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Universal Reconciliation

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Stephanos
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50 posted 09-17-2004 12:59 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron:
quote:
If we know our children are going to die some day, what is the point in feeding them today?


(I said I wouldn't reply yet ... but easier said than done)

Consider your analogy Ron. It's the universalist position that would seem to deny that Children really die.  And hence the question "Why feed them" is more relevant to their (your?) position, not to the position of those who believe in irreversible death by starvation.


Stephen
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51 posted 09-17-2004 03:10 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Okay, it was a poor analogy, perhaps because it was a reversal of the situation.

Let's try another tact, then. :

If there was no such thing as salvation and eternal life, if you absolutely knew your relationship with God would end with your death, would you just throw out the Bible and Christ's teachings as useless trivia?
Arnold M
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52 posted 09-17-2004 07:56 PM       View Profile for Arnold M   Email Arnold M   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Arnold M

Hi Jim and Ron; I don't know how strongly you believe in the sovereignty of God, but I believe that God's will is not going to be thwarted by man's will.  As for "why evangelize?", because believers love their fellow man and want to share the truth of salvation.  If you had a loved one who becomes deathly ill, wouldn't you be in much prayer for his/her recovery, even though you knew God's will would be done, whether you prayed or not?  Look at the apostle Paul.  Even after it was revealed to him that the church, Christ's body chosen, predestined, etc, before time began, yet he was ever zealous to preach the message of salvation.  We know that God has chosen to use us to witness for Him.
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53 posted 09-17-2004 08:00 PM       View Profile for Arnold M   Email Arnold M   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Arnold M

Stephen, as for scriptures, I've been posting many of them.  I was hoping they would be read.  Also, no one gave me their interpretation of "the smoke of their torment ascends for ever and ever.

Thanks,  Arnold
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54 posted 09-17-2004 08:28 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Arnold,

Though you've posted scriptures here and there, you have presented no comprehensive exegetical defense of your view, and why those particular scriptures should be taken to mean what you say.  Of course I'm not insulting you for that, I've done little more than that myself.  But I hope to put something more complete down soon if time permits.


quote:
no one gave me their interpretation of "the smoke of their torment ascends for ever and ever."

My intepretation is:  The Smoke of their torment ascends for ever and ever.  


Stephen.
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55 posted 09-17-2004 10:07 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron:
quote:
If there was no such thing as salvation and eternal life, if you absolutely knew your relationship with God would end with your death, would you just throw out the Bible and Christ's teachings as useless trivia?

That's not such an easy question to answer, because I think there may be some problems with the question.  


Since the primary teaching of scripture centers upon eternal life and salvation through God, then your sentence reads as such to me:

"If there was no such thing as salvation and eternal life, if you absolutely knew your relationship with God would end with your death, would you just throw out the Bible and Christ's teachings about salvation and eternal life as useless trivia?"


What else do you leave me with?  Wouldn't that make God out to be a liar, since his word gives promise of eternal life?  Or are you hypothesizing the Bible to be something other than it is, maybe a mere book of platitudes and ethics, or a book of irrational hope?  



I think Ron you have to at least ask yourself what the apostle Paul was getting at when he wrote in 1 Corinthians ch. 15, "if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is empty, and your faith also is empty. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men"


About the closest I can come to what you're saying is perhaps what A.B. Bruce described about certain experiences where Christ converys to the doubter's heart that whether or not true, the beauty and grandeur of the Christian Faith is at least worthy of being true.  A boost in hope given, until eclipsed faith shines again.  In this context, a thing may be valuable and beautiful even though doubted.  But biblically, doubt describes the state of mind of the believer, not the truth of the thing believed.  He who believes in spite of doubt is a loyalist.  He who believes in spite of truth is a fool.  


But if you're merely asking whether or not the teachings of the Bible and of Christ are valuable in the here and now, and shine with their own beauty, the answer is yes, of course.  

Stephen.
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56 posted 09-17-2004 11:26 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Wouldn't that make God out to be a liar Ö

I thought my question clearly posited a change in existing reality, but apparently not. Rather than make God out to be a liar, I'm asking what if God had never made you any promises.

quote:
But if you're merely asking whether or not the teachings of the Bible and of Christ are valuable in the here and now, and shine with their own beauty, the answer is yes, of course.

That is, indeed, the question. And the answer to my question should, I would think, also answer Jim's question. One would hope that evangelism isn't "only" about what happens in the final moments of Time. What happens twixt now and then is important, too. To us and, apparently, to God. Else, there would be no need for a twixt.

Evangelism, of course, doesn't prove Universal Reconciliation. But neither do I see a reason why it should bring it into question.
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57 posted 09-18-2004 09:47 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Rather than make God out to be a liar, I'm asking what if God had never made you any promises.



Your question still holds a large stumbling block that I can't quite get around, and it is this: If God had never made us any promises, he would not be the God that he is.  Therefore "loving and valuing his teachings" cannot be assumed as obligatory or even desirable on our part.  For when you subtract eternal life and salvation from the Bible, you remove the foundation from the house.  Nice curtains and ceiling fans can be appreciated, but only in the context of a house with a foundation.  Why else would Paul say what he did about Christians minus the resurrection from the dead?


