A loving God – tormenting the lost?
What is the fate of those who reject God? Do you believe that your Heavenly Father will torment them for all eternity? Do you believe that the King Who commands you to love your enemies will inflict unending pain on His enemies?
Many people reject the Christian gospel because they think the God we are inviting them to worship is a sadistic monster. The same thought causes many Christians to struggle with their faith; and untold numbers of good, faithful followers of Jesus have suffered sleepless nights because they are tormented by the thought of the suffering being experienced by loved ones they have lost.
The people who believe in eternal torment generally do so because they think it is what the Bible teaches; when they read the Bible, they see eternal torment in many passages which say nothing of the sort, because they have been told this is what it means.
Many Christians are both relieved and astonished when they discover that there is not a single passage of Scripture which teaches that people who reject God will suffer eternal torment – and there are many passages which explicitly tell a very different story.
It turns out that people are rejecting God on the basis of a doctrine which was not taught and not believed by Jesus, Peter, John, Paul or any of the early Church Fathers. Christians are struggling with their faith and struggling to talk about their faith because a message of love for the whole world has been turned into a message of love only for those who end up on the right side.
I have written a short, readable book, The Other Place, about what the Bible actually tells us about Hell, and the difference this makes to our evangelism and pastoral care. People tell me it’s a good book, but it can still be improved. And that is where I need your help.
What do you think about eternal torment? Does the subject matter to you? If so, why? Do you have a personal story or anecdote you would be willing to share with me? And – if you have read the book – what do you think of it?
Please answer these questions, or as many as you are comfortable with, by following the link here: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/6YGFNG9.
For a short time, you can download a copy of the latest draft of the book by following this link: http://strongfoundations.pbworks.com/w/page/122165892/The%20Other%20Place. It will also tell you something about the context and background of this request.
Thank you very much for your help. Along with many others, I believe that the doctrine of eternal torment is an unnecessary barrier to the gospel for many people, and completely distorts the character of God. This topic matters. Whatever else you do, please pray.
One final detail: I am available to preach, talk or lead a discussion, at a Sunday service or other gathering. “What the Bible says about Heaven and Hell” is one possible topic. If you don’t have my contact details, you can use this form: http://mad-bristol.org.uk/contact/.
Thanks for reading!
, Arts and Media
, Paul Hazelden
, The Other Place