Since the question of God's punishment is came up again, by good will, I suggest the article The River of Fire
of orthodox Alexander Kalomiros.
Now I think all members of the forum that posted a reply are talking for the same issue: Love of God. It seems that one is talking about a God that "of course, He does punish people - certainly He punish the sinners" and another one says "of course, He does not punish people at all", so they may be talking about two different Gods.
In an excerpt from the above essay we can read: " Do not deceive yourself,? says Saint Symeon the New Theologian, ?God is fire and when He came into the world, and became man, He sent fire on the earth, as He Himself says; this fire turns about searching to find material - that is a disposition and an intention that is good - to fall into and to kindle; and for those in whom this fire will ignite, it becomes a great flame, which reaches Heaven.... this flame at first purifies us from the pollution of passions and then it becomes in us food and drink and light and joy, and renders us light ourselves because we participate in His light
? (Discourse 78)."
So in this context everybody is talking about the Love of God, but for one person this Love is a fire that consumes his passions, for another is a fire of Light that lights his darkness and for another, this same Love is a personal meeting with God - to become His child by Grace.
The Fathers of the Church agree that there is only one path in salvation that has three steps : cleaning of passions, illumination, Theosis(becoming God’s child by Grace)
Christians and non-Christians, sinners and righteous, all are blessed by the uncreated Grace of God which illuminates the righteous but burns the sinners.
St. Gregory of Nyssa talks about the double effect of light on the Hebrews and the Egyptians, he says that: while the Sun of righteousness illuminated them in the same way with its rays, yet "the Hebrews delighted in its light, but the Egyptians were insensitive to its gift". The Egyptians too received the grace of God, but since they were insensitive, they perceived it as darkness.
The same thing happens with other men as well. The same grace, the same light, sends its rays to all men, but some wander in darkness because of evil deeds and the darkness of evil, and others shine, living in the light of virtue.
The Egyptians were “punished” because their choice worked in that way, when they themselves called forth God's punishment. "The Egyptians' free will caused all these things according to the above principle, and the impartial justice of God followed their free choices and brought upon them what they deserved".
It is true that every man during his whole life tastes all three stages. There is not a clear cut separation between them either in time nor in quality nor in quantity.
So we are talking about the Uncreated grace of God which we interpret by our point of view. This is not about “Who God is”, but about “who we are in respect to the personal relationship we have with Him”.
I personally do not find a person that says "God punish people" to be less Christian from another one that says "God does not punish people". The only fatal mistake that we can make is in believing that we know God as He really is. Either of them that have different views on whether God punishes or not, they must admit that they are in the first steps of the way to becoming God's children by Grace and coheirs of Christ. Then the truth is in each point of view.