Let me share with you in condensed form, the confusing and somewhat contradictory message which is often presented by orthodox Christians. Then I will share the stunning response I heard from a non-orthodox person during a dinner conversation several years ago.
The following is the good news as presented by some.
“The majority of mankind is going to burn in hell forever and ever and ever and only a few will be saved. Every day hundreds of thousands of people are dying and instantaneously being catapulted into the fiery flames of hell where they will be eternally tormented with no possibility of even slight relief much less deliverance. This tormenting and agony will last forever and ever and ever. God unconditionally loves all mankind. There is nothing anyone can do to cause God to love them more and nothing they can do to cause Him to love then less. However, if those poor souls born on the other side of the world or in some remote jungle somewhere are not reached with this good news of the love of GOD, and unless they believe God loves them before they breath their last breath, God has no choice but to cast them into hell to be tortured relentlessly without end, because He is a just GOD. Torturing them forever in fire breaks God’s heard because He loves them so much. You must understand that because of the sin of Adam all of mankind was plunged into the condition of being born into sin and death, but yet that condition brought upon them by Adam is the responsibility of each individual. Therefore, the only righteous thing for God to do (GOD by the way, whose mercy is new every morning and who is defined by the Apostle John as love) has no choice but to show no mercy and endlessly torture those who don’t have a chance to hear this good news, along with those who do hear but failed to make the right decision before they breathed their last breath. Sadly, their will to not believe God loved them so much trumps God’s will to redeem them. It breaks God’s heart that he must torture them forever. Jesus did try really hard with His sacrifice on the cross. He tried His best with redemption, but in reality it all rests on the shoulders of humanity to save themselves through an act of their own will. You see, the hard heartedness of man is the problem. True, the Bible teaches that it is God who blinds eyes and hardens hearts but the responsibility for it lies squarely upon the shoulders of each individual. Again, we must repeat that it was Adam’s fall that placed all of us under death and sin and true the Bible does say that where sin abounded grace abounded much more, but it apparently only abounds much more for those who hear the message, respond, and then do all the right things for the rest of their life. Although grace is defined as unmerited favor, grace doesn’t cover the sins of the poor slob that we Americans didn’t reach with this simple and straight forward message of the good news of the loving GOD whose son bled and died for all the sin of the world. Therefore, their damnation is also the fault of those who failed to reach them. On a positive note, there is a loophole for babies who die in the womb as a result of abortion. They are instantly transported into heaven. There is also a loophole for children who make it through to delivery, but only up to a certain age (although no one knows exactly what age). If they reach that age, hear the good news of the loving GOD, but they are too stupid to respond, or fail to get baptized, attend regular services, etc. they are doomed. The blood of Christ the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world doesn’t take away their sin. Realize that regardless of whether the unbeliever lived fifteen years or 100 years, the justice of God requires that they burn alive in fire without end for all eternity because that is true justice and the penalty which they deserve for the sin of Adam and their own unbelief (regardless of whether they have heard of Christ or not). Yes, God calls us to love our enemies, bless those who persecute us and to do good to those who spitefully use us. He also tells us not to be overcome with evil but to overcome evil with good. However, that is not the way of God. You see, God’s ways are not our ways. In the economy of GOD, eternal torture is good and just.”
Some within orthodoxy will add another loophole or two for escaping eternal torment. In other words, they add another way of salvation such as:
“There is also a loophole for those who are developmentally challenged mentally. If they die, they escape hell because of their poor mental state. However those with physical disabilities do not get the same gracious free ride. Those who are physically disabled must also do a few things to merit the unmerited unconditional love of GOD. They need to repent, be baptized, attend weekly services, etc. in order to receive this absolutely free gift or they will be cast forever alive into fire, where their nerves will be laid raw and the indescribable pain will be relentless forever and ever as we rest in joy on the bosom of Abraham watching them squirm. This is glorious good news! Praise GOD for HIS mercy and grace. What an indescribable gift! True, the Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death and the gift of God is eternal life, but when the Bible speaks of death, it doesn’t mean death. It means to be tortured forever and ever in fire. True, the Bible speaks of salvation being a free gift, but there are things you have to do… “
Now let me share with you a paraphrase of the response of a non-orthodox friend who had just been exposed to the confusion above. The following statements were made at dinner with a half dozen or so people around the table.
“What are you saying? You are making no sense! Your message contradicts itself over and over again! You’re placing a lot of conditions on what you say is unconditional and making up loopholes that I bet you can’t find in the Bible. On top of that I don’t think you believe what you are saying anyway. If you really believe all of that, why do you protest abortion? Shouldn’t you be pro-abortion? After all if a baby is aborted that’s a sure way to guarantee that the kid will escape the forever and ever fiery flames of hell and be guaranteed a place on Abraham’s chest where he can then watch with glee as his siblings that were born but were too dumb to take the deal burn forever and ever on the other side of the chasm.” He went on… “Wasn’t there a woman in the news who killed her children so that they would not reach the so called age of accountability? She really believed your doctrine and thought it best to place herself in danger of non-stop eternal hellfire for the sake of being assured her children would never face it. So she drowned them, believing she would instantaneously send them into the so called unconditionally loving arms of God who wills all to be saved and who sent His Son to take away the sin of the world but who according to your doctrine failed miserably and whose act of obedience and its effects pale in comparison to the far reaching effects of Adam when he ate the fruit in the garden. What if you are missing something? What if Jesus was actually a success? What if He really is THE SAVIOR rather than a potential Savior? What if you really have good news to share with the world? What if God loves people more than you ever imagined and you are called to love them in the same way whether they believe yet or not. Doesn’t your Bible say that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God the Father? Doesn’t it say something about God becoming all in all? Doesn’t it say something about God reconciling all things to Himself?
When he finished, everyone sat quietly at the table, not sure what to say.