I am one among many advocating “impartial grace.” As an advocate for “impartial grace” I first give glory to our Father, His Son and for the Spirit. I am particularly grateful for the theologians and scholars of previous eras. He gave them a means to light my way to understand and advocate “impartial grace.” I am grateful for the opponents of the doctrine, too. They point out where I should look in Scripture to find the truth. It’s good to review their teaching and study what they say. It’s equally important to measure their teaching against Scripture.
Uncovering the doctrine of eternal conscious torment as error, in my view, takes no less than the Holy Spirit to “loose the chains that bind.” His Spirit first caused me to question the doctrine’s validity. Over the course of years His hand has led me to reject eternal conscious torment as doctrine. He leads me through His Word to now advocate “impartial grace.”
He gave me resources to explore and to examine both doctrines. For the foreseeable future the words of the advocates of both are saved in cyberspace. It is easy to contrast and compare the doctrines. The volumes of words used to describe each is unknowable, however, there is enough testimony to form a conclusion to the veracity of either. The arguments for and against each doctrine are readily available to any person curious enough to seek the truth. I leave it gratefully to the Holy Spirit to change the minds of men.
The purpose of this post is to describe a method the Lord led me to while studying “impartial grace.” I stumbled into the method, but am convinced I was pushed. He led me to understand the simple, plain truth that “God is Love.”
Dr. Thomas Sawyer published a book in 1879 entitled, “Eternal Punishment: In the Very Words of Its Advocates.” I “found” the article transcribed at Gary Amirault’s Tentmaker.org website under “Scholars’ Corner.” The title of Dr. Sawyer’s book intrigued me. The subject of his book is enlightening. What did the theologians of his era and prior teach regarding eternal conscious torment?
My conversion from eternal conscious torment to “impartial grace” had already transpired when I happened upon Dr. Sawyer’s book. As I read I wanted to record my thoughts on very nearly every point he was making. My first effort was to print the article and add notes in the margins. Soon I had no margins. My second effort was to copy and paste the text of the book into an electronic document. The formatting did not transfer well. I spent several days reading and formatting the text into a readable format. (see reformatted: Eternal Punishment: In the Very Words of Its Adocates)
Theologians of the past said remarkable things regarding God’s goodness and wrath. It caused me to ask, “What are the theologians of this era teaching regarding eternal conscious torment?” The Internet records what they teach. I have studied them. I began adding their words to my notes. Before I was aware the Lord had given me the basis for a book.
Greater than the gift of the book is the gift of His Light; His revelation, if only to me, but I am convinced His Truth is already revealed to all.
The Lord has led me to another study and I am using the method He showed me. Dr. Otis Skinner was a preacher of some renown in Boston in the early to mid-1800’s. He was an advocate of “impartial grace” in a city where eternal conscious torment was preached vehemntly. The advocates of eternal conscious torment were attacking “impartial grace” and Dr. Skinner determined it necessary to write sermons in defense of it.
Using Dr. Skinner’s published sermons as a model I am surveying his defense of “impartial grace” in the same way I surveyed Dr. Sawyer’s book. I add notes and commentary as I go though the sermons. The Lord led me to write essays on Dr. Skinner’s scholarship. I have completed essays on two sermons and posted them here and here. This is a study in progress. The Lord willing I’ll be able to post many more.