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383 Responses

  1. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Once again Roger Olsen brings up a stupid proposition – (he seems to do so weekly). He asks “what if universalism were true?”
    He brings up the Unitarian Universalist group. So I will ask back – “what if Unitarianism were true?”
    Hey, if something is ‘true’ then we must accept it with no discussion as it is true.

    So if universalism is true, then it is true.

  2. Michael says:

    The discussion is needed to determine what is true. I thought it was an excellent piece.

  3. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    So do you entertain discussions about unitarianism being true? These “what ifs” lead to “what if confessing our sins to plants is true?”
    Folks can come up with a continual stream of “what if” to cause confusion.

  4. Josh says:

    After MLD’s first responses, I always find myself wondering, “Did he read the article?”

  5. Michael says:

    MLD,

    “What if’s” don’t bother me if they are honest inquiries.
    That’s how people learn.
    I’m leaning in the direction of universal reconciliation…and I’m considering all the “what if’s” and all the answers given.
    I recommend the books he mentioned…

  6. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – I read the article.

  7. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – so nothing in the Christian faith is settled – it is all still in the “what if?” category?
    Be careful here because if you say well this is settled (the divinity of Christ) or this is settled (the Trinity) or whatever – how do you handle the “what if Jesus is a demi God” or “what if there is a pecking order of the 3 Gods?”
    Do we reinvent the wheel on all topics?

  8. Michael says:

    Part of pastoral ministry is being ready to answer these kinds of questions.
    Last night I had a person call and ask me if they should be praying to break the “curses of Deuteronomy” in their life…that was a hoot…

  9. Michael says:

    MLD,

    We live in a world where more and more people don’t have the basic knowledge of the faith to simply accept our religious traditions and canards.
    “Be ready to give an answer”…
    I get that for confessional Christians they just refer people to a document…those days are soon gone.

  10. Michael says:

    I think the basics of orthodoxy are settled..we have 30,000 + Protestant denominations that say the rest is up in the air…

  11. Jean says:

    I think the point of Olson’s question is to ask the next level question: “What would be your response?” And by these responses, uncover some errors in the theology of those who don’t believe in universalism.

    Here are the errors: “I would be disappointed because some people deserve eternal torment in hell and I don’t believe it would be just for them to ever escape hell and go to heaven” and “I would be disappointed because I give up so much earthly pleasure in order to go to escape hell and go to heaven when I die.”

    At the same time, Olson says he doesn’t believe in universalism and acknowledges that universalism is considered a heresy “in Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and traditional Protestant circles.”

    So, I think there was value in Olson’s article. My only objection is that he says Christians, who follow the Scriptures, that is, who don’t believe in universalism “due to lack of convincing biblical evidence (and even contrary biblical evidence),” should none the less “hope for it.” Why should a Christian hope for any future other than the one God promises in His Word? That is not the kind of trust that Christ commends.

  12. Michael says:

    I believe there is actually substantial biblical and philosophical reasons to entertain the possibility of some sort of universal reconciliation.
    I also think with the publication of a number of scholarly books making that case that it may find a place of respect in Christian theology.

  13. Josh says:

    I believe that Jean read the article 🙂

    I suppose if one belongs to a tradition that doesn’t hold the bible as the standard for faith and practice, then universalism could be justified. As far as I can tell, it would only defy one of the 3 creeds.

    Universalism is a kind and gentle heresy, and that may make it even more dangerous. I have no doubt that it will gain stronger and stronger footing in Christianity. Then again, lots of awful things are accepted in Christianity.

  14. Michael says:

    I believe that one can hold to a doctrine of both universal reconciliation and the Bible as the standard for doctrine and practice.
    I would suggest if you don’t believe so, that reading one of the books spoken of may change your mind.
    On the other hand, I doubt that many here will challenge themselves by reading outside their traditions…

  15. Xenia says:

    “Hoping for universalism” often means that we hope the final croaking words at the death bed of a beloved atheist relative might be good enough. We all do this. Old Dad so-and-so who was a vocal god-denier, as his end approaches, says something like ” I just want to see my [dead] wife again.” Believers see this as proof the dying man believes the whole Christian religion to be true at his last gasp. Well, maybe so. Maybe he did all the sudden believe what he knew of the Gospel. So we “hope” Old Dad makes it to heaven. We say things like “Joe really believed in his heart,” or they accepted Christ as a 4-year old, or they “believe in their own way,” or they were baptized as a baby (but never once acted on it), etc. We are all hopeful. All we can say is “God knows” and He is in the business of saving everyone who is willing to be saved.

    To not be hopeful for the ultimate destination of mankind sounds a bit too much like rejoicing that unbelievers go to hell, even if they do, which I believe they do, but it worries me.

    My main problem with eternal torment is that the punishment is way out of proportion to the crime. It sounds like God created most of mankind just to torture them forever. But God says He loves the world. I can’t easily reconcile these two things.

    If you throw in Calvinism, you have a god who deliberately created a huge number of people only to put them on the “You are doomed” list” with no recourse.

  16. Michael says:

    “My main problem with eternal torment is that the punishment is way out of proportion to the crime.”
    Exactly…

  17. Josh says:

    Michael, you are correct in your insult, I have only ever read Southern Baptist authors.
    Was just reading Thomas a Kempis this morning. Fine Southern Baptist.

  18. Xenia says:

    So I am a hopefullist.

    But I am pessimistic about my optimism.

  19. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Not an insult, just an observation that most of us stay in the lanes we’ve chosen…

  20. Josh says:

    “My main problem with eternal torment is that the punishment is way out of proportion to the crime”

    An understanding of human depravity would remedy this. I surely deserve hell. Of that I am thoroughly convinced.

  21. Xenia says:

    Josh, do you really believe you deserve to be burned in flames for thousands upon thousands of years?

  22. Michael says:

    Josh,
    I can understand a season in hell…but eternal torment for 70 years is way out of logical proportion.

  23. Josh says:

    Michael, it was an insult, and wildly incorrect. Accusing someone of not reading (as I did earlier with MLD) is done to point out perceived ignorace. If you were just more enlightened…

    But I read. All the time. All kind of stuff. Rarely baptist. And I agree with the vast majority of the historic church on the matter of universalism.

  24. Xenia says:

    Because I think you feel you need to feel this way because that’s what we are required to say as Christians. “I am a sinner and I deserve to be tortured for ever and ever” for lying when I was in the eight grade and fudging on my income tax five years ago.

  25. Xenia says:

    This is why Purgatory was invented. Well, one of the reasons. (The Orthodox do not believe in Purgatory, by the way.)

  26. Xenia says:

    So to be clear, I do believe in hell and I am not a universalist.

    BUT eternal torment is the ONE THING in Christianity the troubles me. I am an orthodox and an Orthodox Christian so I will accept it but it does trouble me.

  27. Josh says:

    “Do you really believe you deserve to be burned in flames for thousands upon thousands of years?”

    More than that. Way more than that.

  28. Josh says:

    Xenia, I’m sure you are different, but lying once in eight grade is the least of my issues. My flesh is thoroughly wicked.

  29. Josh says:

    “BUT eternal torment is the ONE THING in Christianity the troubles me.”

    And it should! This is why we should live our lives to tell the Gospel.

  30. Xenia says:

    I do not understand that attitude, Josh. I simply don’t.

  31. Josh says:

    Xenia, my only answer is that you are much better than me. If God decided today to fry me forever, I’d have no defense other than the Blood of Jesus.

  32. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    For anyone who says ““My main problem with eternal torment is that the punishment is way out of proportion to the crime.”
    I am not saying this to anyone who said that here today because on a blog people get sloppy to make a point – but… this is putting yourself in the place of God, or better yet above God – and that is why people are sent to an eternal hell.

  33. Michael says:

    I believe there is a hell…but the idea that anyone deserves to be eternally tormented is just bizarre.
    It has no rehabilitative aspect and reflects nothing of what God has done in Christ for His beloved creation.

  34. Josh says:

    Let’s say the nature of hell, rather than the existence of hell, is up for debate.

    What if Hell is not flames and torment. Maybe it’s smores around a campfire. But there is eternal separation from God. That’s worse than any torture imagery we can come up with.

  35. Xenia says:

    this is putting yourself in the place of God, or better yet above God<<<

    Yep. And this is why I do not commit myself to universalism.

  36. Michael says:

    I’m not putting myself above God. I’m questioning the traditional view that has been held of Him. I believe there is scriptural warrant to do so.

  37. Josh says:

    Hell is after the opportunity for rehabilitation.

  38. Josh says:

    And that’s the thing: This life matters. The choices I make really matter. It is of eternal significance.

  39. Michael says:

    Xenia,
    Are you going to read David Bentley Hart’s book on this topic? He leans heavily on some Orthodox fathers…

  40. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Too many people believe in Dante’s Hell – not the biblical hell.

  41. Josh says:

    MLD – that may be true, too.

  42. Xenia says:

    Michael, some day probably, when I have time.

  43. JoelG says:

    If Christ was crucified from the foundation of the world, why can’t we hope the harrowing of hell is for everyone? Hope that makes sense.

    Asking for a friend 😉

  44. Michael says:

    JoelG,
    There is a case to be made that the harrowing of hell is an ongoing enterprise…

  45. Jean says:

    Jesus told a story about two men and a chasm. One man was brought to “Abraham’s side”, the other was brought to “anguish in this flame”.

    Between them “a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.”

    Jesus said to fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell.

    Genesis 6 tells the story of God’s wrath brought to bear universally against mankind, including women and children, young and old, rich and poor, good and bad, except for 8 souls.

    How do all these stories and many more (including the death of God’s only begotten Son) appeal to reason’s sense of justice?

  46. Michael says:

    I have take Trey to the mall…as close to hell as I can come up with. Back later…

  47. Josh says:

    It is important to note that not one undeserving soul will burn in Hell. God is just. We can trust that for sure.

  48. Jean says:

    I also am a very hopeful Christian when it comes to two things: (1) I believe Paul when he wrote: “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” and (2) :And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

    Thus, my hope is that apostasy is very rare, if at all. I, therefore, believe and hope for a baby who is baptized, who may grow up not exhibiting to my eyes the fruit of the Spirit, nevertheless received God’s call. Thus, I am hopeful that before or at the hour of death, Christ and the Spirit would intercede for that individual and bear witness with that individual’s spirit that he or she is a child of God.

    Yet, I do not ignore or soften the solemn warnings of Scripture.

  49. Josh says:

    I want for everyone to go to heaven. According to Scripture, it won’t be that way, and I trust that God’s plan is better mine. But sure, I hope everyone comes to know Jesus before it is too late.

  50. Em says:

    Eternal punishment? If one can look at the story of God’s plan of redemption and say, “what a crock,” then does one have a soul that can respond to God? Be in subjection to their Creator? I think it is less a question of “does anyone deserve hell and its torment” than it is a question of can you see what God is? There may be hope for those who have trouble believing in the concept of God due to educators and the reliance on the scientific principle… only God knows if there is a question of brainwashing that influences our destiny… He has said that the very heavens declare His glory – ahh but we have telescopes and we can’t see any sign of Him out there… really? sigh brain washing may cut some slack, but only God knows… IMHO, of course

  51. ( |o )====::: says:

    “You are always with me and everything I have is yours”
    Dad, affirming His kids.

  52. Em says:

    For the record, it isn’t our variety of sins that put us in hell… it is a denial of God’s right to be God – the one big sin

  53. Xenia says:

    I want for everyone to go to heaven. According to Scripture, it won’t be that way, and I trust that God’s plan is better mine. But sure, I hope everyone comes to know Jesus before it is too late.<<<

    I completely agree with this, Josh

  54. ( |o )====::: says:

    Sheep, coins and sons

  55. Em says:

    G-man… do you see a difference between a Creator and His creation (us etc.), free to choose to honor Him or not, and our adoption as sons? (generic)e

  56. Em says:

    perhaps this is food for thought?
    “And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever…He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth…At the same time…I was restored to my kingdom…Now I…praise and extol and honor the King of heaven…and those who walk in pride He is able to abase. “(Daniel 4:34-37)

  57. ( |o )====::: says:

    Em,
    Jesus framed the notion of The Divine and humans as universally accepted, never without value and identity, loved, undisqualifiable, always family, cherished, and always at The Feast.

  58. Duane Arnold says:

    My problem is more basic. The end result is that “God may be all in all”, i.e. God is to be the single eternal reality. If there is another eternal reality – such as hell being eternal – it would seem that there are two eternal realities. That is dualism. This was the basic question of the Alexandrian school (Origen, et.al.) They didn’t come up with very satisfying answers… I doubt that I will do much better…

  59. ( |o )====::: says:

    If we are eternally in The Divine, never disqualified, always accepted, then the issues are illusions in the minds of those who keep score, who practice transactionalism, who insist on false categories.

  60. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, you need to understand the difference between eternal and everlasting.
    God is eternal – from eternity past to eternity future.
    Hell is created at a point in time and has an everlasting future.

  61. Jean says:

    Phil. 2:10 “and under the earth”

  62. Duane Arnold says:

    Eternal is out of time… not past, not future. Eternal…

  63. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    You are picking at my words (used for descriptive purposes) because you do not see the difference between eternal and everlasting. You created a dualism dilema that is non existent to make a fallacious point at 1:47.
    No one would ever make a claim that hell was eternal. It is everlasting as the scriptures lay out.