I think you might have taken the wrong route in asking what you're trying to ask.  But I know what you're getting at, and it's a valid point.  You're essentially saying that even if everyone is saved in the end, it would be better sooner than later.  And evangelism would make sense if for no other reason than to save someone from unnecessary pain.  If you're going to inevitably get to China by raft, boat, or plane, it still makes sense to rescue people from their rafts.  


However, my argument is not that evangelism would make NO sense in that scenario.  Rather it is that evangelism would not be in the sense that the Bible seems to present it. The universalist position makes the relationship of evangelism and salvation tenuous.  The scriptural position seems to ask "How will they believe without a preacher?" and presents us with some urgency and necessity.  The universalist position would claim that evangelized or not, people will be saved, and really made better from their pains of wandering.  A sort of nonchalant attitude can more easily be derived from that whole view.  (though I'm not saying that the correct view automatically guarantees a proper response or attitude- just that it makes it harder to be comfortable without it).


So all in all, my argument is not that evangelism would make no sense if universalism were true, but that it wouldn't make good sense of the way evangelism is portrayed in the Bible.  The apostles would have all over reacted and (in my opinion) presented evangelism as something other than what it really is ... as only a helping hand to a person who is on the way to glory no matter what, rather than salvation from ultimate destruction and pain.


Stephen.  

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (09-20-2004 08:19 PM).]

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58 posted 09-18-2004 10:42 AM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

quote:
But Denise, surely you would have to say (as a good protestant) that where you part ways with Roman Catholicism is precisely where they have ceased being scholarly and biblically theological. I'm sure that you realize most of the doctrines rejected by the movement that Luther kicked off, involve only areas where the RCs departed from the principle of "sola scriptura" and made tradition and Papal authority of equal weight to scripture. The assumption of Mary, the immaculate conception, purgatory, etc ..., only have sketchy (at best) basis in the Bible. Actually the first two have no scriptural basis whatsoever, other than Papal decree and later Church tradition.


Yes, Stephen, sola scriptura was why I finally came to accept the Protestant view. I don't think it follows though that I viewed the RC position as lacking in scholarship and a tenable theology. Both views have tons of that. It just depends on the basic underlying question as to whether the scholarship and theology should be based on sola scriptura or scripture plus papal authority. I was convinced that scripture alone should be the basis. Others disagree. And just as you presented a list of those theologians who embraced the doctrine of everlasting torment, there is also a list of theologians who embraced a doctrine of Universal Reconciliation/Restoration and those who embraced a doctrine of Annhilation (see the link I earlier provided).

Jim and Stephen, speaking to the question of evangelism, I see it as simply cooperating with God in the spreading of His message that Jesus is the Christ. We don't know who is chosen as a vessel of honor (let's say a goblet for fine wine) and who is blinded/chosen as a vessel for common use (let's say a Tupperware cup for a soft drink...and the goblet has no basis to boast against the cup, nor does the cup have a basis to despise the goblet, as each were made for their own specific purposes and did not have any say in how and for what purpose they were each made) in this lifetime. Only God knows. We are simply called to walk in Him and be Ambassadors for Christ, as I see it. Those who are chosen as vessels of honor will hear the message and believe, and God works through us to fulfill His purposes that they should hear and believe, and those chosen as vessels for common use will not hear and believe, despite our evangelism, again, God working through us to fulfill His purposes for those folks. And I don't see a nonchalant attitude in those who bow before the Sovereignty of God and are glad servants for the fulfilling of His purposes, whatever they may be.

I believe that believers are saved by faith and will enjoy 'life aionian', a blessed existence in future ages while those who don't have faith remain in the grave during those ages, and of course can't be saved by faith, but will be saved 'by sight' when they see God face to face..."Every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God...". They miss out on the blessings of aionian life due to their unbelief in this lifetime, but I don't believe that they are separated from God forever because of Christ's atonement for the sins of the world and because the original languages indicate that punishment has an end and death has an end, and so I believe that all will ultimately be reconciled with/restored to God to live forever with Him.

Arnold, yes, the article is rather lengthy, but worth the read, I believe. I also found your excerpts on the Judgments helpful. I think the tendency to lump them all into merely one, or even two events, leads to erroneous conclusions when interpreting scripture.
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59 posted 09-18-2004 10:07 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Denise:
quote:
Yes, Stephen, sola scriptura was why I finally came to accept the Protestant view. I don't think it follows though that I viewed the RC position as lacking in scholarship and a tenable theology. Both views have tons of that. It just depends on the basic underlying question as to whether the scholarship and theology should be based on sola scriptura or scripture plus papal authority. I was convinced that scripture alone should be the basis. Others disagree.


But even the "basic underlying question" is a point of theology, and biblical scholarship.  Sola Scriptura was never a free-floating abitrary rule of strictly protestant origin.  I don't want to turn this into a debate about RC doctrine.  I just want to point out that your rejection of it (if it is like mine) is not without good reasons, and that if such theology is really "tenable" as you say, then you had no solid reason to reject it.  It does come down to either a breakdown in confirmed facts, or in good doctrine ... ie scholarship or theology.

quote:
And just as you presented a list of those theologians who embraced the doctrine of everlasting torment, there is also a list of theologians who embraced a doctrine of Universal Reconciliation/Restoration and those who embraced a doctrine of Annhilation


Yes, but those lists are much smaller (my list was only partial).  I know that majority doesn't prove authenticity, and that was your point I think.  My point was simply that you rejected only that which you believed to be faulty and indefensible.  I only included my list for you because I saw some irony in Luther and Calvin (pretty much the fathers of the Reformation) rejecting universalism.  This was not at all intended as a proof.  We still have to discuss the issues, and not always refer each other to "experts" unless we can quote them and talk about why or why not we should accept their teaching.


quote:
because the original languages indicate that punishment has an end and death has an end, and so I believe that all will ultimately be reconciled with/restored to God to live forever with Him.



