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An Argument for Christian Universalism: Why I Don't Believe in an Eternal Hell

Justin Aptaker writes about philosophy, religious studies, sociology, spirituality, culture, psychology, history, and the future.

Read all about Christian Universalism

Read all about Christian Universalism

Why I'm a Christian Universalist

I grew up in an evangelical Christian environment. Over the years, I developed a deep-seated terror of the idea of an eternal hell. Because of this, I eventually suffered a devastating mental breakdown centered around thoughts of my own damnation, and this finally drove me to find new beliefs I had never even anticipated.

Today, I believe that one may have a biblical Christian faith while rejecting the idea that anyone will spend an eternity in "hell." This is not to say that no one will be punished after death, but that this punishment is temporary and remedial (for the person's own good). Christian Universalism is the belief that, through Christ, God will eventually bring all people into a relationship with himself.

The doctrine of Universalism makes sense to me because many Christian scriptures explicitly state it; because it can be inferred from the Christian conception of God's nature; because it was widely taught within the early church, seemingly unchallenged by the church for hundreds of years; and because scriptures that seem to contradict the doctrine can be viewed as either mistranslations or misinterpretations.

Christian Universalism is the belief that God will eventually bring all people into a relationship with him.

Christian Universalism is the belief that God will eventually bring all people into a relationship with him.

The Bible Explicitly Supports Universalism

The Bible explicitly states the doctrine of Universalism in many places. Romans 5:18 says that "just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people." The context of the whole chapter makes it clear that the "one trespass" was the sin of Adam and Eve and the "one righteous act" was the act of Jesus sacrificing himself on the cross. See how it says "justification", and not only "life"? It isn't talking about merely a physical resurrection for all people, but new spiritual life and forgiveness for all people.

Theologians often try to explain away scriptures like this by saying that the word "all" means "all the elect" or "all who believe." But the Greek word for "all" ("panta") undoubtedly means the same thing that it does in English: simply put, it means "all." This is also clear from the context of the passage from Romans that I quoted above. Notice how the verse starts by saying "just as." So, if we ask ourselves who is included among the "all people" who receive justification and life, the only sensible answer is that it is the very same "all people" who received condemnation due to the sin of Adam and Eve. In other words, it means every person who has ever lived.

Another example is Romans 11:32, which says, "God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on them all." It is very clear from reading the whole chapter of Romans 11 that when it says "everyone" was bound over to disobedience, it is referring to every single person. So, when the verse speaks of God having mercy on them "all", it is once more referring to every person. There are many other scriptures like this. Just a few examples include John 12:32, 1 Timothy 4:10, Colossians 1:19, Lamentations 3:31, Eph. 1:9 & 10, 1 Cor. 15:28, and Rev. 5:13.

Importantly, the Christian scriptures define "eternal life" not as an endless duration of life but as a certain quality of life. That is, eternal life is defined as the quality of life that a person has when a person is living in communion with That which is Eternal. This is how Jesus is quoted as defining it: "Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3).

Similarly, He says, "You pore over the Scriptures because you presume that by them you possess eternal life. These are the very words that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life" (John 5:39 - 40). I'll return to this line of thought later in this article.

Reflection on God's Nature Leads to Universalism

Next, the nature of God, as described in the Christian scriptures, leads me to believe in Universalism. I believe that God is Love. Indeed, the Christian Bible also states that explicitly (1 John 4:8). If God is Love, then surely he wants the best for every person. Many scriptures support this. 1 Timothy 2:4 says, "God … wants all people to be saved". Again, He "does not want anyone to perish, but for everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). There are several other scriptures that plainly state that God desires salvation for everyone.

I also believe God is powerful and wise enough to accomplish whatever He wants. When Christ's disciples once asked him, "Who can be saved?" part of his response was, "With God, all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26), by which we can infer: God can save anyone! If God desires that every person be saved, and He can save anyone, how can anyone not be saved? The doctrine of eternal damnation suggests that either God's love or God's power is deficient.

I've often heard it objected that God can save anyone, but He will not do so because He refuses to interfere with the "free will" of any person. However, that idea is not scriptural at all. Isaiah 46:10 says, "I (God) will accomplish all that I please." In other words, if God desires something, He not only has the ability to obtain it, but He will obtain it. "God … wants all people to be saved" (1 Timothy 2:4) and God "will accomplish all that" He pleases (Isaiah 46:10). Therefore, human free will is not going to thwart God's desires. See also Daniel 4:35 and Romans 9:16-20. Also, note how the discussion in Romans 9:16-20 continues to its final conclusion at Romans 11:32, which is explicitly universalistic. In fact, Paul is in such awe at this wonderful conclusion that he lapses into ecstatic worship for the next few verses (Romans 11:33-36).

Again, the Christian scriptures say, "God is Agape (Love)" and "Agape never fails" (1 John 4:8, 1 Cor. 13:8). God is wise enough to have designed the universe in such a way that eventually all people will freely choose to love Him. No person will choose for all eternity to continue rejecting Him. Universalism is the only position that is in full harmony with the nature of God, as described by Christians and the Christian scriptures.

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Origen, one of the most eminent early church fathers, taught Christian Universalism.

Origen, one of the most eminent early church fathers, taught Christian Universalism.

Universalism Was Unchallenged by the Early Church

I also learned that Universalism was openly taught and widely believed throughout the early Christian church for hundreds of years, only being formally denounced as heretical by the Roman emperor Justinian in the middle of the sixth century. For most of the years prior to this, there is no record of the doctrine having been censured, despite the fact that very many ideas were continually being attacked or censured as heretical throughout these years by the church.

Dr. Hosea Ballou, who served as the first president of Tufts University in Massachusetts, informs us in his book The Ancient History of Universalism that for hundreds of years, Universalism was explicitly taught by such eminent church fathers as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Gregory of Nyssa with very widespread acceptance and little or no evident resistance from within the church. Not everyone believed it, but it appears that even those who didn't believe it were not attacking it or calling it "heresy."

Codex Bezae

Codex Bezae

Study of the Greek Texts Supports Universalism

Finally, I've come to believe that scriptures that seem to teach eternal punishment can be viewed as either mistranslations or misinterpretations. I base this belief on the opinions of certain highly esteemed Greek scholars such as William Barclay, who wrote a wildly popular series of commentaries on the books of the New Testament, and discusses his own Universalist beliefs in his book William Barclay: A Spiritual Autobiography.

I also base this conviction on my own study of Greek, which I've studied for several years, including formally for two years at the University of Tennessee (although my mastery of Greek is insignificant when compared with William Barclay's formidable expertise on the subject).

The word that is consistently translated as "eternal," for example, is the Greek adjective "aionios," derived from the noun "aion," which is best translated as "a span of time" "an age." An "age" typically denotes a lengthy yet finite period of time. "Aionios," as an adjective based on that noun "aion, "need not carry greater weight than the noun it was based upon.

If we take the English noun "day," for example, and turn it into the adjective "daily," then "daily" suggests the same time frame. A daily shower would not refer to a shower taken every week or every year, but every day. So perhaps a better translation of "aionios" would be "age-lasting" or "pertaining to an age."

A number of respected early Christian writers described "aionios" punishment or fire as God's way to eventually bring the punished souls back into fellowship with himself! Such uses of the term "aionios punishment" would make no sense if the term refers to punishment with no end. Additionally, such references to an end of hell's punishments for the individual were often made without much explanation by the authors, which would suggest that ancient readers would not have noticed a linguistic or theological contradiction that would demand further explanation.

William Barclay, in his book William Barclay: A Spiritual Autobiography, says that "aionios" denotes something that pertains to God, and the word for "punishment" (that is, the Greek word "kolasis"), which originally meant to prune trees, never denotes anything but remedial discipline. Thus, according to Barclay, the Greek terms which we have generally translated as "eternal punishment" are better thought of as meaning "that remedial/corrective punishment which God, and God alone, is fit to give."

