Hopeful Universalism and a Gentle Alternative

Previously, we discussed whether God will punish anyone in eternal hell; and I concluded that the misguided idea of punishment in eternal conscious torment is inconsistent with God’s character and that the Bible does not even teach such a thing.

Many people ask, ‘How can Hitler NOT be punished?’ I suspect that Hitler, with a clear mind and healed of his brokenness, will need nothing less than God’s abundant love to rescue him from his own deep anguish over what he did.

But this, then, raises the question: ‘If there is no eternal punishment in the afterlife, does this lead to Universalism—the idea that everyone will live forever with God after death?’

Perhaps; but perhaps not.

What is Universalism?

universalism

Universalism is the idea that all people will, at some point, be reconciled to God—that God’s love will draw in every individual, and this is not a new idea. According to the New Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1912), of the six theological schools in the first five hundred years of the church, Carthage/Rome taught eternal hell, Ephesus taught conditional immortality, and the other four schools were all Universalist —Alexandria, Antioch, Caesarea, and Edessa/Nisibis.

Some (even among Universalists) anticipate a corrective purging. But, if this is so, I don’t think it involves punishment either. In The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis describes his imaginative view of this purge with a visitor to Heaven who has a little red lizard sitting on his shoulder twitching its tail and whispering things in his ear. A resident of Heaven offers to remove it and the man resists but finally agrees—leading to two wonderful results. The entire brief story is well worth reading.

It seems that the first clear mention of endless torment in hell was in Tatian around 155-165 AD—about a hundred years after the deaths of Paul and Peter. The Latin (Roman) church fathers, Tertullian (about 155-240 AD) and Augustine (354-430 AD), had big impacts on spreading the idea of endless punishment in hell rather than a temporary purging.

The earliest influential Universalist church fathers were Greek rather than Latin, such as Clement of Alexandria (about 150-215 AD), Origen (about 184-253 AD), and Gregory of Nyssa (about 335-395 AD).

What Does the Bible (Possibly) Say about Universalism?

Many believers insist the Bible teaches eternal punishment in hell, but there are biblical passages that suggest Universalism, including one of the most famous passages John 3:16-17:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Not only do I think that many believers are mistaken in their understanding of John 3:16, but they seem to ignore verse 17—God sent Jesus to save the world—not to condemn it!

Jesus said in John 12:32 and 47,

I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself…If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.

Paul says in Romans 8:38-39,

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:22,

As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

Paul might have thought Adam was historical and introduced sin to humanity, but he also sees Jesus as the total remedy for humanity. ‘All’ = ‘All’. It is the same ‘All’.

Paul makes a similar argument in Romans 5:18,

Just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.

It is the same ‘All’.

And in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 he says:

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.

Philippians 2:9-11,

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Colossians 1:19-20,

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

1 John 4:14 says:

We have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

Now I don’t care for proof-texting, and I admit that these proof-texts are not conclusive in supporting Universalism, but they are certainly as convincing as those used to support eternal punishment in hell.

But There is Another, Stronger Support for a Potential Universalism

I think a more important support for Universalism is God’s character. Despite misguided belief some have for an angry, violent, vindictive God, I believe the God Jesus reveals to us is one of love, compassion, and care. Would such a God torment people in hell? I don’t think so—much less eternal torment. God is not for punishment but for restoration and reconciliation.

I am a hopeful Universalist; I hope it is true. Yet, I cannot be more than that for there is a further question. What if, finally, there are those who reject God’s offer of eternal life. What becomes of them? I think they experience a gentle alternative to punishment in hell called conditional immortality. We will talk about that next time.

Jesus without Baggage exists to assist and support those questioning beliefs they have been taught in fundamentalist, traditional evangelical, and other groups. If you know someone who might find Jesus without Baggage helpful, feel free to send them the introductory page: About Jesus without Baggage.

Articles in this series:
How Some Misguided Christian Beliefs are Very Harmful
Belief in Angry God is Perhaps the Most Damaging, Misguided Christian Belief of All
If We Are Free to Approach God Without Fear, What Becomes of Our Other Religious Fears—Like Hell?
Hopeful Universalism and a Gentle Alternative
A Gentle Alternative to Punishment in Hell for Those Who Reject God’s Offer of Eternal Life—Conditional Immortality

***

 

This entry was posted in eternal life, hell, Paul, The Father and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

121 Responses to Hopeful Universalism and a Gentle Alternative

  1. Not so, as it is only those “in Christ” that have the benefits, benefits procured only through faith, such faith believing unto the saving of the soul. That scripture; “…: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.”, is the very central theme of the Gospel message, (the good news) which is; “ For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him (faith in him) might be saved.” Notice, “might be”, not will be. This is where God showed his love, by sending his Son, but if one does not believe, then John 3:36 (which you have conveniently left out), speaks of the consequence. For he goes on, in 1 John 5:10, to speak of those who do not believe, are calling God a liar.
    Truly your sharing John 12:47, that Jesus “did not come to judge the world, but to save the world”, is also central theme of the Gospel, but it also say’s (putting it in context, the very next verse)); “He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” John 12:48. Basically saying we judge ourselves by rejecting him!
    You have shared some great scriptures, yet twisted them to make them sound as if God was saving everyone. Peter warned 2 Peter 3:16; “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest (twist), as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. “

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thomas, I agree that Jesus warns of negative consequences of certain behaviors and attitudes, but they were primarily metaphorical and, in my opinion, did not indicate punishment in hell.

      I did list a number of suggestive passages regarding Universalism, but as I pointed out myself they are inadequate to establish Universalism. And I don’t think I twisted them–in fact I linked an entire chapter of context for each one.

      You said: “it is only those “in Christ” that have the benefits, benefits procured only through faith, such faith believing unto the saving of the soul.” Do you not think such faith can occur even after death when people are able to understand a whole lot better?

      Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Thomas, why do you think that is not a possibility?

          Like

          • Hebrews 9:27 for one, and all the Gospels and Epistles. If we have another chance after death, then why did so many martyr themselves for the faith? Why not just recant and take care of it later? Thats the real question? And the answer is Hebrews 9:27..

            Like

          • tonycutty says:

            The thing with Heb 9:27 is that if you read it in its context, it reads more like a culturally-located, generally accepted, well-known saying *from its time* rather than something the Hebrews writer is quoting from a Scripture sounce he/she has access to; also it assumes that the readers (I suppose the Hebrews) would understand what he/she means. It’s obviously something that is agreed on from some local verbal or written tradition that both the writer and readers understood – but we are not privy to that contextual information. Furthermore, it fits with no known accepted canonical Scriptural reference (that is, in today’s canon) that suggests that the writer was referring to any accepted Scripture of the day. In its context, again, it is used as a *comparison* – for *just as* it is destined for man to die once and then face judgement, so also Christ was sacrificed once…’ The emphasis is not on the die once bit, but on the sacrifice of Christ, and the writer uses the ‘die once’ part as an example/comparison. I don’t think that it was ever, ever intended to have read into it what Evangelical Christians read into it today.

            And even if it did, so what? Judgement, as I have already shared above, is, I believe, nowhere near as fearsome as it’s cracked up to be. In fact it’s going to be amazing; tremendous, as is everything else that God does. He’s the One Who does all things well. Personally, I am looking forward to judgement day. Y’see, there is no fear in love, because fear is to do with punishment. And I have experienced that perfect Love; it has driven out *all* fear, and because I do not fear, I reckon myself made perfect in Love. That’s what it says there in 1Jn 4:18, plain as day. And I testify that this is true in my life. Want to be free from fear? Then be made perfect in love. John wasn’t talking about something that happens in the afterlife; he’s talking about something in this life. The one who fears has not been made perfect in love. Ergo, the one who has been made perfect in love does not fear. It’s perfectly normal for a Christian to accept that as easily as we do all the other amazing things Jesus has made available to us. You believe in Him for salvation? This is no different; believe in Him for this too. It;s all part of the package.

            Liked by 1 person

          • tonycutty says:

            In this way, love has been perfected among us, so that we may have confidence on the day of judgment; for in this world we are just like Him.

            There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love. 1John 4:17-18. This is an addendum to my previous long post. Note the accomplished fact: Love *has been perfected among us* – and therefore we have confidence on the day of judgement. This is why perfect love drives out fear…but we need fear no punishment.

            Now, this is good news indeed! To have no fear of punishment is so, so freeing!

            And before anyone says ‘Ah, but…’, I would ask, why? Why would you want to say ‘Ah, but…’ and deny this GLORIOUS truth? Why rally all the counter-Scriptures you can muster in order to deprive yourself of the benefits of this freedom that Christ has won for you? No, God’s promises in Him are Yes amd Amen, not ‘Ah, but…’.

            This is freedom!

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Thomas, another proof-text. But I think I have answered this question earlier about the Good News.

            Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Tony, well said in both responses!

            Like

          • Judgment is only fearsome to those who experience it without hope. As, “for now abides faith, hope and love” and as you well said, “Love is the greatest of these” 1 Corinthians 13:13., yet without faith, there is no hope as “…hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5:5. Only those in Christ have the Spirit and these only have peace with God, Romans 5:1.

            Like

          • tonycutty says:

            And there’s the cold water deluge. There’s always one. Actually, there’s usually more than one. You did not answer the question: why look on the dark side? Why not believe the good stuff? You cherry-pick everything else (unless you don’t eat bacon); why not believe the REALLY GREAT stuff? Christians should have an optimistic outlook, not a pessimistic one.

            Liked by 2 people

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Thomas, please stop proof-texting on this blog as though each verse or phrase is God’s propositional truth. If you bring up a passage of the Bible, at least provide some analysis and remember that claims of inerrancy are not at all persuasive to those who are not inerrantists.
            https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2017/08/30/how-proof-texting-is-ineffective-and-disrespects-the-bible/

            Liked by 1 person

          • Why look on the dark side? Because it is there, and because it is there, we warn those that think it can be over looked, and that such faith can occur even after death. Faith is a gift that we can choose to receive or to reject.
            Why not believe the “good stuff”? Why not, we should, as there is a heaven to gain, only because there is a hell to shun. This is the principle of opposites, as God is both Love and Just at the same time. Either attribute of God is incomplete by itself.

            Like

          • tonycutty says:

            Fair point, Thomas, but I disagree. In God there is no darkness at all. And I also believe that God is complete ass Love, especially when we consider the ideas of Divine justice I have shared above.

            Think of it this way: God does not need ‘balance’. The principle of opposites, when applied to God, is inappropriate, because it presupposes that He is both good and evil, which is not correct. Indeed, the principle of Opposites is more a product of Eastern thinking like Buddhism and such; it has no place in Christianity, whose God is light, and only light.

            The Force may have a light and a dark side, but God does not.

            Therefore it is entirely correct, in the light of Christ and His example, to look entirely on the light side, because God has no Dark Side. None at all. And please don’t try to tell me that it depends on what we call good and evil. Evil is evil, and God does not do it, no matter what excuses we make for Him to do so. His ways are higher than ours *in every way possible*, including our projected desire to do harm to those we hate – which is where the Hell doctrine comes from.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Tony, I believe your response that begins, “Fair point, Thomas, but I disagree. In God there is no darkness at all.” is well stated.

            Like

          • tonycutty, Just now getting time to get back to you. I did not mean “balance” as in Eastern religion, don’t know were you got that, but merely that God, to be just has to impose punishment. Yet to call Gods punishment as evil is evil. The word tells us that there is crime and punishment,
            God has ordained those who bear the sword as ministers of God (Police Officers), as ministers to deal with crime, Romans 13:4. It say’s they bear the sword for us to be afraid, so those thinking of crime may think twice. For instance, if a sign in a neighborhood say’s; “Slow Ten miles an hour, deaf child at play”, one would hope that would be warning enough. But, not so, there are those who would not heed it. But, by making a sign saying; “Slow Ten miles an hour, deaf child at play, $500 fine” would be a greater attention getter for folks! There is a verse in Ecclesiastes 8:11 that goes; “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” Thus, one more sign here would be in order; “Slow Ten miles an hour, deaf child at play, $500 fine, smile your on camera”, as this would be more effecting towards their will to obey.
            This is what I was trying to express, that without the one there can not be the other. Interesting quote from C.S. Lewis who wrote in his book, (The problem of pain)
            “To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being on earth; to enter hell is to be banished from humanity. What is cast (or casts itself) into hell is not a man: it is “remains.” To be a complete man means to have the passions obedient to the will and the will offered to God: to have been a man – to be an ex-man or “damned ghost” – would presumably mean to consist of a will utterly centered in its self and passions utterly uncontrolled by the will.”

            Like

      • Sojourner says:

        I’m with you Tim all the way Including not caring for proof texting.. Another good article. The whole idea of people such as Hitler, rapists, pedophiles etc. etc. having an opportunity to repent and surrender to Christ after death is very scary for some people. To entertain such an idea was like jumping off a cliff for me and I imagine for many others. The cool thing is, once I jumped I found out I could fly.

        Liked by 2 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Thanks, Sojourner. Also, you said: “To entertain such an idea was like jumping off a cliff for me and I imagine for many others. The cool thing is, once I jumped I found out I could fly.” I love that!

          Liked by 1 person

        • ancadudar says:

          Sojourner,
          “The whole idea of people such as Hitler, rapists, pedophiles etc. etc. having an opportunity to repent and surrender to Christ after death is very scary for some people.”

          But if they do it while alive, Christians would cheer them on and claim that the grace of God is in effect! Why not after death then…

          Liked by 2 people

      • ancadudar says:

        “Do you not think such faith can occur even after death when people are able to understand a whole lot better?”

        I think so, Tim! Even though it is not authenticly written by Peter, 2 Peter says Jesus preached to the dead. The Church had no problem with that concept or they would not have allowed it in the canon.

        We have no problem accepting that babies who die go to heaven. Babies who cannot understand what faith is, nor can they make a declaration of faith while alive. yet, we are total legalists when it comes to adults, stating that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, that all are born corrupted therefore one must have faith in Christ to be saved with no exceptions of whether or not they ever even heard the name of Christ and had the opportunity to believe, or whether they lived the same type of moral life that a Christian has. Nope, no exceptions because all are born into sin, except, of course, exceptions for babies because our pity and compassion takes over and overrides our Biblical political correctness!

        I wonder where that innate pity and compassion for justice and mercy for babies come from, could it be what God instilled in us? if so, could it be that that is the real heart and nature of God, a God of fairness and mercy, one that will judge righteously instead of destroying people for what they did not know or have the opportunity to fully grasp?

        Liked by 2 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Anca, I like this!: “could it be that that is the real heart and nature of God, a God of fairness and mercy, one that will judge righteously instead of destroying people for what they did not know or have the opportunity to fully grasp?”

          Good point about babies, although one famous preacher (Jonathan Edwards?) said there would be babies in hell not a span long.

          Liked by 1 person

          • ancadudar says:

            Tim,
            “Good point about babies, although one famous preacher (Jonathan Edwards?) said there would be babies in hell not a span long.”

            Yikes! I just looked him up, he was a preacher from the 17th century. However, I do not know of any modern preachers who would say this today, not even John Piper who said that all babies go to heaven, and that man is 100% percent lunatic when it comes to his narrow hell and predestination doctrine.

            Someone made a post of ‘Jonathan Edwards’ words in context, he sounds like a typical staunch Calvinist, or at least the beginnings of it before Calvin. I will post the quote below.

            “This is only a partial quote and not Edward’s refined theology (misleading to some). It is a question and an answer to a hypothetical. Would God be just to condemn infants when their sin is, say, far less than the fallen angels? He would be just, is Edwards’ answer. That is why it is called a theological “musing,” for he is thinking through it on paper. Edwards, so far as I know, never issued any systematic statement on the disposition of infants in eternity. I think he would answer as any thoughtful theologian should if someone asked him, “Did my child die and go to heaven?” I believe he would say, “My child, God is good and he always judges rightly.” Here is the full section:

            “One of these two things are certainly true, and self-evidently so: either that it is most just, exceeding just, that God should take the soul of a new-born infant and cast it into eternal torments, or else that those infants that are saved are not saved by the death of Christ. For none are saved by the death of Christ from damnation that have not deserved damnation. Wherefore, if it be very just, it is but a foolish piece of nonsense, to cry out of it as blasphemous to suppose that it ever is [just], because (they say) it is contrary to his mercy.

            Now such I ask, whether it is contrary to his mercy to inflict punishment upon any according to their deserts, and whether it was contrary to God’s mercy to damn the fallen angels. There was no mercy showed to them at all. And why is it blasphemous to suppose that God should inflict upon infants so much as they have deserved, without mercy, as well as [upon] them?MS: “as they”; the reference is to the fallen angels, whereas the preceding “they” refers to infants. If you say, they have not deserved it so much, I answer: they certainly have deserved what they have deserved, as much as the fallen angels; because their sin is not accompanied with such aggravating circumstances, so neither shall their punishment be so aggravated. So that the punishment of one is every whit as contrary to God’s mercy as [that of] the other. Who shall determine just how much sin is sufficient to make damnation agreeable to the divine perfections? And how can they determine that infants have not so much sin? For we know they have enough to make their damnation very just.”
            His point: God detemines what is right.”

            “And how can they determine that infants have not so much sin? For we know they have enough to make their damnation very just. – God detemines what is right.”

            Ahh, I hate this type of thinking! Jesus said we must become like little children to enter the Kingdome of Heaven. Jesus considered them innocent and pure, not sinful.
            God determines what is right, but if eternal torment of an infant is right to Him, that only makes Him powerful in His right to do what He wants, but that does not make Him merciful, loving, or just, all three being attributes and core qualities of the Character He chose to give Himself. Mercy, love, and justice/as in fairness, are predefined by God in what qualifies them as such, therefore they cannot be redefined into their opposites. My point being that “Might does not make right.”

            OK, I went off on a tangent, sorry…

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Anca, thanks for sharing this context! I was not at all aware of it.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Thomas, I would conjecture that you might not understand Christian Universalism. All of your objections have been addressed many times. except one, the comment about “might be”, which unfortunately simply shows a lack of knowledge concerning language. We are brothers and I have nothing against you, but it might do you some good to understand CU before judging it. The whole idea is that all men who eventually accept God, willingly and full of love for their Creator.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Ross Jarvis says:

      Thomas, I would have to say that there are a couple of areas here where your understanding misses what this particular bible passage is talking about. Where the bit about the World “might be saved” is mentioned, the meaning cannot be correctly contrasted with “will”. The usage of “might” could be easily replaced with “will”, but more likely “would” or “should”. Look at some other translations to see that this phrase is fairly open to many interpretations.

      Additionally, the use of “belief” is fairly confusing, as this word currently is usually understood to be assenting to certain propositions “believing” being more about intellectually agreeing to certain ideologies, it is fairly obvious from vs 20 and 21 that the intention is about something that leads to actions, doing the will of God.

      There are numerous passages in the New Testament which point out that “believing” in God/Jesus is not sufficient for any form of “salvation”, it is doing the will of God which is required.

      The dominant understanding of much Reformed Theology, probably due to the influence of Luther etc, which makes people think that God wishes us to “believe” in him, is very sadly a total undermining of the true Gospel, which dismisses the works required of us by God and replaces them by a purely intellectual exercise which in itself is generally condemned in the Gospel.

      Similarly, your quotes from John refer not to pure intellectual “belief” but to those who carry out God’s will. If you look at the prophets and ‘John’ is quoting from Isiah here, the general thrust about Israel’s disobedience is always about how they did not follow (by doing) God’s will, not that their intellectual assertions were at fault.

      (“Faith” and “belief” as currently utilised are often interchangeable terms often considered to refer solely to the intellect and not tied to action which is always inferred in the original text)

      Where I ‘might’ agree with you is that there may well be dire consequences for those who do not “believe” in Jesus, but this does not relate to what goes on in the head, it is whether you “do his will”, you do not have to call yourself a “Christian” to do God’s will and too frequently it’s obvious that many “Christians” do not do his will, whereas it seems that many who do not call themselves “Christians” do!

      Liked by 2 people

      • “There are numerous passages in the New Testament which point out that “believing” in God/Jesus is not sufficient for any form of “salvation”, it is doing the will of God which is required.”
        Actually, it is sufficient, for those who truly believe, as doing faith is what separates, the true from the fake. Yes, calling yourself a Christian and being a Christian are two different things, as a true believer does works ordained of God for such (Ephesians 2:10) because they are true believers. A better approach to looking at works is; they aren’t required, they simply follow, as this is the “simplicity that is in Christ”, 2 Corinthians 11:3.
        No, you are right, there should be a manifest change in one who is a believer, as any one who confesses Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9,10) is a new creation, (2 Corinthians 5:17), old is passed, new has begun. Works are then from the heart that has been changed. Salvation is never by “works” lest we then boast of them, Ephesians 2:9. Thanks

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ross Jarvis says:

          Thanks for the reply Thomas. I think we may agree on many more points than we disagree. However (and there’s always a however, it may be my inherent argumentativeness).

          I feel that Paul is often hard to understand due to the translation issues from his original writings to our modern usage of language. One point would be to discuss what is meant by works (which we could also translate as acts or deeds). I think that in the Ephesians quote, Paul is actually referring to “circumcision” when using the word translated as “works”. The reasoning behind this is that a “work under the law” or a “work in the flesh” is a legal requirement in the bodily flesh of the individual, I.e. circumcision. (literally an act or deed in the physical flesh).

          So when in Eph 2:9 he says “you are not saved by works”, he means that you are not saved because you are circumcised, by being “legally Jewish”, one of the religious “in-crowd”. Thus admitting the uncircumcised Gentile into God’s Grace, at the same time as pointing out that being one of the “in crowd”, being correctly religiously affiliated (I.e. a properly circumcised Jew) is no guarantee of salvation on its own.

          So the point being made using “works” at this instance is that God’s Grace is the power of salvation, not that one has been circumcised on the eighth day. The modern equivalent to us in the west would be that we are not saved because we declare to be in the in-crowd just by saying we “believe” in him or that we are a “Christian”.

          Elsewhere of course “works” can relate to charitable deeds or acts etc, but as we know just doing these works is not necessarily “doing the will of God” as the motivation for doing these can be very selfish.

          I think, as you have pointed out “faith without works is nothing”, but the works must also be for the right reason, so there’s no guarantee that doing “good works” gains salvation in the same way that “believing” is no guarantee either.

          The point I am trying to make here is that just because someone thinks or proclaims that “Jesus is Lord”, does not mean they are actually fulfilling the will of God and just because someone does not think or proclaim this yet they do “good works” does not mean that they are not fulfilling the will of God. I think it is a big mistake to think that God will only favour those who cogently assent intellectually to the principal that Jesus is part of the “Triune Godhead” and that they are a “worthless sinner”.

          Liked by 1 person

    • ancadudar says:

      I looked at John 3:17 in the Greek, but it does not say “might be” saved in the original Greek text. It just says saved (σωθῇ sōthē). So it reads “Not for sent God His Son into the World that He might judge the World, but that saved the World through Him.”

      Strong’s Concordance
      sózó: to save
      Original Word: σῴζω
      Part of Speech: Verb
      Transliteration: sózó
      Phonetic Spelling: (sode’-zo)
      Definition: to save
      Usage: I save, heal, preserve, rescue.
      HELPS Word-studies
      4982 sṓzō (from sōs, “safe, rescued”) – properly, deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety).

      [4982 (sṓzō) is the root of: 4990 /sōtḗr (“Savior”), 4991 /sōtēría (“salvation”) and the adjectival form, 4992 /sōtḗrion (what is “saved/rescued from destruction and brought into divine safety”).]

      NAS Exhaustive Concordance
      Word Origin
      from sós (safe, well)
      Definition
      to save
      NASB Translation
      bring…safely (1), cured (1), ensure salvation (1), get (1), get well (2), made…well (6), made well (5), preserved (1), recover (1), restore (1), save (36), saved (50), saves (1), saving (1).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim, you say: “I concluded that the misguided idea of punishment in eternal conscious torment is inconsistent with God’s character”
    I believe that not only is this true in part, but it is biblically proven even for me as an inerrancy advocate. Even in Genesis there is proof. God when He cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden or paradise, He set guards to guard paradise in the form of cherubim, lest man in his fallen sinful state would enter in and eat of the tree of life and live forever. So God in His mercy does not want lost man to live forever, but He will punish him with a just punishment. Jesus stated that when He returns that He will reward every man based on what he/she has done. Hitler will pay for his sins because he was without belief. He was actually involved along with his SS in an occult RELIGION. To say however that a person will spend eternity in Hell, who dies without belief in Jesus and the gospel the second after he reaches accountability (whenever that is) is to deny that God is just. There are too many verses in scripture that speak of evil men being “destroyed” as their end. Hitler may very well spend eternity in hell if that is his just reward. But Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 15 that immortality is a gift to the natural man who is in Christ. Therefore the man outside of Christ in order to live forever in hell must be judged worthy of that verdict by God.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Jerry, I don’t think the Adam and Eve stories are historical, of course, but were written by people–though that does not mean we cannot derive lessons from them.

      But I am intrigued by your comment, “To say however that a person will spend eternity in Hell, who dies without belief in Jesus and the gospel the second after he reaches accountability (whenever that is) is to deny that God is just. There are too many verses in scripture that speak of evil men being “destroyed” as their end.” Are you suggesting total destruction (annihilation) instead of eternal punishment in hell?

      You also said, “Immortality is a gift to the natural man who is in Christ. Therefore the man outside of Christ in order to live forever in hell must be judged worthy of that verdict by God.” I will ask the question I asked Thomas earlier: Do you not think such faith can occur even after death when people are able to understand a whole lot better?

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think that the basic difference in what I say Tim vs. what you imply is based on errancy vs inerrancy. I mearly believe the texts taken together concerning the final outcome of man with and without the salvation offered by Jesus with His first Coming and the good news that resulted from that sequence of prophesied events. Destruction in hell and the lake of fire is certainly contained in the messaging, but that is not all that is contained in the teachings. As to your second question according to Paul once one has heard the gospel and rejected it there then in no second chance after death. We know that many have not or will not hear of Jesus. What will God do with them? He is the just Judge. There is scripture that would imply that we are only responsible or accountable for what we are given. But I for one would not want to accept the risk, being from America where every day the gospel is communicated and with probably 10 bibles in my home.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Jerry, I agree that God is a just judge and also that we should not become less diligent in our behavior just because we don’t believe in hell. You said: “according to Paul once one has heard the gospel and rejected it there then in no second chance after death.” Can you share the passage you have in mind?

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Hopeful Universalism and a Gentle Alternative – dbobstoner

  4. tonycutty says:

    Sometimes it amazes me how blithely we Christians talk about weird, weird concepts like ‘Eternal Conscious Torment’. I mean, in any other circles, they’d think we were mad. It’s hardly the sort of thing you’d talk about down the pub, is it? ‘Eternal conscious *what*? Are you guys *nuts*?’ Sometimes I think we should just listen to ourselves wih outsiders’ ears and realise how utterly stupid we sound. It’s no wonder people are so turned off Church things… 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, I totally agree. And I think this is what sometimes happens to us who have been taught these things–we step back and listen to what we are saying; and it doesn’t hold up. This is often the beginning of a journey away from traditional evangelicalism.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. tonycutty says:

    I also wonder why, when confronted with the Good News – God loves us, God *likes* us (which many find hard to accept), Jesus died for us and took all out sin and guilt into Himself – however that works – and rose again from the dead and gave us His Spirit as a guarantee of that which is to come – why, then does some pudding* always has to come along with his ‘Ah, but…’ and pour ice-cold water on the whole thing. Saying that God doesn’t love everyone, maybe, or some other piece of derogatory bad news when in fact God is light, and in Him there is no darkness. Not. One. Shred. Of. It. Why dilute the amazing good news for *all mankind* as declared by the Christmas angels with some rot about God’s ‘wrath’, when most of the time that wrath is simply something we are projecting on to Him because that’s how we would feel, or what we would do, if we were Him. But we;re not. His ways are *so much* higher than ours – and even that is another phrase twisted so that God is allowed to call evil, good *simply because He’s God* (a classic excuse for why God is allowed to torture people forever whereas if we were to do that, Hitler would definitely get a get out of jail free card). Double standards again. As if God would not hold Himself to the same standard – i.e. to LOVE – as He does for us.

    *A Yorkshire British word meaning…well I think you can guess… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • theotherlestrangegirl says:

      Tony, I just wanted to say that I really like your mentioning that God *likes* us. I believe this as well, and I think it’s a message that we need to spread further because so many people don’t hear it.

      We know that God is love and that He loves all, but many don’t realize that He also likes us. It’s a very personal thing. He likes your sense of humor, your quirks, the way you do certain things, etc. He likes who you are as a person.

      Liked by 2 people

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Wow, Strange Girl! I really like your focus on God ‘liking’ us. I believe that too but have never heard it expressed this way. It reminds me of some folks who ‘Love the sinner but hate the sin.’ Would they be able to say they ‘like the sinner’? In many cases, I am not sure they could; such ‘love’ is a formal thing–not a personal thing.

        Like

        • theotherlestrangegirl says:

          I don’t believe they would say that, no. Mostly because that phrase is used as a cop-out so people can be judgmental without sounding judgmental (ugh, annoying).

          I would also ask people who say this how they “love” these people. Do they pray for them? Not only for them to be healed of whatever alleged sin, but also to be blessed? Think of the person you love most in the world and think of how you would pray for blessings and grace to rain down upon them. I wonder, could these people say they would ask the same for people they consider to be sinners?

          Liked by 2 people

          • tonycutty says:

            How they ‘love’ people is to judge and condemn them, and ‘point out their sin’ ‘in the name of love’. What a convenient concept! Legitimisd judgementalism.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Strange Girl: “that phrase is used as a cop-out so people can be judgmental without sounding judgmental (ugh, annoying). I would also ask people who say this how they “love” these people.”

            I agree. The phrase comes across as so insincere. But if you ask them your question, I think a lot of them would answer that they love them by trying to save them from eternal hell. OK. I guess so, but it doesn’t seem like any personal or relational kind of love.

            Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Tony, I think you nailed it! “How they ‘love’ people is to judge and condemn them, and ‘point out their sin’ ‘in the name of love’. What a convenient concept! Legitimisd judgementalism.”

            Liked by 1 person

        • tonycutty says:

          I also think that ‘God Likes You’ needs to be said in these days, as a counterpoint to the vicious sermons saying ‘God hates you!!’ from Mark Driscoll and others who preach stuff like that. Also seen some other guy called Paul Washer spouting similar tripe. But hey – God likes those guys! 😀

          Liked by 1 person

      • tonycutty says:

        Love this 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, I like your distinction of God liking us. It brings an entirely different feel toward being loved by God! I also agree that we often project God’s wrath on him, ourselves. God’s standard, as you say, is LOVE.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. theotherlestrangegirl says:

    Very enlightening, as always.

    I tend to hold the conditional immortality belief. I believe that God is something of a universalist, but the only issue I take with that belief is that is starts to mess with free will a bit. I believe that there will be some people who will continue to reject God no matter what happens, and in order to comply with universalism, God would basically have to force them to accept Him and His love. God has never done that, and He’s never forced Himself upon anyone, so I don’t see why He would start now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can understand the conditional immortality argument, but I also believe that every person ever serves a purpose, and that purpose cannot be left out of the final work. I think God wants to see his masterpiece completed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Prog Mind, can you elaborate on that?

        Like

        • Sure! Again, I see stock in the conditional immorality argument, but I believe that God is sovereign. While I do believe that we have free will by His design, I also believe that there isn’t a soul in existence that would not accept God in all his glory when exposed to his goodness, love, and power in relation to and in spite of the horrors of what they have done. I believe that “hell” is a place where we are confronted by who we are and what we’ve done, and God is shown as forgiving and loving. So, yes, can you imagine Hitler being confronted by the millions of people who he killed? But also the power and light of the One who will forgive, if only he can drop his pride and accept his Creator. Or something like that. I obviously don’t know for sure, but I do believe that part of Christ’s purpose on Earth was to begin the healing of our wills. We have free will, but it was corrupted and broken. Christ came to enable us to choose God. To choose life over destruction. To choose love over hate. He is literally healing our wills and creating us in his image. That is what life is all about!

          Liked by 1 person

      • theotherlestrangegirl says:

        I agree, Prog Mind, but how far would God go to see His masterpiece completed? I believe that’s the question.

        I can imagine someone digging their hills into the golden catwalk and absolutely refusing to take another step towards the glittery bright lights (if you’ll excuse the stereotypical image), insisting that they are right and refusing to believe in or acknowledge God. What would God do then? Would he forcibly drag them into his kingdom? Or would He let them go?

        Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Strange Girl, I totally agree. Conditional immortality will likely proceed for those who finally reject God out of their own free will. We will talk about that next time.

      Like

  7. theotherlestrangegirl says:

    Oh, that makes me think of something. Regarding the various things that Jesus says about judgment, I have seen many people explain that Jesus came not to judge but to save, as He said, the first time. However, during his Second Coming, he will come as a judge.

    When you see the passages used to support this view, it does Biblically make sense (but I say that with a grain of salt since I try not to take the Bible at face-value without studying it).

    But I’m wondering if there could be another explanation. I don’t know what it would be, but so many people seem absolutely convinced that a judgment is coming. If that’s true, then I have no idea how we are to be judged. Is it based strictly on whether or not we accept Jesus, or are there more things that go into it?

    This is the kind of thing that used to stress me out when I was a fundamentalist–trying my best to stay on a very narrow path that all believers supposedly had to follow to be saved.

    Liked by 2 people

    • tonycutty says:

      Crazy, isn’t it? In fact if we carry the ‘narrow path’ doctrine to its logical conclusion, it means that most of the people you know, love, work with, party with, sit in the doctor’s surgery with – most of them will go to hell. And therefore Jesus is a failed Saviour; 0.1% effective at best.

      I did a bit of a calculation the other day: I said that let’s estimate that the broad way is three times wider than the narrow way (and that’s been generous; most Fundies would claim it’s far narrower than that). Let’s then use that proportion as a yardstick for other factors qualifying humans to enter heaven.

      So, of that 25% of humanity who find the narrow way (remember: ‘few are those that find it’!), let’s say that 25% of them say the Sinner’s Prayer. Then let’s say that of those people, 25% really and truly believe in Hell, 25% of them never doubt, 25% of thoe people do not deny the Lord, 25% of those believe in the bible as inerrant, 25 % of those actually feed the hungry, 25% of those also clothe the naked…and so it goes on. And that’s even before we’ve taken into account whether or not they are Trump supporters, gay-bashers, and that not all of them will ‘endure until the End’ (25%, perhaps?!) Try calcuating that even roughly and even only including the factors I have described above, and you end up with a vanishingly small fraction of peopel who will ‘qualify’ – because, let’s face it, *every* Christian has slightly different beliefs and will *in no way* believe in all of those things, pluse the other random hoops that different groups invent for themselves. Therefore, for someone to qualify for Heaven by jumping through Every. Single. One. of those hoops is more or less impossible to attain. And that’s all presuming a Saviour who is apparently capable of ‘keeping [us] from falling’, although given that list of pitfalls *that are all our fault*, it doesn’t sound all that hopeful, now does it?

      Btw, I shoud re-emphasise that this is all supposed to be Good News. You’d never have guessed, would you?

      Of course, I don’t believe any of this. I’m just emphasising how stupid all these ‘requirements’ are. Of course Jesus is an effective Saviour – much more effective, in fact, than these people give Him credit for!

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Strange Girl, what specific ‘judgment’ passages do you have in mind?

      Like

      • theotherlestrangegirl says:

        I think there are others, but here are a couple to note:

        1) John 12:47: “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.”

        2) John 12:48: “But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken.”

        In these two verses, Jesus seems to completely contradict himself. First he does not judge, and then he does.

        I have heard this explained as the difference between the First and Second Coming. The First Coming, which already occurred, was the one where Jesus came only to save. He handed us the tools, so to speak.

        The Second Coming is the one where he will return to see how we fared and how well we followed his rules (supposedly).

        Even though I no longer believe in a literal hell, or an angry god, or many other “fundie” things…I’m still not sure about the “day of judgment.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Thanks, Strange Girl. I agree that it is difficult to evaluate sayings like this. I guess one thing to consider is what Jesus means by ‘judgment’ here. And I am not sure.

          Like

    • tonycutty says:

      To offset my previous, depressing reply, I would say this:

      Everything makes complete sense when we think of the Judgement as a judgement of reconciliation and restoration, not one of revenge and retribution.

      Retributive justice is the way of the world; it’s what sent Jesus to the Cross. It is part of our fallen nature to want Revenge; to let the other guy see what it feels like to be subjected to what he did to us.

      But God’s Justice is rooted in ‘Father, forgive them’. Its restorative nature is all about making everything that was wrong as if it had never been. It’s about restoring everything to its proper order, and putting everything in its right place.

      Which is better: to destroy one’s enemy, make him pay, make him feel the pain that you fely (which actually accomplishes nothing in terms of alleviating your own pain) or to make your enemy into your friend, to forgive him, to restore relationship with him, so that, for both him and you, things have a ‘happy ending’.

      This is true Judgement, leading to true Justice.

      Sure, it all sounds like pie in the sky. But remember this is God we are talking about here. His Justice will cover the entire earth – and for that to happen, it must be willingly acepted by its inhabitants. God’s Judgement will not be forced on us; more like we will see it for the rightness that it is intrinsically, and embrace it. That’s what Judgement Day means to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • theotherlestrangegirl says:

        Tony, thank you for your positive view of Judgment Day!

        I agree that true justice is about restoration and healing rather than pain and punishment that so many make it out to be.

        I think the word that’s really tripping me up is “judgment.” I have such a negative connotation of that word. What, exactly, is God going to be judging and by what standards?

        It doesn’t help that I work in a law firm, so I get quite a large dose of real-world legalism and rules on a daily basis.

        Liked by 2 people

        • tonycutty says:

          “What, exactly, is God going to be judging and by what standards?”

          Wow that’s a good question. And understood on the law firm thing!

          Many believers think they are clear on what God judges people on, and how He does it. But most of those ideas are based on the adversarial system of justice that you are professionally familiar with. And that’s fine for humans, but it’s not the way God does things, because His ways are higher (better) than ours. And in some ways I think this is one of Life’s Big Questions, which can take an entire lifetime to figure out. More here: http://tinyurl.com/kke4fpd

          Whatever He judges, and the standard He judges by, it will be based around Jesus. Around His life, his death, His resurrection and all the other aspects of His life. Somehow, if our lives are ‘hidden in Christ in God’, in a lot of ways I personally think it won’t be so much to do with us as individuals so much as with the entire creation. So becaue of this I don’t think its about what we have done, but about putting things right. And the standard will be just that – things as they should be.

          There are a lot of deep ideas here. For instance if, as we have already discussed, it’s about restoration and reconciiation, then on an individual level, maybe God helps each person to see their enemies as their enemies see themselves. Each of us, and our enemies, are individuals with background, motives, an individual make-up and individual circumstances. I wonder if, then, God will help us to see where the other guy viewpoint when he did that thing to us. Also, we need to learn to forgive others; this is more for our benefit than ‘theirs’, would you believe. There’s some ideas on this concept in my blog post here: http://tinyurl.com/yd2a8tp4

          The thing is that forgiveness is always on the part of the offended party. And God is not as easily offended as most Churchy people would have us believe, because He can *already* see our motivations and in any case He forgives us. So to bring this back to judgement, for this reason I don’t believe that the Judgement will be about sins and forgiveness anyway, because these are already forgiven. ‘I will remember your sins no more’. So, for me, that counts sin out of the list of things that will be judged.

          Maybe actions, then? And even then, most people think it’s the motivation is what counts. But I am not convinced. The recipient of a food package cares not what your motivations are so long as he gets his food. Again, more on this here: http://tinyurl.com/jna6r6s

          There is just so much on judgement, it is a huge subject. But one thing I am personally clear on – and I appreciate that this does not really answer your question – is that it is no human’s place ever to judge another. This tells me that God’s standards, and His methods of judgement, will be nothing like our standards and methods.

          Whatever it looks like, I am absolutely convinced that we will be extremely pleasantly surprised in that the thing that most people dread – judgement, because our concept is based on adversarial human systems – will not look anything like how we imagined it would look. God delights in surprising us with amazing things, and Judgement will be no exception to this. I would even go so far as to say that I am looking forward to Judgement because everything wrong will be made right. That’s an awesome concept!

          Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Tony, I was going to copy and respond to some of your statements here–but I can’t! I would have to copy the entire thing! Is this the substance of your upcoming post? It is absolutely great!

        Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Tony, I said your comment was ‘great’, but that seems inadequate. Let me say it was excellent, insightful, and exciting. Thank you for sharing it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • tonycutty says:

          Wow, thank you, Tim 🙂 Which comment are you referring to, please?

          The bit about judgement isn’t what I was going to post with the ‘depressing’ bit, but it might go with it even so. Interesting juxtaposition…

          Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Tony, I was referring to your comment on the Judgement as a judgement of reconciliation and restoration, not one of revenge and retribution–but not just that item in the comment but the entire comment.

            Liked by 1 person

  8. I stumbled into universalism as I was reading Romans 5 earlier this year, and then Google showed me that other people believed the same way. Since then, I have been listening to and reading as much as possible on the topic. I’m convinced that this is the promise of God, and I know He can deliver what he promises. Pure and simple. One reason I know this is because my heart has been changed and matured in so many ways since I found this belief, and the pure hope I have seen in my wife’s eyes since she accepted it is more proof than I’ll ever need. I still wouldn’t call it a definite thing, since I never want to be dogmatic or tell God what he must do, but I believe this is his promise. It’s more a different concept of God all together, rather than just a simple belief about “who goes where”. That seems like foolishness any more to me, you know? CU has changed my life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • tonycutty says:

      Wonderful 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Prog Mind, you could be right. And I hope you are!

      Like

    • You say Romans 5 speaks of universalism, actually it speaks of just the opposite, as “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” Romans 5:1 this goes along with Ephesians 2:8; “By grace are you saved through faith…” It is faith in Christ that save’s us, as the next verse verifies; “By whom also we have ‘access by faith’ into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” These first two verse’s lay out what gets one saved and thus at peace with God; “faith in Christ Jesus”. Yes, this grace is there for all, all the “whosoever’s” of John 3:16, but unless or until one puts faith in Christ, they will never gain access (procure for themselves) this grace God has provided through his Son’s death, burial and resurrection.
      Why else would Jesus go through so much suffering and die for us “while we were yet sinners” (verse 8)? It is because of the wrath which is to come (verse 9). This deliverance from Gods wrath is the reason for Christ coming, and for all who receive Christ by faith, will be saved from it, John 3:36.
      There are some verse’s in Romans 5 that seem to point to every one is saved because of Christ atoning work on the cross, as in verse 18; “ Therefore as by the offence of one (Adam) judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one (Christ) the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” But this is just speaking of the universal (yes this is the only way universal fits) application of what Christ did on the cross, “who his own self bare our sins (sins of the world, 1 John 2:2, John 3:16, ect.) in his own body on the tree (cross)…” 1 Peter 2:24. But verse 17 specifically speaks of it as only to those who receive it by faith, will then procure it unto themselves. “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which ‘receive’ abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:17. Which then goes along with John 1:12; “ But as many as ‘received’ him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that ‘believe’ on his name.” Thanks

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Thomas, None of what you keep mentioning has anything to do with eternal torment. I believe that we are saved by grace through faith, too. What does that have to do with the discussion? In fact, every single one of the verses you mentioned would fall under that same heading: This simply describes the process of how God is saving us. I don’t deny He is saving people or that this is done by grace through faith. Those verses say nothing about God banishing his creatures to unending, everlasting eternal conscious torment. Instead of arguing with me, it might do you some good to read some resources on the topic. There are tons, as this belief has been around since the very beginning of Christianity, which cannot be said about the penal substitution you obviously uphold. Specifically, there are some great books about the work of Christ on the Cross. I would posit this to you: If God poured out his wrath and Jesus paid the price for our sin, why would the Bible describe God as “forgiving” sins? If the price was paid, no forgiveness is necessary or will take place. See what I mean? The work of Christ has been discussed for centuries. It’s not as simple as just saying, “Why else would Jesus go through so much suffering and die for us”. The answers are out there if you take the time to look.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Very well said, Prog Mind!

          Like

        • Universalism say’s all will be saved in the end. So, if this is the case, why believe? Why not just wait for death and then , get saved.
          Because Faith is the key to salvation, it is the core of Christianity. Without faith in Christ, one would still be under the wrath of God. As Peter speaking of it; “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:9. This “salvation” is deliverance from Gods wrath, through the forgiveness of sin’s, and the only way to procure such forgiveness is through faith, faith in the savor before one dies, “as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” Hebrews 9:27.
          As far as your question; “If God poured out his wrath and Jesus paid the price for our sin, why would the Bible describe God as “forgiving” sins?’ He has, and this is how we escape the wrath to come, through faith in the very one who “bare our sin’s”, thus allowing Gods forgiveness , and escaping the wrath to come.
          “whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:10.

          Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Thomas, it is apparent that we do not agree on this. And I, for one, am not interested in trying to change your mind. By the way, you are still doing a good bit of proof-texting.

            Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Thomas, I do want to respond to your question, “Universalism say’s all will be saved in the end. So, if this is the case, why believe? Why not just wait for death and then , get saved.”

            The Good News is not just, or even primarily, about avoiding ‘hell’ and getting to ‘heaven’. It is far broader than that, so it is very beneficial to accept the good news of Jesus and follow him.
            https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/what-is-the-good-news-of-jesus-anyway/

            Like

          • ancadudar says:

            Thomas,
            “as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” Hebrews 9:27.”

            Hebrews 9:27 is speaking about reincarnation only. If you follow all of the scriptures carefully, you will see that judgment does not even happen as soon as a person dies. The great judgment will not be until the final end. However, Hebrews 9:27 gives the impression that judgment happens right away, but that is not so according to hoards of other scriptures.

            Also, “then comes judgment” is both for Christians and none Christians, BUT the Divine scale and criteria that Christ will judge people by is a whole different issue that Hebrews 9:27 does not address but many other verses do and many of those verses are quoted by Jesus and have nothing to do with faith. Judgment does not have to mean black or white, there can be grey and second chances. Judgment as in weighing a thing and a final verdict are two different things. Just like in court, there is a judgment process, put the punishment or verdict can vary even when one if found guilty.

            All the verse says is that men only die once, hence no reincarnation back to earth for the second time, and that judgment will happen at some point in the future but it will include every human being including Christians not just “sinners.” That Hebrews verse is not about unbelievers, in particular, being judged.

            The verse you quote says nothing of people not having a chance to receive faith in Christ after they die. 2 Peter says Jesus preached to the dead after His crucifixion. I doubt He preached to them and then said, “Suckers, too bad its too late for y’all…y’all already dead!”

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Ross Jarvis says:

    I would love to be a complete universalist, but unfortunately am not there yet. I think that God would love to “save” everyone and has allowed that possibility, but I think unfortunately there are probably those who won’t accept his saving hand. The bigger issue may be in who those “saved” are. I think many “Christians” will be really surprised who will be saved and who those who aren’t.

    If for instance we bring the parable of the Good Samaritan up to date and replace “priest” with “Episcopalian Bishop”, “Levite” with “Fundamentalist Preacher” and “Samaritan” with “Muslim Shopkeeper”, I think you may see what I’m getting at.

    The idea that only those who “believe” that Jesus is the Son of God will get in is patently nonsense, both in terms of thinking about it for more than a minute or two and looking at what the apostle Paul says about those “without the law but by nature do the law” if you require proof texting (see also Matt 25:31 -46). Purely assenting to an ideology intellectually has nothing to do with the Gospel, which unfortunately is what the vast amount of the “Evangelical” message seems to be.

    In terms of what Hell is I would say that we only need to look clearly around us and see that we are already living there, sure, some are in a gilded cage but this World now (and throughout history) is close enough for me. If we think in terms of “eternal life” I think some will go to live with God in his own house and the rest may just end up staying here as it is.

    Alternatively some may just “stop” and go into “oblivion” whereas the rest will live with God, either way, in my mind not being with God is Hell, regardless of whether it involves demons with pitchforks, fire and brimstone or just looks like Portsmouth on a grey winter Saturday.

    Maybe there’ll be a time in the future when those of us who may have led tortuous, uncomfortable lives will be invited into a room that Jesus himself has made, with a handcrafted bed, homespun furnishings, a lovely view over the Mount of Olives and a ticket to eat with him at meals and be told “this is for you for eternity because you tried to change the World for the better”. For everyone else there’ll be a bedsit in Portsmouth (or even worse Aldershot) with no view and no ticket to eat with the master, on the back of the door there’ll be a note saying “this is for you, because even though you may have been a devout Evangamentalist you did nothing to make the World a better place for the poor b*****s who are living with me in Jerusalem!!!”

    Liked by 4 people

    • tonycutty says:

      This is superb.

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Ross, I really enjoyed your comment. It was creative, insightful, and entertaining. And I loved your update to the Samaritan story!

      You said: “I think that God would love to “save” everyone and has allowed that possibility, but I think unfortunately there are probably those who won’t accept his saving hand.” I must agree, and we will discuss that in the next post.

      “I think many “Christians” will be really surprised who will be saved and who those who aren’t.” I think the same thing!

      I also really liked the potential contrast you described between ‘those of us who may have led tortuous, uncomfortable lives’ and the ‘devout Evangamentalist’ (think Pharisees). Jesus talks about various levels of ‘rewards’.

      Your comment was full of geed stuff!

      Like

    • theotherlestrangegirl says:

      Hmm, I don’t entirely agree, Ross.

      I don’t particularly like the image of Jesus inviting some people in while slamming the door in the face of others. I don’t think he would do that. I do know that there’s some mentions of various levels of rewards, but I don’t know what to make of that. I’d have to study it more.

      Also, I try to be careful to not paint all fundamentalists with such a broad stroke. While there are plenty of hateful and cruel ones out there (and unfortunately those are the ones that make it into the media), not all of them are like that.

      Many fundamentalists I know of are, while misguided, still kind and caring people. Much of the time it comes from the conditioning they have experienced for much of their lives.

      One example that springs to mind is April of The Peaceful Wife, who does videos (and has written a book) teaching women how to be calm and submissive wives and mothers.

      While I certainly don’t agree with her views and wouldn’t support her message, April herself has been nothing but kind and gentle every time I’ve seen her. Even when people attack her or berate her for her views (and many people do), she responds with nothing but grace and understanding. So I can’t imagine Jesus turning his nose up on someone like her just because she was a little misguided by a heavily man-influenced culture.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Strange Girl, I totally agree with your statement, “I try to be careful to not paint all fundamentalists with such a broad stroke. While there are plenty of hateful and cruel ones out there (and unfortunately those are the ones that make it into the media), not all of them are like that. Many fundamentalists I know of are, while misguided, still kind and caring people. Much of the time it comes from the conditioning they have experienced for much of their lives.”

        This is true of any group. People are different within them; they are not monolithic.

        Like

      • Ross Jarvis says:

        Good points TOLSG, the last bit wot I wrote is more of a musing imaginatively and I admit I tend to use “Evangelical” as a broad pejorative term, the same as “Pharisee” is used in the New Testament, so I admit that I do tend to paint them with a very broad stroke. I have many wonderful loving friends who are somewhere on the Fundamentalist/Evangelical spectrum. However, even though they all genuinely try to live their lives as they feel God would wish, often many of them stray into quite harmful actions or statements due to their misguided beliefs. Now admittedly this is usually because they are just following various levels of nonsense that they have been taught, but I have often been quite hurt by their actions or statements, as have others. Now it is quite a struggle trying to lovingly respond and forebear these things, and I may not be very good at it, but really, harmfulness does need to be challenged.

        In terms of Jesus slamming the door in the face of many, I would really like to see that no-one is left out but currently that’s not where my thoughts or experience are. I actually do get quite angry that God leaves many in continual torment in the here and now though.

        In terms of eternity and what it looks like for all individuals I can only speculate because I really haven’t a clue and I don’t think we get much more than metaphor in the Bible, though there is a lot of talk about judgement. As you pointed out in a post above it seems that there is no clarity about this in the bible, however there are differences between the two verses you quote, in v 47 he says He will not judge and in v 48 he does not say that he will judge but some form of judgement will happen and the nature of those being judged is different. Maybe those who are judge, judge themselves.

        For quite a long time I have said that God does not give us a choice between heaven and hell, he only gives us one choice which is heaven, because we are already in hell. Now I don’t believe for a minute that the opening chapters of Genesis explain why we’re in this crappy, rotten old World (really, an unspecified fruit and a talking snake!!!) but it really is a crappy place and we should all be somewhere so much better. Whether or not God put us here, we put ourselves here deliberately or we got here by walking through the wrong door on the way back from the khazi, I don’t know, but I really would like to think that he wants us to be with him in a much better place and that the door is really open to all.

        It may seem unfair that he allows us to stay in hell, against his own desire, but I think that that may be what lies behind whatever this “judgement” thing might be. If you look again at the verses you quote, in the first one he says that he will not judge, in the second one it is through the individuals choice that they are judged. It is not Jesus slamming the door in our face, it is us not wanting to go through that door.

        I think there are two separate but possibly related things to consider; 1, are there ultimately two destinations, heaven and hell (possibly different levels of one, the other or both)? I’d rather hope there isn’t but see that there may well be. 2, if there is, does the destination result from the “usual” Evangelical method of believing in Jesus or not. At this point I think the vast majority of Evangelicals (probably most Catholics, Orthodox etc etc also) have actually got it quite wrong.

        One of the reasons I use the broad brush (which is to some extent unfair) is that rather too many of my friends actively declare, often to their children as well as others, that if you don’t become an Evangelical you will burn in hell, quite a few are a bit more liberal and allow that most forms of “Christianity” will get you out of it, and fewer don’t judge or preach on this at all (it’s slightly harder to put them in a box!).

        Maybe I should be less “judgemental” toward the Evangemundalists but I do find it very grieving that there are too many harmful threads running through what it is they believe and have espoused.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Ross, I really resonate with your frustration with fundamentalists and traditional evangelicals but, of course, not all evangelicals fit the profile; I know some very progressive evangelicals–some of whom have lost their jobs in churches and colleges because of their progressive views.

          I know they are exceptions and do not change the damage done by the larger group. I think your term ‘Evangemundalists’ is clever and an apt moniker for a large portion of the movement. I have not seen that before, though Fundygelicals is not uncommon.

          Liked by 1 person

        • theotherlestrangegirl says:

          I understand a lot of what you’re saying, though I don’t necessarily agree with all of the views.

          One thing you mention is your frustration with God for leaving so many people on torment. However, I would argue that many people cause their own torment, not God.

          An example from my own life is my mother. She has been in an abusive marriage for over 20 years. However, she refuses to leave or do anything about it.

          I have offered to help her, as have many of her friends. Her very conservative church (she’s a Baptist) has even told her that they would support her leaving and that the elders would do everything in their power to get her a place to live away from her husband. She has turned all of this down.

          Yet, she regularly prays to God for relief from her awful marriage. She says God has not answered her yet, but she will keep praying and waiting.

          Has God really not answered her? Or is she just refusing to see it? (I’ve had this argument with her before, but she has never considered me a reliable source of wisdom or advice for anything, so all of my words are ignored).

          This is a completely true story, as crazy as it sounds (I could tell you all sorts of crazy stories from my family). Is God really abandoning my mother and leaving her in torment? Or is she causing her own torment at this point? I think it’s the latter.

          I’m reminded of the parable of the man who cannot swim that is trapped on his roof during a massive flood. He prays to Jesus, begging to be rescued. Shortly after, someone comes by on a boat and offers him a ride.

          The man says, “No, thanks, I’m waiting for Jesus.” The boat leaves.

          Shortly after that, a family floats by on a raft. They offer to make room for him, but he says, “No, thanks, I’m waiting for Jesus.” The raft goes on.

          Finally, a speedboat full of rescue workers buzzes by. They slow down so that that the man can climb on board. He angrily screams no and says, again, that he is waiting for Jesus. In his fluster, he accidentally falls of the roof and drowns before they can get to him.

          Once in heaven, the man lays his eyes upon Jesus. He cries and asks why Jesus did not come to save him.

          Jesus says, “I sent you a boat, and a raft, and then a speedboat. You wouldn’t get on any of them!”

          There is another, happier example from my own life. My husband and I moved a couple years ago, and we were both (at the time) unemployed and had very little money.

          We managed to get an apartment, but we had no furniture to put in it. We could do without that for the most part, but what we really wanted was a bed. There was nothing we could do, though, except wait until we could save up enough money to buy a bed. Until then, we were going to have to sleep on the floor.

          I prayed for some extra money, maybe some savings that I forgot about or something, so we could get even just a cheap bed. It didn’t come though.

          However, on our very first official day in the apartment (which was going to be our first night sleeping on the floor), my husband’s cousin called us. He owned a home in town, and he said he’d decided that he wanted to renovate one of the bedrooms and turn it into something else. He now had no use for the bed in there, so he wanted to know if we’d like to have it.

          We said yes (of course) and he brought it to us the same day. We didn’t have to go a single night sleeping on the floor, and we still have the same bed today.

          We didn’t get the extra money we prayed for so we could buy a bed. But we got the bed!

          My point with all of this is that (as cliché as it sounds) people’s prayers are answered how they expect, and they get this tunnel vision that causes them to completely miss what God is trying to do for them. I really don’t think God leaves anyone to flounder in torment, I think they (whether they know it or not) do it to themselves.

          Liked by 1 person

          • theotherlestrangegirl says:

            Oops, typo. Make that last sentence *(whether they know it or not)*, not rather.

            Like

          • Ross Jarvis says:

            Where I may disagree is that if we are not careful we may assume that people are suffering as a direct result of their own actions, inactions or lack of faith. I have had similar experiences to yours of receiving gifts in times of need, however I don’t assume that the many people in torment around the World today are doing so because they lack faith, it is because that’s the way the World is and often the inaction of others’, fails to relieve distress. I can’t but help think that God is not relieving much distress because there is so much of it around.

            Yes you’re right that some people may be failing to get out of it, but that is not the majority of what is happening.

            There is much great work done by Christians and others to heal this World, but getting back to the point of this thread and how the idea of eternal torment awaits some, (in some people’s view), I would suggest that there are some people who focus too much on stopping people “going to hell in the afterlife” and are doing nothing to help them out of the hell they are already in.

            Liked by 2 people

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Strange girl–correction made.

            Like

        • theotherlestrangegirl says:

          Ross, I agree with what you say.

          Sorry, I thought you meant people who were (for the most part) just upset or angry or frustrated.

          But, yes, there is a very big need in the world for help. I still don’t believe that God simply leaves those people to flounder, but I have no explanation for it beyond that.

          And I agree wholeheartedly that many Christians need to focus a lot less on saving and a lot more on helping. That’s something that has frustrated me for a long time.

          “Evangelizing” is a billion dollar industry–and it’s failing. Statistics show that more people than ever are turning away from or rejecting religion, and yet most churches only want to pour more funds into their stupid propaganda.

          What if we completely erased the evangelical budget and put that money towards better causes? I wonder how much the world would change then?

          Paying so much money to evangelize is one of the biggest wastes in the world. Jesus didn’t spend a dime (or whatever you would call the currency of his time) and he managed to touch and inspire millions. How did he do that? It wasn’t because he was the son of God; most people, especially those that did not believe in him, did not care about that. He, very simply, befriended everyone and treated them like people. Everyone, no matter their gender or race or status, was his dear friend. That’s all.

          If only we could learn to do such.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Ross Jarvis says:

            TOLTG, I love what you say about Jesus befriending everyone and treating them like people. That really is the core of the whole thing 🙂 I also agree that large amounts of money and resources are completely wasted in Evangelicalism and feel it has a complete blind spot when it comes to what Jesus actually said about “wealth” or “Mammon”.

            Liked by 1 person

        • theotherlestrangegirl says:

          Ross, to be clear, I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong with money or wealth. I believe Jesus’s statements on that matter were specific to the situation, not necessarily a directive for all time.

          What I am against is the waste of money–and I think spending such large amounts of money on evangelizing is a waste. When large amounts of money could be going to a better cause, that is really upsetting to me.

          But wealthy people, in and of themselves, don’t bother me. There are plenty of God-loving wealthy people out there and, because of their excess, they are able to donate large amounts to the poor and other good causes (which I believe the church should be doing).

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: If We Are Free to Approach God Without Fear, What Becomes of Our Other Religious Fears—Like Hell? | Jesus Without Baggage

  11. Pingback: Belief in Angry God is Perhaps the Most Damaging, Misguided Christian Belief of All | Jesus Without Baggage

  12. Pingback: How Some Misguided Christian Beliefs are Very Harmful | Jesus Without Baggage

  13. fiddlrts says:

    This comment thread is already long, but I decided to chime in anyway.

    I read The Great Divorce in junior high. It is safe to say that it completely shattered my previous beliefs – I never again could believe the Evangelical version of hell and salvation. I should also mention my dad here, because he believed that nobody would go to hell who hadn’t had a change to decided – based on what we lawyers call “full disclosure.” So the person who never heard the gospel, but responded to the call of God in the best way he/she knew would be saved. It isn’t too far from there to the idea that all of us will see clearly, not through a glass, dimly – and that moment requires seeing God face to face.

    My main issue with universalism is one you mention – that we have to be changed before we can exist in a heaven. For example, heaven wouldn’t be heaven to a victim of the holocaust if he/she had to share it with Hitler and the guards who murdered him/her. Unless there had been some form of justice, change, and restoration. I’m not going to pretend to know how that would work, but I believe it would be necessary. Otherwise, the most evil and harmful humans essentially “win.” They get to abuse others in this life, and hang around in the next to further humiliate their victims.

    On that note, one of the most interesting ideas I read came, not from a Christian thinker, but from author Neil Gaiman, who describes himself as “culturally Jewish and Scientologist” (that’s a story worth looking up…) and who views religion as a metaphor. He wrote a short story about hell called “Other People.” In that story, the damned man is forced to examine in minute detail his entire life. Everything he has done that ever hurt anyone else, and to face his motives honestly. Over and over and over again, until he is purged, so to speak.

    ” Everything he had ever done that had been better left undone. Every lie he had told – told to himself, or told to others. Every little hurt, and all the great hurts. Each one was pulled out of him, detail by detail, inch by inch. The demon stripped away the cover of forgetfulness, stripped everything down to a truth, and it hurt more than anything.
    “It was like peeling an onion. This time through his life he learned about consequences. He learned the results of things he had done; things he had been blind to as he did them; the ways he had hurt the world; the damage he had done to people he had never known, or met, or encountered. It was the hardest lesson yet.”

    This idea resonated with me more than anything I have read. It is my opinion that there will be many who will opt for annihilation rather than go through this process. I could, of course, be completely wrong, but this is where I am at right now.

    Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Fiddlrts, I really liked your comment and the way you described the potential scenario. You could, of course, be completely wrong (as you say), but you might be right on target!

      I am really glad you ‘chimed in’!

      Like

    • newtonfinn says:

      Gaiman’s “Other People” seems to be a literary version of what so many Near Death Experiencers have recounted upon coming back: that every moment of their lives was relived in a life review in which everything they did, from the smallest action to the biggest decision, was experienced, both from the standpoint of the person whose life was being reviewed and from the standpoint of all the others whom these actions and decisions affected. According to these NDErs, everyone will go through this process, which usually occurs in the presence of a nonjudgmental being of light and love who knows and understands all things. Accordingly, whatever feelings of judgment occur during the life review process come from the experiencer him or herself, not from the being of light/love. At first blush, it seems rather strange that such a sensible and (to me) attractive (though also daunting) description of the final judgment should come from contemporary scientific research into the paranormal instead of from Christian tradition, which has been focused on the subject of the final judgment for some 2,000 years. Yet then again there is that mini-parable attributed to Jesus, that “a scribe trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his storeroom treasures old and new.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Newton, NDE is an interesting phenomenon and I really don’t know what to make of it. Is it psychological or do people remember things that actually happened? I can’t say. Some report NDEs in which they go to burning hell but are then brought back. How does that fit in? I don’t know, but I find the experiences interesting.

        Like

        • newtonfinn says:

          Tim, I have come to think that we make both too much and too little of the NDE thing. Too much, in the sense that, apart from a few fairly common elements, they seem to go all over the place (as you note) and thus invite tenuous, if not promiscuous, metaphysical speculation. Too little, because I think that when taken as a whole, they do point toward the likely existence of consciousness after death, which is obviously a huge deal.

          Liked by 2 people

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Newton, you are probably right about that. I wonder, though, if a NDE demonstrates consciousness after death or brain activity that persists for a short period after death is declared physically. The answer: I have no idea!

            Like

  14. Pingback: A Gentle Alternative to Punishment in Hell for Those Who Reject God’s Offer of Eternal Life—Conditional Immortality | Jesus Without Baggage

  15. michaeleeast says:

    Tim, I didn’t realize there were so many Biblical justifications for Universalism.
    I would describe myself as a Universalist. But I think we have to admit what we have done. God, however, knows the underlying reasons for our mistakes – mostly fear – and our debt is written off.
    This changes even the most wicked souls. Perhaps like the butterfly we are grubs transformed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Michael, I like what you said, “God, however, knows the underlying reasons for our mistakes – mostly fear – and our debt is written off.”

      Like

  16. Sojourner says:

    This is a test to see if I can leave a reply because last night when I tried I could not.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sojourner says:

    Oh cool! It worked. So, this is an amazing conversation. Thanks again Tim for providing the platform and overseeing it. I’m sure it is no easy task and quite time consuming. I hope you enjoy it most of the time. Hopefully I can keep what I want to say somewhat short. The question that has been rambling through my mind a bit lately is this, “ Can God, exist without the Bible?“ I was a devout inerrantist for many many years. There was definitely a fear instilled in me by myself and others that the Bible must be taken in its entirety rather than picking and choosing the Scriptures we like that support our concept of God. My belief now is that everybody does that to some extent including the fundys who unequivocally deny ever doing so. My fear was that the end result of picking and choosing Scriptures and becoming an errantist would put me on the slippery slope which leads straight in to the “lake of fire.” I’m quite sure Thomas and Jerry both have that fear and see it as a healthy fear. I suspect that they believe, as I did, that their job is to instill that same fear in others which to them would be part of “encouraging the brethren.” Now that I am an errantist, I have a very difficult time with anyone using proof texts, especially fellow errantists. Here is where I’m at without using any scripture. I believe God is good, full of love, mercy and compassion and he/she will do all that he/she can to show his/her true nature to all people who ever existed so that her/his will will be fulfilled which is that all people will come to know her/him and love her/him. For most this will not happen until their life on this earth is over. If we want we could call that the time of judgment or the time of making everything right. So, what if I am wrong? What if God really is very angry and vindictive and is planning to put a very large number of all the people that ever existed (let’s say all but 4000) in a place of torture for eternity while he watches on? If that is the case, I’m pretty sure I will not be one of the 4000 or whatever that number might be that somehow manages to live a good enough life or believe just the right way, never having doubt or questions and never losing my faith. For a much longer list of the hoops that one must jump through to make it one could check out all the verses in the New Testament that contain that little word “if.” I used to use those verses to argue against those who considered themselves believers in “eternal security.” My answer to the “what if God really is…” question above is that I would rather believe what I believe now and live the way I live spreading hope to people who are broken and hurting and believe that God must hate them. I believe wholeheartedly with Tony that God likes us and he/she wants us to know that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Sojourner, I really resonate with your statement: “I was a devout inerrantist for many many years. There was definitely a fear instilled in me by myself and others that the Bible must be taken in its entirety rather than picking and choosing the Scriptures we like that support our concept of God.”

      I was a devout inerrantist for many years as well, and you are right–fear is very much a factor in even questioning inerrancy. When I first realized that inerrancy was probably not true, I entered a period of more than a year of intense agony and grief over the loss of God. That’s how central inerrancy was for me. Fortunately, I found following Jesus to be the foundation of my faith instead of an inerrant Bible.

      Though we are often accused of “picking and choosing the Scriptures we like that support our concept of God.” This is not really what is happening. What we really do is find important insights in the Bible–especially the teaching and actions of Jesus–without having to claim that every word is God’s eternal truth on everything it says.

      I agree with your suggestion that, “God is good, full of love, mercy and compassion and he/she will do all that he/she can to show his/her true nature to all people who ever existed so that her/his will will be fulfilled which is that all people will come to know her/him and love her/him. For most this will not happen until their life on this earth is over.”

      You ask, what if we are wrong and God is angry and vindictive after all and will torture us for eternity? But we can ask the opposite question of those who believe in eternal hell–what if you are wrong? The fact is the scenario of eternal punishment in hell makes no sense, and the Bible does not teach it anyway. One can ask, ‘What if you are wrong?” about any question, but that is no argument at all. It is only a fear tactic.

      Your final answer is an excellent one, “My answer to the “what if God really is…that I would rather believe what I believe now and live the way I live spreading hope to people who are broken and hurting and believe that God must hate them. I believe wholeheartedly with Tony that God likes us and he/she wants us to know that.”

      I agree!

      Like

      • Sojourner says:

        Thank you Tim. I agree with you, “the scenario of eternal punishment in hell makes no sense.” How could I ever believe such a thing? Because the Bible says it or strongly alludes to it and it is preached from tens of thousands of pulpits around the world. That’s why I finally became an errantist.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Sojourner, I know that eternal punishment in hell is preached from tens of thousands of pulpits and that advocates CLAIM that it taught by the Bible–but it isn’t. Some believers have taken passages that they think refer to eternal hell and created a doctrine from them.

          If you are interested, here is a list of number of articles disclaiming hell by myself and others:
          https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/books-and-resources/hell/

          Like

          • Sojourner says:

            Thanks Tim. I did read “Love Wins” several years ago which did not convince me that hell or “the lake of fire” is not referred to as an actual place where unbelievers may end up or maybe be burned up into annihilation. I pretty much don”t believe any of that bunk anymore and would say that is one of the areas where the bible errs greatly.I see you’ve given me a lot more reading on this subject.I am intrigued by some of the titles.I will dig in as time allows.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Sojourner, as you continue reading feel free to continue this conversation.

            Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.