If Hell is Real, then even Jonathan Edwards' Sermons are Too Tame
by Chris Moyer
Jonathan Edwards created a name for himself throughout colonial America during the early 18TH century by preaching more forcibly on the wrath of God and His severe judgment than had any pastor previously in the Free World. His descriptive and terrifying sermons were in large part responsible for the "Great Awakening," which occurred throughout New England, which in essence was a spiritual revival of huge proportions. It is a matter of opinion whether this revival was a good thing. Edwards used fear tactics to scare multitudes upon multitudes of people into "salvation". People were not running to God, loving him with open arms, but rather they came trembling towards him, afraid that if they did not submit to his mighty will, they would be cast forever by God into a burning lake of fire. Jonathan Edwards described God as one who had a giant bow loaded with an arrow dripping with blood, pulled back and aimed directly at your heart, and the only thing that prevented him from letting go was His incredible grace. He also described individual persons as spiders dangling by a thread over the leaping flames of hell. Then Jonathan Edwards would further terrify his audience by suggesting that they could die at any moment, and if they had not come forward to repent and to believe on the name of Jesus before that hour, they would certainly burn forever in hell-fire. Of course, at the end of his sermons, people would be given the opportunity to come forward and repent, and they would rush towards the front as though being chased by wild beasts.
Did Jonathan Edwards misrepresent the character of God? I certainly believe so. However, let us assume that Edwards was right. Let us assume that the hell of eternal torment truly does exist, and that God will send those there who have not believed in his only begotten son, Jesus Christ. Can you ever go too far in describing the agonies of hell, if such a place truly exists? On the contrary, if hell does exist, then even Jonathan Edwards did not give it justice. The religion of Islam is probably more consistent in its belief of hell and its description of such a place. In the book of Islam, the description of hell leaves little to the imagination. In the Muslim hell, Allah tortures people by burning the flesh off of their bones. However, the nerves that transmit pain stimuli to the brain are located on the external skin of humans. Therefore, when the skin has melted away, so have the nerve receptors. Hence, once the skin is gone, an individual can no longer feel the searing heat of the fire. Allah remedies this by endowing each tormented individual with a new set of skin once the old has burned away so that the person may again experience the unendurable pain of burning flesh.
While I was attending a private Christian college several years ago, I got into a heated argument with one of my best friends, who was studying to become a pastor of the Christian Reformed Church and consequently heavily endorsed the doctrines espoused by John Calvin. We were discussing the topic of hell, and my friend put forward that he felt pastors shied away from the topic of hell, and felt that people needed to be warned of the consequences of a life of sin apart from God. He felt pastors were too "soft" in matters relating to hell and God's righteous judgment. Curious as to what exactly my friend believed about hell, I asked him, and he replied matter-of-factly that whatever earthly terrors I could imagine, they couldn't compare to the actual terrors of hell. I attempted to come up with the most gruesome punishments I could imagine, including needles being stuck into your eyes forever, being impaled again and again, having your appendages sawed off by dull instruments, having your teeth yanked one by one, but it was to no avail. Whatever I came up with, my friend told me the pain would be "infinitely" worse in hell. I had stretched the limits of my imagination, and could go no further. This idea of the worst conceivable pain, multiplied by infinity, would cause me much duress in later life. I could not imagine a God who would allow such torture, whether it was him doing it or Satan. Because I looked up to my friend as one who would look up to an older brother, I thought I wanted what he had. When I thought of the ideal Christian witness, I thought my friend embodied the characteristics of an ideal Christian. Therefore I always compared myself to him, and felt that I couldn't live up to his standard. Not only did I have problems believing in hell and predestination, but I even had nagging doubts about the divinity of Christ, primarily from what I understood to be Christ's lack of mercy for and damnation of the Pharisees. I couldn't imagine that God himself could ascribe to a people such a fate as hell for being self-righteous. Most of the times, I shrugged off the horrible concept of hell, but from time to time, I questioned my salvation and wondered if personal damnation might be in store for me.
I would try to quell my conscience by attending worship meetings called "Hosanna" once a week that involved prayer and singing, but I couldn't help feeling a little cynical. All the songs related to God's love and mercy, and I couldn't help laughing to myself, wondering what it might be like if we were to sing songs that revealed the doctrinal truth held by the majority of the Church about God's judgment upon unsubmissive sinners.
