The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Destruction Judgment Followed by Resurrection (Penal Substitution)

God’s judgments in the Bible are retributive but they are also remedial and restorative. Isaiah tells us that the sufferings of punishment that fell on Christ was disciplinary and corrective. The Hebrew word of punishment is Musar and it means chastening, correction, discipline. Moreover, the Bible says Christ learned obedience through what He suffered. Those that hold to Penal Substitution like I do must also be a universalist. For, the penalty for sin cannot be eternal suffering for Christ didn’t suffer forever. The penalty for sin can’t be eternal death for Christ was resurrected. The pattern we see in scripture is judgment followed by resurrection and restoration. This is what we see with the nations and the Kings of the earth in Revelation. They are the enemies of Christ destroyed in battle under the wrath of the lamb. But we see them entering into the forever open gates of the city after their destruction. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

One of the main reasons people object to Penal Substitution is because of the intensive suffering that innocent Christ underwent. The punishment that God inflicted on Christ by allowing evil to have it’s way with Christ seems cruel unusual and unjust. But the defenders of Penal Substitution have always pointed out that this objection fails to take into consideration the mystical union Christ enters into with humanity. In virtue of His union with humanity He becomes one with them. He stands as our proxy and representative before God as our sins are imputed and replicated in Him. He stands as guilty before God not because He committed a sin during His lifetime but because of the mystical union he has with humanity. God lays on Christ the iniquity of us all. That’s a huge amount of sin that is imputed or replicated to Christ. We should expect the suffering to be severe. Especially since it lasted only a few hours. All punishment has some pain and suffering attached to it. Moreover, all sin is ultimately against God and seeing who God is the crimes are a lot more serious than if they were just against another person. This is another reason the punishment was so severe. Christ was a Divine Person. The worst evil in human history was the killing of the Son of God. One act - two intentions. The evil intentions of man murdered the Son of God. This is how God would carry His holy judgment against His people in the OT. His holy intentions in judgment were good man’s evil actions and intentions were evil. This is why often in the OT He will use evil to judge His people and then turn around and judge those who brought evil against His people. But the pattern laid down all through scripture is judgment followed by restoration and resurrection. This is what we see at the cross and it serves as the example of the penalty for sin just as Sodom serves as an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly. The pattern is judgment and destruction followed by resurrection and restoration. Just as the heavens and earth undergoes a fiery judgment of destruction but is restored to a new heavens and earth.

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I also hold to the Limited Atonement as explained by John Piper. In “Five Points” by John Piper on limited atonement he states:

We do not deny that Christ died to save all in some sense. Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:10 that in Christ God is “the Savior of all people, especially of those that believe.” What we deny is that the death of Christ is for all men in the same sense. God sent Christ to save all in some sense. And He sent Christ to save those who believe in a more particular sense. God’s intention is different for each. That is the natural way to read 1 Timothy 4:10.

I believe like Piper that Christ died for all in some sense. I believe that the sense in which Christ died for the reprobate is when He extends this mercy to them in hell intertwined with His punitive wrath. For those who have faith in this lifetime God’s punishment is removed from them. They are saved by grace through faith. For those sinners who go to hell and receive the just punishment for their sins He saves through fire. Faith is for this age not the next. There will be no faith in the new creation. Faith and hope pass away but love is eternal. God is the savior of all people. Especially them that believe.

It seems that affirming God is the Savior of those God destines for endless punishment makes his version of Salvation for them anemically sad.

Not sure what you mean Bob. I’ve stated that God saves all. Especially believers in this lifetime. The first are last and the last are first but we will all make it.

I appreciate the clarification: Are you affirming that Christ died for the sins of those in hell who will receive the just (though not infinite) punishment for their sins? That’s so different from Piper’s soteriology that comparing your view to his may have confused me.

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I agree with him that Christ died for all in some sense and the elect in a particular sense. The blood not only purifies all of creation but the reprobate in the lake of fire. Col. tells us that the all things God created will be reconciled. So, I don’t agree with Piper completely.

That’s not natural at all.

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It is natural and the only way to understand how God is the savior of all. Especially them that believe. Only the elect have faith in this lifetime. When we see Christ face to face faith and hope pass away. The rest of creation is purified through fire without faith. Only love is eternal.

I’d love your thoughts on this thread I made a year so ago, as we seem to be somewhat concurrent on the subject of [God’s] retributive punishment ≥ restorative punishment. 2nd Thoughts On ChristianPUR (Purgatorial Universal Restoration)

I’ll look at it.

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I’ve already commented as St. Michael. I hold that the lake of fire is indeed terrible. The reality of the metaphors in the Bible is always greater than the metaphor. Heaven is far greater than the metaphors used to describe them. Likewise the lake of fire is far worse than the metaphors used to describe them. It’s the way metaphors work in the Bible. Buddhist cosmology includes a hell or purgatory. It’s called Naraka.

Naraka (Sanskrit: नरक; Pali: निरय Niraya ) is a term in Buddhist cosmology[1] usually referred to in English as “hell” (or “hell realm”) or “purgatory”. The Narakas of Buddhism are closely related to diyu , the hell in Chinese mythology. A Naraka differs from the hell of Christianity in two respects: firstly, beings are not sent to Naraka as the result of a divine judgment or punishment; and secondly, the length of a being’s stay in a Naraka is not eternal,[2] though it is usually incomprehensibly long, from hundreds of millions to sextillions of years.

It lasts trillions or sextillions of years and is quite painful. I mention it because Buddhists are non-violent and peace loving. Hell (Naraka) is one of the motivations to be a compassionate person. The idea that hell causes mental illness doesn’t hold up to the psychological facts. In Buddhist psychology it produces love and compassion.

From my book “Everything Buddhism Book”

Hell Realm

Fear even to the point of paranoia, can characterize the hell realm. It’s not the place you want to be. Metaphorically, You could be endlessly cut up, burned, frozen, eaten, beaten, or tortured in any number of ways, only to die and wake up and do it all over again. Some areas contain abominable nightmares, unbearable sensory experiences, and horrible visions. The denizens of hell symbolize hatred, and the pervasive self-inflicted anxiety of dukkha. There are as many as ten hells in the Realm of Desire, and the inhabitants must make their way through all in order to escape the anguish and suffering. There are realms where you may be lacerated, or eaten alive. The third realm is the demon (asura), a state dominated by anger. In Asia, however, these demons may not be regarded metaphorically. Evil spirits can wreak havoc or cause mischief. page 88

According to John Piper, when you add predestination the doctrines can make you go mad. But if we center it all on Christ and the cross our minds and hearts will be safe. Indeed, John Piper has helped millions to find their freedom and joy in Christ.

As we can see when the doctrines are in their proper context they produce the fruit of the Spirit. Taken out of context they produce madness. True Christianity doesn’t cause mental illness. It’s usually those that already have a mental illness and who take the doctrines out of context that it causes problems for.

Just to be clear I don’t believe hell is eternal. The Bible teaches penal substitution as an aspect of the atonement. The penalty for sin is suffering, death and then resurrection. The pattern in scripture is judgment and destruction followed by resurrection and restoration. As terrible as hell is I don’t think it’s eternal.

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Please, your feedback is welcome. Thanks again.