I don't believe that the original languages indicate this.  I believe "ages of the ages" was a term that painted "forever" in the minds of it's ancient hearers.  Just because a term for a finite "age" is imbedded in the phrase doesn't rule out the possibility of eternity being conveyed.  For example did you know that even our word "eternal" (which defines a limitless length of time) is derived from such limited and finite terms?


eternal - c.1366 (in variant form eterne), from O.Fr. eternal, from L.L. śternalis, from L. śternus contraction of śviternus "of great age," from śvum "age." Eternity first attested c.1374.


And the word "ever" in "forever" is also derived from a word that meant "life force or long life".  Long life is quite a bit different from eternity, but we have to use such terms because they're all we have and the closest thing by way of comparison.


But even if I did grant you some ambiguity in language here ... (in other words, if it could go either way) I still think that we'd have to choose the interpretation which fit contextually with other scriptures regarding eternal life and the punishment of the wicked and unbelievers.  


I believe the language usage has strength enough to support eternal punishment, but there is more support elsewhere if that's not enough for some.  I'll be posting more on that soon.

Interesting discussion indeed,

Stephen.  

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (09-19-2004 09:12 AM).]

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60 posted 09-19-2004 10:42 AM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

quote:
But even the "basic underlying question" is a point of theology, and biblical scholarship. Sola Scriptura was never a free-floating abitrary rule of strictly protestant origin. I don't want to turn this into a debate about RC doctrine. I just want to point out that your rejection of it (if it is like mine) is not without good reasons, and that if such theology is really "tenable" as you say, then you had no solid reason to reject it. It does come down to either a breakdown in confirmed facts, or in good doctrine ... ie scholarship or theology.


Of course, Stephen. But to the Roman Catholic mind, for the most part, sola scriptura is heresy. They have been conditioned for thousands of years to believe that papal authority is God-ordained and holds as much authority as the scriptures. In that mindset their theology is tenable. That was my mindset. And I guess my point was that if I was able to question that and come out from under that mindset and investigate other views, despite their volumes of scholarship, I'm not concerned about going against 'accepted scholarship' in other areas of theology as well.

To me the term "ages of the ages" means the greatest ages of all the ages combined.

To me, eternal means outside of time altogether (without beginning or end) and can only be applied to God, the qualities of God, or to the things of God. For instance, to me eternal life conveys the meaning of a life that possesses the qualities of God...quality, not quantity of time, synonomous with the Christ-life within us.

And I agree, I find this a very interesting discussion.

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61 posted 09-20-2004 01:07 AM       View Profile for Arnold M   Email Arnold M   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Arnold M

Denise, I thought your remarks were well said. Stephen, I like your sense of humor, and you really have a way with words.

The basis for "eternal", you show, is certainly true.  But, "eonian" and "eternal" cannot be equivalent because "eonian" is the adjective based upon "eon".  And since "eon" is generally translated "age", "eonian" would be "age-lasting" or "age-during", but cannot be "unending".  It is true that most translators, translate it "eternal" when it is describing the attributes of God

If "eons of the eons" means "eternal", it should mean that in ever verse of scripture.  But at least in two of them it cannot mean "eternal":  Rev 11:15 says, "The kingdom of this world became our Lord's and His Christ's, and He shall be reigning for the eons of the eons! Amen!"  But 1 Cor 15:24,25 Paul tells us that Christ reigns UNTIL all enemies are put under His feet.  The kingdom then has no end under the control of God the Father.   Rev 19:3, speaking of the destruction of Babylon, "and her smoke is ascending for the eons of the eons."  It doesn't make sense to say "her smoke is ascending for ever", especially since their will be a New Heaven and a New Earth.

So, as I see it, when translators use "eternal" in all other places but these two I mention, then it is not a true translation but their interpretation.  

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62 posted 09-20-2004 05:45 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Denise:
quote:
To me, eternal means outside of time altogether (without beginning or end) and can only be applied to God, the qualities of God, or to the things of God. For instance, to me eternal life conveys the meaning of a life that possesses the qualities of God...quality, not quantity of time, synonomous with the Christ-life within us.

But why should we limit God to the qualitative only?  The God of supreme quality is also the God of supreme quantity.  Surely the Bible's view of eternal life must be described in such terms, and your own salvation in such terms ... or else the resurrection from the dead means nothing.  


Do you believe that you will have a future bodily life with God?  Do you believe that you will maintain individuality in the "eternity" that you describe?  Or do you believe that YOU yourself will end?  


It seems we're forced (as the Church always has been) to describe and understand eternal life and immortality in terms of unending quantity as well as sublime quality.  Because the alternative is annihilation for the believer.


