The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The odd case of heavenly love rewards

One of the most beloved and yet personally challenging teachings of Jesus is found in Luke 6

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:35-36

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? Matt 5:46

Jesus is promising great heavenly rewards for responding in love towards those who hate us. The rationale he provides is that in these moments we are most like God.

So imagine this scenario.

The saints are all in heaven and Jesus is handing out rewards and he comes to those sheep on his right and says “Here you go, here is your great reward.”

And they will say, “What is this for?”

And the king will reply “When men hated you and despised you and you loved them in return and thus you were just like my Father.”

Then they will say, “And what became of those who hated us but that we loved like the Father?”

And the king will reply, “Hm? Oh, uh…they’re all burning in hell forever and ever. But don’t you think about that, just enjoy YOUR reward for being like the Father and loving them. Run along now…”

Thats a pretty serious internal conflict within the teachings of Jesus if we have been taught them correctly…which I kind of doubt.

Eternal rewards for loving those who hate us (because thats just like God) is completely incompatible with the notion that God will punish forever those who hated him. Then just to multiply the absurdity, consider that we are supposed to believe that God will punish forever those who did not hate him and never even met him.

Under what theology can you have a God who demands we love evil people just like he does…and then burns them in hell forever? If the argument is attempted that the distinction is that this is only a command pertaining to this life, then we have to ask: was Jesus asking us to do what God would do or was he telling us to be like who God is?

Jesus said that was what God was like. Jesus was not asking us to emulate a temporary costume God chose to wear for a time. He was asking us to emulate his very personhood which was and is and always will be.

This forces us to dispose of our traditional view of hell as well as to expand our concept of Gods power and desire to redeem.

Hell is not forever and even His enemies will be loved in eternity. If that is not the case then our heavenly rewards for loving our enemies become an absurdity.

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Yikes, what a great statement!!

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I agree. It took me back two years to the experience I had which helped me understand Gen 1:26 more fully than before. TLB puts it “Let us make a man - someone like ourselves”. That took place at the time I was questioning my long-held belief in ECT. I was heating something in my microwave and almost burnt my hands while taking it out. I then thought about that pain was a tiny fraction of the pain that lost sinners will experience in Hell. Then I realised I could not subject another human being to eternal torment, just as I could not even torture an animal, even an ant.
It may be sacrilegious thinking to suggest that, because we are made in God’s image, the good thoughts and actions we perform should be a reflection of God’s thoughts and actions. You can see where I’m heading.

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Talbott made that argument in TILOG, and it’s so self evidently true I’m astonished at the mental gymnastics people go through to deny it. If you love someone, it’s impossible to be happy while knowing he will suffer forever. There is no silver lining. There is no consolation. I left Catholicism because I was sickened by the thought of people suffering forever, even evil people. I became so sickened I involuntarily lost about 25 pounds. Everything else in life becomes meaningless when you believe people are going to suffer forever.

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No it is not sacrilegious. Not at all.

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One of the most pure and sacred things one could ever hope to attain to.