The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Fear Of The Consequences of Hell Motivates To Work Hard


From my book “The Shyness & Social Anxiety Workbook” by Martin Antony Ph.D. and Richard Swinson M.D.:

There is no question that when anxiety is too intense it can interfere with performance; however, mild to moderate amounts of anxiety are actually helpful. If you never became even slightly anxious under any circumstance you probably wouldn’t bother doing the things that must be done. Why would you bother eating healthy food if you weren’t concerned about the consequences of not doing it? In part, it is anxiety that motivates us to work hard, prepares us for challenges, and protects us from possible threats…Anxiety and fear have a helpful function in that they prepare you for future threats and protect you from danger. So, your goal should not be to rid yourself of all fear and anxiety. Rather, your goal should be to reduce your anxiety to a level that no longer interferes significantly with your life. page 9

The anxiety about the consequences are reduced by the love and hope of heaven. Hope motivates as well as fear.


The Sufi Mystic Rumi explains the paradox

God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches by means of opposites, so that you will have two wings to fly not one ~~ Rumi - Sufi




Just to be clear. I don’t think we can know for certain that hell is forever but it does exist. I’m a hopeful universalist now.


Good. I don’t see hell as “punishment” in the penal sense, but in the remedial sense. I see all of God’s judgments as remedial.


I go along with the Orthodox view of Robin Parry that it’s both retributive and restorative. It is possible to refuse God’s corrective love though:

Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding ~~ Proverbs 15:32

Poverty and shame come to him who ignores discipline, but whoever heeds correction will be honored. ~~ Proverbs 13:18

A fool rejects his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction is prudent. ~~ Proverbs 15:5

Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled,
the oppressing city!

She listens to no voice;
she accepts no correction.

She does not trust in the Lord;
she does not draw near to her God.~~ Zephaniah 3

Hence, I’m a hopeful universalist


Discipline (which means “teaching” or “training”) is great! That’s what I mean by “remedial.” A loving human father disciplines his children in this way.

I disbelieve that God practises retribution. Even a loving human father doesn’t. He wants his children to learn to behave, but he doesn’t lock them in a room for a month in order to “make them pay” for their wrongdoing.


So when guys and gals do bad things, is God working to move them to a place he wants them to be?


Retribution is punishment that is deserved. The Bible teaches that God’s punishment is deserved:

Hebrews 10:29

How much more severe a punishment do you think that person deserves who tramples on God’s Son, treats as common the blood of the covenant by which it was sanctified, and insults the Spirit of grace?

There’s nothing unusual about calling the police on your grown children if they are abusive. People do it all the time. God is just therefore not to punish serious crimes would be unjust. When we commit a crime we pay a fine. This is justice and it is defended by the vast majority of philosophers in the philosophy of law:

During the first half of the twentieth century, under the influence of social scientists, retributive theories of justice were frowned upon in favor of consequentialist theories. Fortunately, there has been, over the last half-century or so, a renaissance of theories of retributive justice, accompanied by a fading of consequentialist theories, so that we need not be distracted by the need to justify a retributive theory of justice. ~~ William Lane Craig, The Atonement pp. 68-69


Yep! Sometimes sooner; sometimes later.