  64. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    In the end, and not to offend anyone here, I think folks who play around with universalism, universal reconciliation or conditional immortality do so because they are tired of being beat up by their unbelieving family at Thanksgiving dinner.
    You know the scenario, “why would a loving God send Aunt Matilda to hell for not believing in Jesus? She was a nice free thinking lady.”

    So, problem solved – get rid of hell – now pass the pumpkin pie please.

  65. Michael says:

    I care not a whit what my family thinks about anything.
    I think this goes to the nature of God…and it’s worth studying.

  66. Xenia says:

    MLD, nope. For me, I think about these things because eons of torture just doesn’t match the personality of Jesus Christ. I am not denying it, I just have a cognitive disconnect.

  67. Josh says:

    “Jesus framed the notion of The Divine and humans as universally accepted, never without value and identity, loved, undisqualifiable, always family, cherished, and always at The Feast.”

    Not all humans. As a matter of fact, he told a story about kicking some out of the feast. He wasn’t always so accepting with the scribes and pharisees either.

  68. Josh says:

    Pretty harsh towards people who would harm children, too.

  69. Josh says:

    Als rich young ruler. Not accepted.

  70. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    I don’t see the endless punishment part as all that difficult but I see that element as secondary to the creation of a new heaven and earth. If the effects of sin and human evil are such that in order to fully and truly end that legacy of harm and misery God reboots the cosmos then the eternal punishment those who don’t choose Christ receive is choosing not to believe on Christ and receive the gift of life within that new heaven and earth. Rejecting Christ means that we are saying whatever the cumulative effects of our sins of commission or omission, we can pay for that ourselves. People tend to think of moral evil rather than ruining an aspect of someone’s life by sheer circumstance, like all the kids born between 1944 and 1982 who got blinded by oxygen poisoning in incubator tents. Sure, nobody blinded those babies on purpose but theologians may have gone so far in thinking of hell only in terms of personalism they’ve ignored the ecological aspects connected to the eschatological aspect of the new heaven and earth. After all, the earth was cursed on account of Adam’s disobedience, wasn’t it? Couldn’t the earth, so to speak, say that it’s not fair for the earth to be cursed because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, if we’re going to consider “not fair” aspects of divine judgment? If Jesus can talk about a place where the worm never dies then skepticism about hell on the basis of Jesus could use some context. It’s not that I can’t get the hopeful disposition, it’s that I’m skeptical about skepticism about the justness of endless punishment over human sin. We’re living in an era in which people are considering the long-term ecological consequences of millions of everyday decisions that wouldn’t seem like a big deal to people driving their cars or eating packaged food.

  71. Em says:

    the serpent fooled Eve when he told her that God didn’t want her to eat the fruit of that one tree because then she would be like Him knowing good and evil… okay, but that was only a very small part of it… tie on those fig leaves and pretend that we are all knowing – what we don’t grasp is the purity of the Eternal, how necessary it is to the function of the universe…. holiness, God’s holiness, goes way beyond knowing the difference between good and evil… the day will come when every knee will see and bow before Him, some quaking and some in awe and trust because of their position in Christ. We just cannot second guess God. All we really need to know He put in the Book, i think… we better get that much straight and leave all the sorting of souls to His wisdom
    or so it seems to me 🙂

  72. Em says:

    correction: the knees won’t “see” … LOL
    but they will bow one way or the other

  73. JoelG says:

    Agreed Em. We trust Him. He loves the world more than we can fathom. That’s enough for me.

    Good thoughts WTH.

    Good points Josh. I’m reading through Matthew and Jesus has plenty of parables that describe those not invited to the Feast.

    But I’m also with Xenia. There is a cognitive disconnect between the personality of Jesus and eternal torment.

    I can live with the tension and trust Jesus. He is the one that said “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

  74. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I find it odd that some make the claim “because eons of torture just doesn’t match the personality of Jesus Christ.” or “I think this goes to the nature of God” – when it is Jesus’ own words that describe the ‘everlastingness’ of this hell – the fires that are never quenched. the wailing and gnashing of teeth etc – all the stuff that seems to scare the bejeebers out of us are from the mouth / teachings of Jesus himself – not those who misunderstood him.
    Even if he didn’t mean it, is it in the character of Jesus to torture us with stories when in fact he knows they are either a non existent hell or a hell of little consequence? (that seems to be more of the Halloween Jesus).
    I don’t think so.

  75. Xenia says:

    all the stuff that seems to scare the bejeebers out of us are from the mouth / teachings of Jesus himself –<<<

    Yep. I am not arguing with you, what you say is true.

  76. Michael says:

    MLD,

    Having actually read the exegesis that the other side is presenting, I know that you are building a straw man and setting him on fire.
    I admire Xenia all the more for her admission that eternal torment creates cognitive dissonance when put against what we know of the nature and mission of Jesus.
    Christianity is a hive of cognitive dissonance for me these days…and I appreciate those willing to work through the issues.

  77. Michael says:

    I am always somewhat amused by folks who are only familiar with one side of a theological debate pulling out their “gotcha” verses…as if their debate opponents weren’t aware of them and hadn’t honestly wrestled with them as well.

  78. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – you make bold accusations. Although I may not have read “the latest” on your hobby horse, I have read these guys for 40 yrs. They raise the strawman.

    Look, whenever Jesus cast anyone out he never left an opening for a post judgment return. When the wrongly dressed guest at the marriage feast was banned, no one said there will come a day when you will be acceptable like that. The same with those who were given the invitation but refused saying they had better things to do.
    Nowhere in the parables do we see any inclination that weeds will be turned to wheat after they are burned up. Neither do we see that goats will become sheep after they are cast out. Jesus always speaks with a finality.
    The parable of the sower specifically gives the reason that some enter the kingdom and other do not.
    Show me any verse where Jesus indicates “we will revisit this at a later time.”

  79. Michael says:

    MLD,

    If you’re interested in the discussion I suggest “The Evangelical Universalist” by MacDonald or the new book by Orthodox scholar David Bentley Hart “That All Shall Be Saved”.

    They lay out the Scriptural and philosophical case for the doctrine.
    I have to start T’s homeschool classes…

  80. Jean says:

    I have read some of the writings from sophisticated and brilliant (I’m not being sarcastic) exegetes promoting sames-sex marriage. It’s horrifying how many simple Christians they are deceiving. I don’t want to get into that kind of reading when it comes to hell.

    Within such exegesis and theology is a basic pre-supposition that Scripture is unclear and ambiguous and can only be properly understood by a few brilliant men. I reject that.

    Hell as a very bad final destination is spoken of all over Scripture and, in my opinion, can be clearly understood by an average Christian reader who just listens to the Scriptures attentively. It is a place you and I do not want to go to. It is placed in opposition to paradise. It the concept of hell is ambiguous, given how often Jesus spoke about it, then is there anything in Scripture that is clear?

  81. Josh says:

    “Christianity is a hive of cognitive dissonance for me these days…”

    With respect, and I mean that, a time involving so much personal upheaval and confusion may not be the best time to promote unorthodox doctrines that go against the vast majority of 2,000 + years of church history. Maybe let things settle a bit, find some solid ground, and then teach what you’ve found?

  82. Michael says:

    “then is there anything in Scripture that is clear?”

    Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, Lutheranism and somewhere around 30,000 Protestant variants say evidently…not much.

  83. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I’m not promoting anything, nor am I afraid to explore ideas.
    Some form of universalism has been a minority report since the early fathers…and it’s worth serious inquiry.
    The only solid ground is my faith in Christ…and that seems unshakable, though often painful and inexplicable.

  84. Jean says:

    Michael,

    Some of the traditions you’ve listed at 9:54 am do not adhere to Sola Scriptura by choice. To the extent they produce doctrine from extra-Biblical authorities, such as a magisterium, Pope, tradition, or reason (or any combination), that would be expected to account for a lot of the variation, would it not?

  85. Josh says:

    “Some form of universalism has been a minority report since the early fathers…”

    That could be said for every heresy.

  86. Michael says:

    Jean,

    The idea of oral tradition passed down comes straight from Scripture.
    Sola Scripture was a 16th century innovation.
    All those Protestant groups would claim that doctrine as the reason why they had to start another sect…

  87. Michael says:

    “That could be said for every heresy.”
    True.
    However, I find the historical argument odd coming from a practitioner of a system unheard of for the first 1800 years of the churches existence…

  88. Josh says:

    If you want to base your belief on what I do or don’t believe, knock yourself out. It doesn’t do much to prove your point.

  89. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I’m not trying to prove a point.
    I’m studying the veracity of a doctrine in light of new materials that have come out and the fact that It’s something I’ve wanted to examine for a long time.
    I expect it to be something that the church at large debates again soon.

  90. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “Some form of universalism has been a minority report since the early fathers…”
    Minority it may have been, but it was on the fringe of almost non existence.

    I look at this as no little thing – on the scale of what Zwingli did to destroy the supper – the Anabaptists did to baptism and what Hal Lindsey / Dispensationalists did to proper end times theology.
    Confusion does not come from God – so if one is confused…

  91. Michael says:

    “Minority it may have been, but it was on the fringe of almost non existence.”

    Only if you look at your own tradition.

    The issue has been looked at from Origen to C.S. Lewis…

  92. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – “Sola Scripture was a 16th century innovation.”
    I don’t think you would stick with this for very long. If there was controversy between scripture, tradition or reason that cannot be resolved – which are you going with?

    It’s been that way since the scriptures were wide spread.

  93. Michael says:

    “Confusion does not come from God – so if one is confused…”

    In your construction only an LCMS Lutheran is not confused despite the massive variety of Christian sects and beliefs.

  94. Michael says:

    ” If there was controversy between scripture, tradition or reason that cannot be resolved – which are you going with?”

    It’s not that simple for most of us who don’t subscribe to a confession being the last word on everything.
    Most doctrines come about from a synthesis of all three…

  95. Josh says:

    Ugh, I’ve heard this all before. This isn’t the best path, Michael. I say that as a friend.

  96. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Honest examination of doctrines by other Christians is a bad path?
    I’m not studying the works of agnostics or atheists, but that of committed Christian scholars.
    How is that a bad path?
    What is the danger here?

  97. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – there you go – scripture is not above all when coming to a conclusion. Note my words – “If there was controversy between scripture, tradition or reason THAT CANNOT BE RESOLVED – which are you going with? (this rules out ‘a synthesis of all three’)

  98. Michael says:

    I find this all bizarre.

    MLD and Jean believe in sola scripture.
    Josh believes in sola scripture.

    Josh and the Lutherans disagree about almost everything.

    So tell me again how that doctrine clarifies everything…

  99. Josh says:

    Once you get into Universalism, you really are messing with some foundational ideas.

  100. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I didn’t think it needed to be that explicit for you.
    Every tradition says that Scripture is primary…then they go on to disagree with every other sect that claims the same thing.

    The reality is that every sect makes their traditions interpretation of Scripture primary…and claims that interpretation as being the only sacred one.

  101. Michael says:

    Josh,

    There are many different variations on “universalism”.
    I have yet to encounter any issue with the foundational doctrines in the creeds.

  102. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – it is simple – we may disagree but we look to resolve our differences by looking at scripture alone.
    Because we have confessions does not mean that we did not come to them (even if wrongly) through scripture alone.

  103. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well if I read something in our confessions that I knew was against scripture I would dump that part of the confession – wouldn’t think about it twice.

  104. Michael says:

    “Because we have confessions does not mean that we did not come to them (even if wrongly) through scripture alone.”

    Which is exactly what every other sect would claim.

    Why is it so hard for everyone to admit something so very obvious?

  105. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I was comparing what I think and what Josh thinks – we both, even if we disagree come to it through scripture alone. The church has always done this – so your claim that scripture alone is a 16th century concoction is false.

  106. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “Which is exactly what every other sect would claim.”

    You don’t – you claim scripture, tradition and reason as on an equal level – you may deny it here, but not in the past.

    So, it is actually scripture alone and tradition and reason are used to support the scriptures – not the other way around. But we are off track.

  107. Josh says:

    “I have yet to encounter any issue with the foundational doctrines in the creeds.”

    Athanasian would certainly be out. Do you count that as one of The Creeds?

  108. Josh says:

    Apostle and Nicene both have the line about Jesus coming back to judge the living and the dead.

    A universalist would certainly have to do some twisting on that line, even.

  109. Michael says:

    The supposition here is that people who are examining these doctrines are not rigorously engaging the biblical text.
    That…is simply not true.

  110. Michael says:

    Josh,

    To be blunt you think you know what the arguments being made are and you’re wrong.
    There is nothing in many of these constructions that would go against any creed including the Athanasian.
    I wholeheartedly affirm the creeds.
    I do not deny either the existence of hell or a coming judgment.

  111. Josh says:

    I will admit that if after 2,000 years someone has found a uniquely new argument, I would be surprised.

    If the universalism you are reading affirms this:

    “And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.”

    That’s just not universalism.