Returning to what I discussed in the second section of this article, if eternal life is "eternal" because it is the quality of a life lived in communion with the Eternal, then the opposite of eternal life is "the quality of a life that is not lived in communion with the Eternal," rather than "torment of an eternal duration."

So I've shown how Christian scriptures, Universalism's seemingly orthodox status for hundreds of years in the early church, and the Christian conception of God all support the doctrine of Universalism, as well as how scriptures that seem to contradict it may seem to do so because of misinterpretation.

For these reasons, and for many other reasons I haven't discussed in this article, I believe that a Christian perspective invites a belief in universal salvation far more than it invites a belief in the salvation of only some. Due to the potential psychological and social impact of the widely proclaimed doctrine of eternal torment, I urge not only those of you who call yourselves Christians but even those of you who aren't religious to closely examine these issues, lest we allow a dangerous error to continue thriving.

Dedication

The author lovingly dedicates this article to the memory of two dear friends: Gary Amirault, who passed from this world on November 3rd, 2018, and his wife, Michelle Amirault, who preceded him in death on July 31st, 2018. Gary and Michelle lived their lives passionately in love with Love and on behalf of Love. Indeed, this article would likely have never come to be were it not for Gary and Michelle's love.

Gary and Michelle tirelessly promoted what they called the "Victorious Gospel," otherwise known as Christian Universalism or Universal Reconciliation. In short, they proclaimed to the world that "Love Wins." Tentmaker Ministries is one of their most enduring legacies and can still be found easily online.

Far more importantly, however, Gary and Michelle were both the embodiment of the kind of relentless love that they preached. They were the warmest, kindest, most hospitable people I have ever known. I believe that anyone who was graced with knowing them personally would say exactly the same thing.

Questions & Answers

Question: If we think we may go to a place where we suffer for our own sins, then we are saying, "Jesus, Your work was not complete." I am a born again Christian and I have no fear of death. Death, where is your sting? You must trust His work was complete, and it is for you as well. Don't you think so?

Answer: Yes, I completely agree with you!

© 2010 Justin Aptaker

Comments

Kevin Hornsby on June 19, 2020:

I am confused. If you believe that everyone will eventually be saved, what about the scriptural view of salvation by faith? Or are you saying that salvation is available in two ways (1) Salvation by faith in Jesus (2) Salvation through some form of purgatory/good works. And if this is the case: what is the advantage of faith in Christ and why bother evangelising? And finally what about judgement and punishment. Surely a holy God must punish sin - but what and how is this accomplished in universalism doctrine. Won’t universalism taken to an extreme result in people living as evil a life as they want based on the fact they will eventually be saved?

HollyH333 on January 08, 2020:

Hello Justin, I'm new to your website. I want to thank you for the info you provided on the history and scriptures that support this belief. I started believing in ultimate reconciliation of "all" about 15 yrs ago. It was gradual. I feel it makes every since. It reveals the true heart of God. I didn't know what to call it until I discovered Tent Makers Ministry. Sad about Gary and his wife. My former pastor taught reconciliation of "all" but after 10 years in his church announced he was gay, divorced his wife, married another man and still has a ministry. That brought a lot of confusion and hurt to many. There was pastor worship also. That was about 6 yrs ago, since then moved on and moved back to my home state. I have been searching on line for as many as I can who believe and teach this belief. Unfortunately there is not that many. Plus you find those opposed. I have found and listen to a few men who are connected to each other like Paul Young, who wrote "The Shack". There's also a website called The Total Victory In Christ. It's very good but there's not a name attached to the speaker. have you seen this and do you know who this man is ?

Julio Ruata on September 11, 2019:

i have been reading and studying Unilateralism but it does not makes any sense to me or I don't understand God. He took the sin of the world John 1:29, He will draw all men John 12:32 He is the Savior of all men 1 Tim 4:8 many other scriptures. If God did all that on the Cross, why men still practicing sin(s) Why, A loving God his creation to destroy themselves and others.I understand that the Ecclesiastical System is crooked but there are a lots of brothers and sisters trap and they need deliverance from God.

cw on August 27, 2019:

You should have included the option, "I don't know", in your survey about hell.

