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Overcome by Fear: Universalism as Reality Avoidance

I know of no uglier, no more fearful or ungodly a doctrine or belief or thought in all of existence than that of God sending anyone to a fiery hell to burn in horrible torment for time without end, without any hope or possibility of redemption. This doctrine flies in the face of everything taught in Holy Scripture. How ironic that souls claiming to be born again, to believe and love God can believe such a lie in light of the cross of Christ, and teaching that God is love.

Those overcome by any fear have succumbed to a victim mentality.

It is logical and understandable that men would be afraid of such a possibility. However, why is it that some are so fearfully tormented by this lie so as to suffer a nervous breakdown or be committed to an asylum, or be driven to suicide? Why? I suppose that could be asked of many things. Why are some people deathly afraid of cats while others prize their company? Why phobias and manias? Let us deal with the fear of eternal torment for now.

Some are consumed with preaching against the doctrine of eternal torment. Can it be that God raises certain up to take on a particular issue? Perhaps so; He can do that. Or is it that the one preaching against eternal torment has a problem?

Recently, we dealt with a man who declares that the fear of damnation to eternal torment drove him to a nervous breakdown, a condition from which he says he did not recover for several years. Others have spoken similarly of themselves. I am told that asylums contain several people traumatized by this doctrine.

The question is, “Why?” I was raised as a Catholic, believing that same doctrine, and did not have a nervous breakdown. Yes, the lie was a torment to me but not as to others. What is the explanation?

Those overcome by any fear have succumbed to a victim mentality. Those with a victim mentality have not come to the realization and admission that they are rabid perpetrators, or, as the Bible puts it, sinners, deserving, in God’s sight, the very worst that can happen to them. They cannot accept their guilt, and have not come to terms with God’s judgment of their utter depravity. Read Victims and Perpetrators.

Fear of anything other than God is a refusal to acknowledge guilt and to accept the sentence deserved. It is a refusal to face oneself and to accept reality, that being the way God has designed and ordered all things.

God had brought me to face my worst fear and to submit to it. That is victory.

The man who suffered the nervous breakdown, blaming it on the teaching of eternal damnation, now is consumed with teaching against it. He preaches “Universal Reconciliation” because he has not come to terms with his own guilt. He refuses to believe the doctrine of eternal torment, not because He knows God, but because he rejects His righteous judgment on him, which judgment is justified, even if in the worst possible form. “I don’t deserve it” or “I don’t want it” is what he is really saying. His joy at UR is only to justify and spare himself. I suspect that he cannot escape the doctrine of eternal torment because it is a reality without true redemption. As much as he can gather others to console and strengthen him, as much as he can fill himself full of head knowledge, he cannot escape that innate knowledge of what he deserves and what he will get if he does not repent. That goes for all.

Eight years ago, in 1997, the Lord caused me to see myself for what I really was, and showed me that I deserved the very worst, such as being thrown into a fire to burn forever and ever. It was not that He was threatening to do such a thing, only bringing me to understand and admit that I deserved it. He also brought me to the place of genuine willingness to resign myself to such an end. I was truly willing and had consented to Him that if it was His will, I would go to that place or state forever. I came to realize I deserved it, so much that I was not only willing, but desirous to go, if you can believe it.

I also knew that I would not be able to stand it for more than a second, much less billions and trillions of years, so I was hoping that I could decide with finality to be committed, with no possibility of mercy, should I perfectly argue, scream and beg for it. In other words, I hoped that all bridges would be burned behind me so that nothing could reverse my decision. Heroic? No. That is simply the way it was and how I saw and felt about it.

God had brought me to face my worst fear and to submit to it. That is victory, by the grace of God. Those have no victory who have not faced their fears and realized that whatever the Sovereign Ruler of all things decrees is good, even perfect. They have defeat instead. Nervous breakdown over the doctrine of eternal torment is a form of that defeat. The person who related to us his torment of being tormented is one who has never acknowledged himself an offender to God, deserving of judgment. He claims that the doctrine of the reconciliation of all things has made him free, but unless one comes to terms, not in his intellect, but in his conscience and spirit, he cannot be free. It is only a matter of time before his defeat and helplessness rear their ugly heads again. We cannot fool ourselves forever. We can never fool God.

Victor Hafichuk

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