Atonement - God's Wrath upon the wicked


[size=150]Evangelical Universalism and God’s Wrath/Punishment[/size]
In the discussion on Atonement by Firstborn, he asks…

I’d like to see discussion on this as well. I feel it is the main difference between the Evangelical Universalist and the Ultra Universalist.


Well, to begin with I’m pretty sure that reconciliation, i.e. atonement, i.e. at-one-ment, isn’t in itself “God’s wrath upon the wicked” per se.

God’s wrath can have atonement as its aim (something also agreed to in principle and in practice by Calv and Arm soteriologists as well–though sometimes they have a habit of conveniently forgetting this :wink: ), but atonement doesn’t necessarily require wrath upon the person. (The wrath upon the sin, on the other hand, has nothing in the least to do with atonement with the sin, regardless of whether the wrath should be said to have atonement with the sinner in aim to be accomplished.)

The term itself means down-change, or on occasion from-down-change. Knoch thinks the former has to do with one side only, and the latter with both parties in a disagreement, but contextual usage doesn’t bear this out. Rather, the former term tends to have in view peace being made with a higher authority. The latter term tends to have in view peace made by a higher authority among disputants under authority.

St. Paul is the only New Testament author to use the term (plus perhaps the Hebraist, if he is not St. Paul). It doesn’t occur often, and so the list can be easily presented:

1 Cor 7:11 – a wife should not be separated from her husband; but if she should be separated, then let her remain unmarried or else be atoned to her husband. (Whereas a husband is not to leave his wife at all, period.) This is the only NT use that doesn’t have God immediately in view as the one to be atoned to. It appears to be a saying of Jesus, reported by Paul, similar to a saying preserved in the Synoptic tradition (although there Jesus allows the husband to divorce in cases of serious treachery by the wife. Even then, reconciliation between husband and wife is exhorted, with the implication that the husband is sinning by forcing the wife into prostitution by divorcing her; and anyone who marries a former wife while her husband is still alive is committing adultery by doing so.)

This saying, both here and in the Synoptics, along with the self-sacrificial command to husbands in regard to their wives in Ephesians, stands behind the early Church’s doctrine that while husbands might have special permission in extreme cases to divorce their wives, ideally a husband should suffer for the wife even if she betrays him to death: for this is what Christ did for all of us! (i.e. the permission is granted out of human weakness and pity on the husband.) The topical interlocking is recognized by many Christians, including among Calv soteriologists, as pointing to the persistent devotion of God to save the ones He loves from sin.

Rom 5:6-11; this is the famous declaration by St. Paul that Christ died for our sake while we still were sinners. Paul in comparison notes that it is hard for anyone to die even for the sake of a just man, although for the sake of a good man someone may perhaps even dare to be dying. Yet God is commending this love of His to us: that while we are still sinners, Christ died for our sakes. How much moreso, then, being now justified in His blood, shall we be saved from indignation, through Him. For if, being enemies, we were atoned to God through the death of His Son, how much more so, being atoned, shall we be saved in His life. And not only this (salvation), but we are also glorying in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we now have obtained the atonement.

2 Cor 5:18-20; Now, everything is of God, Who atones us to Himself through Christ, and is giving us the dispensation of the atonement: how that God was in Christ atoning the world (kosmos) to Himself, not reckoning their offenses to them, and placing in us the word of the atonement. For Christ, then, are we ambassadors, as of God entreating through us: we are strongly-calling-to-covenant-account, for Christ’s sake, “Be atoned to God!!”

(That hyphenated word I rendered toward the end is very interesting in itself, as it is basically and simply the Greek word “to bind”. It is very difficult to translate into English with proper force. One of the more interesting occurrences is in Luke’s account of the two demonaics on the eastern shore of Galilee, one of whom is the Mob: the demons attempt to call Christ to covenant account, in order to avoid being punished! This doesn’t exactly work, but it’s interesting that they think it might.)

Rom 11:15; if the casting away of Christ by the Jews is the atonement of the world, what will their taking back of Christ be if not life from the dead?

Eph 2:13-18 (very topically related to Rom 11:15 and surrounding discussion there); Paul has been talking about how non-Jews were once considered apart from Christ, being alienated from the citizenship of Israel, only being guests of the promise covenants. But now, in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ. For He is our Peace, Who makes both one, and razes the central wall of the barrier–the enmity in His flesh (note that this means the nations were in fact already of His body, though in rebellion against Him)–nullifying the law of precepts in decrees, that He should be creating the two, in Himself, into one new humanity, making peace; and should be atoning both in one body to God through the cross, killing the enmity in it. Now, coming, He declares the good news of peace to you, those afar, and peace to those near, for through Him we both have had the access, in one spirit, to the Father. (Consequently, then, the nations are no longer guests and sojourners, but fellow-citizens of the saints and God’s family.)

