Anonymous Testimony-Hell Holocaust
from a young worship leader March, 2005
I’ve been studying the idea of Universal Salvation intensely. First of all, I didn’t arrive at this study in spite of Scripture, but because of Scripture. God knows that the last thing I want to be is a heretic. I care not for the doctrines and traditions of men. I am simply devoted to truth and God’s Word. I have searched the Scriptures and read much material. I find that this doctrine seems to not contradict God’s Word at all but rather seems to harmonize it.
I look at creation and see the glory, the beauty, the majesty, and the love of God. And I’ve had a hard time reconciling the God I see revealed in creation with the doctrine that He desires to endlessly torment people forever or even the doctrine that He does not desire for people to be eternally tormented but doesn’t have the power to prevent it.
I’ve been struggling with this issue for a while because I honestly couldn’t reconcile the traditional view of Hell/Eternal Torment with God. We think that God was outraged by the Holocaust and that it wasn’t in His heart that all of those Jews suffer like that. But then we say that after being tortured and murdered, God approved of those same six million Jews being ushered into pain and torture a million times worse in a literal Hell of fire, and for eternity!
Can we really believe that from the foundations of the world, with perfect foreknowledge, God’s ultimate purpose for the human race was that the majority, (which would be countless billions of people), be tortured in fire for eternity? Is that the kind of God you see revealed through creation? Is that the kind of God you see revealed through Jesus Christ? And if this was not His purpose, then why should it come to pass? For God’s purpose never fails. He “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will” (Eph 1:11).
And if His purpose was to save the whole world through Jesus Christ, who “tasted death for every man,” then why should this His purpose fail? Do finite sins really deserve an infinite punishment? Is that really how God deals with sin?
For all my years being a Christian, I always believed strongly in Hell and it was my conviction that Christians nowadays were getting too caught up in the love side of God and not preaching enough of Hell and judgment. I thought, of course, this had to do with people trying to excuse their sins with God’s love and grace and that it was a sign of the worldliness in the church. I was basically a kind of Arminian because I believed in an eternal Hell but didn’t think God desired anyone to go there. Well let’s say I didn’t believe God wanted anyone to go there during their life on earth at least. But after that small lifetime, it was too late, and then God’s justice was pleased with sending them to eternal torture. Something like that anyway. Kind of strange I know, but I think most Christians basically hold this belief. And I radically believed in Hell and I believed that I should always be grieved and sorrowed in my heart that most people were on their way to eternal torment in Hell and that I should always carry this sadness around with me. This was a “heart for the lost.” I also believed that every time I sinned, I basically lost my eternal salvation. Looking back, the only reason I believed this doctrine of Eternal Hell was because it was the traditional view, engraved in my mind as a Christian, just like most other Christians.
I wasn’t a happy person at all; I lived in much fear of Hell. My view of God’s love for me was filtered through the idea that He wanted to eternally torment me if I didn’t love Him in return. Thus it was a very conditional and limited view of God’s love. However, now through an intense desire to know the glorious God and to know the truth, I believe God has been revealing more of His character to me through my studying of this subject. Indeed “God is love” as John says, and the Gospel is indeed Good News. And I have come to realize that our life in Christ does not have to do with fear, but with love. For “perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18). Now there is a fear of God which is good, but not a tormenting fear. It is a reverence and awe of Him, realizing that He is the Majesty of Heaven.
So I started questioning the idea of Eternal Torment. After realizing that Eternal Torment did not seem like the heart of God at all, and that Scripture did not seem to teach it, I arrived at Annihilationism. This is the idea that God will simply obliterate the wicked and they will be completely destroyed. At this point, I really started discovering the power and sovereignty of God and believed that God would have His way, and would accomplish His will and purpose for all things. So I basically thought that Calvinism was right, but that God simply annihilated the lost, because there is much supposed evidence in the Scriptures to prove it. There are many verses that simply speak of the destruction of the wicked.
BUT, to believe that view, I had to ignore all the Scriptures that talk about God’s desire to save all mankind and His perfect ability to do whatever He desires, as well as the verses that simply and blatantly teach He will accomplish just that. From searching the Scriptures, I’ve found that the ultimate conclusion you can reach in Scripture, is not to stop at torment, and not to stop at Annihilationism, but to stop no less than Universal Salvation. Yet many do not reach that conclusion because they have already dismissed it in their mind as “heresy.” So they don’t even entertain such thoughts for fear of becoming a so-called “heretic.” But there it is, right there in the Bible!
One of the main persons that influenced me towards this message is Tom Talbott (“The Inescapable Love of God”). He puts forth the argument that you either have to reject (1) that God desires that all will be saved, (2) that God is all-powerful to accomplish all of His desire, or (3) that sinners will be punished eternally. All 3 propositions don’t seem to fit together to bring a logical conclusion. Such a conclusion would be something like this:
(1) God’s purpose and sincere desire is that all people would be saved, and (2) God has the ability to accomplish all He purposes and desires, (3) and therefore most of humanity will be eternally damned.
