Q, with his newly connected brethren, must adapt to their position on the Revelation of Jesus because it so clearly speaks of the end times wrath of God and judgment followed by a millennial reign and eternity with God for those who are saints. It speaks of a severe judgment for sinners – those who reject Christ – and for the enemy of Christ, the devil, and his fallen minions.

    Bones and Greg do not believe in a literal devil, but say the devil is a manifestation of human rebellion of mind. However, having made this clear, they say they do not believe in demons for the same reason, but do not explain the difference between the devil, singular entity, and demons, plural entities, or how the disciples sent out by Jesus to preach in the villages of Israel could have power over demons if demons are merely manifestations of naughtiness in humans and not spiritual entities which have power to possess them and oppress them.

    Bones and Greg do not believe in Jesus’ words which indicate clearly a separation of sinner and saint, the sinner to judgment and the saint to eternal life. Why would they. There cold be no point to a judgment if all are saved. And why preach? Why have churches? Why talk about the Body of Christ at all? Why have a Bible? Why have communion? Why wash our sins through repentance? Why confess? Why gather as local churches? Why send the Holy Spirit?

    The only thing orthodox about the non-gospel Bones preaches is the name on the package – Eastern Orthodox Church.

  26. But we’ve been around and round this garden like teddy bears before. I seems hardly worth the effort to go again, because, no matter which book of the Bible evangelicals quote from the liberals deny it is part of the canon, or it is from another era, or it is myth, allegory, parable, etc etc, until, in their minds, we have nothing to stand on and no reference point but their unbelieving liberal theologian sources.

    In fact, Bones was mostly using, as his main theological reference, a blog which comprised of three unbelievers – a pagan, a zennist and an atheist. Since then he’s upgraded to the Eastern Orthodox Church, mainly because he’s found a branch which suits his theories, and will soon be appearing in a full black gown from Amani and an extended black fez.

  27. Spurgeon was a Calvinist, but he said some really good things worth considering and he said them well. He was an opponent of Universalism.

    The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob these deep thinkers cannot endure, but if you say that God is angry with the wicked every day, these modern god-makers tell you that he is too loving for that,—that he cannot possibly be angry, but loves all, has redeemed all, and will in the long run save all, including Satan himself. C.H. Spurgeon

    Men seem to think that God is under obligation to grant salvation to guilty men; that if he saves one he must save all. They talk about rights, as if any man had any right before the throne of God, except the right to be punished for his sin. C.H. Spurgeon

    As I have warned you before, abhor the doctrine of the universal fatherhood of God, for it is a lie, and a deep deception. It stabs at the heart, first, of the doctrine of the adoption, which is taught in Scripture, for how can God adopt men if they are all his children already? In the second place, it stabs at the heart of the doctrine of regeneration, which is certainly taught in the Word of God. Note it is by regeneration and faith that we become the children of God, but how can that be if we are the children of God already? C.H. Spurgeon

    There has been spreading, in this country, and in other lands also, the idea of universal salvation; and, mark you, wherever that doctrine spreads, vice must and will spread as the natural and inevitable consequence. When men are taught to believe in ultimate universal salvation, their immediate and legitimate inference is, “Then we may live as we like, and all will come right in the end;” and they will live as they like, but all will not come right in the end! C.H. Spurgeon

  28. Further from Spurgeon, and quite funny, too.

    A gentleman once said to a Universalist, who had been arguing with him, “I suppose
    if I hate your religion, laugh at it, ridicule it, and spit on it, it will be all the same
    with me at the last?” “Yes,” said the other. “Well,” said the first, “mind you do not do
    that with mine, or you are a lost man.” I like the remark of the people who were
    requested to accept one of these preachers as ministers; they said, “You have come to
    tell us that there is no hell. If your doctrine be true, we certainly do not need you; and
    if it be not true, we do not want you: so that either way we can do without you.”

  29. @Steve –

    I am undecided – but i missed Bones’ point and then you missed mine…..:)

    I misread a line of Bones comment and thought he was saying that while he doesn’t believe in the fiery hell, he thinks some will be cut off from God’s presence and be in loneliness. Then my series of questions was all because I was meaning that all the arguments he would usually put to YOU apply to him also.

    But he doesn’t believe in a form of hell which is being in eternal loneliness apart from God.

    Which is why he said he didn’t know what I was going on about.

    My only excuse is that my head is still spinning vicariously after watching Paul Gallen’s punches to Nyles head.
    (Bones will understand… 🙂

  30. Spurgeon on hell.

    The righteous in heaven will be quite satisfied with the damnation of the lost.

    I used to think that if I could see the lost in hell, surely I must weep for them.

    Could I hear their horrid wailings, and see the dreadful contortions of their anguish, surely I must pity them.

    But there is no such sentiment as that known in heaven.

    The believer shall be there so satisfied with all of God’s will, that he will quite forget the lost, in the idea that God has done
    it for the best, that even their loss has been their own fault, and that God is infinitely just in it.

    If my parents could see me in hell they would not have a tear to shed for me, though they were in heaven, for they would say, “It is only just, great God; and your justice must be magnified, as well as your mercy;” and moreover, they would feel that God was so much above his creatures that they would be satisfied to see those creatures crushed if it might increase God’s glory.

    Oh! in heaven I believe we shall think rightly of “men”. Here “men” seem great things to us; but in heaven they will seem no more than a few creeping insects that are swept away in ploughing a field for harvest.

    From heaven’s viewpoint, “men” will appear no more than a tiny handful of dust, or like some nest of wasps that ought to be exterminated for the injury they have done.

    “Men” will appear such little things when we sit on high with God, and look down on the nations of the earth as “grasshoppers”, and “count the isles as very little things.”


    But hey if you want to adopt an ancient cosmological view of the world which science, theology and scholarship has passed by and left with the flat Earth and geocentric views of the world than go for it.

    Btw I’ve often heard how humans are ants compared to God. I went out and told some ants not to eat from a certain bush in my garden or I would squash them. They did of course….being ants. So I squashed them. I had to keep my word.

    Alas if I could become an ant and my wife could squash me they could be saved from being squashed.

  31. Sadly, Bones, you so often show your ignorence of the Word and your query about the Trees is an example.

    Could this dismissal of basic scripture knowledge be because you have such a profound level of disrespect for the Bible that you now ignore it completely as a source of revelation?

    Spurgeon, as I said, was a Calvinist, so there are things he said I would not agree with, but it is typical of you that you dismiss the points he made on Universalism and seek an equivalent as a means of argument. It is a poor substitute for a real rebuttal, but it is all you have most of the time.

    I am currently going through a renewed study of judgment so that I am more certain of what I understand according to scripture, and, beginning with the words of Jesus and Paul, who are surely the most significant doctrinal sources of the New Testament, it is clear that the Universalist position is untenable.

    The article on this post is so skimpy on detail it is in danger of being arrested for nudity in a public place. I am totally surprised Greg would even bother to put it up as an example of any kind of scholarship. The New Testament is far more than a series of headline claims based on a shaky premise.

    There is detail in the sayings of Jesus and the Apostles which clarifies the understanding that Almighty God is the Judge of all and that there will be a reckoning at the end of the age presided over by God, and that all who’s enames are not found in the Book of Life, or sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise will be assessed on their life’s words and deeds.

    The lame dismissals of vast passages of scripture to cover up the weaknesses in your arguments for Universalism, and the accompanying mockery of believers for believing scripture may convince wavering readers of this blog who can’t get past the evolutionary theory, disbelief in miracles or higher criticism of the double-minded, but will hold no sway with the Almighty.

    If you sow doubt to yourselves you will reap the fruit of doubt. Then you will speak doubt, write doubt and purvey doubt. You are a veritable seedpatch of doubt and unbelief.

  32. Yes we tackled this before in one of the Revelation threads to which you had no answer. You won’t get to see most of humanity thrown into a lake of fire.

    Is Spurgeon’s view of hell the same as yours seeing you’re using him as some overwhelming authority?

    Spurgeon’s god (or is it demon – definitely an idol) isn’t worth following, worshipping or even thinking about. Spurgeon’s god sees humanity as a nest of wasps to be exterminated. Your god wouldn’t be much different.

    You are a veritable seedpatch of doubt and unbelief.


    But on hell I have no doubt.

    It does not exist except in human fantasies and horror movies.

  33. So I take it God learned His lesson from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and it won’t make it’s way onto the new Earth.

    Or it could all happen over again.

  34. Let’s look at Paul’s teaching on hell in the New Testament. What follows is a complete listing of every occurrence of Paul’s usage of the word hell. These are all of his teachings regarding hell as recorded by Luke in the Book of Acts, as well as himself in all of his epistles (Romans through Philemon).



    Well that’s it.

    Did you get it?

    Maybe Jesus forgot to tell him.

  35. I think I said judgement, not hell, Bones, so how are you on reading cognisance? Did you not read the article in the post which tells us already what you have just said in regard to Paul? Paul talks about “hell” more than anyone, though he doesn’t use the word “hell.” Then he goes on to list the references to judgment. Hence my comments on judgment.

    I am not a huge follower of Spurgeon, as I have already made clear a couple of times. He is a Calvinist. How could I be. But I agree with his sentiments on Universalism. I made sure I qualified these things knowing you would probably go on the attack against Spurgeon for refuting your stance on Universalism. Highly predictable.

    The word ‘hell’, as already discussed at length, is an interpretation of the words ‘Sheol’, ‘Hades’, ‘Gehenna’ and ‘Tartarus’, and mainly confuses the plot because one word is associated with three different concepts. It would have been more useful for translators to use the appropriate words with a marginal explanation and not use ‘hell’ to cover them all. But, since we have at our disposal means for identifying where each word comes up we are able to add t the context by going beyond the word ‘hell’ into the passage to see what the speaker or writer is telling us.

    The wrong use of the term ‘hell’, however, is not proof that the aforementioned concepts are, therefore. to be eliminated from the script. What a decent study does for us is show us the different ways in which the afterlife is expressed by the various commentators. Jesu is rather clear about it, and remains our primary authority. Here spoke of both Hades and Gehenna. Dismissing Jesus’ words is not a viable way of making a point.

  36. When the Bible talks about hellfire, who says it’s punitive?

    The Fires of Hell: Retributive or Remedial?

    In chapter 2 we covered the way Biblical authors understood agape and the idea that somehow “God is agape” (which means that God’s actions must be compatible with agape[1]), Jesus’ teachings on agape, and the idea that God “is chrestos to the poneros” – all of which seem to place doubt on the idea that God forcibly imposes endless misery on people. This leaves the possibility that some people freely damn themselves, in which case God honors their choice because free will is irrevocable. However, chapter 2 also discusses problems with the idea of self-imposed damnation characterized by never-ending misery.

    So we are left in a predicament. On the one hand, the idea of eternal conscious misery seems altogether inconsistent; it is unlikely to be God-imposed, but also unlikely to be freely self-imposed. But on the other hand, we have to acknowledge that some texts are initially difficult on the surface. We find images of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” in the “fiery furnace”.

    There are two possible alternatives. Either

    a) God will annihilate those in Gehenna so that they no longer exist at all[2]


    b) The fiery furnace is itself a means of universalism in which the (metaphorical) flames burn away everything that separates us from God and from each other[3]

    It is my contention that the Biblical descriptions of hell are more in line with universalism than with annihilationism (although the latter is still a vast moral improvement over eternal conscious misery). In this chapter I argue that divine fire is a metaphor expressing rehabilitation – that hell fire actually purges /heals people. I argue Jesus himself implied that hell purifies and, in so doing, was in line with a tradition of using “fire” as a metaphor for remedial punishment. I also argue that the other texts that mention hell either presuppose remedial punishment or can be interpreted that way without being strained (I call these latter hell texts “the ambiguous hell texts”). The ability to interpret the ambiguous hell texts in a remedial way comes from two things: First, Biblical precedent for using “fire” as a symbol for remedial punishment (which I elaborate on below), and second, Biblical data on the nature/character of God. I will not cite pro-CU prooftexts in this chapter as a way of proving that hell must be remedial (even though I agree with that approach as well) because my critics would claim that I have made a circular argument.