We Praise you, Oh God
For you alone are worthy to judge
You alone can cast those unrepentant sinners into fire
There they'll suffer and burn forever
While we happily rejoice in comfort in Heaven, singing
Hallelujah, Hallelujah to the Just Lamb of God!
The most difficult thing for me was reconciling the loving side of God with the wrathful side. Many of my friends had little difficulty in doing so. In fact, one of my friends, in a discussion of God's war imperatives for ancient Israel, discussed with glee how God commanded the army of Israel to smash the heads of their enemies' babies onto the rocks and to destroy the mothers. It seemed to me as though God was oblivious to the pain of the Israelite enemies; either that or he actually enjoyed slaughtering them.
It is said that there will be no more crying in heaven, and that God will wipe all of the tears from our eyes. If hell truly exists, then the knowledge of it must be entirely wiped out from the minds of the chosen elect. For anyone who had a heart would cry bitterly to know that while they lie in their comfort, the majority of humanity is undergoing unendurable suffering and pain. The only way God could make people forget about hell would be to stage the largest cover-up in the history of the universe. He would have to erase from the minds of countless "saved" individuals all those who perished, whether they be mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and all of the extended relatives, as well as friends and acquaintances. No one could have a trace memory of any who perished, less they wonder about their absence from heaven, and ask God about it. If by chance, someone remembered a loved one who was not a believer, God must certainly then make up some delightful story about the whereabouts of that individual so as to not allow one "tear" in heaven. If it is true that a hell exists, yet God wipes the thought of hell from the minds of the saved, as well as the memory of all individuals who are perishing there, then God is a liar. He purposely deceives the inhabitants of heaven into thinking that he has only created "saved" individuals, in order that he might sustain the perfect peace of heaven. For if the inhabitants knew that he was allowing countless millions to be tortured, and he had power over it, then a rebellion could very well arise, and then God would have to send everyone to hell. But then he would have no one to praise him, for they would all be cursing his name in hell. God would not like that. If knowledge of hell were maintained in heaven, it seems it would be a thorn in people's collective consciences. It is not possible for a compassionate person to thoroughly enjoy eating a full meal while a man sitting next to him on the ground is starving to death, and his ribs show through his skin. Only the most heartless of men could finish off every last crumb without a single tinge of guilt. Who could ever, in full knowledge, immensely enjoy their comfort while millions are suffering in unspeakable agony? Perhaps some would say that the tortured souls are getting their just reward, and God is repaying them back for what they have done. But let us consider this from a different perspective. Suppose you were given the duty of a torturer, and the man you were to torture was Jeffrey Dahmer. Jeffrey Dahmer was placed in an airtight room with a window for you to watch him, and you could control the temperature any way you like. You could make the room freezing to the point that all his limbs froze, or you could heat up the room until he was dancing frantically in searing pain, every breath burning the inside of his throat and blisters beginning to develop on his skin. Whatever you do, you know full well that nothing that you can do will ever destroy the soul of Jeffrey Dahmer, but he will remain conscious forever, in spite of the agony you put him through. Knowing how much pain you could inflict on this man, could you possibly put him through such torture, in spite of what he has done? At what point would you decide he has paid in full for his crimes? Could you stand to turn the knob to 200 degrees and watch him screaming in agony and begging for mercy? Could you turn up the heat to 500 degrees and then just walk out, knowing that Jeffrey Dahmer is suffering unimaginable pain? Anyone who could possibly say yes is a heartless and merciless individual and has no love in him. I'll bet that even Jeffrey Dahmer's victims would relent after inflicting a small amount of pain. But were the God of wrath in control of the temperature, he would turn it up to 1000 degrees, and make it so the skin stayed on the bones. And God would never turn down the heat. Not for all eternity! And if God could do such a thing, when it is under his power to cease it, he would indeed be the most heartless and merciless being in the entire universe. Of course, some will say that God hands lost souls over to Satan, who is merciless, and he is the one who torments the souls. But is not God sovereign over everything? Certainly God has control over the amount that Satan can torture an individual. If he doesn't, then he is not omnipotent. If it were not God's desire, Satan could not even touch the hair on the head of any particular unrepentant sinner. Since Satan can only then act under the accordance of God's will, it must be true that, if hell exists, it is God's will for Satan to torture individuals, or else he wouldn't allow it.
