The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Hidden problem with Universalism

#1

Hi all, this is my first post. I think there’s a (hidden) problem with universalism.

I am not against universalism, so this is not any kind of attack or something similar. I don’t have certainty of conviction which option is true, but I can order probabilities, as far as my eyes can see. In that sense I see, roughly, about 95% chance that annihilationism is true, 4.99…% that universalism is true, and miniscule probability that eternal conscious torment is true.

Anyway, to get to the hidden problem of universalism.

If universalism is true, and if all unbelievers go through fire for aeon, to get evil purged from them, I would say that logical and scriptural (as far as Scriptures allow it) conclusion would be that most evil people that ever existed, who went through most rigorous fire for aeon, would end up being the most perfected beings God ever had and will create. They would be higher in stature than any prophet, apostle or saint. They would have experienced doing most evil things, and then in return, they would have suffered through highest flames of God, for aeon, and would end up the pinnacle of God’s creation.

I think it’s impossible to say that’s not one of the possibilities, if universalism is true.

And if satan is part of reconciliation, he would go back to where he was, the highest among angels, but now even much higher in stature.

The problem is that those whose hands did the most damage to creation could end up being chiefs above all those they killed, tortured, raped, slayed etc.

Reason why is because suffering is unique for one age, while in eternity everybody can do an abundance of good. So, doing good, in eternity perspective, levels out among saints, while everybody will still have his or her experience of suffering which cannot be changed, ever, thus making the amount of suffering primary (or very big) factor that distinguishes one saint from another. And the more suffering one went through adds to his worth, and vice versa.

Congruent to this view is the fact that Jesus went through highest suffering any can ever go through.

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#2

I don’t see why that’s a problem. It would be among the kinds of reversal by grace that Jesus promised, and I find that grace is something to humbly celebrate.

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#3

Like the chief among sinners, Paul?

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#4

If it’s true, it’s certainly not a problem. It’s a problem primarily in a sense that it doesn’t seem it’s something people think about when thinking about results of a certain view. Maybe they should. From earthly perspective, it’s at least an interesting result which most people don’t expect.

You are, also, talking from earthly perspective, because you are not in heaven. You are still human in flesh. And maybe you didn’t experience much evil on you, maybe God has shielded you enough so you can look at it as easy as you do.

Maybe if your neighbour kidnapped, raped, tortured, cooked and ate your child, and recorded it for you to hear your child’s horror screams in court as it was being dismembered alive, you would not be so easy to say “I don’t see what’s the problem.” Maybe you would have a little tact, or at least pause.

And even if you did had unspeakable evil done to you and God gave you strength of mind to go through it, a lot of people who suffer evil don’t have such strength of mind, so saying a blanket “I don’t see what’s the problem” still lacks empathy for those who are weaker in their suffering than you, and I don’t know if that’s approach to have about the issue.

Now, again, I am not saying that OP is a problem if it is true. I am saying, from eathly perspective, it is a certain kind of issue, or at least an interesting result that can serve as a hint, something to think through, etc.

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#5

Was Paul the most evil man who ever existed, who has done the most evil things against God and to creation ever possible, both in quality and quantity? Or was Paul anointed by Christ to be an apostle for Gentiles, and in that effect, the chief among sinners?

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#6

HenP, I took you to be arguing that if it was true that God greatly elevated the most truly evil people, it would be a problem? And I would agree that the Christian message that God does precisely this grates against our natural sensibilities, and that forgiving or even celebrating the redemption of evil people challengingly goes against our grain especially when we experience being their victims.

But when I realize how much God has forgiven me, his performing a reversal in the perversity of others can actually become seen as a blessing. Indeed, I doubt that e.g. the Jew, Paul of Taurus, realizing that he had killed many Jews without any remorse, would be chagrinned if he learned that God had elevated Hitler as high as God elevated him. I think he would celebrate God’s power and love.

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#7

If it’s true it’s not a problem. It’s a problem, as I wrote in previous reply, primarily in a sense that it’s something many people/universalists don’t think about, but is one of the, or main, logical and scriptural consequence of universalism, as I see it. And it’s probably unexpected for most people.

I understand your example of Paul and Hitler. But those two are not related even in time. What about you personally experiencing most despicable evil known to man, and living as a broken person for the rest of your earthly life because of it, and somewhere along the line you find out that people who did this despicable evil will be greater in God’s eyes than you, for ever?

I am not making a judgement here on what should or should not be. I am saying that it’s an issue that can make one pause in thinking.

