NDEs and the Bible affirm Universal Salvation-Continued
It is difficult for any honest Christian to conceive of a God of infinite love and mercy who would permit even one soul to be tortured forever in hell. Common sense tells us that a few minutes in hell may be enough for even the hardest of sinners to change their mind and repent. What kind of God creates a person knowing they will ultimately end up tortured forever in hell? Common sense tells us it would be best for God to not even have brought such a person into existence. If even an evil father will treats his children better than this, how much more so God?
"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:9-11)
While it is true scriptures describe hell as a place existing forever, NDEs show a person's citizenship there does not. The scripture above suggests God's arm of mercy extends even to those in hell. We will now examine more scriptural evidence. Scripture will be used to support the following points:
A. There is forgiveness in hell for wrongs committed in life.
B.“Fire" is a metaphor used to describe the purification of people in hell.
C. Once a person has been purified by the "fire," they can escape.
D. “Eternal" is a word used to describe the nature of hell, not the length of incarceration.
E.“Fire" is a metaphor used to describe the purification of people on Earth.
F.“Fire" is a metaphor also used to describe God and manifestations of God.
G.“Light" is a metaphor similar to "fire," used to describe God.
H.“Light" is a metaphor also used to describe spiritual knowledge. "Darkness" is spiritual ignorance.
I. "Darkness" is a metaphor also used to describe hell.
J. Darkness" is a metaphor also used to describe the world.
K. Suffering is necessary to attain spiritual perfection in this world and in hell.
Certain conclusions will be drawn from the points listed above. God considers wrongs committed in this world forgiven in this world as God considers them forgiven in heaven and hell. This world and hell are places of purification. This purification is by "fire" and "light," metaphors for spiritual knowledge and God. People in this world and in hell live in "darkness," a metaphor for spiritual ignorance. The world and hell are places of suffering whose purpose is to bring about spiritual perfection through the abandonment spiritual ignorance.
Now let's examine each point one by one.
A. There is forgiveness in hell for wrongs committed in life.
"And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come." (Matthew 12:32)
It is one thing to be forgiven for an offense in one world, and it is a different thing to be forgiven for the same offense in a different world -- meaning life after death. This verse only makes sense if the possibility of wrongs being forgiven after death is true. In other words, if all wrongs committed in this world could not be forgiven in the world to come, then why single out a particular wrong by saying it cannot be forgiven in the world to come? This would only make sense if sins other than speaking against the Holy Spirit were forgivable in the world to come.
Here's another scripture verse suggesting a way of redemption after death:
"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built." (1 Peter 3:18-20)
This verse refers to the people who have already died and which Christ set free from hell. In an apocryphal book of the Old Testament, it states: "For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead." (2 Maccabees 12:43-46).
At the time of the Maccabees the leaders of the people of God had no hesitation in asserting the efficacy of prayers offered for the dead, in order that those who had departed this life might find pardon for their sins and the hope of eternal resurrection. This verse suggests praying makes possible the redemption of those who have died unredeemed.
The apocryphal book of Maccabees was a part of Biblical canon until Martin Luther removed it during the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. It may be argued Maccabees is not a part of the Bible. However, even Paul, in the Book of Jude, quotes from a book not found in the Bible today. It is called the Book of Enoch; a book considered part of scripture in Jesus day: "Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: 'See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.'" (Jude 1:14, 15)
B.”Fire" is a metaphor used to describe the purification of people in hell.
The early Church developed the concept of purgatory based on particular passages of the Bible. The early Church taught that some sins are purged away by a purifying fire after death.
St. Augustine argued:
Some sinners are not forgiven either in this world or in the next, would not be truly said unless there were other [sinners] who, though not forgiven in this world, are forgiven in the world to come. (95)
This same interpretation was believed by Gregory the Great (96); St. Bede (97); St. Bernard (98) and other eminent Church writers.
Origen taught that purgatory is the true manifestation of "hell." He believed if people depart this life with lighter faults, they are condemned to fire, which burns away the lighter materials, preparing their souls for the kingdom of God, where nothing defiled may enter. He states:
For if on the foundation of Christ you have built not only gold and silver and precious stones; but also wood and hay and stubble, what do you expect when the soul shall be separated from the body? Would you enter into heaven with your wood and hay and stubble and thus defile the kingdom of God; or on account of these hindrances would you remain without and receive no reward for your gold and silver and precious stones? Neither is this just. It remains then that you be committed to the fire which will burn the light materials; for our God to those who can comprehend heavenly things is called a cleansing fire. But this fire consumes not the creature, but what the creature has himself built, wood, and hay and stubble. It is manifest that the fire
destroys the wood of our transgressions and then returns to us the reward of our great works. (99)
Origen based this statement on 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 reprinted below.