    The idea that curing/purification/healing would be “painful” may seem odd to some readers, but consider a few medical examples to help clarify the concept. In the case of heavy metal toxicity (tissue accumulation of heavy metals), the treatment is chelation therapy (therapy with an agent that binds to heavy metals). For some people, the treatment temporarily worsens symptoms until the person’s body has been cleansed of the metals. Something similar may occur on a spiritual/mental level through hell. According to St. Gregory of Nyssa, the soul that is united to sin must be cleansed by fire (“aionios fire”) that burns away the binding sinfulness.

    To start, let us briefly revisit a theme explored earlier: The idea that God’s actions always reflect agape. If God’s actions sometimes do not reflect agape then it would make no sense to say “God is agape”. As Talbott notes, the goal of love is the ultimate good of its object.[4] Sometimes love compels us to help people with self-destructive behavior even when they apparently do not want us to. One example of this would be parents forcing their beloved (but irrational) heroin addict child into a rehabilitation center. Talbott cites the example of a father physically overpowering his suicidal daughter from successfully committing suicide. God loves his own enemies as much as he loves himself, and from that alone, we must conclude that God wills good things for his own enemies. But sometimes, for some people, bringing about the person’s best interest requires temporary remedial punishment.

    Paul talks about remedial punishment in Corinthians 5:1-5 (frequently cited by Talbott), even claiming Satan as (unwittingly?) helping with the correction.

    It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.

    You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.
    For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present.

    In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

    Paul is distressed about “immorality of such a kind that does not exist even among the gentiles”, namely a man who sleeps with his father’s wife. This is not only adultery, but it is also betrayal against one’s father. Paul says that the man needs to be “deliver[ed] to Satan” as a punishment. This is certainly ambiguous, but Paul adds a clarifying detail: The man’s “flesh” will be destroyed by Satan for the purpose of saving his spirit. In other words, the harsh punishment of being delivered to Satan has an underlying remedial purpose – a purpose that is achieved by “destruction” of flesh. “Flesh” here, of course, does not mean literal flesh (blood, bones, skin, etc.). Instead, it is a metaphor representing the sinful nature. There is a part of this man’s psyche that allows him (or compels him) to betray his father and commit adultery and it is destroyed through Satan.

    Someone may argue that Paul’s sentence uses the aorist subjunctive, which usually implies possibility and not certainty – so the man’s spirit may or may not be saved by having his flesh destroyed by Satan. But that is irrelevant to the point here. The point is that the purpose of the punishment is salvation; the punishment is remedial in function. Whether the purpose will be achieved is irrelevant here. This is part of a trend in Biblical literature in which harsh punishment serves a remedial purpose.

    As I explain below, other examples of remedial punishment use images of fire, which is perhaps more relevant to our discussion of hell. In the third chapter of his letter to the Corinthians, Paul talks about salvation via fire (verses 10-16):

    According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.

    For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

    If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.

    If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

    Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

    Here Paul talks about a fire that tests and reveals people’s work. He says that if any person’s work is “burned up” then “he will suffer loss”. But he reassures the reader that such a man “will be saved, but only as through fire”. Similarly, in verse 3 of the 13th chapter (discussed earlier) Paul mentions the idea of “giving up” his body so that he “may be burned” and implies that doing so is a good thing.

    Similar passages can be found in the Old Testament, where we also find the idea that the fire itself is God’s presence. Malachi wrote about God as a “refiner’s fire” in 3:1-5:

    “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.

    But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.

    He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.

    Malachi wrote about the judgment of the sons of Levi being refinement and purification through God’s fire (specifically drawing an analogy with the purification of gold and silver whereby the taints and impurities are removed from the metals). More than that, he suggests that God himself is the fire, a concept that is also found in Hebrews 12:29, which says that “our God is a consuming fire”. Of further interest is the reference to “soap”. God’s fiery presence cleans people like spiritual “soap”.

    Critics may point out that these examples refer to those who already have a covenant with God and are inapplicable to the fire of hell, which is meant for unrepentant sinners. I offer two replies to that.

    First, one point I am trying to convey is that fire imagery is often used for remedial punishment, which immediately opens the possibility of that tradition applying to hell fire. To say that the fires of hell cannot serve the same kind of function simply begs the question. It presupposes the idea that hell fire is endless misery. Critics will say that their position is based on the fact that hell fire is described as “eternal” and “unquenchable”. I address this point later on, but also somewhat in my second point below.

    Second, Jesus appears to apply the fire-as-correction tradition to hell in Mark 9:42-49, in which he even says that “everyone” will go through a fire-mediated cleansing:

    Whoever causes one of these little ones [children] who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

    And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell [Gehenna], to the unquenchable fire.

    And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.

    And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.

    For everyone will be salted [purified] with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.

    Jesus starts off with strong hyperbolic language suggesting that anybody who harms children would be better off drowning. He then repeatedly refers to the “fire” that people face(d) in hell (Gehenna). At first this seems like support for ED, particularly verse 48. However, in the very next verse (verse 49) Jesus states that “For everyone will be salted with fire”. The verb “salted” clarifies the cleansing nature of the fire. Who will be salted? “Everyone will be.” The word translated as “for” is “gar”, which is a conjunction linking verses 48 and 49 together. Thayer describes it as:

    a particle of affirmation and conclusion, denoting truly therefore, verily as it stands… the force of the particle is either conclusive, or demonstrative, or explicative and declaratory… it adduces the Cause or gives the Reason of a preceding statement… sometimes it confirms, not a single statement, but the point of an entire discussion… The particle is everywhere used in reference to something expressly stated. [Emphasis in original]

    The fire of hell is not quenched gar everyone will be salted with fire. If Gehenna fire is endless misery, then everybody will endure endless misery, including Christians. ED proponents may argue that the reference to “everyone” is limited to “everyone in the category of the saved” and that “only the saved will be salted with fire, whereas the lost will be tormented by the fire forever”. For example, one commentary says:

    “Every one” probably means “Every follower of mine”; and the “fire” with which he “must be salted” probably means “a fiery trial” to season him.

    Committed ED proponents must find a way to explain away this verse, so some suggest that the reference to “everyone” actually means every Christian. From this perspective, verse 48 refers to fire of endless hell, whereas verse 49 refers to a cleansing fire that helps purify Christians. However, as discussed above, verse 48 is listed as an example of verse 49; that is the force behind the conjunction of “gar”. So the fire of verse 48 must have the same function as the fire of verse 49 – it must also be a kind of fire that salts, albeit in a more painful/unpleasant way. This is yet another example where fire, judgment (even harsh-sounding judgment), and purification are woven together.

    ED proponents often suggest that the salt represents preservation, so that the wicked will be preserved in hell forever. And indeed, salt can refer to either preservation or cleansing, and if one is committed to the ED view then the preservation interpretation of Mark 9:49 is very appealing. However, two problems arise. First, fire does not preserve; fire destroys and consumes. How can a destructive force also be a salting force? The fire preserves that which is good by destroying that which is evil – and that is how “fire” is used elsewhere in the Bible when applied to judgment. Second, once again, the conjunction links verses 48 and 49 together in such a way that the fire of verse 48 must have the same function as the fire of verse 49.

    Universalist author Gregory Macdonald writes:

    The words “for everyone will be salted with fire” are offered as an explication about the comments on Gehenna [hell]. This verse has long perplexed commentators, but it seems to suggest that the fires of Gehenna function as a place of purification…

    However… I do not want to suggest that it [verse 49] can alone carry the burden of driving us to a universalist reading of hell.[5]

    Macdonald accepts the argument that verse 49 implies the purgatorial nature of hell (Gehenna), but he is unwilling to place the Universalist view of hell on that verse alone. I agree with him that verse 49 by should not be cited by itself as proof of hell’s cleansing nature. However, the point I am making here is that Mark 9:49 is one example out of several examples. The idea of fiery judgment from God leading to purification is repeatedly stressed in the Bible. Given that precedent, if verse 49 is a genuine quotation from Jesus, then Christians should view hell as providing purifying/ healing fire. At the very least, Jesus implied that purification is one of hell’s purposes, if not the purpose.

    Of further interest is the reference to “worm” is verse 48. The actual word is “skolex” and it is better translated as “maggots” (as opposed to earth worms). The interesting thing is that maggots can serve a medicinal purpose: They eat only dead flesh and leave healthy tissue alone. They remove that which does not belong. The fact that maggots are employed in the fiery imagery may suggest that the fire is meant to burn away (or eat away or consume) the person’s sin (dead flesh). However, it is not clear whether the audience would have been aware that maggots do this. At the very least, the reference to “maggots” can go either way.[6]

    Unquenchable Fire

    Some may ask, “If the fire is purifying, then why describe it as ‘unquenchable’?”

    However, “asbestos fire” seems to have been a figure of speech for a fire that burns until it has consumed everything it was supposed to consume – a fire that cannot be stopped until it finishes doing what it is supposed to do. There are several reasons to draw this conclusion:

    First, in Luke 3:17, Jesus says that the recipient of asbestos fire is “chaff”, which is incapable of literally burning forever. Chaff is finite and must eventually be utterly consumed. It would be absurd to suggest that a “never-ending fire” will burn chaff forever.

    Second, the early church figure Eusibius referred to Christian martyrs who died in “asbestos fire”, indicating that the early church did not necessarily understand the concept as referring to never-ending fire.

    Finally, the Old Testament also implies this. For example, Jeremiah 17:27 and Ezekiel 20:47-48 say that Jerusalem was burned with fire that would “not be quenched”. We know that Jerusalem is not burning today (either literally or figuratively). So there is no contradiction by saying that the “unquenchable” fire of hell is remedial.

    Aionios Fire

    Some may ask, “But then, what about references to ‘eternal fire’ and ‘eternal punishment’?” I have three lines of response.

    First, Gehenna fire is directly paralleled with “aionios fire” in Matthew 18:8-9:

    … if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the aionios fire.

    And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna fire.

    Here Jesus says that “aionios fire” is the same thing as “Gehenna fire”. Earlier we saw that Jesus described Gehenna fire as salting. So if Gehenna fire is aionios fire, then we can say that aionios fire also salts/purifies. This is not circular but logical:

    a) Gehenna fire purifies

    b) Aionios fire is another term for Gehenna fire

    c) Therefore, aionios fire also refers to a purifying fire

    This is deductive reasoning; if the first two premises are true, then the conclusion c is necessarily true. Regardless of how we translate the Greek adjective “aionios” (which is still debated), the parallel here suggests that aionios fire is also meant to purify.

    Second, Matthew 25:46 quotes Jesus as applying “aionios” to “kolasis”, a term that typically conveyed remedial punishment. According to now-deceased scholar William Barclay, this word “originally referred to the pruning of trees to make them grow better”. Although the word is often surrounded by vengeance-style language, the standard meaning of the word was remedial punishment. It is worth noting that Jesus is recorded using “kolasis” instead of the standard words for endless retributive punishment, such as the Pharisees’ expression of “aidios timoria” (“unbreakable vengeance”). Talbott admits that the lexical evidence surrounding “kolasis” is not enough to conclusively demonstrate that Jesus meant it in a remedial sense, but the point is that it can be interpreted that way – it is a possible translation. Whether we should interpret it that way depends on other evidence, such as the evidence discussed earlier. As I also discussed earlier, Luke 10 records Jesus saying that aionios life is obtained by loving our neighbors and God. John says that those who love “will have confidence on the day of judgment”, while those who fail to love will receive kolasis. Interestingly, in Matthew 25 the recipients of kolasis are those who refused to care for the poor. This is part of an overreaching theme of love bringing people to aionios life. People who refuse to love have something wrong with them, something that must be corrected with kolasis.

    Third, there is a Biblical precedent of “aionios fire” referring to temporally limited punishment. Jude 7 says that the city of Sodom was destroyed with aionios fire, and yet the prophet Ezekiel said that Sodom will eventually be “restored”. Some have suggested that Jude’s reference to “aionios fire” refers to postmortem punishment in hell. However, Jude’s frame of reference is the account in the book of Genesis (chapter 19), which suggests that both the people and the cities that housed them were destroyed by the same fire. From Genesis 19:12-25 (KJV)

    [v 12] the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:

    For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.

    And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

    And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.

    … Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;

    And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

    Jude drew upon this account and concluded that God destroyed the cities and their inhabitants with an aionios fire. Jude was not referring to a postmortem state. Ezekiel 16:55 says that Sodom will one day be restored, even though it was destroyed by aionios fire.

    Aionios Parallels

    ED proponents often point out that Matthew 25:46 also describes the “life” given to the saved as “aionios”. They argue that if aionios kolasis is temporary in duration, then aionios life must also be temporary in duration. I have two lines of reply:

    First, if we view the “kolasis/fire” as purification then we can harmonize the translation of “eternal” with CU. Aionios kolasis/fire is a process that, after completion, results in eternal purification – a cleansing fire whose effects last forever. Likewise, the aionios life is a gift that results in never-ending life.

    Second, related to the above point, I cite the discussion by Thomas Talbott:

    … the very meaning of the Greek adjective aionios… has been the subject of dispute. For though the adjective literally means “age enduring” or “that which pertains to an age”, Plato gave it a special and much deeper meaning. In accordance with his distinction between “time” (“chronos”) and “eternity” (aion), Plato used the adjective aionios to designate a timeless realm, that which exists without any temporal duration or change at all.[Timaeus 37d] And this Platonic usage seems to have had a profound impact on the Hellenistic period, where the word aion acquired great religious significance by “becoming the name of a god of eternity”.

    … But curiously, the same term is also used repeatedly in the Septuagint and occasionally in the New Testament in contexts where it could not possibly mean “eternal” or “everlasting”.

    On a few occasions, as when Paul spoke of a “mystery that was kept secret for long ages (chronos aionios) but is now disclosed”, the adjective does imply a lengthy period of time…

    On other occasions, its use seems roughly Platonic in this sense: whether God is eternal (that is, timeless, outside of time) in a Platonic sense or everlasting in the sense that he endures throughout all the ages, nothing other than God is eternal in the primary sense. The judgments, gifts, and actions of God are eternal in the secondary sense that their causal source lies in the eternal character and purpose of God. One common function of an adjective, after all, is to refer back to the causal source of some action or condition [footnote 22]. When Jude thus cited the fire that consumed Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of eternal fire, he was not making a statement about temporal duration at all; in no way was he implying that the fire continues burning today, or even that it continued burning for an age. He was instead giving a theological interpretation in which the fire represented God’s judgment upon the two cities. So the fire was not eternal in the sense that it would burn forever without consuming the cities, but in the sense that, precisely because it was God’s judgment on these cities and did consume them, it expressed God’s eternal character and eternal purpose in a special way.

    Now even as the adjective aionios typically referred back to God as a causal source, so it came to function as a kind of eschatological term, a handy reference to the age to come. This is because the New Testament writers identified the age to come as a time when God’s presence would be fully manifested, his purpose fully realized, and his redemptive work fully completed. [Footnote 23] So just as eternal life is a special quality of life, associated with the age to come, whose causal source lies in the eternal God, so eternal punishment is a special form of punishment, associated with the age to come, whose causal source lies in the eternal God himself. In that sense, the two are exactly parallel. But neither concept carries any implication of unending temporal duration; and even if it did carry such an implication, we would still have to clarify what it is that lasts forever. If the life associated with the age to come should be a form of life that continues forever, then any correction associated with that age would likewise have effects that literally endure forever. Indeed, even as eternal redemption is in no way a temporal process that takes forever to complete, neither would an eternal correction be a temporal process that takes forever to complete. [Footnote 24]

    So it all boils down, perhaps, to how we understand divine punishment and its essential purpose. Is it an end to itself? Or could it be a means to an end, indeed a means of grace, as I believe Paul clearly taught?


    [Above footnotes:

    22. A selfish act, for example, is one that springs from, or has its casual source in, selfish motives.

    23. In this way, the New Testament writers manages to combine the more literal sense of “that which pertains to an age” with the more religious and Platonic sense of “that which manifests the presence of God in a special way.”

    24. Even as an adjective can refer back to the casual source of some action or event, so it can also describe the effects of some action or event. A harmful act, for example, is one whose effects are harmful to someone or another. And perhaps more to the point, an eternal transformation or an eternal change would not be an unending temporal process at all; it would instead be an event of limited duration that terminates, decisively, an irreversible condition. It would be, in other words, an event of limited duration whose effects literally endure forever. So as Christopher Marshall rightly points out: “But punishment is a process rather than a state [contrary to life, which is a state], and elsewhere when ‘eternal’ describes an act or a process, it is the consequences rather than the process that are everlasting (e.g., Heb. 6:2; Heb. 9:12, ‘eternal redemption’; Mk. 3:29, ‘eternal sin’; 2 Thess. 1:9, ‘eternal destruction’; Jude 7, ‘eternal fire’). Eternal punishment is therefore something that is ultimate in significance and everlasting in effect, not in duration” (2001, p. 186, n.123). But whereas an annihilationist believes that the relevant effect is the annihilation of a person created in God’s own image, a universalist believes that the relevant effect is annihilation of a sinful nature or that which is contrary to the image of God within us.

    Lake of fire and brimstone

    At this point, ED proponents may cite the “lake of fire and sulfur” in John’s Revelation (aka the Book of Revelation). However, as others have already argued, the book of Revelation itself seems to presuppose that the lake of fire has purgatorial functions.

    The very reference to “brimstone/sulfur” suggests as much. Sulfur was well known to have medicinal abilities, particularly fumigation. This was known as far back as Homer’s Odyssey. John’s contemporary readers would have associated sulfur with medicine and healing, not torture or abandonment. Combine this with the existing tradition of using “fire” as a symbol for refinement and remedial punishment and it seems that John did indeed intend to convey a healing lake of fire.

    As an example of this, consider John’s comments on “the kings of the Earth” (Gr. “basileus ge”) (KJV). He starts off repeatedly trashing these men as wicked people who end up in the lake of fire, but then goes on to suggest that the very same men enter New Jerusalem, which suggests that the lake of fire somehow cleanses these previously-unclean men.

    [Revelation 6:3-17]: And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

    And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

    And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

    And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

    For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

    [16:13-14:] I saw three unclean spirits like frogs [come] out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

    For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, [which] go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty

    [17:2:] the kings of the earth have committed porneia, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication–he/

    [18:3:] For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies

    [18:9] And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning

    [19:19:] And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.

    John describes “the Kings of the Earth” as hiding from (and recipients of) God’s wrath, as “spirits of devils”, and as working with “the beast”. These are hardly descriptions of endearment. John implies the evil nature of these “kings of the earth” from chapters 6 through 19. He implies their wickedness six times, five of which are within relatively close proximity. The point here is that John’s repeated use of the phrase should be enough for us to get the picture of what these men are like. John’s usage set the precedent and placed these men in a specific category/ reference class of wicked people. Now, here is the very next occurrence of the phrase in 21:24-26 (KJV):

    And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

    And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither [whatsoever] worketh abomination, or [maketh] a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

    John now describes these “kings of the earth” as entering New Jerusalem, after previously telling us about their fate in the “lake of fire”. How could these men go from the lake of fire to New Jerusalem? This would not make sense unless the lake of fire somehow enables these previously unclean men to enter. This is consistent with other Biblical uses of “fire” as a metaphor expressing purgatorial judgment.

    Furthermore, New Jerusalem is said to have gates that “shall not be shut at all”. What would be the purpose of this statement? It implies that there is incoming “traffic” (incoming because nobody would want to leave the city). But where is the traffic coming from? As Talbott notes, “the only other reality left” is the “lake of fire and brimstone.” As Gregory MacDonald suggests, these passages seem to presuppose a Universalist understanding of hell fire.

    Fiery Ruination

    Thessalonians 1:7-9:

    Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power

    Ekdikesis, which is here translated as “vengeance”, can also mean “punishment” or “justice”.[7] The standard word that lined up with our modern conception of vengeance was “timoria”, which is absent in this passage.

    Here Paul describes God as a flaming fire and says that some people will experience destruction/ ruination apo God’s presence. The key word here is “apo”, which can be translated as either “from” or “away from”, depending on the appearance of modifying verbs. In this case, there are no modifying verbs to indicate the meaning of “away from”, so it probably means “from”. In fact, that is exactly how the word is used earlier in verse 2 of the same chapter (Thessalonians 1:2), which refers to “grace and peace apo God” (it would not make any sense to say “grace and peace away from God”). The NIV is inconsistent here. It translates verse 2 as “from God”, but then translates verse 9 as “shut out [away] from … God”. The English Standard Version also says “away from”, but includes a footnote saying: “Or destruction that comes from” (italics in footnote). Translating apo in verse 9 as “away from” seems to reflect a presupposition about what hell is supposed to be (i.e. God’s absence), rather than consistent scholarship. Fortunately, the correct translation still appears in many other translations, including Young’s Literal Translation, the King James Version, American Standard Version, Darby Translation, and others.

    As in other texts, hell (divine judgment via fire) is described as God’s presence. For some people God is a flaming fire and the fire causes ruination for those people. What exactly this means it not explicitly stated in the passage, but a remedial interpretation can be inferred from other evidence. As I have been showing, divine fire is elsewhere used as a metaphor for God’s purification, especially when the fire is said to be God’s presence (c.f. sons of Levi), just as it is in this particular passage. Another point I have been trying to communicate is that we should pursue an alternative to ED if such an alternative is equally plausible. We should favor such an alternative because it paints a more consistent picture of hell, but also because it does not create any tension with Jesus’ teachings discussed earlier – e.g. God loves his own enemies (recall what love entails), God is chrestos to the poneros, God does not engage in eye for an eye, etc.

    Interestingly, the word translated as “destruction” (Greek olethros) is the very same word used for “destruction” in Corinthians 5:5, where it is used in a remedial sense (annihilation of the sinful nature, or “false self” as Talbott puts it). Thessalonians does not say what the “destruction” entails, but the passage is no harsher than the Corinthians 5 passage (which involves a horrible sin, a man being removed from his people and rebuked in the name of Jesus, and then given to Satan for the destruction of his flesh and the salvation of his spirit). So it is at least possible that, like Corinthians 5:5, the Thessalonians passage refers to remedial punishment. Universalist author Gregory Macdonald insists that the “olethros” in this passage means “ruination”. That may be a good translation. However, the same word occurs in the Septuagint to describe the “ruination” of Israel before God restores it. So either way, it is not “the end” of things.

    It seems far more likely that the punishment Paul had in mind here is more along the lines of a purging (whose healing/corrective effects are endless in duration). Additionally, he does not specify human beings as the recipients of God’s fiery presence, and it could refer to demons/devils/dark forces.

    Other Objections

    I previously discussed several passages on the aionios fire of Gehenna (which I argue is a purifying fire), but there are several other objections that I now turn my attention to. I can share only my own take on these issues, and other CU proponents may see things differently, but I suspect that most of them would at least have similar answers.

