Thread: Purgatory: Will God allow anyone to go to hell? Board: Limbo / Ship of Fools.


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Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
I've taken the liberty of opening this thread - though I know it probably would have been better written by someone else. Anyways, this topic is from a tangent started on the "Personal Relationship with God" thread. If it may seem familiar...well its probably also a spin-off from Demas' excellence thread the "Unimportance of Hell." It seems we just can't get enough of fire and flames [Biased] .

The crux of the matter is whether or not we think someone people will end up in hell. Some believe that God saves everyone and will forgive and redeem everyone and no one will suffer eternally the wrath of God. My take is that God won't force anyone to be with him eternally and that some people will end up in hell. I don't know any of this for sure. I just think that God does offer people a choice and I wouldn't want to be with a god that didn't give me the choice not to follow him. I feel that not having that choice would make me a robot - an automan without free will.

So here's the beginning:

quote:
Op'd by someone (?)
If "Jesus" will save, He will do so on the basis of my actions and not whether I felt distant or woozy.

Then LutheranChik responded:

quote:
Actually, Jesus has already saved you independently of any presumed "good conduct points" on your part. The question is whether you're yet aware of that. [Biased]
Then I posted:

quote:
I find this attitude completely arrogant (I don't mean that LutheranChik is arrogant at all - I mean the idea expressed). I just find the idea that God will save me without considering my choice flat out arrogant and disrespectful. Frankly, I don't want to be with a god that doesn't offer me a choice whether to be with him in eternity or not.
Then ProfKirke:

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
If I see you drowning in a lake, and happen to be riding in a helicopter, would you like me to phone down to you first and give you a choice about being saved before I lower down the rope ladder?

Better yet, if you ever happen to be unconscious, should I attempt to get your permission before attempting CPR? If you don't respond, should I leave you under the argument that I did not want to arrogantly violate your sense of free will, and therefore left you there to die?

No offense meant, and not trying to derail the thread's aim, but I wanted to respond to your tangent.

-Digory

Then Mousethief:

quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
That might be a good analogy, Professorkirke, if I were drowning and unconscious.

I believe God provides salvation to all, but it requires us to accept it to be saved. There is no salvation without God's work (it's not Pelagianism) but there is also no salvation without our voluntary acceptance (it's not Calvinism).

And OliviaG:

quote:
Originally posted by OliviaG:
<first aid tangent> According to my first aid training, an unconscious victim gives implied consent. <end first aid tangent>

I do honestly believe that if there is a big salvation-fest at the end of time, not only will there be some surprises at who is there, but some of those folks will be surprised themselves. I don't think it's safe to assume that if you don't feel you have a relationship with God, that means God doesn't have a relationship with you. Your God's mileage may vary. OliviaG

And last from the thread in hell:

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
I believe God has already forgiven everyone, and will not require anyone to go to hell.

-Digory

Now that you have heard these thought-provoking discussions, what's your take on the matter? Any other thoughts?

[ 27. February 2006, 22:43: Message edited by: Duo Seraphim ]
 
Posted by Vikki Pollard (# 5548) on :
 
I was discussing this with one of my daughters the other day. The problem we felt was that if salvation depends on rational choice, it rules out people who have mental disabilities.

If they are allowed to be special cases, then surely we all are? After all, everyone has traits which make them have issues with 'accepting salvation'. Why would a loving God not allow for those too?

However I should add for clarity that according to my beliefs of twenty years ago, I'm damned already for no longer holding those beliefs, which is a bit of a double-whammy!

However, many years ago now I was struck by the lack of stress on the verses which state pretty clearly that all men are saved through Jesus. No qualifiers (I know there are in other places, of course - but it seems to me there has been an awful lot of Pik'n'Mix around this doctrine).

Perhaps I should also come clean and say that I really don't believe in Hell any more. It's a huge relief. Of course, one day it might not be... [Ultra confused]

[ 11. November 2005, 07:00: Message edited by: Vikki Pollard ]
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
The fact is that Jesus has 'by his suffering and death made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will may be saved.' (Salvationist doctrine).

In other words everyone CAN be saved but there has to be faith in order to appropriate this.

2 issues - those who have never heard, those who cannot 'hear'.

The first is resolved by judgment according to the light received, the second by the fact that God holds some people to be blameless and therefore, graciously, he will bring them into his Kingdom. Those who cannot choose - mentally ill and children, etc are welcomed into his kingdom of love.

There are of course, a whole multitude of people who will be saved 'extraordinarily' because of their circumstances.
 
Posted by Vikki Pollard (# 5548) on :
 
But what about people who are disposed to reject the Gospel? At what point are they exercising free will and rejecting God rather than simply being 'enable to hear' - that is, on a level which allows them to respond by accepting Him?

It could be argued that only someone who is deficient in some way would reject a loving God's approach. It could certainly be argued that there is a whole lot of difference between God's call to us and the spin the various denominations place on God's call to us.
 
Posted by Vikki Pollard (# 5548) on :
 
Whoops, D-cd. Unable, of course... [Roll Eyes]
 
Posted by Neep (# 5213) on :
 
On Vikki Pollard's point, I find myself in a similar place: I want to believe that Hell does not exist, and for that and other reasons I'm damned very firmly by the person I was three or four years ago...

The way I seem to have got around it is that I've acquired a belief from somewhere that God accounts for the
quote:
traits which make them have issues with 'accepting salvation'
and then effectively gives the whole, healed person the choice of Heaven or Hell. Then, I think it would rather depend on the human's ability to forgive themselves, as God's forgiveness is already offered.

Yes, I'm aware that this idea could very easily be the result of a lot of wishful thinking. I also think it could be the result of thinking about the ideas of a truly forgiving and sympathetic God. I think I arrived from somewhere in between.
 
Posted by Petrified (# 10667) on :
 
My understanding is that all are saved by the cross. I have heard it put that this must be accepted by the savee to be effective, but like others posting I have a problem with this. I would suggest that you have to activly reject it. So my answer to the OP is yes. I suggest that some of the parables (invitation to the feast, foolish virgins etc) confirm this, but for me hell is not fire/brimstone but (as per the foolish virgins) being shut out from God.
 
Posted by m.t_tomb (# 3012) on :
 
quote:
Will God allow anyone to go to hell?
IMO, the word 'allow' is key. It assumes God's sovreignty extends to the making of such choices. I think that God can and will make such decisions. I do not accept universalism as an acceptable resolution to what I see in Jesus' teachings concerning 'the outer darkness'. ISTM, that Jesus is quite clear about the real existence of a post-mortem state that is to be avoided at all costs. So yes, in answer to the OP, I think that some people will be 'cast into the outer darkness'. Just what that darkness is and what it entails I'm not certain.

[ 11. November 2005, 08:13: Message edited by: m.t_tomb ]
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Hi all,

Must say I'm with LutheranChik and Professorkirke on this (as so often [Biased] ), particularly this :
quote:
Actually, Jesus has already saved you independently of any presumed "good conduct points" on your part. The question is whether you're yet aware of that.
. However I don't see that this necessarily violates free will, or an Orthodox understanding, (as I take Mousethief's to be), namely that our perception of that salvation may well depend on our will. If, in this life, we have made, as it were, heaven our home, if our treasures are laid up there, if our values are the values of the Kingdom of heaven, then we will feel at home and comfortable in heaven. If, on the other hand, we hate the things of God, then what to one person might be heaven, to me might be hell.

I'm tentative on this one, but if you were to push me, I would say this is what I believe...perhaps [Confused]

[ 11. November 2005, 08:38: Message edited by: Jolly Jape ]
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Vikki Pollard:
But what about people who are disposed to reject the Gospel? At what point are they exercising free will and rejecting God rather than simply being 'enable to hear' - that is, on a level which allows them to respond by accepting Him?

It could be argued that only someone who is deficient in some way would reject a loving God's approach. It could certainly be argued that there is a whole lot of difference between God's call to us and the spin the various denominations place on God's call to us.

Could you unpack this 'disposition' to reject the Gospel? Is it a psychological disposition, a genetic one? What?

Surely, on a spiritual level, we are ALL disposed to reject the Gospel: we all, like sheep, have gone astray.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
This problem, of course, isn't a problem for a Calvinist who believes in predestination to begin with. Modifying Calvinism to Universalism is merely a matter of believing that God elects all.

You can even keep your TULIP if you make the third point Limitless Atonement [Big Grin]

But for someone who believes that we have to do our part in saving ourselves, that the job isn't all just God's, we have to explain how everyone can measure up to the standard of faith God requires of us.

One analogy I have heard is that of a chess game - if I play a Grand Master the outcome is never in doubt, although I am perfectly free to move as I choose, and the Grand Master neither controls my moves nor has the power to predict ahead of time which move I make. How then, can I escape God, who is all-knowing, and probably good at chess as well?

Here is another thought: Suppose I pray now "Dear God, if I reject your love then please override my faulty and fallen freewill, for I want to spend eternity with you, love Demas"; but after I die I am brought before God and deny him.

Shall the timeless eternal God respect my free choice now? Or my free choice later?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
One analogy I have heard is that of a chess game - if I play a Grand Master the outcome is never in doubt, although I am perfectly free to move as I choose, and the Grand Master neither controls my moves nor has the power to predict ahead of time which move I make. How then, can I escape God, who is all-knowing, and probably good at chess as well?

I agree, Demas, and think this is a good analogy.

To my mind the chess analogy means that God will not fail to restore peace to the world. It means that the prophetic sayings depicting future of harmony and joy, in which all people will worship God, are going to be fulfilled. That is like a chess game with the Master, the outcome of which is not in doubt.

But in that chess game pieces will be lost on each side. To me this means that everyone has the chance to choose evil, and it is a real choice that some people will make. God couldn't save the whole in any meaningful way without allowing for that freedom of the individual.

A chess game with no pieces lost on one side would not be a chess game.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
I think you're stretching the metaphor a little there, Freddy [Smile]

If anything, the pawns represent what we have to give up as we are drawn towards God - our pride, our hate, our fear.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Good point. I hate to think that we are just pawns in the game of life. [Paranoid]
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Before I specifically respond, I wanted to say that this

quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Here is another thought: Suppose I pray now "Dear God, if I reject your love then please override my faulty and fallen freewill, for I want to spend eternity with you, love Demas"; but after I die I am brought before God and deny him.

Shall the timeless eternal God respect my free choice now? Or my free choice later?

is an outstanding question.

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
I agree. Not an easy one to answer. It depends, of course, on what you picture that as looking like.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
I wanted to get back to my analogies, and Mousetheif's dismissals.

quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Then I posted:

quote:
I just find the idea that God will save me without considering my choice flat out arrogant and disrespectful. Frankly, I don't want to be with a god that doesn't offer me a choice whether to be with him in eternity or not.
Then ProfKirke:

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
If I see you drowning in a lake, and happen to be riding in a helicopter, would you like me to phone down to you first and give you a choice about being saved before I lower down the rope ladder?

Better yet, if you ever happen to be unconscious, should I attempt to get your permission before attempting CPR? If you don't respond, should I leave you under the argument that I did not want to arrogantly violate your sense of free will, and therefore left you there to die?

-Digory

Then Mousethief:

quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
That might be a good analogy, Professorkirke, if I were drowning and unconscious.


Drowning: The important feature of a drowning person, in this analogy, is that they are obviously headed for great danger and no rational person would assume that they might not want to be saved from certain death by drowning.

In the sense that if you believe unsaved souls are destined for hell, then they are in this state as well--no rational person could assume that people would not want to be saved from eternal torture and damnation in the "outer darkness." So to make such an attempt to get their permission before saving them seems unnecessary, since any rejection of being saved from this end is an obvious admission of misunderstanding.

Unconscious: The important feature of an unconscious person, in this analogy, is that they are unable to respond to a question of, "Do you want help?" But as someone else responded on the other thread, CPR guidelines dictate that unconscious people give implied consent.

You do not take no answer to mean "no" from an unconscious person; rather, we've given it the term "implied consent" and taken it to mean yes! Because people are unsure, or unconvinced, or "predisposed to rejecting the gospel," or unable to respond to the call for any number of reasons--these will not be taken as a "no" from God. Rather, I believe there will be a great deal of "implied consent."

And I honestly do not believe there will be much argument or hurt feelings about the matter.

-Digory

PS Thanks, JoyfulSoul, for opening up this thread--I think you did a wonderful job of setting up the question. And great new avatar/title. It's a perfect fit and it helps keep me unconfused whenever you and LutheranChik are in the same thread!!!
 
Posted by kayleigh (# 10657) on :
 
Like some of the other posters here, I don't like the idea that anyone could be sent to hell for all eternity. But, as already noted, Jesus was quite implicit that there is a "darkness.. where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth". That doesn't sound like a place I'd really want to go...

Jesus' atonement on the cross was for all humanity, but it still requires us to believe and turn to God and claim his salvation. John 3:16 says; "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" It doesn't say "so that everyone will have eternal life." Similarly, when Jesus sends the disciples out to spread the Good News, his predictions against those towns that refuse to believe are not good: "If anyone will not... listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town... It will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town." (Mt. 10:14-15).

Also, if everyone is saved by a blanket redemption, what point is there in us suffering for or spreading the Word?

So, although I do not like the idea of hell I don't think you can avoid concluding that some people will end up there if they reject the gospel.

As for those people with disabilities that mean they cannot understand or accept the gospel, I agree with someone who said that God will welcome them especially, judging every person on their abilities and merits. After all, we know that above all God's judgement will be just and perfect... and I'm also glad that it's Him making the decisions and not me!

Grace and Peace

~K~
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kayleigh:
As for those people with disabilities that mean they cannot understand or accept the gospel, I agree with someone who said that God will welcome them especially, judging every person on their abilities and merits. After all, we know that above all God's judgement will be just and perfect... and I'm also glad that it's Him making the decisions and not me!

The point some are making, and with which I agree, is that this last paragraph of yours utterly and completely contradicts your first few.

First of all, if God judges every person on their abilities and merits, Hell is going to be very, very full (and I will see many of you there, no doubt!).

Second of all, if what you meant was that each person will be judged according to their specific circumstances, then I'd say I think this is right, but that it can't just be extended to those WE feel are inferior to us in some way like those who have disabilities (awww we feel sorry for THEM so they'll probably just make it into heaven okay...). We often forget that we are all riddled with disabilities and flaws and dispositions that make us unwilling to accept God and his grace.

quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Surely, on a spiritual level, we are ALL disposed to reject the Gospel: we all, like sheep, have gone astray.

I couldn't have said it better myself, Muddy.

-Digory
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Oh, and by the way:

Nice to meet you, Kayleigh. Your avatar will be a source of confusion to me, as JoyfulSoul can explain, but it's great having you aboard the Ship.

Hope I didn't scare you off with my quick argument to your thread! You'll soon learn that it just means I like ya... [Biased]

-Digory
 
Posted by kayleigh (# 10657) on :
 
Hello Professor, and thank you for your welcome!

No you didn't scare me off - constructive argument and criticism can only help everyone grow in their understanding.

Perhaps I didn't make my point clearly in my last paragraph. I wasn't referring to everybody being judged on their merits, as you are quite correct in saying that we can never make the grade by ourselves and rely solely on God's grace to make us perfect.

I also wasn't trying to come across as "we feel sorry for the disabled and they'll make it into heaven anyway"... I am aware that there are many disabilities from which we can all suffer that make no difference at all to our ability to receive or reject God. I was referring to those people who Vikki Pollard was talking about when she says it "rules out people with mental disabilities" - i.e. those people who are so severely impaired that they cannot understand or receive the gospel at all. I was thinking of the young children that Jesus welcomed in as much as they are too young to understand enough to reject or accept the gospels and yet were welcomed by the Saviour.

I hope that makes a bit more sense, and I still stand by my comment that I'm glad I'm not the one deciding who goes where! We can leave that up to someone a bit more reliable [Smile]

~K~
 
Posted by PhilA (# 8792) on :
 
This whole idea of freedom and free will is something I would like to pick up on.

What exactly is free will? Is free will simply the choices we make, like for example, the freedom of choosing what to buy or wear? The freedom to choose to take drugs perhaps? Do these choices we have in life amount to our free will? Or is it something else?

Choices certainly are a part of it, but I would argue that they are not the be all and end all of free will.

Have you ever seen a true virtuoso play music? Someone like Yehudi Menuhin, or Steve Vai? Or a sports star doing what they do to such an incredibly excellent level that us mere mortals only dream of? When these people are doing what it is that they do, they are truly free - they exercise free will - at whatever it is. Take Vai as an example. When he plays his music, he is completely free within that music. He has the ability to play any piece of music to an excellent level, and when he is playing he can do anything he wants. But how did he attain that level of freedom? Did he simply choose to play that well?

It is obvious that he did not. Being a virtuoso performer is not simply a choice. It takes years and years of hard, sometimes slavish, work. As a young pupil, Vai must have sounded bad, just like everyone else does when they start to play, but he got good. He must have had some natural talent, probably a lot of natural talent for music and determination to be good, but this was coupled with hard, boring, repetitive work under the strict supervision of a teacher with no freedom at all. He would have had to do exactly what he was told, when he was told and be disciplined to practice every day. Then, as he got better and grew as a musician, he had more latitude to try different things and experiment a bit, to find his own voice in the music and not just repeat and parrot his teacher’s style. Then, he achieved the freedom. Then he got to the point where what he played was good, almost perfect, and became free. But this freedom came through hard work. He made choices to do this work – choice is certainly a large part of free will, but it is not everything. You cannot just choose to be a virtuoso, you must work at it too.

The same is true with people. Babies are born not knowing how to be good adults – they need to learn and work at it whilst growing, and parents guide and teach their children in how to be good and how to grow as adults. But everyone with children knows that the lessons need repeating and repeating and repeating. But would the child feel free at this point? Can a child exercise free will at this point? Would a parent say to a child that they are allowed, that they haver free will to touch a fire? Or are they simply as Vai did, doing boring, repetitive work under the supervision of a teacher? Then the child grows into a teenager, finding out the rules for themselves and working out their own voice, rebelling a bit against their parents rules and learning to make their own decisions.

Then, if the child has learned and been taught well, they will become a virtuoso adult, free to be what they want, to play what they want with their own voice and exercise they're own free will. Obviously, they must play within the rules. You cannot decide to kill someone and then continue being free, but Vai, for all his musical freedom must also play the right notes that fit with the music. But it is how they are played that gives the freedom, and the process a person must go through to become free is a long one.

Learning how to be free, is worth it, but when learning the ropes, like a child does, there is little freedom. Free will is so much more than the choices we make - it is the very lives we lead, learning to be free as we grow both in the world and in Christ.

At the moment I am not a human being, I am a human becoming.

Will God allow me to choose to go to hell? Only if I am a virtuoso adult and am able to make that choice. But then, If I was a virtuoso adult, why would I choose something like that anyway? Surely, doing so would be acting against my own free will.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
PhilA, that's a marvelous post. Thank you.

(I have some responses coming later.)
 
Posted by Alaric the Goth (# 511) on :
 
It has just struck me that what we often mean by ‘free will’ in relation to God is more like ‘free won’t. We ‘won’t forgive’ and go on getting bitter and resentful towards people (or even God himself). We ‘won’t love’ someone: it’s too much like hard work, and might mean saying ‘sorry’. We ‘won’t give’ sacrificially of time/money: What? and have us ‘lose out’ what is ‘ours’?

Fundamentally we ‘won’t be’ the people He chooses us to be and prefer to be something less. In other words, we are inclined to make a lesser version of Satan’s choice (if you believe in his existence, and the traditional story of his fall): Not to be the Great Archangel Lucifer but to be the ‘lowest of the low’, while maintaining the illusion of greatness, but a fear-filled and terrible ‘inverted greatness’.

We ‘choose’ to be ‘prisoners in chains’ when offered true freedom, and delude ourselves that its our ‘exercising free will’ to remain so bound. From God’s perspective, He has left us with the key, and opened the prison door, and even calls our name from outside, under the blue skies of freedom to walk in His will. It is not Him sending us to Hell so much as leaving us there if we have consistently shown that that is where we choose to remain.
..................................................

I liked a lot of what you said, PhilA, and the way you said it, but I need to go away and think about what I agree with.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
PhilA, that's a marvelous post. Thank you.

I agree. I love the idea that the virtuoso is more free than the novice, and that freedom is something that we gain, rather than something that we simply have.

Very consistent with Christ's words:
quote:
John 8.31 “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

It does give a very different idea of freedom.

In a sense there are two kinds of freedom. You are free to be good or evil. But you aren't truly free unless you "abide in My word" - that is, become a virtuoso... [Ultra confused]
 
Posted by Evo1 (# 10249) on :
 
I think the virtuoso comparison is a poor one. It seems to say that someone who has been a good Christian all their life (whatever that may be) is somehow more free than someone who has just come to the Lord - or a flat none believer at that.

This then leads us on the road to salvation by works alone if we are not careful.

The virtuoso when deciding to take up say the violin was just as free at that point in his life to take it up than to not bother than he is twenty years later as an expert. In fact, surely it is a much easier decision for the beginner to decide to stop than for the guy who is now making his living playing.

Sorry about flies in the ointment and all of that.

Love,

Evo1
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Evo1:
This then leads us on the road to salvation by works alone if we are not careful.

Certainly.

So how do you understand Christ's words about becoming free by abiding in His word? Do we become free by not abiding in His word? Do we become free either way? [Confused]
 
Posted by PhilA (# 8792) on :
 
Of course, its an analogy that breaks down at some point - all analogies do.

I'm not sure it leads to salvation by works though. The analogy works as one demonstrating the true meaning of the word freedom - the freedom that Christ has planned for us. It is not a model that fits with every aspect of our lives and certainly does not lead to salvation, but comes from a position of justification.

Isn't it strange though that salvation is often described as freedom in Christ? Is the goal perhaps to be a virtuoso in Christ? This does not mean that Christ won't accept us unless we make the final goal on our own - that is not how someone becomes a virtuoso - but he is the one who, through grace, is our teacher and our guide. What is important is that we accept his lessons - that we have faith. The Christian life is then about practising these lessons and we keep on practising, and getting it wrong, and Christ keeps picking us up, dusting us down and setts us on our way again. As Alaric the Goth said, we sometimes exercise a 'free won't' because we don't want him to pick us up and help us.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PhilA:
Isn't it strange though that salvation is often described as freedom in Christ? Is the goal perhaps to be a virtuoso in Christ?

Yes, I think that this is perhaps the more important point.

People in heaven are free. People in hell are not.
 
Posted by Evo1 (# 10249) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PhilA:
Of course, its an analogy that breaks down at some point - all analogies do.

I'm not sure it leads to salvation by works though.

Maybe not for you, but see Freddy's comment. [Notice I deliberately referred to "works alone"]

But actually, I'm sorry I was so dismissive, there is something to what you say I think - as usual, I just blundered in and picked out the faults. So again, I'm sorry.

Love,

Evo1
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Evo1:
quote:
Originally posted by PhilA:
Of course, its an analogy that breaks down at some point - all analogies do.

I'm not sure it leads to salvation by works though.

Maybe not for you, but see Freddy's comment. [Notice I deliberately referred to "works alone"]
Which comment was that?
 
Posted by PhilA (# 8792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Evo1:
So again, I'm sorry.

Love,

Evo1

You have nothing to apologise for. If I wanted everyone to agree with me, I wouldn't post on the ship. [Smile]
 
Posted by Evo1 (# 10249) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by Evo1:
This then leads us on the road to salvation by works alone if we are not careful.

Certainly.
In response to Freddy asking which comment I meant that showed that he had taken this to lead us down the road of "works alone" if we are not careful.

This is the one I was thinking of.

Love,

Evo1
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Evo1:
I think the virtuoso comparison is a poor one. It seems to say that someone who has been a good Christian all their life (whatever that may be) is somehow more free than someone who has just come to the Lord - or a flat none believer at that.

This then leads us on the road to salvation by works alone if we are not careful.

I think you may have missed the point of the analogy. PhilA was demonstrating a deeper meaning of the concept of freedom, rather than a means by which we are saved. Though a beginner is free to pick up a violin at any time (one understanding of freedom), s/he is not free to play music with it until s/he learns the instrument (a different understanding of freedom).

Now, something to be said about this is that you could make an argument that yes, the beginner is in fact free to pick up the violin and stike its strings, and who are we to say that it isn't music? This may or may not be true. But the truest form of freedom in music is somebody who knows how to work within the rules and guidelines, and is ABLE to do anything he or she wants. At that point, following those rules and guidelines is inconsequential.

Someone who picks up a violin and plucks one string repeatedly simply because they cannot do anything else is not free in music. Someone who trains for years and knows every in and out of the violin, yet chooses to pluck one string repeatedly, is a genius. (Perhaps that's why modern art is so astounding--though it looks like something my 2 year old niece would do, it comes from someone who is capable of far more, and is thus in fact free.)

The rules and guidelines I mentioned above are not to be analagous to rules of how to live, so as to say breaking them would be "sin". Rather, Christ calls us to discover the rules and guidelines of how his world works. Only when we've become masters of the art of living can we truly be free.

Something like that, perhaps. PhilA's description just resounded in my head in a way that I'd never thought of before, and I'm only just now developing what I think I might mean...

[Smile]

-Digory
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kayleigh:
As for those people with disabilities that mean they cannot understand or accept the gospel <snip>

I'm not sure about this. I met a severely disabled person who was physically contorted and could but grunt and moan but had one of the most beautifulest (is that a word?) smiles I had ever seen. I was having a really terrible day and I was in the bookstore waiting in line. This person was in a wheel-chair while his caretaker was complaining to someone else in line about his patient no less!...and this severely disabled person just looked at me and gave me such a warm and loving smile...it really made my day.

I think perhaps this person had a understanding of what Jesus was getting at. Perhaps God is greater than we think or imagine at communicating his love and his good news to every person - no matter what their place in this world.

There are many other good things in this thread that I'm thinking through... [Smile]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Evo1:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by Evo1:
This then leads us on the road to salvation by works alone if we are not careful.

Certainly.
In response to Freddy asking which comment I meant that showed that he had taken this to lead us down the road of "works alone" if we are not careful.

This is the one I was thinking of.

Oh. OK. You're right.

So how do you understand Christ's words about becoming free by abiding in His word? Do we become free by not abiding in His word? Do we become free either way? [Confused]
 
Posted by Vikki Pollard (# 5548) on :
 
There are so many good posts on here that I'm a little scared of posting now... but I'd like to say a couple of things - firstly, that I too have seen people who appeared to have a direct line to God even though they couldn't communicate with other people; secondly that although I find the virtuoso analogy moving and beautiful, on thinking about it I don't believe it is a true one for the present case.

As I understand it, our response to the Gospel is meant to be 'a decision'. Not a series of decisions. I know some would say you have to choose afresh every day, which would fit with the musician idea, but for those who believe we stand or fall by that one moment of commitment to Christ, then it doesn't work.

Mudfrog, I suppose the answer to the question you ask me lies in your own rhetorical response to it. Perhaps we ARE all predisposed to reject God (though in fact I don't see the evidence for that - I see more evidence that we may grow away from doing so as we grow older). In which case, the whole 'free will' idea is a cruel trick.

This might be a red herring for this thread, in which case perhaps we could start another - but I firmly believe one can accept Christ yet reject 'the Church'. (In fact I believe 'the Church' may have missed the most recent revival, when God placed a love for the world and its needs in the hearts of people not even recognised by the Church - but that really is another thread! [Biased] )

So that would take me back to my point that choosing God may not actually look how we expect it to look.

My daughter at University was saying to me the other night, "How CAN a group of 100 Christians in the CU honestly have the arrogance to believe they are the only ones going to Heaven out of the whole University?!"

I think that's another good question, personally.

[ 11. November 2005, 18:13: Message edited by: Vikki Pollard ]
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PhilA:
Will God allow me to choose to go to hell? Only if I am a virtuoso adult and am able to make that choice. But then, If I was a virtuoso adult, why would I choose something like that anyway? Surely, doing so would be acting against my own free will.

This is the idea I find insulting. Its saying that if you are an adult you will chose God's way (what-have-you). I don't think so at all. Its insulting because it is saying that athiests and others are unable to make a choice because they are "children" and not adults.
 
Posted by Vikki Pollard (# 5548) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Vikki Pollard:



Mudfrog, I suppose the answer to the question you ask me lies in your own rhetorical response to it. Perhaps we ARE all predisposed to reject God (though in fact I don't see the evidence for that - I see more evidence that we may grow away from doing so as we grow older).

Whoops. That doesn't say what I meant! I mean that people generally seem to accept the idea of God as children and young people, then get more predisposed to reject it later.

Joyfulsoul, I agree. I left my Evangelical faith behind after years of being challenged about its arrogance by my family. In the end I came to agree with them.

Now, if I'm wrong, God may therefore consign me to Hell. Or he may know better than I do myself that I was unable to resist the pressure due to my inherent personality type, and accept me anyway.

It's really much easier not to believe in
Hell. [Biased]

Anyway what's 'wrong' with having the strength to reject a call to see oneself as inherently sinful? Has nobody else on here ever seen that damage that can do to people? Hasn't anyone else ever suspected that they have been manipulated into living their life for the good of others without any reciprocation from the body which has taught them to do so? [Paranoid]

<lights blue touchpaper and watches from a distance>
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
quote:
Originally posted by PhilA:
Will God allow me to choose to go to hell? Only if I am a virtuoso adult and am able to make that choice. But then, If I was a virtuoso adult, why would I choose something like that anyway? Surely, doing so would be acting against my own free will.

This is the idea I find insulting. Its saying that if you are an adult you will chose God's way (what-have-you). I don't think so at all. Its insulting because it is saying that athiests and others are unable to make a choice because they are "children" and not adults.
Good point. But there are other ways to look at it. It means that if everyone were truly free they would always choose heaven. It also means that the genuinely "rational" person would be kind, loving, generous, a good spouse, a good employee, etc. It simply redefines "normal" as "good" or "the way it is supposed to be."
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Good point. But there are other ways to look at it. It means that if everyone were truly free they would always choose heaven. It also means that the genuinely "rational" person would be kind, loving, generous, a good spouse, a good employee, etc. It simply redefines "normal" as "good" or "the way it is supposed to be."

But would they? Are you saying that Satan wasn't free?

I don't buy this argument. Adam and Eve were "free" from all sin. Nevertheless, they made a choice (less than savory).
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Vikki Pollard:


My daughter at University was saying to me the other night, "How CAN a group of 100 Christians in the CU honestly have the arrogance to believe they are the only ones going to Heaven out of the whole University?!"

I think that's another good question, personally.

She would have a point if those 100 Christians were a closed group with no intention of allowing others in. It's hardly their fault that there are only 100 of them What yould you say if there were only 100 non-believers on campus? Would you say they were arrogant in their assertion of atheism?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Are you saying that Satan wasn't free?

I don't buy this argument. Adam and Eve were "free" from all sin. Nevertheless, they made a choice (less than savory).

They weren't "virtuosos", so in a sense they weren't free.

I admit that it's not a great argument. What I like about it is that it means that a person becomes more and more free as they grow spiritually. It means that people in heaven are more free than those in hell. It means that those who sin are slaves to sin. That's all.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Vikki Pollard:
quote:
Originally posted by Vikki Pollard:



Mudfrog, I suppose the answer to the question you ask me lies in your own rhetorical response to it. Perhaps we ARE all predisposed to reject God (though in fact I don't see the evidence for that - I see more evidence that we may grow away from doing so as we grow older).

Whoops. That doesn't say what I meant! I mean that people generally seem to accept the idea of God as children and young people, then get more predisposed to reject it later
You might find that what is happening is that the innocence of childhood and the idealism give way to adult cares and busy-ness. As we get a career, marry, cope with children, cope with teenagers, etc, etc, we find no time for public displays or observances of religion. But as late middle age and old age set in, people tend to return to the faith of their formative years.

I was listening to a presentation a couple of years ago by an expert in church statistics, growth and all that stuff. He said that (in the UK) the only age groups that were growing in the church was the retireds and the children. His conclusion: "the grandparents are coming back to church and they're bringing the grandchildren with them!"

Faith does become real as you get older.
 
Posted by PhilA (# 8792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
This is the idea I find insulting. Its saying that if you are an adult you will chose God's way (what-have-you). I don't think so at all. Its insulting because it is saying that athiests and others are unable to make a choice because they are "children" and not adults.

Do you find it insulting every time someone tells you to do something? If so, surely you find your entire life being insulted. My boss tells me what time I am to get to work for. Its an outrage! Its an insult to my free will! My doctor tells me what I can't have for lunch. How dare he! The children's teacher tells me what time to pick them up from school, etc. etc.

Why is God not allowed to tell you what to do from time to time? Of course, you are perfectly free to ignore your alarm, your doctor and your children's teacher just as you are free to ignore God, but it is completely against your own interests to do that. Because you are on your way to being a virtuoso adult, you can see the stupidity in ignoring your boss etc. - you would loose your job/health/children which would adversely affect every aspect of your life, yet you could choose to do so if you wished. If you find it insulting that your boss etc. tells you what to do, then I do not see how you can ever be happy - you would be insulted all of your life.

Surely its much better to accept the idea that there are somethings that we do because we are on our way to being virtuosos and those are simply the ways of life that we must follow and somethings we do because we choose to. I am sure that if you really do want to negate on your own free will then God will allow you to do that, but it would be to go against your nature as a human being to do that. Many people go all the way through life without ever recognising God at all. I do not believe that those people go to hell though. I have a feeling that when anyone stands before God that denying him and asking if it would be all right if he would mind if he just went to hell, just because he can would be physically impossible.
 
Posted by Vikki Pollard (# 5548) on :
 
The CU IS pretty closed, I'm afraid. I doubt 100 atheists would be so militant about telling everyone they were condemned to - er - Heaven... [Biased]

Hang on here... if anyone who was free 'would choose God', how is that 'free will'??

This simply doesn't hold water, does it?

Mudfrog said:
quote:
Faith does become real as you get older.

What if we're just more prone to falling for a line as we get older? Out of desperation as we see death drawing nearer?

Just a thought. [Ultra confused]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Vikki Pollard:
Hang on here... if anyone who was free 'would choose God', how is that 'free will'??

This is true only in a certain sense. Obviously freedom means having the capacity to exercise free will - and so to NOT choose God just as much as to choose God.

The point is that people in heaven are free but people in hell are not, at least not very free.

People in heaven are free because they can do whatever they wish. People in hell are not free because what they wish for is not possible, and so their desires are their prison.

So is choosing slavery a true expression of freedom?
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Vikki Pollard:
Hang on here... if anyone who was free 'would choose God', how is that 'free will'??

This simply doesn't hold water, does it?

It could. If I offered you two options, one being to have you and all of your family sliced to bits by a giant sword, slowly and painfully, the other to have your family guaranteed to be taken care of for all time, no matter what their circumstances, you would be free to choose between the two, wouldn't you? Because no one in their right mind would choose to have himself and his family sliced up doesn't negate the freedom of the choice.

-Digory
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
Actually we are not as free as you might think.

We are dead in trespasses and sins.
We are lost
We are enemies of God.
We are sinners.
We all like sheep have gone astray, we have gone each one to his own way.
There is none righteous, not one.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

All this already.
This is the position we stand.

It's not a neutral position.
We are not offered the choice to become all the above or the equal choice to accdept God.

The ONLY choice we are offered is to STAY where we are or to choose life instead.

If we don't choose to follow Christ by faith, then we simply remain where we were.

Our free will is simply that we can choose Christ if we want to.

[ 12. November 2005, 06:55: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]
 
Posted by Vikki Pollard (# 5548) on :
 
You are saying that the above example is a real choice? Not to a mother it isn't!

Is someone in Heaven still free to choose Hell? Or vice versa? Does our free will end at death? And if so, how is it a true state of being us?

Anyway the point being missed here is that nobody knows for sure. I am still very very suspicious that a lot of this is a construct which has been used down the years to keep people in their place.

My approach used to be, "Well, even if it isn't true, it's best to err on the side of believing it is, because that way I can't lose" (a response from fear rather than loving free will, in my case).

Now my approach is, "If it's NOT true, then I stand to alienate a lot of people I love and perhaps miss out on things in life by being to anal to enjoy them."

This is why I asked the question earlier - do you think God will make allowances for my faulty reasoning, as it is possibly my 'spiritual disability'.

Of course, I may have hit on the truth. It's so hard to know, isn't it!
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Evo1:
I think the virtuoso comparison is a poor one. It seems to say that someone who has been a good Christian all their life (whatever that may be) is somehow more free than someone who has just come to the Lord - or a flat none believer at that.

What if the comparison isn't "good Christian" but rather "growing Christian" ? (consider Paul's chastisement to those who insist on milk instead of growing up to meat) - don't you think a "growing Christian" *is* more free than someone who's just come to the Lord?

quote:

This then leads us on the road to salvation by works alone if we are not careful.

The virtuoso when deciding to take up say the violin was just as free at that point in his life to take it up than to not bother than he is twenty years later as an expert. In fact, surely it is a much easier decision for the beginner to decide to stop than for the guy who is now making his living playing.

You're right, there is a risk of falling into the works camp - but there's also the component of "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" - and the sense of "work" here is like mining, to follow the vein of gold and dig it out, grapple with it. And the parable of the various soil types warns us that we can drift away early on, like the player who realizes that his neck hurts and his fingertips are sore, or we can drift away later for more complex reasons ("the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches").

Jesus talks more about hell, and the importance of avoiding it, than anybody else in the Bible - which makes me think He means it. Additionally, I had a rather alarming experience about 7-8 years ago when a series of friends (of varying proximity) died within about 10 months of each other. I would pray that God receive them and have mercy upon them and didn't get any particular feedback from the Almighty - until one certain person and I went to pray for his soul and God stopped me, it was like, "Don't even ask." Very strong. Freaked me out. And it's made me nervous, since, in praying for the deceased whose spiritual alignment is questionable - I realize I'm always sort of afraid God will do that again (and I *really* didn't like it).

I recognize this is my personal experience and bears no weight with anyone but me, but yeah, it makes me answer this question in the positive - I do think God will allow people to go to Hell... eeep.
 
Posted by Vikki Pollard (# 5548) on :
 
But how do you know GOD stoped you, and not some prior knowledge of the person's circumstances which at some deep level you have been trained to believe was unforgivable?

Sorry (I once had that experience too, in fact) - I am partly - though not wholly - playing Devil's advocate so this doesn't get too 'pat'. I think these are serious questions which deserve a lot of thought rather than Pavlovian responses.

And if you can't play Devil's advocate on a thread like this, where can you? [Devil]
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
The point is that people in heaven are free but people in hell are not, at least not very free.

People in heaven are free because they can do whatever they wish. People in hell are not free because what they wish for is not possible, and so their desires are their prison.

So is choosing slavery a true expression of freedom?

I had a dream like that, close to 30 years ago now!!! I was a Christian, in that I'd accepted Jesus' death on the cross as payment for my sins, but I hadn't yet come into much alignment with God, other than that one point (!). In this dream I was flying through the universe, and I knew it like I know my neighborhood, and the freedom was exhilirating - then I became aware of big dark hands/claws grasping me around the middle and the hands were directing me where I was going. I start to panic and off in the distance I see a big domed birdcage, made of blue-white neon light, and I know if I fly in there the hands won't be holding me any longer - but it's a CAGE and the last thing in the world that I want is a cage - except these hands are really creeping me out and I realize the second-to-the-last thing I want is a cage and the *very* last thing is for these hands to continue to rule me. So in panic and trepidation, I fly into the cage and sure enough, the hands fall away as soon as I enter - and the bars of the cage break up into a shower of stars: it only appeared to be a cage from the outside.

It was a very meaningful dream (one that I remembered upon waking) and helped me get my head screwed on straight (not to mention get away from the dark hand/claws).
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Vikki Pollard:
But how do you know GOD stoped you, and not some prior knowledge of the person's circumstances which at some deep level you have been trained to believe was unforgivable?

it's a good question, Vicki, and I don't know that my answer will satisfy you, but as I've gotten closer to God, I've come to recognize His voice, as opposed to my own (or the lying voice of the enemy - *shudder* - I know that one too well) - some of this is no doubt a gift of discernment but some of it is simply experience. And, frankly, from a legalistic viewpoint, only one of these people was a "Christian" to my knowledge - and most had lived very hedonistic lifestyles. I had no reason to single out this particular person. The last person in that series who died was, in fact, the Christian, and I flew back to the memorial service and wound up having dinner with the widow and a mutual friend and somehow this issue came up and I very guardedly, cautiously shared face-to-face what I so boldly shared in the relative anonymity of the internet (!!) - and was seriously freaked when the widows jaw dropped and she said that she & her husband (who also knew the person in question) had tried to pray for his soul and felt that God stopped them, too. There is no satisfaction in thinking this person may be damned - none whatsoever. But either God is good and trustworthy or I have wasted my life and energy trying to serve Him; I am convinced that He is, in fact, good and trustworthy. He is the perfect Judge, able to weigh every factor and balance it all out, and He bears a sword sharp enough to divide between bone and marrow. And finally, there is grace.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
it's a good question, Vicki

sorry! misspelled - Vikki.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
So in panic and trepidation, I fly into the cage and sure enough, the hands fall away as soon as I enter - and the bars of the cage break up into a shower of stars: it only appeared to be a cage from the outside.

Wow. That's a beautiful story. I like everything about it.

Freedom and prison, I guess, are easy to mistake for each other! [Angel]
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
Jesus talks more about hell, and the importance of avoiding it, than anybody else in the Bible - which makes me think He means it. Additionally, I had a rather alarming experience about 7-8 years ago when a series of friends (of varying proximity) died within about 10 months of each other. I would pray that God receive them and have mercy upon them and didn't get any particular feedback from the Almighty - until one certain person and I went to pray for his soul and God stopped me, it was like, "Don't even ask." Very strong. Freaked me out. And it's made me nervous, since, in praying for the deceased whose spiritual alignment is questionable - I realize I'm always sort of afraid God will do that again (and I *really* didn't like it).

I recognize this is my personal experience and bears no weight with anyone but me, but yeah, it makes me answer this question in the positive - I do think God will allow people to go to Hell... eeep.

Hello, Lynn. [Smile]

If you'd like to keep this as just a personal anecdote, I would totally understand. But if you would like to enter it as anecdotal evidence to your belief and to discuss it, I'd love to hear more about what you think God was actually saying to you when he said "Stop," and why it necessarily meant to you that the person was destined for Hell no matter what.

-Digory
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
PhilA's analogies over free will were truly excellent!! This is why I get angry when people say. "no-one is in hell unless they want to be" I don't know anyone who would want to be in hell. A loving God who demands that we forgive seventy times seven will do at least as much as us. In the early church the condemnation to hell was usually piquish and reserved for anyone who didn't agree with the prevailing doctrine. But there were many universalists in the early church.

The idea that anyone would reject God eternally once death strips them of the veneer of security which money can provide in this world is to me absurd. The magnitude of eternal separation is enough to make the most hardened soul cry out to God for mercy. Will God refuse it? Never.

I have a question for Evo1 who seems to be a grand champion of eternal punishment. Ho also criticises any idea of works righteousness. So Protestant! Look at the passages in Matthew where Jesus says that the goats are going to outer darkness. It is always for wrong deeds or lack of good deeds. Especially Matthew 25. Jesus taught works righteousness, salvation by obediance to God and that entry to the kingdom of God comes from being a good Jew (Mark 12. 28-32).

A confusion of ideas seems to exist among believers in eternal hell. They take seriously that Jesus taught it. But they ignore that He said that hell is for the wicked unrighteous. They graft onto that, Paul's belief salvation is by grace, but Paul never taught about eternal torment. Thus in combining two ideas, Christians don't have to change or improve their lives because they are "saved". This is a monumetal cop out. There is no religion on earth which doesn't require strict adherance to moral precepts based on the golden rule. That is exactly what Jesus taught. Being saved by belief was invented by Paul, who believed in a total recreation of the cosmos and as such was probably a universalist himself. You can't have it all ways.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
As much as I honestly admire the "virtuouso" approach, I have a great longing for it to be true - however, I am not persuaded that God will remove someone's choice to be eternally separated from him.

Believe it or not, there are some people who have no desire to be with God. While some say that death will remove that lack of desire (especially faced with the eminent darkness and pain), I'm still not certain that is the case. I don't think that God would force anyone to go on the path of the "virtuouso" if they didn't want to.


P.S. I know PaulTH said that he knew no one - but I do.

[ 12. November 2005, 20:55: Message edited by: Joyfulsoul ]
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
As much as I honestly admire the "virtuouso" approach, I have a great longing for it to be true - however, I am not persuaded that God will remove someone's choice to be eternally separated from him.

Believe it or not, there are some people who have no desire to be with God.

Perhaps you and I could agree on this idea:

Hell will be filled with any and all who choose to be there, but any who ask God for mercy at any time will be lifted from darkness and brought into God's grace, no matter what they'd done or how long they'd rebelled.

Does that resonate with you?

-Digory
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Dear Joyfulsoul

I disagree with you for these reasons. In this world God is obscure. We see through a glass darkly. For many people who have awful lives, poverty, oppression, abuse, sexual or phychological, the glass becomes so dark that they can't see God at all. I've had a lucky life. I had good loving parents, though perhaps a bit too severe. I have never been hungry, I've always had quite well paid work. And God is real to me. But what of those who never have that chance?

To reject God here is easy: we can't see Him and the world around us is indifferent, or worse, downright hostile. When death strips us of these illusions, I am totally sure that almost every soul which rejected God on earth will cry out for His mercy. Will He grant it then? I believe so, because otherwise He is like a silly school child who says, "yesterday you didn't want to be my friend, so today I don't want to be yours".

Your name Joyfulsoul is intriguing. If you believe that most of creation is going to hell, there won't be much joy in your soul then.
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:

quote:
P.S. I know PaulTH said that he knew no one - but I do
Dear Joyfulsoul

Obviously I don't know the circumstances of the person you're referring to, but sometimes people claim to want to go to hell because of the knowledge of their sinfulness, or inability to cope with past sins. Such people are so close to salvation if they but knew it because they are penitent and therefore saved.

Even the unrepentant sinner is unlikely to stay unrepentant when the consequences of sin stare him in the face. I realise that the question of the eternally recalcitrant sinner is a problem for universalists and I acknowledge that I have no answer as to what God could do with such a person, but I believe that the prayers of Mary and the saints and of those of us on earth who make a commitment to praying for the dead, will lighten the darkness of hell for all its denizens and will, with enough patience, bring all into the realm of God's love.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
...sometimes people claim to want to go to hell because of the knowledge of their sinfulness, or inability to cope with past sins.

Sometimes people claim to want to go to hell because their picture of God is inaccurately skewed by those of us who represent him poorly (all of us included, don't get me wrong).

I think anyone who rejects him does so because they do not fully understand him.

-Digory
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Originally posted by professorkirke:

quote:
I think anyone who rejects him does so because they do not fully understand him
Well prof, I agree with you comletely on this. But can we understand Him on this side of the grave? Wouldn't most, if not all of our rejections cease when death denudes us of all our illusions and we see the choices?

This all hinges on a question I posted on a thread a few eeks ago. Would we get another chance after death, if like Doubting Thomas we had to see in order to believe.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
If you'd like to keep this as just a personal anecdote, I would totally understand. But if you would like to enter it as anecdotal evidence to your belief and to discuss it, I'd love to hear more about what you think God was actually saying to you when he said "Stop," and why it necessarily meant to you that the person was destined for Hell no matter what.

-Digory

Hi Digory!
I really don't know what more to say - in praying for the repose of this man's soul and asking that God would give him grace to know Him, I got a strong "Don't even ask" message. I don't know that it means this guys is going to hell (and I hope very much my sense that's what it means is wrong) - but there was no question that I wasn't supposed to intercede in that way anymore. Is there another way for me to intercede for this man? Perhaps - I haven't fully examined that - I think I was so startled that I didn't go through all the possible permutations (hmm - Abraham and that fascinating exchange with God before the destruction of Sodom (Gen.18) where he negotiates with the Lord for the righteous of the city).
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
PhilA's analogies over free will were truly excellent!! This is why I get angry when people say. "no-one is in hell unless they want to be" I don't know anyone who would want to be in hell. A loving God who demands that we forgive seventy times seven will do at least as much as us.

Have you ever read Charles Williams' novels or "That Hideous Strength" by C.S. Lewis? Both THS and one of Williams' novels (I'm blanking on which one right now, sorry!) have an image of a man at the threshold of death, recognizing that even now, after a hideously sinful and malicious life, God offers forgiveness - but the character is too fixed in his own pride and sense of self to confess and be saved and knowingly enters into Hell. Very appalling sequences. Yes, it's fiction - but I have met people who are so offended that God calls them a sinner that they do indeed reject His salvation and abhor His presence.

You are absolutely right; God does infinitely more than a paltry 70x7 forgiveness on behalf of each of us - each of us has already run through numbers much higher, I assure you.

quote:

The idea that anyone would reject God eternally once death strips them of the veneer of security which money can provide in this world is to me absurd. The magnitude of eternal separation is enough to make the most hardened soul cry out to God for mercy. Will God refuse it? Never.

I agree it's hard to imagine anyone rejecting God, particularly if they understand what's really involved - but the fact you have a hard time imagining it doesn't mean there aren't folks who do. I have a hard time imagining adults torturing children, but I have friends who were tortured in childhood - my inability to imagine it unfortunately doesn't make it impossible.

quote:

Jesus taught works righteousness, salvation by obediance to God and that entry to the kingdom of God comes from being a good Jew (Mark 12. 28-32).

A confusion of ideas seems to exist among believers in eternal hell. They take seriously that Jesus taught it. But they ignore that He said that hell is for the wicked unrighteous. They graft onto that, Paul's belief salvation is by grace, but Paul never taught about eternal torment. Thus in combining two ideas, Christians don't have to change or improve their lives because they are "saved". This is a monumetal cop out. There is no religion on earth which doesn't require strict adherance to moral precepts based on the golden rule. That is exactly what Jesus taught. Being saved by belief was invented by Paul, who believed in a total recreation of the cosmos and as such was probably a universalist himself. You can't have it all ways.

Paul a universalist?! I think not... But Jesus Himself says "Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins." (Mt 26.27-28). We have to live in tension - we are called to live a righteous life, to be perfect even as our Father in Heaven is perfect - but none of us can manage that and we need major help. The fact that we have received such gracious help at such a staggering cost is overwhelming and let us never fall into the position Paul is shocked by, that we sin more so that grace might abound (Romans 5 & 6) - let us never even take it for granted. But neither let us delude ourselves that our "good works" are sufficient to save us. They are important and we must not neglect them - but they're insufficient to buy my life from the pit.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
I don't think I've ever had a discussion of 'free will' that didn't highlight how slippery and problematic the whole concept is. It is really hard to define and hard to explain, and neither Jesus nor Paul seems to have really attempted to do so.

All of which makes me continually suprised that it seems to be a fundamental pillar of so many people's personal theology.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
Sorry, double post.

It is very arguable that Paul was a universalist, and many people have in fact argued that. A recent couple of books are called The Inscapable Love of God and Universal Salvation? The Current Debate.

A chapter of the Inescapable Love of God, dealing mostly with Paul is available here - it's worth reading.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
Thanks, Demas - I'll read that.

I do think there's a risk to being a universalist (*assuming* I'm using the word in the same manner you are - that, in the end, EVERYBODY is saved). Let me first say, I would love to see everybody saved, I have NO desire to see people burn in hell (even the classic bugabear Hitler - if God's refining fire is applied to him {as it will be to all of us} and all the sin and evil burned out, yes, there are elements of value worth saving in Hitler).
So why not assure people that God loves them and has saved them, whether they agree with Him and receive it or not? Consider Ezekiel 33, where God makes him a watchman on the wall and charges him with sounding the warning - and, if he doesn't, THEIR BLOOD is on HIS HEAD. That's a biggie.

Consider Jesus speaking in Mt.18 "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of {its} stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!"

IF we assure people that they will be saved, no matter their relationship with Jesus, are we not being a stumbling block? God will save who He will, and more power to Him! I don't have to worry about that. But I do have to worry about not misrepresenting Him - so it seems to me that, for my own sake, I'd better not give false assurance. FWIW, this is my attitude toward the current debate over homosexuality (is it still a sin?): if I say, "There may be a problem with this behavior - take it to God and see what He tells you," and I'm wrong then I have erred by reading the Bible too literally (happily not the unforgivable sin), but if I say, "Go on, brethren, God's changed His mind, be blessed in this relationship" and God hasn't changed His mind, then I'm encouraging someone in their sin and being a stumbling block. I hasten to add that homosexuality is not the unforgivable sin either, just a good contemporary example of this challenge. I'm sure Ezekiel wasn't real thrilled about telling his friends and neighbors, "You sinners! Repent or God will judge you!"

I mean, I understand the attraction of universalism - I just can't reconcile it with the whole of scripture.
 
Posted by Zappa (# 8433) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Vikki Pollard:
There are so many good posts on here that I'm a little scared of posting now... <snip>

Oh dear - me too - and this is the topic I feel most passionate about of any topic on earth. But now I feel somewhat outclassed by the Demas and PhilA s and others and all uncharacteristically tongue tied. [Overused]

For me the response to the question will always begin with the psalmist's vision "though I descend to the depths of hell thou art there also." Regardless of our understanding of Hell - as non-being or as fire or as separation - it seems to me that this is a place where God is. Dante’s Give Up Hope cannot be activated where God is, or in Anselmian terms, despair, fire torment hopelessness or non-being becomes greater than God and God’s love.

So hell must be, if you like, a choice. I object to the forms of doctrine that depict death as the last opportunity to “decide for God/Jesus” for the same reason: death becomes bigger than divine love.

I believe the “Mental illness” analogy works for the entire human state. Am I able to see as yet the implications of God’s love with anything but the darkened glasses of Paul’s analogy? And can I see the implications of sin in relationship to divine perfection with anything but the darkened glasses of Paul’s analogy? So I am as yet maimed, incomplete, disabled. As are the gospel narratives and the church, even the sacraments in which I may encounter grace. I have not yet seen the face of the God whose love grinds away my imperfections. I have not seen my sin. I have not seen divine sorrow. Nor has Joe Blow next door who’s too busy, or Freda Blogg who’s having an affair or Osama bin Laden or George Bush who are trapped in their spiritual myopia.

But the persuasive love of God is greater than sin. So I believe in heaven (with a struggle), and with something like purgatory, but not in Hell. Which fortunately is not an article of faith, so I guess I can still be a part of the Christian community in all its myopia? [Smile]
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
I think God will allow anyone to go to Hell who really wants to and insists on it.
 
Posted by Gort (# 6855) on :
 
It can't be much worse than some of the things I've seen here on Earth.

I'd check it out if I knew I had a Get Out of Hell Free card.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Perhaps you and I could agree on this idea:

Hell will be filled with any and all who choose to be there, but any who ask God for mercy at any time will be lifted from darkness and brought into God's grace, no matter what they'd done or how long they'd rebelled.

Does that resonate with you?

-Digory

Let me see if I get what you are saying:

Hypothetically, there might be people who will chose to live in the hereafter apart from God's presence. However, at some point they may change their mind and decide instead to rejoin others in the presence of God. No matter what they had done or how they had rebelled - both in their life on earth and their continued existence apart from God's presence, God's grace is so that he would allow them to leave hell and rejoin him in heaven?

If this is what you are saying...I still disagree.

Its kind of like if people do drugs - sure they may repent of it and stop doing drugs - but the affects of the drugs such as infertility, broken memory, episodes and some mental issues will remain because of those choices. What I'm trying to say (with this very poor analogy) is that our actions are meaningful and sometimes we have to live with the consequences of our choices. I think we should strive to live meaningfully and thoughtfully because we don't know if we get another chance to do so.

I have this feeling that some choices we make have consequences. I'm not convinced that our lives are lived in a vaccuum - empty of the choices we make both good and evil.


quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
I think anyone who rejects him does so because they do not fully understand him

I disagree. I don't think it is always the case that some people reject God because of incomplete knowledge. Satan himself was in the presence and glory of God and still rejected him. Adam and Eve knew the friendship of God and yet chose to distrust God.

quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
This all hinges on a question I posted on a thread a few eeks ago. Would we get another chance after death, if like Doubting Thomas we had to see in order to believe.

I think this is also where we differ. I don't know if we get another chance after death.

quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
Dear Joyfulsoul

I disagree with you for these reasons. In this world God is obscure. We see through a glass darkly. For many people who have awful lives, poverty, oppression, abuse, sexual or phychological, the glass becomes so dark that they can't see God at all. I've had a lucky life. I had good loving parents, though perhaps a bit too severe. I have never been hungry, I've always had quite well paid work. And God is real to me. But what of those who never have that chance?

I guess I have known people who have really terrible lives. People who have had all the above factors and more. And still those people have seen God and explained his goodness to me.

quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
To reject God here is easy: we can't see Him and the world around us is indifferent, or worse, downright hostile. When death strips us of these illusions, I am totally sure that almost every soul which rejected God on earth will cry out for His mercy. Will He grant it then? I believe so, because otherwise He is like a silly school child who says, "yesterday you didn't want to be my friend, so today I don't want to be yours".

I'm not sure the situation is a simple as that.


quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
Your name Joyfulsoul is intriguing. If you believe that most of creation is going to hell, there won't be much joy in your soul then.

I probably ask every single week why God gave us the ability to hurt one another. Why? What purpose does it serve to see a young child unable to sleep because of re-occuring nightmares regarding sexual molestation? Why is the purpose of The Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda - where they recruit children and sexually abuse them and then train them to shoot their parents? What's up with the holocaust, the Spanish Inquisition?

And while we're on the topic of pain, anquish, and sorrow - what's up with cancer? And AIDs - that horrible demon that strips man's soul and body? And what about the natural disasters like the hurricanes and the horrible tsunami that devasted Asia?

I ask (myself, God, and whatever unfortunate soul is around me) with all this hell on earth, why do we need a hell after life?

PaulTH*, most of creation (now and prior generations) has or are experiencing hell* right now. Should I change my name because of this? Should I even ever smile again because of what I know, what I have seen, and because of what true horrors will follow on earth long after I am dead?


*Not refering to the literal place but general true tragedies of life
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Hypothetically, there might be people who will chose to live in the hereafter apart from God's presence. However, at some point they may change their mind and decide instead to rejoin others in the presence of God. No matter what they had done or how they had rebelled - both in their life on earth and their continued existence apart from God's presence, God's grace is so that he would allow them to leave hell and rejoin him in heaven?

If this is what you are saying...I still disagree.

Your God is a harsh one.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Your God appears to be saying, "You humans forgive others 70x7. Do as I say, not as I do."
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Your God appears to be saying, "You humans forgive others 70x7. Do as I say, not as I do."

Maybe earth is the place where we can make meaningful choices though.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Your God appears to be saying, "You humans forgive others 70x7. Do as I say, not as I do."

Maybe earth is the place where we can make meaningful choices though.
Your example allowed for the idea that this was not the case, and yet God still wouldn't forgive.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Hypothetically, there might be people who will chose to live in the hereafter apart from God's presence. However, at some point they may change their mind and decide instead to rejoin others in the presence of God. No matter what they had done or how they had rebelled - both in their life on earth and their continued existence apart from God's presence, God's grace is so that he would allow them to leave hell and rejoin him in heaven?

If this is what you are saying...I still disagree.

Your God is a harsh one.
Why is it problematic to say that the choices we make on earth are meaningful and significant?
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
That's not what you said. You said even if we could make choices after death, God would not forgive.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Your God appears to be saying, "You humans forgive others 70x7. Do as I say, not as I do."

Maybe earth is the place where we can make meaningful choices though.
Your example allowed for the idea that this was not the case, and yet God still wouldn't forgive.
Hmm. I don't know if we could repent hell - that was Professor Kirke's illustration. (mommy, he started it!) Honestly, I wish it were the case that we could repent in hell. Maybe it is. Or maybe hell doesn't exist. For me, looking at the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus told by Jesus doesn't indicate the possibility of repentence in hell. The story has a great ending for Lazarus but a very sad ending for the Rich Man. Maybe Jesus didn't finish the story?
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Besides "meaningful and significant" isn't accurate. Your point would rather be that the decisions made in this lifetime are "final and irrevocable."

If we had sufficient data upon which to make such eternity-affecting choices, that might be fair and fine. But the data is far from complete, and even if it were complete, there are factors which make the decision nearly impossible to make, factors quite out of the control of the person who has to make the decision. It's a harsh God that would insist on a correct decision under such circumstances and reject anybody who chose incorrectly.

[sorry for the cross-post!]

[ 13. November 2005, 03:24: Message edited by: Mousethief ]
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
That's not what you said. You said even if we could make choices after death, God would not forgive.

Ah, I see what you are saying. Yeah, I guess that's the problem. I don't know if we can make choices after death.
 
Posted by Jerry Boam (# 4551) on :
 
I know that it has been removed from one of the creeds that the UMC uses, but isn't there a tradition about Christ descending into hell? The harrowing of hell?

I am not at all familiar with the issues around this idea, but I took it as a way of saying that the salvation offered by God in the person of Christ transcends death--that people who were not saved in this life still have the option to accept the salvation that God desires for them.
 
Posted by Zappa (# 8433) on :
 
I want to know who made death and hell bigger than divine love?
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Besides "meaningful and significant" isn't accurate. Your point would rather be that the decisions made in this lifetime are "final and irrevocable."

If we had sufficient data upon which to make such eternity-affecting choices, that might be fair and fine. But the data is far from complete, and even if it were complete, there are factors which make the decision nearly impossible to make, factors quite out of the control of the person who has to make the decision. It's a harsh God that would insist on a correct decision under such circumstances and reject anybody who chose incorrectly.

