HOW CAN A LOVING GOD SEND PEOPLE “One morning when one of our girls was out at our front gate it happened that this young university student was out there too. The girl began telling him he ought to be a Christian, in a simple way urging him to believe in Jesus to save him from his sins, make him a good man, save him from hell, and lead him to heaven."What's the use of my being a Christian ? I do not need to be saved.""You might die suddenly in your sins, and you would go to hell.""Who are you?" scoffed the student. "You are a little snip of an ignorant girl, just a sort of useless beggar. What do you suppose you are trying to do? You are trying to teach me something when you are not worthy to even talk to me. I am a university student. I am wise. I have read many books. I have been many years in Peking. I can speak and read English as well as Chinese." He then spat in her face and told her to mind her own business.Two weeks later hearing a funeral commotion in the front alley, I was surprised to learn that they were carrying this university student to his burial; I had seen him on the street a few days before. One of the boys said that as we were going out to preach, a few days previous, he had offered this young man a tract, but he would not take it.I knew nothing of this conversation with the girl. About a month later this girl was in a trance under the power of the Spirit. After seeing visions of heaven and the glories of the redeemed she stood still and bent over as though looking into hell. This is what I heard: "Ah! There is hell. No, I cannot; I have no power to help you now. You certainly are in an awful plight. It is you who are worse than a beggar now, all dirty, all filthy, and suffering in the lake of fire. In fact, you look worse now than any beggar I ever saw. I thought you told me you were rich and that you had a great education. Where is your education now? Well, I cannot help you now even if you do apologize. That may be, but I have no power. No, only Jesus can save you, but when I told you about Him you made fun of Him and cursed me.” H A BAKER ‘Visions beyond the veil’ Questions • Do you believe in hell? • What do you think it is like? • Who do you think is going? • Is it fair that there should be an eternal punishment for a temporal offence? Authentic love is not permissive The first false assumption is that love allows the object of that love to do whatever he/she wants. However, this permissive kind of "love" isn't really love at all. As any parent will recognise , allowing their children to do whatever they want to do is in reality not loving at all . Permissive gods that allow humans to do whatever they want without repercussions, are found in the pagan religions. However, the God of the Bible wants us to love Him and other people above everything else we do. God's moral laws have a purpose The Creator God of the universe is a God of order. The laws that govern the physical universe are so precise that we can calculate the positions of planets, stars, and galaxies thousands of years into the future. Would a God of this kind of precision design moral laws that are random or changing? It doesn't seem likely or consistent with the character of the Creator that we know from the creation. The Bible affirms that the moral laws are consistent with the character of God. Therefore, the main purpose of the moral laws are to teach us what God requires for us to enter into His kingdom. In fact, if we all perfectly fulfilled the moral laws of God, we would be in perfect harmony with each other. Our failure to fulfill God's moral laws leads us to seek Him as the source of our salvation In a sense, the concept of hell gives meaning to our lives. It tells us that the moral choices we make day by day have eternal significance, that our behavior has consequences lasting to eternity, that God Himself takes our choices seriously. The doctrine of hell is not just some dusty theological holdover from the Middle Ages. It has significant social consequences. Without a conviction of ultimate justice, people's sense of moral obligation dissolves, and social bonds are broke. Of course, these considerations are not the most important reason to believe in hell. Jesus repeatedly issued warnings that if we turn away from God in this life, we will be alienated from God eternally. And yet, although "the wages of sin is death," Paul also says that "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). While breath remains, it is never too late to turn to God in repentance, and when we ask for forgiveness, God eagerly grants it. —excerpted from Answers to Your Kids' Questions, by Chuck Colson, 2000 Prison Fellowship Ministries. People ultimately prefer hell over complete submission to God So why doesn't God make everyone into perfect beings and allow them all into heaven? It would actually be more cruel if God were to do this, since many people prefer hell to the alternative (complete submission to God). All the people who end up going to hell will have done so because they actually prefer hell to being forced into the presence of God for all eternity. I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside. All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened. And yourself, in a dark hour, may will [a grumbling] mood, embrace it. Ye can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood... —excerpted from The Problem of Pain and The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), included in The Quotable Lewis, 1989 Tyndale God's creation of humans as free will beings must allow for the possibility of them rejecting Him completely Since God created spiritual beings for the purpose of expressing love, those beings must have complete free will in order to express that love. Of course, free will allows for the possibility of those beings rejecting God and His plans. Unfortunately, most people do not agree that God's rules are good and do not want to live by them. In fact, the vast majority of people want to run their own lives without submitting to God at all. Somehow, they feel that God will just let them into heaven because they have behaved about as good, and maybe even better, compared to the rest of the people on earth. The problem with this idea is that God does not grade on the curve. All who enter God's kingdom must be absolutely holy, since no sin is allowed in God's presence. In addition, people must be willing to allow God to prevent them from sinning ever again, since there is no sin in heaven. This means that people must be willing to submit fully to God's will in order to get into heaven. Of course, all humans fall short of God's moral requirements. Therefore, God has made a provision to erase all sins that we have committed in this life and to perfect us so that we cannot sin in the next life. That provision for sin is through the sacrifice of God's son, Jesus Christ “in a sense, God doesn't send anybody to hell. His desire is that everyone be saved, and He pleads with people to come to Him. But if we reject Christ's sacrifice for our sin, then God has no choice but to give us what we deserve. God will not send us to hell--but we will send ourselves. Our eternal destiny thus lies in our own hands. It is a matter of our free choice where we shall spend eternity” Dr William Lane Craig What kind of.. I don't know what all the fuss is about -'Love Wins' is an exceedingly edifying read. SPOILER WARNING: DIVERT YOUR EYES NOW: Trapped in a tricky triangle of temptation with both her dentist and her chiropractor, Joan June is in a real ethical dilemma. Her dentist has more cash but the chiropractor is more open to 'spiritual' ideas-seemingly important to the multiple fornicator Joan. The Dentist offers security and free teeth whitening whilst the chiropractor can give her free pilates tuition while introducing her to the mystical practice of smelling plants and listening to whale song. How CAN she choose? Spirituality triumphs over mammon but en route to tell the chiropractor that he’s 'the one', June is left in agony from a sudden bout of tooth ache! Is this a sign she has chosen badly? 'Yes' she concludes and reverses her choice and goes with the dentist after all-a choice that she later sees as providential as (not content with just June) the chiropractor turns out to a multiple adulterer! "A gripping and enthralling story of lies, lust, superstition, greed, betrayal and treachery. Read on and you will fast come to the conclusion that if hell doesn't exist perhaps God will need to invent it ” Greg Downes ‘Rob Bell: Universalist?’ In His recent Blog, ‘Rob Bell: Universalist?’, Justin Taylor wrote: ‘It is unspeakably sad when those called to be ministers of the word, distort the gospel and deceive the people of God, with false doctrine.’ (Saturday February 26th 2011) Time Magazine, has called Bell the ‘Rock Star of Evangelicalism’, whilst in the January 2007 issue of thechurchreport.com, Bell was named number 10 in a list of the 50 most influential Christians in America. Theologian, Maggi Dawn: ‘ What is extraordinary about Bell, is not new or original theology, or deep scholarship, but the magnetic quality he has as a communicator.’ Universalism & Separatism Professor of Kevin. J. Corcoran, Philosophy at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Makes helpful distinction in his book ‘Re-thinking human nature: a Christian, Materialist alternative to the Soul’ (Baker Academic, 2006) Corcoran, distinguishes between some Christians who are Universalists (they’d ultimately believing all or most people will be reconciled to God) and people who are separatists (those who believe that some or most of humanity will be separated from God because of their Sin) What IS HELL Like? BIBLICAL LANGUAGE OF HELL Upon the wicked He will rain snares; Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup. (Psalm 11:6) You will make them as a fiery oven in the time of your anger; The LORD will swallow them up in His wrath, And fire will devour them. (Psalm 21:9) For behold, the LORD will come in fire And His chariots like the whirlwind, To render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire. (Isaiah 66:15) For the LORD will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by the LORD will be many. (Isaiah 66:16) "And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:12) "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 7:19) "Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. (Matthew 13:40) "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:41-42) "So it will be at the end of the age; the angels shall come forth, and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:49-50) "And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal fire. (Matthew 18:8) "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; (Matthew 25:41) "And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, (Mark 9:43) "And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED. (Mark 9:47-48) "And His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Luke 