Consider it this way: God is the commander and Satan is the soldier. The soldier is confined to only act within orders. He cannot act outside of orders. We see this demonstrated in the story of Job, where Satan was given permission by God to harm Job in many ways, but was not allowed to kill him. If Satan tortures a soul, it is only because God permitted him to, and in defense of his actions Satan only need reply: "God said it was OK." To permit an individual to commit a certain act is the same as condoning the act. For example, as a child, suppose you went up to your Mom or Dad and asked, " would it be ok if I stabbed my brother's eyes out with these scissors?" If they responded affirmatively and gave you permission, they were in essence saying, "Yes, it is OK to stab your brother's eyes out. It is according to our will." Of course, we would be mortified to hear parents say such a thing. But in essence, many of us believe in a conception of God which is not that far off. Satan goes to God and asks, "Is it Ok if I take the rejects who didn't make it into heaven and sear their flesh with fire?" And God answers, "Yes, do with them as you will. Since they are not mine, it is OK to burn off the sinner's skin with fire. It is according to my will." If God wanted to, he could say, "No, it is not my will for you to burn off their skin with fire. I will only permit you to surround them in darkness for a time, allowing them to reflect on their life and their mistakes in it. Then I want you to hand them back over to me, in order that I might rebuild them with love and discipline, and instruct them in all truth and mercy." This would be an infinitely more merciful punishment, and one that was believed by the majority of the early church fathers. Of course, many will refuse to believe that God could be so merciful, because the duty of Bible translation has fallen unfortunately into the hands of people with axes to grind, and masses to control. As a result we see a God in the Bible who appears to punish as a means of retribution for a failed life, rather than as a means to purify an individual and prepare them for an eternal life in paradise with him. Another reason we see for individuals rejecting such a teaching is that they believe it gives people license to do whatever they want and still get into heaven. They don't think it fair that they spend their entire lives trying to please God and do what's right, when another person can do whatever he or she wants and end up in the same final place.
After a church meeting, I was discussing this very topic with an Orthodox Christian believer. When she heard my ideas on God's mercy, she told me it seemed like a good idea, but she just couldn't accept it, because if it was true, her life was a waste. She felt that all the time she had spent praying to God and going on missions and witnessing to friends was a complete waste of time if it didn't result in the effect that people would be saved from hell and eternal separation from God in part through her actions. If she could just go and party and drink her way to heaven, then what was the point of leading a spirit-filled life and telling others about the love of God? The point is that it is the best way to live. Those who understand the slightest bit about how life works know that it is more fulfilling and rewarding to follow the commandments of Christ, which he gave for our sake and our well-being, than to live by other principles such as the principles of self-indulgence and greed. The point is to be able to hold your head high on greeting God face to face for the first time, knowing that you lived your life to the fullest, loving and serving your Creator. We need to look at God as more than just someone who will give us a reward or punish us. God is our Father. He is our Father as well as the Father of our enemies and loves us both. Those who are worried that offenders will get off scot-free and bring their offenses into heaven needn't worry. God will certainly not greet a person who completely squandered his life and indulged his sinful lusts in the same manner that he will greet one who has lived a life of sacrifice and honor to God. With one he will praise and lift up in front of others as one worthy to wear a crown. With the other he will greet as a loving and just father greets a son on finding out that the son had stashed away drugs in his school locker. The father will be stern and displeased, but will continue loving the child. Just as an earthly father might send his child away to boot-camp to learn a few lessons, God certainly has some method for correcting the wayward sinner. It could be something as simple as keeping the sinner in total darkness, alone with himself and his thoughts, allowing the person time to reflect on his life, and perhaps giving guidance on what was done wrong. Or maybe it could be giving the sinner the ability to experience life from the point of view of those whose lives were physically or emotionally damaged by him or her. If such were the case, people like Hitler and Stalin would suffer many years before their punishment was complete. Ultimately, the method does not matter. What is important is that when God is finished disciplining a person, the person will be perfect and will be lovingly invited into God's Kingdom. A life lived by Christian principals is never a wasted life, regardless of how God ultimately treats those who were not believers during their earthly lives. The idea of a wrathful and vengeful God combined with the notion of hell has caused more wars than I care to speculate on. It has lead many to hold personal vendettas against anyone of conflicting faiths. It has lead to countless people being racked, burned, guillotined, hung, and bludgeoned throughout the ages. God surely weeps whenever violence is instigated in his name. If the hell of Jonathan Edwards is a reality, then there is justification for all of the violence. When tyrants like John Calvin burn their fellow man Miguel Severitus, on account of theological differences, they can be defended for their actions because they were preventing a heresy, which, if believed, would cause countless individuals to suffer in hell for eternity. It is better to destroy one man, than to allow that man to corrupt a "perfect" doctrine and send multitudes of fellow heretics to eternal torment. If believing in the wrong doctrine can separate you from God eternally, then all the brutality done in God's name can be justified because it was done for the purposes of bringing a person into repentance and right belief, which would save them from hell. If hell exists, and no one escapes it who does not confess to believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God, then no punishment is too severe, too brutal, to illicit the desired confession. Although the person might be lying in order to avoid further torture, there's a chance he might be telling the truth, and that's a chance worth taking if all of eternity is at stake. But I thank God the God we worship is One of infinite love, grace and mercy. His love is so great that he would suffer death on a cross for the sins of all the world, including those that would kill in His name. On the cross, God revealed his true nature. He was willing to die for the worst of sinners, because it was His Will that none should perish. Thank God HIS WILL can NEVER be thwarted!!! I have not yet addressed the destructiveness the teaching of hell has had in my life. At first I intended merely to write an article about hell. However, at Gary's Amirault's suggestion, I have decided to include a testimonial on how I have been affected by this terrible doctrine. During my junior year in college, I began to become quite pre-occupied with the notion of the 2nd coming of Christ and the coming Judgment. I had always had a vague conception of hell, but during this time, my belief in hell became stronger and stronger. I was taking a class called Reasons for Faith, and it was an amazing class. The professor studied at Oxford, and he was a brilliant logician who argued strongly for the case of intelligent design. Basically, he demonstrated that the complexity we see all throughout nature, such as the complexity of the human cell and DNA, cannot be explained with inferences to randomness and chance. Rather, they point to an intelligent designer, namely God. Before I had attended the class, I had an idea that science and God were somehow juxtaposed to one another, and contradicted one another. I walked away from the class with a much firmer faith in God, realizing that, in fact, God and science go hand in hand. However, I also walked away from the class with an awareness that the return of Christ could be very soon, most likely within my lifetime. You see, my professor believed that the generation of remnant Jews who returned to Israel before it became a state in 1948 would not pass away before the return of the Messiah. In other words, there would be some Jews who were part of the regathering process who would not die before Christ came in his glory to judge the world. He justified his theory with passages in the Bible, which to me seemed undoubtedly to confirm his ideas.
One of my friends felt the same way I did, and whenever we got together, we would discuss topics such as the book of Revelation, the mark of the beast, the return of Christ, and the final Judgment. Sometimes we thought about how cool it would be if God chose us to be the two witnesses to prophecy around the world in sackcloth about the coming Judgment. Both of us were amazed that so many other Christians we knew were so blaze´ about the end of the world. We both believed the book of Revelation to be the key to the end of the world, and felt that if you didn't fully understand it, you might accept the mark of the beast without realizing it, and find yourself enslaved to Satan. I would often have dreams where I refused to receive the mark of the Beast, and as a result, was tortured and killed. I felt I would certainly be a martyr at that time, but sometimes I feared that in the moment of terror, I would accept the mark and bow down to the image of the beast. Then I would be cast into a lake of fire with Satan and all others who denied God.
My interest in the return of Christ intensified as time went on. I would watch Hal Lindsey on TV with marked interest, and I would also tune in whenever Pat Robertson discussed any issues pertaining to end-times and the judgment day of God. Particularly frightening was the idea of the Tribulation, in which God would rain down diseases and plagues and pestilence and all other manner of torments to the ones who did not believe in his son Jesus Christ. I scanned the papers on a daily basis, looking for news about Israel, and any time the word "peace process" was mentioned, it sent shivers down my spine. For I knew that according to end-times theology, Israel was to sign a 7 year peace treaty with the Anti-Christ, who, in the middle of the peace treaty, would reveal his true colors, and then the tribulation would begin. He would force all, great and small, rich and poor; to receive a mark and then they would be forced to worship the image of the beast, which in the book of Daniel was called the Abomination that causes desolation. All of these ideas swirled in my head from that time on. Often, in times of struggle and hardship, we rely on the things in which we place the most faith. When times got tough for me, I fell back on my understanding of God and the results were disastrous. For me, my senior year in college was by far the most difficult. After three and a half years, I still didn't know what I was going to do when I graduated. I was a music major, but I had no emphasis. I was not a performance major nor a music education major. I didn't really have a plan for my future. In retrospect, I wonder if I didn't plan for my future because I believed that perhaps there would be no future! My first real relationship with a woman lasted only 2 weeks, and although it was incredible, at the end of the relationship I was left feeling more insecure than ever. She had questioned a lot of my Christian beliefs, and to many of her questions, I didn't have the slightest idea how to answer them. She would ask questions such as, "If the primary duty of Christians is to bring others to Christ, then how can they truly love others as they are? Aren't they just trying to change them into someone else, someone that they want them to be?" I would babble out some incoherent answer, and the longer I was with her, the less firm I was in my Christian faith. By the end of our relationship, I had nearly lost my faith.
