By George W. Sarris
In Seven Days in Utopia – an excellent film based on David L. Cook’s best-selling book, Golf’s Sacred Journey – Robert Duvall’s character makes a very profound statement about his beliefs:
I respect tradition. But, I have a passion for the truth!
I wish I had thought up that line, because it expresses so well the reason why I initially looked into the issue of ultimate destinies.
Seek Truth Wherever It Leads
As a third year seminary student in the late 1970s, I was wrestling with the question every Christian asks at one time or another – How could a good God allow anyone to suffer consciously forever?
A number of years earlier when I was in college, God's love had captured my heart and transformed my life. Prior to attending seminary, I served on the staff of a large campus missionary organization for four years. I wanted to tell others about this wonderful Being who had done such marvelous things in my life, but there was something deep inside of me that kept saying something was wrong with the prevailing teaching about Hell within the Christian community. It just didn’t seem consistent with what Scripture seemed to reveal about God's character.
For one of my theology courses, I decided to address the issue in a straightforward manner as the subject of a research paper. God graciously provided a professor who was an honest scholar. I felt he would look at the paper objectively to grade it based on its merits and not just give me a failing grade because I didn't agree with his theology. I had previously written a research paper on the reliability of the Bible and concluded that a deep confidence in the trustworthiness of God’s Word was the foundational doctrine upon which all the other doctrines of the Christian faith must be built. I wanted to find out for sure what the Bible actually taught about Hell.
One of the most surprising discoveries for me as I began my research was to learn that a significant number of sincere and dedicated Christians throughout history actually believed that God will one day restore all of His creation to the perfection He initially intended. This was especially true in the early centuries following the coming of Christ when the Church was closest to the Apostles, its influence and impact on the surrounding culture was the greatest and its growth was unmatched.
Many of those believers were respected leaders in the early church who were instrumental in laying the foundation for God’s new work in this world. Many were known for their exemplary lives in the face of intense trials and persecution. Many were martyred for their faith.
Is it possible that they got it right, and we have forgotten an important truth that they understood correctly?
Hell: Has It Always Been Forever?
I just posted a video on YouTube that I hope people who have a respect for tradition and a passion for the truth will find interesting, thought-provoking, and perhaps even challenging.
In the beginning, God created a marvelous universe that He said was “very good.” In His wisdom, He allowed evil to enter that very good creation and mar what He had made. But God is not only wise, He is also great! He did not allow evil to remain victorious. Through the cross of Jesus Christ, God defeated sin and death completely.
Will He one day restore all of His creation so that the final word will once again be,
God saw all that He had made, and it was very good?