3:17) "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:6) And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. (James 3:6) Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:7) he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. "And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." (Revelation 14:10-11) And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. (Revelation 19:20) And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:10) And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14-15) Eternal conscious torment? And behold, they cried out, saying, "What do we have to do with You, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?" (Matthew 8:29) "And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal fire. (Matthew 18:8) "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; (Matthew 25:41) "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:46) "And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. "And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.' (Luke 16:23-24) for I have five brothers-- that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment.' (Luke 16:28) Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1-2) then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, (2 Peter 2:9) Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:7) "And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." (Revelation 14:11) Eternal destruction (annihilation)? "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. (Matthew 7:13) "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (John 5:24) "Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death." (John 8:51) Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. (Romans 6:21) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? (Romans 9:22) For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10) For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18-19) And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, (2 Thessalonians 1:9) Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (James 1:15) We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. (1 John 3:14) But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7) as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16) 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.' (Revelation 2:11) Rob Bell in ‘Love Wins’ on the nature of Hell: ‘could a person reach the point of no-longer bearing the image of God? Could the Divine image be extinguished in a person, given enough time and neglect? Is there a possibility that given enough time some people could eventually move into a new state, one in which they were in essence ‘formally human’ or ‘post-human’ or even ‘ex-human’ an interesting question.’ A brief history of ‘conditional immortality’ It was in 1853 that the theologian F. D. Maurice (1805-1872) was deprived of his position as professor of Divinity at King’s College, London. F. D. Morris had grown up a Unitarian, but had been ordained as an Anglican Priest. He had published some of his works under the title of ‘Theological Essays’ and it was this that caused the accusation of heterodoxy to be levelled against him.his so-called He lost his position as a professor. One of heterodox views, was that of conditional immortality – the belief that the Soul is not innately immortal, but only becomes so when infused with the resurrection life of God. It stands to reason therefore that the fate of those who go to Hell is not eternal punishment, but annihilation. Conditional Immortality Today John Wenham brought the view into vanguard with a whole range of English evangelicals. When he published his book ‘The Goodness of God’ in 1974. Towards the end of his life, John Wenham became an even more fierce defender of this view. In Wenham was to Hell: his book ‘Facingwrite: an autobiography 1913-1996’ endless torment is a hideous ‘I believe that and un-scriptural doctrine, which has been a terrible burden on the mind of the church for many centuries and a terrible blot on her presentation of the gospel. Should indeed be happy, if before I die, I could help in sweeping it away.’ It was in 1988, that theologian John Stott who embraced this position, in his book ‘Essentials: a liberal evangelical dialogue’ (Hodder 1988) published with the theologian David L. Edwards. IS universalism a biblical option? 1. Anonymous Christianity – This was a phrase coined by the German Jesuit Scholar, Karl Rahner. The view states that people who have never heard the gospel or have even rejected it, might be saved non-the-less, through the atoning work of Christ. Rahner states: ‘Anonymous Christianity, means that a person lives in the Grace of God and attains salvation outside of explicitly constituted Christianity. Let us say a Buddhist Monk, who because he follows his conscience, attains salvation and lives in the Grace of God, of him I must say, that he is an Anonymous Christian.’ In Lumen Gentium, the Vatican 2 council (1962- 1965) fathers stated: ‘Those also can attain to ever-lasting salvation, who through no fault of their own, do not know the gospel of Christ or his church. Yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do his will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.’ 2. Post-Mortem Evangelism Canon Keith de Berry: ‘…does this not mean that we would have an empty Hell and full Heaven?’ ‘that such a proposition would be an expression of the Love of God and the Victory of Christ upon the Cross.’ Clark Pinnock: ‘the Bible contains broad hints about post-mortem probation.’ Quoting the passage in 1 Peter 3:19-20 as grounds for hope with this respect. 