CHICAGO, Ill. — The presiding “bishop” of the apostate Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) opined in an interview this week with the Chicago Sun-Times that Hell is empty because God doesn’t give up on those who reject Him.
Elizabeth Eaton was interviewed on Wednesday by reporter Robert Herguth during his podcast “Face to Faith.”
Herguth asked Eaton a variety of questions during the 42-minute discussion, from whether she has ever had doubts since becoming a minister, to how she has been received as the ELCA’s first female presiding bishop, to what Jesus will look like when He returns, to what she thinks Heaven is like.
“Do you think there’s a Hell?” Herguth also asked.
“There may be,” Eaton answered after pausing for a moment, adding, “but I think it’s empty.”
When asked why, she explained it was because Jesus said He would draw all men to Himself and that she doesn’t believe God will give up on people.
“Jesus was clear in John 3 that when He is raised up, He will draw all people to Himself,” Eaton stated. “And if we take a look at salvation history, ever since we got booted out of the garden, it has been God’s relentless pursuit to bring His people to God.”
“Now, people wonder, ‘Well, can you say no?’ I imagine you can say no to God, [but] I don’t think God’s going to give up on us. And if God has eternity, then God can certainly keep working on those folks,” she said. “That might be a little bit of heresy along the lines of origin, but I don’t think God gives up.”
Eaton also outlined during the interview that while she believes that the Bible is inerrant, the ELCA does not view all Scripture as literal.
“How much of the New Testament do you think is literally true, in terms of Christ—how He operated [and] how He lived?” Herguth asked.
“Lutherans—at least our understanding—we’re not biblical literalists, and I would say that no one is a biblical literalist,” Eaton replied, “because Jesus said if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. Well, I’m seeing a lot of people with both eyes and both hands, and you can’t tell me there’s not been some sin going on there.”
“And also, when our Lord said that the mustard seed is the smallest seed, it isn’t,” she continued. “Does that mean He didn’t know what he was talking about? No.”
She said that rather Scripture needs to interpret Scripture and should not be cherry-picked, but that it should be accepted as a whole because it got the gospel right.
“I remember being with congregations after our decision in 2009 [to allow homosexuals to serve as clergy], where they thought, ‘Well, I heard the Bible describing human sexuality this way, and now you’re saying it’s another way.’ And you can see the arc going on (correlating), ‘So, if that’s not true, maybe [we’d think] the resurrection isn’t true.’ However, the entire New Testament was written after the resurrection of Jesus, so it has authority for us because it got that right.” source
Listen to the interview:
To many people, it just doesn’t seem right that God would punish someone in hell for all eternity, and so they look for loopholes in the Bible’s clear teaching about eternal damnation (Rev. 14:11, etc.). They mean well, but they remind us of what the Lord said about the rich man in hell, who pleaded that Lazarus be sent to warn his five brothers, “lest they also come into this place of torment” (Luke 16:28). It is often argued from this that this man had repented, and only a God who was a monster would refuse to release him. As we compare Scripture with Scripture, however, we believe otherwise, especially when we compare the torments of hell to the torments of the Tribulation.
There are many ways to show that the Tribulation will be a time of hell on earth, but perhaps the simplest is found when we read that “in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it” (Rev. 9:6). What a picture of hell! You would think that everyone on the receiving end of the unfathomable torments of that day would repent in the hope that God would relent and spare them further torment. Yet despite the fact that men will be “scorched with great heat” (Rev. 16:9), in John’s vision, they “blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not… of their deeds” (vv. 9,11).
In light of all this, we feel the rich man’s request to warn his five brothers was not an indication of any repentance on his part—far from it. Like many incarcerated men, he was looking for a loophole in the prosecution’s case against him. You see, if Lazarus was sent from the dead to warn his brothers, he could argue that he never benefited from such a supernatural warning, making his conviction unjust.
Add it all up, and a more accurate picture of hell appears. Hell is not filled with cries of repentance to which God turns an unfeeling deaf ear. Like the description of the Tribulation we just read, the air is rather filled with the sound of blasphemy, voiced by men who are eternally convinced that God is wrong and they do not belong there.
Fortunately, dear reader, you do not have to go there. Just admit that God is right, that you are sinner (Rom. 3:23) who deserves to die an eternal death for your sins (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:14), but that Christ died for your sins so that you don’t have to (I Cor. 15:1-4). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
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