The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Poll on God's wrath

God’s wrath is

  • only corrective
  • only punitive
  • both corrective and punitive

0 voters

This poll solicits view about God’s wrath.

Do you see God’s wrath as only corrective or only punitive or both corrective and punitive?


I’m tentatively voting “both” but really I need an “undecided” option! This is something I’m really not sure yet how to understand.


Thanks for clarifying your vote.:slight_smile:

What all is entailed or implied by ‘punitive’? I mean, what are the motivations behind it?

In scripture it seems to me to be primarily corrective, but sometimes is punitive so I voted both.

Well, in this case, punitive means just punishment for wrong doing. Only punitive means just punishment with no goal of correction.

Ironically, I suppose that most who believe in ECT would agree that many cases of divine wrath result in correction, but evidently there’s no chance of correction in “ECT” hell.

James, I need to switch my vote. I’d voted for corrective, but then it occurred to me that God’s correction is punitive since it just means punishment. He punishes in order to correct. What I don’t believe in is punishment or retribution for no purpose at all, but just to damn. I should have marked the last option. Do some people think God is punitive at times, seeks no correction, even if at other times he acts to restore?

Alright then, I marked both only because I believe that sometimes correction can’t be done without a sense of punishment, even if I think that correction is the heart of it and really the whole point. But I also believe they’re basically two sides of the same coin.

Yes, I suppose that many people who believe in hell with no chance of liberation also believe that other occurrences of divine punishments involve a divine purpose of correction.

This is, to me anyway, a very puzzling – and disturbing – question. How can punishment possibly be both corrective and retributive? I just don’t see it…

If punishment has no purpose, except for shear revenge or some arbitrary quid pro quo setup, then it is retributive. (And by the way, wouldn’t punitive be closer to what we’re talking about here?) If punishment has the purpose of being corrective, then by definition it can’t also be retributive can it? Thus for me the answer can only be corrective.

It seems clear to me that there is simply no reason for retributive/punitive punishment; therefore it’s simply not something God would find necessary for any reason. Punishment without a purpose (the purpose being for correction) serves God exactly how? All it does is make God look mean and vengeful and arbitrary and severe and exacting. To what purpose would He want, or need, to do that? In fact it seems far more likely that this sort of punishment would lead to the precise thing God does not want; worship from fear.

Now if punishment is ordained to show God’s power, or get someone to wake up, or to get onlookers to wake up, or to underline cause and effect, or to symbolize the offenses seriousness, those would all be corrective and therefore not retributive. I see no rational way to divide a punishment into a corrective part and a punitive part. Punishment for it’s own sake makes no sense at all to me. What could God possibly gain by doing it?

Punishment for “satisfaction” of justice makes no sense either. The justice of the bible demands nothing short of complete restoration and making right of all parties involved! Victim and victimizer! For a crime that evokes 30 lashes, or 10 years in prison, or the death penalty, in no way are things made “right” again by the punishment. Society meets out these punishments but in reality there is no rational equating of crime with punishment. We do it to show we take it seriously, to deter others from doing it as well, and maybe, if we’re particularly Godly, we might hope for a change of heart by the criminal.

A little girl is raped and strangled and we demand retributive punishment which accomplishes exactly what?? I understand why we humans want and demand it, but why would God?

As one who holds to UR, I find no place for retributive punishment by God. Since we know His intent is to save all, and we fully expect Him to be successful in this, we can say with confidence that all God’s actions will work to the result of UR. And therefore what may seem to us as retributive, is actually redemptive and corrective. I find retributive punishment to be a strictly human invention.


Ok, after reading tv I need my vote to go back to only restorative. What a problem I am. :laughing: Seriously, though, he explained very well my feelings and I was not understanding punitive as retributive.

The way I’m looking at it (and I only skimmed parts of that post), some people simply will not turn around without the good ol’ fire and brimstone. It just can’t happen. And oftentimes what punishment is defined as is getting one’s just desserts or even more specifically, getting back what you dealt to others. This was a very clear teaching by Jesus. He said that you’d be judged by the same measure you judge others, etc. Almost karmic (in the long run).

But the ultimate motivation behind it is to get you to realize the wrongness of what you did. I look at it this way. Hitler was very evidently suffering inside due to his abused childhood and the way that he was treated, but the pain was dealt with wrong. Now just think about what awaits him - all that anguish has gotta be released, right? Otherwise those walls that divide between his “self” and others will still keep him delusional about the real state of human suffering and of God’s love that unites us all. Until then it will always be “what they did to me,” instead of “how wretched I am” and “O, what God has done for us!”

He has to suffer what others suffered by his own hand - not merely to get back at him, but because he’s already suffering like that subconsciously with all the repressed, tragic pain… is it even possible that all of this exploded so fast that he’s been one of the first released from the fiery bowels of hate? For who can take such a state for very long?

I feel like we’re going to be extremely surprised to find who wound up in heaven first when we get there…

Anyway, I suppose not everyone would see such a punishment as ‘punitive’ but I think that’s the very heart of what it means. Hell isn’t really an external state of being, after all, so any other definition of punitive than internal wouldn’t apply, as far as I can see… what he gets is just a common sense result of what he dealt. God is the most natural discipliner there is.

God’s wrath in the NT is retributive and never has and never will be used for remedial purposes of impenitent sinners. :wink:

You’re an impenitent sinner too, are you not?

Yeah, that’s what I don’t get. Why are so many Christians convinced they are better than everyone else?

I used to be…not any more. I’m a new creation in Christ who like God has been created in righteousness and true holiness. Eph 4:24. I’m now a child of God… a saint not a sinner… before this I was just an impenitent sinner. :wink:

Depends what you mean by better? :wink: Better off spiritually for sure and now a child of God and not his enemy anymore. Pretty good news! :smiley:

God’s wrath is corrective. punitive for the sake of punitive makes no sense. as said above, it would spawn worship from fear AT BEST. at worst, it would spawn fully justified rebellion.

if the New Testament is truly a better covenant than the Old, in which rebel nations were promised corrective wrath and subsequent restoration, then how could the NT be better in fact if it took that offer back and made the expression of wrath purely vengeful, and worse - making it last forever.

it defies sense.

i may only be a little human with a little human brain, but “i who am evil still know how to give good gifts to my children, how much more so God?”

if God’s wrath is purely punitive and intended for impenitent sinners, then how many Christians are in danger? most if not all of us?

So you’re perfect…you don’t sin; hence not a sinner?

Well, its good to know that God can and does correct “impenitent” sinners…and apparently makes them saints. Honestly I have the fullest notion that your whole idea of “God doesn’t correct impenitent sinners” is completely refuted by the fact that you yourself would say you’ve been corrected out of your wicked condition and position by the work of God.

Unless, of course, you want to take the credit for your own salvation…

As for my vote on the poll, I put corrective and punitive. I however, define “punitive” as being the right and inevitable consequences that come of sin, albeit even these are ultimately corrective. Punitive for me, I liken it to the way a parent may punish their child in an effort to correct them of certain impurities in behaviour which demand that punishment be given in order to secure justice, purification, and reconciliation; for the sake of the child’s well being and blessing.

For example; if I had a child who threw a dinner plate across the at his little sister’s face in order to hurt her, and did it on purpose, and that dinner plate hit her indeed - that child of mine would not be getting a mere talking to, he must face the consequences for his actions, he must understand that for what he has dealt out to others by choice, he must ultimately receive the fruit. He reaps what he sows.

However, like God I as a parent would not give him what he could not bear, and certainly not abuse. I wouldn’t bash his face with another dinner plate, and I wouldn’t ceaselessly bash his face in with a cast-iron skillet that grows larger and heavier on into eternity.

I’d give him righteous punishment, until the behaviour has been corrected out of him, and his sister has received justice and reconciliation with her brother who harmed her.

I suppose at the end of the day the options “corrective only” and “corrective and punitive” are synonymous options, only the latter option includes “punitive” as a descriptive sign post as to one of the options by which God does his corrective work. “Punitive Only” however, is a violent option, defaming God, as we who are sane all know well enough.