Col 1:20-22; through Christ the fulness (of deity) delights to atone the-all into Him, making peace through the blood of His cross)–through Him, whether those on the earth or those in the heavens. And you, being once estranged and enemies in comprehension, by unjust actions, yet now He atones by His body of flesh, through His death, to present you holy and flawless and unimpeachable in His sight.

Some texts use the word in Heb 2:15, too, where Christ shall be “clearing” (the word probably originally used in the text) those whoever, in fear of death, were through their entire life liable to slavery.

A very similar word, “through-change”, is used once in GosMatt 5:24, when Christ remonstrates us that if we are on the way to the altar to offer an approach-present to God, and if we are reminded there that our brother has anything against us, leave the offering there at the altar and go away! First be reconciled toward our brother, and then come be offering our approach-present.

As Christ then explains in followup: we had better be humoring our accuser quickly while we are with him on the way, lest at some time our accuser may be giving us up to the judge, and the judge to the deputy, and we should be cast into jail. For He tells us truly, “By no means shall you be coming out from there, until you are paying the last farthing!”

(And so I return conveniently to the topic at the top of this comment. :mrgreen: )


I agree with George MacDonald that God owes it to us to punish us. We need our punishment. I want to be punished. We should thank God when we are punished. How terrible it would be to be able to sin and not be punished!

While MacDonald was not dogmatic on the point, he believed that many people’s punishment would extend into the afterlife. While I am not dogmatic on the point, I think that all our punishment occurs in this life only. Our primary punishment is lack of joy in Christ. If you have everything else, but lack the joy of Christ, you essentially have nothing.

I don’t claim that it is an either-or proposition: That you either have the joy of Christ or you don’t. Rather, it’s on a continuum. The more sinful you are, the less joy you have. The less sinful you are, the more joy you have.

If anyone were to say, “Big deal! Not having the joy of Christ isn’t much of a punishment”, I have nothing more to say on the topic to that person. Our minds would be too far apart for us to fruitfully discuss the topic.

Secondarily, various emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual sufferings in this life can be (but are not necessarily) punishments for sin. It is, obviously, dangerous in most cases to say “Suffering X is a punishment for Sin Y”. But I do not doubt that in general much human suffering is a punishment for sin. (Yes, of course much human suffering is innocent.)

Lastly, I believe that when we die we “snap out of it”, so to speak. We come to our senses as we stand in the direct presence of Christ (rather like what happened to Paul at his conversion). So at that point there is no more sin and therefore no more punishment.


Similitude 6 of The Shepherd of Hermas has an interesting section regarding punishment:

  1. I said to him, Sir, I entreat you still to show me now one thing. What, he said, do you ask? I said to him, Are they who depart from the fear of God tormented for the same time that they enjoyed their false delight and pleasures? He answered me, They are tormented for the same time.
  2. And I said to him, They are then tormented but little, whereas they who enjoy their pleasures so as to forget God, ought to endure seven times as much punishment.
  3. He answered me, You are foolish, neither understand the efficacy of this punishment. I said to him, Sir, if I understood it, I would not desire you to tell me.
  4. Listen, he said, and learn what the force of both is, both of the pleasure and of the punishment. An hour of pleasure is over within its own space, but one hour of punishment has the efficacy of thirty days. Whoever therefore enjoys his false pleasure for one day, and is one day tormented, that one day of punishment is equivalent to a whole year’s space.
  5. Thus look how many days anyone pursues his pleasures, so many years is he punished for it. You see therefore how that the time of worldly enjoyments is but short, but that of pain and torments a great deal more.
  6. I replied, Sir, because I do not understand at all these times of pleasure and pain, I entreat you that you would explain yourself more clearly concerning them. He answered me, Your foolishness still sticks to you.
  7. Should you not rather purify your mind and serve God? Take heed, for fear that when your time is fulfilled, you be found still unwise. Hear then, as you desire, so you may more easily understand.
  8. He who gives himself up one day to his pleasures and delights, and does whatever his soul desires, is full of great folly, nor understands what he does, but the day following forgets what he did the day before.
  9. For delight and worldly pleasure are not kept in memory, by reason of the folly that is rooted in them. But when pain and torment befall a man a day, he is in effect troubled the whole year after, because his punishment continues firm in his memory.
  10. Therefore he remembers it with sorrow the whole year, and then calls to mind his vain pleasure and delight, and perceives that for the sake of that he was punished.


Understood - because to the other person you’re speaking a foreign language. Not having the joy of Christ is the experience of exile from God’s presence, but those who don’t know they were ever in Eden would have no clue what you are speaking of.

