The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Surprising Fire

The Bible Project inspired me to write a post about the surprising nature of God’s fire.

#HolySpirit #Hospitality #EradicatingEvil

Alex, I agree with you that,

“Unlike earthly fire, God’s fire isn’t indiscriminate but only eradicates evil to refine and purify….This is why the Holy Spirit, whilst described as fire, doesn’t eradicate people.”

But the motif of fire also has a satanic side, whenever fire’s purpose IS to eradicate people:

-Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. Genesis 19:24.

-While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” Job 1:16.

-And a fire came out from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense. Numbers 16:35.

-And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. Rev. 13:12-13.

-They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. Rev. 20:9

Regarding the nature of the Scriptures, I have argued that they show progressive revelation, as the human mediators grow in their understanding of God’s true (unipolar) nature of goodness and LIFE; as the mediators learn to distinguish between God and Satan more accurately. Jesus himself clarified:

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10.

We also later discover that it is actually Satan who has the power of death, not God:

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he [Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil.” Hebrews 2:14.

I have argued that God is sometimes wrongly conflated with Satan, even in the Scriptures, in,

Is God Violent, Or Nonviolent?


Four of the five verses to support that view were of God’s fire.

If by eradicate is meant annihilate then such verses can be interpreted as merely killing the mortal body, not eradicating the person.

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I think there’s at least a state (although given we’re physical creatures, I suspect it’s a place too) where God allows people to run away from Him (like the Prodigal Son and numerous examples by Israel in the OT). However, as God is the source of all that is good (indeed is Good itself), the further people run, the less good there is and therefore more evil and suffering is experienced.

Thankfully, because our delusions are finite and therefore they will all crumble as the truth of the situation (that there’s nothing worthwhile or desirable in hell). I don’t think God needs to physically burn anyone (nor do I think it would be in anyone’s best interest to do so).

Thanks for the push back—I’ll need to ponder it more. My initial hunch is that while fire killed some people in the Bible, it’s only the first chapter of their story—that they will be resurrected and indeed restored (e.g Sodom in Ezekiel 16:53).

I suspect it’s primarily physical self-torture, although I think there are passages that seem to indicate God isn’t passive about evil that He actively disciplines like a good parent, prunes like a diligent gardener, purges like a skilled metalworker, corrects like a wise teacher, operates like an experienced surgeon, shapes like a creative potter, and punishes like a just judge (precisely how He will do those things is far less clear).

Alex, regarding God’s nonviolent nature, please take a look at Richard Murray’s, SATAN: Old Testament Servant Angel or New Testament Cosmic Rebel? It’s the most important article I have ever read. (Also, my first contribution on this site in May 2014, Fighting For God’s Nonviolence," was written primarily to direct people to it.)