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#8

I would think after spending 5 minutes in heaven I would no longer be angry about any harm done to me while on earth. Would you? How about after 100 years? 1000 years? A million years?

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#9

Welcome to this forum, HenP. I have not been a member for as long as some of the longteeth here but have learned a great deal which was my primary reason for joining.

I don’t share your conviction that there is a hidden problem in universalism. I doubt very much that any hierarchies will exist in heaven. If that is a correct belief then your worries are unfounded. If I am wrong, it still won’t matter because sin will be no more, therefore there will be no resentment, no jealousy, or anything else to mar our being. God will be all in all. A created being will never be “the pinnacle of God’s creation”.

Btw, what does OR stand for?

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#10

That would be logical answer, which you and me cannot truly comprehend as we are still here, on earth. The question is what would you think now if you would be living utmost broken life here because of some despicable evil done to you by people who have no regret and grin at you, knowing that they will be higher in God’s eyes than you, for eternity.

Again, I don’t think it’s absolutely nonchalant thing to ponder. For example, it would mean that blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God, but most blessed are they that do the most wicked, hateful and evil things on the face of the earth.

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#11

That’s another subject, but as I see Scriptures, they reveal that practically everything in God’s creation is in hierarchies. When it comes to saints, some will be higher in stature than the others, at least according to rewards they’ll receive after Bema seat (1 Corinthians 3), which are distributed according to value.

Since there are differences in stature, some created being has to be the highest created being out of all created beings, one saint highest among all saints. With universalism, it points to the most wicked, hateful, evil man or woman who ever lived and did most despicable evils as the one who will end up being the highest, most revered creation above all other creation.

I say that’s at least interesting thing to think about.

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#12

Agreed!

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#13

It seems your problem is not with universalism per se, but rather divine forgiveness. Because if you’d be unhappy with previously bad people being given eternal happiness, whether they repented on earth or in the afterlife is immaterial. In which case, your issue is with Christianity itself, for repentance unto forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel. Why would you be okay with people being forgiven while in their mortal bodies but not their resurrected bodies?

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#14

As I wrote previously, two times - if it’s true, I don’t see it as a problem. The problem is primarily about the fact that there is unexpected issue many people don’t think about. And maybe they should think it through.

Now, you ask some questions but you didn’t answer mine - what would you think now if you would be living utmost broken life here because of some despicable evil done to you by people who have no regret and grin at you, knowing that they will be higher in God’s eyes than you, for eternity?

If you would say that now, today, under those precise circumstances, you would be perfectly fine with it, then I would say it’s much more likely, just by probability alone, that you don’t have thorough understanding of what evil is, and are naive about it, than that you are so strong in faith.

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#15

For any dialogue to be meaningful, each party has to know how a word or phrase is understood by the other. My understanding of the word “saint” in the New Testament is simply another word for a Christian believer. Is that your take on the word, or do you believe that some men and women throughout Church history, e.g. St. Patrick, St. Christopher, St. Paul, St. Michael, etc., are rightly accorded the title of Saint with a capital S?

I would imagine the latter, based on your posts. I am not trying to be smart nor am I attempting to provoke an argument. It’s simply to clarify my understanding of your position, theologically and ecclesiastically.

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#16

I agree that words can lead to miscommunication. By saints I meant both OT saved people and NT believers, but resurrected in heaven, not as humans on earth.

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#17

@HenP

[quote]
The problem is primarily about the fact that there is unexpected issue many people don’t think about. And maybe they should think it through.[/quote]

How do you know people don’t think about it?

I reject the premises of what you’re asking; I don’t think there is hierarchy among people in heaven.

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#18

Michael is archangel (Jude 1, Daniel 10), “an angel of the highest rank, a ruler of angels, a superior angel”.

Saints get rewards or they lose rewards upon entry to heaven, which makes a hierarchy of sorts.

I don’t know what is the nature of different statures and how are they exercised, but I would say that different statures certainly exist in heaven.

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#19

I hope I would have sufficient grace to obey the Lord’s commands. And, if I manage to do so, I would not expect to be awarded any favoured position in heaven as a result. The peace and joy which Christians experience in their walk with Jesus is reward enough - and it applies to this life, not our future life in glory.

Matthew 5:44-45 (KJV)
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

I have to say, at this point, that I find your hierarchal thesis to be very unpalatable but am willing to be persuaded otherwise.

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#20

Hi HenP…

I think your contention above is probably best and simply explained by your own concession below…

So I’m not an apologist for universalism, however… is your perception of universalism, as stated below, actually true? I’m not asking whether it’s right or wrong but is it accurate?

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