And since, in scripture, the EXACT same language is often used to describe both the post-mortem state of the wicked and the righteous, it seems we must treat them both the same.  And as I've pointed out before, no one is arguing for a finite, limited, or merely temporal salvation.  Unless by emphasizing quality over quantity, you are saying that?


Matthew 25:46 states "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."


The same words are used to describe punishment and everlasting life in this verse.  Attempts to explain this in terms of temporality are not convincing to me.  You can't cogently say that the punishment of the wicked is temporal while holding that the reward of the righteous is without end.  Even the universalist A.T. Robinson wrote the following:


"The genuine universalist will base nothing on the fact (which is a fact) that the New Testament word for eternal (aionios) does not necessarily mean everlasting, but enduring only for an indefinitely long period. For he can apply this signification to "eternal punishment" in Matt 25:46 only if he is willing to give exactly the same sense to "eternal life" in the same verse . As F. D. Maurice said many years ago now, writing to F. J. A. Hort: "I did not see how aionios could mean one thing when it was joined with kolasis and another when it was joined with zoe" (quoted, J. O. F. Murray, The Goodness and Severity of God, p. 195). To admit that the two phrases are not parallel is at once to treat them with unequal seriousness. And that a true universalism must refuse to do. (from "In the End, God")


Of course you can avoid this dilemma of violating the natural parallelism of this verse by saying that it is referring to a limited or finite reward of the righteous too.  


But If this is attempted, I think we run into another serious exegetical problem ...  Eternal life in the Bible is only referred to using the same words.  But why would the writers of the Bible only mention a temporal state of reward, rather than the final state of union with God?  You might reply that the bible does refer to that final state also.  But the universalist position makes an awkward distinction between temporal "eternal life" and final reconciliation with God.  So some verses are said to refer to one thing, while other verses are said to refer to the other.


And it's not that such a distinction is ruled out a priori.  It's just that it cannot be derived from the texts themselves.  It is much more natural to accept these as references to the same thing...   ie, that final reconciliation with God = eternal life = the reward of the saints.  For example, there is absolutely nothing in the passage about the Sheep and the Goats that would indicate a temporal state of punishment or reward.  You might reply, "Sure there is.  There's the original language which does not refer to unlimited time, but to limited time".  But it's been shown over and over that the language CAN go both ways.  That much is really not seriously disputed.  Even the universalist Robinson acknowledged that in the above quote.  


So it's context that must win the day in this disagreement, for whichever position one may take.  And it's contextually that I think the universalist (and annihilationist) arguments fail.  


Here's another contextual example ...


Jesus mentioned Judas in John 17 verse 12:


"While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled."


He also said of him in Mark 14:21:


"The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born."


Now which would make more sense of these verses, universalism or the traditional view?  Why would Jesus say it was better for Judas if he had never been born?  What strong language!  Some might reply that the Lord was using hyperbole, like he did when he described the Camel going through the eye of the needle.  But context makes that highly doubtful.  He wasn't speaking in parables at this point, but plainly about real persons and situations.  If he were only exaggerating, this would violate one of two things, 1) The somber and serious nature of the discussion, or 2) the fact that Jesus wasn't flippant or careless with his words.  Such a thing would have never been said of a disobedient but repentant Jonah, or a denying but humbled Peter.  Nor could such a thing really be said about a man who would ultimately be made right with God.  Jesus wasn't going for some kind of emotional effect here.  And if he were, it would have been a careless, flippant, or erroneous statement in the mouth of our Lord.


So if universalism makes such a passage an enigma ... the traditional view makes it understandable, as terrible as it may be.


More later,


Stephen.
  
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63 posted 09-20-2004 06:34 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Arnold:
quote:
If "eons of the eons" means "eternal", it should mean that in ever verse of scripture.††But at least in two of them it cannot mean "eternal":††Rev 11:15 says, "The kingdom of this world became our Lord's and His Christ's, and He shall be reigning for the eons of the eons! Amen!"††But 1 Cor 15:24,25 Paul tells us that Christ reigns UNTIL all enemies are put under His feet.

Even if the second verse limits the administration of the Son, the first verse you mention refers to "our Lord AND his Christ's" making no distinction at all by referring to both the Father and the Son.  It is describing the Kingdom of God, which is forever.  


Seeing it says "our Lord AND his Christ" how can you justify an interpretation that makes this temporary?  Does God's rule end?


This scripture supports the tradtional view, not universalism.


Stephen.
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64 posted 09-21-2004 02:20 AM       View Profile for Arnold M   Email Arnold M   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Arnold M

Stephen, you didn't finish quoting me. I said that Christ reigns UNTIL all enemines are put uncer His feet. And then the Kingdom has no end under the control of God the Father.  

As to the doctrine of eternal torment, have you asked yourself, how could an all powerful, all knowing, all loving God rub his hands with glee, in a sense, to see the great majority of His created beings, suffer on and on and on through eternity?  That is not the God I believe is revealed in the scriptures.  It is true there will be a time of vengeance, a time of His wrath, poured out on most of mankind and the earth, during the tribulation period, also known as "Daniel's seventieth week".  And those woes take place primarily in the last three and a half weeks.  