[sorry for the cross-post!]

That's a good point. If God is just and merciful, why would S/he act harshly - and in a way seemingly unfairly?
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Cool! We agree!

(I was afraid you'd gone to bed and weren't going to answer until tomorrow!)
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
I'm not a universalist. But I also believe that God is both loving and just and would never sentence someone to eternal damnation unless they had as you said "sufficient data upon which to make such eternity-affecting choices." I believe that beings (both human, angelic) have those opportunities but still chose to reject God (hence Satan). I guess still believe that if there's a hell, some people will end up in there.


[bed - this early on a saturday... what about my social life? [Ultra confused] [Paranoid] ]

[ 13. November 2005, 03:46: Message edited by: Joyfulsoul ]
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
I believe that there's a hell and some people MAY end up there, if in fact they insist on rejecting God even when given all the info they need to make the decision. I hope and pray nobody ends up there, and nobody makes that decision -- but it is still a very live possibility. So I'm not exactly a universalist, and not exactly a non-universalist. I'm a wishy-washy universalist wannabe.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
I'm not exactly a universalist, and not exactly a non-universalist. I'm a wishy-washy universalist wannabe.

Oh can I be one of those too?!

-Digory
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Send me $10 and five boxtops from any "Quaker Oats" products, Digory.
 
Posted by Gort (# 6855) on :
 
Oh, great. Now MT is selling Universalist indulgences.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Too late. Royalties will come as we go along.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
No, Universalist-Wannabe Indulgences. Try to keep up.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Its kind of like if people do drugs - sure they may repent of it and stop doing drugs - but the affects of the drugs such as infertility, broken memory, episodes and some mental issues will remain because of those choices. What I'm trying to say (with this very poor analogy) is that our actions are meaningful and sometimes we have to live with the consequences of our choices. I think we should strive to live meaningfully and thoughtfully because we don't know if we get another chance to do so.

I am quite confident that you didn't mean this, but this line of thinking poses us that have "chosen God" as being better than those who do not, since their consequences are MUCH worse than ours.

quote:
I don't think it is always the case that some people reject God because of incomplete knowledge. Satan himself was in the presence and glory of God and still rejected him. Adam and Eve knew the friendship of God and yet chose to distrust God.
Do you know that Satan had a complete understanding of God? Or Adam and Eve?

Also, disobeying God is not the same as rejecting him or choosing Hell, in my opinion.

-Digory
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Its kind of like if people do drugs - sure they may repent of it and stop doing drugs - but the affects of the drugs such as infertility, broken memory, episodes and some mental issues will remain because of those choices. What I'm trying to say (with this very poor analogy) is that our actions are meaningful and sometimes we have to live with the consequences of our choices. I think we should strive to live meaningfully and thoughtfully because we don't know if we get another chance to do so.

I am quite confident that you didn't mean this, but this line of thinking poses us that have "chosen God" as being better than those who do not, since their consequences are MUCH worse than ours.
How would you make that conclusion? Maybe I am an exception, but I really don't see myself as better anyone else - no matter what they chose regarding God. I see myself and everyone else (whether they call themselves Martian or Muslim or Hindu or Christian or Atheist or Blue-Mooneys) as intrinsically beautiful and marvelous because we have a divine reflection in us. I guess its all that dogmatic evangelical propaganda that got stuffed down my throat in my youth about being made in the image of God.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
quote:
I don't think it is always the case that some people reject God because of incomplete knowledge. Satan himself was in the presence and glory of God and still rejected him. Adam and Eve knew the friendship of God and yet chose to distrust God.

Do you know that Satan had a complete understanding of God? Or Adam and Eve?
I don't know - I wasn't there. But what I have read/heard is that Satan was in God's presence, in his glory, in heaven. And still chose otherwise. I don't think there's more I could say about Adam and Eve.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
[QUOTE]
Also, disobeying God is not the same as rejecting him or choosing Hell, in my opinion.

-Digory

Also, it was IMO, clearly explained that choosing to eat the forbidden fruit would result in death. I don't see a distinction in this case between disobeying and rejection. I would say that both happened.
 
Posted by Gort (# 6855) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
No, Universalist-Wannabe Indulgences. Try to keep up.

I'm not sure I want to keep up. Don't try to impress me with your oh-so-accommodating post-modern Universalist-Wannabe profiteering business plan.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
I don't want to impress you. I want to fleece you.
 
Posted by universalist (# 10318) on :
 
"All people are condemned (judged)unto salvation" Oswald Chambers. Karl Barth and George MacDonald also held to the more hopeful gospel that God saves all. Such hope can be found in the writings of Eugene Peterson and others. Such is what some have called God's "irresistable grace."

But what cinches it for me, is the human experience of "falling in love."

When I fell in love with my wife, i was hooked for life. By "seeing" her, her lovely personality and presence, she was unconciously "making me an offer i couldn't refuse." Did she defeat my "free will"? Of course not. I was fully engaged in my choice.

Those who would temporarily reject God, simply have not "seen" Him yet. No person can see God and live, so says the Bible. Meaning, when we finally see God, all our old images of Him "die" and we are resurrected into a new life involving more hopeful images of Him and His power to save. Dead forever are the old doctrines of loss.

For some, maybe most, the opportunity to finally see God may not occur until the next life (who says God can't save then?) Some in this life who "refuse" God, are only refusing distorted images of Himself as projected by the fundamentalist part of the church. God is faithful when we are faithless. He will make sure that ALL will eventually "see" him, and thereby, inexorably "fall in love" with Himself.

Bob (www.godquest.org)
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
Welcome, universalist. Thanks for posting here!
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by universalist:
For some, maybe most, the opportunity to finally see God may not occur until the next life (who says God can't save then?)

Augustine. Don't it figure?
 
Posted by MaryO (# 161) on :
 
I have come to think of the "particular judgment" after death as the Timeless Ohnosecond (google for a computing definition). In that event, God shows you EVERYTHING about your life, and your sins.

If at that point your reaction is something repentance-centered like "Lord have mercy--what have I done?" you go on to Heaven's suburbs. If your reaction is more along the lines of "Yeah, so? It's all about me" then you stay where you are. (Obviously, this isn't spatial or temporal as we understand those concepts this side of the grave.)

But I could be wrong.

MaryO
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Hmm. I don't know if we could repent hell - that was Professor Kirke's illustration. (mommy, he started it!) Honestly, I wish it were the case that we could repent in hell. Maybe it is. Or maybe hell doesn't exist. For me, looking at the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus told by Jesus doesn't indicate the possibility of repentence in hell. The story has a great ending for Lazarus but a very sad ending for the Rich Man. Maybe Jesus didn't finish the story?

When Jesus told that story He spoke of sheol or hades (the grave) and not Gehenna (the place of eternal burning, the "lake of fire" in Revelation 20). In the end, hell itself is cast into the lake of fire. How seriously do we take a passage like that?

This is one of those places where I think we're better off seeing that God, as King of the Universe, is Righteous Judge as well as loving Father - and we actually have some input into the decision whether we are treated as errant children who need help or treasonous rebels who need dispatching. IT COULD BE that the possibility of repentance in hell exists - but I would not want to hold out that hope to anyone, lest they say, "well, I can always repent later," but never get the opportunity.

The right response? IMHO, Psalm 95 gives it to us:
O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the LORD is a great God And a great King above all gods, in whose hand are the depths of the earth, the peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it, and His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness, "When your fathers tested Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work. For forty years I loathed {that} generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways. Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest."

eep!

There is no wisdom in hardening our hearts now, hoping they will be softer, later. God is not mocked *and* He is trustworthy - hell was created for the devil and his angels and if people end up there as well, it will not be for the lack of trying on God's part. He was willing to die on a cross for us - there's not much more we can ask.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jerry Boam:
I know that it has been removed from one of the creeds that the UMC uses, but isn't there a tradition about Christ descending into hell? The harrowing of hell?

I am not at all familiar with the issues around this idea, but I took it as a way of saying that the salvation offered by God in the person of Christ transcends death--that people who were not saved in this life still have the option to accept the salvation that God desires for them.

Paul expounds on the meaning of Psalm 68:18 ("You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, Even from the rebellious, That the Lord God might dwell there.") in Ephesians 4 (vss 8-10 specifically) - and that brings you into the physics of immortality: how does time work in hell? Has Jesus *already* preached to the dead and taken captivity captive? Or is that event outside of the space-time continuum that we're locked into, so that even people who have not yet died are in the crowd which Jesus addresses?

It may well be the case that, upon death, we enter another time stream and people who have rejected Him here will have an opportunity to hear Him firsthand in sheol and alter their eternal position. But I don't find anything to confirm that interpretation and revoke every other view - thus, I take the more "conservative" (as in "less risky") position and strongly encourage people to choose now.

If the Holy Spirit draws you, respond - don't wait for another opportunity. And, since it is God who woos us and saves us, isn't this all moot? Is this just a discussion so we can feel "good" about having a merciful God who would never send anyone to hell? Isn't His mercy toward us sufficient evidence of that already?
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
This is one of those places where I think we're better off seeing that God, as King of the Universe, is Righteous Judge as well as loving Father - and we actually have some input into the decision whether we are treated as errant children who need help or treasonous rebels who need dispatching. IT COULD BE that the possibility of repentance in hell exists - but I would not want to hold out that hope to anyone, lest they say, "well, I can always repent later," but never get the opportunity.

I think, in my opinion, that this is the wrong approach. "You might get a chance later, but just in case you don't, you should probably just do it now!"

I think that if we encourage people on to pursue the truth of God, they'll find it. "Seek and ye shall find" etc. So, in that light, if you believe that God's nature seems to be saying that he will save everyone, I do not think it is damaging to make that suggestion.

The point of making meaningful decisions in this life is not to secure your future in the next. Our decisions here affect us here, and affect others here, and assist in bringing the Kingdom of God (whatever you believe that means) to earth.

-Digory
 
Posted by Vikki Pollard (# 5548) on :
 
<struggling to eat enough porridge to send the tokens to Mousethief> [Help]
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
C S Lewis, in his allegory of hell "The Great Divorce" tried to tackle the problem of the sympathy of the saved for the unsaved - that is, if your child was in hell, how could you be happy in heaven, and, even more so, how could a God of Love be happy while many of his children suffer?

His argument was:
quote:
That sounds very merciful: but see what lurks behind it.... The demand of the loveless and the self-imprisoned that they should be allowed to blackmail the universe: that till they consent to be happy (on their own terms) no one else shall taste joy: that theirs should be the final power; that Hell should be able to veto Heaven.

I think here that Lewis does not refute the universalist charge, as he intends, but makes it stronger.

How can we say that we can finally condemn ourselves to eternal punishment, an absence of God? That is to demand that our will be allowed to stand in the way of God's triumph, that we be allowed to veto God's plan and cause God to suffer, that, as Lewis says, Hell should be able to veto Heaven.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
I love the great divorce but I understood this passage differently. I thought CS Lewis was saying that no one in heaven would be unhappy that the ones they loved were in hell because there is so much joy in heaven that no misery or sorrow can fit.

Let me continue this same passage that Demas was quoting from the Great Divorce:

quote:
I know it has a ground sound to say that ye'll accept no salvation which leaves even on creature in the dark outside. But watch that sophistry or ye'll make a dog in a manger the tyrant of the universe.

 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
I think (and I am going on my own presumptions, quite arrogantly!) that Demas was saying that though Lewis SAID what you quoted him as saying, his point would necessitate that no one would end up in hell. That would seem to be the way that no one in heaven would have to wait in order to have joy.

But wouldn't true joy and love hold within it the patience to wait for those who have not yet been made complete for whatever reasons?

-Digory
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
I think (and I am going on my own presumptions, quite arrogantly!) that Demas was saying that though Lewis SAID what you quoted him as saying, his point would necessitate that no one would end up in hell. That would seem to be the way that no one in heaven would have to wait in order to have joy.

But wouldn't true joy and love hold within it the patience to wait for those who have not yet been made complete for whatever reasons?

-Digory

I know what Demas was saying and that is one way to look at it. Or perhaps it is as Lewis wrote...that the suffering in hell cannot compete or quench the joy of heaven.

This is my opinion on the Great Divorce and God knows I don't know what was going through Lewis's mind - but I had thought especially with the references to choice:

quote:
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.

[italics are originals]

I guess this could come back to the original point that sometimes some people make choices and God lets them chose.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
With this point I would tend to agree with you, Joyful. You're right about what you're saying about Lewis.

Something else about the Great Divorce is how it seems to suggest that any who are in hell can also choose to leave at any time.

That is something that makes more sense to me--those that choose to remain in hell must always choose to remain there. As long as they do, they will continue to be separated from God.

-Digory
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
PS I am trying to compile an exhaustive list of scripture passages that support the concept of hell. Anyone know of a good list online or anything like that?

-Digory
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
Ack, I'm very sorry about this who's right or wrong business. I don't want to be caught up in who has the Right™ interpretation of Lewis or the bible because I think there's something I miss when I'm only trying to prove that I'm right. There is a large scope to Lewis and I'm sure I only see a portion of it. And the bible is also such a rich book like German chocolate cake. There's so much I can learn from you ProfessorKirke and Demas and I really appreciate dialoguing with you and all the others about this curious afterdeath (?) experience.

[cross posted]

[ 15. November 2005, 03:45: Message edited by: Joyfulsoul ]
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
I don't want to be caught up in who has the Right™ interpretation of Lewis or the bible because I think there's something I miss when I'm only trying to prove that I'm right.

Yes, exactly. When I said I thought you were right about what you were saying about Lewis, I meant you were right to point out that Lewis could've meant either thing. Who knows? Good show. [Smile]

quote:
There's so much I can learn from you ProfessorKirke and Demas and I really appreciate dialoguing with you and all the others about this curious afterdeath (?) experience.

I can teach you how to make one sentence take the form of eight paragraphs. That's one of my special gifts. [Biased]

-Digory
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
I can teach you how to make one sentence take the form of eight paragraphs. That's one of my special gifts. [Biased]

-Digory

Heh - I know that trick. I didn't go to uni for nothing, you know.


[eta code]

[ 15. November 2005, 03:57: Message edited by: Joyfulsoul ]
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
I've been thinking about The Why people may form different perspectives and interpretations regarding the a) existence of hell and b)who (if any) goes there. I think that these are fundamental.

I guess my understanding is that everyone misses the mark of perfection and so is unable to be in the presence of God. Not simply because it is verboten (or forbidden) but because the imperfect cannot last in the substance or presence of God - because he is Holy, Perfect, Almighty, Righteous, Divine. From what I gather from the Hebrew scriptures and the Epistles, God is so brilliant and powerful no can come close to describing his presence. Ezekiel sounds like he's on magic mushrooms. John keeps on falling down. Moses's face starts to radiate. And so forth.

Hence, Jesus comes in so that we won't be scorched and actually can enjoy God's presence.

So, my take on this is that afterdeath we are in for some serious scorching by virtue of our imperfection. The tricky bit is that God doesn't like that. I gather he thinks heaven will be lonesome with just him and all the angels. Or, rather he kind of likes us cause he made us and actually wants to be with us and doesn't want us to burn, burn, burn. So, he comes up with a plan. " How about I transform their imperfection into perfection?"

IMO, this is a great idea. Apparently, God thought it was a great idea too. So, from what I gather, this is what Jesus calls "being born again" because "I tell you the truth no on can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" and "whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son" (john chapter 3).

So, personally, just looking at my own life and the selfishness that exists - I just know that its not good. Its definately not good enough for heaven. I do (maybe this more of personal thing) understand that my sin does merit being in hell. I don't have a problem with being condemned to hell. But I am grateful that God offers me a choice of transformation. That I can chose to allow God to change me and transform me. But I'm not so certain that this transformation from death to life would take place without choosing to following Christ and enjoying his presence.

Hence, I can see that is possible for those who do not want to follow Christ or enjoy his presence to end up being scorched after death.

There are some criticisms that this interpretation is too narrow. Meaning - that it is true that our imperfections separate us from God - but Jesus died and so all - regardless whether they believe in him - are still saved and will not experience the torment of the darkness. My disagreement with this argument is because I believe that people chose their own destiny in one way or the other (hence Lewis's quote: "only two people. Those who say to God, 'Thy will be done' and those who God says, 'Thy will be done'").

Another criticism is: namely, why limit access to salvation merely during this lifetime and not the next? IE, isn't God's mercy great enough to encompass repentance after one's death with all those barriers that are present during this lifetime?

I don't have an answer to that criticism. One comment I might pose is that I don't see evidence in scripture that suggests such repentance is possible. I did mention earlier that Jesus talked about the Rich Man and Lazarus and there was no after-death repetance.

I have a hard enough time believing that there is something after death. If there's an afterlife, great. If there's no afterlife, that's great too. I'm grateful enough to have experienced a small portion of God's love on earth and to know a bit of his transformation in my life.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
I think, in my opinion, that this is the wrong approach. "You might get a chance later, but just in case you don't, you should probably just do it now!"

I think that if we encourage people on to pursue the truth of God, they'll find it. "Seek and ye shall find" etc. So, in that light, if you believe that God's nature seems to be saying that he will save everyone, I do not think it is damaging to make that suggestion.

The point of making meaningful decisions in this life is not to secure your future in the next. Our decisions here affect us here, and affect others here, and assist in bringing the Kingdom of God (whatever you believe that means) to earth.

-Digory

I agree with so much of what you're saying here (in terms of emphasis, live righteously and seek truth here) that to disagree seems like quibbling - but, OTOH, isn't that sort of what this ship is for?! I'm not sure that it *IS* God's nature to save everyone - I know God is love, in a much more profound understanding of the word than any of us have. But I also know God is not sentimental. And I also know Jesus spent a fair chunk of time warning people to make decisions that will secure their future in the next world, and even the quality of our future in the next world. I wonder to what degree our dismissal of that as a motive (even secondary or tertiary) is a little hell-inspired ("You don't want to be MERCENARY about this! A decision made in fear is a poor decision," etc.) - I'm not arguing that is the case, but I do wonder.

I can think of two reasons why God wipes our tears away in heaven: one is that we see so clearly, from that perspective, and we see so much more we might have done for the kingdom (remember the end of "Schindler's List"? that kind of thing, on a much bigger scale); the other is that we grieve the ones who made the opposite choice - and God doesn't allow hell to blackmail heaven, so He wipes away our tears and allows us to see from His perspective.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
I'm not sure that it *IS* God's nature to save everyone - I know God is love, in a much more profound understanding of the word than any of us have. But I also know God is not sentimental. And I also know Jesus spent a fair chunk of time warning people to make decisions that will secure their future in the next world, and even the quality of our future in the next world.

Hi Lynn. I'm working on compiling an exhaustive list of the times Jesus (or other scripture, for that matter) does just this, rather, seem to support hell with something he says.

Could you suggest a few places for me, that you were thinking of or referring to?

quote:
I wonder to what degree our dismissal of that as a motive (even secondary or tertiary) is a little hell-inspired ("You don't want to be MERCENARY about this! A decision made in fear is a poor decision," etc.) - I'm not arguing that is the case, but I do wonder.
In all fairness, I have to concede this point. Part of my belief that there may be no hell is grounded in a desire to not have to preach such, to me, evil sounding theology, and to in some ways coerce people to think just like me or believe just like me about things that we cannot really be sure of.

It's important to remember our motivations, to be sure. I spend enough time pointing out other people's that I am content with conceding my own. [Smile]

-Digory
 
Posted by sharkshooter (# 1589) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
This is one of those places where I think we're better off seeing that God, as King of the Universe, is Righteous Judge as well as loving Father - and we actually have some input into the decision whether we are treated as errant children who need help or treasonous rebels who need dispatching. IT COULD BE that the possibility of repentance in hell exists - but I would not want to hold out that hope to anyone, lest they say, "well, I can always repent later," but never get the opportunity.

I think, in my opinion, that this is the wrong approach. "You might get a chance later, but just in case you don't, you should probably just do it now!"

...

Let's suppose you were walking along the side of a river - one you cannot wade or swin across and there are no boats or materials to build a raft available.

On the other side of the river, some 5 miles down, your son/daughter. They are in grave danger - it seems obvious to you that death is imminent, but you believe you can prevent it. (Don't ask how, that is irrelevant).

Now, you know that there is a bridge across just ahead, but it is unstable, and may collapse if you were to try to cross it. However, you have no idea where the next crossing is, if there is one at all between here and your son/daughter.

Do you cross? Or, do you stay on this side and take your chances?

Now, let's say someone tells you "Sure, it will hold. Turst me. I have crossed it myself." Now, do you cross?

If you have a chance, why not take it? Especially if there may not be another?
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by sharkshooter:
Let's suppose you were walking along the side of a river - one you cannot wade or swin across and there are no boats or materials to build a raft available.

On the other side of the river, some 5 miles down, your son/daughter. They are in grave danger - it seems obvious to you that death is imminent, but you believe you can prevent it. (Don't ask how, that is irrelevant).

Now, you know that there is a bridge across just ahead, but it is unstable, and may collapse if you were to try to cross it. However, you have no idea where the next crossing is, if there is one at all between here and your son/daughter.

Do you cross? Or, do you stay on this side and take your chances?

Now, let's say someone tells you "Sure, it will hold. Turst me. I have crossed it myself." Now, do you cross?

If you have a chance, why not take it? Especially if there may not be another?

I understand your argument. The reason that I disagree is because I don't see it as someone trying to save their son/daughter but rather as they are trying to save themselves from a danger that they do not know exists, and in doing so, the "bridge" they must cross may or may not hold them, and it may in fact bring hurt to others (ie the way we talk about hell and damnation and how it alienates others and excludes them and makes them to believe that their loved ones may be burning for eternity when we do not in fact KNOW if this is the case).

In that circumstance, I may begin to question if I may be quite safe on my side of the river already, especially if some are saying the bridge holds but others are saying there's no danger--whose experiences do I trust more?

It's a tough question, and obviously not a perfect metaphor. I can't say I know the answer.

-Digory
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Dear LynnMagdaleneCollege

Personally I believe that St Paul was a universalist. In addition to the links already provided, I would suggest a look at this. It seems to me as if Paul believed in the ultimate reconciliation and resurrection of the whole created order. That is certainly my view.

God's creative Wisdom is in a perpetual state of sacrifice for His beloved creation, that sacrifice brought to us on Calvary, where Christ broke the chains of death imposed on creation at the Fall. As Paul says, the wages of sin is death , not eternal punishment. That accords with his Jewish background. The idea that a disembodied soul lives on in a spiritual realm gained ground in the church due to Platonism, it has nothing to do with Jesus or Paul.

This menas that the final resurrection to judgement is a resurrection of the dead. I don't for a moment say that there is no judgement nor that the consequences of this are not servere, but I remain convinced that justice demands remedial punishment, not eternal punishing, and the lovingkindness demands reconciliation of all sentient and probably all other creatures. When God raises us from the dead it will be to a new creation free from the laws of corruption of which sin forms such a big part.
 
Posted by universalist (# 10318) on :
 
"But, as already noted, Jesus was quite implicit that there is a "darkness.. where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth". That doesn't sound like a place I'd really want to go..."

When looked at another way, "darkness" and the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" are terms full of redemption.

We cannot be saved until we confront and grieve through our anger at God. This grieving must allow anger ("gnashing of teeth") and depression ("weeping") in addition to the other stages of grief. Finally, all come to "acceptance" and all become "saved". Meanwhile, for remedial purposes we may have to suffer in darkness. Even the fire of God is redemptive, never punitive:

"Such is the mercy of God that he will hold his children in the consuming fire of his distance until they pay the uttermost farthing, until they drop the purse of selfishness with all the dross that is in it, and rush home to the Father and the Son and the many brethren--rush inside the center of the life-giving fire whose outer circles burn." George MacDonald
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
As Paul says, the wages of sin is death , not eternal punishment.

It may be that Paul was a universalist; I can't manage to reconcile his writings to it myself-- (for example 1 Cor.6:9-11)

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I don't read that as saying ALL such persons have been washed, sanctified, and justified by Jesus - but that may be MY limitation. I would point out that in Rev. 20:14 Hades and death are thrown into the lake of fire - so how it all works out in the end will be how it all works out in the end, and I daresay we will all be surprised by something!
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
One thing I don't think has been mentioned is this; Jesus spoke about hell in this way:

"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
Matthew 25 v 41

The significance of that verse is deafening, especially in the context of our discussion.
It says to me that not only is hell 'everlasting', but that if the devil is placed there it must be a place where there is no redemption, no rehabilitation, no grace. But most significantly of all, that it is not the originally intended destiny of human beings - it was prepared for the devil and his angels.

Does this not shed a whole new light on the gospel of salvation? That because men are needlessly heading for a destiny that God never created them for, Jesus died to rescue/save them from this fate? Therefore, it's not a question of people being sent there - that's not God's intention at all. The Gospel is the good news of rescue before that day when death seals the decisions made in life.


BTW in that passage the word for 'everlasting/eternal' - as in everlasting punishment and eternal life - is the same. Therefore whatever chronology there is (or isn't) in heaven is the same chronology as there is in hell; and whatever 'quality' or 'character' is heaven, is similar in hell. ie if heaven is eternal because of its being filled perfectly with God, then hell is eternal in the opposing way.

That also speaks of no change in either place, and no transference from one to another.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
I would be careful in looking for a literal map of the afterlife in the parable of the sheep and goats if I were you; that is, unless you want to embrace an entirely works-based sotierology...
 
Posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard (# 368) on :
 
And if you want to praise God by saying 'Baaaa-aaaa-aaa.' forever. Can I be a Moufflon? Or a Soay? And if it has to be a goat, one of them Chamonix?

[ 16. November 2005, 10:23: Message edited by: Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard ]
 
Posted by Psyduck (# 2270) on :
 
Demas:
quote:
unless you want to embrace an entirely works-based sotierology...

I don't see this. I don't think you can import these Pauline assumptions into the parables.The whole "works" thing, it seems to me, is predicated on a misunderstanding of the demands of God's justice, and of justification. It always strikes me, for instance, that the people who had "done this for one of the least of these", in that parable, seem to place no trust at all in their works, and seem as surprised that they are 'saved' as the "Lord! Lord!" bunch are that they aren't. (I always thought that that was where Luther got James wrong. There are things we are required to do. Faith - and "faith in faith" - requires that we do them just as much.)
 
Posted by Astro (# 84) on :
 
Will God allow anyone to go to hell - begs the question - Will God force everyone to to go to Heaven?

Unless you are a Calvinist and believe in Irresistable Grace can you say that people who reject God in life will not be allowed to go on rejecting him in the afterlife?
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Astro:
Will God allow anyone to go to hell - begs the question - Will God force everyone to to go to Heaven?

Unless you are a Calvinist and believe in Irresistable Grace can you say that people who reject God in life will not be allowed to go on rejecting him in the afterlife?

This was the original question posed by JoyfulSoul which started this thread in the first place. Again, I'll simply say:

If I see you unconscious on the ground, should I say to myself a) I'll let him lay there and probably die, b) I'll do my best to try and save him, and c) I wouldn't want to force him to live without giving him a choice, so I will ask him, and if he doesn't answer, I will let him lay there.

Even in our stubborn refusals I believe there is an element of what CPR calls "implied consent".

-Digory
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
One thing I don't think has been mentioned is this; Jesus spoke about hell in this way:

"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
Matthew 25 v 41

The significance of that verse is deafening, especially in the context of our discussion.

Look at this passage, expanded just a bit.

quote:
41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

Have any of us ever seen a homeless person and not given them some food and drink? Ever not invited them into our homes? Ever NOT given them some clothes?

Hell is going to be very full (of us all) if we take this verse as literally as this.

-Digory
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Originally posted by Demas:

quote:
I would be careful in looking for a literal map of the afterlife in the parable of the sheep and goats if I were you; that is, unless you want to embrace an entirely works-based sotierology...
This is the point I tried to make earlier in this thread. All of Jesus' warnings against everlasting hell are to do with works or lack of them. As I have said on other threads, I dispute that what we translate as everlasting in our Western Bibles means that to the original Greek writers. But it is Paul and not Jesus in the synoptic tradition who is the champion of salvation by grace. The ideas just don't mix. neither do I agree that the passage from I Corinthians denies Paul's status as a universalist because he also wrote:

"For as in Adam ALL die, so in Christ shall ALL be made alive!. (I Cor 15.22)

I see no break in a coherant theology. Adam's sin is imputed to the whole human race, hence death. Christ's righteousness is also imputed to the whole, hence eternal life.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:



"For as in Adam ALL die, so in Christ shall ALL be made alive!. (I Cor 15.22)

I see no break in a coherant theology. Adam's sin is imputed to the whole human race, hence death. Christ's righteousness is also imputed to the whole, hence eternal life.

I see - if you're in Adam you die...

The 'in Adam' bit must mean if you are descended from him, related to him, part of the human race, somehow involved in human existence. It must mean that by being descended from him, we share in his guilt. Yes, I see the logic.

Now, let's extend that logic to the next bit - 'so in Christ all shall be made alive...'

Hmmm, 'in Christ'. What would be the connection here then? We are not biologically related, we're not even racially similar. What could 'in Christ' mean? Paul certainly says that ALL who are in him will be made alive, but I fail to see how everyone is automatically in Christ in the same way that by common humanity they are in Adam.

I wonder if PaulTH can enlighten.
Just what is the relationship to Jesus that the entire world has that makes us all 'in Christ'?
I understand that by birth I am 'in Adam', but I wonder just how I come to be 'in Christ'?

[ 16. November 2005, 15:43: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]
 
Posted by universalist (# 10318) on :
 
"All shall be made alive in Christ"

I think this simply means that we all belong to God, and as such, we all share somewhat the "divine image" within us. This holy image may be buried under a lot of sin and defense, but it is still there. That's why Paul said that the "call of God is irrevocable". God only answers to himself, and will do so eventually with regard to each of us...

Concerning "hell". All of God's punishments are remedial in nature, never punitive. Whatever "hell" is, it must also be redemptive, for every knee shall finally bow in worship of God (never forced: how could God care anything about that?).

But notice the fundamentalist view of Hell:

God created a place in order to punish his enemies forever and ever: a place of eternal suffering.

But each of us, far less good than God, would never consign our incorrigble children to suffer endlessly. What manner of distorted reasoning thinks that God would torture HIS enemies forever? (while asking us to forgive ours).

In so many ways, our doctrines seem to point to a monstrous God...
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Dear Mudfrog

Whether you like it or not, the New Testament can be used both to "prove" eternal damnation and it can be used to prove universal salvation. Now I, as a universalist try to explain away the damnation texts or try to find a way of minimising their severity. This is because I passionately desire the salvation of all creation.

Now you do the opposite. You ignore or try to rationalise quite explicit texts which say that all will be ultimately be reconciled to God. But surely you don't do it for the opposite reason, ie that you positively relish in the thought that most of humanity is damned. I don't suggest this of you, but I have met countless Protestants who do that very thing. The teaching in Scripture is equivocal. We can interpret it how it sits best with our passions.

My passion is that ALL will be saved. It seems from what you write here that you positively want that strait gate to be as strait as possible and only include people such as yourself.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by universalist:
Concerning "hell". All of God's punishments are remedial in nature, never punitive. Whatever "hell" is, it must also be redemptive, for every knee shall finally bow in worship of God (never forced: how could God care anything about that?).

But notice the fundamentalist view of Hell:

God created a place in order to punish his enemies forever and ever: a place of eternal suffering.

So I think the idea of hell needs to be revised.

My belief is that after death we come into a world like this one and live lives like we lived in this world.

One difference is that our true natures are more evident in that world, and so over time we will group ourselves according to our true natures. In this world we associate ourselves with other people according to our professional dictates and the various interests and obligations we have. In the next world these will be superceded by our more fundamental interests.

Heaven and hell are nothing more than the relatively pleasant or unpleasant lives that are the natural result of these associations.

There are no eternal punishments. There is only the relative degrees of happiness that are inherent in our freely chosen paths.

Pretty much the same applies to this world. I don't think that the next life is all that different. The biblical descriptions are not meant to be taken literally.

I think that it is counterproductive to think of people as being "cast into hell." I think the truth is that people just live their lives, and that some ways of living are more joyful than others.
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Originally posted by Freddy:

quote:
Heaven and hell are nothing more than the relatively pleasant or unpleasant lives that are the natural result of these associations.

Dear Freddy

You've posted these ideas before, but I've never fully understood them. Is this pleasant or unpleasant life people find before and after death in any way interchangeable? can anyone on the wrong end get themselves a place at the good end?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
Originally posted by Freddy:

quote:
Heaven and hell are nothing more than the relatively pleasant or unpleasant lives that are the natural result of these associations.

Dear Freddy

You've posted these ideas before, but I've never fully understood them. Is this pleasant or unpleasant life people find before and after death in any way interchangeable? can anyone on the wrong end get themselves a place at the good end?

Yes. The trouble is that for various reasons it is harder to do this after death.

I apologize for repeating myself on this. But I really do think that people's limited ideas about what heaven and hell are lie at the root of our problems here.
 
Posted by Luigi (# 4031) on :
 
Freddy - the problem that I have with your way round this problem (and yes I do think it is an attempt to get *round* the problem) is that the way you try to make hell more palatable is by making it into a slightly disappointing package holiday. And heaven into a slightly less disappointing holiday.

In the end it doesn't seem to fit with any concept of judgement. And it smacks of desperation. For Jesus to use such strong language - hyperbole? - about a divine Thompson's holiday seems bizarre.

Incidentally, I have a lot of sympathy with Paul TH's position. Which, whilst it isn't entirely problem free it seems to have a lot less problematic than most of the other answers articulated here.

Luigi

[ 16. November 2005, 20:48: Message edited by: Luigi ]
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Dear Freddy

As you know Christian teaching is that on death, the die is cast. Those who go to eternal bliss reside with God in eternity. Those who missed it go to outer darkness or the fires of hell where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth Eastern Christianity uses differnt terminology, but its rejects have no more hope, because there, they will come fully into God's presence, buit experience His love
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by universalist:
Whatever "hell" is, it must also be redemptive, for every knee shall finally bow in worship of God (never forced: how could God care anything about that?).

Never forced? I'm curious what do you make of this:

quote:
"I am he," Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18:5-6)
Do think all these Roman soldiers chose to fall down before Jesus?

quote:
Originally posted by universalist:
But notice the fundamentalist view of Hell:

God created a place in order to punish his enemies forever and ever: a place of eternal suffering.

Maybe I'm not a fundamentalist(though I think I believe in hell), but I think God's character is a little different. I think that enduring God's presence is either heaven or hell for people. So, it would be eternal suffering for some and eternal glory for others. It's the same presence (a burning fire) but the experience is different.

quote:
Originally posted by universalist:
But each of us, far less good than God, would never consign our incorrigble children to suffer endlessly. What manner of distorted reasoning thinks that God would torture HIS enemies forever? (while asking us to forgive ours).

I don't see it as consigning. God wants to shine light into us. I believe it will be torture for some and pleasant for others.

quote:
Originally posted by universalist:
In so many ways, our doctrines seem to point to a monstrous God...

For you, yes. For me, no. I cannot put God in box. He doesn't seem to fit.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
Whether you like it or not, the New Testament can be used both to "prove" eternal damnation and it can be used to "prove" universal salvation.

<snip>

The teaching in Scripture is equivocal. We can interpret it how it sits best with our passions.

I see no reason to add anything presently because I do not feel that I could say anything better than this.

Thanks, Paul.

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Freddy - the problem that I have with your way round this problem (and yes I do think it is an attempt to get *round* the problem) is that the way you try to make hell more palatable is by making it into a slightly disappointing package holiday. And heaven into a slightly less disappointing holiday.

In the end it doesn't seem to fit with any concept of judgement. And it smacks of desperation. For Jesus to use such strong language - hyperbole? - about a divine Thompson's holiday seems bizarre.

Luigi,

It only sounds like I'm trying to get around this problem because I am writing in response to it.

What I'm trying to convey is a more realistic idea of the next life than the charicature that Christians typically envision.

Anyone with a belief in life after death must realize that it takes place in a spiritual, not a material or natural, existence. Everything about that existence, then, is determined by the nature of spiritual, as opposed to natural, substances and phenomena.

It's not as if we know nothing about spiritual things, if we have a belief in the Bible. Many places in Scripture speak of such things as "treasure in heaven" and that people must become like children to go there. We know what they mean. We know what spiritual things are. They are internal, as opposed to natural or physical, qualities.

In a world that is spiritual "there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known" (Matthew 10:26).

What is so hard about envisioning a world based on internal qualities? Isn't it obvious how such a world, where internal qualities are visible, facilitates "the judgment"?

And if you think through what would happen in that arrangement, where people retain their basic character from this world, and separate themselves according to this basic, and now visible, character, it seems to me that this explains everything important about the nature of heaven and hell.

What Jesus said was not hyperbole. It was a way of explaining the realities of spiritual life to people who were both simple and materialistic. I guess I'm making it sound like a disappointing holiday to get away from thoughts of flames and pokers.

So is it really that hard to envision a spiritual world without just thinking of airy forms drifting in nothingness? Isn't it clear that the laws of a spiritual world would be strikingly different from those of this world? [Confused]
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
I see - if you're in Adam you die...

The 'in Adam' bit must mean if you are descended from him, related to him, part of the human race, somehow involved in human existence. It must mean that by being descended from him, we share in his guilt. Yes, I see the logic.

Now, let's extend that logic to the next bit - 'so in Christ all shall be made alive...'

Hmmm, 'in Christ'. What would be the connection here then? We are not biologically related, we're not even racially similar. What could 'in Christ' mean? Paul certainly says that ALL who are in him will be made alive, but I fail to see how everyone is automatically in Christ in the same way that by common humanity they are in Adam.

For me, this is the point - not all are "in Christ." This is the basis for the call to evangelize, first to Jerusalem, then Judea, and then all the world. If all are already in Christ, why evangelize? I read an urgency in Jesus' words - consider John 17:9, in the midst of this massive prayer from the heart of Christ, He says "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours."

Jesus does imply a lot of people in hell and a few in heaven, if choosing the narrow path and the narrow gate is what gets you into heaven (after all, He says He is the gate, the way, the door - He's pretty explicit).

This is hard and I don't know anyone personally who takes pleasure in the hard teachings of Jesus (the stereotype of the fundamentalist who wants to see "sinners" burn in hell is, in my experience, a false stereotype; maybe I've just been lucky and have only met fundamentalists more focused on grace than damnation). I certainly don't read any of Mudfrog's posts as taking satsifaction that people will be going to hell.

Maybe I've said it before in this thread (!!), but I don't see the "downside" of believing a straightforward reading of scripture, in this regard. If I believe hell is a real threat and I therefore share with more passion because I don't want to see friends, family, or folk in general wind up damned, how is that a problem? But if I speak soothing words and say, "don't worry about it, Jesus' death on the cross covers you whether you ever agree with Him or not," and I'm WRONG, I've done them a hideous disservice (and possibly brought their blood down on my head, depending on how much Ez.33 applies to us today).

In grappling with the "once saved, always saved?" question, my brother-in-law said something wise, I think: "We're better off living as if we could lose our salvation," and I think this is a place where we're better off believing hell is a real possibility. I do not see the upside of disbelieving (other than it being more comfortable! and hey, I like comfort - I'm BIG on comfort).
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
For me, this is the point - not all are "in Christ." This is the basis for the call to evangelize, first to Jerusalem, then Judea, and then all the world. If all are already in Christ, why evangelize?

In Christ, all our saved.
Go into all the world and make disciples.

We have traditionally linked up "salvation" and "discipleship." Looking back on it, I'm not sure they are equivalent. In which case, "evangelism" as we know it is somewhat misguided. That's something I've thought for a long time, actually--if only God can save/change hearts what exactly was I trying to do?

quote:
Maybe I've said it before in this thread (!!), but I don't see the "downside" of believing a straightforward reading of scripture, in this regard. If I believe hell is a real threat and I therefore share with more passion because I don't want to see friends, family, or folk in general wind up damned, how is that a problem? But if I speak soothing words and say, "don't worry about it, Jesus' death on the cross covers you whether you ever agree with Him or not," and I'm WRONG, I've done them a hideous disservice (and possibly brought their blood down on my head, depending on how much Ez.33 applies to us today).

In grappling with the "once saved, always saved?" question, my brother-in-law said something wise, I think: "We're better off living as if we could lose our salvation," and I think this is a place where we're better off believing hell is a real possibility. I do not see the upside of disbelieving (other than it being more comfortable! and hey, I like comfort - I'm BIG on comfort).

The downside to simply saying "we might as well be safe" is that we chance maintaining a very inaccurate concept of God. I understand that any theology is at risk of this by nature, but this only emphasizes my need to act on what I believe to be true rather than on what will be "the safest choice."

What if Christianity is wrong, and really Islam was right, and so your sharing is actually condemning people to hell? It's a possibility just like the others that we mentioned (regardless of which possibility seems more likely to you, they are still both possibilities). That shouldn't stop you from sharing if sharing is really what you believe you should do. But you can see how quickly the "let's just share to be safe" idea breaks down...

In fact, I think it's quite detrimental to go around living like we can lose our salvation. Quite a bit of unnecessary pressure and guilt that doesn't originate from the God I know, if you ask me.

-Digory
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
The downside to simply saying "we might as well be safe" is that we chance maintaining a very inaccurate concept of God. I understand that any theology is at risk of this by nature, but this only emphasizes my need to act on what I believe to be true rather than on what will be "the safest choice."

You make some very good points in your post, and I agree with you about the error of thinking "making converts" and "making disciples" is the same thing, but I don't see where you get "we might as well be safe" from my "share with more passion" statement. I have *never* in my life said, "we might as well be safe! Accept Jesus now because better safe than sorry!" I have said, "I'm afraid that Hell is a real place and I'm afraid that you're headed there - you want to talk about it?!" and I get a variety of answers.

And I daresay we all have an inaccurate view of God - how could a finite human being have an accurate view of an infinite God?
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
Dear Mudfrog

Whether you like it or not, the New Testament can be used both to "prove" eternal damnation and it can be used to prove universal salvation. Now I, as a universalist try to explain away the damnation texts or try to find a way of minimising their severity. This is because I passionately desire the salvation of all creation.

Now you do the opposite. You ignore or try to rationalise quite explicit texts which say that all will be ultimately be reconciled to God. But surely you don't do it for the opposite reason, ie that you positively relish in the thought that most of humanity is damned. I don't suggest this of you, but I have met countless Protestants who do that very thing. The teaching in Scripture is equivocal. We can interpret it how it sits best with our passions.

My passion is that ALL will be saved. It seems from what you write here that you positively want that strait gate to be as strait as possible and only include people such as yourself.

So you can't offer a commentary on the 'as in Christ' text then.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
So you can't offer a commentary on the 'as in Christ' text then.

You'll find such commentary all over the place if you look, Mudfrog. For a start you could read the chapter excerpt from the book The Inscapable Love of God that I mentioned before on this thread.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
In Christ, all our saved.
Go into all the world and make disciples.

We have traditionally linked up "salvation" and "discipleship." Looking back on it, I'm not sure they are equivalent. In which case, "evangelism" as we know it is somewhat misguided. -Digory [/QB]

Wait a minute, just look at the verse:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father ...."

And you say that this making disciples has nothing to do with conversion? What's the baptism for then?

"Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."
(Mark 16 v 16)

So, not 'all' are in Christ, evidently. Certainly not those who don't believe and/or are unbaptised.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
So you can't offer a commentary on the 'as in Christ' text then.

You'll find such commentary all over the place if you look, Mudfrog. For a start you could read the chapter excerpt from the book The Inscapable Love of God that I mentioned before on this thread.
I was actually asking PaulTH about his seeming unwillingness to engage on the meaning of the text and his response to me. I had looked at the text regarding being 'in Adam' and 'in Christ' and asked him for his interpretation, which he chose not to give.

Perhaps he couldn't give one.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
So you can't offer a commentary on the 'as in Christ' text then.

You'll find such commentary all over the place if you look, Mudfrog. For a start you could read the chapter excerpt from the book The Inscapable Love of God that I mentioned before on this thread.
I was actually asking PaulTH about his seeming unwillingness to engage on the meaning of the text and his response to me. I had looked at the text regarding being 'in Adam' and 'in Christ' and asked him for his interpretation, which he chose not to give.

Perhaps he couldn't give one.

Are you interested in the underlying discussion or in scoring points off PaulTH?
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
So you can't offer a commentary on the 'as in Christ' text then.

You'll find such commentary all over the place if you look, Mudfrog. For a start you could read the chapter excerpt from the book The Inscapable Love of God that I mentioned before on this thread.
I was actually asking PaulTH about his seeming unwillingness to engage on the meaning of the text and his response to me. I had looked at the text regarding being 'in Adam' and 'in Christ' and asked him for his interpretation, which he chose not to give.

Perhaps he couldn't give one.

Are you interested in the underlying discussion or in scoring points off PaulTH?
I think the fact that I presented a reasoned argument shows that I am interested in the discussion. I was expecting a reply along the same lines. It's difficult playing a tennis match when the return serve is a table tennis ball!
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
You make some very good points in your post, and I agree with you about the error of thinking "making converts" and "making disciples" is the same thing, but I don't see where you get "we might as well be safe" from my "share with more passion" statement. I have *never* in my life said, "we might as well be safe! Accept Jesus now because better safe than sorry!" I have said, "I'm afraid that Hell is a real place and I'm afraid that you're headed there - you want to talk about it?!" and I get a variety of answers.

And I daresay we all have an inaccurate view of God - how could a finite human being have an accurate view of an infinite God?

First off, you're spot on in your last line. We're all far off from the truth.

You asked what's the harm of preaching a doctrine of hell since the chance that there is a hell exists. That it would be more dangerous to not preach hell and be wrong, than to preach hell and be wrong.

What I'm saying is that for you, sharing about hell is perfectly acceptable because it is what you believe to be true, NOT because it's the safest option. However, for ME to accept your premise that I should consider sharing about hell because it's less dangerous than sharing that hell doesn't exist, well, for me that'd be intellectually dishonest and amount to preaching a doctrine of "let's be safe."

So that's all my point was--hope that's a bit clearer.

-Digory
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
What would people think if God decided that none of us had fulfilled the requirements sufficiently for salvation, and that we through our pride and misunderstanding of his will all ended up in Hell?

Is this a possibility for you who believe in hell?

-Digory
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
What would people think if God decided that none of us had fulfilled the requirements sufficiently for salvation, and that we through our pride and misunderstanding of his will all ended up in Hell?

Is this a possibility for you who believe in hell?

-Digory

1. (I may be unique in this - my word is not gospel) If I end in everlasting torment so be it. I know that I'm self-centered and I wouldn't want to fuck up heaven, too.

2. "Requirements for Salvation" sounds mighty peculiar to me. Mind explaining what exactly you mean by that? Please?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
What would people think if God decided that none of us had fulfilled the requirements sufficiently for salvation, and that we through our pride and misunderstanding of his will all ended up in Hell?

Is this a possibility for you who believe in hell?

No.

No one can get to hell by misunderstanding.

But it is fine with me to say that there are "requirements."

As I understand it, everyone has, or develops, a ruling love. This is the person's primary chosen source of delight, to which everything else that they love is connected.

There are only four possibilities for ruling loves, which exist in unlimited combinations. Those four are:
All of these loves are good and beautiful, but the love of worldly things and the love of self must be subordinated to the other two for a person to be truly happy.

So God's requirements for entering heaven are that the last two loves be subordinate to the first two.

There is no possibility of misunderstanding here, because everyone knows that this is true. Normal life everywhere on earth is critical of people who are self-centered and materialistic, and praises people who demonstrate the opposite.

Still, "requirements" is not really a good way to express this, since "the kingdom of God is within you." People have heaven or hell within them long before they leave this world - or so I have always believed.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
I like your take on the matter, Freddy.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
What would people think if God decided that none of us had fulfilled the requirements sufficiently for salvation, and that we through our pride and misunderstanding of his will all ended up in Hell?

Is this a possibility for you who believe in hell?

-Digory

1. (I may be unique in this - my word is not gospel) If I end in everlasting torment so be it. I know that I'm self-centered and I wouldn't want to fuck up heaven, too.

2. "Requirements for Salvation" sounds mighty peculiar to me. Mind explaining what exactly you mean by that? Please?

Well either you believe

a) We do nothing to effect our salvation, and God chooses that all, some or none of us are saved from the beginning. In THIS case, if you say God chooses that some are saved, it is God who decides which are and which aren't.

or

b) There is some requirement of us on our part which we must fulfill that will gain us salvation.


So if you disbelieve (a), which I think a lot of people do, then it's my understanding that you must believe some form of (b) (and I don't think this is a strawman, please let me know if there is some choice (c) I am forgetting). If you beileve in choice (b), then what if we all simply end up in hell due to not meeting the requirements for whatever reason, even though we believed that we had?

-Digory
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Oh, and by the way, don't worry, Joyful.


You won't fuck up heaven any more than the rest of us would, so I would assume God must have one of his craaaaaaazy plans for not letting that happen. [Big Grin]
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
[/qb][/QUOTE]Well either you believe

a) We do nothing to effect our salvation, and God chooses that all, some or none of us are saved from the beginning. In THIS case, if you say God chooses that some are saved, it is God who decides which are and which aren't.

or

b) There is some requirement of us on our part which we must fulfill that will gain us salvation.


So if you disbelieve (a), which I think a lot of people do, then it's my understanding that you must believe some form of (b) (and I don't think this is a strawman, please let me know if there is some choice (c) I am forgetting). If you beileve in choice (b), then what if we all simply end up in hell due to not meeting the requirements for whatever reason, even though we believed that we had?

-Digory [/QB][/QUOTE]

Yes, there is a (c) We do nothing to effect our salvation, and God has chosen that all can saved through the cross. God doesn't choose who can and can't be saved but freely offers grace to those who believe.
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Dear Mudfrog

I don't have the slightest idea what Evangelicals mean by the phrase "in Christ" which is why I didn't respond to your specific question. But we are both proficient in English even when it is a 17th century translation of koine Greek. These verses speak for themselves:

"Therefore as by the offence of one judgement came upon ALL men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon ALL men unto justification of life" (Rom 5.18)

"Who gave himself a ransom for ALL , to be testified in due time". (I Tim 2.6)

Now if you understand the word "all" in a different way than I, please tell me what it means to you. To me it is simple. All humans are under judgement for Adam's sin. All humans are restored to righteousness imputed to us by Christ, just as death was imputed to us by Adam.

As regards to the dual nature of Christ, we are saved;
" not by the conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into God". (Creed of St Athanasius BCP)

Christ has raised mortal man into the immortality of the Godhead. But I ask you again. How strait do you want the gate to be? Who do you want to find outside it? Thomas Aquinas said that one of the pleasures of heaven is to watch the damned squirming in their pains. To me such a view belongs to a psychotic.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Yes, there is a (c) We do nothing to effect our salvation, and God has chosen that all can saved through the cross. God doesn't choose who can and can't be saved but freely offers grace to those who believe.

So if God has chosen that all CAN be saved through the cross, but he doesn't choose who gets saved and who doesn't, how do you distinguish between those who get saved and those who don't? Is it not by some statement of belief? Or by some change of lifestyle? Or some belief you make in your heart? Or some other "x"?

In which case, you are back to choice (b).

-Digory
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
What I'm saying is that for you, sharing about hell is perfectly acceptable because it is what you believe to be true, NOT because it's the safest option. However, for ME to accept your premise that I should consider sharing about hell because it's less dangerous than sharing that hell doesn't exist, well, for me that'd be intellectually dishonest and amount to preaching a doctrine of "let's be safe."

So that's all my point was--hope that's a bit clearer.

-Digory

Ah, yes, thank you. IOTW, it's appropriate for me because I believe it but by the same token inappropriate for you to argue that way because you DON'T believe it. Yeah. Now, let me challenge you further (gently ruffling your feathers but not trying to make you snap): when you talk & share, does the *possibility* of hell ever come up? And if you reassure them that you believe all will ultimately be saved (again, assuming that you're arguing from a universalist perspective here, although it may be a non-existance of hell position), do you point out that many Christians disagree with your perspective on the matter?

I'm actually pretty fast to point out that there are lots of people who believe differently than me. I've had this conversation many times in discussions with non-Christians (friends, usually), some of whom are now Christians, and nobody accepted Jesus out of the fear of damnation but rather because the Holy Spirit was drawing them "with cords of love" and I happened to be there at the birthing.

Which leads me to my second question: were you raised (or taught) to believe the way you do or did you find, in reading scripture, that you disagreed with that position and came to the one you hold now?

Just curious.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
Yes, there is a (c) We do nothing to effect our salvation, and God has chosen that all can saved through the cross. God doesn't choose who can and can't be saved but freely offers grace to those who believe.

So if God has chosen that all CAN be saved through the cross, but he doesn't choose who gets saved and who doesn't, how do you distinguish between those who get saved and those who don't? Is it not by some statement of belief? Or by some change of lifestyle? Or some belief you make in your heart? Or some other "x"?

In which case, you are back to choice (b).

-Digory

We have to repent, believe, be born again.
It's the means grace comes to us, but it doesn't actually contribute to the provision of salvation. It doesn't 'gain us salvation' because that would imply merit or an 'earning' of salvation. Salvation is completely available for everyone. It is a completed act of atonement for the whole world. There is indeed the small matter of choice left to us.

Jesus said, 'except ye be converted, (changed) ye shall never enter the kingdom of heaven.'

You have to believe.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
Christ has raised mortal man into the immortality of the Godhead. But I ask you again. How strait do you want the gate to be? Who do you want to find outside it? Thomas Aquinas said that one of the pleasures of heaven is to watch the damned squirming in their pains. To me such a view belongs to a psychotic.

Thomas Aquinas was much closer to the entertainment attitudes of the Roman Circus than we are: we cannot imagine going to a hanging and taking our kids with us, because it will be 'entertaining' - yet for many hundreds of years executions were rather like that. We cannot imagine (most of us, at least) that it would be entertaining to see someone of a faith we do not share torn limb from limb and consumed by lions in a public arena - but that's the age into which Christianity was birthed. From our perspective, taking pleasure in watching the damned squirm is sick & twisted; from a different cultural perspective, it makes perfect sense.

So how much of our debate reflects our culture? Western civilization at moment really doesn't want to call anyone "bad" (except those who disagree with our politics!) and we don't want to call any behavior "bad" - I mean, we debate whether a man who straps explosives to his body, walks into a public place, and blows himself up with the idea of taking as many souls with him as possible is a "terrorist" or a "freedom fighter" - we live in a time very leery of making judgements of any sort, so of course we're going to be uncomfortable with the possibility of damnation...

I've seen drawings of Heaven-Earth-Hell in the form of a figure 8 and Earth is the point at which the lines cross - yes, we are already starting to experience our eternity; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God of the living and not the dead.

As to requirements for salvation: believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and accept His gift of life. *If* you do that, other things will follow - but that alone is sufficient to save, if the one thief on the cross was saved ("verily I say unto thee, today thou shalt be with Me in paradise"). And then you get into the parable of the soils - IF the things which *should* follow do not follow, what does that say about the life of the seed?

What *should* follow? repentance, baptism, forgiveness of others, gathering together with fellow believers for the purpose of worship, teaching and growth, good works, evidence of a transformed life, fruits of the spirit growing within you (Gal. 5:22). The *presence* of these things doesn't "save" you - Jesus did that on the cross - but the *absence* of these things may cast doubt on whether that seed of the gospel fell on good soil or not. There are people who respond to the gospel with joy and for a few weeks or a few months they're enthusiastic - and then they slip back into their old life. Are they saved? Were they ever? I don't know (and happily I don't have to know; God knows) - but it's important I look at my own life and "work out my salvation with fear and trembling" and "examine myself, to make sure I am in the faith."

Again, doing those things doesn't save me, but it may keep me on track and I'd rather run into heaven, embracing my Savior, than to back into heaven looking longingly at the world (and I spent a lot of years doing that).

Knowing all analogies are imperfect, I still wonder if this one might work: the polio vaccine will save everyone from polio - but you must receive the vaccination to be saved from polio; simply living in a world where the vaccine exists doesn't keep you healthy. I believe Jesus died for all (unlimited atonement, in that sense - can you tell I'm not a Calvinist?!) but it looks to me that not all will receive Him as Savior.
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Originally posted by LynnMagdaleneCollege:

quote:
but it looks to me that not all will receive Him as Savior .

This needs some unpacking. What do you mean by "receive" Him as saviour? An intellectual assent to a creed? A life lived in imitation of Him? ie take up your cross and follow me. Membership of a "pure" Protestant, hell fire, Scripture only, loveless sect?

To me, receiving Christ as saviour means progressively learning to obey Him. To feed the widows and orphans, to visit those misplaced in jail. To turn the other cheek and forgive seventy times seven. Your "born again" cop out which means that you don't have to do anything because you are "saved" is shallow, convenient religion with no connection to the radical change Jesus requires of us.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
But I ask you again. How strait do you want the gate to be? Who do you want to find outside it? Thomas Aquinas said that one of the pleasures of heaven is to watch the damned squirming in their pains. To me such a view belongs to a psychotic.

Yes, that's pretty sick. It would, in fact, be a violation of the rules of heaven.

The thing is, heaven is not a place that you gain entrance to. It is a state of being that is internal to you. "The kingdom of God is within you."

So no one is actually held out. People simply can't come into the joyful state who don't have the elements of joy within them.

Those elements are love to God and to the neighbor. They are known to everyone, within reach of everyone, but impossible to force on anyone.

If people don't love God and the neighbor they can't truly be happy, since this is where happiness lies. Living out these loves is what heaven is.

Anyone at any time can reject self-centered and worldly loves and choose instead to love God and the neighbor. Experience tells me, however, that this is a hard transition to make, and not everyone is going to do it.

The important thing, though, is the realization that heaven and hell are not places but internal states of being - whether experienced in this life or the next.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
Thomas Aquinas said that one of the pleasures of heaven is to watch the damned squirming in their pains. To me such a view belongs to a psychotic.

Thomas Aquinas was much closer to the entertainment attitudes of the Roman Circus than we are: we cannot imagine going to a hanging and taking our kids with us, because it will be 'entertaining' - yet for many hundreds of years executions were rather like that. We cannot imagine (most of us, at least) that it would be entertaining to see someone of a faith we do not share torn limb from limb and consumed by lions in a public arena - but that's the age into which Christianity was birthed. From our perspective, taking pleasure in watching the damned squirm is sick & twisted; from a different cultural perspective, it makes perfect sense.
I think Thomas Aquinas's statement is as applicable now is at was then.

I'm curious as to how many of us watch R-rated movies (PG-17+ for UK folks)? Or the daily news?

It is a misrepresentation of current reality to suggest that our society is not sick & twisted if you haven't happened to notice the incline of horrifically violent movies churned out by (un)Hollywood. Kill Bill (practically anything done by Quentin Tarantino), any war movie, most current movies done by Spielburg...the horror movies...That's entertainment, folks and we pay to watch it. We pay to watch limbs being torn off, flesh being ripped apart, and bodies gruesomely mutilated. And we pay for our military, too. We pay for our military to torture others in really horrible ways. It takes real effort to avoid finding out the ways humanity has become inhumanity.

But obviously that's a tangent.

PaulTH*, I think it is misrepresentation and grave injustice to suggest that Mudfrog or me or anyone else who may consider the existence of hell as sadistic hedonists. I assure you that it fills me with grief and sadness and I'm sure that Mudfrog and anyone else feel the same way. We are not happy that the world does terrible things. We do not take pleasure in the death of the wicked and neither does God.

Can you not hear the grief and anquish in these scriptures?

quote:
Ezekiel 18:23
Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

Ezekiel 18:32
For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!

Ezekiel 33:11
Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'

I realize that you may interpret them differently and that's fine. But please don't try to say that the God we worship takes pleasure in sending people to hell.
 
Posted by Teufelchen (# 10158) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
I'm curious as to how many of us watch R-rated movies (PG-17+ for UK folks)?

Pedant point: I'm not sure where 'PG-17' movies come from. UK ratings are Uc, U, PG, PG (with warning), 12, 15, 18, and the formerly-X-but-now-18 business for sex movies. I think '15' or '18' equates roughly with an 'R'.

T.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
opps. I had put pg15 but I couldn't remember if it was equivalent to an "R" or not.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
To me, receiving Christ as saviour means progressively learning to obey Him. To feed the widows and orphans, to visit those misplaced in jail. To turn the other cheek and forgive seventy times seven. Your "born again" cop out which means that you don't have to do anything because you are "saved" is shallow, convenient religion with no connection to the radical change Jesus requires of us.

Did you actually *read* my post? How do you get here (looks above) from reading my post?! I am amazed...
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
To me, receiving Christ as saviour means progressively learning to obey Him. To feed the widows and orphans, to visit those misplaced in jail. To turn the other cheek and forgive seventy times seven. Your "born again" cop out which means that you don't have to do anything because you are "saved" is shallow, convenient religion with no connection to the radical change Jesus requires of us.

Did you actually *read* my post? How do you get here (looks above) from reading my post?! I am amazed...
You said:
quote:
As to requirements for salvation: believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and accept His gift of life. *If* you do that, other things will follow - but that alone is sufficient to save, if the one thief on the cross was saved
That by itself puts *born again sensitive* people like Paul and myself on alert. What you say here is *not* what Jesus said about salvation.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
So if God has chosen that all CAN be saved through the cross, but he doesn't choose who gets saved and who doesn't, how do you distinguish between those who get saved and those who don't? Is it not by some statement of belief? Or by some change of lifestyle? Or some belief you make in your heart? Or some other "x"?

In which case, you are back to choice (b).

-Digory

We have to repent, believe, be born again.
It's the means grace comes to us, but it doesn't actually contribute to the provision of salvation. It doesn't 'gain us salvation' because that would imply merit or an 'earning' of salvation. Salvation is completely available for everyone. It is a completed act of atonement for the whole world. There is indeed the small matter of choice left to us.

Jesus said, 'except ye be converted, (changed) ye shall never enter the kingdom of heaven.'

You have to believe.

So, you have to believe.
Meaning, before you believe you are not saved.
In other words, you do not have salvation before you believe.
Once you believe, you have salvation.
Belief, then, gains you salvation. -- option (b)

I'm sorry, but this is important. You cannot paint it any other way.


-Digory
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
(gently ruffling your feathers but not trying to make you snap):

Whoa there! I'm a married man! [Hot and Hormonal] [Biased] [Two face]

quote:
...when you talk & share, does the *possibility* of hell ever come up? And if you reassure them that you believe all will ultimately be saved, do you point out that many Christians disagree with your perspective on the matter?

<snip>

Which leads me to my second question: were you raised (or taught) to believe the way you do or did you find, in reading scripture, that you disagreed with that position and came to the one you hold now?

1) Well, no. I do not deny that other Christians believe in hell, but reminding them of this fact would seem quite like reminding them that Christians believe in Christ. I think the concept is quite well known and doesn't need much reinforcement.

2)I was raised as an American Northern Baptist and I believed passionately in a general American Protestant Evangelical theology that included the doctrine of hell and many other traditional Christian doctrines. Over the past five years I have experienced a slow transformation through readings, thought, meditation, conversations (esp here), and general inspiration. That's a brief intro to my story. If you want to get a little idea of some of my opinions, you can check out my blog--the link is in my sig. [Smile]

-Digory
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
That by itself puts *born again sensitive* people like Paul and myself on alert. What you say here is *not* what Jesus said about salvation.

John 3:3 - Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

I don't know what you pack into the terminology (lots of people pack lots of weird stuff into it) but the whole concept and language of born again comes directly from the mouth of Jesus Christ. I believe all those good things (the growth, the works) follow coming into agreement with Jesus (first about being sinner who needs salvation and second to accept His gift of salvation - and if they don't follow, as with the previously referenced parable of the soils, one questions whether salvation actually has taken place) - but if it is good works and growth that follow which *save us* then the person who accepts Jesus as savior and is killed by a drunk-driver on the way home the following week is not saved. Jesus, in speaking to the one thief on the cross, seems to be saying "because you agree with Me and have trusted Me for your salvation, you are saved." The man had no opportunity to grow, 'to progressively learn to obey Him' - and thus in your book the man is not saved. Happily, you and I do not make those decisions - but if God chooses to say, "this one is accepted in the Beloved," I don't want to disagree with Him.

But, *if you read my post*, you saw that I am not dismissing any of the 'progressive elements of growth' and recognize that talk is cheap. Jesus says, "If you love Me, you will obey Me" and there's LOTS to obey! I do not disagree with any of that. But yeah, "born again" is a real thing. Does it happen in a moment? For some people, I'm sure it does. Does salvation happen progressively, yeah, I think for others they grow into it, that there is no single point at which they can say, "up until here I was a heathen but after that point I am God's child." (in fact, to a great degree that is my situation - I can give a number of profound interactions with the Lord but I cannot tell you at what point, bang! I was saved). It's just not that simple and I never suggested it was.

I think there's an element of "two sides of a coin" in all this and we argue "it's heads!" and "NO, it's tails!" but at the end of the day it's a coin and both aspects are irrevocably part of it.
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
So if God has chosen that all CAN be saved through the cross, but he doesn't choose who gets saved and who doesn't, how do you distinguish between those who get saved and those who don't? Is it not by some statement of belief? Or by some change of lifestyle? Or some belief you make in your heart? Or some other "x"?

In which case, you are back to choice (b).

-Digory

We have to repent, believe, be born again.
It's the means grace comes to us, but it doesn't actually contribute to the provision of salvation. It doesn't 'gain us salvation' because that would imply merit or an 'earning' of salvation. Salvation is completely available for everyone. It is a completed act of atonement for the whole world. There is indeed the small matter of choice left to us.

Jesus said, 'except ye be converted, (changed) ye shall never enter the kingdom of heaven.'

You have to believe.

So, you have to believe.
Meaning, before you believe you are not saved.
In other words, you do not have salvation before you believe.
Once you believe, you have salvation.
Belief, then, gains you salvation. -- option (b)

I'm sorry, but this is important. You cannot paint it any other way.


-Digory

OK - to receive salvation you have to believe (as in have faith in Christ to save you).

But if b) means you can actually contribute anything to making salvation effective - religious observance, good works, merits etc, then no. Grace, through faith, alone.

[ 18. November 2005, 05:55: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
We're rehashing the free will v. irresistable grace arguments of the Arminian v. Calvinist axis.

I'm sure it must be a universalist truism that you can never find a Calvinist when you need one.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
That by itself puts *born again sensitive* people like Paul and myself on alert. What you say here is *not* what Jesus said about salvation.

John 3:3 - Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

I don't know what you pack into the terminology (lots of people pack lots of weird stuff into it) but the whole concept and language of born again comes directly from the mouth of Jesus Christ. I believe all those good things (the growth, the works) follow coming into agreement with Jesus (first about being sinner who needs salvation and second to accept His gift of salvation - and if they don't follow, as with the previously referenced parable of the soils, one questions whether salvation actually has taken place) - but if it is good works and growth that follow which *save us* then the person who accepts Jesus as savior and is killed by a drunk-driver on the way home the following week is not saved. Jesus, in speaking to the one thief on the cross, seems to be saying "because you agree with Me and have trusted Me for your salvation, you are saved." The man had no opportunity to grow, 'to progressively learn to obey Him' - and thus in your book the man is not saved. Happily, you and I do not make those decisions - but if God chooses to say, "this one is accepted in the Beloved," I don't want to disagree with Him.

But, *if you read my post*, you saw that I am not dismissing any of the 'progressive elements of growth' and recognize that talk is cheap. Jesus says, "If you love Me, you will obey Me" and there's LOTS to obey! I do not disagree with any of that. But yeah, "born again" is a real thing.

No question that "born again" is a real thing. The question is whether it happens by faith alone.

The "born again" that I am sensitive to is the one that comes with the assumption that it happens when a person accepts Jesus.

I would say that "born again" refers to the new will that God gives to those who both believe in and obey Him. This is formed over time.

The arguments about the thief on the cross, and the person who accepts Christ and is then somehow dies, as being evidence of salvation by faith are both spurious. Jesus knew the thief's heart, and this is what matters. That is, He knew how he would live if given the chance. Similarly, with the person who dies shortly after conversion, the question is what that person is actually like in their heart. Some people do make profound u-turns in their life, but most people progress more slowly over time. What counts is their actual quality, and whether they love themselves and the world or God and the neighbor.

Jesus' statements about salvation are almost all about obedience and turning away from "wickedness." Belief is also an essential element. I have a long list of passages if you are interested. But most of them are along the lines of "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15.14).
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
The "born again" that I am sensitive to is the one that comes with the assumption that it happens when a person accepts Jesus.

I would say that "born again" refers to the new will that God gives to those who both believe in and obey Him. This is formed over time.

The arguments about the thief on the cross, and the person who accepts Christ and is then somehow dies, as being evidence of salvation by faith are both spurious. Jesus knew the thief's heart, and this is what matters. That is, He knew how he would live if given the chance. Similarly, with the person who dies shortly after conversion, the question is what that person is actually like in their heart. Some people do make profound u-turns in their life, but most people progress more slowly over time. What counts is their actual quality, and whether they love themselves and the world or God and the neighbor.

Jesus' statements about salvation are almost all about obedience and turning away from "wickedness." Belief is also an essential element. I have a long list of passages if you are interested. But most of them are along the lines of "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15.14). [/QB]

So, when IS a person born again? At what point is the transaction done?

The scripture is full of the experience being decuisive - a moment of repentance, passing from death to life, being brought from the kingdom of darkness into the 'kingdom of the Son he loves'.#

Also, don't forget, most peoople Jesus was talking to were Jews - god-fearing, or at least in possession of knowledge about the Law. It's appropriate for them to be told to 'obey', leave wickedness behind and practice righteousness.

However, we are not Jews, we are gentiles. When the gentiles came into the church there had to be a lot more to the Gospel than simply obeying God and the Torah.

In any case, being born again is accurately described as being born of the Spirit or born from above. There is no action on our part here. It is entirely a work of the Holy Spirit in the one who believes in the only begotten Son of God.
 
Posted by Evo1 (# 10249) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Paul - Titus 3:3-8:
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Doesn't the imagery of "rebirth" conjure up ideas of the very point at the beginning of faith? Growth comes after. Birth is instantaneous (in comparison).

I don't think anyone here is advocating a life of sordid sin - though continuing to trust in God to save us anyway. But I only say that we are not saved because of all the good deeds we do - they will help us to grow no doubt - but the saving is 100% mercy driven

Love,

Evo1
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Evo1:
I don't think anyone here is advocating a life of sordid sin - though continuing to trust in God to save us anyway. But I only say that we are not saved because of all the good deeds we do - they will help us to grow no doubt - but the saving is 100% mercy driven

Has to be one or the other, then? Can't be both?
 
Posted by Evo1 (# 10249) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Evo1:
But I only say that we are not saved because of all the good deeds we do - they will help us to grow no doubt - but the saving is 100% mercy driven

Has to be one or the other, then? Can't be both?
Hang on, I'll just have another look what Paul said.

"he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy."

Yes, I'd still say 100% mercy.

Love,

Evo1

[ 18. November 2005, 14:06: Message edited by: Evo1 ]
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Originally posted by Evo1:

quote:
but the saving is 100% mercy driven

I agree with this, which is why I believe that all will eventually be saved. Who can be left out of 100% mercy?
 
Posted by Evo1 (# 10249) on :
 
That's something quite different from what I said Paul. Can I duck out of discussing semantics just this once?

Love,

Evo1
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
So, when IS a person born again? At what point is the transaction done?

I would compare it to the moment of physical fitness. It is the moment you love God and the neighbor. Not a moment at all, but a relative state.
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
In any case, being born again is accurately described as being born of the Spirit or born from above. There is no action on our part here. It is entirely a work of the Holy Spirit in the one who believes in the only begotten Son of God.

It is absolutely the work of God's mercy and the work of the Holy Spirit. But so is the work of reforming the tax codes. So is doing your job.

Someone still has to do it.

They do it, however, from God's power, not their own.

Jesus says repeatedly that there is action on our part here. But He also says "without Me you can do nothing."
 
Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
So, when IS a person born again? At what point is the transaction done?

At the eternal moment of God's creation.

But in time, during our lives on earth, we come to realise it perhaps gradually, or sometimes instantly, or sometimes not at all.
 
Posted by ken (# 2460) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by universalist:
For some, maybe most, the opportunity to finally see God may not occur until the next life (who says God can't save then?)

Augustine. Don't it figure?
And where did he say that? References please...

And didn't the Orthodox church pronounce Origen a heretic for saying that there could be salvation in a future state after death?
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
No question that "born again" is a real thing. The question is whether it happens by faith alone.

The "born again" that I am sensitive to is the one that comes with the assumption that it happens when a person accepts Jesus.

I would say that "born again" refers to the new will that God gives to those who both believe in and obey Him. This is formed over time.

The arguments about the thief on the cross, and the person who accepts Christ and is then somehow dies, as being evidence of salvation by faith are both spurious. Jesus knew the thief's heart, and this is what matters. That is, He knew how he would live if given the chance. Similarly, with the person who dies shortly after conversion, the question is what that person is actually like in their heart. Some people do make profound u-turns in their life, but most people progress more slowly over time. What counts is their actual quality, and whether they love themselves and the world or God and the neighbor.

Jesus' statements about salvation are almost all about obedience and turning away from "wickedness." Belief is also an essential element. I have a long list of passages if you are interested. But most of them are along the lines of "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15.14).

Thanks, Freddy - this clarifies your position better for me - there are things I agree with completely but also some things where I'm either continuing to misunderstand (a distinct possibility!) *or* we will simply disagree (and that's okay, too - God knows how it is and happily He knows our hearts, too!).

I guess the idea that the thief on the cross is a spurious example because Jesus knew his heart - Jesus knows ALL our hearts - He knows when my heart's desire is to follow Him but my flesh is dominating me. Because I indulge my flesh and eat half a bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (*sigh* confession - it occasionally happens), am I not saved? I'm trying to understand how being "born again" is not faith alone and doesn't happen when one accepts Jesus... I'm not arguing that the work is finished* (in fact, it's just started - the person is "born again" and now the REAL work can begin - but they are saved).

As I said, I may just be misunderstanding and we may be using terminology in conflicting ways, too (ah! the joys of English! such a wonderful language! colorful, but not always precise).


*speaking of "finished," my Dad growing up in Iowa lived & worked with (farming) a group who believed they were fully sanctified when they accepted Jesus, which lead to the most complex double-think and twisting of behavior. Much easier to simply own that I am still a sinner, tho' saved by grace, and the "sinner" -while dying- still kicks up a ruckus now and then.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
In any case, being born again is accurately described as being born of the Spirit or born from above. There is no action on our part here. It is entirely a work of the Holy Spirit in the one who believes in the only begotten Son of God.

It is absolutely the work of God's mercy and the work of the Holy Spirit. But so is the work of reforming the tax codes. So is doing your job.
You know, I thought I understood what you're saying and now I'm completely confused - are you saying the work of reforming the tax codes is the work of the Holy Spirit?! somehow I don't think that's what you mean but I'm having a very hard time parsing this differently... help? clarify, please?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Sorry. I'm not saying that it is God who reforms the tax code particularly. It may be the devil for all I know. [Devil]

My point is that all good things are done by God. Humans have no power to do anything that is good.

But just as we appear to ourselves to have the power to reform the tax code, or do anything else that we see as good, so we also appear to ourselves to have the power to reform our lives.

It is important that we act on that appearance, just as it is important that we try to do other good things in our life.

Still, all good things are from God, not human power.

Does that make it clearer?
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Sorry. I'm not saying that it is God who reforms the tax code particularly. It may be the devil for all I know. [Devil] <snip>
It is important that we act on that appearance, just as it is important that we try to do other good things in our life.

Still, all good things are from God, not human power.

Does that make it clearer?

YES, thank you!!! Although I am in a small prayer group with someone who does, indeed, reform the tax code here in the USA...! I take comfort in knowing there's at least one faithful praying soul working for the I.R.S.!
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
I am in a small prayer group with someone who does, indeed, reform the tax code here in the USA...! I take comfort in knowing there's at least one faithful praying soul working for the I.R.S.!

May God bless his/her efforts!

To my mind this is one of the big sticking points of Christianity. Everyone feels that their life is from themselves, and that they have the power to do good or to do evil.

But the Christian knows that we can't do the least good from ourselves.

Unfortunately, we then get into the quagmire of thinking that our efforts to keep the commandments are unimportant to our salvation. Or even that it is impossible to make efforts in that direction.

Yet everyone in the world knows that people are able, to some extent anyway, to control their behavior. Human society is based on this assumption.

How do we extract ourselves from this conundrum?

My opinion is that we get out of it by acknowledging that even though we seem to ourselves to produce effort to avoid evil and do good, the truth is that it is the Holy Spirit working in us that gives us this ability.

At the same time, in His mercy God attributes these things to us, and forms us in accordance with our thoughts and actions over our lifetime. This is our Book of Life (Revelation 20.12). This is our free choice at work - a gift from God.

We then remain to eternity in the form that we have chosen and God has made for us. This form is essentially the form of what we love, because we are what we love. It changes and develops to eternity, but its basic nature, once the physical body in which it was developed dies, remains stable forever.

It is too easy to get stuck back on the point that God does everything, we can do nothing, and therefore our efforts to keep the commandments are meaningless. [Disappointed]

I can see why this is a sticking point, but it is hard to understand why people find it so persuasive. Especially in the face of Jesus' many statements that would seem to contradict it. [Confused]
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
To my mind this is one of the big sticking points of Christianity. Everyone feels that their life is from themselves, and that they have the power to do good or to do evil. <snip>

How do we extract ourselves from this conundrum?

It's a good question, Freddy - I think it goes to the place of our simplicity. Paul exhorts us to grow up in our faith and I think lots of people don't. Awhile back, God spent a whole year teaching me about tension - I kept resisting it, looking for a way to end up at one end or the other of a situation or an issue - looking for a way to resolve the conundrum, as it were! And what God showed me is that *tension* is an inherent part of our experience as humans and as Christians. As I resisted this (!! - I'm stubborn), God reminded me that, as a guitarist, I should appreciate tension - one can't play a guitar without the proper tension on the strings; not only that, but the proper tension on each string in relation to all the other strings!

So I've come to think a lot of this is about learning to live in the tension between two apparently contradictory points, and accepting that some people live closer to one end or the other. Many of the great debates in Christianity can, I think, be seen appropriately in these terms. So this "guitar string" attaches on one end to salvation by grace alone, through faith, and that not of ourselves - and runs down to the other extreme of "if you love Me, do My works!" Yes, I can do nothing good of myself - but if I sit on my butt, I do nothing good, period. There's another "guitar string" which attaches at "God is good and loving and doesn't want anyone to perish" and the other end attaches at "God is perfect and righteous and cannot look upon sin." Another huge point of tension, imho.

Personally, I don't like tension. But I'm trying to learn to live in it, with grace... *sigh*
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Very nicely said, LMC. Tension certainly is an important ingredient in life.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
So this "guitar string" attaches on one end to salvation by grace alone, through faith, and that not of ourselves - and runs down to the other extreme of "if you love Me, do My works!" Yes, I can do nothing good of myself - but if I sit on my butt, I do nothing good, period. There's another "guitar string" which attaches at "God is good and loving and doesn't want anyone to perish" and the other end attaches at "God is perfect and righteous and cannot look upon sin."

And the music that emerges is more beautiful than any of us could have imagined. [Smile]

-Digory
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
I'm enough of a semi-Pelagian to believe that God can only do His saving work in us when we co-operate with Him, but it seems to me that the question of free will is what divides us over this issue. Everyone seems to believe that God wills the salvation of all and has provided for it in the atoning work of Christ, but we differ on the extent to which human free will could prevent God from achieving what He wants and what was His plan for creation.

It is the multiplicity of wills within creation which is responsible for all sin and disorder, and all separation both of creatures from God and from one another. But if God allows that to continue into eternity He has failed to achieve His will which is the reconciliation of all. God cannot fail. So sooner or later, what we consider to be our free will is just the freedom God allows us, inorder to experience the pains of separation, which lead us to repentance. James put it thus:

"Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Wheras ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life?It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that". (Jas 4.13-15)
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
It is the multiplicity of wills within creation which is responsible for all sin and disorder, and all separation both of creatures from God and from one another. But if God allows that to continue into eternity He has failed to achieve His will which is the reconciliation of all. God cannot fail. So sooner or later, what we consider to be our free will is just the freedom God allows us, inorder to experience the pains of separation, which lead us to repentance.

Amazingly, I agree with all of this. God cannot fail, and therefore humanity will be saved irregardless of human freedom.

But does the success of the long term goal mean that that every individual must have exactly the same long term outcome? How much differentiation is acceptable?
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
I got confused there, Freddy.

Success of the long-term goal = everyone is saved, right?

So what is the long-term outcome you speak of, if it's different than that?

-Digory
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
May I pose a question to Demas, Freddy, and PaulTh*, and Professor Kirke?

When you get to a scripture which may indicate a hell or a separation of the peoples of earth into two different destinies - how do you respond?

[ 21. November 2005, 03:52: Message edited by: Joyfulsoul ]
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
That's a great question, JoyfulSoul.

First, not to be an ass, but I have to remind everyone that what I do with hell verses is the same thing that other people do with unitarian verses. You have to do some explaining away of the verses which don't line up with your own way of thinking because the Bible is *NOT* crystal clear as some like to think. (I know you're not one of those, Joyful, thank God.)

Next, in answer to your question:

I find that Hell verses tend to fall into two categories (probably more but these are the ones I notice often).

1) Speaking of punishments or separations or consequences of our actions that are temporary in this lifetime.

2) A hyperbole referring to the seriousness of Jesus' words, and referring to some sort of eternal afterlife of punishment.

The (2) verses are hard, and sometimes I just have to admit that I don't really know.

-Digory
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Unitarian verses???


No. Universalist verses. Wow.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
May I pose a question to Demas, Freddy, and PaulTh*, and Professor Kirke?

When you get to a scripture which may indicate a hell or a separation of the peoples of earth into two different destinies - how do you respond?

Following on from professorkirke, an initial glib answer:

When you get to a scripture which may indicate the universal saving triumph of God - how do you respond?

Tom Talbott argues here that there are passages in the New Testament which have been used to show:

quote:
(1) It is God's redemptive purpose for the world (and therefore his will) to reconcile all sinners to himself;

(2) It is within God's power to achieve his redemptive purpose for the world;

(3) Some sinners will never be reconciled to God, and God will therefore either consign them to a place of eternal punishment, from which there will be no hope of escape, or put them out of existence altogether.

Obviously, these three points are not compatible with each other. Briefly, Calvinists deny (1), Arminians (2) and Universalists (3); but no matter what their theology, everyone has to confront difficult passages.

Which is the weakest proposition? I feel that the biblical witness is firm and clear on (1) and (2), and that the examples of (3) are "typically lifted from contexts of parable, hyperbole, and great symbolism" (Talbott).

In other words, I interpret scriptures speaking of endless punishment and separation of God in the light of the other scriptures stating that God loves us, is almighty, and that love doesn't fail.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
When you get to a scripture which may indicate the universal saving triumph of God - how do you respond?

To be honest, I have not been introduced to this approach. So,I looked up the verse at your sig and when I read the chapter surrounding it (1 cor 15) it is talking about the resurrection of christ and why we should believe he is resurrected. Then it says that Christ will take those who belong to him. This phrase could be refering to verse two of this same chapter. "By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you."

I am guessing there are there other verses that more clearly express a universalist theology. But honestly I am not familiar with them.


quote:
In other words, I interpret scriptures speaking of endless punishment and separation of God in the light of the other scriptures stating that God loves us, is almighty, and that love doesn't fail.
Okay, that answers my question. Its funny how we can believe the same thing but come up with different interpretations of it.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
I am guessing there are there other verses that more clearly express a universalist theology. But honestly I am not familiar with them.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
I am guessing there are there other verses that more clearly express a universalist theology. But honestly I am not familiar with them.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2
I take it, the universalist position is that verse means that everyone's sins are atoned for hence everyone goes to heaven and no one goes hell (rather then saying Jesus' sacrifice was good enough for everyone in the world and not just for the Jews and so that means any gentile or barbarian can also choose to follow Christ).
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven. By golly that's everybody.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
I take it, the universalist position is that verse means that everyone's sins are atoned for hence everyone goes to heaven and no one goes hell (rather then saying Jesus' sacrifice was good enough for everyone in the world and not just for the Jews and so that means any gentile or barbarian can also choose to follow Christ).

Right, because what you've just done in this reply and in the reply to Demas above is to reinterpret passages to fit your theology. Since we can't really KNOW which interpretation is correct, we have to make a good guess. You made your guess based on the context you could find that would support a belief in hell, showing it's possible that this may not be a proof against hell, whereas Demas used context that would support his own position (what he knows of God, what other verses say about God's limitless, unending love, etc.).

It comes down to a choice, in a lot of ways.

-Digory
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
When you get to a scripture which may indicate the universal saving triumph of God - how do you respond?

To be honest, I have not been introduced to this approach. So,I looked up the verse at your sig and when I read the chapter surrounding it (1 cor 15) it is talking about the resurrection of christ and why we should believe he is resurrected. Then it says that Christ will take those who belong to him. This phrase could be refering to verse two of this same chapter. "By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you."

I am guessing there are there other verses that more clearly express a universalist theology. But honestly I am not familiar with them.

I've posted this a couple of times before, but will again - it's only about 25 easily read pages long - chapter excerpt from the book The Inscapable Love of God. It covers a lot of Paul, and looks at various passages (including the one in my sig) from a Universalist apologetic viewpoint. Read it - it's good, and free [Cool]

I would argue that to claim that the second 'all' in 1 cor 15 actually only means 'some of the first all', you need to import that idea into the passage from outside.

(btw, who belongs to Christ? Jesus in Matthew 11:27 says that "All things have been committed to me by my Father.")

I'll mention a few scriptural highlights. I'm not attempting to prooftext, just to point out some prima facie examples to show I'm not just making this up [Biased] The framework through which you view these texts may lead you to a different understanding of them; but here they are:

quote:

Romans 5:18 - "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men."

Romans 11:32 - "For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all."

Philippians 2:10 - 11 - "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father"

Luke 3:6 - "And all mankind will see God's salvation."

John 12:32: "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."

Ephesians 1:9-10 - "And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ."

1 Timothy 4:10 - "(and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe"

Titus 2:11: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men"

Colossians 1:19-20 "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross."

Plus all the usual passages about Jesus taking away the sins of the world, God loving us, God caring for us, virtually all of Paul and most of the New Testament and Isaiah... [Razz]

(Note that I'm not arguing that these passages support the idea that someone can be reconciled to God otherwise than through Jesus - that's another discussion for another day)
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
It comes down to a choice, in a lot of ways.

-Digory

I think that's the conclusion I've also come to.
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Dear Joyful Soul

Like the others who replied, I have to explain away things that are difficult. For me this covers three areas.

1. Most of Jesus' threats of eternal damnation are for wrong deeds, not for unbelief or failure to accept Christ as saviour. They are therefore, in any event incompatible with the prevailing salvation by creed so important to Christianity.

2. There is a difference of opinion, and has been ever since the early Church Fathers as to whether what we translate as eternal actually means what we think it does. There is a good case for translating eternal punishment as age lasting chastisement.

3. Most of Christ's references to eternal punishment are pre-Easter, when perhaps due to kenosis, He wasn't totally aware of the grand cosmic scale of His mission which only became apparent after the resurrection. During His ministry, he sahred much of His theology with the Jewish culture in which He was raised. Some Jewish groups may have believed in eternal damnation, others didn't. It forms no part of post Temple Rabbinic Judaism.

These are the ways I rationalise that the universalist proof texts carry more weight, but we all use the Bible in that way, if only we all would admit it.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
(btw, who belongs to Christ? Jesus in Matthew 11:27 says that "All things have been committed to me by my Father.")

I think I've mentioned it before, but Jesus' prayer in John 17:9 "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours." - which, as I read it, indicates a division between the portion of humanity which God has given Him and the portion of humanity which He describes as "the world." In the context, it starts by looking pretty universalist and then shifts. Hard stuff - I think it goes back to tension...

Chuck Missler (a bible teacher I get a kick out of) says, "God is the one who doesn't get what He wants" - referencing the fact that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked will die and suffer and His righteousness requires it be so. It's an interesting proposition.

quote:
(Note that I'm not arguing that these passages support the idea that someone can be reconciled to God otherwise than through Jesus - that's another discussion for another day)
So, not to derail the thread, is there someplace where you're discussing your views on reconciliation with God through a source other than Jesus?
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
I think I've mentioned it before, but Jesus' prayer in John 17:9 "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours." - which, as I read it, indicates a division between the portion of humanity which God has given Him and the portion of humanity which He describes as "the world." In the context, it starts by looking pretty universalist and then shifts. Hard stuff - I think it goes back to tension...

While I'm in a biblical mood [Biased] , Jesus is praying specifically for his disciples at that point. Read on to John 17:20 and he says "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one".

John is talking about the church as it was, and the triumph of God as it will be.

quote:
Chuck Missler (a bible teacher I get a kick out of) says, "God is the one who doesn't get what He wants" - referencing the fact that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked will die and suffer and His righteousness requires it be so. It's an interesting proposition.
It's an interesting viewpoint, I'll agree, but not really unsual. In fact I would go so far as to call it bog standard. I would also argue that it is unscriptural. [Razz]

quote:
is there someplace where you're discussing your views on reconciliation with God through a source other than Jesus?
I was really just refering to this thread.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
I got confused there, Freddy.

Success of the long-term goal = everyone is saved, right?

So what is the long-term outcome you speak of, if it's different than that?

I was thinking of the fulfilling of the prophecies that predict universal peace on earth and the love of God in every heart.

Whether that means that every soul ever created must then have an exactly equal share of happiness is pretty debatable.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
I suppose the argument could be made that perfect happiness is the love of God made complete in your heart, in which case if all people receive this love, they'd have an equal (meaning infinite) share of happiness.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
I suppose the argument could be made that perfect happiness is the love of God made complete in your heart, in which case if all people receive this love, they'd have an equal (meaning infinite) share of happiness.

The argument could also be made that perfection is in variety, and that infinite love and infinite happiness is realized in each person having their own unique individuality and loves.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
May I pose a question to Demas, Freddy, and PaulTh*, and Professor Kirke?

When you get to a scripture which may indicate a hell or a separation of the peoples of earth into two different destinies - how do you respond?

As you probably realize, I accept the idea of an eternal hell - even if my idea of it differs from others. So I have no problem with those scriptures.

But I think that once someone accepts any kind of eternal differentiation, the continuum of experience will in some measure account for the description of those destinies.

As I see it, however, the conflict between these passages and those that promise the fulfillment of God's purposes for humanity, can be resolved.

The key is to realize that all of creation, both the spiritual and the natural, compose one integrated system. The state of the system as a whole affects every part.

The way that this works is that life proceeds from God as its source, passes through the spiritual world, and is received by the natural world. It then rebounds from that world and returns to God. So the state of the natural and spiritual worlds are reciprocally dependent on one another.

So if life on earth improves, then life in the spiritual world, including the part of it that is called "hell", will also improve. This was the purpose of the Incarnation.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
Freddy, that's an interesting view - I don't share it, but it's very interesting. And it does provoke the thought: what about alternate realities? The study of time and theories of alternate universes, etc., makes me wonder if what we experience is one time line in which (hopefully!) we're saved - and perhaps God allows many different time lines so that everybody, somehow, somewhere, in ONE of those time lines, gets saved?! Hey, it's a thought...
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
And it does provoke the thought: what about alternate realities?

Alternate realities? How do you get there from here? Is it because I mention a "spiritual world"? Or is it because of the statement that it is all one integrated system? [Confused]
 
Posted by Teufelchen (# 10158) on :
 
I think Lynn is referring to the 'many worlds' interpretation of the quantum theory - subtly parodied by Terry Pratchett as the 'trousers of time'. I'm not sure how seriously anyone believes that interpretation, so I haven't given much thought to its theological consequences.

The idea that we exist as unresolved superpositions of metaphysical saved and unsaved states is more than a little bothersome, now I do consider it.

T.
 
Posted by Dafyd (# 5549) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
1. Most of Jesus' threats of eternal damnation are for wrong deeds, not for unbelief or failure to accept Christ as saviour. They are therefore, in any event incompatible with the prevailing salvation by creed so important to Christianity.

It looks to me like Jesus preaches conditional salvation for Gentile non-believers - those outside the church. I.e. any non-believer who gives charitably to a Christian will be treated as a Christian. The sheep and the goats is the main parable, but there are also sayings that anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name will receive a reward.

Paul envisages salvation for all Christian believers. He hardly mentions Hell, and never I think as a place of punishment. He does speak of gentiles (the implication being that they don't apparently know God) being condemned by their actions in Romans 2; but in the same breath he also speaks of them being saved by their actions specifically.

Elsewhere in Romans he gets a bit more mysterious and implies that God will somehow save even those Jews who don't believe in Christ - and by implication may also save Gentiles who don't believe in Christ. The idea that anyone will permanently be lost is not one that interests him at all.

Dafyd
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
It looks to me like Jesus preaches conditional salvation for Gentile non-believers - those outside the church. I.e. any non-believer who gives charitably to a Christian will be treated as a Christian. The sheep and the goats is the main parable, but there are also sayings that anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name will receive a reward.

Jesus preaches conditional salvation for everyone, Christian or not.
quote:
Matthew 7.21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
I agree with Paul. I don't think belief is as central "doing the will of My Father in heaven."
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Jesus preaches conditional salvation for everyone, Christian or not. <snip>
I agree with Paul. I don't think belief is as central "doing the will of My Father in heaven."

Well, it's an interesting selective reading of scripture - In Mark 16: "And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." As has been observed elsewhere in this thread, we all read selectively or find some other means of balancing scriptural tension.

So, what makes you think believing is not primary in "doing the will of My Father in Heaven"? I actually do think "belief" is important in the salvation picture...

And yeah, I was alluding to time-streams & the more way-out applications of quantum theory (some people postulate that every time we make a decision the time-stream splits - pretty horrific number of splits, don't you think?!) - and thus coming up with a humorous way that everybody could be saved, even by more "conservative" standards of Christianity. Obviously it wasn't all that humorous... *sigh*
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Jesus preaches conditional salvation for everyone, Christian or not. <snip>
I agree with Paul. I don't think belief is as central "doing the will of My Father in heaven."

Well, it's an interesting selective reading of scripture - In Mark 16: "And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." As has been observed elsewhere in this thread, we all read selectively or find some other means of balancing scriptural tension.

So, what makes you think believing is not primary in "doing the will of My Father in Heaven"? I actually do think "belief" is important in the salvation picture...

No question that belief is important in the salvation picture. The question is whether it is as important as "doing the will of My Father."

Of course it is actually assumed in "doing His will", because why would someone do what they don't believe in.

Similarly, "believing" also assumes obedience and action, since if you believe and accept, then obeying and doing follows.

Certainly many passages speak of belief, and many of obedience. The key to me is the ones that speak of those who appear to believe but do not obey:
quote:
“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? 47“Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48“He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. 49“But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6.46-49

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ 29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”
They said to Him, “The first.” Matthew 21

“You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." John 15.14

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20“teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. Matthew 28.20

“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20“Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7.19-23

“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
9“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love. John 15.6-10

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” 14Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. Revelation 22.12-15

Passages like these make me think that obedience is more essential than belief. It may be academic, though, since I also agree that obedience is not really possible without faith. The two go together and are inseparable.

But I do think that it is a mistake to think that a person can believe and *not* obey and still be saved.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
ah, I think we "load" the word "belief" differently - when I read these passages (your post, above), I'm assuming these people DON'T believe - that they have taken the outward form but not the inward conformation, so to speak. Kind of like the mafia hitman who kills three people in the week but goes to church so he's covered... to me, that's not "belief." I concur with James: belief without the evidence of action and obedience ("works") is void; it is not belief.

Another word where biblical meaning is different from common usage is "hope" - 21st century America uses "hope" almost synonomously with "wish," whereas scripture uses "hope" to indicate a certainty which has not yet come to pass (we'd probably be more inclined to say "assurance"). Language! Interesting stuff.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
ah, I think we "load" the word "belief" differently - when I read these passages (your post, above), I'm assuming these people DON'T believe - that they have taken the outward form but not the inward conformation, so to speak.

OK. Good. I'm with you all the way. They don't REALLY believe, they only think they do.
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
I would like to endorse Demas' recommendation of "The Inescapable Love of God" by Thomas Talbott which I have read this week and which I bought on Demas' recommendation on this thread. The first section in which Talbott describes his spiritual journey hit me like a typhoon because I remember all the same thoughts and feeling when I was young. Even earlier than Talbott, at the age of 12, I began to have serious doubts concerning the brutality of God as taught in the Baptist tradition which I then attended. By 15, it was complete. I left in a total revulsion which lasted more than 25 years. Like Talbott, I realised that I could never be part of orthodox Christianity as long as it teaches such a punitive view of God and I vowed that I never would.

As a middle aged man, the overwhelming desire to worship brought me back to church, but to the gentle Anglican tradition where freedom of ideas within an orthodox structure seems to thrive. In the meantime, again like Talbott, I have come to realise that this cruel view of God and His limited mercy is by no means the only one and that numerous people in the early church believed in universal reconciliation. Even Augustine who vehemently opposed the idea, acknowledged that it was a commonly held view in his day. Through the ages, several theologians, especially those of a mystical bent, have reiterated the belief in universal salvation even when it has been against the grain of official doctrine.

So my bottom line is: The Bible can be used to prove both eternal damnation or universal reconciliation. The early church, when it was finding its feet had advocates of both positions in abaundance. The official teaching of the church veered sharply in favour of damnation after Jerome and Augustine, though many individual Christians have disagreed with that view down the ages. So where does that leave us? IMO it leaves us free to decide what resonates best with us. I can't and won't conceive of a God who alllows anyone to suffer infinite punishment for finite sins, though I do believe in retributive and corrective punishment.

This is my only true stumbling block to a full Christian life. Though I have certain doubts and ambiguities about Christian doctrine, I would lay them aside and submit to the discipline of the faith. But nothing has changed in 36 years since I rejected eternal hell as an evil and perverse doctrine. I still choose to believe in the inescapable love of God.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
I can't understand the concept of hell. Eternal pain for selfishness and sadism?

Hell, I can't understand the concept of demons and Satan.

I can't understand virgin birth. C'mon, get real here. Who's the daddy? God?

I can't understand the triune nature of God. I've heard it explained as 1 x 1 x 1 = 1, rather than 1 + 1 + 1 =3.

I can't understand life after death.

I can't understand miracles...at all.

I can't understand why the cross. Why must God, a being of great mercy, beauty, love, grace, and compassion be subjected to nakedness and mockery and brutal death?

I can't understand God.

And yet, I believe it. I know I'm crazy.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
And yet, I believe it. I know I'm crazy.

It's nice if people believe in things they can't understand. But when it's possible to understand, I think that understanding is the better option.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
And yet, I believe it. I know I'm crazy.

It's nice if people believe in things they can't understand. But when it's possible to understand, I think that understanding is the better option.
Well, of course. All I am trying to say is that I don't understand a lot things. Some days, I see the brightness of a daisy or smell a rose, sometimes, just sometimes, things begin to make sense and then I get it.

[ 23. November 2005, 23:03: Message edited by: Joyfulsoul ]
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
And yet, I believe it. I know I'm crazy.

It's nice if people believe in things they can't understand. But when it's possible to understand, I think that understanding is the better option.
I'm going to say something that makes no sense:

I think admitting that we don't really understand and yet still believe is a huge step in really understanding how everything works.


If you don't understand what I said, consider it an ironic twist.

-Digory
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Freddy and I very respectfully disagree on our reading of Jesus' commandments. I respect his position so much because he actually fully deals with what Christ says, whereas the traditional Christian understanding tends to gloss over them much more.

The Bible paints Jesus as proclaiming a very works-based salvation, if you read it a certain way. But like PaulTH has been saying, you can use Scripture to prove varying points.

I see Jesus' works-based commands through the following spectacles:

1. A reaction against the prevailing theology of salvation. Most Hebrews of the time believed strongly that salvation was entirely works-based, because of the Law and the Hebrew Bible scriptures (Old Testament). Keep the Law, enter heaven, don't, and you won't. Jesus often had to remind people that should they choose to espouse this belief, there was a lot more they would have to do to gain salvation than simply sit at home on Saturdays and avoid certain meats and heinous crimes.

2. "Producing fruit" does not necessarily mean keeping some set of ethical commands.

3. When Jesus refers to "all the things I have commanded you" or "my commandments," I'm not sure he is actually referring to every individual comment made to every individual person rather than the commandments he made specifically to the individual he is addressing at the time. I believe Jesus came to command people that they must begin to trust in the idea of Grace and accept the fact that they cannot do it on their own, contrary to their heritage. This would have been extremely difficult to do (as evidenced by the fact that none of the disciples quite got it), so Jesus continually reminded them "You are my disciples if you keep MY commands" as opposed to the commands espoused by the Pharisees.

4. Many will say Lord, Lord but be turned away. They claim all of the THINGS THAT THEY DID, and Jesus says he will respond "Away from me you who practice lawlessness!" He again points out that they are not perfect, so if they wish to be judged on the merits of what they've done, they will be condemned. Instead they must realize that it doesn't matter how many demons they've cast out or how many wonders they've done--Grace covers them.


Some thoughts...

-Digory
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
PK:

[Overused]

That was great.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
Which, I think, brings us back to this post of Psyduck's...

quote:
Originally posted by Psyduck:
Demas:
quote:
unless you want to embrace an entirely works-based sotierology...

I don't see this. I don't think you can import these Pauline assumptions into the parables.The whole "works" thing, it seems to me, is predicated on a misunderstanding of the demands of God's justice, and of justification. It always strikes me, for instance, that the people who had "done this for one of the least of these", in that parable, seem to place no trust at all in their works, and seem as surprised that they are 'saved' as the "Lord! Lord!" bunch are that they aren't. (I always thought that that was where Luther got James wrong. There are things we are required to do. Faith - and "faith in faith" - requires that we do them just as much.)

 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Demas--

I'm a little thick under a post-Thanksgiving over-eaten haze. Could you elaborate on that last post of yours? I don't follow.

-Digory
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
Paul is pretty uniformly positive. For him the enemy is Death, which is tied up with the Law and the Fall. He mostly talks about how this enemy (and all others) has been/will be/is being defeated; with side arguments about why the church he is writing to shouldn't use this as a reason to sleep with their step-moms or allow women to talk in church.

Jesus in the synoptics (esp Matthew) is prophetic and harsh. He uses language of division - sheep and goats. He talks of light and dark, of wedding guests thrown out into the cold and gnashing of teeth. He seems very interested in our attempting to be perfect; always internalising it (we commit adultery by lusting in our hearts) and always asking for more (keep the laws of the prophets, and he asks you to give away all your money).

And yet he also talks of fathers running to returning sons, shepherds looking for sheep, women looking for coins.

And he says that what is not possible for us is possible for God, and if only we had faith we could move mountains.

It is in harmonising these two visions that we get the omnipresent current calvarminian "Damned for your lack of works unless you become Christian" - taking the urgent command to perfect love from the syoptic Jesus and the healing by trust (salvation by faith) from John and Paul.

I simply can't see that any message that is not universalist can be Good News. Paul seems to have got that Good News from Jesus - can we get that same Good News from the synoptic Jesus, or is there something big missing from that fragmented picture?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Digory,

I'm with you as far as being in a too-many-guests and too-much-turkey-induced haze. [Snore]

I like your points. People often just don't know what to do with so many statements from Jesus that seem to make salvation works-based.

I wouldn't say that they teach that point of view so much as that Jesus looks at the whole person - pointing out that the state of eternal happiness that is called "heaven" is based on many factors.
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
I see Jesus' works-based commands through the following spectacles:

1. A reaction against the prevailing theology of salvation. Most Hebrews of the time believed strongly that salvation was entirely works-based, because of the Law and the Hebrew Bible scriptures (Old Testament). Keep the Law, enter heaven, don't, and you won't. Jesus often had to remind people that should they choose to espouse this belief, there was a lot more they would have to do to gain salvation than simply sit at home on Saturdays and avoid certain meats and heinous crimes.

OK. Except that He also pointed out that it was what was in their heart that counted, not just what they did:
quote:
Matthew 12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
Matthew 15:8 (quoting Isaiah)‘ These people draw near to Me with their mouth,And honor Me with their lips,But their heart is far from Me.
Matthew 15:18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.

I think Jesus' teachings about salvation take many factors into account, and are not about pointing out that the laws are too difficult to follow.
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
2. "Producing fruit" does not necessarily mean keeping some set of ethical commands.

What else could it mean? I would say it is about being a good and decent person, who does good, as opposed to evil, things. "Fruits" is a common New Testament term which always has this kind of connotation.
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
3. When Jesus refers to "all the things I have commanded you" or "my commandments," I'm not sure he is actually referring to every individual comment made to every individual person rather than the commandments he made specifically to the individual he is addressing at the time. I believe Jesus came to command people that they must begin to trust in the idea of Grace and accept the fact that they cannot do it on their own, contrary to their heritage. This would have been extremely difficult to do (as evidenced by the fact that none of the disciples quite got it), so Jesus continually reminded them "You are my disciples if you keep MY commands" as opposed to the commands espoused by the Pharisees.

Jesus certainly taught grace, and He certainly taught the people that "without Me you can do nothing." The body of His teaching, however, is all of a piece. It is not difficult to understand what He is commanding us to do, since He said most things many times. It is true that some of the teachings are obscure, but that is why they need study.
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
4. Many will say Lord, Lord but be turned away. They claim all of the THINGS THAT THEY DID, and Jesus says he will respond "Away from me you who practice lawlessness!" He again points out that they are not perfect, so if they wish to be judged on the merits of what they've done, they will be condemned. Instead they must realize that it doesn't matter how many demons they've cast out or how many wonders they've done--Grace covers them.

Except that is the exact opposite of what Jesus said. He was speaking of people who accepted what He said but did not act on them.

I think the overall point here is that Jesus tells us how to be happy and productive people. It should be obvious to anyone that people who actually accept and follow Jesus' advice really will be happy and productive people. Almost anyone would want this kind of person as an employee, employer, spouse, friend, etc.

The idea is that this is what heaven is - the state of this kind of person.

I do hope and believe that someday everyone really will be this way. But people should be free to be this way or not - as they choose.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
I simply can't see that any message that is not universalist can be Good News. Paul seems to have got that Good News from Jesus - can we get that same Good News from the synoptic Jesus, or is there something big missing from that fragmented picture?

Is it possible that the universalist message really isn't consistent with the synoptic Jesus?

My own opinion is that any view that criticizes and rejects alternative views is inconsistent with universalism. Unless the message is that sooner or later you *will* be bent to the one true path.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
It should be obvious to anyone that people who actually accept and follow Jesus' advice really will be happy and productive people. Almost anyone would want this kind of person as an employee, employer, spouse, friend, etc.

Absolutely--in fact if anyone can keep the whole Law and all of Jesus' individual commandments, including never having an angry thought (which is murder), never having a lustful urge (which is adultery), and cutting off limbs that cause us to sin, we would end up being not only an amazing asset to the human community but we'd be saved from any and all damnation, too.

If you can't live up to this standard, then, grace covers you.

But then again, that's why we so respectfully disagree, Freddy. We just read it differently, and that's fine, because we're both grappling with the actual text and with our experience of God. I hope I recognize you in heaven someday so we can both have good laugh about how wrong we both were. [Smile]

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Digory,

So is it all or nothing then? [Confused]

I would think that some would be more obedient, and some less obedient to Jesus.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
But all that seems to be a separate argument, not really related to the topic of whether God will allow anyone to go to hell.

The real question to me isn't about whether God will allow people to go somewhere, but whether He will allow anyone to act contrary to His will in the long run.

So in the end must everyone do God's bidding? [Confused]
 
Posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard (# 368) on :
 
Sorry for not reading the whole thread yet, but to answer the OP afresh, how can He NOT? Particularly as He already has in Satan and his demons. And since Eden, more metaphorically but no less painfully. No Hell? No freewill. Conservatively it is IMPOSSIBLE for God to create transcendent children, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends without the dread possibility of reprobation.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
No Hell? No freewill.

Do you have freewill? If I spike your drink, can you choose whether to get drunk? If you are drunk, can you choose whether to speak clearly or not? Are you not drunk on sin?

quote:
Conservatively it is IMPOSSIBLE for God to create transcendent children, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends without the dread possibility of reprobation.
Stating something doesn't make it so... Show me why an omniscient, omnipotent God would find this imposible.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
The real question to me isn't about whether God will allow people to go somewhere, but whether He will allow anyone to act contrary to His will in the long run.

I think this is a core problem of much traditional Heaven/Hell language - we don't change our essence when we move from place to place. If we picture Heaven and Hell as destinations, we are imagining ourselves, unchanged, in a nice place or a nasty place.

We should talk about who we are, not where we are.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
No Hell? No freewill.

Do you have freewill? If I spike your drink, can you choose whether to get drunk? If you are drunk, can you choose whether to speak clearly or not? Are you not drunk on sin?
And if someone offers you an antidote?
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
Then it would be logical to take the antidote, assuming that the person offering it was able to prove that it was an antidote and not a dangerous drug, of course.

But I'm drunk, remember?

Once I got so drunk that all I wanted to do was lie on a park bench and occasionally throw up while the world spun around me. My friends insisted that I get in a taxi, and more or less physically picked me up, put me in a taxi and sent me home. I didn't want that to happen - it was against my sovereign free will.

Maybe my friends should have respected my sovereign free will and left me on that park bench. Maybe they have interfered with my transcendence, for without the dangers of being mugged in the city while drunk, how could I reach the comfort of my home?

But later I was very greatful. And I would do the same for them.
 
Posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard (# 368) on :
 
Simplistic old fundy that I am Demas: If He could, He would. Omnipotence doesn't mean being able to make black=white, up=down, evil=good (unless you're the Bishop of New Hampshire). Character cannot be created by fiat any more than inanimate material can create life and mind.
 
Posted by RuthW (# 13) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Omnipotence doesn't mean being able to make black=white, up=down, evil=good (unless you're the Bishop of New Hampshire).

Would you care to substantiate your claim that the Bishop of New Hampshire thinks evil=good, or would you prefer to retract this slur?
 
Posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard (# 368) on :
 
Why would I want to do either, Ruth? Only if you're prepared to do the same.
 
Posted by RuthW (# 13) on :
 
What do you wish me to retract?

ETA: The reason you should substantiate your claim is that it makes for good argument. If you don't wish to substantiate your claims, you shouldn't make them.

[ 27. November 2005, 19:00: Message edited by: RuthW ]
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Simplistic old fundy that I am Demas: If He could, He would.

He can and he has and he will.

quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Omnipotence doesn't mean being able to make black=white, up=down, evil=good (unless you're the Bishop of New Hampshire). Character cannot be created by fiat any more than inanimate material can create life and mind.

OK, you're a fundy. Please substantiate your claim that "Character cannot be created by fiat" by reference to the Bible.

This isn't my claim though - that my friends put me in a taxi does not imply that they control my every action. That God blinded Paul on the road to Damascus does not imply that Paul was a mere puppet.
 
Posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard (# 368) on :
 
Ruth (I'll deal with you later, Demas, my little pack of cards).

How typically robustly gracious of you.

My apologies for the delay, after insouciantly throwing away that remark about Gene Robinson, I was smitten with all manner of strong reactions (OK: regret at my lack of humility, my lack of ability and strength, hurting you unnecessarily, being a 51 year old, old, senescing newby in Christ AGAIN and picking a fight I have NO authority, no right to prosecute, no track record in Christ and having been the vilest of sinners and the most dysfunctional of men, useless and worse with women and children, all of that and ...), being a loony and took myself off to evening services sharpish. Most ... interesting. Challenging indeed. No names, no pack drill, but they don't make tea like they do at home, if you catch my drift. Meant well.

So, Ruth, the substantiation is this. Gene Robinson makes good evil by proclaiming his superiority in being led by the Holy Spirit beyond Christ and the Apostles. If he is good, then they are evil. Relatively. By comparison. By what they 'lack'. Furthermore the evil they proclaim from their persective, he proclaims good. He has improved on the Bible.

Funny how liberalism robs from grace just as legalism does, by adding to it.

If I must quote Robinson chapter and verse, it will take time. If I have calumniated against him, slurred him in my crude, off the cuff, provocative way, I will fully and freely acknowledge that.

You are a brilliant woman Ruth, quite brilliant. And a damn site nicer, a damn site more decent, fair, loving than I will ever be in this life. I have a long long way to go and too short a time. But like all liberals you start from behind and assume you're ahead. You're behind Ruth. The conservative, hard, faithful bits of the Christian thesis is all too easy for mean spirited old bastards like me to hold. You can't touch it because, for all your brilliance, you have not and cannot do the intellectual work without being intellectualist, without invoking a mythical level of understanding that I can't have or worse, without invoking an esoteric understanding that cannot be communicated.

You, Gene Robinson, mistake your goodness for Christ's.

I don't have any.

His Goodness isn't ours. He is NOT a liberal. Aslan is dangerous.

You aren't going to win this fight Ruth and neither am I. I offer a truce AFTER your rebuttal.

And I don't feel bad now, just real. And I wish the same for you. We'll find out how wrong BOTH of us are soon enough.

Love, what little I can express - Martin

[ 27. November 2005, 21:12: Message edited by: Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard ]
 
Posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard (# 368) on :
 
Groan , bits ... ARE.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Funny how liberalism robs from grace just as legalism does, by adding to it.

May I ask: who gets to make the decisions about which theologies accurately reflect the nature of grace and which are "adding to it"? You?

-Digory
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Sorry for not reading the whole thread yet, but to answer the OP afresh, how can He NOT? Particularly as He already has in Satan and his demons. And since Eden, more metaphorically but no less painfully. No Hell? No freewill. Conservatively it is IMPOSSIBLE for God to create transcendent children, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends without the dread possibility of reprobation.

Satan and the demons are almost certainly not literal beings. Same as Eden never existed and so there was no Fall.

Otherwise, I can only repeat my old contention that a God who allows hell to exist is neither wholey good nor wholey loving, so far as I can see. No interest in worshipping such a god. Why should I have any such interest?
 
Posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard (# 368) on :
 
While I await Ruth's response, Digory, the dialectic decides. It hasn't been entered in to yet. It never is. And Papio, they certainly are and it certainly did. Your turn. Stalemate in how many is it? And Demas, if God could create morally perfect beings by fiat and spare us alienation, sin, horror, pain, meaninglessness and the possibility of reprobation and eternal oblivion, why didn't He? Unless He's a Zaphod Beeblebrox hey-I'm-just-this-guy kind of guy. He'd rather annihilate may be billions forever for the heck of it, for the craic, than just make us all pain-free instant godlets. Or is this pit of tears necessary for universalism? Is that what I'm missing? Can you join up the dots for this fossilized ole fundy? Guys? Hepcats? Nah. Hopeless aren't I. Trapped in preprepostmodernism. Unhip. Ignore me and I'll die, it's OK, you inherit the cool world. Look, honestly, I'm an intellectual, moral and spiritual slug not worth you even pouring salt on.

And good night sweet princes.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
And Demas, if God could create morally perfect beings by fiat and spare us alienation, sin, horror, pain, meaninglessness and the possibility of reprobation and eternal oblivion, why didn't He?

No idea. Presumably even if God couldn't create morally perfect beings by fiat, he could have created us flawed, but in a world without earthquakes, droughts and bubonic plague. He didn't do that either.

quote:
He'd rather annihilate may be billions forever for the heck of it, for the craic, than just make us all pain-free instant godlets.
You're the one saying that God is annihilating billions forever, not me. We both have to explain bubonic plague; only you have to explain a loving eternal torturer.

Martin, me old salt, you have tried to answer me by a logical argument from the existence of evil (begging the question of hell while doing it) - I thought you were a fundy: show me where God says that he cannot create character by fiat.

Or do you believe that God cannot save you without your help?
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Sorry for not reading the whole thread yet, but to answer the OP afresh, how can He NOT? Particularly as He already has in Satan and his demons. And since Eden, more metaphorically but no less painfully. No Hell? No freewill. Conservatively it is IMPOSSIBLE for God to create transcendent children, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends without the dread possibility of reprobation.

Satan and the demons are almost certainly not literal beings. Same as Eden never existed and so there was no Fall.

Otherwise, I can only repeat my old contention that a God who allows hell to exist is neither wholey good nor wholey loving, so far as I can see. No interest in worshipping such a god. Why should I have any such interest?

I don't have a quite a huge issue with God and the existence of hell.

My own pet annoyance is God and free will. That's got to be the worst of them all.

Maybe this discussion comes down to the question or the belief in free will?
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
And Papio, they certainly are and it certainly did. Your turn. Stalemate in how many is it?

Sorry, Martin, but if Christianity requires belief in literal demons and acceptance of the cosmology of Genesis then I am not interested. It doesn't, though.

But then, I am simply not interested in a god who punishes people for ever. I'm just not. Not even if you could demonstrate his existance to me.

I mean, I don't want to go to Hell but then I am not sure I want to go to Heaven either.

Annihilation is better then either.
 
Posted by RuthW (# 13) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Gene Robinson makes good evil by proclaiming his superiority in being led by the Holy Spirit beyond Christ and the Apostles.

This is debatable.

quote:
If he is good, then they are evil. Relatively. By comparison. By what they 'lack'. Furthermore the evil they proclaim from their persective, he proclaims good. He has improved on the Bible.
He may just be mistaken. You may be mistaken. You are putting everything in black and white terms, and without much basis for doing so, as far as I can see.


quote:
But like all liberals you start from behind and assume you're ahead. You're behind Ruth. The conservative, hard, faithful bits of the Christian thesis is all too easy for mean spirited old bastards like me to hold. You can't touch it because, for all your brilliance, you have not and cannot do the intellectual work without being intellectualist, without invoking a mythical level of understanding that I can't have or worse, without invoking an esoteric understanding that cannot be communicated.
I make no such assumptions about my own understanding.

quote:
You, Gene Robinson, mistake your goodness for Christ's.
No, I don't. What little goodness I have is Christ's gift to me.

quote:
You aren't going to win this fight Ruth and neither am I. I offer a truce AFTER your rebuttal.

And I don't feel bad now, just real. And I wish the same for you. We'll find out how wrong BOTH of us are soon enough.

Love, what little I can express - Martin

Truce accepted. Let us agree to disagree.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
While I await Ruth's response, Digory, the dialectic decides. It hasn't been entered in to yet. It never is.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by this, Martin. It seems rather dismissive. Are you saying that the continual conversation decides? If so, I would suggest not limiting the conversation with labels like "liberal".

-Digory
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
My own pet annoyance is God and free will. That's got to be the worst of them all.

Maybe this discussion comes down to the question of the belief in free will?

That's always an interesting discussion. People would do good to remember that the OP asked "Will God ALLOW anyone to go to hell," and not "Will God FORCE anyone to go to hell?"

That puts a little different spin on things.

-Digory
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
That puts a little different spin on things.

-Digory

Why?

(Well, that was odd.)

[ 28. November 2005, 06:44: Message edited by: Papio. ]
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
And Demas, if God could create morally perfect beings by fiat and spare us alienation, sin, horror, pain, meaninglessness and the possibility of reprobation and eternal oblivion, why didn't He?

No idea. Presumably even if God couldn't create morally perfect beings by fiat, he could have created us flawed, but in a world without earthquakes, droughts and bubonic plague. He didn't do that either.

quote:
He'd rather annihilate may be billions forever for the heck of it, for the craic, than just make us all pain-free instant godlets.
You're the one saying that God is annihilating billions forever, not me. We both have to explain bubonic plague; only you have to explain a loving eternal torturer.

Martin, me old salt, you have tried to answer me by a logical argument from the existence of evil (begging the question of hell while doing it) - I thought you were a fundy: show me where God says that he cannot create character by fiat.

Or do you believe that God cannot save you without your help?

Really interesting questions and arguments (oh the things I miss when away from a computer!). Actually, I think the earthquakes/floods/bubonic plague do go hand-in-hand with fallen humanity - "creation groans," sin has weight and consequences even for the "innocent," so entropy grasps all of creation, like a giant shock-wave moving out from Eden and impacting the whole universe. The nature of what was created was changed by the creature.

I think we tend to fall into the wrong assumptions and ask the wrong questions - we assume God is created in our image and not we in His - we don't consider that Perfect Love is not sentimental or co-dependent in the least, and what does that look like? We see through a glass darkly - and try as I might, I cannot get the whole word of God to support a universalist view (a selective reading, yes - but it's kind of like creating a string of paper dolls by clever folding and snipping, or so it seems to me).

How *could* it be possible to create character by fiat? Character is the cumulation of experience and learning - you cannot say of an infant, "He has a bad character because he keeps me up at night," or of a two-year old, "she has a good character because she enjoys music and tries to dance when she hears it."

Or perhaps it's simply that character created by fiat is without value, at least to God (I'd kind of like it, myself... but I suspect that's a flaw in my character!).

quote:
posted by RuthW
quote:
Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
If he is good, then they are evil. Relatively. By comparison. By what they 'lack'. Furthermore the evil they proclaim from their persective, he proclaims good. He has improved on the Bible.

He may just be mistaken. You may be mistaken. You are putting everything in black and white terms, and without much basis for doing so, as far as I can see.
This situation with Gene Robinson is close to the bone for me, so I am throwing two-cents into the mix: I think there is, indeed, tremendous scriptural basis for Martin's p.o.v. - first, the whole calling good "evil" and evil "good" (Is 5:20 - "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!"), second, the clear teaching that homosexuality (*ahem* - specifically male homosexuality, at least until you get to Paul) is a sufficiently egregious and destructive behavior that God's direction for Israel is to execute those who violate this law (not all sexual sin gets the death penalty), and third, ministers are held to higher level of accountability and bishops are held to an even higher standard of behavior and accountability. To my way of thinking, that's a pretty significant basis right there.

One can say, "the law doesn't apply" (and happily God didn't attach the death penalty for homosexuality to any nation other than ancient Israel. Same with stoning incorrigible children... lucky for me, or I wouldn't have made it to adulthood). Well, nobody I've ever heard is calling for homosexuality to become a death penalty offense again - but I believe, if we are wise, we will look very carefully at all those offenses which carry the death penalty and take them very seriously as sins.

So even though we no longer have to execute homosexuals (and scripture deals with the practice, not the inclination; the celibate homosexual is not condemned) - or witches, or diviners, or adulterers, or incorrigible children, etc. - we run great risk if we say, "we know better now and even though God called that behavior evil, He didn't know what He was talking about," or "God didn't call it evil, homophobic men called it evil" because we then might conclude that it is as legitimate a use of human sexuality as marriage and we have just called evil "good." However responsible Gene Robinson is for his opinions as an individual, that responsibility grows larger with a more exalted position - and a bishop is pretty exalted: he has to answer to God for much more than you or I (assuming none of you are bishops...).
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
Character is a tricky thing.

There is an old joke/story about how the world was created 5 minutes ago, complete with fake memories, fake dinosaur bones, fake scars from that fall at Scout camp when you were twelve.

If I had been created 5 minutes ago, exactly as I am, would there be any difference?

If I can conceive of myself being created 5 minutes ago exactly as myself, how I can I declare that action to be impossible for an omnipotent God?

Also, our transcendent character must be more than my experience and learning - a simple blow to the head, the simple ingestion of chemicals, all these can have a profound impact on my character.

Having watched people with alzheimers have their personalities slowly dismantled until there was nothing left of the original character I am very doubtful that it is a simple matter of learning, growing, getting new experiences, then dying to heaven or hell; that our human character is inherently something eternal.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
I think we tend to fall into the wrong assumptions and ask the wrong questions - we assume God is created in our image and not we in His - we don't consider that Perfect Love is not sentimental or co-dependent in the least, and what does that look like? We see through a glass darkly - and try as I might, I cannot get the whole word of God to support a universalist view (a selective reading, yes - but it's kind of like creating a string of paper dolls by clever folding and snipping, or so it seems to me).

I would like to double that entire paragraph from above here, with one very small word change. Take "universalist" out and substitute "damnationist" for it. Either view requires a selective reading of scripture--we're just much more accustomed to hearing and studying and believing the damnationists' reading. Fortunately, that doesn't make it right.

(I realize I have not made an argument for universalism here. I simply wanted to point out that suggestion.)

quote:
[/qb]"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!"

<snip>

...we run great risk if we say, "we know better now and even though God called that behavior evil, He didn't know what He was talking about," or "God didn't call it evil, homophobic men called it evil" because we then might conclude that it is as legitimate a use of human sexuality as marriage and we have just called evil "good."[/QB]

Luckily for us, I think, the Isaiah verse you mention here does not continue by saying, "And thanks be to those who are here on earth to clearly point out all of those evildoers who have substituted evil for good!" I do not count on myself or any human to be able to make this distinction. It is not for us to make.

As to your exegesis on the issue of homosexuality as an example of this misnomering of evil as "good," I disagree about this "risk" you suggest that we may be taking. Nobody is saying that "God didn't know what he was talking about." (At least I'm not saying that.) I am thankful for those who stood up against the people who defended slavery using the Bible. They may have been told to stop questioning the infallible Word, but they stood firm for what they believed was a current injustice, specific to the current culture.

Gathering this back to the OP, I believe the real risk is attempting to suggest that we know full well what God will say and how God will judge anyone for their current actions. It is a matter between the person and God. Even before I was a "wishy-washy universalist wannabe," I believed it was God and God alone, apart from any of my assistance, who changed a person's heart. My role, then, should never have been to condemn, even in an attempt to "save."

-Digory
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
That puts a little different spin on things.

-Digory

Why?

(Well, that was odd.)

Forcing people to remain in hell against their cries for mercy is a much different problem than simply allowing those who do not wish to remain in heaven to leave and take up residency outside of heaven (which I believe would be a biblical representation of what hell is).

That was what I was getting at. (What was odd?)

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Forcing people to remain in hell against their cries for mercy is a much different problem than simply allowing those who do not wish to remain in heaven to leave and take up residency outside of heaven (which I believe would be a biblical representation of what hell is).

This is how I see it too.

Are we thinking that there are signs that say: "Leaving heaven" or "Hell - 15 miles ahead"?

I would expect that there would be some disagreement about which was which. [Two face]
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
I'm not really convinced that professorkirke's difference is real, because I'm not really convinced of the definitions of heaven and hell being used here.

Firstly, there is a reason why traditional imagery of hell is of a bad place - the prooftexts are of wailing and gnashing of teeth, eternal fire and darkness where the worm never sleeps, hell as punishment. These prooftexts have been (wrongly imho) used to construct a common understanding of hell as a place of eternal punishment; not merely substandard hotel accomodation on a holiday.

I think that to redefine hell as you are doing is to make yourself a firm universalist, but not admitting it [Razz]

Secondly, this language continues to be one of place rather than internal goodness - we still are thinking of ourselves as we are now, just in a nice place or a not nice place. We still haven't started to talk in terms of theosis, or in terms of how an imperfect warped person can be one with a being of perfect love.
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Forcing people to remain in hell against their cries for mercy is a much different problem than simply allowing those who do not wish to remain in heaven to leave and take up residency outside of heaven (which I believe would be a biblical representation of what hell is).

That was what I was getting at. (What was odd?)

-Digory

I suppose that I would like a more consequentiality, as opposed to Kantian (?) explanation. Maybe there isn't one. It's just that I find fine logical distinctions to be a bit hollow when people's (eternal) lives are at stake. I'm also not entirely sure that I buy the argument that says letting people starve when you could prevent it is meaningfully morally different then forcing them to starve. It's not that I can see a difference in how words are used but that I cannot see any real difference in the outcome and, therefore, cannot really see that one is more or less blameworthy than the other. Hey Ho.

(I am pretty sure I snipped and commented your post the first time, but when I hit "add reply" it was just a straight quote, sans reply.)
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
I suppose that I would like a more consequentiality, as opposed to Kantian (?) explanation. Maybe there isn't one. It's just that I find fine logical distinctions to be a bit hollow when people's (eternal) lives are at stake. I'm also not entirely sure that I buy the argument that says letting people starve when you could prevent it is meaningfully morally different then forcing them to starve. It's not that I can see a difference in how words are used but that I cannot see any real difference in the outcome and, therefore, cannot really see that one is more or less blameworthy than the other. Hey Ho.

I don't think it's ALL about outcome. Letting people starve is very similar to forcing them to starve, I agree. But what about allowing them to throw up their food, rather than forcing them to keep it down in their stomachs? Actually, that's probably a bad analogy, too.

A better explanation is just what I was saying. I think it's the difference between locked gates and an "open-door policy". Those who get to heaven can choose to stay outside of heaven, but at any time may choose to accept God and enter heaven. I suppose it would have to go so far as to say at any time one could leave heaven again and end up back in "hell," as well. Much like Lewis' The Great Divorce scenario if you're familiar with it.

I think that changes the question, a little.

-Digory
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
I'm not really convinced that professorkirke's difference is real, because I'm not really convinced of the definitions of heaven and hell being used here.

Firstly, there is a reason why traditional imagery of hell is of a bad place - the prooftexts are of wailing and gnashing of teeth, eternal fire and darkness where the worm never sleeps, hell as punishment. These prooftexts have been (wrongly imho) used to construct a common understanding of hell as a place of eternal punishment; not merely substandard hotel accomodation on a holiday.

I think that to redefine hell as you are doing is to make yourself a firm universalist, but not admitting it [Razz]

Maybe, but I'm not telling.

quote:
Secondly, this language continues to be one of place rather than internal goodness - we still are thinking of ourselves as we are now, just in a nice place or a not nice place. We still haven't started to talk in terms of theosis, or in terms of how an imperfect warped person can be one with a being of perfect love.
Being changed vs. changing location. Demas, that's a fascinating distinction. I need to chew on it for a while.

-Digory
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
I would like to double that entire paragraph from above here, with one very small word change. Take "universalist" out and substitute "damnationist" for it. Either view requires a selective reading of scripture--we're just much more accustomed to hearing and studying and believing the damnationists' reading. Fortunately, that doesn't make it right.

Absolutely it could be swapped out; a point I've made a couple of times. I don't know that there's any *resolution* here (you know, where somebody lies on the ground and says, "uncle! uncle! I give!") - just an assortment of people explaining their perspectives on the matter.

And, for what it's worth, in my lifetime I've not heard the "damnationists" (!!) reading more - perhaps because I grew up on the west coast where the UMC has been more liberal longer, but I was raised with significantly more emphasis on the universalist reading.

quote:
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!"

Luckily for us, I think, the Isaiah verse you mention here does not continue by saying, "And thanks be to those who are here on earth to clearly point out all of those evildoers who have substituted evil for good!"

I think you're forgetting why this was posted - there was some question as to there being any basis for criticizing the Bishop of New Hampshire. And there is a very big difference between the slavery issue and the homosexuality issue: slavery was not required by the law but the law did regulate the manner in which it could be practiced (funny that the 18th & 19th century proponents of slavery didn't follow the Biblical regulations, if they were using the Bible to justify their practice). So in one case scripture was being used to justify a practice which scripture regulated but did not require; in the other case scripture prohibits a specific behavior. So the people who argued AGAINST slavery did nothing against scripture - whereas the people who argue that homosexuality is as blessed by God as heterosexuality do so from an explicitly anti-scriptural stance and must find one way or another to say, "the Bible doesn't mean what it says" (and they do, in an assortment of ways). The two scenarios are not equivalent.

quote:
Gathering this back to the OP, I believe the real risk is attempting to suggest that we know full well what God will say and how God will judge anyone for their current actions. It is a matter between the person and God.
A reality for which I am very grateful. I am, nonetheless, not personally comfortable stepping into the "never mind the Bible, you don't need to take it so seriously" position.

The "being changed vs. changing location" (PK's condensation of Demas' post) is an interesting question indeed. Over the weekend a friend of mine threw out the question of whether there might be the equivalent of "purgatory" for those heading to hell, removing everything of value - kind of a chilling notion (he's a twisted guy and I mean that in a good way). It makes me think of the end of the parable of the talents, when the master has the one talent taken from the hapless servant and given to the servent with ten talents... eeep!
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Sorry for not reading the whole thread yet, but to answer the OP afresh, how can He NOT? Particularly as He already has in Satan and his demons. And since Eden, more metaphorically but no less painfully. No Hell? No freewill. Conservatively it is IMPOSSIBLE for God to create transcendent children, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends without the dread possibility of reprobation.

Satan and the demons are almost certainly not literal beings. Same as Eden never existed and so there was no Fall.

Otherwise, I can only repeat my old contention that a God who allows hell to exist is neither wholey good nor wholey loving, so far as I can see. No interest in worshipping such a god. Why should I have any such interest?

That implies there is no evil, no injustice, no sin.

It either means that no one is ever wrong in their thoughts and actions, or that God, in allowing such things in people, is unconcerned about truth, justice, morality - even forgiveness - for without sin there is no need.

You have wiped out all need for redemption, sacrifice, reconciliation.

In your world, is there no struggle, no search for anything higher than what you have?

Is there no penalty, no consequence?

What are you? Comatose?

[ 29. November 2005, 09:02: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Martin, you wrote (some way back):
quote:
Character cannot be created by fiat any more than inanimate material can create life and mind.
LMC, you wrote:
quote:
The "being changed vs. changing location" (PK's condensation of Demas' post) is an interesting question indeed. Over the weekend a friend of mine threw out the question of whether there might be the equivalent of "purgatory" for those heading to hell, removing everything of value - kind of a chilling notion (he's a twisted guy and I mean that in a good way). It makes me think of the end of the parable of the talents, when the master has the one talent taken from the hapless servant and given to the servent with ten talents... eeep!
Been chewing over these ideas in the light of my understanding of sin as being analogous to disease. Whilst I agree, Martin, that character cannot be created by fiat, it may also be present, but concealed by "disease". Cure the disease, and the character is revealed as it actually is. On this reading, there is no inherent need for a lengthy post-mortem process of character growth in order to fit the person for heaven, because that process has already taken place. It's just that the disease of sin has prevented it from being revealed.

Similarly, Lynn, there is no need to import an element of punishment into the transformation process involved in the resurrection of the body. The root of Purgatory is medical, the purgeing of "badness" (infection, maybe, pushing the analogy) from the body. Whilst, in medical terms this may be unpleasant (for example, chemotherapy) that is incidental rather than inherent in the process. It is not the unpleasantness that makes the medicine effective, rather it may be unpleasant because the medicine is effective. I have to say that I am sceptical about the the idea that God's removal of everything of value from a person, whilst it may have some benefit for character improvement, is likely to do much to improve that person's disposition towards God.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Mudfrog, I just don't see how your last post is in any way related to the quotation from Papio. Lots of perfectly orthodox Chritians believe that the fall is a parable rather than a historic account, yet the whole house of cards doesn't fall down on them. As Demas has pointed out, universalism has an excellent scriptural pedigree, and in fact was the default position of most of the church for the first 500 or so years of its existance, Origen notwithstanding. Howso, then, is it that believing that doctrine compromises the need for redemption, sacrifice or reconciliation. Care to unpack?
 
Posted by Mudfrog (# 8116) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
Mudfrog, I just don't see how your last post is in any way related to the quotation from Papio. Lots of perfectly orthodox Chritians believe that the fall is a parable rather than a historic account, yet the whole house of cards doesn't fall down on them. As Demas has pointed out, universalism has an excellent scriptural pedigree, and in fact was the default position of most of the church for the first 500 or so years of its existance, Origen notwithstanding. Howso, then, is it that believing that doctrine compromises the need for redemption, sacrifice or reconciliation. Care to unpack?

I was referring to the Fall is the origin of the problem of sin, evil, rebellion, etc in the world. If there is no 'Fall' then we are saying there is no evil that needs redemption. If no fall, we have a perfect argument for there being no hell.

"As Demas has pointed out, universalism has an excellent scriptural pedigree, and in fact was the default position of most of the church for the first 500 or so years of its existance, Origen notwithstanding."

I don't think so. Jesus was certainly not a universalist; neither were the Apostles Peter, Paul and John.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Muddy:
quote:
I was referring to the Fall is the origin of the problem of sin, evil, rebellion, etc in the world. If there is no 'Fall' then we are saying there is no evil that needs redemption. If no fall, we have a perfect argument for there being no hell.

I think it is plain from the context of Papio's words that he was questioning the historicity of the Fall ("Eden never existed") rather than its' metaphysical reality. I see no reason to beleive that acceptance of a literal reading of the first chapters of Genesis is necessary for the acceptance of the objective reality of evil. It may, of course, help to explain this reality, but I still think you were unnecessarily dismissive of Papio's argument, the thrust, if not the detail, of which I find myself in agreement.

With regard to universalism, I think there is a cast iron case to be made that it is at the very core of Paul's theology. With John, the case from his writings is less explicit, but the letters certainly seem to have a universalist feel. The early church in Ephesus, which, traditionally, was his home congregation, seems certainly to have been universalist. Peter would seem, from his letters, to have been an anihilationist in his beliefs, but his writings were mostly practical rather than theological. In the case of Jesus Himself, as PaulTH pointed out, there may have been a growing understanding as his ministry progressed, and as He grasped more of the meaning of His ministry as the cross approached. It may be that, right up to the resurrection, He Himself did not fully appreciate the scope of the Atonement, just as He did not know the hour or the day of His return. Certainly John 6:31 coupled with Matthew 11:27 doesnt preclude universalism.

That said, however, I was not saying that a universalist reading of the scriptures was the only possible reading, but rather that the scriptures do not compel a non-universalist understanding, which seems to be your position. You might disagree with universalism, but to characterise those who hold this, as I believe, intellectually cohesive viewpoint as comatose does not do justice to the power of their argument.
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
As I was saying to someone last night, I find the idea of any afterlife really quite appaling.

But maybe this is because, if I am honest, I tend to see God, when I believe in God's existance, as a sort of Cosmic Meanie who is constantly looking over our shoulders looking for an excuse to damn us into hell (and, to make sure I am being fair to my friend, that is not the sort of God she worships at all). I also have both moral and philosophical objections to the exclusivity of conservative teaching on the Eschaton.

My grandfather always used to tell me to imagine millions of lemmings throwing themselves of a cliff and God saving a few here and there but letting most shatter their bodies on the rocks below. I am not sure my grandfather will ever understand why I find this analogy to be abhorrent. Basically, I suppose it seems very arbitary to me and there seems no clear moral reason to save some but leave most to their fate. Those who know my politics know that I am very much a "we're all in this together" sort of bloke. The individualism and elitism of the doctrine of Hell makes me want to [Projectile]

Sorry, but it does.

Then again, I am aware that my feelings on the subject are not relavent to the truth or untruth of such a doctrine.

I would probably prefer that there was no afterlife at all. If there has to be an afterlife, then universal salvation to paradise is certainly no less arbitary or moral then the doctrine of Hell, so far as I can see and makes God a vastly more attractive being.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
I'm not really convinced that professorkirke's difference is real, because I'm not really convinced of the definitions of heaven and hell being used here.

I agree that the definitions of hell being used here are at the root of the problem.
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Firstly, there is a reason why traditional imagery of hell is of a bad place - the prooftexts are of wailing and gnashing of teeth, eternal fire and darkness where the worm never sleeps, hell as punishment. These prooftexts have been (wrongly imho) used to construct a common understanding of hell as a place of eternal punishment; not merely substandard hotel accomodation on a holiday.

I agree that it is obvious that this is where we geto ur idea of hell. To me it also seems obvious that these descriptions are somewhat metaphoric, since literally being on fire forever is hard to imagine.
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
I think that to redefine hell as you are doing is to make yourself a firm universalist, but not admitting it [Razz]

It depends on how we are redefining hell. I would take the biblical descriptions and admit them as metaphors, rather than literal descriptions. People burn with their desires, not with fire.
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Secondly, this language continues to be one of place rather than internal goodness - we still are thinking of ourselves as we are now, just in a nice place or a not nice place.

People will naturally think in terms of place. I don't see how we can get around it. But I think that we are also capable of realizing that "place" really means "spiritual state" when we are talking about ultimate eternal happiness or unhappiness.

The key, as I have said before, is to realize that things that are called "wicked" are so called because unhappiness is inherent in them. So no special punishment needs to be attached. It is simply no fun in the long run to be a person who nurses thoughts of revenge, or who is self-centered, or worldly. Hell is nothing more than people being allowed to be the way that they want to be. If they learn from the unpleasantness attached to these ways of being, then they move out of hell as a direct consequence. The question is how possible this is after death.

This isn't "merely substandard hotel accomodation on a holiday." It is agony, and it is experienced by people all the time. Happily, people change through these kinds of experiences. The trouble is that not everyone changes, and we don't always recognize the source of our unhappiness. Why would it be different after death?
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
As I was saying to someone last night, I find the idea of any afterlife really quite appaling.

I would never suggest assenting to a theology ONLY because one feels a certain way, but I also don't agree with those who encourage us to disregard all feelings and use only "cold hard facts" etc.

Mind if I ask why you would prefer no afterlife to a universalist theology?

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Mind if I ask why you would prefer no afterlife to a universalist theology?

I wonder the same thing. Having been with many dying people, I have never run across any that expected to be extinguished at death.

The idea that a dying, but much loved, spouse, child, or parent, simply ceases to exist is not acceptable to many people at all, in my experience.
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
I prefer to think of my dead loved ones as just being, well, dead. I find it a comforting thought that they have no longer have an consciousness or an existance outside of their effects on their loved ones and our memories of them and, in time, that they will be forgotten. I find it comforting that I would simply return to the earth. Cease to exist. Have no consciousness after death.

To posit an afterlife of any description is in my view to impose an unbearable burden on every action, on every thought, on every sentence that we utter and upon eveything that we feel. It makes the act of being a parent far more complex and difficult if one's children shall be eternal. I simply want to live until my body gives in and then just go. Cease to be in any and every way, shape and form. The doctrine of an afterlife seems to me a crushing and oppresive burden.

However, I have been thinking about this all day (but not only today) and I personally think (and feel) that there are three main options. Others will disagree, yes, but for me the only truly sensible options are as follows (and listed in order of my personal preference).

* There is no God. No afterlife. All religions, and all varities within each religion, are fundamentally and irredeemably mistaken.

*There is a loving God and we shall all go to eternal paradise.

*There is a non-loving and unjust God and most or all shall go to Hell.

Since the third belief, even if true, is of no practical help or benefit whatever, I feel free to jettison it.

I have not included a belief system in which a loving and just God co-exists with eternal damnation because, try as I may, I simply cannot make head nor tail of such a belief and consider it to be an a par with arguing for the existance of square circles. Sorry, but that's it. Love and Eternal Hell are fundamentally opposed and cannot co-exist. I deny that this view/attitude overlooks the reality of evil.

As to why I prefer the firast option to the second.... I may have to get back to you on that. All I can say if that I don't, and haven't really ever, felt any genuine need or desire to survive my own death. Maybe I am a freak and maybe I will change my view as I get older, but for now that is it.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
The idea of (any type of) afterlife is vastly unsettling for me as well. Sometimes I vacillate from pretending I've never heard of the idea and when that doesn't work I scramble in attempts to wrap my mind about it.
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
I think my reasons for believing that something of us at least has the potential to continue beyond death are all to do with life as it is, not with any personal preference. Being human seems to mean more than being conscious. Animals have that. We however can reflect on our experience, we are self-aware, as if some part of us is tracking our journey through time 'from outside'.

I don't have a thought through theory about this, but when combined with how I imagine the universe is being created, I wonder if perhaps this dimension of being human, that is more than simply the continuous processing loop that seems sufficient to account for animal consciousness, is in fact a connection with some part of our being that resides in eternity. If this is the connection that makes us human in the here and now, it doesn't seem far fetched to imagine this eternal bit of us could manage on its own when our physical bits give up the ghost.

[ 29. November 2005, 20:14: Message edited by: Dave Marshall ]
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
How do we know what other animals are conscious of and we shouldn't they be eternal if we are?
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
The root of Purgatory is medical, the purgeing of "badness" (infection, maybe, pushing the analogy) from the body. Whilst, in medical terms this may be unpleasant (for example, chemotherapy) that is incidental rather than inherent in the process. It is not the unpleasantness that makes the medicine effective, rather it may be unpleasant because the medicine is effective. I have to say that I am sceptical about the the idea that God's removal of everything of value from a person, whilst it may have some benefit for character improvement, is likely to do much to improve that person's disposition towards God.

Tim's concept was a *second* purgatory - or perhaps a fork in the road, in purgatory - you go one way and the "disease of sin" is purged out of you, but you choose the other way and everything of value is purged out, thus "preparing" you for hell - and the concept of that I found a little scary, thus the "eep!" So everything of value would only be purged from those who consistently chose to walk away from God (implying a fairly fixed disposition).

quote:
Papio said
To posit an afterlife of any description is in my view to impose an unbearable burden on every action, on every thought, on every sentence that we utter and upon eveything that we feel. It makes the act of being a parent far more complex and difficult if one's children shall be eternal.

yeah, it's a problem, isn't it? Everything we do matters, everything has lasting significance - we are weaving the cloth of our eternal existence as we live forward. I think of the "I am the potter, you are the clay" image of God and see that He determined what was in us, to begin with, He shapes us as He pleases, and He allows the fire to burn out the impurities and "fix" us (in both the "correct" and "establish" sense of the word) so that we come out of the kiln as something which doesn't dissolve in water and has the tensile strength to stand up to use. Some of us may come out looking rather like lattice-work, because so much "wood, hay and stubble" got burned away (by life and by the refiner's fire, be that an ongoing purgatory or an immediate one). And yes, the implication for parents is enormous and terrifying (and you can't think about it and do your job at the same time - so you just do the best you can at any given moment and *trust*).


quote:
I have not included a belief system in which a loving and just God co-exists with eternal damnation because, try as I may, I simply cannot make head nor tail of such a belief and consider it to be an a par with arguing for the existance of square circles.
I'm not saying that it's easy to live in the tension of it, but as I grow more in my experience and understanding of God and His word, I am convinced that God is both infinitely more loving and infinitely more perfect and just than I can imagine. At the end of the day, HE is the one who has to make it work, not us. You are accountable for what you do with the knowledge you have; you don't have to figure out how it works out for prehistoric aborigines who never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus as Savior. God, in His complete and perfect love, has that mastered (and we will find His solution is better than anything we could have come up with).

But the "cosmic meanie" image of God interferes with a lot. My concept was of a strict, humorless teacher testing me on things he'd never covered in class - definitely an oppressive view. It was a tremendous relief to recognize what I was suffering and get out from under the boulder. It helped me to read the Bible straight through fairly quickly, Genesis to Revelation (actually, I tend to pull out the Psalms and Proverbs when I do this, and read them in bits throughout the process) - it gives me the sense of the "arc" of this vast story, and I lose the sense of unity when I skip around. But most people are actually taught to skip around (reading straight through, they hit Leviticus and get bogged down).
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
I'm not saying that it's easy to live in the tension of it, but as I grow more in my experience and understanding of God and His word, I am convinced that God is both infinitely more loving and infinitely more perfect and just than I can imagine. At the end of the day, HE is the one who has to make it work, not us. You are accountable for what you do with the knowledge you have; you don't have to figure out how it works out for prehistoric aborigines who never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus as Savior. God, in His complete and perfect love, has that mastered (and we will find His solution is better than anything we could have come up with).

Okay, so here's my snag. (By the way, thanks Papio and Lynn and Joyful for being super honest about all of this--I think it's good for you to know that I really respect all three of you for different reasons but especially for your willingness to be honest and just believe what you believe...)

If God really is so much more loving and so much more just than I can imagine, and I can imagine him saving everyone from damnation, then he'd have to be EVEN MORE loving and EVEN MORE just than saving everyone, get it?

How on earth does anybody go from that premise to the idea that what is MORE loving and MORE just than saving everyone is probably damning a large portion of humanity to hell? There is no sense in the world that there just "should be a hell," we get our concept of hell from church and from scripture. It's something that is passed down through oral and written tradition, but I contend that it does not come naturally.

What WOULD come naturally is a DESIRE to see people you don't like, or disagree with, or feel some sort of hatred or disdain towards, to see them receive some sort of "just dessert" for their actions. People who say universalism is just "wishful thinking" don't consider the fact that our deepest desires are probably FOR a hell--one for our enemies and for "bad" people.

But I don't see anything in the world that suggests that there "should be" a hell, or that it would contain any bit of justice to damn some of us there for eternity (as opposed to all of us, which surprisingly I could accept much more easily). So hell comes down to believing oral and written tradition (which, by the way, can then affect how we perceive different supernatural experiences, and how we interpret them) OVER experience entirely. Completely disregarding everything we believe about love and justice and somehow coming to the conclusion that:

"Hey, God knows what he's doing. He's just probably SO loving and SO just that he damns people to hell on the basis of their beliefs on earth, which has to be pretty much the HIGHEST form of love and justice. I mean, how amazing is that? Praise God!"

No offense to anyone who believes in hell. I just agree with Papio on this little part--my mind has no comprehension for a natural belief in hell as consistent with God's love and justice.

-Digory
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
"Hey, God knows what he's doing. He's just probably SO loving and SO just that he damns people to hell on the basis of their beliefs on earth, which has to be pretty much the HIGHEST form of love and justice. I mean, how amazing is that? Praise God!"

When you* say it like that, that point of view and perspective of so-called "mercy" or "love" sound totally loathsome. I have no disagreement with Papio or PK or Demas or PaulTH* or PhilA or _____, that seems kind of most foul and horrible. Not to mention - that does not seem to reflect a God of goodness and tremendous love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace. A God - who in his own words said that he was slow to anger, quick to forgive, and delights in showing mercy and kindness to humankind.

So let me try to explain how I reconcile hell and a so-called loving God. I don't even know it is possible - so I do appreciate your challenges and criticisms of my view. I really must confess that I really don't know jack, but this is my own (confessedly incoherent) view - so here it is.

From my own personal philosophy (which I must confess has a small tint of existentialism - in that meaning is what you make of it etc.), our choices and what make up our hearts have meaning.

I believe that though sin does taint us and causes us to live incomplete and broken lives, none the less, we are responsible for the decisions and choices and actions we take. I believed this even when I was an athiest. There's a quote from Penn Jillette (and article that Golden Key posted on the Narnia thread):

quote:
Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.
That's kind of what I believed too. That I shouldn't bank on a god's forgiveness - so I should make more of an effort to be thoughtful and considerate and sensitive and kind the first time around because I didn't believe in a second chance to make things right.

These are not exactly my views today - though I still believe in the significance of our lives, our souls, and our actions.

It may be the case that I'm some sort of sick fool but I think the things I do - whether for the good or evil or indifferent - I think they matter.

Poor CS Lewis has been quoted all over this board and I might be doing him a grave injustice here, but if you will permit me - I really feel that his words are relevant:

quote:
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet,if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or another of these destinations.

(from Weight of Glory)

Here is where I might seem slightly incoherent - and forgive me for sounding like a broken record - but I really feel that free will and our understandings of it have to do with this topic at hand.

My understanding is that God gave us free will and I bet it broke his heart too because it means that people can choose to hurt one another if they want to. It means that they cuss God but it also means that they can choose to love Him/Her if they want to.

I personally hate free will. I look at the crap of this world and I think everyday we would have so much less crap if people couldn't make choices. But for some reason (some people have told me that God wants people to choose to love him freely and not be robots), God gave the ability to make choices - some for good and so for bad.

So, I blame God for hell. Hell- as I currently see it- the tragedy and pain and utter devastation that I see on earth in the Holocaust and Rwanda and Iraq. The pain I have seen working with abused children. I blame Him/Her that gave me the ability to make a mess of things. That gave us the stupidity to have nuclear bombs that could blow up the world several times over.

At in that same moment, as I am distressed at this ability to both create for the good as well some harm - it dawns on me that - that is why Jesus Christ came.

To save us from hell. To help us move from brokenness to wholeness. To move from incompleteness and crap of this world to the delight of His/Her presence.

Earlier in this thread, I agreed with some posters:

quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
[God]would never sentence someone to eternal damnation unless they had as you said "sufficient data upon which to make such eternity-affecting choices." I believe that beings (both human, angelic) have those opportunities but still chose to reject God (hence Satan). I guess still believe that if there's a hell, some people will end up in there.

This comes from the notion of being able to make meaningful choices - in exercising the divine image in us to form or choose our own destinies. Additionally, I think God allows to us make choices (but I cannot conceive that God would allow anyone to suffer hell without being given "sufficient data to make eternity-affecting choices").

This is my personal belief, but I don't think God would force anyone to be with Him/Her if they truly didn't want it. One of the hardest things I have learned about love is letting go - if you truly love someone then you cannot force them to love you.

So it must have broken God's heart to give us free will.

This is my view. Feel free to challenge it or disregard it or whatever.


*I mean you plural or you general person not specific person
 
Posted by Dave Marshall (# 7533) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
How do we know what other animals are conscious of and we shouldn't they be eternal if we are?

My understanding is that, say a dog, might know as much about its world as we do about ours, but it doesn't know that it knows. It's this knowing what we (think we) know that seems to be what makes us different. I've only known one dog well, but for all the relationship I had with her and my sadness when she died, I never saw any reason to doubt that.

We've no way of knowing what an animal or any person except ourselves is conscious of, but we make a guess about other people. I'm making a similar guess about the dog.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Marshall:
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
How do we know what other animals are conscious of and we shouldn't they be eternal if we are?

My understanding is that, say a dog, might know as much about its world as we do about ours, but it doesn't know that it knows. It's this knowing what we (think we) know that seems to be what makes us different. I've only known one dog well, but for all the relationship I had with her and my sadness when she died, I never saw any reason to doubt that.

We've no way of knowing what an animal or any person except ourselves is conscious of, but we make a guess about other people. I'm making a similar guess about the dog.

This is already being discussed here on the thread titled "Species Cut-off Point for Salvation?"
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
If God really is so much more loving and so much more just than I can imagine, and I can imagine him saving everyone from damnation, then he'd have to be EVEN MORE loving and EVEN MORE just than saving everyone, get it?

How on earth does anybody go from that premise to the idea that what is MORE loving and MORE just than saving everyone is probably damning a large portion of humanity to hell?

The concepts of "saving" and "damning" are pretty fuzzy, though, when you think about it. What do these ideas really mean?

I, personally, would feel "saved" if my fondest desires were realized. Wouldn't a loving God permit everyone to love what they wished to love?

To be free, as I understand it, is the ability to do and think as I wish, and not feel forced one way or the other.

It seems to me that a loving God would make it possible for people to genuinely follow the path that they choose, whether it is the perfect path or not. Everyone is different.

I can't see any alternative to allowing free choice to extend even to letting people make choices that are, objectively speaking, very unhappy ones.

Otherwise, people are robots, and free will is only an illusion.

This isn't "damning" people to hell. It is simply allowing me to commit adultery, or to get drunk, if I prefer these things to fidelity and sobriety.

Objectively speaking, the latter two are more fun, but you can't expect everyone to agree about that.

God's argument is that the former will burn us like fire if we make them our way of life. This isn't "damning", it's just a way of describing the realities of life - whether temporal or eternal.

[ 30. November 2005, 01:56: Message edited by: Freddy ]
 
Posted by muchafraid (# 10738) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
The concepts of "saving" and "damning" are pretty fuzzy, though, when you think about it. What do these ideas really mean?

*warning: this is my first post in purgatory*

*warning part II: i post in all low caps...that's what i do*


i think that you've hit the target right here in this question, freddy. what do they really mean? people live to define these two terms, and most of the time do so simply to further their own personal agendas.

i want "salvation" to mean that god will raise me up to heaven when i die, give me a new body, and end my pain and suffering - *ding* - that's what salvation means. I want "damnation" to mean that all of those people who didn't pray a formulaic prayer to ask jesus into their hearts will eternally suffer the anguish of their choice while burning in hell - *zap* - that's what damnation means. i could even pull a few biblical references out to make my definitions seem even more persuasive.

whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(mark 16:16)

i think that writing definitions based on feelings and what we can piece together from the scriptures is a dangerous game to play. to accurately assess who god is going to choose to save, we need to be able to penetrate through the hearts of each individual person. fortunately, we lack that ability.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by muchafraid:
i think that writing definitions based on feelings and what we can piece together from the scriptures is a dangerous game to play.

But but but ... that's 99.44% of all modern theology! How can you be so cruel?! [Biased]
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
If God really is so much more loving and so much more just than I can imagine, and I can imagine him saving everyone from damnation, then he'd have to be EVEN MORE loving and EVEN MORE just than saving everyone, get it?

How on earth does anybody go from that premise to the idea that what is MORE loving and MORE just than saving everyone is probably damning a large portion of humanity to hell?

The concepts of "saving" and "damning" are pretty fuzzy, though, when you think about it. What do these ideas really mean?
I don't think we can fully know what they mean here on earth - we see through a glass darkly. So God is the only one who can actually define them and, since it's His definition we'll be using when push comes to shove, this is just as well. In the meantime, we're down here saying, "well, *I* think it means XYZ," followed by "no no no, it's XPQ!!! what's wrong with you?!" etc.

For me, I find one of the best things I can do is purpose in my heart to line up with Him - to be open to Him and teachable, to really wrestle with scripture, asking, "what do You mean here?!" and seeking answers.

I do think we load all this terms, including "loving" and "just," with our own preconceived notions of what those words mean, as we do with all language, all the time - but when we're talking God-stuff it gets much more dicey. So, with all respect, Digory, you may discover that your sense of what is "loving" is a wisp and a shadow of something quite different and much bigger.

In my simplicity, I'm tempted to think that for God to love me means that He will indulge my desires in order that I be happy. But humans are remarkably bad at knowing what will bring them lasting happiness (consider the divorce statistics... *sigh*) and God knows better than I do what I need, versus appetite.

Maybe I'm deficient in the vengeance gene, but I don't want to see my enemies go to hell. Sure, I'd like to see my enemies be miserable for a block of time, you know, go to the beach and get sunburned, walk around with sand in their bathing suits and chafe badly, maybe even a case of food poisoning to top it all off - temporal suffering I could get behind (I know I shouldn't but I'm being honest here) - but hellfire and damnation? No way. So when the accusation is made that folks who believe in hell/damnation are just reading their personal wishes into scripture and doctrine, I don't feel slimed at all because I know that is not the case.

I believe it because it's the most straightforward reading of scripture that *I* can manage. Others may be able to conclude with a universalist position but I've tried and I can't. So I must reluctantly believe what the Holy Spirit *in me* bears witness to. If the Holy Spirit in YOU (y'all) bears witness to universal salvation, GREAT. At the end of the day, it's God's domain and in that case He's got a reason for leading me one way and you another.

At least we're not bored!!!
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
quote:
I do think we load all this terms, including "loving" and "just," with our own preconceived notions of what those words mean, as we do with all language, all the time - but when we're talking God-stuff it gets much more dicey. So, with all respect, Digory, you may discover that your sense of what is "loving" is a wisp and a shadow of something quite different and much bigger.

Well, that's true, of course. But if we accept that God chooses to communicate with us, at whatever level, through a book, using the medium of words, then for that communication to be worth anything at all, the concepts conveyed by the words must be consistent, else there can be no meaningful communication at all, and we might as well pack up and go home. Now I have no problem whatsoever with the concept that my idea of love may be infinately inferior to God's idea of love. In fact, I rather assume and hope that it is the case! What I have the greatest difficulty in believing is that it can mean the polar opposite. To suggest that God's idea of love is to condemn perhaps the bulk of humanity to an eternity in hell seems, to me, to rob the word "love" of all its' meaning. We're in the realms of Alice, where a word means what we want it to mean, niether more nor less. As a means of imparting knowledge, it becomes meaningless.

By the way, whilst I'm here, I must just comment on a little gem you posted some way back.
quote:
Actually, I think the earthquakes/floods/bubonic plague do go hand-in-hand with fallen humanity - "creation groans," sin has weight and consequences even for the "innocent," so entropy grasps all of creation, like a giant shock-wave moving out from Eden and impacting the whole universe. The nature of what was created was changed by the creature.
This is my understanding also, and therefore [Biased] seems to me to be spot on!
 
Posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard (# 368) on :
 
Eee, I'd love to reply Ruth, in positive terms believe it or not ... mainly, but a truce is a truce.

And Papio, what cosmology of Genesis? I same a poem or two about God's absolute soveriegnty over creation.

And if you're rationalistically and way post-apostolicallymodernly right, there there's no harm done. But if you're wrong, on Satan and his demons (performing def metal at a venue near you SOON) then (i) there is HARM done, now, in many subtile and not so subtile (that's ravening lions for you) ways and (ii) your reaction in the resurrection is going to be a picture.

Of course for Satanic literalists there is also the potential for harm, but orders of magnitude less impacting.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalen:
...So, with all respect, Digory, you may discover that your sense of what is "loving" is a wisp and a shadow of something quite different and much bigger.

...Now I have no problem whatsoever with the concept that my idea of love may be infinately inferior to God's idea of love. In fact, I rather assume and hope that it is the case! What I have the greatest difficulty in believing is that it can mean the polar opposite. To suggest that God's idea of love is to condemn perhaps the bulk of humanity to an eternity in hell seems, to me, to rob the word "love" of all its' meaning. We're in the realms of Alice, where a word means what we want it to mean, niether more nor less. As a means of imparting knowledge, it becomes meaningless.
What Jolly said. [Smile]

-Digory
 
Posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard (# 368) on :
 
same? ... see, strewth, Alzheimers ...
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by muchafraid:
i think that writing definitions based on feelings and what we can piece together from the scriptures is a dangerous game to play. to accurately assess who god is going to choose to save, we need to be able to penetrate through the hearts of each individual person. fortunately, we lack that ability.

That is really it, though. We ALL play this game all the time, as dangerous as it is. Some of us rely on the Church and Tradition--some of us rely on Ourselves--some of us erect a tower of SOLA SCRIPTURA or something else, but we all have to play it. But even if we must play, we have to remember that we LACK the very necessary ability of seeing into a person's heart... even our own!!!

In that respect, we are left without knowing. Don't claim someone is going to hell--how do you know?

I love the word "fortunately" there. I am quite happy about it to, come to think of it.

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
What I have the greatest difficulty in believing is that it can mean the polar opposite. To suggest that God's idea of love is to condemn perhaps the bulk of humanity to an eternity in hell seems, to me, to rob the word "love" of all its' meaning. We're in the realms of Alice, where a word means what we want it to mean, niether more nor less. As a means of imparting knowledge, it becomes meaningless.

I don't think that "condemning perhaps the bulk of humanity" is what love means. But what do you mean by "condemning"?

My own premise is that people in the next life are pretty much like they are in this world. That is, they retain the same interests, preferences, beliefs, and personality. They are the same people. To change them radically would be to make them into a different person.

I may casually say that I would like God to take away all of my less desirable predilections, and fill me with love for all people. But the truth is that it would be pretty unpleasant to have my basic characteristics yanked out of me without my permission.

As I see it, a person's beliefs, opinions, likes and dislikes, and many similar things, are what make up the person. A person is essentially what they love.

How could a God of love take away a person's fundamental character? [Confused]

Or do we think that people can be eternally happy irrespective of their basic character and interests? [Confused]
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Freddy, do you think the descriptions usually ascribed to hell (or "not-heaven" if that suits us better) like "torment," "torture," "weeping," and "eternal suffering" are inaccurate? I like your idea that it is a fire that burns from our desires, but the typical vision of hell is a place that one cannot escape even if one desires to do so. It is usually thought of as a place of conscious suffering, rather than some sort of passive suffering that comes from "never being fully satisfied" etc.

I'm not saying I disagree with you, but I think the picture of Not-Heaven that you paint is hard to reconcile with many of the Biblical pictures typically pointed to. What do you do about that?

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Freddy, do you think the descriptions usually ascribed to hell (or "not-heaven" if that suits us better) like "torment," "torture," "weeping," and "eternal suffering" are inaccurate? I like your idea that it is a fire that burns from our desires, but the typical vision of hell is a place that one cannot escape even if one desires to do so. It is usually thought of as a place of conscious suffering, rather than some sort of passive suffering that comes from "never being fully satisfied" etc.

No, I think the descriptions of hell are perfectly accurate. It is a place of torment. But it isn't a place but rather the state of unhappiness that is inherent in wicked loves and desires.

The trouble is that it is difficult to convince people who have wicked loves and desires that these things are actually tormenting them. It becomes apparent only over the long run.
 
Posted by muchafraid (# 10738) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
We're in the realms of Alice, where a word means what we want it to mean, niether more nor less. As a means of imparting knowledge, it becomes meaningless.

and if that is the case with a single word such a "love," don't we then need to examine the other parts of scripture we have defined? i mean, i think what you're saying is that we choose to give meaning to words, phrases, and ideas - and those meanings are derived from our own need. our need to be right, our need to feel justified, our need to have control...the list goes on. it just scares me that if we can take the idea of god's love and come up with who knows how many definitions to fit our own criteria, how many other factions of the scriptures do we do that with? where do we draw the line? dare i say it - who defines the truth?

god help us if we do...
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Don't claim someone is going to hell--how do you know?

Spot on.

Who knows a person's heart but God?

And if we judge, we judge imperfectly because we are imperfect. And it is silly to usurp God's right or pretend that we are God - as if we control other people's eternal destinies.

While we may not know a specific person's heart, that is not to deny that people do make choices and I believe that God respects them and loves them enough to allow them to make choices.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by muchafraid:
it just scares me that if we can take the idea of god's love and come up with who knows how many definitions to fit our own criteria, how many other factions of the scriptures do we do that with? where do we draw the line? dare i say it - who defines the truth?

god help us if we do...

We don't. I believe that Christians use Scripture to draw these lines. In theory the truth can be found by the intelligent, informed, contextual comparison of what is said on a topic throughout the Scriptures.

If that doesn't work, or if we don't have confidence in that method, then, yes, it gets pretty subjective. [Paranoid]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
It is usually thought of as a place of conscious suffering, rather than some sort of passive suffering that comes from "never being fully satisfied" etc.

Digory, I'm just thinking of my own experience with people who are in agony.

It is hard to generalize about it, because it comes in so many forms. But it may be safe to say that real suffering and agony happens when a person's situation is profoundly different than what they desire and expect. The more profound the difference, the greater the suffering.

This would be true of extreme poverty, sickness, hunger, addictions, being victimized by crime, and other physical forms of hardship. It also includes the agonies of failed relationships, dysfunctional families, and unhappy employment situations.

These are the kinds of things that extreme unhappiness is about. Nobody really chooses them, but they do happen. People also know that there are ways to avoid, or at least reduce the chances of being victimized by, these kinds of hardships.

It makes sense to me that this is also what the "fires of hell" are about.

As I understand it, when someone dies and wakes up in the next life, they then proceed to make a life for themselves according to their own desires and expectations. If they love God and wish to serve other people, they seek out opportunities to do this, and find friendship with people who share their interests. On the other hand, if they do not love God and are looking only to serve themselves, they seek different kinds of opportunities and different kinds of friends.

Everything follows from a person's basic interests and beliefs. Self-centered interests, and willfully erroneous beliefs, lead to the same kind of misery that they do in this world. Hell is all about failed relationships, miserable work situations, abusive friendships, addictions, poverty, hunger and disease.

But what is called "hell" is a life just like life in this world. The only difference is that inner qualities are more visible and extreme, and social controls less effective.

I'm just trying to get at a more realistic, and less caricatured, idea of what suffering is. This is not about "never being fully satisfied". This is real agony - the same kind of agony that is not that unfamiliar to most of us.

[ 01. December 2005, 00:22: Message edited by: Freddy ]
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
I just wanted to add that several different words in the bible for what we in English call "hell." I haven't studied much of those words but I'm sure they are significant (e.g. sheol, hades etc).

I also want to add, looking at scriptures and looking at where Jesus is talking about hell, none of the parables that he told ended up like: "Yesiree, Bob. Elwin did not accept me as Lord and Savior or have a personal relationship with me- so I tossed him in a lake of burning fire."
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
I also want to add, looking at scriptures and looking at where Jesus is talking about hell, none of the parables that he told ended up like: "Yesiree, Bob. Elwin did not accept me as Lord and Savior or have a personal relationship with me- so I tossed him in a lake of burning fire."

True, but he did say, "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town."
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Everything follows from a person's basic interests and beliefs. Self-centered interests, and willfully erroneous beliefs, lead to the same kind of misery that they do in this world. Hell is all about failed relationships, miserable work situations, abusive friendships, addictions, poverty, hunger and disease.

I'm going with you here. Next question.

What about the fact that a lot of failed relationships, miserable work situations, abusive friendships, addictions, poverty, hunger and disease is brought on to people by no choice of their own? I know you admitted that, but I'm trying to work out how that affects your scenario. I would think that post-death, people would at least be free from those kind of negative effects that hold them down in this life. If you strip away all of the incidents of those above things that aren't the product of our bad choices, what'd be left?

I suppose there still might be some people who continue to make bad choices for themselves even free from their situations and circumstances. These are the people who will remain in a sort of personal hell and real suffering, as you see it?

And secondly, do you think those people will have any chance of realizing their erroneous ways/desires and seeking redemption even post-death? For all eternity? Will hell finally empty itself eventually, even if it takes eternal years?

-Digory
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Freddy, you asked:
quote:
I don't think that "condemning perhaps the bulk of humanity" is what love means. But what do you mean by "condemning"?

I was referring more to the traditional view (though we could argue, not the Traditional view) of Hell, rather than the more nuanced position that you take.

Also:
quote:
My own premise is that people in the next life are pretty much like they are in this world. That is, they retain the same interests, preferences, beliefs, and personality. They are the same people. To change them radically would be to make them into a different person.

I may casually say that I would like God to take away all of my less desirable predilections, and fill me with love for all people. But the truth is that it would be pretty unpleasant to have my basic characteristics yanked out of me without my permission.

As I see it, a person's beliefs, opinions, likes and dislikes, and many similar things, are what make up the person. A person is essentially what they love.

How could a God of love take away a person's fundamental character?

Or do we think that people can be eternally happy irrespective of their basic character and interests?

Well, a complex and perceptive approach, and, to a degree, one with which I have sympathy. My position (and it is but provisional - I haven't got it fully sorted in my head, much less on virtual paper) is that you are correct in saying that God does not take away our fundamental character, and that this character is revealed or manifested at the end of this life.

However, I believe that this character, which will have its' individuality, if you like, intact, has never been fully manifested in this life because it has been, to a greater or lesser extent, marred by the "disease" of sin. When that disease is healed at the resurrection of the body, our character will be revealed as it would have been if we had never sinned! Of course, for some of us, who have begun our healing process in this life, the apparent change will be relatively small. For others, whose lives on this earth have been so disfigured that the image of God in them appears to us to be almost totally absent, the change will seem, to the onlooker, to make that person almost unrecognisable. But the person themselves will know it is still them, save only that they are released from the constraints which excluded them from being who they really were.

Don't know if I could totally back this up from scripture as yet, but it sort of makes sense for me.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
But if we accept that God chooses to communicate with us, at whatever level, through a book, using the medium of words, then for that communication to be worth anything at all, the concepts conveyed by the words must be consistent, else there can be no meaningful communication at all, and we might as well pack up and go home. Now I have no problem whatsoever with the concept that my idea of love may be infinately inferior to God's idea of love. In fact, I rather assume and hope that it is the case! What I have the greatest difficulty in believing is that it can mean the polar opposite. To suggest that God's idea of love is to condemn perhaps the bulk of humanity to an eternity in hell seems, to me, to rob the word "love" of all its' meaning.

I think God's idea of love is best illustrated by the Incarnation and the Cross; nobody can legitimately accuse God of not "doing enough" to save humanity. I am simply not able to manage a universalist reading of scripture, which leaves me in a place where it looks like God does, lovingly, allow people to distance themselves from Him. As I've said before, I have *no problem* being wrong - if I get to heaven and Jesus says, "Lynn, whatever were you thinking?!" I'll be well-pleased.

As for the world of Alice, I think the twisting and torquing of language is very much something the enemy does and if he can connive to get a bunch of Christians to believe that God is mean because He is just, that's quite an accomplishment. I do not have complete confidence in our 21st century view of the word "love," having watched a number of good and powerful words undermined and denatured in my relatively short lifespan - consider "tolerance," which now means "approval," and "awesome," which now means "dude, that is sooo cool!"

And thanks for appreciating my "little gem" !!!

quote:
posted by Freddy

No, I think the descriptions of hell are perfectly accurate. It is a place of torment. But it isn't a place but rather the state of unhappiness that is inherent in wicked loves and desires.

As I read, I got this image of assorted people being totally miserable in the midst of a wonderful environment - and unfortunately, I've seen examples of that kind of behavior (or choice), so I know it's possible - eep! There's a tale about a soul who has died and at the pearly gates is given the opportunity to view both heaven and hell. Hell is an enormous banquet hall with FABULOUS food weighing down long tables and on either side of the tables people are sitting, weeping, groaning, because instead of hands they have very long eating utensils and, try though they may, they cannot manage to get the food into their mouths. Heaven is exactly the same setting and the people still have long eating utensils instead of hands - but they are laughing and talking and *feeding each other.*

quote:
The trouble is that it is difficult to convince people who have wicked loves and desires that these things are actually tormenting them. It becomes apparent only over the long run.
If any of you have seen the movie, "The Aviator" on DVD, there is a fascinating bonus feature, a discussion with one of UCLA's top psychiatrists who speaks about Hughes' obsessive-compulsive disorder and how, as an engineer, he would have been a very good patient and could have understood that his problem was like a badly wired switch, so the things which he felt compelled to do were actually making him more and more ill - which resonates so much with your statement, above.

quote:
Jolly Jape said:
However, I believe that this character, which will have its' individuality, if you like, intact, has never been fully manifested in this life because it has been, to a greater or lesser extent, marred by the "disease" of sin. When that disease is healed at the resurrection of the body, our character will be revealed as it would have been if we had never sinned! Of course, for some of us, who have begun our healing process in this life, the apparent change will be relatively small. For others, whose lives on this earth have been so disfigured that the image of God in them appears to us to be almost totally absent, the change will seem, to the onlooker, to make that person almost unrecognisable. But the person themselves will know it is still them, save only that they are released from the constraints which excluded them from being who they really were.

I think there's a lot of truth in that, and it addresses an aspect of Freddy's view which troubles me ("we're pretty much the same, there and here"). I work with some profoundly damaged individuals whose capacity to trust and love and live with any kind of freedom has been severely limited by truly the evil behavior perpetrated upon them. I do not believe these people will continue in that state of brokenness in heaven.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
I think there's a lot of truth in that, and it addresses an aspect of Freddy's view which troubles me ("we're pretty much the same, there and here"). I work with some profoundly damaged individuals whose capacity to trust and love and live with any kind of freedom has been severely limited by truly the evil behavior perpetrated upon them. I do not believe these people will continue in that state of brokenness in heaven.

I agree with JJ also.

While I think that we are "pretty much the same" in the next life as here, I mean that in the sense that we are essentially the same person. I think that this means that we are the person that has been deep within us all along. But often, as you point out, that inner person is entrapped by problems that prevent its true expression in this world. Any state of brokenness due to circumstances, mental or physical illness, or similar things is removed in the next life.

The only thing that remains is what is freely chosen, and what the person would freely choose again and again stretching forward into eternity. If information or experience can change the choice then they will change it.

The point is that everyone gets the chance to be who they really and truly desire to be, and they have unlimited time to modify that desire, and to keep on modifying it forever.

This ought to mean that everyone ends up in a truly happy state. In heaven.

The rub, I think, is that it is possible to genuinely prefer serving oneself to serving God, and to prefer the delights of that love to heavenly delight. Even when fully informed and over the very long haul. While we may objectively see that this is agony and torture, everyone is entitled to their own point of view.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Gosh, Lynn, you must be an early riser! And to be able to think at that time, too! Seriously impressed!
quote:
I am simply not able to manage a universalist reading of scripture, which leaves me in a place where it looks like God does, lovingly, allow people to distance themselves from Him.
Fair enough, I have difficulty with the opposite implications, and, as I say, my views are provisional.

quote:
I think the twisting and torquing of language is very much something the enemy does and if he can connive to get a bunch of Christians to believe that God is mean because He is just, that's quite an accomplishment. I do not have complete confidence in our 21st century view of the word "love," having watched a number of good and powerful words undermined and denatured in my relatively short lifespan - consider "tolerance," which now means "approval," and "awesome," which now means "dude, that is sooo cool!"

This is an interesting area. Of course language changes over the years, not necessarily from wrong motives. When modern revisers of biblical translation replaced "charity" with "love" it was in an attempt to get clarity in expression, and I think we would both agree that this is a good thing. Words do change over time, you mentioned two which have done so, I could add "conversation" which was the 16th century equivalent of a word that did not exist then, "lifestyle".

Thus, we take with us, say, our current understanding of baptism, that is, containing the concept of initiation and try to make the biblical concept of baptism fit within it. Which may be fine if we are talking about either infant or believers baptism, but not so good if we talk about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as if it were an initiative event, rather than an ongoing process. Of course the root is to waterlog, but we have lost that sense, and picked up a new meaning from its association.

But there is also a problem with the inadequacy of words in the English (or any other) language, which have developed from human situations, being used to represent transcendant matters.

I think that words such as justice, and judgement, have suffered in this way. We really don't have a word free of secular associations which can adequately convey the whole meaning of God's justice, so we are reduced largely to analogy. Judgement (the declaration of God's truth) is contaminated by penal associations to mean condemnation, and so on.
 
Posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard (# 368) on :
 
JollyJape - excellent point on disease masking development. I'm convinced, despite the dread separation of sheep and goats, no other name under heaven etc that we're going to be gobsmacked by God's unbelievable liberality of grace in the blood of Christ. If His blood utterly redeems me in my pathetic sanctification, which it does, and there will be and IS full restitution for all things, then those who are currently damned to Hell legally and apparently, not just our nice heathen neighbours but scumbags, surely will NOT have a one-way ticket to outer darkness?

I'm DESPERATE to be a liberal see.
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
And if you're rationalistically and way post-apostolicallymodernly right, there there's no harm done. But if you're wrong, on Satan and his demons (performing def metal at a venue near you SOON) then (i) there is HARM done, now, in many subtile and not so subtile (that's ravening lions for you) ways and (ii) your reaction in the resurrection is going to be a picture.

Of course for Satanic literalists there is also the potential for harm, but orders of magnitude less impacting.

I assumed that a fundy would deny that there were two vreation accounts in Genesis. [Biased] [Razz]

As for the existance of demons - I'll take the risk, thanks.

As for Death Metal - I like some of it. Do you really think demons would play death metal? Oh, come on. They would be much subtler than that. The lady I overheard on the bus the other who claimed that heavy metal was powered by Dark Spirits knows less about those Spirits then I do - and I don't even belive they exist.
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:

quote:
While we may not know a specific person's heart, that is not to deny that people do make choices and I believe that God respects them and loves them enough to allow them to make choices.
Again we come down to that interpretation of free will. I think I could walk the length and breadth of this island(Gt Britain) and never find anyone who wants to suffer eternal damnation. Even more so when they die and it stares them in the face. This idea which I have heard so many times that "no-one goes to hell unless they choose to" is as absurd as it is obscene. People lead heedless lives oblivious of the potential consequences of their hedonistic lifestyles, but that is a far cry from wanting to go to hell.

This is the greatest and most despicable evil of Christian doctrine. What the hellmongers invariably say is: believe what we believe or roast. Not everyone who has difficulties with certain aspects of Christian doctrine is rejecting Christ. Not everyone who doesn't get it right in their head is rejecting Christ. Not everyone who dies in their own wounded ego is rejecting Christ. No-one will reject Christ when the appalling misery of their sinful lives is brought home to them. Only He can reject them. That is impossible for a God of love.
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
I think the people who say "cross every T and dot every I just as we do or you are damned" are not in the least worshipping Christ.

I think they were worshipping their own arrogance and will be in for a shock should judgement day ever come. "Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord"".
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:

quote:
While we may not know a specific person's heart, that is not to deny that people do make choices and I believe that God respects them and loves them enough to allow them to make choices.
Again we come down to that interpretation of free will. I think I could walk the length and breadth of this island(Gt Britain) and never find anyone who wants to suffer eternal damnation.
I totally agree. I would extend that walk to breath of the earth (and beyond for those who believe in extraterrestrial lifeforms). Unless the person is clinincally insane and/or has no pain receptors (or no concept of pain or fear), no living creature would say, "Please, please let me exist in agony."

On the otherhand, I cannot imagine anyone else similarly asking to have heart attacks or obesity or die from cancer relating to smoking or wanting some sort of addiction such as those from alcohol or drugs. Or the broken-heartness of an affair...

Many people choose things that are not good for them. Nobody wants to suffer the negatives consequences of eating junk food excessively or possessing a destroyed liver from alcohol or having damaged lungs from smoking. And it happens anyways.

For example, the doctors told my grandfather that it would kill him if he didn't stop smoking. So he stopped for many years. He was able to break his addiction, thank God. No one around him smoked. His health greatly improved and his life was better. Later, he decided that the doctors were stupid and were just trying to scare him so he started smoking again. Sadly, he died very, very painfully throat cancer.

I have no doubt my grandfather did not want die in such a horrible way.

We cannot act in a way completely opposed to our better interests and expect that no negative consequences will happen.

quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
Even more so when they die and it stares them in the face. This idea which I have heard so many times that "no-one goes to hell unless they choose to" is as absurd as it is obscene.

Again, many people (including myself) make choices that go against our better interests. I know I should exercise and eat less chocolate. I don't want to gain more weight. But unless I do anything about it, I will probably gain a whole stone this year! In a way, I am making a choice that I don't want the consequences of.

quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
This is the greatest and most despicable evil of Christian doctrine. What the hellmongers invariably say is: believe what we believe or roast.

All I know is that Jesus is the gate. I have a feeling I might see atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims in heaven, though. I certainly hope so. Who knows how many people are actually following God without knowing it?

quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
Not everyone who has difficulties with certain aspects of Christian doctrine is rejecting Christ.

Spot on - that exactly what I feel too.

quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
Not everyone who doesn't get it right in their head is rejecting Christ.

Spot on - ditto.

quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
No-one will reject Christ when the appalling misery of their sinful lives is brought home to them.

This is where we disagree.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
This idea which I have heard so many times that "no-one goes to hell unless they choose to" is as absurd as it is obscene. People lead heedless lives oblivious of the potential consequences of their hedonistic lifestyles, but that is a far cry from wanting to go to hell.

Paul,
In agreement with Joyfulsoul, I think the question is whether people really will change or not.

I agree that it would seem that people would give up a hedonistic lifestyle if they realized that it was harming them. But it would also seem that people would eat less if they realized that what they were eating was harming their health. Statistics show otherwise.

As Woody Allen said in "Love and Death": "Sex without love is an empty experience, but as empty experiences go, it's not bad."

People seek empty experiences all the time. Once they realize how empty they are many, or even most, people give them up. But not everyone.

There are things much worse, and more addictive, than empty experiences. People behave in ways that are self-centered and hurtful to others. Why do we think that everyone will be willing to give these up after death?
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
To the extent that Jesus is usually understood as talking about hell it would appear to be in the nature of a punishment externally imposed - and very much against the will of the people being punished/chastised.

Paul talks about grace overcoming our inability to choose the Good - he talks about us being saved despite our desires.

Neither talk about us saving or damning ourselves - they talk about the actions of God on us.

The descriptions above of us damning ourselves to heaven or hell seem rather devoid of the actions of God. It is almost as if you are describing karma, or a simple law of nature (if you smoke, you may get lung cancer). It is as if God has nothing to do with us suffering eternally as a response to our own actions. This may make God seem less to blame, but I don't know if it is really justifiable.

I am also wary of extrapolating to Hell as Eternal Torment (which is the usual use of the word) from our experiences of evil and suffering on earth. Everything we experience here is, of necessity, limited. That God allows limited suffering on earth does not mean that he allows unlimited suffering elsewhere.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
To the extent that Jesus is usually understood as talking about hell it would appear to be in the nature of a punishment externally imposed - and very much against the will of the people being punished/chastised.

Yes, He does. I take His words as divine truth.

The descriptions are, to my mind, metaphoric. Worms that do not die? Unquenchable fire? How do you even visualize that?

I agree that the suffering appears to be externally imposed, and that no one would willingly submit to it.

My argument is that this is just the way that it appears. The suffering is actually self imposed, because it is inherent in evil intentions and actions.

Evil desires have delights connected with them, because they favor self-centered and worldly loves. Self-centered and worldly delights are good and legitimate when subordinated to love to God and the neighbor. It is only when they rule that evil comes into it, along with the unhappiness that evil inevitably brings. People choose the delights, not the suffering, but the two go together.

The reason that I say that this suffering is self imposed, and not imposed by God - despite the teaching of Scripture - is that this is consistent with how Scripture works.

The Bible usually attributes everything to God, both blessings and punishments, so that people will grasp the over-arching principle that God rules everything. But I think that a more complete understanding of Scripture shows that God only does good, and does not actually punish.
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Paul talks about grace overcoming our inability to choose the Good - he talks about us being saved despite our desires.

I agree. God saves us, not we ourselves. Our desires do tend towards evil because they tend towards natural and not spiritual things, and we are saved despite them. God changes them in us if we trust in Him and try to do as He teaches.
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
I am also wary of extrapolating to Hell as Eternal Torment (which is the usual use of the word) from our experiences of evil and suffering on earth.

Why not? Eternal fire is so unreal that it is almost impossible to believe in. The real suffering that people experience is a much closer parallel.

But I agree that things are somewhat different in the spiritual world, and so no earthly description will quite match the reality.
 
Posted by Luigi (# 4031) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
This idea which I have heard so many times that "no-one goes to hell unless they choose to" is as absurd as it is obscene. People lead heedless lives oblivious of the potential consequences of their hedonistic lifestyles, but that is a far cry from wanting to go to hell.

Paul,
In agreement with Joyfulsoul, I think the question is whether people really will change or not.

I agree that it would seem that people would give up a hedonistic lifestyle if they realized that it was harming them. But it would also seem that people would eat less if they realized that what they were eating was harming their health. Statistics show otherwise.

As Woody Allen said in "Love and Death": "Sex without love is an empty experience, but as empty experiences go, it's not bad."

People seek empty experiences all the time. Once they realize how empty they are many, or even most, people give them up. But not everyone.

There are things much worse, and more addictive, than empty experiences. People behave in ways that are self-centered and hurtful to others. Why do we think that everyone will be willing to give these up after death?

Freddy - I line up with those who have enormous problems with hell and don't think your efforts to euphemise them away are convincing.

As far as I can gather in trying to minimise the problem of hell, you end up with all humanity facing an eternity in which we are all just as screwed up as we are in this life. Put simply, you've made the whole concept of an after life (including heaven!) deeply unattractive.

How you fit in any concept of separation I don't know?

Also the idea that those of us who subordinate our worldly ideas to spiritual desires, will be fine, probably doesn't have legs. Many of my decisions that were most orthodox (small o) have been very self-centred. Indeed, if the reason that we should act in certain ways is to give us long term benefits rather than short term ones - as you are arguing we should - then this exemplifies my point.

Finally, you seem to think that metaphor can get us out of every difficult corner. (You did the same with the OT genocides). Whilst metaphor is important and useful in our discourse about God, I don't think it makes every problem so vague and ill-defined that it makes them disappear in a puff of smoke.

Luigi

[ 02. December 2005, 06:13: Message edited by: Luigi ]
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
I want the taste of the chocolate and I want it now. The fact that I have to forego the chocolate on a consistent, longterm basis (and exercise more) to change the shape of my thighs is not very satisfying - and the chocolate is immediate. We can enjoy the activity and desperately not want the consequences attached to the activity, but the two are twined together.

Even in the context of the atonement, while we are forgiven the sin, we may still suffer some of the consequences of the sin (but not the ultimate consequence: eternal death and separation from God) - so I may go out to a very expensive meal and then discover I left my money at home. Jesus graciously steps in and pays my bill - but I still consumed the calories (and may suffer indigestion), even though I didn't have to pay for the meal neither did I get arrested for theft. There are many complex levels of action and consequence.

Yeah, nobody says, "hmmm, I think I choose eternal suffering!" but it follows the other life choices. It's a lot like me saying, "I choose not to be fat" while consuming 2,000 calories of chocolate a day - I might not want to be fat, but all my behaviors are going to lead to that end.

Amazingly, God does an end run around the ultimate consequence, substituting the perfect blood of Christ for my foul substance. But saying, "I reject the blood of Jesus and I want no part of God - I want to do as I damn well please," leads inevitably to separation from God as much as my lousy diet leads to my impressive girth.

MAYBE God imposes a change of heart on those who resist Him, although I don't see that as consistent with His character as He reveals it in scripture. But short of that imposition, I don't see how to get to "everybody is saved in the end." Perhaps there's a very long slow purgatory and, seeing themselves backed into the corner, people change their hearts - but that's not the image Jesus gives us with Lazarus (the beggar, not Mary & Martha's brother) and the rich man.

We have an amazing capacity to look at God, most wonderful and awesome, and still say, "how dare You ask me to worship You!"
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Lynn:
quote:
Amazingly, God does an end run around the ultimate consequence, substituting the perfect blood of Christ for my foul substance. But saying, "I reject the blood of Jesus and I want no part of God - I want to do as I damn well please," leads inevitably to separation from God as much as my lousy diet leads to my impressive girth.
Going back to chocolate, you have accepted, in some sense, that if you were wiser/had more willpower, you would, in fact, determine that it is better for your thighs if you opt not to eat the chocolate. So, in some sense, in doing so, you are acting irrationally. Now I wouldn't like to pursue the analogy too far, but could that irrationality not have a parallel with sin. I certainly think that sin could be thought of in some ways as "irrationality writ large".

Now why do we behave irrationally? Here, I guess it's important to say that I'm not talking about, if you like, spontanaity, which is such an important part of what it means to be human. I'm not talking about acts which have no rational basis, like buying flowers for your mum - (this is where the chocolate analogy breaks down) rather I'm talking about destructive behaviour patterns. Have these things been done as a free and open choice, or have they been done because of an external constraint upon our lives.

If the former, then God would clearly have to override that free and open choice in order to break that destructive behaviour pattern. If the latter, then it would only be necessary for God to remove the external constraint, in order for us to make the choices which we would have made had the constraints not applied. Thus our free will is retained.

Now if you take the former view, the logical conclusion is, I agree, that it leaves one
quote:
in a place where it looks like God does, lovingly, allow people to distance themselves from Him.
.

However, If we take the second approach, put simply, as Paul would have it, that we are slaves to sin, then no-one's free will is violated by the fact that God takes away (not forgives, that's a done deal) sin from us at the resurrection of the body. We simply become free to choose what we would always have chosen had we been free to so choose, that is, life over death.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
I thoroughly agree - I think that irrationality has a tremendous parallel with sin (it's why I brought it up) - I *wish* my life was more ruled by my rational self, instead of my impetuous self-indulgent self. And this is a place where that story of "which dog wins the fight?" is answered by "the one I feed the most" is quite apt - am I "feeding" my wise, rational, godly self or my self-indulgent overgrown 5-year old self?! eeep! Let's not go there! Ah, too late.

It makes me think of Pharaoh, in Exodus 8-14, roughly, and how frequently is says "Pharaoh hardened his heart" as well as "the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart" - it looks to me like the time comes when God establishes us in our ongoing willful choices (which is a different dynamic from the sin under which we suffer and struggle but don't yet have victory). Am I making any sense?!
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
although I must say, I really like
quote:

However, If we take the second approach, put simply, as Paul would have it, that we are slaves to sin, then no-one's free will is violated by the fact that God takes away (not forgives, that's a done deal) sin from us at the resurrection of the body. We simply become free to choose what we would always have chosen had we been free to so choose, that is, life over death.

and I hope it's true.
 
Posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard (# 368) on :
 
You take all the risks you want, Papio, but don't expect a brother-in-Christ to say nothing about it. Especially when the risks you take are in public and contrary ... I'm sorry non-dialectiaclly and esoterically superior to to the Church, the apostles and the gospels.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
I line up with those who have enormous problems with hell and don't think your efforts to euphemise them away are convincing.

Luigi,

Yes, maybe they are not convincing. At the same time, having "enormous problems with hell" puts us at variance with a fairly central teaching of Christianity. Do you think my efforts to explain away those problems are worse than the way these things are traditionally understood?

I understand it when you say that I am "euphemising" hell. I don't mean to. I just want a real afterlife, as opposed to the comic book view that we traditionally use.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
As far as I can gather in trying to minimise the problem of hell, you end up with all humanity facing an eternity in which we are all just as screwed up as we are in this life. Put simply, you've made the whole concept of an after life (including heaven!) deeply unattractive.

OK. Sorry about that. I thought that I was only making people in hell screwed up.

To make the afterlife more attractive, let me add these elements.
These features, and others like them, make heaven an attractive place to me. It also seems to me that similar features could make earth into a similar paradise. That is, if humanity could learn to work together and serve God, the world would be a better place. This is what Christians pray for in the Lord's prayer, and I think that it is not an unreasonable hope.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
How you fit in any concept of separation I don't know?

The separation is accounted for in point 1 above. Birds of a feather flock together.

In the spiritual world this is a strong tendency not only because there is no physical space, but also because of the nature of that world. Being spiritual, and not material, means that spiritual things are what people see. So the real quality of every person is visible, which makes distinctions easy in that world that are difficult or impossible in this world. As Jesus said:
quote:
Luke 12:2 For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.
Jesus means a number of things here, but one of them is that our genuine character is revealed after death - and we find our spiritual home accordingly.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Also the idea that those of us who subordinate our worldly ideas to spiritual desires, will be fine, probably doesn't have legs. Many of my decisions that were most orthodox (small o) have been very self-centred. Indeed, if the reason that we should act in certain ways is to give us long term benefits rather than short term ones - as you are arguing we should - then this exemplifies my point.

You are probably right. Could you give an example so I can understand what you mean?
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Finally, you seem to think that metaphor can get us out of every difficult corner. (You did the same with the OT genocides). Whilst metaphor is important and useful in our discourse about God, I don't think it makes every problem so vague and ill-defined that it makes them disappear in a puff of smoke.

Yes, I realize that I seem to bring biblical symbolism into every problem. I tend to think that Christians ignore its presence in Scripture, and get backed into ridiculous corners because of it.

Metaphor doesn't make problems vague and ill defined. Its purpose, I think, is to clarify them through the use of easily visualized comparisons. This is why it is such a common biblical theme, especially aimed at our inability to understand:
quote:
Psalm 78: 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, 3 Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.
Matthew 13:13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
Matthew 13:34 All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “ I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.”

I guess that I don't think that these metaphors are all that opaque, and that it is important to realize how extensively they are used in Scripture.

I think that realizing that the "fires of hell" are a metaphor for the "fires of evil desires" makes the nature of hell more clear, not more obscure. Jesus condemns evil desires, and it is not hard to see how evil desires are a cause of enormous suffering.

This may or may not be a convincing picture of hell or of how things work in the spiritual realm. But I think that it is a more real version than simple punishment by fire, and I think that it is more consistent with the causes of joy and sorrow that I am familiar with.

I don't mean to euphemize hell. The biblical descriptions are accurate, I just think that they need to be seen the way that they were intended - as a visual picture of a reality that is challenging to grasp.
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
You take all the risks you want, Papio

Thanks for your kind permission, Martin. [Razz]

If it make you feel any better, then maybe the birth of self-consciousness at whatever stage of evolution it appeared by concieavbly be a sort-of fall, in my view.

But a literal fall from a literal Eden with a literal devil temping a literal Adam and a literal Eve with the resulting eschatology? Not on your nelly, mate.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
But a literal fall from a literal Eden with a literal devil temping a literal Adam and a literal Eve with the resulting eschatology? Not on your nelly, mate.

Papio, I think this bold assertion must have killed this thread. [Disappointed] [Biased]
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Papio, I think this bold assertion must have killed this thread. [Disappointed] [Biased]

There's just not much you can say in response - I mean, I can say, "actually I have no difficulty believing in creation, an actual Adam and Eve, and the fall scenario very like described in scripture" (in fact, I have a harder time believing in undirected evolution - but that's just me). But doesn't that devolve us to "did not!" "did too!" and sticking waggling fingers in ears? I don't expect to move Papio from his position and he won't be moving me, so...
 
Posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider (# 76) on :
 
quote:
"I reject the blood of Jesus and I want no part of God - I want to do as I damn well please
Never known anyone say that. "I don't believe that Christianity is true" is rather more common. It's hardly the same thing.
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
quote:
"I reject the blood of Jesus and I want no part of God - I want to do as I damn well please
Never known anyone say that. "I don't believe that Christianity is true" is rather more common. It's hardly the same thing.
I've had more than one person tell me that if Christianity, as in the Christian story of who God is and what he's done, is true then the problem of pain still leads them to believe he's evil.

I'm not sure what to make of that.

I wonder (often) what the role of faith is in all of this. I interpret Dives and Lazarus's sting in the tail to be about the impossibility of making some people believe enough to choose life, as it were, no matter what evidence is presented, but it does sometimes seem as though a host of angels appearing in your living room at a moment of doubt would be bound to have some effect. Perhaps the point is that faith(trust) drives a salvific process, whereas incontrovertible evidence is decisive - you leap one way or the other once you actually know the truth.

</diversion>
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
I've had more than one person tell me that if Christianity, as in the Christian story of who God is and what he's done, is true then the problem of pain still leads them to believe he's evil.

*for myself* the penny-dropping realization was that pain and suffering can be tools for God; He uses them to sculpt us. The pain & suffering may be of our own making - still "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" - making them useful in God's hands. The purpose of this life is not to live in ease and comfort (as much as I would personally like that--) but to grow us and fit us for the NEXT one, the eternal one. So pain, suffering, even death, simply do not mean the same thing to God that they do to us. And, to the best of my ability to tell, it's our place to line up with Him and broaden our perspective on the issue, not rail at Him for His lack of consideration.

- * - * - * -

I have a question for the Universalists in this conversation - why do you think Jesus spent so much time and energy warning people about hell if it's not a real threat? Chances are there are a variety of answers and I'd really like to hear them - thanks!
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
I have a question for the Universalists in this conversation - why do you think Jesus spent so much time and energy warning people about hell if it's not a real threat? Chances are there are a variety of answers and I'd really like to hear them - thanks!

Here's a couple of answers from someone who's not a universalist.

1. Christ's warnings may be the means by which some of those who could have ended up in hell, avoid it as part of God's redemption of all.

2. Some of the apparent hell-warnings could in fact be purgatory-warnings. True, purgatory is an infinitely better place in which to find oneself than hell, but a million years having your sinful nature transformed might involve a certain amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

3. (Stretching it a bit) the warnings could be metaphorical ones for this life. Heaven and hell do effectively start here, after all.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
Thank you, GreyFace - those are good answers but I'm *still* hoping for the genuine universalist slant(s), as it were... nudge, nudge.

(edited to spell his name right!!!)

[ 07. December 2005, 08:51: Message edited by: LynnMagdalenCollege ]
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
You rang?? [Big Grin]

Ok, very quickly, as I have to go to work, and will be "on shore" for the next ten days or so.

1) Many of the passages where Jesus speaks about "Hell" do not actually refer to the "end-times" as we would call them, at all, but to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in AD 70? He seems to relate the fate of the Jewish nation with their rejection of Him. It's not hard to see why. In their desire for a Messiah after their own image, as political leader, they were on a collision course with Rome. Their refusal to repent of their hatred of the Romans led ultimately to their being cast out, desolate, from Jerusalem.

2) Other passages, such as the Lazarus and Dives parable, have been interpreted over literally by some over the years. If this parable is a literal picture of Hell, then why do we not go to a literal "Abraham's Bosom"? Jesus seems to have adapted a pre-existing Jewish story (Abraham and Eleazar?) to make a point that it is impossible to scare people into the Kingdom. Only a real change of heart is enough to alter conduct. This is congruent with the rest of his teaching.

3) Jesus was speaking in an accepted idiom of the time, which stressed the need for repentance in the face of what the people saw as God's wrath. What He added was the fact that (and I know Freddy will disagree with me here [Biased] ) it is impossible for anyone to live to those standards, and that only Jesus himself could obey the Law fully. His object was to point out how hopeless, without Christ's work of salvation, was the lot of any person, and thus turn them towards Himself as saviour. The pictures of Hell are there because that would be all our fates, apart from Him, and would have been familiar images to his hearers. It does not follow that anyone will actually end up "there". The cross made sure that this would not happen. Of course, this is also preaching, rather than theology. Jesus discourses with His disciples, and particularly, the events of Maundy Thursday, give a more nuanced picture of Jesus' theological (if such a word can be used of Him) position.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
[Overused] [Overused] [Overused] GreyFace and Jolly, I would have been happy to attempt an answer for Lynn, but now I see no need to!!! Outstanding.

Lynn, does this resonate with you at all? Does it seem like too much squirming to get out of something that, to you, seems obvious (even if unfortunate)?

-Digory
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
quote:
"I reject the blood of Jesus and I want no part of God - I want to do as I damn well please
Never known anyone say that. "I don't believe that Christianity is true" is rather more common. It's hardly the same thing.
I've had more than one person tell me that if Christianity, as in the Christian story of who God is and what he's done, is true then the problem of pain still leads them to believe he's evil.

I think an argument along the following lines is entirely reasonable.

- Science shows that the fall cannot have happened, except as (possibly) an allegory or a metaphor for evolution (which, as I say, I could find plausible).

- Even if it were not for this, the idea of Hell is so monstrous that any God who could allow Hell to exist would be evil. No better than Satan.

- If that God exists, then I will take my chances because, whatever happens, it cannot concievably be worse than ending up in His "Heaven"

- However, our highest logical and moral truths would tend to say that Hell is not just and is not rational.

- Any God worth his, her or its salt can surpass out logic and morality by vast and unimaginable amounts.

- Therefore, it is extremely unlikely to say the least that there is a Hell or a literal Satan or literal demons etc.


Some people will find such an argument plausible and convincing. Others won't. But, since I do, I can't see any reason to change to mind.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
Even if it were not for this, the idea of Hell is so monstrous that any God who could allow Hell to exist would be evil.

I find the idea of free will absolutely monstrous. And yet it exists despite my intense and fierce feelings toward it. I find that if a god allowed free will and the repercussions of it - meaning that there is so much hell on earth it isn't much of stretch for my imagination or logic to deduce pain later if there is an afterlife.

I'm curious what do you think of the god who allowed so much wrong in this world. Isn't that just as bad (or similar to) hell?

quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
However, our highest logical and moral truths would tend to say that Hell is not just and is not rational.

Of course, I want everybody not to suffer but to enjoy life and I would be some sick person if I wanted people to burn, burn, burn. But that is far from the reality of life. Sometimes shit happens that is not our faults and sometimes shit happens that we induce. One example, (that has been mentioned before) is my lack of exercise. It has serious reprecussions/consequences.

The most logical and moral and rational response would be to get off my butt - but most of the time I do not do the just and right and most rational and higher moral thing.

So unfortunately, I gain weight and hurt myself. Is this god's fault that I'm in pain? And what if god doesn't even exist at all? It doesn't take away the consequences of my life, choices and actions, behavior, and thoughts.

I guess I don't arrive at the position that hell is unjust because I see it as something that starts here on earth - and it is just a part of life/death. Hell, to me, is no more irrational or unjust than the consequences of an action that is harmful.

quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
I can't see any reason to change my mind.

I wrote awhile back on Demas's "Unimportance of Hell" thread that having hell as the centre of one's beliefs seems fundamentally flawed to me. I think that Jesus was far more concerned on bringing wholeness and healing to people's lives. i.e. bringing the kingdom of heaven (or God for St. Luke, St. Mark, etc...). In john's gospel & his other books, Jesus seems predominantly concerned about love.

I personally don't see it a huge thing to focus on other things rather than hell. At the same time, this topic is interesting.
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
I'm curious what do you think of the god who allowed so much wrong in this world. Isn't that just as bad (or similar to) hell?

For me, the only honest answer to your question is that I don't see the suffering on earth as being comparable to that of any Hell. Perhaps that is because there are certain things which have never happened to me and because the things which have happened to me mostly happened when I was a child.

But, for me, the suffering of this life is better and more justifiable then Hell for the simple reason that, even if only at death, it ends*. I am not attempting to deny that some Earthly suffering is Hellish in all save it's length.

Papio

*Of course, I am assuming that there is no afterlife. I take comfort in the idea that all things shall fade, shall end, shall come to pass. Including my own consciousness. I'm not sure that I can possibly explain why that is to someone who finds my feelings on this hard to grasp, because I think it is an instinctive thing.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
I do appreciate the postings, y'all - but Digory, you're not off the hook! I read these posts and I comprehend these posts but then the authors come to conclusions which don't follow, *for me* - which I find really fascinating! I had a similar expereience reading Stephen Hawkings "A Brief History of Time" shortly after it first came out and he walked through some Big Bang stuff and came out the other side saying something to the effect of, "so as you can see, there is no need to believe in God," which made about as much sense as a passenger in my car yelling at me, "Look out, the light is red! Paint the dog green!"

And perhaps my "straightforward reading of scripture" is only straightforward to me and many of you experience a similar sense of disconnect or disorientation when you read my posts!

Jolly Jape, (thank you, sir!) when you talk about the Lazarus and Dives parable, you are talking about the account Jesus gives of the beggar Lazarus, yes? (who the heck is Dives? I don't know this name!) I would argue (in the nicest possible way, of course) that it's not a parable - if you note, when telling parables Jesus says, "a man was going down to Jericho" (for instance), but in THIS case He says, "there was a certain beggar named Lazarus..." (omits the name of the rich man to protect the innocent?) - which leads me to believe He's talking about an actual event.

My understanding of "sheol" ("the grave") is that up until the cross we all went to the grave but there was a gulf between portions, so you'd have the more pleasant and the less pleasant side - but "sheol" is a temporary abode of the dead. At the cross, the pleasant side is opened to heaven ("to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord") but the unpleasant side continues to receive inhabitants until "the Great White Throne Judgement" when all the dead will be raised and judged.

So-- how does that pan out? Why does Jesus, post resurrection, having received the revelation from Father God, talk about judgement and suffering as He does (Rev.20)? I just can't reconcile all this talk of hell, damnation, suffering, torment, and exhortations to *avoid* such a fate, with the knowledge that "nobody's going to go there, anyway." How does one get from here to there?

So yeah, maybe I'm just selectively dumb in this area (stranger things have happened...!) - but no, it doesn't resolve it for me - sorry! And I don't spend much time thinking about hell (it's certainly not *central* to my theology) - but I can't wave it away, either (NB - I'm not accusing anybody else of "waving it away" - rather recognizing that, at this point in time, for me to embrace the universalist view would require that I "wave it away").
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
[QB(who the heck is Dives? I don't know this name!)[/QB]

Latin and Middle English I think, literal translation is "wealthy man" - and incidentally, I've heard Lazarus translates as "one whom God helps."
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
thank you. Once again, my complete lack of knowledge of anything other than late 20th century English trips me up!

But you're not arguing that "Lazarus" was not *also* a name? Most Biblical names have word-meanings ("Ichabod" to you, too!)...
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
But you're not arguing that "Lazarus" was not *also* a name?

Not quite, I'm suggesting that Jesus may well have picked that name for his story because of its meaning.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
*looks up* - I realize I mis-stated that - actually, I speak French like a 6-year-old and just enough Italian to find the toilets and buy food... sorry, off-topic but a valid correction nonetheless! It's *English* of which I only have a late 20th century mastery...
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
*looks up* - I realize I mis-stated that - actually, I speak French like a 6-year-old and just enough Italian to find the toilets and buy food... sorry, off-topic but a valid correction nonetheless! It's *English* of which I only have a late 20th century mastery...

If you phrase your Italian like you just phrased this English, people may look at you sideways when they think you are looking to buy food from the toilets...

[Biased] [Yipee] [Razz]

-Digory
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Of course, I want everybody not to suffer but to enjoy life and I would be some sick person if I wanted people to burn, burn, burn. But that is far from the reality of life. Sometimes shit happens that is not our faults and sometimes shit happens that we induce. One example, (that has been mentioned before) is my lack of exercise. It has serious reprecussions/consequences.

The most logical and moral and rational response would be to get off my butt - but most of the time I do not do the just and right and most rational and higher moral thing.

So unfortunately, I gain weight and hurt myself. Is this god's fault that I'm in pain? And what if god doesn't even exist at all? It doesn't take away the consequences of my life, choices and actions, behavior, and thoughts.

I guess I don't arrive at the position that hell is unjust because I see it as something that starts here on earth - and it is just a part of life/death. Hell, to me, is no more irrational or unjust than the consequences of an action that is harmful.

Well, the place where this analogy happens to break down is, IMO, a very important one. I can point to my gut and say, "See, I stopped exercising a long time ago and haven't really watched what I eat, and now I have this to show for it." I know the consequences, I know how to avoid them. When I choose not to exercise, I know what I'm going to get for it, but I just don't care.

That's very far away from being told that if I don't do this or that or this other thing, I will end up in hell after I die. "How do you know?" I ask. "Well, I just believe that you do because that's how I interpret the Bible. Oh, and by the way, there are about seven million different possible ways to avoid hell, and only one that will work. Hope you pick the right one, like I did!"

It's just not similar to earthly consequences at all, neither in foreknowledge nor severity.

-Digory

(Don't worry, Lynn, a response is coming...)
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
...when you talk about the Lazarus and Dives parable ... I would argue that it's not a parable - if you note, when telling parables Jesus says, "a man was going down to Jericho" (for instance), but in THIS case He says, "there was a certain beggar named Lazarus..." (omits the name of the rich man to protect the innocent?) - which leads me to believe He's talking about an actual event.

Okay. That's an understandable belief. However, we don't know if Jesus was telling a parable there or not, do we? So, what you are asking for is how people like myself and Jolly can look at the same scripture that you look at and yet come to a universalist conclusion. As has been stated before, there are universalist scriptures too, that have to be overlooked. I said a while ago that we are just more accustomed to hearing about the hell-based ones, and you said that you grew up in CA around a lot of universalist churches so you heard those more. Well, my point was more that for just over a thousand years the predominant Christian theology has been non-universalist ("damnationist"?), so regardless of your upbringing, I would argue that we all hear about hell passages and hell-supported arguments more than we realize.

But for this particular passage, Jolly put out a very plausible explanation for how this could be looked at as universalist-compatible. The fact that you think it was NOT a parable doesn't change the fact that it could be, you know what I mean?

quote:
My understanding of "sheol" ("the grave") is that up until the cross we all went to the grave but there was a gulf between portions, so you'd have the more pleasant and the less pleasant side - but "sheol" is a temporary abode of the dead. At the cross, the pleasant side is opened to heaven ("to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord") but the unpleasant side continues to receive inhabitants until "the Great White Throne Judgement" when all the dead will be raised and judged.
Where do you get this understanding of Sheol? My understanding of Sheol was that it meant the grave, as in death itself, not referring to beyond. I think most of the Old Testament thought of death, or being robbed of earthly life, was the ultimate punishment.

quote:
So-- how does that pan out? Why does Jesus, post resurrection, having received the revelation from Father God, talk about judgement and suffering as He does (Rev.20)? I just can't reconcile all this talk of hell, damnation, suffering, torment, and exhortations to *avoid* such a fate, with the knowledge that "nobody's going to go there, anyway." How does one get from here to there?
Well, there's not quite as much as you think. Though Jesus talks about hell more than anyone else, he in fact doesn't mention it as much as our theology would suggest that he does. Could you point to what you see as the top 3 to 5 passages in support of Eternal Punishment? I think I could explain how I see each and every one. In the meantime, I will get 3 to 5 passages that I think support Universalism.

Keep in mind: I don't need you to become a universalist. I would only hope that somewhere down the road, perhaps, you could at least see how myself and others could come to such a conclusion. I guess that's what a discussion is for, eh? [Smile]


Hoping that gets me off the hook for now,
Digory
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
quote:
"I reject the blood of Jesus and I want no part of God - I want to do as I damn well please
Never known anyone say that. "I don't believe that Christianity is true" is rather more common. It's hardly the same thing.
I've said the second half of it many times. Whether my saying that means I have effectively said the first half as well is moot...
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
It's just not similar to earthly consequences at all, neither in foreknowledge nor severity.

-Digory

Digory, you rock. [Big Grin]
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
I am having a very interesting conversation with an Orthodox Christian. The God he worships is not the one I reject. At all.

I need to think about this more carefully.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
I know the consequences, I know how to avoid them. When I choose not to exercise, I know what I'm going to get for it, but I just don't care.

That's very far away from being told that if I don't do this or that or this other thing, I will end up in hell after I die. "How do you know?" I ask. "Well, I just believe that you do because that's how I interpret the Bible. Oh, and by the way, there are about seven million different possible ways to avoid hell, and only one that will work. Hope you pick the right one, like I did!"

- Can hell exist and will God allow people to go there?

is substantially different from:

-who goes there and how does one avoid going there?

I was trying to work through the first one.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
It's just not similar to earthly consequences at all, neither in foreknowledge nor severity.

Hmm. I have many thoughts about this. None of them organized.

[eta: stuff]

[ 08. December 2005, 18:39: Message edited by: Joyfulsoul ]
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
I know the consequences, I know how to avoid them. When I choose not to exercise, I know what I'm going to get for it, but I just don't care.

That's very far away from being told that if I don't do this or that or this other thing, I will end up in hell after I die. "How do you know?" I ask. "Well, I just believe that you do because that's how I interpret the Bible. Oh, and by the way, there are about seven million different possible ways to avoid hell, and only one that will work. Hope you pick the right one, like I did!"

- Can hell exist and will God allow people to go there?

is substantially different from:

-who goes there and how does one avoid going there?

I was trying to work through the first one.

Excellent point. So, God may allow people to go to Hell by nature of their choices leading to consequences, desired or not. I could agree with this, if the consequences were clearly laid out and the choices were made freely.

And in working out the second one, for me, I come to the conclusions that no, the consequences are not laid out clearly, and the choices we make are not free. We are slaves to sin.

So that's my further take on the subject. But like I said, good point. [Smile]


quote:

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
It's just not similar to earthly consequences at all, neither in foreknowledge nor severity.

Hmm. I have many thoughts about this. None of them organized.
You must anticipate my next question then, right? Out with it!

-Digory
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
So, God may allow people to go to Hell by nature of their choices leading to consequences, desired or not. I could agree with this, if the consequences were clearly laid out and the choices were made freely.

And in working out the second one, for me, I come to the conclusions that no, the consequences are not laid out clearly, and the choices we make are not free. We are slaves to sin.

So that's my further take on the subject.

My take on Christianity/Jesus/God/the Bible/the Law/OT etc& et...

is freedom and restortation/wholeness and for a lack of better word - beauty of discovering the Creator of the Universe.

Sin inhibits freedom and restoration & etc. And I agree with you - we are slaves to sin.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
the choices we make are not free. We are slaves to sin.

This where I disagree with you. I believe we can make choices. I'm not a Calvinist - in the sense that I believe we are somehow intrinsically evil and fore-doomed to one destination or another without any choice or say in the matter.

I believe that while we are all slaves to sin, we are simultaneously allowed to make choices contrary to it. How else could you explain non-Christians being selfless and charitable and Christ-like - even when they are still "non-believers" and "slaves to sin"? An athiest I know is actually quite kind and considerate and generous and selfless and does noble deeds. He does not believe in any god and openly rejects Christ outright, yet is still able to manage being selfless and thoughtful and kind.

So I don't buy the argument that says that we are complete and utter robots without any choice but sin and so are not responsible for our actions and thoughts etc. I believe that the divine image that God placed in us and helps us make better and noble choices as human beings.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
no, the consequences are not laid out clearly

I don't know if I agree with that statement.

Across most cultures, general morals are consistent: don't steal, don't take someone else's woman, don't murder, don't lie... etc. There are very few societies where lying and thievery and murder and canabalism are an acceptable social and moral norm and those societies tend to disentigrate and die out.

I think people know and are additionally instructed by others (and society) that certain actions are not acceptable and are harmful.

I don't know how we can think that our actions exist in a vaccuum when we can see (most of the time)that they certainly don't. No man is island and etc.

Should we do the right thing only because someone is going to whack us with a big stick? Should we be soley motivated to do good things out of fear? I guess the early Puritans and Jonathon Edwards believed that.

I know in the OT, in the book of Joshua - God was like, "I'm going to level with you, kids. Do good and I'll bless the socks outta ya. Do bad and I'm going to bust you big time and your life will really suck. So do good, ok?"

The consequences were really,really clear and that didn't really work, either.

I guess maybe that is why in parable Jesus was like, "And if they didn't believe Moses and repent - they won't even believe if someone comes back from the dead to help them."


quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
It's just not similar to earthly consequences at all, neither in foreknowledge nor severity.

Maybe that's a matter of interpretation, no?

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
You must anticipate my next question then, right? Out with it!

<sigh> My psychic abilities have diminished. I'm afraid I can't.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
the choices we make are not free. We are slaves to sin.

This where I disagree with you. I believe we can make choices. I'm not a Calvinist - in the sense that I believe we are somehow intrinsically evil and fore-doomed to one destination or another without any choice or say in the matter.
Honest question: do you really honestly think that if you got to heaven, whatever that is, and you had hated God on earth and not wanted anything to do with him but he'd saved you anyway, that once you truly and fully understood all of who God was and all of what his presence really meant, that you'd feel sleighted and "fore-doomed"?

quote:
I believe that while we are all slaves to sin, we are simultaneously allowed to make choices contrary to it. How else could you explain non-Christians being selfless and charitable and Christ-like - even when they are still "non-believers" and "slaves to sin"? An athiest I know is actually quite kind and considerate and generous and selfless and does noble deeds. He does not believe in any god and openly rejects Christ outright, yet is still able to manage being selfless and thoughtful and kind.

So I don't buy the argument that says that we are complete and utter robots without any choice but sin and so are not responsible for our actions and thoughts etc. I believe that the divine image that God placed in us and helps us make better and noble choices as human beings.

Yes, I understand what you're saying. But if we are slaves to sin, then it certainly has a fair amount of power over our decisions, right? Some people would say that even THAT is our own fault--that we've chosen to be slaves to sin. I don't think the Apostle Paul thought that though (how many people choose to be slaves?). So if we're not responsible for our slavery, which affects our decisions, then how can those decisions be truly pure?

As Jolly Jape usually points out in a really neat (I think) way, if God removes our sickness, we're free to be who we were always meant to be, at which point I don't see there being any choice in the matter, free will or not! I've said this before: some choices aren't choices. Like, do you want a million dollars or to have pencils jammed in your loved ones' eyes**? The superiority of an option doesn't negate the freedom of the choice.


**Apologies if this example was a bit graphic. I went for the "shock value" device...

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
no, the consequences are not laid out clearly

I don't know if I agree with that statement.

Across most cultures, general morals are consistent: don't steal, don't take someone else's woman, don't murder, don't lie... etc. There are very few societies where lying and thievery and murder and canabalism are an acceptable social and moral norm and those societies tend to disentigrate and die out.

The sociologist in me just awoke. Is this really because everyone has the same internal moral compass, or because over thousands of years people finally figured out that if you don't limit things like thievery and murder, your society will tend to disintegrate and die out?

Causal relationships are so tricky.

quote:
I know in the OT, in the book of Joshua - God was like, "I'm going to level with you, kids. Do good and I'll bless the socks outta ya. Do bad and I'm going to bust you big time and your life will really suck. So do good, ok?"

The consequences were really,really clear and that didn't really work, either.

Yes, and here is where my mind really starts spinning fast. See, I think the consequences were made and the rules drawn out so clearly so as to be a hyperbolic rhetorical device for God to demonstrate to all of the world, through the Hebrew people, what it's like to try to do it on our own! And you're right, JS, it does not work at all. But we want it to work so badly, and God knew that, so he gave us a few thousand years of a chance. When he finally feels that we've had a sufficient display of how we just will never get it right with the Salvation-by-Law thing, he fills Mary with Grace, who was born to the earth as God's free gift to the whole world. I know you like choice, humans. I know you like feeling like you're in control. But when you ARE in control, you destroy everything, including yourselves, and your headed for some bad, bad destruction. So here's what I'm going to do--I'm going to wipe it all clean and save you all, and you can either start living like that now, or you can go on living like you're in control, and like you can do it all by yourself like you really want to. It's up to you, but until you start living like you are free and forgiven (as you really truly are), you won't ever get the Kingdom of God here on earth, where it is, and where I have brought it.

Something like that. (With many obvious holes, clearly. [Biased] )

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
It's just not similar to earthly consequences at all, neither in foreknowledge nor severity.

Maybe that's a matter of interpretation, no?
Well, of course it is. But my interpretations have something all the other ones lack--they're right. Clearly. [Killing me]

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
You must anticipate my next question then, right? Out with it!

<sigh> My psychic abilities have diminished. I'm afraid I can't.
Haha I thought this was a dangerous way of putting it. Sorry! All I meant was that you said you had many thoughts on the matter. So my next question, not-so-obviously, is "what are these thoughts?" Out with it! was my cry for the thoughts of Joyful Soul's mind! [Biased]

-Digory

[ 08. December 2005, 22:32: Message edited by: professorkirke ]
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
quote:
Originally posted by LynnMagdalenCollege:
*looks up* - I realize I mis-stated that - actually, I speak French like a 6-year-old and just enough Italian to find the toilets and buy food... sorry, off-topic but a valid correction nonetheless! It's *English* of which I only have a late 20th century mastery...

If you phrase your Italian like you just phrased this English, people may look at you sideways when they think you are looking to buy food from the toilets...

[Biased] [Yipee] [Razz]

This is such a serious topic, I don't feel too guilty being "light" for a moment! First trip to Italy my ex (who learned turn-of-the-century Sicilian from his nona) kept asking for the "bahghousa," the word he knew for "toilet" - finally the penny dropped and he realized THAT was his grandmother's thick accent attempting to say "Back house" (out-house)!!! Discovered the same thing about "isabogazuh" - "ice box." You want the toilet, you want "il gabinetto" (spelling? we don't need no stinkin' spelling!).

But yeah, if you can get coffee & wine & pizza, a place to sleep & the key to your room, and find a toilet at need - you got it mostly covered...!
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
I am having a very interesting conversation with an Orthodox Christian. The God he worships is not the one I reject. At all.

I'm glad of it. Blessings on your journey.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Honest question: do you really honestly think that if you got to heaven, whatever that is, and you had hated God on earth and not wanted anything to do with him but he'd saved you anyway, that once you truly and fully understood all of who God was and all of what his presence really meant, that you'd feel sleighted and "fore-doomed"?

I cannot honestly answer that question because I cannot conceivably imagine personally hating God.

But I can imagine someone not giving me a choice. And yes I would feel like a deceived robot foredoomed.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
So if we're not responsible for our slavery, which affects our decisions, then how can those decisions be truly pure?

As Jolly Jape usually points out in a really neat (I think) way, if God removes our sickness, we're free to be who we were always meant to be, at which point I don't see there being any choice in the matter, free will or not!

I can see that we have different understandings regarding this matter. In my view, choice is crucial. I think God values choice. He doesn't want to overwhelm us - he wants faith. I don't completely get the whole thing - but from what I gather, he desires trust in doubt. I think he values free will (meaning to choose to do right or wrong)...a lot.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
I've said this before: some choices aren't choices. Like, do you want a million dollars or to have pencils jammed in your loved ones' eyes**? The superiority of an option doesn't negate the freedom of the choice.

Apologies but I don't understand what you are trying to say here. I feel the portion in bold supports my interpretation - but I'm not clear how you are using it.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
**Apologies if this example was a bit graphic. I went for the "shock value" device...

No worries. [Biased]

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
The sociologist in me just awoke. Is this really because everyone has the same internal moral compass, or because over thousands of years people finally figured out that if you don't limit things like thievery and murder, your society will tend to disintegrate and die out?

Causal relationships are so tricky.

Isn't still a truth whether an individual discovers it on his/her own and/or society at large appreciates the value of it.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
It's just not similar to earthly consequences at all, neither in foreknowledge nor severity.

Maybe that's a matter of interpretation, no?[/qb][/QUOTE]Well, of course it is. But my interpretations have something all the other ones lack--they're right. Clearly. [Killing me] [/qb] [/QUOTE]

Perhaps this is what the whole thing boils down to - we have a disagreement over:

1) free will
2) value of choice in eternal destinies

[eta code]

[ 09. December 2005, 06:01: Message edited by: Joyfulsoul ]
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
At the end of the day, I believe God is trustworthy. I read scripture and it seems pretty clear to me that He judges people according to the light they've received - so those who are blind are simply not held to the same standard of accountability.

It's about you (each of us, individually, by the grace of God) working out your salvation with fear and trembling (I've been told recently that the Greek term for "working out" is like a mining term, "dig it out - the vein is there, expose it" and that helped me). You can't work out anybody else's. You can't look at somebody else's situation and say, "God, you're not fair!" (then you head into Job territory - don't wanna go there!) - it really boils down to each one of us being real and faithful to God as He has made Himself known to us.

As for being slaves to sin, isn't that what Paul is trying to sort through in Romans 7 (well, so much of Romans! not just chapter 7) ??
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
But I can imagine someone not giving me a choice. And yes I would feel like a deceived robot foredoomed.

I guess for me, I liken it to someone who's been knocked unconscious and is lying on a raft heading for a waterfall. Perhaps they made some bad choices, like drinking too much and getting on a raft, but I don't think the person would feel the way you've described if someone rescued them without their permission. Heck, this is why we talk people out of suicide, right? We feel like the choice they are making is bad for them and is probably not the choice they really want to make. And most times, it's true. Our choices are so much more complex than just the surface of "Let them get what they've chosen because that's what they wanted."

quote:
quote:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by professorkirke:
I've said this before: some choices aren't choices. Like, do you want a million dollars or to have pencils jammed in your loved ones' eyes**? The superiority of an option doesn't negate the freedom of the choice.

Apologies but I don't understand what you are trying to say here. I feel the portion in bold supports my interpretation - but I'm not clear how you are using it.
Well, I was kind of speaking to the complexity of our choice again here. In my rather graphic example, you could imagine that no one would choose the worse choice if they understood the choice perfectly. But the fact that everyone would choose one of the choices doesn't mean the choice itself is not free. So the fact that once everyone understands the choice, they all will choose heaven and none will end up in hell would not mean it was suddenly an unfree decision.

quote:
Perhaps this is what the whole thing boils down to - we have a disagreement over:

1) free will
2) value of choice in eternal destinies

It's probably a little bit about (1) free will and probably even more about (3) definition of choice or understanding of what choice is.

But still, it's a good discussion. [Smile]

-Digory
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
So the fact that once everyone understands the choice, they all will choose heaven and none will end up in hell would not mean it was suddenly an unfree decision.

I don't think anyone would have any hesitation about choosing Heaven over Hell, if it was indeed such a straightforward choice with no other consequences.

If, on the other hand, that choice would entail changes to one's personality, it may become more difficult. And it would. I know I have elements of my psychological make up that, while not in any way Heavenly, are nonetheless so much a part of me that I can't concieve of being without them.

To use a (probably very ill-concieved) analogy, it would be like knowing that no-one in heaven had arms. Now I may know at the theoretical level that I'd be better off just accepting those terms, but it sure wouldn't be a straightforward decision to get rid of them!

Of course, you may make the argument that any such "unHeavenly" personality traits we have are a result of our slavery to sin, thus by the time the choice is to be made they would already have been removed. It's a complicated issue, this, isn't it [Ultra confused] ...
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Yeah, Marvin, it really is!

There's also the option that the traits that you are attached to that you perceive as "bad" are only "bad" because of how they relate to earthly circumstances. Perhaps in a heavenly world, those things aren't recognized as harmful?

-Digory
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
I'm going to respond to your thoughts in a backward order. Apologies - I wrote my last reply when I was tired and today I realized it didn't really make much sense or come across clearly.

quote:
It's probably a little bit about (1) free will and probably even more about (3) definition of choice or understanding of what choice is.
You put it in much better words than I.

[warning: The below stuff is how I've (mis???)interpreted your view. I'm just trying to sort through stuff and this is how it appears to me and I totally know that I probably don't still have it right. ]

It seems to me, that the idea that people's wrongful actions that have detrimental consequences is appalling to you. You don't find this view palatable or perhaps you find it inconsistent with experience or even at odds with theology.

So in order to address this - all that is necessary to avoid the negative consequences - is to say that we are slaves to sin and so not held accountable at all for any actions or choices we make.

People are simply like robots and cannot be held responsible for the choices they make. Since God cannot be unjust - he cannot allow the consequences to take place of something that we did not choose in the first place. So, our response is to acknowledge this (we all will someday before God) and God has made a way for his grace to cover our sin.

I have issues with this interpretation of human behavior/sin/free will. I think that people do have free will - that they can make choices (for good or for evil). And because we are able to make these choices, we can be held responsible for them.

I'm not sure if our views can be resolved??? How can we make sense of this if you don't believe we have free will and thus can't be held responsible for our choices and I hold the opposite interpretation?

I think that maybe one option out of this stalemate is to question if any of the choices we make are truly free? I'm not sure if I have a response to that question, yet.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Well, I was kind of speaking to the complexity of our choice again here. In my rather graphic example, you could imagine that no one would choose the worse choice if they understood the choice perfectly.

What you are suggesting is that all bad choices are simply a result of some sort of information failure issue. I disagree. How many people have chosen to have an affair knowing full well the potential havoc and damage that could ensue? I have known a few people who have confessed (to other things) that they knew full well the possible damaging outcome yet decided to do it anyway. It was not the case that the information (namely – pain and wrongness of the choice) was absent at all.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
So the fact that once everyone understands the choice, they all will choose heaven and none will end up in hell would not mean it was suddenly an unfree decision.

I think we all understand the choice between heaven and hell. I don’t think is the case that someone truly wants hell (misery and suffering). Full information does not guarantee anything though.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Joyfulsoul,

I agree with just about everything you say here.

Digory,

You write:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
So the fact that once everyone understands the choice, they all will choose heaven and none will end up in hell would not mean it was suddenly an unfree decision.

I agree with Joyfulsoul that virtually everyone understands the basic choice. Most people abide by society's basic requirements of decency, and most people know with great precision what makes a person a "jerk".

At some point, however, understanding becomes a matter of intention. Without the interest no amount of evidence is meaningful.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Don't worry at all that you're being offensive or anything. Honestly, I'm still working through my own beliefs on these matters, which is why I enjoy the discussions here so thoroughly. It may not seem like we'll ever arrive at the Answer™, but we'll keep hammering out and sculpting our own beliefs about it, which is great enough for me!

quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
It seems to me, that the idea that people's wrongful actions that have detrimental consequences is appalling to you. You don't find this view palatable or perhaps you find it inconsistent with experience or even at odds with theology.

This is a pretty fair assessment. However, I don't find it appalling that there are detrimental consequences to wrongful actions. Rather, I think it's quite terrifying and, as you say, inconsistent with my experience of God and my reading of tradition and theology to suppose that God will apply eternal, infinite, solely punitive punishment with no rehabilitative function whatsoever for our mistakes, which by very nature can only be finite and based on a less than perfect understanding of the way things are (see below for more on this last part).

quote:
So in order to address this - all that is necessary to avoid the negative consequences - is to say that we are slaves to sin and so not held accountable at all for any actions or choices we make.
Semi-Spoiler Alert!

I saw The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe last night. If you've seen it, or read it, you know how Edmund makes a bad mistake and does something very wrong, and is supposed to pay for it. But Aslan, the King, doesn't make him pay for it--he isn't held accountable for his wrong deed except that Aslan himself holds him accountable, without any need of some punitive system. In fact, Aslan himself completely breaks the system of punitive accountability, and the most stunning part is that Edmund never once asked to be rescued.

[END SPOILER]

It's one thing to say that you aren't held accountable for your actions. It's quite another thing to say that God needs a hell to hold people accountable, and that his love and nature alone isn't enough to do so, simply by illuminating the Truth of the situation through gentle but firm and powerful meeting.

quote:
People are simply like robots and cannot be held responsible for the choices they make. Since God cannot be unjust - he cannot allow the consequences to take place of something that we did not choose in the first place. So, our response is to acknowledge this (we all will someday before God) and God has made a way for his grace to cover our sin.

I have issues with this interpretation of human behavior/sin/free will. I think that people do have free will - that they can make choices (for good or for evil). And because we are able to make these choices, we can be held responsible for them.

Here is where you misunderstand me, though. I DO believe in free will, I do! I do! [Smile] We're not robots, we're slaves. Or like I said, if you end up unconscious on a fast-moving raft, maybe you shouldn't have been drinking so much before getting on this raft? [Biased] We all have choices we make, and there are consequences. But what is the point of God protecting our free will at all costs so he can rob us of it as soon as we meet death? At the very point where we become most like ourselves (as Jolly talks about) and fully realize the nature of the choices we have, at that point our choice is revoked and we are forced to live with the eternal consequences of only our pre-death choices?

Not that you, or Freddy, or anyone here really believes this because I know some people have said that they feel people will have choices after death and still choose hell. That they will continue to choose hell, forever, some of them. I can at least see this argument a little better, but it seems to be just as inconsistent with the biblical view of hell re: Lazarus/Dives, etc. And even further, I just don't see how we will make a choice for hell once we are fully aware and seeing things clearly As They Truly Are.

quote:
I'm not sure if our views can be resolved???
Perhaps not, but that doesn't have to be the goal. [Smile]

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Well, I was kind of speaking to the complexity of our choice again here. In my rather graphic example, you could imagine that no one would choose the worse choice if they understood the choice perfectly.

What you are suggesting is that all bad choices are simply a result of some sort of information failure issue. I disagree. How many people have chosen to have an affair knowing full well the potential havoc and damage that could ensue? I have known a few people who have confessed (to other things) that they knew full well the possible damaging outcome yet decided to do it anyway. It was not the case that the information (namely – pain and wrongness of the choice) was absent at all.

<snip>

I think we all understand the choice between heaven and hell. I don’t think is the case that someone truly wants hell (misery and suffering). Full information does not guarantee anything though.

Okay. I think (could be wrong) that what you and Freddy are both suggesting is that no matter how much evidence a person has, it won't necessarily change the decision. Those are more Freddy's words than yours, Joyful, but I think it's kind of what you are saying in this above portion I've quoted. And I'm saying--I agree.

Evidence is what we have on earth to replace understanding, since we can't have understanding here. Somebody had an affair knowing full well the consequences--did they? Or did they know what other people's consequences typically tend to be? That's what evidence is, looking around at what's happened before and assuming it'll happen again, or looking at what we know and trying to use it to deduce things we don't know or don't fully understand. We use it here in a broken and sick world to try to make sense of things. But in a perfect, timeless place where we are stripped of our sickness and allowed to become the core of who we really were, where we can fully and totally see and comprehend our choices, this is not evidence!

I don't believe someone would have an affair once they could fully become someone else and experience their pain firsthand, in order to fully understand it, and to fully understand how their choices are negatively affecting someone they so very love. And that's another thing--here we don't really truly LOVE. We try so hard sometimes but our love is cracked and imperfect, too. But in a place where we could fully love, would we cheat? I don't think so--I don't think it was ever who we were meant to be.

Let me reiterate--that's not making us robots or robbing us of choice. It's illuminating our true desires. If God thought we were capable of discerning what our true desires were, why would he have had to assure us to "Trust in the Lord with all your mind soul and strength and he will give you the desires of your heart." You may not "like" what you get, but when you trust him, you realize it was what you really deeply truly wanted.

So no, evidence is worthless in affecting a decision most times. It typically enacts selfishness and self-preservation. But true understanding? I think that's totally different.


(I know I'm all over the place here towards the end---I just got carried away a bit. Sorry! [Smile] )


-Digory
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Just catching up on this thread.

PK:
quote:
When he finally feels that we've had a sufficient display of how we just will never get it right with the Salvation-by-Law thing, he fills Mary with Grace, who was born to the earth as God's free gift to the whole world. I know you like choice, humans. I know you like feeling like you're in control. But when you ARE in control, you destroy everything, including yourselves, and your headed for some bad, bad destruction. So here's what I'm going to do--I'm going to wipe it all clean and save you all, and you can either start living like that now, or you can go on living like you're in control, and like you can do it all by yourself like you really want to. It's up to you, but until you start living like you are free and forgiven (as you really truly are), you won't ever get the Kingdom of God here on earth, where it is, and where I have brought it.

This accords with my reading of things. Spot on, Digory!

Lynn
quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by professorkirke:
So if we're not responsible for our slavery, which affects our decisions, then how can those decisions be truly pure?

As Jolly Jape usually points out in a really neat (I think) way, if God removes our sickness, we're free to be who we were always meant to be, at which point I don't see there being any choice in the matter, free will or not!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I can see that we have different understandings regarding this matter. In my view, choice is crucial. I think God values choice. He doesn't want to overwhelm us - he wants faith. I don't completely get the whole thing - but from what I gather, he desires trust in doubt. I think he values free will (meaning to choose to do right or wrong)...a lot.

I think that we have to differentiate here between that which is desireable for growth in this life, and the different situation which exists at andf beyond death. So I would agree that, for this life, it is important for our sanctification, if you like, that we make wise and moral choices, informed by faith. But upon death, we will see clearly in any case, so, as Paul points out in 1Cor 13, faith will pass away. There is no faith beyond the grave. The question is not so much "how valuable does God consider our free will to be?" but rather, "to what extent is our free will free?"

Joyfulsoul:
quote:
I have issues with this interpretation of human behavior/sin/free will. I think that people do have free will - that they can make choices (for good or for evil). And because we are able to make these choices, we can be held responsible for them.
Well, yes, we could be. But there is no imperative that we must be. God chooses not to so hold us. I think that here we should note the difference betweeen forgiveness and salvation. We make bad choices, God forgives us for them. If that were the whole story, then there would have been no need for Jesus to die. He did not, as the hymn puts it, "..die that we might be forgiven." The truth is that we are already forgiven, just as the Prodigal was forgiven before he was even tired of the scraps in the pigsty. He died, rather, to free us from the death that was the end product of that sin. As far as our salvation is concerned, God is not so much concerned with moral culpability as with rescuing us from Digory's raft as it approaches the rapids.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
PK & Jolly Jape,

I haven't had time to respond - but I just want to say how much I appreciate both your responses and that they are so thoughtful. [Overused]
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
At the end of the day, I kind of suspect that some of the universalists (said in all respect and in no way derisively) don't actually believe that anybody chooses rebellion against God, actively chooses to align with Satan ("better to be a prince in Hell...!") - so work with me for a moment here, even if you don't believe anybody actually chooses that, and PRETEND that a person makes that choice - is God then going to impose salvation upon them?

quote:
joyfulsoul said:
What you are suggesting is that all bad choices are simply a result of some sort of information failure issue. I disagree. How many people have chosen to have an affair knowing full well the potential havoc and damage that could ensue? I have known a few people who have confessed (to other things) that they knew full well the possible damaging outcome yet decided to do it anyway. It was not the case that the information (namely – pain and wrongness of the choice) was absent at all.

Yes! Perhaps I just hang out with the wrong people (it IS Los Angeles, after all), but I know so many people who say, "I don't care," to the consequences and do what they damn well please, believing that they can talk their way out of the consequences later. And it I have a really hard time seeing the universalist argument as anything other than confirming that POV. A friend once asked me, "If you believe Jesus died for your sins and has already forgiven you for them, then why does it matter whether you sin or not? why do you try to be good?"

I suspect we are continually either *confirming* our choice by obedience, exercising love, walking in faith and grace or *undermining* that choice by doing what we damn well please, hardening our hearts, allowing our love to grow cold ("because you are neither hot nor cold I will spew you out of My mouth" - pretty harsh words from the Resurrected Christ to the church at Laodicea).

How much more "at risk" are the people who have never responded positively to Christ?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
I just don't see how we will make a choice for hell once we are fully aware and seeing things clearly As They Truly Are.

This sounds good. But the thing is, how do we know that this is what happens?

I think that in the end what we want to know is what wins out. In that sense the afterlife offers just as great possibilities for self-delusion as this world. We can still fool ourselves there. It is others we can't fool.

Put another way, we are what we love. The only information that is meaningful is information that we want. In the next life what we want is more, not less, clearly defined, and everything else lines up behind this most basic identity.

So I don't really think that there is a time when we become "fully aware and seeing things clearly." We are only as fully aware as we want to be.

I think the principle is that love to God and the neighbor make a person aware and clear sighted, whereas the love of worldly things and the love of self obscure the vision.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
We all have choices we make, and there are consequences. But what is the point of God protecting our free will at all costs so he can rob us of it as soon as we meet death? At the very point where we become most like ourselves (as Jolly talks about) and fully realize the nature of the choices we have, at that point our choice is revoked and we are forced to live with the eternal consequences of only our pre-death choices?

Not that you, or Freddy, or anyone here really believes this because I know some people have said that they feel people will have choices after death and still choose hell. That they will continue to choose hell, forever, some of them. I can at least see this argument a little better, but it seems to be just as inconsistent with the biblical view of hell re: Lazarus/Dives, etc.

Digory,

These are good points. Can I try to clarify how these things work out a little more from my point of view?

First off, as I understand it, no one really ever loses their freedom. People in hell are free to do as they like, just as those in heaven are. Everyone is able to make choices. This is never taken away.

What changes throughout life, and even more after death, is that a person's central character becomes more fixed. Old people get set in their ways and opinions, and the most central of their beliefs and loves are deeply bound up with who they are.

At no point do people feel that they are unable to think and do as they wish, or that they are trapped within their identity. People will always make choices, but the loves from which they make them become more definite and confirmed over time. This is even more the case after death.

There are two kinds of freedom.

These are two different things, although they are both called freedom.

In the second instance, a person can be a lazy, self-centered jerk, and have the capacity to grow and change completely into a productive, thoughtful person. People can change direction, they can reform, they can grow up.

According to the first description, however, a person is free to do as they wish, whether they are self-centered and lazy or not. This kind of freedom is, of course, limited for everyone, since we are all constrained in various ways.

After death, as I understand it, it is mainly the second kind of freedom - the freedom to reform - that is reduced or taken away. It is not that God takes it away, but that people lose their interest in this kind of complete reform.

But people retain forever their ability to think and do as they wish.

The problem is that the more self-centered their wishes are, the more constrained they are, since they necessarily conflict with the desires of others. This is even more true if they are actually unkind or cruel people.

This conflict is the essence of what gives hell its character. It's not that God punishes people, but that their nature exposes them to the self-centered desires of others.

Conversely, people in heaven have fewer constraints on their desires, since their desires do not confict with others. They cooperate to create a very happy existence. As Jesus says:
quote:
Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."
This picture seems to me to be consistent with biblical statements, such as those about Dives and Lazarus.

So in one sense we retain our freedom forever, and in another sense we become the permanent form that we make of ourselves. Or the form that we accept from God. Or do not accept.

Either way, we do as we like. But I don't think it all necessarily ever becomes clear, as we have a pretty extensive capacity to fool ourselves. As Jesus says, quoting Isaiah:
quote:
Matthew 13:14 ‘ Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I shouldheal them.’

Jesus wants to heal them, but not everyone is interested.

Interest is what it is all about, because love is a spiritual quality and it determines everything in a spiritual world, as I understand it.

[ 11. December 2005, 14:26: Message edited by: Freddy ]
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
Well said, Freddy-- thank you for explaining so clearly (makes sense to *me* at any rate!).
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Well, I'll get the ball rolling then, with some SCRIPTURES TO BE DEALT WITH. Both sides have them, in my opinion, and neither philosophy is completely supported or completely rejected on the testimony of scripture alone (not without severe interpretive license, of course).

quote:
Hosea 11:9

I will not carry out my fierce anger,
nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man—
the Holy One among you.
I will not come in wrath.

quote:
Ephesians 1:3-10

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—-to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

Bold added for emphasis.

quote:
Isaiah 45:4-5

For the sake of Jacob my servant,
of Israel my chosen,
I summon you by name
and bestow on you a title of honor,
though you do not acknowledge me.

I am the LORD, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me

and then verses 22-23

Turn to me and be saved,
all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no other.

By myself I have sworn,
my mouth has uttered in all integrity
a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
by me every tongue will swear.

Bold added for emphasis, more re: JoyfulSoul's thoughts on freedom...

Very clearly these are not foolproof arguments. However, if you are willing to read them with fresh eyes, they can point in a way different than we are used to, and I think that is very interesting.

What are the passages that most thoughtfully point to the existence and certain usage of Hell?

-Digory
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
PK,

There's so beauty and truth in what you are saying. [Overused] Forgive me for currently not posting any biblical-based appropriate response yet because I'm still mulling over the things you said in your last post and now have even more things to think about with your recent post.

But I just want to share some few brief and scattered thoughts regarding your last postings.

It is the most beautifulest (I don't care that beautifulest is not a real word, I like it anyways) thing in the world to contemplate the graciousness of God. Truly and really. I absolutely go bonkers when I'm reminded of his mind-blowing extravagant generosity. Wow. You are very lucky person to see so much beauty and it makes me happy to be reminded of it.

There is one thing though that is whispering in my consciounes regarding the beauty and extravagance of God and it is the word "receive."

There is a huge theme in the gospels of repentence (I think especially in Luke). It is kind of like - if we never repent, we don't know how to receive forgiveness. It is kind of like when Jesus was explaining love and forgiveness . The idea is that if you don't know how to receive forgiveness then it is really and truly hard for you to both receive and share love.

Repentence is so crucial to receive the extravagant gift of love that God has. It is not because God's love is weak - it is because we bar him from loving us by not receiving it.

It is like you have a gift but the other person doesn't want it. No matter how badly you want to give it to someone - if a person cannot receive - then he or she is unable to enjoy the gift. Maybe this is not your personal experience, but it is certainly been mine.

Without receiving it is pretty much impossible to enjoy God's love. I don't know if you can force someone to receive.

[eta last sentence]

[ 12. December 2005, 22:09: Message edited by: Joyfulsoul ]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Very clearly these are not foolproof arguments. However, if you are willing to read them with fresh eyes, they can point in a way different than we are used to, and I think that is very interesting.

Digory, these are great passages.

They do point to the idea that God is not angry, that He loves everyone whether they love him or not, and that He will have mercy on all people.

I believe all those things.
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
What are the passages that most thoughtfully point to the existence and certain usage of Hell?

Here is the usual collection:
quote:
Matthew 18:8 “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.”

Matthew 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels….45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Mark 9 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 44 where ‘ Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.
45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46 where
‘ Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.
47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where
‘ Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

Isaiah 66.23 And it shall come to pass
That from one New Moon to another,
And from one Sabbath to another,
All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the LORD.
24 “ And they shall go forth and look
Upon the corpses of the men
Who have transgressed against Me.
For their worm does not die,
And their fire is not quenched.
They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

2 Thessalonians 1 “It is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

I readily agree that these references appear to be speaking figuratively, since Jesus is not likely to be asking people to literally cut off their hands.

Nor do I think that these few references are very impressive compared to the large number of Scriptures that speak of God's great mercy.

My position, of course, is that it is God's mercy which allows people to do as they wish, and to find happiness according to their own free will. The fact that He warns us that what we see as happiness may turn out to be just the opposite, is testament to His mercy not His anger.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
quote:
There is a huge theme in the gospels of repentence (I think especially in Luke). It is kind of like - if we never repent, we don't know how to receive forgiveness. It is kind of like when Jesus was explaining love and forgiveness . The idea is that if you don't know how to receive forgiveness then it is really and truly hard for you to both receive and share love.

Repentence is so crucial to receive the extravagant gift of love that God has. It is not because God's love is weak - it is because we bar him from loving us by not receiving it.

It is like you have a gift but the other person doesn't want it. No matter how badly you want to give it to someone - if a person cannot receive - then he or she is unable to enjoy the gift. Maybe this is not your personal experience, but it is certainly been mine.

Really strong post, Joyfulsoul. That's pretty much how I see that it works, too. One thing that I have been thinking about recently, both here and in another correspondance, is how the themes of forgiveness, repentance, restoration and reconciliation go together. I think that most people would put it thus:

Repentance > Forgiveness > Restoration > Reconciliation.

I'm not so sure if that's how it happens (well, actually I'm pretty sure that it's not that way [Biased] . It seems to me, and this ties in with your post, that the beginning point is God's forgiveness of us. This stimulates our spirit to repentance, and a desire for change. God then restores us by His grace to the place we would have been had we not sinned, and the Spirit then works the ongoing transformation in our lives, such that we are living in a way more aligned with God's ways (reconciliation). Thus, the process is nearer to:

Forgiveness > Repentance > Restoration > Reconciliation.

If we cannot receive God's forgiveness, it cuts the process short. It's not that we aren't forgiven if we don't respond, more that we don't appropriate the benefits of that forgiveness.

Of course, in reality, all these stages are going on all the time in our lives.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
Thus, the process is nearer to:

Forgiveness > Repentance > Restoration > Reconciliation.

If we cannot receive God's forgiveness, it cuts the process short. It's not that we aren't forgiven if we don't respond, more that we don't appropriate the benefits of that forgiveness.

Of course, in reality, all these stages are going on all the time in our lives.

This is perfectly consistent with Scripture, I think. I think this is the way that it happens.

God is always there offering His forgiveness. It is up to us to appropriate the benefits of that forgiveness.

In a way it is like Communion. Christ is there, and we can appropriate His benefits or not.
 
Posted by 3M Matt (# 1675) on :
 
I believe that everyone will get to the heaven they always dreamed of.

But only the Christians "heaven" will turn out not to be a nightmare.

Ask most people if they want to go to heaven, and they will say "yes". Ask them to describe their idea of heaven, and they will generally describe a place in which everything is perfect.

What they mean by "perfect" however is perfect for me. In their "heaven", the weather would always be exactly suited to how they wanted it to be, other people around them would always interact with them exactly how they wanted them to.

If you went to a train station in heaven, you would find that the first train to depart was going to where you wanted to go, and was leaving exactly one minute after you arrived.

I remember someone once telling me, his idea of "heaven" was one where Manchester United won the treble every season.

Now, while most of us might like to think the specific details of our image of heaven are rather more sophisticated than this, ultimately, our underlying philosophy is often rather similar. We think of heaven as being the place where we will basically get our own way.

This is, incidently, the kind of heaven portrayed in Islam. Upon dying, you will be met by several beautiful virgins and a wonderful feast of exotic food apparently.

Unfortunately, this does not tally at all with the biblical view of heaven. Heaven is perfect, but it is a place of perfect surrender to God's will.

Ask the man on the street if he even wants to go to this kind of heaven, and he will, 99 times out of 100 say "no thankyou" and pick the first kind of heaven I described in preference.

The problem with the first kind of heaven, is that it is ultimately hell.

One of the best images I have ever seen of this is in the film "Vanilla Sky". (HUGE SPOILER FOR THE FILM COMING UP!!!!)

Tom Cruise plays an incredibly rich guy, who pays for his body to be frozen upon his death and technology used to make his frozen brain enter a "lucid dream" state, in which he lives inside a continuous dream where he can make whatever he wants to have happen, happen.

He creates for himself his "perfect" girlfriend, he creates for himself the "perfect" life. Eventually however, he realises, in the climax scene on top of a tower block, that his "perfect" girlfriend is in fact not real at all, she merely conforms to the every whim of his desires.

His "perfect world" is paper thin, because it is entirely dependant, moment by moment, on conforming to his will. Ultimately, his world is limited and trivial, because it is limited by his own mind. The place where he is supposed to be most free, is where he is actually the most trapped.

His conclusion is, as he realises that his perfect girlfriend doesn't, and never can love him, because she is a construct of his own mind, is "I want a real life". His Heaven becomes a hell.

There are two ultimate destinies that we can have.

One where we get entirely our own way.

One where we submit entirely to God's way.

The problem is that we would nearly always call the first of these "heaven" and the second of these "Hell". It is only the change affected in me by God when i became a Christian, which enables me to see the second one of these as heaven.

God can only give what we are willing to accept, and most people will be only willing to accept the "My Way" kind of heaven, which will eventually turn to hell. It would be no good even forcing them to accept the second kind of heaven, because that too would be hell to them.

God will allow people to go to their hell, because they will be positively begging him to let them go there.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by 3M Matt:
Now, while most of us might like to think the specific details of our image of heaven are rather more sophisticated than this, ultimately, our underlying philosophy is often rather similar. We think of heaven as being the place where we will basically get our own way.

This is, incidently, the kind of heaven portrayed in Islam. Upon dying, you will be met by several beautiful virgins and a wonderful feast of exotic food apparently.

Matt,

Thank you. [Overused] [Overused] [Overused]

I love the "Vanilla Sky" comparison. I always heard it was a terrible movie so I never saw it. Maybe I will now. Of course you have ruined it. [Biased]

I don't think that it is far-fetched to think that there are people who believe that doing minimal work, getting drunk every night, and having sex with lots of people could be a satisfying eternal lifestyle.

The Islamic idea of 72 beautiful virgins is not so different, and it has understandable appeal - but only, probably, for men. [Disappointed]

The Bible, however, seems to say that this kind of idea of heaven is wide of the mark.

I guess the big question is whether people ever do realize that the Bible is right, and then change to conform to what it says.

Another question would be whether we are even the same people as we are in this world, with the same interests and beliefs.
 
Posted by 3M Matt (# 1675) on :
 
quote:
I love the "Vanilla Sky" comparison. I always heard it was a terrible movie so I never saw it. Maybe I will now. Of course you have ruined it.
On a tangent, I personally adore this film. It's the most multi-layered film I have ever seen. It's exceedingly asthetically pleasing, (how could a film starring Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz not be?!) it's possible to interpret it on so many different levels.

Many people dislike the ending because it's incongruous with the rest of the film, but it misses the point that nothing in this film is quite as it seems. (notice the tax disc on the car early on expires on 30th of Febuary..a nonsense date...notice that the first voice heard in the film is that of Penelope Cruz, even though to fit the narrative it should be Diaz. These are just two subtle clues that the "face value" interpretation of the film is not the only one.)

It's got a great soundtrack too incidently...
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by 3M Matt:
There are two ultimate destinies that we can have.

One where we get entirely our own way.

One where we submit entirely to God's way.

Then I don't think I will have a destiny. [Frown] See, I at least understand a little bit about getting my own way. I don't really like to, to be honest, and for whatever reason. I don't want that destiny.

But my only other choice here is to "submit entirely to God's way," which is something I cannot do. If we had the capacity to do this here on Earth, I'd be inclined to believe in this dichotomy, but since this remains impossible as I see it, and I go through a cycle of wanting my way and wanting to submit at least several times a day, something else must be going on.

I understand your distinction, 3M, don't get me wrong. There is something in our nature that doesn't want to get our own way because it is a false reality and we want truth (like Vanilla Sky or the Matrix, etc.) even if it means some pain or disappointment now and then. But I think we all want that deep down, and (some of you must be sick of this) I think Jolly's idea of the sickness is really appropriate here. Perhaps on earth some of us are sicker than others but we're all sick--we all want our own way. But the fact is I can't submit to God the way I am now--my sickness prevents me from making this choice. Something is going to have to happen to me post-death if I am to make a choice to submit to God over getting my own way. And if something has to happen (whether that's preemptive forgiveness or our analogic "healing" or whatever) to me, then I must also assume it will happen to all, at which point I believe even those who were most sick will receive their healing in full and be made able to choose the choice that is best for them--to submit as you nicely put it.

This line of thought preserves choice, and it uses the ideas of selfish hell vs. submissive heaven, which I like. Where it rubs people wrong is that it would seem to remove motivation for leading a better life, for not sinning. I simply don't think the threat of hell is a very good motivation to begin with, but that's probably a different post.

quote:
God can only give what we are willing to accept, and most people will be only willing to accept the "My Way" kind of heaven, which will eventually turn to hell. It would be no good even forcing them to accept the second kind of heaven, because that too would be hell to them.
But allowing them to choose the first kind of heaven would then make it into hell too, wouldn't it? If I'm only in heaven because I wanted to be there and because I wanted to submit to God, I've gotten what I wanted...

Perhaps heaven is a perfect merge of the two--where we get what we want through submission to God, and where "what we want" becomes intertwined with submission to God.

And I think we all want that. And I think we all make decisions that would "prove otherwise," too. None of us are any better than anyone else, and none of us truly want submission all of the time. Something has to change us. Something outside of us must enact a change inside of us. And when it does, we're made able to become who we were meant and made to be.

That to me only leaves 3 options-

1) God chooses to enact this change in none of us. We all get Selfish Hell.

2) God chooses to enact this change in some of us. Those he chooses get Submissive Heaven, but the rest get Selfish Hell. This was Calvin's approach.

3) God chooses to enact this change in all of us. We all end up choosing to receive Submissive Heaven because it's what we were all created for.


Perhaps this is full of straw... but it's the conclusion that comes naturally as I see it.

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
quote:
Originally posted by 3M Matt:
There are two ultimate destinies that we can have.

One where we get entirely our own way.

One where we submit entirely to God's way.

Then I don't think I will have a destiny. [Frown] See, I at least understand a little bit about getting my own way. I don't really like to, to be honest, and for whatever reason. I don't want that destiny.
I think Matt meant that those were the two extremes.

Most people would actually be somewhere in the middle. The question is exactly where.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
quote:
Originally posted by 3M Matt:
There are two ultimate destinies that we can have.

One where we get entirely our own way.

One where we submit entirely to God's way.

Then I don't think I will have a destiny. [Frown] See, I at least understand a little bit about getting my own way. I don't really like to, to be honest, and for whatever reason. I don't want that destiny.
I think Matt meant that those were the two extremes.

Most people would actually be somewhere in the middle. The question is exactly where.

So, if I want to submit more than Bob does, there's some imaginary point at which I cross over into "Enough Wanting to Get Heaven" and Bob will be stuck back in "Not Quite Enough Wanting So You Get Hell"? Or is there no heaven and hell and just levels of heavenness and hellness?

I know, I know--it's an incredibly tough topic to really pin down! [Smile]

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
So, if I want to submit more than Bob does, there's some imaginary point at which I cross over into "Enough Wanting to Get Heaven" and Bob will be stuck back in "Not Quite Enough Wanting So You Get Hell"? Or is there no heaven and hell and just levels of heavenness and hellness?

I know, I know--it's an incredibly tough topic to really pin down! [Smile]

Yes, it's tough to pin down.

I think that everyone in the afterlife is in their own unique situation, with their own unique characteristics, and their own unique brand of what makes them happy.

This is why I prefer to think of the spiritual world as a vast world of incredible variety, and not one that is a simple dichotomy of good and evil.

It works like any dichotomy. In general, for example, it is easy as pie to distinguish the rich countries and the poor countries in this world. But anyone who has travelled knows that the edges are fuzzy.

Most simple categorizations like this end up being false in some sense. The reality is infinitely more complex. It doesn't mean that rich and poor aren't meaningful descriptors, just that they only paint part of the picture.

It is the same with heaven and hell. They are real places and useful concepts. There is, in a sense, a "great gulf" between them. But the inhabitants are all unique, and represent a complex continuum of happiness that ranges from infinitely happy to infinitely deluded, and therefore unhappy.

But it's not like you come to a sign in the road that says "Hell starts here." Distance in that world is all about similarities and dissimilarities of spiritual state, and people are attracted to others who share common ideas and values. So it's not about achievement or getting into a good neighborhood. The point is to find your spiritual home.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
So Freddy, if there's a gulf between these two places, even if there's variation amongst the inhabitants of each place, we're still back to the same idea of there being a heaven and a hell.

Except that you contend it's possible to leap this chasm even after death, if you so choose. Which is a big difference, I'd say.

-Digory
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by 3M Matt:
There are two ultimate destinies that we can have.

One where we get entirely our own way.

One where we submit entirely to God's way.<snip>

God will allow people to go to their hell, because they will be positively begging him to let them go there.

I like this post, Matt - I also liked "Vanilla Sky" (and the Spanish film upon which it was based, "Open Your Eyes" (in Spanish!)). What I find personally cool, an evidence of genuine spiritual growth, is that I am really at a place where what I want is what HE wants... I'm not able to DO that all the time (half the time?!) but it is my heart's desire. Don't know about anybody else, but I find it hard to assess my own spiritual growth, so when I *do* see some evidence of growth, I'm excited.

Digory, I've been very busy but I am STILL planning to answer your post, some way upthread now, asking about specific scriptures... (of course, you may not want me to!).
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Of COURSE I want you to, Lynn!


I've been waiting very patiently... [Biased]

(And I'd love your response about the passages I cited earlier, as well, IF you have time.)


Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Except that you contend it's possible to leap this chasm even after death, if you so choose. Which is a big difference, I'd say.

No. It's a big "if".

People on one side of the chasm aren't comfortable on the other. They don't choose to cross it.

This is the only reason it is wide.

If there was a desire to cross it then it would be narrow or not there at all. At least, that's how I understand the physics of the spiritual world.
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
Digory, read your blog and (sorry, tangent!) - my folks were snowed on in Jerusalem the year they went (1996, I think...) !!! END tangent - sorry! and yes, it IS your scriptures I'll be looking at!
 
Posted by Cheesy* (# 3330) on :
 
I'm not totally sure about this, but I *think* snow is fairly rare - except in Hebron which is a bit higher up than Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

C
 
Posted by LynnMagdalenCollege (# 10651) on :
 
Yes, Cheesy, you're right - but it was nonetheless one of those rare occurences when my folks were over (hey, they also experienced the last time in modern memory that Los Angeles snowfall stayed on the ground, back in 1949 - my dad was born in Montana, so perhaps he was a "magnet" for snow!).
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Except that you contend it's possible to leap this chasm even after death, if you so choose. Which is a big difference, I'd say.

No. It's a big "if".

People on one side of the chasm aren't comfortable on the other. They don't choose to cross it.

This is the only reason it is wide.

If there was a desire to cross it then it would be narrow or not there at all. At least, that's how I understand the physics of the spiritual world.

I think the only question is CAN they cross. Whether or not they will is yet to be determined. If they can, they can. If they can't, they can't.

But "we are just sure they won't" isn't really an arguable option (I don't think).

-Digory
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
But "we are just sure they won't" isn't really an arguable option (I don't think).

I think it could be. Let's see if Freddy can argue it.

In my understanding of salvation, what matters is what sort of person you are. It's hard to see people who have been radically and utterly selfish and uncharitable all through their lives radically changing after death and all of a sudden becoming kind and giving and loving. Whether or not they CAN or CANNOT doesn't seem to be the issue at all, but whether it's at all likely they would choose to.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Whether or not they CAN or CANNOT doesn't seem to be the issue at all, but whether it's at all likely they would choose to.

This is how I see it too.

One qualifying aspect is that as I understand it a person does not immediately enter either heaven or hell after death.

There is a period, either brief or lengthy depending on a number of factors, during which the person searches out and finds his or her long term home. This involves a long look at both heaven and hell, and may involve more or less lengthy stays in one or both.

Still, it is not as if a person eventually weighs the options and chooses one over the other, with possible "buyers remorse." The person is just living his or her life, and continually moving in the direction that his loves take him in. This is not ever curtailed.

Eventually the path goes more and more in one direction and other options are left far behind. Hence the "great gulf".
 
Posted by Gort (# 6855) on :
 
He's making a list and checking it twice.
Gonna find out who's naughty and nice…
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Gort, this isn't Hell or Heaven.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
Gort, do you find it strange that one's current state on would affect one's future?
 
Posted by Gort (# 6855) on :
 
I'm sorry... "one's current state on"? Could you elaborate, please?
 
Posted by Gort (# 6855) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Gort, this isn't Hell or Heaven.

I'm fully aware of that Mr. Mousethief. Do you have a problem with my contribution?
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gort:
He's making a list and checking it twice.
Gonna find out who's naughty and nice…

I wasn't sure if you were being facetious with this verse - meaning that it might be silly or simplistic to see God as Santa - punishing the bad, rewarding the good. The extreme of this is sending the "naughty" people to hell and the "good" people to heaven, with lots of toys of course [Biased] .

So, then - I have been suggesting in this thread - that perhaps it is not a matter of God rewarding or punishing vis a via sending people to everlasting torment. Perhaps it is matter of people choosing the destinies themselves. Being that how we treat other people and ourselves and God is what matters -

-which is why I asked that perhaps how we live our lives now (our current state) affects our future (who knows what happpens to us after spirit separates from the life-less corpse).
 
Posted by Gort (# 6855) on :
 
Here's my take on things, Joyfulsoul. I'm convinced that our reward or punishment depends, to a great extent, on how aware we are of our responsibility for our actions.

Those who understand how and why acts are initiated take full responsibility for the results. Those who don't understand how and why they do things are no more responsible than leaves blowing in the wind and have the same control over where they come to rest.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
I see where you are coming from. Maybe that's why Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" ?
 
Posted by Gort (# 6855) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
I see where you are coming from. Maybe that's why Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" ?

Yes, that seems reasonable to me. Also, knowledge breeds responsibility... on a very fundamental level.

[ 19. December 2005, 05:38: Message edited by: Gort ]
 
Posted by Gort (# 6855) on :
 
...this all bears on the old "knowledge of good and evil" conundrum
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
what do you mean... by "knowledge of good and evil conundrum"?
 
Posted by Gort (# 6855) on :
 
Well, you know. The old hang-up over our fate after death caused by our knowledge of good and evil. All this worry basically hinges on that.
 
Posted by Kelly Alves (# 2522) on :
 
(Here is where I trot out my tedious theory that the garden of Eden story was meant to imply that none of really have the knowledge of Good and Evil, because in my totally speculative opinion, the tree was not allowed to ripen properly. Which is why God warned us away from it.IMHO, the Garden story reflects a human tendancy to want stuff before we are ready for it.)
 
Posted by Gort (# 6855) on :
 
Aha! I've always thought of it as the "Tree of Life" and the "knowledge of good and evil" as some sort of corruption of that.
 
Posted by Kelly Alves (# 2522) on :
 
Somebody can sail in here and correct me, but I thought according to Hebrew lore,they are two different trees of seperate symbolic significance, but related somehow or another.

But then again you might know more about that than me.


[ETA; I'm sure there's somebody that knows more about it than me...]

[ 19. December 2005, 06:13: Message edited by: Kelly Alves ]
 
Posted by Gort (# 6855) on :
 
Nah, It's all speculation on my part.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kelly Alves:
Somebody can sail in here and correct me, but I thought according to Hebrew lore,they are two different trees of seperate symbolic significance, but related somehow or another.

Yes, they are two different trees. One is God's presence with humanity, the other is the reliance on self and the world. The second tree distances you from God, and therefore it expelled them from the garden.

The point, though, is not about what you know but what you love. The purpose of true knowledge is to enable, develop, and guide true actions - and therefore nurture good loves.

My understanding is that obedience to God allows Him to form you into a person who loves Him. People's inner character is formed over time by their repeated thoughts, desires, and actions, or what they would do if given the opportunity.

In the next life all constraints are removed and people act as they truly wish to act, learn what they truly wish to learn, and think as they truly wish to think. Whoops, I guess we think as we wish right here in this world. [Biased]

It's not like Santa Claus, though, with God making a list and then punishing or rewarding according to past behavior. The slate is wiped clean in the next life. But we ourselves act according to the inclinations that we have developed over the period of our worldly life. We therefore come into a happy or unhappy state according the exact nature of those inclinations and actions.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
It's hard to see people who have been radically and utterly selfish and uncharitable all through their lives radically changing after death and all of a sudden becoming kind and giving and loving. Whether or not they CAN or CANNOT doesn't seem to be the issue at all, but whether it's at all likely they would choose to.

I suppose it's not hard for me to see this change occurring since I don't think we fully see or experience God on this earth, but post-death I think we will, and once this happens I think a lot of our "sinful tendencies" will fall off and leave a much less hindered choice for the radically selfish and uncharitable (all of us?).

Whether or not it's likely is an interesting idea to ponder, but I don't think it works as a premise in the discussion about Hell vs. God's Goodness, etc. You can say that it's verrrrrrrrrrrry unlikely for anyone to choose Heaven once they are in Hell, but if the premise remains that they CAN, then I can still hold out hope that they will.

Also, for Freddy and anyone else who feels this way... is Hell enjoyable for those who stay there? It would seem like it'd be all the pleasure of sin with none of the physical consequences (sickness, poverty, etc.). We speculate that there would be a good deal of emotional emptiness, but for someone who has little to no experience with emotional fullness and therefore doesn't miss it, Hell may in fact end up being what they've always dreamed it would be, in which case they either a) enjoy it for eternity or b) come to a realization that it's not fulfilling, and thus desire heaven at which point they can cross the gap.

That's why the can or cannot is important to me.


-Digory

When the sickness fades, the first real choice is made.
-a rough summary of Jolly Jape's illustration
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Also, for Freddy and anyone else who feels this way... is Hell enjoyable for those who stay there? It would seem like it'd be all the pleasure of sin with none of the physical consequences (sickness, poverty, etc.). We speculate that there would be a good deal of emotional emptiness, but for someone who has little to no experience with emotional fullness and therefore doesn't miss it, Hell may in fact end up being what they've always dreamed it would be, in which case they either a) enjoy it for eternity or b) come to a realization that it's not fulfilling, and thus desire heaven at which point they can cross the gap.

Now that sounds like the sort of afterlife I could enjoy. All the pleasures life has to offer at first, and then 'Heaven' when it finally gets boring [Big Grin]

The thing I don't really understand is that you'd call the first part 'Hell'. But that's just me...
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kelly Alves:
(Here is where I trot out my tedious theory that the garden of Eden story was meant to imply that none of really have the knowledge of Good and Evil, because in my totally speculative opinion, the tree was not allowed to ripen properly. Which is why God warned us away from it.IMHO, the Garden story reflects a human tendancy to want stuff before we are ready for it.)

So, that would mean we got an inaccurate picture of what right and wrong are, and this has since afflicted us?

I've never heard anything like this before, so naturally I am intrigued. I'd love for you to elaborate on it and a little on its origins, if you care to, Kelly.

-Digory
 
Posted by Kelly Alves (# 2522) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
...they are two different trees. One is God's presence with humanity, the other is the reliance on self and the world. The second tree distances you from God, and therefore it expelled them from the garden.


My theory is, though, that there was really nothing wrong with the tree itself. Indulge my logic for a mintue. Nomadic society, hunter-gatherers. Now what would be a logical reason that someopne would tell you not to eat form a tree?

1. It was poison

This is the traditional view.I don't buy that, because of the name they gave the tree.Knowledge of good and evil is a good thing, right?

2. The fruit was not yet ripe, and eating it would make you sick

Better. "don't eat lest ye die " supports this.

3. The tree was one of a kind, and preserving its fruit for seed was important to the survival of the community.

This one is good also, and if you accept the translation of the tree as that or self-reliance, maybe it would have offered a healthy self-reliance that could be shared by all humanity. Not the desperate, prideful, false self-reliance that people use to avoid acknowledging their interdependance, and their dependance on God.

I tend to believe 2 or 3,or even both. I prefer this translation to the "Tree as a Booby Trap" theory.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
This is a very interesting tangent re: trees and knowledge and I don't mean to derail it - but I just want to respond to something else in a previous post. Digory, I'm not how proof-texting bible verses is helpful in the discussion of hell? Its not that your verses are not good or something...but rather I'm not really sure what we would accomplish if you say, "these verses demonstrate X" and I say, "no, I don't see it that. I think they demonstrate Y." ? What say you?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Also, for Freddy and anyone else who feels this way... is Hell enjoyable for those who stay there? It would seem like it'd be all the pleasure of sin with none of the physical consequences (sickness, poverty, etc.). We speculate that there would be a good deal of emotional emptiness, but for someone who has little to no experience with emotional fullness and therefore doesn't miss it, Hell may in fact end up being what they've always dreamed it would be, in which case they either a) enjoy it for eternity or b) come to a realization that it's not fulfilling, and thus desire heaven at which point they can cross the gap.

As to whether hell is enjoyable or not, this is debatable.

How can any existence among self-centered jerks be enjoyable? Enjoyment generally only comes at the expense of others, so it can't be very enjoyable. There is quite a bit of hostility.

And who said anything about there being no disease, poverty or other consequences. These consequences are inherent in evil. So most people in hell are in pretty dire straits. They also live in fear, since the crime rate is quite high.

I don't know why anyone would choose hell. However, everything in heaven revolves around the love of God and the neighbor. To the extent that we are self-centered and worldly we will struggle with the repression of our true feelings. In hell, on the other hand, you can do what you want, although you do need to put up with certain consequences. [Biased]

So I don't think it is enjoyable in hell. [Disappointed]
 
Posted by Kelly Alves (# 2522) on :
 
Joyfulsoul, don't apologize, I'm the one who's being a bubblehead. [Hot and Hormonal]

Sorry about the tangent. I keep discussing this one tangentally. Heckwithit, I'm taking it to Kerygmania, where it belongs. (I guess)
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Digory, I'm not how proof-texting bible verses is helpful in the discussion of hell? Its not that your verses are not good or something...but rather I'm not really sure what we would accomplish if you say, "these verses demonstrate X" and I say, "no, I don't see it that. I think they demonstrate Y." ? What say you?

I agree. You can't prove universalism with Bible verses. The point, however, is that you can't prove hell and "Damnationism" (as I've grown to call it) from Bible verses either. Most people who believe in Hell, I think, believe that their position is supported in Scripture while the universalist position is kind of concocted out of thin air and fanciful dreams. So I set out to show that this is not the case.

That's all. I think it can aid the discussion as it illuminates points and reasons for why we each believe how we do.

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
You can't prove universalism with Bible verses. The point, however, is that you can't prove hell and "Damnationism" (as I've grown to call it) from Bible verses either. Most people who believe in Hell, I think, believe that their position is supported in Scripture while the universalist position is kind of concocted out of thin air and fanciful dreams. So I set out to show that this is not the case.

I think you are right. It is easy to come up with verses that demonstrate either position, depending on how they are interpreted.

The basic question, I think, is "What is delight?" If we know the answer to that then we know what heaven is, and by contrast, hell.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
I apologise for joining this discussion when it's well underway; I have some thoughts on this subject that I'd be interested in having feedback on, and which don't seem to be dealt with in the previous nine pages or so [Smile]

It seems to me that the whole notion of salvation is one that Christians don't think all that much about. My gut feeling is that if you do think about it in detail, it becomes very uncomfortable. Luther and Calvin and other protestant reformers did think about it in detail, and what they came up with was at least logically coherent, even though many people find their ideas (conditional election, predestination, etc) disagreeable. But Lutheran thinking on salvation follows fairly clearly from the notion of justification by faith -- the idea that faith and acceptance of the Christian message are nececssary to salvation. Various doctrines have arisen that attempt to soften the blow, as it were -- Arminianism, Molinism, etc. But these -- if they are true -- merely avoid the conclusions of election and predestination; they don't touch justification by faith itself. But justification by faith is at the centre of every mainstream Christian denomination today.

It seems to me that if you accept justification by faith, and the usual Christian teaching that judgement is heaven-or-hell, once-and-for-all, then it becomes very difficult to answer questions like ``what is the hope for salvation for people who have never heard the Gospel'', and ``what happens to children who die before they are capable of understanding the Christian message''.

You can try to move the goalposts, by positing that God has different standards by which to judge these people. But if you do that, why not postulate other exceptions for other classes of people that are disadvantaged in the faith-forming department? What about people with mental handicaps? What about people who have been brought up to be naturally cynical? What about X and Y and Z? What reason have we got for saying that justification by faith is application to some classes of individuals and not others? It's just a mess.

It seems to me that there are only three logically coherent ways to resolve the problem. Either we:

1. grit our teeth, and 'fess us that unbaptised babies are burning in hell along with Socrates, the Old Testament saints, and people who had the bad fortune to be born outside the Christian sphere of influence,

or we:

2. drop the notion of salvation by faith altogether, which leads in the end to some variant of universal salvationism.

or we:

3. admit that there is no such thing as `Hell', in so far as it is a state of eternal punishment or alienation from God.

Arguable 2 is a special case of 3; but in any case both 2 and 3 are very different from 1.

Unless we are prepared to do one of these three things, it seems to me that, as Christians, we are living in a world of logical contradictions. It isn't merely a case of saying ``I don't know'' or ``it's a mystery'' -- the problem is clear, obvious, and not mysterious in any way. We just don't like any of the possible solutions.

This is why I favour the doctrine of universal salvation. It is logically coherent, and does not require that we believe God is an evil tormentor. The logical converse of universal salvation is not, for me, pelagianism, or hard-nosed calvinist determimism, or arminianism-with-copout-clauses-for-babies.

It is atheism, plain and simple.

If Christianity required me to accept that there are babies in Hell, or that I had to live in a maze of logical incoherence, that would lead me to reject the truth of Christianity completely.

Comments welcome [Smile]
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
I apologise for joining this discussion when it's well underway; I have some thoughts on this subject that I'd be interested in having feedback on, and which don't seem to be dealt with in the previous nine pages or so [Smile]

It seems to me that the whole notion of salvation is one that Christians don't think all that much about.

Welcome! A new person is always appreciated! Interestingly enough, this thread was inspired by a topic on salvation here.

quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
It seems to me that if you accept justification by faith, and the usual Christian teaching that judgement is heaven-or-hell, once-and-for-all, then it becomes very difficult to answer questions like ``what is the hope for salvation for people who have never heard the Gospel'', and ``what happens to children who die before they are capable of understanding the Christian message''.

For me, it is not just "justification by faith alone." Our God is not only merciful in providing salvation, but he is also gracious and just. In Romans , scriptures speak exactly about what happens to people who never hear the gospel. I trust that God is good and he is just - so I don't find any of this difficult.

quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
It seems to me that there are only three logically coherent ways to resolve the problem. Either we:

1. grit our teeth, and 'fess us that unbaptised babies are burning in hell along with Socrates, the Old Testament saints, and people who had the bad fortune to be born outside the Christian sphere of influence,

I wouldn't find the OT saints burning in hell to be consistent with scripture or theology. The idea of Christ's sacrifice is that it covers every past and present and future sins of everyone. (The issue isn't that our sins aren't covered - because Christ died for ALL - the issue is that whether or not we repent and receive his sacrifice.)

quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
or we:

2. drop the notion of salvation by faith altogether, which leads in the end to some variant of universal salvationism.

I have no issues that Christ died for all.

quote:
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)

And,

quote:
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18)

But I do think it is crucial that we receive his gift, that we repent from darkness and turn to the light and receive the beauty God has for us, as it were.

quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
Unless we are prepared to do one of these three things, it seems to me that, as Christians, we are living in a world of logical contradictions.

I don't think there is any contradictions. And I don't buy that scripture supports babies being tortured in hell.

I just can't move from Nicodemus's and Jesus's midnight chat:

quote:
In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." (John 3:3)
and,

quote:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. (John 3:16-19)

 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Crooked Cucumber:

Thanks for joining! The conversation could always use a new spike of interest after nine pages of circulating arguments! [Biased]

I think your choice (2) is unnecessarily stringent. We can drop justification by faith and still end up with either (2a)Only some people are saved, by election or (2b)No one is saved and all are damned to hell necessarily. (2c)is what you postulate, a kind of universal salvation.

Nothing says God MUST be loving or merciful, but my experience with God says that he is. And therefore, if I believe in his mercy/love/goodness/grace, then I opt for (2c) much as you do.

But let me try to argue from Freddy's position, since I've heard him do it so well for so long now. I want to see if I have it down.

Justification by faith is usually defined in an incomplete way. Faith in itself requires and includes a degree of works, which are only possible through the grace that God grants each of us. But what we choose to do with that grace will have lasting effects on the individual we become. So if we continue to choose against good living, rejecting his empowering Grace, then we will become more and more self-serving. But if we begin to accept his Grace and its effect on our desire to do good, we will begin to desire good things and desire good for all people.

Once we die, we aren't held accountable for this or that sin, but we are who we are. The slate is wiped clean, but we are left with the heart and soul we have helped to create. In other words, our deepest desires remain. Those that desire selfishness, greed, and other ungodliness will find themselves increasingly selfish, greedy and ungodly. Those who desire God and his way of love and mercy will be more loving and merciful.

In this way, we will have created for ourselves a "Heaven" and a "Hell" out of our desires and the heart we have created.

The people that have never heard of God by name or by Theology will still be responsible for the heart they have created and the desires they are left with. Perhaps babies who die get to begin their heart's creation post-death.


That's my best "Freddy answer." I wonder what he will say of my rendition!

What do you think of that idea, CC?


-Digory
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
I favour the doctrine of universal salvation.

...

Comments welcome [Smile]

So do I, in a way. I don't think there's any one place we all end up in, but many different places each of which would undoubtedly be Hell for some people but Heaven for others.

I can't see that any other option is consistent with a God of love...
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
That's my best "Freddy answer." I wonder what he will say of my rendition!

Digory, you are brilliant! [Overused]

Crooked Cucumber, I'm not sure that your alternatives are complete. I'm not sure I buy your opening idea that salvation is a difficult doctrine. I especially don't accept the idea that justification by faith is logically coherent.

What is wrong with the basic idea that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell - recognizing, of course, that all goodness comes from God?

Put another way, what is wrong with the idea that happiness is inherent in goodness, and unhappiness is inherent in evil?

These ideas seem more logically consistent to me than universal salvation.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:

What is wrong with the basic idea that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell - recognizing, of course, that all goodness comes from God?

Well, nothing, as such [Smile] My gut feeling is that most observant Christians feel this way -- in some form or another -- and in spite of the `official' positions of the denominations to which they belong. It's what I was taught in Sunday School forty years ago, blithely unaware of the fact that it would have been considered a heresy by the (Wesleyan) leadership. Such a view is not incompatible with universal salvationism, as I understand it, so long as `Hell' (whatever it is) is not eternal.

However, my understanding is that the Protestant Churches all take their lead from Luther in this area, and he wrote:

quote:
Originally posted by Martin Luther:

"Whoever departs from the article of justification [by faith] does not know God and is an idolater. For when this article has been taken away, nothing remains but error, hypocrisy, godlessness, and idolatry, although it may seem to be the height of truth, worship of God, holiness, etc."

In other words, outwards expressions of goodness and badness are merely reflections of the faith that we have in Jesus. No human work, without this faith, amounts to anything.

As a doctrine, it doesn't leave a lot of room for righteous non-Christians.

I suppose this might not have been a problem for Luther, Calvin, et al., since for these people the Christian world was the world -- they would never have met a person had never heard the Gospel.

However, even the Protestant reformers must have thought about the fate of people who died before Jesus' saving work. If they did, they did not pronounce on the matter (so far as I know).

I think that, in the end, the corporate position of all the mainstream Protestant churches -- and most of the Catholic ones -- is that people who have the misfortune never to have heard the Gospel are damned, and we just have to live with that.

For the Calvinist this doesn't present a (logical) problem, because the decision who to save and who to condemn has been made in advance anyway. It is perfectly coherent (although chilling, in my view) to say that the people who live out of the reach of the Christian message are just those whom God has elected not to save.

I have a certain respect for people who take the doctrine of justification by faith to its logical conclusion, and then say ``well, I don't like the results any more than you do, but you can't argue with logic''. I think William Lane Craig is a good example of this. He argues that the problem is analagous in salvational terms to that old chestnut the `Problem of Evil' in earthly terms. His argument is that God not have created a world that was logically impossible, and that a world where there is free will and nobody is damned (`lost' is the word he prefers) is logically impossible.

My problem with this is that I find it difficult enough to defend the idea that an omnipotent, benevolent God can tolerate the amount of earthly suffering that exists; and I'm damned sure I'm not going to try to defend the idea that a benevolent God can tolerate eternal condemnation (in any form), whether logical or not. It is simply a monstrous idea. As I said, I find atheism more compelling than this.

However, my contention is that no observant Christian -- with the possible excecption of Protestant theologians -- really believes in justification by faith as Luther (and Augustine) originally described it. They always have get-out clauses for some classes of worthy unbeliever. It might just be for Children, it might be for those who are spiritually `like children' (i.e., the mentally handicapped, the unchurched `heathen'),it might be others as well. Where these get-out clauses come form (apart from an inner sense of the dignity of man) I really don't know -- they don't come from their own Church leadership, that's for sure.

I can see why the leaders of the early Christian Church, suddenly finding themselves a force in world affairs, would propound a theology that posits eternal damnation for those who do not believe what they believe. However, in the modern age, people can choose whether to ally themeselves with any faith, or no faith at all. In my view, people should accept Christianity because it reflects the wonder they feel in the natural world, and the love and mercy of God. We don't want to make converts of people who are too busy sh*tting a brick to think straight [Smile]
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
Where these get-out clauses come form (apart from an inner sense of the dignity of man) I really don't know --

Quite possibly views regarding the salvation of those who have never heard the gospel may come from this verse:

quote:
God "will give to each person according to what he has done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

(romans 2:6-8,12-16)


 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by JoyfulSoul
romans 2:6-8,12-16

As I said, this is my understanding of the Message too. Unsurprisingly, those who plug the idea of justification by faith seem to miss this passage out. However, my gut feeling is that Luther spent as much time poring over Romans than anybody; he can't have been unaware of it. I wonder how he reconciled it with his views? I wonder even more how Calvin did.

In any case, I don't think that Romans 2:12-16 represents the `official' line taken by any Protestant denomination, even though I think many actual Protestant Christians would support it.

What an odd state of affairs [Smile]
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
CrookedCucumber has indeed added fresh impetus to this discussion and I am in general agreement. Probably my strongest reason in support of universalism rests with:

"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6.44).

Faith is said to be a gift of the Holy Spirit. So how can anyone be condemned for lack of faith if the Holy Spirit chose to withold that gift . Anyone who doesn't come to Jesus doesn't because the Father did not draw him. That can only mean predestination in which God creates people for the purpose of sending them to eternal hell. Otherwise He would draw them. The Holy Spirit would give them the gift of faith. But Jesus does promise to draw all men:

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto me" (John 12.32).

We can only come to Christ if the father calls us to it. Therefore our salvation is entirely in His hands. And Jesus will draw all of us. That's His promise.
 
Posted by Gort (# 6855) on :
 
Yeah, but what about that old adage: You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink?
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
I come back to find the thread going strong with many interesting posts to wade through...

I am in agreement with PaulTH*, naturally [Smile]

If I lead a horse to water and he didn't drink, what would I think? Firstly I would think "Well, perhaps he isn't thirsty". But if I waited a while, and the horse still didn't drink, and was obviously showing signs of dehydration, I would think "This horse is sick. An illness is causing him to not drink. I will fetch a vet, who will cure the illness. Then the horse will drink."

What healthy horse has ever deliberatly killed itself by refusing to drink?
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
What healthy horse has ever deliberatly killed itself by refusing to drink?

Horses aren't people. People can be mighty stubborn, yea verily even unto death.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
Basically, it comes down to that the no-hell people believe that a) rebellion is just one huge misunderstanding and b) anyone who rejects the reject "good" is merely ignorant and/or not held responsible for his/her delusion so, c)when God *finally* reveals All Truth - it is just not possible that anyone could chose anything but the good.

Again, I don't know if anything can be resolved if some of us argue from completely different understandings regarding knowledge/rebellion.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
I don't think God holds our delusion against us. What frightens me is that some might hold it against Him.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
just to clarify:
You mean that some refuse to accept the reality of a situation and prefer to remain in a delusion and you can't make them believe?
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Basically, it comes down to that the no-hell people believe that a) rebellion is just one huge misunderstanding and b) anyone who rejects the reject "good" is merely ignorant and/or not held responsible for his/her delusion so, c)when God *finally* reveals All Truth - it is just not possible that anyone could chose anything but the good.

I don't believe that it is necessary for a universalist to deny the reality of evil, and I don't believe that I do so. People, including me, do evil, hurtful and hateful things all the time. And pain and hatred are sown and reaped by us all.

But Christianity is all about overcoming evil.

Our rebellion is caused by many things, but our illness will be healed.

To put it another way - Jesus saves.

Where is the good news in your view that we choose our destiny? I can't even choose not to be grumpy around my family at Christmas - and you tell me I should rejoice because my eternal fate is in my hands?
 
Posted by Gort (# 6855) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
[...] Where is the good news in your view that we choose our destiny? I can't even choose not to be grumpy around my family at Christmas - and you tell me I should rejoice because my eternal fate is in my hands?

Excuse me? The good news is that as a cognitive human being you have a choice and can take responsibility for your actions. I suppose some would see no difference between struggling towards a life-preserver and being helped into it while unconscious. The end result is the same.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
just to clarify:
You mean that some refuse to accept the reality of a situation and prefer to remain in a delusion and you can't make them believe?

The dwarfs are for the dwarfs.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
Believe or not, but your last sentence's meaning has escaped me.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Believe or not, but your last sentence's meaning has escaped me.

The dwarfs in The Last Battle exemplify the attitude addressed in your question. Almost perfectly.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
Ah. Thanks. All is clear now. [Smile]
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Where is the good news in your view that we choose our destiny? I can't even choose not to be grumpy around my family at Christmas - and you tell me I should rejoice because my eternal fate is in my hands?

You wish to remain eternally infantile?
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Where is the good news in your view that we choose our destiny? I can't even choose not to be grumpy around my family at Christmas - and you tell me I should rejoice because my eternal fate is in my hands?

You wish to remain eternally infantile?
Perhaps we don't have a choice about whether or not we do, and so must make a decision about how to handle the fact that we are?

Unless you are like a child you cannot enter the Kingdom of God. If you believe the Kingdom of God is actually here on earth, and is the state of being that people enter into once they realize their true inheritance/potential, then you could say that until someone recognizes that they ARE child-like for eternity, they will never realize their true inheritance/potential.

Demas, PaulTH, Mousethief--where have ya'll been? Good to see you back around. [Smile]

-Digory

[ 22. December 2005, 04:04: Message edited by: professorkirke ]
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
We are to become like little children, not like infants.

(aside to Prof Kirke: I've been right here!)
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Like Demas I don't deny the reality of evil, especially in myself where I experience it daily. Neither do I seny the dualism within our present mode of existence. What I can't accept is that dualism has any objective reality outside the distorted will of sentient creatures or that God will alloow it to persist into eternity. If it did, the "experiment" of creation would have been a failure.

Gort's quotation of the old adage is, admittedly a stumbling block for universalists, but our interpretation of it depends on what we think terms such as "all men" mean in that context. It seems to me that in this life there are many people who are never drawn to Christ or given the gift of faith by the Holy Spirit. Unless you believe that they are born to damnation, as in the worst excesses of Augustinian and Calvinist theology, it is reasonable to conclude that they must receive Him in a way we can't understand, perhaps after death.

Zoroastrians are often labelled as dualists because they believe in an alternative evil power in creation, which I don't, but ultimately they believe that God will triumph and evil will cease to exist. For my own understanding of God, that is a necessary final outcome, even if we must suffer the reality of our own hell in the present.
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gort:
I suppose some would see no difference between struggling towards a life-preserver and being helped into it while unconscious.

Count me among them.

quote:
The end result is the same.
Exactly. As long as your life is saved, why worry about how?
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH:
That can only mean predestination in which God creates people for the purpose of sending them to eternal hell. Otherwise He would draw them. The Holy Spirit would give them the gift of faith. But Jesus does promise to draw all men

If by this you mean that predestination (in some form) is the only logically coherent alternative to universalism (in some form), then I am inclined to agree.

To be honest, I have always been very frustrated by attempts made by people who sincerely accept Calvinistic predestination, to explain it in any way that doesn't make God into a monster. Although thinking Calvinists at one level are obliged to accept `double predestination' (the idea that God creates specific individuals to be saved, and others to be damned), they can't talk or write about it clearly because at another level they know it is monstrous.

For example, the following is from Charles Hedrick, who moderates the soc.religion.christian newsgroup:

quote:

Calvinism says that God is wholly responsible for salvation. God forgives us, engrafts us into Christ, regenerates us, and moves us through the power of the Holy Spirit.[...] With those who are saved, God operates in a personal way, through the presence of the Holy Spirit and our union with Christ. [...] There is no equivalent for those who reject God. While their rejection is part of an overall history for which God is responsible, God does not take specific actions to make them reject him, as he takes actions to redeem his children [my emphasis]

You'll note he uses the passive voice to refer to people who are saved. They don't save themselves by their own actions, they `are saved' by God acting through Christ.

But, of those whom he knows perfectly well have been preordained to damnation -- in fact, created by God specifically with damnation in mind -- he says: ``...those who reject god...'' Note the sudden change to the active voice now.

He can't say ``..those who are not saved...'' or ``...those who God has chosen for damnation...'' even though this would be theologically more accurate -- I'm not sure why. Is it because, even in his own mind he can't fully accept double predestination? Or is it that he knows perfectly well that non-Calvinist readers will recoil in horror if the writes with symmetry about the saved and the unsaved?

This kind of doublethink permeates all the writings of modern Protestant theologians who accept the basic Lutheran position on predestination (i.e., all of them). Only a tiny minority are prepared to be fully honest, which is to say: ``Yes, most people are created specifically by God to be damned. We don't know why. Get used to it''.

Catholics, on the whole, accept predestination as well, but shy away from the `double predestination' of Calvin. If you read the section on this in the Catholic Encyclopedia, you'll see the same woolly writing that is employed by Protestant theologians, because it's not logically possible to accept predestination without accepting double predestination.

I submit that the real problem lies with justification by faith itself. If you reject the idea that a specific faith or belief set is a necessary condition for salvation, these problems all disappear. But if you do that, you are left with some notion of `salvation by works' (which most Christian eschew -- at least publicly), or some form of universalism.

As I said, I prefer universalism because the alternative is that God is a monster, which isn't something I can seriously accept.

As an aside, I sometimes wonder what Calvin would have done, if atheism had been a serious alternative for him. It's clear that he found the idea of double predestination extremely unpalatable, but did not reject it because to do so would be to reject some of the most fundamental Christian beliefs about God. Had he been free to reject those beliefs, I wonder what would have happened?


I am particularly dismayed that even CS Lewis -- normally a clear thinker on Christian matters -- could not get this subject straight. One of his most famous statements, made in one of his `Mere Christianity' radio broadcasts, concerned the fate of moral non-Christians. He said:

``Though all salvation is through Jesus, we need not conclude that He cannot save those who have not explicitly accepted Him in this life.''

Which is about as far from justification by faith as one can possibly get. But in another, on the subject of a Christian's duty to others, he said:

``You are not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already''

Eh? This appears to be bog-standard standard Lutheranism. And then he said:

``Not only do we need to recognize that we are sinners; we need to believe in a Savior who takes away sins.''

Which is a clear statement of justification by faith.

So what's going on here? Why is there so much muddled thinking in this area? I think it's straightforward -- justification by faith, taken to its logical conclusion, leads to the concept of a monster God, an evil-minded tyrant. Nobody wants to accept this, so we can't take it to its logical conculsion.

Comments welcome:)
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
I think it's straightforward -- justification by faith, taken to its logical conclusion, leads to the concept of a monster God, an evil-minded tyrant.

I disagree. That is only the logical conclusion if we assume that faith is only possible if God grants it to us.

If, on the other hand, having faith is something we can achieve by ourselves then the conclusions are very different...
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
This may be a little picky, CC, but isn't what Luther believed better termed "salvation by grace"? Let me unpack that a little. Sure, Luther's "new" perspective (of course, it wasn't that new, merely a renewal of a concept that had been inherent in Christianity since the Acts of the Apostles, but rather submerged in the predominant medieaval worldview) was that the individual could access that grace through personal faith, apart from the mediation of the church. I don't think he was saying that anyone who did not share that understanding was damned.

I think he probably still believed in the faith of the church, he just understood the church differently. As has already been pointed out on this thread, he lived in a society where the default position was to be a christian. His message to those christian people was, "Hey, you can access the riches of Christ for yourself, and be confident of your inheritance as a son or daughter of God, apart from the rituals of (what he regarded as) an apostate church, which seeks to hold that inheritance from you. The way you can do this is by faith".

Perhaps LutheranChik or some other member of the Ship's Lutheran contingent would care to comment.

JoyfulSoul, you wrote:
quote:
Basically, it comes down to that the no-hell people believe that a) rebellion is just one huge misunderstanding and b) anyone who rejects the reject "good" is merely ignorant and/or not held responsible for his/her delusion so, c)when God *finally* reveals All Truth - it is just not possible that anyone could chose anything but the good.

Again, I don't know if anything can be resolved if some of us argue from completely different understandings regarding knowledge/rebellion.

Not sure really whether I think this is an adequate statement of the universalist perspective. I certainly wouldn't describe rebellion as a misunderstanding, and I'm fairly sure that there is a distinct difference between being held to account and being punished, but I think that I do believe that when we see face-to-face, the individual will be freed up to respond to the Divine in a way which is not possible in this life.

For all, the change will be huge, but for those who have (seemingly) rejected God in this life the change will be beyond our ability to comprehend from our perspective here and now.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian
quote:
Originally posted by me
I think it's straightforward -- justification by faith, taken to its logical conclusion, leads to the concept of a monster God, an evil-minded tyrant.

I disagree. That is only the logical conclusion if we assume that faith is only possible if God grants it to us.
If, on the other hand, having faith is something we can achieve by ourselves then the conclusions are very different...

Sorry, I am not defining my terms clearly enough. I am using the term `justification by faith' in the Calvinist sense:

``We compare faith to a kind of vessel; for unless we come empty and with the mouth of our souls open to seek Christ's grace, we are not capable of receiving Christ''

For the Calvinist, faith is the outward expression of `justification' (i.e., being made just) by God. The Elect have faith because they are justified (i.e., predestined to righteousness). The damned have no faith because they have been predestined to have no faith and be damned. In short, faith is gift that some people are given, and some not.

My understanding is that the notion that a person can, of his own initiative and free will, come to find faith, is considered a heresy (pelagianism, or semi-pelagianism) by both Catholic and Protestant denominations.

(I'm saying you're wrong or that I don't agree with you; I'm merely saying that most observant Christians seem to hold to views that would be considered heretical by their own denominations; and I'm wondering why that should be).
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
My understanding is that the notion that a person can, of his own initiative and free will, come to find faith, is considered a heresy (pelagianism, or semi-pelagianism) by both Catholic and Protestant denominations.

A stance which is doing as much to keep me away from church as the rest of the religion put together. Because I don't feel any Call From God, so for me to go along anyway out of some grudging sense of duty or desire for Salvation is of no more spiritual benefit to me than waiting at home (or in the pub [Biased] ) for that Call to come...

Oh how I wish a person could "of his own initiative and free will, come to find faith "...
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:

A stance which is doing as much to keep me away from church as the rest of the religion put together.

What strikes me as odd is that no churchgoer I have spoken to, of any denomination, really accepts justification by faith in its pure, Calvinistic sense. Even some who profess to be Calvinists seemed very surprised when I explained in detail what Calvin had actually said on the subject.

quote:

Oh how I wish a person could "of his own initiative and free will, come to find faith "...

According to Augustine, and taken up by Luther and Calvin, not only can a person not find salvation by embracing faith of his own free will, he cannot take even the tiniest step towards his own salvation unless elected by God. This is logical -- if you utterly reject the notion of `salvation by works', as Augustine did, this conclusion follows, because even a hestitant and trivial step towards faith, if made of one's own free will, is `works' (or a work, at least).

I would be very interested in any Calvinist responses to any of this [Smile]
 
Posted by LutheranChik (# 9826) on :
 
Having seen the "L" insignia flashed in light over the horizon [Biased] ...

First of all, just a caveat that most Lutherans do not treat everything, or indeed anything, that came out of Luther's mouth or off his pen as ex cathedra pronouncements.

To put the Lutheran position at its simplest, if I can dare to speak for my own tradition:

God always comes down.

God's saving action is the only thing that counts in the salvation equation...not our doing the right things, or thinking the right things about God. God's in charge of the salvation business. So it's a bit presumptuous of me to try and second-guess who is on and who is off God's bus.

That doesn't mean that wanting to do the right thing/trying to avoid the wrong thing, or that as a friend of mine puts it "trying to say the least wrong thing about God," are bad, or don't matter; but they're not not factors in justification -- they're matters of sanctification , of letting God lead oneself in a Godward direction.

Having come into this discussion at a very late date, I don't know if I've even understood/been responsive to the question. But if I understand correctly, and you're asking whether Lutherans believe that "pagan babies" and others not on the same page as us are headed for The Other Place: Salvation is a God thing. And what we know about the character of God is what we know about the character of Jesus, so being entirely dependent on the grace of God is, I think, a good place to be.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik
But if I understand correctly, and you're asking whether Lutherans believe that "pagan babies" and others not on the same page as us are headed for The Other Place: Salvation is a God thing.

Well, I suppose you have understood the question correctly; perhaps even better than I originally expressed it [Smile]

``Salvation is a God thing'' -- I think this is another way of saying what I attributed to Calvin earlier: ``Some people are created to be saved, the rest are damned. We don't know why. Get used to it''. Or isn't it? That your version is snappier and less confrontational than mine, I accept [Smile]

My argument is not that the Lutheran (or Calvinist) view is inchorent -- it's just that, given the view of God it is predicated on, I just don't see why it's a club that anybody would want to join.

I'm not trying to take a poke at you personally -- it's just that nobody else turned up [Smile]
 
Posted by LutheranChik (# 9826) on :
 
First of all: Lutherans don't believe in double predestination. They believe that Scripture proclaims a God who wills that all should be saved. Why that, from our perspective, seems not to be the case is something we leave in the hands of God.

Secondly: We believe that God creates saving faith in an individual. (And I am going to qualify that by saying that I am not going to second-guess what someone else's God-created faith looks like.) Your question about why anyone would join the Christian "club" assumes that we "make a decision for Christ," which is not a Lutheran understanding of how becoming a Christian works. We reject decision theology.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
quote:
``Salvation is a God thing'' -- I think this is another way of saying what I attributed to Calvin earlier: ``Some people are created to be saved, the rest are damned. We don't know why. Get used to it''. Or isn't it? That your version is snappier and less confrontational than mine, I accept
I really don't follow your logic here. In what way could saying "Salvation is a God thing" be equated with ``Some people are created to be saved, the rest are damned. We don't know why. Get used to it'. Why not "All people are created to be saved, period!" That is just as consistant with LC's pithy epithet.

I think that all mainstream Protestant denominations have, at the core of their body of doctrinal baggage, the idea of salvation by grace. There are scriptures that seem to support universalism, and those which seem to support "damnationism", sometimes the very same scriptures could be interpreted either way. Neither position is incompatible with "justification by faith" when it is properly understood.

I'm not a Catholic (big C) nor am I Orthodox (big O) but I'm pretty sure that the position of those churches is also that of justification by faith, but with the "faith" understood to be that of the Church, the living communion of those alive here and now, and those alive with God in another place. It is a position which I view not without sympathy, and I think that there is some scriptural warrant for it.

[edited for clarity. Oh well, failed again]

[ 22. December 2005, 13:34: Message edited by: Jolly Jape ]
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
quote:

A stance which is doing as much to keep me away from church as the rest of the religion put together.

What strikes me as odd is that no churchgoer I have spoken to, of any denomination, really accepts justification by faith in its pure, Calvinistic sense.
Granted. But (and with all due respect) right now I'm not trying to get to the bottom of what other Christians believe about the process of Salvation, I'm trying to get to the bottom of what God believes about it [Biased]

And most all of the learned theological discourse on the matter seems to be that it's all about God - that unless God inspires your faith/worship/etc it's just another work and thus not good enough.

So the only conclusion I can logically draw from that and my personal experience is that - at this stage of my life at least - God doesn't want me to be a regular churchgoer (read "Christian" for that if such is your wont). Oh well. Maybe in a few years time [Biased] ...
 
Posted by LutheranChik (# 9826) on :
 
Marvin: I don't understand what you mean. I'm not following. Why do you think that you're not a Christian? (If that is indeed what you think.)
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
Marvin: I don't understand what you mean. I'm not following. Why do you think that you're not a Christian? (If that is indeed what you think.)

It's not. I consider myself Christian, but I don't go to church on anything like a regular basis for reasons outlined more than enough above.

There are those, however, who would say that churchgoing is indivisible from Christianity, and thus anyone (like me) who doesn't attend regularly without a good excuse probably doesn't qualify. Who am I to argue with them [Smile] ?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
I'm not trying to get to the bottom of what other Christians believe about the process of Salvation, I'm trying to get to the bottom of what God believes about it [Biased]

And most all of the learned theological discourse on the matter seems to be that it's all about God - that unless God inspires your faith/worship/etc it's just another work and thus not good enough.

No question that there is a conundrum involved here. It is no easy trick to get to the heart of it.

As I understand it, the conundrum is that God has all power and we have none. So all salvation, and everything else, must be in His hands. At the same time, we are supposedly responsible for somehow turning to Him and asking to be saved. But we actually have no power to do that. But unless we do it we are damned. So it must be pre-destined, or something. Or else He actually isn't the source of all power.

My own opinion is that the problem is not really that difficult.

The solution is that although we have no power, God gives us the ability to choose, as a free gift. What we then choose is imputed to us, not because we deserve it or own it, but because He gives it to us, or allows us to have it.

From there it all works out quite easily, without either predestination or merit.

This is the only solution that, in my opinion, fits with all biblical statements on the subject.
 
Posted by LutheranChik (# 9826) on :
 
quote:
There are those, however, who would say that churchgoing is indivisible from Christianity, and thus anyone (like me) who doesn't attend regularly without a good excuse probably doesn't qualify. Who am I to argue with them ?

Well, I believe that Christians are called to live in community. And I also believe that our community is grounded in Word and Sacrament. I don't believe that it's impossible to be a Christian without being part of a faith community, but it's certainly much harder, and if you shun group worship you're also cutting yourself off from God's gift of the Sacrament of the Altar.

As much as the institutional Church in general drives me insane at times, I value the spiritual support a faith community -- my brick-and-mortar, face-to-face community as well as my online community. (In fact, they support me in different ways and complement one another in this regard.)

Is the issue that you are unwilling to affiliate with a particular church home because you don't feel you can "sign on the dotted line" to various line items in the church's doctrines or practices? I don't think any of us completely agree with our congregations or denominations all the time. That's okay. It's okay to say the Creeds with your fingers crossed; it's okay to disagree with some point of denominational doctrine. It's not being dishonest; it's just being human, just as institutional churches are human constructs that have their own particular flaws and foibles and strong points.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying: If I -- and I was a church dropout for several years -- can find a happy, if not perfect, church home, anyone can. They can be a good place to be.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally poster by LutheranChik
First of all: Lutherans don't believe in double predestination. They believe that Scripture proclaims a God who wills that all should be saved. Why that, from our perspective, seems not to be the case is something we leave in the hands of God.

Fair enough. My understanding is that `double predestination' is something that Calvin and his supporters drew out of Luther's original statements, so I shouldn't have attributed it to Lutherans, as such [Smile]

Where I remain confused is why you (Lutherans collectively, not you personally) don't seek to get to the bottom of why it appears that not all are given what it takes to be saved, when God wills that all should be saved. Is it that, at root you believe that all will be saved, but don't try to understand how or why? Or is it that you think that not all will be saved, but don't try to understand why that should be the case?

I am also intrigued by your statement that `from our perspective' it seems not to be the case that all are saved. Is there another perspective, one in which all are saved?
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape
I really don't follow your logic here. In what way could saying "Salvation is a God thing" be equated with ``Some people are created to be saved, the rest are damned. We don't know why. Get used to it'. Why not "All people are created to be saved, period!" That is just as consistant with LC's pithy epithet.

I agree -- it is. So if ``All people are created to be saved, period!'', and you accept justification by faith, what happens to people who have no faith (for whatever reason)?

Sorry, I feel like this is something that is obvious to everybody except me. Is it?
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
Is the issue that you are unwilling to affiliate with a particular church home because you don't feel you can "sign on the dotted line" to various line items in the church's doctrines or practices?

Nope (although there are certainly some denominations for which that's how I feel!). It really is just that I don't want to go to church for the wrong reasons, and ISTM that "unless God inspires your faith/worship/etc" (as I said above) it's the wrong reason. I'm not sure God is glorified by me sitting resentfully in a pew dreaming of being back in bed...

Basically, before I can start attending regularly again I'll need a whole change of heart. And as it's widely accepted that only God can instil that change in us all I can do (and have done) is ask Him to do it and wait for the response. His move [Biased] ...
 
Posted by LutheranChik (# 9826) on :
 
quote:
Is it that, at root you believe that all will be saved, but don't try to understand how or why? Or is it that you think that not all will be saved, but don't try to understand why that should be the case?

I am also intrigued by your statement that `from our perspective' it seems not to be the case that all are saved. Is there another perspective, one in which all are saved?

As a pastor friend of mine likes to describe his own point of view: I'm a salvation agnostic. I trust in the God I meet in Christ, and commend everyone to the care of that God.

As far as "from my perspective," I meant that from our point of view it seems that some people have pronounced a categorical "NO" to God's grace, by both word and deed. How that plays out in the big, eternal picture -- I don't know. Personally -- this is me, not the ELCA per se -- I tend to agree with C.S. Lewis that some people will insist on existing apart from God, even as they're confronting God face to face, and that God will, with great sadness, give them their wish. On the other hand, Christian universalists like Robert Short make a case that, in the end, God's grace will triumph over even the most hardened of hearts. I've heard people argue that the "harrowing of hell" is an eternal act -- God being outside the boundaries of linear time.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
quote:
I agree -- it is. So if ``All people are created to be saved, period!'', and you accept justification by faith, what happens to people who have no faith (for whatever reason)?

Sorry, I feel like this is something that is obvious to everybody except me. Is it?

They are justified by the faith of the Church, or, for those of us who are protestants, by Jesus faith. Of course they won't accrue the same benefits in this life, and it's not a situation to be desired, but it works for me.
 
Posted by LutheranChik (# 9826) on :
 
quote:
Of course they won't accrue the same benefits in this life, and it's not a situation to be desired, but it works for me.

Excellent point. Salvation isn't "pie in the sky by and by." It starts here, now. Christians are already living into the reign of God.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
The solution is that although we have no power, God gives us the ability to choose, as a free gift. What we then choose is imputed to us, not because we deserve it or own it, but because He gives it to us, or allows us to have it.

From there it all works out quite easily, without either predestination or merit.

This is the only solution that, in my opinion, fits with all biblical statements on the subject.

[Overused] This is exactly how I see it, too. Thanks, Freddy.

quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
As far as "from my perspective," I meant that from our point of view it seems that some people have pronounced a categorical "NO" to God's grace, by both word and deed. How that plays out in the big, eternal picture -- I don't know. Personally -- this is me, not the ELCA per se -- I tend to agree with C.S. Lewis that some people will insist on existing apart from God, even as they're confronting God face to face, and that God will, with great sadness, give them their wish.

I agree with this, too.
 
Posted by da_musicman (# 1018) on :
 
Have we already covered John 3.16 onwards?

quote:
16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[f] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.[g] 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
This seems a srongly non-universalist piece of scripture. Can any Universalist type people explain it? I'm currently sturggling with this whole topic and am falling on the universalist side. Seems to me that the main theme of The Bible is God's Love. And I can't reconcile that with Hell. My earthly Dad wouldn't punish me forever for a mistake I made due to not having all the facts at hand so how can my heavenly father who is so much more loving and gracious?
 
Posted by LutheranChik (# 9826) on :
 
My personal issue with the "penal" model of judgment is that punishment is supposed to be corrective/restorative . How is punishing someone eternally corrective or restorative? That's why the C.S. Lewis model appeals to me more: God is always ready to forgive and restore us; but some people might categorically refuse that -- even when seeing, not through a glass darkly, but face to face: "I'm telling you, get away from me." And so...God does. Sadly, I've met people -- not a lot of people, but a few -- who seem to be this adamant about it, at least on this side of the mortal coil.
 
Posted by sharkshooter (# 1589) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
My personal issue with the "penal" model of judgment is that punishment is supposed to be corrective/restorative . ...

Wrong.

Punishment is to punish.
 
Posted by LutheranChik (# 9826) on :
 
So in other words God is a vengeful sadist who likes tormenting souls for all eternity "because"?
 
Posted by sharkshooter (# 1589) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
So in other words God is a vengeful sadist who likes tormenting souls for all eternity "because"?

because we sinned. Having rejected God, we must choose Him again.

God, being holy, cannot abide unholiness.

Perhaps Star Trek's matter/anti-matter problem provides insight.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Sharkshooter, you wrote, concerning the restorative nature of justice;
quote:
Wrong.

Punishment is to punish.

Which is a good and Godly thing why? Why would God want to do it to his children. Why do you think He does? An assertion is easy to make, but it shouldn't be confused with a reasoned argument, n'est-ce pas.
 
Posted by LutheranChik (# 9826) on :
 
quote:
because we sinned. Having rejected God, we must choose Him again.

God, being holy, cannot abide unholiness.

Perhaps Star Trek's matter/anti-matter problem provides insight.

None of your statements address the need for punishment at all.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Sorry, sharkshooter, cross posted.

quote:
because we sinned. Having rejected God, we must choose Him again.
I rather thought that He chose us, from before the beginning of the world. Your view is widely held amongst evangelicals, but, IMHO, wrong.

quote:
God, being holy, cannot abide unholiness.

Again, widely believed, but also wrong, IMHO. If Jesus is God, as I believe, why did he choose the sinful as His preferred associates, if it was such a big deal. We may have difficulty with a holy God, I don't believe He has difficulty with sinful people. In fact, Jesus shows that God embraces sin, in order to disarm it.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by sharkshooter:
God, being holy, cannot abide unholiness.

I agree precisely. Which is why when we encounter God, our sin is melted away and we are made clean, restored unto him. (Granted, sometimes that process hurts.)

-Digory
 
Posted by LutheranChik (# 9826) on :
 
And how do inherently sinful human beings "choose God"?
 
Posted by sharkshooter (# 1589) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
None of your statements address the need for punishment at all.

Sin.

Clear enough?
 
Posted by LutheranChik (# 9826) on :
 
No.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
quote:
Sin.

Clear enough?

Not really, not at all. What makes you believe that God's response is to punish sin, rather than to forgive it. This is a particularly pertinent question in the light of Christ's teaching that we must forgive those who sin against us. Does He require of us a standard higher than that to which He Himself subscribes.
 
Posted by OliviaG (# 9881) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
quote:
Sin.

Clear enough?

Not really, not at all. What makes you believe that God's response is to punish sin, rather than to forgive it. ...
And why is the punishment eternal, when human sins don't necessarily have eternal effects? OliviaG
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
My personal issue with the "penal" model of judgment is that punishment is supposed to be corrective/restorative . How is punishing someone eternally corrective or restorative? That's why the C.S. Lewis model appeals to me more: God is always ready to forgive and restore us; but some people might categorically refuse that

I agree: Lewis's description of salvation is the only one I have ever heard that makes any kind of sense to me.

However, I find myself mildly surprised that a Lutheran would ascribe to Lewis's view of a limited punishment, because I just can't see that Luther would have supported Lewis at all on this. Although I take your point that not everything that Luther said or wrote is to be taken as holy writ, the Augsburg Confession of 1530 -- which I understand forms the basis of orthodox Lutheranism -- says (Art. xvii):

quote:
Also they [our Churches] teach that at the Consummation of the World Christ will appear for judgment and will raise up all the dead; He will give to the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys, but ungodly men and the devils He will condemn to be tormented without end. They condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the punishments of condemned men and devils.

The idea that punishment will ever end is specifically denounced !

I agree with you, but it seems that neither of us agree with Luther [Smile]

This just brings me back to the point I made at the very beginning of my rant: the majority of observant Christians would do not ascribe to some of the most fundamental corporate views of their denominations [Confused]
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
And how do inherently sinful human beings "choose God"?

Precisely.

But if we start thinking about God saving us, rather than us saving ourselves, then I think we eventually arrive at either universalism or double-predestination.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
But if we start thinking about God saving us, rather than us saving ourselves, then I think we eventually arrive at either universalism or double-predestination.

I tend to think this is where it leads too (sort of). LC pointed out that the corporate view of the Lutheran Churches is to accept `single predestination' but not `double predestination'. But I have problems with that, even if it justified eternal damnation, which I don't think it does.

1. I'm not sure that single and double predestination can logically be distinguished. I am aware of serious theologians tying themselves in knots to make the distinction, but I've not found the arguments all that compelling (although that might just be my ignorance).

2. Luther frequently wrote as if he accepted double predestination. E.g., in Bondage of the Will{/i]:

``Thus God conceals His eternal mercy and loving kindness beneath eternal wrath, His righteousness beneath unrighteousness. Now, the highest degree of faith is to believe that He is merciful, though he saves so few and damns so many; to believe that He is just, though of His own will He makes us perforce proper subjects for damnation, and seems (in Erasmus' words) 'to delight in the torments of poor wretches and to be a fitter object for hate than for love.' ''

In short, I don't think that `single' predestination really gets around the problem.

It seems to me that CS Lewis's view was a form of universalism. He accepted that there could be people who simply refused to accept God, even after death, indefinitely. However, eternity is a long time, and it is not [i]eternal
damnation unless God decides from the outset that it will be eternal.
 
Posted by LutheranChik (# 9826) on :
 
I think you find hardcore "Martin said it, I believe it, that settles it" Lutherans in about the same number that you find hardcore 5-Point Calvinists -- which is to say, not too many. In my own ELCA circles, if you read aloud the bit about Anabaptists being condemned to hell, you'd see a lot of laughing and eye-rolling. We think Anabaptists are completely wrong, of course, [Biased]
 
Posted by LutheranChik (# 9826) on :
 
Gaah! I hate it when I hit the wrong button!

What I was in the middle of saying: We think that Anabaptists are completely wrong, of course, [Biased] but we're not rhetorically tossing them into the brimstone pit.

Martin Luther was a flawed human being in need of grace like the rest of us, but he did come up with some good ideas for reforming the Church of his time.
 
Posted by precentor (# 10755) on :
 
not long before he died a couple years back, i made the acquaintance of the spanish-american composer joaquin nin-culmell.

joaquin was then in his early 90s, and still fairly active and as lucid as a young man. he attended the nearby priory of st albert's in oakland (a dominican community) for daily mass. he once told me a story of a conversation he had with an old priest in the community on the topic of hell.

"father," asked joaquin, "do you believe in hell?"

the priest answered, "of course i believe in hell, for the church teaches us that it exists. but," he added, with a slight smile, " i don't believe there's anybody in there."
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
I am agreeably surprised by the number of Christians in this forum who express heterodox views on this subject.

I thought it was just me [Smile]
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
I am agreeably surprised by the number of Christians in this forum who express heterodox views on this subject.

I thought it was just me [Smile]

You must be new around here. [Biased]

Glad to have you around, CC.

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
And how do inherently sinful human beings "choose God"?

Part of the freedom that God gives us is a balance of spiritual forces within us, so that we are always able to make a choice in the direction of God, regardless of our state.

Of course we don't have that power from ourselves.

Although we have no power, God gives us the ability to choose, as a free gift. What we then choose is imputed to us, not because we deserve it or own it, but because He gives it to us, or allows us to have it.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
And how do inherently sinful human beings "choose God"?

Which human beings would those be? God made us in Her image. We live in a fallen world of sin, but it is not inherent in who we are; it is "brought in from outside," so to speak. It is not part of how we were created.

In short, I don't buy the "inherently sinful" thing. I think it gives sin too much power. Who's in charge here? God is still God, and we are still the race of beings created in "the image and likeness of God."

[ 23. December 2005, 04:29: Message edited by: Mousethief ]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
In short, I don't buy the "inherently sinful" thing. I think it gives sin too much power. Who's in charge here? God is still God, and we are still the race of beings created in "the image and likeness of God."

True. It's just that the concept of the Fall is that we have corrupted that image.

This is why God said to Noah, after the Flood:
quote:
Genesis 8.21 “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done."
But maybe there are other interpretations of what the Fall was and what it means.
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Originally posted by LutheranChick:

quote:
God's saving action is the only thing that counts in the salvation equation...not our doing the right things, or thinking the right things about God. God's in charge of the salvation business. So it's a bit presumptuous of me to try and second-guess who is on and who is off God's bus.

I agree with this and find it quite consistent with Scripture, but I am unable to get my head around how anyone believeing this can also believe in eternal hell. Salvation is God's business, not ours. God desires that all will be saved. So what impediment can there be to God having His way on this?

Once you remove any hint of Pelgian or semi-Pelagian thought from the salvation process, single or double predestination is the only logical conclusion. As a universalist I naturally believe that He predestines all, even the Judas, Hitler and Myra Hindley types to ultimately enjoy heavenly bliss, perhaps after a very painful awakening. But I see undiluted Calvinism as the only other possible ourcome and I am unable and unwilling to believe in such a loveless God.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
What he said.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
It sounds nice. [Angel]

But in my opinion it makes religion a farce, with the divine omnipotence being the only significant factor.

It denies or makes pointless much of what Jesus taught.

It is not a position that has ever been adopted by any Christian denomination. Or has it? [Confused]

Maybe someone could make money starting a religion with this as a central tenet. [Biased]
 
Posted by da_musicman (# 1018) on :
 
It may deny or make pointless much that Jesus taught but so does Damnationism .(Is there a better word for this viewpoint as this one seems loaded?) Much of this thread has been about trying to balance seemlingly contradictory ideas and verses. We may say that this dichotomy illustrates to us how we can never fully understand God and that we should be happy dealing with the uncertainty. I ,as I can only speak for myself, am more than willing to admit that I'm not sure on this. Being human though I don't cope well with uncertainty so still end up coming down on one side or the other.And that is Universalism.

As for making Religon a Farce I think not. It all depends on what the purpose of religion is. If it is to save you then yes it does render it a farce but If it is to aid you and bring you closer to God then I still believe it has a value.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Exactly.

If you do a reading of the gospels and think about all of the "condemnation" and punishment-type ideologies that come from Jesus as earthly rather than eternal, life on earth still has its value.

Perhaps Jesus came not to save those who accept him, but rather to deliver a message of incomprehensible grace and to provide a way to begin experiencing this new life TODAY. In that way, his laws were not meant to teach us how to die the right way but instead they are the best way to LIVE.

Just some thoughts.

-Digory
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
It is not a position that has ever been adopted by any Christian denomination. Or has it? [Confused]

The early Universalist Church of America adopted this position; it arose out of the calvinist (Whitefield) branch of the Methodist revival and moved to America with a preacher called John Murray.

This is the foundational document of the denomination, the Winchester Profession of 1803:

quote:
We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments contain a revelation of the character of God and of the duty, interest and final destination of mankind.

We believe that there is one God, whose nature is love, revealed in one Lord Jesus Christ, by one Holy Spirit of Grace, who will finally restore the whole family of mankind to holiness and happiness.

We believe that holiness and true happiness are inseparably connected, and that believers ought to be careful to maintain order and practice good works; for these things are good and profitable unto men.

The denomination fell into decline in the twentieth century and merged with the Unitarians to form the modern Unitarian Universalists.
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Originally posted by Freddy:

quote:
But in my opinion it makes religion a farce, with the divine omnipotence being the only significant factor.
As is often the case this depends on whose interpretation of Jesus' teachings you follow. For example it is a perfectly sound reading of much of Jesus' teaching in Matthew to assume that He was a Jew who believed in sslvation by works. As I said earlier in this thread, most of Jesus' condemnatory teachings are entirely works related. But He introduces grace by saying, "With man it is impossible, but for God all things are possible".

The quotes from John 6 and John 12 are all about grace, where Jesus makes clear that God is the only author of our salvation. If divine omnipotence isn't the only factor then what is, unless you believe in works righteousness? The idea that God will not have His way limits His omnipotence to what is for me an unacceptable extent. If God desires my salvation then He can have it.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
If divine omnipotence isn't the only factor then what is, unless you believe in works righteousness?

Human freedom as a gift from God.

If freedom is not a real thing then the urgent demands to repentance and obedience, which are present on virtually every page of the Bible, are pointless.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
The denomination fell into decline in the twentieth century and merged with the Unitarians to form the modern Unitarian Universalists.

Unitarian Universalism. Of course. Sorry, I forgot. [Hot and Hormonal]
 
Posted by kempis3 (# 9792) on :
 
You really want to go to heaven where all those fundies are enduring 24/7 etc "heroin" highs?

Hell is going to be farrrr more interesting -- even the conversations will be more interesting.

The days of being frightened by the after-life are way gone.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kempis3:
You really want to go to heaven where all those fundies are enduring 24/7 etc "heroin" highs?

Hell is going to be farrrr more interesting -- even the conversations will be more interesting.

Nice thought. So where do you get your idea of what those places will be like?
 
Posted by barrea (# 3211) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kempis3:
You really want to go to heaven where all those fundies are enduring 24/7 etc "heroin" highs?

Hell is going to be farrrr more interesting -- even the conversations will be more interesting.

The days of being frightened by the after-life are way gone.

If the fire mentioned in 'The Lake of fire' Is literal fire.I can't imagine anyone having conversations of any sort interesting or not.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Yes this idea of Hell as a place where people sit around and drink tea and scoff good-naturedly at the goody-two-shoes in heaven -- where did THAT come from?
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Yes this idea of Hell as a place where people sit around and drink tea and scoff good-naturedly at the goody-two-shoes in heaven -- where did THAT come from?

From people knowing in their heart of hearts that an everlasting literal lake of fire is an abomination unto God; but not abandoning the concept of hell because they have always been taught that it is real and an essential part of the Christian message.

The same impulse removes talk of hell entirely from most churches, although they theoretically believe in it. Harry Potter churches; scared of the Doctrine-that-must-not-be-named.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Human freedom as a gift from God.

If freedom is not a real thing then the urgent demands to repentance and obedience, which are present on virtually every page of the Bible, are pointless.

Exactly. God values our freedom. Look at the world around us. He allows people to exercise choices that are incredibly horrific and does little to stop them. Because such freedom is availible, that means that repentence is also possible and obedience is possible. That's what I see is as the gospel - the ability to repent and receive life - life abundant.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
Is that ability to repent given equally to all people? Is it affected by our sinful natures?

Do we have to repent for everything to receive life abundant, or only some things? What percentage of my sins must I repent for? Do I have to really, really mean it? Or can I just be vaguely sorry?

If repentance is something we do of our own free choice than it is just another work. It is the thing we must do to choose heaven and save ourselves.

If repentance is the work of the grace of God, freely given to us, then we are back to the original question: Universalism or Double-Predestination?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Is that ability to repent given equally to all people? Is it affected by our sinful natures?

Yes it is affected by our sinful natures, and no it is not given equally to everyone. Everyone has that ability, but it is affected by many things, both inherited and environmental, that can increase or decrease it.

This is why it is important to try to teach children well and raise them in a nurturing and moral environment. Similarly it is why it is important to try to improve ourselves, because changes in us are passed hereditarily on to our children.

In other words, both improvement and its opposite are possible over long periods of time.
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Do we have to repent for everything to receive life abundant, or only some things? What percentage of my sins must I repent for? Do I have to really, really mean it? Or can I just be vaguely sorry?

To repent is to change and improve. This can be a little or a lot. More is better.
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
If repentance is something we do of our own free choice than it is just another work. It is the thing we must do to choose heaven and save ourselves.

We do it as if from our own power, but we acknowledge that it is really God's power. We actually have no power. It is not just another work.
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
If repentance is the work of the grace of God, freely given to us, then we are back to the original question: Universalism or Double-Predestination?

No we're not, because we are free to accept or reject God's grace. We accept it by changing our ways, as if of our own power. God then imputes those changes to us, even though we did nothing of our own power. If we claim it for our own we are stealing from God - and this is another way of rejecting grace.

It's not that hard a problem, really. [Paranoid]
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
It's a hard problem because you can't have it both ways like I think you'd like to, Freddy.

Your view, as I see it, is that God gives us the power to choose. Once the power is given to us, it's not his anymore, but ours. If it isn't ours, but still his, then he's responsible for our choices and not us. If we are responsible, than it is our power to choose.

You can't be held responsible for a choice that you don't also get credit for. If you choose wrong, you are held responsible but if you choose right you don't get any credit for that choice? That doesn't fit or work logically.

So either you get credit for it which makes it a "believe the right thing/do the right things to save yourself from hell" or you don't get credit so you don't get held responsible, either, and then it's up to God to choose.

That's the major dilemma.

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
So either you get credit for it which makes it a "believe the right thing/do the right things to save yourself from hell" or you don't get credit so you don't get held responsible, either, and then it's up to God to choose.

That's the major dilemma.

No. I think you can have it both ways. The alternatives are that either human freedom is a myth, or God is limited.

People don't "save themselves." Rather God gives them the power to choose and act, and then imputes the results to them, even though it is not theirs. This is why it is called "grace" and a "free gift".

I don't see what is hard or contradictory about that.

Certainly everyone *feels* as though they choose and act from their own power. They also *feel* as though they are responsible for what they do.

This is also the consistent biblical point of view - people are blamed or blessed according to their beliefs and actions.

At the same time the Bible makes it abundantly clear that God is the only source of power. "For without Me you can do nothing" (John 15.5).

So it is consistent with both common sense and the Bible.

The alternatives of either predestination or limiting God have many more problems with them.

Faith alone is not really a different solution either, since it has the same element of God giving the choice and then attributing the result to the person. If God can give people the power to believe, He can also give people the power to act.

So I think that you can have it both ways. This is also the common sense viewpoint of people all over the world. We are responsible for what we do, and yet all power and merit resides in the divinity and none in ourselves.
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Faith alone is not really a different solution either, since it has the same element of God giving the choice and then attributing the result to the person. If God can give people the power to believe, He can also give people the power to act.

OK. But all you're saying is that Gods gives people the Power to turn towards Him. And that it's impossible to turn to Him without that Power.

But therefore, if any given person doesn't turn to Him, it must be because He didn't give that person that Power. Because surely He'd give everyone the Power to believe if He wanted to...

Honestly, I'm struggling to understand how, in a straightforward "believe or not" situation, the one choice can be completely down to God and the other can be completely down to us. That's not free will, because it only gives us the credit for the decision if it's the wrong one...
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Precisely. If God saves us, it's his doing. If we block that salvation, it's our doing. Where's the problem?
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Precisely. If God saves us, it's his doing. If we block that salvation, it's our doing. Where's the problem?

If it's purely our choice to block salvation, how can it not be our choice not to block salvation?

If I choose to dam a river, it is purely my choice to dam it. But surely if I choose not to dam that river (while having the power so to do), the fact that the river continues to flow is also down to me...

[ 26. December 2005, 16:32: Message edited by: Marvin the Martian ]
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
The river flowing is due to the water in the river, the shape of the riverbed -- a thousand other things besides you. Your choice not to block it plays very little role in its flowing. Sure, not NO role, but not nearly the role that your choice to block it plays in its NOT flowing, should you block it.

I like to liken salvation to a person trapped in a well. Suppose there's a person trapped in a well. They have a harness but their line has broken. God throws down a new line and says, "Just snap the fastener to the ring on your harness and I'll haul you up." If you refuse, then your not being saved is quite entirely your fault. If you get saved, well yes you did some work in snapping the fastener to the ring, but if you went about bragging how you hauled yourself up out of the well, you would be guilty of absurd hubris.

It's not an equal thing. Why is it so important to you to make it an equal thing?
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
It's not an equal thing. Why is it so important to you to make it an equal thing?

It's not "making it an equal thing" that's the issue. It's that so many people take the line that we can't take any credit for our salvation, but we take all the credit for our damnation.

It just reminds me too much of being at work, where with anything I do well the credit is claimed by my boss but with anything I do badly the blame is laid on me...
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
I'm sure people are trying to safeguard the fact that our salvation is by God's power and not our own. Clearly (to someone from my faith tradition) the Reformation went too far in that direction. And of course Pelagius went too far in the other direction. It's like our contribution is 1, and God's is אo. (That's meant to look like Aleph naught, which is the first cardinality of infinity) If you compare the two, our contribution is mighty mighty small. Not zero, but still not within screaming distance of
0.00000000000000000001%
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
Mousethief, I'm happy to grant you that our contribution to our salvation is about 0.00000000000000000001%. But if the lack of that 0.00000000000000000001% is sufficient to damn us, then is it not a pretty damn important 0.00000000000000000001%?
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
It's important in the sense that it's a sine qua non, yes. I can grant that.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
So either you get credit for it which makes it a "believe the right thing/do the right things to save yourself from hell" or you don't get credit so you don't get held responsible, either, and then it's up to God to choose.

That's the major dilemma.

No. I think you can have it both ways. The alternatives are that either human freedom is a myth, or God is limited.

People don't "save themselves." Rather God gives them the power to choose and act, and then imputes the results to them, even though it is not theirs. This is why it is called "grace" and a "free gift".

<snip>

So I think that you can have it both ways. This is also the common sense viewpoint of people all over the world. We are responsible for what we do, and yet all power and merit resides in the divinity and none in ourselves.

Well, I know you can explain it as such, but it doesn't solve the problem that Marvin has alluded to--that you get blamed for your mistake but you get no credit for your choice.

I understand that allowing people to experience choice + consequence is healthy for learning while living our lives. But to allow our earth-bound choices to affect our eternal disposition is far less merciful, isn't it? How are people to really know how their decisions will affect them after death? Pick a religion and hope it's right? Pick a Swedenborgian philosophy and hope he's right about doing works like Jesus supposedly commands and then hope that's enough to make you desire good things after death and then that will be your own heaven? How many good works will be enough to guarantee that you will have good desires and be on the good path after death? How many bad deeds or selfish acts are enough to solidify your bad path journey after death? If these numbers are indeterminate, it seems like we live a very fragile, fear-filled life just hoping we have the right disposition going for us--wishing and praying that we've got the right momentum to roll us in the right direction after death.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
It seems to me that we - we humanity (christians and non-christians alike) are really good at Missing The Point.

We debate over it. We argue over it. We fight over it. We kill for it.

But do we really understand it?

Jesus came to bring life and light to us. He came to free us. He did not come to condemn us.

I, for one, am totally grieved that Christians who have believed and taught about hell have used as a means and instrument for crippling-fear and domination. This type of view comes from not understanding the purpose of God.

The purpose of God is redemption. To bring people into health and healing.

However, I also believe it is a reality some refuse God's kingdom of light and healing.

John 3:19 says "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil."

God will not force them to be reconciled. That is hell.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
But, Professorkirke, it's not really as complex as all that. Matthew 25 makes it clear that what we will be judged on is how well we feed the poor, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, and so forth. These things are part of the universal moral beliefs of all of humanity, as CS Lewis shows in the appendix of his book The Abolition of Man. Who can get to the judgment and say, "Well I didn't realize it was wrong to neglect the poor"?
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
That would seem to put a heck of a lot of people in hell--I've passed a lot of beggars without giving them a drop of food, haven't given to many clothes away, and have visited zero prisoners in my life.

Perhaps I need to get started?

-Digory
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
The problem I have is this.

Firstly, if it's all about Faith, then works don't matter at all. No matter what your works are. If you have the right faith you can be as evil as you like and you'll be Saved.

Secondly, if it's all about works, then faith doesn't matter at all. No matter what your faith is. As long as you feed the poor (etc), it doesn't matter if you sacrifice goats to Satan on Sundays.

And thirdly, if it's all about God, then surely it doesn't matter what faith or works you have/do on Earth. If He wants to, He's going to save you even if you regularly kick small children on your way to the coven. And if He doesn't, it don't mattter how many poor you clothed or masses you attended.

I think we can all agree that the real Truth is somewhere in the middle of the three. But surely if it's in the middle then can we at least admit that we can do something to aid our own Salvation? Surely it's not all up to God?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
I think we can all agree that the real Truth is somewhere in the middle of the three. But surely if it's in the middle then can we at least admit that we can do something to aid our own Salvation? Surely it's not all up to God?

Marvin, I think that Mousethief said it pretty well. It's the simple belief of almost everyone in the world - turn away from evil, and turn towards good, and all will be well.

We are looking for the philosophical framework which supports that simple and universal belief. It is especially the Christian awareness that all power resides in God alone that complicates this.

As I said, I think the solution is that God gives us the power to choose, and imputes the results of our choices to us - whether good or bad. It is simply a device for making us free, and making that freedom a reality, as opposed to an appearance.

I'm not sure I understand why this means that we are blamed for bad choices but not given credit for our good choices. We are the ones who live with the results either way - so I don't see what you mean.

But those who love God willingly give Him the glory, attributing nothing to themselves. Those in hell are obsessed with themselves, and don't willingly give glory to anyone. This is practically the whole point. People who don't focus on themselves, or claim credit, are able to find happiness. Self-centered people, on the other hand, struggle in the quest for satisfaction.

It's not a matter of doing many works or believing exactly the right thing. There are lots of factors involved in being a kind, decent and productive individual. It's about being the kind of person who helps people in need - not the stereotypical beggar on the street, but all the people in each person's life with their various needs. God wants a population that is able to play nicely together, work productively together, and intelligently assist one another as they are able.

As Mousethief says, it's not complicated. It's just a matter of getting past the objections that stand in the way of what most people take for granted.

[ 28. December 2005, 01:55: Message edited by: Freddy ]
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
It's the simple belief of almost everyone in the world - turn away from evil, and turn towards good, and all will be well.

I agree. (Even if we don't always understand what "well" entails.)

quote:
It's not a matter of doing many works or believing exactly the right thing. There are lots of factors involved in being a kind, decent and productive individual. It's about being the kind of person who helps people in need - not the stereotypical beggar on the street, but all the people in each person's life with their various needs. God wants a population that is able to play nicely together, work productively together, and intelligently assist one another as they are able.
I agree here too. Where we probably disagree is that I believe we all are able to play nicely, work together, and intelligently assist one another. I think we all do this sometimes, and we all fail to do this other times. Some people may end up in situations that make them less willing to work toward these goals, but I don't believe God will hold these people responsible for the situations that they ended up in, because we all fail in these ways. So at the end of it all, I think we'll be given the chance to regain our unblemished nature of desiring the good goals mentioned above, leaving us all to choose heaven.

quote:
As Mousethief says, it's not complicated. It's just a matter of getting past the objections that stand in the way of what most people take for granted.
The complicated bit comes when people begin to say, "It's simple, if you do good on earth you get to be in heaven, but if you do bad on earth or don't believe the right things on earth, you end up in eternal conscious torment for all of eternity!" That's not a simple or logical explanation.

-Digory
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
God wants a population that is able to play nicely together, work productively together, and intelligently assist one another as they are able.

Is this not the second of the options in my previous post?
 
Posted by Teapot (# 10837) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
God wants a population that is able to play nicely together, work productively together, and intelligently assist one another as they are able.

Work productively? That sounds a long way from "take not gold with you" or "foxes have holes..." etc...

Is not toil the curse of leaving eden, and a light yoke not the gift of returning to love?
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Teapot:
Is not toil the curse of leaving eden, and a light yoke not the gift of returning to love?

Is all work toil? What is a yoke? Christ said his yoke is light, not that it is nonexistent.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Teapot:
Is not toil the curse of leaving eden, and a light yoke not the gift of returning to love?

Is all work toil? What is a yoke? Christ said his yoke is light, not that it is nonexistent.
That's right. Don't forget that in Eden Adam and Eve spent their time tending the garden:
quote:
Genesis 2:15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
Happiness in life is intimately connected with usefulness. The heavenly existence, both in this life and the next, is about being of service to God and one another. This is because life flows from God into function, since function is essentially something spiritual, and spiritual life only flows into spiritual things.

It does seem as though heaven ought to be a place of complete rest, and that "work" would have no meaning there. But true rest is doing what you enjoy, whereas "work" is the struggle to do what you do not love, or what you are not yet able to do well and enjoy.

An important part of the character of hell is that people there are not interested in doing productive things, only in serving themselves. Therefore the labors they are forced into are not enjoyable to them, and when they have the opportunity they do nothing except to fulfil their desires.

So Jesus' burden is light, and following Him takes away our much heavier burdens.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
God wants a population that is able to play nicely together, work productively together, and intelligently assist one another as they are able.

Is this not the second of the options in my previous post?
Well, sort of. I forgot to mention that the core idea is that it is what is in your heart that counts. This is why Jesus was able to tell the thief on the cross that he was headed for paradise. He was able to judge the man's real intentions.

So it's not quite "works" We don't "earn" heaven. Rather it is the state of your heart that has been developed over a lifetime of believing in God and doing His will - or things that are either closer or farther away from that ideal. God forms you according to your response to Him - whether you directly know Him or whether you instead merely love the same goodness that He, in essence, is.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Where we probably disagree is that I believe we all are able to play nicely, work together, and intelligently assist one another. I think we all do this sometimes, and we all fail to do this other times. Some people may end up in situations that make them less willing to work toward these goals, but I don't believe God will hold these people responsible for the situations that they ended up in, because we all fail in these ways. So at the end of it all, I think we'll be given the chance to regain our unblemished nature of desiring the good goals mentioned above, leaving us all to choose heaven.

Wouldn't that be great. [Angel]

Yes, it is certainly possible that there aren't really people who, in the long run, will freely choose self-centered and worldly desires and actions over loving God and the neighbor. So it is certainly possible that someday everyone will be able to play nicely together and work to everyone's mutual benefit.

Scripture, however, seems to say that this is a more optimistic view of humanity than is realistic.

It's a great attitude, though. Certainly, when working with people it is the attitude we have to take. God loves everyone, and we should not judge anyone. Everyone is going to heaven, as far as we know. It is wrong to look at anyone and think "that person is damned."

So maybe it is really more Christian to view humanity in terms of universal salvation.

For myself, though, I'm not sure that confidence in my own eventual salvation no matter what would be a good idea. [Biased]
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
So, big question time.

For those of us who are still here debating this issue, have we at least come to an agreement that the traditional model of hell as a place where all those who don't believe in Jesus will end up for an eternity of unescapable, conscious torment --- that doctrine is false and riddled with error?

We may disagree about our solution to the problem, but we all agree the problem exists, right?

-Digory
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
So, big question time.

For those of us who are still here debating this issue, have we at least come to an agreement that the traditional model of hell as a place where all those who don't believe in Jesus will end up for an eternity of unescapable, conscious torment --- that doctrine is false and riddled with error?

We may disagree about our solution to the problem, but we all agree the problem exists, right?

-Digory

Uh, I still believe in hell. And that people will go there. And it probably pretty unpleasant in general. It makes a whole lotta sense to me. I don't find it false or riddled with error.

People want their own way. I don't think that will change after death.
 
Posted by Lamb Chopped (# 5528) on :
 
What JoyfulSoul said.

More's the pity.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Uh, I still believe in hell. And that people will go there. And it probably pretty unpleasant in general. It makes a whole lotta sense to me. I don't find it false or riddled with error.

People want their own way. I don't think that will change after death.

But Joyful, you missed what I said. I know some of us still believe in hell. But I thought we'd come to some minor agreements re:

1) Is hell eternally mandated (if you choose to leave you cannot)?

2) Is hell a place where people go because they didn't believe the right things about God?

The general consensus from those of us who'd been discussing the topic seemed to be that, if there's a hell, then:

1) Those who are in hell are there because they choose to be apart from God, and should they choose God at any time, their stay in hell would be over.

2) People end up in hell because they choose to maintain bad or ungodly lifestyles, where selfishness, greed, etc. corrupt the heart's desires so much that their evil desires continue into the afterlife and create their hell (or some variation thereof).

So hell still exists, people go there, and it is still unpleasant.
 
Posted by Progradior (# 10832) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
So, big question time.

For those of us who are still here debating this issue, have we at least come to an agreement that the traditional model of hell as a place where all those who don't believe in Jesus will end up for an eternity of unescapable, conscious torment --- that doctrine is false and riddled with error?

We may disagree about our solution to the problem, but we all agree the problem exists, right?

-Digory

Note my tag line. To what extent (if any) do you think the writer of the Theologia Germanica has a solution there?
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by barrea:
quote:
Originally posted by kempis3:
You really want to go to heaven where all those fundies are enduring 24/7 etc "heroin" highs?

Hell is going to be farrrr more interesting -- even the conversations will be more interesting.

The days of being frightened by the after-life are way gone.

If the fire mentioned in 'The Lake of fire' Is literal fire.I can't imagine anyone having conversations of any sort interesting or not.
As I said, if hell exists than there is no such thing as a loving a holy God.

If there is a loving and holy God then there is no such thing as Hell.

And, frankly, being in sound mind blah blah blah, I would rather burn in hell for ever than worship the God that the fundamentalists serve. If that God exists, then the only way which is compatable with human dignity is to stand against Him to the bitter end because He is morally inferior to every human being that has ever existed - no matter how twisted.
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
God wants a population that is able to play nicely together, work productively together, and intelligently assist one another as they are able.

Is this not the second of the options in my previous post?
So far as I can see: Yes.

If God will save everyone than your beliefs and behaviours are not a theological issue. They may be an issue for ethics or philosophy, but theology should butt out.
 
Posted by Luigi (# 4031) on :
 
I am curious as to whether those who believe in a hell, believe that any of their really close loved ones have died and gone there.

This belief seems to be one of those ideas that is affirmed but the believer always manages to hold it at arms length.

All the people I know who believed in hell quickly adapted their beliefs when a convinced non-Christian they really loved, died.

Some persuaded themselves that their loved one had had a death bed conversion. Or that God would 'save' their loved one because of their faith rather than the views of their loved one who'd died. But the most common change seems to be a far less convinced view of hell in any traditional understanding of the idea.

Certainly I would never have had children if I'd taken my earlier belief in hell, really seriously. Life after all would be a curse.

With you all the way Papio

Luigi
 
Posted by Papio. (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Certainly I would never have had children if I'd taken my earlier belief in hell, really seriously. Life after all would be a curse.

It certainly seems to me that, if Hell exists (which it doesn't) then having children is just about the vilest act of immorality that one can imagine.
 
Posted by sharkshooter (# 1589) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Certainly I would never have had children if I'd taken my earlier belief in hell, really seriously. Life after all would be a curse.

It certainly seems to me that, if Hell exists (which it doesn't) then having children is just about the vilest act of immorality that one can imagine.
Letting them (or, anyone) go there without having had the opprtunity to choose heaven, is much more vile.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
I am curious as to whether those who believe in a hell, believe that any of their really close loved ones have died and gone there.

There are several answers to this.

One is that it is wrong to assign anyone to hell. This is why terms like "Go to hell" and "Damn you" are traditionally considered blasphemous. Anyone you know is therefore in heaven, as far as you are concerned.

Another is that being a "close loved one" is inconsistent with what hell is all about. If someone is close or loved they are therefore in heaven. Closeness and love is what heaven is about.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by sharkshooter:
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Certainly I would never have had children if I'd taken my earlier belief in hell, really seriously. Life after all would be a curse.

It certainly seems to me that, if Hell exists (which it doesn't) then having children is just about the vilest act of immorality that one can imagine.
Letting them (or, anyone) go there without having had the opprtunity to choose heaven, is much more vile.
What exactly does this mean, SS? I'm not following.

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
As I said, if hell exists than there is no such thing as a loving a holy God.

If there is a loving and holy God then there is no such thing as Hell.

I agree with you about the fundamentalist idea of hell.

It is easy to say that a loving God would never allow there to be a hell. The idea has obvious appeal.

But how does that work? Do you think that the behaviors described in the Bible as sinful will not exist in the afterlife?
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
If God will save everyone than your beliefs and behaviours are not a theological issue. They may be an issue for ethics or philosophy, but theology should butt out.

Only if you assume that beliefs and behaviors are only good for getting you to heaven after you die, and that Theology is only about where you go after you die.

If, instead, you believe that Theology is how we relate to God here and now, and that right beliefs and behaviors are good for making life here and now better, and that God prescribes the best possible life for each of us, then all of a sudden Theology is intimately connected with our beliefs and behaviors as a vehicle to effecting social justice, etc.

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
If, instead, you believe that Theology is how we relate to God here and now, and that right beliefs and behaviors are good for making life here and now better, and that God prescribes the best possible life for each of us, then all of a sudden Theology is intimately connected with our beliefs and behaviors as a vehicle to effecting social justice, etc.

Very nicely put. Thank you.

What would the world be like if people did not act this way? Not much fun. [Disappointed]

Conversely, if everyone lived by what God prescribes, life would be heaven on earth.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
But Joyful, you missed what I said. I know some of us still believe in hell.

[Hot and Hormonal]

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
The general consensus from those of us who'd been discussing the topic seemed to be that, if there's a hell, then:

1) Those who are in hell are there because they choose to be apart from God, and should they choose God at any time, their stay in hell would be over.

I just don't find that idea consistent with scripture. The idea that repentence is possible after death.

i.e.

"Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (hebrews 9:27)

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears. " (Hebrews 12:14-17)

I don't know what happens after death, at all. But from my reading, judgement happens. I don't think it changes.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
2) Is hell a place where people go because they didn't believe the right things about God?

Yeah, I don't know about this. If the right things are humility and a smidgeon of faith - then I think that's all you need because that's what the thief on the cross near Jesus had. I think that we Christians often make salvation something really complicated (I do this too [Hot and Hormonal] [Hot and Hormonal] ) - but it is probably much simpler than what we understand it to be.

Thanks for trying to make a consensus. It is helpful to see where we are and where we've come from.

quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
I am curious as to whether those who believe in a hell, believe that any of their really close loved ones have died and gone there.

That's a really good point, Luigi. That's why I'm heisant to say yeah - everyone who doesn't believe what I believe is going to go through eternal torment. First of all, I'm not God, I don't know what he sees. Secondly, I'm just trying to sort and figure things out. I'm quite aware that I don't know very much. One thing I have observed is that experience seems to transform theology.

I completely agree with Freddy:

quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
One is that it is wrong to assign anyone to hell. This is why terms like "Go to hell" and "Damn you" are traditionally considered blasphemous. Anyone you know is therefore in heaven, as far as you are concerned.

Amen to that.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
As I said, if hell exists than there is no such thing as a loving a holy God.

If there is a loving and holy God then there is no such thing as Hell.

And, frankly, being in sound mind blah blah blah, I would rather burn in hell for ever than worship the God that the fundamentalists serve. If that God exists, then the only way which is compatable with human dignity is to stand against Him to the bitter end because He is morally inferior to every human being that has ever existed - no matter how twisted.

Thank you so much for saying this, Papio.

I'm going to try to respond to this but forgive me because I already know that I'm going to have a hard time trying to coherently put words to some ideas.

John 17 has a huge theme of unity. Us being in God, Jesus being in God, God being in God & etc.

One thing that is annoying for me is that the bible has a lot of metaphors of marriage and sex to explain or express or represent the beauty of unity and oneness and togetherness or something between God and man (song of songs, hosea, some of paul's letters & book of revelations & etc). Me not being married or having had sex before- well, it makes everything confusing and I don't quite understand it...

But one thing that has helped me understand the strange idea of some type of metaphysical or mystical unity of God being in us and us being in him has been Hinduism.

There's a lot of beautiful things about Hinduism and a couple of things that really grab my attention is the idea of Brahma (or brahmin) and the atman (soul/spirit). From my very, very limited knowledge and understanding, the idea is ourselves are united in this Grand Self (which is the Brahma). I must confess that I value this notion that people willingly surrender their selves and in the end form a greater thing then the selves would be apart. There are many different strands of Hinduism - I remember reading about one interpretation is each does not get obliterated by being united in the Brahma but instead is enhanced by being united.

For me, I see hell as not wanting to join in the union of love. Apart from the Brahma is incomplete Self and that must be hell. Again, I don't see it as god sentencing people to eternal torment...I kind of see as people not willing to give themselves up and be apart of something greater and so they end up in torment because they are not united with the greater good.

I know that my theology is very floofy and not very coherent [Hot and Hormonal] . But I had to add my two cents in anyways. [Hot and Hormonal]
 
Posted by Sump Pump (# 10853) on :
 
What if you're a non-observant Jew who dabbles a little in Buddhism and a little in New Age mumbo jumbo?

I'd really like to know! If I'm going to Hell, I should pack my cruisewear! I may as well look snappy while I'm being eternally damned.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
As I said, if hell exists than there is no such thing as a loving a holy God.

If there is a loving and holy God then there is no such thing as Hell.

For my part, I believe that atheism is a more rational and compelling belief system than any that postulates a benevolent God that will nevertheless condemn a person, any person, to eternal torment. Maybe a long torment in the most pernicious cases, but surely not eternal torment.

However, I don't think it is incompatible with the idea of a benevolent God that a person should have to endure a certain amount of torment if it is for his own good in the longer term and that good cannot be accomplished any other way. Maybe it is impossible for a person to be ready for Heaven until he has experienced a certain amount of Hell (or Pugatory, or whatever). As somebody else said, perhaps Hell is what being made ready for Heaven feels like. It's an open question, of course, why an all-powerful God cannot make a person Heaven-ready without the Hell stage, but maybe He can't. In short, this view of Hell is torment, but not eternal.

I also tend to think that it does not compromise the idea of a benevolent God if Hell is a state that people remain in of their own, fully-informed free choice. This, I think, was essentially CS Lewis's concept of Hell. I suspect that a Germanic, fire-and-brimstone Hell would not fit in this model, however -- who would choose that? For Lewis, Hell was essentially like life but with the good bits taken out. As GM Hopkins has it, the damned are ``their sweating selves; but worse''. For Lewis, the damned remained damned because they chose their sweating selves with all their vices rather than union with God. Conceivably, people could remain in Hell indefinitely, of their own free choice. This vision of Hell is not torment, but it is (at least potentially) eternal.

But where it all goes a bit pear-shaped for me is that I can't really see why God needs to allow a person absolute free will -- absolute freedom of choice -- right up to the bitter end. What is so special about free will that it merits being treated with such reverence by God?
 
Posted by Luigi (# 4031) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
I am curious as to whether those who believe in a hell, believe that any of their really close loved ones have died and gone there.

There are several answers to this.

One is that it is wrong to assign anyone to hell. This is why terms like "Go to hell" and "Damn you" are traditionally considered blasphemous. Anyone you know is therefore in heaven, as far as you are concerned.

Another is that being a "close loved one" is inconsistent with what hell is all about. If someone is close or loved they are therefore in heaven. Closeness and love is what heaven is about.

Freddie - I really just don't get why you think the first is a credible position. You seem to be arguing that the circle is squared through deliberately living in denial - as far as I am concerned I should think that everyone I know is in heaven. The problem with hell for me are the emotional resonances that arise out of it. You appear to be quite shamelessly arguing that we should ignore these problems and 'pretend' that they don't touch us on any significant level. (To be honest any faith that seeks to intentionally live in denial isn't worth following.)

Your second response means what exactly? That people go to heaven because of someone else's desires. Do others go to hell because they haven't got enough Christian friends?

Another problem with your position that you mentioned some posts back is when you rather too easily divide humanity into goodies and badies. And say that the goodies go to heaven and the baddies go to hell.

Most of the people I know are somewhere in the middle - which brings me back to an earlier point I made and that is that you make heaven a distinctly unappealing place for most of humanity, because it is somewhere between the traditional understanding of heaven and the traditional understanding of hell.

From my point of view these are just some of the problems with your 'let's make hell more acceptable' campaign.

Luigi
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Freddie - I really just don't get why you think the first is a credible position. You seem to be arguing that the circle is squared through deliberately living in denial - as far as I am concerned I should think that everyone I know is in heaven. The problem with hell for me are the emotional resonances that arise out of it. You appear to be quite shamelessly arguing that we should ignore these problems and 'pretend' that they don't touch us on any significant level.

Luigi, I don't think that it is denial or pretending to say that you don't know whether people you know are going to heaven or hell. It is customary everywhere in the world to speak well of others, to try to put a good interpretation on their actions, and especially not to speak ill of the dead. I have yet to go to a funeral where people suggested that the deceased will probably rot in hell.

At the same time, I agree with you that in some cases predicting heavenly happiness for very loathsome people really amounts to denial and pretending. In those cases a reasonable person could say that if in fact they actually are as they appear it is hard to see how they will manage in heaven. Even this, I agree, is a rare thing.

The truth is that most people live pretty decently, and we have no way of knowing what goes on inside their hearts. So it is rightly considered to be a bad thing to presume to judge them.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
(To be honest any faith that seeks to intentionally live in denial isn't worth following.)

Agreed.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Your second response means what exactly? That people go to heaven because of someone else's desires. Do others go to hell because they haven't got enough Christian friends?

The point was just that people in heaven love each other, and are loved by those around them. On the other hand people in hell are not like this.

So if you love someone and feel close to them there must be some reason for it. It is hard to love and be close to people who are unkind and self-centered.

It is natural, therefore, that if you love someone and feel close to them, then you would have real trouble picturing them in hell.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Another problem with your position that you mentioned some posts back is when you rather too easily divide humanity into goodies and badies. And say that the goodies go to heaven and the baddies go to hell.

Most people in the world think that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. It seems simple enough.

At the same time I agree that this seemingly simple distinction is not really simple at all. Every person is different, so the nature of their joy or unhappiness is unique. The traditional picture of heaven as a garden and hell a pit of fire is inadequate and unrealistic.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Most of the people I know are somewhere in the middle - which brings me back to an earlier point I made and that is that you make heaven a distinctly unappealing place for most of humanity, because it is somewhere between the traditional understanding of heaven and the traditional understanding of hell.

Yes, because the traditional understandings are caricatures that are hard for people to see as real and believable. I believe that heaven and hell are real places that are not so different from this world - and that the joy and suffering there are not so different from what we experience here.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
From my point of view these are just some of the problems with your 'let's make hell more acceptable' campaign.

Not more acceptable, just more believable and real.

The torment of living among people who are unconcerned about other people's welfare, and who may also be foul-minded, angry, vengeful, aggressive, cruel and violent is more real, in my opinion, than lakes of fire and little men in red suits with horns and toasting forks.

Even more, the unhappiness of being driven by our own self-centered desires, which can never be satisfied, is something that resonates with me more than that of punishment imposed from above.

I'm sorry to give the impression that I'm trying to present a more palatable view of hell.

It is palatable only in the sense that people remain in that life if in their minds the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The advantages are that they can do as they please and don't have to be filled with thoughts of love and service to God and the neighbor.

It seems reasonable to me that a loving God would allow people to do as they wish, even if what they wish is not inherently joyful. I understand that not everyone would see it that way.

The problem, as I see it, is that alternative ideas, whether universalism or denial of any afterlife, are more problematic than this more tradtional belief. Do you see it differently?
 
Posted by Luigi (# 4031) on :
 
Freddy - if I can just highlight what I consider your position at its most untenable:
quote:

Most people in the world think that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. It seems simple enough.

I stopped believing in this sort of thing when I was about 8. Indeed I think that Jesus debunks the idea that the world can be divided into loathsome people and good people. See his comments about those who hate and those who murder.

In fact I don't agree with the assertion that most people think this at all. There is a children's book that deals with the whole problem of good people getting into heaven and bad failing. Most 11 years olds I have come across can see the problems with this way of thinking.

To explain. When is someone sufficiently loathsome to be consigned to hell and when are they just good enough to get into heaven? Wherever that line is drawn there must be some people who fall just the right side of it and some who fall the wrong side of it.

Very unsatisfactory.

Secondly the fact that many choose not to seriously consider any negative possibilities when someone has just died merely suggests that humans are generally very good at living in denial. I see little merit in encouraging self-deception any more than most of us already do. But that is what your take on hell effecitvely does.

Also I am not condemning them to hell or saying I wish they went there I am merely being honest with myself and acknowledging that one or more of those I truly love may well end up there and does for me a God who oversees such a system isn't someone I would want to share eternity with.

What do I think is a more acceptable take on this subject? Well to be honest I would prefer to examine the subject without any alternatives in mind for the moment. An idea should be credible in and of itself not just the best a very bad lot.

So I would prefer atheism to the options you are trying to serve me up with.

By the way I do think that Jesus just might have been articulating some truths that really do have coherence. But I am not willing to do as much intellectual ducking and diving to defend him.

The possibility that Jesus was a poorly thought through charlatan must always be seriously considered. If he is to be respeceted it must be because he actually taught profound truths not because he asserted nonsense that we have to go along with because lots of other people think he taught it. Or because he was the son of God everything he taught is automatically beyond question. (Of course I am not attacking trinitarian thinking here).

Luigi

[ 01. January 2006, 19:49: Message edited by: Luigi ]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Freddy - if I can just highlight what I consider your position at its most untenable:
quote:

Most people in the world think that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. It seems simple enough.

I stopped believing in this sort of thing when I was about 8. Indeed I think that Jesus debunks the idea that the world can be divided into loathsome people and good people. See his comments about those who hate and those who murder.
Sure, there are plenty of people who don't believe this sort of thing. I don't know what you mean that Jesus debunks this idea. What passages?

As I understand it, Jesus is saying that good people go to heaven and bad people to hell in these commonly referenced Scriptures:
quote:
"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie." Revelation 22.12-15

"For unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of the heavens." Matthew 5:20.

"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Matthew 12.35

"No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." Matthew 19.16

"At the completion of the age angels will go forth and separate the wicked from out of the midst of the righteous." Matthew 13:49.

"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" Matthew 7.21-23

"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love." John 15.6-10

I realize that there are other possible understandings. But the most common one is that Jesus is saying that those who are good, that is, who believe in Him and obey His teachings, will enter heaven. The wicked will not.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
In fact I don't agree with the assertion that most people think this at all. There is a children's book that deals with the whole problem of good people getting into heaven and bad failing. Most 11 years olds I have come across can see the problems with this way of thinking.

I taught 11-year-olds for many years. Most of them, in my experience, do think this and are unaware of the problems.

I also think that opinion polls demonstrate this. For example, a recent Newsweek poll says that 79% of Americans believe that good people go to heaven, regardless of their faith. This and other polls show that similar numbers of Americans believe in hell. This is the common belief of Christians worldwide.

Even outside of Christianity, most people in Islamic countries, in Africa, Asia and South America have beliefs like this. Even those who believe in reincarnation have this same basic idea - that the good find happiness and the evil find its opposite.

As far as I know, only Europe, and perhaps Japan, have majority populations who do not believe in God, heaven and hell, or that the good go to heaven and the wicked to hell. Or maybe someone has better figures than I do about this.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
To explain. When is someone sufficiently loathsome to be consigned to hell and when are they just good enough to get into heaven? Wherever that line is drawn there must be some people who fall just the right side of it and some who fall the wrong side of it.

This is why I say that I don't accept the simplistic caricature of heaven and hell that Christians often describe.

I think, instead, that the spiritual world is a real place much like this world. When people enter it they progressively seek out people like themselves, and areas that appeal to them.

Since there is no actual time and space in the spiritual world, people's interests and desires are what separate or attract them. The resulting geography, and the natural consequences of these divisions, are what delineate the "places" we refer to as heaven and hell.

So it's not as if people just squeak over lines. People go exactly where they wish to go, among people they wish to be with. If they don't like it there they can move. Of course, the nature of evil is said to be that eventually it limits your options. [Paranoid]
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Secondly the fact that many choose not to seriously consider any negative possibilities when someone has just died merely suggests that humans are generally very good at living in denial. I see little merit in encouraging self-deception any more than most of us already do. But that is what your take on hell effecitvely does.

I don't think so, but I understand what you mean. You may be right.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Also I am not condemning them to hell or saying I wish they went there I am merely being honest with myself and acknowledging that one or more of those I truly love may well end up there and does for me a God who oversees such a system isn't someone I would want to share eternity with.

OK.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
So I would prefer atheism to the options you are trying to serve me up with.

OK. It may well be a better option.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
The possibility that Jesus was a poorly thought through charlatan must always be seriously considered.

Yes. Good point. I agree. There is no point in accepting the Gospel message if we don't see real wisdom in it.

I am right with you in thinking that if we don't see a loving God behind ideas like this, then we shouldn't accept them. I appreciate the holes you are poking in my limited understandings here. [Biased]
 
Posted by blackbeard (# 10848) on :
 
Can I add a few ideas in this general area?

It seems to me that the Bible infers, and in a few cases directly states, that Heaven is entered only by faith (we could start a long thread here on what faith is, but it's certainly not the same as "belief" - see epistle of James);
and also infers, and in a few cases directly states, that the qualification is good works (as in fair play and helping those in need, rather than as in following a set of rules);
and occasionally infers, and in a sawyer's handful of instances directly states, that all will eventually arrive in Heaven (universalism).
I'm not going to list the references, it would be a very long list, nearly as tedious to read as to construct, and you probably know them all anyway.

Now it's quite obvious that if you choose your references, you can "prove" any of the above. If you look at all of the references, you are left with three statements which are contradictory; only one of them (if any) can be true. It's tempting the think "well that's final proof that the Bible is not infallible - it contradicts itself". There is, however, another way of looking at the problem.

By way of illustration, let's look at Paul's letter to the Romans. Paul spends much of this letter greatly concerned about the fate of those Jews who refused to accept Christ (9 1-5). By the time we get to 11 v25, after much heavyweight (even by Paul's standards) theology, he is able to state that all Israel will be saved - and also, that God will have mercy on all men. He than breaks into a little hymn of praise in vv 33-36. And that's just what it usually is taken to be, a hymn of praise, but it's much more than that. "Oh, the depth of the riches of the knowledge and wisdom of God! How unsearchable his judgements, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord?....". In other words, possibly: you theologians who think you are so clever are just way behind God's plan. You talk about things which are beyond human understanding! Obvious, really.

So none of these ideas - justification by faith, or by works, or universalism - actually hold water. The arguments may look solid to us (or not!) on the basis of purely human logic, but God's ideas are way beyond ours.

For me, the clinching argument that the God who created the universe, and who loved us so much that he gave up his life for us, is someone I can trust to get it right. He can provide a solution which is just and fair and logical and loving. If we can't quite see what it is, that is simply a limitation in our own vision.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by blackbeard:
For me, the clinching argument that the God who created the universe, and who loved us so much that he gave up his life for us, is someone I can trust to get it right. He can provide a solution which is just and fair and logical and loving. If we can't quite see what it is, that is simply a limitation in our own vision.

I love that thought. And welcome to the Ship!

It does seem like that is the best starting point.
 
Posted by Luigi (# 4031) on :
 
Freddy, anyone who can make
quote:
"No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." Matthew 19.16

mean: "good people go to heaven bad people go to hell", can make language and logic work in ways I don't understand.

I suspect I am wasting my time here. After 12 pages you still seem unaware of any substantial weaknesses / contradictions in your position. Am I right?

Luigi

[ 03. January 2006, 05:31: Message edited by: Luigi ]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Freddy, anyone who can make
quote:
"No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." Matthew 19.16

mean: "good people go to heaven bad people go to hell", can make language and logic work in ways I don't understand.
Good point. I don't think I have any new and original understanding of that passage.

Only God can truly be said to be good or righteous. Our responsibility is to do as He teaches. This is what is often called "goodness" or "righteousness" on our parts, even though we can't properly be called good or righteous.

This is a common understanding of this passage. I realize that there are other ways of seeing it.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
I suspect I am wasting my time here. After 12 pages you still seem unaware of any substantial weaknesses / contradictions in your position. Am I right?

I am aware of weaknesses.

The main one is that there is an obvious contradiction between a God of love and one who is willing to condemn people forever to hell.

This seems too big for many people to get past. Isn't this how you see it?

Do you, on your part, see the weaknesses/contradictions in your position?
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Freddy, anyone who can make
quote:
"No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." Matthew 19.16

mean: "good people go to heaven bad people go to hell", can make language and logic work in ways I don't understand.

I suspect I am wasting my time here. After 12 pages you still seem unaware of any substantial weaknesses / contradictions in your position. Am I right?

Luigi

Well, Luigi, the thing is, that verse says something similar to what Freddy is saying, doesn't it?

People who keep the commandments enter into life. Heaven as Freddy and I believe is a place/state of perfect human goodness, experiencing all of the good that God created us to experience. What this verse seems to be saying is to enter into that kind of goodness, to enter into Life to the Fullest, you must keep the commandments.

There are other ways of reading it, obviously (including the way I would probably read it). But this seems to be a fairly straightforward way of seeing the verse, I must say.

-Digory

[Oops-- I just realized this was my 1000th post!]

[ 03. January 2006, 15:14: Message edited by: professorkirke ]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
[Oops-- I just realized this was my 1000th post!]

Congratulations! And they have been good quality contributions. [Overused]
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
Dear blackbeard

Welcome to the Ship. What an excellect post!! I agree with every word of it.
 
Posted by Cupitt's arrow (# 10849) on :
 
Have been reading this thread with interest. I have to say, however, that I gave up on the existence of hell a long time ago. In fact, I gave up on the existence of a heaven too.
In this day and age these concepts are an anachronism. The only authority that can be invoked to shore up a point of view is scripture itself; and this, as we can see from following this thread, is inconclusive!
Also, any conclusions that may be made ( as unlikely as this seems) can only be believable by living in a 'biblical-matrix' - Quite rightly outside of the secular reality in which most of us inhabit.
Might I suggest that you expend your energies on giving a thought to how we may give flesh to, and indeed make real, the invocation: Thy Kingdom come.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Cupitt's arrow:
Might I suggest that you expend your energies on giving a thought to how we may give flesh to, and indeed make real, the invocation: Thy Kingdom come.

Welcome Cupitt's arrow! Nice thoughts.

I agree that this is what we need to do.

However, I don't see how thoughts about heaven and hell can be anachronistic. People die just as surely as they ever did. What happens after that is a legitimate matter of interest.
 
Posted by Cupitt's arrow (# 10849) on :
 
Thank you for my welcome. It is appreciated.

Yes, of course people continue to die. But I think that for many people the concepts of heaven and hell are defunct. Many, myself included, no longer live their lives in the shadow of the carrot and stick mentality of heaven and hell. Death is seen as a fullstop, and in this sense the notion of a hereafter is an anachronism.
It is entirely logical that we should move on, or evolve from this state of mind. I believe that it is the way forward for the Church - a Church, which I may add, that I love very much.
 
Posted by universalist (# 10318) on :
 
I don't read anything in the Bible about "free will"...I DO read what St. Paul called "will worship". A faulty "choice-based model of sanctification", not a faith-based one. People then, as a few today were elevating personal "will" above God's power to change it, a form of idolatry.

But damn! Some of you got me doing it! I am theologizing and intellectualizing. Would God grant that i would not so much live in my head!

The worst abuse of theologizing happens as we argue about such things as our "choice" regarding the means by which we are "saved", will some finally reject God? Do some end up in Purgatory or Hell? How clinical we can become in our attempts to state that which is God's relentless passion for us! The answer to all of this is in our hearts, not so much in our minds....God will finally burn away in us and everything that which doesn't look like Him/Her!

In our tendency to be clinical, we can miss the point. Our salvation is secure by the irrevocable mandate of God to save us! It's a passionate love story that happens to each of us, and it works for all because God is faithful!

Again the marriage analogy. I fell madly in love with my wife some years ago. I was charmed by her "irresistible grace." I "chose" to marry her. Did she take my so-called "free will" away?
Not at all....she, by virtue of WHO SHE IS, "made me an offer i couldn't refuse". How much more is God able to do this? These human types are given that we may know God better...

Let's be about defining God for who God is, able to save and redeem his whole creation--a major tenet of his character and personality. Can we work to subvert all heretical doctrines of loss that besmirch God?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Cupitt's arrow:
Many, myself included, no longer live their lives in the shadow of the carrot and stick mentality of heaven and hell.

OK. That makes sense.
quote:
Originally posted by Cupitt's arrow:
Death is seen as a fullstop, and in this sense the notion of a hereafter is an anachronism.
It is entirely logical that we should move on, or evolve from this state of mind. I believe that it is the way forward for the Church - a Church, which I may add, that I love very much.

Most people worldwide continue to expect a life after death. Europe is almost alone in having a significant population who don't think this way. Meanwhile Christianity in Europe is declining rapidly, according to many. And it is spreading just as rapidly in other parts of the world.

Are you suggesting that this decline in Europe might be turned around by the evolution of belief away from things such as the life after death?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by universalist:
I don't read anything in the Bible about "free will"...I DO read what St. Paul called "will worship". A faulty "choice-based model of sanctification", not a faith-based one. People then, as a few today were elevating personal "will" above God's power to change it, a form of idolatry.

Very interesting point.

It is true that "freedom" in the Bible is not always put the way that we often use it in these discussions:
quote:
John 8:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Freedom here seems to be associated with abiding in Jesus' word, not choosing freely among alternatives.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by universalist:
I fell madly in love with my wife some years ago. I was charmed by her "irresistible grace." I "chose" to marry her. Did she take my so-called "free will" away?
Not at all....she, by virtue of WHO SHE IS, "made me an offer i couldn't refuse". How much more is God able to do this?

[Overused]

We get very confused about our freedom.

I don't believe it makes us stupid or evil. Freedom gives us the power to choose what we all want--to be reunited with our God. Without this freedom we would remain slaves to sin.

If I went into a foreign prison camp and unhooked their chains, giving them free passage to escape, and if all of them did escape, would anyone complain that their free choice had been taken away? Instead, who would rejoice in their newfound freedom?

(This freedom can also include a new ability to be able to live as Jesus commanded, for Freddy's sake. [Smile] )

-Digory
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
If I went into a foreign prison camp and unhooked their chains, giving them free passage to escape, and if all of them did escape, would anyone complain that their free choice had been taken away? Instead, who would rejoice in their newfound freedom?

It depends on how comfortable they were in the prison, and how appealing the outside life you were offering them was.

Have you ever seen the Shawshank Redemption? I feel like the old librarian character in that film - OK, so maybe I'm in prison, but it's all I know. I might not be able to survive 'on the outside', and just end up hanging myself...
 
Posted by Cupitt's arrow (# 10849) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Are you suggesting that this decline in Europe might be turned around by the evolution of belief away from things such as the life after death? [/QB]

No, I am not suggesting this. But I do think that a Church which shows itself to be able to accomodate such views would be a more attractive proposition, and gain more respect, than one which doesn't. For some, that is.
As a Christian my first priority is not to make my church grow - by producing more Christians. But more to serve the wider community; to offer service and sanctuary when needed.
I think that the doctrines and creeds - which are all human-made - are an unnecessary hurdle to any who merely wish to love and to be loved, and be part of something bigger than themselves.
I am, perhaps, naive in this understanding. Perhaps it is sheer folly of me. But, nevertheless, my considered opinion is one of absolute freedom of thought and expression.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Cupitt's arrow:
But more to serve the wider community; to offer service and sanctuary when needed.
I think that the doctrines and creeds - which are all human-made - are an unnecessary hurdle to any who merely wish to love and to be loved, and be part of something bigger than themselves.
I am, perhaps, naive in this understanding. Perhaps it is sheer folly of me. But, nevertheless, my considered opinion is one of absolute freedom of thought and expression.

[Overused] I am in complete agreement with you. I think we (including myself) often make things sooo complicated that we forget the basic idea: to love God and to love and care for our neighbors. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Your posts are most excellent, welcome to SOF!
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by universalist:
Again the marriage analogy. I fell madly in love with my wife some years ago. I was charmed by her "irresistible grace." I "chose" to marry her. Did she take my so-called "free will" away?
Not at all....she, by virtue of WHO SHE IS, "made me an offer i couldn't refuse". How much more is God able to do this? These human types are given that we may know God better...

Look, I'm glad you are in love with your wife and in love with God. Good for you. I like God a a lot but sometimes it very, very, very difficult, to be quite honest. I just wanted to introduce the idea that not everyone might find God as irrestible as you portray. God has called me to do many, many hard things (ie, "Take up your cross and follow me" and "you must lose your life that you might find life"; "die to yourself and love your neighbor as yourself"; "who do YOU say that I am" etc) and it is not always as fun and brilliant and wonderful and lovey-dovey all the time. In fact, in my experience, it is quite painful to follow Christ - doubly so since everything is based on the invisible, intangible, the unseen, and unknown.

quote:
Originally posted by universalist:
Let's be about defining God for who God is, able to save and redeem his whole creation--a major tenet of his character and personality. Can we work to subvert all heretical doctrines of loss that besmirch God?

You know what? I am in complete agreement with you here. I think God is all about saving people but he certainly goes about in very weird ways (forgive me, Lord, but you are weird). He wants love - but not compelled love. Love that suffers long and love that is given freely in spite of the cost.

quote:
Originally posted by universalist:
I don't read anything in the Bible about "free will"...I DO read what St. Paul called "will worship". A faulty "choice-based model of sanctification", not a faith-based one. People then, as a few today were elevating personal "will" above God's power to change it, a form of idolatry.!

I'm not sure if we can find common ground. I believe that God treasures free will. Look at the crap in this world around you. Its free will gone mad.

quote:
Originally posted by universalist:
But damn! Some of you got me doing it! I am theologizing and intellectualizing. Would God grant that i would not so much live in my head!!

I am blessed by your point of view, though and I appreciate your heart and passion and insights. I am thankful that you post here.

quote:
Originally posted by universalist:
The worst abuse of theologizing happens as we argue about such things as our "choice" regarding the means by which we are "saved", will some finally reject God? Do some end up in Purgatory or Hell? How clinical we can become in our attempts to state that which is God's relentless passion for us! The answer to all of this is in our hearts, not so much in our minds....God will finally burn away in us and everything that which doesn't look like Him/Her!

In our tendency to be clinical, we can miss the point. Our salvation is secure by the irrevocable mandate of God to save us! It's a passionate love story that happens to each of us, and it works for all because God is faithful!

Amen to God's faithfulness and love. Boo on clinicalness (I know I am guilty of this [Waterworks] ). Again, thank you for posting here and I greatly appreciate your insights and love for all people.
 
Posted by universalist (# 10318) on :
 
"Look, I'm glad you are in love with your wife and in love with God. Good for you. I like God a a lot but sometimes it very, very, very difficult, to be quite honest. I just wanted to introduce the idea that not everyone might find God as irrestible as you portray"

Really, i do need to apologize to you and others who may have misunderstood...In no way do i passionately love God; in fact, half the time it seems I'm pissed at God. The other half of the time I'm considering whether i even LIKE God. (for example, when i heard this morning that the miners WEREN'T alive after all, a finger went up to God, not a prayer) So i'm in the soup with everyone else on this point. There's simply too much evil happening in the world for me to believe with any real conviction that God is irresistible.

That being said, I hold this belief in "hope"; a part of God's glory that "shall be revealed (to us) in due time".
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
quote:
Originally posted by universalist:
Again the marriage analogy. I fell madly in love with my wife some years ago. I was charmed by her "irresistible grace." I "chose" to marry her. Did she take my so-called "free will" away?
Not at all....she, by virtue of WHO SHE IS, "made me an offer i couldn't refuse". How much more is God able to do this? These human types are given that we may know God better...

Look, I'm glad you are in love with your wife and in love with God. Good for you. I like God a a lot but sometimes it very, very, very difficult, to be quite honest. I just wanted to introduce the idea that not everyone might find God as irrestible as you portray. God has called me to do many, many hard things (ie, "Take up your cross and follow me" and "you must lose your life that you might find life"; "die to yourself and love your neighbor as yourself"; "who do YOU say that I am" etc) and it is not always as fun and brilliant and wonderful and lovey-dovey all the time. In fact, in my experience, it is quite painful to follow Christ - doubly so since everything is based on the invisible, intangible, the unseen, and unknown.
Yes, Joyful, I believe what universalist is saying here is that one day, when all is revealed to us as it truly is, at that point God will become irresistable and we will not reject his grace.

This always begs the question -- "What's this life for?"

There are many different answers to that, though. (Perhaps for another post, or even another thread. Who knows.)

-Digory
 
Posted by Dwynwen (# 3900) on :
 
I find this to be a very interesting thread but I wonder about the words often mentioned such as choice, freedom, denial, faith, salvation etc.

Justification by faith presupposes knowledge of God and of Christ our Saviour and of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If faith is gifted by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit then faith and virtue must be a learning experience. How many are denied this knowledge?

We cannot know the truth of belief in God unless we know of God for it is not what is believed but rather that by which truth is believed which empowers virtue in the way we live and love (or hate).

This leaves the many who do not know God destined for consignment to where? We who think that we know God have a choice but awareness of faith is so sadly lacking in our homes and schools today. We can only hope that God in His goodness knows those who do not know Him and will judge them accordingly.

The baptised have the hope of 'knowing' through the teaching of their godparents. They will eventually be at liberty to choose to deny God or to have faith.

Choices between good and evil are a fundamental human capability but salvation is not deemed to be an important consideration for most people.

Maybe we should bring back the teaching about the aerial toll houses whereby judgements are made after our death about our temporal life, and ultimately our fate about whether we are fit for heaven or must go with the demons who may win the day and consign us to hell.

Prayers to our guardian angels are always helpful but we have a huge responsibility to our children to teach them awareness of the possibilities waiting for them in eternal life.

"To know the road ahead, ask those coming back." (A Chinese proverb).
And there are a few people who have had out of the body experiences still alive and ready to tell the tale.

Peace, Dwynwen.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Yes, Joyful, I believe what universalist is saying here is that one day, when all is revealed to us as it truly is, at that point God will become irresistable and we will not reject his grace.

[unserious tangent]

You are so hopeful [Razz] . Maybe we should exchange names? I think you should get an A+ in faith & hope at the end of this life. [Razz] (just kidding).

[/end unserious tangent]

Returning to the love tangent introduced by Universalist...

...I don't agree that "love" is irrestible. Surely, all of us have been the object of someone else's affection in this world and not returned it? Surely, a part of love is voluntary?

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
This always begs the question -- "What's this life for?"

Bringing light into a dark world no matter how dark it looks. Participating in bringing God's kingdom on earth (isaiah 58 is one of my favorites)... & etc. Start life now instead of latter. Life being = discovering who God is and living in that knowledge & love.

quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
There are many different answers to that, though. (Perhaps for another post, or even another thread. Who knows.)

Anybody interested?
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Maybe I'm alone in this, but um...


Dwynwen... what?
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
There are many different answers to that, though. (Perhaps for another post, or even another thread. Who knows.)

Anybody interested?
Well if you insist...
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Another question, unrelated so far.


If you believe people are going to hell if they don't do/say/think/believe x, and you believe evangelism helps to get people to do/say/think/believe x, how can you justify spending a single minute, including ones on this very Ship, doing anything BUT evangelism (besides things necessary to survival, obviously, like eating and sleeping)??? [Confused]

Just a thought I've been thinking on.

-Digory
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
well, duh. [Biased] I believe that every believer's life is "evangelism." There's a was a really cool dude who lived long ago... who said something along the lines of "Spread the gospel. Use words if necessary."
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
well, duh. [Biased] I believe that every believer's life is "evangelism." There's a was a really cool dude who lived long ago... who said something along the lines of "Spread the gospel. Use words if necessary."

St. Francis of Assisi, perhaps? Someone more knowledgable than me will come along and correct me very shortly, I am sure of that. [Smile]

But is going to see "Wedding Crashers" the movie considered evangelism, even if you go by yourself? I mean, practically, can everything be evangelism?

-Digory
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
~~~Joyfulsoul's Theology 101~~~

Prelude (some fancy word that means beginning or sommat):

This is my best guess at Life, the Universe,and Everything. Probably tomorrow I'll come up with a better idea.

1. Something about Incarnational, meaning allowing God to work in us to bring his purposes about

a) Why?

Because life is dark sometimes and God wants to transform dead into living.

I guess that is what I might take a stab at what "salvation" means - bring life into dead & dark places. Transforming life. Allowing catapillars to become butterflies. That's my best guess at what the gospel means.

2. How do we do this?

No clue.

3. No, really.

Well, I guess by inviting God, allowing God to transform my life, he can help me bless other people and so forth.

4. Shouldn't you be handing out tracks to people & etc and tell 'em they're all destined for the fiery furnace?

a) that's a stupid idea.
b) I don't know other people's eternal destinations
c) that's not what jesus was about
d) That's assuming that I'm responsible for other people's salvation. Jesus said tell 'em the good news (not try to "save" people). I've seen horrendous damage done in trying to "save" someone from hell. Its not good to think that we (christians) are such hot shots when most of the time we're idiots.

Does that help?
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
I'd much rather watch Batman Begins. the Wedding crashers looks like a dumb movie to me.

Everything is for glory & worship of God.

Evangelism - witnessing to the Good News (even when we are sad, too - its okay to be Sad for JAY-Sus, I have discovered) - is part of that worship.

So, whether we eat or drink, we do this all for God (I think is a verse somewhere, too).

[more stuff]

[ 05. January 2006, 05:16: Message edited by: Joyfulsoul ]
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
Hello all! I've been away from a computer for week or so, and have just been getting up to speed on this thread again.

It is amazing how much ground this thread has covered, and I think that it is because the concept of hell is tied up with the concept of salvation, and salvation is at the heart of many Christianities. There have been many interesting and varied viewpoints expressed and I have learnt a lot about your varied beliefs from reading them.

I have a question for those who believe in the possiblity of eternal separation from God/hell/eternal damnation.

However you conceive it, hell is not a place I want to go. [Smile]

Now, as a universalist, I can simply place my trust in the saving power of God.

But let me assume for a moment that I am not a universalist. This means that I cannot trust that God will under all circumstances save me. Somehow, I can lose my salvation (or fail to gain it). Somehow I can reject God, the result of which will be hell (literally).

Please advise me - what should I do in order to have assurance of my salvation?
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Now, as a universalist, I can simply place my trust in the saving power of God.

But, see, even as a non-universalist, I do that too.

quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
But let me assume for a moment that I am not a universalist. This means that I cannot trust that God will under all circumstances save me. Somehow, I can lose my salvation (or fail to gain it). Somehow I can reject God, the result of which will be hell (literally).

Please advise me - what should I do in order to have assurance of my salvation?

The fact that you turn to God is basta. Enough.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
But let me assume for a moment that I am not a universalist. This means that I cannot trust that God will under all circumstances save me. Somehow, I can lose my salvation (or fail to gain it). Somehow I can reject God, the result of which will be hell (literally).

Please advise me - what should I do in order to have assurance of my salvation?

Become a Calvinist? [Biased]
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Allowing catapillars to become butterflies. That's my best guess at what the gospel means.

I like this idea. I really do. We're all like caterpillars now, and will become buterflies in the next life.

Well, maybe some of us will be moths. But what the hey [Biased]
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Now, as a universalist, I can simply place my trust in the saving power of God.

But, see, even as a non-universalist, I do that too.
But your trust in God saving you cannot be total, can it? After all, you believe that there are circumstances in which God will not save you...

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
But let me assume for a moment that I am not a universalist. This means that I cannot trust that God will under all circumstances save me. Somehow, I can lose my salvation (or fail to gain it). Somehow I can reject God, the result of which will be hell (literally).

Please advise me - what should I do in order to have assurance of my salvation?

The fact that you turn to God is basta. Enough.
This site is full of people arguing over what phrases like this mean. [Biased] More specifically, I have (hopefully) a long life ahead of me. Maybe I will suffer some horrific loss, succumb to arrogance, or simply change. Maybe by the time I die I will be an atheist. Maybe I will not always turn to God. If I do not turn to God then I have no salvation, and my current trust in God is misplaced.

quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Please advise me - what should I do in order to have assurance of my salvation?

Become a Calvinist? [Biased]
Since you seem an unlikely convert to Calvinism [Razz] I am assuming that you believe that my quest for assurance of salvation is doomed, that I will never be in a position to completely be trusting that God will save me?
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Allowing catapillars to become butterflies. That's my best guess at what the gospel means.

I like this idea. I really do. We're all like caterpillars now, and will become buterflies in the next life.

Well, maybe some of us will be moths. But what the hey [Biased]

And, unless you are all now universalists, some of us will neither be butterflies nor moths but will instead be miserable worms.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Please advise me - what should I do in order to have assurance of my salvation?

Become a Calvinist? [Biased]
Since you seem an unlikely convert to Calvinism [Razz] I am assuming that you believe that my quest for assurance of salvation is doomed, that I will never be in a position to completely be trusting that God will save me?
Demas, you know what happens when you ass-u-me, right?

I have a funny feeling Mousethief's answer to you will be something along the lines of, "Perhaps you should lighten up a little, Tiger." (Except MT's version will be much cleverer and even funny, perhaps.)

[Biased]

-Digory
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
And, unless you are all now universalists, some of us will neither be butterflies nor moths but will instead be miserable worms.

No, there will be all butterflies, but about 75% of them will be pinned to that little insect board while they're still alive, and they'll keep getting pinned over and over, for all of eternity.

But don't worry. They chose to be pinned.

(Oh come on, people. Lighten up, seriously!) [Biased]

-Digory
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
"Completely trusting that God will save me" seems to place "trust" in the wrong sort of thing (the outcome of a series of actions). We are meant to trust in God, not in any particular outcome.

I trust that God loves me and wants very much to save me, and is doing all She can to that effect. But I have no "assurance of salvation" because it doesn't just depend on God, it also depends on me.

Why is this "assurance" so important to you? What would you DO differently in your life with it, as opposed to without it?
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Why is this "assurance" so important to you? What would you DO differently in your life with it, as opposed to without it?

Worry less.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Why is this "assurance" so important to you? What would you DO differently in your life with it, as opposed to without it?

Worry less.
So it's all about you? Salvation as egocentrism. Not on my radar.
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
So it's all about you? Salvation as egocentrism. Not on my radar.

Well, you did ask.

What sort of answer were you expecting?
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
I think I asked my question badly, and should perhaps have said something along the lines of, "What actions that you undertake in the course of your daily (or weekly or annual etc.) life would be changed if you had such assurance?".

I wasn't really thinking of worry as something one "does".

It also seems if not counterproductive, then at least pointless. If God is doing all SHE can to save you, then what are you worrying about? That you will reject so great a salvation? Rather than worry about that, better to get on with the business of cooperating with God's saving power (or to put it biblically, "work out your salvation in fear and trembling"). For it is God who works in you -- if you will let Her.
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
I think I asked my question badly, and should perhaps have said something along the lines of, "What actions that you undertake in the course of your daily (or weekly or annual etc.) life would be changed if you had such assurance?".

Hm. I'm not really sure that there's anything of that ilk that I'd change if I had such assurance, to be honest.

quote:
I wasn't really thinking of worry as something one "does".
OK. I do think of it that way, but there's no point us going off on a tangent about whether emotions and such are something we 'do'.

quote:
It also seems if not counterproductive, then at least pointless. If God is doing all SHE can to save you, then what are you worrying about? That you will reject so great a salvation?
More that I've got it wrong. I mean, if I've got the right idea about God then I'll probably be fine, but if I'm wrong there's a very good chance I'm toast. That worries me. A lot.

quote:
Rather than worry about that, better to get on with the business of cooperating with God's saving power (or to put it biblically, "work out your salvation in fear and trembling"). For it is God who works in you -- if you will let Her.
I think this thread stands as quite a good example of a few people trying to "work out their salvation in fear and trembling", actually [Biased]
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
I think this thread stands as quite a good example of a few people trying to "work out their salvation in fear and trembling", actually [Biased]

Well I hope this isn't ALL they're doing to work out their salvation. "I was hungry and naked and in prison, and you argued about me on an Internet discussion site." [Biased]
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
I was thinking "work out" in the same way that one would "work out" a maths problem. But your way's good as well... [Smile]

ETA a thought - if religion was a subject at school, would it be mostly theory-based or mostly practical-based? Maybe that's for another thread...

[ 05. January 2006, 15:12: Message edited by: Marvin the Martian ]
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
ETA a thought - if religion was a subject at school, would it be mostly theory-based or mostly practical-based? Maybe that's for another thread...

Depends on if the instructor is an Anglican or an Orthodox. [Big Grin]
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
So it's all about you? Salvation as egocentrism. Not on my radar.

I find this phrasing to be interesting.

Salvation isn't about you? Who is it, exactly, that needs the saving? I don't think I'm doing God a favor by letting God save me.

And carrying the burden of "I don't know if I'll be saved eternally or damned eternally, but I suppose I should love this God anyway" is quite a heavy load to bear every day, don't you think? It's precisely why most churches make a way for you to be sure.

Just pray this prayer...
Follow these commandments...
Come to church regularly...
Accept Jesus...

Etc.


Wouldn't it be great if you could STOP worrying about it SO THAT you could get on with the working out portion (of clothing those naked people and feeding those hungry people, etc.)?

-Digory
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
And carrying the burden of "I don't know if I'll be saved eternally or damned eternally, but I suppose I should love this God anyway" is quite a heavy load to bear every day, don't you think?

Not particularly. I don't think of it as a load at all. God loves me and wants to do all She can to save me. Why is that a load?

quote:
It's precisely why most churches make a way for you to be sure.

Just pray this prayer...
Follow these commandments...
Come to church regularly...
Accept Jesus...

To my way of thinking that's not one of the more endearing things about churches that do that.

quote:
Wouldn't it be great if you could STOP worrying about it SO THAT you could get on with the working out portion (of clothing those naked people and feeding those hungry people, etc.)?
This presupposes that I'm worrying. I'm not.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
And carrying the burden of "I don't know if I'll be saved eternally or damned eternally, but I suppose I should love this God anyway" is quite a heavy load to bear every day, don't you think?

Not particularly. I don't think of it as a load at all. God loves me and wants to do all She can to save me. Why is that a load?
Because all that God can do to save me may be not enough.

Because my salvation is (apparently) dependent on me.

You may be confident enough in your own abilities to not worry about your salvation but I would not be so egocentric...
 
Posted by Dwynwen (# 3900) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Maybe I'm alone in this, but um...


Dwynwen... what?

Not what but where. It is where we are going not what we were doing that may help us to reach the preferred destination eventually. But then if our deeds were dastardly then we should confess.

Yours in the love of Christ,
Dwynwen.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
You may be confident enough in your own abilities to not worry about your salvation but I would not be so egocentric...

You're treading on call-to-hell territory here.

I'm not confident in my abilities. I don't think it has anything to do with my abilities.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
You may be confident enough in your own abilities to not worry about your salvation but I would not be so egocentric...

You're treading on call-to-hell territory here.

I'm not confident in my abilities. I don't think it has anything to do with my abilities.

Egocentric was your word, not mine.

You said above that your salvation does not depend just on God, who is doing all She can, but also on you.

Since you say you are not worried about your salvation, you are clearly reasonably confident that you will not fail the depends-on-you part of the test, that you have the ability to pass it.

You are confident that you have the ability to gain salvation.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
I don't believe in any "tests". I believe in God. I believe that I have to cooperate with God, which I believe I'm doing. At that point I'm doing all I can, so what's to worry about?
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
I don't believe in any "tests". I believe in God. I believe that I have to cooperate with God, which I believe I'm doing. At that point I'm doing all I can, so what's to worry about?

You've already made it clear that all God can do She is doing, and it is not enough.

You say you are doing all you can to cooperate with God.

Are you confident that all you can do + all God can do is enough?

If so, you are confident in your ability to cooperate with God and thus gain salvation.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
You've already made it clear that all God can do She is doing, and it is not enough.

You say you are doing all you can to cooperate with God.

Are you confident that all you can do + all God can do is enough?

If so, you are confident in your ability to cooperate with God and thus gain salvation.

Twisting words comes so naturally for some people. I give up. If it's so vitally important for you to believe that I am "confident" in my salvation, then go right ahead. Clearly nothing I say can change your mind. You apparently have this dichotomy in your head -- "Either worried or confident" -- and are bound and determined to make everybody fall on one side or the other.

Procrustes never went to such lengths.

[ 05. January 2006, 20:16: Message edited by: Mousethief ]
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Twisting words comes so naturally for some people. I give up. If it's so vitally important for you to believe that I am "confident" in my salvation, then go right ahead. Clearly nothing I say can change your mind.

And I'm close to a hell call?

I'm not deliberately twisting your words, just trying to understand them and discuss their implications.

OK, so you are not confident of your salvation. You believe that God's efforts + your efforts may not be enough to save you.

Why aren't you worried? Thinking like that would lead me personally to either depression or a sort of late antiquity fatalism, not a joyous proclamation of God's power and love...
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Hurts when the shoe's on the other foot, don't it?

Because worrying isn't going to change anything. Who by worrying can add to his height, etc?

I don't think of salvation as some all-or-nothing, once-or-never sort of thing, so that if I just say the right prayers or kiss the right icons or whatever, then I'm in the club automatically.

Salvation is a process that is worked out between us and God. The one way to be sure you aren't saved is to reject God categorically. I can't imagine doing that. If I did, then perforce salvation would no longer be meaningful to me, and it wouldn't bother me. So what's to get bothered about? What's to worry about? It's not like if I only do 70% then I won't be saved but if I do 75% I will. It's about direction. Is one moving toward God, toward love, toward generosity, or away? As near as I can tell, and as near as my spiritual father can tell me, I'm moving towards.

Worrying because I can't have some fictional fairy-dust "certainty" is worse than a waste of time.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Hurts when the shoe's on the other foot, don't it?

[Roll Eyes]
quote:
Salvation is a process that is worked out between us and God. The one way to be sure you aren't saved is to reject God categorically. I can't imagine doing that.
Sounds like you are pretty sure of your ability to not reject God to me. In fact your whole post sounds fairly confident, including the witness of your spriritual director who also thinks you're on the right track.

quote:
If I did, then perforce salvation would no longer be meaningful to me, and it wouldn't bother me.
Huh? Isn't the state of being without salvation normally described as hell? Aren't the people in hell normally considered to be somewhat bothered by their state?

quote:
Worrying because I can't have some fictional fairy-dust "certainty" is worse than a waste of time.
Paul seemed rather sure of his salvation. If he had any doubts that he was saved then he didn't spell them out in his letters.

In any case, it would make this discussion flow more easily if you didn't refer to the certainty of salvation that all universalists must necessarily have as "fictional fairy-dust"...
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
It would make the discussion easier if you didn't keep trying to foist on me a certainty that I keep saying explicitly I don't feel.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
Demas,

The idea is like this.

The father loves his son.

When the son still a far away off, the father came running towards him.

All the son did was turn to the father.

That's all it takes.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Sounds like you are pretty sure of your ability to not reject God to me. In fact your whole post sounds fairly confident, including the witness of your spriritual director who also thinks you're on the right track.

You're projecting. Please stop. I've asked once already. It's not about "confidence" or "ability". Your insistence on continuing to pound on this two-note opera is getting tiring, and offensive.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
All the son did was turn to the father.

That's all it takes.

But you don't believe that all the sons will turn to the father. Some will not, in which case the father will be unable to convince them to come home.

Why will I turn to my father? Because I am a 'good person'? Because I was brought up in a 'Christian household'? Surely not... I am no better than you would expect given my upbringing and temprament.

So there continues to be a chance that I will not turn to my father. So I cannot be certain that I will find my way home, and cannot rely on my father to come and get me until I manage to turn to him, because he is unable (or unwilling) to do so.

So, if I cannot be certain, should I worry or be fatalistically cheerful? Or is there another option?
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
So, if I cannot be certain, should I worry or be fatalistically cheerful? Or is there another option?

Yes. Turn to the Father.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
So, if I cannot be certain, should I worry or be fatalistically cheerful? Or is there another option?

Yes. Turn to the Father.
Urg.

If I turn to my father, is my salvation assured? If so, then I am certain of my salvation. But wait, I have been told above that I cannot be certain! Which is it?

Maybe I cannot be certain whether I have turned to the father or not? In which case my question stands - if I cannot be certain, should I worry or be fatalistically cheerful? Or is there another option?
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
What exactly does "fatalistically cheerful" mean? Why won't you answer my other questions?

Turn to the Father and stop trying to put me on the Procrustean Bed of worry versus certainty.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MouseThief
Because worrying isn't going to change anything. Who by worrying can add to his height, etc?

I believe I am doing all I can to bring up my children properly, but still I worry. That is, I regularly wonder whether I am doing all I can; I wonder whether I could do better. To that extent I am `worried'. Am I neurotic about it? I don't think so. But so long as I think that I may be able to do better, and am not doing so, I worry.

The difference about worrying about how I raise my children, and worrying about my height, is that I know that I can't change my height, but I don't know that I can't raise my children better.

I don't know if `worrying' about salvation is more like worrying about your height, or worrying about whether you're raising your children properly [Smile]
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
If I turn to my father, is my salvation assured? If so, then I am certain of my salvation. But wait, I have been told above that I cannot be certain! Which is it?

Maybe I cannot be certain whether I have turned to the father or not? In which case my question stands - if I cannot be certain, should I worry or be fatalistically cheerful? Or is there another option?

Why the worry?

God is good, God loves you. Things are not that complicated.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
I believe I am doing all I can to bring up my children properly, but still I worry. That is, I regularly wonder whether I am doing all I can; I wonder whether I could do better. To that extent I am `worried'. Am I neurotic about it? I don't think so. But so long as I think that I may be able to do better, and am not doing so, I worry.

The difference about worrying about how I raise my children, and worrying about my height, is that I know that I can't change my height, but I don't know that I can't raise my children better.

I don't know if `worrying' about salvation is more like worrying about your height, or worrying about whether you're raising your children properly [Smile]

Oh, if by "worry" you mean "determining whether I'm doing what I can, and adjusting what I do to fit what I discover," then yes, I worry. But that's not usually how I define "worry". Maybe we should talk about worry(1) and worry(2)?
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Why the worry?

God is good, God loves you. Things are not that complicated.

The worry is because many people on this thread are saying that God may be good and may love me, but my salvation depends on me turning to God, not just on the actions of God herself.

I am not worried about God's goodness, I am worried about my ability and inclincation to 'turn to the father'.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
Why the worry?

God is good, God loves you. Things are not that complicated.

The worry is because many people on this thread are saying that God may be good and may love me, but my salvation depends on me turning to God, not just on the actions of God herself.

I am not worried about God's goodness, I am worried about my ability and inclincation to 'turn to the father'.

Then you misunderstand.

It's not about putting faith in yourself.

God f*cking loves people and desperately desires to bring them into abundant life. He'll take any excuse you give just so he can work with you. Pathetic, isn't it?

My favorite prayer is that in the gospel of Mark something, where some guy goes, "Lord I belief. help my unbelief."

That's me.

[eta "can"]

[ 05. January 2006, 21:59: Message edited by: Joyfulsoul ]
 
Posted by Luigi (# 4031) on :
 
Sorry – long post. This discussion has taken an interesting turn. Demas – seems to be pursuing one of the areas that is interesting however, I would like to continue exploring the other issue - which is Freddy’s take on hell (a take that seems to me to try to make hell a little less offensive). It centers round the belief that Jesus affirmed the view that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell.

Incidentally my point that having children is a curse if hell could lie at the end of it, has been quickly sidelined. Not surprising as it really is at the heart of the problem as I see it.

Freddy – first of all apologies if my last post came across as a little terse.

As a reminder to other readers this is what Freddy and I said:

quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Freddy, anyone who can make
quote:
"No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." Matthew 19.16

mean: "good people go to heaven bad people go to hell", can make language and logic work in ways I don't understand.
Good point. I don't think I have any new and original understanding of that passage.

Only God can truly be said to be good or righteous. Our responsibility is to do as He teaches. This is what is often called "goodness" or "righteousness" on our parts, even though we can't properly be called good or righteous.

This is a common understanding of this passage. I realize that there are other ways of seeing it.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
I suspect I am wasting my time here. After 12 pages you still seem unaware of any substantial weaknesses / contradictions in your position. Am I right?

I am aware of weaknesses.

The main one is that there is an obvious contradiction between a God of love and one who is willing to condemn people forever to hell.

This seems too big for many people to get past. Isn't this how you see it?

Do you, on your part, see the weaknesses/contradictions in your position?

Before I explain further my problem with your interpretation of this verse I should put it in the context of the verses in Matthew where Jesus lumps those who hate and lust in with the adulterers and murderers. Much of Jesus’ ministry (ISTM) was about putting the whole of humankind together in the same boat. Not that I have any problem with that – it is obviously largely true.

Stanley Cohen who did a very detailed examination on the 20th century genocides, found that the vast majority of people in certain situations are capable of appalling brutality. The slaughter at My Lai reinforces this. Indeed my conviction for many years has been that on the wrong day and in the wrong context, I would be no less likely to behave in appalling ways than anyone else. If I take Jesus seriously then every time I hate I am not that different to a serial murderer. And I have hated many times in my life.

So this whole idea that humanity can be divided into the loathsome and the not loathsome – as you put it Freddy – I regard as naïve and contradicts much of what Jesus was about. Indeed many of those he mixed with were the loathsome of his society - those who didn’t respect themselves and didn’t respect others.

Now that Matthew verse and why I can’t get close to buying your take. I accept the second half of the Matthew verse can be read as meaning ‘good people go to heaven’, but it makes little sense when put with the first part. If we put the two together the problem is clear.

"No one is good but One, that is, God. Good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell.” The only way I can make the second part work with the first part is if the second part is a corrective of the first part, which I don’t think you are arguing. In other words we should insert an assumed ‘It is said’ before the whole passage. Or perhaps Jesus was warmed up for the second part and made a foolish assertion to start off with. Not a common position as far as I know.

The final option would appear to be that Jesus was a particularly crass teacher - he was stating the bleeding obvious in the first part e.g. ‘elephants are big’, or ‘only God is good’ and then followed it with something that doesn’t really illuminate the first part. (This take also means the first part doesn’t really illuminate what follows.)

My belief that Jesus was probably saying something profound here is a weakness in my position I grant you. I am perhaps making too much of a presumption - he could of course have been as crass as those who interpret the verse as meaning ‘good people go to heaven’ seem to be assuming.

In the end your determination to defend hell leads you to insist on humanity being divided into the loathsome and not, and then blurring the line for the next life. For me most of humanity is muddling along in the middle and because you insist on as much continuity as possible between this life and the next, it ends up with most of humanity muddling along in the same mess in the next life as it is in this life - a perpetual moribund existence. Not something I would look forward to. Indeed heaven and hell seem alarmingly similar to me.

Luigi
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
[brick wall]

I meant to say:

"Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief."
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
I am worried about my ability and inclincation to 'turn to the father'.

Then you misunderstand.

It's not about putting faith in yourself.

God f*cking loves people and desperately desires to bring them into abundant life. He'll take any excuse you give just so he can work with you. Pathetic, isn't it?

But you insist that not all people will offer excuses that God will accept. Why is this? Is it because those people are less able to offer excuses? Or are they 'bad' people, unlike my good self?

What is different about me that will enable me to offer an excuse to God?

What is there to stop me worrying that (like those other people you argue exist) I will fail to offer the required excuse? Apart, that is, from an innate belief that I am by luck or by virtue of my goodness and spirituality already on the right track? (I thank you, Lord, that I am not like other men).

You may set the entry requirements to salvation very low, but you are the one insisting they still exist and that not all measure up, not me.

In your theology the thing standing in the way of my salvation is my own ability to turn to God. So I should either have faith in this ability or be worried that it will not be adequate.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
In your theology the thing standing in the way of my salvation is my own ability to turn to God. So I should either have faith in this ability or be worried that it will not be adequate.

Why? Why are those the only two options?

[ 05. January 2006, 22:39: Message edited by: Mousethief ]
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
In your theology the thing standing in the way of my salvation is my own ability to turn to God. So I should either have faith in this ability or be worried that it will not be adequate.

Why? Why are those the only two options?
What are my other options? And why are they preferable?
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Do your best and trust God. Because that option corresponds most with reality.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
Luigi,

I don't know how Freddy will answer this but I'd like to try to take a stab at the interesting post you wrote. (Thank you for explaining, I appreciate the insights and problems you posed. This is what makes our discussion spicy and interesting.)

I totally agree with your assessment that under certain circumstance, pretty much everybody is capable of doing the same vile and evil things. I similarly too have struggled long and hard with hatred. I am particularly convicted by Jesus's insight that hatred in one's heart is the original problem.

So, I agree with the assessment that nobody is Good but God. I agree it is not just simply a matter of good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. Simply because we all possess sin that makes us capable of doing horrible, horrible things. And I don't think hatred & heaven can co-exist.

However, this dilemma is resolved by God. I think God likes us and want us to find peace. The pharissees misunderstood how to find peace and they thought that they could achieve by their own efforts towards righteousness. But God tells us that its not about how much effort and how many "things" we do for him at all. It much more freer than that. Life is about having faith in God's ultimate goodness and living rightly because of that faith. (faith as lifestyle, not just a confession of the lips).

In that sense, we can see how losers can be made "righteous" - simply by understanding that our salvation is not achieved by immpressive deeds, but by our hearts choosing to have faith in God and living out patiently what that means. So, far I have seen that people of even little faith can do sooo much good and love just because they understand the world does not revolve around them.

I guess that is why I think many "non-Christians" might be saved. 'Cause once you catch a glimpse that the world doesn't revolve around you - well, I think that's probably the beginning of a very helpful journey. I could be totally wrong, though.

So perhaps, when Freddy is talking about the "good" people - maybe he means people's who lives reflect their belief and faith in God's goodness so live out their desires to live rightly. And the "bad" people are those who openly reject faith and live their lives reflect this by living in the worst possible way at all times. I believe, however, that even the most vile person possesses the potential of redemption.

Something else I have noticed in the bible- that God intends to reward humanity for the good things they have done - not just pack them all to a burning lake. I think our God is good and that he is a merciful judge.

Phew, that was a long post. Hope it helps.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
I guess that is why I think many "non-Christians" might be saved. 'Cause once you catch a glimpse that the world doesn't revolve around you - well, I think that's probably the beginning of a very helpful journey. I could be totally wrong, though.

Well if you are, then I am too.
 
Posted by Joyfulsoul (# 4652) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
I am worried about my ability and inclincation to 'turn to the father'.

Then you misunderstand.

It's not about putting faith in yourself.

God f*cking loves people and desperately desires to bring them into abundant life. He'll take any excuse you give just so he can work with you. Pathetic, isn't it?

But you insist that not all people will offer excuses that God will accept. Why is this? Is it because those people are less able to offer excuses? Or are they 'bad' people, unlike my good self?

What is different about me that will enable me to offer an excuse to God?

What is there to stop me worrying that (like those other people you argue exist) I will fail to offer the required excuse? Apart, that is, from an innate belief that I am by luck or by virtue of my goodness and spirituality already on the right track? (I thank you, Lord, that I am not like other men).

You may set the entry requirements to salvation very low, but you are the one insisting they still exist and that not all measure up, not me.

In your theology the thing standing in the way of my salvation is my own ability to turn to God. So I should either have faith in this ability or be worried that it will not be adequate.

I'm totally not understanding you. I feel very dense [Hot and Hormonal] and my apologies. (I know you have been saying the same things over again [Hot and Hormonal] .)

I think God loves us and we are like prodigal sons. All we have to do is ask.

What's the problem?
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Joyfulsoul:
I'm totally not understanding you. I feel very dense [Hot and Hormonal] and my apologies. (I know you have been saying the same things over again [Hot and Hormonal] .)

No no, the quality of your posts clearly shows that you're not dense (or, at least, no denser than me [Biased] We're just all struggling with communicating from our different worldviews - part of the human condition, I'm afraid. The fact that I'm repeating myself shows my failure to find different ways to communicate [Frown]

quote:
I think God loves us and we are like prodigal sons. All we have to do is ask.

What's the problem?

My problem is with the second sentence.

Unless you have seen the light and become a universalist [Razz] then you believe that not all people will ask God and be saved through God's love.

Both you and Mousethief seem to agree that God cannot or will not make you ask, that it is up to you as an individual. It is therefore a test, a barrier, a hurdle, an impediment to my salvation. You've made it clear that you consider it a very small impediment, but that none-the-less not everyone will overcome it.

Some people will not ask God, will not turn to the father, and thus will not be saved by him.

On what basis would someone not turn to God? If you say that someone might reject God out of pride and arrogance, for example, then you are really saying that some people fail to attain salvation due to their wickedness. Isn't this just works based salvation? But what other motive would there be to reject God?

Also, what does asking God entail? Are you certain that you have turned to God?

Mousethief argues above (as far as I understand it) that you should just do your best and hope that it is enough to count as 'turning to God', so that God can do the rest and save you.

Personally I doubt that I will 'do my best' for the rest of my life. I certainly haven't so far. I am reminded of the young rich man, who had kept the commandments. Jesus deflates his pride by pointing out that even he hadn't done his best - he was unable to give all his money to the poor and follow Jesus.

So it is possible that my best efforts to 'turn to God' will not be enough - and I'm highly unlikely to be giving it my best efforts anyway. And if I understand you correctly, God cannot or will not make me turn to him - that initial turning or asking is up to me - so I can't just trust to God to save me.

So, I should either be confident that I will when needed 'turn to God' (but what is the basis for such confidence?) or I should be concerned about it.
 
Posted by Nunc Dimittis (# 848) on :
 
Demas, there are certainly different wave lengths happening here.

If I understand you correctly, you are doubting that you will have (at some point in life) the ability to will to choose the Good.

Hate to say it, but the whole thing about having will-power as a human made in the image of God, is that we do have to make choices all the time between good and evil, between God and not-God.

So, you will always have the option of choosing to turn to God.

Secondly, God loves all and desires all to come home and turn to God. God will bend over backwards to try to get through to us. And here's where the Holy Spirit comes into the equation. That anyone turns towards God is the work of God in that person's life/psyche/heart.

To be worried about whether one will ever have the will to be able to turn to God is therefore to my mind something akin to missing the wood for the trees...

And even so: there is an old maxim which occurs in many spiritual writers - the very fact you are worried that you might not be able to turn to God presupposes a fundamental desire that turning to God is at least a possibility. By which desire you are already (through the impulse of the Holy Spirit) on the "turning to God" path.

It's the old prayer that when one feels one cannot love God, the very prayer to be given the grace to desire to love God is an action of love for God - or at the very least, tends in that direction and shows the true motivation of the heart.

And as Mousethief has said, tending towards God is all that is required. (And everything that is required... [Ultra confused] )
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Nunc Dimittis:
That anyone turns towards God is the work of God in that person's life/psyche/heart.

This is one of the issues, I think.

Does God work in everyone's heart/life/psyche to turn that person to God?

If not, then we have Calvinism.

If so, than either everyone turns to God (in which case God's aim has been acheived) or some people have the power to reject God and do so (in which case God's aim has been frustrated).

If I am able to reject God's work in my heart and not turn to God, then we are back where we were - what sort of people would reject God? Isn't this just a roundabout way of saying that wicked people (that is, people more wicked than you and me) go to hell? If some people do not turn to God, how can I know that I am not one of those people? My salvation remains up to me because there is a critical component that is my doing, not God's - my choosing to accept or reject God's work in my heart.

If I am not able to reject God's work in my heart then we have answered the original question - God will not allow anyone to go to hell.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
I mean, it doesn't get much simpler than the question:

Do you do something, or do you not?

If you do, then the better people make it to heaven and the lesser people end up in hell.

If you don't, then either God chooses to save all or chooses to save some or chooses to save none.

Nobody likes any of these choices, usually. So we come up with all sorts of elaborate ways of describing some vaguely described, unintelligible, mysterious middle-ground. And when pressed to hard, it's "Well don't question God--you're asking the wrong questions anyway, God's ways are above our ways, just trust Him/Her."

Seriously, no offense is meant to anyone on this thread or anywhere. I'm just describing a trend as I see it, even in myself and my closest friends. I don't see another way around the issue than how Demas is describing it, even if he is doing so a bit ungraciously from time to time... [Biased] (We all get worked up from time to time, especially about the things we care deepest about!)

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
If I am not able to reject God's work in my heart then we have answered the original question - God will not allow anyone to go to hell.

Thus we here will have refuted every religion on earth.

Haven't we established that of all Christian religions, only Unitarian Universalists hold to this position. Maybe someone can suggest others. Quakers?

It is an undeniably attractive position. Universal salvation. So why aren't there more universalists? [Confused]

[ 06. January 2006, 08:28: Message edited by: Freddy ]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Stanley Cohen who did a very detailed examination on the 20th century genocides, found that the vast majority of people in certain situations are capable of appalling brutality. The slaughter at My Lai reinforces this. Indeed my conviction for many years has been that on the wrong day and in the wrong context, I would be no less likely to behave in appalling ways than anyone else.

I very much agree with this. All of us are capable of acting in appalling ways. Certain situations will bring this out in virtually everyone.

We all know, however, that these situations, and our reactions to them, are different for everyone. We can learn to not to act in appalling way. We do not just accept the fact that soldiers will rape and murder when given half a chance. We express outrage. We insist that things be done to reduce the chances of that happening.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
So this whole idea that humanity can be divided into the loathsome and the not loathsome – as you put it Freddy – I regard as naïve and contradicts much of what Jesus was about. Indeed many of those he mixed with were the loathsome of his society

Jesus mixed with people who were downtrodden, disrespected, and considered sinners. They were willing to hear Him and He taught them repentance.

There is not a page in the gospels, however, where Jesus does not condemn wickedness and those who perpetrate it. Maybe you could find a chapter in the gospels where Jesus does not do this.

Jesus is clear that He loves everyone, that He desires to gather everyone to Him, even that He will "draw all peoples" to Him (John 12.32). At the same time, it can't be said that He didn't divide humanity into "wicked" and "righteous." There are many passages about it, but here is one:
quote:
]"31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left....46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25.31-46
Is Jesus not suggesting here that there are "good" people and "bad" people?
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
Now that Matthew verse and why I can’t get close to buying your take. I accept the second half of the Matthew verse can be read as meaning ‘good people go to heaven’, but it makes little sense when put with the first part. If we put the two together the problem is clear.

"No one is good but One, that is, God. Good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell.” The only way I can make the second part work with the first part is if the second part is a corrective of the first part, which I don’t think you are arguing.

I assume that you understand the context.

A man asks Jesus, calling Him "good teacher", how to attain eternal life. Jesus corrects Him, saying that only God is good. He is making sure that the man understands that people can't accurately be said to be good. He is also implying that the man is talking to God.

Jesus then tells the man to keep the commandments. When the man says that he has done this, Jesus tells him to sell all he has. This selling can be interpreted a number of ways, but most of those ways don't negate Jesus' words about keeping the commandments. Nor does Jesus' corrective - that only God is good - negate them.

I would think that we would want to explain Jesus' words in a way that is consistent with what He says elsewhere. There are many places where He effectevely says that the "good" are saved and the "wicked" are not.
quote:
"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie." Revelation 22.12-15

"For unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of the heavens." Matthew 5:20.

"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Matthew 12.35

"At the completion of the age angels will go forth and separate the wicked from out of the midst of the righteous." Matthew 13:49.

"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" Matthew 7.21-23

"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love." John 15.6-10

Do you have ways of re-explaining each one of these. There are similar statements on every page of the gospels.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
My belief that Jesus was probably saying something profound here is a weakness in my position I grant you. I am perhaps making too much of a presumption - he could of course have been as crass as those who interpret the verse as meaning ‘good people go to heaven’ seem to be assuming.

By "profound" do you mean that He was saying that "although you are not good, you will nevertheless be saved." I agree that this would be profound. I also agree that He says things similar to this, such as that He will draw "all peoples" to Himself. I don't think, though, that He ever suggests that both the wicked and the righteous are saved. Maybe you have some examples.
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
In the end your determination to defend hell leads you to insist on humanity being divided into the loathsome and not, and then blurring the line for the next life.

If you read what is written on this Ship in Purgatory, or in Hell, virtually every thread is about correcting what people consider to be harmful understandings or behaviors. This thread is a good example.

In Hell, here on the Ship, this correcting behavior can be so vehement that you would think that lives hung in the balance. Yet this is just a recreational discussion board with no relation whatsoever to people's actual lives, except in terms of learning and advice.

I don't find it hard to believe that disagreements about these things can continue in the next life, or that the harm caused by what is "wrong" persists there. I don't see this as "blurring" any lines. Evil causes harm, and this harm persists as long as evil persists. The greater the harm, the more unhappiness it causes, and therefore the deeper the hell it inhabits.

It would be great to think that eventually everyone's ideas and actions can be "corrected", bringing everyone into the state of happiness that comes with loving God and the neighbor. I actually have my own version of this belief.

But if God can't bring us to agreement and harmony on this Ship, what makes you think that it can happen after death? [Biased]

[ 06. January 2006, 09:39: Message edited by: Freddy ]
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
It is an undeniably attractive position. Universal salvation.

Yes, it's attractive.

But knowing what we do about human nature, is it really more attractive than a position that says we go to Heaven, but they (for pretty much any value of "they" you like) are damned?

After all, with universalism you have to accept that even your worst enemies, even those who would happily persecute, enslave or execute you, are as heaven-bound as you are. Quite a difficult position to hold, I would say...
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
It is an undeniably attractive position. Universal salvation.

Yes, it's attractive.

But knowing what we do about human nature, is it really more attractive than a position that says we go to Heaven, but they (for pretty much any value of "they" you like) are damned?

After all, with universalism you have to accept that even your worst enemies, even those who would happily persecute, enslave or execute you, are as heaven-bound as you are. Quite a difficult position to hold, I would say...

Good point. It is so nice to think that the bad guys will get their just desserts. [Biased]

Isn't the movie industry practically built on this concept? [Paranoid]

So both sides have their attractions.

In fact I expect that people could hold both positions at once: "I will be saved no matter what I do, but you are a sinner and will be damned." [Two face]
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Jesus mixed with people who were downtrodden, disrespected, and considered sinners. They were willing to hear Him and He taught them repentance.

There is not a page in the gospels, however, where Jesus does not condemn wickedness and those who perpetrate it. Maybe you could find a chapter in the gospels where Jesus does not do this.

No, no, no, Freddy. There is now NO condemnation in Jesus Christ. I don't think he condemns anybody. Think about the woman who is about to be stoned. "No one condemns you? Then neither do I condemn you." Condemn, in the New Testament, seems to suggest "physical death." That's an interesting way to look through the verses on condemnation.

quote:
Jesus is clear that He loves everyone, that He desires to gather everyone to Him, even that He will "draw all peoples" to Him (John 12.32). At the same time, it can't be said that He didn't divide humanity into "wicked" and "righteous."
So apparently Scripture alone isn't going to give us a definitive answer, huh? [Biased]

quote:
I would think that we would want to explain Jesus' words in a way that is consistent with what He says elsewhere. There are many places where He effectevely says that the "good" are saved and the "wicked" are not.
And yet there are many places where he says "Neither do I condemn you" or where he withholds his judgment from prostitutes and tax collectors while speaking out against the people who were very righteous in their deeds (Pharisees and scribes). So though we all would want to explain Jesus' words in a way that is consistent with what He says elsewhere, it's probably more accurate to say that we'd want to explain Jesus' words in a way that is consistent with what we already believe. [Biased]

quote:
Do you have ways of re-explaining each one of these. There are similar statements on every page of the gospels..
As well as dissimilar ones. And yes, I've re-explained most of those several times on this and other threads (for those who haven't been following along.)

quote:
I also agree that He says things similar to this, such as that He will draw "all peoples" to Himself. I don't think, though, that He ever suggests that both the wicked and the righteous are saved..
Well, I think "all peoples" would be all people. So as long as wicked people are still people... (I'm just giving you a hard time, Freddy--it's early in the morning here.)

quote:
But if God can't bring us to agreement and harmony on this Ship, what makes you think that it can happen after death? [Biased]
Well let's hope that the actual presence of God is at least a little more impacting than our beloved Ship here! [Biased]

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Jesus mixed with people who were downtrodden, disrespected, and considered sinners. They were willing to hear Him and He taught them repentance.

There is not a page in the gospels, however, where Jesus does not condemn wickedness and those who perpetrate it. Maybe you could find a chapter in the gospels where Jesus does not do this.

No, no, no, Freddy. There is now NO condemnation in Jesus Christ. I don't think he condemns anybody. Think about the woman who is about to be stoned. "No one condemns you? Then neither do I condemn you." Condemn, in the New Testament, seems to suggest "physical death." That's an interesting way to look through the verses on condemnation.
I agree that Jesus loves everyone, and that He actually condemns no one. He does however, speak about it quite a bit in the gospels, unless I am misinterpreting His words.

I'm not sure that the word "condemnation" in the New Testament is used to suggest physical death.

Here are some passages where Jesus uses the term:
quote:
Matthew 12:37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
Matthew 12:41 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.
Matthew 23:14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
Matthew 23:33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?
Mark 3:29 but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation
Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven
John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 5:29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

I don't think that any of these would indicate physical death. Jesus is said to have been "condemned" when He was crucified, so there is an example.

Elsewhere, He uses the word "perish" - a word that normally means physical death:
quote:
Luke 13:3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
Another term He uses is "cast out":
quote:
Matthew 8:12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Matthew 13.41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Matthew 22:13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Matthew 25:30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Luke 12:5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!
John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

Don't these show that Jesus does speak quite plainly about condemnation? It is true that He does not condemn the woman taken in adultery. I would guess that we would all agree with Him in the context. He does seem to blame her accusers, however, which, I understand, was the meaning of His writing on the ground.

As far as I can see, every single chapter in the New Testament praises goodness and criticizes wrong-doing. Sometimes it is put more strongly than at other times, but it is always present.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
Hey Freddy-

My comments on condemnation were sort of a quick aside, as the topic could easily fill another 10-page thread. But now that I've said them, I feel that I have a duty to make an attempt to back them up to some degree. [Smile]

The greek word for condemn attributed to Jesus most often is katakrino. I looked it up. You know what it means? "To condemn." Not too illuminating.

But what does "condemn" even mean? Dictionary.com says "to impose a penalty on; especially : to sentence to death."

Considering that the Jewish thinking at the time was probably dominated by the idea that Death was the ultimate end or ultimate evil for humans, physical death would have been punishment enough for any of Jesus's rhetoric. (Even though the Pharisees believed in a resurrection, I'm pretty sure they believed in a physical resurrection which would actually reverse the effects of Death).

So to look at your verses, there is the theme of Judgment and then the theme of Condemnation. Judgment appears to be the act of deciding the guilt of a person. Condemnation seems to be the act of judging a person and finding them guilty.

Greater condemnation would point to the punishment of death, probably, in case Jesus's listeners were hoping for a lighter sentence.

To me, it simply illustrates the point, over and over, that if you wish to be GOOD, you must follow these commands. If you break them, you cannot claim to be good. If you want to get yourself into the Kingdom of God (on earth, not post-death, IMO) your righteousness must EXCEED that of the Pharisees, and yet, as you've quoted, these very Pharisees will receive "greater condemnation" for they are a brood of vipers! How will they escape the condemnation of hell? (And then, supposedly, how will any of us?)

Yes, this theme seems to fill up the whole of the gospel. Why? Because Jesus knew how much repetition it would take to even begin to drill it in our heads (which is evidenced by the fact that we STILL don't quite get it, and we still try to get ourselves into the Kingdom of God). Jesus's message for us would be quite the same, I think.

And the Good News, at the end, is that when you finally realize that you can't possibly attain a righteousness as great as Jesus' demands, when you're being chased by a pack of angry mobsters who wish to condemn you and you truly recognize your own guilt, when you find that you ARE condemned because you ARE found guilty...

Jeshua. (God saves.)

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
And the Good News, at the end, is that when you finally realize that you can't possibly attain a righteousness as great as Jesus' demands, when you're being chased by a pack of angry mobsters who wish to condemn you and you truly recognize your own guilt, when you find that you ARE condemned because you ARE found guilty...

Jeshua. (God saves.)

Digory,

OK. I guess that is one plausible way to see it. Another way is to imagine that Jesus is urging us to believe in Him and do as He teaches.

I don't see anything in there about being condemned if we are not perfect. Jesus seems very tolerant of less-than-perfect people, such as the prostitutes and publicans, but quite judgmental about those who do not believe, who are cruel, who are self righteous and self-seeking.

Still, I see the point. Maybe that is the real message.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
I don't see anything in there about being condemned if we are not perfect. Jesus seems very tolerant of less-than-perfect people, such as the prostitutes and publicans, but quite judgmental about those who do not believe, who are cruel, who are self righteous and self-seeking.

Okay, so we have the less-than-perfects (LTPs) and the the self-righteous self-seekings (SRSSs).

If Jesus is tolerant of the LTPs, but judgmental toward the SRSSs, then what is he pointing out? Perhaps a belief, like you say, but certainly not good deeds or actions, right? The LTPs were actively living in "sin" while the SRSSs were following all of the rules, so to speak.

So what's the belief? What did the LTPs believe about Jesus? That he would save them, despite their sin, despite their social status, despite their unbelief at times. (Think of the centurion, the Canaanite woman, etc.) He sent away the man who asked "What must I DO to be saved?" with yet another demand--there are always more demands that we must fulfill to gain our own entrance into the Kingdom. But he asked the wrong question--when people calmed down and sat with Jesus, ate with him, or even just showed they believed in his saving power despite who they are or what they'd done, he told them--

"You have great faith."

That seems enormously profound to me.


-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
I don't see anything in there about being condemned if we are not perfect. Jesus seems very tolerant of less-than-perfect people, such as the prostitutes and publicans, but quite judgmental about those who do not believe, who are cruel, who are self righteous and self-seeking.

Okay, so we have the less-than-perfects (LTPs) and the the self-righteous self-seekings (SRSSs).

If Jesus is tolerant of the LTPs, but judgmental toward the SRSSs, then what is he pointing out? Perhaps a belief, like you say, but certainly not good deeds or actions, right? The LTPs were actively living in "sin" while the SRSSs were following all of the rules, so to speak.

Except that they weren't following the rules. His accusations in Matthew 23 alone include such things as:
As far as I can see, Jesus is not saying that the Pharisees follow the rules but deeds are unimportant. He is saying that they are hypocrites. They live wickedly while appearing righteous. They did not follow God's actual rules.

Jesus does not only advocate belief, either. He remonstrates against those who "believe" but do not act.

The "sinners" who hear Jesus do not represent the idea that living in sin is unimportant. Rather, their hearing Him testifies that we sinners can hear Him, change our ways, and sin no more.

He came to call sinners to repentance.
 
Posted by professorkirke (# 9037) on :
 
I certainly, most definitely, unequivocally see your side of the argument, Freddy. It is the most sound version of the "Hell exists" gospel I have ever heard, for what it's worth for me to say so.

As long as you and others can see the other side as a possibility that can be derived from scripture, as opposed to being just a hopeful doctrine of wishful thinking with no scriptural or traditional foundation, then I am at least satisfied. After all, I'm still working all of this out myself, in large part to my conversations with you, Joyful, Demas, Jolly, PaulTH* and others. So for that, thanks. [Smile]

(Now to watch my TiVo'd season premiere of "The Book of Daniel." It seems like it will be fascinating...)

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
As long as you and others can see the other side as a possibility that can be derived from scripture, as opposed to being just a hopeful doctrine of wishful thinking with no scriptural or traditional foundation, then I am at least satisfied.

I