Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

too much love



                        I've heard it said that some in the church are complaining about too much emphasis on sermons about God's love and too little on the subject of imminent eternal punishment. Others in the church cringe to hear such complaints; but, realistically, if hellfire and damnation are in our future, why would anyone waste time preaching about love. It is intuitively obvious that either love trumps Hell or Hell trumps love. If love is real, there can be no Hell in the orthodox sense; and, if the traditional Hell is real, then their is no room for love.


                        What I believe we see exhibited in these internal church debates is the clear indication that a great many in the orthodox church do not believe in eternal punishment as traditionally taught. Others, still cling to that concept and recognize the basic incompatibility between love and hell fire. Any church which tries to teach love and Hell from the same pulpit will always face this dilemma. Simply ignoring the subject of eternal punishment, while ostensibly practicing as an orthodox Christian group, only confuses and alienates those congregants who wholeheartedly embrace orthodox theology and expect the church to demonstrate its undying concern for this horrific reality.


                        Though it is tempting to criticize those in the church who insist on hellfire messages, the real problem is more likely that the average church fails to openly test their theology, that which is actively taught and that simply implied by a general association with Christianity. Without question, the label Christian in any group strongly suggests a belief in God's wrath and eternal judgment. Therefore, claiming Christianity without believing in a traditional Hell must be declared to be understood.


                        Trying to teach God's Love and eternal Wrath as co-equals has never worked. People have always been forced to choose which aspect of God's character is pre-eminent, thereby essentially eliminating the other. The reasons behind that individual choice are many, and that choice largely explains the polarization in our congregations and our world.