Two posts ago, Hell Under Fire – Paul On Hell Chapter 4 Part 3, and the upcoming Part 5, I have/will talk about beliefs in universalism that people have held in history or why it is on the rise. In Chapter 4 Part 3, I quoted Moo saying that many people today are not believing in hell (ECT) because the world has gotten so much smaller and people’s views from other world religions are being heard by people who have never heard them before and this is a (maybe the?) major reason people are questioning hell (ECT) today, why hell is under fire.
And in Chapter 4 Part 5 I will comment on how Moo casually comments that periodically in history hell has been challenged, but the intent of his statement seems to be that this is mainly just a “rogue” belief that has never had many followers at all. It is apparent, for anyone who has studied church history and Augustine, that the western church (Roman church) taught hell as ECT. Augustine is said to be a champion of eternal torment. But what is not stressed are statements like this one by Augustine himself (early AD 400’s):
“There are very many (imo quam plurimi, can be translated majority) who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments” (Enchiria, ad Laurent. c.29).
And, even earlier than him we have quotes from such notable saints as St. Basil the Great (c. 329-379) in his De Asceticis who wrote:
“The mass of men (Christians) say that there is to be an end of punishment to those who are punished.” Note that he is not classified as a Universalist.
Finally, how about St. Jerome (342-420), the author of the Latin Vulgate Bible who writes:
“I know that most persons understand by the story of Nineveh and its King, the ultimate forgiveness of the devil and all rational creatures.”
In the future I will compile articles dealing with the early church Fathers views and then how church history has changed through the years to favor the ones in power and corrupt some actual events so our understanding of church beliefs has been skewed to favor the Roman Catholic church, the Popes, and then even the Reformers. I have grown to love history, but I have grown to dislike the one-sided telling of it to advance a belief system and create a tradition that enslaves the masses and denigrates, if not outright denies, God.
I look forward to posting Part 5 soon. I hope you do, too! Until then, “to Him be the glory for the eons! Amen!”