Justin Aptaker (author) from United States on August 17, 2019:

Hi Tony,

Thank you for clarifying. My father leans towards the same beliefs that you just stated.

I wanted to mention that I've made some very significant changes to this article over just the last few days. I'd really enjoy hearing any additional thoughts you may have about this newly-revised version. Of course, time is a scarce resource, so I'll completely understand if you can't fit that into your schedule. I just wanted to let you know about it though, since you've contributed some thoughtful discussion thus far.

Thank you again.

Justin

Tony Muse from Texas, USA on August 15, 2019:

Hi Justin.

Sort of. The Bible speaks of two resurrections; one for the righteous and the second for the wicked. According to scripture, the wicked will be raised for judgment.

Tony

Justin Aptaker (author) from United States on August 15, 2019:

@tonymuse

Hi Tony,

Thank you for your feedback. Your position sounds to me like it strongly resembles option #4 above: "Bad people, when they die, simply cease to exist. Good people live eternally in heaven." Your position adds the additional nuance of annihilation for "those who don't accept Christ", but aside from that point, it sounds like you're saying something very similar to option 4. Please let me know if I'm off base by thinking that.

Again, thank you for contributing your thoughts here!

Much love,

- Justin

Tony Muse from Texas, USA on July 22, 2019:

There is actually a seventh option that I would have chosen if it were available. I believe that the "fires of hell" snuff out the existence of those who don't accept Christ or who those have lived an wicked life. The book of Jude says that Sodom and Gomorrah underwent "eternal fire". Obviously, those cities are not still burning today, but the fire that consumed them was eternal in its results; permanent. Do I believe that God makes people suffer for eternity? No.

Also, Jesus did come so that ALL might be saved. Salvation is a free gift, but one still has to accept that free gift.

Peace.

Daniel Bovee on July 15, 2019:

To me the Lord, by His Holy Spirit, has made the understanding of this topic very simple and plain. Most professing Christians believe in an eternal, literal, blazing, burning hell or lake of fire for all of those who have not or do not truly repent of their sins and are truly converted before they die. They claim that after physical death there is no hope for the lost and unrepentant. So, this must mean that the price, penalty or payment for sin is eternal damnation in a literal, blazing, burning hell or lake of fire.

Here is a question that, up to this point, no theologian or Bible scholar has been able to answer with any degree of of scholarly wisdom or knowledge: "If the payment, price or penalty for sin is an eternal damnation in a literal, blazing, burning hell or lake of fire, did Jesus Christ pay that price?" Almost all professing Christians believe that Jesus paid the price for sin. If the eternal damnation in a literal, blazing, burning hell or lake of fire is the price for sin, then why isn't Jesus now being tormented and tortured in this eternal, literal, blazing, burning hell or lake of fire?

Here is the Biblical Truth: Jesus DID PAY THE PRICE FOR OUR SINS. HE DIED! "For the WAGES (price, payment, penalty) OF SIN IS DEATH....." (Romans 6:23) It is not eternal damnation is some literal, blazing, burning hell or lake of fire. No, so-called, theologian, scholar, preacher or teacher has ever been able to adequately answer this apparent doctrinal dilemma, from the Bible, when they have been confronted with the above asked question. They have either ignored the question or they have given ridiculous answers that really do not answer the question at all.

It is time for professing Christians to forsake the carnal ramblings and fleshly interpretations and translations of the original Scripture manuscripts and put their trust and confidence in THE LIVING TRUTH (Jesus Christ) AND THE LIVING WORD (Jesus Christ) WHO IS THE PERFECT AND TOTAL EXPRESSION OF THE WRITTEN WORD (The Bible in its original form from the Hebrew and Greek languages). We will never find any doctrinal TRUTH outside of the LIFE OF THE LIVING TRUTH AND THE LIVING WORD. JESUS CHRIST IS OUR PERFECT LIVING EXAMPLE AND EXPRESSION OF ALL DOCTRINAL TRUTH.

