The doctrine of “eternal punishment” fosters a self-righteous, vindictive spirit in believers. The psalmist, speaking of idols said, “they that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them” (Psa.ll5:8).
If a Christian has an image or mental picture of god that projects Him as One who writes off those who disregard Him, then that believer similarly tends to reject those who disagree with him. Church history is replete with inquisitions and martyrdom’s manifesting this image of God. An extreme example is Queen Mary (1516-1558) of England, who won her title “Bloody Mary” by torturing and murdering non Catholics. She justified her actions, proclaiming “as the souls of heretics are to be hereafter eternally burning in hell, there can be nothing more proper than for me to imitate the divine vengeance by burning them on earth.” Bloody Mary’s image of God lives on today.
Condescending, pharisaical attitudes which continually divide the body of Christ, justify themselves because of a perverted image of God. “My little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (1John 5:21).
From “Eternal Punishment: Is it Really of God?” by Lee Salisbury