The Evangelical Universalist Forum

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


The Islamic clerics would say the same thing, Geoffrey, regarding the Koran, the Islamic laws, their scholars, etc. But as someone who dabbled all my life in academia (either full or part time), I also look at what the scholars, PhD researchers, etc., have to say on a subject. :smiley:

Hence, I would trust a Wiki article, as long as it’s properly footnoted and I can double check the original sources - if I need to. :smiley:


Geoffrey, in AJP SB frequently cites The Orthodox Way by Kallistos Ware. What are your thoughts on it?


And the Islamic clerics would be right. C. S. Lewis said the best way to learn about Plato is to read Plato’s writings rather than read some scholar’s book or article about Plato.

I’d be fascinated to see a properly-translated quote from the Orthodox liturgy teaching an eschatological stance other than universalism. One would think that non-universalism would be present somewhere in the years of liturgies I’ve attended or in the 1,700 pages of liturgy I’ve studied.

Remember that the “scholars, PhD researchers, etc.” are the very people who assure us that the Bible teaches never-ending Hell. All Christians–whether Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or Protestant–are burdened by the fact that a majority of fellow believers ignorantly believe in never-ending Hell. The persistence of belief in Hell across all demographics makes me wonder if it is literally inspired by demons.


I read that book decades ago. My dim memories of it are that it is a mixed bag, but with more good than bad.


On the contrary, looking around the world, I see many people in the grave and/or living in hell right now. Neither one is empty. I cannot say what happens after we leave this earth, however, when I hear about murder/suicide cases, I wonder if these people fear God? They must not, seeing that their last act on earth is killing someone else and then doing away with themselves. To say for example that someone goes and shoots up a school, destroying many lives in the process, and then upon killing himself afterward, snap, he is instantly Christ-like, just doesn’t seem quite right to me.


This I amended to an earlier post. But I’ll share it here. :laughing:

The problem with Geoffrey’s position

The problem I find with Geoffrey’s position is this. He can’t find hell anyway mentioned in the 1700 page Orthodoxy liturgy - therefore, it doesn’t exist. Well, I can’t find it in the liturgy of the Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans either (unless they present it inadvertently, in a scriptural reading) . But Holy Scripture (although various canons) is part of the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican churches. But it does exist in their canons of holy scripture.

I have a friend named Dora, who has been a member of the Greek Orthodox church all her life. She has a masters from the University of Chicago and a PhD from Oxford. She is fluent in Koine and contemporary Greek, Russian and English. She certainly wouldn’t agree with Geoffrey’s portrayal of Orthodoxy’s view - on the afterlife.

And regarding scholars, PhD, academics, etc. They have an objective stance on presenting things. So they would say that Orthodoxy has traditionally taught hell as real and never ending suffering. Same with the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions. Whether we agree with that, is a different matter. Certainly, in contemporary Protestant teaching, there is room for various viewpoints:

Symbolic descriptions of hell
Port Mortem redemption opportunities

Suppose if I go to Ecuador - for example. And I spend my time at rich gated communities and country clubs. I might say crime doesn’t exist in Ecuador. I’m wearing rose colored glasses. But the statistical evidence says otherwise. :smiley:

I would be hard pressed to choose between Geoffrey’s super optimistic view (i.e. no post mortem punishment) and Davo’s full Preterist view. Come to think of it, I have the same problem with Hillary C. and Donald T. Except that the US used to have an interesting policy. They used to give tons of money to ruthless world dictators - to keep communists from ruling. So I can do the same, with electing a checkered politician with political experience - over one with none. :laughing:


Randy, I agree with pretty much everything you said except that PhDs are objective. Just because someone has shown the intelligence and discipline to complete a doctoral program does not mean he or she is free from bias.


Yes, they do show bias. Take, for example, a PhD candidate doing a doctoral thesis - true story. Two of her professors on the dissertation committee had competing theories. And they kept having her change her presentation, to incorporate more of their theories - conflicting ones, mind you. Finally, she did go above their heads. And the department head told them to stop. She was finally able to complete the dissertation.

Yes, if they present journal articles or books, presenting their own ideas and theories - they show bias. But if they are conducting scientific experiments, doing field research, writing books on historical topics, etc. - they have to minimize or try not, to show bias.


