Posted by: minnow | April 20, 2008


A couple months back I wrote a series of blogs about hell. A couple weeks ago I went back and forth a bit with a commenter who on the advice of others discontinued our conversation but not before he insisted I proof text a pruned Satan. My response to him went something like this:

Initially the thought of a “pruned Satan” was inconceivable to me. In fact when I first wrote my hell posts I was unwilling to go there. But the more I realized my former willingness to believe in hell was motivated in part by a desire to make sure those who had hurt me in my past were “properly dealt with” by my Big Daddy God the more I knew I needed to change the direction of my thinking. When I read Romans 9:15, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and compassion on whom I have compassion” I found myself asking: Who am I to say that God cannot choose to have mercy on whom He desires to have mercy? Other passages, like Romans 11:32, which tells us, “For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that He can have mercy on them all” and James 2:13b that says, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” cause me wonder why, if God would chose mercy, do I demand judgment?

Unless it is “fear” of the Lord, fear is not an expression of faith. Threatening people with hell does not honor the cross, nor bring glory to God. An abusive earthly parent may have an obedient child but the child’s heart is hardened not open toward the parent. As I explained once before, I do not need to be saved from something because I am saved for something–an incredibly amazing and intimate relationship as part of the bride of Christ, as the beloved to the Lover of my soul.

The arguments I put forth in my earlier exchange obviously do not answer to the satisfaction of most people the issue of a pruned Satan. (Nor most likely will this post).  For those who may not understand this term it was coined to describe the idea that without a literal everlasting place of torment (hell) we do not have a place to put Satan. By taking those portions of scripture that talk about eternal punishment as stating that the effect of punishment is everlasting and not the punishment itself we in essence embrace the concept of a redemptive God over and above the idea of a vengeful one. The problem becomes a pruned rather than tortured Satan.  Can we live with that?

Please realize, I am not inviting you to try to prove me wrong with a bunch of proof texting.  My question is, if I am right, if in His sovereignty God chooses to have mercy on His most rebellious angel, and invites him to the banquet could you still let God be God?  Would you sit at the table with them?  Or does such an idea so mess with your religion that you could not believe, would not accept His invitation?

I understand that answering my question does not really prove anything.  Yet perhaps it helps us focus on why we believe what we believe.  The Bible speaks often about a pure heart.  Matthew 5:8 tells us that those with a pure heart will see God.  I believe God will be seen in them as well.  And, the more we see and reflect God in the world around us the more we will, at least figuratively, beat back the very gates of hell.


  1. Those are some very powerful questions Minnow. I really would like to say I hope even Satan could be forgiven. Infact I prayed for that to happen many nights when I was a kid.

    I really can’t say that now I don’t think. It’s just too hard. I can’t imagine the suffering that satan helped put the world through. And to say I forgive that right off the bat without giving it much thought I think is foolish.

    And I agree, who are we to say who and who not can God choose to forgive. He did forgive us even when we were nailing him to the cross.

    You do bring up good questions.


  2. You ask, “My question is, if I am right, if in His sovereignty God chooses to have mercy on His most rebellious angel, and invites him to the banquet could you still let God be God? Would you sit at the table with them? Or does such an idea so mess with your religion that you could not believe, would not accept His invitation?”

    It would not mess with my religion. It would leave me even more amazed at what the love of God can do.

    Joanie D.

  3. Joanie D–You indeed are a breath of fresh air (as Britphil said over on the Parchment and Pen blog). Thank you for your imput. I was trying to read the free will thread but after 27 comments must call it a night as I have a 2 year old who needs to go to bed and then so must I. Guess I’ll try and finish tomorrow.

  4. minnowspeaks, I don’t know if you frequent the Jesus Creed blog, but they are having an interesting discussion about hell, universal salvation and the like right now at I haven’t read all the comments yet, but got about halfway through so far.

    Joanie D.

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