The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The "Early Church Fathers" on hell

I wanted to ask you if there is a list of the “ECFs`” (especially from the first 3 centuries)
understanding of hell?
Thank you and God bless you

There is, but it costs nearly four hundred dollars. :wink:

A much cheaper (free) but less detailed version is Beecher’s study from back in the 1800s. I’ll append it below as a pdf.
1878 Beecher’s History of Retribution.pdf (5.89 MB)

One can find many quotes of the early fathers speaking of “everlasting punishment,” but this doesn’t prove what they believed, since the translation “everlasting” is obtained from their use of the word “aionios” which has already been established as not having that meaning. I think the translation “lasting” fits each and every occasion of its use.

Thank you very much.


Plus the “doctrine of reserve” adds suspicion about what they may have actually believed, especially if they used typical universalistic arguments for various purposes and if they expressed favor for the doctrine of reserve.

That’s a doctrine, Dani, where teachers who believe more complicated things teach less detailed or even outright incorrect things to people whom the teachers don’t think are ready to learn the proper truths. Pre-Christian philosophers routinely applied this idea, and recommended it, and Christian philosophers, especially universalists, were known to pick up and use it. The idea is that teaching universal salvation to most people would only result in them conveniently misunderstanding that they could do whatever they wanted and get into heaven anyway. (Which ironically is how most opponents to universalism also misunderstand it, too. :wink: )

I read about it: That they did not tell people about it in order to keep them away from sinning.
Sometimes I am just wondering if that was the right wayto handel the sinning-prblem , I mean didn’t the doctrin of ecp cause divisions within the church and many painful experiences and dispair in believers or dissapointment and giving up on trusting in the God how is LOVE?

Excellent points! I guess the answer is that we all make mistakes :frowning: Doubtless if they could have known the consequences, they’d have been less worried about people taking advantage

Any way you could post the $400 book? My library may have a copy.

You can read the first 78 pages of The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis by Ilaria Ramelli without cost, by going to this Google Books site, and clicking the right arrow at the top of the page. The preview does not show pages 79-889.

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