19After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 3. Religious Pluralism John Hick For Hick, such is the scope of the Love of God, that he is present in a salvific way in all religions. The difference between religions, is merely an individuals own personal circumstances, be they cultural or geographic. 4. Universal Universalism Origen (185-254) that first postulated that, not only would all people be saved, but ultimately even the Devil himself, would be reconciled with God! Since then, there have been numerous voices who have argued that for God’s plan of salvation to be effective, all human beings will ultimately be reconciled to God – regardless of their faith, morality, or even their volition! ‘If Grace is True: why God will save every person.’ By Phillip Gulley and James Mulholland (2003) Bell and Religious Pluralism Bell distances himself from traditional pluralism by affirming strongly the necessity of Christ for salvation. Commenting on John 14 : ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.’ Bell comments: ‘What he doesn’t say, is how or when or in what manner the mechanism functions, that gets people to God through him….He simply claims that, whatever God is doing in the world, to know and redeem and love and restore the world, is happening through him.’ Bell and Universal Universalism Bell opens the door to the possibility of coerced salvation but is ultimately non-committal on the issue. ‘Will everybody be saved? Or will some perish apart from God forever, because of their choices? Those are questions, or more accurately those are tensions we are free to leave fully intact. We don’t need to resolve them or answer them, because we can’t, and so we simply respect them, creating space for the freedom that love requires.’ Bell on Post-Mortem Evangelism Bell sees ‘post-mortem evangelism’ as entirely consistent with God’s love and justice but holds back from saying all would embrace Christ in such a scenario as free will has to accept the possibility that some may not. ‘Let’s pause here and ask the obvious question. How could someone choose another way with a universe of love and joy and peace, right in front of them? All of it theirs, if they would simply leave behind the old ways and receive the new life, of the new city, in the new world… So, will those who have said no to God’s Love in this life, continue to say no, in the next? Love demands freedom and freedom provides that Bell and Anonymous Christianity Without mentioning Karl Rahner by name (ironically) Bell clearly trumpets, the idea of Anonymous Christianity. As evidence he quotes from the apostle Paul who states the Israelites: ‘drank from the Spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.’ (1 Corinthians 10) About this, Bell states: ‘according to Paul, Jesus was there without anybody using his name. Without anybody saying that it was Him. Without anybody acknowledging just what, or more precisely who it was. Paul’s interpretation that Christ was present in the exodus, raises the question – where else has Christ been present? When else? With who else? How else?’ 1. Missiological (how we do mission) It is not without reason, that it has been said, many times, that universalism is a disincentive to evangelise. What is the point of evangelism if ultimately all will be saved? ‘How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in and how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard and how can they hear without someone preaching to them and how can anyone preach, unless they are sent.’ (Romans 10:14- 15) James Hannington (1847-1885) A successful Anglican Vicar, he left England to carry the gospel to Uganda in 1882. His first attempt to reach Uganda failed-contacting various fevers, he had to be carried much of the way. In 1885, after recuperating in England, he tried again, approaching Uganda from the North East. A thousand Ugandan soldiers intercepted Hannington upon arrival. He was taken hostage, tortured and after a week in captivity was speared to death. 2. Hermeneutical (how we interpret Scripture) Last month, nearly a hundred people gathered at Spurgeon’s College in London, for a conference that addressed the question: ‘Is Universalism an evangelical option?’ The main speaker was, Dr Robert Parry, who authored (written ‘The Evangelical Universalist: under the pseudonym Gregory MacDonald) the biblical hope that God’s Love, will save us all’ (2008) After Dr Parry had given the main address, a response was given by, Dr Derek Tidball. In his response, Tidball stated: ‘ Emotionally, I would like to believe universalism but I would like Scripture to propose it more clearly.’ R.C. Sproul (1939 - ) In his book. ‘Chosen by God’ he states; ‘you are required to believe, to preach and to teach, what the bible says is true, not what you want the bible to say is true.’ It seems to me that universalism, owes more to cultural norms, than biblical truth– it gives us what we want. H. Richard Niebuhr (1894-1962) stated boldly that what we want to believe is: ‘ A God without wrath, brought men without sin, into a kingdom without judgement’ (Kingdom of God in America) 3. Soteriological (how we understand salvation) This perhaps, is the most serious objection to universalist theology. If I was to preach, a ‘universalist gospel’ there are many who may decide not to embrace the costly path of discipleship -believing that everything will turn out alright in the end. If the universalists are wrong then to say this has serious consequences is an understatement.