The wrath of God, divine judgment, and hell—these words sound a harsh and anachronistic ring in the ears of today’s world. The trend in our global community is to include rather than isolate, thus the dreadful doctrine of eternal punishment set forth and defended by Roger Nicole, David Wells, and Neal Punt is unbearable. And Clark Pinnock’s description of annihilationism is hardly more inviting. Surely God must have designed some plan to save every human being from this awful fate. That, of course, is the hope offered by universalism.

Nicole and Wells speak from a traditional Calvinistic framework, while Neal Punt adheres to a universal atonement and universal application of divine forgiveness—except for those who refuse to believe in Jesus Christ. All three, however (along with Pinnock), clearly reject the view that all will be saved.

Hope-So Universalism

I wish they were wrong. I wish I could say that God is too loving, too kind, and too generous to condemn any soul to eternal punishment. I would like to believe that hell can only be the anteroom to heaven, a temporary and frightful discipline to bring the unregenerate to final moral perfection.

Quite frankly, I struggle with these questions. How can I be happy in heaven if I know some dark corner of the universe contains living human beings who are consciously suffering eternal torment? For that matter, how can I be happy in heaven if I know God had erased from existence—annihilated—my own dearly beloved son or daughter. My emotions shout, “No, it can’t be!”

Yet two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul had exactly the same feeling when he said, “I would gladly be damned if by my damnation Jews could be brought into ...

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