Atonement: the conversation continued Pt. II

Yes, Daniel – there is a hell – or, more precisely, a place of punishment after death (“hell” really covers about 3 biblical realities that are at least somewhat different).

The classical passage used to explain this is Matthew 25:31–46. I personally believe it is THE most unfortunate translation in the entire Bible – particularly one word: the Greek word, aiónios, translated “eternal”. Go to and  click through to the Greek definition:  “age-long, and therefore: practically [!!??] eternal, unending; partaking of the character of that which lasts for an age, as contrasted with that which is brief and fleeting.”

You see – the word aiónios is AMBIGUOUS – but we, and the traditions we come from do NOT like ambiguity, but doctrinal certainty. Most of us followed the way of Augustine (who knew little Greek, BTW) – as did the reformers, Luther and Calvin.

After 64 years of trying to figure it out – I finally resigned myself (well, probably 10 years or so ago) – I started deeply questioning the interpretive translations (believe me – they are all theologically biased – you have to SELL these Bibles/translations after all!).

So – in my embracing and acknowledging the “glass darkly” we’ve been given – I started just accepting other (apparently contradictory) passages that speak of a universal hope – AND, in my over-all theology, I started asking, “Is eternal hell commensurate with a God who IS Love – who IS Good – who IS Just?” After I bit the theological bullet – the Bible as a whole started making more sense to me: The Gospel is God’s BIG plan – and it really is GOOD NEWS! What evil did to bring humanity into ruin – GOD had completely addressed in the last and second Adam, Jesus!

(There are so many passages – especially from Paul, that make SO much more sense if you embrace this perspective of Hope – e.g. Colossians, etc. – especially Romans 9-11 in a way that entirely contradicts the Calvinism I once held and taught as a pastor).

I recommend reading (and watching videos) by Robin Parry – e.g. his excellent book, The Evangelical Universalist, etc.

Also – if your tempted to believe in Calvinism – reading Jan Bonda’s “The One Purpose of God” is a must.

Or read the Church Fathers of the first 3 centuries – nearly ALL of them held to some form of universalism (e.g. St. Gregory of Nyssa)!

And get David Bentley Hart’s translation of the NT.

Please let me know of any way I can help – or any questions I can attempt to answer –

Richest Blessings, Daniel!

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