God’s Gift to Humanity: Hell or Reconciliation?

2018-05_jrb_Behind the CloudsGod’s gift to humanity is eternal life.  There are three doctrinal positions regarding eternal life.  The traditional view is orthodox.  Traditionalist doctrine teaches some are bound to life eternal in the presence of the Lord.  All others, for myriad reasons, are bound to eternal conscious torment.  Another less traditional view is the doctrine of conditional immortality.  This doctrine mandates unrepentant sinners be annihilated after a short period of intense punishment. The third view is the doctrine of universal reconciliation.  Advocates of this doctrine are convinced God will reconcile all persons to Himself.  He will make all things new.  He is “all in all.”

Advocates of eternal conscious torment  and advocates of annihilation find universal reconciliation unacceptable.  The “traditions of men” place all kinds of strings on the universally given gift of eternal life.  The “traditions of men” are the bedrock of division and denominational-ism.

God's Glory

Photo credit: Donald A. Barnes, used with permission.

Denominations often disagree.  Denominations disagree on basic Christian doctrines.  Baptists believe like Methodists, but they do not agree on what they believe.  Roman Catholics believe like Mormons, but they do not agree on what they believe.  Doctrines of salvation and “Last Things” are shared beliefs, but not agreed upon. Denominations and congregations disagree on much of what they believe.  The doctrine of eternal conscious torment is the exception.

The doctrine of universal reconciliation is an affront to the doctrine of eternal conscious torment.  Universal reconciliation is true.  Because it is true the “traditions of men” are rightly challenged.  Consequently, the advocates of eternal conscious torment defend the doctrine vigorously.

Both doctrines cannot be true.  Which is it?

Traditionalists find unity in the doctrine of eternal conscious torment.  Because there is such unity among denominations and congregations regarding “hell” the doctrine is current orthodoxy.  Eternal conscious torment has not always been the prevailing doctrine in the Christian world.  It is today, however.

God’s Gift to Humanity: Hell or Reconciliation?” is a book modeled on “Eternal Punishment: In the Very Words of Its Advocates” by Dr. Thomas J. Sawyer published in 1879.  The advocates of the doctrine of eternal conscious torment are quoted extensively in Dr. Sawyer’s book and many are reiterated in “God’s Gift.”

“God’s Gift” is modeled after Dr. Sawyer’s work and the outline he provided is followed.  The subjects are the same.  The descriptions of eternal conscious torment provided by Dr. Sawyer are supplemented by “the very words of its advocates” from contemporary Biblical scholars.  Comparisons of the citations from different eras indicate the descriptions of eternal punishment have not softened.

Universal reconciliation is discussed in “God’s Gift.”  Dozens of scripture verses in Genesis through The Revelation of Jesus Christ are cited and discussed.  These are verses concretely describing reconciliation and these verses refute the doctrine of eternal conscious torment.

It is my prayer that hearts will be changed by “God’s Gift.”  I pray the doctrine of universal reconciliation is clearly seen as “The Blessed Hope.”

Resources