But, what about these verses: using RSV:
Exod 34:6 "The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness"
Psa 86:15 "But thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness"

The verses generally quoted to "prove" everlasting torment are primarily in Matthew, some in Mark and Luke.  The warning was if they did or said something bad they could be judged and if found deserving they would be stoned to death and their body thrown into the fire of Gehenna, the place where the rubbish of Jerusalem was kept burning. This will be true when Christ rules in the restored Jerusalem in His millennial reign. To enter "life" was to enjoy and be a part of the millennial kingdom.

Verses which do not mention Gehenna are the parables of the wheat and tares, and the good and bad fish, where the tares and bad fish are thrown into the furnace of fire, which may be the lake of fire. Mat 13:39-43, and 47-50.

In the oft quoted Matt 25"46 the sheep nations are sent to the "eternal" fire prepared for the devil and his angels, thus, the lake of fire.  Looking carefully at this account, we read these are the nations (peoples) still alive after all the woes and plagues through which they have suffered.  They are being judged, not on believing in Christ as savior, but how they treated His brethren, righteous Jews,(during the trib. period, I believe).  Those who treated His brethren with love and kindness will be granted life in the glorious Kingdom on earth.  And the others (the goat nations) will end up in the lake of fire.  Now, comes my question. What makes you think they don't die?  Just because the fire is said to be "eternal" doesn't mean they survive fire and brimstone.

The traditional view is "the wages of sin is eternal punishment in hell".  Yet, it is found nowhere in scripture.  But this is:
"the wages of sin is death.." Rom 6:23

In Rev the lake of fire is called "the second death".  After being judged, those unworthy of life will die after being judged by Christ, the righteous judge, and be cast in the lake of fire.  Why do I say they will be dead first?  Because in Rev 19:20 it says, speaking of the beast and the false prophet (both humans) "These two were thrown ALIVE into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone."  

Bye for now, Arnold



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65 posted 09-21-2004 07:07 PM       View Profile for Arnold M   Email Arnold M   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Arnold M

Hello: Boy, there are so many verses and points being discussed, It's hard to know where to start. After rereading all the inputs, it seems to me that the key understanding is, what do the scriptures teach about DEATH.  

For someone to be tormented "forever" he would have to have a body that would never die, thus he would have "everlasting life."  But, wait a minute, that doesn't sound right , does it?  Many verses tell of the gift of eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus,  yet the popular doctrine says the unsaved will suffer conscious everlasting torment.  Which means, they have all their senses and suffer the terrible woes being inflicted on them by a "just" God, with all the saved happily looking on.  They are alive forever.  They have eternal life, even in hell!!  Ludicrous, isn't it?

From Genesis to Revelation we find that apart from resurrection all humanity who die go to the grave (the unseen: the literal definition of sheol, Heb, and hades, Gk) where there is silence, no knowledge, no remembrance, no wisdom, etc.  But, someone will say, after death the believers go directly to heaven and are able to praise God, while the unbelivers go bodily to hell and are in torment.  Well, John says in John 3:13 "..no one has ascended into heaven except He who descends out of heaven, the Son of Man who is in heaven."CV. This was written after Christ's ascension from the mount of olives.  Also, Peter, preaching on the Day of Pentecost tells us in Acts 2:34, "For David did not ascend into the heavens.." RSV.  The bible is clear. Those judged unworthy would be stoned to death and their bodies cast into Gehenna.  The "tares" and the "bad fish" would die when cast into the furnace of fire.  The "goat" nations would die, or be dead, when cast into the lake of fire.  After being judged at the Great White Throne, the "rest of the dead" who have been resurrected, will be cast into the lake of fire, which is THE SECOND DEATH.  They have all died once, thus, this is called the second death.  

I realize now that I am repeating some things. Well, so be it for now.  Arnold
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66 posted 09-21-2004 09:12 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Yes, Stephen, I do believe that I will one day be bodily, individually, and forever with the Lord.

I don't see that understanding the word eternal as belonging only to God, i.e., his attributes, etc. as limiting God. God is unending as well. It speaks of His quality and His unique existence...without beginning and end, outside of our conception of time. God isn't limited, but man is.

Below are some quotes and associated links that you might find useful. Also, in all my studies Iíve never heard of A.T.  Robinson and canít seem to find anything he has written other than what you have already shared here. Do you have a link of his work?

quote:
"And these shall go away to punishment age-during, but the righteous to life age-during."  Youngís Literal Translation(1898)


quote:
and these shall go away into age-abiding correction, but the righteous into age-abiding life." Rotherhamís Emphasized Bible(1959)


quote:
"And these shall be coming away into chastening eonian, yet the just into life eonian."  Concordant New Testament (1930)


quote:
"And these He will dismiss into a long correction, but the well-doers to an enduring life.  The Holy Bible in Modern English (1903)


http://www.tentmaker.org/books/asw/Chapter10.html


quote:
When I was with them in the world, I kept those whom Thou hast given Me in Thy name, and I guard them, and not one of them perished, except the son of destruction, that the scripture may be fulfilled. Concordant New Testament

