The recent book by Rob Bell, Love Wins, has reopened the controversial topic about the ultimate spiritual destiny of mankind – will every person, no matter what, be reconciled ultimately back to God through his bountiful love in Christ’s sacrificial death and live eternally in His presence, or will Judgment Day separate some men and women to eternal separation from God, that is to Hell, while others, through the reconciling work of Christ on the Cross, spend eternity with God?
The month of May will be devoted to exploring this question. We thought that there is no better place to discuss this heated topic then at your local seminary. We have asked D. Scott Reichard, a local proponent of “ultimate reconciliation,” and Dr. Aaron Bird, an adjunct Professor at Urbana Seminary and specialist on the doctrine of Hell – who will be teaching a summer course at Urbana Seminary called “Evil, Hell & Universalism” – to discuss the matter for us on our blog.
By Scott Reichard
“The Law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul; the Judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” (Ps 19:7-9). “When Thy Judgments are in the Earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn Righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).
LOGIC: ET preachers have told me that Everlasting Torment is Righteous Judgment for the single sin of a 12 year old girl stealing a piece of candy because ”all sin gets the same Judgment–Hell forever”. Wow! Did anyone learn Righteousness with that kind of Judgment in the Earth? Does that make sense to anyone? Infinite penalty for sin not only violates the Divine Law and is biblically illegal but it cannot satisfy Justice by definition. For at the point at which it satisfies Justice it must end. “Just Infinite Penalty” is an oxymoron–like a square circle, an utter impossibility. If Justice requires infinite penalty, then verses like Col. 3:25 and Heb. 2:2 are meaningless. The Divine Law has, “The wages of sin being death” as the worst possible punishment–not Eternal Torment (Romans 6:23). No sin is worthy of Unending Conscious pain and suffering.
LOVE: God is Love (1 Jn 4:8,16). ET proponents have pitted God’s Love against His attributes of Holiness and Justice, forgetting that His very essence is Love. God’s Righteous Judgments, like His acts of Mercy, are manifestations of His Love. Both His Mercy and His Judgments serve His one Holy purpose of drawing All men to Himself purchased and made legal in the Courts of Heaven by the Blood of Jesus. As the only perfect “Father,” I am pretty sure He knows that over-discipline causes a child to lose respect for the parent. And with each Judgment, there must be forgiveness at the end of the time of discipline. Forgiveness after discipline is what causes a child to gain respect and the healthy “FEAR” of God that David often mentions. It is a shame that our teaching and portrayal of God has altered the World’s view of Him.
PURPOSE DRIVEN JUDGMENT: Scripture does not support unjust punishment of any kind. The purpose of God’s Judgment is to teach the World Righteousness, not burn them to ashes. Burning/Tormenting People Alive in Hell is not Justice–it is punishment. True Justice is never fully accomplished until all of the victims of injustice have been recompensed and the sinner restored to Grace. Unending Torment can never accomplish true Justice and permits sin and evil to continue in perpetuity. Our current Court/Penal system reflects this same injustice. It punishes without purifying costing astronomical amounts of money to society to obtain “Justice,” only to destroy the sinner with high recidivism rates and leave the victims usually without restitution. How can we expect our judges to establish Justice in human Courts, prescribing judgments that are neither too lenient or to harsh, when the Church itself prescribes infinite punishment upon all sinners alike, regardless of the nature of the crime. As the Church leads, so goes the World.
FIRE AND THE GWT: “The Ancient of Days took His seat, His throne was ablaze with flames. A River of Fire was flowing out from before Him” (Dan. 7:9,10). What John called “The Lake of Fire” in Revelation 20, Daniel describes as a “River of Fire”. Jesus calls it a “Gehenna Fire” and says, “I have come to cast Fire on the Earth and I wish it were already kindled” (Luke 12:49). Revengeful Pyromaniac or Loving Savior with a Purpose–what kind of Fire we talking about?
Gehenna was ironically the same location where the Fires to Molech burned and where God says “it never entered His mind to burn people alive” (Jeremiah 32:35). So, since Fire is obviously the metaphor for Hell, discovering the “nature” of the Fire streaming from the Throne of Justice, may just lead us to the answer of the real Hell. And since the GWT scene is packed with Saints and Angels, are they watching something Holy or are they Blood thirsty Coliseum spectators as Tertullian describes: “One of the joys of heaven will be the ability of the Saints to watch the damned tormented forever in Hell” (Spect. 30).
THE FIERY LAW: “The Lord came with 10,000′s of His Saints: from His right hand went a “Fiery Law” for them. Yea, He loved the people, all His Saints are in thy hand” (Dt. 33:2,3). The River or Lake of Fire is the “Fiery Law” of God’s Loving Justice being administered from His Throne (always considered a universal symbol of Law and Authority). The ancient Greek word for Fire is “pur”. It is the root of such English words today as “Purge and Purify”. This is what the Refining Fire of God does, for it characterizes the very nature of God and His law. In the end, all sin is thus judged Lawfully, Purposefully and Righteously with the Earth rejoicing at the outcome, wisdom and amazing Love of God.
by Scott Reichard