Thread: Purgatory: Hell. Surprised it's not a DH? So am I. Board: Limbo / Ship of Fools.


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Posted by anteater (# 11435) on :
 
My specific issue is:
Increasingly fewer people believe in the tradition hell-fire doctrine, although I suspect the number who do is larger than I would wish. What I mean by this is the teaching about the unredeemed which says:
a) Such people do exist, i.e. hell's not an empty threat
b) Their fate is a life of penal torment which could in no way be considered bearable.
c) The punishment is consciously endured for ever with no possibility of an end, via either annihilation or repentance.
A concise summary would be David Pawson's book on the subject. He argues the fire is literal. I don't think that matters.
Popular alternatives are:
a) Eternal hell which is no more than life without God, such that it's inhabitants would not wish to be annihilated, so it is bearable or better. This is the picture in C. S. Lewis's Great Divorce, and I have read it defended by E. L. Mascall and the Brethren writer Robert Anderson.
b) Like (a) with the further amelioration that the possibility of repentance is not withdrawn. Lewis believed this and it is rumoured that this is close to what Pope JP II believed.
c) Annihilation, as championed by John Stott, who is still rather a lone voice. This sometimes includes a bounded punishment. The sort of idea is that it is a purgatorial process, which removes the dross and leaves the gold, but if there is no gold, you end up with nothing.

I am not neutral in this because I believe that the traditional hell-fire doctrine is outrageous, and that the church should explicitly dissocate from it. I feel that the effect of the current situation is that hardly anybody talks about judgement to come, because they want to steer away from this hot potato. In many churches there is a vocal minorty of hell-fire believers who "we don't want to offend".
I'd like views on this. Specifically, what answer would you give, to the oft-repeated objection to christianity, that hell is an immoral concept? Are you sure your church would back you? If you preached about against hell-fire, would you get beaten up?

[ 02. January 2007, 19:36: Message edited by: RuthW ]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by anteater:
Specifically, what answer would you give, to the oft-repeated objection to christianity, that hell is an immoral concept?

"I agree 100%. Is Hell the only immoral concept within Christianity?"
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
Hi anteater!

I'm a card carrying universalist, so I do indeed explicitly reject the concept of hell.

I'm not sure what angle you want to discuss though? If it's just whether or not hell exists I imagine we'll be travelling on pretty well marked paths, conversation wise...
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by anteater:
Increasingly fewer people believe in the tradition hell-fire doctrine,

Anteater, are just talking about the UK? Worldwide I don't think that this is the case.

But it does seem natural that in a corner of the world where fewer and fewer people believe in God, that fewer and fewer would believe in hell.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
Isn't the UK one of the most Athiestic nations?
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
Well, in response to the OP title, I'm not surprised. DHs have a specific list of criteria to meet, and unfortunately, "having to read the same arguments from the same shipmates all of the time" is not one of them.

The biggest obstacle any universalist-like theology has to overcome is the idea that it is much easier and nicer to believe in such a God, and therefore, the theology lacks credibility. In other words, it takes faith to believe in a God who condemns to hell and saves, whereas universalism seems like an easy way out of a tough doctrine that has been accepted for years. So, anteater, let me get it started--what reasons do you give for throwing out a few thousand years of belief in a place where those who reject God go after they die?

Freddy, I'm not so sure. I doubt that belief in God and belief in hell are quite as correlated as you think. I would guess that now, maybe more than ever, the opposite is becoming more and more true, though I admit there is still a majority that believes in some modified concept of hell.

-Digory
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
You think a loving God who condemns (perhaps predestines?) to Hell is more credible than universalism?

Wow.
 
Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
It might be interesting to replace one emotive term with another and see what difference it makes. Supposing one were to write, "it takes faith to believe in a God who condemns to gas chambers and saves"?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
Freddy, I'm not so sure. I doubt that belief in God and belief in hell are quite as correlated as you think. I would guess that now, maybe more than ever, the opposite is becoming more and more true, though I admit there is still a majority that believes in some modified concept of hell.

Yes, Digory, I agree that the correlation wouldn't necessarily be great. I was just thinking about the correlation of both of these with religious belief in general.

But I am thinking of belief outside of the Christian world as well. Certainly the Islamic world retains its belief, as does the entire population of Africa and most people in Asia as well.

My point is that if belief in hell is a fading concept, it is fading only in populations where belief as a whole is fading.
 
Posted by Ian Climacus (# 944) on :
 
As much as I'm a universalist at heart, I have to believe Hell exists as a state as Christ mentioned it. And, with the free will belief within me, I have to allow for the possibility that some people will not want to be in presence of God: as odd as that sounds -- otherwise God is overriding their free will.

But I pray it is empty nevertheless.

[ 26. July 2006, 12:24: Message edited by: Ian Climacus ]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
You think a loving God who condemns (perhaps predestines?) to Hell is more credible than universalism?

Papio, Digory is being ironic.

I think he is probably right. [Biased]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
It might be interesting to replace one emotive term with another and see what difference it makes. Supposing one were to write, "it takes faith to believe in a God who condemns to gas chambers and saves"?

That might make sense in a way that the original statement does not. Gas Chambers only end this life, they have nothing to say about an afterlife. A God who defeats Nazism by The Final Victory is, to me, vastly more attractive than a God who condems to Hell.

In Hell, there is no hope of redemption and thereforem any argument to the effect that Hell is for the cleansing of the soul, the stripping away of sin, or as a warning against sin and so on actually renders Hell purposeless.

And purposeless, eternal pain is not at all compatable with the view of God as Love.
 
Posted by anteater (# 11435) on :
 
quote:
Anteater, are just talking about the UK? Worldwide I don't think that this is the case
You're probably correct. I'm thinking of UK but limited to those who would claim a robust faith in biblical christianity. I.e. there is some process of post-mortem judgement.
quote:
what reasons do you give for throwing out a few thousand years of belief in a place where those who reject God go after they die?
First of all - am I? I've labelled the doctrine I reject as hell-fire to limit to a specific strict interpretation. If you hold that CSL's Great Divorce is within the tradition, then I don't.
If I do then given the three pillars of Scripture, Tradition and Reason, then Reason is figuring very strong. As I'm sure you're aware, there has been an age-old debate on whether we can say "God is good" based on our prior knowledge of what Good means, or "Good is whatever God does". I'm firmly on the first option, being convinced by the argument that "Good" is emptied of all meaning if we cannot trust at all to our knowledge of it.
I know this raises the problem that our idea of good is affected by sin, but when it comes to the morality of endless penal torture (for that is what the strict doctrine means in plain terms) we are nowhere near any borderline. It is significant that - uniquely I believe in the ancient world - the Israelites never used torture as a weapon. There's one case where David did and he is criticised. I think this adds to the case.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Papio, Digory is being ironic.

Ok. Sorry. Missed that completely.
 
Posted by Earthling (# 4698) on :
 
quote:
The biggest obstacle any universalist-like theology has to overcome is the idea that it is much easier and nicer to believe in such a God, and therefore, the theology lacks credibility. In other words, it takes faith to believe in a God who condemns to hell and saves
One might believe in such a God... but worship Him as Holy and Good and Righteous? Surely one would only be worshipping this being in order to save oneself? How on earth could you honestly praise Him for His merciful goodness if you truly believed He condemnded people to infinate punishment?
 
Posted by anteater (# 11435) on :
 
quote:
First of all - am I? I've labelled the doctrine I reject as hell-fire to limit to a specific strict interpretation. If you hold that CSL's Great Divorce is within the tradition, then I don't.
If you hold that CSL's Great Divorce is within the tradition, then I have not rejected the tradition, because I hold that as perfectly acceptable.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
Is Hell the only immoral concept within Christianity?

Actually, this is a question worthy of discussion [Smile]
 
Posted by anteater (# 11435) on :
 
A-a-a-a-gh. [Confused] I'm having reall problems with getting these posts right. And I DO preview.
I hope you know what I mean now and apologise for the messy posts! [Confused]
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by anteater:
If you hold that CSL's Great Divorce is within the tradition, then I have not rejected the tradition, because I hold that as perfectly acceptable.

I wouldn't call CS Lewis's position in The Great Divorce universalist, to be honest.

What does 'the tradition' mean to you?

[Umm, replying to a post that's no longer there [Smile] ]

[ 26. July 2006, 12:40: Message edited by: Demas ]
 
Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
Gas Chambers only end this life, they have nothing to say about an afterlife.

Exactly. But if someone said, "It is right to have faith in someone who sends to the gas chambers anyone who offends against the law," one would have to think about how one feels about Nazi Germany. Then when you consider that traditional hellfire is substantially worse than anything at Auschwitz, it ought to raise some strong questions.
 
Posted by anteater (# 11435) on :
 
quote:
I wouldn't call CS Lewis's position in The Great Divorce universalist, to be honest.
Neither would I, although I suspect that CSL would by hypothetically universalist, i.e. the doors never shut but people have to choose to walk in and may not. I'm not arguing for universalism, only against a specific strict interpretation of "hell-fire"
quote:
What does 'the tradition' mean to you?
By that I means all extra scriptural authorities which are recognised. So the eucumenical creeds if you're CofE, the Magisterium for RCs, with the usual caveats on what's infallible and what's provisional. Don't know about Orthodox.
 
Posted by BarbaraG (# 399) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by anteater:
I feel that the effect of the current situation is that hardly anybody talks about judgement to come, because they want to steer away from this hot potato. In many churches there is a vocal minorty of hell-fire believers who "we don't want to offend".

I agree with your first statement, as a consequence of which I don't know whether to agree with your second or not, since no-one ever talks about it, so I am not aware of the views that most people in my church hold on this issue.

quote:
I'd like views on this. Specifically, what answer would you give, to the oft-repeated objection to christianity, that hell is an immoral concept? Are you sure your church would back you? If you preached about against hell-fire, would you get beaten up?
I agree that hell is an immoral concept - I ceased believing in it a long time ago. I disbelieve in hell (as conscious eternal torment) because it seems to me to be incompatible with a God of love and mercy whom I know through my own experience.

I'm not sure what the official teaching of my church is, although being a broad church we probably have room for a range of interpretations. I am confident that I would not be beaten up for preaching against hell fire. I have probably come close to doing so on occasions.

I prefer to preach the positive side - that if you turn to God in repentance and faith, you can be confident of a good outcome. I'm not at all sure that threatening people into the kingdom of God is an ethical strategy.

BarbaraG
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
You think a loving God who condemns (perhaps predestines?) to Hell is more credible than universalism?

Wow.

Ideas that are difficult to believe are almost always seen as more credible than ideas that are easy to believe. Believing that a loving God could send anyone to Hell, based on x arguments, is often seen as more credible for this reason than throwing out x arguments in favor of "God, the Nice Guy".

For this reason, disbelief in hell requires a strong argument for why tradition is mistaken--much more than "How could anyone believe a loving God would do that?!? That's just ridiculous! I mean, duh!"*

*I'm not saying anybody here is making that argument here, by the way.

quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
It might be interesting to replace one emotive term with another and see what difference it makes. Supposing one were to write, "it takes faith to believe in a God who condemns to gas chambers and saves"?

Oh, I would really, really rather not. Nothing good can come to an honest discussion from this line of reasoning, in my opinion.

quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
My point is that if belief in hell is a fading concept, it is fading only in populations where belief as a whole is fading.

I think I still disagree. For many, removing the concept of hell from the package is a great opening for belief to grow. (No, I'm not saying that we should remove hell so that people believe.)
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by anteater:
quote:
I wouldn't call CS Lewis's position in The Great Divorce universalist, to be honest.
Neither would I, although I suspect that CSL would by hypothetically universalist, i.e. the doors never shut but people have to choose to walk in and may not. I'm not arguing for universalism, only against a specific strict interpretation of "hell-fire."
Lewis specifically rejects universalism in TGD, arguing against MacDonald's writings about it.

My own Swedenborgian tradition is exactly the same as Lewis' as expressed in TGD.
 
Posted by Father Gregory (# 310) on :
 
Oh dear, I'll have to trot out "The River of Fire" again, not to mention "Heaven and Hell in the Afterlife".
 
Posted by PhilA (# 8792) on :
 
The problem of hell can be set out exactly the same as the problem of evil.

1) God is all powerful
2) God is all loving
3) Evil/hell exists

So we answer it by saying that hell does not exist. But, we can't simply say that evil does not exist - the Holocaust has already being mentioned as an example of a Bad Thing™, so why can we get around the problem of hell in the same way? Its not intellectually honest just to simply dismiss hell because it upsets #1 and #2, just as its intellectually dishonest to claim that there is no evil*.

In short, I don't think hell can be dismissed as easily as we would like to.


*I am aware that Augustine has described evil as simply the 'absence of good' rather than existent in its own right, but 'the absence of good' is how some people describe hell - this answer does not work.
 
Posted by Lurker McLurker™ (# 1384) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by anteater:
My specific issue is:
Increasingly fewer people believe in the tradition hell-fire doctrine ... What I mean by this is the teaching about the unredeemed which says ... b) Their fate is a life of penal torment which could in no way be considered bearable.

I disagree with the assertion that b) is part of the traditional doctrine of Hell. The idea that Hell is a punishment is not the earliest known Christian tradition, the early tradition (still taught by the Orthodox, among others- including some evangelical Protestants is that Hell is our choice, the natural result of a self-inflicted separation from God.
 
Posted by Custard. (# 5402) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
You think a loving God who condemns (perhaps predestines?) to Hell is more credible than universalism?

Wow.

Yes - I for one think (on balance) that a God who could send Hitler to hell is better than one who would send him to heaven.
 
Posted by Alogon (# 5513) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
what reasons do you give for throwing out a few thousand years of belief in a place where those who reject God go after they die?

I, for one, don't exactly throw it out. Ian Climacus said it best:

quote:
I have to believe Hell exists as a state as Christ mentioned it. And, with the free will belief within me, I have to allow for the possibility that some people will not want to be in presence of God: as odd as that sounds -- otherwise God is overriding their free will.

But I pray it is empty nevertheless.

You imply that belief has been constant over a few thousand years. But Percy Dearmer's historical study The Legend of Hell demonstrates otherwise.

From this URL, one can download the entire text of this book as a PDF document. I'd recommend everyone's doing so-- get the text onto as many million hard drives as possible-- before the censors get a stranglehold on the Internet. Copies of the book itself are surprisingly scarce considering the fame and reputation of the author. One wonders why this is. To be sure, this history is a subject upon which certain parties would have a vested interest in light not being thrown.

This is not a static belief, but one that his developed. The question for a Catholic would be whether this process deserves to be called a development according to the legitimizing criteria of Newman in The Development of Christian Doctrine. IMHO it doesn't. Sola scriptura Protestants would presumably, in theory, reject the legitimacy of all such processes-- although in practice it looks as though many have made an exception for this case.
 
Posted by MattV (# 11314) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Lurker McLurker™:
quote:
Originally posted by anteater:
My specific issue is:
Increasingly fewer people believe in the tradition hell-fire doctrine ... What I mean by this is the teaching about the unredeemed which says ... b) Their fate is a life of penal torment which could in no way be considered bearable.

I disagree with the assertion that b) is part of the traditional doctrine of Hell. The idea that Hell is a punishment is not the earliest known Christian tradition, the early tradition (still taught by the Orthodox, among others- including some evangelical Protestants is that Hell is our choice, the natural result of a self-inflicted separation from God.
Agreed. The lake of fire with pitchforked demons tormenting you is really a medieval idea, not the orginal doctrine of Hell.
 
Posted by Lurker McLurker™ (# 1384) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PhilA:
The problem of hell can be set out exactly the same as the problem of evil.

1) God is all powerful
2) God is all loving
3) Evil/hell exists


I'd answer it thus: If Hell exists, its either because a) God wants people to go there (not that i beleive Hell is a place, but it is easier to talk about Hell in this kind of language) or because b) God doesn't but is for some reason not able to prevent them.

I see b) as being more accurate as I don't actually agree with the idea that God is all-powerful. God cannot do something which is a contradiction in terms- such as make a creature with free will which can be guaranteed to never make a particular choice.

Since we have free will we can choose to be live against the will of God. Since everything good comes from God, this rejection will have negative consequences.

Of course, none of this disproves the ideas that those who go to Hell- cease to exist (indeed, as we are created by God perhaps destruction is a logical consequence of a complete rejection of him), exist in some form which cannot experience pain, are able to repent etc.

And I don't think anything said in the Bible is clear enough to completely dismiss those 3 options. I believe hell (as the inevitable consequence of a possible rejection of God) exists, but I'm not sure what form it will take.
 
Posted by Father Gregory (# 310) on :
 
When Danishhhhhhhh mussionaries took the gospel to Iceland they found hell in pagan lore to be a very COLD place. It's all in the context.

I'm underscoring here the Orthodox and ancient Christian teaching that hell is how the damned experience the LOVE of God.

We should indeed work, hope and pray for hell to be empty, confident that the Divine Love is much up to that possibility than our feeble moral imaginations, which doesn't make us universalists by conviction but rather universalists by hope.

Dear Matt ... justice is a difficult one. We mustn't presume to know how that stacks up. God is not constrained by something outside of himself ... which is where the Anselmian development of satisfaction theory takes us I believe.

[ 26. July 2006, 14:30: Message edited by: Father Gregory ]
 
Posted by Matt Black (# 2210) on :
 
I agree with the concept of Hell (though not the medieval one) for two reasons:

1. As Custard implied, justice

2. Jesus Himself referred to its existence and, for me at least, to follow Jesus means believing what He said about this.

(It doesn't mean to say that I like it; quite the opposite (but, then again, Christianity was never meant to be about me and what I like))
 
Posted by anteater (# 11435) on :
 
quote:
The problem of hell can be set out exactly the same as the problem of evil.
The first obvious difference is that current Evil Events have happened, so we can't argue whether they are possible as we can with hell-fire. However, I take your point that if God allows great evil to exist, where do we place the boundary?
First: we believe there will be a time when the universe will come to be what God intends it to be. I think it is fair to say that this represents God's will in a clearer way that todays mixed world, where the "creation is groaning in travail until . . ". So there is a difference between God's allowance of temporal evil today and the idea of evil and good as co-eternal aspects of God's final kingdom. Nobody believes that the Jewish genocide represents the full will of God. But I think most people believe that the final establishment of God's rule does, so it says more about God if this includes evil and suffering . . for ever.
Second, there is simply a judgement call. As for evil today, I take the view that the granting of autonomy to man, can be justified. I would myself accept a policy of granting independence to a country, even in the sure knowledge that the freedom would be misused. Other people may not accept this and say the price is too much to pay. I just disagree. Similarly, if someone believes that endless torture is a fit punishment for certain crimes: that is their call, and I disagree.
 
Posted by Father Gregory (# 310) on :
 
As has been said anteater ... there are many of us who conceive hell as a self-infliction and not a divine punishment. For us (the Orthodox) the question resolves to whether or not the Divine LOVE can soften the hardest human antagonistic will.

[ 26. July 2006, 14:34: Message edited by: Father Gregory ]
 
Posted by PhilA (# 8792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by anteater:
The first obvious difference is that current Evil Events have happened, so we can't argue whether they are possible as we can with hell-fire. However, I take your point that if God allows great evil to exist, where do we place the boundary?


Its not just that anteater, I can't see the difference between the problem of hell and the problem of evil. Hell IS evil - it is a part of the problem, the holocaust is evil, earthquakes are evil, but there are two different types of evil here, moral evil (holocaust) and natural evil (earthquakes.) I suppose the question for me is "what type of evil is hell?" Is it a moral evil and we are sent there as punishment out of the will of God, analogous to the holocaust, or is it a natural evil in that hell is supposed to happen and it is part of the design, analogous to an earthquake.

I believe that hell is a natural evil. It is meant to be there and people are not 'sent there' but choose to go there. Hell is standing in the presence of God while in a state of rejecting him. The way around the problem is simple - accept God! How long it takes to do so is down to the individual.
quote:

First: we believe there will be a time when the universe will come to be what God intends it to be. I think it is fair to say that this represents God's will in a clearer way that todays mixed world, where the "creation is groaning in travail until . . ". So there is a difference between God's allowance of temporal evil today and the idea of evil and good as co-eternal aspects of God's final kingdom.
Nobody believes that the Jewish genocide represents the full will of God. But I think most people believe that the final establishment of God's rule does, so it says more about God if this includes evil and suffering . . for ever.

I agree, but what of the idea that evil/hell is the absence of good/God? When God's intended universe comes into being, will there not be some who, through free will, put themselves on the outside of Gods kingdom? Can this not be described as hell?
quote:


Second, there is simply a judgement call. As for evil today, I take the view that the granting of autonomy to man, can be justified. I would myself accept a policy of granting independence to a country, even in the sure knowledge that the freedom would be misused. Other people may not accept this and say the price is too much to pay. I just disagree. Similarly, if someone believes that endless torture is a fit punishment for certain crimes: that is their call, and I disagree.

The doctrine of hell does not talk about punishment for a crime, that would be a moral evil on the part of God and I do not think God is, even in part, morally evil. What we are talking about is those who choose to put themselves beyond the love of God, or be in a state where the presence and love of God is a burning sensation rather than a good, heavenly one.
 
Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
Hmm.

The difference between Hell and evil could be that Hell is arguably a designed feature and hurricanes, plagues, etc are not. This is open to dispute, if you believe that Hell is a naturally existing phenomenon that just happens to feature eternal torture. Or if you believe that God sends plagues and disasters.

What is certainly a difference is that traditional Hell is in the next world, and disasters are in this world. One can posit a theodicy in which God is unable or unwilling to intervene to stop evil in this world, but if the same applies in the next world ...
 
Posted by Matt Black (# 2210) on :
 
Would not such an intervention have to override individual free will; if it did, what real value would it have?
 
Posted by PhilA (# 8792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
Hmm.

The difference between Hell and evil could be that Hell is arguably a designed feature and hurricanes, plagues, etc are not. This is open to dispute, if you believe that Hell is a naturally existing phenomenon that just happens to feature eternal torture. Or if you believe that God sends plagues and disasters.

This is only a valid point if you think that hell is for the purpose of punishment - I have already said that this is not the case.
quote:

What is certainly a difference is that traditional Hell is in the next world, and disasters are in this world. One can posit a theodicy in which God is unable or unwilling to intervene to stop evil in this world, but if the same applies in the next world ...

So, you are OK with the idea that once in the next life God removes our free will?

All I'm saying is this:
Hell is not a place separate from heaven. Hell or heaven is our reaction to the presence of God. If we reject God, his presence is not a pleasurable, heavenly experience but a hellish tormenting one. It is entirely up to the person which they experience, heaven or hell and they can at any point, with free will, accept God and end the hellish experience and gain the heavenly one. Hell is not a place of torture but an experience some people go through. God does not send people to hell, it is no different than heaven in location and what happens, it is the experience of it that makes it heaven or hell.

This is a natural thing. If you deny the existence of Erin and then you are suddenly confronted with Erin, then your reaction is going to be different than for someone who already knows Erin to meet her. The same is true with God but on a much more massive scale. It is an entirely natural reaction that can be entirely and naturally overcome.
 
Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
Would not such an intervention have to override individual free will; if it did, what real value would it have?

The same real value as found when a parent removes some dangerous obstacle that a toddler might fall over. It deprives the toddler of the free will to fall over it, but is all to the good for all that.
 
Posted by Gauk (# 1125) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PhilA:
This is only a valid point if you think that hell is for the purpose of punishment - I have already said that this is not the case.

I'm glad you can be so authorative on this. [Smile] I was aware of your opinion on this matter when I posted. However, some people believe that it is a place for punishment, and this belief is being debated in this thread by the OP. I did use the words "if you believe that ..." in the post you quote.
 
Posted by PhilA (# 8792) on :
 
Fair point Gauk. Sorry, I got a bit carried away. [Smile]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Father Gregory:
Oh dear, I'll have to trot out "The River of Fire" again,[/URL].

I dunno if I find the pro-God arguments in that terribly pursauive but, Father, I will admit that my view of God is almost precisely the view outlined in that article as the sinful view.

The only "god" I can see is not worthy to lick my boots, let alone recieve my worship.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Custard.:
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
You think a loving God who condemns (perhaps predestines?) to Hell is more credible than universalism?

Wow.

Yes - I for one think (on balance) that a God who could send Hitler to hell is better than one who would send him to heaven.
What is Hitler is is Heaven, but Old Mrs Miggins from down the road, who devoted her entire life to charitable works but never once believe in God is in Hell?

For me, that possibility (and it really doesn't have to be any more than an abstract possibility) alone is sufficient to show that EITHER there is a loving God OR there is a Hell but that BOTH existing at the same time is an impossibility.
 
Posted by Father Gregory (# 310) on :
 
Ok different track Papio. How come Jesus seemed to take Hell for granted? More cultural relativism? A profoundly mistaken Messiah?
 
Posted by anteater (# 11435) on :
 
There have been a few posts seemingly influenced by Orthodox ideas, to the effect that Hell is a self-inflicted state. I can't tell whether they believe that the experience of hell is what I have called hell-fire, i.e. excruciating, everlasting and unavoidable. Pls clarify.
The idea that it is God's love that's tormenting these people to distraction requires such a re-casting of the biblical material that IMO it would take less revision to get rid of hell totally. Which I would prefer.
Somewhere, the issue of the immortality of the soul is likely to come up. I don't believe in it. It's not Biblical, not even in any of the ecumenical creeds, and I see not the slightest reason to believe it. I suspect the RC church has canonised the teaching and maybe also the Orthodox. If you believe that each individual's existence must of necessity go on for ever, I can see that this would have an effect on your view.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Father Gregory:
Ok different track Papio. How come Jesus seemed to take Hell for granted? More cultural relativism? A profoundly mistaken Messiah?

A bloke who was in and of his time.
 
Posted by Custard. (# 5402) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
quote:
Originally posted by Custard.:
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
You think a loving God who condemns (perhaps predestines?) to Hell is more credible than universalism?

Wow.

Yes - I for one think (on balance) that a God who could send Hitler to hell is better than one who would send him to heaven.
What is Hitler is is Heaven, but Old Mrs Miggins from down the road, who devoted her entire life to charitable works but never once believe in God is in Hell?

For me, that possibility (and it really doesn't have to be any more than an abstract possibility) alone is sufficient to show that EITHER there is a loving God OR there is a Hell but that BOTH existing at the same time is an impossibility.

Why would a loving God who is also just not solve the problem just as well?
 
Posted by Alogon (# 5513) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by anteater:
Somewhere, the issue of the immortality of the soul is likely to come up. I don't believe in it. It's not Biblical, not even in any of the ecumenical creeds,

Yes, we might object to the word "soul". But the Apostles' Creed ends "resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting." What does that mean to you?
 
Posted by Lamb Chopped (# 5528) on :
 
Surely the point about hell is that nobody needs to go there? Scripture tells us that it wasn't created for people at all, but rather for the devil and his angels, and God wishes so greatly to keep us out of it that he even lay down his own life to prevent it. How is that we can blame him, then, if some of us use our free will to go and remain there? What more do we expect of him?

If the answer is, "I expect him to destroy hell so no one can go there"--well, I don't think God can do that. I suspect that hell is an unavoidable corollary to free will, the nature of God, and the nature of existence. Sort of the way shadows are an unavoidable corollary to the existence of light and the nature of solid objects. Still, the fact that it exists does not mean that anybody is forced to go there.

On the question of those who have never heard of Christ (or have never had a real chance to understand, have heard wrongly, etc.) we are not told straight out, but there are hints to suggest that God takes such things into account. (I suspect we are NOT told precisely because human creatures being what we are--that is, lazy and self-centered pains in the a**--we would never bestir ourselves to tell anyone about Christ if we felt fully assured that their ultimate fate would be a good one, anyway. And that would be a great loss.)

On the issue of free will--surely, if it exists, then one can choose to reject God and keep on choosing that way, for all eternity. Such an attitude would equal hell. Even God could not override such a choice, without totally uprooting free will. It would be like my saying to my toddler, "You have free choice, as long as you choose what Mommy wants." God does us the great honor of treating us as adults.

In the words of the cliche, "The door of hell is locked on the inside." When we speak of God "sending" people to hell, this means that he recognizes the immovable, irrevocable nature of their own free choice, and bows to it. In effect, he is saying, "If you will have it that way, then your will be done."

[ 26. July 2006, 18:15: Message edited by: Lamb Chopped ]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by anteater:
Somewhere, the issue of the immortality of the soul is likely to come up. I don't believe in it. It's not Biblical, not even in any of the ecumenical creeds, and I see not the slightest reason to believe it.

How is it not biblical. The Bible has almost 400 references to the word "soul" and there are numerous indications that it is immortal.

For example:
quote:
Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

Psalm 37:27 Depart from evil, and do good; And dwell forevermore.

Psalm 37:29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell in it forever.

John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 16:26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Revelation 20:4 Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

It seems to me that the biblical view is that people's souls are supposed to live forever.
 
Posted by anteater (# 11435) on :
 
quote:
But the Apostles' Creed ends "resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting." What does that mean to you?
I think that christian hope should be focussed on resurrection. This has always been an official teaching, but has tending to fade out in preference of "going to heaven when we die". This approach is being pushed by Tom Wright, who is getting a lot of attention since the idea of an robustly evangelical Bishop of Durham is exciting for Anglicans. I do believe there is some continuity, and that the concept of a soul is not useless. But I believe that human life can only be embodied.
The fact that the creed echoes the belief in life everlasting cannot be taken to apply to the damned, since life is not what they've got. Incidentally, I'm not implying that you think that.
quote:
On the issue of free will--surely, if it exists, then one can choose to reject God and keep on choosing that way, for all eternity. Such an attitude would equal hell.
Maybe, but not the specific version I am campaigning against, since in that version there is no post-mortem free-will to turn to God.
 
Posted by Father Gregory (# 310) on :
 
Dear anteater

On the immortality of the soul go here for the Orthodox view ...

"The Immortality of the Soul" by Fr. George Florovsky
 
Posted by IconiumBound (# 754) on :
 
I think I recall that the only thing Jesus talked about more than Hell/Ghenna was money. Is anyone ready to argue that money isn't real?

As for me I take my vision of Hell from G B Shaw. In Don Juan In Hell old George presents a vision of Hell where everyone's selfish desires are fulfilled; rather like some of the visions of Heaven in another FG thread. The problem for Don Juan is it is tiresome and boring with extremely boring people to associate with. He opts (and it is a choice available) to transfer to Heaven where serving God is the constant task.

ISTM that the old atheist Shaw might have surprisingly hit upon the truth. His version answers the old questions of whether God wants to punish sinners or save them.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
I like that IB. Fulfilling our selfish desires seems like it would be fun. I think that this is only true in the short run.

One of the things about desire is that it is not static. A place that allowed people to unleash and attempt to fulfil all of their desires would have to somehow account for the likelihood that different people's desires might conflict.
 
Posted by PhilA (# 8792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
What is Hitler is is Heaven, but Old Mrs Miggins from down the road, who devoted her entire life to charitable works but never once believe in God is in Hell?

For me, that possibility (and it really doesn't have to be any more than an abstract possibility) alone is sufficient to show that EITHER there is a loving God OR there is a Hell but that BOTH existing at the same time is an impossibility.

The problem, Papio, is that so many people use the exact same argument for not believing in God at all. Either there is an all loving God, or there is evil but there cannot be both. e know that there is evil therefore... The only difference is that you've opted for the other premise being wrong.

I don't know, maybe you are right and there is no hell. I sincerely hope that you are right, but I don't think I believe it myself. To be honest, I don't know what I believe about the whole 'life after death' thing. I guess I'll find out one day though, and I live in hope.
 
Posted by PhilA (# 8792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Father Gregory:
Ok different track Papio. How come Jesus seemed to take Hell for granted? More cultural relativism? A profoundly mistaken Messiah?

Jesus took the story of 'Jonah and the whale' for granted too.( Matt 12:40 )Is that story literal? Was Jesus mistaken?
 
Posted by chemincreux (# 10635) on :
 
Lamb Chopped. It may be an attractive cliche, but I don't see quite how the doors of hell can be everlastingly locked on the inside. Not unless the process somehow involved voluntary insanity.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PhilA:
Jesus took the story of 'Jonah and the whale' for granted too.( Matt 12:40 )Is that story literal? Was Jesus mistaken?

You could say that about any miracle. I think that the miracle of Jonah and the great fish really happened. Just like the manna and the parting of the Red Sea.
 
Posted by Justinian (# 5357) on :
 
Thanks for saying most of what I would have if I'd got here sooner, Papio [Smile] .

But I'd like to pick up on a few points.

The first is that Hell is Eternal. Therefore it is not the same as Evil, which is only transitive. I firmly believe that most evil is simply the result of a lack of balance or perspective - and entities in this world can not grow in a manner that is truly balanced - and do not have a complete perspective without omniscience. Therefore the problem with hell is not the same as the problem of evil. Or rather not all solutions for the problem of evil will work with the problem of hell.

The second is again that Hell is Eternal. This world is not. Therefore condemning someone to Hell for sins in this world is unjust no matter what the sin. Justice for Hitler may involve torment equivalent to the suffering of millions of people. And it may feel eternal to Hitler while it is taking place. But there is a point beyond which punishment ceases to be justice and becomes vengance. And any punishment that is eternal is vengance rather than justice.

And for a being who is Love and is Justice and is Mercy to take actions that are vengance demonstrates that such a being is not Love, or Justice, or Mercy. Such a being is an impostor masquerading as one of the above qualities. And as such is not fit to lick my boots.

So what would it take for a good God to have created a Hell? I see several possibilities.

The first is that Hell is not eternal but is instead a place where people are sent to learn their lesson before they can be admitted to Heaven. In which case, what we have is not Hell but Purgatory. Fairy 'Nuff. Unpleasant but perhaps necessary.

The second is that Hell is somewhere people directly and continually condemn themselves to and choose to remain in. If no one remains in Hell for eternity, you are in the same situation as the previous - with Hell actually being Purgatory. If there are those who choose to stay in Hell eternally, then you can have a good, kind, and merciful God - but he is imperfect as evidenced by the fact that he has wrought amiss with those individuals and can not persuade them to redeem themselves (or perhaps doesn't care).

The third is that Hell is death - a short sharp shock. Here, you not only have an imperfect God (who creates beings that are so amiss that he will not redeem them) but an unmerciful one (who will not use his omnipotence to show them how to redeem themselves). In short, such a Hell is vengance personified. And such a God is many things including Just - but not Merciful or Loving.

Finally, you get that Hell is reincarnation. This is a subset of Purgatory.

To sum up, there is no way any entity can be eternally condemned to Hell without making God more Vengeful than he is Just, Loving, or Merciful. And such a God I call good only on the principle that the Furies were known as the Erinyes or Kindly Ones.

[ 26. July 2006, 21:02: Message edited by: Justinian ]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Custard.:
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
quote:
Originally posted by Custard.:
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
You think a loving God who condemns (perhaps predestines?) to Hell is more credible than universalism?

Wow.

Yes - I for one think (on balance) that a God who could send Hitler to hell is better than one who would send him to heaven.
What is Hitler is is Heaven, but Old Mrs Miggins from down the road, who devoted her entire life to charitable works but never once believe in God is in Hell?

For me, that possibility (and it really doesn't have to be any more than an abstract possibility) alone is sufficient to show that EITHER there is a loving God OR there is a Hell but that BOTH existing at the same time is an impossibility.

Why would a loving God who is also just not solve the problem just as well?
I am not at all sure, but then I am not at all sure why "solving the problem is the same as "condemning to Hell"...

I think I agree with Justinian.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
The second is that Hell is somewhere people directly and continually condemn themselves to and choose to remain in. If no one remains in Hell for eternity, you are in the same situation as the previous - with Hell actually being Purgatory. If there are those who choose to stay in Hell eternally, then you can have a good, kind, and merciful God - but he is imperfect as evidenced by the fact that he has wrought amiss with those individuals and can not persuade them to redeem themselves (or perhaps doesn't care).

Justinian, are you sure that this makes God imperfect? If people stay in hell because they prefer it, why is God imperfect?

I can easily imagine people prefering adultery to legitimate marriage. A God that allows them to do this seems more, not less perfect to me.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Father Gregory:
How come Jesus seemed to take Hell for granted?

I suppose that would depend a lot on what Jesus meant when he referred to hell.
quote:
Originally posted by Custard.:
Why would a loving God who is also just not solve the problem just as well?

Because you must mangle the concept of just so far beyond recognition so as to lose all legitimate or useful meaning. "Just" becomes "able to do whatever he wants and whatever he does IS just, no matter how it lines up with our own concepts."
quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
If there are those who choose to stay in Hell eternally, then you can have a good, kind, and merciful God - but he is imperfect as evidenced by the fact that he has wrought amiss with those individuals and can not persuade them to redeem themselves (or perhaps doesn't care).

This is, in my opinion, an excellent point. Consider modern evangelism. At least part of the idea revolves around the attempt to convince the unbeliever to believe, so as to avoid hell. We are not called to sit idly by in hopes that everyone will just get it on their own, hopefully.

Wouldn't God do the same? Would he not spend eternity pleading and convincing those who haven't yet understood their true natures, those who haven't embraced the potential of who they were created to be? And if God ultimately fails in this campaign, what does that say? Free will is fine, but what do you believe about God when you say that an eternity would not be enough for him to convince some people of his goodness?
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Justinian, are you sure that this makes God imperfect? If people stay in hell because they prefer it, why is God imperfect?

I can easily imagine people prefering adultery to legitimate marriage. A God that allows them to do this seems more, not less perfect to me.

Do parents who allow their children to drink in excess, do drugs, etc. seem more perfect than those who step in to remind, and occasionally interrupt their children's free will to teach them about the true dangers of certain life choices? This concept of God seems like a young parent who is trying to "be cool" and "fit in" with the child's friends. Buying them booze and taking them to get their noses pierced. "Boy, Christian, your God sure is cool!" all of the other children would exclaim. "I wish my God was cool like that!"

There is always a point when love steps in to make up for misunderstandings, ignorance, immaturity and even stubbornness. I find it so hard to believe that anyone will feel any bitterness about God having dragged them part of the way out of despair and into Life.
 
Posted by Goar (# 3939) on :
 
DH is not popping up on my acronym Google. Can someone spare me the agony of this frustration?
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
DH
 
Posted by Goar (# 3939) on :
 
Whoa, I feel sick to think that didn't occur to me. Thank you. It's late here...

[ 26. July 2006, 22:05: Message edited by: Goar ]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
I can easily imagine people prefering adultery to legitimate marriage. A God that allows them to do this seems more, not less perfect to me.

Do parents who allow their children to drink in excess, do drugs, etc. seem more perfect than those who step in to remind, and occasionally interrupt their children's free will to teach them about the true dangers of certain life choices?
So God should not allow adultery after death? How about adulterous thoughts?

People aren't children. You have to let them follow their own desires - at least to some degree.
 
Posted by Justinian (# 5357) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Justinian, are you sure that this makes God imperfect? If people stay in hell because they prefer it, why is God imperfect?

I take it back. God is either not perfect or not loving. And it assumes that Heaven is better for people than Hell. We have two options here. Either God can not convince some people to prefer Heaven to Hell or God chooses not to convince some people to prefer Heaven to Hell.

If God can not convince people to prefer Heaven to Hell, then there is something he(/she/it) can not do and he has wrought completely amiss because despite God's efforts, they will not. Therefore he is not perfect.

If God chooses not to convince people that Heaven is better for them than Hell over the timeframe of Eternity, God clearly does not want what is best for them. And as loving someone involves wanting what is best for them, God clearly isn't loving towards them.

quote:
I can easily imagine people prefering adultery to legitimate marriage. A God that allows them to do this seems more, not less perfect to me.
I wouldn't use perfection here (the word is both too simple and too complicated) - but a God that allows them to do this seems better than one that doesn't. But a God that then convinces them to repent and choose legitimate marriage (assuming that such is good for them) seems better still.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
So God should not allow adultery after death? How about adulterous thoughts?

People aren't children. You have to let them follow their own desires - at least to some degree.

So let them. Why do we so negatively expect they will choose adultery every time, for all eternity? Especially if we assume that God is actively involved in persuading them that there is something better?
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
Part of the problem with these threads is that it becomes increasingly clear that there are deep differences in opinion between non-universalists as to what hell is, who gets there and how.

Some people tone down their view of hell from the traditional lake of eternal fiery torment; you can see this approach in The Great Divorce very clearly. Hell is still bad; but not so obviously sadistic.

The second approach I see is that people diminish God's role. He becomes no longer the Just Judge, righteously condemning the guilty, but a worried parent, looking on as his children jump off the cliff but unwilling to interfere with their 'free will'.

To be honest, I find much more biblical justification for thorough-going universalism than either of these two half-way houses, which seem to be attempting to sugar-coat arsenic to make it more palatable.
 
Posted by Lamb Chopped (# 5528) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by chemincreux:
Lamb Chopped. It may be an attractive cliche, but I don't see quite how the doors of hell can be everlastingly locked on the inside. Not unless the process somehow involved voluntary insanity.

Yes!!!! That's PRECISELY what I think it involves. Thank you!!!!

But I would argue that, in the end, choosing anything but God (and all the Good that comes along with him) is a form of insanity. To choose otherwise during this lifetime is very often simply a mistake, and one that we all make daily. But when life is over, and the clouds of confusion are gone, then our real, lifelong summed-up choice becomes clear; and we're permitted to enjoy it (or not, as the case may be).

Lewis was of the opinion that people in hell are not happy, but that they prefer it to heaven. That is because what they want is unreality, a state of affairs that cannot possibly exist (such as a universe centered around one's own self); and hell is as close as they can come to realizing their unrealistic desires.

Truly entering heaven would mean leaving the hellish illusions behind and embracing Something that has become wholly inimical to their deepest desires. As somebody above noted, the fire of God's love is light and warmth to His people, but burning pain to those who refuse Him.
 
Posted by Lamb Chopped (# 5528) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Some people tone down their view of hell from the traditional lake of eternal fiery torment; you can see this approach in The Great Divorce very clearly. Hell is still bad; but not so obviously sadistic.

The second approach I see is that people diminish God's role. He becomes no longer the Just Judge, righteously condemning the guilty, but a worried parent, looking on as his children jump off the cliff but unwilling to interfere with their 'free will'.

Demas, I see your point, and it's a good one. But I think we might have one of those concepts which can be communicated truthfully in more than one way (like the atonement, etc. etc.)

As for the "new hell" being not so very bad after all--I don't think anybody but a citizen (!) could ever find it remotely tolerable, and its citizens would be utterly miserable. The Biblical burning imagery conveys pain, suffering, and destruction; we could probably use a less colorful metaphor and say "utter spiritual destruction" to convey the same reality, but that simply doesn't have the same gut-gripping, terrorizing quality that fire does to most people. Which is a short way of saying that I think both sets of metaphors are useful and necessary to communicate in the modern Western world.

As for God as the righteous Judge who condemns the unrepentant to destruction--this is most certainly true. Yet I think the "worried parent" analogy is also true and Scriptural--witness passages like "How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Judah? My heart turns within me.... I am God among you, and I will not come to destroy."

Again, I think we need both analogies. Frankly, it's difficult to preach the Gospel in the Western world, because those who hear us rarely feel any great sense of guilt or shame themselves. They are more likely to sit in judgement on God for his immoral behavior(witness this thread! [Biased] ) than to see themselves as sinners in front of the Judge. How to reach such people? Before we can ever get to the good news (the acquittal Christ offers us) we have to preach the bad news of human guilt, sin and brokenness--and that news is very, very bad indeed.

So in these cultures, we generally begin from a different starting point. We try to meet people where they are, not where we think they ought to be.

Just how do you think it would go over if I were to say to your average, decent non-Christian who raises these issues, "How dare you sit in judgment on the Most High? He is the Creator, you are the creation. Stop being so cheeky."

It's certainly a biblical viewpoint (witness Job and parts of Paul), but it's apt to shut down the conversation immediately. AND the friendship. The person never gets to a point where that rebuke makes sense, because I've shoved it in his face when he hasn't got the wherewithal to understand it. Rebukes like that are probably best saved for those who already admit the Lordship of Christ--to those who have already "signed on," so to speak.

This is NOT an argument for hiding bits of the Truth, or sliding over troublesome bits of Scripture or doctrine. That would be dishonest and stupid, too. And if the person brings it up in conversation himself, it's time to talk about it. But jamming God's Lordship and Justice into every conversation with a non-believer is likely to have the same effect hellfire-and-brimstone preachers had on my granddad--to turn them away from the church before they ever really know what it's all about.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
If God chooses not to convince people that Heaven is better for them than Hell over the timeframe of Eternity, God clearly does not want what is best for them. And as loving someone involves wanting what is best for them, God clearly isn't loving towards them.

Justinian, this point of view doesn't allow for any differences at all, then. If God allows any person to have a weaker love than another, He does not want what is best for them.

Surely God allows for some degree of variety and extent in people's love of Him and His laws. It's just a question of how great you allow that variety to be. How much variety would you allow?
 
Posted by Justinian (# 5357) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Some people tone down their view of hell from the traditional lake of eternal fiery torment; you can see this approach in The Great Divorce very clearly. Hell is still bad; but not so obviously sadistic.

The second approach I see is that people diminish God's role. He becomes no longer the Just Judge, righteously condemning the guilty, but a worried parent, looking on as his children jump off the cliff but unwilling to interfere with their 'free will'.

As the alternative is that of an abusive parent ("I made you, therefore I have power over you and I am *whack* doing this *whack* this to *sizzle* you for *whack* your own *burn* good! Now *whack* stop making *whack* my omnipotent self *sizzle* torture you."), I think that the worried parent is far, far superior.

The Just Judge doesn't come into it with eternal punishment because any form of eternal punishment is ipso facto unjust for finite sins in an imperfect world.

quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Again, I think we need both analogies. Frankly, it's difficult to preach the Gospel in the Western world, because those who hear us rarely feel any great sense of guilt or shame themselves. They are more likely to sit in judgement on God for his immoral behavior(witness this thread! [Biased] ) than to see themselves as sinners in front of the Judge. How to reach such people? Before we can ever get to the good news (the acquittal Christ offers us) we have to preach the bad news of human guilt, sin and brokenness--and that news is very, very bad indeed.

In short, in order to sell someone a cure, you need to sell them the idea that they are sick.

quote:
Just how do you think it would go over if I were to say to your average, decent non-Christian who raises these issues, "How dare you sit in judgment on the Most High? He is the Creator, you are the creation. Stop being so cheeky."
Only slightly worse than most ham-fisted evangelism normally does. But it would get you dismissed.

quote:
But jamming God's Lordship and Justice into every conversation with a non-believer is likely to have the same effect hellfire-and-brimstone preachers had on my granddad--to turn them away from the church before they ever really know what it's all about.
And it's also normally presented such a risible notion of justice (by virtue of being so disproportionate) that you can be dismissed as insane twice over.
 
Posted by Justinian (# 5357) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
If God chooses not to convince people that Heaven is better for them than Hell over the timeframe of Eternity, God clearly does not want what is best for them. And as loving someone involves wanting what is best for them, God clearly isn't loving towards them.

Justinian, this point of view doesn't allow for any differences at all, then. If God allows any person to have a weaker love than another, He does not want what is best for them.
I don't understand your objection. Wanting what is best for my girlfriend is different from wanting what is best for my sister. And I treat them very differently. But in neither case do I condemn them to eternal torment. And in neither case do I kill them.

There are some things that are different in different cases and some things that are the same. To use another analogy, I cook different things for different people - but cyanide is never on my list of cooking ingredients. You seem to think that because cyanide is not on my list of cooking ingredients, I don't allow for differences.

quote:
Surely God allows for some degree of variety and extent in people's love of Him and His laws. It's just a question of how great you allow that variety to be. How much variety would you allow?
Some - but not enough to leave anyone eternaly in hell.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Frankly, it's difficult to preach the Gospel in the Western world, because those who hear us rarely feel any great sense of guilt or shame themselves. They are more likely to sit in judgement on God for his immoral behavior(witness this thread! [Biased] ) than to see themselves as sinners in front of the Judge.

I agree, LC! I think that this is the primary reason why the church is failing in the West. In places like Africa, by contrast, people are amazingly humble.

It really comes down to what people are willing to believe, and what they are willing to do based on that belief.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
If God chooses not to convince people that Heaven is better for them than Hell over the timeframe of Eternity, God clearly does not want what is best for them. And as loving someone involves wanting what is best for them, God clearly isn't loving towards them.

Justinian, this point of view doesn't allow for any differences at all, then. If God allows any person to have a weaker love than another, He does not want what is best for them.
I don't understand your objection. Wanting what is best for my girlfriend is different from wanting what is best for my sister. And I treat them very differently. But in neither case do I condemn them to eternal torment. And in neither case do I kill them.
My point is that God allows everyone to be different. Some love Him more and some less. Those who love Him less and love one another less need to be given that freedom. How much less love do you allow them to have? That's my question.

As Demas said:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Part of the problem with these threads is that it becomes increasingly clear that there are deep differences in opinion between non-universalists as to what hell is, who gets there and how.

I think that's the problem here. I think that the medieval idea of hell is a straw man. Lewis' idea is more realistic and compassionate. I don't agree that it's watered down.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
I think that's the problem here. I think that the medieval idea of hell is a straw man. Lewis' idea is more realistic and compassionate. I don't agree that it's watered down.

Let's leave compassionate to one side for the moment - I'm not sure what you're meaning when you say that Lewis' conception of hell is more 'realistic'?

Do you mean that it is closer to Jesus' conception? Paul's? The description of hell in scripture? More in keeping with certain philosophies? More in keeping with our empirical knowledge of the world?
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Frankly, it's difficult to preach the Gospel in the Western world, because those who hear us rarely feel any great sense of guilt or shame themselves. They are more likely to sit in judgement on God for his immoral behavior(witness this thread! [Biased] ) than to see themselves as sinners in front of the Judge.

They're not judging God; they're judging you.

More specifically, they're judging what you are telling them about God. They are comparing it with what other people are telling them about God, and with what their innate sense of right and wrong and their own knowledge of the nature of love tells them about a story which says that God is just and loving, and will also eternally torture (or allow to be tortured) the people he loves.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
Let's leave compassionate to one side for the moment - I'm not sure what you're meaning when you say that Lewis' conception of hell is more 'realistic'?

Do you mean that it is closer to Jesus' conception? Paul's? The description of hell in scripture? More in keeping with certain philosophies? More in keeping with our empirical knowledge of the world?

More in keeping with what I observe about happiness and sadness in this world as it is correlated with what the Bible says.

The Bible's imagery seems to me to be just that. Imagery.

The way that people actually suffer is more like the way that Lewis describes it. The fires of hell are actually the fires that burn in human hearts.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
So where you would disagree with a universalist is whether or not God is willing and able to relieve us of our suffering if we have chosen to trap ourselves in it?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
So where you would disagree with a universalist is whether or not God is willing and able to relieve us of our suffering if we have chosen to trap ourselves in it?

Not exactly. I'm not sure that it works to anthropomorphise God in that way. You end up with a bad God or no God.

It's more that there is a hierarchy of laws that govern all reality from the divine love according to the divine wisdom. These laws are the perfect expression of God's love, and operate to make humanity happy, and to preserve our freedom to the highest possible extent over the span of eternity. Their purpose is to extend the purposes of the divine love to the human race.

If humanity were not free to accept or reject that love, the essential purpose of existence would be defeated. It depends on a mutual bond, and if the mutuality is not there, it is not a real bond. There is no way to preserve that mutuality while forcing it on every subject.

So it is essential that people be able to do what they themselves actually choose. Self centered desires do provide joys, it's just that those joys are misery compared with heavenly joy. People are able to experience this in the world as well.

The system is also a dynamic system, in which everything and everyone is interconnected. The state of the world as a whole therefore influences the state of heaven and hell, and vice-versa. The beauty of it is that this means that the entire system is always changing and progressing. It interacts with each one of us, and we with it. This does provide a hope for the future, both for everyone on earth and even for those in hell. It is not purely up to each individual independently.

But every person needs to be free to be self-centered if they wish. It's not that God can't or doesn't wish to change them. It is that the best thing both for them and for all of humanity is for them to choose what they love. God wants the best thing, and knows precisely what it is.
 
Posted by Lamb Chopped (# 5528) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Frankly, it's difficult to preach the Gospel in the Western world, because those who hear us rarely feel any great sense of guilt or shame themselves. They are more likely to sit in judgement on God for his immoral behavior(witness this thread! [Biased] ) than to see themselves as sinners in front of the Judge.

They're not judging God; they're judging you.

More specifically, they're judging what you are telling them about God. They are comparing it with what other people are telling them about God, and with what their innate sense of right and wrong and their own knowledge of the nature of love tells them about a story which says that God is just and loving, and will also eternally torture (or allow to be tortured) the people he loves.

Well, first of all, I specifically said that this is not a form of "evangelism" I favor (hellfire and brimstone preaching). Second, I didn't make up the doctrine of hell. It's out of the Bible. So anyone who wishes to judge may do so, but it isn't me they're judging.

But I think you're missing my point. I have nothing against a person who hears the teaching about hell and says, "I simply can't believe it, I can't get my mind to take that particular shape, it just doesn't seem right to me." Nor do I think such a person is in any more danger of judgment than the rest of us.

What I WAS trying to say is that most cultures I'm aware of (I've studied quite a few, so this isn't total gas) have a deep-seated sense of "God (or the gods) is up there, and I'm down here, and I'd better keep that fact in mind." They may moan and bitch and complain, in extremely robust language (see the psalmists for example) but they don't usually lose track of who's on top. They consider hubris to be a sin, and they commend the man who knows his place--in the universe, in the world, in the family. And who functions in it properly, beautifully, and freely.

But in the West, many (most?) of us have lost that sense of hierarchy, of being under anyone's authority but our own. We sit in judgement on God, on our leaders, and on our parents. (Okay, in the case of some of our leaders, that's more than warranted. [Biased] ) But we make our own personal judgement the standard of the universe, and we have a darned hard time in admitting that We Might Possibly Be Wrong. Or in bowing gracefully to the will of someone else when we are convinced that They Are Wrong--even in fairly trivial matters.

And God forbid that we should be asked to accept the authority of a sacred book, an old tradition, or the opinions of those older and more experienced than us.

(Yes, I know I'm talking heresy, and will likely be flamed for it. But I do think there is some medium ground between "I did it my way" and "Father knows best." Western culture leans far too heavily to the first, IMHO.)
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
My point is that God allows everyone to be different. Some love Him more and some less. Those who love Him less and love one another less need to be given that freedom.

This is a confusing twist. Your objection to the idea that all could end up in heaven is that this would make everyone the same?
 
Posted by Matt Black (# 2210) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
quote:
Originally posted by Father Gregory:
Ok different track Papio. How come Jesus seemed to take Hell for granted? More cultural relativism? A profoundly mistaken Messiah?

A bloke who was in and of his time.
But, you see, for me, that bloke also happened/happens to be God. Which means that, dislike them intensely though I may, I have to take His words on the topic in hand very seriously.
 
Posted by les@BALM (# 11237) on :
 
Hell isnt a far away place, but rather those places on Earth humans usually men have turned into Hell.
 
Posted by Earthling (# 4698) on :
 
quote:
Self centered desires do provide joys, it's just that those joys are misery compared with heavenly joy. People are able to experience this in the world as well.

I find this idea interesting, that serving others = happiness = heaven, and serving oneself = (ultimately) misery = hell.

Don't you find that to live a happy, balanced life we need to do both, we serve other people which is good and we also sometimes do things for ourselves, which is also good? Perhaps eternal happiness might be spending the week serving in heaven and then partying in hell at the weekends?
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
[...] Second, I didn't make up the doctrine of hell. It's out of the Bible. So anyone who wishes to judge may do so, but it isn't me they're judging.

Undoubtedly terms like Shaol and Gehenna are used in the Bible. But what these terms mean is not at all obvious. One certainly can make a case from Scripture that there is a post-mortem state that people in it will find disagreeable. The question is whether this is the only reading, or even the best reading, of the relevant passages. But we've been here before, no?

quote:

But in the West, many (most?) of us have lost that sense of hierarchy, of being under anyone's authority but our own. We sit in judgement on God, on our leaders, and on our parents. (Okay, in the case of some of our leaders, that's more than warranted. [Biased] ) But we make our own personal judgement the standard of the universe, and we have a darned hard time in admitting that We Might Possibly Be Wrong.

On the one hand you complain that we (Westerners) have no natural respect for authority; on the other you say that sometimes it is right to judge those who occupy positions of authority. But surely if one is to accept authority as authority, one should never presume to judge.

For example, if I am called on to respect the authority of (say) the Prime Minister, because he is (say) a decent, sensible, hard-working, honest, and diligent fellow, then it seems appropriate to call him out if he doesn't live up to these standards. However, if I am called on to respect the authority of the Prime Minister simply because he is the Prime Minister, and a person `in authority', then I can never have any grounds to judge him. There is simply no basis for judgement.

But why should we humbly accept the authority of a person (or even a Person) whose exercise of that authority gives me no grounds for respect?

Moreover, it seems to me that the greater the authority one holds, the more diligently one must exercise that authority to be worthy of respect. And if one has perfect, absolute authority, surely one must exercise it with perfect diligence.

The question then surely arises whether the various views of Hell that are presented correspond to God's exercising his authority with perfect diligence. If they do not, then I don't see why God should not be judged and found wanting.
 
Posted by anteater (# 11435) on :
 
From Freddy:
quote:
How is it [the immortality of the soul]not biblical. The Bible has almost 400 references to the word "soul" and there are numerous indications that it is immortal.
I can't see how you can establish this based on the texts you cite. I don't think you're even close.
You can't argue from the everlasting reward of the righteous that immortality is something intrinsic to all humans. It just doesn't follow.
The only two you cite which mention those outside of God's favour talk about there soul being destroyed or lost. Why does this prove they are immortal?
The part this doctrine plays in the defence of hell, is the argument used by CSLewis that God would mercifully rub out the lives of the unsaved if he could, but he can't because as a metaphysical fact, the annihilation of the human soul is an impossibility.
I don't know a shred of evidence for this in the canonical scripture.
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
I think of Heaven and Hell like this.

If Heaven is fully-realised eternal life, none of us deserve to have it. We're agreed that we can't earn our way into Heaven, right? We can't be perfect enough to compel God from simple justice to grant us an entry pass to Heaven.

If we think of Hell as the alternative or perhaps the collective name for the alternatives to Heaven (whatever that might entail) then by this argument, everybody deserves Hell. So, the existence of Hell can't be said to make God unjust in the sense of "it would be unfair of God to send anyone to Hell."

A more nuanced argument is that it would be unfair of God to rescue some and not others, since nobody deserves Heaven anyway. I think this might be fair criticism of full-on predestination Calvinism but on the other hand, consider this...

...think about a person who eternally rejects God and ends up in Hell. From an eternity-eye view you could say that a loving God should either 1) have never caused this person to exist, 2) cause the person to cease to exist so as to avoid Hell, or 3) change something about the person such that they would not maintain their resistance.

1) and 2) are deeply problematic for me. How could you be said to love someone if your assessment of their value was that they should be wiped out of existence? If one of my children grew up to be a murderer, deeply unhappy and so on, would I be loving if I were to develop a time machine and then go back and kill him at birth?

3) is trickier but "Just as I am" and all that says that God really does love a person even if that person ends up in Hell. I'm approaching my level of philosophical incompetence here but I don't know how far you could change a person against their will without actually erasing them and replacing them with somebody else.

The crux (cough) of the matter is whether God is looking at Hell (whatever Hell is like) thinking "Bastards. I wonder if I could make it any hotter?" or if he would drag them out if it was meaningful and possible to do so.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
So, in summary, we are back at the old position that if hell exists then God is either impotent or a bastard.
 
Posted by Matt Black (# 2210) on :
 
[Overused]
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
So, in summary, we are back at the old position that if hell exists then God is either impotent or a bastard.

In a sense, but not exactly.

In your opinion Demas, would it be more loving to create somebody who doesn't make it to Heaven, or to fail to create them at all?

[ 27. July 2006, 09:55: Message edited by: GreyFace ]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Earthling:
I find this idea interesting, that serving others = happiness = heaven, and serving oneself = (ultimately) misery = hell.

Don't you find that to live a happy, balanced life we need to do both, we serve other people which is good and we also sometimes do things for ourselves, which is also good? Perhaps eternal happiness might be spending the week serving in heaven and then partying in hell at the weekends?

Yes, I think you're right. Not partying in hell, exactly, but certainly enjoying yourself.

I meant those categories in terms of a person's overall or reigning motivation and interest.

To serve others effectively, however, a person needs to take care of himself/herself, which includes periods of rest and recreation. He doesn't need to always be thinking of others or of God. When the central interests in life revolve around useful service, this affects everything in his life.

I think that every person has a hierarchy of interests and desires within them. It is different for everyone. Some rule and some are subordinate, and they shape our goals and actions.

So both serving one's self and serving others are good. It is just a matter of priorities. When the priorities are messed up the whole enterprise suffers.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
In your opinion Demas, would it be more loving to create somebody who doesn't make it to Heaven, or to fail to create them at all?

Well that really depends on what 'doesn't make it to Heaven' means, doesn't it.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by anteater:
I don't know a shred of evidence for this in the canonical scripture.

Shreds are pretty small things. Would these qualify?
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.”

Anteater, if you want to dismiss these go ahead. It would be helpful if you noted why some particular quote or other is not, in your mind, relevant. I thought the other list that I posted was pretty indicative. How was it lacking?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
My point is that God allows everyone to be different. Some love Him more and some less. Those who love Him less and love one another less need to be given that freedom.

This is a confusing twist. Your objection to the idea that all could end up in heaven is that this would make everyone the same?
Yes, in response to Justinian's point that if God allowed us to be less than perfect He must not really care.

My point is that if God loves us He will let us be who we want to be and do what we want to do. This allows for a creation in which everyone and everything is different and unique.

The point is not that everyone needs to be exactly as happy as everyone else on some absolute scale. Rather it is for everyone to seek happiness in their own unique way, according to their own desires and interests. Everyone's happiness is therefore unique and chosen. Some people's idea of happiness is actually suffering, when compared with others, but that doesn't mean that this person should be forced to be like the other. The higher good is that people be led in freedom to choose among real alternatives.

It is inconceivable to us, for example, that this ship's discussion might be curtailed by a loud commanding voice from God, cutting off all of us who are "wrong." A merciful God allows me to say whatever idiotic thing I want, as long as I obey the Ship's Commandments. According to Justinian's argument, I think, God would not be loving if He allowed those who are wrong to keep on being wrong.
 
Posted by Matt Black (# 2210) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
So, in summary, we are back at the old position that if hell exists then God is either impotent or a bastard.

Sorry, Demas, but my [Overused] was to Greyface, not you; I wouldn't describe God so much as impotent as lovingly self-limited
 
Posted by Lurker McLurker™ (# 1384) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by anteater:
There have been a few posts seemingly influenced by Orthodox ideas, to the effect that Hell is a self-inflicted state. I can't tell whether they believe that the experience of hell is what I have called hell-fire, i.e. excruciating, everlasting and unavoidable. Pls clarify.

I'd say it is excruciating (if the souls in Hell are conscious enough to feel) as separation from God would mean separation from everything good.

Everlasting? I don't know if those in Hell are capable of repentance or not. I think that Jesus' descriptions of Hell aren't clear enough to say one way or the other.

Unavoidable. Of course not, if Hell is our choice then it is avoidable. Hopefully everyone will avoid it.

As for the Hitler question, what about Paul, who tried to stamp out Christianity? What about John Newton, involved in a crime against humanity of the same order of magnitude as the Holocaust? Would anyone say they don't belong in Heaven?
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
I guess we need to have a God we can live with. I wonder if the issue in eternity is: What can God live with? The Bible describes him as not only good, but holy. Holy is problematic for me cos I'm not. But if he is then how can I dwell with him? Wouldn't I rather be somewhere else? Holy is scary. Holy is fire. Holy is hell for the unholy.
If God knowing his own nature knew that some of his created beings would be unable to handle being in proximity to him and consequently created a place or whatever that they could be given their immortality, wouldn't that be a loving act?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Greyface, I agree with Matt about your post. I think you have it. [Overused]

However, I'm not quite in line with this:
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
If Heaven is fully-realised eternal life, none of us deserve to have it. We're agreed that we can't earn our way into Heaven, right? We can't be perfect enough to compel God from simple justice to grant us an entry pass to Heaven.

I'm not sure that this is how it works. The Bible not only doesn't say this, but it says things that appear to be opposite to it. The Bible does say "all have sinned" and "none are righteous before God"
quote:
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 3:10 As it is written: “ There is none righteous, no, not one;"

The meaning, though, I think, is that all goodness is from God, not from us. God's righteousness saves us, not our own. The point is not so much that we can't "earn" our way into heaven, but that anything that we do is to be attributed to God's power, not our own.

Scores of passages, on the other hand, urge us to "earn" our way into heaven by obeying Christ.
quote:
Matthew 7:21 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.

Mark 3:35 For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.”

1 John 2:17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Not that it is a matter of deserving. It is all from God. The reality, I think, is that doing God's will opens us up inside so that God can work within us. The process is really about our willingness to receive what God would give us.

In any case, your first statement above seems to contradict the statement below, which I really agree with, and which I think, is why Matt gave you the [Overused] :
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
I'm approaching my level of philosophical incompetence here but I don't know how far you could change a person against their will without actually erasing them and replacing them with somebody else.

The question is where our will comes into it? Are we responsible for our will? If so, don't we "merit" heaven thereby? Don't we "earn" our way into heaven by being a certain way or believing certain things?

I think the answer is that all we do is receive life from God, and so all is to be attributed to Him. All we have, as a free gift from God, is the capacity to receive or not receive, according to our free choice. We are responsible for that choice, but the results are not attributable to us, but to God. There is a fine line between this and merit, but this line is unavoidable unless we are willing to accept complete predestination.

In any case, I think that the way you put it in your response to the third option is the way that it really is. Thanks.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
The crux (cough) of the matter is whether God is looking at Hell (whatever Hell is like) thinking "Bastards. I wonder if I could make it any hotter?" or if he would drag them out if it was meaningful and possible to do so.

What could conceivably _prevent_ God dragging the unfortunates off the toast-rack if he chose to do so?

Matt Black describes God in these circumstances as `lovingly self-limited', rather than logically or metaphysically limited. But in what circumstances can it be more loving to let a person languish in Hell (whatever it is) than to drag him out?

I think all this free-will-don't-interfere-with-personal-integrity stuff just doesn't cut the mustard. I regularly interfere with my kids' free will when they want to play in the traffic. Why should I expect less from God?
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
What could conceivably _prevent_ God dragging the unfortunates off the toast-rack if he chose to do so?

We've been talking about those. The one I favour most is that getting off the toast-rack requires freely-chosen repentance, not because God's sat there saying "I'm not letting you out until..." but because being Heavenly and repentance are intricately related.

quote:
But in what circumstances can it be more loving to let a person languish in Hell (whatever it is) than to drag him out?
If dragging him out involves annihilating him?
 
Posted by Matt Black (# 2210) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
The crux (cough) of the matter is whether God is looking at Hell (whatever Hell is like) thinking "Bastards. I wonder if I could make it any hotter?" or if he would drag them out if it was meaningful and possible to do so.

What could conceivably _prevent_ God dragging the unfortunates off the toast-rack if he chose to do so?

Matt Black describes God in these circumstances as `lovingly self-limited', rather than logically or metaphysically limited. But in what circumstances can it be more loving to let a person languish in Hell (whatever it is) than to drag him out?

When he knowingly and freely wants to be there

quote:
I think all this free-will-don't-interfere-with-personal-integrity stuff just doesn't cut the mustard. I regularly interfere with my kids' free will when they want to play in the traffic. Why should I expect less from God?
Because we should expect more from ourselves to the extent that we're not children.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
If dragging him out involves annihilating him?

Surely annihilation is preferable to eternal torment?
 
Posted by Marvin the Martian (# 4360) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
But in what circumstances can it be more loving to let a person languish in Hell (whatever it is) than to drag him out?
If dragging him out involves annihilating him?
If Hell is eternal pain and anguish, then surely annihilation would be better...
 
Posted by Justinian (# 5357) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
What I WAS trying to say is that most cultures I'm aware of (I've studied quite a few, so this isn't total gas) have a deep-seated sense of "God (or the gods) is up there, and I'm down here, and I'd better keep that fact in mind." They may moan and bitch and complain, in extremely robust language (see the psalmists for example) but they don't usually lose track of who's on top. They consider hubris to be a sin, and they commend the man who knows his place--in the universe, in the world, in the family. And who functions in it properly, beautifully, and freely.

And most cultures I'm aware of (and I've studied quite a few) have a pantheon of Gods that are complete and utter brats who screw people over for fun. There is a sense of "I'd better keep that in mind", I'll grant - but largely because the Gods don't like competition (but sometimes have to take it if the competition is strong enough).

If you really want your theology to be based on "Might makes right" principles, and have a God who does things like turning people into spiders because they might weave better than the God does, go right ahead and use other cultures fear of their unjust and arbitrary Gods as a reason we should fear ours. But at this point, you have relegated your God to the moral authority of [pick random pantheon] which has all the vices of humanity with the power to back them up.

If you want to say that your God is Love, or Good, you have given me something about your God that I can check. And if what is observable about such a God is incompatable with your God being Love or Good, either you are lying to me about your God or your God is (or your teachers are) lying to you. Whichever case is true, I am being lied to. And if I know that I am being lied to by you in your attempt to convert me, I am not going to convert.

In short, if your God's description does not match your God's actions, your worship is based on a lie.

Also, if your worship is based on fear of hell, that puts it on a par with worshipping Cthulu so you get eaten first.

quote:
But in the West, many (most?) of us have lost that sense of hierarchy, of being under anyone's authority but our own. We sit in judgement on God, on our leaders, and on our parents. (Okay, in the case of some of our leaders, that's more than warranted. [Biased] )
I call that Growing Up, myself.

quote:
And God forbid that we should be asked to accept the authority of a sacred book, an old tradition, or the opinions of those older and more experienced than us.
And when the authority is completely inconsistent with itself, of couse we don't take it for granted. Trust, but verify. And a God who is supposedly Love and who created Hell and condemns people to it completely fails the verification process.

quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
Sorry, Demas, but my [Overused] was to Greyface, not you; I wouldn't describe God so much as impotent as lovingly self-limited

And I'd describe such a God as lovingly self-limited only in the way that an abusive parent is self-limited in not being nicer to his or her children.

quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
A merciful God allows me to say whatever idiotic thing I want, as long as I obey the Ship's Commandments. According to Justinian's argument, I think, God would not be loving if He allowed those who are wrong to keep on being wrong.

If he allowed those who are wrong to keep being wrong for eternity. There's a difference between that and allowing people to make mistakes. One of the purposes of allowing people to make mistakes is to allow them to learn clearly. If they keep making those mistakes eternally, they clearly can not learn from them...
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
The one I favour most is that getting off the toast-rack requires freely-chosen repentance, not because God's sat there saying "I'm not letting you out until..." but because being Heavenly and repentance are intricately related.

Fair enough; but it seems to me that your model of Hell allows at least the possibility of redemption for its inhabitants. This makes it different, I believe, from the usual mainstream concept of Hell, which is that it's for keeps.

I don't really have a problem with the idea of a limited Hell, even a very extended one (whatever that means outside the context of the physical world). It's the `All hope abandon' thing that bothers me.

quote:

quote:
But in what circumstances can it be more loving to let a person languish in Hell (whatever it is) than to drag him out?
If dragging him out involves annihilating him? [/QB]
Fair enough, again. I can see how a person could, for his own reasons, reject God and Heaven indefinitely. I can see how God might have no better way of dealing with that person than to leave him to languish, if the alternative would essentially be his destruction.

What I find tricky is why God would allow such a situation to develop in the first place. Again we come back to the old free-will chestnut, no? God creates us with sufficient free will to reject him if we choose. But why create people capable of rejecting him indefinitely?

[ 27. July 2006, 12:33: Message edited by: CrookedCucumber ]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
Greyface - my problems are:

A) It is unfair to save some and not others.
B) why Hell and not annihilation?

In addition, it is not all that problematic for me personally to suppose that God should not have created souls who will burn for ever if he is a) omnipotent and if b) we take Jesus at his word when he says that those in Hell would have been better off not being born.

I am not saying that God should cause no suffering to exist, but a perfectly loving God ought to minimise suffering, which makes Hell exceedingly problematic.
 
Posted by anteater (# 11435) on :
 
Freddy:
quote:
Shreds are pretty small things. Would these qualify?
None is in the slightest bit relevant. Yes they ARE relevant to the issue of future judgement, hence all the arguments about their precise meaning. None of them has any bearing on the question as to whether the soul is metaphysically indestructable.
It is precisely the apologetic move of CSL that God would annihilate if he could. What your texts would say to a strict believer in Hell (e.g. the not notedly liberal Hermann Hoeksema a Calvinist theologian who dismissed the Immortality of the Soul as a heretical doctrine) is that it is the free choice of God to maintain these people alive precisely in order to punish them in the fire of hell. He could have decided to annihilate them but chose not to.
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
Surely annihilation is preferable to eternal torment?

It might depend on the nature of the torment.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
quote:
I think all this free-will-don't-interfere-with-personal-integrity stuff just doesn't cut the mustard. I regularly interfere with my kids' free will when they want to play in the traffic. Why should I expect less from God?
Because we should expect more from ourselves to the extent that we're not children. [/QB]
But we are all like children before God, aren't we?
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
Surely annihilation is preferable to eternal torment?

It might depend on the nature of the torment.
I am not so sure, because for me the fact that the torment is eternal means that it has absolutely no redemptive quality. If it had such a quality, we might expect the suffering of Hell to, eventually, come to an end when the soul became redeemed. It looks to me like, once in Hell, the soul never shall be redeemed, since it's suffering is eternal.
 
Posted by Justinian (# 5357) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
Surely annihilation is preferable to eternal torment?

It might depend on the nature of the torment.
And the torment of Hell is described in terms like "It would have been better if he had not been born". In short, it's very bad torment of the sort that destruction is preferable to.
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
What I find tricky is why God would allow such a situation to develop in the first place. Again we come back to the old free-will chestnut, no? God creates us with sufficient free will to reject him if we choose. But why create people capable of rejecting him indefinitely?

In the abstract, because their freedom requires the capability. In the particular, as in why create this particular person, well I've tried to argue that it might be more loving to create such a person than have them never exist.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
well I've tried to argue that it might be more loving to create such a person than have them never exist.

Even though Christ Himself said such a person would have been better off if he had never been born?
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
Christ said it about Judas specifically, and although I've been hassled recently for making assumptions I assume you haven't put one of your eyes out recently?

ETA: That is, I don't think you can conclude either that Christ was speaking literally about Iscariot, or that this has anything to do with the torment of Hell for him or anybody else. Faulty prooftexting.

[ 27. July 2006, 12:52: Message edited by: GreyFace ]
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
OK - so what forms of eternal suffering do you prepose as being better than annihilation?
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
Arguing with Gordo.

More seriously, missing out on Heaven qualifies if Heaven is as good as we've been led to believe. Judas might have been tormented with guilt at betraying his Lord. I don't know.

The point is surely - don't go there. It's a Very Bad Idea.
 
Posted by IconiumBound (# 754) on :
 
There is an old story that bears on this discussion of eternal punishment or a hell of ones own choosing.

A farmer on a cold December day saw a flock of sparrows huddling against his barn, trying to escape the snow and wind that was blowing them around. He went out and opened the barn door to let the birds get into the barn but they would not. "If only I was a sparrow I could lead them to safety.", he thought. As he pondered what could be done to save the sparrows he heard the church bell in town ring out, for it was Christmas day. Then he said to himself, "Now I know why you did it."

Allowing for the slightly saccharine nature, the story does make a sharp point: Jesus does make the difference between Heaven and Hell.
 
Posted by Matt Black (# 2210) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black::
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
I think all this free-will-don't-interfere-with-personal-integrity stuff just doesn't cut the mustard. I regularly interfere with my kids' free will when they want to play in the traffic. Why should I expect less from God?

quote:
Matt:Because we should expect more from ourselves to the extent that we're not children.
CC:But we are all like children before God, aren't we?

That would be to absolve us from all responsibility for our actions - and I don't find that concept in Scripture or Tradition.

[Tried to tidy up code to show who said what]

[ 27. July 2006, 15:02: Message edited by: Matt Black ]
 
Posted by Justinian (# 5357) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
That would be to absolve us from all responsibility for our actions - and I don't find that concept in Scripture or Tradition.

But the concept of Hell as normally presented is not about responsibility. It is clearly (because it is eternal) disproportionate to any conceivable notion of proportionality and any God who would set up a system that condemned people there is Unmerciful, Unjust, Unloving, and Vengeful.

You can have Hell being a consequence of certain actions - but only at the cost of the Creator being evil in certain cases.
 
Posted by Matt Black (# 2210) on :
 
Not if the action is the knowing and fully-informed refusal to be with God/ in heaven
 
Posted by Justinian (# 5357) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
Not if the action is the knowing and fully-informed refusal to be with God/ in heaven

So you're giving humans Omniscience after death now? And full access to the mind of God? That's the only way they could be fully informed.

In short, the conditions you state are impossible for any lesser being than God. Thanks for arguing my case.
 
Posted by Lamb Chopped (# 5528) on :
 
Oh, for gosh sake, Justinian. Can we keep this from getting personal? Or take me to hell, I don't care.

Just for the record, I do NOT lie to people in an attempt to convert them, and I do not recommend this course to others. That's seriously fucked up.

I don't think you get what I'm saying. I'll give it one more shot, and then give up.

There are two senses of the word "fear." One involves cringing and terror--the kind of thing you get with the pantheons you speak of, a sense of being in the hands of an irrational but powerful being. That's not what I'm recommending. Got it?

There is also the "fear" which refers to a healthy respect for someone worthy of respect--one's father, one's teacher, one's boss, or God. This is the "fear" that in most cultures (and sometimes in our own) prevents people from smart-mouthing their elders. Not the fear of being sent sailing across the room, but rather a sense that it's wholly inappropriate, and particularly coming from a person in a lower position to a person in a higher position.

I'm not concerned with people questioning, arguing, or even complaining to God. God knows I do this plenty myself. What bugs me is the culturally pervasive attitude of "God is my copilot," "me and Jesus-my-buddy," "God-you-better- come- through for me," "God- you- owe- me- one," and anything else that is based on an idea that the speaker is equal or higher than God, and has the right to cheek him that way. It's just damned rude. Though I'm sure those who do it, don't see it that way.

To be sure, God doesn't need my help to defend him--that would be just as presumptuous as the other. But I was trying to explain why this whole "God on trial" bit bugs me. I'll shut up now.
 
Posted by Matt Black (# 2210) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
Not if the action is the knowing and fully-informed refusal to be with God/ in heaven

So you're giving humans Omniscience after death now? And full access to the mind of God? That's the only way they could be fully informed.

In short, the conditions you state are impossible for any lesser being than God. Thanks for arguing my case.

You're forgetting that we're made in the image of God; we are, as St Paul reminds us on the personal responsibility point, "without excuse" (Rom 2:18-3:1ff). Now, unlike some evangelicals, I'm not one to come up with a particularly harsh interpretation of that passage and neither do I wish to indulge in a war-of-the-proof-texts but I do cite that passage as evidence in some form that

1. It's not impossible despite us not being omniscient

2. We are not absolved of personal responsibility.
 
Posted by Justinian (# 5357) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Just for the record, I do NOT lie to people in an attempt to convert them, and I do not recommend this course to others. That's seriously fucked up.

I'd agree. But the messages I was criticising are completely incompatable with each other. And that means that there is a lie in there somewhere. And that means that intentional or not, I am being lied to by many evangelists in a way you are defending.

quote:
There are two senses of the word "fear." One involves cringing and terror--the kind of thing you get with the pantheons you speak of, a sense of being in the hands of an irrational but powerful being. That's not what I'm recommending. Got it?
OK. That's not what you are recommending. But you brought up the pantheons and other societies as a model to follow. That's why I thought you meant that sort of fear. Because it was the sort of fear that most societies had for their Gods.

And it was the sort of fear that underlay the respect in any sort of caste structure there has ever been. If someone broke the rules of the caste system they would normally be cut down. Yes, it was then claimed to be based on respect for the position - but was enforced by means of fear.

In short, it may not have been the type of fear you intended to recommend - but it was the type of fear you did recommend. And you even called it fear rather than respect.

quote:
There is also the "fear" which refers to a healthy respect for someone worthy of respect--one's father, one's teacher, one's boss, or God. This is the "fear" that in most cultures (and sometimes in our own) prevents people from smart-mouthing their elders. Not the fear of being sent sailing across the room, but rather a sense that it's wholly inappropriate, and particularly coming from a person in a lower position to a person in a higher position.
That's not fear. That's respect. An entirely different matter. Unless it is enforced by fear (as it has been in an awful lot of cultures when it's been connected to a social hierarchy rather than ability).

To me the lack of respect we have in contemporary society for those supposedly better on most scales is a sign of maturity and a sign that we have civilisation that is not at the point of a sword. The thing that many, many cultures have thrown up may look like respect but it is normally based on fear and the ability to wipe people out rather than respect for what people can do or actually are. I do wish there was more respect for genuine expertise and genuine goodness than there appears to be. But that's about it.

In order to gain respect rather than fear, a being ought to be worthy of that respect. The message you are giving is that God is worthy of respect because he is God. God is certainly worthy of fear because he is Omnipotent. And certainly worthy of respect as a creator. But I do not worship or even follow Vincent van Gough. The question is whether God is worthy of respect or even deferance on a moral level. Being Big and Powerful won't give him that. See some of the Greek Gods for a group of morally contemptable individuals who were extemely powerful.

True respect is a much higher level of praise than fear because it must be given freely. It can not be demanded. Yet you seem to be demanding it for an entity that may not exist and if such an entity exists can not be all you claim of it.

quote:
I'm not concerned with people questioning, arguing, or even complaining to God. God knows I do this plenty myself. What bugs me is the culturally pervasive attitude of "God is my copilot," "me and Jesus-my-buddy," "God-you-better- come- through for me," "God- you- owe- me- one," and anything else that is based on an idea that the speaker is equal or higher than God, and has the right to cheek him that way. It's just damned rude. Though I'm sure those who do it, don't see it that way.
For once I'd agree. But you have completley missed the point. The point is not whether God is a slot machine - it is whether God is worthy of respect as well as fear.

quote:
To be sure, God doesn't need my help to defend him--that would be just as presumptuous as the other. But I was trying to explain why this whole "God on trial" bit bugs me. I'll shut up now.
God is on trial because without such a trial he can not be given the sort of respect you want. Such respect attaches to beings rather than to power (which gives the respect based on fear). And in order to understand the being and whether they are worthy of respect, such a judgement is necessary.

Quick question so you can see the difference: If it turned out that the creator and omnipotent one was actually Lucifer, would you give him the same respect you give God?

And Matt, whether or not we can have excuses, we can not have full and informed consent without omniscience and experience. Therefore your condition is completely impossible for a human. We are not absolved of responsibility - but the outcome is not just and is ordained by God.
 
Posted by Lamb Chopped (# 5528) on :
 
Okay, one quickie and I'm out like I promised--I would NOT cheek Lucifer either, even in his current position. [Biased] One does not cheek a tiger, caged or not.
 
Posted by Justinian (# 5357) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Okay, one quickie and I'm out like I promised--I would NOT cheek Lucifer either, even in his current position. [Biased] One does not cheek a tiger, caged or not.

OK. But would it be the same sort of respect you give him as you do God? Rather than just fear him?
 
Posted by angelfish (# 8884) on :
 
A few posts ago Matt Black and Crooked Cucumber were having an interesting exchange on the theme of "wouldn't a loving God save us from Hell as a loving parent saves a child from being run over?" and I would just like to stick my tuppence worth in.

I don't think the child playing in the road / person choosing to reject God analogy is true. The difference is between limiting a person's behaviour and changing a person's attitude.

The parent plucking a child from the path of an oncoming vehicle would not necessarily thereby elicit a change in the child's attitude to playing in the road. It would be a "one-off" save but not a "conversion". All the parent can hope for is that by following his example, the child will learn that roads are dangerous and cease, by his own volition, to play in the road.

I am sure God would be able to "physically" remove someone from Hell (or change her experience of Him so that she could bear to be in His presence if you prefer) but this could not guarantee the person would not stop wanting to turn away from Him at a future date. God can't change the individual's mind without somehow controlling her will. I can't imagine that we have no free will after death.

The point of love is that it can only be given, not procured. We can only love our children, show them how to love and then hope they love us in return. Isn't it the same with God?

[edited for grammar]

[ 27. July 2006, 16:58: Message edited by: angelfish ]
 
Posted by Justinian (# 5357) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by angelfish:
The point of love is that it can only be given, not procured. We can only love our children, show them how to love and then hope they love us in return. Isn't it the same with God?

Possibly, but if God can not get the response he wants to out of his creation, God is imperfect.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by anteater:
Freddy:
quote:
Shreds are pretty small things. Would these qualify?
None is in the slightest bit relevant. Yes they ARE relevant to the issue of future judgement, hence all the arguments about their precise meaning. None of them has any bearing on the question as to whether the soul is metaphysically indestructable.
Anteater, I may be misunderstanding what it is that you are not seeing in these quotes. Do you require the quote to say: "The soul cannot be destroyed"?

There are numerous quotes about things that are eternal and everlasting, many quotes about forever, eternity, without end, and similar concepts. If these are applied to people, don't they mean that they are indestructable?

A normal Bible reading gives us two options:
quote:
Matthew 25:46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
Either way, the soul lasts forever. Are you aware of passages that say something different?
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
Any good argument rests upon its assumptions. Accepting the arguments conclusion depends, at least in part, on acceptance of these assumptions. I've identified a few of them in this argument.

quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
If Heaven is fully-realised eternal life, none of us deserve to have it. We're agreed that we can't earn our way into Heaven, right? We can't be perfect enough to compel God from simple justice to grant us an entry pass to Heaven.

1. We don't deserve heaven.

I agree so far.
quote:
If we think of Hell as the alternative or perhaps the collective name for the alternatives to Heaven (whatever that might entail) then by this argument, everybody deserves Hell.
2. Hell is defined as any alternative to Heaven.

This is a very loose definition that disregards most people's traditional concept of Hell being a place of misery (for whatever reason). If Hell can be an "okay enough place," what is it?
quote:
...think about a person who eternally rejects God and ends up in Hell.
3. It is possible to eternally reject God.

Why is this so universally accepted as Absolute Truth™? What if it's not possible? What if it's extremely unlikely?

quote:
How could you be said to love someone if your assessment of their value was that they should be wiped out of existence? If one of my children grew up to be a murderer, deeply unhappy and so on, would I be loving if I were to develop a time machine and then go back and kill him at birth?
4. Hell is better than annhilation.

As others have said, this seems blatantly false. Eternal suffering, in any form, known or unknown, seems obviously worse than non-existence. It's why torturers don't kill their victims--then the pain and suffering would end.
quote:
I'm approaching my level of philosophical incompetence here but I don't know how far you could change a person against their will without actually erasing them and replacing them with somebody else.
5. Some people were created to reject God, and causing them to accept God would change their fundamental being.

This boils down to flat-out Calvin's five. (Because of this*, I think it's the most important assumption.) If we are all created with the potential to love and accept God, then God's loving, coaxing, unending pursuit can win us all to him without changing anyone intrinsically.

Of the five assumptions I identified, I can only grant number (1). (2) through (5) seem to be unfounded at best, and thus, the salvation of all seems more likely than inevitable condemnation of some, most, or even one.

-Digory

[eta brevity and coherence]

[ 28. July 2006, 05:52: Message edited by: professor kirke ]
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
2. Hell is defined as any alternative to Heaven.

This is a very loose definition that disregards most people's traditional concept of Hell being a place of misery (for whatever reason). If Hell can be an "okay enough place," what is it?

Don't know, we only have metaphorical language about it. What I think we do know, from the Gospels, is that it's a place comparable to Heaven such that if you don't end up in the latter, there'll be weeping and teeth-gnashing. I don't think people are arguing against a literal lake of fire here.

quote:
3. It is possible to eternally reject God.

Why is this so universally accepted as Absolute Truth™? What if it's not possible? What if it's extremely unlikely?

Free will theodicy requires it. Without it, why does any suffering exist?

quote:
4. Hell is better than annihilation.

As others have said, this seems blatantly false. Eternal suffering, in any form, known or unknown, seems obviously worse than non-existence.

So would you obliterate your children if you knew they'd be unhappy for ever? Or make them as happy as you could, even if that involved a fair bit of weeping and teeth-gnashing? Most people seem unwilling to answer that question.

Life as it is seems generally a mix of suffering and joy. At the moment for example I'm "suffering" from sinusitis but if you come round here recommending euthanasia and berating my mother for giving birth to me, I'll set the dogs loose.

quote:
5. Some people were created to reject God, and causing them to accept God would change their fundamental being.

This boils down to flat-out Calvin's five

Absolute nonsense. You have to remove free will to be able to say this is one of my assumptions. What's wrong with Calvin's model is that God creates people who has no chance. Omniscience might be able to foresee what they will freely do, but that's not the same thing. They were not created to reject God. It's all in Boethius [Biased]

quote:
If we are all created with the potential to love and accept God, then God's loving, coaxing, unending pursuit can win us all to him without changing anyone intrinsically.
Can, or necessarily must? You remove the ability to choose. If you're certain of this, you don't believe we have free will.

Now, I think you're being a bit unfair saying that these are assumptions. My actual assumptions, for the purpose of this argument, are that Jesus in the Gospels wasn't lying about the potential eternal consequences of rejecting him and that God is loving even towards any that miss Heaven. Many Universalist arguments just seem too quick to throw away these words completely on the grounds that a loving God clearly wouldn't allow anything bad to happen to anybody, which seems a bit simplistic considering the state of things in this world.
 
Posted by Lurker McLurker™ (# 1384) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:


A normal Bible reading gives us two options:
quote:
Matthew 25:46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
Either way, the soul lasts forever. Are you aware of passages that say something different?
But if something is completely detroyed, it stays destroyed for ever. So the verse could be referring to annihilation.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by angelfish:
The parent plucking a child from the path of an oncoming vehicle would not necessarily thereby elicit a change in the child's attitude to playing in the road. It would be a "one-off" save but not a "conversion". All the parent can hope for is that by following his example, the child will learn that roads are dangerous and cease, by his own volition, to play in the road.

I am sure God would be able to "physically" remove someone from Hell (or change her experience of Him so that she could bear to be in His presence if you prefer) but this could not guarantee the person would not stop wanting to turn away from Him at a future date. God can't change the individual's mind without somehow controlling her will.

I agree that, however many times I pull my children out of the road, it doesn't stop them wanting to play in the road. And I'd agree that rescuing a person from Hell (whatever it is) without changing that person from the inside may not be a loving act, depending what the consequences are.

If there were some safe drug (say) or some psychotherapeutic procedure that would give my children a natural aversion to roads, I would be tempted to use it. After all, my front door opens directly onto a main road and it is a constant worry.

Of course, if I did that, I would then have to consider similar intervention to prevent my children climbing trees they can't get down from, swimming out of their depth in the pool, and so on. I concede that, most likely, there is no way for me to make a child who enjoys risk-taking into one who does not, without changing that child into a different one.

But for me, the crux (sorry) of the matter is not what I am capable of doing, but what God is capable of doing. Can God bring about a state of affairs in which people are wholly free, and always freely accept him? I would argue (as Plantinga does) that such a state is, indeed, a logical impossibility.

But can God bring about a state of affairs in which people are mostly free, and yet always freely accept him? I don't think that is a logical impossibility.

If it is not, then the issue comes down to this: Why is a world in which people are wholly free, even to the extent of their own perdition, superior to one in which people are free except to the extent of their own perdition?
 
Posted by Matt Black (# 2210) on :
 
Because, for me at least, love can only be love if it is totally free. I can pluck my child from the road but I cannot force him to love me. If, as I believe, God's primary attribute is love, then that total freedom must be given by Him to us - and that includes our freedom to reject Him.
 
Posted by The Great Gumby (# 10989) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
But can God bring about a state of affairs in which people are mostly free, and yet always freely accept him? I don't think that is a logical impossibility.

Hm. I'm not sure about this. What does "freely accept" mean to you? Do you mean we would always intellectually accept God, or always act according to His will? I'm sure you can see the problem with the latter, but I'm not sure the former's much better either. Adam and Eve could be said to have intellectually accepted God, but nevertheless employed their free will to do the only thing they were told not to. I'm not sure that could be considered acceptance.

This is why I tend towards a more purgatorial vision of hell, with possibly a dash of annihilationism thrown in. As Greyface said very eloquently upthread, none of us deserves heaven, and as was agreed on the Purgatory thread, anyone heading in that direction would still need to be fully sanctified. I suggest that the process of sanctification and what has been described as hell might actually be the same thing.

In essence, while God may wish to save everyone, only that which is pure and holy can stand His presence. In drawing us to Himself, all that is impure is stripped away. For a truly holy person, this is a relatively minor concern. For some, that might mean most of their being is eaten up in this process. I don't want to get too metaphysical about this, but I suspect that it would be fairly painful to know that most of what you consider as "you" is ceasing to exist. As to whether there are any people who are wholly evil, and therefore would be completely destroyed, or who would rather be destroyed than go through that painful process, I don't know.
 
Posted by Calindreams (# 9147) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
Because, for me at least, love can only be love if it is totally free. I can pluck my child from the road but I cannot force him to love me. If, as I believe, God's primary attribute is love, then that total freedom must be given by Him to us - and that includes our freedom to reject Him.

You can't make the child love you, this is true. But neither did the child have any choice to whether he was plucked out or not.

Another analogy would be someone who is about to jump of a building. Even if it were there expressed desire to jump, if I had the chance to forcibly stop them doing it I would. In this sense I would be acting against there free will because I think I have a greater persective on what is good for them.
Eventual salvation for all is not inconsistent with free will. For it to be an impossibility to be separate from God's presence is just a state of affairs of which we have no choice. We have no choice whether we die or not.

If there is a consioussness after death then I reserve the possibility that some will not be very happy to be in the presence of God, and if I knew there were some souls suffering eternal punishment while I am supposed to be enjoying my salvation, I might be one of those unhappy souls in heaven.
 
Posted by angelfish (# 8884) on :
 
I agree with you, Canlindreams

- but to say that if God is unable to make everyone happy in his presence He is therefore imperfect (as per Justinian above) is, I think, distorting the meaning of the word "perfect" to mean "can do anything, even something that is logically impossible". If that is your definition of the word "perfect" then yes, God is imperfect.

It is logically impossible to force a person's will, whilst maintatining their freedom to choose. I am sure God can be highly persuasive (as he is in many instances on earth - see the conversion of Saul/Paul for one such example) but it is still up to the individual to submit to the refining, "burning" process of being in contact with God and be made holy through it, or to fight/reject the process and forfeit a right relationship with God (and thus fullness of joy) as a result. Isn't it the spiritual equivalent of leading a horse to water but not being able to make him drink?

I think I may now be confounding the processes of sanctification and salvation - but what is the difference (if any)?

[ 28. July 2006, 11:28: Message edited by: angelfish ]
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
I'm pretty sure I could make you happy in my presence by lacing your food with ecstasy. I could certainly make you happy by rearranging your neurons appropriately, had I the knowledge and power to do so.

I'm not sure why making me happy against my will is somehow a logical impossibility. I think that this thread is displaying a highly abstract and quite unrealistic conception of 'free will'.

I also think that this thread is displaying a view of judgment and hell which is at the very least as unorthodox as anything which a universalist could come up with!

Can you point me to a denomination which openly teaches that God allows us to choose to go to hell out of his love for us and respect for our free will, but that's OK because hell isn't that bad anyway?

(OK, maybe Freddy shouldn't answer that question [Razz] )
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
(OK, maybe Freddy shouldn't answer that question [Razz] )

I just might. [Two face]

But I don't want anyone to think that I don't think hell is all that bad. The New Church teaches the hell that is in "The Great Divorce." It is pretty bad, but it is chosen nevertheless. [Disappointed]
 
Posted by Calindreams (# 9147) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by angelfish:
I agree with you, Canlindreams

- but to say that if God is unable to make everyone happy in his presence He is therefore imperfect (as per Justinian above) is, I think, distorting the meaning of the word "perfect" to mean "can do anything, even something that is logically impossible". If that is your definition of the word "perfect" then yes, God is imperfect.


Maybe I didn't explain myself clearly enough. I'm sure God is capable of making everyone happy in his presence, but to do so would be a wrongful impingement of our free-will. I never said that God was imperfect by allowing unhappy souls in heaven.

[edited to say: Sorry Angelfish, I realise once I posted you were responding to someone else, I thought you were referring to some Early Church father when you said Justinian].

[ 28. July 2006, 12:48: Message edited by: Calindreams ]
 
Posted by angelfish (# 8884) on :
 
quote:
By Demas:
I'm not sure why making me happy against my will is somehow a logical impossibility.

Because I am assuming:

1. The only way to be happy in God's presence is to love him
2. Love has to be a voluntary act, otherwise it is not love
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
Where do you get your first assumption from?
 
Posted by Calindreams (# 9147) on :
 
But I think Demas is inferring (correct me if I'm wrong) that this type of anaesthetizing people into happiness is very much like the belief in being happily saved and gone to heaven whilst people are eternally suffering.
 
Posted by Calindreams (# 9147) on :
 
Anyway, at the root of my understanding of universalism, is the notion that logically there can be no separation from God. If we have a reality where such a dualism exists (ie. God/no God) then God is reduced to a 'thing in the universe), an existent.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
2. Hell is defined as any alternative to Heaven.

This is a very loose definition that disregards most people's traditional concept of Hell being a place of misery (for whatever reason). If Hell can be an "okay enough place," what is it?

Don't know, we only have metaphorical language about it.
Agreed.
quote:
quote:
3. It is possible to eternally reject God.

Why is this so universally accepted as Absolute Truth™? What if it's not possible? What if it's extremely unlikely?

Free will theodicy requires it. Without it, why does any suffering exist?
Free-will requires that people can reject God. It does not require that some will eternally reject God. It's a strange, pessimistic approach to assume it does.
quote:
So would you obliterate your children if you knew they'd be unhappy for ever? Or make them as happy as you could, even if that involved a fair bit of weeping and teeth-gnashing? Most people seem unwilling to answer that question.

Life as it is seems generally a mix of suffering and joy. At the moment for example I'm "suffering" from sinusitis but if you come round here recommending euthanasia and berating my mother for giving birth to me, I'll set the dogs loose.

The question is unanswerable. To most, the idea of "obliterating" your own child is synonymous with killing them, which of course would not be acceptable. However, if there was a way to cease their existence, and the alternative was an eternity of unending suffering (again, not comparable with even a lifetime of suffering that your own child could endure, and not comparable with the fact that we would never KNOW our child's future), then of course I very much should exercise that ability if I love my child. Again, however, I still might not, out of my own selfishness. I would like to believe God is not so selfish or so powerless.
quote:
quote:
5. Some people were created to reject God, and causing them to accept God would change their fundamental being.

This boils down to flat-out Calvin's five

Absolute nonsense. You have to remove free will to be able to say this is one of my assumptions. What's wrong with Calvin's model is that God creates people who has no chance. Omniscience might be able to foresee what they will freely do, but that's not the same thing. They were not created to reject God. It's all in Boethius [Biased]
Your earlier point was that if Jim-Bob is destined to reject God forever, if God intervenes and persuades him to accept him, it would necessarily change something fundamental about Jim-Bob. However, this assumes that rejecting God is something fundamental about Jim-Bob. Otherwise, if he was not created to reject God, then God's ability to win him out of rejection would only be allowing him to become who he was meant to be in God--it would be no abuse of his free will.
quote:
quote:
If we are all created with the potential to love and accept God, then God's loving, coaxing, unending pursuit can win us all to him without changing anyone intrinsically.
Can, or necessarily must? You remove the ability to choose. If you're certain of this, you don't believe we have free will.
To quote a great thinker, "omniscience may be able to foresee what they will freely do, but that is not the same thing." Not that I claim this omniscience, but free will is unaffected whether all choose God in the end or not.

-Digory
 
Posted by anteater (# 11435) on :
 
From DEMAS:
quote:
I also think that this thread is displaying a view of judgment and hell which is at the very least as unorthodox as anything which a universalist could come up with!

Can you point me to a denomination which openly teaches that God allows us to choose to go to hell out of his love for us and respect for our free will, but that's OK because hell isn't that bad anyway?

This is exactly my conclusion to this post. At least nobody has defended the hell-fire view but it doesn't look like many people get angry about it, as I do. I would like to add a comment arising out of my years as a Jehovah's Witness, who as everybody will know, have made a polemic about hell one of there chief attacks against (what they call) christendom.
First, I don't think my time with them is why I reject it now. In fact, I consider that the quality of there teaching to be so low, that it's almost embarrassing to end up seeming to agree with them.
However, where I see a strength in their belief is that because they are not embarrassed by what they teach about the unbelievers, they emphasize much more than most christians, the fact that salvation doesn't just happen simply by not being very wicked. As the chinese proverb says: Nobody by wandering around ends up at the top of a mountain.
I think this is closer to the emphasis of the NT, whereas what is happening in the Church, and in a lot of these posts, is that the urgency of repentance in this life is relatived, either because it is believed that it's not much harder to covert post-mortem, or because hell is reserved for a very few very wicked people, with all reasonably moral people ending up in heaven.
I know lots of christians who take this few.
I don't think that makes all the answers easy, and in fact apart from what I emphatically reject, I am uncertain about the best way to interpret the Biblical data.
But I believe it is possible to mount a good-enough defense of conditional immortality. I'm prepared to concede that if I left aside my moral objections to hell-fire, it is probably the best way to understand the relevant text, but it is, IMO by no means conclusive. As so often, the biblical data leaves wriggle-room.
I don't, however, believe that this can be said for the concept of judgement and just punishment for sin, and am amazed at the attempts of so many, to remove this from the Bible.
 
Posted by The Great Gumby (# 10989) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
Free-will requires that people can reject God. It does not require that some will eternally reject God. It's a strange, pessimistic approach to assume it does.

No, but it surely allows that some might?
 
Posted by Sioni Sais (# 5713) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Great Gumby:
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
Free-will requires that people can reject God. It does not require that some will eternally reject God. It's a strange, pessimistic approach to assume it does.

No, but it surely allows that some might?
Yes, but would they be those predestined to do so? They wouldn't be aware of their destiny, but God would.

Just an idea.
 
Posted by The Great Gumby (# 10989) on :
 
Oh, don't start on pre-destination! [Razz]

It's an interesting question, but I'm probably not the best person to answer it, bearing in mind my previously expressed views on the subject.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Great Gumby:
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
Free-will requires that people can reject God. It does not require that some will eternally reject God. It's a strange, pessimistic approach to assume it does.

No, but it surely allows that some might?
Sure. The point being that either scenario is consistent with free-will, thereby invalidating the argument that free-will necessitates that some will eternally reject God.

-Digory
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
Go Lamb-chopped! My take on this issue is that God has a problem with his own nature being holy and consequently it is incompatible with sin or evil. Consequently, to have a 'hell' alternative for those to whom to be near him would be impossible, is an act of mercy. I like the verse. "It is not God's will that any should perish but that all should come to a knowledge of the truth."
If you say: Why not annihilate? as some have, then I'm with both Freddy and Lamb-chopped. WE are created beings who don't actually make the rules. Neither can we rewrite them.

[ 28. July 2006, 20:08: Message edited by: Jamac ]
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
The point being that either scenario is consistent with free-will, thereby invalidating the argument that free-will necessitates that some will eternally reject God.

I agree. Has anybody been arguing that some necessarily will? Certainly not me.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
The point being that either scenario is consistent with free-will, thereby invalidating the argument that free-will necessitates that some will eternally reject God.

I agree. Has anybody been arguing that some necessarily will? Certainly not me.
Greyface, I agree. It was never necessary for anyone to reject God, eternally or otherwise. It was merely possible.

That some do seems obvious. Whether they will continue to do it forever is a good question.

That the state of someone who rejects God is, in the long run, less pacific than the reverse, is implicit in all religious teaching. Exactly how intranquil that state is, and how that intranquility manifests itself, is a good question.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
The point being that either scenario is consistent with free-will, thereby invalidating the argument that free-will necessitates that some will eternally reject God.

I agree. Has anybody been arguing that some necessarily will? Certainly not me.
Yes, here:

quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
3. It is possible to eternally reject God.

Why is this so universally accepted as Absolute Truth™? What if it's not possible? What if it's extremely unlikely?

Free will theodicy requires it. Without it, why does any suffering exist?
"Free will theodicy" could exist without the possibility of eternally rejecting God, as we seem to have both agreed upon. So the question remains, why is it so universally accepted that many most likely will? What if it is very unlikely to the point of being almost impossible that anyone could eternally resist so great a good as God?

I firmly and resolutely believe that any rejection of God or goodness is based completely in misunderstanding, confusion, incompleteness and misrepresentation. When things become clear, rejection will disappear. You may disagree, but you can't say that this view is inconsistent with free will.

-Digory

[ 30. July 2006, 02:57: Message edited by: professor kirke ]
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
So the question remains, why is it so universally accepted that many most likely will?

Because many people have experience of obstinately evil people?
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
So the question remains, why is it so universally accepted that many most likely will?

Because many people have experience of obstinately evil people?
It seems sad that they haven't experienced a more obstinately good God.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
It seems sad that they haven't experienced a more obstinately good God.

You've experienced God? What was it like? I have not.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
If "experienced" isn't to your liking or particular understanding, feel free to substitute "a belief in".

I don't think I believe that God is not good enough or loving enough or consuming enough that his being would not convince and complete everyone upon their full understanding or knowing of him. No matter what evil people I encounter.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
See, to me that sounds like he's overwhelming them, which negates freewill.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
This post from the last page explains how Grey Face and I seemingly came to an agreement that free will doesn't require the possibility to eternally reject God.

The outcome doesn't determine the means--that all end up completed by God's loving will doesn't negate their choice anymore than some ending up in hell and some in heaven. Either is as consistent with the concept of free will.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
See, if there's no possibility to reject God, how can you say there's freedom? Freedom to do X has to imply possibility to do X.

[ 30. July 2006, 03:30: Message edited by: Mousethief ]
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
If I choose chocolate over vanilla, there was choice. If 5 of us all choose chocolate over vanilla, we still chose. If 100 of us all chose chocolate over vanilla, still, there's choice. If 10 billion of us all chose chocolate over vanilla, was there choice? Is it meaningful to say "there was a possibility to choose vanilla" if we know that in the end every person chooses chocolate?

I don't know, perhaps. But the fact that all 10 billion chose chocolate doesn't negate their free will.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Certainly if 10 billion people all choose vanilla, one would be very skeptical of their freedom to choose; choices between vanilla and chocolate just don't work that way.

But that's quite irrelevant to the freewill and hell thing.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
I agree. The choice between loving God or rejecting God is far more clear as to which is better. Which is why I believe that when understanding is complete, the choice will be simple for everyone.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
Ah. But what do those of us who find the FWD (Free-Will Defence) less than convincing do?

Firstly - Why I Do No Accept The FWD by Papio Aged 29 and a half....

1a) God knows everything
1b) Gods can do anything
2) God created the world in the way that God did (how God did that is another question)
3) God created the world in the way that God did knowing what the results would be
4) God created the world in the way that God did, knowing that the result would be that some humans would reject God
5) If Papio throws a brick a window pane and it shatters, Papio cannnot reasonably say, on the basis of some arcane philiosophical point, that Ppapio did not know the pane would shatter and, therefore, Papio caused the pane to shatter. That is to say, it is Papio's responsibity (his Fault) that the pane is shattered.
6) God does not therefore have it open to God to say that Man choose to Sin and leave it at that, anymore than Papio has it open to him to say that the pane shattered and to leave it at that
7) However the Garden of Eden is understood, God must therefore bare some responsibility, at the very least, for the Fall. That is to say, either The Fall was the will of God or else God was a Thoughtless Vandal who nevertheless Caused Man to Fall (because he Caused both Man and The conditions for a Fall, knowing precisely what the outcome would be.

So, really ISTM, one of the following must be true since the FWD does not "work".

A) There is No God
B) God could not have stopped the Fall - but could could only be because God is Limited in Some way. That is to say, if the doctrine/dogma of omnipotence is explicitly rejected.
C) God is not all Loving after all
D) The Fall was God's original intention
E) Something else.

What I don't think we can do is say "oh, then it must be D" and proceed to talk therefore as though the FWD let's God off the hook. That, ISTM, is sheer intellectual dishonesty. Nothing more than special pleading, really.
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
Digory, you've misrepresented me fairly comprehensively.

I've not got time to refute at the moment, I'll be back later.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
So, really ISTM, one of the following must be true since the FWD does not "work".

A) There is No God
B) God could not have stopped the Fall - but could could only be because God is Limited in Some way. That is to say, if the doctrine/dogma of omnipotence is explicitly rejected.
C) God is not all Loving after all
D) The Fall was God's original intention
E) Something else.

Papio, why not just think of more options?

How about:
F) God knew this would happen, but also knows that it will come out right in the end, ensuring the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. There is not an alternative way of doing it that would work better.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
Do you want to worship a utilitarian God?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
Do you want to worship a utilitarian God?

Is that another option? [Confused]

My point is that if you're going to list options they shouldn't be straw men.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
Your option F is a utilitarian God - you know, the greatest good for the greatest number and so on, - Classic Jeremy Benthem, gawd ress is soul...

What straw men have I presented, please?

I assume you realise that my option E was there is case there was an an option, or option, I haven't thought of? As such, my list was not intended to be exhaustive!
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
I agree. The choice between loving God or rejecting God is far more clear as to which is better. Which is why I believe that when understanding is complete, the choice will be simple for everyone.

I sincerely hope you're right, but don't understand the source of your certainty.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Freedom to do X has to imply possibility to do X.

Don't tell the libertarians. [Biased]

Actually, Digory, given your starting points I am still as confused as Mousethief about why you are so certain. Since I am not convinced there there is an all-loving, all-powerful God to choose (I know you are, but I'm not) why are you so convinced that I will choose him?

What about people who have died, rejecting God and repentance in their final breathes? Do you think they have "really" chosen God?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
Your option F is a utilitarian God - you know, the greatest good for the greatest number and so on, - Classic Jeremy Benthem, gawd ress is soul...

I see, Papio. That's not quite the way I meant it.

How about:
G. God knows what will happen, and knows that this system is the best of all possible systems.
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
What straw men have I presented, please?

Your options were:
quote:
A) There is No God
This is not a straw man. It is a plausible alternative.
quote:
B) God could not have stopped the Fall - but could could only be because God is Limited in Some way. That is to say, if the doctrine/dogma of omnipotence is explicitly rejected.
This is a straw man. No one thinks this. Many believe that God did not choose to stop the Fall, or that His laws prevented Him, but not because He is not omnipotent.
quote:
C) God is not all Loving after all
This is a straw man. No one thinks this.
quote:
D) The Fall was God's original intention
This is a straw man. No one thinks this.
quote:
E) Something else.
Yes.
quote:
I assume you realise that my option E was there is case there was an an option, or option, I haven't thought of? As such, my list was not intended to be exhaustive!
Of course.

My issue is that you did not offer any alternatives that were good ones. Evidently you can't think of any.

One option must be that God is omnipotent, omnsicient, loving, and has created a world that will fulfill the purposes of His love in a way that is fair, intelligent and good for every person everywhere.
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
If you think that no-one believe B, C or D you would appear to be less well read in theology than me.

If you believe that the "fact" that "no-one" thinks somethings means it is not possible, you would appear to be less well-read in philosophy and history.

Oh well.
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
That book by Dearmer posted earlier is pretty good. It would serve people well to read it!
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
If you think that no-one believe B, C or D you would appear to be less well read in theology than me.

If you believe that the "fact" that "no-one" thinks somethings means it is not possible, you would appear to be less well-read in philosophy and history.

Papio, I am very likely less well read than you in any number of areas. [Overused]

In any case, I don't mean that literally no one thinks these things, because surely they do. Nor do I mean that none of them are possible.

I mean that they are straw men because they don't represent what, in your words, "must be true since the FWD does not 'work'."
quote:
As a rhetorical term, "straw man" describes a point of view that was created in order to be easily defeated in argument; the creator of a "straw man" argument does not accurately reflect the best arguments of his or her opponents, but instead sidesteps or mischaracterizes them so as to make the opposing view appear weak or ridiculous. (Wikipedia)
In other words the possibilities you mentioned mostly seem weak or ridiculous.

So I'm suggesting that another possibility would be that God knew that sin would happen, but also knows that it will come out right in the end, and that there is not an alternative way of doing it that would work better. In other words, the reality is consistent with an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, all-loving God.

[ 30. July 2006, 20:11: Message edited by: Freddy ]
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
The point being that either scenario is consistent with free-will, thereby invalidating the argument that free-will necessitates that some will eternally reject God.

I agree. Has anybody been arguing that some necessarily will? Certainly not me.
How have I misrepresented you, GF? Here you said you agree with me that a scenario where none reject God in the end is consistent with free will, which is all I've argued so far concerning you, as I understand it.

Apologies if I've offended you. I'm looking forward to your further explanation.

quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
I agree. The choice between loving God or rejecting God is far more clear as to which is better. Which is why I believe that when understanding is complete, the choice will be simple for everyone.

I sincerely hope you're right, but don't understand the source of your certainty.
I'm only as certain as I am about anything else I believe about God, I suppose. Nothing I've experienced about God in my life has ever suggested that he will let anyone remain unfinished, unpursued, or incomplete because I've experienced Goodness to mean pursuit until completion. Nothing I've experienced about people has ever suggested that evils are anything but unfortunate chains of events, and that any of us are capable of any evil in the right environments, and that, conversely, any of us is capable of any good in another environment.

None of this is proof for anyone else, but it's why I am "certain" of what I believe. I don't know if I'm right, but I choose to act on what I sincerely believe to be true. If I'm wrong in the end*, I assume God will help me adjust, or else it won't matter, or else I'll pay dearly for my mistaken beliefs. Who knows? [Biased]

*Or tomorrow?

quote:
Originally posted by Papio:
Since I am not convinced there there is an all-loving, all-powerful God to choose (I know you are, but I'm not) why are you so convinced that I will choose him?

If you'd like my honest answer, I'll try, and please try not to be offended. I think there are many who don't believe in God for good reason, because there simply isn't a lot of reason available for such a belief. Many people grow up in surroundings that simply make it impossible or unlikely to believe that a God exists at all, let alone a loving one. I doubt God holds that against them, and I believe that one day we'll all see and understand God clearly, and then we'll all rise far above our misconceptions about if he exists (athiests) or what he's like (Christians & other religions). If you're wondering why I'm "certain" about any of this, the shortest answer is that I'm not. A slightly longer answer is found above in my response to Mouse.

-Digory

[ 31. July 2006, 01:16: Message edited by: professor kirke ]
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
Has anybody been arguing that some necessarily will? Certainly not me.

quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
Yes, here:
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
Free will theodicy requires it (the possibility of eternally rejecting God). Without it, why does any suffering exist?


Hope that quote clean-up makes things a bit clearer. I don't think it obscures what we're discussing.

Your logic is faulty. At no point have I argued, as you claim, that the possibility of eternally rejecting God requires that any will actually do so. I have just argued that the possibility is there and the danger is real.

quote:
"Free will theodicy" could exist without the possibility of eternally rejecting God, as we seem to have both agreed upon.
No, we haven't agreed on that at all. It could exist without it being the case that anybody will, but it would not exist without the possibility.

quote:
So the question remains, why is it so universally accepted that many most likely will?
You're asking the wrong person. As I've said repeatedly, I'm a hopeful universalist but I don't deny the possibility. I hope nobody chooses in the end to jump off the cliff, but I don't believe there is no cliff. Am I making sense?

quote:
What if it is very unlikely to the point of being almost impossible that anyone could eternally resist so great a good as God?
That may well be the case but almost impossible isn't impossible. Jesus seemed to think the threat was real. he could have been wrong of course, but that's not a line of thinking I'd want to go down without a great deal of thought.
 
Posted by Luigi (# 4031) on :
 
If I may pick up on a couple of things. A page back Greyface was arguing that eternal torment is preferable to annihilation. He said:
quote:

So would you obliterate your children if you knew they'd be unhappy for ever? Or make them as happy as you could, even if that involved a fair bit of weeping and teeth-gnashing? Most people seem unwilling to answer that question.

Life as it is seems generally a mix of suffering and joy. At the moment for example I'm "suffering" from sinusitis but if you come round here recommending euthanasia and berating my mother for giving birth to me, I'll set the dogs loose.

As I understand it, the problem most of us that are arguing against hell have, is that it makes God into a sadistic bully. If, on the other hand, hell is comparable to the occasional bout of sinusitis then of course there isn’t much of a problem.

To go back to your first paragraph you talk of hell as being a place where your children a) are unhappy – a very mild word compared to torment b) can be made less unhappy – so even their mild disappointment at ending up there can be ameliorated – not as far as I know a part of any conception of hell I have come across. You also articulate the idea that others who care from the outside could intervene in some way to make it less…. errr… unpleasant – or is that too negative a word to use?

My point is that to make hell acceptable you have had to euphemise it so much as to make it unrecognisable as hell. As soon as someone suggests that your hell sounds not too bad at all, you switch horses and suddenly insist it is a place to avoid at all costs.

To me hell is being separated from God and his ways. God as I understand it, is the source of all good things: love, beauty, joy etc. So I find the idea of anyone being subject to an endless existence with none of these present and there being no respite [b[ever[/b] from all the negatives (pain, rejection, betrayal etc), to be utterly repugnant. I cannot see how anyone deserves that.

Nor could I understand why anyone would choose that. People make all sorts of bad decisions in this life but that is often because they fail to understand the full implications of their choices. (Digory makes this point well, further up the page).

If you are still insistent that there must be some meaningful choice then to my mind a choice between heaven and annihilation is definitely a choice.

For those who for some bizarre reason – that I still can’t get close to getting my head round – would prefer to know their children were suffering forever, rather than that they had ceased to exist, then the choice could be heaven, annihilation or hell. Personally I can’t see anyone ever choosing hell - so it would almost certainly be empty in my view - but maybe some of those you love dearly will and you will find that reassuring in some way.

Luigi

[ 31. July 2006, 13:19: Message edited by: Luigi ]
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
As I understand it, the problem most of us that are arguing against hell have, is that it makes God into a sadistic bully.

I don't believe any of us have been arguing for the rightness of eternal torture, so your accusation is unjustified unless you think it sadistic to keep those alive who are having an unpleasant time of some kind, as opposed to killing/obliterating them.

Can you specify what at what level of discomfort you would consider it righteous to start annihilating someone?

quote:
If, on the other hand, hell is comparable to the occasional bout of sinusitis then of course there isn’t much of a problem.
No, because of course spending eternity with sinusitis as opposed to in bliss in heaven isn't anything to worry about.

quote:
My point is that to make hell acceptable you have had to euphemise it so much as to make it unrecognisable as hell.
Then you've misunderstood. I'm not trying to make it acceptable, I'm trying to say that your argument is that a loving God would put the suffering human down. That non-existence is preference to some unspecified level of unpleasantness. Where do you draw the line, Luigi?

If our afterlife state was seen as a spectrum from eternal perfect bliss to eternal torment rather than one or the other, at what point would you start obliterating people?
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
GreyFace,

I see the misunderstanding. My wording was confusing. What we have agreed upon is that free will can support the idea that the possibility of eternal rejection of God could go unfulfilled.

I maintain that the possibility isn't even necessary, but you haven't gone so far.

Does free will require that we have every conceivable choice at our disposal? How many choices must we have in order to be said to have free will?

Digory
 
Posted by Papio (# 4201) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
In other words the possibilities you mentioned mostly seem weak or ridiculous.

Who to?

BTW, I apologise for being rude to you earlier.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
Does free will require that we have every conceivable choice at our disposal? How many choices must we have in order to be said to have free will?

Freewill isn't about the range of choices available to us, but our ability to freely choose from whatever choices we have.
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
I see the misunderstanding. My wording was confusing. What we have agreed upon is that free will can support the idea that the possibility of eternal rejection of God could go unfulfilled.

Yes, that's fair.

quote:
I maintain that the possibility isn't even necessary, but you haven't gone so far.
Nor will I.

quote:
Does free will require that we have every conceivable choice at our disposal? How many choices must we have in order to be said to have free will?
I don't think it really matters. What we're talking about is free will in the matter of rejecting or loving God. If love can't be coerced, then if we don't have free will in this matter we're not capable of loving. On the other hand if we're free to love we're also free not to love, and if we're free not to love... etc.
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Freewill isn't about the range of choices available to us, but our ability to freely choose from whatever choices we have.

What does it mean to choose freely in a matter though, if not being able to choose from two or more options?
 
Posted by Luigi (# 4031) on :
 
Greyface - I have explained my understanding of hell here.
quote:

To me hell is being separated from God and his ways. God as I understand it, is the source of all good things: love, beauty, joy etc. So I find the idea of anyone being subject to an endless existence with none of these present and there being no respite ever from all the negatives (pain, rejection, betrayal etc), to be utterly repugnant. I cannot see how anyone deserves that.

If you think that I am wrong in my conception of hell and that it is a very different place to this (much nicer) then please state why my depiction of hell is inaccurate. At the moment you seem to be hiding behind conveiniently vague generalities.... "unspecified level of unpleasantness. " Which could range between not repugnant at all, to suffering beyond our wildest imagination.

Secondly I would never suggest that there is a point at which people should be put down. My argument was that I could accept that there might be a point at which people themselves might choose to be annhilated especially if the worst suffering we have ever seen on earth was nothing compared to the intensity of suffering in hell. I thought I'd made it clear. However, apparently I hadn't.

Finally, I'll state it yet again in case it is missed. My main problem is that no suffering on earth is comparable to hell because, as I understand it, in hell there is no end to it. If there is never a good day in hell. There is never true love, true care, true affirmation, true beauty. Then why would anyone choose to go there? Who could possibly deserve to be sent there?

That is what I have a problem with.

I have a couple of times seen someone I love suffer quite considerably and believe me I would have killed them there and then if I'd thought their suffering was total and that I knew for certain that there was never any possibility of them having any further moment of joy, no matter how fleeting. Of course this never occurs in this life so it didn't even cross my mind.

I really don't think I am unusual in thinking this way. It is the reason so many others have said that annihilation is preferable to eternal torment - or to put it in your words - eternal unspecified unpleasantness.

Luigi
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Freewill isn't about the range of choices available to us, but our ability to freely choose from whatever choices we have.

What does it mean to choose freely in a matter though, if not being able to choose from two or more options?
If there's not at least 2 options, then there's no choice involved at all, and the question of whether the choice is free or not is rather moot, isn't it? Clearly there must be at least 2 options for the concept of "choice" to be in play at all. At that point you can ask if the choice is free or not.

But complaining that there aren't 12 choices but only 2, therefore the choice isn't "free" -- that's a category error. The freedom of the choice (if there is a choice) isn't dependent upon the number of choices available. If the menu says you can have either the mashed potatoes or the fries, your choice as a diner between those two options is quite unencumbered, even though you can't have a baked potato which is what you'd really like. This "there's not enough choices so it's not free" nonsense is something I have run into many times with non-theists when discussing free will. It's a grave misunderstanding of what is meant by "free will".

But surely you knew this, and I must be missing your point.
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
If you think that I am wrong in my conception of hell and that it is a very different place to this (much nicer) then please state why my depiction of hell is inaccurate.

Your depiction of hell seems quite feasible to me. Are you expecting me to provide you with some kind of revelation as to what it's really like?

Are you arguing now that this is what Hell is like but it's impossible to end up there? That doesn't seem to make sense.

quote:
At the moment you seem to be hiding behind conveiniently vague generalities....
Forgive me for not having specific details as to the conditions in hell.

quote:
Secondly I would never suggest that there is a point at which people should be put down. My argument was that I could accept that there might be a point at which people themselves might choose to be annhilated especially if the worst suffering we have ever seen on earth was nothing compared to the intensity of suffering in hell. I thought I'd made it clear. However, apparently I hadn't.
Right. So if somebody didn't want to be put down but wasn't able to enter heaven, or refused to do so, what would you call their eternal destination?

quote:
There is never true love, true care, true affirmation, true beauty. Then why would anyone choose to go there?
There's existence though, unless you're right and hell and annihilation are identical. I'm not sure I share your apparent view of non-existence as morally neutral, to a bit of suffering being a bit bad to great suffering being really bad, and a bit of happiness being marginally better than non-existence and so on.

Or at least, I can conceive that your argument might be wrong. You don't seem to accept the idea that existence is good.
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
quote:
Originally stated by Greyface.

I'm a hopeful universalist but I don't deny the possibility. I hope nobody chooses in the end to jump off the cliff, but I don't believe there is no cliff.

Universalism is an attractive option but it seems to me that Christ did not in any way encourage us to adopt it. He threatens the Pharisees with Hell "You brood of vipers, how can you escape the fires of Hell?" [Matt23:33]

On the question of why anyone, given the choice would reject eternity with a loving God, it could be because love is not his only quality. He is also holy. Holy could be defined as incompatible with our sinfulness which unfortunately we easily cling onto by rejecting his way of dealing with it ie repentance. It humiliates us to repent since it involves the 'breaking' of our egos. God always accused the OT Hebrews of being hard-hearted. Has anything changed in human nature? A resounding no to that!

Regarding Papio's alternatives. Clearly God could predict man's rejection of him. Why then allow it to happen? The inference is that this is not a loving act. I agree with this though maybe have to recognise that God by definition simply knows more than me. He did this yet says he's loving. This is a paradox that I could only solve if I had his vision, if I could see the end from the beginning. As Freddy says, We have to trust at some point that his way of doing things will work to create the best scenario for all.
 
Posted by GreyFace (# 4682) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
But surely you knew this, and I must be missing your point.

My point was just that there had to be a range of choices (i.e. at least 2) for it to be possible for free will to come into play.

I've heard it argued that to have free will is actually to have one's ability to choose evil removed - i.e. for the will to be free of evil. That's not what I mean by free will.

[ 31. July 2006, 15:02: Message edited by: GreyFace ]
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
If the menu says you can have either the mashed potatoes or the fries, your choice as a diner between those two options is quite unencumbered, even though you can't have a baked potato which is what you'd really like. This "there's not enough choices so it's not free" nonsense is something I have run into many times with non-theists when discussing free will. It's a grave misunderstanding of what is meant by "free will".

Exactly. This is why I believe it is possible to believe in free will without the possibility of eternally rejecting God. In this case, even if you wanted to eternally reject God, you can't. It's not in your nature to do so. This doesn't make your free will invalid, as there are other options you are able to freely choose between. That God cared enough about us to keep eternal rejection, and thus, eternal hell, out of our reach speaks to his great love for us.

I'm not saying I am certain this is how it is. I'm saying that this view is compatible with free will and is thus not disproven by saying that God values our free will.

quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
Jesus seemed to think the threat was real. he could have been wrong of course, but that's not a line of thinking I'd want to go down without a great deal of thought.

I don't believe Jesus was wrong about anything. I wouldn't mind exploring that avenue of this discussion/debate with you and Jamac (and any others), if you desired. In what passages do you perceive Jesus to have been referring to a literal, post-death, eternal hell?

Digory
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
Universalism is an attractive option but it seems to me that Christ did not in any way encourage us to adopt it. He threatens the Pharisees with Hell "You brood of vipers, how can you escape the fires of Hell?" [Matt23:33]"

There is no word in the Bible that means "Hell". Gehenna, which is what he refers to here, is seen by many as a national judgement. Check out this link :

A Challenge to the Doctrine of Eternal Torment

I certainly believe Christ made threats of judgement(which is part of why I don't believe in this "people send themselves to hell" idea) but I just don't believe that he intended to cast anybody off forever. He punishes or chastises for the same reason any good creature would, to bring about repentance.

[code clarifications]

[ 31. July 2006, 20:37: Message edited by: professor kirke ]
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
John Spears,

Welcome aboard. I've cleaned up a bit of your code using the [QUOTE] and [URL] UBB tags. These help to make the Ship run smoothly. If you need a place to practice using these code tags, visit the UBB Practice Thread up in the Styx. It's a great place to get used to UBB code or to ask questions you may have about UBB.

Thanks for helping us out. PM me if you have any questions.

Professor Kirke
Purgatory Host
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
Check out this link :
A Challenge to the Doctrine of Eternal Torment

Welcome, John. Very nice link. I love sites like this that correlate large numbers of passages.

The author's conclusion seems to be that there is not eternal torment, but complete obliteration, as some have suggested here. It is interesting that most of the passages about the fate of the wicked do simply predict their complete destruction.

I didn't notice any explanation of passages such as these:
quote:
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:

Matthew 25:46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Mark 3:29 but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”—

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.

Revelation 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

Revelation 20:10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

These do seem to give the impression of punishments that go on forever.
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
I certainly believe Christ made threats of judgement (which is part of why I don't believe in this "people send themselves to hell" idea) but I just don't believe that he intended to cast anybody off forever.

Christ did use that kind of language, but it does seem reasonable to see His speech as metaphoric at times.

As for people "sending themselves to hell" Jesus did say:
quote:
Matthew 7:2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

John 12:47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

Sayings like these could be interpreted as self-judgment.

[ 01. August 2006, 00:35: Message edited by: Freddy ]
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
Exactly. This is why I believe it is possible to believe in free will without the possibility of eternally rejecting God.

Then our choice to accept God is not free.
 
Posted by Gort (# 6855) on :
 
Yes, you will be assimilated.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
Exactly. This is why I believe it is possible to believe in free will without the possibility of eternally rejecting God.

Then our choice to accept God is not free.
Why is this a problem?
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
Exactly. This is why I believe it is possible to believe in free will without the possibility of eternally rejecting God.

Then our choice to accept God is not free.
Why is this a problem?
Well it's not a problem so much as it contradicts what I thought Digory was saying.

It also contradicts what I believe, but of course lots of people here believe things that contradict what I believe.

[ETA context]

[ 01. August 2006, 01:03: Message edited by: Mousethief ]
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
Mousethief, that's true. If there is no possibility to eternally reject God, than the choice to accept God is not free, because all will do so in the end necessarily. On that we are agreed.

So let's say there is a possibility to do so (eternally reject God). That brings me to another question: do we still have free will in heaven? What stops us from doing evil there, if so? Or at that point does it become acceptable for God to remove our free will so that we all remain in our perfect heavenly state without choice to do evil?

Digory
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
Or at that point does it become acceptable for God to remove our free will so that we all remain in our perfect heavenly state without choice to do evil?

Um, when we ask Her to?
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
Universalism is an attractive option but it seems to me that Christ did not in any way encourage us to adopt it. He threatens the Pharisees with Hell "You brood of vipers, how can you escape the fires of Hell?" [Matt23:33]"

There is no word in the Bible that means "Hell". Gehenna, which is what he refers to here, is seen by many as a national judgement. Check out this link :

A Challenge to the Doctrine of Eternal Torment

I certainly believe Christ made threats of judgement(which is part of why I don't believe in this "people send themselves to hell" idea) but I just don't believe that he intended to cast anybody off forever. He punishes or chastises for the same reason any good creature would, to bring about repentance.

[code clarifications]

Hi John and welcome.

The link you provide if you explore it is not a main line Christian one though should not be rejected for that reason if what it suggests is sound. The authors clearly are non trinitarian, deny any consciousness of the soul or spirit after death and deny, or seem to, the resurrection of the unrighteous. Their view suggests God's worst case scenario is annihilation of the wicked. Notwithstanding, What the writer (who is unidentified) states about Gehenna being the city garbage dump is hardly proof that The NT use of this word does not represent a lost eternal state. All contextual clues indicate that Christ dealt with eternal issues way beyond the physical. Even if Gehenna is a metaphor it is a powerful enough one to suggest that the state of the unrighteous will be ongoing and unpleasant. In any case, I can't read the NT and see universalist thinking in it. The fate of Judas for instance suggests that he was called by Christ, 'lost' and the 'son of perdition.' He is described as having gone to 'his own place'. His death was without hope tragic though it was. I would LOVE not to believe in hell as it would make things a lot easier. It would also make things a lot less urgent. Christ is described as the 'ark' of safety. Safety is defined by its opposite, danger. If there is safety in relationship with God in Christ, then there logically must be a problem for those outside the 'ark'.
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
"What the writer (who is unidentified) states about Gehenna being the city garbage dump is hardly proof that The NT use of this word does not represent a lost eternal state."

No, but there is no evidence to suggest that it DOES represent a lost eternal state. In the case of Isiah (where the exact same language is used) it is noted that it definetely dentotes future jusgements on earth.

My point is, this is a huge doctrine! If the entire world was heading to hell I would expect there to be mentions of it on every page....and yet, there's no developed doctrine of it.
 
Posted by Jolly Jape (# 3296) on :
 
Really only just caught up with this thread.

This is an idea that I've put forth before for discussion, but I would like to know what others think, perhaps the orthodoxen amongst us, since I think it chimes quite well with Orthodox insights, but is, nevertheless, universalist.

Let us start off at the end of the process, because it might make the logic clearer. Suppose that some swain is totally besotted with his lover. I think we can all accept that, in doing his little acts of service to her, he is not abandonning his free will. Indeed, it is his free will that compells such action. In as sense, he has not "chosen" that free will, it is just the consequence of falling in love, something which happened to him and about which he had little or no choice. Nevertheless, we would not consider his free will to have been violated. Of course, he could choose not to act upon his emotions, but in doing so, he would be denying, rather than expressing, his free will. Now I expect those of you who are still awake to have guessed that my point is that this is analogous to the situation of the believer. They haven't chosen God, but nevertheless, their own free will compells them into a love-relationship with Him.
Thus far, then, we have a model for the compatability between love and free will, based on a definition of free will which takes account of the personality of the one utilising that free will, but which doesn't mean, literally, an infinate choice between infinate alternatives - rather it is bound up with the character of the one who so exercises.

Can we agree that such a situation is ideal. If so, let us now take a step further back. What could prevent a person such as I have described acting in such an ideal way. Well it could be that the swain is in some way held back by previous bad experiences, or he could be unsure of the reception he would receive, or any number of things. But the point is that none of these things are fundamentally him, rather they are things which prevent him being fundamentally him. In other words, they are restraints on his free will, rather than expressions of it. They are, if you like, sins. You heal the sin, the dis-ease, and you make the person free to exercise his free will more fully.

Thus it is possible to believe that even the most hardened sinner (that is, the one most constrained by his sin), when freed at the resurrection from the disease of his sin, will exercise his free will by doing the one thing that, had he been free to do so before, he would have done, that is, responding in love to God.

Hope you followed my drift. Any thoughts?

[ 01. August 2006, 09:57: Message edited by: Jolly Jape ]
 
Posted by anteater (# 11435) on :
 
Although the Harvest Herald site disaoociates itself from JWs, there are tell-tale signs. Like use of ransom sacrifice which is a JW buzzword. Although the highly polemical tone especially against established chirsitan doctrine.
However, the use of the KJJ is counter to this, and I assume they are a group from the same intellectual/spiritual environment. It's a pity they're so coy about their backgrounds.
I wouldn't expect much serious scholarship from the site.
 
Posted by chemincreux (# 10635) on :
 
Jolly Jape. I loved your analogy. How much love is "compelled" in human terms would make a brilliant thrad on its own.

John Spears. (I hope I@ve got the next three in the right order) I wish you'd given us some indication of the length of your link. (I read a comment about "this page" at the top of the link and just presed the print button. 36 pages was\rather a lot when I@ve just had to buy a new toner to print off Percy Dearmer's book recomme
nded by Alogon on page 1 (Any body else got it? I'd repeat Alogon's plea to download it to a few thousand hard drives. (I don't think we need to worry about the censors yet, though!)

Jamac. You quoted Jesus snarling at the scribes amd pharisees (I think) in Matt. 23:33 IMO and in the opinion of some others, Matt mayhave been misquoting himself. He ascribes the same words, almost exactly, to John the Baptist in Matt.3:7

It may not be Matthew's fault, of course. He could be handing down receivev oral tradition. But that tradition may well have been influenced by the fact that followers of JB, when they transfefrred their allegiance to JC (at JB's insistence) may well have transferred some of JB's most memorable utterances, consciously or not (probably not) to their new master.

(Cf. the way the Magnificat has been ascribed in different early versions of the bible to the mother of JB and the mother of JC)
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
On this whole area of Human Freedom and Universal Salvation Professor Talbott has several free papers online.

This one is good. "Providence, Freedom and Human Destiny."
http://www.willamette.edu/~ttalbott/DESTINY2.pdf

One of the original arguments for Universalism I found compelling was the following one on the interconnectedness of people.

"Either I will love my child even as I love myself, or I will not. If, on the one hand, I do
so love her, then her being lost to me forever would be the kind of evil for which there could be
no conceivable compensation; I cannot both love my child as myself and be happy knowing that
she will be forever miserable.13 If, on the other hand, I do not so love her, if I am, or become, so
calloused that I do not experience her loss as my own loss, then two things follow: first, that I
have a serious moral defect myself, and second, that I therefore have no capacity for the kind of
happiness that is supremely worthwhile.14 God cannot give me a daughter who suffers from
transworld reprobation, therefore, without doing irreparable harm to me: Either he will not save
me from my callousness and my sin, or if he does save me from that, he will make me forever miserable."

Jonathan Edwards and the calvinists solve this by suggesting that, upon death, we would be transformed into the image of God and be joyful to see our loved ones tormented in hell! I am curious though, as to why they wish to become such a creature.
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
I apologise for the length of the article! I'm not suggesting I embrace everything on that site, but I do think they make a very good case on this particular topic. I did not read much else of their material, perhaps I should have??
 
Posted by sanityman (# 11598) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
That brings me to another question: do we still have free will in heaven? What stops us from doing evil there, if so? Or at that point does it become acceptable for God to remove our free will so that we all remain in our perfect heavenly state without choice to do evil?

A good question (and if this is not the case, what is to prevent a second fall?), which leads to another: if god could do this, why did he chose not to to start with? Either:

1) God chose to make this world more sorrowful and unpleasant than it could have been (not very loving, then) or
2) there is good that can be accomplished by our freedom to deny him in this life that outweighs the above.

If you do hold to (2), could you say what you think this good is?

- Chris.
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
Also, I have noticed the brilliance of somebody called "Justinian" arguing against hell!
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
I would LOVE not to believe in hell as it would make things a lot easier.

Would it? I struggle to understand how it is easier to believe one or the other. In one respect it is much easier to believe in the accepted teaching of the church and to go along with their understandings of all relevant scripture without digging deep into the subject matter.

There are some who dig and conclude that hell exists. There are some who dig and conclude that it does not. Neither is an "easy" conclusion, and neither is 100% consistent with scripture.

quote:
It would also make things a lot less urgent. Christ is described as the 'ark' of safety. Safety is defined by its opposite, danger. If there is safety in relationship with God in Christ, then there logically must be a problem for those outside the 'ark'.
First, where is Christ described as such?

Second, your logical progression says nothing about who would be inside or outside of "the ark," or why.


Jamac, could you do me the courtesy of pointing out a few scripture references that support the concept of hell completely, in your opinion?

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
There are some who dig and conclude that hell exists. There are some who dig and conclude that it does not. Neither is an "easy" conclusion, and neither is 100% consistent with scripture.

Digory, I think that the "easy" option is to disbelieve the Scriptures. I don't think, though, that there are ANY Christian denominations that reject the idea of hell.
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
Jamac, could you do me the courtesy of pointing out a few scripture references that support the concept of hell completely, in your opinion?

Here are a few, which don't even use the word "hell" so as not to mislead people into thinking of Gehenna or Hades.
quote:
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:

Matthew 25:46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Mark 3:29 but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”—

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.

Revelation 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

Revelation 20:10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

If you do use the words Gehenna and Hades, you come up with many more.

Of course the concept of hell that emerges from these many passages is somewhat contradictory, and in many ways impossible to picture or accept. How can people literally burn for eternity? How can they be said to exist when the majority of passages say that what happens is that they are "destroyed"? How can a God of love eternally punish someone?

That's why I think that the more sensible alternative is to see these descriptions as imagery that portrays the spiritual state of those who turn away from God.
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
quote:
Mark 9:43-48:
And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

44Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

45And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

46Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

47And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

48Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Not sure what word is being used for "hell" here (this is KJV/AV), but the idea of it being temporary seems quite excluded.

[ 02. August 2006, 04:12: Message edited by: Mousethief ]
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
I don't think, though, that there are ANY Christian denominations that reject the idea of hell.

Especially since most definitions of "Christian" would sadly preclude such a belief, yes.

quote:
Here are a few [scriptures supporting hell]
Your first two verses do not specify who is subject to such a fate. The antecedent for "these" is up for discussion.

The third verse must define "blaspheming against the Holy Spirit" as something that either none of us do, or if some of us could do it would negate our salvation and be unforgiveable, even during life. I've typically heard the former, or a vague definition referring to a life-long process. It's up for discussion, to say the least.

The fourth verse is the most interesting. Of course, no one follows the first half of this passage literally. Why then am I to take the second half so? And if "cast into the everlasting fire" isn't meant literally, than the figurative interpretation is, again, up for discussion.

The fifth verse deals with a hypothetical group of future people who may or may not exist, who may or may not choose to "worship the beast" or "receive the mark of his name." The sixth verse deals specifically with the devil and his angels. At any rate, any passages pulled from Revelation are cloudy at best, as the entire book is an exercise in mythology and imagery.

I don't doubt that these verses you've cited, as well as many others, certainly could support the idea of eternal hell for some. I see no reason, however, why they must.

-Digory
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
I don't doubt that these verses you've cited, as well as many others, certainly could support the idea of eternal hell for some. I see no reason, however, why they must.

Digory, are you saying that it is *possible* to interpret all the passages that speak of hell, eternal punishment, everlasting torment, etc. as not necessarily indicating that there is a hell?

Or are you saying that they really don't indicate that there is a hell?

Would you say that the biblical evidence for the existence of hell is weak? [Confused]
 
Posted by The Great Gumby (# 10989) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
The fourth verse is the most interesting. Of course, no one follows the first half of this passage literally. Why then am I to take the second half so? And if "cast into the everlasting fire" isn't meant literally, than the figurative interpretation is, again, up for discussion.

Or it could be literal, and still not support a traditional picture of hell. I've heard it argued that while the fire might be everlasting, that says nothing about whether the suffering is similarly unending.
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Jamac:
[qb]I would LOVE not to believe in hell as it would make things a lot easier.

quote:
Would it? I struggle to understand how it is easier to believe one or the other. In one respect it is much easier to believe in the accepted teaching of the church and to go along with their understandings of all relevant scripture without digging deep into the subject matter.
It is far easier in my opinion to reconcile a loving God with annhihilation or non-suffering alternative than it is to reconcile a loving God with a God of punishment. Wouldn't you agree? However I uderstand that reconciliation another way. Viz that God in Christ has provided away for us to avoid an eternity without hope.


quote:
[qb]It would also make things a lot less urgent. Christ is described as the 'ark' of safety. Safety is defined by its opposite, danger. If there is safety in relationship with God in Christ, then there logically must be a problem for those outside the 'ark'.
[QUOTE] First, where is Christ described as such?

No Scrptural justification directly for this sorry. However there is an interesting reference in 1 Peter 3:18
quote:
"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust in order that he might bring us to God having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit in which also he went down and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison who were once disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the Ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. And corresponding to that ,Baptism now saves you - not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience - through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.."
Now, PK, I see an association here that Christ through Baptism saves us similarly as the Ark saved Noah's family. However I know it is an argument from inference. Actually, I was watching a Movie
Schindler's List' with class of students and knew it was based on a book 'Schindler's Ark' by Thomas Keneally. That why I was thinking in terms of an ark of safety.


quote:
Second, your logical progression says nothing about who would be inside or outside of "the ark," or why.
I see those 'in Christ' as within the protection of God. Jesus, after all, said; 'of all the Father has given me I have lost none (bar Judas) and none can snatch them out of my hand.' (paraphrase)


quote:
Jamac, could you do me the courtesy of pointing out a few scripture references that support the concept of hell completely, in your opinion?

-Digory

Freddy has already provided a number of these and you have replied. I'm sure you aren't into proof-texting as a means of argument.


My thinking is that if you put all the references in scripture together you find overwhelming evidence that writers of scripture understood that there are places where the spirits of dead people go both righteous and unrighteous.

The concepts are somewhat confused in translation to English but we have in the OT the concept of Sheol used in 64 passages of the OT some of which are Gen 37:35, 42:38,44:29,31,Job14:13 Ps16:10,Jonah2:2. These involve the righteous.

The following involve the unrighteous: Nu16:30,33,Job24:19,Ps9:17,Ps49:14 Eze32:21. Some scriptures teach that there are different compartments in Sheol eg Deut 32:22,Ps 86:13.

Its direction was 'downward' Gen 37:35,Num 16:30 Is5:14.

It was a place of consciousness Is14:9,Jonah2:2 and

it was not removed from God's jurisdiction Job26:6,Ps139:8 Deut 32:22.

In the NT Sheol corresponds with the term Hades. (Matt1123,Matt16:18, luke 10:15 Luke 16:23. etc. It is best described as a waiting place rather than an eternal state. There are 10 NT references to it.

The OT also uses the word Abaddon translated 'destruction'. used 11 times in scripture Job 26:6,28:22,31:12 Ps88;11 Prov15:11,27:11, Rev 9:11 calls the angel of the abyss 'Abaddon' and 'Apollyon' (also translated destruction.)

From the references, it appears it described the part of Sheol reserved for the unrighteous dead.

There are also references to the pit. with most of them being found in Ezekiel. It seems to deal with the same idea as Abaddon. Nothing positive is said about it.

There is also the word Abyss found in 9 passages in the NT; Luke 8:31 and Ro 10:7,Rev 9:2,11:7,17:8,20:1,20:3. The contexts here indicate this is a place for fallen angels.

2Pet2:4 speaks of Tartarus. Again it seems that it is a place for fallen angels. Associated ref is Jude,6,7.

The word 'hell' seems to be a catch all for a variety of scriptural concepts. as other posters have mentioned.

Much has been written on this thread about the word Gehenna. It literally refers to the valley of Hinnom which in the OT was more than the city rubbish dump of Jerusalem. It was where the wicked Kings of Israel offered human sacrifices. Its origin is the two Hebrew words Gei & Hinnom. It moves into NT as Gehenna and to me has associations far beyond the city rubbish dump as posited by Tom's link.

12 references are made to Gehenna most of which have been mentioned. Matt5:29, 30,10:28,18:9,23;15,23:33,Mark 9:43,45,47Luke12:5 and James 3:6.

Taken together I find that this is overwhelming evidence that what is described here is the eternal abode of the lost.

If it looks like a duck...quacks like a duck...

[ 02. August 2006, 08:18: Message edited by: Jamac ]
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
Talbot poses the problem like this. There are three presuppositions :

1.God wills all humanity to come to repentance, his atonement was for all people. (Arminians)

2.Gods will is eventually accomplished. (Calvinists)

3.Some will be eternally lost. (Annihilation or Hell)

Clearly, all three of these propositions can't be true. Arminians believe 1 and 3 but not 2, Calvinists believe 2 and 3 but not 1 and Universalists believe 1 and 2 but not 3.

My problem is, the scriptural evidence for both 1 and 2 is far stronger than 3.

I agree that the evidence for 1 is stronger than for 2, but there is plenty of evidence for 2 also.
If 1 and 2 are true, it logically follows that 3 isn't. Because I believe both 1 and 2 to be Biblical, I simply cannot believe 3.

Most Evangelicals believe 1 and 3, which imo, doesn't do justice to Gods sovereignty. He has the power to accomplish what he pleases and if what he pleases is the restitution of all, then he will do it.

It's important that most Universalists don't doubt that "hell" or some sort of place of after life punishment does exist, they just deny that it is eternal in nature.
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:

My thinking is that if you put all the references in scripture together you find overwhelming evidence that writers of scripture understood that there are places where the spirits of dead people go both righteous and unrighteous.

Yes, this is true. But they go to the same place.... Sheol, the grave. As I said on the other thread, the Rabbinic Jewish understanding of "hell" is a place of purgatory for all people that (At worst) last for 12 months.

Which is Sheol, the grave. There is no developed doctrine of after-life punishment

quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
The concepts are somewhat confused in translation to English but we have in the OT the concept of Sheol used in 64 passages of the OT some of which are Gen 37:35, 42:38,44:29,31,Job14:13 Ps16:10,Jonah2:2. These involve the righteous.

The following involve the unrighteous: Nu16:30,33,Job24:19,Ps9:17,Ps49:14 Eze32:21. Some scriptures teach that there are different compartments in Sheol eg Deut 32:22,Ps 86:13.

Its direction was 'downward' Gen 37:35,Num 16:30 Is5:14.

It was a place of consciousness Is14:9,Jonah2:2

I think both of these are metaphorical, as Jonah was clearly meant to be alive while inside the whale.
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
"it was not removed from God's jurisdiction Job26:6,Ps139:8 Deut 32:22. "

True, Jesus has the keys to death and hades.
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
"In the NT Sheol corresponds with the term Hades. (Matt1123,Matt16:18, luke 10:15 Luke 16:23. etc. It is best described as a waiting place rather than an eternal state. There are 10 NT references to it.

True, but I don't see this state as conciousness.


quote:
From the references, it appears it described the part of Sheol reserved for the unrighteous dead.

There are also references to the pit. with most of them being found in Ezekiel. It seems to deal with the same idea as Abaddon. Nothing positive is said about it..

Yes, because it is death! There is nothing positive about it! Death is an enemy no?

From TheologyWeb :
"There is no biblical basis in either the Oral torah nor in the Written torah for a "Hell." The common terms pointed toward are the terms She'ol and Gehennom which neither of these terms means "hell." The term She'ol connotates a grave place in the ground not a "hell." Gehennom is a word that roughly indicates a type of purgatory much like the catholics have. It is a place traditionally where the bad soul stays for a period of time until which is it purified and released back to G-d. "

That is the Jewish view. Taken into account, when we see Jesus using the terms, should this not develop the concept?


I am not suggesting that we should limit punishment for 12 months, merely that this was how Jews saw it at the time.

Cannon Farrar stated :

"We have therefore this result. If our revisers retain the word “Hell” for Gehenna they will be
perpetuating in the English word its latest, darkest, and (as I believe) least Scriptural connotations; and will be stereotyping a series of untenable inferences, by substituting for the technical expression a rendering which
involves conceptions deliberately excluded by those who used the original word.
Surely it is a sacred duty in this matter to follow the example set by Christ and the Apostles themselves. When they spoke of Gehenna they spoke of something to which a definite meaning was attached; and instead of obscuring that definite meaning by changing it into some inexact Greek expression, they simply transferred the Hebrew term into a Greek transliteration."

You can read Cannon Farrar's (who was not a Universalist) "Eternal Hope" about the language of Biblical notions of the afterlife online.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
Taken together I find that this is overwhelming evidence that what is described here is the eternal abode of the lost.

No denomination in Christendom has ever disputed this, as far as I know.

It is interesting that the ideas of "no hell" or a "non-eternal hell" have always had a degree of popular support. Yet that support has never been formalized in any denomination. Of course I could be wrong about that.

It does seem to me that although the appeal of both of these positions is obvious, their implications at some point become unacceptable when looked at systematically.

I would guess that one of the main problems would be that they involve rejecting Scripture, which is hard for denominations to formally justify.

Anyway, Jamac, those were very good Scripture references.

The real question, I think, is what the passages actually mean. I think that most people agree that they need interpretation and that they are at least in some sense metaphoric.

[ 02. August 2006, 11:29: Message edited by: Freddy ]
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
Looking for 'demoninations' of universalists is a very post-Reformation thing to do - in fact it is a pretty American flavoured thing to do.

That said, there was the Universalist Church of America, which was specifically universalist in theology, whose earliest creed was the Winchester Profession of 1803. The denomination ended up merging with the Unitarians to form the Unitarian Universalists, losing much of its theological distinctiveness in the process.

There are also various individual churches which are openly universalist in theology, including Carlton Pearson's, and others.
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
The Evangelical Church in Germany was openly Universalist. I'm not sure if they still are.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America :

Click

"Christian theology firmly believes that if you do not believe in Jesus you are going to 'burn in Hell.'.... this is a crazy notion that man made up and contradicts what God says in the Jewish Bible." S.J. Greenstein

[Fixed url code. No spaces between "url=http://".]

[ 02. August 2006, 13:39: Message edited by: professor kirke ]
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Digory, are you saying that it is *possible* to interpret all the passages that speak of hell, eternal punishment, everlasting torment, etc. as not necessarily indicating that there is a hell?

Yes.

quote:
Would you say that the biblical evidence for the existence of hell is weak? [Confused]
As weak as any other biblical evidence, yes. And I don't mean "inerrant" at all. For the sake of focus, I'll grant inerrancy. But inerrancy doesn't imply strong evidence for any one conclusion.

quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
It is far easier in my opinion to reconcile a loving God with annhihilation or non-suffering alternative than it is to reconcile a loving God with a God of punishment. Wouldn't you agree?

Perhaps, though I am not sure if this fact would actually help your argument.

quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
My thinking is that if you put all the references in scripture together you find overwhelming evidence that writers of scripture understood that there are places where the spirits of dead people go both righteous and unrighteous.

I agree. Most speak of one place where both groups seem to go, together. She'ol and Hades, as you have mentioned, seem to describe literal, physical death. One conclusion to be drawn from these passages is that Hebrew culture viewed physical death as extremely negative, for anyone. To then die disgraced in your evil ways would be an even more terrible fate.

quote:
The word 'hell' seems to be a catch all for a variety of scriptural concepts, as other posters have mentioned.
Yes. Again, I'm not sure that this is a support for your argument. This type of catch-all practice may have severely confused the issue, relating to Freddy's concern as to why there are few universalist denominations.

quote:
Taken together I find that this is overwhelming evidence that what is described here is the eternal abode of the lost.
And many others do. But many others don't. John Spears recounting of Talbott's argument is a good one. There is overwhelming evidence that God wills all to be saved, and a fair amount that God's will is not frustrated. As I've said before, neither view is supported entirely by Scripture.

quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
It does seem to me that although the appeal of both of these positions is obvious, their implications at some point become unacceptable when looked at systematically.

I find this view to be both insulting and arrogant. That the "appeal" of the positions are "obvious" speaks equally to their truth and their falsity, and should thus be left out of the argument altogether.

That they typically become unacceptable speaks to a long tradition (which must be accounted for) and a human-need for the control that the Doctrine of Hell brings. Churches are organizations that require membership to survive.

There are insulting ways to describe each position's reasonings.

quote:
I would guess that one of the main problems would be that they involve rejecting Scripture, which is hard for denominations to formally justify.
The doctrine of hell requires the same rejection of Scripture and has been formally justified for centuries.

quote:
The real question, I think, is what the passages actually mean.
Exactly.
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
I think you posted on the first page that the biggest obstacle Universalists would have to climb is not neccesarily a Biblical one or a logical one but simply that it seems "too nice" or "too good to be true"...therefore people assume that those who believe it do so simply because they want to paint God as "nice" and say that everything will all come up roses.

I think this is true - in my experience people are far more likely to take on a new negative belief about God than a positive one. I don't know exactly why that is, I am no psychoanalyst.

I do want to say that (in my book) the Universalist position is not as easy for the believer as most severe Eternal Torment position. Why? Because the believer doesn't "get away" with his hard, callous, unloving attitude because he prayed the right prayer and held sound doctrine. He will need to go through "fiery trials" to be conformed into the image of the son. Heaven isn't a pie in the sky reward for being clever enough or lucky enough to have said the right prayer at the right time, but the final outcome of God's infinite grace and handiwork in your life.

And so, believers will get their portion with the unbeliever. For the selfish, it isn't so appealing.

It also means you have no choice but to forgive. The person who hurt you, raped you, stole from you, beat you...will one day be your brother in Christ.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
It does seem to me that although the appeal of both of these positions is obvious, their implications at some point become unacceptable when looked at systematically.

I find this view to be both insulting and arrogant. That the "appeal" of the positions are "obvious" speaks equally to their truth and their falsity, and should thus be left out of the argument altogether.
Digory, I agree that it is insulting. Sorry about that. The insult, I guess, is the implication that the main motivation for disposing of hell is to escape the consequences of our evil ways.
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
That they typically become unacceptable speaks to a long tradition (which must be accounted for) and a human-need for the control that the Doctrine of Hell brings. Churches are organizations that require membership to survive.

Good point.
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
I would guess that one of the main problems would be that they involve rejecting Scripture, which is hard for denominations to formally justify.

The doctrine of hell requires the same rejection of Scripture and has been formally justified for centuries.
Do you mean the rejection of the Scripture that God is love and that He is all-forgiving? Wouldn't "reconcile" be a better word than "reject"?
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
Well there are actually scriptures that say God would never cast someone off forever. I personally don't find the attempts at reconciliation very convincing when talking about God's love OR jutice. However, there are also some scriptures they have to outright reject :

“For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men. (Lam 3:31-33)

They have to reject that.

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:25-26)."

They have to reject that. (That you can pay off your debt)
 
Posted by Tyler Durden (# 2996) on :
 
Following on from the 'evangelical universalist' post which was merged with this one, there will be a discussion on this very subject at an event at my (Anglican) church in London on Wednesday 6th December. The speaker will be the American Pentecostal minister Charles Slagle who was a rgeular on the British Pentecostal circuit in the 80s and early 90s. However, when he embraced universalism, he was almost instantly black-balled (both here and in his native Texas) and so this will be the first time has has spoken in a church for several years.

He will basically be explaining how he came to this understanding of the gospel, how he reconciles this with an evangelical approach to scripture (and mission) and the positive impact it has had on his life and ministry. I might say a bit too...

We are hoping that many from the evangelical constituency will come and give him a fair hearing and while it would be great if they were all 'converted' to universalism, I would consider it a result if people left accepting that this is a view that evangelicals can hold with integrity - so that people who embrace it in future won't have their careers destroyed as Charles did.

Obviously, it's a free event and I hope lots of you can come. If anyone would like more details, please pm me. Oh and btw I checked with Ruth whether this constituted advertising or was a legit contribution to the thread and she said it was ok...
 
Posted by OliviaG (# 9881) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
I think this is true - in my experience people are far more likely to take on a new negative belief about God than a positive one. I don't know exactly why that is, I am no psychoanalyst.

Neither am I, but I thought it was obvious: Judgmental people, or people who have suffered the judgments of others, might naturally incline to a God who judges. It's familiar.
quote:
And so, believers will get their portion with the unbeliever. For the selfish, it isn't so appealing.
Ah, yes. We so badly want people to get exactly what they deserve... but never more than they deserve!
quote:
It also means you have no choice but to forgive. The person who hurt you, raped you, stole from you, beat you...will one day be your brother in Christ.
Thank you for something to think about. Cheers, OliviaG
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
The Evangelical Church in Germany was openly Universalist. I'm not sure if they still are.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America :

Click

From the same page:

quote:
Will, then, all people be saved in the end? We must say with Braaten, "We do not ... know the answer. (That) is stored up in the mystery of God’s own future. All (God) has let us know in advance is that he will judge the world according to the measure of his grace and love made known in Jesus Christ, which is ultimately greater than the fierceness of his wrath or the hideousness of our sin."
So they don't quite have the courage of their convictions...

I wouldn't have put the Lutherans down as universalist (although any Christian body majoring on grace is going to inevitably grow a universalist strain), but I'm happy to be corrected.

They appear to me to be standard liberal Protestants, who often quietly ignore the topic of hell without formally denouncing it.
 
Posted by anteater (# 11435) on :
 
quote:
Talbot poses the problem like this. There are three presuppositions :
1.God wills all humanity to come to repentance, his atonement was for all people. (Arminians)
2.Gods will is eventually accomplished. (Calvinists)
3.Some will be eternally lost. (Annihilation or Hell)

I think the case for universalism would be helped if there could be a reason found why some parts of the NT seem so against it, e.g. in Paul.
I could, in the end, simply believe that not all that Paul taught was necessarily true but I'm uneasy about it, mainly because it is Paul who is most often cited for support of universalism. Taking the classical anti-univ texts in 2 Thess, are there any universalists who have an exegesis of that which they think really holds up?

PS As an ex-calvinist, I still think you are unfair in stating they reject 1. It is true that this has been debated, but the mainstream calvinist churches accept 1, labelling those who reject it as hyper-calvinists. Their position ends up sounding contradictory, but they tend to view this as a virtue!
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
Paul is usually the poster-boy for universalism. Most of our prooftexts for hell are in the synopotics, esp. Matthew. I think it is vastly overstating the case to say that "some parts of the NT seem so against it, e.g. in Paul."

By "2 Thess", I assume you're referring to II Thessalonians 1:9:
quote:
They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power (NIV)
The common responses to this that I've seen include:

1. We should read this in the context of Paul's clear universalist arguments in his other letters such as I Corinthians 15:22, Colossians 1:19-20, Romans 5:18 etc. Accordingly, if there is a universalist interpretation of it, then that is the interpretation which does the least violence to Paul's line of thought and should be preferred.

2. The Greek word usually translated 'eternal' (above 'everlasting') is mistranslated. Oldstyle universalists wrote entire books about this word. Generally speaking, I think it is clear that the word at least doesn't always imply unending duration, the example usually given is Romans 16:25-26, where the same Greek word is used, but translated differently because of the obvious context: "Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him".

3. For the liberals among us, Paul didn't write II Thessalonians anyway [Razz]

YMMV, but if you are really interested you should find and read one of several available books which look at these types of questions in depth.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Digory, I agree that it is insulting. Sorry about that. The insult, I guess, is the implication that the main motivation for disposing of hell is to escape the consequences of our evil ways.

Yes, that is the insult. It isn't the least bit true, but it's the easiest way to quickly dismiss the universalist position with a quick flick of the wrist.

quote:
Do you mean the rejection of the Scripture that God is love and that He is all-forgiving? Wouldn't "reconcile" be a better word than "reject"?
Depends on your perspective, doesn't it? Those who believe all will be saved in the end "reconcile" the passages about punishment and everlasting darkness with their belief that God will rescue all in the end. But those who don't believe it find it easy to accuse them of "rejecting scripture," while of course all they are doing in their traditions is "reconciling scripture." How convenient.

Everyone reconciles the hard passages with their belief-sets. Universalists and Conditionalists alike. I'll continue to say, neither position is fully supported by scripture.

In other words, scripture alone is not enough to make a complete argument for either position. Our belief on the matter comes from our tradition and our reason (the other two pillars).

-Digory
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
I would have thought Paul was the strongest proponent of Universalism, certainly in my experience Pauls writings are quoted the most to "prove" Universal Salvation.

If you are interested in a free copy of Thomas Talbotts book "The Inescapable Love of God" PM me and I'll send it your way!
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
quote:

[

quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:

Originally posted by Freddy:

Digory, .. The insult, I guess, is the implication that the main motivation for disposing of hell is to escape the consequences of our evil ways.

Yes, that is the insult. It isn't the least bit true, but it's the easiest way to quickly dismiss the universalist position with a quick flick of the wrist.
Doesn't the belief that all will be saved diminish the importance of the atonement?

The issue for me is fundamentally that God is holy. He can't tolerate sin. We therefore have the whole levitical system set up to cope with both the separation of God and man yet the similtaneous need for relationship between God and man.

He is also just, so there must be a process of dealing with sins and with sinfulness in such a way that neither his goodness and goodwill to his creation (us) or his essential nature of holiness is compromised.

This to me is the beauty of the cross which at a stroke dealt with the justice issue and enabled the possibility that man could become holy too. Paul's theology in Romans goes to the heart af things in Ro chs 1-8

If all are to be saved then all must come via the cross. Without this our sin will always be a barrier. Given our essential nature of immortality, the need for a 'hell' is essential as an alternative for any who reject the cross.

Now if that is accepted. I suppose you could still believe in universal salvation if you have a doctrine of purgatorial cleansing. However, without this, you are kind of stuck with the 'judgement' teaching.

One further thing. If we are to view the Bible as the great meta-narrative of human history which can be read at a variety of levels, and universally applied to the human condition as I think most of us do (me certainly.) Then There are thematic brush-srokes throughout it.

Repeated motifs are always these ones of God's disappointment at Man's non-response, God's judgement of Man's error and God's desire to reconcile Man relationally with himself but never at the cost of accepting Man's evil. I guess my question is whether a doctrine of universalism damands such acceptance from God.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
Jamac, there are so many things in your last post that I disagree with that I would find it difficult to know where to begin. So, instead, I'll give you a possible universalist scenario.

quote:
God created humans with true and complete freedom--the ability to choose any option without any consequence at all. No need to choose between "good" and "evil" because they weren't created with the ability or need to do so.

Adam and Eve decide, however, that they want a chance to choose good for themselves. God warns strongly against it, but they decide they want it, and so it is granted. It doesn't take long before the whole world is filled with evil choices--ones that now have consequences--and the whole world is destroyed save Noah and his family. Finally, God gives the Hebrews the Law, as an experiment. Can man choose good over evil like they so desperately desire? Over a few thousand years, the answer is a resounding "No."

The Law proves man's inability to choose good over evil (as God had warned all along). Finally, the experiment has run long enough for men everywhere must surely understand that this was not how we were created. To solve the problem, God sends Grace, embodied in human form. Jesus comes as a physical manifestation of the all-encompassing pardon God has granted man, realigning him with his true purpose of complete freedom.

Christ, while on earth, spoke of the consequences for man should he choose to remain in his unnatural state. "Man was not created with the ability to choose good, but you have asked for it and it has been granted to you," he said. "In this way, you must be perfect and follow every last letter of the Law, and not just the parts you have deemed as important." Otherwise, men would be subject to eternal torment and everlasting punishment.

But man didn't rejoice. Instead, men reacted violently to protect their prideful hope of one day choosing good of their own power. They even killed God's manifestation of Grace on a cross (crucifixion), rejecting it in hopes that it would never return. But though man is free, God is also free. And in God's great freedom, he rejected man's rejection (resurrection) and granted Grace once and for all.

As we continue today to try and choose good on our own power, we are reminded that failure to do so completely would result in a very real Hell. It is wonderful for us that God has seen beyond our stubbornness and granted us Grace, though we would reject it to our grave.

Certainly not flawless, but mostly reconcilable with scripture while supportive of a universalist position. There is no overwhelming case for either position in the scriptures. As I've said, we draw our conclusions about Hell based on Pillars 2 and 3 (Tradition and/or Reason).

-Digory
 
Posted by Mousethief (# 953) on :
 
Jamac, I don't understand what you say about the Cross, and that accepting the Cross means adding "purgatorial cleansing" in order to retain universalism.

I do not believe in substitutionary judicial atonement, and believe that our reconciliation with God hinges on the person of Christ, including his death and resurrection, by which he overcame sin and death. I don't see why one has to believe any particular doctrine, however, to avail oneself of this salvation. Nor that it must needs be wedded to some kind of "purgatorial cleansing" to be universally applicable.

As we both know there are passages in scripture that point toward limited salvation, and passages that point toward universal salvation. But the passages that point toward universal salvation nevertheless IIRC do so on the basis of the Cross, not something else. And there are passages which speak of a cleansing of sins (all will be purified in fire, I think St Paul says somewhere). Is that all you mean?
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
quote:
As an ex-calvinist, I still think you are unfair in stating they reject 1. It is true that this has been debated, but the mainstream calvinist churches accept 1, labelling those who reject it as hyper-calvinists. Their position ends up sounding contradictory, but they tend to view this as a virtue!
Well it sounds contradictory because it is contradictory. Probably the single most frustrating thing about Calvinism and Calvinists is this incessant need to suggest that even intrinsic impossibilities and possible for God.

So God can desire all men to be saved...and at the same time desire that some of them not be saved. Either he does or he doesn't.

It's the same with the free will/ moral responsibility issue. I read this quote from spurgeon
quote:
"The system of truth revealed in the Scriptures is not simply one straight line, but two; and no man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once... That God predestines, and yet that man is responsible, are two facts that few can see clearly. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory, but they are not. The fault is in our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find, in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other"
(Charles H. Spurgeon, Autobiography Vol. 1: The Early Years. pp. 173, 174).

Which is just immensely annoying. He basically says they can attribute completely contradictory nonsense to God if they think it's in the Bible.

And in the classic style of Calvinist, whenever asked about it, they follow the set steps :
1.Deny there is a contradiction between human responsibility and God controlling everything.
2.Admit that there seems to be a contradiction, but the human finite mind can't deal with such things, God can.
3.Quote Spurgeon.

Pretty annoying. Rant over!
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
Professor Kirke,
What you seem to be suggesting in your last post is a scenario of a 'fall' without the taint of sin if I read you right. God's job in response is not to bring about a radical alteration in man's nature but rather to reeducate him in the area of making correct choices by showing him the consequence of wrong choices and sending Christ as a beacon toward correct ones?

We'll never agree I fear. It seems to me that the doctrine of the fall suggested by Paul in Romans argues a major corruption of Man's very essence as a result of it. By one man, sin entered... by the first Adam. Christ as the 'last Adam' achieved the goal of making a reversal of that corruption possible. The concept Paul teaches here is, I believe, inferred from Christ's teaching when he said such things as he did not trust man as he "knew what was in Man," and His accusations to adversarial Jews that they were "of their Father, the Devil." Christ's injunction to Nicodemus that he must be born from above argues the need for an exceedingly radical personal change. The writer to the Hebrews makes quite a deal about blood sacrifice culminating in the point that it is Christ's blood that was needed to cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. This was the way such radical change was to become possible. Peter in his writings also mentions this 1Pet1:18. I guess if you deny Man's sinful nature, then you can deny the atonement teaching.
To take such a line though, you surely have to ignore or revise much of the plain gist of scripture. I cannot do this.

From a personal POV, I find myself confronted again and again with my own flaws. We all do if we're honest I suspect. Jeremiah made the point that the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked. It is so easy to lie, to lust,to do stuff we know not to do but seem compelled towards. It is the realisation of this that convinces me that there is no solution for the old nature but the cross. Reeducation simply isn't radical enough.

In response to the post which commented regarding my reference to Purgatorial cleansing by the way, (Sorry your name is gone tempoarily and I can't retrieve it witout losing what I've written here. Please accept my apologies.)

I meant that you could sustain a belief in universal salvation while maintaining a belief in the atonement if you could come to Christ after death in some way. I don't however think this can be justified easily from scripture though there is some reference in Micah 7:8 and Zech 9:7. The main support is apocryphal from 2 Maccabees 12:41-45.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
What you seem to be suggesting in your last post is a scenario of a 'fall' without the taint of sin if I read you right. God's job in response is not to bring about a radical alteration in man's nature but rather to reeducate him in the area of making correct choices by showing him the consequence of wrong choices and sending Christ as a beacon toward correct ones?

No, this is almost completely opposite of what I was suggesting. The scenario suggested the possibility that God created humans intrinsically without the ability to choose good over evil, setting them in a world where they would not have to. But when they "ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil," the metaphor pointed to the desire to choose good for oneself. God granted the desire, knowing we were incapable. Salvation, then, is depending on Christ as the manifestation of God's Grace, to forgive us our shortcomings in what we tried to do on our own and realize we don't need to do it on our own because God is willing to do it for us.

quote:
It seems to me that the doctrine of the fall suggested by Paul in Romans argues a major corruption of Man's very essence as a result of it. By one man, sin entered... by the first Adam. Christ as the 'last Adam' achieved the goal of making a reversal of that corruption possible.
Agreed. The universalist scenario I suggested supports this. Adam welcomed the corruption of pride that we all now partake in, and Christ's role was to reverse that corruption through his offer of Grace.

quote:
The concept Paul teaches here is, I believe, inferred from Christ's teaching when he said such things as he did not trust man as he "knew what was in Man," and His accusations to adversarial Jews that they were "of their Father, the Devil." Christ's injunction to Nicodemus that he must be born from above argues the need for an exceedingly radical personal change.
Again, that man has fallen victim to his pride makes him quite accusable. To be born from above, in my scenario, would be realizing and accepting the fact that we are not created to choose good over evil and to stop believing we can, and thus to rely completely on Christ (Grace).

quote:
The writer to the Hebrews makes quite a deal about blood sacrifice culminating in the point that it is Christ's blood that was needed to cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. This was the way such radical change was to become possible. Peter in his writings also mentions this 1 Pet 1:18.
The mention of Christ's blood, especially written to the Jews, was in juxtaposition with the old sacrificial systems. "It's not your sacrifices that God needs to save you, Christ's grace is enough." Christ's blood, not our own sacrifices, is our salvation.

quote:
I guess if you deny Man's sinful nature, then you can deny the atonement teaching.
To take such a line though, you surely have to ignore or revise much of the plain gist of scripture. I cannot do this.

The scenario didn't deny either, entirely. Just a different perspective. Don't forget how much scripture is ignored and revised in order to accept Hell theology, though.

quote:
From a personal POV, I find myself confronted again and again with my own flaws. We all do if we're honest I suspect. Jeremiah made the point that the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked. It is so easy to lie, to lust,to do stuff we know not to do but seem compelled towards. It is the realisation of this that convinces me that there is no solution for the old nature but the cross. Reeducation simply isn't radical enough.
Hopefully I've explained enough to show how this paragraph has completely missed the point of my earlier post. There is no mention of "reeducation." In fact, the "stuff we know not to do but seem compelled towards" is directly in line with my scenario--if we weren't created with an ability to choose good over evil, then of course at least half the time we'll choose evil and feel compelled to do so. Until we accept the radical change of God's grace.

-Digory
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
Jews don't have a concept of original sin, they believe humans are free.

I do kinda believe in "original sin" in that humans live in a state that God never intended them to live in and we are all affected by that state.

One of the things I noticed in the N.T. is quite often the "wrath of God" is set in leaving people to their own devices. This means that peoples sinful lifestyles are at least in part, their own punishment. It is thought of as shameful. Humans are meant for something much better, a communion with God. "eternal life" here and now is meant to be a blessing for those who have it, and those who do not are missing out!

The fact that some humans aren't even aware that they are meant for something better and become quite happy in the situation they are in does not mean that from an objective standpoint, they are being punished - as they are missing out on something much greater. I think it's rather like the person who goes to prison, they may well get used to it and acheive a certain level of happiness, but the fact remains - they are still in prison. They don't need to be in active discomfort to be being punished.

And this is how I see it, we are in Prison, we are under condemnation - not that we are going to be torched eternally on top of what is for a many quite a miserable life.
 
Posted by chemincreux (# 10635) on :
 
Quoted by Demas:

quote:
Will,then,allpeople be saved in the end? We must say.."We do not...know the answer..."
Comment by Demas:

quote:
So they don't quite have the courage of their convictions...
Oh, come on, even Jesus, when asked who would sit at his right and left hand side in heaven, wasn't able to answer (unless you think he was being diplomatic, or fudging the issue?)

There are some extremely interesting points being made on this thread, but it seems that few people want to acknowledge Percy Dearmer's most telling point - that the Doctrine of Hell is NOT about separation, or spiritual loss, or temporary discomfort. It's about everlasting, irredeemable, unimaginable physical and mental torture - a fate, moreover, which the "innocent" were encouraged to enjoy.

Tertullian got off on sadism, and the compilers and enforcers of the doctrine seem to have been spiritually in bed with him. When Dearmer wrote
The Legend of Hell (1929) the doctrine described above was still preached in a number of mainstream churches. How many still hold to it?
 
Posted by sanityman (# 11598) on :
 
quote:
Well it sounds contradictory because it is contradictory. Probably the single most frustrating thing about Calvinism and Calvinists is this incessant need to suggest that even intrinsic impossibilities and possible for God.
Oh, I don't think this is the most annoying thing about Calvinists by a long chalk...
quote:

So God can desire all men to be saved...and at the same time desire that some of them not be saved. Either he does or he doesn't.

The TULIP Calvinist position is that there are some people he just (literally) doesn't give a damn about.
quote:
It's the same with the free will/ moral responsibility issue. I read this quote from spurgeon
quote:
"The system of truth revealed in the Scriptures is not simply one straight line, but two; and no man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once... That God predestines, and yet that man is responsible, are two facts that few can see clearly. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory, but they are not. The fault is in our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find, in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other"
(Charles H. Spurgeon, Autobiography Vol. 1: The Early Years. pp. 173, 174).

Which is just immensely annoying. He basically says they can attribute completely contradictory nonsense to God if they think it's in the Bible.

Perhaps the problem was that he was too much of a Modernist to accept that two truths may indeed contradict each other:
quote:
The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth
-Niels Bohr

If you think that everything has to agree, you end up tying yourself in knots and ending up doing great disservice to the character of god in the process.

- Chris.

[ 03. August 2006, 23:29: Message edited by: sanityman ]
 
Posted by PaulTH* (# 320) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
Um, when we ask Her to?

You seem to be saying that God will remove the free will of those who ask Her to in order to allow them to live in paradise without any hint of rebellion, but that He can't do that for people in hell. This seems illogical to me. The Jews have no concept of original sin but believe that we all have a good urge (yetzer ha tov) and an evil urge (yetzer ha ra) and its is our choice in any moment and in any situation which of them we cleave to.

Although people are punished for their sins, in the end, God will remove the evil urge from creation so all creatures will cleave to the good and be reconciled to Him. Some Christians would argue that free will itself is eternal. But why should it be? You have just argued that God will remove the free will of those in His presence. Why can't he instead remove the evil urge from the wicked?

Professor Kirke has staed on several occasions on this thread something I have been arguing here for years. To use Scripture to prove eternal damnation is flawed, because it is just as easy to prove eternal reconciliation from Scripture and which idea you choose to support depends on your tradition, your insights and your temprament. It is completely false to argue that eternal punishment is the only reasonable arguement from Scripture. never forget that the early church aleways taught that "there is no salvation outside the church". It sought to usurp God's role in judgement by claiming the exclusive right to grant absolution. That's about power more than anything else.

This is particularly the case with Augustine's doctrine of original sin. If all babies are born damned then they need the grace and sacraments of the church to save them. He was terrified of someone like Pelagius who argued that man could attain salvtion by living a holy life. Such a view would eliminate the need for a centalised power crazed church to mediate God's forgiveness.
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by chemincreux:
Quoted by Demas:
quote:
Will,then,allpeople be saved in the end? We must say.."We do not...know the answer..."
Comment by Demas:
quote:
So they don't quite have the courage of their convictions...
Oh, come on, even Jesus, when asked who would sit at his right and left hand side in heaven, wasn't able to answer (unless you think he was being diplomatic, or fudging the issue?)

What that passage means is probably a good Kerygmania thread. I don't see any evidence it was about whether James and John were going to hell!
quote:
There are some extremely interesting points being made on this thread, but it seems that few people want to acknowledge Percy Dearmer's most telling point - that the Doctrine of Hell is NOT about separation, or spiritual loss, or temporary discomfort. It's about everlasting, irredeemable, unimaginable physical and mental torture - a fate, moreover, which the "innocent" were encouraged to enjoy.

Tertullian got off on sadism, and the compilers and enforcers of the doctrine seem to have been spiritually in bed with him. When Dearmer wrote
The Legend of Hell (1929) the doctrine described above was still preached in a number of mainstream churches. How many still hold to it?

This thread, like virtually all churches I have ever been to, is full of closet works-based semi-universalists.

The number of people today who believe that God will eternally torture some of his children in a lake of fire is miniscule in my experience.

Usually what people do is say, well, God could not condemn Aunty Jane to everlasting pain. She never hurt a fly. And God could not eternally torture my sister's stillborn child. And my Hindu next door neighbour is a nice enough chap, surely God is not going to burn him forever for being brought up in India?

And so we end inevitably up with works based salvation, with the cut off point just low enough that everyone we love makes the grade, and the only people who fail are people like child abusers and Hitler.

And the answer to that is to proclaim that all are saved by God, even Hitler and child abusers, not because they are good but because God loves them.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
And so we end inevitably up with works based salvation, with the cut off point just low enough that everyone we love makes the grade, and the only people who fail are people like child abusers and Hitler.

Maybe, Demas.

Personally, I like the symmetry of teachings like this:
quote:
Matthew 7.2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
Not that I think that anyone actually judges us. We judge ourselves.
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:

[QUOTE] God created humans with true and complete freedom--the ability to choose any option without any consequence at all. No need to choose between "good" and "evil" because they weren't created with the ability or need to do so. Adam and Eve decide, however, that they want a chance to choose good for themselves. God warns strongly against it, but they decide they want it, and so it is granted.

They chose a path of disobedience to the creator's one restriction. No way was anything like this 'granted.' The traditional way of looking at this is as a test of loyalty and obedience. And mankind failed it.

quote:
It doesn't take long before the whole world is filled with evil choices--ones that now have consequences--and the whole world is destroyed save Noah and his family. Finally, God gives the Hebrews the Law, as an experiment. Can man choose good over evil like they so desperately desire? Over a few thousand years, the answer is a resounding "No."
Correct. Why was it so filled and so destroyed? A loving creator did this because it was in its present form unredeemable. Did this happen because Man originally decided to choose 'good' for himself?
Is it not too hard to defend God's actions on this score? It does more justice to the text of Gen 2 and 3 and to the character of God, in my view, to take a view of the fall as causing a disease in Man's nature called 'sin' that was so radical that God had no other choice. His love was shown in the preservation of Man's seed in the form of Noah's family.

quote:
The Law proves man's inability to choose good over evil (as God had warned all along). Finally, the experiment has run long enough for men everywhere must surely understand that this was not how we were created. To solve the problem, God sends Grace, embodied in human form. Jesus comes as a physical manifestation of the all-encompassing pardon God has granted man, realigning him with his true purpose of complete freedom.
Fair comment. The law, though, was given and available only to Israel and not to men everywhere. Maybe instead of saying that men were not created for this (moral failure,) you could say we were not created like this originally. Something went wrong with our nature.

Christ as an embodiment of grace is a great image isn't it? The issue of course is how to turn this into a doctrine of unconditional pardon. Where is justice? Are there any conditions to this grace being effective? On what basis (scripturally) can you make it unconditionally available to all? The only way as I see it is by way of repentance and this was preached by the early church. Acts 2:38. It is consequently conditional.

quote:
Christ, while on earth, spoke of the consequences for man should he choose to remain in his unnatural state. "Man was not created with the ability to choose good, but you have asked for it and it has been granted to you," he said. "In this way, you must be perfect and follow every last letter of the Law, and not just the parts you have deemed as important." Otherwise, men would be subject to eternal torment and everlasting punishment.

This is interesting as of course as Christ on the cross brought an end to the Mosaic law according to Paul's teaching. The way he did this was by becoming an embodiment of it, by keeping it perfectly in himself. Now those 'in Christ,' are also deemed to have kept it by proxy.

You seem in your scenario here to suggest that there is such a thing as eternal punishment. Is not this the fundamental point at issue?

quote:
But man didn't rejoice. Instead, men reacted violently to protect their prideful hope of one day choosing good of their own power. They even killed God's manifestation of Grace on a cross (crucifixion), rejecting it in hopes that it would never return. But though man is free, God is also free. And in God's great freedom, he rejected man's rejection (resurrection) and granted Grace once and for all.

There seems to be a big logical jump here. On what basis is man now granted grace once for all if he rejects the stated embodiment of that grace? Or are you suggesting this is not possible? If so then why? How can you say God rejected man's rejection? On what authority?


quote:
As we continue today to try and choose good on our own power, we are reminded that failure to do so completely would result in a very real Hell.
The nature of this would seem to be the issue.

quote:
It is wonderful for us that God has seen beyond our stubbornness and granted us Grace, though we would reject it to our grave.
Are you actually suggesting that we do this (reject it) but that it is not possible to reject it?


quote:
Certainly not flawless, but mostly reconcilable with scripture while supportive of a universalist position. There is no overwhelming case for either position in the scriptures. As I've said, we draw our conclusions about Hell based on Pillars 2 and 3 (Tradition and/or Reason).
I can't see how this is reconcilable with the scriptures about the atonement or with the stated scriptural injunction that God is just. The position as outlined seems to neglect justice and consequence in any real sense.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Personally, I like the symmetry of teachings like this:
quote:
Matthew 7.2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
Not that I think that anyone actually judges us. We judge ourselves.
As long as we cling to the Law for our salvation, we stand to be judged by it, for sure.

If it's symmetery you like, don't forget:

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.

 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
Christ as an embodiment of grace is a great image isn't it? The issue of course is how to turn this into a doctrine of unconditional pardon. Where is justice? Are there any conditions to this grace being effective? On what basis (scripturally) can you make it unconditionally available to all?

For scriptural bases, see:
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.

I Timothy 4:9-10 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (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.

I Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

quote:
You seem in your scenario here to suggest that there is such a thing as eternal punishment. Is not this the fundamental point at issue?
Sorry if I contributed to this misunderstanding. The simplest way I can explain it is to say that we humans want credit for our decisions. With this credit comes consequence, as well. But God knows that if he grants this type of system for good, then we all will be condemned (every one of us). So he does not accept our rejection of his grace.

quote:
There seems to be a big logical jump here. On what basis is man now granted grace once for all if he rejects the stated embodiment of that grace? Or are you suggesting this is not possible? If so then why? How can you say God rejected man's rejection? On what authority?
On God's authority? Unless you mean what authority can I say it, which is different. The same authority that any of us have to state our opinions, I suppose.

See the scriptures I mentioned above for a start.

quote:
Are you actually suggesting that we do this (reject [grace]) but that it is not possible to reject it?
Exactly. We either all get saved or we're all going to hell. I see almost no other internally-consistent opinion.

quote:
I can't see how this is reconcilable with the scriptures about the atonement or with the stated scriptural injunction that God is just. The position as outlined seems to neglect justice and consequence in any real sense.
It depends on you define "justice" and thus, what role you perceive consequence must play. God's justice does not require that some be damned. If it were so, then it would require that we all be damned, as we all fall short.

Romans 3:23 is an oft-quoted verse, part of the "Romans Road to Salvation." It says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," but interestingly, the second half is usually ignored, which continues "and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Justified is the same root as justice. God's justice involves free, unconditional redemption through grace that came by Christ Jesus.
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
God's justice does not require that some be damned. If it were so, then it would require that we all be damned, as we all fall short.

I think it (God's justice) requires that the availability of grace is contingent on acknowledgement of fault and on repentance. Think about forgiveness. In the teaching of Jesus we must forgive to be forgiven. No automatic process.

The reason IMO that not all are damned is that the sensible ones responded to God's grace in Christ. And I don't lick my lips sadistically when I think of this! It just seems unavoidably scriptural.

quote:
Romans 3:23 is an oft-quoted verse, part of the "Romans Road to Salvation." It says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," but interestingly, the second half is usually ignored, which continues "and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Justified is the same root as justice. God's justice involves free, unconditional redemption through grace that came by Christ Jesus.
Surely, it is inferred here that this is only unconditional for those who actvely choose Jesus Christ. In v22 it stipulates "all those who believe". It is part of the amazing package available to believers in Christ.


So it seems to me that the bottom line for the stated universalist scenario, is that every one is really 'in Christ' whether they know it or not or choose it or not? Everyone is a Christian? Salvation through Christ need not be chosen but salvation is granted gratis despite evil committed, good done or faith exercised?

[ 04. August 2006, 05:15: Message edited by: Jamac ]
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Jamac says:
I think it (God's justice) requires that the availability of grace is contingent on acknowledgement of fault and on repentance.

You believe grace is contingent on our actions?
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
quote:
Jamac says:
I think it (God's justice) requires that the availability of grace is contingent on acknowledgement of fault and on repentance.

You believe grace is contingent on our actions?
The grace is available to all. Whether we avail ourselves of it, through repentance, is up to us.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
quote:
Jamac says:
I think it (God's justice) requires that the availability of grace is contingent on acknowledgement of fault and on repentance.

You believe grace is contingent on our actions?
The grace is available to all. Whether we avail ourselves of it, through repentance, is up to us.
<old chestnut>
Why is this not Pelagianism?
</old chestnut>
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by CrookedCucumber:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
quote:
Jamac says:
I think it (God's justice) requires that the availability of grace is contingent on acknowledgement of fault and on repentance.

You believe grace is contingent on our actions?
The grace is available to all. Whether we avail ourselves of it, through repentance, is up to us.
<old chestnut>
Why is this not Pelagianism?
</old chestnut>

Because this is what Christ taught and so it would mean that Christ Himself was Pelagian. I am not saying this:
quote:
Wikipedia: Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature (which, being created from God, was divine), and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without Divine aid. Thus, Adam's sin was "to set a bad example" for his progeny, but his actions did not have the other consequences imputed to Original Sin. Pelagianism views the role of Jesus as "setting a good example" for the rest of humanity.
Jesus did not teach Pelagianism. He taught repentance, which is available through divine aid. We can choose to repent, by divine aid. Salvation requires divine aid. We have no power of our own. Grace makes it possible for us to choose, and it is available to all. This is not Pelagian.
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
It is a works based salvation though?

If you did a work that someone else did not (repenting) then your salvation is dependent upon you and a work you did, hence it is works based.
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
It is a works based salvation though?

If you did a work that someone else did not (repenting) then your salvation is dependent upon you and a work you did, hence it is works based.

Indeed; that's my point -- it does at least require a work, however nugatory one may feel it to be.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Um. So repentance is not necessary? [Confused]
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
I'm not saying repentance isn't neccesary to get right with God.

However, if one's "eternal destiny" or "salvation" is dependent upon something you have done, be that feeding the poor or "making a decision for christ" then it's a reward for a certain work......

I'm not arguing that you can't "freely choose" to repent tonight and be right with God tonight, rather than at a later date. The point is, if your "eternal destiny" hangs in the balance of a choice you have made, then it is a work you did...works based salvation.

That's why the Calvinists call arminians "semi-pelagian".
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
I like what Talbott says about this :

"Christians are never permitted to take credit for their own redemption or even for a virtuous character (where such exists). All credit of this kind goes to God. But the Christian religion also stresses the importance of free choice, of choosing this day whom you shall serve. Nor need there be any tension between these two emphases,
provided that we regard our free choices as determining not our eternal destiny, but
the means of grace available to us”
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
However, if one's "eternal destiny" or "salvation" is dependent upon something you have done, be that feeding the poor or "making a decision for christ" then it's a reward for a certain work......

That would include believing, having faith, or anything at all.
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
That's why the Calvinists call arminians "semi-pelagian".

Yes, and that is why Calvinists are predestinarians, the only relevant doctrine then being the divine omnipotence.

That line of reasoning leads to an impossible logical bind that essentially denies Jesus' whole message in favor of predestination.

The logical alternative is that by means of His Incarnation God gives us the power to choose to believe, follow and obey Him. This is what Jesus actually taught. This is grace.
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
No you don't have to go either way. You can believe humans have free will and God wants to free us from the bondage of death here and now - but that if we don't partake in that - then he will get us through judgements.

Basically that we don't have the final word in human history.

Canon F.W. Farrar writes of early church father Clement of Alexandria:
"There are very few of the Christian fathers whose fundamental conceptions are better suited to correct the narrowness, the rigidity and the formalism of Latin theology. It is his lofty and wholesome doctrine that man is made in the image of God; that man's will is free; that he is redeemed from sin by a divine education and
a corrective discipline; that fear and punishment are but remedial instruments in man's training; that Justice is but another aspect of perfect Love;that the physical world is good and not evil; that Christ is a Living not a Dead Christ; that all mankind from one great brotherhood in him; that salvation is an ethical process, not
an external reward; that the atonement was not the pacification of wrath, but the revelation of God's eternal mercy. That judgment is a continuous process, not a single sentence; that God works all things up to what is better; that souls may be purified beyond the grave."
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
No you don't have to go either way. You can believe humans have free will and God wants to free us from the bondage of death here and now - but that if we don't partake in that - then he will get us through judgements.

That sounds like going one way or the other. You're saying that we must repent, or we will be judged. Or are you saying something different?
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
Basically that we don't have the final word in human history.

I agree. God, not we, will change the world.
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
Canon F.W. Farrar writes of early church father Clement of Alexandria:
"There are very few of the Christian fathers whose fundamental conceptions are better suited to correct the narrowness, the rigidity and the formalism of Latin theology. It is his lofty and wholesome doctrine that man is made in the image of God; that man's will is free; that he is redeemed from sin by a divine education and
a corrective discipline; that fear and punishment are but remedial instruments in man's training; that Justice is but another aspect of perfect Love;that the physical world is good and not evil; that Christ is a Living not a Dead Christ; that all mankind from one great brotherhood in him; that salvation is an ethical process, not an external reward; that the atonement was not the pacification of wrath, but the revelation of God's eternal mercy. That judgment is a continuous process, not a single sentence; that God works all things up to what is better; that souls may be purified beyond the grave."

I like all those things. How are they relevant?
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
Repent or we will be judged is what I believe, but as it says - we are judged by our own standards.

I do believe in both free will and judgement, but I don't believe they affect our salvation - which is entirely a work of God.

In my mind, they affect how and when we obtain that salvation though, willingly now or after a long and horrible process of judgement.

I guess what I'm saying is whatever happened at the cross assured eventual Salvation for all people (I admit this isn't a popular view in conservative circles) but Jesus tells us to repent today and live.

If I did something that my neighbour did not (repent) that decided my eternal destiny how could I say it was entirely a work of God?

I couldn't, Jesus would be my co-saviour.
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
quote:
"I agree. God, not we, will change the world."
How can you say that - if you think a large part of God's creation, or any of God's creation that he would like to redeem are languishing in hell and will remain there forever?
 
Posted by CrookedCucumber (# 10792) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Um. So repentance is not necessary? [Confused]

Who said that? The issue, surely, is whether there are some who will never repent and, if there are, who (or Who) is responsible for that state of affairs.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
Repent or we will be judged is what I believe, but as it says - we are judged by our own standards.

John, I don't think it quite says that we are judged by our own standards. It says:
quote:
Matthew 7:2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
That is, if we judge fairly we will be judged fairly. If we measure with kindness we will be measured with kindness. This doesn't mean that we get to set our own standards. It means that our own justice or lack of it returns to us.

Jesus is the one who sets the standards:
quote:
John 12:48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
Our eternal happiness depends on the extent to which we accept and live according to the words spoken by Jesus.
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
I do believe in both free will and judgement, but I don't believe they affect our salvation - which is entirely a work of God.

Yes, salvation is a work of God, not our own work. He gives us the power to believe and the power to obey. Otherwise it is predestination. If we do not make use of this free gift and believe and obey Him, we will not be saved. This is what Jesus taught:
quote:
Matthew 7:21 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.
Many passages like this one seem to say that people who do not believe and obey will not be saved. Do you have a different interpretation?
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
I guess what I'm saying is whatever happened at the cross assured eventual Salvation for all people (I admit this isn't a popular view in conservative circles) but Jesus tells us to repent today and live.

Yes, it can be understood that way. Or it can be understood as saying that the world will eventually be reformed because of the Incarnation, with all people believing and obeying Jesus. This doesn't necessarily imply that those in hell will also be saved, nor has it traditionally been understood that way. But it is a possible and not unreasonable way of seeing it.

Except that it contradicts so many other teachings. [Biased]
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
If I did something that my neighbour did not (repent) that decided my eternal destiny how could I say it was entirely a work of God?

Because it was God who gave you the power to do it. You get no credit.

The alternative view, on the other hand, negates most of what Jesus taught.
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
I couldn't, Jesus would be my co-saviour.

No. Jesus is your only savior.
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
I agree with you about the judgement thing. That was what I was originally trying to say (Although I did it very badly). I didn't mean we would be able to just go "Well, judge me very lightly because I don't like being judged" - I meant the standard you talked of.

But surely this negates the concept of eternal hell? If we will recieve different rewards punishments based on our actions then some will suffer worse than others. Unless their can be variations of the suffering on people in a "lake of fire"

quote:
"Yes, salvation is a work of God, not our own work. He gives us the power to believe and the power to obey. Otherwise it is predestination. If we do not make use of this free gift and believe and obey Him, we will not be saved."
This is where we start getting into some serious double speak, bringing gifts of faith etc into simply makes the same point more complicated. Because the reason you believed/were saved and someone else is not is either :

1. Because God did not give them that gift. (Which you do not agree with/ Predestination)
2. You chose to use the gift both of you were given in a way that the other person did not....which undeniably is a work.

This is why I am saying, you can twist matters and complicate matters all you like (indeed Arminians have done this for a very long time) but there is no way you make it so that it isn't works based salvation if you are saved and someone else is not. Somewhere down the line, you have done something better than someone else and therefore you are getting a reward for your choice.

quote:
Matthew 7:21 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.
I don't know how relevant it is to start proof texting now. I am well aware that on the surface at least, some scriptures seem to speak against Universal Salvation - but thats not the issue at hand. I can whip out a lot of proof texts for Universalism and I'm sure you can match me with verses about "eternal" destruction etc but that's not what we're doing here! We're discussing how we are saved, by God or by God and us.

Jesus taught repentance - nothing about this contradicts the belief that all will eventually be saved.

Jesus taught judgement - nothing about this contradicts the belief that all will eventually be saved.

p.s. I agree with Mathew 7:21 - it doesn't say they will "never" be saved but they will not gain entry when they are simply not ready. A lot of Evangelists are just about the most unchristlike people I have ever met, yet they think they have a free pass into heaven because they have said the right prayer.

Ok, lets approach this from another angle. Which of these statements is true?
1. Christ died for some of the sins of all men.
2. Christ died for all the sins of some men.
3. Christ died for all the sins of all men.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
John,

Of course, your option (3) is true. However, if man rejects Christ's forgiveness, what more can God do?

That is the standard approach. And Freddy's argument is well known to me, and does begin to make some sense after a while. [Biased] As I have summarized before, his final line is that salvation does rest upon a choice we must make, but that the ability to make that choice at all is granted completely by God. Though you must choose, you gain no credit since you would not be able to choose without God's enablement.

The difference comes down to an issue of "free will" as has been described earlier, and just how important it is.
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
quote:
As I have summarized before, his final line is that salvation does rest upon a choice we must make, but that the ability to make that choice at all is granted completely by God. Though you must choose, you gain no credit since you would not be able to choose without God's enablement
That's quite a non-sequiter though, it just unnecesarily complicates matters. As God gave us life in the first place, it follows that any gift we have is a gift from God. Of course we wouldn't have the ability to choose if we didn't get that ability from God but then again, we wouldn't breathe if it wasn't a gift from God.

I appreciate you don't neccesarily believe that, I'm just tracking forward what someone else may say.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
quote:
As I have summarized before, his final line is that salvation does rest upon a choice we must make, but that the ability to make that choice at all is granted completely by God. Though you must choose, you gain no credit since you would not be able to choose without God's enablement
That's quite a non-sequiter though, it just unnecesarily complicates matters. As God gave us life in the first place, it follows that any gift we have is a gift from God.
John, I'm not seeing how it is a non-sequiter or how it complicates anything. It describes the life we seem to ourselves to lead, in which we seem to ourselves to try or not try, to do well or badly, to learn and change or not. It also makes sense of the Bible, since Jesus always talks as if our salvation depends on our being good people.

To my mind it simplifies, not complicates.
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
quote:
So it seems to me that the bottom line for the stated universalist scenario, is that every one is really 'in Christ' whether they know it or not or choose it or not? Everyone is a Christian? Salvation through Christ need not be chosen but salvation is granted gratis despite evil committed, good done or faith exercised?
Further..If I'm a Buddist am I really a Christian or a Moslem or a Hindu?..I need help here!
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
If I'm a Buddist am I really a Christian or a Moslem or a Hindu?..I need help here!

Here there is no Greek* or Jew*, circumcised* or uncircumcised*, barbarian*, Scythian*, slave* or free*, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Colossians 3:11


There is neither Jew* nor Greek*, slave* nor free*, male* nor female*, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28


*Read: Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu, athiest, etc.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Jamac, I in no way accept universal salvation. But I do accept the idea that people are accepted in heaven regardless of their religion on this earth.

If they sincerely live as Christ taught then they are prepared for heaven whether that preparation has been as Jew or gentile.
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Jamac, I in no way accept universal salvation. But I do accept the idea that people are accepted in heaven regardless of their religion on this earth.

If they sincerely live as Christ taught then they are prepared for heaven whether that preparation has been as Jew or gentile.

Interesting Freddy,

The proviso to being accepted is being 'in Christ' first surely. It is Christ who creates the unity of Jew, Greek. How can someone Who is a sincere practitioner of say Islam or Buddah or Krishna be in Christ? if they may have never heard of him or disespouse him in favour of their own religious particularity?

How can this be Biblically reconciled without the Universalist mind-set?

[ 05. August 2006, 06:06: Message edited by: Jamac ]
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
Well weren't they "in Adam" without ever hearing or believing in him?

Whats to stop them being "in Christ" without them ever hearing or believing in him?
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
[QUOTE] [QB] Well weren't they "in Adam" without ever hearing or believing in him?

All are in Adam; by nature, by birth. We come to Christ as a faith choice.

quote:
Whats to stop them being "in Christ" without them ever hearing or believing in him?
Their failure to respond to his appeals through conscience, revelation of scripture or drawing of the Holy Spirit

Ro 8:9 "..If anyone does not have the spirit of Christ he does not belong to him.."

Let's take 1 Cor 15:22

"For as in Adam all died, so in Christ shall all be made alive.."

It means contextually that believers in Christ will be resurrected see v.19 which creates a context of 'we, who have hoped in Christ..' In v17 it says if Christ was not raised 'our faith'is worthless.

In v23 this resurrection is contextualised as for '..those who are Christ's."

Yet, v22 says: "in Christ ALL shall be made alive."

Do we not have to decontextualise it to make it support a universalist framework?
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
quote:
All are in Adam; by nature, by birth. We come to Christ as a faith choice
How do you know that? Where does it say in the Bible "we come to be in Christ by a faith choice"?

1 Timothy 4:10: "We have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe."

What is the plain meaning of this? If I say, "I like ice-cream, especially vanilla" does it mean I only like vanilla ice cream? No, of course not.


At first reading, this seems plainly Universalistic. Ask someone who knows nothing about Christianity to tell you what that means and I think their answer would be simple "Paul believed that God saves all people, with a special blessing for believers".

Usually, people say something like "He is the potential saviour of all men, but only the saviour of Christians". I got this off an arminian website :

"Those who take this verse at face value cannot be in danger of teaching universalism. If God were to actually save all men, then how would believers be saved in a special sense? The very fact that the verse says that there is a special sense in which believers are saved implies that there is a sense in which unbelievers are not saved. Unbelievers are not actually saved, even though God the Saviour has desired their salvation and provided for it in the death of His Son."

How can he be the saviour of someone who he hasn't saved?

If a fireman climbs into a burning building and somebody refuses to come out with him, can he claim he is the "saviour" or that he has "saved" them? In no way at all. Simply because he attempted to save that stubborn soul in the house does not mean he actually HAS saved them or has any right to be called their "Saviour". "Saviour" implies he HAS saved all men, it is done, he is their saviour, the saving has been done. The fact that believers have a special blessing in no way implies that non-believers are not saved!

I Corinthians 15:22. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

Whatever Adam does, Christ undoes. Prof. DeRose says "The grammatical function of "in Christ" here is not to modify or limit the "all." The passage doesn't say, "...so also shall all who are in Christ be made alive." If it said that, I wouldn't be so cheered by the passage. Rather, "in Christ" is an adverbial phrase that modifies the verb "shall be made" or perhaps the whole clause, "shall all be made alive." Thus, this passage says that all shall be made alive. How? In Christ."

The trouble with taking it the way you take it is it basically means "Not at all like all people died in Adam (because they had no choice in that), those who believe in Christ (via a completely different process of free choice) will be made alive" and it means that adam is far more important and significant in human history than Christ. It was Adam who cast all people into sin, yet Christ is only powerful enough to save some?

Jesus 'will see His desire and be satisfied'. if schindler was completely dissatisfied with the number of jews he saved, how would Jesus feel seeing most of those He attempted to save perish? Completely dissatisfied, would be my answer. You do not hold up someone's hand and declare Him the victor and the saviour if most of the people He tried to save refused to be saved. If a man went to save children from a burning building and couldn't get the kids to come out from under the bed, you would commend him for his attempts, but everyone would grieve for the failure and there would not be rejoicing, but sorrow. Can you imagine the inappropriateness of rejoicing over his attempts and giving him a hero party in the face of such tragic failure?

We've got slightly off track here and started proof texting, which is not what I wanted to do.

We've got to what demas said on the last page, where Freddy has admitted that good people of other religions can get into heaven based on their works....which is works based salvation, just as relying on your mental choices for salvation is works based salvation.

This boards very own Tyler Durden (Rev. Holy) said :
"Thus, Arminian theology seems to make nonsense of Paul’s statements about the impossibility of boasting in Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 3:7. If it is our choice that either ‘qualifies’(!) us for salvation or condemns us to damnation, as Arminianism suggests, then the correct answer to the question ‘Why is John Doe saved?’ is not ‘because Jesus died for his sins’. According to Arminianism, Jesus died for everybody’s sins. What has made the difference, in the final analysis, is John Doe’s own decision. Thus, even if it is still meaningful to call Jesus his saviour – since he could not have been saved without Christ’s atoning work – at the very least, John Doe is his own ‘co-saviour’ and could legitimately pray like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11: ‘God, I thank you that, unlike other people, I chose to respond to you’."
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
[QB]
quote:
All are in Adam; by nature, by birth. We come to Christ as a faith choice
How do you know that? Where does it say in the Bible "we come to be in Christ by a faith choice"?
"By Grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God" Eph 2:8


quote:
1 Timothy 4:10: "We have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe."

What is the plain meaning of this?

As you explanation suggests, but there is a possibility Paul was referring to the fact that all benefit from Christ in that the devil is no longer the dominating spiritual force on earth. Christs coming has many widespread benefits even to those who don't yet know him personally.


quote:
It was Adam who cast all people into sin, yet Christ is only powerful enough to save some?Jesus 'will see His desire and be satisfied'. if schindler was completely dissatisfied with the number of jews he saved, how would Jesus feel seeing most of those He attempted to save perish? Completely dissatisfied, would be my answer. You do not hold up someone's hand and declare Him the victor and the saviour if most of the people He tried to save refused to be saved. If a man went to save children from a burning building and couldn't get the kids to come out from under the bed, you would commend him for his attempts, but everyone would grieve for the failure and there would not be rejoicing, but sorrow. Can you imagine the inappropriateness of rejoicing over his attempts and giving him a hero party in the face of such tragic failure?


His power to save all is not in question. It is only the refusal of many to 'get out from under the bed and let the fireman carry them out'. We have to trust that at the end of the story Christ will indeed have something to celebrate. I'm certainly grateful for the touch of God in my life.

The basic issue though is whether God needs us to defend his character because he is not PC enough for us or inclusive enough. To me the balance and weight of scripture does not justify a universalist stance.


quote:
We've got slightly off track here and started proof texting, which is not what I wanted to do.

We've got to what demas said on the last page, where Freddy has admitted that good people of other religions can get into heaven based on their works....which is works based salvation, just as relying on your mental choices for salvation is works based salvation.

I thought Freddy answered that issue very effectively.

[ 05. August 2006, 10:29: Message edited by: Jamac ]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
The proviso to being accepted is being 'in Christ' first surely. It is Christ who creates the unity of Jew, Greek. How can someone Who is a sincere practitioner of say Islam or Buddah or Krishna be in Christ? if they may have never heard of him or disespouse him in favour of their own religious particularity?

How can this be Biblically reconciled without the Universalist mind-set?

By taking a careful look at what Christ says about salvation, Jamac.

Although Christ does indeed emphasize belief in Him as the grounds for salvation, His stronger emphasis is on doing the things that He teaches.

His Matthew 25 scenario, in which the sheep and goats are divided, does not hinge so much on the acceptance of Christ but on the treatment of the neighbor.

Taking all of Christ's sayings into account, the common denominator of those will enter the "kingdom of heaven," or "life," or "eternal life," or who are "saved" is that they "do the will of My Father" or are "righteous" or "keep My commandments" or "hear these sayings of Mine and keep them."

In other words the common sense division of people into "good" and "bad" is consistent with what Christ teaches. "Good" people are saved, "bad" people are not.

The bottom line is that to the extent that the teachings of Islam, the Buddha, or any other religion, are consistent with Christ's teachings, to that extent they are helpful in leading to salvation. The genuine division is between those who love God and the neighbor, and those who only love themselves and the world. The former are "good" and go to heaven when they die, whereas the latter are "bad" and go to hell when they die.

According to Christ, anyway.

The reason that they are all saved by Christ is that He "overcame the world" taking away the "power of darkness" for everyone in the world. He liberated the entire human race, not just those who know of Him.

At the same time, no one comes to the Father except by Him because the things that He taught are the guide to a life of love to God and the neighbor. There is no different way.

Furthermore, the power is in His words, so it is more difficult to repent if you do not have the light and are guided by the mistaken concepts of false religion.

There is a great fear in evangelical Christianity of "works based" salvation. But the distinction that Christ makes is not so much about "works" but about who the author of salvation is. It is always Him, never us. The power is in Him, not in us. Those who trust in themselves, and not in God, are condemned. And God looks at the heart, not just the actions of the body. Obeying Christ in life is the way to be given "a heart of flesh."

The reasoning that it is wrong make our salvation hinge on any kind of effort or belief on our part is not actually consistent with Christ's words. The mistake isn't in thinking of salvation as "works based" but in thinking of it as "self based." Christ taught both faith and works - not that righteous acts "earn" anyone's way into heaven, but that a selfish and materialistic lifestyle is the broad road that leads to destruction. If we believe in Christ and obey His Word He will give us the strength to avoid that destruction and live a life of love to Him and the neighbor.

We get no credit. We don't save ourselves. God saves us. He saves everyone on earth to the extent that they live sincerely as Christ taught - regardless of what their religion has been. If they do know and accept Christ they will be able to do this much more easily. In fact, without Christianity humanity will never be able to be reformed. I think that this is the Gospel message.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
I have just done my best to wade through the first six pages and would like to add a few points I don't think anyone has mentioned.

The calvinist response to eternal punishment being unjust because any sin committed within our lifetime is finite is to say that the sin is of infinite gravity because God is infinitely big/holy/perfect etc.

Double predestination (the idea that God also predestines to Hell) has been mentioned, as has its apparent unjustness. The argument goes that God is not obligated to save anybody, so while it may appear unfair, it's not correct to say it's unjust.

Paul, that famous universalist (!) in Romans 9 asks:

quote:
What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?
I don't know what I think about all this at the moment, but I can see that the sort of 'inscrutable mystery' that calvinists go on about and John Spears finds so annoying might actually make sense from a different, eternal perspective - I'm with Lamb Chopped on the importance of remembering our place in the scheme of things, and to answer Demas on this point, I do in some sense 'fear' the Devil in a similar way to God to the extent that he is a being of a higher order than I.

Finally, I have another question.

Somebody mentioned reincarnation way back. If there is a resurrection to some kind of meaningful existence after death, and we have the ability to choose in this life hereafter, what is the difference between that and reincarnation [Confused]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Somebody mentioned reincarnation way back. If there is a resurrection to some kind of meaningful existence after death, and we have the ability to choose in this life hereafter, what is the difference between that and reincarnation [Confused]

Thank you for that summary, Eutychus. I have wondered the same thing. Especially if, as seems true of virtually everyone, we don't remember our past incarnations. For all practical purposes, then, we die and are raised up to new life in either scenario. For that matter, the same is true of those who believe that we are raised up at the last day. We die, then we awake to new life - unconscious of any intervening time.

But in the Christian scenario, people in the next life are aware that they have lived on earth and that they are now living in heaven. Whether they are in a place and live a life that is similar to life on earth is another question.
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
But in the Christian scenario, people in the next life are aware that they have lived on earth and that they are now living in heaven. Whether they are in a place and live a life that is similar to life on earth is another question.

This is complicated. I've moved away from what Melon seems to term "spiritual salvation" here because I see it as removing us too much from getting on and making a difference in the world here and now. And I'm keen to emphasise the incarnate nature of our resurrected bodies... but it's just occured to me that if we insist on them being incarnate again, that is more or less reincarnation...

Would the only difference would be that next time round, we will all remember this time? [Confused]

And are people in Hell (assuming there are any, if it exists, etc etc etc) incarnate? The NT talks about believers being 'raised incorruptible' but it is very quiet about the bodily resurrection of unbelievers. Wouldn't being "raised incorruptible" mean they had been redeemed too? And wouldn't being "raised corruptible" be even more like reincarnation ("try again")? Or is Hell just a state of disembodied torment?

[ 05. August 2006, 13:07: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
And are people in Hell (assuming there are any, if it exists, etc etc etc) incarnate? The NT talks about believers being 'raised incorruptible' but it is very quiet about the bodily resurrection of unbelievers.

Revelation 20 seems to assume that both the good and evil will be raised up and judged:
quote:
Revelation 20.11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
The bad ones, of course, don't fare so well, and the good ones get to enter the gates of the holy city. Both the bad and good seem to have bodies.
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
Wouldn't being "raised incorruptible" mean they had been redeemed too? And wouldn't being "raised corruptible" be even more like reincarnation ("try again")? Or is Hell just a state of disembodied torment?

Corinthians seems to be mainly talking about good people, but it can be read as speaking about everyone.
quote:
1 Corinthians 15:35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

Personally, I think that it is a mistake to read this as a resurrection of the body in this world. To me it seems to clearly say that it is about the spiritual bodies that people will have in heaven.

As for hell, I think that the same general idea applies. People there have a body, made of spiritual substance, that agrees in form and appearance with their true inner selves. It will therefore not be as attractive, functional, or comfortable as the bodies of those in heaven. Happily, it will vary as the spirit changes.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
Well weren't they "in Adam" without ever hearing or believing in him?

All are in Adam; by nature, by birth. We come to Christ as a faith choice.
This must be read with the clause, "by my specific understanding." If you define salvation a certain way from the beginning, of course you will come to certain conclusions about every verse you encounter. See below.

quote:
quote:
Whats to stop them being "in Christ" without them ever hearing or believing in him?
Their failure to respond to his appeals through conscience, revelation of scripture or drawing of the Holy Spirit

Ro 8:9 "..If anyone does not have the spirit of Christ he does not belong to him.."

What if the point here is that all have the spirit of Christ, though?

quote:
Let's take 1 Cor 15:22

"For as in Adam all died, so in Christ shall all be made alive.."

It means contextually that believers in Christ will be resurrected see v.19 which creates a context of 'we, who have hoped in Christ..' In v17 it says if Christ was not raised 'our faith'is worthless.

In v23 this resurrection is contextualised as for '..those who are Christ's."

Yet, v22 says: "in Christ ALL shall be made alive."

So, it depends when verse you use to interpret the others, no? If we start with saying "in Christ ALL shall be made alive," then the other verses mean that all are in Christ, and if they weren't, they wouldn't have the spirit of Christ in them, etc.

quote:
Do we not have to decontextualise it to make it support a universalist framework?
The passages express conflicting ideas about salvation. You use Tradition and Reason to choose one, and then reinterpret or "reconcile" the others. It's what we all do.

-Digory

[Wow. Code fixes. A lot of them.]

[ 05. August 2006, 16:00: Message edited by: professor kirke ]
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
I would like to point out a few (selectively biased) things that Eutychus and Freddy have just said, and see what implications can be drawn:

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:



Originally posted by Freddy:


If you notice, the Revelation verse that Freddy quotes requires Freddy's addendum "The bad ones, of course, don't fare so well..." in order to make it necessarily point to some being unredeemed. Otherwise, the verse simply says that each person is judged, with no speaking of how this judgment turns out for anyone specifically.

The NT is "very quiet" about the resurrection of unbelievers, perhaps because 'unbeliever' made little sense in a resurrection sense because at that point there will be none?

And Eutychus's question about being raised incorruptible meaning that all would be redeemed, juxtaposed with Freddy's answer that the verse can be read to be speaking about everyone, 'good' and 'bad'?

Pardon me, folks, but your inner-universalist is showing. [Biased]

-Digory

[ 05. August 2006, 16:23: Message edited by: professor kirke ]
 
Posted by Eutychus (# 3081) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
I would like to point out a few (selectively biased) things that Eutychus and Freddy have just said, and see what implications can be drawn:

quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

  • The NT talks about believers being 'raised incorruptible' but it is very quiet about the bodily resurrection of unbelievers.
  • Wouldn't being "raised incorruptible" mean they had been redeemed too?



Whoa, you are mistaking my speculation for conviction and compressing it into a logical sequence I didn't intend.

If 1 Cor 15 can be held to be speaking about a bodily resurrection for all (and I think that is a pretty big 'if' - just because the NT doesn't say much about the physical condition of unbelievers after death doesn't mean this passage necessarily applies) then the question of some kind of universal redemption is raised.

I wonder whether Hell isn't disembodied. (I might wonder à la Great Divorce whether it was just less substantial, but Freddy would be welcoming me into the Swedenborgian church [Biased] ).

I think the premise that a lot of evo types are closet universalists and/or annihilationists is not inaccurate, but it's not quite where I'm at. For reasons much like those outlined by others here, I still tend to think Hell is a reality worth being saved from, even if I can't support that conviction by flawless metaphysics.

[ 05. August 2006, 17:11: Message edited by: Eutychus ]
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
If you notice, the Revelation verse that Freddy quotes requires Freddy's addendum "The bad ones, of course, don't fare so well..." in order to make it necessarily point to some being unredeemed. Otherwise, the verse simply says that each person is judged, with no speaking of how this judgment turns out for anyone specifically.

Digory, you should have checked. My quote ended at verse 13. The next verses say:
quote:
Revelation 20.14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
So it does speak of how this judgment turns out for the evil. For some reason their names are not found in the Book of Life. Maybe this implies that they no longer have life, even that they no longer exist. Except that there they are. In any case I'm sure it's not a good feeling.

I should note that I see readings like these as highly metaphoric. There is no "throne" and there are no "books," much less a giant book that might or might not have your name in it. Descriptions like these are visual, memorable, and even entertaining ways of laying out, for the simple in heart, the complexities of our transition into life in the spiritual world.

I don't think this shows any inner universalist showing in me. Nor does the idea that Corinthians 15 speaks of the resurrection of both the good and the evil. Both good and evil live after death, and pursue happiness in their own particular ways.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Digory, you should have checked. My quote ended at verse 13. The next verses say:
quote:
Revelation 20.14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
So it does speak of how this judgment turns out for the evil.
Yes, if you believe that there will be any not found written in the Book of Life. Of course, there might not be.
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I think the premise that a lot of evo types are closet universalists and/or annihilationists is not inaccurate, but it's not quite where I'm at. For reasons much like those outlined by others here, I still tend to think Hell is a reality worth being saved from, even if I can't support that conviction by flawless metaphysics.

No disrespect meant to you or Freddy, or anyone else, by suggesting you are really universalists.
 
Posted by Tortuf (# 3784) on :
 
We tend to create our own Hell here on Earth all the time. I can't tell you how many folks I have seen who seem to "Have it all" who are as unhappy as unhappy can be.

Perhaps Hell is just that same kind of thing in the afterlife. We create a place for ourselves that is awful, when we have so much. We have a God who loves us so much that God sent Jesus to us to save us while we were sinners. And, we are fully capable of so wanting something "different" that we mess up what we have in a quest for that different whatever.

C.S. Lewis hinted at the ability to redeem ourselves even after death in the Screwtape Letters. I like that image. Not sure it is true, but it makes me happy.
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
How can this be Biblically reconciled without the Universalist mind-set?

Originally posted by Freddy:
By taking a careful look at what Christ says about salvation, Jamac.

You have in my view to look at the wider NT for definitions of salvation. The gospel as Jesus preached it was quite different to that preached by Paul. You'd agree that in a wider sense, the definition of salvation is quite prescriptive. eg ethiopian eunuch could only be baptised if he believed with all his heart.

The actions urged by Jesus are I'd suggest not determiners of salvation, but injunctions for believers subsequent to it. You believe and are saved..then you are in a position to keep his commandments. I certainly agree, Freddy, with your final sentence "Without Christianity humanity will never be reformed."

Regarding the salvation of those from other faiths, you seem to be having a bet both ways to me. Its OK to be a Buddist to the extent that it is consistent with Christ's teachings yet if they Know Christ they will be better off.

[Fixed blown code.]

[ 06. August 2006, 14:53: Message edited by: professor kirke ]
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
quote:
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
Well weren't they "in Adam" without ever hearing or believing in him?

All are in Adam; by nature, by birth. We come to Christ as a faith choice.
This must be read with the clause, "by my specific understanding." If you define salvation a certain way from the beginning, of course you will come to certain conclusions about every verse you encounter. See below.
quote:
Whats to stop them being "in Christ" without them ever hearing or believing in him?
Their failure to respond to his appeals through conscience, revelation of scripture or drawing of the Holy Spirit

Ro 8:9 "..If anyone does not have the spirit of Christ he does not belong to him.."

What if the point here is that all have the spirit of Christ, though?

quote:
Let's take 1 Cor 15:22

"For as in Adam all died, so in Christ shall all be made alive.."

It means contextually that believers in Christ will be resurrected see v.19 which creates a context of 'we, who have hoped in Christ..' In v17 it says if Christ was not raised 'our faith'is worthless.

In v23 this resurrection is contextualised as for '..those who are Christ's."

Yet, v22 says: "in Christ ALL shall be made alive."

So, it depends when verse you use to interpret the others, no? If we start with saying "in Christ ALL shall be made alive," then the other verses mean that all are in Christ, and if they weren't, they wouldn't have the spirit of Christ in them, etc.

quote:
Do we not have to decontextualise it to make it support a universalist framework?
The passages express conflicting ideas about salvation. You use Tradition and Reason to choose one, and then reinterpret or "reconcile" the others. It's what we all do.

-Digory

I don't think any linguist would accept that you can randomly select a passage from a text that suits you and read the rest of the text in the light of your interpretation of that one piece.

You contextualise texts by looking for antecedents. In this case it is the resurrection that creates the framework for the discussion. Those resurrected are believers not everybody.

[Fixed disastrous code.]

[ 06. August 2006, 14:58: Message edited by: professor kirke ]
 
Posted by professor kirke (# 9037) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
I don't think any linguist would accept that you can randomly select a passage from a text that suits you and read the rest of the text in the light of your interpretation of that one piece.

You've missed my point. We all do exactly that. Exclusionists take the passages on hell and use them to interpret all of the passages about God's eternal, undying love for us. Universalists take the passages on God's love and use them to interpret the passages about eternal punishment.

Do you deny that?

quote:
You contextualise texts by looking for antecedents. In this case it is the resurrection that creates the framework for the discussion. Those resurrected are believers not everybody.
Only those who are resurrected are dead in Adam, then, also? Otherwise, you have employed a self-serving double standard, haven't you?

-Digory
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
You've missed my point. We all do exactly that. Exclusionists take the passages on hell and use them to interpret all of the passages about God's eternal, undying love for us. Universalists take the passages on God's love and use them to interpret the passages about eternal punishment.

Yep.

And which doctrine is more clearly outlined in the New Testament - that God will eternally torture some people, or that God is love?

I would say that the teaching that God loves us and is seeking to save us is clear and undeniable, repeated many times in unambiguous language.

And the doctrine that God will fail in this attempt and that some will be lost mostly rests upon specific prooftexts from parables and highly symbolic apocalyptic passages.

(This paper is a good starting point if you don't feel like tackling an entire book, btw)
 
Posted by The Great Gumby (# 10989) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
Digory, you should have checked. My quote ended at verse 13. The next verses say:
quote:
Revelation 20.14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
So it does speak of how this judgment turns out for the evil.
Yes, if you believe that there will be any not found written in the Book of Life. Of course, there might not be.
I think this illustrates your point about reading passages in line with your expectations, Digory. It seems to me, as someone who seems to hold a position on a completely different plane from the main views in this discussion, that you're reading against the grain here. Maybe, if an eternity in hell were a theoretical, but not practical possibility, you could argue the case, although I'd have reservations, but otherwise it renders the text as meaningless as saying "Anyone not subject to the laws of gravity floated into the sky and away into space."
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by professor kirke:
You've missed my point. We all do exactly that. Exclusionists take the passages on hell and use them to interpret all of the passages about God's eternal, undying love for us. Universalists take the passages on God's love and use them to interpret the passages about eternal punishment.
Do you deny that?

I don't deny that we each see things with our own gloss but I deny we can validly ignore context for our own convenience. I deny that one automatically understands a text from the point of view of one's preconceptions. I deny also that text depends for meaning entirely upon the reader though I know you didn't suggest this.

I maintain that there is a plain meaning, a common sense reading if you like. I also maintain that the fundamental issue in this debate is that God is not inclusive enough for some of our sensibilities and so we need to reinvent him to make him acceptable and PC. Hell ain't PC. However, we can't write it out of the Bible because we don't like it.


quote:
Only those who are resurrected are dead in Adam, then, also? Otherwise, you have employed a self-serving double standard, haven't you?
I don't understand what you mean here..sorry.

Incidentally,I notice you keep fixing code. Sorry if I stuff-up quotes. Still learning.
Jamac
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
And which doctrine is more clearly outlined in the New Testament - that God will eternally torture some people, or that God is love?

Demas, I like this question. It is extremely important, in my opinion, to emphasize what the NT emphasizes, and to accurately assess the way that positions are represented in Scripture.
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
I would say that the teaching that God loves us and is seeking to save us is clear and undeniable, repeated many times in unambiguous language.

I agree.
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
And the doctrine that God will fail in this attempt and that some will be lost mostly rests upon specific prooftexts from parables and highly symbolic apocalyptic passages.

This, I think, under-represents what the New Testament actually says. It does not rest only upon specific prooftexts. It is implicit in hundreds of passages throughout the New Testament.

The distinction between good and evil is the topic addressed numerous times in every chapter of the New Testament, as it is in the Old Testament. The success of the good and the failure of the evil is the subtext of virtually everything that Jesus says. There is not a single parable where this is not the topic.

As others have said, Greek does not have words that express absolute permanence. Words translated "eternal", "everlasting", and "forever" are about long periods of time. They are normally understood idiomatically to refer to permanence.

The ultimate failure of the wicked is expressed countless times. Only a percentage of those times include explicit references to "eternal punishment" or similar ideas. Instead, their "rejection" is expressed using concepts such as that they will remain in darkness, that they will not enter the wedding feast, that they will be cast out of the vineyard, that their goods will be taken from them, that they will not enter the city, that they will not be fruitful, that they will be crushed, that they will wither, that they will be blown away like chaff, that they will be exposed.

Even more commonly, their failure is the implicit opposite of the success and blessings accorded to those who repent, who love God and the neighbor, who do as Christ teaches, who believe and have faith, who receive the Word of God, who become as little children.

Time limits are not usually placed on these conditions. The good are blessed, the wicked are not. The entire emphasis is also on the possibility of change, repentance, forgiveness and the resulting happiness. So it is not as if there is any a priori assumption of permanent wickedness for the wicked.

So the passages that state or imply long-lasting and even permanent suffering for the wicked after death stand in contrast to the state of sinners in this life. There are no statements to the effect that sinners will some day repent after death, or that all in hell will someday be moved into heaven. The statements that "all people" will be saved have usually been understood to mean that someday all people on earth will be converted - not those in hell. There is no impication that the opportunity for reform that is available in this world will be similarly available in the next life. Quite the opposite. Otherwise parables such as that of Dives and Lazarus, or the Wedding Feast make no sense.

It is not accurate, therefore to say that the idea that some will be lost mostly rests upon specific prooftexts. It is taught on every page.
quote:
Originally posted by Demas:
(This paper is a good starting point if you don't feel like tackling an entire book, btw)

This is a very nice paper. Talbott's argument is that there is an inconsistent set of three propositions:
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.

He then goes on to show that all three of these can't be true, specifically that 1) and 2) eliminate 3).

My own opinion, though, is that the three are perfectly consistent if you understand the importance of genuine autonomy to God's ultimate purpose, and if you understand the metaphors associated with the biblical descriptions of hell.

It is true that an easy reconciliation of all of these passages is just to say that what appears in the gospels to be a permanent future state for the wicked is really only temporary. This is Talbott's argument.

I can see the appeal of this position. Isn't it interesting, though, that although these ideas have been discussed from the beginning of Christianity they have been rejected by virtually all denominations. I think that this is because the idea that there will be no permanent consequences, regardless of how you live or what you believe, seems to defeat the most central biblical message: "Turn away from evil."
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Talbott's argument is that there is an inconsistent set of three propositions:
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.

He then goes on to show that all three of these can't be true, specifically that 1) and 2) eliminate 3).

My own opinion, though, is that the three are perfectly consistent if you understand the importance of genuine autonomy to God's ultimate purpose, and if you understand the metaphors associated with the biblical descriptions of hell.

Just to expand on this a little, Talbott's 1) does not account for the importance of humanity's genuine autonomy.

God could undoubtedly easily reconcile everyone to Himself if this was not an issue. Similarly, He could have set it up so that autonomy was theoretically possible, but that no resistance ever actually happened. Would that have been autonomy?

Autonomy is important because of the nature of God's purpose in creation, which follows from God's nature as love itself. Love is often understood to have three qualities:
If humans aren't genuinely free to be joined or not joined to God, then God's purpose can't be fulfilled.

Is that worth destroying people to eternity over?

I think that it is, if you understand the meaning of the biblical metaphors associated with hell. The biblical images of hell describe the relative unhappiness of a self-centered and worldly life, compared with a God centered and heavenly one. People aren't punished to eternity, they are simply frustrated because of the impossibility of accomplishing their ends. This frustration, the obstacles that they encounter, and the resulting unahppiness, are what are described as the fires and punishment of hell.

At any point, however, they prefer their situation to a heavenly one because it gives them the opportunity to continue to pursue their goals and desires.

The process is very similar to the situations that many people get into in this world. Many people's unhappiness is self-generated. Poor work-ethics, poor relationship skills, and poor impulse controls lead to unhappy situations. In the next life the temporal causes of these conditions are accounted for and dissipated, leaving only the person's actual freely chosen motivations.

As long as people are free to lead their lives as they choose, some people will inevitably make choices that bring them less happiness than others. All that the doctrine of hell asserts is that some people will use that freedom to make choices that are radically poorer, and therefore radically less happy, than others.

This is the scenario in Lewis' "Great Divorce."

You can say that it is possible that no one will make those choices, or especially that no one will continue to make those choices forever. That would be nice. I don't think, though, that this is a realistic appraisal of human nature.

More importantly, I need to realize that I myself would be quite happy to make choices that please only myself, and which actually do the opposite. I need to realize that this could damage me, and my potential to serve God, permanently. It makes it a serious business. It is entirely different if the consequences are not really essential.

One thing that I wonder about the universalist position is where the dividing line is between eternal punishment, fairly long-lasting punishment in the next life, very short term punishment in the next life, and no punishment at all. Is it possible that all of our selfishness will be immediately dissipated when we rise again after death, and that there is no unpleasantness at all, ever, for anyone? [Confused]
 
Posted by Ophthalmos (# 3256) on :
 
I don't think that heaven and hell are worth bothering thinking about. No one knows for sure, so why spend time worrying about it either way?

It's not like any of us actually thinks we're going to hell ANYWAY! We're all sinners. Perhaps we should look at Jesus' teachings first and worry about "the afterlife" after life*. He didn't have much to say about it, did he?

* Which, as the clever ones will have noted, will answer our question without us needing/being able to ask it...
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ophthalmos:
I don't think that heaven and hell are worth bothering thinking about. No one knows for sure, so why spend time worrying about it either way?

That's how I feel about my retirement in the oh-so-distant future. Not to mention my eating habits and the so-called connection between high-fat diets and heart disease.
quote:
Originally posted by Ophthalmos:
Perhaps we should look at Jesus' teachings first and worry about "the afterlife" after life*. He didn't have much to say about it, did he?

Heh-heh. [Paranoid] [Paranoid] [Paranoid]
 
Posted by Ophthalmos (# 3256) on :
 
Fancy being a bit more oblique there on the latter point, Freddy?

Of course, the difference between heart disease and heaven is that believing in heart disease has an observable consequence in the here and now.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
Sorry Op. I thought you were joking. [Hot and Hormonal]

Good point about the consequences of a high-fat diet.

As for Jesus, I thought that almost all of His statements were about heaven and how to get there, not to mention avoiding hell and its unpleasantness. As far as explicit statements go, here is a quick, and not very accurate, count of Jesus' statements about

Not to mention dozens of other references to judgment, condemnation, being prepared, being forgiven, salvation, blessing, the fate of the rich and poor, and similar topics.

Jesus talks quite a bit about the next life, but it is true that He doesn't say much about what it looks like.

[ 09. August 2006, 00:07: Message edited by: Freddy ]
 
Posted by Demas (# 24) on :
 
Freddy, I haven't forgotten you but can't respond just at the moment.

I think you are putting forward some very interesting points which I want to engage with.
 
Posted by OliviaG (# 9881) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Ophthalmos:
I don't think that heaven and hell are worth bothering thinking about. No one knows for sure, so why spend time worrying about it either way?

It's not like any of us actually thinks we're going to hell ANYWAY!

Of course not! But THOSE people.... OliviaG
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
[QB] Sorry Op. I thought you were joking. [Hot and Hormonal]

Good point about the consequences of a high-fat diet.

As for Jesus, I thought that almost all of His statements were about heaven and how to get there, not to mention avoiding hell and its unpleasantness. As far as explicit statements go, here is a quick, and not very accurate, count of Jesus' statements about

Not to mention dozens of other references to judgment, condemnation, being prepared, being forgiven, salvation, blessing, the fate of the rich and poor, and similar topics.

Jesus talks quite a bit about the next life, but it is true that He doesn't say much about what it looks like.



Freddy, in reading your previous posts I get the impression that you see the concept of Hell as a metaphor for what is basically bad 'karma.' Is this the impression you intend? If so is heaven the opposite?

I ask because I'm essentially a literalist since simplicity seems the clear route to faith for me. The apparent anomalies one does find in scripture are in my belief and experience, paradoxical but not irreconcilable.

I'm not denying there is metaphor in the scripture but it seems to me that it is clearly signalled and that you can't read something figuratively, or as allegory without good textual justification.

I've noticed for instance elsewhere that folk regard the story of lazarus and the rich man as a parable. To me there is little evidence for it being such and so I read it literally. ie There is a bloke in Sheol right now who had words with Abraham from the other side of a great gulf in the nether regions of sheol..
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
Freddy, in reading your previous posts I get the impression that you see the concept of Hell as a metaphor for what is basically bad 'karma.' Is this the impression you intend? If so is heaven the opposite?

Jamac, maybe sort-of, in the sense that heaven and hell are actually present realities in our lives.

Our satisfaction and peace in this life depend on the same foundation as they do in the next life. Fundamentally, if we are self-centered and materialistic we will not have the satisfaction and peace that we will experience if we are genuinely caring people.

Unfortunately, the perception of the results of these foundational qualities is clouded by the events and circumstances of this world - so that a life of comfort, wealth, and ease can mask unhappiness. By contrast a life of hardship, misfortune and deprivation can mask the inner joy of heaven.

In the next life, the masking effects of this material world are dissipated, and things appear more and more as they really are. So I see heaven and hell as real places, where people go after they die. Life goes on in the afterlife, and people do what they do, with good results in heaven, and bad ones in hell.
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
I ask because I'm essentially a literalist since simplicity seems the clear route to faith for me. The apparent anomalies one does find in scripture are in my belief and experience, paradoxical but not irreconcilable.

That is fine with me. I agree that simplicity is the clear route to faith.
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
I'm not denying there is metaphor in the scripture but it seems to me that it is clearly signalled and that you can't read something figuratively, or as allegory without good textual justification.

I understand. I, on the other hand, think that Scripture is nothing but a series of magnificantly brilliant metaphors, which describe repeatedly and in detail the way to heaven, the purpose of the Incarnation, and the spiritual history of humanity.

These metaphors are marked by a flawless, internally consistent symmetry, much of which is innately understood by people who love the Bible and read it with an eye to doing God's will.
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
I've noticed for instance elsewhere that folk regard the story of lazarus and the rich man as a parable. To me there is little evidence for it being such and so I read it literally. ie There is a bloke in Sheol right now who had words with Abraham from the other side of a great gulf in the nether regions of sheol..

I somewhat agree. It is not a parable in the sense that it means something other than what it seems to be about - unlike parables like the Sower, which appears to be about farming, or the Pearl of Great Price which appears to be about investing in pearls. Anyone reading those parables easily understands that they are about spiritual life.

The parable of Dives and Lazarus is about the life after death, and about belief in the testimony of Moses and the prophets, and about trusting in riches.

But I have a hard time reading it literally. Do good people literally sit in Abraham's bosom? How could Abraham accommodate so many people? Is there literally fire in hell, so that the people there are literally thirsty? Can they look up and see the people in Abraham's bosom and talk to Abraham? Is there literally a "great gulf" that they can talk over but not cross? The scenario is easy to imagine, it forms a definite mental picture. But it is surely an impossible scenario, not meant to be taken literally.

The message, though, is perfectly consistent with the biblical message:
Or whatever. These exact messages may be off the mark. But I do think that this is a parable, and that it has these kinds of messages in it.

My opinion, though, is that the heaven and hell that is described in this parable, and others like it, are not so much places as states of being. You don't go to hell and receive punishment. Rather, your chosen desires bring you no happiness, but rather a punishing and fiery state of suffering. This is hell - whether you are in this life or the life after death.
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
Freddy, I see what you mean. If Abraham had a bosom it would have to be rather a large one! The issue is I suppose how literal and how metaphorical should one be. Abraham's bosom for instance seems to me to be a place name so there is a limit to the literalness of my reading here.

You do suggest there is a real afterlife though so metaphor must not be your bosom (sorry) bottom, line.

Does it really come down to agreed rules of reading? Literary theory in other words. If that is the case it's a wonder any of us are ever on the same page. The more you see text as only one ingredient in the transmission of meaning rather than the medium of that transmission the more confusion and cross-purposes will abound.

I can suggest for instance a reading of Shakespeare's play Henry IV part one, for instance, that is stand alone. In that case, the King is in the right. Or, I can read it in the light of the previous play Richard II in which case the King is a 'might is right' merchant and deserves to be deposed and the prince, who becomes Henry V in a later play, has no legitimate throne.

The text thus becomes non objective. It is only one element of a variety of factors that conspire to create meaning, others being the audience's previous knowledge, or the author or even the mores of the times. It is thus free for all to bring in their premises, stipulations and preconceptions however well grounded or not. The consequence is we can never objectively know anything.

I prefer not to see the Bible in this way though I can see any other text this way. The difference being that if it is God-breathed, then there is objective security if we discern the way to read it.
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
Does it really come down to agreed rules of reading? Literary theory in other words. If that is the case it's a wonder any of us are ever on the same page. The more you see text as only one ingredient in the transmission of meaning rather than the medium of that transmission the more confusion and cross-purposes will abound.

Jamac, this is a very good point. I guess it does come down to agreed rules of reading. Isn't that, to some extent anyway, what denominational differences are all about?

I wouldn't say, though, that this means that text is only one ingredient in the transmission of meaning rather than the medium of that transmission. The text is the medium of transmission, but all texts need to be understood and interpreted.
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
The text thus becomes non objective. It is only one element of a variety of factors that conspire to create meaning, others being the audience's previous knowledge, or the author or even the mores of the times. It is thus free for all to bring in their premises, stipulations and preconceptions however well grounded or not. The consequence is we can never objectively know anything.

I wouldn't say that the text becomes non-objective. But it does depend on agreed-upon rules of reading.

To my mind Jesus offered a model of this when He explained the Parable of the Sower. He interpreted each scenario in that parable using a simple formula in which worldly things stand for spiritual ones. His explanation is so obvious that it barely needed explaining - like pointing out that darkness means ignorance and sin, and that light means its opposite. Nevertheless, He explained both the rudiments of the system and also the rationale behind using parables instead of plain language.

This certainly opens the way for people to bring their premises, stipulations and preconceptions, however well-grounded or not. It doesn't have to be this way, though. A denominational interpretation that is both self-consistent and consistent with all biblical teachings can head that off. The important thing is to see any individual statement as only a piece of a larger interlocking puzzle. Its valid interpretation depends on the extent to which it is understood in the context of the whole.

So I agree that an objective understanding is the goal, and that if people interpret willy-nilly then we can never objectively know anything. I think that we can objectively know if we can agree on the rules of reading. In my experience this works beautifully within denominations. It is understandably more problematic in an ecumenical setting.
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
The thing about the Rich Man and Lazarus not being a parable, I find that quite odd.

Jesus sets out speaking to the crowd, he begins speaking to them in parables. In this same dialogue he gives :

The parable of lost coin

then

The parable of the lost sheep

then

The parable of the prodigal son

then

The parable of the unjust administrator

then

he suddenly stops speaking in parables and gives a warning to people that if they are rich, they will go to hell and if they are poor they will go to heaven (thus making a mockery of all this faith and good works business).
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
then

he suddenly stops speaking in parables and gives a warning to people that if they are rich, they will go to hell and if they are poor they will go to heaven (thus making a mockery of all this faith and good works business).

Yes, that would be odd. I guess it's just that we don't usually hear the parable in context.

It has always also seemed strange to me that people have often taken this parable as saying that the rich go to hell and the poor to heaven. That would, I agree, make a mockery of all the faith and good works business. It seems more consistent to read Dives' riches as symbolic of the love of riches and luxury, and Lazarus' poverty as symbolic of those who are "poor in spirit," that is, who look to God and are aware of their own inadequacy.
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
There is a very exact meaning of this parable I think. It's don't believe that it's about the afterlife at all. I could be wrong of course - but I think it would be very odd to try and take this as a literal story when considering it's context.

In Mathew it says Jesus only spoke in parables to the multitude :

"All these things spoke Jesus unto the multitudes IN PARABLES and without a parable spoke he not unto them. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.’"

Matthew 13:34–35

N.T. Wright, the Bishop of Durham recently said he thought this was a parable about Israel and the gentiles, check out this article for a full study of it :

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d030602.htm
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
John, thanks for the link to N.T. Wright's explanation. Very interesting.

The idea that Jesus did not mean the parable to indicate anything about the afterlife seems farfetched to me, but it is surely a possibility. I do agree that it is very symbolic of a judgment on Israel and Judah, and that Lazarus represents the gentiles.

I certainly agree, also, that it is a parable.
 
Posted by John Spears (# 11694) on :
 
That link isn't actually N.T. Wright, It Dr. Ernest Martin - Wright only commented briefly, but said similar things.

The thing about the five brothers is surely the most interesting facet of the whole tale, is five significant? I think so.

"Judah and the Rich Man each had "five brethren." Not only that, the five brothers of the parable had in their midst "Moses and the prophets" (verse 29). The people of Judah possessed the "oracles of God" (Romans 3:1–2). Though the Rich Man (Judah) had been given the actual inheritance of Abraham’s blessings (both spiritual and Judah and the Rich Man each had "five brethren." Not only that, the five brothers of the parable had in their midst "Moses and the prophets" (verse 29). The people of Judah possessed the "oracles of God" (Romans 3:1–2). Though the Rich Man (Judah) had been given the actual inheritance of Abraham’s blessings (both spiritual and physical), Christ was showing that he had been unfaithful with his responsibilities. When the true inheritance was to be given, Judah was in "hades" and "in torment" while Lazarus (Eleazar, the faithful steward) was now in Abraham’s bosom. He was finally received into the "everlasting habitations" (verse 9)."

Dr. E Martin
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by John Spears:
The thing about the five brothers is surely the most interesting facet of the whole tale, is five significant? I think so.

I agree. If you look at other places where the number five comes up, there is often a similar context.

As I see the examples, five is a number that seems to stand for the amount of good that is left or the amount of evil that is left. It has the implication of there being few remaining, or of being defeated, but it also can have the opposite implication that great things can be accomplished by a few.

Examples of five in the sense of the evil that remains, or of a negative and failing state:
Examples of five in the sense of the few good that remain who can overcome evil or sustain the rest:
Dives five brothers fit right into this series because they remain in the world, are apparently wicked, and need to be reformed.

I think that the message about Israel's situation that Dr. Martin gives is a very good analysis of the parable also.

[ 18. August 2006, 13:12: Message edited by: Freddy ]
 
Posted by Jamac (# 11621) on :
 
Good stuff here John and Freddy. Useful for me anyway as I have a message to prepare on this.

One reason I don't think it is a parable is that it uses a name. No other parable Jesus spoke seems to do this.

Also.. The context of all of the previous parables, beginning with the lost sheep, is to suggest God's attitude to the needy is far different to that of the Pharisees who taught (at least some of them) a health and wealth gospel viz that wealth was a sign of blessing. Thus the Lazarus and rich man story, has an outcome that would have affronted them. as it is opposed to their own teaching.

Another interesting point is that this story comes chronologically (according to A.T. Robertson's 'A Harmony of the Gospels,' ed 1950 originally 1922) not too long before a guy named Lazarus is actually raised from death by Jesus. This he called a 'sign of Jonah' and was to be his last public sign to affirm his credentials as messiah. The evidence for the chronological point is that of the gospel writers, only Luke ever claims chronlogical order in Luke 1:3
 
Posted by Freddy (# 365) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
One reason I don't think it is a parable is that it uses a name. No other parable Jesus spoke seems to do this.

Jamac, I like what you are saying in most of this post, but this first point makes me wonder what you think a parable is and what this story is by comparison.

Are you thinking that this is a story about an actual person that Jesus knows, and whose fate Jesus knows because He is God? Would Jesus have literally seen into the next life and witnessed these events?

I'm not doubting that He could have done this, or that Jesus knew precisely what happens with everyone after death. But I'm thinking that at the very least this is a hypothetical situation that He is describing here. To my mind, this makes it a parable - a story with a meaning.

Most of Jesus' parables are perfectly possible and even likely stories. Many of them could easily have been based on actual incidents - the prodigal son, the good samaritan, the unforgiving servant. They are called parables because they have a meaning beyond what is obvious from the text, not because they may or may not have literally happened. We assume that they are not literally true stories because that seems probable, but it doesn't especially matter either way.

The story of the rich man and Lazarus has the typical elements of a parable. It has a moral at the end about the importance of belief. It features the very poor and the very rich, who seem to be being compared with the pharisees. It has some elements that seem to be literally improbable - actually sitting in Abraham's bosom, having a dialogue between hell and heaven.

I guess the real issue is that those who speak about it being a parable sometimes emphasize that it has nothing to do with heaven and hell or the life after death. This, as I said, seems farfetched to me, since the picture of heaven and hell and the fate of the good and evil in the parable is consistent with everything else Jesus says. But I'm wondering if this is your main point. [Confused]
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
Also.. The context of all of the previous parables, beginning with the lost sheep, is to suggest God's attitude to the needy is far different to that of the Pharisees who taught (at least some of them) a health and wealth gospel viz that wealth was a sign of blessing. Thus the Lazarus and rich man story, has an outcome that would have affronted them. as it is opposed to their own teaching.

I completely agree. Riches and blessings are not synonymous, and this is one of Jesus' major points. We need to seek treasure in heaven, not this world.
quote:
Originally posted by Jamac:
Another interesting point is that this story comes chronologically (according to A.T. Robertson's 'A Harmony of the Gospels,' ed 1950 originally 1922) not too long before a guy named Lazarus is actually raised from death by Jesus. This he called a 'sign of Jonah' and was to be his last public sign to affirm his credentials as messiah. The evidence for the chronological point is that of the gospel writers, only Luke ever claims chronlogical order in Luke 1:3

I'm not sure how relevant this point is, or how likely the chronological connection between the two Lazarus' is. I agree that Luke presents itself far more chronologically than the other gosepls. I don't know if we are meant to see this chronology as literally precise.

I have often wondered whether there is any connection between the two Lazarus'. Jesus evidently loved them both. I very much agree with John that they stand for the Gentiles, or those who are humble and needy and long for an understanding of God. I have always been taught this. But I don't know why Jesus would want to portray his close friend as a misreable beggar - except prerhaps to bring some immedicay to the story. Teachers often include present individuals in stories like these.

In any case, Jamac, good luck with your talk. Tell us what further ideas you come up with. [Angel]
 


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