If G-d does not save us because of our righteousness and good works, but because of G-d’s mercy, then G-d does not punish others for their sin, G-d punishes others because of G-d’s wrath and spirit of vengefulness. This fact, which highlights a key issue of the doctrine of Calvinism, cannot be justified or mitigated with the usual Calvinist propaganda. I can already hear a voice saying, “we should be so grateful that G-d has even chosen a few of us wretched sinners.” And don’t shut me down with, “there are mysteries we’ll never understand.” If the vast majority of my friends are going to consciously suffer in eternal torment while I enjoy the Presence of G-d in paradise, this isn’t a grand mystery, this is a nightmare of cosmic proportions.
As a person created in the image of G-d, as a person whose brain was knit together by G-d’s own hands through the miracle of reproduction, I believe I have the right to question this. And I believe G-d is not scared of my questions.
In a blog article from 2017 titled, “Oh, Those Desert Religions” the pastoral counselor and speaker, Paula Stone Williams, writes, “Whether speaking about Islam, Judaism or Christianity, the desert religions have always had a tendency to be religions of scarcity. ‘There’s not enough to go around, so I’ve gotta take care of me and mine.’” She uses this to explain why Evangelicals in America often side with anti-immigrant political movements, then says, “I do not hold to a religion of scarcity. My faith is in a [G-d] of abundance. [G-d] has no favorites.” I couldn’t agree more. That’s why every day, I choose to believe in a G-d who is pleased to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on Earth or in Heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. I choose to believe that all people, whether Christian, agnostic, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, will see G-d’s salvation. I choose to believe that Christ’s atoning sacrifice was not only for the sins of Christians, but also for the sins of the whole world. I believe that G-d let humanity fall, bounding us over to disobedience, in order that G-d could demonstrate Her mercy for all of us—not just a few, not just the elect, not just Jacob. In the last days, when each person faces their end, I believe the work Jesus did will be enough for them, and no one will have to live for eternity in Hell as punishment for one lifetime of sins. Don’t buy into a religion of scarcity. Let the abundance of Christ overwhelm you.
Disclaimer: I truly believe that it is perfectly appropriate to interpret the Christian Bible as being a gospel of universal grace. But I must be honest with you, so you don’t get the wrong impression: if the Bible was 100% clear on this, and said that, in fact, the majority of humanity really would spend eternity languishing in the fires of Hell, I would still choose to believe what I believe today. Folks from my previous religious background, including family members, may say I am picking and choosing Scripture to highlight, and ignoring anything I don’t like. That’s true. I used to care so much what people thought of me, I would spend hours reading and listening to folks who explained how the Bible was misused, how it’s not as anti-LGBTQ as Evangelicals make it out to be. That gave me a lot of comfort, in its time, and to be honest, I still tend to agree with that view of Scripture. But nowadays, I don’t claim to base my life on the ancient sacred text of one religion or another. I just follow Christ, love G-d, and try to let G-d’s love flow through me to those in my life. If you’re terrified I’ll end up in Hell, try not believing in Hell. It’s quite a relief.