    The Necessity of Faith, and Other Requisites of Salvation

    The New Testament repeatedly stresses the importance of faith, from the Greek “pistis”, and says it is a necessary condition for heaven. I do not know of any Christian Universalists who deny that. Instead, the idea is that any requirement for salvation will (at least eventually) be met – even if it must be met in the next life.

    ED proponents may argue that there is no explicit Biblical support for that notion. That is debatable,[8] but let us accept it for the sake of argument. Assuming that there is no explicit evidence for postmortem reconciliation, one could still argue for implicit evidence. This can be formulized as follows:

    a) There is evidence for universal reconciliation

    b) Certain conditions must be met before receiving salvation

    c) Some people do not meet those conditions in this life before they physically die


    d) Those people will meet those conditions in the next life

    If premise a is true (if there really is evidence for universalism), and if some people do not meet salvation requirements in this life, then we have implied evidence that they will meet those requirements in the next life. The absence of explicit postmortem salvation in the Bible would not be evidence against the idea. This response would be a problem if we assume that people must meet the necessary conditions on Earth before they physically die, but that assumption seems very problematic as I explain later on.[9]

    Aside from that, even if we assume that non-Christians will require Gehenna after they die for the sole reason of being non-Christians (which I reject), that still is not evidence against CU because Gehenna purifies.

    Belief, Faith, and Knowledge

    Several ED proponents have challenged me on the idea of people acquiring postmortem faith. They argue that people will not have “belief” in the next life, but instead will have knowledge/ certainty. And if belief is a requirement for salvation, then those who fail to believe on Earth will not and cannot be saved in the next life – according to some ED proponents. This deserves some more elaboration. Let us say that belief is on a continuum from 1-6. If 6 referred to knowledge or certainty, then I am referring to anything below 6. To illustrate, let us say that my friend buys me a nice watch from a store in the mall. I ask where she purchased it, and she tells me. I believe that she is telling the truth, but I do not know for certain (I have to take her word for “on faith”). Many Christians define faith in exactly that way. More than that, they suggest that such faith is required for anybody to obtain union with God. In the context of evangelical Christianity, it usually means something like “faith that Jesus is the messiah and rose from the dead”. If there really is an afterlife, then anybody who experiences it will not have to take anything on “faith”. At that point, the person will have knowledge and certainty (about reality and God), as opposed to belief. So if “belief” as previously defined is required for union with God, then it must be acquired in this life. Belief as previously defined cannot be obtained in the next life, because at that point people will have certainty and knowledge (and not belief) – or at least that is how many Christians view it. Following this line of reasoning, there cannot be “belief” in the afterlife because at that point people will have knowledge/ certainty, and if such “belief” is required for union with God, then anybody who fails to acquire the belief before they die will go on to experience endless misery after they die.

    I have several objections to that.

    First, pistis can refer to loyalty or covenantal trust (the latter presupposes belief or awareness / knowledge). Pistis does not necessarily refer to “belief” as previously defined. Somebody could develop loyalty or covenantal trust in the next life.

    Second, the gospels report that after Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared in front of many and even allowed some to touch his body for proof of his physical nature (and that he was not a ghost). If belief (as previously defined) were required, then it seems that Jesus would not have appeared in front of people the way he reportedly did.

    Third, the very idea that aforementioned belief is required poses a moral problem. As evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins has pointed out, specific religious beliefs are often “an accident of geography”, i.e. largely (though not entirely) influenced by environment and geographic location. People who grow up in the Middle East are more likely to have Islamic beliefs by no choice of their own; it is a matter of conditioning. They usually do not feel any pull towards Christianity, just as Christians usually do not feel any pull towards Islam. And although some Muslims convert to Christianity (and vice versa), they usually are not swayed by apologists on the other side. We do not choose what we believe, or at least most people do not. Instead, people can choose to perform an investigation, but the result of that investigation is not chosen – the mind involuntarily assents to a particular conclusion based on what strikes the investigator as most reasonable. Whether something appears more reasonable depends on several factors (including neurobiological and even para-natural). An agnostic may be “moved” into becoming a Christian, but similarly, a Christian may be reluctantly swayed by atheists. For example, Biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman grew up Christian, but “painfully” became an agnostic during his scholarly education. He did not want to lose his Christian faith, but he had no choice. Many atheists are reluctant atheists in the sense that they truly yearn to have a belief in God, but simply cannot produce it (by no fault of their own). If beliefs are freely chosen, then I could will myself into believing that Bill Clinton is really an alien from Mars. But no matter how hard I try to force myself into believing that claim, I will never believe it apart from convincing evidence (or what I perceive to be convincing evidence).

    If God imposes retributive punishment onto people because of their beliefs, then God punishes them for something they cannot control, which means that God would hold them responsible for something they are not actually responsible for. To drive home this point, consider the following scenario. Tim is a father to three children whom he loves dearly. The love Tim has for his children can be described as patient, unfailing, embracing, and something that compels him to do whatever he can to achieve the best interest of his children. As a demonstration of his love for his children, Tim places wonderful gifts beneath the Christmas tree. So far, there is nothing inconsistent about his behavior. However, Tim goes on to tell his children that if they do not believe that he is the person who placed the gifts beneath the tree, then the children will suffer a horrible fate: They will be separated from Tim for the rest of their lives. More than that, the children must acquire the belief by Christmas Eve (Christmas day will be too late). Tim says it will be okay if they acquire the belief by 11:59 PM on Christmas Eve, but no later. If they acquire it a minute later, then it will be “too late”, regardless of how sincere the children are.

    Most of us would characterize Tim’s behavior as appalling. We also recognize the sharp contrast between loving and unloving behavior in this scenario.[10] There are people with such split personalities, where one aspect feels love and expresses love, while the other aspect feels rage and expresses it through violence. But surely God is not like that – not if God “is love”, has “love” for all human beings (including “enemies”), and expresses that “love” to them (see chapter 2). Love, when properly defined, is mutually exclusive with the type of behavior exhibited by hypothetical Tim. But it is also incompatible with the idea that God imposes endless misery onto people who fail to acquire certain beliefs before they physically die (see chapter 2 for a more thorough defense of this argument).

    A few additional points should be made. It should be pointed out that disbelieving in Jesus’ divinity and resurrection is not the same as outright rejecting Jesus. Before going further, allow me to define my use of “reject”. I am using it in a social sense, e.g. “I asked a girl out to dinner, but she rejected me” (something that cannot occur if the girl does not believe in the existence of the person she is rejecting). Genuine atheists cannot reject Jesus in that sense of the word because they do not believe that Jesus exists to be rejected. People can reject something only if it exists to be rejected (or if they think that the thing exists). Likewise, Muslims do not reject Jesus (in the aforementioned sense of “reject”); they simply have a different set of beliefs about Jesus’ nature and ministry. However, if these same persons were to become convinced of Jesus’ divinity and resurrection, but turned Jesus away, then we could claim that they have rejected Jesus. One cannot knowingly reject a gift unless one believes that the gift exists in the first place. To clarify, I am not denying that some people will/do reject God, but instead I am attempting to demonstrate that Christians should not be so condemning towards those with non-Christian beliefs.

    This is still compatible with the idea that pistis is a requirement for salvation because one could argue that atheists will have postmortem chances to acquire it. Some may argue that postmortem chances of acquiring faith render Earthly life pointless. This counterargument implies that the purpose of life is to know Jesus (or at least that is one of life’s purposes according to this counterargument). However, there are people who never get to hear of Jesus’ ministry (e.g. aborigines in remote locations), and these persons demonstrate that the purpose of earthly life is not to know Jesus. If it were, then everyone would be given an opportunity.

    Some may still paraphrase this way of looking at things as if God were saying “you must eventually join me or suffer”, but it is not quite that simple. Theologians and mystics regard God as the source of happiness (of “supremely worthwhile happiness”, as Talbott puts it) – so that separation from God “naturally” results in misery. Heaven is special relationship/union with God (something that cannot be experienced in the same way in this life), so while it may require awareness of God, it also requires much more. Similarly, having a relationship with another human being requires awareness of that person’s existence, but it also requires much more. And in this case, the person in question (God) is willing to way until you are aware of his existence before initiating a relationship, even if it must occur in the next life. Or at least that is part of the Christian message as I see it.

    There is nothing inconsistent with the notion that some people need to acquire pistis after they die. In fact, some people (such as those who have suffered terrible tragedies) may actually require physical death – the transition from this life to the next – before they can develop pistis. I accept that some will be unwilling or unable to develop the union even in the next life, which means that there is something within them/ something in their psyche that is emotionally separating them from God. Whatever that thing is, it will need to be burned away by the aionios fire.

    But aside from all of that, even if belief as previously defined (without knowledge/certainty) were required for salvation, that still would not pose a problem for postmortem salvation. A problem occurs only if we assume that God cannot set up postmortem environments in which people have opportunities for developing the necessary belief, something that would certainly be consistent with the idea that God “is chrestos to the poneros”. But as I explained earlier, I doubt that mere belief is what counts. Belief is only part of the equation, just as knowledge and awareness are only parts of the equation.

    What about Judas?

    People often ask about Judas because Jesus described him as “lost” in John 17:12 (ESV):

    While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction [Judas]

    The word translated into “lost” is “apollumi”, which Jesus also used to describe the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10),[11] the lost sheep of Israel, the lost son (prodigal son in Luke 15:24),[12] and those who Jesus “came to save” (Luke 19:10).

    The same word occurs in the famous John 3:16 verse that “whosoever pistis will not apollumi, but will have aionios life”. Breaking that verse down, we could have something like the following: “Whoever has union with God will not experience apollumi, but will instead have life from God.” So we come to John 17:12, in which Jesus calls Judas apollumi. Judas did not have union with God at that time, and so was apollumi, but that is exactly the type of person that Jesus came to save (according to Jesus himself).

    One could argue that Judas required or went through Gehenna based on Matthew 10:28 (which says that God can apollumi people in Gehenna), but that is compatible with universalism because Gehenna purifies. And interestingly, 1 Peter 1:7 describes gold being apollumi through fire in order to remove the impurities. This fits with the discussion in chapter 3. Perhaps Judas needed to have his own impurities burned away.

    I am not suggesting that apollumi was necessarily a remedial word, but instead I am suggesting that the word by itself does not imply irrevocable doom.


    Let us briefly sum up what we have so far:

    1. God loves his enemies (in fact, we are told that if we love our enemies as ourselves then we will be like God, which suggests that God loves his enemies as himself – i.e. God loves his enemies as much as he loves himself)

    2. God is chrestos towards those same enemies (with chrestos meaning benevolent or a healer)

    3. (a) Love is patient, does not cause ill to its neighbor, is merciful, and creates forgiveness. (b) And since God loves his enemies, God shows those enemies patience, lack of ill will, mercy, and forgiveness.

    4. (a) We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. (b) If we love our neighbor as much as we ourselves, and if that neighbor is miserable, then we will also be miserable. (c) The residents of heaven/New Jerusalem will be free of mourning and sadness. (d) Those same residents of New Jerusalem will not lose their love for the unrighteous and will not forget about them. (e) Therefore, the unrighteous neighbors are not destined for endless misery, because if they were, and if we love them as ourselves (as Jesus commanded), then we would also endure endless misery. But since we will not endure endless misery, neither will any of our neighbors. (This also counters the idea of self-imposed damnation/endless misery, because the result would still be endless misery for our neighbors)

    5. (a) Human beings cannot be more compassionate or forgiving than God. (b) Some human beings demonstrate unconditional love and forgiveness. (c) Therefore, God must also show unconditional love and forgiveness.