  112. Em says:

    it has been expressed here that it goes against what has been revealed to us of God’s character in the life of Jesus Christ here on earth….
    Consider that the love and compassion we see are because He knows how serious are the consequences of our life choices now.
    Perhaps we just do not appreciate what the word “holy” describes, nor do we appreciate the seriousness of the war between good and evil. When we hear that term, evil, we think of the 10 Commandments, but it is so much more than sin. There is a reason we pray that the Father deliver us from it – we humans are no match for that insidious serpent’s machinations
    Humility is the stance of a learner… it is not another word for stupid
    Or so it seems to me, but what do i know … 🙆

  113. Josh says:

    “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

    That’s a word from Jesus on the subject. Couldn’t he have easily said, “Oh, everyone will get there”?

  114. Josh says:

    Just a few verses down from the last one:

    “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

    Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

    And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

    Again, this is Jesus talking. He clearly says He will send some away. And get this, He’s talking about some who call Him Lord!

    I do not love the idea of hell or judgement.
    I cannot pretend Jesus did not teach it.

  115. Em says:

    Straight and narrow… Hmmm Jesus didn’t say, ” if you miss it, the road will be rough and it may take you a very long time, ” did He?
    Why not? Better to follow His instruction Book and leave the sorting to a perfect, holy God
    IMO, of course. 😇

  116. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Evidently you think me a fool or an idiot.
    After thirty years in the ministry I’m aware of all those verses.
    I will say this once again, slowly.

    I do not deny the existence of hell.
    I do not deny the existence of judgment.
    No one I’m reading does either.

  117. Josh says:

    But Universalism ends up with Hell being empty. Is that correct?

    (The verses aren’t as much for you as they are for those who might be led astray.)

  118. Michael says:

    (The verses aren’t as much for you as they are for those who might be led astray.)

    Yep, I’m a wolf leading the sheep to destruction…as you argue against things you’ve never read and have no idea what is being posited….
    I’m done now.

  119. Josh says:

    Michael, Universalism has been condemned by the Church, officially, since 543. I take that seriously, and yes, I want others to know why I would oppose it.

    I shouldn’t have to read a load of new books every time someone wants to roll out an age-old heresy. That’s what the councils were for.

    That being said, if this new universalism ends up with Hell being empty, it contradicts Jesus’ very words above.

  120. Josh says:

    I did not call you a wolf, but going by your own words of upheaval, do not think you in the right state to be teaching a subject such as universalism to your blog audience.

  121. Michael says:

    Josh,
    You might want to read a history book that’s less than a hundred years old.
    It is a matter of debate whether any early council condemned universalism.
    I vigorously reject dispensationalism but I would never accuse you of leading people astray.
    Your refusal to engage with different views and expositions is actually pastorally risky…if people engage with those expositions and you continue to argue against things not being said.
    This accusation has changed the entire tenor here…and will change this site going forward.

  122. Josh says:

    Every time.

    I’m accused of not reading.

    My eyes couldn’t roll harder.

    What accusation have I supposedly made?

  123. Michael says:

    I am not teaching anything.
    If I wanted to “teach” I’d do a whole series of articles and expositions.
    I linked to Roger Olsons article.
    I stated that I am studying the matter and find the works compelling.
    I presented two of the works in the comments so others who think about theses things could reference them.
    God gave me a brain and expects me to use it…but thinking is anathema in many Christian circles.
    I don’t care anymore…after today, I care less than ever.
    I’ll think anyway.

  124. Josh says:

    Wow. You love your rage.

  125. Steve says:

    For what it’s worth in the discussion, I accepted Christ when I was 11 years old by the carrot and stick approach. Carrot:. Spending eternity in heaven regardless of my sin. Stick: spending eternity in Hell because of my sin. It was an easy choice for an 11 year old. I’m never looking back. My theology is much more sophisticated now but this is how I initially came to the Lord. If universalism was ever entertained in my mind as an 11 year old, I doubt I would be a Christian today.

  126. Josh says:

    If denying universalism invites this kind of rage, then yeah, rage away.

    I’ll admit that my next statement is prideful.

    I’m tired of the condescension and disrespect. Any time I disagree with a wacky new theory it’s (If you actually read a book…”. I read all the time. I read all kinds of stuff. I am in a period of trying to read older stuff. Didn’t know until today that was frowned upon.

    So with that, I love you Michael, but I’ll leave you to it. Hate me for trying to tell you the truth,

  127. Michael says:

    Josh,

    No rage.
    Lots of hurt and disappointment.
    It won’t happen anymore, trust me.

  128. Josh says:

    You are hurt that I am against universalism.

    Think about that.

  129. Xenia says:

    For me, I always ask “what has the Church always believed and taught?” This would not include outlying opinions on a lot of subjects, and I believe universalism is one of those outliers. So I reject it, even though I do have my moments of cognitive disconnect. I do not know what everlasting torment consists of but in this much I am certain: God will do the right thing.

    Josh has been working on advanced degrees ever since I’ve known him so I think we can concede that he reads authors other than modern dispensationalists. (I think Dispensationalism is an outlier, too, by the way.)

  130. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I don’t dismiss people I respect without researching where they are getting ideas from.
    It doesn’t mean I embrace everything, it means that I have respect enough for their theological integrity to at least understand the arguments.

    I am not hurt that you are against universalism…I reject most of the theories under that name as well.
    I’m deeply grieved that you think so little of me that you would claim I am leading people astray without at least reviewing what I’m reading.

    I get it…go forth and prosper.

  131. Josh says:

    I have no clue what upset Michael to this degree.

    I agree that Dispensationalism is an outlier, too. I’ve never asked a free pass for it here or anywhere else.

  132. Em says:

    we are all different (by God’s design, i suspect), but it is sad when a good conversation on our understanding of scripture is taken personally… there is a difference between disagreement and personal scorn (duh!) admittedly, sometimes MLD skates close to the edge… and maybe some of the rest of us do also
    but everyone i read here is sincere about getting a grasp on God’s truth, so I thank Michael for the venue and i don’t think he is as disrespected as he might think… fatigue and trials can distort our perspective… at least it does mine at times
    God keep

  133. Josh says:

    I did not claim that you were leading others astray. I voiced a concern that universalism could lead others astray.

    You admitted you were confused about a lot of things.

    I’ve tried to get you to clarify what new type of universalism you are talking about. Does it believe in Hell but say that Hell is empty? That’s just not what Jesus said.

    I’ve got more books that I am reading than I can fit into a day. Universalism doesn’t land on my list for the foreseeable future. BE honest, if I start blowing the horn for another book on dispensationalism, are you gonna drop what you are doing and read it? No way. You’ve made up your mind, and I respect that.

  134. Xenia says:

    Michael… it is unreasonable to expect people to read a lot of books about something they already have settled opinions about. Yet just because they haven’t read those particular books it does not mean they are ignorant on the subject and cannot offer an opinion. they have probably read other books or they are content believing what they have always believed. There are so many things Christians differ on… I am not going to read all their books so I can have an opinion every issue. I prefer to be settled, because being in a continual state of unsettledness would be disastrous for me, personally. Now that’s just me, but I prefer to be settled BECAUSE it doesn’t matter what I think about universalism or calvinism or dispensationalism or tongue-talking or whatever is debated. It will not change how God rules His people.

  135. Michael says:

    https://www.mercyuponall.org/2017/03/23/is-origenism-heresy-on-the-fifth-ecumenical-council-in-553/

    Josh, if there was new work supporting dispensationalism from another angle, yes, I would read it.
    I’m weird that way.

    Xenia,

    I appreciate your point.
    Unsettledness is very uncomfortable, indeed.

  136. Jean says:

    Sometimes liberal theologians appear to want to recast Christianity in a manner appealing to the current culture. Historically, the mainline denominations have done that. Thus, you see teachings in favor of things like abortion, women’s ordination, same-sex marriage, social justice, ecology, etc.

    Would the new materials promoting universalism be part of this same trajectory? In other words, does universalism re-cast Christianity as a more enlightened or civilized religion to a 21st century person?

  137. Steve says:

    Whether universalism leads people astray I’m not sure but I think it can definitely prevent some from accepting Jesus as savior and understanding why they even need a savior. What exactly did Jesus die for? What exactly are we saved from? For an 11 year old this was crystal clear to me. Ok, maybe missing some nuance at a tender age but it worked for me.

  138. Josh says:

    Michael, I do know of the dispute of whether Constantinople was condemning universalism or not. I think the idea goes that the council specifically condemned Origen, but not necessarily those who would hold to any type of universal reconciliation.

    I see that Hart takes a different route completely, claiming that even Origen was not condemned, that the record was falsified. And that is a new one to me.

  139. Josh says:

    Now, that doesn’t answer the question of why the cast majority of the church went against universalism for 1,500 years afterwords, but whatever. I can say for certain that Southern Baptist are against universalism, and we think we have strong historic, and Scriptural basis.

  140. Michael says:

    Jean,
    You make me laugh and cry at the same time.

    The foundational arguments come out of the early centuries of the church and Eastern Orthodox fathers and scholars.
    Protestant proponents I’m reading are conservative and hold to a high view of Scripture.
    I guess I’m “liberal” because the scriptures I read say God is very concerned with both “social justice” and the care of his creation…

  141. Josh says:

    “Josh, if there was new work supporting dispensationalism from another angle, ”

    I probably wouldn’t 🙂

    I’ve read a ton about the dispies. I know the strength and weaknesses. It would have to be something groundbreaking for me to give it a second glance.

  142. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – “God gave me a brain and expects me to use it…but thinking is anathema in many Christian circles.”
    It doesn’t need to be anathema but, this is ground covered long ago.
    I said yesterday, this “what if this were true?” attitude that Olsen brings up just opens up so many loose ends, it is as Jean suggested, nothing has a true meaning and nothing has been settled.

    So 15 years from now when the idea has grown that we should all be confessing our sins to plants (as we saw coming out of one seminary this week) – will we be required to read all the books coming out suggesting this is true – even taught in hundreds of seminaries by that time?

    Michael – will you be reading the book about “Why Confession to Plants was Hidden From The Church for Centuries”? or will you just write it off to silliness – as Duane claims?

  143. Duane Arnold says:

    Universalism is not a single category. There are many different shades and aspects… and there have been since about the third century. Anyone who studies patristics will encounter it within a sort time. Anyone who studies the councils will encounter it within a short time. Anyone who studies the Greek word |ὁ αἰών will encounter it within a short time. Anyone who studies Theodore of Mopsuestia or subsequent spiritual writers will encounter it. Anyone who reads C.S. Lewis will encounter it.

    This is not to say that it is true or not. It is speculative theology. That being said, some form of eventual reconciliation was held by numerous early theologians and writers. If it is a “danger to your faith”, to consider such matters, well and good. Don’t, however, bring on the Inquisition based upon what you can safely consider… or not.

  144. Michael says:

    MLD,
    The only things settled are in individual sects.
    You have things settled that contradict what Josh has settled and they both contradict what Xenia has settled.
    As far as the plant stuff…I did go see what their rationale was. Some truth mixed with some silly error…but I did go listen to what they actually were trying to say.
    I didn’t get any on me.

  145. Duane Arnold says:

    Oh yes, I don’t have to read a book on plants to call “Confession to plants” silliness… 😁🌱

  146. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, I agree and we do not need to read a book called The Evangelical Universalist to call the idea silly.

    I do have a question as I have not thought about it. Are there any Christian denominations or groups who hold to universalism – in any of it’s forms?

  147. Michael says:

    There are no groups that hold to it now officially.

  148. Randy Davis says:

    Michael, thanks for the link on the liturgy at the bedside of the believer. As a Pastor, I have felt the weakest at the bedside of the dying. We Baptists have a lot to offer, but moments like is expose our limitations. Certainly I’m able do be inventive and use what I learn from others.

    My offer to the dying is limited to prayer, Bible reading, and sitting with the dying-which I have done many times. But for those whose senses are fading away, life long rituals convey ideas where words fail.

  149. Duane Arnold says:

    For myself, I still enjoy reading Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and the other ancient writers from Alexandria, Antioch, Caesarea, and Edessa. I also enjoy reading George MacDonald and C.S. Lewis.

    I leave books on plants to the gardening section…

  150. Michael says:

    Randy,
    Thank you.
    One of the beautiful things about being in a liturgical church is that there is an appropriate liturgy for all those times words fail me…

  151. Josh says:

    Are we including annihilationism in with Universalism, now?

  152. Michael says:

    Who said anything about annihilationslism?

  153. Duane Arnold says:

    Randy

    Just as a note, I began using the Book of Common Prayer for weddings, funerals and visitations when I was still the pastor of a Calvary Chapel… I never had any negative reactions.

  154. Jean says:

    There is also the positive argument against universalism:

    “I [Jesus] am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

    “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham,”

    The gift of grace and everlasting life is contingent on faith. And there is no indication (in fact the opposite) that one may acquire faith after death.

  155. Randy Davis says:

    Duane, I have a copy in my library which I cannot get to at the present. But I used it often for that day’s a Bible reading. I printed some I the collects in the bulletin. And I used it in other ways like weddings. No one ever knew except a Catholic woman who attended our church. She kept telling me 8 was going to convert. I have access to the daily office on Logos and I look at it from time to time.

  156. ( |o )====::: says:

    Could that coin be “unowned” by that woman who is rejoicing at having swept she rediscovers it? And could that coin have done anything to be lost or found?

    Could that sheep be “unowned” by that shepherd who bids his neighbors rejoice after he finds and carries that sheep to safety? And could that sheep have done anything to be lost or found?

    And could either of those children have been loved less or more by that dad? And could either of those children have done anything to be “not dad’s child”?

  157. ( |o )====::: says:

    Somebody dare to tell Jesus, “Yes”?

  158. Steve says:

    And there is no indication (in fact the opposite) that one may acquire faith after death.
    —————————————————————————————————————-
    Yes, I agree. My conjecture is that right before someone dies, God probably reveals Himself so clearly that many if not most may come to faith however we will not know for sure until we ourselves meet God face to face. So it behooves those alive to repent and believe however, It gives me comfort that many who we believe are in Hell after they died actually may have come to faith at the very last nanosecond of their life. I think my theory kind of syncs with the parable of the workers in the vineyard.

  159. Jean says:

    Steve,

    God reveals his grace through preaching (Rom. 10:14-17), so I would agree that the vocation of hospital chaplain and those pastors who visit the sick, ill and dying in hospitals is extremely valuable.

  160. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    So what about Satan and his demons? Their fate seems to be the exact same as all others cast to hell. Are they apart of the universal reconciliation?

  161. Steve says:

    Jean, I couldn’t agree more. However, preaching is certainly not the only way God reveals his grace. Actually holding someone’s hand on their death bed maybe what God uses.

  162. Steve says:

    MLD, my guess is that many who try to eradicate Hell also are prone to denying the existence of a personal Satan. Just a hunch.

  163. JoelG says:

    I rest in the knowledge that God is merciful and never changes.

  164. Josh says:

    Michael – You guys kept mentioning CS Lewis, but I don’t think he ever bought into universalism. I know he admired George Macdonald and had characters in fiction that hinted towards universalism, but he himself espoused something much closer to annihilation. Maybe that was never the implication, I just kept seeing his name.

  165. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I have removed myself from this discussion and haven’t the slightest interest in going any farther than this.
    Lewis wasn’t a universalist according to the assumed definition held by most here.

  166. Josh says:

    OR by his own confession, right?

  167. Josh says:

    Like, if we’ve come up with a new definition for universalism, just share it here.

  168. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Lewis made a number of seemingly contradictory statements on the afterlife in various writings.
    I am not going to do an exhaustive survey of his writings on the subject here.
    The matter has been debated all over internet for years if you’re interested.

  169. Michael says:

    Josh,

    As I said, I have no desire to continue this “conversation” here.
    The thread is open if people want to discuss other matters, but I’m done with it.

  170. Josh says:

    Eh, alright.

    Interesting. The case for universalism is made by listing 10 guys in Church history who have had some brush with universalism.

    Wonder what the list would look like if we listed all the figures from church history who condemned it?

  171. Michael says:

    “Wonder what the list would look like if we listed all the figures from church history who condemned it?”

    Really long.
    Really, really, long,
    I’m probably going to split hell wide open myself for thinking about it.

  172. Michael says:

    No one was making the case by citing names from history.
    The case is presented by scholars and church fathers who wrote thoughtfully, but not on blogs.
    The case for any doctrine is made through building from scripture, tradition, and reason and that takes time and volume to reason through.
    You and the others have stated you have no interest in examining those works.
    That’s fine.
    It would only seem right, however, that one not refute arguments that they haven’t read and that may not have anything to do with the refutation being offered.
    Now, I am politely suggesting that we end this discourse…because the temptation to being impolite is about to overwhelm me.

  173. Jim says:

    I would love for God to be a universalist. Let’s pretend He is and we have to deal with our desire for punishment of the monsters among us. One nanosecond in God’s presence and they would be a different person, and if they joined us in heaven, we would rejoice with them, as we would be changed as well. The desire to see them punished would be gone.

    That’s not what I see in Scripture. The concept is so appealing to me, I’m afraid to read the works of universalists because i think that I could be persuaded. It’s my weak spot.

    Being an undeserving recipient of God’s grace, I don’t like the idea of hell, but it’s right there in God’s word to us. I could be wrong, and I’ll be thrilled if I’m wrong.

  174. Michael says:

    Jim,

    The best arguments don’t deny the existence or even the necessity of hell.
    You’ll have to read the works to find out the rest… 🙂

  175. Jim says:

    Michael, I’m genuinely afraid to explore the topic. We all have our achilles heel, and I’m not ashamed to confess mine.

    I did read the article after I posted and agree with this statement, “To think that someone deserves hell more than you do is an implicit misunderstanding of the depravity of humanity and of the nature of grace.”.

  176. Jim says:

    I still love “the gays”, so perhaps I’m already a heretic.

  177. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, you sadly misrepresent some of us. Just because we won’t read the latest book on the market doesn’t mean that we have not delved into this at great lengths in our past – even before the internet and blogs.
    I have an MA in Apologetics and this was a big topic from time to time.
    Do you really think your guys have covered new ground?
    Just because you are bedazzled by something newly presented to you doesn’t mean that us old dogs have not been down this road before – and we do have the experience picking up the pieces.

  178. Michael says:

    MLD,

    You’re a whiz.
    No doubt.
    I would rather choke on a chicken bone than to ever engage in another theological discussion here.
    I engaged with Jim because I haven’t seen him in a while…but anything of substance we’ll discuss off here.

  179. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – it’s not a matter if I am a whiz or not. I would never challenge people as you have been doing, that they do not know or understand a topic as well because they have not read the book you are currently reading.
    There are other books in the past 50 years that have said the same thing as the book on your bed stand that have been read … and rejected.
    Good night.

  180. Josh says:

    There is apparently a new definition for universalist, where not every ends up in heaven.

    If that’s the case, fine. I don’t know why one would choose an old refuted word. Just call it something else.

  181. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Since this is Linkathon I have an offering. I went through this course from Yale several years ago and viewing it again.
    26 classes New Testament and Literature from 2009 – not exactly what you would get from your pastor – very good presentation.
    The link opens to class one, but the sidebar contains all 26.

  182. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    #8 on the Gospel of Thomas is very good.

  183. Josh says:

    Yell is fer liberuhls.

  184. Josh says:

    “Rob Bell’s church lost three thousand members after he published “Love Wins” leading to his resignation. You would think that the liberals would understand that if you really don’t believe in anything, then there’s little reason to come to church to hear you speak about nothing.”

    Anybody want to guess who said it?

  185. Jean says:

    Josh,

    The gay rights movement in the UMC would rather completely destroy the UMC, rather than subordinate their wills to the Word of God. It begins like a seemingly small issue, like egalitarian theology, but it can’t stop there.

  186. Josh says:

    Correct Jean. There is no stopping point.

    Do you have any guess at who made the above quote?

  187. Jean says:

    No, but I would like to know.

  188. Josh says:

    The author’s name was Michael Newnham.

  189. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh’s article is pretty good. I know it bothers people when I say that too many Christians seemed to be in the business of protecting Jesus’ reputation by smoothing over the rough edges. “It’s not bad as it sounds.” or “well Jesus got a little carried away when he spoke on certain topics.”

    The author here states “…universalism is the way that many religiously believing people—and contemporary academic theologians especially—would like for the world to be. ” I think we see this in both talk of universalism and in the LGBTQ ramblings. I love this paragraph from the article.

    The point I wish to make is that universalism is the way that many religiously believing people—and contemporary academic theologians especially—would like for the world to be. The world as we might wish it to be is one in which God’s grace extends to all persons without exception, and all persons freely and positively respond to it. Some contemporary universalists suggest that the harsh traditional doctrines of divine judgment and hell are keeping people out of the church. If the Christian church would only jettison these doctrines, and replace the traditional “good news” (of salvation available through Christ) with the “better news” (of universal salvation as a foreknown outcome), then multitudes of non-Christian people would choose to become Christian. The church’s manifest love toward non-Christians would evoke a loving response from all.”

    In other words, it is the ultimate in the Church Growth scheme.

  190. Michael says:

    This is sad to watch…it guarantees that anyone thinking about controversial issues will have the good sense not to talk about them here.
    That defeats one of the purposes that I have in keeping it going at all.
    It has certainly destroyed my faith in a community that I believed would be able to handle it.
    In reality, this place offers nothing but proof texts and scorn to people who may be struggling with some aspect of the faith.
    I won’t host a site like that…head over to Pulpit & Pen.

    Get all the venom out of your systems while you can.

  191. Josh says:

    Michael, I just posted a quote from you on the subject. I have made no insults or snide comments. Only presented the other side.

    You are mad at us for still believing what you taught us a few years ago.

  192. Michael says:

    I still believe what I wrote.

  193. Josh says:

    Then you have no argument against us today.

  194. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I don’t know anyone asking these questions that are interested in church growth.

    I do they are asking difficult questions like

    “Why would a God of love create humans when He foreknew that He would torture the vast majority of them eternally?”

    I don’t have a proof text to answer that…

  195. Jean says:

    Michael,

    I don’t know who you’re talking to specifically, if anyone, but I would like to ask:

    Is a community built on a foundation of God’s Word one that “offers nothing” but “venom?”

    Why is the citation or quotation of the Bible always condemned here as proof texting? What would be an acceptable way, if any, to bring the authority of Scripture into a discussion?

    Why wouldn’t this be the perfect place to bring controversial issues, because one asking questions could get feedback from at least four major traditions. That is relatively unique and a real strength for this blog.

  196. Josh says:

    And do you really want to compare us (Jean, MLD, and myself) to Pulpit and Pen? You are hurt, and thus flailing wildly trying to hurt someone else, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why.

  197. Michael says:

    Jean,

    This blog is finished in it’s current state.
    The only thing that would cause me to lose more sleep than I did last night would be if someone else were treated as I was…for THINKING.
    I am not a fundamentalist, nor am I an inerrantist…and I’m every bit as “Christian” as you Lutherans and Josh are.
    There are no hard questions for your ilk…just a slap with leather covered brick.
    I’m not playing.

  198. ( |o )====::: says:

    Could that coin be “unowned” by that woman who is rejoicing at having swept she rediscovers it? And could that coin have done anything to be lost or found?

    Could that sheep be “unowned” by that shepherd who bids his neighbors rejoice after he finds and carries that sheep to safety? And could that sheep have done anything to be lost or found?

    And could either of those children have been loved less or more by that dad? And could either of those children have done anything to be “not dad’s child”?

    Somebody dare to tell Jesus, “Yes”?

  199. Josh says:

    Michael, how do you perceive that you were treated last night?

    I disagreed with you, but in no way condemned you or insulted you, even when I have continually been insulted in return.

  200. Josh says:

    Congrats G-man. You finally won.

  201. ( |o )====::: says:

    This place is sadly often an echo of the very table feast Jesus was at, welcoming the outcasts, bidding fellowship and community while the religious leaders and law debators are muttering and muttering.

    Michael, don’t let these mutterers get you down.

  202. Josh says:

    Take your victory lap.

  203. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, I thought the blog stood on you not wanting an echo chamber?
    Why do you think you were treated poorly? No one attacked you personally. I think everyone spoke directly to the topic itself.

    My original comments were my disagreement with Roger Olsen.

  204. ( |o )====::: says:

    Josh,
    How so?

  205. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Last night was one long assault and you continued it this morning.

    I have NEVER taught this doctrine here as dogma…I said very clearly I was studying it, leaning toward it…and for that the assault goes on.

    You and your friends assumed you knew what I found compelling…and you were clueless.
    As usually happens in these conversations with fundamentalists no one asks any questions…they just fired away at the enemy they think they have in their sites.
    Have at it…but you haven’t come close to what people are actually trying to work through.

  206. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, you claim we don’t ask questions. Almost ever time we asked questions you told us we had to read the book.
    The only question I had answered was when I asked if any denomination large or small held to universalism in any of it’s forms. You politely answered no.

  207. ( |o )====::: says:

    Michael Newnham has continued a friendship with me and others who rightfully challenge our own beliefs when we find them full of incongruity contrasted with the declarations and actions of Jesus.

    Again, thank you, Michael, you are very much loved and respected even though the mutterers must mutter on.

  208. Josh says:

    Where have I attacked?

    I have RESPECTFULLY disagreed with Universalism in this thread. If respectful disagreement is no longer tolerated, even against historic heresies (according to Olsen), then you may be right. There may be no use for this blog.

  209. Josh says:

    “As usually happens in these conversations with fundamentalists ”

    You have personally insulted me at least 10 times in this thread. Find ONE place where I insulted you.

  210. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I have no problem with disagreement.
    I have huge problems with fire and brimstone falling on things no one here has said and being accused of “believing in nothing”.

    People have been allowed to say what they think here all the way though this thread.

    How would you deal with the cognitive dissonance of this question?

    “Why would a God of love create humans when He foreknew that He would torture the vast majority of them eternally?”

  211. Michael says:

    GMan,

    Thanks for the support…as you well know, love in the church is usually contingent on doctrinal agreement…

  212. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Let me ask you a question.
    Do you believe in seven different ages of God’s administration and if so, where is that in Scripture?

  213. Josh says:

    Michael, who accused you of believing in nothing?

  214. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, I always answer the “why would God” questions with Deut 29:29.
    I can’t and don’t read the mind of God – I read his words.

  215. Josh says:

    I don’t have a particular number of dispensations. I’ve seen anywhere from 2 to something like 13. If I went through and counted the different ages it would be between those two numbers.

    Where do I see it in Scripture? It seems self evident that God dealt with people in different ways during different times. I think most would agree that some things were different before and after the cross. Garden of Eden seems like another obvious one, to me. But I know you are trying to just pull a gotcha, so go ahead.

    Yes, I believe that different ages are described in Scripture in which God deals with man in different ways.

  216. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Not a gotcha…but a an example of how sects take an idea that is not explicit in Scripture and make it a dogma.
    Also an example of how an idea unheard of for 1800 years in the church can be accepted…

  217. Xenia says:

    MLD,

    I know it bothers people when I say that too many Christians seemed to be in the business of protecting Jesus’ reputation by smoothing over the rough edges. <<<

    I am guilty of this at times, Lord forgive me.

  218. Josh says:

    “Why would a God of love create humans when He foreknew that He would torture the vast majority of them eternally?”

    That is THE eternal question that no man can answer. In theology, it is called the Problem of Evil.

    Why does evil exist?
    Either God is all-knowing, but doesn’t care.
    OR God is caring, but not powerful enough to do anything about it.

    That is the root of every theological question. Every systematic theology is attempting to answer that question. I can only trust in the God that I know who is all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful…and humbly admit that I am none of the three. He knows many things that I could never know.

  219. Michael says:

    “I can’t and don’t read the mind of God – I read his words.”

    In other words, you don’t engage the question at all and expect others to do like wise.

  220. Josh says:

    “Also an example of how an idea unheard of for 1800 years in the church can be accepted…”

    Anywhere that I see dispensationalism disagreeing with scripture, I toss it. And it is wrong in places. But some decent ideas have come from that camp.

  221. Michael says:

    Josh,

    It’s more specific than that…it is a question about the nature of God.
    We posit that the source of all Good and Love…created most people to barbecue them forever.

    If that doesn’t create cognitive dissonance, I don’t know what will…

  222. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I don’t crusade against dispensationalism…I only note that it didn’t exist for 1800 years of the church age and it creates some of it’s dogma from things that are, at best, only implicit in Scripture.

    Should others do like wise they would immediately be labeled “unbiblical”…

  223. Josh says:

    That literally is The Problem of Evil. Why would a loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God allow bad things to happen?

    I don’t say that as a cop-out. It is 100% unknowable. Anyone who thinks about it is bound to struggle with it. There is a faith choice there where we have to choose to believe that God is good and trust Him with the questions that can’t be answered.

  224. Josh says:

    1 – I don’t consider any part of dispensationlism as Dogma. Some do, and they are wrong. I just needed to make that clear before moving on.

    2 – That being said, there are different categories of error. Surely you would consider one who was dogmatic about Paul authoring Hebrews to be in the same boat as someone who denies the virgin birth. Universalism, unless you give me a different definition than I can find anywhere else, messes with some pretty foundational issues.

  225. Josh says:

    “Surely you would consider”

    Should say “wouldn’t consider”

  226. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, I am sure this has always been a difference between us. You answer the theodicy questions – I don’t.
    You put God in the dock – I don’t.

  227. Xenia says:

    Putting God in the dock…

    I have been guilty of this. I am in the secular academic world, and believe me, it’s very tempting to present a “kinder, gentler” God to a bunch of mockers. I will no longer do this, with God’s help.

  228. ( |o )====::: says:

    Michael,
    “as you well know, love in the church is usually contingent on doctrinal agreement…”

    This is why I spend far more of my time with those outside of the evangelical church, actually with just plain, garden variety friends, neighbors and co-workers who have no theological agenda.

    My most wonderful conversation was this week with Ben, a guy who my wife and I randomly shared a picnic table with outside of Costco, him eating pizza, us eating hot dogs. It started out as happenstance “table fellowship” and ended up with us sharing the coin, sheep, dad & sons story of unconditional acceptance and “foundness”, which turned into Ben’s opening to share, tearfully, how much he was thankful to “the God” for taking care of him throughout the most challenging times of his life.

    Jesus comes in through the side door, once again.

  229. Xenia says:

    This discussion has actually been helpful for me.

    I examined my reasons for wanting universalism to be true, and realized they were based on my emotions and my desire to “defend God.” This caused me to look at some other orthodox and Orthodox teachings I’ve been beginning to “soften” on, and I realized this “softening” had the same source. So this discussion, while frustrating to some, really helped me clarify some things.

    Thanks, everyone.

    I

  230. ( |o )====::: says:

    I’ve discovered it’s more about making us ALL aware of God’s presence in the Here/Now. It’s about attraction, like baking bread and sharing a fresh loaf with whosoever is hungry. It’s rare that those in our presence are willing to turn down freshly broken, mouthwatering bread.

  231. Jean says:

    In I Cor. X, Paul tells the story of the exodus from Egypt “as examples for us.” He redeemed His people from Egypt and brought them through the Red Sea, baptizing them into Moses. Yet, because of their unbelief, “with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.”

    Out of that whole group, only two made it into the promise land. But what about all the peoples there in the Promised land? “[A]ll these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.”

    Let’s be honest about God. He is holy and righteous, and if one encounters Him according to the Law, He is pure wrath to a sinner (of which ever man and women is). He destroys wickedness throughout the Bible.

    So the Christian response to theodicy is not IMO to re-write the story of God and the world, but the response is the good news of Jesus Christ. “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

    Instead of theodicy, I commend theophany:

    Look at what Jesus offers Christians in the Divine Service: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”

    Go for the theophany of the Lord’s Supper, where God forgives your sins and offers not wrath but grace, because Jesus absorbed God’s wrath on account of your sins.

  232. Michael says:

    Most of the people I’m reading and have spoken to describe themselves as “hopeful” of ultimate reconciliation based on the nature of God as expressed in Jesus Christ.

    David Hart being the exception who is less charitable with folks who believe in eternal torment.

    Most believe in hell, but believe it is a place of rehabilitation, not retribution.

    They cite Scriptures…

    “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.The last enemy to be destroyed is death.For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.”
    (1 Corinthians 15:21–28 ESV)

    “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
    (Colossians 1:15–20 ESV)

    “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”
    (Romans 5:15–17 ESV)

    I could go on…but the point is that people who are “hopeful” are not unaware of either the passages for or against that hope.

    It’s centered on the stated mission of Jesus Christ and who the Scriptures reveal Him to be.

    Hoping that somehow, some way, that the entire groaning creation will be reconciled to God while embracing the biblical tensions evident, doesn’t seem like a bad thing to me.

  233. Michael says:

    GMan,

    I hear you…and pray that God show us where we need to think better or differently…while continuing to try to love as He did…

  234. Em says:

    For us the universe that we’ve become aware of seems huge and all encompassing, but…
    There is so much out there beyond what has been revealed to us.. Satan declared himself equal to God…
    This kindergarten Christian thinks our placement on this specially formed planet is God’s answer to that challenge and John 3:16 sums it up…
    We are here with a free will on this incredible planet that just screams design with purpose … We are here to prove God worthy by accepting the evidence or …. we reject for all kinds of inflated egotistical wrong headed thinking cloaked in science or religion or any other construct our blind minds embrace.. All leading to the place readied for Satan and his followers at the end of the exercise
    Theological details are just the flowers and the cactus that lines the narrow path. . sigh … er something. 🙆

  235. Josh says:

    I , too am hopeful. That’s the only reason I share the Gospel with others.

    I just see too much in scripture that says some will not make it. Which makes our mission in the here and now even more important.

  236. ( |o )====::: says:

    I share my understanding of Jesus, what he said, what he modeled, and what I admire and why.

    I let am convinced that most of us walk around with the same narrative of that kid who disrespected dad and blew the bucks.

    Dad says, “You’re always my kid, you could NEVER not be my kid.

    Whenever we run into the other family members, the kids who are overflowing with entitlement and how they play by some scorekeeping checklist that dad never instituted or maintains.

    Dad just says, “You are always with me and everything I have is already yours.”

  237. Josh says:

    I will admit that if I let go of Scripture, there is very little left.

    I know we don’t like proof-texts, but I won’t be swayed with rank sentimentalism either.

  238. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Some are wrestling with all the texts…including those I posted above and more.
    I’ve read more about translation and interpretation lately than I ever care to do again.

  239. Josh says:

    “Some are wrestling with all the texts…”

    Sure. And that’s worthwhile. I think we’ve come to different conclusions about how those texts weigh-in.

  240. Michael says:

    Josh,

    You should post a prayer request here for your sister…just saw what you posted on Facebook.

  241. This endless doctrinal duspute over who is and who is not dammed, is futile.
    No one has been dammed. There have at yet been no trials to pronounce dammed or free.

    You can not be dammed until accused and been tried. Theologians are not the judges, they will be spectators in any future trial.

    Accused have a right to a defense, at trial. Why is this being lost here?

  242. Michael says:

    “I think we’ve come to different conclusions about how those texts weigh-in.”

    I haven’t come to any conclusions yet…but you have hit on the heart of the matter.
    Different interpretations and weighting do not mean one is minimizing Scripture.

  243. Josh says:

    Nathan, I think we are just doing our best to understand what scripture says on the matter.

  244. Josh says:

    “Different interpretations and weighting do not mean one is minimizing Scripture.”

    True. My charge of sentimentalism was not aimed towards you.

  245. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Nathan, where have you seen us condemn anyone to damnation?
    I only point out those who Jesus condemned to everlasting damnation.
    Take the 5 foolish virgins and the goats for example.
    Someone is going to everlasting hell and it’s not by my words but those of Jesus.

  246. Michael says:

    I will gladly accept the charge of sentimentalism.
    I don’t consider it an insult.

  247. ( |o )====::: says:

    Err on the side of “in”, like any good parent.

  248. ( |o )====::: says:

    Err on the side of “in” like any good child who listens to one’s parent

  249. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    John 3:18 indicates that mankind is already condemned and that there is a way out – believe in Jesus Christ.

    Peter in one of his letters says God desires all to be saved. Why does he need to desire something that he already knows, mainly that all will be saved no question about it?

    We don’t condemn – God does the condemning. Why does he condemn, Deut 29:29 I don’t know.

  250. Josh.
    I will accept discussion participants are doing their best. And also, that most in the pews do not care in the least what is the nature of reality.

    The discussion of the nature of reality, must have an accurate understanding of the fundamental principles governing our Universe. That is science, and specificly, physics. So the point here is definition of terms, and are those definitions factualy correct.

    Example: You can not have eternal damnation, or salvation, without defining the dimension of time. Time, as one of our four observable dimensions, is intertwined with the other three.

    The Church universal failed to adjust to a quantized understanding of Universe in the past century. Arguments rage over this or that doctrinal constructs, but some of our constructs are built on ignorant and archaic science or pre-scientific views.

    This is a seperate issue to the lack of any pronounced judgements.

  251. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    G, what about the bad children who do not obey / listen to their parents?

  252. ( |o )====::: says:

    Why did Jesus tell those 3 stories which affirm unconditional belonging and the inability of someone to self disqualify or overly value themselves based on behavior?

  253. ( |o )====::: says:

    The ancient law made provision for murdering one’s disobedient children.

    Grace, in Jesus, by narrative and example, sets the example and precedent that we, as brothers, sisters, and parents should NEVER choose to murder a disobedient child, or even shun a wayward family member, even if that person insults the family/tribe/tradition.

  254. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Nathan – “You can not have eternal damnation, or salvation, without defining the dimension of time.”

    Are you saying the disciples couldn’t understand Jesus in Matt 25:46? Their lack of scientific data would actually cause doubt that they would be with Jesus forever? (The same period as condemnation in the same passage).

    Once again, Jesus is tricking us.

  255. ( |o )====::: says:

    What about selling someone into slavery?

    What about executing someone who wears mixed textiles in their fabrics of their clothing?

    What about shellfish?

  256. ( |o )====::: says:

    Whenever theological questions arises, it tells me much about the person answering when the default is to support killing, shunning, exclusion and scorekeeping.

    This is why I seek out others who are willing to embrace The Way of Jesus and the progress He calls us to.

  257. Em says:

    Unconditional belonging in the family of God? That might be delusional, wishful…. If the prodigal son had not come to his senses and returned home, if, after blowing his inheritance, he had stayed with the pigs until he died…… would he still be okay?

  258. ( |o )====::: says:

    “would he still be okay?”

    Take the dad’s actions into account. He never stopped being his dad’s son.
    His dad wouldn’t let him complete his self defeating narrative, and by his actions he never stopped his dad-ness toward his son, near or far.

    “OK” is relative. Would he have been “ok” while living a lifetime away from family, telling himself lies about his personhood?

    Dad acted and said he was a son. Who are we to say less about anyone?

  259. ( |o )====::: says:

    Jesus told those three stories of unconditional inclusion to everyone present, but especially to the religious and legal mutterers at the party.

    THEY are who we should NOT model.

  260. Jean says:

    Michael,

    I can’t find where, but I noticed you used the term “universal reconciliation” a couple times in this discussion. FWIW, Lutherans use a similar term, “universal objective reconciliation” and refer to passages in Rom. V and II Cor. V for support. To us, we mean by that term that from God’s perspective He has reconciled himself to the world universally in Christ.

