Many Christians would like nothing more than to reject the orthodox doctrine of hell but their high regard for Scripture prevents this. Can a Christian believe in the Bible and also believe that God will save everyone?
“Obviously, if a Christian must believe the Bible is the ‘infallible words of God,’ the answer is no,’” admit Phillip Gulley and James Mulholland in their book, If Grace Is True:
There are too many verses about judgment, hell, and the eternal punishment of the wicked to make such optimism reasonable. If you are unwilling to question the Bible, neither my experiences nor my arguments will carry much weight. I had to abandon my need to protect every word of Scripture in order to consider what I now believe to be the core message of the Bible.
If you believe every statement or story about God recorded in Scripture is equally true, nothing I can say will alter your conviction that God will save some and damn the rest. But I suspect many, like me, have struggled to reconcile the often contradictory biblical images of God.
… Weighing Scripture is discerning which Scriptures accurately reflect God’s character. If all Scripture is equally inspired and authoritative, God is as likely to swallow us up in an earthquake or drown us in a flood as God is to forgive our sin and take us into his arms.
… Weighing Scripture allows for the possibility that some descriptions of God and his behavior are inaccurate.”
Weighing Scripture is something all readers do, whether they realize it or not. And I realize that for most of my readers, the above paragraph goes too far. But it is an honest effort in a worthy cause—understanding God and his dealings with humanity.
We don’t all reach the same conclusions as a result of our study but we should be open to considering different perspectives from sincere people. Whether the dialogue confirms or changes what we believe, it can be a valuable, albeit discomforting, process.