http://www.godstruthfortoday.org/ConcordantVersion/NT/HTML/004John.htm


quote:
  Another common argument against Universal Reconciliation is the case of Judas. Advocates of everlasting punishment quote the KJV, Mark 14:21, "The Son of Man indeed goeth, as it is written of him : but woe to that man by whom the son of Man is betrayed! Good were it for that man if he had never been born." The first question which must be settled is whether Jesus uttered these words as translated in the KJV. As the last clause in this verse is used in opposition to Universal Reconciliation, let us look carefully at the Greek text: kalon Ín auto eiouk egennÍthÍ ho anthropos ekeinos, "Ideal were it for Him if that man were not born" or "It were ideal for Him if that man was not born." The question is asked, Who is the Him? The answer is in the preceding clause. There we have the pronoun autou, "Him," and anthropo ekeino, "that man," both referred to in such a way that we cannot mistake them. "The Son of Man indeed goeth as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!" "Him" is the Son of Man, "that man" is Judas. The Him cannot refer to Judas, therefore the text can be paraphrased as, "Ideal were it for Him (the Son of Man) if that man (Judas) were not born." Notice how the following versions translates this clause: The ASV, 1901 margin, "Good were it for him if that man had not been born;" Rotherham's version, "Well for him if that man had not been born;" Murphy's edition of the Douay Version and the New Testament translated from the Latin Vulgate, 1898, "It were better for him, if that man had not been born;" (the following three versions are quoted in the original spelling) Wiclif, 1380, "It were good to hym if thilke man hadde not been borun;" Tyndale, 1534, "Good were it for him if that man had never bene borne;" Rheims, 1582, "it vvere good for him, if that man had not been borne." Therefore, Mark 14:21 does not contradict Col. 1:15-20; 1 Tim. 4:9-11; Rom. 5:18, 19; etc., all teaching the ultimate salvation of Judas. John Albert Bengel in his New Testament Word Studies, vol. 1, p. 290, says about this clause, "This phrase does not necessarily imply the interminable eternal of perdition." Dr. Bengal was a German Lutheran theologian.

http://www.tentmaker.org/books/asw/Chapter16.html

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67 posted 09-21-2004 09:30 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Thanks, Arnold, I'm finding your input very instructive.
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68 posted 09-23-2004 10:16 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Hello everyone, sorry it took me so long ... been busy.
Sorry if this gets long  


Arnold:
quote:
Hello: Boy, there are so many verses and points being discussed, It's hard to know where to start.


Arnold you're right.  That's why I'm only going to address a couple of things at a time.  I'm not avoiding your comments.  (I do plan on commenting on the meaning of "death")  I just don't think we've adequately dealt with what has already been discussed.  


quote:
Stephen, you didn't finish quoting me. I said that Christ reigns UNTIL all enemines are put uncer His feet. And then the Kingdom has no end under the control of God the Father.



Okay, I'll finish quoting you this time:


quote:
But at least in two of them it cannot mean "eternal":††Rev 11:15 says, "The kingdom of this world became our Lord's and His Christ's, and He shall be reigning for the eons of the eons! Amen!"††But 1 Cor 15:24,25 Paul tells us that Christ reigns UNTIL all enemies are put under His feet.



I was simply refuting what you said concerning Revelation 11:15 (that it cannot refer to an eternal reign).  It really doesn't matter that 1 Corinthians 15:25 expresses a limit to the authority of the Son.  Rev 11:15 refers to both the Father AND the Son.  Therefore, the limitation of "ages of the ages" to a temporary state would make no sense.  Unless the verse is telling us that God's Kingdom is temporary.  


I'm not disputing what 1 Corinthians 15:24.25 says, at all.  I'm just pointing out that it doesn't affect Rev:11:15 in the least.


quote:
As to the doctrine of eternal torment, have you asked yourself, how could an all powerful, all knowing, all loving God rub his hands with glee, in a sense, to see the great majority of His created beings, suffer on and on and on through eternity?††That is not the God I believe is revealed in the scriptures.



That's not the God I believe is revealed in the scriptures either.  Let me explain.


You're making the mistake of equating God's punitive justice, with some kind of human delight in inflicting pain.  But one doesn't necessarily imply the other.  You're imagining the "glee" part, I think.  There are many verses of scripture which describe judgement and punishment as God's "strange work", as something he does almost reluctantly because justice demands it, certainly not because he takes delight in doing so.  




Denise:
quote:
I don't see that understanding the word eternal as belonging only to God, i.e., his attributes, etc. as limiting God. God is unending as well. It speaks of His quality and His unique existence...without beginning and end, outside of our conception of time. God isn't limited, but man is.



Let me try to explain myself.  I think you might be misunderstanding me.  I know that God is "unending".  But so are we when redeemed.  Our existence with God is not a temporal one, and is described using the very same words which describe the punishment of the damned.  So my question remains:  How do you so easily deny the eternal qualities of one (damnation) based upon an assessment of the language, when the description of eternal life uses the exact same words?  You can't  convincingly argue temporality, using the nature of the language, unless this applies to BOTH examples.  You would never speak of a limited, temporal, or finite salvation ... yet it is described with the same terms?


quote:
in all my studies Iíve never heard of A.T.††Robinson and canít seem to find anything he has written other than what you have already shared here. Do you have a link of his work?



You might find more under "John A.T. Robinson".  He was an Anglican Bishop, and a noted Biblical scholar.  He wrote the infamous "Honest to God" which sets forth his very liberal theology, influenced mostly by 19th century humanist philosophy.  He's also written many other books.  


