The Evangelical Universalist Forum

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


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:


The joy of Christ, the peace which passes all understanding.

Sin can sometimes give pleasures (and I think it doesn’t do a very good job of even that), but holiness alone can give joy. One can see it in the lives of the saints, and even (to a less extent) in our acquaintances and in ourselves: The holier someone is, the more joyful he is. The more sinful someone is, the less joyful he is. Saint Paul wrote that all earthly goods (whether pleasures, or money, or power, or position, or etc.) are manure. We therefore have two options in this life:

  1. Acquire holiness and thereby joy.

  2. Acquire manure and thereby misery.

Most people are stupid and think that the path to joy is by acquiring manure, even if the manure is acquired by sinful means. We must not be fools. We need to leave that smelly brown stuff alone and instead lead lives of holiness.

tldr version:

If you want to be happy, then be holy. There’s no other way!


Absolutely, perzactly correct and well put!!


I think the more important question is, if God can just make people Christian in an instant, why doesn’t he just start us off in heaven? What purpose does our earthly, suffering-filled existence serve for a loving God?


Yes, I can. But quoting scriptures to a full preterist can be an exercise in futility. He simply declares that you are taking them in a “wooden, literal” sense, and thereby dismisses them.

Who said anything about bad deeds blocking entrance to heaven? You quoted what I said. Did you even read it?

If a person has not repented, and has not been regenerated but continues in his present evil, fallen nature, he must be corrected before he is accepted into heaven. Otherwise, he will pollute heaven by continuing his evil, wicked ways. What do you think Christ’s “once for all” deed did? Just forgive everyone of their sin and let them all in? That would not solve the sin problem at all! So He won’t simply take everyone to heaven, letting them continue to act according to their present, evil, fallen natures. He will continue to correct them until they are changed and become righteous persons. It seems no is totally changed in this life. So the apostle Paul wrote:

And bringing it to completion may require correction. “Everyone will be salted with fire.” Both salt and fire are purifying agents.

Jesus said:

Now don’t tell us that all happened in 70 A.D. All nations were not gathered before him in 70 A.D. He didn’t separate the “sheep” from the “goats” in 70 A.D.

Jesus ends his description of what will happen when he comes in His glory with these words:
“And these (the unrighteous) will go away into lasting correction (κολασις), but the righteous into lasting life.”

Jesus is describing the afterlife. Lasting correction doesn’t take place now. A huge number (if not the majority) of evil doers in this life sail through life with no apparent negative consequences whatever. Job understood this, and stated it when his three “friends” implied that he was suffering because God was punishing him for being wicked. Job said:

So if God doesn’t correct evil people in this life, then his correction must take place in the next.


First, an observation: This question applies to most of Protestantism as well as to ultra-universalism. Most Protestants believe that when a saved person dies, snap his soul is instantly perfect and in Heaven.

Second, a question: Most people in this world waste their entire 80 years. I do not see evidence that old people are noticeably holier than younger ones. (Of course, with less strength and more experience, old people are less likely to commit crimes. Not committing crimes does not equal holiness, though. Otherwise females are many times holier than males since males commit most crimes.) Assuming universalism plus post-mortem sufferings, what grounds do we have to believe that post-mortem sufferings will produce saints when our suffering-filled world mostly produces idiots instead?

One more question: How long will these post-mortem sufferings take? My favorite Protestant author (George MacDonald) wrote as though it would take geologic eras (i. e., hundreds of millions of years). While that of course is preferable to never-ending Hell, what does the prospect of 100,000,000 years of suffering do for you? Does it not take much of the good news out of the Gospel? “Good news! You’re going to suffer for a hundred million years!” Huh?

Now to my short answer to your question: I don’t know. I am not familiar with anything in the liturgy that answers that question.

Longer answer: I have a couple of speculations, either or both of which could be inadequate. In any case, I’m sure it will all make sense on the other side of the grave.

Speculation 1: Perhaps part of Satan’s fall consisted of him saying that he could run creation better than can the holy Trinity. God therefore basically said, “OK. Let’s see.” After a span of time (of uncertain length) God will end Satan’s depredations and basically say, “Now everybody has seen what a hash Satan made of it. Now you all know through experience that harmony with my will produces bliss, while sinful autonomy produces death and suffering.”

Speculation 2: When I was 18 I moved into an apartment, and I didn’t live in a house again until I was 26. I appreciated the house much more after dealing with an apartment, whereas when I lived in a house as a child I didn’t appreciate it as much. Perhaps a finite amount of suffering on our fallen earth will make Heaven that much better for us.

Guesses. Only guesses.


Present suffering is either man-caused suffering, or suffering natural consequences. Though many don’t learn to behave from such suffering, there are also many who do. However, post-mortem suffering is administered by God. He will provided only as much suffering as necessary to correct, and not a bit more. There is reason to believe that He will also send the fully complete “sons of God” to bring God’s truth those who will be in the process of being corrected.

It will take as long as is necessary to complete the corrective process, and no more. In some cases (assuming time operates in the after-life as it does now), it may take as little as a few minutes. In other cases where there is a lot of resistance, it may take years. George MacDonald may have been referring to Revelation where it states that for those who worship the beast, the “smoke of their testing” will go up “into the ages of ages.” If an age is 1000 years, then one age of ages would be a thousand thousand (or a million) years. But I am a reader of George MacDonald, too, and have never come across the 100 million years thing. Can you tell me where that is found?


I promise to start working on this question, after I solve this puzzling one, from the Middle Ages. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?. Can you help me out there :question: :smiley:


I’d say at least 2 or 3 million.


The passage I’m thinking of does not specifically say 100 million years, but it does reference geologic ages. I think it’s in the second volume of Unspoken Sermons. I’ll see if I can find the passage. :slight_smile:


I really don’t think that the Bible tells us what will occur in the afterlife. So, it would only be speculation on our part. I suppose we can use reasoning to make an educated guess. That being said, I don’t think “everyone” is referring only to the disciples. I believe everyone will come to the truth sooner or later. If God is eternal/timeless then would there be an “age” in the afterlife or is it ageless? I would say that “age” or “ages” only refers to a world where time exists. Another question, if one continues on in rebellion until such a time when he comes to see the truth, even if it takes “forever” in the afterlife, wouldn’t this make sin “immortal”?


Yes I did read it… what are “wicked ways” if not “bad deeds”?

THIS is such a simple question and the nub of the issue at hand and yet the very thing you complicate out with your program of works that one must do to pass muster.

What did Jesus’ “once for all” deed do? – took away the offense of sin that was held over and against the world (Jn 1:29; 1Jn 2:2) thus reconciling humanity in NOT imputing humanity’s sin / misdeeds us (2Cor 5:19).

Your program has individuals as masters of their own destinies according to the work of repentance, albeit a righteous work, but a work nonetheless.

Just forgive everyone of their sin and let them all in?” – Oh no, we can’t have that can we… WE need to have some control in this matter, rolling out the rules, regulations, rituals and rote of religianity. Nothing kills the gospel message like quite self-righteous religianity!

That would not solve the sin problem at all!” – and our second trick is to invent “a problem” (that no longer exists) and convince others WE have the answer to their problem… how audacious!

The Cross SOLVED man’s problem… THE GOSPEL is about bringing the revelation of GOD’S RIGHTEOUS, not ours (Rom 1:17) to those who don’t know it, who when they actually grasp it lay hold of that peace as only God gives (Jn 14:27; 16:33).

THIS was not some generic saying but was applicable to believers – and although you don’t agree I see such “completion at the day of Jesus Christ” as pertinent to Christ’s AD70 Parousia with the perfecting of the saints in the fullness of the then now fully established new covenant of which up to that point such was in transition2Cor 3:7-11, 18. Note that each respective “glory” in this passage speaks of “covenants” thus Paul’s “from glory to glory” meaning from one covenant to another, i.e., from Old to New, cf. Heb 8:13.

Again Paidion, as I noted earlier with supporting texts… Jesus’ “everyone” was his disciples; THIS was not a generic global statement but was applicable to Jesus’ followers, again as per the context.

