Sorry if that sounds like a crazy question. But this doctrine is so devastating and potentially harmful to one’s mental stability IMHO that this should never be taught to children. If I get married and the spouse decides he wants this doctrine taught to the children, how do you deal with this? The child can be scarred for life.
There’s too many variables here to give a simple answer. However, a couple of things to consider:
One of the reasons my wife and I delayed having children and then only had one was our fear that our children might go to hell. ECT believers shouldn’t really have children (if they’re consistent), and you could probably persuade them of this.
A large proportion of hellists realise the damaging nature of the doctrine and wouldn’t teach it to children. Again, one could easily persuade some infernalists to refrain from hell-talk until the child was much older.
Hi Ladybug and Pog –
That’s an interesting question – and it’s not really covered by those who talk about these things primarily from an intellectual standpoint. Its’ a pastoral; issue and requires different sort of guidance in a different key.
Should a universalist marry someone who believes in ECT? Well I have a friend named Sass who used to post here quite a lot. On another Universalist site that she was advised that she and her ECT husband were ‘unevenly yoked’ and she should therefore leave him (she never named the site – she’s’ an honourable lass to whom naming and shaming would seem ‘tacky’- and there are a number of sites to chose from and it could have simply been the opinion of one individual on a given site). The advice she was given there was a load of rubbish – and has proved to be a load of rubbish too (she and her husband love each other). It’s a slightly issue – but a related one I guess.
You marry someone because you love them. Love can transcend and accommodate differences of belief – this we see day to day. However, I think a lot of depends on how heartfelt the beliefs are in the first place. Someone who really. really believes that the person they are going to marry – because this person does not believe in hell – is going to go to hell, will also really believes that the person they love is likely to put any children they have together in danger of spending eternity in an inferno of wrath, They are really going to have to think twice before marrying a universalist. – and should really question their motives no matter how strong the attraction is. The reverse is true also.
A universalist who has been much afflicted by teachings of hell and who is still very wounded by this and knows in their heart that they probably always will be a bit wounded (in this life) – likewise they should certainly think twice before marrying someone who believes strongly in hell (even if it’s not as strongly as the person in my first example). Part of the painful process of love’s work is gradually stopping any projections of previous stuff on to each other and seeing each other in the light of day. People who live in closest intimacy together have rows, hurt each other, and forgive each other. But if the real issue of one partner is about a crippling fear of hell they are going to project this on to a partner who believes in ECT whenever there is serious trouble which all marriages go through. And this may well obscure what the real current issues are.
But love does transcend beliefs, beliefs are often notional (a person can ‘believe’ in hell in a theoretical sort of way without it really being part of the way they see and relate to others in their actual living ).
So I’d say be flexible but be honest about yourself and if you fall in love with someone who believes in ECT be honest about what you know about them. Think it through as part of the commitment – it may be workable, it may not be.
I fully second Dick’s reply (and Pog’s for that matter). Not sure I could add to it. Does he feel so strongly about it, or you feel so strongly against it, that it’s going to poison your relationship with each other? Can you respect each other personally and keep hope for one another (which ought to be sufficiently easy in your case), even though disagreeing? Then keep on keeping on.
If you can’t, then you should certainly bring up the problem, and try to work out together whether one or both of you can change your attitudes toward and about each other on the topic.
If that doesn’t work, that’s a pretty strong sign your marriage is going to hurt a lot, and maybe fall apart. In that case, as much as it hurts now, I’d have to recommend breaking up, unless you’ve received some REAAAALLLYYY strong miraculous indications that God expects to you stay on point, sacrificing yourself for his sake. (If you question how strong some such indications might be that you think you may have had, they weren’t strong enough. )
Note that that advice is topic neutral, and doesn’t depend on whether the disagreements between you are about universalism or something else.
I was an infernalist, only came to believe in UR about 4 years ago. My wife is still an infernalist though she is not one to really think about theology; she profoundly loves God and loves people from the heart; compassion is her guide not theology.
i’d be quite keen to discourage people from reproducing anyway, as this poor planet is vastly overpopulated.
so the idea of having to confuse kids with the choice between infernalism or universalism wouldn’t even have to come up!
If you’re passionate anti-Infernalism and really think it is evil, as a principle it would be best to not marry an infernalist. You’d likely only be setting yourself up for significant problems later, and likely divorce, especially if he is passionate about infernalism. With God all things are possible, but why tempt the Lord!
When choosing someone to marry, shared values and passions are important things to consider.
For me it’s as simple as rain. If you love somebody, passionately, with all your heart, to the permanent exclusion of all others - then marry them. And anyone who tells you otherwise, with their doctrines and rules and whatever, can go hang
God is love, Lady .
All the best
I’ll half go hang myself here because I almost agree with Johnny – but perhaps not enough. Lady Bug I think it’s highly unlikely that you are going to fall in love with say a younger version of John Piper or Mark Driscoll (to take very extreme examples). However, sometime certain people with a certain woundedness in their life can’ fall in love’ with people who actually represent what has wounded them in the first place. So if a person has been wounded badly by ECT and finds themselves strongly attracted to a younger version of John Piper or Mark Driscoll – especially if they think they can change them – there are grounds for hearing those little alarm bells. (If I hadn’t seen similar scenarios played out so often– although not specifically connected to peoples’ beliefs – I wouldn’t be mentioning this one).
But if there is real love there, you’ll be able to accept each other just as you are and not want to change each other – and this sort of love can bridge religious differences certainly.
So in the light of Johnny’s words I’ll half go hang - but only half
Blessings to all
that’s a really good point, Dick…i think given that sort of situation, marrying an atheist would be better than an infernalist.
I would say it depends on the persons’s attitude, let’s think of a lukewarm/secular Catholic or Muslim, who in some sense believes in hell but that only the most wicked end there; but is not dogmatic about it, - or a die hard Evangelical fire and brimstone teacher.
I would definitely not marry the later; I would not have so much a problem with the former.
I’d agree lads - there is no rule here, and there may well be exceptions to the personal guidelines we’ve proffered. However, you do need to be honest about the situation; always be aware of the grey areas that love can very easily accommodate - but if the situation is black and white it’s probably best to be realistic about this.
What’s with this word ‘infernalist’? Isn’t there a bit of a danger that we now have a really exciting word in our armoury and it might just trip off the tongue a little too easily for the hot headed or even the boiling hot headed ? People do sometimes get carried away by giddying up draughts of rhetoric - I know I do I’m sticking with ECT I think (which I divide into soft ECT, hard ECT, and notional ECT - with all them grey areas in between).
I wouldn’t recommend half hanging yourself professor. It could be very painful . And how could any woman not fall in love with Mark Driscoll? They’d get to cook for him, wash his dirty socks, bear his children and play a tune on his pink oboe whenever he fancied it .
You’re right, of course. I wouldn’t recommend marrying someone unless their love for you is as strong as yours for them. True love seeketh not itself to please, as Blake so wisely reminds us. And in any case, nobody whose life is truly infused with the love of God could possibly be a ‘true’ infernalist.
Here’s my clumsy typology -
Soft ECT – this is normally a freewill position (I think?). Part of our dignity is that God gives us freedom, and that freedom entails the possibility that we will ultimately reject the offer of God’s love. We make our own hell – and soft ECT people don’t orally dwell on the exact details of what hell is like other than being shut up eternally in our own selfishness. I think soft ECT people, if they were honest feel deep down that this possibility of ultimate rejection by us of God’s offer is in a sense a tragic frustration of God’s purposes.
Hard ECT – this is when people dwell on the details of everlasting torment and make a virtue of so doing. They also speak as if God wills the punishment of the wicked and actually relishes it (and that ‘we’ the saved or the elect will someday relish in turn). Hard ECT can be the result of belief in God’s sovereignty as the most important element in the Gospel message – or it can be a freewill position (You chose wrong and it serves your right – I chose right so your ECT is just tough).
Notional ECT – this is when the belief in ECT although held to by a person is actually not an important part in their overall theology and attitude to others. ‘Love’ is the overriding concern and ECT fits into their theoretical framework somewhere but is incidental. I think people with notional beliefs in ECT are more likely to be of the soft ECT variety, but some may well be hard ECT believers but still not really believe it in a way that makes any difference to their attitude towards others. People are often a lot better than their beliefs – or a lot worse for that matter.
Dick, well-spotted, catching my near scapegoating of the poor deceived ECT folk
i love the word Infernalist, as to me it makes it sound like it is…an infernal view point. but you’re right to point out that there are soft ECT and notional ECT supporters…we can’t tar them all with the same brush (or the same sticky substance…i suggest tar for Hard, molasses for Notional and creosote for Soft ).
thank you for your responses;
I asked because the prospect of my unbelieving dad passing away isn’t that far off. He’s not doing badly, he’s just old - almost 80. I am also in excruciating pain because of wondering if I’ll ever see any of my other loved ones who have passed away - like my grandparents, who were Catholic.
When my dad passes away, I probably will have no patience for anyone who thinks my dad will be in hell. I need compassion in the event my dad passes away, but if they secretly believe he’s in hell then there is no point of seeking comfort from them, it’s not going to feel real.
That could all change if I meet someone who believes in ECT but I don’t know if I would be able to seek the compassion I need from the person in the event I am agonizing over an unbelieving loved one’s loss. Maybe others may have more experience with this?
well, you can trust the Good God with your dad, and with your grandparents, and with everyone else. He knows His business. anyone that contradicts that is thoughtless, evil and totally un-Christian, regardless of their creed. the reason the Holy Spirit is the Comforter is that He brings comfort…and His comfort is there because there are reasons to be comforted. also, Jesus said “blessed are those that mourn” for the same reason.
i think it might be necessary, if you’re in a place to be meeting people, is to get this out of the way at the start. tell them what you are questioning, and when you’re ready…what you believe. if they are so hardline ECT that they think you’re a heretic, then they will quickly filter themselves out of your contacts and thus solve the problem. if they are more tolerant…then you may be ok.
I’ll second James here Lady Bug -
Thoughts and Prayers to you with your Dad. I believe that you’ll see your dear grand parents again - certainly. Likewise I think your father - when he dies - will be in the safest and most loving of hands. Are you surrounded by people who are ECT believers? I think this is a difficult situation you are in - anticipating seeking comfort from people who will give you none. Actually I must say I’ve not been in this situation ever - so I can’t speak from experience. But I’ve heard the most appalling story of Christians giving chillingly cold comfort to the bereaved despite the Lord’s saying - ‘Blessed are they that mourn’
Are there any people you can turn to when your Dad dies who will not prejudge God’s gracious judgement? - you have us here as a second best option always, always of course.
Dear Lady Bug –
I’ve been thinking about you and your situation. If you are anticipating bereavement it’s not a time for opening yourself up to the needs of ECT people to voice their unsolicited opinions about where your Dad is. No way. There’s a time for opening up, but there’s a season too for closing down and being looked after. Bereavement is a difficult time for both the comforter and the comforted. People with the best of intentions often get things wrong. There’s a clumsy and universal type of Job’s comforter that will sit with a bereaved person and gabble on about how they felt when they were last bereaved – which just is not appropriate. You don’t need too many of those to try you – bereavement is a difficult enough time anyway. But as for those who might hold forth about their certain knowledge of the wrathful judgment of God upon your love one – a number of things occur to me:
As I’ve said they should consider ‘Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted’ as a proof text.
They should consider that if the parable of the sheep and goats teaches us anything – and it teaches us many things – it also teaches us that there are going to be surprises all round at judgement day for all of us. So none of us have got the right to go around shooting our mouths off about how God will judge.
They should also consider the many times that they have probably lost a loved one who they were unsure dies in the faith and conveniently received a word from the Lord that this person was saved.
And this is true of Christians who believe in ECT never mind Universalist.
People who go around dolling out their verdict no God’s judgement to the bereaved have somehow got things very, very wrong. I like to be understanding, but for this spirit if feel nothing but condemnation (in doing so I’m judging the state of mind/soul that it come from rather than the person who plays Job’s Comforter on behalf of the Accuser). And well I’m reluctant to use the woes against the Pharisees but the words of an English poet seem fitting –
The vision of Christ that thou seest
Is mine’s eternal enemy
Both read the bible day and night
Thou readest black, I readest white
Seeing this false Christ with fury and passion
I’ll make my voice heard across all the nations
Well I’ve got that out of my system now. I really think you need to find a sympathetic pastor –if you haven’t already got one. And you need to take stock of who your real mates are who will love and support you during bereavement rather than condemn the person you mourn for and in this way condemn you when you are at your most vulnerable.
In thoughts and prayers.
I was not trying to say that the ECT believers would refuse to show compassion; it’s just that if they truly believe in hell, I don’t know how the compassion could be any more than fluff, even if it’s not their intent to be that way. It would feel all duplicitous to me, even if it isn’t willful on their part. I mean, they’d be offering their condolences and even comfort, but deep down they think my dad will be in hell? That would feel so fake to me Not to mention it could exacerbate my agony inside even more.