Recently, someone pointed out to me that Christian Universalist’s have no reason to share their faith if there is no such thing as eternal torment. My response was to point out that he and I have something in common, that is, we both want to see people reconciled to God. That’s why we have both felt motivated to share our faith. Although his primary motivation (fear of people going to hell) may be different from mine (the joy of seeing people reconciled to God), we were able to find our common ground and cooperate with one another with an attitude of love, respect, and unity of purpose. Because of the love of Christ in us, two people with very different views about Who God is and what God does, we did not view each other as enemies.
Unfortunately, things don’t always work out that way.
People who believe God eventually reconciles everyone to Himself through Christ see the devastating consequences of the doctrine of eternal torment as:
- People are unable to love God, Who created their loved ones even though He knew they would spend eternity in hell.
- People are unable to trust God, because His best plan for doing away with moral rebellion makes the Holocaust look like a picnic in the park.
- People have committed suicide, homicide, or have been hospitalized with nervous breakdowns because of the fear of eternal torment.
- There is a long, dark church history of spiritual abuse, exploitation, and even torture or murder, based on the belief in the doctrine of eternal torment.
- People spend all their lives in fear and dread about whether they are really saved, the “unpardonable sin,” or losing salvation.
- Christians live with a sense of frustration and defeat because, despite their best efforts, the majority of mankind spends eternity in hell.
- Christians live with a sense of guilt over NOT spending more time, effort, money, etc on witnessing to people who are going to hell.
- Christians, believing certain variations in doctrine will result in people needlessly going to hell, condemn and shun one another for “false teaching.”
People who believe in eternal torment in hell see the devastating consequences of the doctrine of universal reconciliation as:
- People have a false sense of security about their eternal destiny, and then they die and go to eternal torment in hell.
- People have no fear or judgment or sense of accountability, so they feel like they can do whatever they want.
- Universalism takes away the sense of urgency Christians ought to feel over people who will die and go to hell.
- Christian universalists deny orthodoxy, therefore causing division in the church.
- Hitler, Stalin, Bin Laden, murderers, child molesters, and other evil people will be saved, diminishing the significance of salvation.
“that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. The glory you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one— I in them and you in me—that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me.
Here’s how. Trust God, that He knows what He’s doing. His Plan of the Ages cannot be thwarted. The end result will be exactly as He has purposed it to be, and there’s nothing that any person can do, not do, or undo that will ruin His plans.
So, here’s how that translates into real-world application.
If you believe God eventually reconciles everyone to Himself through Christ, then trust that God will clear away misconceptions about Who He is and what He does, vindicating His name. Remember that He is the Good Shepherd, Who “is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Trust that He “will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed.” Remember that Jesus will “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death,” in His own time and in His own way. Pray for those who live with a sense of frustration and defeat because they believe that, despite their best efforts, the majority of mankind spends eternity in hell. Love and do good to your brothers and sisters who live with a sense of guilt over NOT spending more time, effort, money, etc on witnessing to people who are going to hell. Forgive and ask God to bless those who condemn and shun you for “false teaching.” You can wholeheartedly disagree with someone without being hostile or arrogant. You can treat people with love and respect, even if you believe they are wrong or feel that they have done wrong to you or your friends. Make an effort to remember what is good and right in others and identify the goals or interests you have in common.
If you believe in eternal torment, then consider that God, in His boundless wisdom and righteousness, will not entrust the eternal destiny of any human being into the fallible hands of another human being. Trust that God will give people a sense of accountability and an awareness of the true consequences associated with bad choices. Pray for those who are complacent or apathetic in their faith. Remember that Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” And when you think about the possibility of Hitler, Stalin, Bin Laden, murderers, child molesters, and other evil people will being with you in heaven, remember that God “will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed,” and He has promised that “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” You can wholeheartedly disagree with someone without being hostile or arrogant. You can treat people with love and respect, even if you believe they are wrong or feel that they have done wrong to you or your friends. Make an effort to remember what is good and right in others and identify the goals or interests you have in common.
When the believers are united in love, the world will believe and know that Jesus came from the Father, Who loves the world just as He loves His Son.