God is Not Present in Fire-and-Brimstone Preaching

Fire-and-Brimstone preaching is a style of Christian preaching that uses vivid descriptions of judgment and eternal damnation to encourage repentance especially popular during historical periods of Great Awakening.


Notice this excerpt from one of the most popular fire-and-brimstone sermons:

It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisitehorrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long forever, a boundless duration,before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your souls; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance’s, and end, any mitigation, any rest at all; you will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite.

Jonathan Edwards (Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God)

Compare this passage from his sermon to 1 Corinthians 13:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Do you see the sharp contrast between the two quotations? Does the god of the first sermon take into account a wrong suffered? Does the god of the first sermon bear all things and endures all things?

The sermon above attempts to convert people to the God of 1 Corinthians 13, but it is impossible. Why? Because of what John declared:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

1 John 4:18

Perfect love casts out sermons like the one above. The God that Jesus reveals to us would not infinitely punish someone for a finite sin.

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