Or in more casual words:
(1) God wants to save all people, (2) God does whatever He wants, (3) and therefore He will not save all people.
This seems greatly inconsistent. Therefore, you must reject at least one proposition to be consistent. If you reject (1), you’re a Calvinist. If you reject (2), you’re an Arminian. If you reject (3), you’re a Universalist. If you believe that God loves all people and desires to reconcile all to Himself, yet cannot accomplish this, you limit the power of God and you are an Arminian. If you believe that God is all-powerful to accomplish all His purposes, yet chooses not to save all people, you limit the love of God and you are a Calvinist. If you believe that God desires all people to be saved and has the power to accomplish all He desires, you limit neither God’s power, nor His love, and you are a Universalist. We do not see it as heretical for Arminians to believe in (1): God’s desire to save all people and we do no see it as heretical for Calvinists to believe in (2): God’s perfect ability to accomplish all He desires, so why do people see it as heretical to accept both (1) and (2)?
If you are a Calvinist then you will try to explain that Christ didn’t die to save the whole world, but only to save the elect; therefore God’s purpose is accomplished in the majority of the human race being eternally damned. If you are an Arminian, you will try to explain that Christ died to save the whole world, but will be greatly defeated in carrying out this purpose.
Well, I cannot for the life of me see in Scripture or in reason why the all-powerful God, who created the endless galaxies, the stars, and all the grandeur of creation, could not have the power to make His purpose prevail in mankind. I cannot even think of God as defeated or a failure. He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega. He created the world for His pleasure, with perfect foreknowledge, and with a purpose, and to say that in the end His ultimate purpose will be defeated is unbelievable to me. Therefore, even man’s supposed “free will” is a vessel of His ultimate purpose. Cause and effect is true, and I don’t see how man, a finite being, could create his own desire and will.
I’ve read and reread the verses that people use for the doctrine of Hell. And honestly, the doctrine is not clearly taught in the Bible at all. The doctrine is taken from small verses found here and there in the Bible. And all these verses are found in hyperbole, parable, great symbolism, and certain “interpretations” of words. So why should it hold weight? It has become a tradition of men so engraved in Orthodox Christendom that perhaps it has become an idol. And maybe fear has a lot to do with that. It is, after all, a horrid and frightful concept. And the Catholic Church used such fear to manipulate poor people all through the ages. People are so afraid of an eternal Hell and afraid of going there that they don’t want to question such a view, lest they go there themselves.
I’ve settled this matter of Universal Salvation in my mind. I cannot with the Calvinists believe the unscriptural notion that Christ died only for “the elect” and not for the whole world. Neither can I with the Arminians believe (or even entertain such thoughts) that the Almighty God will at last be defeated in His purpose for the world. I cannot believe that God purposed Eternal Torment. Neither can I believe that Eternal Torment will defeat God. Nor can I believe that God’s purpose was to annihilate most of the human race when the Bible clearly says God’s purpose was to send “His Son into the world to save the world through Him.” I’ve come to truly believe that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” And to say that most for whom Christ died will never be reconciled to God seems to mean Christ will be defeated and He will never “see the travail of His soul and be satisfied.” How can we say that Christ will be satisfied in His dying for every man if most for whom He died are left screaming forever in the flames of Hell, or even obliterated? Are we really to believe that Christ will be satisfied with His victory never being realized for most of those for whom He died?
I believe that Creation was made subject to vanity by the will of God. But God’s awesome purpose was, through the blood of His Son on the cross, to reconcile all things back to Himself. Whether things in heaven, or on earth, or under the earth, to gather all things back to Himself and swallow up death forever. Nothing the Conquering Christ came to do will fail. No one He came to save will in the end be lost. God’s word will not return unto Him void but will accomplish that thing for which it was sent. And because of the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world, God’s purpose for the world will be accomplished. He will draw all the hearts that He created and loved with an eternal love back to Himself, He will triumph over death and suffering forever and will destroy all evil. Then every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father and God will be all and in all. Then one eternity and one universe will exist. A World of Love, untarnished by evil, death, and suffering. There will be no more pain and no more sorrow, for those will be forever passed away. Then Christ will have received the full reward of His sufferings and all the families of the nations will worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. The happiness and joy of the radiance of Christ will reign in every heart to the eternal praise and glory of God.
My heart is in wonder at such a glorious prospect! That God had a final and good end in mind for the world He created and He will not be frustrated or defeated in this end. O death where is your sting?! My mind is blown by the depths of the wisdom and the knowledge and the glory of God! To Him be glory through endless ages, forever and ever! Amen!
Needless to say I am a much happier person now. I believe that this is only the beginning of a journey I am on in delving deeper forever into the Ocean of the God who is Love and Light eternal. How happy I am to know that it never was and never will be true that God destined for most of the human race to be tortured for eternity. MAY THE WHOLE OF CREATION BE LIBERATED AND BROUGHT INTO THE GLORIOUS FREEDOM OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD!