Does God Love Rapists?

It is silly when we think things like:
God doesn’t love the rapist during the act of rape, as though God’s anger and justice and judgement could ever outweigh his love.
God identifies with the rapist as surely as he identifies with the rape-victim.
He understands the thoughts and feelings of the rapist, the circumstances and rational that lead the rapist to committing the act.
And God justifies him!
Just as surely as he justifies you or me.
God justifies sinners in the midst of sin.

He identifies with every lie we tell ourselves.
He understands the hurt that causes us to respond the way we respond.
He knows the reasons as though they were his own reasons –
And he forgives the reasons.
He allows them.
He loves the rapist during the act of rape.

This is not to say he doesn’t love the victim.
He feels every ounce of the victim’s pain and suffering.
He experiences his/her anger and trauma to the nth degree – perhaps even more than the victim him/herself does!
He intimately knows exactly what we go through whenever we are abused.
And he justifies every response, every feeling, every thought:
Completely accepted.

God is within them both: the rapist and the victim.
He loves them to their core and his core entirely.

Does this mean there won’t be a reckoning?
There is always a reckoning – whether in this life or the next.
But the reckoning is not between humanity and God.
God is at peace with the perpetrator and the victim.
There is no separation.
The reckoning is between the offender and the offended.
Both must fully identify with each other, just as God has fully identified with them as individuals.
The victim must enter the mind, will and emotion of the abuser.
The perpetrator must enter the mind, will and emotion of the victim.
They must so entirely understand each other, that no forgiveness can be left unsaid or undone.

Just as surely as Hitler will experience the pain of each and every Jew who suffered in his war, the Jews will also experience the pain that motivated Hitler.
As surely as Ted Bundy will identify with the terror of his rape and murder victims, they will identify with the feelings that drove him to act as he did.
If we think that God doesn’t love Hitler and Bundy, and that he cannot forgive their mistakes, then God can not love you or me or forgive our mistakes.
Because if I lived Hitler’s life, if I were in his mind and reasoned the way he reasoned and experienced all he experienced, I would have done exactly what he did, simply because he did it.
What Bundy was capable of; I am capable of.
Because we are all human.
We all have the same capacity for darkness and light;
Love and hate.

For God to forgive even one offence means he must by nature forgive all offences.
For God to justify one sinner, means he has justified all sinners.
There is no special treatment because one person is more penitent than another, or one resisted the urge to become Hitler while another did not.
We all fail to be sorry and resist evil at some time or another.
This is what makes us equal.

If God truly is love, then everyone is equally loved by God in the midst of any and all evil.
This is the offence of the gospel!
This is the severity of God’s love!
This is hell and heaven and everything in between.
That we would all be as completely unified with one another,
As he is with us!

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

What is Christian-Universalism?

There are three main schools of thought in Western Christianity: Calvinism, Arminianism & Universalism.

Calvinism – Calvinists emphasise the sovereignty of God. God is the Almighty; he’s all powerful, in control of everything and what he wills will be done. God predestines or pre-determines what is going to happen in our lives. The idea of predestination in Calvinism extends to what is known as “double predestination”. God chooses who will be saved and be in heaven with him. Therefore, God not only knows who is going to hell, but also predestines those people to hell on purpose. Jesus’ death on the cross only applies to the elect (those predestined to be saved), not to the reprobate (those predestined to damnation). This is a very commonly held, traditional belief in the American Church. It is not as common amongst Australian Christians, but it still exists here. In fact I had a Calvinist Bible College lecturer over the summer. I have a huge respect for Calvinism because its understanding of the sovereignty and predestination of God is very Biblical.

Arminianism – Most of the Australian Church tends to be more Arminian than Calvinist and Arminianism is strong in America as well. Arminians emphasise free will. Human beings were created with the capacity to choose to follow God, or not. Human beings are held responsible for all of their actions–God is not culpable–and if they wind up in hell, it’s their own fault. Jesus’ death on the cross was for the salvation of the entire world because God loves us. But if we reject salvation during our lifetime on this earth, there is nothing God can do about it. Arminians tend not to believe that God sends people to hell, but that people choose to go to hell by disobeying him and doing as they please. Some Arminians believe that God is the one punishing people in hell, but these days a lot more Arminians will say that hell is separation from God i.e. that God is not present there at all, and therefore people in hell are anguished because they regret their choices and are tormented by the devil and his angels / demons. I have a great deal of respect for Arminianism because I grew up in it. I agree that human beings have a will and I believe that Jesus’ death applies to everyone. I also commend the Arminian emphasis on the love of God and his ardent desire to save us.

Universalism – In my opinion, Universalism takes the best of Calvinism–the sovereignty and predestination of God–and the best of Arminianism–free will, salvation available to all and the love of God–and combines them. God is love and desires to save the entire world through Jesus. But human beings have a will and rebel against God, sometimes even rejecting him (or their concept of him) for their entire earthly lives. Yet, God is sovereign over salvation and has predestined all to be saved, so even though he works within the construct of the human will, God’s will is more powerful and he will save everyone in the end.

One of the most notable differences between Universalist Christians and Arminian & Calvinist Christians, is the belief in salvation after death. There are no verses in the Bible that indicate that our earthly life is the cut-off point for salvation. Hebrews 9:27 says “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement.” Yes I still believe that, but this verse does not say that there can be no salvation after judgement. In fact, 1 Peter 4:6 says “the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead.” The only reason to preach the gospel to the dead … is to save them.

There are different types of Universalists just like there are different denominations of Arminians & Calvinists. Some Universalists are Preterists and believe that judgement day has already happened and there is no futuristic judgement day. Some Universalists have rejected the Bible and simply follow their hearts. Some Universalists believe that God is the universe and that after death, human beings become part of the God-universe. Some Universalists are more monotheistic or even atheistic than Trinitarian, others believe that all roads lead to God and Jesus is not the only way. Some Universalists don’t believe the cross was necessary, others don’t believe in sin, many are unsure whether the devil and demons exist.

I love and respect my Universalist brothers and sisters who have different beliefs to me, just as I love and respect my Calvinist & Arminian brothers and sisters. But I want to let you know that there is a Christian-Universalism that is arising today that is very Biblical, absolutely Trinitarian and Christocentric. This means that we hold to the inspiration of Scripture, we believe that God is triune and that Jesus is the only way to the Father. I personally believe in a futuristic judgement day and I believe in hell when it is defined as the refiner’s fire. I still believe in the power of prayer, I’ve been baptised in water and spirit, I take communion, I worship like a Pentecostal, and I personally have no qualms with the concepts of sin, the devil, angels and demons.

I do, however, reject “penal substitutionary atonement” which means I do not believe that Jesus’ death was a punishment. And I reject traditional doctrines of hell, which interestingly are as much disputed as any other doctrine: some believe hell is eternal conscious torment, some of those believe God is responsible for the torture, others blame the devil, some believe hell is eternal separation from God, others believe hell is annihilation–complete and final death.

I fully accept and embrace as supreme, the doctrine of the love of God. God is love. God’s mercy is his love. God’s justice is his love. God’s judgement is his love. God’s wrath is his love. God’s hellfire is his love.

This year I intend to write much more about my beliefs as a Universalist-Christian. I want to compose a systematic theology that I hope will be helpful to Christians who are transitioning from Calvinism & Arminianism to Universalism. I understand that there are over 7 billion people on planet earth and that we all believe differently. What I believe is not exceptional, it’s just another set of beliefs. But I am compelled to share it because I have seen how much influence one person’s theology can have–for better or worse. Calvin and Luther changed the course of Church history during the reformation. Maybe some of what they believed was helpful to others and maybe some of it was not. But if they hadn’t said it, I would never have become who I am today. If God wills it, I pray I will have the same kind of ripple effect on the world and play my part just as they did–for better or worse.

If you have any burning questions right now, please message me privately or email

Hell in the Quran

I began reading through the Quran (Koran) for a Bible college project toward the end of last year and finished reading it in February 2015. I wanted to learn more about Islam and what it is that Muslims believe about God. The thing that intrigued me most about the Quran was Muhammed’s depiction of hell. The similarities between Islam’s understanding of hell and Western Christianity’s are quite striking.

Let me show you:

Is the expression “burn in hell” from the Bible? The exact phrase “burn in hell” never appears in the Bible, but it does appear in the Quran:

Quran 38:55-58 But the arrogant will have the worst return: they will burn, in Hell, an evil resting place – all this will be theirs; let them taste it – a scalding, dark, foul fluid, and other such torments.

Quran 56:92-96 But if he is one of those who rejected the truth and went astray, he will be welcomed with boiling water. He will burn in Hell. This is indeed the indubitable truth. So glorify the name of your Lord, the Supreme.

A lot of Christians describe hell as “eternal conscious torment.” I do not deny that the Bible connects hell to unquenchable fire, worms, salt, weeping and gnashing of teeth, and that the word eternal is also used in conjunction with hell. But I see all of these things as double-edged (both negative and positive). Fire burns off impurities (purifies), worms enrich soil, salt heals wounds, weeping and gnashing of teeth go hand-in-hand with repentance. As for the word eternal, my husband says that the fire and results of the fire are eternal, but once a person has come to repentance, the same experiences that were once perceived as hellish, now become heavenly i.e. what was once perceived as burning, torment, being eaten by worms etc., can be transformed into an experience of refinement, cleansing, enriching, and healing.

The hell of the Quran is way more specific in connecting hell to a torment that never ends and does not move from being a negative experience to being a positive one.

Quran 4:56 We shall send those who reject our revelations to the Fire. When their skins are burnt up, we shall replace them with new ones so that they may continue to taste the punishment. God is mighty and wise.

Quran 7:40-41 The gates of Heaven shall not be opened for those who rejected our signs and arrogantly spurned them; nor shall they enter Paradise until a camel shall pass through the eye of a needle. That is how we repay the evildoers – Hell shall be their bed, and over them will be coverings of fire – thus shall we reward the wrongdoers.

[The Bible directly contradicts this by declaring the gate of heaven never to be shut, Revelation 21:25-26. Also the “eye of a needle” reference in the Bible refers to the rich entering the Kingdom of heaven and says in the same passage “BUT with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:24-26.]

Quran 18:29 & 53 For the wrongdoers we have prepared a fire which will cover them like a canopy, and if they beg for water, they will be given water as hot as molten lead, which will scald their faces: how dreadful a drink, and how evil a resting place! … (53) The guilty shall see the fire and realize that they are going to fall into it: they shall find no way of escape from it.

Quran 40:71-72 when, with iron collars and chains around their necks, they are dragged (72) into the boiling water and then are thrown into the Fire

Quran 43:74-77 As for the evil-doers, they shall endure forever the torment of Hell, from which there is no relief: they will remain there in utter despair. We have not wronged them; it was they who were the wrongdoers. They will cry, ‘Master, if only your Lord would put an end to us!’ But he [the angel] will answer, ‘No! You are here to stay.’

Quran 73:12-13 We have in store for them heavy fetters and a blazing fire, food that chokes and painful punishment.

Quran 85:10 Those who persecute the believing men and believing women, and then do not repent will surely suffer the punishment of Hell, and the torment of burning.

If you ask a Christian: “who goes to hell?” you will likely hear answers like: “unrepentant sinners,” “evildoers,” “non-believers.” Again, to be fair, the Bible does say: “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Revelation 22:15. However, we have all done things on this list, whether it be telling lies, acts of sexually immorality or committing murder (Jesus equated hatred and murder). So we are either all “outside,” or this list is really just trying to tell us that certain people have not yet washed their robes in the blood of the lamb and are still identified as murderers etc. As soon as they wash their robes, they can come in as seen in the previous verse: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city [heaven],” Revelation 22:14.

Jesus called the Pharisees sons of hell. He also warned his own disciples (whether you want to call them Jewish or Christian) that they were in danger of the fire of hell because of how they behaved in their relationships, Mark 9. So hell is applicable to religious people, including me: a Christian “believer.” It seems to me that hell is for everyone at different times in their lives – both in this earth-age and the age to come.

Yet what the Quran says about who goes to hell sounds like the kind of thing a lot of Christians would say:

Quran 4:56 We shall send those who reject our revelations to the fire.

Quran 20:74 Indeed, he who comes to his Lord a sinner shall be consigned to Hell.

Quran 67:6-8 Those who are bent on blaspheming against their Lord will have the punishment of Hell: an evil destination. When they are cast into it, they will hear its roaring as it boils up, as though bursting with rage.

How many people go to hell? Everyone who is not a Christian? Not a believer? Not a Muslim? Most Christians I have asked say that the majority of human beings will go to hell. This means hell is a pretty full place right?

Quran 7:38 & 179 God will say, ‘Enter the fire and join the bands of jinn [like demons] and men that have gone before you.’ … (179) We created many of the jinn and mankind for Hell. They have hearts they do not understand with; they have eyes they do not see with; and they have ears they do not hear with. Such people are like cattle – no, they are even more misguided.

Quran 32:13 But My word shall come true: ‘I will fill Hell with jinn and men all together.’

Quran 38:85 I will fill up Hell with you [Satan] and every one of them who follows you.’

Quran 39:71 Those who rejected the truth will be led to Hell in throngs.

Christians who believe in hell as a place that cannot ever be exited seem to assume that they will be happy in heaven without all these other people, some of whom could be their mothers, fathers, siblings, children, favourite school teacher, neighbour etc. Perhaps we will forget those in hell. Once again this idea of forgetting is not found in the Bible, but is found in the Quran:

Quran 7:51 On that day we shall forget them, as they forgot their meeting of that day with us, for they denied our revelations.

Quran 32:14 We too will forget you – taste the chastisement of eternity for your evil deeds!’

Are the people in hell loved by God? This one is debated amongst Christians, even though the bible clearly says that God IS love and that we should love our enemies (and therefore so should he). Yet we seem to think it’ll be so easy, not only for those in heaven to forget those in hell, but for God to forget them and feel no more compassion or desire to save those in hell. The Quran testifies to the ease with which God rejects or hates those he sends to hell:

Quran 2:284 He will forgive whom He will and punish whom He pleases: He has power over all things.

Quran 28:68 Your Lord creates whatsoever He wills and chooses whomsoever He pleases. They have no choice.

Quran 30:45 He does not love those who reject the truth.

Quran 59:20 The people of the fire and the people of paradise are not equal.

What we believe about hell is a dangerous thing. Often we don’t see how much the society, including religions around us, shape our ideas. Did you know that of the 6,236 verses in the Quran approximately 500 speak about hell? That is about 8% of the entire book. Yet of the 23,145 verses in the Bible the word hell only appears in an average of 12-14 verses and a maximum of 54 in the KJV. This amounts to less than a quarter of a percent (0.25%) of the book in every single English translation of the Bible.

The Bible never once says that Jesus was sent to earth to save us from hell and yet most gospel presentations preach that this as the central point of the gospel. Salvation from hell. I don’t see this in the Bible. I see warnings about a hell that we all experience called the refiners fire.

Here is my favourite verse in the Quran:

Quran 3:23-24 Have you not seen those who received a portion of the Book [the Bible]? … they say “The fire will touch us only for a limited number of days.”

The Quran was written around 600 A.D. Look what else was written not that much earlier:

“There are very many in our day, who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments” Augustine, 354-430 A.D.

“For it is evident that God will in truth be all in all when there shall be no evil in existence, when every created being is at harmony with itself and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; when every creature shall have been made one body.” Gregory of Nyssa, 335-390 A.D.

“The nations are gathered to the Judgment, that on them may be poured out the wrath of the fury of the Lord, and this in pity and with a design to heal, in order that every one may return to the confession of the Lord, that in Jesus’ Name every knee may bow, and every tongue may confess that He is Lord. All God’s enemies shall perish, not that they cease to exist, but cease to be enemies.” Jerome, 340-420 A.D.

It seems to me that in actual fact, the Quran was written in part as a reaction against Universalist-Christians who preached hell as the refiner’s fire. Furthermore, the Quran has had an influence on Western Christianity’s understanding of hell and unfortunately a lot of Christians have gone the way of the Quran, believing in a hell of eternal conscious torment. Study the hell of the Bible. Study the Jewish concept of hell. Study the root words Sheol, Hades, Tartarus and Gehenna that are being translated to hell in our English bibles.

As much as I respect Islam and Muslims, I reject the hell of the Quran, just as much as I reject the hell of traditional Western Christianity today, and I pray for a day when Muslims and Christians alike will come to understand that the concept of hell as “eternal conscious torment,” would never even enter God’s mind:

Jeremiah 19:5 (& 7:31) “They have built the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as offering to Baal – something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.”

The Weak Threat of Hell

After being told that I’m not a Christian and that I’m going to hell for all eternity, this is what I have to say about the weak threat of hell:

The Bible says “God is a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.”
But we are taught that God is “so forgiving” because he “let’s” us into heaven…
How is that forgiving if the vast majority go to hell and stay there? That’s not forgiveness that is very obviously God holding a permanent grudge.

The Bible tells us to love our enemies.
Yet with the concept of traditional hell, God fails to love his own enemies. Traditional hell is a contradiction of scripture! It’s a contradiction of love, forgiveness and salvation!

The Bible says “Do not take revenge” yet traditional-hell has got to be the biggest revenge of all. The punishment isn’t even proportional to the crime. 70 odd years of sin isn’t even a blip on eternal punishment. At least when Hitler put Jews in the gas chamber…they died! It would be better to stay dead when we die that for God to resurrect people just to punish them for all eternity.

This business about deserving hell for our sins is a very human concept.
What about deserving to be loved because we are created in the image of God? We all deserve to be loved and are loved unconditionally. Love can’t end in permanent hell.

God is a father. Fathers don’t lock their children up and throw away the key. Fathers don’t torture their children. If your father punished you for no reason then I feel sorry for you. But God our father only disciplines because he loves. Hence why I believe hell is discipline with the purpose of saving us, not abandoning us.

The Bible says “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Yet we are taught to believe that once we die, God suddenly changes and forsakes us for all eternity if we don’t meet the right criteria.

Why this idea that God changes so much when we die? God is the same yesterday and today and forever.

I would be depressed for all eternity if I went to a heaven that excluded the majority of people. There’s nothing happy or truly victorious about a place that is exclusive to Christians only. Especially after all the hurt and damage we Christians have done to each other.

The age of accountability is NOT in the Bible.

The statement that we must accept Jesus before we die is NOT in the Bible.

God is love
Love is patient
Love is kind
Love never gives up
Love covers over a multitude of sins
Love so long and high and wide and deep it’s almost unfathomable
Love is unconditional
Love never stops hoping
Love endures all things
Love never fails
Love will save the day