    From there, we have the second part, which is particular subjective reconciliation. Thus, Paul says in II Cor. V: “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

    So, God offers His reconciled Self universally to all mankind in Christ through the preaching of the Gospel (It is finished!), and faith in the Gospel is our subjective reconciliation to God. It is our turning to God in Christ, who is already turned to the world universally in His Son.

    I wonder if we (and Josh, Xenia, Steve or anyone else) would be in agreement on what I’ve just written?

  261. MLD
    The Apostles where struggling greatly to comprehend what was spoken to them. Just a little further we read: “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.”

    As far as Jesus tricking us:
    It is written, “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:”

    These are the same things referred to by Paul: “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

    One might ask, have not these mysteries been fully revealed? But we understand that at this time, we see through a glass darkly. The mystery of the things hidden, continues to be revealed through time.

  262. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    So G, what do you do with the plain words of Jesus in my 2 simple examples from Matthew 25.
    What point is Jesus trying to get across about the foolish virgins who are locked out of heaven with Jesus declaring he never knew them and the goats who are declared condemned for all eternity?
    This does not seem like the scenario you are trying to pass along.

    Now let me say that what you do preach here DOES in fact apply 100% to the 5 wise virgins and the sheep in those parables – but you will notice that it is always Jesus who causes division, it is always Jesus who divides the wheat from the weeds, the sheep from the goats and the wise virgins from the foolish virgins. Jesus divides the sons of his father from those who have Satan as their father.
    Jesus divides, and Jesus condemns those who are not his and gathers those who are.

  263. Josh says:

    “THEY are who we should NOT model.”

    OF course that means you are excluding and keeping score.

  264. ( |o )====::: says:

    MLD,
    I choose to accept that the foolish virgins and goats are ultimately reconciled with God, as He is represented by Jesus in the 3 religiously and legally subversive stories he told to the mutterers, who probably muttered questions like the ones you ceaselessly propose to this weary community who are already at the feast, glad to be at the party.

    I choose to seek out any and all who are telling themselves self-defeating lies of disqualification.

    I choose to offer fresh baked bread to those because they are also hungry.

    It’s all about focus, and valuing creation, especially those fellow humans who are foolish, and goats who, by no choice of their own, were not born sheep.

  265. ( |o )====::: says:

    Josh,
    By all means, feel free to exclude and keep score, and let me know how enriching you life is by doing so.

    …or, don’t exclude, stop keeping score and meet the rest of our marginalized family and creation.

  266. Josh says:

    It was a waste of time for Jesus to even tell the stories, then. All were going to be saved regardless. Just let them go about their lives, happy go lucky.

  267. Josh says:

    G – I pointed out where you were keeping score. You are just more self-righteous about it than others.

  268. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    G, the foolish virgins is a parable just like the parable of the lost sheep – told to different audiences for different purposes.
    The virgins at the point of final reconciliation are rejected by Jesus both physically (the shutting of the door) and verbally (rejection when they begged to be let in and Jesus’ curse on them that he never knew them). This sounds pretty final to me.

    The same with the goats – the time of the final judgement, the time where Jesus could say ” come one you knuckleheads, get in here,” no he says get out for all eternity – get out!!!”

  269. Jim says:

    Michael,

    FWIW, I admire the way that you make your journey public. I still read here almost every day, and this is the only blog I read. I’ll always be a friend and fan.

  270. Michael says:

    Jim,
    Likewise, my friend.
    Thank you…it means much to me.

  271. ( |o )====::: says:

    Josh,
    “G – I pointed out where you were keeping score.”
    Let’s clarify, ok?
    I’m talking about behavior and what to avoid practicing.

  272. ( |o )====::: says:

    MLD,
    This is how I approach scripture.
    I’m a dad, and I would NEVER consign my children to eternal rejection and punishment for narcissistic, self-centered and willful disobedience.
    …and I’m a mere mortal.

    If the heart and soul of The Dad, His actions, attitude and unchangeable love is Jesus’ point of the 3 stories told loudly in the presence of the muttering pharisees and lawyers, especially the “Dad&TheBoysStory”, then it must color and effect all of Jesus’ stories and parables.

    To me the context is clear, there is no ultimate banishment, or rejection in Dad’s household.

    Mercy triumphs over justice.

  273. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    G, “I’m a dad, and I would NEVER consign my children to eternal rejection and punishment for narcissistic, self-centered and willful disobedience.”

    You have just put your ways and emotions above God and his word. I am sure we all do it from time to time and it is grave sin. We all need to repent.

    But let me ask (I have been trying for 2 days) – you cannot deny the words in the text – the fire, the damnation, the wailing and gnashing of teeth, the eternity of punishment, the being kept from the kingdom etc. So why do you think this loving God who would do no harm talks like this – what is his purpose?

    I could buy what you say if God had just said what you say – but we have probably 100 passages saying some are going to hell. Is God just punking us? Serious question.

  274. Josh says:

    “I’m talking about behavior and what to avoid practicing.”

    So again, it’s obvious to all but you. You do not accept some people based on what they practice. I know this from personal experience.

  275. Em says:

    The genius of God is displayed in His offer of mercy… Ultimately, though He is perfect in Rigteousness and Holy. There is an old saw which i may not quote accurately, Adjust to God’s righteousness or it will “adjust” to you… There is a reason for hell as God never compromises His Righteousness… If He did, He wouldn’t be who He is. Without His character and power everything in the universe and beyond would wobble and ultimately self destruct 😳
    Gman (all of us are susceptible), is, perhaps snagged on the wonder and beauty of grace? Of God’s rich mercy and patience…?
    He is correct that Jesus didn’t avoid anyone because of their lifestyle. He came to bring redemption… Except Herod, Jesus snubbed him…. and perhaps a few self aggrandizing religious “leaders”…
    In my humble view, of course. 😇

  276. Jean says:

    If someone wants to talk about God and his kids, then one might investigate WHEN, WHERE AND HOW one becomes a child of God. Because one certainly is not born one, according to the Bible.

  277. Josh says:

    “You have just put your ways and emotions above God and his word. ”

    I don’t like G as a god. He’s a fine dude, but not a good god.

  278. Josh says:

    Well, we found a subject that unites me with the Lutherans. Never thought that would happen.

  279. Michael says:

    I think of all the difficult conversations that have been had here, I hate this one the most.
    Charles Spurgeon said that a man should never speak of hell without tears in his eyes.
    We speak of it as if it were a feature of the faith.
    We all assume that our proper beliefs will spare us the fire.
    I think about all those who have never heard and more so about those who have suffered so much at the hands of the church they want nothing to do with it.
    I think of those with terrible pain from an earthly father who hope for one that offers unconditional love.
    I do not deny a hell, but hold out hope that Jesus accomplished far more than we know and His mission was far more successful than some believe…and I hope theres a special section in heaven for those of us who would prefer to keep hell loving believers at a distance.

  280. JoelG says:

    ^^Thank you Michael^^

  281. Michael says:

    Thank you, JoelG.
    Some of us are just hanging on until we get home…

  282. Josh says:

    I don’t think anyone love’s hell.

    I think we are trying to be careful with the words of Scripture and be honest about what they say.

    I do not want anyone to go to Hell. I too care about those who have never heard, the hurt, the sick…etc.

    But I can’t make up a new set of scriptures that will help those people. I want to read what is actually there, and then go from that point.

  283. ( |o )====::: says:

    Hell is a self imposed state of being, when you’re told that even though you are already at a party dad is throwing out of love and rejoicing for your family member who was considering him/herself unworthy of his love, that you refuse to accept that family member could be as worthy as you.

    Hell is also when you’re blinded and hardened of heart due to religion and legal score keeping.

    Hell is when you’re in an outer darkness in the stench of the burning town trash pit where there’s wailing and gnashing of teeth because you refuse to consider all at the party your family & tribe.

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  284. Michael says:

    There are people who desire to be as careful with Scripture that come to different conclusions and interpretations.
    What disturbs me beyond words is that only Xenia has acknowledged the cognitive dissonance between an all good and all loving Savior and creating people to burn in eternal flames.
    I don’t get that at all.
    What is really at the heart of this argument is how one reads and interprets Scripture…everything else is a secondary issue.

  285. Josh says:

    I’ve acknowledged the difficulty there.

  286. Josh says:

    “There are people who desire to be as careful with Scripture that come to different conclusions and interpretations.”

    That may be true. But I can’t throw aside my convictions because someone disagrees. The question then becomes, what level of disagreement is this? AS I’ve said, I do think universalism messes with some pretty foundational ideas.

    Now, the stuff that G is going on about is just not scritpural. I know he likes his own ideas, but it’s not from the Bible.

  287. JoelG says:

    Keep hanging on. You’re helping a lot of us by sharing your journey. The Office has changed my week. Thank you.

  288. Michael says:

    Thanks again Joel…it’s all one day at a time.

  289. Josh says:

    So Michael, you have a cheerleader in this thread in G. Honestly, do you think the stuff he’s talking about is scriptural?

    I’ll admit that I do not, at all. I mean, it has this slightly religious tone to it, but just ignores and contradicts huge sections of Scripture.

    It looks like something he made up that he likes better than biblical Christianity. Which is his right to do, I guess, but is there no objective way to say that anything is right or wrong?

  290. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    God may be all good and all loving…but that is not all he is.

  291. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    if G is right then explaining how 45 is in the family is something I admit I’m not sure I’m ready to entertain just yet.

  292. McGarrett says:

    Michael,

    Thank you for having the conviction to go deeper than most, in terms of asking questions I think many believers struggle with, despite some of the rote answers given. I am exhausted reading thru this. Think it is time for a Kona Longboard! Oops, I may be condemned for this.

  293. Michael says:

    Josh,

    G is a cheerleader because we’ve been friends here through many disagreements for many, many years.
    We come to our doctrinal conclusions through different methods.

    I will repeat for the umpteenth time that I do not deny that there is a hell or that there is some sort of discipline/purgation therein.
    What I find compelling is the case that can be made from Scripture and reason that the possibility of ultimate reconciliation exists.

    I’ve spent a whole lot of time looking at expositions of the Greek in the two volumes I’ve mentioned.

  294. Michael says:

    Thank you, McGarret…I only want to do so if it makes a difference.
    I was sucking Bacardi straight out of the bottle earlier, so we’ll both go down if that’s the case.

  295. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    hell gets thrown into the lake of fire so the temporary nature of hell would seem like a given, but as Jeffrey Burton Russell has put it, most theologians treat the lake of fire as if it “is” hell.

  296. Josh says:

    “G is a cheerleader because we’ve been friends here through many disagreements for many, many years.
    We come to our doctrinal conclusions through different methods.”

    Yeah, I think his kind of ideas muddy the waters for someone who is actually trying to understand scripture. And then both views share the same label.
    But I guess the same kind of confusion is found in other labels like Evangelical or Dispensational.

  297. Dan from Georgia says:

    WOW! I got comment number 300 with that last one! Just like my Minnesota Twins hit home run number 300 yesterday! Haha!

    Have a good day y’all!

  298. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Wenatchee – Hell and the Lake of Fire are the same final judgement.
    Matthew 25:41 seems to be sending the goats to ‘hell’ – “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

    Note that it says this place is created for the devil and his angels. In Revelation 19 and 20 we see the devil and the beasts being tossed into these same fires – now called the lake of fire – “and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

    So we see those being judged thrown into the flames, the devil and his co-horts thrown into the same flames and then in Rev 20:14 we see death and hades thrown in the fire because at this point their will be no more death and graves in the new creation.

    The place of separation and punishment are far from temporary.

    John is getting direct revelation from Jesus and about Jesus in Revelation.

  299. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – in reference to my last post to Wenatchee, John is getting direct revelation from Jesus and about Jesus in Revelation. This goes to the very nature of who Jesus is. So why would Jesus use such descriptive language to describe the fate of those he identified as “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life,” – who he previously described as the weeds, the foolish virgins, the goats and several others, if this was not their fate?

    Why if in the end, after a ‘time away’ he will in fact just dust them off and dispatch them into the kingdom?

    I can’t answer – so I have only his words – whereas you have stated you have only your hope.

  300. Michael says:

    “John is getting direct revelation from Jesus and about Jesus in Revelation.”

    So you believe in a literal thousand year millennium now?

    Revelation is apocalyptic literature written with highly symbolic language…not sure how much we use it to make dogmatic pronouncements.

    In general, Jesus uses parables and hyperbole a lot…if we took all the red letters literally, most of us would be one handed and one eyed…or no eyes at all.

    There is a degree to which all eschatology is speculative…

  301. Michael says:

    ” I can’t answer – so I have only his words – whereas you have stated you have only your hope.”

    What you have is your view of Scripture and your sects interpretation of it.

    I share neither, so we’re going to disagree on a bunch of things.

  302. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I’m sure that G believes in some form of universalism.
    I’m studying a very particular doctrine of universal reconciliation that is grounded in the patristics, scripture, and philosophy and is examined in the books I’ve noted.
    There is a degree to which it is speculative theology, though I think the case is sound enough to remove it from accusations of heresy.

  303. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael – I agree that it is apocalyptic with a large dash of hyperbole (in fact if you go back to my introduction when I was teaching in Revelation I stated that I do not think anything in Revelation is literal past 1:10) – I never indicated anything else. Look back at my questions – I don’t ask about a literal translation, I have always asked “what point do you think Jesus is trying to make with these statements?” When he says that the wheat will be gathered and the weeds will be taken away and burned, do you get any indication that he is saying, “after the cleansing burn the weeds will be brought back into the storage (the kingdom)? I don’t.

    So, with all of the apocalyptic language, what is his point?

  304. Randy Davis says:

    We are walking each other toward home. Along the way all of us have our own theological problems. The issues here are nothing new. John Baillie and Karl Rahner talked about the anonymous Christians, those who never heard the Gospel. C S Lewis made room for postmortem evangelism. Lewis also said that there two kinds of people, those who say to God, thy will be done and those to whom God says, thy will be done. John Stott toyed with Annihilationism after a period in hell. I have friends who think that annihilationism is preferable to eternal punishment. But we still walk on together.

    This is not my theological problem. I’m hard hearted. But, I hold some doctrines that I’m afraid to discuss in public because I would be declared a heretic.

    The thing is, we all have something that someone else opposes. I reject both premillennialism and dispensationalism and there are those who would cast me into outer darkness because I reject these views and I am amill. If we spend so much time condemning each over matters that are peripheral to the core of Christian belief, then we can’t live together (church) much less walk home together. We can’t help each other if we can’t handle each other’s theological problems. But the one thing I’m certain of, there are no perfect Christians, no Uber Christians. So we ought to deal will ourselves first and kindly to each other.

  305. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Randy – “If we spend so much time condemning each over matters that are peripheral to the core of Christian belief, then we can’t live together (church) much less walk home together. ”

    Where do you get that anyone is being condemned over any of this? Can we not have vigorous discussion without the accusations?

    If you want to see condemnation, just check out the church fathers, the church councils and the creeds – they literally condemn to hell those who oppose them. We are just blog lightweights.

  306. Randy Davis says:

    No, it’s gone beyond vigorous discussion. It’s gotten to the slashing and burning stage. It has a lot to do with tone Some are just tone deaf. Some keep repeating the some thing, but a little more harsh each time. It has gone on for days and there has been little light revealed. Quite frankly I am ready to stop reading the interaction all together because the discussion is going downhill as I have seen it do on other theological lists.

  307. Duane Arnold says:

    Randy

    To your 7:04 – “Yes”, simply “yes”…

  308. Josh says:

    “It’s gotten to the slashing and burning stage”

    Where?

    I think perception is often skewed by personal emotion.

  309. Josh says:

    People are terrified of disagreement.

  310. Jean says:

    I would agree that the discussion has made little headway and has tipped slightly downhill and has been personal. The main reasons I see for that is the tit-for-tat psychoanalysis (by both sides) of the other’s motives, instead of dealing with the text of Scripture. What happens here is our discourse is the same thing we see in secular politics in which the message is countered by attacking the messenger.

  311. Josh says:

    Where has someone gotten personal?

  312. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Randy, you should not be so sensitive in these matters considering that blog threads have a shelf life of about 3 days. The Fathers used to argue and debate for centuries over dust up issues. The Lutherans and RCC debated from 1519 until Trent and beyond for a century and a half.

    Remind yourself – it’s Friday and before the day is over the focus will shift to cats 🙂

  313. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jean – that is my question – who has gotten personal? I could say that your last post is a personal attack on me and Josh.

  314. Josh says:

    I didn’t assume he was referring to me? Were you Jean?

    If so, that’s wild. I feel like I’ve been incredibly careful not to attack at all.

  315. Jean says:

    Josh, I wasn’t thinking of you. Here are a couple examples of personal comments that add no light to the topic, but are just personal slights:

    “I think folks who play around with universalism, universal reconciliation or conditional immortality do so because they are tired of being beat up by their unbelieving family at Thanksgiving dinner.”

    “and I hope theres a special section in heaven for those of us who would prefer to keep hell loving believers at a distance.”

    These types of comments do not add a single insight for the interpretation of Scripture. Nor do references to the other’s tradition or denomination, whether it’s Baptist, Lutheran Anglican or any other. An interpretation should stand on its own within the cannon and bringing in the history of interpretation is fine as well.

    It’s easier to insult someone, rather than explain a doctrine, but insults educate no one and cause a reciprocal negative reaction.

  316. Josh says:

    You are right. I do like discussing the ideas, even if it doesn’t seem productive. We could all be mroe careful with our words at times.

  317. Michael says:

    Randy,

    Good to see you here…you need to jump in more often.
    This place has the same problem as the old theology list…we’ve all been here so long beating on each other we forget what it looks like to occasional readers.

  318. Randy Davis says:

    MLD, I’m not sensitive. I can slash and burn with the best of them. But as I have gotten older, I realize that there are better ways to discuss things and I often let people just live in their ignorance. It’s not worth the chaos.

    If the early fathers had the internet, the Christological debates would have been over in days and Athanasius would never have been in exile. Now, everyone thinks they are experts because they read a Wikipedia article. Athanasius Wouldn’t have had a chance.

  319. Randy Davis says:

    Michael, I’m still on that list. It reminds me of the theological society in hell that met every Friday in Lewis’ The Great Divorce.

  320. Michael says:

    “These types of comments do not add a single insight for the interpretation of Scripture. Nor do references to the other’s tradition or denomination, whether it’s Baptist, Lutheran Anglican or any other.”

    We can’t pretend that our denomination affiliations don’t matter, especially those who belong to confessional sects.
    Those affiliations color how we view Scripture and doctrinal interpretations.
    None of us actually practice some pristine form of “sola scriptura”…we come from interpretive and philosophical positions as well.

    What troubles me is that Randy is right when he says it’s better to not say anything that may be viewed as “heretical” out loud…which leaves people without the opportunity to work through things in community.
    Not everyone is as unconcerned about other peoples opinions as I am…nor can they afford to be.

  321. Michael says:

    Randy,

    Now that was funny…I think I’m still on it too,but I haven’t read anything from them in years.
    It was incredibly valuable to me when I first got on though…

  322. Josh says:

    “What troubles me is that randy is right when he says it’s better to not say anything that may be viewed as “heretical” out loud…which leaves people without the opportunity to work through things in community.”

    I guess the only answer is to ban disagreement?

  323. Jean says:

    “We can’t pretend that our denomination affiliations don’t matter, especially those who belong to confessional sects.”

    First of all, that wasn’t my point. My point is that constantly bringing it up about the other doesn’t address the theological difference; it is just labeling someone to score a point.

    Second, your constant use of the term “sect” is itself an insult by anyone who knows what the word “sect” means in theological circles.

    Of all the people who want a more polite discourse, you play as deeply in the mud as anyone.

  324. Josh says:

    I’ll also add that while community is important, a large part of that importance is correction of error. That’s not comfortable, but I have absolutely needed it in my life.

  325. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Disagreement can be valuable and helpful.
    What happens in theological discussions is that the stakes are raised so that questions become the basis for damnation or accusations of “leading people astray”.
    Everyone claims to use Scripture as the sole authority and making Scripture the sole authority is the hill they will die on, hopefully taking a bunch of heretics with them.
    Truth is…the hill they will die on is interpretation and everyone uses some amount of reason and philosophy to make those interpretations.
    I have no problem affirming your status as a believer or the Lutherans status as the same.
    This, even though I could never belong to either group you’re affiliated with.
    I don’t think that any of you are leading anyone to perdition, even though we have vigorous disputes on doctrine.

  326. Randy Davis says:

    Josh, you seem to think in extremes. If we ban disagreement, then how is anything ever discussed? I’d correction of error is to be done, it needs to be in the utmost gentleness. And if we are going to be a corrector, then we need to know what we are talking about.

  327. Michael says:

    Jean,

    “Sect” is not a pejorative in any sense I’m aware of.
    It would be senseless for me to contest the fact that I will take off the gloves at times.

  328. Josh says:

    “Josh, you seem to think in extremes. If we ban disagreement, then how is anything ever discussed?”

    My point exactly, Randy. That’s all I’v been doing is discussing something. You called it “slash and burn”.

  329. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I found this thread to be highly charged and very personal.
    I have had offline discussions about shutting down the whole operation after 18 years as a result.
    Cooler heads prevailed, but this has been a brutal thread in my eyes.

  330. Josh says:

    “the basis for damnation or accusations of “leading people astray”.”

    I am author of the “leading people astray” comment. My point was that universalism, in a generic sense, could lead people astray. As you agreed that much under that banner was condemnable, I assume that you agree. It was not YOU are leading people astray, it was “if we don’t be careful to show other sides to this, people could be led astray”.

    I do apologize for no being more clear.

  331. Josh says:

    “I found this thread to be highly charged and very personal.”

    I did not. You insulted me several times, but I didn’t see anyone else getting into that. Even MLD, but maybe I am just used to his tone. I know that you’ve been going through stuff, and didn’t take the attacks to heart.

    I’ve looked back through it all, and can’t imagine why you see it that way. The only thing that could’ve gone different would have been if a few of us would have just said – You know what, UNiversalism is good. I can’t do that.

  332. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I’m not sure at all how dangerous a doctrine it is.
    I don’t think George MacDonald or C.S Lewis, or John Stott led anyone away from Christ with their variant views on hell.
    C.S Lewis may be the most popular Christian voice of the 20th century…and an examination of a few of his views would earn him the heretics stripes in most denominations.

  333. Michael says:

    Josh,

    What could have been different was if someone had actually inquired what I was affirming and what I was denying instead of making me guilty of things I had not affirmed and had explicitly denied.

    If your posting of a quote from me as if I was now denying it wasn’t a direct attack, I don’t know what an attack is.

  334. Josh says:

    Again, no need for me to list the myriad of names throughout church history that would have argued strongly against universalism. Not the point.

    Lewis and Stott knew that universalism was dangerous and did not go that route. Still, I disagree with the view they came to.

    I do think universalism is dangerous and I think it in contrast with scripture. Apparently, we disagree on that point. I’m not calling you a bad name, consigning you to hell, or any of that. But I will disagree. I don’t see how I could do anything else.

  335. Michael says:

    We are going to have conflict here because there is a silent, ongoing battle between those who believe in some form of inerrancy and those of us who do not.
    That is the core of most of the disputes.
    I find this especially wearying in light of the fact that inerrantists usually have massive doctrinal disagreements with other inerrantists from different sects, rendering the issue moot…

  336. Josh says:

    “What could have been different was if someone had actually inquired what I was affirming and what I was denying instead of making me guilty of things I had not affirmed”

    I did, close to ten times. You would never answer. You were just mad.

    How can posting your own quote be a personal attack?!?! I thought it was a good quote, and on topic. That’s weird.

  337. Josh says:

    I guess you could ban inerrantists. I think I’m the only one here. MLD and Jean have both denied it.

  338. Michael says:

    Josh,

    It is a good quote… 🙂
    However, you posted it with a sense of irony and played it pretty hard.
    It is what it is…

  339. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I haven’t banned anyone nor do I intend to.
    I’m just stating the real source of the disputes.

  340. Josh says:

    The real source of THIS dispute is that an ancient heresy is being discussed and some of us are still against it, right? That was also the point of me posting your quote.

  341. Michael says:

    Josh,

    The doctrine that has been condemned and what I am studying have superficial similarities and significant differences.
    It may still be heretical to some.
    That’s ok.
    The root is that you don’t believe that the Bible allows for any form of universal reconciliation and others (who view the Scriptures with the same weight) believe it is possible.
    They point to verses like this that seem to indicate such.

    “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.The last enemy to be destroyed is death.For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.”
    (1 Corinthians 15:21–28 ESV)

    “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
    (Colossians 1:15–20 ESV)

    “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”
    (Romans 5:15–17 ESV)

    Now, just as is the case for any doctrine, the other side can counter with eternal damnation verses.
    Most doctrines are paradoxical as we’ve been arguing Arminianism vs. Calvinism, free will vs. sovereignty, and a host of other opposites for hundreds of years.

    How one falls on one side or the other is a great mystery, but I ascribe it to personality.

    I’m 61 years old and the older I get the more I hope for generous orthodoxy and Jesus whose love is able to reach beyond the limitations we set.

  342. Jean says:

    Look at those verses:

    The first passage: “in Christ shall all be made alive”

    The second passage; “through him to reconcile to himself all things”

    “much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

    These are awesome Gospel verses, no doubt about it. There open, well known and paramount in Christian theology over the history of the Church.

    But these verses say the opposite of universalism. They speak very particularly of Christ and reconciliation, grace, righteousness, life, etc. coming “in” and “through” Jesus Christ.

    So, that leads to the question of what Scripture says about becoming “in” Christ. And Scripture answers that question as well, does it not?

  343. Michael says:

    Jean,

    That’s how you interpret them.
    If you’d like a detailed exposition that disagrees, I can provide you with the links to the books that offer them.
    Doubting that you will read them, I will just agree to disagree and go on down the road.

  344. Jean says:

    Do you mean a detailed exposition that disagrees with what is written? Because I didn’t interpret anything. I just showed you the words.

  345. Michael says:

    Jean,

    You see them as indicating particular redemption.
    Others believe they point to universal reconciliation.
    Both sides are carefully expositing “what the text says” and come to these radically different conclusions.
    We could have a conversation about those expositions if we have read both presentations.
    That’s not going to happen, so discussion is pointless.

  346. Josh says:

    “The root is that you don’t believe that the Bible allows for any form of universal reconciliation and others (who view the Scriptures with the same weight) believe it is possible.”

    That is correct, and so when the topic comes up, I have to present my point of view. I am bound by conviction to do so.

  347. Josh says:

    “The doctrine that has been condemned and what I am studying have superficial similarities and significant differences.”

    I say this light-heartedly, but they should have just chosen a different name. Piggy backing on a long-condemned doctrine seems like it is asking for opposition.

  348. Josh says:

    To be fair, I have read peer-reviewed refutations of Macdonald and Hart, but havce not read the source-materials.

  349. Michael says:

    I haven’t seen anything yet refuting Hart…I would be interested in that.

  350. Josh says:

    Quotes from Hart are included in a larger piece about “Evangelical Universalism”. I read it a couple of days ago. I’ll get the details for you.

  351. Josh says:

    And I should have pointed out that MacDonald I read an article about was Gregory. The pseudonymous author. Not George.

  352. Michael says:

    His real name is Robin Parry…I commend him to folks interested in the subject.
    He has tons of stuff online.

  353. Jean says:

    Fr. Lawrence Farley, of the Eastern Orthodox, calls Hart’s promotion of universalism a “fad,” and refutes it in the linked article. Here is an excerpt from the article:

    “I suspect that one reason that a belief in universalism is becoming popular is that our western culture has lost its sense of sin. In ancient times, all people, be they Jew, pagan, or Christian, believed that they stood guilty before the divine judgment seat. Thus when Christ said in passing that men were evil [Greek poneros; Matthew 7:11], no one batted an eye, for everyone knew it was true. We no longer believe that, and so (in C.S. Lewis’ famous phrase) we have put God in the dock, with ourselves as His judges. In this frame of mind the very existence of hell is a stumbling block, and something which cries out for justification, if not revision. Thus many even in the Church are happy to revise this part of our Tradition, using whatever justification can be found.”

    https://www.oca.org/reflections/fr.-lawrence-farley/will-everyone-eventually-be-saved

    Aside from the the matter of universalism, does Fr. Farley make a legitimate point that western culture has lost its sense of sin?

  354. Michael says:

    Unfortunately, Fr. Farley doesn’t engage with Hart’s arguments at all…not that he could really do so in blog post.

  355. W.T.H. got the Hell/Lake of Fire thing right. They are seperate.

    Hell would apparently be subject to time, LoF would appear to not be subject to time. (as we experiance it)
    LoF would logically need to be located outside the Universe. Hell is within this Universe.

    At this point in my life, I believe information crossing the Event Horizon of Hell/Hades is actually not lost at all. It is archived and retrievable, and inevitable that someone will try.

    It’s the point of Hades in the first place. It’s an archive, and I now think it got it’s Helenized name from Hades, a person who is the archivist.

  356. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, first, Lutherans do not teach particular redemption and I am sure that a pastor or seminary professor would find themselves in hot water – not to mention be accused of being a rascal Calvinist.

    But when you say that some look at those verses as speaking to universal salvation, are you suggesting in theory or that it proper to preach these verses from the pulpit as everyone goes to heaven?

    Have you ever heard someone preach that way from the pulpit?

  357. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I’m still studying the matter.
    Even if there is eventual universal reconciliation, there is still a hell and it’s a very bad place to go.

  358. Josh says:

    Haven’t found the Baptist article yet…

    but I did find a critical review by another universalist 🙂

  359. Michael says:

    Nathan,

    I’d respond but I have no idea what you’re talking about…it may be way over my head…

  360. Josh says:

    I’ve thought the same things about all of Nathan’s thoughts on this thread 🙂

    You’re gonna have to pull those branches down closer to ground-level for this crowd, bud.

  361. Dave says:

    At the risk of sounding like my eschatological foundation is firmly rooted in the animated movie; ‘All dogs go to heaven’ …I’d genuinely like to hear anyone’s views on the totally non-essential and frivolous interpretation of scripture, that from my simplistic mentality, seems to lend a bit of credibility to the thought of earth inhabiting animals, existing on through eternity.

    BTW: I’ve got some wicked “slash & burn” …dying to be unleashed If anyone should dare to differ. (please forgive me, …couldn’t resist!)😁

    (NIV 1984) And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. Genesis 9:5

    (NIV 1984) Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath;man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” Ecclesiastes 3:19-21

  362. Dave says:

    Michael,

    Powerful good words in those links! Thank you. I never cease to be moved by the touchingly descriptive words God inspired Nathan to use when speaking to David of this emotionally intimate bond uniting a baby lamb to a human caregiver, pouring maternal affection into a little creature held within a protective embrace.

  363. Em says:

    “I suspect that one reason that a belief in universalism is becoming popular is that our western culture has lost its sense of sin. In ancient times, all people, be they Jew, pagan, or Christian, believed that they stood guilty before the divine judgment seat. Thus when Christ said in passing that men were evil [Greek poneros; Matthew 7:11], no one batted an eye, for everyone knew it was true. We no longer believe that, and so (in C.S. Lewis’ famous phrase) we have put God in the dock, with ourselves as His judges. In this frame of mind the very existence of hell is a stumbling block, and something which cries out for justification, if not revision. Thus many even in the Church are happy to revise this part of our Tradition, using whatever justification can be found.”
    worth repeating IMHO … seems everyone has bought into the idea promoted by psychologists that guilt is not healthy… well, no it isn’t, but it is necessary

    Are the Lake of Fire prepared for Satan and his angels and the place called “hell” two different places? Seems so… some theorize that the center of the earth – a very hot place – is the location of hell… dunno

  364. Josh and Michael.

    Let’s look back in time to an earlier historical scientific question. While not necessarily affecting orthodoxy itself, it does undermine the institutions of the Church that set and adjudicated, what is and what is not orthodox doctrine. This scientific question exsposed the possiblity that the Catholic (universal) body of Christ, could be universaly wrong in its interpretations of Scripture.

    Should a temporal discussion be viewed as having spiritual significance? I say an emphatic yes, because the Church is the declarer of truth needed to successfully enter the spiritual world, and be saved. If the conduit of truth is wrong, then trust in saving doctrines can not be assured.

    Galileo and Heliocentric Theory
    By 1609 Galileo designs an improved telescope and begins looking at the sky. Amoung various observations he sees dors pass in front of Jupiter and realizes they are moons. This will result in numerous conclusions all based on the orbital concept of motion. This means the Earth is orbiting the Sun, along with all planets and comets. We are not the center of the Cosmos. This resulted in two heresy inquiries and a trial.

    In 1905 Einstein put forward the Theory of Special Relativity. He said time is not fixed.
    In 1915, General Relativity is published and we discover that Time and Space, not only are flexiable, they behave like a rubber sheet. They warp.

    During these same years much of the Church is embroiled in a war over The Fundamentals, with a 6 day Creation being a central part of the argument.

    My assertion is:
    The Church was universaly wrong and archaic in it’s understanding of the nature of the Universe. An understanding of Time is far larger in importance then a question of moons orbiting Jupiter, because central portions of the Faith are constructed on top of time.
    Foremost is eternal salvation. You can not have eternal salvation, without first having an eternity.

  365. Em says:

    Earth may not be the physical center of our known universe, but i suspect we are the center of attention in the Eternal at present….. 🙆

  366. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Hmmm, I wonder why Nathan wants it to be so difficult? So Nathan, even today we can’t know what the Bible is teaching because what do we do when the next discovery comes out?
    The view of the Bible is from people standing on the earth and what they see – not what may be happening in the background.

    Do if it looks like the sun is circling the earth, that is what they wrote – but it does not change what God’s intentions, purposes and revelation say.

    Do you have problems reading the newspaper and knowing what is going on when they report that the sunrises at 6:30 am and sets at 7 pm. Does that cloud how you read the news articles?
    How about when the paper or TV news report that the Giants killed the Cardinals. Do you read that a really big guys were out there killing birds.

    As to salvation being eternal, I spoke to that yesterday – God is eternal because there has never been a time that God was not.
    Salvation, at least at the subjective level in a person had a beginning and then runs for eternity but is not eternal but everlasting.

    I know you think it is, but this is not rocket science.

    Deut 29:29 = ” “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” What God has revealed to us is 100% true and is to be believed, not doubted and is sufficient for our salvation.

  367. Owen says:

    As usual, I’m late to the party. I don’t have nearly the time I’d like to read, study, comment, etc…

    I just wanted to say that, in the years I’ve read this blog (on and off, as time permits) I’ve usually found it to be edifying and generally productive. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that it would be a sad thing if it were taken down.

    I usually hold off on contributing very much due to the fact that I’m not quite as well-read theologically as most here seem to be, therefore I generally listen and learn. The topic in this thread is one I wrestle with frequently, and still am not sure on which side I land. It reinforces my thankfulness that we have a God who knows and understands far more than we do.

  368. Michael says:

    Thanks Owen…calmer heads talked me off the ledge. 🙂
    We’ll be here …

  369. Owen says:

    As usual, I’m late to the party. I don’t have nearly the time I’d like to read, study, comment, etc…

    I just wanted to say that, in the years I’ve read this blog (on and off, as time permits) I’ve usually found it to be edifying and generally productive. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that it would be a sad thing if it were taken down.

    I usually hold off on contributing very much due to the fact that I’m not quite as well-read theologically as most here seem to be, therefore I generally listen and learn. The topic in this thread is one I wrestle with frequently, and still am not sure on which side I land. It reinforces my thankfulness that we have a God who knows and understands far more than we do.

    (Michael, sorry if this ends up being duplicated – having a browser issue. Please delete one of the posts if there’s two.)

  370. I typed out a response but lost it when I pushed post. Thats happened three times lately. Im tired now and want to rest for a bit.

    I hope everyone has a nice weekend. And if any here are from the N Rockies that you dont have any trouble from early snow.

  371. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Nathan, I’ve found it necessary to copy/paste save lengthy comments so that if the comment protocol eats up something when I hit “Post Comment” I can go back and republish later. It’s happened to me a couple of times here and I think it’s an occasional fluke in the site as far as I can tell.

  372. Xenia says:

    Typically on discussion forums and blogs, the connection will time out if too much time has passed between opening the combox and finally posting. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

  373. Jim says:

    Golden Retrievers go to Heaven. Not too sure about the little ankle biter “dogs”. Cats go back to the planet they came from.

    I still think about and mourn the loss our last cat often, but I’m convinced that if I died on the floor, my dog would lay next to me until rescued or dead. My cat would have gotten hungry and eaten my remains.

  374. Dentarthurdent says:

    I’ve quietly followed this for 10+ years and have been delighted at the Anglican turn it is taking, and have benefited strongly from Fr Arnold’s articles (keep them coming!). However, if this becomes yet another ‘Eclectic Orthodoxy’ for protestants, I’m out. It is strange that many Anglo-Catholics, in dabbling with Nouvelle Théologie and Eastern Orthodoxy, are all falling in with DB Hart, when R Bell was so clearly off some years ago. On the other hand, it isn’t terribly strange, given the purgatorial shift that Catholic underwent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_7ip9201kg

    From Fr Farley from Jean’s link
    “That is perhaps why even Origen, who believed that all would be saved, counseled that this truth not be publicly proclaimed, but shared quietly among the spiritually mature. ”

    If only the Origenists would heed Origen, and privately benefit/comfort themselves with this doctrine and respect the Romans 14 paradigm for us weaker folk. I’ve seen the UR doctrine ravage many different vintages of faith.

    Personally, I’m in agreement with Fr Whiteford (https://fatherjohn.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-strange-theology-of-david-bentley.html) and Fr Farley (https://www.oca.org/reflections/fr.-lawrence-farley/will-everyone-eventually-be-saved).

  375. Xenia says:

    I am almost always in agreement with Fr. John Whiteford.

  376. Michael says:

    I’ve spent the last couple days reading critiques when I have time.
    I’m not an “Originist”, I just had misplaced faith that we could discuss tough stuff here.

  377. Dentarthurdent says:

    It is tough stuff, but it is also a heresy. Most really good heresies have some truth to them, and appeal to a certain ‘reasonableness’; most especially towards pastorally minded. Further, most heresies come out of other foundations in one’s theology which need to be re-assessed. These are the true deeper–sometimes buried–pains, abuses, hurts, etc. out of which a heresy becomes attractive. Latent, lingering Baptistic TULIP Calvinism–for many reasons–is particularly vulnerable to UR.

    Some of my own grief is having to deal with the proselytizing of Fr Kimel and especially Dr Hart, and having to deal with the aftermath. To have the intelligentsia force-feed hermeneutical poison upon the masses is a grave action. This is tough stuff, and benefits first and foremost from talking these things over with a safe, pastoral, and orthodox Spiritual Director / Spiritual Father / Pastor (depending on one’s denominational ilk).

    And yes, any reader of Lewis or MacDonald has to wrangle with these ideas.

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