The ‘punishment’ for eating of the TOTKOGAE is laid out in Gen. 3 - toiling and eating bread in sorrow until sinking back into the dust. Since all suffering is believed to have it’s roots in the Gen. 3 proclamation, it seems all the ‘innocent’ suffering you describe actually is ‘punishment for sin’ (upon Adam as a race), correct?

My heart jumped when I read this - I didn’t even see the words ‘we die’ at first just the words “when we ‘snap out of it’”. That is exactly the point I’ve been trying to make. People need to snap out of the false perception that God is seething with virtual anger against humanity. Death only removes the veil we perceive to be reality - it only changes our perception of who we are, not God’s disposition toward us. Our darkened imagination causes us to see God as separate, distant, reaching across a great chasm to pull us home. The reality is that in Him we live and move and have our being and the only alienation is in our minds (perceptions).

I want to restate that the ‘separate God’ reaching out in love to bring us home does make perfect sense on one level. Like a great romance novel - especially among those who have an understanding of UR. As Jason’s post above beautifully and eloquently lays out the intentions contained in the nuances of scriptural language and thought, it’s a wonderful thing. To the pure all things are pure - and those words are to the mind as music is to the ear.

Others read the same exact words and see hate wrath and anger (yeah even mass slaughter and torture :open_mouth: ) through their darkened imaginations and attribute those dark characteristics to God. It’s ugly - very ugly. I’ll spare you all the personal stories - but there are a few miserable ‘fundies’ in my life and in my family and well, it’s an awful misconception about our Father.


Of course, Jason believes and accepts the wrath of God, too. :wink: Not unloving wrath, or wrath with no aim of fulfilling love to the object, but still wrath. (As does St. Paul, including in the Romans epistle, as I noted at some length elsewhere. Paul and I must still be darkened of mind. :mrgreen: Jesus, too. Oops. :open_mouth: :confused: )

One of these months, I’m going to have to work up and post a word-study on NT occurrences of {orge_} and similar words.


Yes, Paul admitted to his (the dark glass thing) and Jesus pleaded the 5th (“I have many things to tell you but you cannot bear them now”). So, what’s your story? :mrgreen:

I’m with you to some extent Jason - I am speaking of a darkened understanding as to the nature of God’s wrath. I am full of God’s wrath (as I stated in the other thread) everyday but the church teaches that God is angry with the mass of humanity.

What I originally contended was:

The wrath is static and aimed at antichristic elements or principles (hate, oppression, abuse etc ie: all non-agapic forces). It will cease when all darkness is consumed by light (and perfect justice is established). In eternity it’s already finished and God is not holding anything against anyone from that perspective. In the mean’time’ there will be upheavals and chaos galore in this lower realm we are (generally) more conscious of.

I know most folks think I’m jumping the gun (AKA: ‘dispensation hopping’) and feel that what I teach is impractical and I agree to some extent. For example, I generally do not share the whole tamale with the mentally ill people I work with. But I deal with them from the perspective I know is true and so it still has it’s effect. The reason I am being so open here is because you folks are really digging in to the nature of reality so it kind of compels me to lay my visions out there a bit more. The LAST thing I want to do is alienate my Christian brothers and sisters by making outlandish unfounded wild statements. Believe me, I have heard them all - from respected ‘apostles’, from mental patients and from everything in between. I have no delusions that simply saying “I had a vision” holds any credibility by itself.

I have many more things to say but ye cannot bear them now (that’s a joke - sort of :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: )


I don’t think anyone here is alienated from you; we’re just digging at it for truth’s sake. We do that with everything. :slight_smile:

As to that quote from Jesus (which in its actual context was about His identity and authority–“who are you…?” “The same as I have been saying: from the beginning!”), I don’t see any good reason to take that quote as abrogating statements He is presenting as teaching for understanding elsewhere. They may not have been ready to hear that God’s wrath is not against the person primarily but primarily against the sin; they may not have been ready to hear that God’s wrath is contingent on His love and so is not an unloving wrath. But they were apparently ready to hear that the sin against the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven them either in this age or in the age to come; and they did apparently need to hear that this is the condemnation: that sinners reject the light because their deeds are evil, and shut their eyes and stop up their ears so that they will not repent and be saved by Him. And they did apparently need to hear that they would be put into jail until they gave up the uttermost farthing; and that when the master arrives, the slaves who knew better and did what was wrong would be cut into pieces (unlike the slaves who knew less and so who would be punished less); and that they would be wailing and gnashing their teeth when they saw people from the east and the west coming in to sit down at the table in the day of the Lord to come and they themselves cast into the outer darkness.

The key problem of the non-universalist church (as with the religious leaders of Jesus’ day), is that they believe in a wrath of God that is not ultimately loving to the person. Their understanding is certainly darkened in that regard. And, aside from annihilationists, they do not believe in a day to come when all shall confess God praising Him for His great and saving victories, with all submitted to the Father through the Son (and the Son submitting to the Father as those whom He has submitted are submitted to Himself–which can hardly be in continuing rebellion against the Son and the Father and the Spirit.) I don’t think their key problem is that they believe in wrath of God in hades (after death and before resurrection) and in gehenna (after resurrection). Their key problem is that they do not believe that all shall be salted with the unquenchable fire of Gehenna, or that salt is the best of things leading to peace with one another.


I’ve only time to throw a summary on the table. I believe God’s punishment has a dual purpose of justice and education. God created the heavenly host and humans as free-will agents while God is teaching us to eventually use our free will and authority with responsibility. God’s punishment could be an ommission of his blessing or a commission. A natural disaster might or might not be a punishment from God while God is powerful enough to prevent any given natural disaster. And the death of Jesus was a covenantal sacrifice that appeases justice for the moral debt of humans and provides salvation including spirit, mind, and body while faith in Christ is the condition for the covenant.


I’ve stated before that I like that aspect - iron sharpening iron and so forth… :slight_smile:

I was joking a bit but really, as with the OT vs. NT example - things God (supposedly) said get abrogated all the time, it’s no new thing. As far as the context - AISI though included it’s not at all limited to a reference about His authority - He is simply talking about a direct link to revelation and knowledge from God. “All that the Father has is mine” ie: All knowledge, all love, all understanding, all authority etc - “NO MAN knows the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in Him in the same way no one knows the things of God save the Spirit of God” (these are paraphrased from memory) as well as:. “The Spirit searches ALL THINGS - yes, the deep things of God”. Jesus is leaving the door wide open for the next phase.

We’ll address the “I’m ripping you to shreds because I love you” aspect a bit later, OK?

One of my major contentions with Christianity is a denial that ages come and go. I know this part can get complicated but - have you studied transmillennialism? (It seems there is not much you haven’t studied :mrgreen: )

That’s a great example you just gave of one of those wonderful collaborations between God and man. He sent Isaiah to close their eyes and ears so they would not repent and not be “healed” - and so they oblige by closing their eyes and ears and not repenting and not being healed. It’s a beautiful harmony, no??? :open_mouth: Calvin LOVED this stuff!!!

Oh, blessed ignorance…

Here’s a clear reference to the Jews as the “children of the Kingdom” were cast out, right?

Agreed - but there’s a key problem with universalists who cling to Christian orthodoxy and biblical inerrancy. The latter two clearly condone confessions by torture. This is what I wanted to address (“I’m ripping you to shreds because I love you”). Surely we know that the inquisition leaders, although VERY barbaric (and I do understand the civil penal system of the time and the over-exaggerations by some about the extent of the inquisition) were also acting with some scriptural precedent where laws about abuse and killing are suspended for the greater Divine good. Initially the inquisitors were not allowed to do any permanent physical harm or disfigurement to the inquisees - they were only allowed to cause extreme duress (I can’t remember the exact language used). As we know - things got way out of hand at some point. We also should understand that they were not all absolute monsters who went along with this sort of behavior - although QUITE barbaric and ignorant, I won’t sugar coat that part. BUT (it was assumed) that (basically) “in the long run - it’s really best that we be cutting them up alive - it’s good for their soul. It’s all out of love and for the common good”.

I’m out of time, but this needs to be discussed. I would like to DIRECTLY CHALLENGE the notion that God acts or condones such actions (killing of children, torture, live burnings etc), including those recorded in the bible (and believed to be fact by many).

Also, to be thinking about - many Armenian style ETers object to the “saved by wrath” version of biblical universalism on the grounds that it would be immoral of God to coerce to convert by violent punishment. I think they have a good point.


Any good jail guard down here in the south certainly knows that system. (sorry, couldn’t resist :mrgreen: ).

Your going to have a rough time showing supernatural intervention in weather patterns or in sudden tectonic plate movements. I would also like to hear your views on disease and personal disasters as well.

Okay, please don’t see this as another ‘misrepresentation’ of your posts, and I know the above is brief. What I see in it though is:

  1. “God’s punishment has a dual purpose of justice and education”.
  2. “A natural disaster might or might not be a punishment from God”

To which I will respond that 225,000 who died in the 2004 tsunami didn’t get much education (or a very long education) so I guess that was either simple justice or not God’s punishment? Many evangelicals said it was justice because a lot of gay Swedes vacation where it hit the hardest (and in that case I guess the swimming children are collateral damage?). Maybe this isn’t a good example of a ‘nature punishment’? Please give at least one contemporary (i.e. verifiable) natural disaster you feel was God’s punishment and one which was not.

Now, if you answer “We don’t know which ones are which” then I don’t see how “education” would ever apply to a natural disaster punishment. The people would HAVE to know which is which. As far as the “justice” part - you are going to have a hard time convincing me (in an earthquake for instance) that dozens of school children being crushed to death (sometimes slowly and starving for days) is any sort of “justice”.