    6. Ironically, some of the ED prooftexts themselves either presuppose a remedial hell or can at least be reasonably interpreted in that way. ED prooftexts have multiple possible interpretations. Which interpretation we view as correct depends on how we view the nature of divine punishment, which brings us back to the nature of God and the principles discussed above.

    This summary will come as a shock to many Christians. Indeed, there is a bumper sticker that says: “Jesus called: He wants his religion back”. There appears to be some truth behind the humor. The portrait of Jesus given in the above summary is so contrary to western models as to be almost unrecognizable, and yet it is exactly the portrait given by the gospels and the writings of Paul. Jesus’ teachings have been widely ignored in western Christianity, which might be better termed hell-ianity. Western Christians have not only ignored Jesus’ teachings on love and forgiveness, but they have also obsessed over the fear tactics of hell.

    As we have seen, if the above arguments are sound, then God does not (and probably cannot) damn people forever (given what Jesus taught), but instead actively reaches out to those who are lost. God loves and forgives his enemies and expects humans to follow his example. For most people, this is a process that will continue well into the next life.[13] But God’s loving attitude towards everyone is not only an ongoing process; it is an already-existing attribute of the divine nature.

    However, with all of that being said, one could still argue that at least some people (“rebels”) will reject God forever. John’s Revelation poses a problem for that position, but it could still be argued. So indeed, the next question is whether or not all people will be reconciled to God. In the next chapter, I provide a Biblical case for universalism by analyzing standard CU prooftexts (e.g. Romans 5, Corinthians 15, etc.) and the alternative interpretations offered by ED proponents.

  37. On the Trees I think Eyes already pointed out to you on another thread what happened to them. He actually did quite a good job of it. Maybe you did what you often do and bypassed what others say to continue with your error.

    But since you have such a very poor understanding and appreciation of what The Revelation of Jesus actually says, it would be conceivable to believe that you had no idea of what Eyes was telling you in regard to paradise.

  38. The whole story of trees in the Bible is fictitious and metaphorical. Have you actually thought about the Genesis account?


    Maybe you should look up more Spurgeon for a laugh.

  39. If God imposes retributive punishment onto people because of their beliefs, then God punishes them for something they cannot control, which means that God would hold them responsible for something they are not actually responsible for.

    What a nonsense argument. The gospel isn presenting an optional extra to life. It is saying ‘repent for the kingdom of God is here’, so get your life in order now whilst you still can. How? By receiving Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Of course they can control whether they believe God or not.

    Most people swallow their own lie which says each of us can devise a god of our choosing and live the life of our choosing accordingly, and, as long as we are good on our own terms we are acceptable to any god if a god exists. They issue forth the doctrine of self-assessment for righteousness.

    Bones very much preaches this false gospel.

    He says that Hindus, for instance, can find God this way. They simply have to believe the invented god of their own thought system and comply with their self-devised god’s standards for righteousness and Almighty God will accept them on that basis.

    He asserts, on top of this, that even the most vile of god-despising sinners, an serial killer, rapist, or a multi-victim-pedophile, for instance, will ultimately be accepted into God’s kingdom, even though the Bible explicitly states that there are certain people who will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    But Paul lowers the criteria for sinner quite considerably. he doesn’t just name obvious sin like murder, or child molesting, he goes on to make himself the worse of sinners for persecuting Christians.

    This follows the teaching of Jesus, who didn’t just ratify the Law of Moses as the standard for measuring sin, but actually took it much further.

    “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” Matthew 5

    But Jesus, later, narrows it even further.

    “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3

    So Bones, in his Universalist state, seeks to broaden exponentially the Way to acceptance, whereas both Jesus and Paul narrow it down to whether a person receives and follows Jesus or not.

    So, provided the gospel is continually and fervently preached until the end comes, people will be given the opportunity to receive Jesus as Lord or reject Him. If they refuse the Son, they refuse the Father, according to the words of Jesus. Rejecting the Son of God is rejecting God. If they reject the offer God makes for their salvation, it is not God’s fault. he cannot be blamed. His love is sure and has been passed on to all believers to pass on to the world. They are without excuse.

  40. Bones,
    The whole story of trees in the Bible is fictitious and metaphorical. Have you actually thought about the Genesis account?

    Exactly what I thought you would have to say. But I’m glad you actually admitted you deny both Genesis and Revelation.

    So you mock the Word because of what it says and completely make a mess of your own argument.

    That’s why you attempt a theological discussion whilst at the same time damning the very Word of God which is the basis for faith.

    How ca you be taken seriously on anything to do with Christianity?

  41. This summary will come as a shock to many Christians. Indeed, there is a bumper sticker that says: “Jesus called: He wants his religion back”. There appears to be some truth behind the humor. The portrait of Jesus given in the above summary is so contrary to western models as to be almost unrecognizable, and yet it is exactly the portrait given by the gospels and the writings of Paul. Jesus’ teachings have been widely ignored in western Christianity, which might be better termed hell-ianity. Western Christians have not only ignored Jesus’ teachings on love and forgiveness, but they have also obsessed over the fear tactics of hell.

    As we have seen, if the above arguments are sound, then God does not (and probably cannot) damn people forever (given what Jesus taught), but instead actively reaches out to those who are lost. God loves and forgives his enemies and expects humans to follow his example. For most people, this is a process that will continue well into the next life.[13] But God’s loving attitude towards everyone is not only an ongoing process; it is an already-existing attribute of the divine nature.

    For some, without hell, Christianity is worthless.

  42. If God imposes retributive punishment onto people because of their beliefs, then God punishes them for something they cannot control, which means that God would hold them responsible for something they are not actually responsible for.

    What a nonsense argument.

    How is it nonsensical?

    Of course our beliefs are shaped by our culture, education, parenting, even our cognitive physiology etc.

    Do you think people choose their beliefs?

  43. BInes,
    For some, without hell, Christianity is worthless.

    Well that is your extremist opinion based on your extreme opposition to the words of Christ. It has no bearing on the truth. And I don’t even know who you are talking about in context with anything anyone has said to you here. Your imaginary opponent again!

    You and Greg are the ones harping on about hell. Mostly we speak about heaven and how to get there, not anything to do with what you call fear tactics. that is just one of your erroneous reason sings. You would have to talk to he Calvinists about that because they are more likely to use this tack, å la Jonathan Edwards. But I suggest you read Jonathan Edwards’ ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’ anyway, because it has some amazing doctrine in it.

    Evangelicals understand judgment, wrath and the consequences of sin from their reading of scripture. It is present in the texts throughout the New Testament. Whether you believe it or not has nothing to do with what scripture says. If you reject Jesus words, I put it to you that you reject him.

    Once again your argument isn’t with evangelicals. It is with God.

  44. Bines,
    How is it nonsensical?

    So you didn’t actually read what I said which qualified this? We learn more about how you discuss issues all the time. You don’t have a clue what is going on around you, do you?

    Of course our beliefs are shaped by our culture, education, parenting, even our cognitive physiology etc.

    My beliefs are shaped by the Word and Spirit of God.

    My culture, education, parenting and upbringing actually went against it.

    You really are trying to hard.

  45. He asserts, on top of this, that even the most vile of god-despising sinners, an serial killer, rapist, or a multi-victim-pedophile, for instance, will ultimately be accepted into God’s kingdom, even though the Bible explicitly states that there are certain people who will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    Firstly we won’t agree on what the kingdom of God is. It ain’t heaven or the new Earth nor in any afterlife.

    Secondly how is your theology any different.


    Catholic priest has been abusing a child for five years and is a serial child rapist. No one finds out. They both move on. Over the years the victim rejects God due to the treatment they received from this man of the cloth. They can not bear religion or God.

    The priest on his death bed repents and accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour.

    The victim dies, wounded, broken and bitter at God and the One who could heal them though their experiences have driven them away.

    According to you only one of these will inherit the kingdom of God. The other will burn in a Lake of Fire for eternity.

    Thirdly Jesus’s response to the woman caught in adultery. He did not condemn her. He told her to leave her life of sin. Why? So Jesus wouldn’t cast her into a lake of fire and pour His wrath on her?


    Sin is a sickness that needs healing. It is a disease the effects of which are death to ourselves and our relationships with each other.

  46. In fact believe what the Word says despite my culture, upbringing and all the rest. that is the point of with, Bones. It often clashes with what went before. It overcomes all the systems which added up to unbelief.

    I don’t believe the Word and Spirit because I have to, or I’m forced to out of fear, but because the Spirit points out to my spirit that it is so. Faith is a spiritual acceptance of Biblical truth, not mental assent.

    The erroneous claim that our own will might reject the Word of God and therefore it is unkind of God to punish us for the rejection of His Word is so dopey it is a wonder an intelligent fellow like you could even accept it on an intellectual level let alone as a spiritual concept.

    Faith is not of the mind. It is of the heart. It is spiritual. It is not naturally discerned. The natural mind struggles with the concepts of the Spirit. That is the point of faith. Faith comes by hearing, but the natural hearing of the ear. It comes by the revelation of truth through the Spirit as the Word is preached. The Spirit convinces us of sin, righteousness ad judgment.

    The gospel is not merely words. It is Word and Spirit. The letter kills but the Spirit gives life. t is the same Word, but, if the Word is preached as condemnation and law it is deadly. If it is preached under the leading and confirmation of the Spirit it is life to the hearer.

    That is why the statement is nonsense. Faith doesn’t come as some mental assent to a new law. Thye law doesn’t work with people. It doesn’t save people because the nature of sin resists the law and ultimately rejects it. That is why faith is of the heart. faith can believe the most impossible things because they re ratified by the Spirit.

    The world rejects the cross as foolishness, but the heart receives it as saving fact.

    They are without excuse.

  47. Sorry, faith does ‘not’ come by the natural hearing of the ear, but by the internal believing of what is preached through the Spirit. the Bible speaks of the inner man of the heart, the place of believing, the place of the spirit of a man which is made alive by grace through faith in what is preached, through the work of the Spirit.

  48. Bones, once again you set up your own arguments which are not mine and refute them. What is this called again?

  49. But I suggest you read Jonathan Edwards’ ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’ anyway, because it has some amazing doctrine in it.

    4. They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God that is expressed in the torments of hell: and the reason why they don’t go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as angry as he is with many of those miserable creatures that he is now tormenting in hell, and do there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth, yea doubtless with many that are now in this congregation, that it may be are at ease and quiet, than he is with many of those that are now in the flames of hell.

    Yes I’m not surprised you’d enjoy that sought of scaremongering, wrathful, vengeful God.

    Yep sure has wonderful doctrine in it though. God hates humanity and is now tormenting them in hell. Wonderful that! Edwards’s theology can stay in the 1700s.

    I thought it was funny the way he twisted some of the texts too, like Jonah.

    Let me know when you read something from the (at least) 20th century.

  50. Once again your argument isn’t with evangelicals. It is with God.

    The old I don’t like your argument so you’re arguing with God trick. I mean who doesn’t play that card eh.

    So you’re setting yourself up as God.


  51. What a discourteous animal you are Bones. The least helpful of creatures and twice as sly. Resentful to the max.

    Not worth the time of day, frankly.

  52. I thought I was being courteous considering I was ignoring your comments re mocking the word of God, preaching a false doctrine, an extremist, being ignorant which no doubt you believe. If I was being discourteous I would have responded by calling you an arsehole but I was trying to keep the discussion civil.

  53. Your argument is with God because you are fighting what Jesus has said regarding judgment, Gehenna and Hades, and what Paul has received from God regarding judgment and wrath.

    You can deny the existence of judgment and wrath, but they are plainly represented.

    Jesus told us that the devil was already judged before the cross, and Paul tells us he was stripped of authority at the cross and set for sentence at the appropriate time, whilst John tells us exactly the sentence to be carried out, which you have already mocked in grave terms. So what would be the sentence if the judgment is complete?

