Everlasting Punishment

The semiannual recurrence of this subject in our Lesson-Sermons never fails to bring to the writer a deep sense of gratitude for deliverance from false belief in regard to it. The doctrine of everlasting punishment as a means for frightening sinners into repentance has been tenaciously adhered to by the various schools of so-called orthodox theology for generations. In the writer's experience, although there was an endeavor to explain the subject patiently and painstakingly by both pastor and Sunday school teacher, their explanation served only to form a mental picture of a God who was simply a magnified human being, sitting on a wonderful throne somewhere a long way off, who could not be seen because of the dazzling brightness emanating from His person, and whose sole business seemed to consist of condemning sinners on the one hand and exalting saints on the other.

As the years passed by, bringing deeper habits of thought, it was soon plain that this could not be a true understanding of God, because it did not agree with the statements of the Bible that God is Love, the Father of all, just and true and merciful. Yet the Bible statements seemed conflicting, and perusal of them brought question after question, which grew more and more confusing. If God created all, and man was born to sin and to be punished, then God must have created sinners and known that they would sin; and what sort of love was it that would first make it possible for its creation to sin and then provide punishment for it? Furthermore, there seemed to be no definite rule for knowing when one was being good enough to escape condemnation; for did not the Savior say in answer to one who addressed him as "Good Master" when he came to him inquiring what he should do to have eternal life, "There is none good but one, that is, God"?

At length the decision was made that it was not worth while to worry about it. Nobody seemed to know anything that could throw any more light on the subject, although information was frequently volunteered that there were a great many things which God did not wish us to understand, that it was a sort of blasphemy to even desire to search them out, and that therefore we should be resigned and simply do the best we could, taking whatever came; so even the reading of the Bible was dropped.

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True Education
August 23, 1919

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