Now - add 3. “the death of Jesus was a covenantal sacrifice that appeases justice for the moral debt of humans”
If that’s right we should see a significant drop in natural disasters after the crucifixion, that is, unless the “A natural disaster might” is actually a very rare occurrence.


My problem with natural disaters as punishments from God is that these disasters never seem to happen anywhere other than where these disasters naturally occur. In other words hurricanes and earthquakes can only punish those who live in hurricane and earthquake zones. The large gay contingent of the UK never get zapped by such events (thinking of the way some people have viewed hurricane Katrina etc…). And there must be untold wickedness going on on Venus, Jupiter and Saturn judging by the weather they typically experience :smiling_imp:


Hi Byron,

I know many prisoners have a high recidivism rate. And I suppose many repeat prisoners would stay in hell forever without repentance unless God worked at drawing them to himself.

I agree that I couldn’t pinpoint any particular intervention in a natural disaster unless God specifically told me. And I don’t focus on that while I acknowledge that God can work through natural processes, and that could include punishments or blessings. I also have a similar view of illness. In some cases, God goes out of his way to inflict an illness. And unless it would be specified in the Bible narrative or God specifically told me about a current event, then I wouldn’t know about it. And again, I don’t focus on that. However, I do focus on praying for healing from sickness and the aversion of natural disasters.

I’m not sure about any in particular.

Eventually, everybody will know which is which. Perhaps not on this side of eternity, but eventually. And I trust that God works all things for the good of those who love him and eventually everybody will love him.

I’ve trouble understanding what you mean. For example, I never said that a natural disaster must equate a judgment from God. And the Bible teaches complexity about the Kingdom of God and salvation. For example, Jesus taught both that the Kingdom of God arrived with his ministry and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and that the Kingdom of God would arrive in the future. Many people call this “Inaugurated Eschatology”. And Paul taught along similar lines when he said that new believers are saved, and believers also grow in progressive salvation/sanctification, and believers also have final salvation when they die. We’re save, getting saved, and will be saved.


I can easily grant this even in the short term–Jesus’ correction in GosJohn concerning misunderstanding about what He was saying in the flesh-chomping incident, for example (which He had to have put really really strongly for some reason, even so.)

To be honest, the problem here is that I was thinking of a completely different scene than you were–I was thinking of GosJohn chp 8:12-30 (specifically v.26). But Christ doesn’t tell the Pharisees and Sanhedrin leaders there (whom by context He’s contending with privately, in the treasury) that He has many things to tell them that they cannot bear now. I’m sorry for the confusion. That was my fault.

Apparently you were thinking of this portion of the Final Discourse;

If that is what you were referring to, then I can easily understand why you would think Jesus was saying (especially after the rather obscure statement immediately beforehand) that He (via the Spirit) was going to teach them something concerning sin, righteousness (fair-togetherness) and judging that they could not bear to hear yet. (And no, I wouldn’t consider the identity and authority claims of this passage to be the primary topic either, even though they’re obviously there as a topic. I will note that even here Jesus isn’t only making an authority claim but identity, too–nor was I saying that Jesus was only talking about authority per se, when I thought we were referring to John 8; He was talking about identity, too. And primarily so in that place. Be that as it may.)

I am not sure that Jesus was referring to those things specifically that the disciples weren’t ready to bear yet–the grammar doesn’t necessitate it–but neither does the grammar or context exclude it, either. So I agree it’s certainly possible Jesus was talking in reference to the Spirit exposing the world concerning those things (or revealing to the world those things; it’s a hard phrase to translate. I have an essay on my computer from several years ago, doing exegetics on this paragraph; not here at the forum yet, though.)

Now, there is nothing particularly in this portion or nearby which would point toward abrogation of the scriptural teaching (very very common, including with Jesus–including back in the John 8 scenes, to some extent, by the way) of God’s wrath and punishment, including post-mortem. But I can see how someone convinced of this on other grounds could easily come to think He could be talking about this here (especially in lieu of any other clear topic!) Nor have I understood you yet to be appealing to this portion as any kind of primary evidence for your position, so I have no criticism against you on that score. (Unless you try it. :wink: )

Fair enough?

On the other hand, back in John 15 (same scene, earlier in the same speech), we do have punishment language (if not post-mortem necessarily) included among verses 1-6. I would point out that, in conjunctive context with other punishment language teaching (including by Jesus at Matt 25’s judgment of the goats–which is certainly by context post-mortem, in the Day of the Lord to come, after the general resurrection), the burning of the unfruitful withered branches who refuse to remain in Christ, and the cleansing of the fruitful branches, are the same discipline. (For all with be salted with the fire of Gehenna, etc.) There’s still a distinction of some kind, though, between one kind of branch being cauterized (that’s basically the Greek word being used) and the other kind of branch being burned. And the distinction doesn’t seem to be that the ‘burning’ of the burned branches involves them suddenly seeing more of the truth than they did before and, being rational agents, now accepting the truth because, duh, that’s the rational thing to do.

