‘Fire and Brimestone’ has not always been a part of Christianity. Deep inside, I suspect that many today remain hopeful for universalism, but hold to the doctrines of Hell. It is interesting to note that as part and parcel with the development of the Logos Christology of Justin Martyr, and the 3rd century Alexandrians, that the idea of an eventual restoration of all things developed as well.
The mass of men (Christians) say there is to be an end to punishment and to those who are punished.—St. Basil the Great
There are very many in our day, who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments. — Augustine (354-430 A.D.)
For the wicked there are punishments, not perpetural, however, lest the immortality prepared for them should be a disadvantage, but they are to be purified for a brief period according to the amount of malice in their works. They shall therefore suffer punishment for a short space, but immortal blessedness having no end awaits them…the penalties to be inflicted for their many and grave sins are very far surpassed by the magnitude of the mercy to be showed to them. –Diodore of Tarsus, 320-394 A.D.
And God showed great kindness to man, in this, that He did not suffer him to continue being in sin forever; but as it were, by a kind of banishement, cast him out of paradise in order that, having punishment expiated within an appointed time, and having been disciplined, he should afterwards be recalled…just as a vessel, when one being fashioned it has some flaw, is remoulded or remade that it may become new and entire; so also it happens to man by death. For he is broken up by force, that in the resurrection he may be found whole; I mean spotless, righteous and immortal. –Theophilus of Antioch (168 A.D.)
Wherefore also he drove him out of paradise and removed him far from the tree of life, not because He envied him the tree of life, as some dare assert, but because He pitied him and desired that he should not be immortal and the evil interminable and irremediable. –Iraneaus of Lyons (182 A.D.)
These, if they will, may go Christ’s way, but if not let them go their way. In another place perhaps they shall be baptized with fire, that last baptism, which is not only painful, but enduring also; which eats up, as if it were hay, all defiled matter, and consumes all vanity and vice. –Gregory of Nazianzeu, Bishop of Constantinople. (330 to 390 A.D.) Oracles 39:19
The Word seems to me to lay down the doctrine of the perfect obliteration of wickedness, for if God shall be in all things that are, obviously wickedness shall not be in them. For it is necessary that at some time evil should be removed utterly and entirely from the realm of being.—St. Macrina the Blessed
In the end and consummation of the Universe all are to be restored into their original harmonious state, and we all shall be made one body and be united once more into a perfect man and the prayer of our Savior shall be fulfilled that all may be one. –St. Jerome, 331-420
For it is evident that God will in truth be all in all when there shall be no evil in existence, when every created being is at harmony with iteself and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; when every creature shall have been made one body. –Gregory of Nyssa, 335-390
The wicked who have committed evil the whole period of their lives shall be punished till they learn that, by continuing in sin, they only continue in misery. And when, by this means, they shall have been brought to fear God, and to regard Him with good will, they shall obtain the enjoyment of His grace. –Theodore of Mopsuestia, 350-428
We can set no limits to the agency of the Redeemer to redeem, to rescue, to discipline in his work, and so will he continue to operate after this life. –Clement of Alexandria
Do not suppose that the soul is punished for endless eons (apeirou aionas) in Tartarus. Very properly, the soul is not punished to gratify the revenge of the divinity, but for the sake of healing. But we say that the soul is punished for an aionion period (aionios) calling its life and its allotted period of punishment, its aeon. –Olnmpiodorus (AD 550)
Wherefore, that at the same time liberty of free-will should be left to nature and yet the evil be purged away, the wisdom of God discovered this plan; to suffer man to do what he would, that having tasted the evil which he desired, and learning by experience for what wretchedness he had bartered away the blessings he had, he might of his own will hasten back with desire to the first blessedness …either being purged in this life through prayer and discipline, or after his departure hence through the furnace of cleansing fire.–Gregory of Nyssa (332-398 A.D.)
That in the world to come, those who have done evil all their life long, will be made worthy of the sweetness of the Divine bounty. For never would Christ have said, “You will never get out until you hqave paid the last penny” unless it were possible for us to get cleansed when we paid the debt. –Peter Chrysologus, 435
I know that most persons understand by the story of Nineveh and its king, the ultimate forgiveness of the devil and all rational creatures. –St. Jerome
Our Lord is the One who delivers man , and who heals the inventor of evil himself. — Gregory of Nyssa (332-398 A.D.), leading theologian of the Eastern Church
While the devil thought to kill One , he is deprived of all those cast out of hades, and he sitting by the gates, sees all fettered beings led forth by the courage of the Saviour.–Athanasius, the Great Father of Orthodoxy
Our Lord descends, and was shut up in the eternal bars, in order that He might set free all who had been shut up… The Lord descended to the place of punishment and torment, in which was the rich man, in order to liberate the prisoners. –Jerome
In the liberation of all no one remains a captive! At the time of the Lord’s passion the devil alone was injured by losing all the of the captives he was keeping. –Didymus, 370 AD
While the devil imagined that he got a hold of Christ, he really lost all of those he was keeping. –St. Chrysostom, 398 AD
Stronger than all the evils in the soul is the Word, and the healing power that dwells in him, and this healing He applies, according to the will of God, to everyman. The consummation of all things is the destruction of evil…to quote Zephaniah: “My determination to gather the nations, that I am assemble the kings, to pour upon them mine indignation, even say all my fierce anger, for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent”…Consider carefully the promise, that all shall call upon the Name of the Lord, and serve him with one consent.—Origen (185 to 254 A.D.) He founded a school at Caesarea, and is considered by historians to be one of the great theologians and exegete of the Eastern Church.
The nations are gathered to the Judgment, that on them may be poured out the wrath of the fury of the Lord, and this in pity and with a design to heal. in order that every one may return to the confession of the Lord, that in Jesus’ Name every knee may bow, and every tongue may confess that He is Lord. All God’s enemies shall perish, not that they cease to exist, but cease to be enemies.—Jerome (340 to 420 A.D), commenting on Zephaniah 3:8-10
Mankind, being reclaimed from their sins, are to be subjected to Christ in he fullness of the dispensation instituted for the salvation of all. –Didymus the Blind
So then, when the end has been restored to the beginning, and the termination of things compared with their commencement, that condition of things will be re-established in which rational nature was placed, when it had no need to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; so that when all feeling of wickedness has been removed, and the individual has been purified and cleansed, He who alone is the one good God becomes to him “all,” and that not in the case of a few individuals, or of a considerable number, but He Himself is “all in all.” And when death shall no longer anywhere exist, nor the sting of death, nor any evil at all, then verily God will be “all in all” –Origen, De Prinicipiis, 3.6.3. (Origen founded a school at Caesarea, and is considered by historians to be one of the great theologians and exegete of the Eastern Church.)
The Son “breaking in pieces” His enemies is for the sake of remolding them, as a potter his own work; as Jeremiah 18;6 says: i.e., to restore them once again to their former state. –Eusebius of Caesarea (65 to 340 A.D). Bishop of Caesarea
Our Savior has appointed two kinds of resurrection in the Apocalypse. ‘Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection,’ for such come to grace without the judgment. As for those who do not come to the first, but are reserved unto the second resurrection, these shall be disciplined until their appointed times, between the first and the second resurrection.– Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (340-397 A.D.)
We think, indeed, that the goodness of God, through His Christ, may recall all His creatures to one end, even His enemies being conquered and subdued…. for Christ must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. –Origen (185 to 254 A.D.) He founded a school at Caesarea, and is considered by historians to be one of the great theologians and exegete of the Eastern Church.
For it is needful that evil should some day be wholly and absolutely removed out of the circle of being. –Gregory of Nyssa (332-398 A.D.), leading theologian of the Eastern Church
In the present life God is in all, for His nature is without limits, but he is not all in all. But in the coming life, when mortality is at an end and immortality granted, and sin has no longer any place, God will be all in all. For the Lord, who loves man, punishes medicinally, that He may check the course of impeity. –Theodoret the Blessed, 387-458
When death shall no longer exist, or the sting of death, nor any evil at all, then truly God will be all in all. –Origen
All men are Christ’s, some by knowing Him, the rest not yet. He is the Savior, not of some and the rest not. For how is He Savior and Lord, if not the Savior and Lord of all?—Clement of Alexandria
T.C. has some interesting quotes from John Piper.