In this day of extreme Christian apostasy I have found that most professing Christians will easily toss Jesus aside in favor of their religious traditions of doctrinal heresies and carnal desires to make sure that every unrepentant person, in this short lifetime, gets their eternal damnation punishment. Nothing less than this will satisfy their evil desire to see the lost eternally burn and suffer in the flames of hell or the lake of fire for all of eternity.

A few years ago I heard Jack Van Impe, on his weekly television broadcast, actually thanking and praising God that all the lost souls of humanity will suffer and be tormented in the eternal flames of a hellish lake of fire forever. Such sadistic and evil attitudes as this are not from the Lord of Love, grace, forgiveness, kindness and mercy.

Yes, there will certainly be righteous and holy judgment and punishment for the unconverted. But it will be for the purpose of bringing every human being to true Godly repentance and correction. Just as a loving parent will correct his/her children through some sort of punishment or chastisement, so does the Lord. All of His judgments are remedial and corrective in nature.

"HE WORKS ALL THINGS AFTER THE COUNSEL OF HIS OWN WILL". (Ephesians 1:11) Most professing Christians believe that it is the Lord's will and desire to save all people. Will He succeed or fail? Is He Sovereign and Omnipotent? Or is He weak and in humbling subjection the supposed free will of puny and carnal man?

The Bible says that the "LORD IS THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD AND THE SAVIOR OF ALL MEN". (John 4:42 and 1 Timothy 4:10) Is He really the Savior of the world and all men? Or is He just a "POTENTIAL SAVIOR" as the modern day apostate church proclaims Him to be? The evil and childish prattle that is spewed forth from the mouths of the carnal preachers and teachers of our day and times is almost unbearable to listen to.

Well, I have said enough. May the good Lord bless each and everyone who the Lord brings to the knowledge of truth and who honors Christ as He deserves to be honored. Thank you for your time and patience with me.

HNN on June 14, 2019:

you should go to HonestNewsNetwork.com to hear Gods' Word and get understanding. Confusion is not of God. We tend to sometimes make things more harder than they are. The truth is revealed when you can also realize that Jesus said He would send the Comforter to us when He leaves. He did. He will show you all things and bring to your remembrance what Jesus said and the Word of God. We need not for any man to teach us because of this. God gives us revelation.

Mikey on May 06, 2019:

Jesus Christ you theologians are nuts

Mark on February 18, 2019:

The bible is clear don't believe the false teaching that you can live however you want and escape the fire and eternal burning in hell. Jesus spoke twice as much about hell as He did about heaven. He did this to warn us so that we would not end up there. Read revelation 20: 11-15. Nuff said!

Jimkelley1973 on February 07, 2019:

i feel like suicide. i apostated and was given to a reprobate mind, and no matter how much i repent(like esau) the holy spirit is gone. no hope even though i once was saved, my heart hardened. so everyday is like hell, waiting for hell :(((((

Jeff on December 05, 2018:

Great post. I had brief psychotic episode. There were a couple of contributing factors, like I wasn´t eating well and I was spending a lot of time by myself, but without a doubt, the false doctrine of eternal torment was largely to blame.

Thedecadentone on June 01, 2018:

The verses that say such things as "every knee shall bow and tongue confess" are used by people with no sense of timing use to substantiate their claims. God will not force people to bow their knee, which was the whole point of letting us sin in the first place.These things happen once evil, sin, and sinners no longer exist. Remember that the smoke of torment rises forever and ever, day and night, but when the heavens and earth are remade there will be no more night. Until the ages of the ages doesnt mean a billion years times infinity, but was a euphemism like "boy it sure is raining cats and dogs!" The same verbal for eternal fire was also used and in the same context for the purifying fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, but it isn't still burning. The trash heap outside israel isn't burning forever either. Worm dieth not and fire is not quenched simply means nothing can put out the fire, but once there is nothing left to burn and purify that will be that. God is the eternal burning purifying fire whose hands and mere presence burns to ash or refines holy and perfect. Lots wife (Genesis 19:26) looked back at the fire and turned into salt; another reference to God's personal intervening in destruction which both obliterates and purifies. It is indeed a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the one true God (Hebrews 10:31).

