Ambassador of Reconciliation
1/2/15 at 01:23 PM 41 Comments

Burning in Fire

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On a chilly night after Christmas, we built a fire in the fireplace with used wrapping paper and dry logs. It was pleasant sitting around the fire drinking hot chocolate, but as I watched the paper blazing up and then the logs burning with a steady flame, I couldn’t help thinking what it would be like to be in the fire. I couldn’t imagine having even one hand in even such a little fire for even one minute. And yet standard Christian theology says that all unbelievers will be in a blazing furnace for all eternity with no hope of relief! Their whole body will be engulfed in flames and yet never consumed. They will experience conscious torment forever and ever. Any pleas for mercy will be ignored.

Is that what you teach your children and preach to your friends and neighbors? Are you absolutely certain that the God you know will treat His fallen creatures that way? Has this belief been so drilled into you that you think you have to accept it in order to be a good, Bible-believing Christian? Or does the still, small voice of your conscience tell you that something is horribly wrong with this idea? Do you see any inconsistency between the picture of eternal conscious torment (ECT) and the character of the God you have put your trust in?

If you want to be faithful to Scripture and yet struggle with the idea of eternal damnation, take heart! You can be a sound, Bible-believing Christian without accepting a literalist understanding of a fiery torture pit. In many previous articles I have pleaded with Christians to re-evaluate the doctrine of ECT. If your heart cries out for the lost and feels despair for those who are not in Christ, please consider the possibility that God actually has a far better plan for them. I have often emphasized that judgment is real—that no one will get away with anything and we will all have to give an account of our lives—but God’s judgment is purposeful and redemptive. He will not leave anyone to suffer endlessly and pointlessly. He sent His Son into the world to save the world, and He will accomplish it!

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You can find a complete list of my essays here, with a brief description of each. More than half deal with the idea of ultimate restoration, from many different angles. For exegesis of relevant passages, see the articles labeled E for Exegetical. If you prefer a philosophical approach, check the essays marked as P. For an alternate biblical view of hellfire that is both philosophical and exegetical, see my series “What Is Hellfire?” which starts here. Posts that are more devotional are marked as D. While appealing to emotions is not conclusive, God does give us feelings that should not be dismissed. For example, consider how you feel after reading “Inferno” or the “Homecomings” series or “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.”

CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).