The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Is the flesh necessary for the soul to make a decision?

Dear Dr. Talbot -

I am still in the investigative stage of Patristic Universalism, and while it makes a great deal of sense to me, I do run into comments and questions from what I would call “Traditional Hellists.”

Here is a serious of interchanges I had on another board:

ME: Father, why does it bother you to think that perhaps God is so loving that He can forgive all, so powerful that He can find a way to overcome even the most stubborn will, and so willing to save all that He will do just that?

**Priest ** I don’t doubt God willingness and desire to forgive at all. However, as God did give us free will, we can and do use that will to separate ourselves from God. Furthermore, what do you do with the Last Judgement from Matthew 25? Sounds like some are damned, huh?

**ME: **Some are damned? According to the explanations I have read on Patristic Universalism, this is hardly the case. What we do know about Matthew 25 and other places in the Sacred Scriptures is that the translators were either deliberately mi…See More

Priest I guess we’ll find out. I can live with you being right. What happens if you’re wrong? I will stick with what the Church teaches.

**ME **Just so you know, Father. I am still not quite sold on the issue of Patristic Universalism. Because of this, I fast and pray every Friday for the salvation of my children and grandchildren. I do hope that it is true, and I hope you know that if it is true, that doesn’t mean that the wicked get a pass on getting a good, hard scourging for their sins.

2nd Priest Fr. Bill is not denying that God wishes to save all. However, he is rightly critical of the sin of presumption, by which we presume that God can somehow overcome free will, so that all are in heaven someday, whether they want to be there or not.

ME That is a legitimate question, Father. Could I ask you a favor? Would you read this post on free-will, rejection of God, and universal salvation and give my your opinion?…/gods … free-will/

Tom, here’s the part that I am questioning.

**2nd Priest **The free choice for God, for the gift of salvation, must be made before death, before this life comes to and end. At death, we lose the body, and the body is essential for a free decision to be fully human. A disembodied human soul, having lost the matter needed for a rational, human, and free decision, is in a sense frozen in that decision which is made in the moment of crossing over.

**I’m sorry, but the above underline sounds like theological assumption and pure bs to me. Is the priest saying that disembodied souls such as are in heaven now are incapable of making decisions, such as whether to obey God when He issues a command? Your comment, please!! **

**ME ** If that is so, when why do we bother praying for the deceased?

2nd Priest We pray for the deceased who received in some way the gift of God, even if they did not fully live according to that gift. Purgatory is the process of penitential suffering for loose strings of selfishness and sin that still abide in us at the moment of death.

2nd Priest see Matthew 5:25-26, “Reconcile quickly with your adversary, while you are still on the way to court. Otherwise he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” The person of a judge is symbolic of the rending of an account at the end of life. Christ is clear that this judgment is coming, and that there is an urgency to make reconcile with God and neighbor before it is “too late.”

**ME **Dear Father…you do realize, I hope, that the verses you have given are among the favorites of Patristic Universalists.

Dear Father…you do realize, I hope, that the verses you have given are among the favorites of Patristic Universalists.

The last penny…when that is paid, then what? When a man has had all the scourging of God which will be enough for the sins he committed, then what? Still more scourging. Scourging for an eternity?

Not justice, Father. Our Lord Himself in the OT gave us the standard of justice which is known as Lex Talionis - i.e., that the punishment for a crime must be fitted to the crime and not exceed it. Thus, it is reprehensible to hang a child (as the Puritans did in New England) for stealing a loaf of bread.

No sin deserves an eternity in fire, for no sin is of that same measure.

**2nd Priest ** Matthew 5:25-26 is usually interpreted as a warning about purgatory, but the main point to me is that we must make our free choices right now, while we are in the body. The body is not merely a shell, or outer peeling. It is an integral part of who we as humans. Angels were created to make decisions without existing in the flesh, but humans were created as a composite of flesh and spirit, and without the flesh, the spirit is no longer in the mode of making decisions, but rather living an existence in eternity which is a consequence of what was decided in the flesh.

Here the priest restates that the flesh is essential to be able to make that free-will decision.

I eagerly await your answer.

Dr. Talbott doesn’t usually answer on threads posted outside his author category (and doesn’t always answer there either – I think he forgets we exist sometimes. :laughing: ) I’ll try pinging him [tag]tomtalbott[/tag]. If you see this, Dr. T, the post in question is above.

As a general rule, when someone asks one of the guest authors a question, the rest of us should hang back a while and give them a chance to answer before chiming in. :nerd:

Welcome to the forum, and I hope you’ll find a lot of material here to help in your research!

Note that Eddie did post this same topic to Dr. T’s Q&A subcategory back on the 19th, but it doesn’t exist there now for some reason. I don’t think an ad/mod moved it here; it doesn’t show up on the logs that way. But neither does it show being deleted by anyone. Unsure what happened there… :confused:

I wonder. Then will aborted babies be unable to make “a free decision to be fully human” for all eternity?

How, then, will they ever enter the kingdom of God, for we read:

"Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” " (Jn.3:3)

“Flesh is born of flesh, but spirit is born of the Spirit.” (Jn.3:6)

“The Saviour also exerts His might because it is His work to save; which accordingly He also did by drawing to salvation those who became willing, by the preaching [of the gospel], to believe on Him, wherever they were. If, then, the Lord descended to Hades for no other end but to preach the Gospel, as He did descend; it was either to preach the Gospel to all or to the Hebrews only. If, accordingly, to all, then all who believe shall be saved, although they may be of the Gentiles, on making their profession there; since God’s punishments are saving and disciplinary, leading to conversion, and choosing rather the repentance them the death of a sinner; and especially since souls, although darkened by passions, when released from their bodies, are able to perceive more clearly, because of their being no longer obstructed by the paltry flesh.[3]”

[3] Clement, Stromata, 6.6.46. … e-to-hope/