The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Does god love and save everyone ?


#1

Welcome, Sophi!

I moved your topic to “Discussion Negative” from “Biblical Theology”, since that other category is for discussing theological topics that don’t have an assigned category yet. I’ve left a shadow-topic there so people can get here from there.

I also deleted your first thread, since you didn’t realize all new posts go to the spamcatcher at first, and had reposted when it didn’t show up on the board. I still accepted it, so it will count toward teaching the spamcatcher you’re not a spambot or someone selling Warcraft gold or shoes or whatever. :wink: You’ll still need to post two or three more times before the system triggers to let you through automatically. Just be patient (especially on weekends when the ad/mods don’t check the spam catcher as often.)


#2

I do not know who you are quoting for the commentary on this verse, but they are schisming between the intentions of the Son and the Father. If they are unitarians that would be okay in theory (although I think even a unitarian should not do that in practice); if they are trinitarian, they are appealing to an impossibility that would wreck all of reality if it happened. Also, whoever you are quoting has denied Christ’s own statements about being the ultimate judge, including in texts commonly cited against universal salvation! (Also, Paul is saying this not Christ, although I suppose the commentator is working from a particular theory of divine inspiration from Christ, which might be okay in theory but in practice it is leading to the commentator’s schism between the Persons.) This interpretation strategy is unfortunately common even among trinitarian commentators who ought to know better.

Anyway. The surrounding context of Romans 12 does not have to be read as Paul recommending that sinful humans should be more merciful than God. It can be read as Paul reminding us that we as sinners cannot be trusted to act in anger the way God does. If God’s wrath leads to the salvation of those He punishes, and our wrath in our sin does not, then we should stay away from wrath. The verse cited by Paul from Deut 32 references a punishment (even to death!) that leads to the punished persons repenting and being restored to fellowship with God and with their fellow creatures eventually.

Regarding Isaiah: while there are many strong statements of punitive anger (up to killing anger) from God throughout those scrolls, they are mixed in with repeated statements of God saving those punished people anyway once they repent thanks to their punishment, even if they were killed by it. Isaiah may have more universal salvation and after-death salvation passages in it by proportion, and by sheer number, than any other Old Testament book!

I am not sure about Nahum, but if other testimony establishes that God’s fatal punishments are not hopelessly final and that He can and will save those people from their sins after punishing them, then it doesn’t matter if Nahum never says anything about the salvation. I know some of the minor prophets never say anything about God saving any of His enemies at all, and at least one (Obadiah?) never says anything about God saving anyone at all, even righteous people loyal to Him! No Jew and/or Christian takes such lack of testimony to mean God never saves any enemies or even never saves His allies.

The same is true for the Psalms. Sometimes they talk about God saving His enemies, even after death; sometimes they don’t. Prooftexting means little.

You yourself seem to acknowledge that other verses in the same chapter nearby testify that God saves His enemies, too, even if He must punish them first. There are strong statements about this throughout the chapter from beginning to end. The overall idea is that sinners afflict their enemies hopelessly, therefore God will punish them for doing so – but not hopelessly! God will punish them better than they insisted on punishing other people. Jeremiah applies this principle to those who are currently punishing Israel for Israel’s sins: they will be punished by God for trying to hopelessly punish Israel. Jeremiah’s whole basis for hope in this chapter (counting himself, although a righteous prophet, as sharing in the punishment of his fellow people), is that God’s punishments are NOT like the punishments of sinful creatures – even if He punishes people to death.

Actually, Christian universalists do often go on to say that: that principle is a strong reason NOT to insist on God’s judgments being unmerciful. (This connects back to Lam 3, also, as well as many other places, including in the Gospels.) Once someone pays the final cent owed, which is mercy on other people, then they shall have learned their lesson and come out from the prison.

Not everyone is spared from punishment – even innocent people (like Jeremiah) get caught up in punishment of the wicked sometimes, which God Himself voluntarily shares along with both the innocent and the wicked. Mercy for all does not mean no one will ever be punished; but it does mean God’s punishments have a goal of leading people to repent of their sins (especially their insistence on being unmerciful to other people).

Isaiah actually talks with some frequency about pagans (usually after being punished! – but not always being punished first) coming to be saved by God. Jeremiah less so, but he has his moments, too. When they talk about Israel being saved, they both very often talk about rebel punished Israel being saved AFTER being punished (including to death) as being worse than pagan rebels! The contextual ideas there are important: God’s chosen servants don’t get a free pass, they get punished, too, and condemned worse, for abusing their position. And then His rebel servants are saved after the punishment once they finally learn their lesson. Sometimes that happens AFTER their own enemies among the pagans repent and come to God! The whole situation is much more complex than ‘God saves His allies, the end, period.’

