Eternal Torment? or Ultimate Reconciliation?

I firmly believe that the Holy Scripture is the inerrant Word of Almighty God, word by word inspired and perfect in its original languages. However, raised as I was in traditional (orthodox Presbyterian, Baptist, Free Methodist, and Calvinist) theology, I could see conflicts in Scripture, as if God were contradicting Himself.

One of these conflicts involves the doctrine of eternal death and damnation, which is the eternal torment of the wicked in hell. Some Scriptures do seem to give that picture. But others claim that ultimately “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord…,” Jesus “won the keys to death and hell,” “the last enemy to be destroyed is death,” “for as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive, but each in his own order,” “that God may be all and in all.” Do a word search on “all” in the Scripture sometime. It will amaze you how many times it is unqualified, such as where the church is called “…His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all,” “all Israel will be saved,” “Christ is all and in all,” “Father of all who is over all and through all and in all,” “ascended far above the heavens that He might fill all things,” and “through Him to reconcile all things to Himself.”

One solution to this conflict is to qualify all the “alls.” Maybe the writer forgot to add “…who believe in Jesus before they die.” Or perhaps the writer assumed you would know that he was only talking about Christians. Another solution is to claim that of course every knee will bow – the wicked will be forced to bow before being hauled off to hell. And of course Christ will be all in all, for all the wicked will be “destroyed” in hell (an unending destruction, a “living death,” if such is possible). Scripture affirms in many places that the wicked will be destroyed.

In this book I propose a third solution. The Bible simply means what it says, and God doesn’t need us to “correct” it for Him. Yes, only those who believe in Christ will be “saved from the wrath to come.” Yes, everyone whose name is not found in the Book of Life will be cast into the Lake of Fire, which is the second death. And yes, ultimately, everyone will be reconciled back to Him, and every knee will bow and accept Him. Those statements are only in conflict if you accept the traditional doctrine that your eternal destiny is sealed at death.


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