Jesus’ use of the term “the nations” was an idiomatic reference to “all Israel”… Israel was about to be (<μέλλω> mellō) judged and those who did not heed his and his apostles warning and call to repentance (), i.e., to change their minds and accept his message, would dully perish in the coming wars. We know this to be the case because speaking of the SAME event back in Mt 24:30 Jesus refers to the SAME as “then all the TRIBES of the earth will mourn” earth = land.

But apart from that, understanding the tribes of Israel as “the nations” in this prophetic passage can be viewed accordingly…

Clearly the nations referred to above ARE the tribes and multitudes of ISRAEL.

Not necessarily. Mt 16:28 makes it clear that… “some standing here will NOT taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” And the preceding verse shows that at that time “rewards” would be given. Although it doesn’t preclude it such does NOT necessitate “the afterlife” to find fulfillment.

Further, your “lasting life”… is that as limited as your “lasting correction”? What are the implication for your theory when held to consistency?

I’m not adverse to postmortem “correction” as my sense of human justice demands it… but I’m NOT running the ship, and however that MAY work out or look like we simply are not told. I suspect and this is pure speculation that as in THIS LIFE certain people are (or appear) closer to God so it may well be with that which awaits. But either way I reject the traditional view of “Hell” where people are said to come under fiery judgement, either limited or not. It is IMO a misunderstanding of scripture fostered by Christendom.

Again true… but from my perspective this didn’t require “death” FIRST to occur, although of course from my perspective many did indeed die… but that was the outcome Jesus had so vehemently warned against that they should turn and live (Lk 13:3-5).


I’d like to see WHERE is this continuous “sin” in the afterlife that so many here seem to so naturally assume… what texts??

Free Willism or God's Soeveignty in Salvation of All

My belief is that (assuming God does indefinitely continue willing the salvation of the unrepentant), postmortem punishment takes as long as needed for souls to experience the beatific vision.

Regarding Speculation 2, why doesn’t a loving God just create creatures that fully appreciate heaven from the get-go? That way millennia of creature suffering could have been avoided.

…Or, as I believe, perhaps it’s metaphysically impossible for God to create rational beings that follow him at the snap of his fingers. Why make biological death that point anyway? Embedded in every creature’s soul is a desire for communion with God (and thus God does not will the salvation of all in vain), but for each soul, a different number of “layers” must be peeled back before the yearning for God shines. For some, our earthly existence is enough to produce a free-willed experience of the beatific vision. For others, postmortem corrective punishment is needed. Perhaps postmortem, God chooses not to use the same laws of physics he has created for the universe, and also perhaps he decides to reveal himself more directly. Employing different means than he employs on Earth, God is able to get souls in the afterlife to freely accept him.



Now for a little hellish humor. :exclamation: :laughing:


It cannot take forever for some particular event to occur. To say that it does is tantamount to saying that the event will never occur.

It is theoretically possible for a person to continue in rebellion forever, but it is practically impossible. For God, in his great LOVE will never give up on anyone; He will work on them until they repent and submit no matter how long it takes. To us it seems that there are some who will never cease to be rebels, but God knows what it will take to bring them in communion with Himself.

If a person continues to throw 1000 dice, will they ever all turn up sixes? Probably not during a person’s lifetime of throwing the dice. But if they continue to be thrown, eventually all dice will turn up sixes. I know human choice is not a matter of probability, but I think this analogy illustrates the certainty of eventual repentance notwithstanding.

If it were possible for a person to hold out forever, wouldn’t that indicate that his will is as powerful as that of God? However, no one can hold out forever. Even if he can resist for a million years, a million years is not forever. God eventually will fulfill His desire that all people will come to repentance, without overriding free will.


I think the following passage from the beginning of “The Consuming Fire” (in the first volume of Unspoken Sermons) is what was sticking in my memory:

I think I remembered it as “geologic” ages because of the following words from the very next paragraph:

In any case, this passage (along with others) gives me the impression that George MacDonald imagined his “Protestant Purgatory” as lasting an extraordinarily long time.