The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Ante/PostMortem Repentance

Maybe I’ve been reading too much Barth/Moltmann lately, but let me try to flesh out a few ideas here. Both MacDonald and Talbott argue for the possibility (and eventual certainty) of postmortem repentance by all of humanity, possibly taking thousands of “years” (not that we’re going to track those in the hereafter) for this to be accomplished. But assuming that this will indeed be accomplished, the point at which it will be accomplished will vary greatly depending on the individual. What’s troublesome to me is that this still accentuates the human’s free will to decide his/her fate, effectively making salvation an act of man, and not a gift of God. As Moltmann would say, we’ve reduced God to merely an accomplice to human free will.

On the other hand, it’s highly implausible that a person who lives a life of rebellion from God would feel “at home” in heaven without some form of purgatorial cleansing.

Help me out here. I’m having difficulty reconciling how to avoid viewing salvation as an act of man when entrance to heaven hinges on the repentance of man and not solely the finished work on the cross.

Here is a link with Talbott responding to my view about postmortem repentance and free will:

[Open Theism and the Origin of Sin)

Cooperation between persons does hinge (rather tautologically) on cooperation between persons. :wink:

The scriptures (OT and NT both) commonly focus on both the personal responsibility of the sinner and the gracious salvation enacted by God. Trying to eliminate one or the other may offer a simpler metaphysical picture in some ways. But neither elimination is scriptural. (Or, I would argue, ultimately coherent metaphysically, either.)

What scriptural testimony does emphasize is the authoritative and (as we would say in philosophy afterward) the ontological priority of God in salvation: there is no court of higher appeal; God’s actions will correspond to His intrinsic self-existent reality (as, essentially, love and righteousness); we cannot even exist without the gracious providence of God; we only have the ability and opportunity to even be sinners thanks to God in the first place, and we only have the ability and opportunity to repent and be righteous thanks to God in the first place.

It’s a hierarchical relationship; but it is a personal relationship, between persons, all throughout scripture.

These emphases are illustrated, by the way, in the two recent threads discussing the NT’s usage of the term we translate (via Latin) as “propitiate”, and the term we translate (via Latin or Renaissance English, respectively) as “reconcile” or “atone”.

Repentance on this side of the veil is always imperfect by definition and ability, the NT writers remind us often enough that we are still sinners sinning and to deny that makes us liars. So much for repentance (here, anyway) impressing Christ. He knows us.

We are all restricted by this veil - it’s humbling because we do not see clearly and because of that cannot repent (change our thinking) perfectly. Even the word revealed to us is so maddeningly obtuse, ambiguous, and even contradictory that debates as to its meaning have sprung up over…well, everything, and being correct means salvation for those few wise, and hell for others. It’s like the blind men and the elephant hacking each other to death, while the elephant walks off for better grassing.

Your faith is a type of sight. Most of us are never called on to die for what we ‘see.’ But for those who did, I’m sure it came down to something quite simple, such as, ‘Christ is Lord’ before being stoned, beheaded, burned, or whatever. God bless them, and He surely will.

But back to your difficulty. Do you really think that as a resurrected person (with new eyes and clear sight) that your worship of Christ (while seeing him for the first time as he really is) will cause the slightest philosophical problem as to free-will when you are part of the EVENT? ‘Every knee shall bow and tongue confess…’ Millions of years to get to that point? I doubt that.

I would argue that we are all here because of an epiphany we have experienced - a moment of clarity - so to say that some resurrected human beings (graced with resurrected sight) need millions of years to change their minds is the worst kind of pride. I, as a sinner, found Christ, the moment I first ‘saw’ him, to be irresistible and as the fountain of God’s love. What will the resurrected see but the same a million times over?

So here we have Justin arguing for a ‘cooperation’ between the worshiped and worshipers and granting some ‘goodness’ to the worshipers for their worship and for their superior ‘acquired’ taste. ‘The first shall be last’ in the grand parade - it’s hard to imagine ‘the self-deserving’ at the head.

Did you mean to provide a link in the “here” quoting Justin Martyr? (Or some other Justin you had in mind? I don’t offhand remember Justin Martyr arguing for this, but it’s been many years since I read him; and you may have meant another Justin of course.) I assume you wrote “here” because you meant to provide a reference to where Justin was arguing for granting some “goodness” to the worshipers for their worship and for their superior “acquired” taste. But if you meant to provide a link, you forgot to include it.

Just a reminder. :slight_smile:

Meanwhile, I agree that arguing for granting some ‘goodness’ to the worshipers for their worship and for their superior ‘acquired’ taste, would be a very bad idea theologically (and also unscriptural). I don’t know which “Justin” you’re referring to, but I wouldn’t be on his side on this either. My previous comment on cooperation had nothing in the least to do with that, for example; though hopefully you noticed that already. :sunglasses: