Does Disbelief in Hell = Lack of Salvation?

Happy (belated) New Year!! Over the holiday season, I had the much welcomed privilege to rest and recharge before the hustle and bustle of the new year kicked into gear. During that time off, I had the opportunity to catch up and binge-watch some great shows and movies on Netflix and Hulu. One of those movies that I’d been repeatedly asked about AND asked to look was a movie called, “Come Sunday”. It’s a 2018 Netflix original movie about the true story of Carlton Pearson. Carlton Pearson was an up and coming bishop, evangelist and pastor among evangelicals until he was declared a heretic and distanced by his own church after he started preaching that there is no Hell. I thought the film featured some great performances and the subject matter was interesting, as well. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Pearson and Martin Sheen as Oral Roberts.
You can watch the trailer for the movie, here: https://youtu.be/pVQFWvm_fbU

As I mentioned, I’d been asked to watch the movie – exclusively by Christians, in fact – because of the social, theological and biblical questions the movie provokes and answers that they sought. But inspired by the movie, my question for the CONNECT community is this: Does a person need to believe in the existence of hell in order to be saved? Can someone trust in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ while also denying the reality of hell? Can someone who believes in “universal salvation” (everyone will ultimately be saved) also be Christ-follower?

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@WarnerMiller I think that a person can be saved as long as they acknowledge the reality of sin. For example, George MacDonald, who inspired C. S. Lewis, was a universalist who believed that God would somehow bring all people to a place of repentance. However, MacDonald did not deny the reality of sin - he acknowledged that we must confess sin and live in the light of Jesus. He believed in something kind of like purgatory - but not purgatory - where those who hard rejected Jesus in this life would have to be brought to a place where they see their sin for what it is and repent. At least that is my understanding of his beliefs.

I worry about a person’s salvation when they deny the seriousness of sin and the need for repentance. That is when I really think they are in a very dangerous place. As long as someone acknowledges that Jesus is the only way to God and that there is a need for repentance / righteous living, I think their view on how God eventually handles sin is a secondary matter.

The three views of how God handles sin ultimately are:

  1. Eternal torment - some form of eternal suffering or separation from God
  2. Conditionalism - those who reject God are judged and then cease to exist
  3. Universalism - sin is real, but all people will eventually be brought to repentance

I like Steve Gregg’s book that discusses these three views very much. Also, in the thread below I provide more resources.

https://www.amazon.com/All-Want-Know-About-Hell/dp/1401678300/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1546620004&sr=8-1&keywords=3+views+hell+steve+Gregg

You might also enjoy watching the movie “Hell and Mr. Fudge” - it is about a preacher who believed in conditionalism and was rejected by certain segments of the Christian community. Very well done - explains the main Biblical arguments for that position.

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Hi @WarnerMiller. I watched the movie in question last year. Not to appear off subject, but I felt Mr. Pearson’s final conclusions were symptoms of a larger issue.

I was struck in the movie how often he referred to his ability to save someone. His loss of faith seemed connected to the belief that he was responsible or capable of saving others. Having failed to accomplished what he thought possible, was the crux of his change. If I believed I possessed this power and I failed, wouldn’t I then have to conclude that I never had that authority or that it never existed for anyone? This seemed more a failure within Mr. Pearson to acknowledge his own insufficiency.

Isn’t Mr. Pearson’s outlook similar to outlooks that conclude, if there is a problem it must be with GOD, or with the accepted idea of GOD. I looked into his current philosophy and it appeared that his new definitions not only challenge the Church’s but even the notion of a GOD. I have an acquaintance who has followed this same path. What do you think?

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I think you’re absolutely right! I think a few other of the theological and doctrinal positions of Pearson highlighted in the movie are grossly errant, as well. I only picked asking the question about the belief in the existence of a literal hell being the prerequisite for salvation only because I thought it had the greater chance of soliciting a higher volume of varying responses.:wink: I mean, in all seriousness, I’ve heard a few different angles as to why someone would and wouldn’t believe that belief in hell were necessary to being a Christian.

But absolutely…there are certainly a boat load of other questionable or controversial beliefs and understanding/interpretations of Bible scripture within the movie.

So with that…do YOU think…

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To be clear, I believe in hell as a literal place. I haven’t watched the movie.

Given that there are such a wide variety of views on what hell is exactly (as SeanO said), for this can we define hell as ‘not heaven’ - and we understand that heaven is a literal place?

I would probably focus more on what a person’s response is to Jesus Christ - rather than what their response to hell is. I was reading last night 1 Corinthians 12, and 13, about unity through diversity, and how without Love, no matter how much knowledge we have or wisdom, we are just like a sounding gong, or noisy brass. Anyway, a verse was in there 1 Corinthians 12:3, and it seems that it’s not even possible to say that Jesus Christ is Lord without the indwelling Holy Spirit…?

Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

We hear many jokes on ‘oh I’ll be having the biggest party with all my mates in hell’ - they clearly reject God and don’t want Him or to be with Him (in Heaven). Another more serious reference to hell is ‘hell on earth’, many times used to describe the trench warfare in World War 1. I went to the Australian War Museum, and reading of the conditions in the trenches, with mud, smoke, dead bodies rotting, disease, pain from wounds, seeing your friends get killed right next to you, or maimed by horrific injuries - friends you care about and have spent time with. This description of ‘hell on earth’ seems pretty apt - it seems to be the opposite of everything in life that is beautiful.

There are many references to hell in Scripture, so it’s very hard to deny the existence of hell. I wrote this paragraph a few years ago, as part of a reflection on the same-sex marriage debate…
Either there is or there isn’t a Creator God, and he has or hasn’t revealed himself in the Bible. As a Christian, I can’t just go and treat the Bible like a buffet, picking and choosing which bits I like and which I chuck out. If I do that, I run the risk of worshipping a ‘god’ which is just a construct of my own mind, not the one true God revealed in the Bible who revealed himself on earth in the Person of Jesus Christ who made a way for us to be reconciled back to Him (brought back into a relationship). I’m not interested in worshipping a ‘god’ (idol) ‘made’ in my own image (an idea of my own mind based on what I pick and choose from various parts of current society’s prevailing ideas).

I would certainly be careful of asking the question: Does a person need to believe in exactly the same view of hell that I hold to be saved?
I’m not God - only He is the Just Judge.

Kind of the same question as the first one - just reversed. Salvation is in Jesus Christ alone, and is belief and trust in His completed work on the cross.

Now this is a really interesting question, and a personal one for me, as I have a dear friend who currently believes in universal salvation. I have wondered why he seems to have changed belief or followed a new train of thinking. I’ve pondered this a lot, and I wonder if his position on universal salvation may be a ‘push back’ reaction to strong Calvinistic teaching he was previously under.

Based on the 5 points of TULIP; a followup question might be: If God is able to save the elect using unconditional election, and irresistible grace, then surely God would want to provide this to everyone, and provide universal salvation. I too struggle with the concept that God would, in eternity past, fix a persons destiny, and then judge them for not believing something they were incapable of believing in the first place.

However, even with these struggles, I can rest on Abraham’s statement, as he was pleading with God not to judge Sodom and Gomorrah if there were only 10 righteous men: Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?
I also can be like Job, who after struggling with the difficult questions of life and asking God some tough questions; I repent and acknowledge with trembling I’m not God, nor would I want to try and be the just Judge of the whole of history. I acknowledge my ‘tinyness’ and sinfulness before God’s holiness, and then realise with increasing appreciation just how powerful God’s love revealed in Jesus is - who died to pay for my redemption. It’s extremely humbling and yet comforting at the same time.
God didn’t answer Job’s questions. I like all three of theBibleProject wisdom book videos - we need to take all three books into account for a complete picture. https://thebibleproject.com/explore/wisdom-series/

My simple understanding of salvation is: God initiated (Grace), We respond (faith), there is no works required or to be relied upon (Ephesians 2:8-9) God is doing the saving, therefore nothing we can do will lose this salvation. Eternal life by definition can’t be lost. (John 3:16)

Believe in universal salvation opens up a whole lot of issues though, and seems to directly contradict what Scripture teaches.

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Hell was a reality I grew to understand in depth as I walked with GOD. It is significant in understanding Heaven, being the flip-side of Heaven. Perhaps the hell that would drive us to CHRIST only exists in our personal lives. But how do you know your need for GOD unless hell is a reality?

Hell demonstrates the need for JESUS. Whether it is identified as conditions, situations, or individuals. Whether it is identified in the influence of sin or the ultimate absence of GOD; it is a reality. Believe it or not.
When Hell is negated it creates irrelevancy in our thinking and our lives.

Soon you would negate the value of the cross. Hell was a driver in the need for redemption. No Hell, no need for redemption. No need for redemption, Jesus who? No Jesus, no Father. No Father, no Creator. No Creator, no God.

Its funny we slide into these conclusions, but no Universalist I know would ever conclude there is no hate, therefore there is no love.

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Actually this is so true and such a simple statement. We identify many things as ‘good’, but to have that ‘good’ there must be an opposite - an ‘evil’ or a ‘not good’. You can’t logically have a thing of value without it’s opposite?

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@matthew.western Appreciate your guys’ thoughts and openness. However, I think the idea that you can’t have something without its opposite is generally called dualism and is not Biblical.

A Biblical perspective is that good can exist without evil, but evil cannot exist without good. All that is good flows from God - who has always existed. Evil, on the other hand, is not a thing, but rather a rejection of God’s goodness. Darkness is a privation of light - evil a privation of good. However, light has substance and so does God, who is the source of all that is good.

Likewise Heaven has existed - in the sense of being God’s dwelling place - before there was ever even a need for a place of judgment - sometimes termed ‘Hell’. Heaven can exist without Hell. No problem.

The most common argument for ‘Hell’ being necessary is that human souls are inherently immortal and cannot be unmade. Therefore, if they are not in Heaven they must be somewhere and that somewhere is called ‘Hell’. However, whether or not souls are immortal is a debatable point - some would say the Bible actually suggests the opposite - that apart from God’s sustaining grace we would cease to exist.

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Thanks heaps @SeanO, I’d never heard of the term dualism. Found an article talking about “Christian” dualism which i’ll have a bit of a look at. It sounds like opposite sides of the Ying/Yang where there is so called ‘balance’ in the universe… sounds a bit like the philosophy of the Star Wars universe - the balance of good and evil being ‘the Force’ - which seems to be entirely impersonal.

thanks heaps for pointing this out - really gets the old grey matter thinking. :slight_smile:

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@matthew.western And thank you for providing the article and good discussion :slight_smile: I am always so blessed to have the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions about Jesus - what better way could I spend my time?

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I am not sure of the proper application of the term of ‘dualism’ to the idea of Heaven and Hell. But your statement above seems to espouse the same idea. Heaven and Hell are one or the other.

My brief association with the definition of dualism is; " doctrine that the universe is under the dominion of two opposing principles one of which is good and the other evil."
I don’t think that is what was meant in the idea that Heaven and Hell are opposite of one another. That does not infer a contest of power and wills. But rather identifies the need for redemption.

Our enemy may be the ‘prince of the air’, but air holds no power or is equal to any aspect of GOD. I would never say that the earth is in a battle between good and evil. GOD has never had to battle satan. Those battles which are always won by GOD have always been delegated to the angels and by the power of JESUS, too us. Daniel 6:20-22, Daniel 10:12-21, Proverbs 18:10, Matthew 10:1, John 1:12-13; to name a few. GOD always wins, GOD always will.

I would go even further to say that any battle that takes place can only do so in the domination of our free wills. Even in that battle our enemy needs our consent.

Dualism seems to be another way of escaping responsibility for our free will choices. We love terms like “I don’t know why I do what I do! Or I’m so confused!” We can live with such bondage when we conveniently overlook the point of our own agreeance. Often taking place in a early or elementary form and leading to greater enslavement. But always requiring the relinquishing of our will to know enslavement to satan or deliverance by GOD.

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The other thing to think about is: what is the difference between ‘hell’ and the lake of fire according to the Bible.
My understanding is based on Matthew 25:41, Hell was created for the Devil and his fallen angels - as opposed to being ‘necessary’ from a logical point of view because souls are immortal?.

Then in Revelation
Death and Hell (hades?) were cast into the lake of fire.

My understanding is that hell (hades, Gehenna, Sheol) is the temporary holding place of the unsaved dead until the Great White throne judgement.

Prior to Jesus resurrection, Old Testament saints where in ‘Abrahams bosom’ - fixed by a great gulf as per the Parable of Lazarus and the richman (Luke 16:19-31). Jesus ‘took captivity captive, set the captives free’ (Ephesians 4:8-10), and now New Testament saints are immediately in the presence of the Lord after death 'to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:1-10). I have heard this teaching from a Pastor - seems ok but I’m not solid or dogmatic on any of these points as connected - must always read all these chunks of scripture in the fuller context…

I asked the 4 questions (Origin, Meaning, Morality, Destiny) of some Mormon missionaries - It’s interesting to learn of the Mormon teaching that there are 4 separate possible destinations or levels. Celestial Kingdom, Terrestrial Kingdom, Telestian Kingdom, and Outer Darkness. I was like whoa, where did you get all those things in the Bible? :slight_smile: I did love the youtube video of Ravi Zacharius preaching at the Mormon temple.

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@cer7 Thanks for those thoughts :slight_smile: Actually, I do not agree with the position that a person must be in either Heaven or Hell. I was simply explaining the most common philosophical argument I have heard for the necessity of Hell’s existence. Personally, I am not convinced from the Bible that the soul is inherently immortal.

Also, here are a few quotes on this topic from Jacoby’s book stating how the idea of the immortal soul may have entered into Christian doctrine as a result of Greek philosophy - such as Plato:

The immortality of the soul and infinite punishment were part of Greek religion and philosophy, but the Jews had a long history of resisting such influences.

Here’s why it was right. God’s creation was good. The ancient Gnostics denied this, as did the followers of Plato. And in the second century, Platonic thought snuck into the church. Here are a few of the key Platonic concepts: • The body is evil, a prison for the soul. • The soul is immortal. It is the real part of a human being. • The physical world is illusory, less real than the spiritual world of ideas.

idea of the immortal soul was baptized, in some quarters at least, as early as the second century. The Platonic notion entered Christianity by way of the second-century apologists, such as Athenagoras and Tertullian. Says the latter, “I may use, therefore, the opinion of Plato when he declares, ‘Every soul is immortal.’”12 In time, much of Judaism would follow suit.

Dualism is the “division of something conceptually into two opposed or contrasted aspects, or the state of being so divided”. So good and evil are equal forces in the universe - or Heaven and Hell counterbalance each other. It is not a Biblical way of thinking.

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@matthew.western I recommend checking out Douglas Jacoby’s book about Heaven and Hell and Steve Gregg’s book. This topic is not one that is a quick discussion - there are quite a few different factors involved. It requires some intentional study - I really think Gregg’s book does a good job of helping you think through the different issues and can’t recommend it highly enough. Jacoby’s book also does a good job, but it is not nearly as thorough (though it is a quicker read). You may also find the linked threads interesting.

The Word ‘Hell’

The English word ‘Hell’ is that it is not even a direct translation of any word in the Bible. It is not a Biblical word. There are 4 words used in the Bible that are sometimes translated ‘hell’ and none of them are equivalent to what unbelievers I have met often mean by the English word ‘hell’. They are:

1 - Gehenna or Valley of Hinnom (New Testament)
2 - Tartarus (New Testament) -
3 - Sheol (Old Testament)
4 - Hades (New Testament)

Gehenna was a trash pit that was once a site of great idolatry. Tartarus and Hades were actually Greek terms describing the abode of the dead or a place of judgment . And Sheol was a Hebrew word used to describe the place where both good and bad people go upon death.

But what do English speakers mean by the word ‘hell’? They think of Dante’s Inferno and paintings from the middle ages of people being tossed into a burning pit screaming while little beings wait to torment them.

So - a Greek / Aramaic / Hebrew equivalent of the English word ‘hell’ was never used by Jesus. And certainly not the way most modern people understand it.

The NT is clear that there will be a day of judgment and that the wheat and the chaff will be separated - and the chaff burned. Certainly Jesus used very shocking imagery to describe judgment. But Jesus never used any word that would translate to the current English word ‘hell’ as perceived by the average person on the street.

Lake of Fire

I would argue that the ‘lake of fire’ may not be a literal place. Why? Because Revelation says that ‘death’ will be thrown into this lake. But ‘death’ is not a thing - it is an idea. You can’t throw death anywhere - you can’t touch it. It’s just an idea. So I think that the ‘lake of fire’ is just a way of saying that God will bring something to a permanent end. What does fire do? It destroys things. So I think this is just a way of saying God will destroy death and the evil one.

Revelation 20:14 - Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

As Jacoby points out in his book, this story of a reversal of fate was common in the ancient world. Jesus may not have been telling a true story, but rather adapting a common story of his time in order to make His point to the Pharisees. Therefore, we may not be able to get much information from this story about the actual physical layout of the afterlife because it may not be a story that actually happened. Rather, like Jesus’ other parables, it is a story with a point (not necessarily a true story).

A doctoral dissertation at the University of Amsterdam identified seven versions of the parable circulating in the first century.2 The fortunes of a rich man and a poor man are reversed in the afterlife. As often happens in the Bible, a preexisting story is adapted to present a theological truth. Douglas Jacoby

N.T. Wright, explains. The story carries clear echoes of well-known folk tales to which Jesus is giving a fresh and startling twist.

Some Good Resources

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@matthew.western Regarding reaching out to Mormons, here is another Connect thread with some resources you may find helpful:

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Thanks @SeanO - appreciate your sharing of resources for further study. I’ll go and do some further reading to learn more.

I do have one question, what is your view on the resurrection of the dead, small and great, who stand before God for the great white throne judgement. If souls are annihilated and cease to exist, when would this happen? after this judgement of the dead? I presume that there is a ‘holding place’ for people that die before this final judgment?

Also it mentions the beast and the false prophet, personally are cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. I understand that the devil is a fallen angel, but the beast and the false prophet are people?

Revelation 20:10-15 (and reading the entire chapter and surrounding chapters for context)

10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire

One may agree to disagree on some areas like this, but we can definitely agree that we rejoice together in the Love of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who loves us and gave himself for us.

It’s safe to say, to be with God for eternity will be amazing. Why would a person want to reject all that is God - redemption through Jesus Christ, meaning, beauty, relationship, eternal love. I often enjoy the creative imagination of people movies that are futuristic, or even contain scenes of great beauty. I wonder what Heaven will be like.

1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him

John 14:1-6
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions (rooms); if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

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@matthew.western Yes, these are definitely secondary doctrines that do not prevent us from serving and worshiping together. Also, there is an old story of a professor who refused to teach Revelation because he did not know the Old Testament well enough and he claimed he would need to wait 20 years. Revelation uses many OT references that are key to understanding what the author is trying to say. I certainly do not claim to be a Revelation expert, but I’ve tried my best to make sense of it. Definitely still on that journey. I like Francis Chan’s simple view of it - God wins. That much we can be sure of…

In the conditionalist view people are held until the day of judgment, will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, face judgment and then would cease to exist (if they have rejected God). There would be an ‘in between’ place before the new creation - a temporary abode. The saints would abide with God and those who rejected God would be held until the day of judgment.

If you have 4 things - death, Hades, the beast and the false prophet that are said to be thrown into a ‘lake of fire’ and one of them is an abstract idea, that should be a strong hint that images are being used to convey meaning. The images are not necessarily meant to be taken literally. The genre of Revelation is apocalypse and in that genre it is common to use images - like when Daniel used beasts to represent world empires. Likewise, the statue in Daniel’s vision was an image that referred to earthly kingdoms. So the ‘lake of fire’ may simply refer to the reality that, like being thrown in the fire, the beast, false prophet, hades and death will cease to exist.

Regarding Revelation, below is something close to my current view on Revelation 20. Some of the verbage is from another source, but I cannot recall where - it was a theological form. To understand my view, you have to understand that it is common to believe that Revelation is cyclic - it retells the same story more than once.

Potential subsections include 1-3, 4-11, 12-16, 17-18, 19-22. It is likely that 12-16 is a retelling of 4-11. Exactly how John intended the book to be subdivided is uncertain, but interpreters holding different views of the end times have alike seen that there is clearly repetition. This type of retelling is not unheard of in the Bible – consider Genesis 1 and 2 or the four Gospels.

A full study of these things is beyond the scope of this thread. I’ve included a book that goes through the 4 major views of how to interpret Revelation.

Chapter 20: Retelling of Christ’s victory on the cross and then continue forward from chapters 11/19, which both conclude the destruction of Jerusalem and ushering in of the Church as God’s temple / bride. John sees Satan bound up so that he could not deceive the nations, a symbolic representation of the power of Christ’s sacrifice over Satan’s deception. The “first resurrection” refers to the resurrection of Jesus Christ “the firstfruits”. [1 Corinthians 15.20] Hence, the righteous dead (Rev. 14.13: “blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on”) are described as “sharing” in Christ’s resurrection and rule, in perfect correspondence to Paul’s statements in his letters. [1 Corinthians 15.22; Ephesians 2.6; Colossians 2.12-13] The “thousand years” are symbolic of the era of the Church, and the beginning of the “thousand years” corresponds to the Kingdom of God being established upon the world [Luke 21.31-32; Revelation 11.15], marked by the destruction of apostate Israel. [Matthew 21.33-46] The number 1000 is a symbolic numeral for “completion”. Thus, when the “thousand years” come to their end, the plan of God will be brought to completion. Satan will be released from his binding, bringing about a great deception. The enemies of the world (symbolized as “Gog and Magog”) will attempt to destroy the Church (symbolized as “God’s holy city”), but they will be prevented by the Second Coming of Christ. Satan will be cast into the lake of fire. Christ will sit upon his throne, and he will bring about the resurrection of the dead. All of mankind (and angels) will be judged. John sees the wicked cast into the lake of fire. Finally, John sees Death itself destroyed by Christ. After the resurrection, the final judgment, and the defeat of Death, Christ delivers the Kingdom of God up to the Father in order for it to be consummated. [1 Corinthians 15.23-28,54-55]

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Thanks again @SeanO, for explaining. I really appreciate your willingness to answer in great detail, and give resources to further a persons study. I’ll have a good look at the resources and have a think about them, and continue to learn. :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

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Warner, interesting that there was a movie like this even made. In any case, you asked the following three questions. I’ll throw my two bits in, although it looks like a lot of good responses have already been generated here.

As to the first question, I would say that a person could be ignorant of the existence of hell, or even a doctrine of hell, and this would have no bearing on their salvation, so long as they accepted the positive message of the Gospel. I’m not aware of any passages in scripture that would lead us to believe that it is a rejection of the existence of hell that would preclude one from salvation.

As to the second question, I think one could trust in Jesus’ redemptive work, but I think a rejection of hell would probably make it at least psychologically more difficult to accept, and perhaps epistemically more difficult to believe, that I would be in need of such redemption if there were no punishment at all for the actual sins I have committed. Unless one locates the punishment or consequences of sin solely in the world, in some pragmatic sense, perhaps, but otherwise it would seem harder to accept the need for redemption if there really were no retribution attached to moral acts against God’s law and His creation.

That said, perhaps the existence of hell doesn’t need to be the source of that retribution, but I don’t know biblically what else would. I suppose you could say in the OT it was the loss of the land, but clearly the stakes are higher in the NT. Eternal conscious separation from God would be the kind of punishment, if one properly understands what that entails, that would warrant me believing that redemption was necessary, and motivate me psychologically to repent. And, probably, belief in hell would also impress upon me more fully the power and depth of Christ’s love. I would love Him not only for placing me back in right relation with the Father, but also for saving me from the consequences of spiritual death. It seems like that would make my own love for God abound more greatly.

On the third question is were I start to wonder about whether or not someone can persist in a sort of universalism and still remain a Christ-follower. I think one can be a universalist and still be saved, but, if salvation can be lost (in some kind of Arminian/Wesleyan sense) my suspicion is that people who go the route of universalism are probably on a road to disbelief. The reason is because I don’t think the biblical text and universalism are in any way compatible. Annihilationism is perhaps defensible from Scripture, but the idea of universalism just is not to be found in the Bible. The wheat and the chaff are always and everywhere found to be separated along very distinct lines, and that in every book of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.

So to reject that idea that there will be a final judgment, a judgment that either ends in eternal torment or perhaps non-existence, usually leads to the rejection of other Biblical teachings, ones that tie in directly to the core Gospel message. So, while there may be universalists who are saved, I think universalism is not only false, but is a road that tends to lead to the rejection of that which is necessary for salvation.

Anthony

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@matthew.western Fun conversation :slight_smile: May Jesus guide you as you study and grant you wisdom / understanding.

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