Why God Will Restore All Things
The magnificent Biblical teaching that in the ages to come death and hell will be conquered, the earth will be restored to Edenic peace and perfection, and fallen mankind will be reconciled to God, receives scant endorsement from most church pulpits. Yet it is a frequent theme throughout the Scriptures. Not only is it Biblically sound, but it is a necessary principle supporting some very important Scripture teaching, as seen in the following overview of sixteen aspects of God’s nature and character. See: Restore All!
The Disappearance of Hell in the Teaching of the Church
The Biblical “Hell” is not “Separation from God!”
It was only thirty or forty years ago that a surprising and decidedly radical change in doctrine quickly and quietly swept through the American evangelical churches. In place of their traditional teaching concerning “hellfire” and “damnation,” Christian ministers suddenly switched to a new concept: It was now fashionable to proclaim that Hell is simply “separation from God.” No more talk about torment in the flames of a literal horrible hell for all of time and for all of those who reject Christ; instead we now hear the revised and refreshed, much milder "Evangelical version" of an eternal existence simply separated somewhere far from the presence of God. Although the language is decidedly vague, we imagine some distant corner of the universe where poor unsaved lost souls plunk down far beyond God’s power to reach and recompense!
This teaching circulates across denominational lines: Roman Catholic, Protestant Evangelical, and even many Fundamentalist churches have joined in on this suddenly popular new theory.
On July 28, 1999, Pope Paul described hell as “The complete frustration and emptiness of life without God… Rather than a physical place, hell is the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy… Damnation consists precisely in definitive separation from God, freely chosen by the human person, and confirmed with death that seals his choice for ever. The thought of hell and even less the improper use of biblical images must not create anxiety or despair." Heaven forbid offending the sinner by any talk of judgment!
Evangelist Billy Graham stated, “Could it be that the fire Jesus talked about is an eternal search for God that is never quenched? Is that what it means? That, indeed, would be hell. To be away from God forever, separated from His Presence.” - The Challenge: Sermons from Madison Square Garden, 1969, pp. 74-75.
Years later, Billy Graham similarly proclaimed, “The only thing I could say for sure is that hell means separation from God. We are separated from his light, from his fellowship. That is going to be hell. When it comes to a literal fire, I don't preach it because I'm not sure about it. When the Scripture uses fire concerning hell, that is possibly an illustration of how terrible it's going to be - not fire but something worse, a thirst for God that cannot be quenched.” – Time Magazine 11/15/93, p.74.
One thing is certain: Evangelicals are not certain about hell! What does the Bible say about this important issue? See: Separation from God?