Based on earlier statements and commentary in GosJohn, the distinction would appear to be that the burning branches are being burned because they refuse the light they can see. The cauterized branches are the ones accepting the truth, the light that they can see. Same fire either way, though. Same object, too, I would say, based on other contexts; including hope for removed branches, per Rom 11. Meanwhile back at the goat-judgment parallel, the kind of ‘punishment’ the goats are in for, is the brisk agricultural cleaning represented by the ‘katharsis’ or cauterizing of the faithful branches here in John 15.

(This reminds me that eventually I want to get back to discussing a counter-universalistic article on “kolasis” provided by Roofus here. Don’t have time to do it anytime soon, though…)

Okay. We’ll talk about ancient hyperbolic metaphorical emphasis at that time, too, I expect. :slight_smile:

Although speaking from personal experience (Lord God, how long has it been now… nine years, more or less?), I can testify that it can in fact feel like being ripped to shreds. Circumcision isn’t always painless, even when it’s spiritual.

And I am a highly self-critical, penitent man! I can only imagine how much more it must hurt someone impenitent. But not because God doesn’t love them. Neither do I maintain that it will feel so grievous to everyone. (Nor have I ever once maintained that God inflicts this from on high without sharing the suffering Himself, even in this regard.)

Somewhere here on the forum (okay, after some searching here and my next comment afterward), I have a pretty complex discussion on the nesting quality of ‘ages’ and how they are reckoned. So I am hardly denying that ages come and go. Neither, though, am I denying that some ages do not come or do not go.

I consider this beside the point, though, as I have never once appealed to the “age to come” as being some kind of lock on exclusion of forgiveness. On the other hand, I do consider “the age to come” here as being a reference to the Day of the Lord to come, post-resurrection and thus post-mortem. (A day that, metaphorically in Hebrew parlance, must start as night before there is no more night. :slight_smile: )

I consider the topic to be one of willed stubbornness on the part of the sinner, or else of repentance. They’ll be forgiven when they repent, and God will keep seeking their repentance. Their attitude until then, though, excludes repentance and thus acceptance of God’s forgiveness. God is not waiting for their repentance before acting to forgive them, but the forgiveness does involve God acting toward sending away their sins (in reference to one Greek word we translate ‘forgive’), freeing them from their sins (in reference to another word), etc. Whatever leads to that result will be provided, including punishment: in this age and in the age to come.

That having been said, no I can’t say that I’ve studied transmillennialism specifically. If you have some links to provide, please feel free to do so! (Maybe as a new entry in the eschatology section.) I think it would be very interesting. :smiley:

Yes, but Calvin never noticed (or never put it quite together when he did notice it, obviously) that the Isaianic mission involved the people already choosing to be willfully intransigent. It’s a pretty normal theme in both the OT and the NT, and it’s picked up and applied by Jesus, too, in the Synoptics and GosJohn both: people insist on sinning against the light, so God acts to confirm them in that choice for a while, typically so that He can accomplish other things (among which is that they will learn better through having to eat the results of their intransigence–I can think of one incident in the OT which literally involved this :wink: ), and then He acts to bring them out of it again with an eye to them being better than before.

The most famous example in the New Testament, perhaps, is the Synoptic account of the Pharisees trying to argue that Jesus heals by the power of Satan. They’re being intentionally obtuse, against what they themselves can clearly see, and Jesus denounces them for this–while pronouncing the “sin against the Holy Spirit” judgment. After this (basically after lunch that day, when He goes back to the beach) He starts teaching in parables instead. When His disciples question Him afterward about why He started teaching in parables, He references the Isaianic passage.

It’s a terrible harmony, actually. But it is a harmony (no thanks to the sinners) that in its own way echoes a larger Biblical theme: God cooperates with sinners, even in their sins, in order to bring good out of their sinfulness and as part of the process of leading them home to be righteous instead. (There is in fact no way for a sinner to even successfully sin, apart from the grace of God authoritatively given. Which God takes and even insists upon His own responsibility for. But we’ve been discussing that in another thread, before I went on semi-hiatus for the summer. :slight_smile: Which I’m still in fact on. :mrgreen: So, moving along…)

No; the fair mercy of God, not to punish insofar as there was no intentional fault. “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!” And again St. Paul, both at the Mars Hill Forum and (a little more indirectly) here and there in his epistles, relates that God “winks at” things that would have been sin had the people really understood what they were doing.

Ignorance in itself is not blessed, but God takes it into fair account. What the religious leaders needed to hear, however–and it wasn’t only the enemy religious leaders but people like Peter and the other apostles, too, which is who the “cut into pieces” comparison was directed at!–was that they were going to be held more accountable by God for their uncharity and laziness because (by God) they did in fact know better! Consequently, they had better not imagine that those pagans over there were going to be the ones getting maximally zorched while their own sins got passed by for having ‘religious advantages’. If anything, it’s going to be the other way around.

(A point applicable to your Inquisition example later, too. You’re going to have a hard time pointing to any of the RCC, Calv or Arm persecutors who were applying this principle!)

It was directed to particular Jewish religious leaders, proud of their Judaism, yes. They’re still children of the Kingdom, of course. Branches grafted out can be grafted back in, too (as Paul reminds any Gentile readers tempted to think that God has abandoned Israel for their sins). That may not be possible for man, after a point, if the analogy is pressed; but “Who then can be saved?!?” “With man, it is impossible; but with God, all things are possible!”

More practically, I read it as directed to ME!–if I insist on uncharity, even to my enemies. Anyone who thinks this is aimed at only the Jews, or only those nasty Jewish leaders over there, is instantly setting themselves up for the same result. In just the same way, Jesus warns the apostles themselves (during their last visit to Capernaum, before beginning the final walking tour ending in Jerusalem and the Passion), that unless they repent and become like the child whom Jesus is showing them as an example, they will by absolutely no means be entering into the kingdom.

But, those qualifications aside: yes, it’s a reference to people (Jewish leaders in this case, and other Jews like them, proud of their descent from Abraham and the covenant God had made with them) being cast out in the day of the Lord to come. Or, in the case of the apostles themselves (bickering over who is the greatest among them, and jealous of the attempt by the sons of Zebedee to get ahead of the others): not entering into the kingdom in the first place.

The gnashing of the teeth, by the way, indicates impenitent anger and opposition. Wailing is good–Jesus actually exhorts the Pharisees to that! Gnashing, though, shows that for a least some time they will not be accepting the light that they can see. (In this case, that pagans are being let into the feast.) They may be wailing, but they aren’t yet sorrowing–not at first anyway. (If they were sorrowing, they would be comforted; Jesus promised that, too. :slight_smile: )

Unless they remember “Vengeance is Mine!–I will repay!” (A warning against taking vengeance in the OT.) Mere “torture” is worthless, or worse than worthless (for purposes of confession anyway).

Any imposition of truth, however–any action of God, in other words, in regard to a natural system of existence–is going to seem like torture to those who can perceive it and choose to refuse it. Yet again, having to eat the fruits of one’s own unrighteousness, having to deal with the real results of it, often is highly unpleasant. (Unlike the unrighteousness itself, which borrows seductively reinforcing force from perverting legitimate pleasures.) Cooperating with God in self-discipline often isn’t fun either, to say the least.

I will mention in passing that trinitarian orthodoxy, rightly understood and applied, results in an expectation of more mercy for those enemy guys over there, compared to one’s self. Show me a torturer of the Inquisition (or the Calvinist or Arminian equivalent thereof–none of whom were universalists, by the way) who accepts the principle that to enact final non-fair-togetherness between persons is a sin against their own ground of existence (the self-begetting self-begotten God), and I’ll not only show you a rarity but one who still isn’t acting according to his own precepts. Whereas, I think you’re going to have trouble finding orthodox trinitarian universalists engaging in persecution of opponents even in medieval times. (And they, if they exist, still won’t be acting according to their own precepts.)

I’ll fight if I have to fight; but I will by God show chivalrous mercy to my opponents at every opportunity. I am the sinner if I do not; and God will judge me more harshly than them, if I insist on refusing mercy.

Which they then demonstrated by sharing the torture and burning and such with their victims. No, wait: THEY DIDN’T!!

Also, a lot of this was driven (at the time) by the gnostic heresy of salvation by knowledge; itself highly unorthodox to trinitarian theism (though they insisted, and still insist to a large degree, that it isnt unorthodox).

(I do much appreciate your charitable accomodations of them, though. :slight_smile: )

I would say depends on what one means by “condones”. But I think Bobx3 (aka Total Victory) is already directly challenging this notion over in the “Can UR trump the Myth of Redemptive Violence?” thread. (Would someone post a link to it? I don’t want to click it for fear of losing the red-flag reminding me I have unread posts there to get back to this autumn. A lot of discussion has been done there already, and any new thread should at least link to it and maybe ref it substantially in passing.)


A good point, btw. :slight_smile:


Apparently, God has vengeance and we are not to have such (Romans 12:19). Also, God is unforgiving and we are not to be (the Lord’s Prayer says HE will not forgive the unforgiver).
Often universalists speak of God as not having such qualities.
“Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.”


Fairly fair :mrgreen: I’ve seen it used as a heretics “dream verse” where you can say anything and claim it’s one of the things Jesus said the Holy Spirit would tell 'em later :laughing:

That’s just anti-preteristic rhetoric. :wink:

Of course there is wrath all through he bible Jason. ALL through the bible. Unfortunately when we are talking about (possibly) post general resurrection metaphoric fire and agricultural cleansing and so forth is doesn’t shed much light on how God is presently wrathing folks. It’s kind of like a lot of ETers say “Well, I don’t know exactly what hell is - but I know it’s BAD and I don’t want to go there”

We’ll have to start a testimony page about this :open_mouth: Most serious spiritual seekers have most likely been there. Once or twice. This is a testing ground for sure.

To whom much is given much is required. Not sure how much will be required from someone who is blind.

That’s right - “Not one sparrow falls without your Father”

I was complaining about Christianity in general being locked into an inescapable future doomsday scenario AND believing there is nothing to know that wasn’t written down a minimum of 1900 or so years ago.

Okay - I still what to talk about what punishment folks feel God is doing to people. Specifically. I mean, how can anything be learned if we don’t know who’s doing what and why? Almost EVERYONE speculates like “maybe this or that situation is God punishing me for this or that wrong action”

I think so too. I actually haven’t studied it in depth but did join a group and asked a few questions. They are kindred spirits with me for sure as they are going about doing the practical present day works of God instead of trying to figure out what catastrophe God (in His sore displeasure) may be about to unleash on humankind. I’ll post some links.



Ah - but it is fun!!! Only your egoic psyche (which isn’t the core ‘you’) is hating it. :wink:

I can agree with the idea that people eat what they planted and it puts them in a hell of a mess.

Well, first of all it would mean not doing it Himself.


Actually I remembered the transmillennial guy (Kevin Beck) 's book was talked about a bit here:

The site is undergoing a reconstruction but the blog is here:

I think it’s basically hyper preterism plus universalism


I was attempting to make a (rather crude) joke about the (human) southern justice system. I don’t believe it is a reflection of how God deals with humans at all. Any animal will conform to external wills and pressures in order to obtain relief from pain or detention (if it has the intelligence to do so). Beating someone (as a prison guard would do) will not produce a new creature - only a subjected creature. The main point I would like to make is that spiritual rebirth and spiritual enlightenment is what releases humans from spiritual death and spiritual darkness (prison).

It’s too ambiguous James. It’s like shooting in the dark - praying against things God is doing. I know you must feel you have no choice as you are left in the dark as to who’s doing what and why (God/Satan/nature) but that model just doesn’t work AISI.

That’s beautiful James and I’m SO GLAD you understand that (UR). Again though, the concept of an educational purpose falls apart because in your model we’re just left wondering what the heck is going on and who’s doing it and why. The only comfort is we’ll eventually know and it will be okay in the end

Personally it is good to know that God and I are a team working through this process of going from death to life and that He is not personally po’d at me (or others), ever at all. Now, when I (or others) come up against principles and violate them (like gravity) there’s a price to pay for sure but as I pointed out to Jason that’s WAY different concept than God pouring out vials of wrath and disease and earthquakes ect.

You said “the death of Jesus was a covenantal sacrifice that appeases justice for the moral debt of humans” and before that you said “A natural disaster might or might not be a punishment from God” and here you say " In some cases, God goes out of his way to inflict an illness". My response was “If that’s right we should see a significant drop in natural disasters after the crucifixion, that is, unless the “A natural disaster might” is actually a very rare occurrence”.

You also added “In some cases, God goes out of his way to inflict an illness” so I’ll add that if that’s right there should be a significant drop in illness after the crucifixion as well. Unless the "“In some cases” means “almost never”.

Having worked around healing ministries and working with some of the most sincere Christian folks on earth for decadesI can’t say that time and chance don’t happen to all and I can’t say that God’s blessings (rain/sunshine) are withheld from evil people either. Definitely someone with strong faith reacts differently to adversity and I’m SURE (Christianity lead) clean living DOES produce better health.

I pulled that out of context because I’m seeing that it gets SO complex that it leaves us clueless as to what’s really going on. Personally I believe we are “saved, getting saved, and will be saved” from ignorance about God and His core nature (I’m pointing that statement toward all of us).


I’m a bit confused. The thread asked about “atonement.” But Jason, your first post treated “atonement” and “reconciliation” as synonyms. The passages you listed all talk about ‘katallage’ (‘reconciliation’). Did the other terms for ‘atone’ (lutrosis; ranson & redeem) and especially ‘atoning sacrifice’ in Rm. 3.25. What’s being said with these terms that isn’t said by ‘reconcile’? Do you see them as equivalent?