What is the point of believing in Jesus if everyone gets a glorified body and lives forever? Jesus would have died for our sins and that would be the end of it. Jesus died for all, but it is everyone's job to accept it and be willing to at least try and sin no more (Gods spirit will soften the heart and change you, so don't worry about feeling inadequate because you can't stop sinning. No one can and that's okay).

Death and hell are concepts, not physical things, so it can't possibly be a physical or magical lake of fire existing somewhere in the multiverse. Cant use the parable of Lazarus and the rich man as it was not a statement about how things are, but a pre existing Jewish parable Jesus altered that seems to have migrated and morphed from Egypt about Oriris showing his mortal father the afterlife where the rich are punished and mourn over how the poor are exalted. There are a variety of Jewish stories, the most famous of which involves the deaths of a rich tax collector named Bar-Ma’Jan (notice in this parable how the rich man is the one with the name) and a poor Torah scholar. The rich man is buried in style, the poor scholar left unmourned. A friend of this scholar is saddened by the contrast, but it's revealed to him in a dream that Bar-Ma’Jan is in torment while the pious friend is in bliss. There are even a story that the rich man is blessed by God and the poor man suffers, separated by a wall instead of a gulf. I'd like to think that's the one Jesus is changing to shame the Pharisees.

John on May 25, 2018:

Hello Thedecadentone

It wasn't my intention... i spoke of ultimate reality... my experience is that he physical world is the tip of the iceberg... but religions are man made.

Thedecadentone on May 24, 2018:

Hello John.

Can I borrow your time machine or peer into your magical crystal ball so that I too can know with 100 % infallible certainty that all there is is the physical world? I would be much obliged.

And no, I'm not going to prove to you God exists because that is not my intention here since you're the one trying to convince others of a negative.

John on May 22, 2018:

Probably not worth mentioning here that someone's belief system is usually entirely dependant on what they were brought up with... Which means there is no ultimate validity to their belief. Belief is security. But it is just belief. And while ultimate reality exists, all religions are entirely man made.

Thedecadentone on May 22, 2018:

The truth is conviction by God and the human heart, not listening to some self righteous jerk screaming fire and brimstone at you. The goal is to spread the knowledge of God and his love, not judge and condemn. Satan through Cain and many misled and hurt, hateful humans have spread myth and fallacy everywhere. Death is final for the soul by the way. God has to grant immortality, which he only did for his angels (no excuses when the big G is in front of your face and you get eternal benefits from birth); pagans like the ancient Greeks came up with eternal life for everyone, vengeful suffering for the naughty to help the "good" feel prideful and smug. We know who the father of pride is. Satan, the dragon, who let his job consume him and led a rebellion. I hope we do get to judge angels, because I'm sure a lot of them deserve to be pardoned for being tricked by the devil, but I digress.

Hell as pop culture paints it for example is Pagan for death and hell, the pit of fallen angels, all of it is burned in the fire and purifying brimstone of gods righteousness where sin is utterly destroyed at a glance (hence why even Moses could only see the father's back for a brief moment which caused his hair to go white and to have so much second hand glory shining off him that the Israelites couldnt even look at him for a while). Repeat scriptures state that all are judged differently, souls die in the fire, and people have "a part" in the lake where only Satan and his angels will suffer much longer as gods fiery purifying brimstone wrath takes care of their volunteer decepotion and evil. The punishment falls on where it is due for God is more righteous and loving than most can comprehend. Even then suffering for a trillion years times infinity is not likely even for them as the bible states that WE judge people and angels, which would be pointless if the book of life already tells us who is damned to eternal torture or not. Notice there are several translated as "eternal" this and that, and fires stated in the bible that are not burning forever, but could not be externally put out until their job was done.

The wailing and gnashing of teeth only pertains to those who will not be ruling and reigning over this flawed earth with Jesus for the thousand year millennial kingdom, ie resurrected saints will be judging even israelites for sin, which is how satan will be able to recruit people at the battle of Armageddon by painting Jesus as a tyrant alien ruler with an army of holier than thou immortal "zombies". Rule and reign, or be ruled and reigned over, get the benefits of long life, health, and peace, but still gnash your teeth because the guy down the street gets to work and hang out with Abraham and Moses while your faithfulness is only enough to push heavenly paperwork for the next thousand years when your were expecting much better. Kind of scary that our movies, Internet and such, if uncovered would be just the fuel Satan needs to show humanity we can exist without Jesus forcing his righteousness on man. By that time who knows how many billions will be on earth where there is peace and health and Methusaleh like lifespans (bible says that during the kingdom reign a hundred years is still childhood). Daniel says only some will be brought to life, not all, and many of those to eternal damnation or eternal life, inferring that the majority will like animals simply be obliterated. They got to enjoy the benefits of their own free will, and the cost is death.

A hateful, eternally vengeful God is the Devils work knowing that in this age of scientific reason more billions will be born rejecting god and religion entirely than in all other ages combined, satisfying atheist hopes of ceasing to exist when they die so the devil can get a few seconds to look smug as they join him for a little swim. Universalism requires too many interpretations that don't have enough evidence to back up, but eternal suffering is the Devils bread and butter. He's supposed to convict and try the hearts of men, but sadly he's gone off the reservation so to speak.

BobC on May 13, 2018:

The scripture (God’s eternal Word to mankind) clearly states that there is unforgivable sin, the rejection of Jesus as Messiah, the only begotten Son of our living God. Twisting scripture to make it fit with a personal belief is apostasy and sin.

mikezieg8 on May 13, 2018:

Hi,

So what does God do with those who do not love Him with all their hearts?

Will He make them love Him in heaven?

So all those who love & hate Him will be together?

Sheep & goats together?

mikezieg8 on May 13, 2018:

Hi,

So will Lucifer return from his fallen state & return to his original state with God?

God is love. Right?

He did the greatest thing anyone could do for mankind. He died .

The greatest love.

Noone can love like He does unless we let Him. Are we willing to come to Him to receive His love. Many will not. They hate God.

Freewill to be with Him or not to. To be with Him for eternity.

I chose to receive that eternal love in 1980..

So if you dont receive it then what?

mikezieg8 on May 12, 2018:

So is Hitler with Jesus now?

Is not God a just God?

Can God be just and loving?

Mike

Bend OR

A Freeman Wood from Kentucky on April 21, 2018:

I am 38 years old and have been studying the Bible since I can remember reading. Despite the fact I could “many verses I really had little or no understanding of the message.

About five years ago the idea of love became stuck in my head and samples but slowly things seem to make sense. But I always had a problem with a loving God creating mankind only to burn The majority eternal fire.

In fact it bothered me so much that I decided eat ternal punishment somehow must be a separation from God. That is to say that those unworthy of heaven simply died with no chance of afterLife.

Although I wanted to believe my own theory it also has no evidence and I was never satisfied. Then, about six months ago I read the book Lilith by George McDonald. I didn’t know what to make of it the first time around but stuck with me and I reread it a second time then a third. It is a fiction but promotes the idea of universal salvation. This concept was completely new and unheard of to me and looking on Wikipedia I found that like you it was a main part of Christian theology. I do not confess to believe in it But I certainly have no right to deny it.

I will admit that it makes perfect sense to me and believing that the central message of the Bible is nothing but love almost perfectly fits in to my religious philosophy. After having these new thoughts constantly swirling in my head scripture that I read 20 years ago and did not understand seem to make sense and I feel I have had profound revelations in the understanding of my faith. I think it is an absolutely beautiful, even the most beautiful theology I have ever heard and with each passing day it seems like all my years of study have led to this point of understanding.

My only argument is the straightforward language of the New Testament and the multiple references to hell of eternal suffering. I seen your rebuttal for the Greek translation But believing that the words are divinely inspired I have trouble believing God would allow his word, which is our only study guide, to be misrepresented in such a way that some of the very founding principles of our guidebook are deceptive. Would God allow those only familiar with creek study To read the the “right” bible While everybody else is left with false scripture? I always believed when Solomon said take these words and write them on the tablet of your heart and meditate on them night and day, it was literal And applied not only to proverbs but the entire Bible. If it did not apply to all holy scripture then it would seem as though Solomon was placing an order of importance or favoritism from one book to the next.

If anyone has had similar thoughts or may offer an explanation to my problem I would humbly thank you because this has been plaguing me and because I believe the Bible does not contradict itself regardless of what language has been translated into The fault lies and my lack of understanding or to put it the way I honestly believe God has not chosen to reveal this to me yet,

eva on June 22, 2017:

Thank you for this. I too suffered terribly as I wrestled with a doctrine that my God given conscience rejected wholeheartedly. This information brings a measure of peace.

SwordofManticorE from Burlington on December 01, 2013:

@One way, It is not "death and hell". It is death and the unseen, meaning the state of the grave. The Lake of Fire is the same Fire found in 1Cor 3, and in Heb 12:29. You hell believers need to seek the spiritual truth in scripture instead of your carnal minded, literal view and understanding of your false interpretations of the bible. You may be amazed as to what you find.

One way on December 01, 2013:

I would agree that hell does not last an eternity .... Because hell is the waiting place for the souls of sinful men before judgement as is paradise the waiting place for the righteous to await judgement... Rev 20:14 death and hell were cast into the lake of fire ... The lake of fire is the eternal torment promised to sinful man as heaven is the eternal home of peace for righteous men...rev 20:10 helps us to understand that the lake of fire is forever and ever

SwordofManticorE from Burlington on July 05, 2013:

It brings me great joy when I see believers starting to understand the true nature of God, and discarding that pagan belief about hell.

Electro-Denizen from UK on July 05, 2013:

Well done for having the spiritual strength/integrity to step away from this idea of eternal Hell! In the original Greek, the word 'hell' doesn't even appear in Jesus' words, ever, in scripture - unbelievable but true. Check out the Catholic theologian Miceal Ledwith whose spent a life time of study on these subjects. Whole ministries are founded on ludicrous translations.

The idea of Hell comes from ancient Sumerian texts, Zoroastrian and of course Egyptian. In Zoroastrianism, their savior even comes from a virgin birth, incidentally...

After dying, everyone goes through times of assessing actions and so on, before progressing, and some people may even reside in strange hell-like places because of their own mind attachments. But other than that? Eternal Hell in the Christian tradition is hugely influenced by traditions that predate Christ by, in some cases, two thousand years.

The concept of Hell really appeals to people, because it's so visceral and is a great form of control!

PAMITCHRUS on June 13, 2013:

Japtaker great hub, and welcome to the truth of the Savior of the World !!!! Remembering always that this teaching of hell is the doctrine of devils and demons for God is Love and Love is not Hate !!!!

Ian on May 10, 2013:

A few words for those Christians who are so certain the Bible literally teaches eternal damnation.

'Everlasting' 'Forever and ever' : what do these terms mean? If you study a Strong's concordance you might become confused. The word for 'everlasting' in the hebrew doesn't mean 'without end'. It actually means 'until the designated or pre-ordained time is ended'. For example, there's a verse that says that Jonah was in the belly of fish forever, but the word used for forever actually meant that Jonah was in the belly of the fish for a pre-determined measure of time: actually 3 days. Jonah wasn't going to be released from the belly of the fish a moment sooner than the time allotted. That's what 'forever' actually means. The same holds true for 'everlasting'.

Another example is the verse that states that the smoke of Sodom and Gommorah's destruction ascends forever. It ascends until the allotted pre-determined time for it to ascend is over, and not a moment sooner. This concept appears again and again in the Bible, where the 'infinite' is seemingly applied to the 'finite', except that the 'infinite' is a misinterpretation. 'Until God says it will stop', is another way of looking at it.

Another mistranslation is the word 'unquenching' or 'unquenchable'. This should be quite obvious. This word in the original language means 'cannot be quenched', as in 'man cannot put it out, but it will burn until the job is done' . Again, 'until God puts it out' when the job of burning is done.

In this light, 'hellfire' and 'the lake of fire' can be temporal rather than eternal.

All this is to say, that e