To clarify: When the Orthodox Church teaches that Christ emptied the grave in A. D. 30, it means that all the souls of all those who had physically died were taken up to Heaven. Their bodies will not be resurrected until the Second Coming of Christ.

Also, the Church recognizes that obviously this fallen world is full of sin and suffering.

Why does a sinner becoming instantly Christ-like not “seem quite right” to you? Is it perhaps that you feel he needs to suffer first? Rest assured he has suffered, and deeply so. The only thing that matters in this world is possessing the joy of Christ. Everything else, according to St. Paul, is manure. (I’m refraining from using a 4-letter Anglo-Saxon word here.) But we all are so worldly and so stupid that we think that what really matters is possessing a bunch of manure (which we refer to as wealth, status, power, health, etc.). So we look at this shooter and think that he hasn’t been judged and punished yet. After all, he has a bunch of manure!

Ah, but what he doesn’t have is the joy of Christ. Without that, everything is loss. With it, all is bliss. (This is why the martyrs frequently go to their deaths singing joyous hymns with ecstatic joy.) That shooter didn’t have to wait for some future date to suffer the consequences of his sins. All sin is immediately judged and punished–and the punishment is the lack of the joy of Christ.

Alas, we are all so stupid and sinful that we tend to say, “Bah! What kind of punishment is that? That’s a stupid punishment. If I thought that’s the only kind of punishment there was, watch out!” These, of course, are the words of our fallen nature.


Holy Fool, I think we are coming to the bedrock of our disagreement. A few points:

  1. I am glad to hear that if never-ending hell is mentioned in the liturgies of the Roman Catholics and of the Lutherans, it must be rare. It strengthens my position that Hell doesn’t make sense even from a Roman Catholic or from a Protestant viewpoint.

  2. When I’m accused of being too optimistic or of wearing rose-colored glasses, I’m reminded of the following incident in George MacDonald’s life: Someone said to him that his views were “too good to be true”. He thought a moment and replied, “No, they are just so good that they must be true!” This is not merely a cutesy quip. This is deep truth. The idea of an idiotic, fallen human being (such as myself) dreaming up something BETTER THAN GOD is preposterous. It’s beyond preposterous. The idea of anyone in Heaven feeling a faint disappointment is risible. “You know, this isn’t too bad, but I expected better.” :laughing: So my only error on this score is not thinking grandly enough. To put it in your terms, I’m not yet optimistic enough and my lenses aren’t a deep enough shade of rose. The holy Trinity is ineffably higher, purer, and better than any of our conceptions.

  3. The fact that “experts” say that the Bible teaches never-ending Hell is one of the cardinal reasons that I fundamentally distrust their judgment and even their ability to cogently read. Gehenna = Valley of Hinnon, Hades = the grave, and Tartaros = Tartaros. There is no Hell in the Bible. These scholars are like Pooh and Piglet wandering in a circle in the snow tracking heffalumps, finding that the numbers of heffalumps keep growing. (“Look at how many tracks there are now, Pooh!”) The scholars quote and re-quote and re-re-quote each other until they have quite a corpus built up. “Ah, the assured results of modern scholarship.” To show that the emperor has no clothes, I re-issue my challenge that has not been met in all the years I’ve issued it: I have seen scholar after scholar assert that at the time of Jesus, the word “Gehenna” was commonly understood to refer to post-mortem punishments. I ask for one–ONE–quote from a source certainly written no later than A. D. 30 that uses the word “Gehenna” to refer to post-mortem punishments. I have been waiting for years. I suspect I will wait for the rest of my life. This is a piece of scholarly nonsense that has made the rounds so many times that nobody knows who originally told the fib.

  4. I am aware that the majority of all Christians–whether Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or Protestant–believe in Hell, in part because of the scholars chasing heffalumps. As St. Macrina asked her brother St. Gregory of Nyssa, “Since when are the opinions of the herd an index to the truth?” Or St. Paul (Romans 3:4): “Let God be true but every man a liar.”

