I had Ted Jones go through comments on his site to show the fruit of what Hell-fire teachings have done to people. Perhaps you can add a short testimony yourself to this list:
1. One of the most valuable aids to my own recovery from crippling depression is Universalist thought and God saving all His creatures.
2. I had the same torment as you as a teen because I'd heard about all those terrible after life things. The panic and fear was so bad I thought I would physically die. But, like you, God used the brokenness to open my heart. I saw a panoramic view of God's plan of the ages, the resurrection from this present darkness and death and saw the glory of God cover the entire earth like a rainbow.
I told my kids the truth when they were young so they wouldn't have that torment!
3. I also had breakdowns and was hospitalized because of the spiritual abuse I suffered at the hands of the cult in which I was raised. But - Praise God! All I went through was part of the bigger plan - and now, slowly I am beginning to see the light! I no longer believe in that eternal hell which tormented my mind for so long...It seemed like eternity while I was there - but now I'm free!
4. The idea of eternal torment bothered me terribly, too, for a long time. Worse are those people who look forward to sitting in the grandstands in heaven for eternity watching those in hell burn.
The book most helpful to me was Thomas Talbott's 'The Inescapable Love of God,' with which I'm sure you're familiar.
5. My story is very like yours, along with the journey into searching out what God REALLY had to say on the subject. I have never before. How wonderful that you are getting this message out to people. The idea of an angry God capable of mass eternal torture was the subject of childhood nightmares and a long adult search before I could truly believe that God was good, and not just big. Praise Him, that He IS good!
6. I too suffered much from the eternal torment teachings of men. I suffered severe depression and anxiety attacks. If God hadn't had his hand on and in my life I would have killed myself a long time ago. But, praise to His name, He led me to a website that explained the lake of fire, hell, judgment, justice, wrath and all the other words that institutional churches use to cram their hate filled God down our throats.
Now, I hear these men and they sound so immature and childish. They contradict themselves whenever they open their mouths. It is truly sad that the only way they can make a living is by threatening people with their twisted and demented idea of a "loving" God. Do they ever truly listen to what they say? Or do they care? Most of them I have talked to don't seem to care at all about their doctrines on eternal torment. Anyway, I can just be grateful that God got me out of that trash before I did myself in.
7. How wonderful to hear the Good News... if the new covenant is a better covenant (than the old) then it follows that eternal hell could not be a reality! I too have struggled with severe anxiety over my family going to hell if they don't "say the prayer"... many of them love Jesus but are what you call "new agers" so they don't believe the prayer is necessary. After 15 years of trying to change them, I believe God has shown me that He has saved New Agers and loves them dearly - as much as anyone who claims His name! I have found many websites about universal salvation and it rings true with the God I know as love.
8. I can certainly identify with some of the things that you have said. I know what it is like to come close to a nervous breakdown, because of the "Hell" (eternal torment) teaching.
The problem was greatly aggravated by the psychological, emotional, and spiritual abuse that I suffered in the "institutional church" (especially, the fundamentalist movement).
I have been studying UR since February 2004, and I'm grateful to God for the healing that it has brought to me.
9. I appreciate your testimonial. I've been on "this journey" for about a year now and everything to me has changed. I see everything differently: God, the scriptures (can't get enough of them now), the "lost", everything!
10. Had I discovered the truth of universal salvation sooner, I wouldn't have had to go through nearly two years of torment and anguish. I hope that those who need it most will find out about it too.
11. Your road of previous suffering encourages me for those I love who are suffering in any way right now, because they still have problems with a Father Who would forever punish any of us and refuse His Presence and Love to the same. Thank you again for your loving gift of your insights and life.
12. The belief in eternal torment may be partially to blame for a severe anxiety disorder I have suffered since age 17. I have seen testimonies of people that have gone nearly or completely insane due to this horrible teaching. Don't let it happen to you.
Explore the wonderful truths of the salvation of all mankind found in properly translated Bibles. Learn what Christ meant when He said on the Tree of Crucifixion, "It is finished." Discover the wonderful promises He left for you, your friends, relatives, and loved ones.
Seeing a God who lets people be tormented forever breeds contempt for our fellow man and turns a person into a hypocrite.
Seeing a God of Love without hypocrisy, breeds forgiveness and sincerity.
I've been there. It's your choice. Check out http://www.tentmaker.org
and the materials available without price. It's not too late to love and be loved.
13 I know many people who have been through similar experiences as yours because of the false teaching of endless hell although they would not have been as intense as yours seems to have been
Also I have a friend here who believes the same as you and I am inclined to go along with what you believe.
14 Concordant Publishing Concern was a lifesaver for me about 5 years ago when I found one of their pages on the internet. http://www.concordant.org/
I wasn't having a nervous breakdown, but I was getting quite depressed and ready for something different than what I was seeing in Christianity or in my Bible.
15. I have seen people, happy productive people who knew a measure of peace, start going to endless-hell churches, join these churches, and within 6 months to a year, gain 50 or 60 pounds, can't sleep, chain smoking, on "nerve pills", families broke up, seeing a psychiatrist, and finally end up in the psych-ward or worst! And is it any wonder why??!
16 I was on Paxil for nearly 6 years then Wellbutrin for two years because of the doctrine of eternal suffering in hell, but now I'm off both because I know that God loves all unconditionally and will eventually save everyone, not just a few. It has cleared my head of being judgmental and fearful.
17. I have suffered from severe anger and depression because of the teachings of an "eternal" hell and suffering. I also found myself unable to truly love or respect a god that could send anyone to such a place. It has been said also that "we send ourselves to hell" but how can that be, if God is totally sovereign and in total control? Your website is a blessing. Thank you for spreading the True Good News. May you be blessed always.
18. I want to thank you for all the great sites. I only recently embraced Christian universalism so I am being completely re-wired. This is a joyful and painful all at the same time experience if you know what I mean?
19. I remember when I was a young man, camping out and sitting around the fire, I would look intently into the flames and glowing embers and ask my friends just how is it possible that people can go to a place like that for eternity. No one ever had an answer. My conscience was so stirred by the nightmarish scenes conjured up in my mind that I could not rest until I had a good answer.
Not until a friend, years later, handed me a Concordant Literal New Testament and some of the writings from THE CONCORDANT PUBLISHING CONCERN, were my fears put to rest. My conscience exulted at the wonderful truths! It could not side with the doctrine of demons called "eternal torment."