The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Is God Violent In Hell? Does That Influence Us?—Cavanaugh

I asked Dr. Cavanaugh about hell.

As I see it, God is never violent.
Hell is not a penalty for sin. It is God’s correction of the unrepentant.
It is man who metes out penalties (See my signature statement).
God want the best for every person, and He will provide what it takes to ensure that every person is in proper relation to Him.

Again, God doesn’t mete out penalties as “payment” for wrongdoing. He disciplines as a loving human father does his children.

*And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Heb 12:5-11)*

There are so many verses that say believers have passed from death into life, from law into grace,

I do not believe anyone who’s name is written in the Lamb’s book of life will experience the second death, whatever it is really, exactly, is.

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 1 Jn 3:14

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24

“Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” Rev 20:15

All death will eventually be abolished, and God will be all in all. Whatever the lake of fire is, it is(imo) for those who are still hard hearted when they die.

I would feel confident to say all those who have passed from death into life are written in the Lamb’s book of life, but…

Believers step into the fire as soon as they believe according to Jesus and Peter. We are in it. Fiery trials excavating our hidden parts and spreading the light through out our inner man, and increasing the image of Christ in a progressive way- I think that is what holiness and sanctification are about, holiness being about purpose and desire to be like Him… sanctification about the process of becoming mature disciples.

That fire yields the “peacable fruit of righteousness”.

I believe the blood of Jesus has cleansed everyone who bows the knee before Him in their hearts, and they are immediatley grafted into the Vine of life. His blood, the water of life, flows through that Vine and everyone attached to it.

“If we confess our sins He is just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Where the blood has reconciled and cleansed, the fire does not burn. We can stand in the presence of the one who is a consuming fire not because of our righteousness but because of His forgiveness. Righteousness, sanctification- the manifestation of His nature through us- is the result of His forgiving, cleansing and restoring,

“Behold I am making all things new!”

Wherever a believer is on that pathway, that believer has received grace and that grace is multiplying. Sometimes it doesnt seem so because we all struggle- but that is OK. It is a good thing. The struggle has immense value for us now and in the age to come it will have value also.

“If we are faithless He is faithful still and knows our hearts.”

We can have confidence in the grace of God. His grace is sufficient for us. If we struggle, as long as we do not try to call sin righteousness- excusing our sins rather than agreeing with God… He WILL forgive all that we confess(inwardly acknowledge to Him) to 70 x 7 and way beyond. If we cannot see that forgiveness because we are in bondage to a spirit of condemnation from within OR from wthout- He knows, and will still draw us and Comfort us- but we may not receive the joy of it because of the veil of law over us.

We have faults and sins we dont even see, but that is what the Holy Spirit is doing for us, if we understand it. The Comforter is bringing us into grace. They were baptized in the Holy Spirit and Fire- yet Jesus said, “He that believes in me, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water”- this He spoke of the Holy Spirit that they were to receive…" The living water and the fire are the same. They are elements of the divine nature, manifested in words representing different functions.

Water…cleansing and enlivening.

Fire…purging and empowering

Wind… filling and freeing

When we read the words, “He will lead you and guide you into all truth” we tend to think of knowledge and doctrine.

I don’t think that is the primary thing.

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. 7Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow”

Truth in the innermost being is seeing who we are and who He is. Every hidden thing brought to light. We can be fearless in the pursuit of Him because He forgave us already and He is drawing us to Him by grace, and filling us with Himself(all in all!).

A man’s pride may be more sinful than a prostitutes transgression. God sees the secrets of the heart and knows where the brokeness is that causes our sin and He heals the brokeness with the “Balm of Gilead”. The healing is where the victory begins, “By His stripes we are healed”. Why? Because HE took our beating, so we do not have to be beaten- we have to be healed.

“Confess your faults one to another and pray for one another that you may be healed.”

This what James was saying in the epistle. IMO he wasnt talking about physical healing here- because He had just said,

14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick. The Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.

They could confess to Him and to one another because they were not smothered with law and “beatings” for sins, so they could be unafraid in their confessions, in the spirit of bringing an injury to a friend for a ride to the hospital. That inner washing and that ministry of grace is where the victory comes, where the waters of deliverance flows- and where God will not be ashamed to visit His power and glory.

“You know not what spirit you are of!” was Jesus’ response to the disciples wanting to call down fire one people.

I think the crystal sea before the throne and the lake of fire are the same thing. “They will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Lord”… “Know you not you will judge the world?”…“Everyman will be salted with fire”…

Since the lake of fire is in the presence of the holy angels/messengers and the Lamb(Rev 14:10), I think we will sit with Him on His throne and we will pray and reason and wash the lost with grace and they will come, one by one until the last one- to the throne of grace.

It will be torment to stand against such love. It will burn like a fire. But it will be a flood of love that will consume the adversaries resistance until they bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is their Lord and rejoice to the glory of God the Father.(1 Cor 15:23-28, Phil 2:9-11)

“If I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all men unto me”.(John 12"32)

I believe this is how the Father will become ALL IN ALL in the ages to come(1 Cor 15, Eph 2:7), and how Jesus will gather all things into one in Christ(Eph 1:9-11). I believe it is the inheritance we will receive as sons and daughters. It is how we will reign- NOT as men reign with beatings and beratings. “Be not as the Gentiles who are darkened in their understanding… for you are all brothers and sisters, and there is One who is your ruler”- and He reigns through love.

IMO, We are not done yet- and we will not be done when we when we reign with Him as a kingdom of preists in the resurrection(imo). We use the words and images of our meager world and wisdom to describe things that Paul and John both say cannot be fathomed fully in the present time, but we see the foundational principles, and we know that God is love, and that love never fails!

So, if I believe no believer will endure the lake of fire, it is because I believe they have already been received as an acceptable offering, holy and sanctified, offered in the fire of His Spirit. Those who do go into the lake of fire- will receive their “blessing” :laughing7: in the form of a holy intervention in the love, light and glory of God and the Lamb.

The words of Jesus:

*Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ FOR EVERYONE WILL BE SALTED WITH FIRE. *
(Mark 9:42-49 ESV — Capitalization for emphasis is mine)

Does the “everyone” mean “everyone”? Or is it limited to non-Christians? It seems to me that everyone who needs correction after death, will receive correction, whether they are Christians or not, though those have been less self-serving, may require less “fire” in order to be rehabilitated.

Good points Paidion and Eaglesway :slight_smile:

Here’s the final part of my interview of Cavanaugh, which covered hope, hell, Origen, torture, and whether everyone is a child of God!

As I understand it… this needs to be read in the context of the biblical story and not projected beyond it in term of theological interpretation. In Jewish practice all sacrifices were to be salted, and none were acceptable without it…

Being “salted” had nought to do with any postmortem “correction”. Such salting was very much antemortem i.e., to do with this life and was indeed “limited” and yet fully inclusive of all in that grouping, and that “everyone” was the disciples – all disciples in faithful service were a “living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1) and would be tried by the *fires of persecution. *

As salt accompanied OT sacrifices so would the soon coming the fires of trial and tribulation accompany and so try (refine) NT believers…

This then as I understand it is what Jesus meant when he said…

Okay those grain offerings were seasoned with salt. But our Lord’s words in Mark 9:49 are not about grain offerings; they are about people.
Yes, I know that some translations include the clause, “…and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt,” which seems to be a reference to the passage in Leviticus that you quoted. However, this clause is an addition, and does not exist in the earliest manuscripts.

It is my belief that the salting to which our Lord referred is very much post mortem. His words about everyone being salted with fire, begin with “For” indicating the consequence of the danger of going to hell that He had just spoken:

And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire. (Mark 9:43-49 ESV)

Again, the CONTEXT of the whole passage, at least from verse 30 forward shows this… that Jesus is addressing his DISCIPLES… thus the “for everyone” is tied directly in context to the disciples, i.e., the “salted” remark was NOT a generalised statement speaking of all humanity, let alone postmortem. The enter/ed the life (v. 43) being in the aorist tense shows such to be an action as having occurred or occurring with indefinite consequence or results, e.g., Lk 6:6; Jn 3:5.

Seriously? :open_mouth: You don’t think Jesus was applying this thought (Lev) that they as practicing Jews would have been completely au fait with to people and in particular the disciples he was specifically addressing? The last part of Lev 13:2 says… “With all your offerings you shall offer salt”… salt was the agent that purified and preserved. The coming persecution of “fiery” trials would be that which “salted” or sanctified and preserved, if they hung on in faithfulness.

More than “seems to be” – this is EXACTLY what the copyist had in view.

That matters diddly squat. ALL extant manuscripts are copies and reasonably contemporaneous of each other… we have no originals.

The impending “danger of going to hell” is again Jesus’ prophetic call and refers to Gehenna (γέενναν)… pictured in the object lesson of the ever smoldering fires and masticating worms of Jerusalem’s refuge heap just beyond the city’s wall. Jesus was saying it was better to lose a bit of skin in the fight for righteousness than hanging onto all in unrighteousness and losing it whole-scale in the coming conflagrations he speaks of elsewhere, i.e., AD 66-70.

Again… this language is picked up by the apostle Peter as I pointed out previously and shows that they would have understood HOW “salted” was being used and applied by Jesus. Paul certainly wasn’t ignorant of such usage either when he said…

Anyway this is just another aspect to put out there for consideration.

Davo said:

Wiki says…

The Valley of Hinnom :
Gehenna (/ɡɪˈhɛnə/; Ancient Greek: γέεννα), from the Hebrew Gehinnom (Rabbinical: גהנום/גהנם), is the Jewish analogue of hell or purgatory in Christianity. The terms are derived from a place outside ancient Jerusalem known in the Hebrew Bible as the Valley of the Son of Hinnom (Hebrew: גֵיא בֶן־הִנֹּם or גיא בן-הינום, Gai Ben-Hinnom). The Valley of Hinnom is the modern name for the valley surrounding Jerusalem’s Old City, including Mount Zion, from the west and south. It meets and merges with the Kidron Valley, the other principal valley around the Old City, near the southeastern corner of the city.

In the Hebrew Bible, Gehenna was initially where some of the kings of Judah sacrificed their children by fire.[1] Thereafter it was deemed to be cursed (Jer. 7:31, 19:2-6).[2]

In Jewish Rabbinic literature, and Christian and Islamic scripture, Gehenna is a destination of the wicked.[3] This is different from the more neutral Sheol/Hades, the abode of the dead, although the King James Version of the Bible usually translates both with the Anglo-Saxon word Hell.

In the King James Version of the Bible, the term appears 13 times in 11 different verses as “Valley of Hinnom”, “Valley of the son of Hinnom” or “Valley of the children of Hinnom.”

Hell has a different meaning?

I don’t see why Jesus would so strongly warn people about avoiding having their bodies being burned up in the valley of Hinnom. Why does it matter what happens to your physical body after death?

In speaking of Gehenna, I think He was warning them against the severe corrective measures that God provides in the afterlife. If people need correction, God will correct them. He won’t simply take everyone to heaven, letting them continue to act according to their present, evil, fallen natures.

To me, all correction leads to Phil 2:9-11.

Once a person bows the knee and confesses from a heart of Faith that Jesus is Lord, they receive the new nature in the image of Christ. Once an adversary, they are now gathered into one in Christ, reconciled, washed and transformed. God will be all in all because Jesus will draw all men unto Himself. The correction, imo, is simply the fire of love consuming the self-centered justifications of man, until all have a broken and a contrite heart. Growth begins from that point, in whatever age.

Can you list the scriptures that warn of these “severe corrective measures God provides in the afterlife.”

This sounds NO different from what the advocates of ECT claim. If good deeds can’t gain entrance to heaven what makes you think bad deeds can block entrance to heaven? One’s deeds are NOT the issue… Christ’s “once for all” deed settled this.

if somebody dies in sin, hatred for God n rebellion…will they go to heaven in that state before having their problems dealt with by God ?..I think not…God will work His ways on that person, in the next Age (or Ages) and ultimately reconcile them to Himself…this may not be a pleasant experience though…but God’s love will overcome ALL in the end.

Hi Neil…

That’s all well and good, but apart from your own personal conclusions… what texts of Scripture clearly informs you of this?

Again, HOW exactly is your “if somebody dies in sin” determined? Are there degrees of infraction in this and what might they be? Would it be right therefore to conclude that ‘said sin’ remains more powerful than Christ’s reconciliation, i.e., does someone’s will, defiant or otherwise, trump God’s will even past death? IF it does, which would be a logical conclusion of what you are saying… what texts of Scripture clearly informs you of this?

These are legitimate questions to ask… which is why I’m waiting for Paidion to furnish us with such verses BECAUSE between you and him what you are both advocating seem like rather cemented beliefs, which I assume (rightly or wrongly) MUST be grounded in the bible.

If we look on this as our own children… my son died and he was not where I as a father would have liked him to have been, what would be my response. Holy cow… he was rebellious and has already died. Am I going to heap punishment on him? What are we thinking the Christ/ cross was for? :unamused:

ALL that says is… “who will ascend… who will descend” BUT that’s ALL it says… NOTHING about “punishment” that you read by way of inference into that text BEYOND what is actually written; such opinion, which is all that is, is less then satisfactory to make such a claim.

I have found the following scripture references to post-mortem punishments:


Am I missing something :question: Did you type them with invisible ink :question: :laughing:

Or do you mean there are none, and the space is being filled with hot air - or some other substance :question: :laughing:

I think the scriptural writers penned them using invisible ink. :laughing:

To be perfectly serious: I do not think that any passages of scripture teach post-mortem punishments.

This raises a serious question for me. If everyone is eventually saved (i.e. universalism)… and there is no post-mortem punishment … what’s the advantage of embracing Christianity now (whether via Orthodoxy or some other mainstream Christian church) :question: