According to Christian doctrine, what happens to those who have died? While traditionally it has been said that one group of people spends eternity in heavenly happiness while another group experiences conscious, unending torment in hell, there are other Christians who believe in alternativesthat hell is simply a separation from God, that the lost are simply annihilated and not subject to torment, or that actually, in the end, all will be reconciled to God and live in heavenly glory. The Gift of God Is Eternal Life explores a five-century journey that traces the development and dispersal of the doctrines of universalism and conditional immorality in a compelling narrative collection of short stories. Beginning from when these doctrines were merely whispered about or published anonymously to the days when traveling evangelists preached them in the new and growing American republic, these engaging vignettes show how this once intense debate between Christians has evolved into modern times where such ideas can be freely discussedeven in mainstream television and evangelism. Do infants who die prior to an age of accountability receive salvation, and are those who have never heard the Christian message simply doomed? What about loved ones who die without having embraced the Christian gospelor those who believe in less-traditional Christian dogmas and institutions? The Gift of God Is Eternal Life can help both believers and nonbelievers understand the implications of these theological perspectivesnot just in an afterlife, but in their own lives here and now.
There is a unique story in each of us. Where that story begins, how it unfolds and how it will end are vital parts of our considerations. We are usually pretty clear about how it is currently unfolding but the other two ends of the spectrum are often clouded or confused by conflicting religious beliefs and mythology. The objective of this series, "Pleasure and Pain", is to shed some light on the process by which we grow in spirit. After almost 50 years of working as a psychologist, visiting over 36 countries and working with thousands of people who have told me their story, I can see some patterns to our spiritual growth. I can also see good reasons to put aside many religious teachings and more clearly focus on the nature of the human spirit. This means that instead of looking at "Original Sin" we need to focus on our "Original Blessings" and recognize that we are eternal beings. But the Gift of Eternal Life involves both pleasure and pain. For various reasons, some of us enjoy more of the first and suffer less of the second. For other people the reverse is true. In this book we identify some of the underlying reasons and explore some ways to make a positive difference.