Very soon after our relationship ended, I went on a music and theatre trip to London for the January term. It was quite enjoyable, and I was able to forget about my plaguing doubts for a while. But halfway through the trip, they came back with a vengeance. Not only was I in spiritual confusion, but I began to become socially confused as well. I became timid around people, and was afraid to speak. I felt I had no opinions, and I felt myself to be intellectually inferior to most people. By the time I returned from the trip, I was so confused in my life that I even had a difficult time communicating with my very best friends. At one point, I was conversing with a friend in the dining hall, and I was suddenly gripped with fear, feeling I could no longer speak to this person, feeling like I had to be alone and figure out what was going on with me. I went to my room and prayed to God. I asked him why these things were happening to me. I was tired of being confused. I got out a notebook and a pencil and decided to brainstorm, and thought maybe it could help me find some answers. I started slowly, but before long, my thoughts were coming out faster than I could write them down. I was amazed at the amount of information I was writing down. I felt I was overcoming years of intellectual frustrations, as theological issues such as predestination and salvation of the elect were passing away before my eyes. I felt I had come to a deeper understanding of God. And I had, but it was not deep enough. Through my writing I had successfully managed to escape from the restraining doctrines of Calvinism, where there's nothing you can do to earn your salvation. No amount of works can save you, but only faith. According to Calvinistic dogma, you cannot have faith unless God gives it to you. Therefore, God is in control of those who receive faith and those who don't, and he receives in heaven those that have faith and he sends to hell those who don't. Therefore, ultimately, you have no control over your own salvation.
I escaped from Calvinism, but I entered into something nearly as harmful: Arminianism. At the time I was having these thoughts, I had never studied Arminianism before, and so I felt that I was receiving a revelation from God. In essence, I began to understand that God loved us all, and desired for all to come to a saving knowledge of him. However, he could not bring about the redemption of someone who did not want to be redeemed. Therefore, although God was pouring his heart out to all individuals, many individuals, for whatever reason, would be stubborn and would never repent and turn towards God. Therefore, God was powerless to save them, for in order to do so, he would have to make them do something that was against their will. Since God could only influence wills and could not command them as robots (else they wouldn't be "free" wills) he could not force a person to love Him. In all of this I was underestimating the power of God's love. I thought that perhaps God's love wasn't great enough to reach the most stubborn of sinners. In any case, those whose God's love could not reach would still receive the same awful fate as the ones who were predestined to hell by the Calvinistic God. Although the Arminian God is somewhat powerless, to me, he was like a breath of fresh air compared to the Calvinistic God who determined ahead of time who would live in heaven and who would burn in hell.
As I said before, I had never studied Arminianism before, so to me, these were all new thoughts. I thought I had a brand new revelation of God. The more I contemplated on what I was learning, the more and more certain I became that God had huge plans for me in this life. Soon, everything started coming together: This new revelation of God, my obsession with the second coming and the final Judgment of Christ, journal pages that went on and on about the nature of God and the world, the fact that I had no concrete plans for the future. I knew God had been preparing me my whole life for what was about to transpire. Finally, it struck me like a million volts of electricity. I WAS ONE OF THE TWO WITNESSES MENTIONED IN REVELATION! I believed I would travel the world, preaching this new understanding of God, and in time, I would be given the power by God to call down any number of disasters onto the unrepentant sinners of the world. It was at this point that I began becoming delusional.
Many in the medical community believe that bipolar disorder can be explained simply in terms of chemical imbalances. There is no doubt that chemicals, mainly the overabundance of seratonin in the brain, can lead to mania. However, the question must be asked, "What is the cause for the increase of these chemicals in the brain? Seratonin does not increase when your thoughts are calm and mundane. But thinking about things like sex, danger, violence can trigger these seratonin receptors in the brain. Thinking about the end of the world, and FULLY BELIEVING IT IS HAPPENING NOW, can cause a flood of seratonin like you wouldn't believe! The idea of the end of the world and God's judgment of sinners into hell was the primary cause for three out of my four manic episodes that I suffered over a 3 year period. The final episode was caused by the idea that I myself was damned and would suffer unimaginable torture in hell. During my three episodes, I acted according to my beliefs. I believed in hell, and I believed people would go there who did not believe in Jesus. Therefore, I became extremely forward about asking people about their deepest religious convictions, and if I found out that they had a God other than the one I believed in, or perhaps no god at all, I treated them with disdain. If people tried to stop me in my quest (such as the security officers who felt I was a threat to the common peace, which I was), I considered them evil, and felt they were opposed to God and were on the side of Satan. Once, while I was in a hospital, in an attempt to prove to myself that the security officers were evil, I poked one, just to see what he would do. Of course, not knowing my intention, the officer jumped on me along with some of his fellow security officers and they tried to detain me. It further proved to me that I was doing God's will, and these officers were corrupt and were trying to preserve the "false" peace of the world. In the midst of these episodes, as well as the hypomania that came afterwards, I often treated people cruelly, and had little regard for other people's feelings. What difference do feelings make when you are a chosen prophet of God and feel it is your duty to inform the world of the dire consequences of their sin, and rid the world of evil? Of course, I was oblivious during all this time, that while I was attempting to rid the world of evil, and judge sinners, I was creating evil rather than destroying it.
I cannot put all of the blame on my belief in hell and the final judgment of Christ, for many people have believed in these two things without suffering the effects of full blown mania. However, I have to think that, had I not put so much trust in these destructive doctrines, my propensity to mania would have been much decreased. As a result of manic depression, I have been hospitalized four times, each stay lasting more than two weeks. I also barely escaped with my life from a very destructive suicide attempt. Without such destructive ideologies running rampant through my mind, I sincerely believe that mania, had it struck, would have been much milder and most likely would not have resulted in hospitalizations lasting so many days.
It has been 7 months since my last hospitalization. It took me several months before I could finally rid myself of the lingering guilt of the last episode in which I believed God detested me and would send me to hell for the evil I had done. Several months after my last episode, I was still in a theological fog, but I was slowly beginning to realize some things. I began to seriously question this doctrine of hell and the separation of God's children, the good from the bad. I began to wonder if there was any biblical support for the idea that God's love was sufficient for all, and would ultimately succeed in its work. One day, I typed the word hell into an internet search engine, just to see what I could find. I clicked on the first link I saw, and within seconds, a grotesque mouth full of teeth dripping with saliva appeared on the screen. I thought, "Oh great! Another hell and damnation web site!" But then I heard something that brought a huge smile to my face. At first a voice came over the speakers that sounded demonic, but then the voice got higher and higher, until it said in a squeak, "Hey, Mr. Sound Man! What are you doing? You're taking away all my power. I'm supposed to be scarrrrry " And then the voice faded out. I realized I had found a site worth exploring. I found tons of articles about the destructiveness of the hell doctrine, and I found many tracts which discussed the fact that hell was a pagan doctrine that didn't find its way into the Bible until Christianity became the official religion of pagan Rome. Now I was fully interested. I greedily read all the tracts I could find, and then I clicked on a link and I was brought to the Tentmaker.org home page by Gary Amirault. I found incredible testimonials that were not all that different from what I had experienced. The more I read, the more I became convinced that ultimately good would triumph over everything. I had always wanted to believe that God saved all, but my Calvinistic friends had always convinced me out of it. They would quote scripture after scripture that seemed to indicate there was a hell and that those who didn't believe in Christ would certainly go there. Though I had read through the entire Bible, I never once noticed any of the many verses that discussed the salvation of all mankind.
When I saw the verses supporting universalism on Gary's web site, I had to check every one to see if it really was in the Bible, because I couldn't quite believe it. Some of the verses varied a little, as I was using an NIV Bible, but the meaning was the same. I was amazed, and relieved. Now I had a biblical basis for my belief in a truly loving and 100% merciful God. I no longer had to love a God who sent countless billions of people to eternal torment in a lake of fire. I still have so much to learn about God's perfect love. I hope to share this "perfect" God with as many as I can in a loving way, unlike the way I shared my idea of the God of Wrath. I hope to become conformed to his image, and now that I know the true nature of God, I don't have to worry that being conformed to God is like being conformed to a hateful sadist. I can trust that my role model in life is perfect in every way, and loves without ceasing even the most dreadful, heinous sinners this world has ever known. God bless you in your search for love and truth.
Chris Moyer (age 25)