    Well, if we could discuss this we might come to a reasonable answer, because scripture clearly tells us, but the problem is that you have already denied the existence of the devil, and cut Revelation out of the canon, so we have no place to go with this discussion and you have already denied Christ and the Apostles.

  54. Goodness, Bons, you have so gravely mocked scripture I have bitten my lip staying calm about it. You have quite deliberately and provocatively blasphemed God on this and another thread in the last few hours. What I have said about you is nothing like what you have said about God. You are without doubt extreme in your views. Being a forgiving fellow and interested to know why you can possibly have such an aversion to script, I have moved on and can’t remember why now, but I could go back and dig them up for you if you wish.

  55. I don’t believe you are ignorant in general, but I was being kind in saying you are ignorant of scripture, when you asked about the Trees. But it turns out you were being wilful and pressing to declare both Genesis and Revelation null and void to our conversation. So what its it to be? Are you ignorant of what happened to the Trees or wilfully denying they are relevant?

    If you are not ignorant, and I mean that in the literal sense, not the insult, please explain what happened to them so that you can demonstrate your understanding, even if you consider it all myth anyway.

  56. Well, if we could discuss this we might come to a reasonable answer,

    That is an answer that you want.

    Unfortunately your killer chapter of the Lake of Fire was shown to be no more than metaphor if that. You’re locked into a delusion about God, Satan, hell. I read the same Bible and verses and get a totally different message.

    But that’s what happens when you question hell.

    You can’t have the ying without the yang.

  57. What you’ve never sat back and said “why would God put a tree of knowledge of good and evil slap bang in the middle of the garden”.

    If I had a tree that killed my kids at home, I’d rip the damn thing out.

    But God didn’t think like that.

    He just left it there.

    Maybe He liked it.

    You can see how embarassing this belief is.

  58. You have quite deliberately and provocatively blasphemed God on this and another thread in the last few hours.

    Oh dear. How pharisaic we are.

    I must admit the rapture video made me laugh.

  59. Bones,
    I read the same Bible and verses and get a totally different message.

    So did the the JWs until they made up their own Bible and left out the curly bits which slammed their own doctrine.

    So do the Mormons, who added the other Testament of Christ.

    So do the Christadelphians.

    And you do the same, only you diminish the role of the books of the Bible at an alarmingly convenient (for you) rate. You and a host of self-appraised liberal theologians, Orthodox Eastern priests, as well as the odd group of zoroastrians, zen buddhists and atheists who make up your entourage of experts on demolishing the canon and demonising the words of Christ.

    I have been giving the case for judgment as presented by scripture. As I said, it is you and Greg who have been harping on about hell. The word ‘hell’ is a very easy target because it doesn’t appear in the original texts.

    This has been pointed out several times to you and Greg, and yet you still continue with this charade as if evangelicals don’t know what the word means and what the original texts actually say, or the context in which the actual words, ‘Hades’, ‘Sheol”, ‘Gehenna’ and ‘Tartarus’ are used. It makes you look ignorant, even if you claim you are, not to continue with this line of defence for your position. We have moved on, Bones.

    I don’t do ying or yang. They’re out of a false system, Bones. Maybe you didn’t know this, or picked it up from one of your expert deconstructive sources.

  60. I didn’t watch the rapture movie. I’ve given my views on the ‘Left Behind’ series a few times. I don’t think you remember what i said, but never mind.

    It’s not pharisaic to let you know you’ve overstepped the mark with some of your remarks about scripture and God. I’m OK with humour and find some things presented here funny. Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’ brought out some hypocrisy in society in general in a powerful and funny way.

    But you have been over the top with some comments, and, as I have said, you might be aiming them at me or evangelicals in general, but they actually target God and His Word.

  61. What about the Seven, Steve? The “concept” of the trinity is Roman Catholic Pantheon doctrine which the concept of God’s Seven Spirits so challenges as to its veracity. God is three in One like we are three, body, soul and Spirit, but he has Seven Spirits or attributes or “eyes”. The early Assemblies knew Him as “The Seven”.

    At the risk of repeating myself, Hel was a cold place ruled over by a Friggan woman where a man could not get warm. The Etruscan concept of the underworld was sexed up by the Romans and Greeks and then later combined with the Norse word Hel, then throw in some Dante and a whole pile of dung and you have the Christian “Hell” – which believing Jews laugh at and with this i am so with Bones who is pretty much nailing it and mailing it.

    He is dead right (chuckle) in that people have too much invested in, not only their conceptualization of Hell, which is pretty much borrowed or acquired from others, but their whole belief system. To wit, they like it in their Tower to the heavens where they feel safe and they can be a good little stone mason instead of an apprentice carpenter, so to speak.

    Once you get the foundational Truth of the reconciliation of ALL THINGS in Christ set, then the other seemingly contradictory aspects become much clearer, such that you get revelations like this. I asked Jesus – yes I did – just what the dividing of the sheep and goats entails. He reminded me that His Right hand signifies His authority and His left healing, and that those to His Right are the “unconscious” workers of Righteous, the obedient, who ask, “When did we do it Lord?” And he says “Surely as you have done it for the least of these, My Brethren (who are My brethren except they that do the will of My Father?) you have done it for Me. And to the goats, those who did not realize that they were rejecting Jesus by rejecting even the least, to them they go to the Left, as they are in need of HEALING – and in for some sulfur and infra-red therapy.

    The weeping and the wailing and gnashing of teeth is when folk see Jesus for real, when they see their lives for real, when they really realize the goodness of God which leads to repentance, when they know the enormity of their actions and choices and what could have been, when they realize for the first time the life they could have lead by being lead.

    If you really know Jesus, you know the Father, and you know that it is NOT God’s INTENTION that ANY SHOULD BE LOST, but that ALL should come to a full knowledge of Him, who is all and in all. And God’s own personal standard is INTENTION, for to Him, intention is as consummation. Getting it yet? Bones does.

  62. I once naively asked Jesus, “Just who goes to heaven and who to hell? I still clung at that time to the hell delusion/myth. His answer, “It’s like this Ian, all that is of Me returns to Me, all that is not, does not.” Gee, even a child could understand that. Later He was to reveal to me that He is ALL and in ALL and by Him, ALL things were made manifest, both in heaven and in the earth, and He is the Lord of ALL and the possessor of All and the Creator of ALL and to Him ALL things are in subjection, both in heaven and in earth, and He is the Head of ALL principality and ALL Power, both in heaven and in earth. He even owns our SIN for God’s sake! What part of ALL don’t we understand at all? All means ALL!

    Behold, the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the WHOLE WORLD, but you have to discern the WHOLE BODY, not just the choice cuts you approve of, you have to take Him guts and all, and that means forgiving all – yes folks, it is a ONE STEP FOOL-PROOF PROGRAM – its called FORGIVENESS. I even know its author and finisher, it is even our/my faith. God is the ultimate LOOSER, He is not in any way a LOSER – for HE LOSES NOTHING, for the invisible attributes of God are known by His Creation, in which nothing is ever lost, it is simply converted to another form. In the end, even the Devil serves God – all things serve Him – He created them – its His operation – His domain – His kingdom to which we are bade welcome – and Creation is His responsibility and He takes it very seriously and he is not a man that He should lie.

    Sorry guys, I am pretty blunt on this one, if God cannot save ALL, then “he” cannot save at all, and if you have not forgiven ALL, then you really have not forgiven at all – you just think that you have – it is called mental assent, and it is the counterfeit of faith. It pays to ask God to open up your own books before He has to do it for you, lest you be cast into prison to repay an un-remitable debt.

    Bones, I have some light on the unforgivable sin which may interest you – i sent it to Greg for posting but he apparently did not get it, or did not get it…I will post it on my “scarlet” thread…

  63. I have been giving the case for judgment as presented by scripture.

    And who says judgement is about being sent to hell for eternity.

    If you bothered to read you would see that all the gehenna verses, the lake of fire can rightly be explained as a purifying fire (for our God is a consuming fire). Jesus says that ALL will be salted with fire. Paul says we will be säved but “only through fire”. Paul even delivered someone over to Satan. Why? So they may be saved.

    Surely Steve has some John Calvin to post to back up his support for hell and eternal punishment for all those who aren’t like Steve.

    We’ve moved on from this medieval charade of a doctrine which perverts God Himself to an incredible wicked being. Yes there are some weak individuals who you can prey on their fear but we have no need of hell.

    If avoiding hell is the reason for evangelism or belief in Jesus then your faith is based on fear, not love. Jesus wants us to make not disciples, not because they’re going to hell, but because in following Jesus we experience healing, wholeness and forgiveness. That should be our motive. That is the Good News. That is why Jesus was crucified, died and rose again.

    The fire of hell is the fire of God Himself: purifying, refining and healing.

  64. If Greg or anyone were to put up a post on the gospel of peace, or the gospel of love we would all have a conversation on the way in which God loves the whole world and declared peace, sending his Son to be the Propitiation for our sins and opening the Way for all to be saved through faith in Jesus.

    But the focus has been on hell, a word not used in Hebrew or Greek, but translated to mean three different aspects of separation.

    Despite my explanation of these aspects, Bones insists on using the rod ‘hell’ to describe what I have been saying. Tis is because he only wants to argue and point the finger at people who believe that God will judge the living and the dead, his wrath will be poured out sometime int eh future and there is, according to Jesus and others, a payment for sin which is upon all who reject Jesus Christ as Lord.

    Despite the fact that I have focused on demonstrating that scripture speaks of wrath and judgment in end times, Bones continues his false accusations and ranting prose making anyone who takes God at Word value out to be some kind of wicked person, and God Himself to be evil.

    As I said earlier,this discussion has been had several times, and Bones tends to take it around and round the garden, circumlocutions abound and we get precisely nowhere because all he is concerned with is arguing with his imaginary opponent, whom he now names ‘Steve’, but used to call ‘Roundhouse’ or ‘Q’, or anyone he might be addressing at the time.

    And he wonders why we call him names like ‘unbeliever’!

    He’s like a piece of old chewing gum on the end of an elastic band. The dead flavour that keeps coming back.

  65. Could’ve sworn this thread was about hell.

    Yes it was.

    Steve is in a bind. He’d love to let go of hell. But there’s something comforting about it. Or is that threatening.

    And we’ve seen how quick he is to turn on even his friends like Q for questioning the existence of hell.

    Of course Evangelicals themselves see how the doctrine of eternal damnation and torment contradicts the God of Love. Great men like John Stott embraced annihilation over a God who condemns people to eternal torture on basis of cognitive assent. Other Evangelicals have as well such as Michael Green,, FF Bruce, John Wenman.

    With the internet we have great insights into Orthodox theology, a previous hidden, mystic group seldom heard about, yet whose theology stretches back to the Early Church and is untainted by the excesses of the medieval ages.

    John Stott (a great man of God ) wrote on eternal damnation:

    “Well, emotionally, I find the concept intolerable and do not understand how people can live with it without either cauterising their feelings or cracking under the strain.”

    John Wenman wrote the Goodness of God and Elements of New Testament Greek. He wrote

    “I feel that the time has come when I must declare my mind honestly. I believe that endless torment is a hideous and unscriptural doctrine which has been a terrible burden on the mind of the church for many centuries and a terrible blot on her presentation of the gospel. I should indeed be happy if, before I die, I could help in sweeping it away. Most of all I should rejoice to see a number of theologians … joining … in researching this great topic with all its ramifications.”

    The Church of England report in 1995 “The Mystery of Salvation” declared:

    Christians have professed appalling theologies which made God into a sadistic monster. … Hell is not eternal torment,..

    FF Bruce writes

    Eternal conscious torment is incompatible with the revealed character of God.

    These are not liberal theologians.

    Steve wants to sweep this discussion under the carpet by bullying and with ad hominem attacks. Fact is it’s a question that most Christians have on their minds. Especially those with ‘unsaved’ loved ones who they have been told are burning for eternity. More and more however the doctrine of eternal torment is being shunned. And rightly so. We have no need of it. It belongs to a bygone era of ignorance and fear. And more and more Christians are now able to study and understand the meanings of the gehenna verses for themselves rather than through the ravings of the fire and brimstone preachers.

    It makes far more sense if the fire is metaphorical for God Himself. An approach the Orthodox takes yet they are not liberal but theologically conservative.

    Yet it is beyond discussion for the believers of eternal torment. At any level and especially at the grassroots level where laymen are left to find out for themselves and answer their own questions or suppress them and accept what they’ve been told. But look out if you start questioning the traditional view of hell.

    The rejection of the doctrine of hell and endless torment is not based on sentimentality. It is in fact to fully embrace the God of love, the God who prays to Himself ‘Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they do’, the God who says to love your enemies, do good to them, the God who cleanses our wounds and our sin, the God who by His stripes we are healed. The God who says that ALL will be salted with fire.

  66. Your whole thesis has been a sustained ad hominem attack, Bones. I have opposed your doctrine, that’s all. I have challenged you as an actual believer on the basis of your demolishing of the Word o God.

    For goodness sake you have removed, through calling them myth, the beginning and ending books of the Bible. How could anyone take your theology seriously. Hw can anyone discuss anything with you when you continually shift the goal posts?

    Those passages which we produce to back our doctrine you eliminate with some liberal theory or other and we go nowhere.

    You have actually made up so many things about what I and others think and believe that it’s a wonder you can even remember what anyone else but Bones has actually said. No, in fact, we know you can’t remember, or maybe never even read, what we actually have said, because it bears no resemblance to your claims. I think Q and Roundhouse and others have pointed this out to you before, but on you go, oblivious, and, yes, ignorant.

    The fact I had to tell you so many times about ‘hell’ being not a word used in scripture, so could we please have a grown up conversation about the words actually used, which I wrote down for you three times on this thread alone, yet you still harp on about it says it all, and the fact that I pointed you to the posts’ author’s passage where he says that Paul did not mention ‘hell’ per cé, but seriously hinted at it through his writings on judgment and wrath, also tells us you haven’t even read the post.

    Little wonder people who have ‘discussions’ with you are tempted to call you names. You absolutely provoke it with your attitude and fabrications of what they write.

    Honestly, Bones, why don’t you try growing up and stop this competitive need by actually discussing the point on its merits instead of bending what we say and basing everything you say on your own manipulation of our doctrines. You are acting like a moronically immature Christian with a need to win points, but not only that, to actually pour scorn and indignation on the people you take issue with.

    And what’s this stupidity about ‘turning on my friend Q’? What are you? A first grader? You’re supposed to help the children you teach develop into adults, not become a child in your thinking and language yourself! Q made some statements I disagree with. I challenged him on them. He’s a grown up. He will not be offended. He can say what he likes to support his case or change his mind. How is that ‘turning on’ anyone? What a baby you are.

    ‘Bullying and ad hominem attacks’? Why? Because I pointed out the fact that you do not believe in several passages of the Bible, which you yourself have stated! Did I hurt your feelings because I told you you are wrong to dismiss key scriptures to suit your doctrine?

    Did I offend you with the truth, Bones! Well, whoopy doo! I hope you are offended by truth if you deny it. But don’t call the truth ad hominem attacks like some hurt juvenile, especially with the language and falsehoods you level at people who reject your dogmas and doctrine.

    Just get into the Word and take on board what God is saying to you, because it is Jesus you are denying, not me or anyone else.

    Grow up.

  67. ‘Q made some statements I disagree with. I challenged him on them. He’s a grown up. He will not be offended”

    Well actually ……


    No, Bones, I think that’s a silly comment and it just shows that there really are no sides here. There are some things that Steve and I agree on, and there are probably some things that YOU and Steve agree on.
    If Steve doesn’t agree with a position I have he will state it – showing that it’s not personal, but a discussion of ideas and theologies.

    A discussion of what happens to people after they die is a worthy topic in my opinion.
    You can do better with the way you argue. You seem to jump around using Catholics, Orthodox, atheists, Muslim gays or anyone to prove your point when attack evangelicals, yet you don’t talk about these groups in the same way in spite of the fact that I can’t imagine you really becoming Orthodox or Catholic. You just seem to be completely aggressive and bitter towards evangelicals and pentecostals. Did you really get that hurt my an evangelical church?

    It’s the WAY you argue man.

  68. But getting back to the discussion.

    Bones, do you think God ever punishes people? In this life or the next?

  69. On this thread Steve has undoubtedly become a troll. He’s far more interested in attacking others than actually presenting any sort of argument.

  70. You just seem to be completely aggressive and bitter towards evangelicals and pentecostals. Did you really get that hurt my an evangelical church?

    Of course Evangelicals themselves see how the doctrine of eternal damnation and torment contradicts the God of Love. Great men like John Stott embraced annihilation over a God who condemns people to eternal torture on basis of cognitive assent. Other Evangelicals have as well such as Michael Green,, FF Bruce, John Wenman.

  71. Bones. I have opposed your doctrine, that’s all. I have challenged you as an actual believer on the basis of your demolishing of the Word o God.

    So on the one hand you say you haven’t attacked bones personally (ad hominem…I love how people with no training in the art of argument use this particular phrase ad aeternum!) but on the other you admit to attacking him?

    As a watcher over this past week I can see how you both call each other name and neither of you find it easy to simply address the issues and leave the personal stuff out of it.

    Neither can claim the debating high ground here fellows. Neither.

  72. Bones, I was meaning in general. I think that lately Steve has been a little antsy…..but I can understand it after your way of arguing here.

    So after clicking on that link, I can take it that you believe that God “remedially punishes”?

    btw, when you post a really long article, can I assume that you believe in every line of it?

    I wish you’d just write what you think. That’s what’s hard for Steve. He often goes to a lot of trouble to make a comment and then most of it seems to be ignored and then answered with an article.

    What I’m interested in is the practical.

    I understand that some take the “fire” to be the way that God purifies. But given that in the article you posted that the author admits that remedial actions are often painful – can we assume that HItler”s “remidal punishment” will be longer? More intense? than someone elses?

    Is it always wrong for someone to fear what might happen when they die?

  73. In fact, I am saying I have been misrepresented on several occasions, and the argument hasn’t moved on from a discussion about hell, which I have agreed sin’t the correct term to se, yet Bones insists on continuing with. Also the references to ‘Steve’s god is…’ and a very negative description of God as wicked, evil, a murderer genocidal, etc, which is throughly offensive, and not really a discussion but a personal attack aimed at my beliefs.

    I have pointed this out, but Bones is in denial and persisting with his line of argument. We can’t progress until he realises this and grows up.

  74. btw, when you post a really long article, can I assume that you believe in every line of it?


    I post articles to back up an argument or to provoke discussion or to present an alternative point of view.

    The article I presented above shows how a universalist approach can clearly be supported by scripture and that it is not as black and white as the eternal damnation proponents think it is.

  75. I have pointed this out, but Bones is in denial and persisting with his line of argument. We can’t progress until he realises this and grows up.


    Grow up John Stott and FF Bruce!

    John Stott (a great man of God ) wrote on eternal damnation:

    “Well, emotionally, I find the concept intolerable and do not understand how people can live with it without either cauterising their feelings or cracking under the strain.”

    John Wenman wrote the Goodness of God and Elements of New Testament Greek. He wrote

    “I feel that the time has come when I must declare my mind honestly. I believe that endless torment is a hideous and unscriptural doctrine which has been a terrible burden on the mind of the church for many centuries and a terrible blot on her presentation of the gospel. I should indeed be happy if, before I die, I could help in sweeping it away. Most of all I should rejoice to see a number of theologians … joining … in researching this great topic with all its ramifications.”

    The Church of England report in 1995 “The Mystery of Salvation” declared:

    Christians have professed appalling theologies which made God into a sadistic monster. … Hell is not eternal torment,..

    FF Bruce writes

    Eternal conscious torment is incompatible with the revealed character of God.

    Now perhaps you could counter their argument that the God who sends people to eternal damnation is the God of love.

    Go on! Go for it!

  76. Bones the line of argument I am talking about is your tactic of misrepresenting what I say, not acknowledgeing what I have agreed with you on, such as the use of the word ‘hell’, and making extraordinary claims about ‘Steve’s god’, not what Stott or anyone else says. I am addressing you personally with this complaint.

    I think Stott has outlined his difficulty with God in humanistic terms, and has become sentimental about issues which only God can deal with righteously and without impeachment.

    I admire Stott at many levels, but I do not agree with him on this.

  77. I mean, how could I agree with Stott or Bruce on this when Jesus himself contradicts them? I am obliged to follow the Master not the pupil.

  78. I mean, how could I agree with Stott or Bruce on this when Jesus himself contradicts them?

    Or maybe they know something you don’t. There’s a scary thought.

  79. ones the line of argument I am talking about is your tactic of misrepresenting what I say, not acknowledgeing what I have agreed with you on, such as the use of the word ‘hell’, and making extraordinary claims about ‘Steve’s god’, not what Stott or anyone else says. I am addressing you personally with this complaint.

    OK I apologise if I’ve misrepresented you and I shall refrain from the use of ‘Steve’s god’ which wasn’t called for. Maybe we need to be clearer in what we write and attack ideas not people. Not quite sure what we actually agree on besides violent, extremist Muslims are evil. oh and Jesus is Lord.

  80. There’s a lot of battle fatigue here. And it’s like origin – some of the punches thrown are because of last year’s series!

  81. My wife and I corresponded with John Stott over his dismissal of Christ’s teaching on judgment to come when he was alive because JWs were quoting him to back up their doctrine, which preaches annihilation of the soul. We were in Missions and people we were serving were being misled into false doctrine. The exchange was gracious, and I have huge respect for people like him, but I am not intimidated by anyone simply because they have more letters after their name. The fact is that Jesus is Lord not theologians, even though they are excellent, as Stott undoubtedly was, and from whom we learned a lot.

    If Jesus says there will be a judgment and talks about Gehenna we should take note and not so easily dismiss his sayings because we are sentimental about the consequences of sin.

  82. Mark 9:42-49

    Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

    And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to Gehenna, to the unquenchable fire.

    And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.

    And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.

    For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.


  83. ‘Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another’. I guess that’s an order!

    We are all salted, but are we all thrown into Gehenna?

  84. It’s so simple a moron could get it. God’s standard is intention – intention is as consummation. It is not His intention that any be lost, but that all should come to know Him. That which seems to contradict the HARD THINGS OF GOD – the immutable characteristics – His very nature – are in us, not in God. There is no contradiction in Him, no shadow of turning – you can set your store by him. Hell must serve God, but hell guys, at least use the correct etymology – its like calling Passover Easter – have you not had enough of these Christian patches on a Pagan or Old Testament operating system? You need a NEW operating system, to become as a little child. Its not just a case of cleaning up the old man, the old operating system, it is a new creature, a new system, a new born child, a clean slate, no cultish indoctrination, no “Give me the child until seven” program – but a BRAND NEW OPERATING SYSTEM called CHRIST IN US. A new man created in righteousness, yet not new, but old, or as at the beginning.

  85. We are all salted, but are we all thrown into Gehenna?

    Gehenna is what exactly?

    The context of the verse implies that there is no difference between the fire of gehenna nor the fire with which we will all be salted.

  86. Watching Love Wins – An Orthodox View made me cry. I think what he is saying is basically true.

    That it is Greek Orthodox perhaps ought not to be surprising as God’s word doesn’t change and as the devil is always at work to corrupt God’s word and as time goes on he has had more time to create more opportunities to do so, that makes sense. That would explain why there is so much corruption of God’s word around these days, which the Bible said there would be. It says they would turn evil into good and good into evil. It doesn’t many teachers will teach falsely, it says MOST.

    One of the best articles I could find speaking out against the Toronto Blessing was by a Greek Orthodox minister.

    It is not God who is hard-hearted, stiff-necked and fuli of sin, unforgiveness, pride, revenge, cruelty and murder, witchcraft, and all the horrible rest of it – like the devil is – it’s us.

    People are making God in their own image – which is not very nice, and that’s an understatement.

    “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:20)

    That’s what I believe, in my heart, to be true. It is also the only way I can see to make any real sense of it all.

    I believe in a way it’s simple – what is evil (what is not of the love of God) – what does evil do to others – not very nice things – who is evil (the devil and his demons and us) – is it God or us who is evil? Of course, it’s not God, it’s us.

  87. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, EVEN WHEN WE WERE DEAD IN SINS, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:1-10)

    We already suffer in burning and death when we don’t have Jesus as our saviour, and that is what he came to save us from. I believe it would be true to say if we don’t accept Jesus as our saviour, that is our state, for rejecting him, or not having him to save us, but that is just how it is. People misinterpret this and say it is something else. Like as if God is going to enjoy us burning in hell forever. The devil would, he would love it as he hates humans, but not God – that is false witness to God whose mercy endureth forever. Yes, he is also righteous God so that we are not saved unless we accept Jesus as our saviour, and if we don’t we are damned – that is until we do – until we are saved.

  88. I don’t think any person living in the 21st century can really honestly understand why it would be possible for a person to be still feeling intense pain like being burned by fire even after 65 million years for what they did or didn’t do, or believe or didn’t believe in there 80 or 18 or possibly 11 years on earth.

    Most people want a Hitler or someone who continually molested and killed dozens of children to “go to hell”, but it seems hardly plausible that your average type person – no murders but maybe a few punches, jealous rages, or even an affair or two could be still suffering in even 75000 years.

    Let alone a Japanese man who lived 800 years ago who lived a morally better life then most preachers.

    I know I didn’t quote any scripture there, but this concept was the hardest thing for me to understand my whole life.

    But if it is true…..then anybody who believes that should be going door to door telling people until they drop dead.

    And, I’m surprised Peter and Paul didn’t preach more about it.

    So on the debate about hell, I’d simply ask those who believe the traditional view, “Do you REALLY believe this, and what are you doing about it?”

    Some people argue that because Jesus is coming back, climate and saving trees doesn’t matter.

    I’d argue that if every person who doesn’t believe in Jesus in the evangelical sense is going to be in pain forever, then arguing about climate change, gay marriage, or almost anything doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    We should all be over in Afghanistan preaching to the soldiers who might die tomorrow, or go to Africa to preach to people before they take their last breath, or stop spending money on youth and undertake a world wide evangelistic campaign in old folks homes.

    And yes, tattoos don’t become so important.

    I think basically that if you really believed in hell and thought about it , you could mentally insane with panic and grief about friends, relatives, and those who gave their lives in wars.

    Could anyone talk about hell without weeping?

    Tsunamis, world wars – they are nothing in comparison.

    I might regret this post. But I’ve never met a person yet who is really living as if the traditional hell concept is real. And that goes for the ministers I know. They all say they believe it but they sure don’t live like it.

  89. Eternal torment certainly doesn’t line up with many other things. It makes a god economical with the truth aka a liar: “The day you eat of it you shall die” (not burn in hell forever). It also makes God a hypocrite “forgive as you would be forgiven.” It also makes God cruel and merciless when we are told over and again that His mercy endures forever.

    He also said that to pass children through the fire had not passed through his mind, he hated it. As we are children to him, then why would he want to burn us forever?

    It also makes God somewhat of a psychopath, as if it were true, he ought to have made it a lot more obvious. If all things were made for God’s enjoyment, which he has clearly said they are, then He would have to be a total psychopath which we know He most definitely is not. I think some people may foolishly believe He is and that’s why they turn to the devil because he is kind and sympathetic and would never do anything cruel – he just wants to have some fun and is really Mr Nice Guy – he’d never let you down. Clever, uh?

    I believe hell is a symptom of human’s sick and twisted and evil mind and heart rather than anything, that they could even conceive that such a God as so lovingly made such a beautiful creation would do such a thing.

    Especially as some of them think that they are going to be singing happily in heaven while other people – perhaps even those they have known or loved – burn in eternal torment?

    Sure sounds like a doctrine of devils to me.

    I’ve heard this is one thing that the Jews can’t understand about Christians, that they could believe such a thing.

    I would like to say though that I do believe there is a hell and I do believe it is a hell of regret which may feel like burning in hell. That could be a lot worse than people imagine it might be. Say if they pass over and find they have lost their good looks – perhaps even become very ugly whereas in this life they were beautiful – and lost all their money and everything that went with it – which for many would include friends too, for some even family. When they realise that most of their life was lived in vain and wasted, along with regret they didn’t do anything for God or to help other people, then they see people who lived their life more wisely, and have a much better situation.

    I’m going with the eternal torment in hellfire is the invention of the Catholics.

  90. “I’m going with the eternal torment in hellfire is the invention of the Catholics.”

    If you gave someone a bible who didn’t know anything about CHristianity, I’m sure they would conclude that the Bible teaches hell as eternal torment though.
    And other cultures talk about hell. Even Buddhists.

    It’s hard for me to deny the fact that there is judgement, and that we should fear God, and remember that there is wrath to come. WE see that there are consequences of actions in this life.

    The thing I can’t get my head around is never ending tormenting pain.

    Most things we read in the Bible, most humans can understand even though we are sinful.
    Non-religious people understand that there is right and wrong. They understand promises need to be kept. They understand that some people need to be punished or lose freedom because of crimes of various levels.

    But I don’t know anyone who could watch or contemplate someone being punished and tormented for 100 million years. Eventually, any human would say, “okay, that’s enough” – isn’t there some way this person could be put out of their misery at least?

    Okay, enough on this subject.

  91. Yes, it is in the KJV but I believe it originated in the Catholic bible Vulgate aka Gutenberg?

    Surely, if every knee shall bow to Jesus, then it’s sure going to be a form of hell for some people to have to bow to Jesus.

    It’s difficult for most – if not all and I would guess ALL – Christians to circumcise our minds to the obedience of Christ and become like him.

    What’s it going to be like for people who have worshipped the devil and done the work of demons – perhaps all their lives. That sounds like a formula for some form of burning.

  92. If you gave someone a bible who didn’t know anything about CHristianity, I’m sure they would conclude that the Bible teaches hell as eternal torment though.
    And other cultures talk about hell. Even Buddhists.

    Well the doctrine of Hell started with the zoroastrians and Greeks.

    If the translators were honest they would use Gehenna. Substituting Gehenna (a real place) for hell is like substituting Sydney for hell. It’s a relic of Catholicism which Protestantism has kept. The Dante view of hell and suffering fed by horror movies.

    Translations are at the mercy of the translators bias/theology.

    That’s why we need atheists on a biblical translation team.

  93. I don’t think the Japanese and Chinese got the idea of hell from the Greeks.

    Most cultures have an idea of a place after death that isn’t a nice place. And they think that bad people go there.

    Heaven, hell – there will always be problems about how to translate these without bringing that cultures baggage with it – same as with God and love.

    I don’t hold to the view that the Zoroastrianists influenced the bible.

  94. Judaism until around 4th Century BCE had no knowledge of hell.

    Aborigines and Native Americans had no concept of a hell nor anything like it. Most cultures believed in an Underworld and a flat Earth.

    It is evident that after the rules of zoroastrians Cyrus (the messiah, Isaiah 44:24, 26–45:3, 13) and Darius, that Judaic belief changed. This included the belief in demons and a dualistic battle between God and Satan and of an Underworld where people go to be punished. These were beliefs of the Pharisees.

    The Sadduccees of course represented classical Judaism and rejected these beliefs.

    These beliefs were not evident in the Old Testament scriptures and didn’t appear out of thin air. These beliefs began to manifest themselves in the apochrypha in the intertestament period.

  95. I’m sorry if someone else has already said this before in this or another thread,
    but I’ve heard that Gehenna was actually a real place, an area with fires and used as a rubbish tip, which still exists today although now known by a different name, and I’ve seen film of it. I have not checked whether that is true, but according to Wikipedia:

    Gehenna (Greek γέεννα), Gehinnom (Rabbinical Hebrew: גהנום/גהנם) and Yiddish Gehinnam, are terms derived from a place outside ancient Jerusalem known in the Hebrew Bible as the Valley of the Son of Hinnom (Hebrew: גֵיא בֶן־הִנֹּם or גיא בן-הינום); one of the two principal valleys surrounding the Old City.

    In the Hebrew Bible, the site was initially where apostate Israelites and followers of various Ba’als and Caananite gods, including Moloch, sacrificed their children by fire (2 Chr. 28:3, 33:6). Thereafter it was deemed to be cursed (Jer. 7:31, 19:2-6).[1]

    In Jewish, Christian and Islamic scripture, Gehenna is a destination of the wicked.[2] This is different from the more neutral Sheol/Hades, the abode of the dead, though the King James version of the Bible translates both with the Anglo-Saxon word Hell.

    The Valley of Hinnom is also the traditional location of the Potter’s Field bought by priests after Judas’ suicide with the “blood money” with which Judas was paid for betraying Jesus.

    The complete list of references is as follows:

    Matt 5:22: “….whoever shall say, “You fool,” shall be guilty enough to go into the, ‘Gehenna.'”
    Matt 5:29: “….it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into, ‘Gehenna.'”
    Matt 5:30: “….better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into, ‘Gehenna.'”
    Matt 10:28: “….rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in, ‘Gehenna.'”
    Matt 18:9: “It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than with two eyes to be thrown into the, ‘Gehenna.'”
    Matt 23:15: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you… make one proselyte…twice as much a child of ‘Gehenna’ as yourselves.”
    Matt 23:33, to the Pharisees: “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you to escape the sentence of, ‘Gehenna’?”
    Mark 9:43: “It is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into, ‘Gehenna,’ into the unquenchable fire.”
    Mark 9:45: “It is better for you to enter life lame, than having your two feet, to be cast into, ‘Gehenna.'”
    Mark 9:47: “It is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into, ‘Gehenna.'”
    Luke 12:5: “….fear the One who, after He has killed has authority to cast into, ‘Gehenna;’ yes, I tell you, fear Him.”
    James 3:6: “And the tongue is a fire,…and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by, ‘Gehenna.'”

    I believe that the doctrine of eternal torment could possibly be part of the “doctrine of demons” talked about in the Bible. I don’t know, but I believe that is a possibility. I believe that it does seem blasphemous to say that God’s will is such a thing, when we are clearly told that God wishes all to come to repentance.

    Overall, weighing up the SUBSTANTIAL evidence for and against eternal torment, using God’s word along with our logical thought processes, there is no way that eternal torment is a reality. God is not a liar as the devil accused him of RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING when God said the soul that sins shall DIE. To die does not mean to burn in hell forever. End of argument.

  96. Somewhere I read that a researcher found that everyone he talked to who believed in eternal torment was neurotic and fearful. Now is that surprising?

    Perhaps those who expound this theory ought to read a book about psychopaths, and how they don’t have any EMPATHY.

    So is God a psychopath not to have any empathy for these tiny specks of dust burning for ever in eternal torment.

    USE YOUR LOAF (for anyone who doesn’t know that is old fashioned Cockney rhyming slang for head).

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