The only reason I quoted him, was that he is a noted universalist, and yet knew that it was textual maltreatment to ignore the parallelism of Matthew 25:46.  

quote:
Below are some quotes and associated links that you might find useful.


We both know that translations can have doctrinal slants.  I think it would be more profitable to discuss why a certain rendering has more weight than another.  The Greek word "aionon" can indeed be used to describe both unending duration and limited duration depending upon context ... and also depending upon whether the word is used alone or in a phrase like "to the ages of the ages".  Context is what needs to be discussed.  The Language issue keeps coming up.  But it can't settle the issue by itself.  Let's move on to context.  


And quotes are good for support of one's view.  But I would like to hear more of why you see it the way you do, rather than read someone else.  For example, I would like to hear you articulate why you believe we should consider Jesus' words as applying to himself rather than Judas:  "It had been better for him had that man never been born".  Why does "him" being Jesus make more sense in this passage?

  
quote:
Who is the Him? The answer is in the preceding clause.


The quote you gave, points out rightly that in the Greek, the statement of Mark 14:21 is literally "It were ideal for Him if that man was not born."  That much is true.  

quote:
The question is asked, Who is the Him? The answer is in the preceding clause. There we have the pronoun autou, "Him," and anthropo ekeino, "that man," both referred to in such a way that we cannot mistake them.


I absolutely agree.  
  
quote:
"Him" is the Son of Man, "that man" is Judas. The Him cannot refer to Judas,


Really?  Why can't it refer to Judas? Contextually it makes little sense any other way except Judas.  Let me quote the whole verse and try to explain:


"And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me."  And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I?  And he answered and said unto them, "It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish. The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed!  It were good for him if that man never been born.""


The writer of the quote which you gave, stated that we are to understand who "Him" refers to by considering the preceding verse.  But what does the preceding verse say?  It says "Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed".  So the flow of thought is about the state of the betrayer.  "Woe unto that man" and "Not good for him" are parallel thoughts.  And it is most naturally to be understood that they refer to the same thing.    


A second point to consider is this:  This is a discourse from a man who was resolutely sure of his altruistic destiny on the cross, knew it was the will of God, and tended to rebuke any attempt at human sympathy or sentimentality concerning what must be done.  (Remember how Peter was rebuked for trying to pull Jesus away from his talk about his death on the cross?).  So a reference to his own good, his own merely human concern about well being, would be highly uncharacteristic of Jesus.  Actually it would be highly uncharacteristic for him to say such a thing at any time.  But it would have been especially incongruous for him to say it on the eve of the cross.  


Thirdly, from a theological standpoint, would it even be true that "it were better for Jesus, if that man had never been born"?  Elsewhere I remember Jesus telling the women of Jerusalem not to weep for him, but for themselves and their children, "for if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry"?  Elsewhere Jesus told his disciples, "I have chosen you, and one of you is a devil".  He understood that it was the will of God that he should go to the cross.  And thoughts of ultimate good would not be expressed in such self-sorrowful laments as "it would be better for me, had Judas never been born".


The closest we can come to a merely human expression of concern about himself is the brief groan in Gethsemane where Jesus prayed "Let this cup pass from me.  Yet not my will, but thine be done".  


As characteristic of Jesus, any self concern was directed to his Father in semi-private prayer,  (for fear that it would be misunderstood, and elicit attempts of fleshly defense on the part of his disciples) and was immediately followed by a modifying statement... "YET, not my will".  "let this cup pass from me" & "I would be better off if Judas hadn't been born" are miles apart in their sentiments.  One is proper to human grief, the other is extreme, even foreign, in the mouth of our Lord.  


But if you want to say that this passage in Mark is the same kind of statement as the one in Gethsemane, I would also say it just doesn't fit ... like a puzzle piece stuck in the wrong place.  


In summary:



1) It breaks the contextual flow of the passage, and makes for a highly awkward and forced reading.  

2) It is highly uncharacteristic of Jesus

3) It is theologically and actually untrue, except in the mood of self pity, which is the mood Jesus was attempting to deny the most on the eve of his capture and crucifixion.




More later,

Stephen.
Arnold M
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69 posted 09-23-2004 06:33 PM       View Profile for Arnold M   Email Arnold M   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Arnold M

Yes, Stephen, I did go a little overboard to say that "God looked with glee" and the saved "watched happily" seeing the unsaved in torment. But, what was in my mind was some quotes from some illustrious preachers of eternal damnation of the wicked, namely:  Jonathon Edwards, Isaac Ambrose, Samuel Hopkins, John Whitaker, Spurgeon, Ebenezer Erskine, and others:

"Those wicked men who died many years ago, their souls went to hell....those who went to hell in former ages of the world have been kept in hell ever since, all the while suffering torment....they are kept in being for no other purpose."

"The damned shall be packed like brick in a kiln, and be so bound that they cannot move a limb, nor even an eyelid; and while thus fixed, the Almighty shall blow the fires of hell through them forever."

"Only conceive the poor wretch in the flames.  See how his tongue hangs from between his blistered lips!  How it excoriates and burns the roof of his mouth, as if it were a firebrand!  Behold him crying for a drop of water.  I will not picture the scene....When the damned jingle the irons of their torments, they shall say 'Forever'."

"The bodies of the damned will be salted with fire, so tempered and prepared to burn the more fiercely, and yet never consume."

The smoke of their torment shall ascend in the sight of the blessed forever and serve as a most clear glass always before their eyes to give them a constant, bright and most affecting view....This display of the divine character and glory will be in favor of the redeemed, and most entertaining, and give the highest pleasure to those who love God, and raise their happiness to ineffable heights....Should this eternal punishment and this fire be extinguished, it would in a great measure obscure the light of heaven, and put an end to a great part of the happiness and glory of the blessed."

Well, I could quote more.  And these are the words of noted theologians and preachers.
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70 posted 09-24-2004 01:39 AM       View Profile for Arnold M   Email Arnold M   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Arnold M

I don't understand why what Jesus said about Judas "being better if he had never been born" etc, is an argument against the reconcilliation of all.

Just for argument sake, lets say "eonian" does equal "eternal".  Then, in Matt 25:46 and others, those being chastened, or tormented eternally would have new bodies which would live forever, after their life on the earth.  But, this goes against all of scripture.  As I pointed out earlier, the dead are not alive apart from resurrection.

Bye for now.  Arnold
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71 posted 09-24-2004 10:14 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Arnold:
quote:
Well, I could quote more.††And these are the words of noted theologians and preachers.


Giving references would help too.  Who said each of those quotes, and in what sermon or book?  


But please remember, there's bad preaching on hell I suppose, just as there's bad preaching on Heaven, salvation, sanctification or any thing else.   And those ill examples should not be used as any type of argument against any particular doctrine itself.  They are easy targets to shoot at, and create a common disdain for their unbalanced elements.  But such disdain is particularly derived, and therefore shouldn't be universally applied.


Have you ever read the Chapter called "Hell" in C.S. Lewis' book "The Problem of Pain"?  It paints an equally terrible (maybe moreso) picture of that state, but avoids the shock of medieval style imagery.  Here is a philosopher's description of Hell.  It's not that I think the imagery of the past is of no value (if it at all helped anyone to turn).  It's just that I recognize all descriptions are symbolic in nature, describing something indescribable, but terrible beyond imagination ... something that connects with humanity's coarsest fears, as well as more refined descriptions of hopelessness and shame.  


quote:
I don't understand why what Jesus said about Judas "being better if he had never been born" etc, is an argument against the reconcilliation of all.



I've already explained (above) why I think this scripture creates a serious problem for universalism.

So I would ask you to explain how Judas in actuality would be "better off had he never been born" if he were destined for reconciliation with God and ultimate glory?


Is this statement truth from Jesus or a lie?

Is it exaggeration, hyperbole, an attempt to merely play on our emotions?  And if so to what end?


You've claimed to tend toward "literalism" in reading the bible.  Well here's a scripture you can apply that to.  Jesus said Judas would be better off had he never been born.  That Cannot be literally true, while universalism stands.






Arnold, I'm stretched for time.  I'll reply to the "ressurrection" issue soon.


Peace,

Stephen.
    
Arnold M
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72 posted 09-24-2004 08:05 PM       View Profile for Arnold M   Email Arnold M   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Arnold M

Stephen, after reading and rereading this passge (concerning Judas I.) I am of the opinion that he "him" is refering back to "the Son of Man."  Starting in verse 21 in the CV: "..the Son of Man is indeed going away according as it is written concerning Him, yet woe to that man through whom the Son of Man is being given up!  Ideal were it for Him if that man were not born!"

I see it as the second "Him" relates to the first "Him".

In the last sentence, if it said: "Ideal were it for that man if he were not born," then I would say it refers to Judas.

More to come. Gotta go. Arnold
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73 posted 09-25-2004 10:15 AM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

I'm still researching this, Stephen, but so far have not found a different understanding among UR proponents than what Arnold and I have already shared here.

No, of course, Jesus can't lie. That's not even a part of the equation. I'm not a Greek scholar and can only go by the opinions of those who are, and of those who are, they disagree on the meaning of this verse. So I'm back to square one.

Nonetheless, even if the correct interpretation is the one that you have given, Jesus saying that it would have been better for Judas never to have been born, couldn't that be understood as one of those idioms to express the manner in which Judas was about to die, and not necessarily as implying an eternal torment?

Every understanding of the gospel has its unanswered questions and verses that don't seem to back it up. And I guess each person has to decide for themselves the understanding that the majority of the verses tends to support.

Arnold M
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74 posted 09-25-2004 06:05 PM       View Profile for Arnold M   Email Arnold M   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Arnold M

Stephen, even if "it would have been better if that man had not been born" speaks of Judas, the fact is he  was born and did betray the Son of Man.  If it hadn't been Judas, it would have been someone else as it was foretold in scripture.

As we understand "reconcile" to mean "to restore peace or friendship between" etc, What does Col.1:18-20 mean: And He is the Head of the body, the ecclesia, Who is Sovereign, Firstborn from among the dead, that in all He may be becoming first, for in Him the entire complement delights to dwell, and through Him to reconcile all to Him (making peace through the blood of His cross), through Him, whether those on earth or those in the heavens"?  Even Judas, as well as the Pharoah of Moses time, or the evil spirit beings in the heavenlies, etc, will finally give homage to Christ Jesus, and peace will prevail throughout the universe.  Arnold
 
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