The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Is ET becoming liberalized?


I was reading a book by an ET who said he doesn’t think ET consists of physical torment. I’m pretty sure Jerry Walls believes the same. In general, do you think less ETs today believe in the torture chamber hell of Dante and Edwards than in the past?


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Personally, I side with Inclusivism (1,2,3,4) and Hopeful Apocatastasis.

But if I have, to talk about hell…I prefer the NT Wright zombie view

Coupled with the Eastern Orthodox view

But I was in a bible study last week…with 2 Eastern Orthodox priests and 2 members…and the young priest said…we don’t talk about hell much, in Eastern Orthodoxy. We talk about the love and mercy of God.


I suspect many evangelicals have moderated Dante’s inferno, especially ever since Lewis talked about hell as a place one would just prefer not to leave, since the door only remained closed by your own choice. It is common to emphasize that fire is only a metaphor for being out of God’s presence. N.T. Wright’s vision in his heaven and hell book appear to continue this watered down version of torment, and sounds like one just loses an actually authentic existence as in annihilationism.


So Bob, what do you think?


I’m implying that I think Qaz is correct that “ET is becoming liberalized” among evangelicals. So maintenanceman, what do you think?


Well, Bob, I think that my view is that there is no HELL, as believed by evangelicals, I think that the understanding of the word ‘hell’ is a unfortunate translation error of some well meaning but unfortunately sick church folks. They had other views as to how they wanted folks to behave. There were many alternative views of hell, and the church used them for all they were worth.

So what do you think Bob?


I know the phrase “outer darkness” is getting more popular or “shut out from the presence of God.”


Ah, I personally agree that “hell” is a terrible translation. But we’ve debated at length whether any texts point toward yet unfinished judgements, and insofar as one thinks Jesus’ warnings of a conflagration in Hinnom Valley become also a metaphor for future judgements that go beyond AD70, my own sense is that watered down versions of that, such as C.S. Lewis’, have a ludicrous time appealing to the Gehenna texts which clearly are not about some horror that anyone would purposely choose or remain in if the door was open to exit it.

My personal sense is that (as with ‘heaven’) language that may be taken to refer to judgments yet future tends to be metaphorical and obscure, and thus the nature of such is unclear to me, and I am glad to leave that in the good hands of God who knows what is proper and needed.


Thanks Bob.


By the way, Merry Christmas to you and yours!


You too MM.


Almost everyone I hear or read on the subject, preacher or lay person, is essentially, whether they realise it or not, quoting Lewis. So while I wouldn’t say it’s becoming “liberalised” - I think the key tenets, the duration and, at least partly, the idea of being separate from God’s ‘life’ (whatever it is decided that means) still persevere - the Edwards imagery of sinners being held over a fire like loathsome insects has become far less common, I think.

And yes, the passive ‘punishment’ in Lewis’ explanation does become a problem when you come across the active, seemingly retaliative judgement passages. Ultimately that’s another reason why a strong, biblical universalism frequently ends up tying the different strands together much more neatly - because a strong attitude to judgement and ‘punishment’ is absolutely no problem if it’s for the end of God making us righteous and good. If it’s ignored or brushed over then there’s something missing. If it’s for the end of even one person being locked away in their evil forever then we have a god satisfied in the unrighteousness of his creation.


Thanks qaz


In Europe they certainly do, no man would believe in a literal hell here. I think it’s hypocritical since it’s equally terrible but not as nonsensical as a fiery abode in the midst of earth. I think this is also shared by the pope:

BTW the Orthodox view of hell is that all men spend eternity with God and that the presence of God torments the sinners, this makes kinda more sense to me and is somehow less sadistic than the Catholic and Protestant concepts.


I’d never thought of it quite that way. :slight_smile:
But of course we are hoping for NO sadism at all…


I think Romans 2:5-11 is often ignored when it comes to future judgment:

5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”
7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;
10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

We should also consider, that any future punishment that involves the dead is linked with a ressurection. What Paul describes might happen at the Great White Throne Judgement, not in an intermediate state.


That’s encouraging to here.