The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Ghastly Dogma of Everlasting Torment


Warm words on the cheerful and comforting doctrine of eternal damnation.

THE idea of a hell was born of revenge and brutality on the one side, and cowardice on the other. In my judgment the American people are too brave, too charitable, too generous, too magnanimous, to believe in the infamous dogma of an eternal hell. I have no respect for any human being who believes in it. I have no respect for any man who preaches it. I have no respect for the man who will pollute the imagination of childhood with that infamous lie. I have no respect for the man who will add to the sorrows of this world with the frightful dogma. I have no respect for any man who endeavours to put that infinite cloud, that infinite shadow, over the heart of humanity.

Hell, by Col. Robert G. Ingersoll

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“If there is a God who will damn his children forever, I would rather go to hell than to go to heaven and keep the society of such an infamous tyrant. I make my choice now. I despise that doctrine. It has covered the cheeks of this world with tears. It has polluted the hearts of children, and poisoned the imaginations of men. It has been a constant pain, a perpetual terror to every good man and woman and child. It has filled the good with horror and with fear; but it has had no effect upon the infamous and base. It has wrung the hearts of the tender, it has furrowed the cheeks of the good. This doctrine never should be preached again. What right have you, sir, Mr. clergyman, you, minister of the gospel to stand at the portals of the tomb, at the vestibule of eternity, and fill the future with horror and with fear? I do not believe this doctrine, neither do you. If you did, you could not sleep one moment. Any man who believes it, and has within his breast a decent, throbbing heart, will go insane. A man who believes that doctrine and does not go insane has the heart of a snake and the conscience of a hyena.” -Robert Ingersoll-

Jesus Christ holds the keys of death and hell & knows how to turn the keys!

Aionios kolasis is one thing, Aidios punishment another. When aidios is added to punishment, we have a serious problem.

Justinian, described as a “half-heathen”, made an ET declaration, but didn’t just use kolasis (punishment) aonian, but qualified it with the word ‘ateleutetos’ - which means endless.

He said “The holy church of Christ teaches an endless aeonian (ateleutetos aionios) life to the righteous, and endless (ateleutetos) punishment to the wicked.”

If he supposed aionios denoted endless duration, he would not have added the stronger word to it. The fact that he qualified it by ateleutetos, demonstrated that as late as the sixth century the former word did not signify endless duration. Thereby admitting that kolasis aonian was NOT considered ‘eternal’ at the time.

However, as his (Julian) contemporary, Olympiodorus wrote,

“Do not suppose that the soul is punished for endless ages in Tartarus. Very properly the soul is not punished to gratify the revenge of the Divinity, but for the sake of healing. But we say that the soul is punished for an aeonian period, calling its life, and its allotted period of punishment, its aeon.” It will be noticed that he not only denies endless punishment, and denies that the doctrine can be expressed by aionios declares that punishment is temporary and results in the sinner’s improvement."

Two Rules

Rule #1: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, never at any time, it is oudepote.

Rule #2: When in doubt refer to rule #1.

It’s interesting in browsing the Internet, I came across this interesting article:

The article was positive, IMHO. But one item, got me to thinking:

Another factor is a dream that I had about a dozen years ago. Without going into too much detail, this was an unnerving encounter in which I saw God’s coming judgment arriving in the form of an overpowering storm; people in the path of the storm were pleasantly chit-chatting when they ought to have been seeking cover. The dream left a lasting impression. It suggested to me that we’re unprepared—both inside and outside of the church—for the return of Christ.

Perhaps he was envisioning Z-Hell (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)?

I have no problem with the Father of us all exercising condemnation, judgement and destruction to bring about His desired ends. It is the atrocious dogma of unending torture that I will not accept. Our God punishes, He corrects, and yes He destroys, all with one objective, change & transformation.

The Jewish .E. is a fractured fairy tale. It is also Jewish fables condemned by St. Jude.

Jewish Myths/ Fables= muthos=

Kept secret/ be dumb: from muo.

Used of profane fables.

Contrasted with alethesia/ truth.

"NOT devoting yourselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth."

The Jewish Encycopedia



The sons of God shouted for joy, as they contemplated creation; but they should have wept had the popular creed been true. For that creed represents the present life as darkened by the prospect of evil triumphant; our present sorrows made keener by the prospect of a future life, which will be, not to the wicked merely, but to the whole race of man, an evil and a curse - a life which every good man would, if he could, bring to an instant end. To prove this, I will take a definite example. Further, I will concede to the advocates of the popular creed one point of very considerable importance (to which they have no right), e.g., that the number of the saved greatly exceeds the lost.

“Suppose it were offered to the father of three children to take his choice whether two should be received into heaven and one condemned to hell, or the whole should be annihilated in death. What would a parent say? Where is the father who would dare to secure the bliss of two children at the cost of the endless misery of one? Which of the family would he select as the victim, whose undying pain should secure his brother’s immortal joy? Is there any one living who would not suffer himself and his children to sink back again into nothingness, rather than purchase heaven at such a price? Now, if so, if we should so act in the case of our own children, we are bound morally to make the same choice with respect to every one. No moral being would consent to purchase eternal happiness at the price of another’s eternal woe. Hence it follows that a future life, on the popular view, is an evil to the human race, not to the wicked, but to all. For if annihilation of the whole race should be tendered as the alternative, no moral being could, as has been shown, refuse to accept it.” - BARLOW, Eternal Punishment.

[Christ Triumphant by Thomas Allin]

( chapter three


Who are we other than all the others who have made us who we are and to whom we belong as much as they to us. We are those others. To say that the sufferings of the damned will either be clouded from the eyes of the blessed, or worse, increase the pitiless bliss of heaven is also to say that no persons can possibly saved. For if the memories of others are removed or lost, or one’s knowledge of their misery converted into indifference or, God forbid, into greater beatitude, what then remains of one in one’s last bliss? Some other being altogether, surely a spiritual anonymity, a vapid spark of pure intellection, the residue of a soul reduced to no one, but not a person, not the person who was.

But it’s not the logic of the claims that bother me; it is their moral hideousness… Currently, the most popular way of defending the notion of an eternal torment is an appeal to creaturely freedom and to God’s respect for its dignity, but there could scarcely be a poorer argument, whether it’s made crudely… by William Lane Craig or elegantly by Eleonore Stump, it is going to fail. It wouldn’t if we could construct a metaphysics or phenomenology of the will’s liberty that was purely voluntarist, purely spontaneous, though even then we would have to explain how an absolutely libertarian act, obedient to no rationale whatsoever would be distinguishable from sheer chance or mindless organic or mechanical impulse, and so any more free than an earthquake or embolism. But on any cogent account, free will is a power inherently purposive, teleological, primordially oriented towards the good and shaped by that transcendental appetite to the degree that a soul can recognize the good for what it is. No one can freely will the evil as evil. One can take the evil for the good. but that doesn’t alter the prior transcendental orientation that wakens all desire. To see the good truly is to desire it insatiably; not to desire it is not to have known it and so never having been free to choose it. It makes no more sense to say that God allows creatures to damn themselves out of his love for them, or his respect for their freedom, than to say that a father might reasonably allow his deranged child to thrust her face into a fire out of a tender regard for her moral autonomy.

And the argument becomes quite insufferable when one considers the personal conditions – ignorance, mortality, defectibility of intellect and will – under which each soul enters the world and the circumstances, the suffering of all creatures, even the most innocent and delightful among them, with which that world confronts the soul. -Dr. David B. Hart-

That is saying a mouthful, as only DB Hart can say it. Good stuff.

I (as a member of this forum), Hope (1, 2, 3, 4) that everyone is saved. And I definitely believe, there will be folks from other faith traditions Included (1, 2, 3, 4) - in being saved. And if any end up in Hell (1, 2, 3), it’s NOT an eternal torture chamber - IMHO. What I say about it is

  • It’s isolation and eternal separation from God, as the Roman Catholics affirm.

  • Heaven and hell are equally being, in the presence of God - as the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics affirm

  • Folks will become less than human, as Anglican bishop and New Testament scholar - N.T. Wright affirms.

  • It’s locked from the inside, as C.S. Lewis declared.

My biggest challenge now is whether I become Eastern Orthodox or Eastern Catholic. Well, I have officially completed the RCIA program, with the Roman Church. And I have hung out for a year or so, with the Eastern Orthodox - OCA branch. So I could go either way.

Dear brother Zombie: The idea of retribution runs deep in our veins. We want every rascal punished for their wrong doing. It is when we add “unending” to punishment, the entire mess becomes a gigantic ghastly picture of unending despair and totally out of keeping with the Father of all fathers!

I don’t look on hell as “retribution”, but more as containment. Which is what God does, to contain the evil - from polluting the good. Or as God might paraphrase President Trump:

I must build a wall, to keep the Hollywood Zombies out.

And folks in hell might say:

I want to be here, with the Hollywood zombies - then join the big party in heaven.

I suggest to review the short videos, I have shared on Hell (1, 2, 3). All are very short and reasonable. As N.T. Wright says - in his hell video, he would love to be a universalist. To which I add, I hope the universalist position - turns out to be true. But I stop short of saying, that universalism is dogmatically true.

I found this video talk very useful, by a conservative Calvinist theologian and clergy member helpful - on Christian inclusivism.

And this one very useful by RC Bishop Barron, on Hopeful Universalism

So think of it this way. You love Cheerios. But I’m not willing, to go that far. So I only eat the brand equivalent, from Aldis or Trader Joes. :smiley:

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Dear brother Zombie: I have a serious problem with containment. Our Father will not contain evil, He will obliterate it. Everything returns to Sender as the Chief Postmaster.

Romans 11:36

“oti ex autou kai di autou kai eiV auton ta panta autw h doxa eiV touV aiwnaV amhn”

Dr. Marvin Vincent N.T. Word Studies

Of - through - to (ex - dia - eiv).

Of, proceeding from as the source:

through, by means of, as maintainer, preserver, ruler:

to or unto, He is the point to which all tends. All men and things are for His glory (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Alford styles this doxology “the sublimest apostrophe existing even in the pages of inspiration itself.”

Robertson Word Pictures Of The N.T.

Of him= ex autou

Through him = di’ autou

Unto him = eiv auton

By these three prepositions Paul ascribes the universe (ta panta) with all the phenomena concerning creation, redemption, providence to God as the

Ex = The Source

Di= The Agent

Eiv= The Goal

For ever = eiv touv aiwnav = “For the ages.”

Alford terms this doxology in verses 33-36 “the sublimest apostrophe existing even in the pages of inspiration itself.”

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Like I said. I hope everyone joins the eternal party in heaven

But I suspect, some will join the Hollywood zombie party and like it. I hope not.

But, anyway. I’m an Eastern Orthodox “Prospect”. If I become an Eastern Orthodox or Eastern Catholic, “patched-in” member…Well, I have to tow the party line. Which is Hopeful Universalism and Christian Inclusivism.

So, let’s peacefully agree to disagree - shall we? :smiley:

I will go this far, though. If universalism does take place, I have no clue - how God will pull it off. Which differs from some folks here…who have definitely views on this matter. :crazy_face:

But most folks are happy, I’m open to the idea of possible universalism. Like I’m open to receiving light, from Sukyo Mahikari and Johrei - without joining them. Or joining Heartfulness for meditation, without joining them. Or perhaps - hypothetically - joining folks for plant medicine ceremonies, under a legal church umbrella. And if I did, well…all plants were viewed as good, in the Garden of Eden. And scientific, medical and therapeutic research, shows them to be helpful - for things like addiction, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, etc. :crazy_face:

Randy - are you open to the idea of ECT as well? Just curious.

No, I’m not - Dave. Before on this forum, I said I know the Old Catholic church priest…who is the husband, of contemporary Christian mystic and Stigmata bearer - Tiffany snow. None of her visions saw ECT. They did see folks being offered salvation opportunities - after death. They did see that Christ is beyond religion. They did see the Devil and evil angels, not making the cut. They did see all being offered the opportunity - to join Christ after death. But if the choice wasn’t accepted, they became energetically part - of the new earth (or renewed earth, at the Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox would say) - whatever that means. And I have no idea, if they are consciously aware or not. But they - like the devil and evil angels - are “energetically” part, of the new or renewed earth.

Dear brother Zombie: I care zero for the party line. I do however have warm fuzzies when I read the anointed words of our Lord and those who have stood before Him. In the end the Postmaster General prevails!

“Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He has purposed in Himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who works all things after the counsel of His own will…”

I salute your zeal for universalism. Just as I salute the right, of free choice. I have discussed both universalism and hopeful universalism, with Eastern Orthodox priests - of the church I attend. And they know I’m aware, that some Eastern Orthodox priests and scholars - openly teach it. Just as I’m aware of the counterpart, in the Roman Catholic church. Needless to say, neither priest agrees with it.

And having spent decades, with Native American medicine men and ceremonies - I put great stock in visions - properly interpreted. Just as I put great stock in Tiffany Snow’s visions. So both the visions and the Eastern Orthodox priests perspectives - from scripture and tradition - differ from your spin on scripture (and others here, with their spin on scripture).

And I’m more concerned, with getting folks to behave ethically…and live in the here and now. So you can focus, on your message of universalism. Which I don’t object to, by the way. And I’ll focus on the duties, of the Holy Fool office. And watching Hollywood zombies tonight, on The Walking Dead. Perhaps more tomorrow?

And maybe - hypothetically, you might wake up someday - in the here and now - enlightened (whatever that is). And perhaps spiritual gifts will follow. And you won’t advertise, sell tickets or charge admission. Then your priorities might change. And maybe you have dual spiritual citizenship, in Christian and Native American ways. And behave like the Kung Fu monk. Anything is hypothetically possible.

Dear brother Zombie: Can you disclose to us whose choice prevails? Is it broken mankind or the God of thelo?