I don’t recall any direct grief offhand, but God grieves for them indirectly in grieving over Israel: God chose and empowered Israel in order to be a light of evangelism to the nations. God grieves over them when they rebel and abuse their privileges, becoming even worse than the nations; and He grieves because their rebellion hampers other nations coming back to loyalty to God.

That said, the OT is pretty big and I find odd things in it all the time that I didn’t notice before. I’m not going to say there are certainly NO examples of God grieving for pagan nations. There ARE examples of God acting to save pagan nations, too, and statements that He will succeed in saving them all eventually. The whole point to the story of Jonah is that a rebel prophet unmercifully refuses to accept God’s saving mercy for the Assyrians, over whom God shows great concern, and sends the rebel prophet quite literally into the spirit prison of Satan! – before saving him out of that, despite the prophet having only a minor repentance. Come to think of it, the word in Hebrew for God’s compassion on Ninevah in that story carries a modifier that upgrades the meaning to grief for them. So, now that I think a minute, I can in fact come up with a very famous story of God grieving for other peoples!

The difference is whether there is testimony that God shall not in fact destroy people forever. St. Paul says the secret will of God, now being revealed in his day through Jesus and which he is cooperating with in his ministry, is to bring all creatures, even the rebel spirits, into loyal communion with Jesus, and that God’s will in this matter shall surely be accomplished, upon which God has even sworn upon Himself (staking His own eternal self-existence as evidence of the promise being fulfilled).

True, but God’s patience with his enemies is {makrothumia}, which we are warned we must never deny is equivalent to salvation. Otherwise we are the ones who shall be punished in the day of wrath to come! – but shall we insist that those who are punished for denying God’s {makrothumia} is salvation, shall themselves never be saved? Then we are denying God’s {makrothumia} is salvation! We rightly expect God’s {makrothumia} to be successful in saving us from our sins despite being God’s enemies ourselves; we must insist on this being true for those other enemies over there, too, or we ourselves are only doers of injustice.

Regarding Deut 17:6, this actually shows that God’s people at the time could not be trusted to show mercy to the pagans. They were so spiritually weak themselves that they would be seduced into infidelity to God if they showed mercy, and spiral thereby into being even more unmerciful than they already were in their hearts. They are actually expected to show mercy to pagans in other parts of the Law, and will be punished by God as doers of injustice when they refuse to do so.

This inherent problem within Israel lies behind the strictness of the Law as, for example, the other verses you quoted. (The command about showing no mercy in purging out those who spill innocent blood is quite revealing in itself about Israel’s own spiritual corruption: they couldn’t be trusted not to spill innocent blood at any convenient opportunity!) It’s like a bootcamp for many generations of feral cats who all have to learn the lessons over again in each generation – and who, because of the hardness of their hearts, are also likely to learn the wrong lessons from the severity of their laws. But they were hard people who would have had no respect for laws which were not (almost!) as harsh as they were. Imagine a people so inherently debased that they cannot be trusted to even treat the ark with reverence, so that if someone wasn’t killed for touching the ark at all (even trying to faithfully help it) they would only take advantage of that opening to abuse it! The whole Old Testament is hyper-critical of Israel.

(Which shouldn’t be anything for us to be smug about, of course.)

God cares enough to voluntarily suffer with them, and shows this on the cross. The innocent often suffer for the sake of the guilty (David in this case). But of course the story is from David’s perspective; we don’t know specifically what else was going on that would involve a punitive plague, but the history of Israel’s fidelity during this period isn’t shiny! The people knew a census would be ground for thinking highly of themselves and going to war with people nearby, for example. They didn’t have to cooperate with it, and in fact Joab (who was tasked by David with running the census) partially refused to cooperate!

Also, the way ancient Near Middle Eastern bargaining works, David could have offered a fourth option, which God might have been expecting: strike me down for this, not the people. David doesn’t take this option, and kind of chickens out of taking an option that might actually affect him – although the implication is that he gets hit with the plague, too. Your prooftext quote comes AFTER David cowards out of taking personal responsibility for his prideful sin (which included seducing his own people into being prideful of themselves): David finally asks God to punish him directly and not the people, and God accepts the offer in a way that costs David some money but not his life. (It isn’t strictly known whether anyone actually died of the plague, btw – the angel of death imagery suggests people were about to die but God held it off to give David and the people an opportunity to repent. The main point was that both David and the people had to realize they were not strong in themselves, which the census had led them into thinking.)

There is more to the story (and to the stories) than the bits you are focusing on.

And I have suspicions about your intentions anyway: you say “Are we deceiving ourselves?” but you give no particular evidence that you are questioning from within a shared group to which you also belong. Your line of questioning suggests instead, along with your forum nickname “sophi”, that you are a particular kind of non-Christian Gnostic who already rejects both the Jewish scriptures and the Christian scriptures, and the “wrong god” in both of them. People should do the best they can with what they have from where they are, of course; but it would be better not to pretend you are part of the group you are criticizing if, in fact, you are not.

(We already have an anti-Christian Gnostic who likes to troll the boards here, but at least he-or-she is open about that, and writes better English than you do. If this is where you are coming from, you can move along and spend your time better, perhaps, on boards which speak your native language whatever that is.)


Universalism in the OT?
#3

Because the internet is full of people who pretend to be one thing when they are really another in order to get an advantage in fooling people (often merely for their own entertainment). It’s part of my responsibility to protect forum members from people like that. If you have been on the internet for much time, you should be sympathetic to administrators being concerned about such things.

I don’t, in fact, know you, so I can’t vouch for you. All you have is what you’ve written once, Soph* [suffix censored by “sophi”'s request]. (That’s your name on your email.) When I see a pattern from long experience then I check to see if the current pattern is another example of similar causes. As recently as last month we had an anti-Christian show up pretending to be Christian in order to troll us, and some research on the internet discovered he-or-she was lying to us about who ‘she’ was. (Incidentally, we didn’t ban her. We’re lenient about a lot of things. :wink: )

Some of the details of the one thing you’ve written so far, resemble a very specific type of anti-Christian. I’m sorry the resemblance is there, but it is there. One harm in what they do, is that when legitimately concerned people come along the real people naturally look like the fakers – because the fakers are pretending to be people like them.

I am someone with a lot of experience on the internet. This reply does not reduce my suspicions.

This also does not reduce my suspicions.

This also does not reduce my suspicions.

If you’re that horribly upset about Biblical things, you shouldn’t be talking to an English forum. You should be talking to people who speak Dutch, or your mother-language if you are an immigrant to Holland. Being here makes no sense to what you claim about your situation.

You already wrote verses and did not care about my answers, even to talk about them. For example, when I mentioned Deut 32 myself (in reply to one of your quick prooftexts from Romans, where Paul quotes Deut 32) I pointed out that in the surrounding context God saves those same people from their sins when they repent of their injustices after being punished (apparently even to death) and they live happily ever after. If all the nations (who rebel against God) are expected to rejoice because God will be merciful to His own rebel people whom He is punishing with war and destruction (because that chapter is part of a prophesy that Israel will become horribly abusive and will have to learn the hard way to be good people by being overrun by armies themselves, for which God takes authoritative responsibility), then God is not actually “doing discrimination”. Unjust Israel and unjust pagans are both destroyed; unjust Israel is made just after being destroyed, and they are reconciled to the nations by God, so that the nations will also rejoice. That’s the salvation of everyone after death, from being evil people to being good people who have finally learned their lessons not to abuse each other.

The horror and tragedy shouldn’t be ignored; but neither should the other parts be ignored. When you write things like “Israel was more sinful here. But they were saved.They were forgiven. But others, no.” – you’re ignoring the other parts. More-sinful Israel there will be saved when they repent after being slain for their sins (so destroyed that they are neither slave nor free). So will the nations, which is why they will be rejoicing both that sinful Israel is destroyed AND ALSO that God is reconciling them all together after all.

Then you should be paying more attention to my answers. But much more importantly than my replies, you should talking to, and reading, people in your own language. Perhaps read the Dutch Christian pastor Jan Bonda, Het ene doel van God: een antwoord op de leer van de eeuwige straf, which he published before he died in 1997. (I have his English translation and it’s fairly good, but probably better in Dutch.)


#4

Sophi:

There is a difference between these choices made by God – and the choice by God to permanently punish a creature. As Talbott said, God draws the line at irreparable harm. There is quite literally an infinite difference between temporal punishments and eternal punishment.


#5

Jesus said, “If i am lifted up from the earth I will draw all men unto me”. John 12

The drawing power of His love is greater than any alienation or distance.

“For so it pleased the Father for all the fulness to dwell in Him and through Him to reconcile all to Himself through the blood of His cross, whether things in heaven or on earth.” Colossians 1

If we accept that the scriptures are true as a baseline in our thinking, it becomes clear, first that God loves all and second, that God will save all.

“For this is good in the sight of God our Father** who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth**” 1 Tim 2:4

"For as in Adam all die** so also in Christ shall all be made alive**- each in his own order…For He must reign until every adversary is become a footstool for His feet… the last adversary to be destroyed/anulled is death… When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him,** so that God may be all in all**. 1 Cor 15:22-28

“For God has bound all in disobedience that He may have mercy on all.…For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things” Rom 11:32-34

In all wisdom and insight 9** He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention** which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is,** the summing up(gathering together into one) of all things in Christ**, things in the heavens and things on the earth Eph 1

These and many other verses like them cannot be true if…

Hell is forever
God hates some people and chooses them beforehand for eternal torment
Death never ends
God does not eventually subject every adversary
All are not gathered together into one in Christ
All are not reconciled by the blood of His cross
God does not become all in all

“Behold, I am making all things new! Write down these words for they are faithful and true.” Rev 21


#6

“Sophi” asked to have his or her name (which is Sophi with a slightly different suffix) censored out, and his or her posts deleted and account terminated, so I have done so.

This doesn’t exactly make me less suspicious about intentions. :wink: But I appreciate other members trying to help. :slight_smile: If Soph* was legitimate, I hope he or she can find someone who speaks or writes in Dutch to help.


#7

All

Good day to you all from the UK!

It’s interesting to see this post, as I was just discussing Matthew 5:44 with my mother. Jesus’s invocation to His followers to love their enemies is interesting in the context of universalism in another way. If we love our enemies, how can we ever be happy knowing our loved ones are being tormented in hell for ever?

Robert


#8

Kinda twisted rite? And since there would be so many in hell, how could we hear ourselves sing His praise over the tormented screams of the damned but beloved? So hard, so illogical, so impotent.


#9

All

One passage I haven’t seen discussed much in this context is Psalm 103. This psalm opens with a personal testimony regarding the things for which David wishes to personally thank God (verses 1 to 5). This hymn of praise mentions Israel (verse 7), but it also clearly goes on to embrace the whole of mankind. Verse 6, for example, refers to ‘all of the oppressed’ and verses 14 to 17 refer to mankind in general and to any person who fears God. As the New Bible Commentary puts it: 'The psalm is an expression of praise evoked firstly by the psalmist’s own experience (note the singular pronouns in vv. 1-5). But it is tremendously strengthened by the evidences of the Lord’s amazing compassion and mercy toward men in general…’

Amidst these powerful general statements, there are two concerning God’s nature that stand out prominently in the context of our discussion about eternal punishment: ‘He will not always strive, nor will He keep His anger for ever’ (verse 9). The verb ‘strive’ has the meaning of ‘to conduct a (legal) case against’ someone. Here, it refers to God taking mankind to task, and is therefore translated as, ‘to chide’, ‘to chasten’ or ‘to accuse’.

In the second clause the word ‘anger’ has been placed in italics, as this does not appear as a separate word in the Hebrew text. Instead, this is implicit in the Hebrew verb, which is translated here as ‘to keep’, and which is used in exactly the same way in other biblical passages, e.g. Jeremiah 3:5, 12 and Nahum 1:2.

These two statements therefore present a problem for those who believe in eternal punishment, as they indicate that God’s conflict with mankind will not last for ever. In relation to this, it is also worth referring to John 3:36, which says: ‘…he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but God’s wrath rests upon him’. If God is always angry with those who do not repent, but He will not be angry for ever, then the disobedient must either repent or they must cease to exist at some point in time.

It might be argued that God ceases to ‘strive’ with the disobedient when He metes out their final punishment on the Day of Judgement. However, if, as John 3:36 says, He remains angry with those who do not obey Christ, then that disobedience must cease to exist at some stage for Psalm 103:9 to be true.

It might be argued that anyone who is in hell cannot be said to be ‘disobeying’ the Son, as they are no longer capable of acting in any particular way. It might also be suggested that the above statements from Psalm 103:9 are directed solely at Israel, not the whole of mankind. However, neither of these arguments is sustainable. ‘Obeying’ Christ must include obeying His commandment to love one another (John 15:12; 1 John 3:21). And the Bible teaches that people in hell do not posses true love, as ‘everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God’ (1 John 4:7). Anyone in hell must therefore remain in disobedience to Christ’s commandment to love one another, as love and obedience are clearly inseparable (2 John 6).

Unlike the similar statements in Isaiah 57:16 and Micah 7:18, it is also untenable to argue that Psalm 103:9 only applies to Israel. To begin with, there is nothing in this context to require or even suggest that this is the case. Furthermore, according to orthodoxy, such a statement regarding Israel would be untrue anyway, as God does remain angry with at least parts of Israel for ever. All non-believers receive eternal punishment, including any Israelites who do not turn to Christ.

These two simple, but powerful statements from Psalm 103, therefore, make it quite impossible to believe in a God who
punishes people for ever. God is always angry with non-believers, but He will not be angry for ever. Unless He destroys all non-believers, this can only mean one thing: everyone will eventually turn to Him and be saved.

Yours in Christ

Robert


#10

I came across an interesting, Patheos article today. Maybe I can share it here:

5 False Teachings in the Evangelical World


#11

Hmmmm… #4 :open_mouth:

  1. It’s our job to judge the world.

You could start a whole new thread with that one.


#12

I really like the Catholic reflections - via email, from the Center for Action and Contemplation. Here is what I received today:


#13

Thanks Randy! :smiley: