I realize that many who accept the traditional doctrine of eternal punishment do so thinking they are honoring God’s divine character. They picture Him as so Holy, so Righteous and so demanding of justice that He cannot allow people to escape punishment unless they do something about their sinfulness (admit it, repent of it, pray about it, baptize it away). I suspect many have conditioned themselves to believe also that they reverence God by not questioning too much the fact that all this seems totally unjust and unworkable to the human mind. They rely, I believe, on the notion that God is the source of all power and authority and therefore whatever He does is right and proper no matter how it may appear to mere men. Human opinion and even revulsion then becomes not only irrelevant but actually a demonstration of willful sin itself. This attitude leads to an automatic rejection of all questions and calls for re-evaluation of traditional thinking and doctrine. Naturally this background highly favors the entrenched position and leads to a bunch of name calling between “believers” and “skeptics”.
Why should we have to go through so much manipulation and equivocation about God’s character to justify our theology? Why can’t we accept a God of true magnificence, the one reflected by Jesus, without someone injecting a “yes but” qualifier? That is what bothers me. I want a theology that truly honors God, one that recognizes the fallacies of past religious dogma and allows God to be as Big as He really is. This is not only refreshingly possible, it is thoroughly biblical.