  5. Now a piece of biography. Perhaps I am the only man in the world this has ever happened to, but I can assure you that it has happened at least once because it happened to me. I converted to Orthodoxy around age 23. (I am 46 now.) I, alas, read a lot of books about Orthodoxy written by Orthodox authors. They were a scandal to me. I thought I was reading what the Church taught, and as a result I fell away from the Church for a great many years. As the years passed I was struck by what my old priest used to say: “The liturgy is the teaching of the Church. Everything else is merely someone’s opinion.” I gave away and/or sold all of my books on Orthodoxy without exception. With the money made I bought my 1,700 pages of liturgical books. Before I had read a third of the way through I had returned to the bosom of the Church. What I read in the liturgy is pure gold, pure sunlight, perfect crystalline diamond with no darkness at all. In contrast, what I read in the other “Orthodox” books was dark, turgid, murky, and heavy. The fact that the liturgy, the very voice of the Church is utterly free from the darkness that comes from the hearts of the Orthodox believers is one more proof that the liturgy is the unsullied teaching of Christ. Anything that can remain spotlessly pure after being handled by 2,000 years worth of morons and sinners is the very truth of God.


Thanks, Geoffrey.

Hum. Is this one of the 2 Dave’s from the forum?

I do understand where you are coming from, Geoffrey. And if your universal position is true - so much the better. It would save many folks unneeded suffering - on the other side. I can’t agree with Gregory McDonald, in that purification would - or could - take millions of years (if this is a proper understanding - based on forum commentary). It needs to have an endpoint. But I do side with postmortem opportunities for salvation. And free will - as many theologians and philosophers (both contemporary and historical) have said - needs to be respected. It’s my biggest obstacle to be an actual universalist, rather than a hopeful one. Come to think of it, it’s probably a big stumbling block for most people.

I kind of look at this forum as The Canterbury Tales. And part of the fun is all the interesting folks Chaucer met on the way. So in my rendering, a Holy Fool theologian and a Socratic P-Zombie philosopher, is journeying on the forum. And he meets various interesting characters:

A super optimistic Orthodox member, who doesn’t believe in any postmortem correction
A Full Preterist
Someone from Mexico, who believes historical Biblical wine is grape juice
Someone who believes Christianity and all religions, can be explained away by social psychology experiments
Someone who believes in Libertarian free will and universalism. God will keep rolling the dice on the other side, until they make the right free choice.

Let me share a couple lines from Wiki:

And in the outside world, the church scene is interesting: :laughing:

Anyway, now back to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. But I must warn folks. Some of the tales are rather raunchy (After all, it’s classical, well renown and historical literature). :smiley:

Anyway, if I didn’t meet interesting characters here, I’ll be as bored as the Zar (whom I wrote about a while ago). To appreciate it, you need to first read Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Golly. I miss the good old days, when I used to read and write about literature and philosophy - in the academic world. :laughing:


It is a huge error to think that a person immediately transforms into a righteous person the instant He encounters God. In this life, when a person becomes a Christian, he doesn’t become instantly righteous. In some cases, some aspects of the old life are gone instantly, but in everyone, there are elements of the old life that still hang on and must be expunged. This takes time. This requires discipline (not punishment in the sense of penalty). As per my signature statement:

This is borne out in the following passage:

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 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. (Hebrews 12:4-11 ESV)

When a person’s character is such that he continually works evil, that character needs to be changed—regenerated. We need discipline ( a word from “disciple”=“learner”). We need to learn to be righteous, and that takes time. Sometimes we need chastisement in order to willingly learn. There is no reason to think that a person’s character will be changed instantaneously just because he has died.

A Christian, that is, a disciple of Christ or learner of Christ, has been learning throughout life, through his relationship with Christ. He will not need as much discipline in the next life and a person who has been a Christ rejector throughout life, especially one who continued to do horrible acts of harm to others right up to his death. For through such acts, his evil character was solidified.

The Gehenna of which Christ spoke is not merely the valley of Hinnon near Jerusalem. His many warnings to avoid it does not apply to a place where bodies are burned. Why worry about what happens to one’s body after death? Rather Christ was warning people to avoid the severe correction of Gehenna in the afterlife. But you are right in indicating that “hades” is tantamount to “the grave,” in spite of the fact that many in Jesus’ day regarded hades also as a place of punishment after death. Jesus’ parable of Dives and Lazarus, was based on this prevalent idea.

If people become righteous instantly, why didn’t those angels that sinned have this instant transformation? Rather they were cast into Tartaros and place into “pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment.” (2 Peter 2:4)

After giving a few more examples of God correcting people, Peter concludes with this statement:

The Lord knows how to deliver the devout out of trial, but to reserve the unrighteous for a day of judgment, to be corrected. (2 Peter 2:9)

So the unrighteous will be corrected. And even Christians, though with a less severe correction, for:

“EVERYONE will be salted with fire” (Mark 9:49). Both fire and salt are purifying agents.


Great post paidion.


There’s also an interesting article, by a Japanese Christian minister, who believes in second change theology:

Salvation for the Dead -Hades is not Hell- Biblical Second Chance Theology for Dead People in Hades

P.S. The sections** Bible Verses Speak about the Second Chance** and "Second Chance" is Not an Obstacle for Evangelism are interesting. Let me quote from the second heading (keep in mind, I do not fully agree with all his article ideas):

It should also be noted that Geoffrey, Paidion and Rev. Arimasa Kubo, have different perspectives on after life redemption possibilities. :exclamation: :slight_smile:


Randy, I do not hold that some people will have a “second chance.” Rather, like Origen, I hold that the belief that all people, through their own free choice, will sooner or later be reconciled to God, and will walk righteously before Him. That is a future reality, and not a mere second chance.

A human father might say to his son, “Okay son, you did some evil things, but I’ll give you a second chance to do things right from now on.” God is not like that. Rather He is like a human father that says to his son, “You been doing some evil things. You need to change. I am going to help you to change. If you learn quickly—well and good! But if not, I am going to have to administer some discipline. I may have to deprive you of some of your privileges, and if you persist, I may have to take even stronger measures.”


I do realize that, Paidion. I have read enough of your posts, to know where you are (more or less) coming from. :exclamation: :slight_smile:

That’s why I added this, in my prior post:

But we need to first get folks to the point, where they accept the possibility of postmortem redemption possibilities. Then folks can debate whether that is only one (i.e. second change) or an infinite (universalism) number of chances, whether there is postmortem punishment or not, etc.


Randy, I know there is at least one verse in the OT that says a certain group of people wouldn’t be forgiven until after death.


Yes… the “hell” that is NOT in the bible is the hell of Christendom; hell is there BUT it is simply NOT what it became or has been said to be.

I hope you’re not holding your breath.

“Gehenna” was commonly understood to refer to post-mortem punishments.” This notion seems popular even with some folk on this forum where essentially hades Hell Mk.I is simply exchanged for gehenna Hell Mk.II… basically ‘same house – different street’.

You keep peddling this Paidion, yet continuously WITHOUT any textual support saying such… WHY is this?


The reason I don’t believe in this instantaneous Christ-like conversion, is as you mention here about martyrs. What is the difference between some terrorist, who thinks he will receive, however many virgins in heaven, if he blows people up, and the thought that no matter what we do here on earth, we will instantly be made Christ-like upon death? This goes along the same lines as that of a spoiled child who thinks that no matter what he does, dad will take care of it all and make the problem go away. Is leaving this world the answer to all of our problems? Then we all might as well just go jump in a lake.


There are so many unanswered questions. But the Bible tells us what we need for salvation. But does it answer all questions?

Is Rev. Arimasa Kubo right, in that the saved are in heaven and that the not yet saved are in Hades?
Are the Cubical descriptions of “punishments” in hell literal or metaphorical?
But about all the experiences of people who called on saints? Not only of the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions, but Native American, Tibetan, Islamic and Hindu? They have solved problems, healed diseases, appeared to people in dreams and in physical form (even after death), etc.
What about all the experiences of indigenous people, during their ceremonies? They 'allegedly" have experienced the spirits.
What do we make of the oral traditions of indigenous people and Tibetans? They say that people who have passed, relive experiences in their lives. It has been described to me, as akin to the Robin Williams movie, What Dreams May Come.
What do we make of NDEs? About the best book on this subject is **Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death **by Sam Parnia and Josh Young.
What do we make of the experiences of Christian (i.e. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant) and non-Christian mystics?

Oh, my! Time to watch my weekly, Joe Osteen worship TV message. Followed by the Lone Ranger and off to church service :exclamation: :smiley: