The following questions are for those who believe (and those who doubt) that Chan, Galli or Keller have wrestled with and answered all valid questions regarding the nature and duration of Hell:

Sample Questions

1. If God is holy and perfect would it be reasonable to conclude that He would leave most of His creation in an eternal state of unholiness and imperfection?

2. Was Jesus Christ The Savior of the World or just The Potential Savior of the World?

3. Can we legitimately and honestly claim that, "God conquered sin, death and hell" if most of mankind are going to exist in a perpetual state of sin, death and rebellion forever in hell? Does God really conquer death or does He "sponsor death"?

4. How can God be "all in all" and "everything to every one" if most are consigned to an eternal hell "away from" the presence of the Lord?

5. If all living beings are "sustained by His grace" and "held together" by the word of His power how can anyone truly be separated from God in a place called hell forever? Will God be there with them in hell ...sustaining them during their eternal punishment?

6. Why are the words "away from" or "separated from" added to II Thess 1:9 which significantly changes its meaning from "an age of punishment from the face of the Lord " to "away from the presence of the Lord?" Are these not two very different meanings? One is very serious indeed but not without hope given God's promise to "make all thing new". The latter is entirely without hope.

7. How can justice be paid or satisfied with a sentence that never ends? Does God inflict infinite punishment upon those He says "are but dust" and of whom He claims, "He knows our frame"? (Psa 103:14)

8. Why do we advocate social justice and for "restorative justice" in our prisons if it is only an earthly temporal reality with absolutely no reference to God's ultimate justice? Is not restorative justice a reflection of God's character? Does His character change?

9. How can God promise "justice for all the oppressed" if most of the world's oppressed die before ever receiving it? Are they resurrected to receive their justice for the evil done to them only later to be thrown into hell with their oppressors because they did not put their faith in Jesus before death?

10. If the word justice is the same word for righteousness, which literally means "right-useness", would that mean that God's justice is in harmony with His love which naturally seeks to restore His creation to its original intention and design?

11. If God asks us to pray, "Our Father" and every knee will bow "to the glory of God the Father" and "we are all His offspring" (Acts 17:28) how is it in the end His primary role will be as the Eternal Torturer of most of His offspring?

12. Why is the concept of an eternal state in a place called "hell" absent in the Old Testament? And therefore why would God neglect for thousands of years to warn people of the most horrific reality ever to face mankind?

13 How do you account for all the passages where "the world", "all people", "all of creation", and "every knee" is bowing in worship to God in the future?

14. Is not the idea of death, rebellion, hatred of God and sin cycling forever in "hell" more like a form of dualism than the plan of a holy, loving, all-powerful God?

15. If you are defending an eternal hell on the basis of preserving man's free-will to choose then how is it that eventually every knee is said to bow which, in your estimation, would be against their will?

16. If you claim that man has ultimate free-will then does not this mean that God ultimately loses His? But did he not say, "I am not willing that ANY should perish but that ALL should come to repentance"?

17. When we consider all the references to God's name (well over 600) why is there not found a single name that depicts an image of an Eternal Torturer?

18. Are we to love our enemies while God does not? Does God help us obey His command to love our enemies while He does not?

19. Can we love our neighbor and love God at the same time if He is planning on sending the majority of our neighbors to hell forever? How do we truly keep both commands? If we love our neighbor as ourself we will naturally wish their good and not damnation (against God). If we love God we will have to naturally support God's damnation of most of our neighbors (against our neighbors).

20. What do you perceive we will be doing in a million years? Will all of heaven hate those in hell while all those in hell hate those in heaven? Or will those in heaven love those in hell? Or will we have to trade our mindset of "loving our neighbor as ourselves" to being callous condemners of the majority of mankind? (...we are told we will be "ruling and reigning with Him".)

21. Does hatred never fail or does "love never fail"?


God’s Name

1. How is it that not one of the names of God depict Him as an Eternal Torturer who will consign most of His creation to a hopeless eternal hell?…

Savior of the World, Redeemer, Restorer, Deliverer, A Righteous Judge, The Awesome God, The Rock, The Defender, The Resurrection and the Life, Our Shield, Strong Tower, Abba Father, The King of Kings, God of All Hope, Grace and Comfort, The Judge of all the Earth, The Good Shepherd, The Bread of Life, The Door, Our Provider, Our Healer, Our Creator, Our Peace, The Alpha and Omega etc.,

2. Would you not expect the names of God to represent the true nature of God revealing who He is and therefore what He does? Please do a search in the Bible or online and see the hundreds of names God is given and has given Himself. Not one portrays a God who is limited in His mercy.
See: http://www.characterbuildingforfamilies.com/names.html or http://ldolphin.org/names.html



God's Name as Savior

1. If Jesus’ name is Savior of the World does it make sense that most of the world will co-exist with Him throughout eternity desperately in need of His salvation without receiving it?

2. If Jesus’ name means savior and we are “being conformed into His image”, wouldn’t that mean that our sanctification will bring about more compassion, love and mercy? Would we not reflect more and more the heart of our Rescuer and Redeemer? What might He be preparing us for? Why are we being made like Christ if there is nothing to save or redeem in the next age?

3. As we become more merciful, gracious, and forgiving as we mature in Christ what does that imply if we are told we are going to “judge nations”? Are we growing in mercy and forgiveness in order to help God condemn the rest of the world to a merciless hell forever in the next age?

4. Why is being a “savior” not the Church's general reputation in the world?

5. Is Jesus Christ the potential Savior of the World or the actual Savior of the World?

6. Did God lose the vast majority of the human race?

7. Was the first Adam more powerful than the last Adam?

8. Did Adam’s fall bring down more people than the cross of Jesus Christ could save?




The Love of God

1. If love is defined by God in 1 Corinthians 13 as never-failing and in 1 John as laying down one's life, why is this not the foundation for how we are to perceive God's love? Are we not commanded to love in the same manner that He loves? “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” (John 13:35)

2. If God's nature is love how can it be separated from any other aspect of His being? If His nature is one of a loving Father then would not everything that came from Him be as a Father? Would not his wrath and judgment be as “fatherly” as His nurture and sustenance?

3. Do you think that it sounds possible or reasonable that anyone could resist and defeat the love of God, indefinitely?

4. Is love really as powerful as we say it is? Do we actually believe, “God is love”, “love never fails”, “the greatest is love”, “love is the fulfillment of the law”, or as the song, “the love of God is greater far than any tongue or pen can tell”? Can we really make these claims with no qualifications? Are you truly convinced that LOVE NEVER FAILS?

5. What is agape love? How different is it to human love? Could there be any power greater to melt the hearts and lives of people causing them to turn from their destructive ways? What is the alternative? Fear of punishment? Hope of reward?

6. How can I obey the two greatest commandments of loving God and neighbor as myself in light of the following:

“If I approve of a God who fails to love [most] of my neighbors and I am grateful for this fact, then I do not truly love or will the good for all my neighbors: and if I DO love them, then in the very act of willing the good for them I demonstrate my disapproval of any God who does not likewise will the good for them.” Talbott

7 . If the summation of the law is “love your neighbor as yourself” does God love us as Himself? In other words does He lay His life down for all of us His “neighbors”? Or does He answer, “Ah, but the question is, ‘who really is My neighbor? To Me it is actually just a few elect.’ “


8. Why does the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s definition of God not include love?

“God is a spirit; infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.”



Regarding Reconciliation and Restoration

1. Why is 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 in the past tense?

"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation."

2. What/who are the all things mentioned in this passage?

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him…For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:16-20

3. How could this passage mean that God is going to reconcile all His physical creation of rocks, trees and weather etc., but not the crown of His creation, man? Do not “all things” here literally mean all things including mankind?

4. Is not this passage saying that we need to be reconciled to God since He has already been reconciled to us through the cross? Did He not say that, “while we were still His enemies Christ died for us”?

5. Is the sinner redeemed and reconciled because he repents or is he called upon to repent because he has been redeemed and reconciled? Is an unbeliever someone who has not yet been redeemed or someone who is not yet awakened to what has been already done for him?

6. If we have been given “the message of reconciliation” which is "be reconciled to God!" does it not appear that we are announcing something that is already true to the world which they simply do not know has happened to them? Is it more of an announcement of news rather than a conditional premise based upon the response of the recipient? (What remains is for folks to become what they have been declared to be, where God brings our condition up to the level of our position-- this is by grace through faith).

7. When is God going to fulfill the following words?

Habakkuk 2:14, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

Psalm 22:27, “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him.”

Jeremiah 31:34, “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

Zephaniah 3:9, “For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord.”




Regarding the Concept of an Eternal Hell in the Old Testament

1. Why does the Old Testament have no concept of an eternal hell, a subject of unimaginable implications? How could a merciful God be silent about this if it was THE most catastrophic danger ever to face mankind?

2. Is it true that the Jews did not have a developed concept of the afterlife and the words "hell" in the OT should be translated "Sheol" and "Hades" which mean simply "hidden place" or "place of the dead"? Did not the Jews' use of the word "olam" depict an age rather than something eternal? Did not the Jews use a negative in front of a word to denote that something was endless as in, "His mercies never come to an end?" Lam 3

3. How can the concept of an eternal fiery torture chamber be God's intention if when dealing with Israel's sin of burning their own children to the god of Molech Jeremiah said, "He did not command Israel to do this nor did it enter into His mind that they should do this abomination"? Jer 32:35




Regarding the Word "Hell"

1. How is it that when the word "hell" is translated properly it disappears from our translations?

2. How is it that Paul who wrote nearly 3/4 of the New Testament did not mention "hell" once? Judgment yes, but "hell", no.

3. Why did most of the translators add the word "exclusion", "away", or "separated" to 2 Thess 1:9, the one verse used to defend a Pauline concept of an eternal hell, when it is not found in the Greek? The ESV leaves it out in their footnote, why is this? Is not a judgment that comes from the face of the Lord extremely different than one that is separated and away from the presence of the Lord? Was this interpretation the result of an assumption, or a bias?

4. The apostle Paul did not mention the word "hell" once. But the one instance he used the word "Hades" is, "O death, where is your sting? O grave (Hades) where is your victory?" Since this is the same word used in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (and other places) then why was it not translated "hell" here? Is it because it would then say, "O hell where is your victory?" Is this yet another example of selective and biased translating? I Cor 15

5. Why does the book of Acts not mention an eternal hell?


In Regard to God's Holiness

1. Does it seem coherent that a holy God would allow man to continue sinning, rebelling, and hating Him while in a state of death forever? Or as D A Carson sees it, hell is a continuous cycle of sin, guilt and punishment. This sounds more like a version of the dualistic Manichaeism of Augustine's past than of a just and holy God.

2. If an eternal hell does not rid God's universe of sin and death but instead keeps it perpetually cycling forever, does this sound like the plan of a holy God who said He hates sin?

3. If to be holy as God is holy from Leviticus 19 is defined as the keeping of the law and summarized at the end as "Love your neighbor as yourself" then is not love the evidence and fruit of holiness? Since love is the summation of the law of God then are we not condemned by the fact that we have not "loved our neighbor as ourselves"? Therefore is this not the very thing, lack of love for God and neighbor, which has made us unholy? And yet is it not the fulfilling of God's holy law by Jesus (loving us, His neighbor) the thing that actually saves us? So then does His holiness both condemn and save us? Does not Romans say He is both "Just and the Justifier" (3:26)?

4. If you believe God, who is holy, plans to eradicate sin from a certain number of His creatures why would it make Him less holy if we claim He plans to destroy evil and sin among ALL mankind instead of perpetuating it within billions in hell forever?



Salvation and Forgiveness

1. If we are “saved by grace, through faith” does this not mean that grace has already saved us and that faith is nothing more than the proof that God has awakened us to that grace? And if we claim what we are really experiencing in the Church is “grace” then how is it there is so much pride? “It is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, so that no one would boast”. (Eph 2:8-9)

2. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” If Jesus is the exact representation of God then is this not the cry of the Father’s heart as well?

3. If He is “faithful and just to forgive us our sin” is this not an indication that forgiveness is part of being just? (1342 Dikaios)

4. If God is going to condemn to an eternal hell most of mankind in the age to come why is He shaping us to be more and more gracious, forgiving and loving? Will there be no future context in which to practice this compassion, love and mercy?

To live your life on this earth and not learn the divine principle of forgiveness is to miss everything that Christ taught and lived.

5. Is not the primary evidence of being a child of God that of being a forgiver-- one who offers mercy? Does not love imply forgiveness, grace and mercy? What are the implications of this if God says we are going to rule and reign with Him and we will judge nations? If we are told that, “if you do not forgive your brother from your heart neither will I forgive you”, then what kind of judges, rulers, kings and priests must He be preparing for that time? Would He be calling out and preparing merciful judges if He Himself will not in fact show mercy in the age to come?

6. Why are the Christian Universalists being accused of making God out to be more loving and merciful than Scripture warrants when Jonah (the archetypal human heart) actually whines to God about this?:

“That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Jonah 3:1-2

7. Why does God give us the exhortation for forgiveness to be offered 70x7 times, signifying indefinitely, if this does not reflect the nature and scope of His own forgiveness?



God's Track Record

1. Would you not consider Sodom’s prophecy to be restored (Ez 16), Egypt and Assyria to be honored above Israel (Isa 19), Jonah's Ninevah, the prodigal son's acceptance, and the Gentiles being engrafted into God's Story a few examples of God's mercy trumping our expectations (or even our desires)?

2. Has it not been the trajectory of God to progressively reveal His truth and plan for the ages? Would it not be arrogant to assume we have all the pieces of God's plan already figured out and refuse to explore controversial areas or admit we may have gotten some things wrong regarding His sovereign plan?



Dualism

1. If sin against an infinite God will incur an infinite punishment would that not be a form of dualism since it would mean that sin, death and evil would parallel God forever?

2. Is it not an illogical assertion that justice can be paid through a sentence that never ends which implies it is never fulfilled?

3. Does not an eternal hell make "the most corrupt, foul and loathsome in man to be as enduring as God Himself? Does it not confer the dignity of an immortal life on what is morally abominable? Does it not teach perpetual anarchy and chaos? Does it not enthrone pandemonium as an eternal fact side by side with Paradise? Is this the promise of making 'all things new' and of the reality of God becoming all in all?" (Allin)

4. What do you think of the comparison of an eternal hell as like unto "an open festering wound of perpetual death and disease in the universe never intended to be healed?" (from J. Bonda, The One Purpose of God)

5. What about the verses that speak of everything returning to God, the Source of all things? "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things". What about all the words that convey the concept of returning back to God and His ways in the Scriptures such as: REstoration, REdemption, REconciliation, REsurrection, REvive, and REpent?

6. Since God is the One who holds literally everything and everyone together, what is referred to as sustaining grace (Col 1:17) then He must be sustaining by His grace every person in an eternal hell in order for them to continue to exist …in order for them to be punished forever. This sounds even worse than dualism as it attributes God with actually sustaining sin and death forever!



In Relation to the Law of God

1. If the Israelites were given as "examples" for us (1 Cor 10) pointing to even greater realities beyond them then what of the practice of Jubilee (which many scholars doubt was ever actually achieved)? What does it point to in relation to the plan of God? What does it symbolize? How has it been fulfilled by Christ who "came to fulfill all righteousness"?

2. If God is holy because He never sins and “sin is any transgression of the law” then what is the law? Is not the law a reflection of God’s perfect character contained in the Ten Commandments summarized by “love God and your neighbor as yourself”? Is not therefore God’s holiness reflected through perfect love?


Regarding Reason and Questions

1. What did God mean when He said, “Come let us reason together” and when Jesus told the Pharisees to "make good judgments". Does not reason play a significant part regarding our knowledge of Him and therefore this issue?

2. In light of Jesus' statement, "I will also ask you one question, and answer Me..." does it not appear that God's goal is to engage us into the process of thinking and meditating on Him? Also God says through Isaiah, "No one stops to think. No one has enough knowledge or understanding..." (Isa. 44). Are we not given the impression that we are expected to think and reason about the nature of God, without fear?

3. Is not I Thessalonians 5:21 giving us permission to test the doctrine of an eternal hell since it says, "Examine all things; hold fast to that which is good." If we are feeling uneasy about it, sense that it is not good, and wish it were not true why should we be afraid to examine it and put it to the test?

4. What about the test of, "Does it glorify God"? Can we honestly say that to consign most of His crown of creation to an eternal existence cycling sin and punishment while in a state of death is glorifying to Him? Would this glorify an earthly king to have 90% of his subjects never submit their wills to him? How would a parallel state of eternal sin and death be glorifying to a holy God?

5. Have you ever considered what the verses that speak of the restoration of all creation would sound like if you put all the qualifiers on them that you say you believe are there?

“And he is the head of the body, the Church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in [a few hearts] he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself [a few things], whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Col 1:18-20

"For from Him and through Him are all things and [a few will make it] back to Him." Rom 11

"As in Adam ALL die so in Christ [very few] will be made alive". 1 Cor 15:22

"For God so loved 5-10% of the world that He gave His only begotten Son..." (Calvinists) Jn 3:16

"God was in Christ reconciling [a tiny portion of] the world to Himself." 2 Cor 5:19

"Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin [of a few people] of the world." John1:29

“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not for ours only but for the sins of a few from every people group in the world!” I Jn 2:2

"The last enemy to be destroyed is death [for a minority of My human creation]."

"Behold, I am making [a few] things new!” Rev 21:5


6. Why do Christians who believe in an eternal hell use the verse from Isaiah 55, “For My ways are not your ways neither your thoughts My thoughts…” to defend the incoherent nature of their eternal hell when this entire chapter is about the MERCY of God and not judgment?

Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
…Let the wicked forsake his way
and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.




Regarding Our God-given Desires and Hopes

1. David said that if we delight ourselves in the Lord He will give us the desires of our hearts. Why do most Christians admit they desire the salvation of all?

2. If God says “love hopes all things” and that “hope deferred makes the heart sick” then why do we assume this hope that God will indeed redeem all and truly reconcile everything to Himself is unfounded? Why do we often use language more hopeful than we are allowed to believe?

3. Why do our hearts soar when we read or hear passages like these? Do you HOPE they mean what they appear to mean? Do you wish they were true?

“On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken. Isaiah 25:6-8

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Hab 2:14

4. Why do we recite the end of epic stories like, “…everything sad is going to come untrue” and do not feel compelled to correct or qualify but let the hope remain to tantalize our hearts? (LOTR)

5. If God says that He is going to do “exceedingly abundantly above all we could ask or imagine” then how come with the traditional teaching in place we secretly wish and imagine more?

6. When God tells us to "give an answer for the hope that is within you" is He referring to just our own personal hope for our own souls? Also where Paul says "we are not of those who have no hope" is he saying our hope does not extend beyond who we know for certain will be saved from an eternal hell? Does this not seem self-centered and an unlikely understanding of what is being referred to here as "hope"? Is He not called the "God of Hope" and the "Hope of the Nations"?



Regarding Story

1. If God says that He will do “immeasurably beyond all we ask or imagine” Eph 2 :20 then how could we ever out-dream or out-imagine God with our earthly stories?

2. How can His Story reflect anything less than the most stunning stories He has allowed us to create? How could the Grand Story we find ourselves in be smaller than the epic movies and books we read... The storied reality that frames our lives? Why are we told that this Greater Hope view is simply “wishful thinking”, “a fairytale”, or something that is “too good to be true”? Isn’t that actually an inking Eph from the law written on our hearts?



God As Father

1. If the first attribute that comes to your mind when you think of God, is love and that He is a Father do you think the Father of all fathers could leave most of the members of His family in agony forever?

2. What does the story of the Prodigal Son teach us about the nature of the Father? Does He not forgive both the son of riotous living and the son of self-righteousness?

3. Is not the “Father of all” wise enough, compassionate enough, and powerful enough to cause us all to come to ourselves and bring us back home?

4. Is not the “Father of all” strong enough to break the power of sin and death over us, His children? "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." (Luke 15:22-24)

5. Does it not say, “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the FATHER?” Why does it not say Judge as many assume it must mean? What would bring you glory as an earthly father: a son that “confessed” openly that you were right all along while despising you in his heart or a son who had “come to his senses” about your true love for him and wanted to share it with all who would listen?



The "firstfruits", "elect", and "priests"

1. What does God mean when He labels His elect, the "firstfruits"? Does not the allusion, "FIRSTfruits" imply there is more to come?

2. Who is told to "come out of Babylon" in the book of Revelation? Is it not the Church? Why is God throughout all Scripture calling out a chosen, an elect, a "kingdom of priests"? Who is He most often calling out of exile and for what purpose? Is it not to show the rest of the world what God is like?

3. What is the purpose and nature of a priest? Is it not to be a mediator between God and man? If the chosen are all priests, then who are they priests for? Just other would-be priests, or for the world?

4. Was not Jesus' high priestly prayer for the Church ...for the world? "...may they be one even as we are one that the world may believe that You have sent me". (John 17)

5. If we are the elect, what are we elected for? Is it different than Abraham's call to be a blessing on account of his being blessed? Is it only to glory in our chosen-ness or election? Would that make sense of a chosen office in this life? Are not individuals elected unto some purpose? What are we, “the elect”, chosen for?

6. Are we not chosen to be the firstfruits of creation to be “set free” in order to set the rest of creation free in the midst of the plan of the ages mentioned in the Bible?

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (Rom 8:19-21)


The Judgments and Wrath of God

1. Do all of God's judgments have a righteous purpose? If you believe 90%+ of all humankind is going to be sentenced to an eternal separation from God, by the standards of His own holy law (which is summarized as “love your neighbor as yourself”) would you consider this to be righteous? (“Righteousness” is justice or right-useness)

2. Isaiah 26:9 says, "When God's judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness". Are only some of God's judgments remedial while the rest (most) are punitive?

3. Why do so many Christians quote the verse that says, "For it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God" to defend an eternal judgment when this passage is talking about God's own people? Why do they not include the first part of the verse that says, "The Lord will judge HIS PEOPLE. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:30)?


4. Is God’s salvation a salvation from a location or from a condition? Did Jesus rescue us from the condition of sin and death in which we were already involved or from a place in the future? Many say they believe they are saved from sin as well as an eternal hell but most Christians demonstrate more fear of hell than of sin. What does the record show of Christians; do they appear more afraid of sin …or of hell? Or perhaps neither?

“We can either humble ourselves and fall on the rock (Christ), receiving this beautiful revelation now, or we can have the rock fall on us in correction in the ages to come. But make no mistake about it, all will eventually come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ!”

5. Why have we assumed the word “wrath” is equivalent to our human meaning when God says “the wrath of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God”? (James 1:20) Does it not imply that the wrath of God will accomplish the righteousness of God? Is not righteousness a returning to “right-useness” or justice?


Death and Destruction

1. If the Bible says, “the wages of sin is death” why does most of Christianity teach that it is eternal torture?

2. What does it mean to, “hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.”? (1 Cor 5:5)

3. What does it mean, “It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”? (1 Cor 3:15)

4. Are we sure we understand the meaning of the “lake of fire” and “brimstone”? Why is the word used for the lake of fire the same used for the Holy Spirit fire? Why is the word “brimstone” the word for sulfur, a cleansing/healing agent?

4442 pýr or “pur”= fire. In Scripture, fire is often used figuratively – like with the "fire of God" which transforms all it touches into light and likeness with itself.

5. Do we see in the Story of God that death and destruction have the last word, or life, restoration and resurrection? (See the prophecy of the restoration of Sodom in Ez 16 once destroyed by fire).

6. When God has “utterly destroyed” something or someone, has that ever been a problem for the God of resurrection and life? “I kill and I make alive says the Lord.” (Deut 32:39) “I am the resurrection and the life; though he were dead yet will he live.” (Jn 11:25).



Regarding Justice

1. Do God's laws of restitution that are being promoted in prisons by Colson and others have no reference to God's ultimate judgment and dealings with mankind? Does this restorative justice have reference to this life only and no connection with God's final judgment? Is restorative justice in no way connected to or reflective of God's eternal character?

2. If the word justice means righteousness or "right-useness" would not bringing someone to justice mean bringing them to right-useness or restoration? Is God's final justice less than the temporal human stories of restorative justice where there is repentance, forgiveness, restitution, and in the most astounding stories, even victims and perpetrators reconciled? Could these temporal earthly stories outdo God’s overall Story?

3. There is now a clearer teaching in our churches that “justice” is not getting justice but rather doing justice. We are being taught that the goal of true justice is restoration of the perpetrator, not just getting even. We know from the Spirit of God that this is right and good. Would God do anything less in His cosmic scheme of justice?

4. What about the place of social justice that is a major theme in Scripture? If most of the world’s poor are from non-Christian nations then is social justice just a temporal fix for 90% of these people who are (destined either by statistics or by predestination) going to an eternal hell?

5. And when God speaks of “justice for all the oppressed” is He speaking for just the believing oppressed? If not then when do the world’s poor receive the justice they are promised when most die without ever seeing it? Do they receive justice for their unjust suffering after they die and then later are they consigned to hell forever for their “unbelief”?

6. Explain how millions of “unbelieving” children who have been victims of the sex trade receive their justice from God if they are without faith in Christ when they die after the “age of accountability”?

7. How will God give justice to two evil nations who have committed injustices to each other when they will both end up in hell?

8. How can there be justice meted out fairly if all unbelievers are consigned to the same sentence of “separation from God”? How do you have degrees of absolute and utter darkness? How do you have degrees of separation from God, the sole Source of light, life and love? How do you have degrees within the absence of evertything that is good?

“It's a pity the law doesn't allow me to be merciful.” Javert, Les Miserables

Regarding the Atonement

1. Many people react to the teaching to the Restoration of All by saying, “then what is the purpose of the cross?” Let us ask you, what’s the point of a hospital that has discovered the cure for all diseases? Just because Calvary will prove to be 100% successful does not render Christ’s sacrifice unnecessary. What undermines the atonement is the teaching that either Christ died an ineffectual death or that He died for only a few, thereby a limited atonement.

2. If the view of eternal hell is supported by the Penal Substitutionary Atonement what about the fact that the ransom theory was held until Anselm and the PSA was not fully introduced until the Reformation? How is eternal hell defended in light of these models if neither were the model for the first thousand years of the Church? If the early Church held to a ransom/Christus Victor model then were they weaker or inferior believers since they did not have an understanding of the PSA in place?

3. Are there not many models of the atonement and is it not true that the Atonement defies our understanding leaving much to mystery leading to an understanding that encompasses many models and not just one? (See Scot McKnight's book, A Community Called Atonement).

“We should not expect that our theories will ever explain it fully. Even when we put them all together, we will no more than begin to comprehend a little of the vastness of God's saving deed.”.............. ...... Leon Morris

4. If the fall of mankind was universal through Adam, and Christ is named the “second Adam” then why was His redemption not universal? Was the fall of man more powerful than the cross and the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ?

“Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” (Rom 5:18)

5. How would this passage sound if we were to read it with qualifications? “…Just as the result of one man was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification [for a few].”



Regarding the present condition of the Church

1. Do you really believe an eternal hell has kept people morally in line? Has it actually been an effective restraint for sin in the Church? Aren’t we told that we love because He first loved us and that it’s “the GRACE of God that teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness”? (Titus 2:12)

2. If to know the truth sets us free and, "if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed", could we honestly describe ourselves as "free"?

3. Would the world describe us, the Church as a whole, as free? Are we known for our freedom? Do we feel free? Do we act free? Does the following verse describe you?

“…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. ?They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isa 40:31)

4. If we worship a God who is weak because He cannot save all, or limited because He cannot override man's will, or unmerciful because we believe He simply has chosen to save only a few, do we not begin to reflect what we worship?

5. Would the world describe us (and might we honestly describe ourselves) as weak? or as limited in our impact in this world? or as unmerciful? Are we not viewed as unmerciful in the way we judge others and condemn them for things we don't do while harboring other toxic sins like greed, covetousness and gossip?

6. Why is it the Church is known for its pride and arrogance? If it is based on grace “so that no one can boast” (especially among those adhering to the “doctrines of grace” or Calvinism) why is there so much pride?

7. If Christianity is a faith based on forgiveness why do we as a whole generally have such a difficult time forgiving? Could we be reflecting the God we believe will refuse to forgive most of mankind?

8. Why are most Christians actually "functional universalists" meaning they do not live, speak, or spend their time and money as if they believed in an eternal hell? How is it that many who do live as if it is true are considered strange, unbalanced, or morbid?

9. Why are we all of a sudden fighting feverishly to defend a doctrine we seldom talk or preach about? And why are we teaching a more sanitized watered down version when we do? Why the vague, indecisive and commonly evasive approach? If it is indeed true why not unleash it in the manner of Jonathan Edwards? Is it utterly and terrifyingly horrific or is it not?

10. What do you think about Keller’s assessment of the Church in relation to who we are attracting...?

"Jesus’s teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did."



Regarding Matthew 25

1. Do you not think it troubling that with all the debate over what the word “aionios” means within this parable the actual point of the parable, caring for “the least of these”, has been neglected by the Church? With this doctrine in place we have done a miserable job of being Jesus to the least of these so maybe this word and its “proof” of an eternal hell is actually not the point. Have we stumbled over a word and failed to see the Living Word of God before us in Jesus here in this parable?

2. Also if Matthew 25 is a parable then we need to interpret it as a parable. What is Jesus’ point? Is it that hell is eternal? Or is it about the Kingdom of God and how that plays out through a truly converted life?

3. Was not Jesus often praying for the Church for the world, rebuking the Church for the world, and calling them out of exile for the world? Is not Jesus calling the Church to soberly consider their neglect of the “least of these”? All the while we argue over a word.

4. Or, is Matthew 25 about how we are saved by the works of caring for the poor, sick, imprisoned? If so, how much is enough to get “in”? Or is it about how to prove by “grace through faith” that you have evidence of “saving faith”? But how much is enough evidence? And does it teach that the disenfranchised etc., are inherently Christ’s brothers and therefore already in God’s kingdom somehow apart from faith? What do you think was Jesus’ main point in this parable?

5. If the word “aionios” means eternal then why did another greek word that meant “never-ending” have to be placed before it when condemning the doctrine of universal salvation by Justinian in order to be understood to mean “eternal”?

It is conceded that the half-heathen emperor held to the idea of endless misery, for he proceeds not only to defend, but to define the doctrine.2 He does not merely say, "We believe in aionion kolasin," for that was just what Origen himself taught. Nor does he say "the word aionion has been misunderstood; it denotes endless duration," as he would have said, had there been such a disagreement. But, writing in Greek, with all the words of that abundant language from which to choose, he says: "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. (complete book found in “study tools”)




Calvinism vs. Arminianism

1. Are not the two camps of Arminianism and Calvinism irreconcilable due to the fact that they hold to opposite views of the very character of God?

2. Since the Calvinists and Arminians have opposing views of the very nature of the God they both claim to follow is it not true that they cannot closely relate together in the same church body unless they substantially compromise their convictions?

3. Would the Calvinists honestly be able to say that they could love and worship the weak God of the Arminians? Would the Arminians honestly be able to say they could love and worship the predestining/limited atonement God of the Calvinists? NO? Then what does this mean for the Church? Of its hope for unity?

4. Whether you are a Calvinist, an Arminian or an Evangelical Universalist you must all deal with “problem texts” and therefore must each argue from your view of God’s character: absolute sovereignty/limited love, freewill/unlimited love, or unlimited and inescapable love and power. Why is there no tolerance for the Christian Universalist who harmonizes the tension between the two opposing camps?

5. Why are Evangelical Universalists labeled as “heretics” while the distance between the Calvinists and Arminians is fundamentally greater than each of their distance is to the Evan. universalist? In other words the Evan. universalists have more in common with each view than the Arminians and Calvinists do with each other. Ironically both have been heard accusing the other of being “dangerously close to universalism!”

6. Do you realize that these two diametrically opposed views of God are irreconcilable and that they have created an impasse to any true unity within the Church?

7. But have you considered that they might not actually be diametrically opposed but rather simply two parts of a whole? Could it be that the God who loves all and has provided redemption for all is the same God who is powerful and sovereign enough to bring it to pass?

8. Would you believe that the Evangelical Universalist has removed this tension and loves the ONE God who desires all to be redeemed and is sovereign enough, powerful enough, and loving enough to bring it all to pass?! Did you know that the Evangelical Universalist can worship within both theological camps because they together represent one whole?!



Questions for Arminians

1. Is God absolutely sovereign or is He not? If He is not He is therefore limited in some way. Does that not make Him more like us? Is He currently fighting against the devil and darkness, trying to do “the best He can”?

2. How do you present a God to the world that is simply trying the best He can but will ultimately lose the vast majority of His creation?

3. If Jesus paid for all the sins of the world did He get what He paid for?

4. Did God lose the vast majority of the human race?

5. Was the first Adam more powerful than the last Adam?

6. Did Adam’s fall bring down more people than the cross of Jesus Christ could save?

7. Has Jesus been defeated by Adam, sin, death, hell and Satan?

8. Is the devil more powerful than Jesus?

9. How can you defend the concept of man's free-will over God's will when there is no disputing that He will have every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that "He is Lord"? Is this against their will or is it at this point voluntary? If it is voluntary are they then thrown into an eternal hell anyway? What is the nature of this bowing if it is said to be "for the glory of the Father", and not Judge?

10. If you believe God preserves man's free will how do you explain how in order to preserve mans’ free-will He must violate His own?

11. What exactly is the age of accountability? And what line of reasoning might it lead one to? How would you respond to the cases where people took this doctrine seriously and ended the lives of their innocent children in order to guarantee their safety from a 90%+ possibility of being eternally tortured?

12. Is free-will really the test of true love? Perhaps it appears so from our human understanding. But if God is the freest Being in the universe then none of us are truly free until we are in alignment with Him, the only Source of true freedom. To be gathered up into God's perfect freedom after we have "come to our senses" by God's sovereign means will not be spurned as "forcing our will". Just as Paul did not object to being "coerced" into following Christ but rather became someone who was filled with "inexpressible joy".

Freedom by definition means not being controlled by another. But the relationship of God’s will to us, is not one of making us do something against our will, but by bringing our will into union with His. This is not coercion but causation by the force of love which ultimately worked by God leaving us to ourselves to do what we would do left to ourselves; which was to crucify His Son, and then to love such enemies back to Himself by the power of forgiving love.

13. How do you defend your view of the free-will of man in light of Pharaoh, Esau, Jonah, and the apostle Paul to name a few?

14. When you consider heredity, family upbringing, social and economic status, and the time and location you are born can you really believe that humans have free-will?

15. Man obviously has been given a certain amount of free-will, within bounds, where temporal harm can occur but do you really believe God gives man the ability to do irreparable and irreversible harm? Do you believe there can be any irreducible tragedies in God’s Story? (Talbott)

16. What did Jesus mean when He said, “When I be lifted up I will draw (literally drag) everyone to Myself”? (Jn 12:30)

17. Don’t you think that the only one in the universe who is truly capable of “free will” is God Himself?


Questions for Calvinists

1. Isn’t it incoherent to say that “God IS love” and how we are commanded to love as He loves and yet say He does not love the majority of mankind?

2. If God is selective with His love and redemption how are we supposed to love our enemies when He does not?

3. If God is only saving a minute number called the elect why did God say that He “so loved the world” and that He is the “Savior of the world”? Why did He not say, “For God so loved the elect of the world?”

4. If someone is considered elected or chosen are they not elected for some purpose, ie., other people? For whom are we chosen and for what purpose?

5. Was not Abraham chosen to be blessed in order to bless all nations?

6. If the summation of the law is “love your neighbor as yourself” does God love us as Himself? In other words does He lay His life down for all of us His “neighbors”? Or does He answer, “Ah, but the question is, ‘who is really My neighbor? To Me it is actually just a few elect.’ “

7. Is not Calvinism a form of determinism that predestines certain people to a “caste” relegated to God’s bin of “throwaways”. To say that most people are born into a condition without hope is not in line with the overall Story of God and the trajectory of love, hope, grace and restoration. How do you reconcile this?

8. If a God who predestines only a few to eternal life doesn’t sound like “good news” then how can it be “The Good News of the Gospel” for the world?

9. Why does Calvin contradict himself in his commentary on I John regarding “God is love”? How can he get away with saying that this verse “does not speak of the essence of God, but only shows what He is found to be by us [ie., the elect]” immediately after he had just introduced the passage by stating that I John “takes for granted a general principle or truth, that God is love, that is, it is God’s nature to love men”? [emphasis mine] Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, pg 239

10. Why does the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s definition of God not include love?:

“God is a spirit; infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.”

11. Why do the adherents of the “doctrines of grace” have a general reputation for being proud, arrogant and unteachable especially the leaders of the neo-Calvinist movement? If this doctrine is so pure and protects God’s holiness then why are many of it’s leaders not so holy, struggling with pride and often failing to love?



Heaven and the Kingdom of God

1. Is heaven/the Kingdom of God just a future hope or is it a present reality? Has the Church been hindered by a belief that heaven is a future location rather than a spiritual position or (condition) of being "in Christ" and as the "eternal life" Jesus equated with knowing Him... in the present tense?

2. When we pray, “Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done” why do some of us then look for God to “rapture” us out of here? Is the Kingdom of God now or is it in the future? Yes, it’s both!

3. Why did Jesus say He would "open His mouth in parables" and that He had "hidden these things from the wise and learned"? Do you think it is possible we the Church have missed something in relation to the nature of God's Kingdom? Do you think it is possible that we the Church deserve to have things hidden from us in the same way the Jews did?

4. Hasn’t the revelation of the Kingdom of God been ever increasingly growing larger? Hasn’t the perennial religious temptation of mankind been to be exclusive with their “tribal god”? Does not the Story of God consistently contain rebukes for those unwilling to admit that God is merciful to one’s enemies? (The Jonahs, Jews, the elder brothers etc.,)



Questions regarding Church History

1. Why was Origen not condemned for his universalism until 200 years after his death? (and that on account of a pagan despot, the emperor Justinian who did it not as a devotion to the truth but as a political move).

2. Why did the Emperor Justinian in declaring his edict against universalism have to place a different Greek word in front of the word "aionios" in order to be understood that he meant never-ending? (See info under "study tools" on Justinian).



A word from Gerry Beauchemin:

I do not have all the answers. God does! Hopefully some of them were helpful to you. The essential thing is beyond facts themselves. It is the simple willingness to accept truth no matter what it might be. Craig Nolin writes in quoting Dr. Drew Westen:

When people draw conclusions about particular events, they are not just weighing the facts. “Without knowing it, they are also weighing what they would feel if they came to one conclusion or another, and they often come to the conclusion that would make them feel better, no matter what the facts are.” Dr. Weston found that knowing an individual’s predisposition proved to be a perfect predictor of their ultimate decision 84% of the time, which suggests that no amount of facts would change their original position… regardless of whether we are talking about diets, exercise, politics, religion, or business… This characteristic is the inspiration of the old line, “Don’t confuse me with the facts. My mind is made up!