Joe: Why I'm not a Universalist-5 initial reasons against UR


My friend Joe Towns & I have decided to discuss UR, both here and on his blog: … itial.html

(Joe is a busy father of three young children so may not have the time to respond to everyone’s comments)

[Admin note: this is apparently a continuation of the conversation between Joe and Alex being reported here on the forum [url=]now ported over to its own thread “Universalism: Whether To Draw The Line”. (It was originally found in a different thread, and sort-of took it over, so Alex migrated it into its own thread for better topical cohesion.)]

The rest of this post is from Joe Towns:

I’m about to read The Evangelical Universalist. A dear brother and friend gave me a copy this morning, asking me to consider it carefully and prayerfully, for both his sake and us all. Before doing this, I though it would be good to give a ‘calibration’ zero point for future reference: this is where I’m starting from before I begin reading. That way when I post reflections throughout and a proper review after, we can refer back to this.

Before I being let me stress, as I’ve commented elsewhere, that I realise this is a very serious subject, sensitive to many as it should be to all, involving deep complexities for some. It comes with my sincere prayerfulness and genuine heartfelt sorrow over the fate of the wicked, but even more so a passion for the truth and God’s glory and holiness to be seen in all his judgments.

I have no formal theological training. I’m just a Christian and a prolific reader of the Bible and have been so for many years.

With this in mind, here are 5 reasons why I am not a Universalist; these are my initial reasons against Universalism and the things this book at the very least needs to correct me on if it is going to make any proper case for Universalism:
]The Bible really does teach ‘eternal’ punishment/:m]
]The Bible really does teach ‘eternal’ sin/:m]
]Jesus taught a hell of ‘permanency’ and ‘finality’/:m]
]There is no textual evidence of any ‘reversal’ of the last judgment/:m]
]Universalism cannot be justified from the texts that Universalists take support from/:m]
What follows is a brief (and rushed, ‘last minute’) description of each argument, as I’m about to go away for 4 days to spend time with family and read, pray, read, pray

1. ‘Aionion’ (eternal) punishment

Re: ‘Aionion’ (eternal) punishment and Mt 18:8; 25:41, 46; 2 Thes 1:9

‘Aion’ means ‘old age’ and is used of the never ending ‘age to come’. This lead to the derivative adjective: ‘aionion’ - which means “eternal” or “everlasting”. The certainty of this adjective meaning ‘endless duration’ is unquestionable because of the following:

1). These words are used to describe God. This same adjective denotes God as “eternal” king (1 Tim 1:17), “eternal” God (Rom 16:26), God “forever” (Rom 11:36), and God blessed “forever” (2 Cor 11:31). If this adjective is fit for describing God it cannot possibly have the meaning of “limited duration”.

2).The same adjective is used for both eternal punishment and eternal life (Mt 25:46). Neither can be more limited than the other. If the state of the reward of the righteous in Mt 25:46 is an endless duration so must it be describing the duration of punishment of the wicked.

2. Eternal sin

Re: Eternal sin and Mark 3:29; Matt 12:22-32; Heb 6:4-6 & 1 Jn 5:16

The unforgivable sin in Mark 3:29 is explained by Jesus thus: “he is guilty of an eternal sin”. The very oldest manuscripts have this translation. This is actually far worse than some translations that inadequately translate this as “in danger of eternal damnation/judgment” (The ESV and NIV are right to translate this as “guilty of an eternal sin”): This is a sin committed as an event at one point within time, for which there is no forgiveness forever beyond that point. That is the meaning of “neither in this life or in the life to come” : he has committed an ETERNAL sin.

1 John 5:16 adds to this also. In the context of praying for the sins of others, and God granting forgiveness: “there is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.” There are two examples within the NT that describe this specifically: The unforgivable sin of Mt 12:22-32 & Mk 3:29, as well as the sin of Hebrews 6:4-6 of which it is impossible to bring back to repentance. In these instances the Holy Spirit is so outraged that no further access to his forgiveness will be granted.

Therefore John tells us in 1Jn5:16 in these situations not to pray for that sin or that sinner. Why? Because it is against God’s will. God will not ever forgive that one sin once committed. It is impossible for him to bring them back to repentance because that would require a second crucifixion of Jesus.

So let me ask you, how could you believe that this person has still a possibility of salvation in hell, with the following being plain in the Bible about these people:
]Eternally sinful – since their unpardonable sin puts them in a state of permanent rejection of God’s spirit/:m]
]No one praying for them (in this life or the next)/:m]
]God never to forgive them for that one sin of the past & present so they will be eternally unforgiven for it/:m]
]God unable to bring them back to repentance (he has no second son to crucify; no second spirit to offer them) so that they are eternally unrepentant/:m]

3. Jesus intention to describe a hell of permanence and finality

The intention of Jesus’ descriptions, his metaphors and his explanations of hell, together with the gospel writers, is to communicate both ‘permanence’ and ‘finality’, and they give nothing to the contrary. Below is just a sample:

A. Jesus descriptions:

]Mk 9:43; cf Lk 3:17 “the fire does not go out”/:m]
]Mk 9:47-48 “their worm does not die & the fire not quenched”/:m]

B. Explanations:

]Mk 3:29; Mt 12:32 “he has committed an eternal sin”…”will not be forgiven neither in this life nor the life to come”/:m]
]John 3:36, “whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him”/:m]

C. Jesus’ metaphors

]Mt 25:10 the “door is shut”/:m]
]Mt 8:12, Lk 13:28 they are “thrown out” and “thrown outside”/:m]
]Lk 16:26 the chasm is impassable/:m]
More references could be given. Again, the intention of these Gospel references to hell, mostly from Jesus, is to communicate both ‘permanence’ and ‘finality’ in God’s sentence on the unrighteous, and these references also at the same time communicate neither anything to the contrary, or anything additional to temper this.

4. There is no textual evidence of any ‘reversal’ of the last judgment in the NT

I cannot find one saying that plainly speaks of an end of punishment for those condemned to hell. Can you?

If Jesus wanted to teach anything other than eternal damnation and continuous punishment, why did he not leave one saying plainly indicating so?

In the NT there is no indication whatsoever that punishment of sin ever ceases. The last judgment of the wicked is permanent.

5. Universalism cannot be justified from the textual ‘support’ that Universalists rely on

There are leagues of verses that Universalists ‘interpret’ as implying that ‘all’ (meaning every person in existence without exception) will finally be saved, But from what I understand they fall into three categories:

]God’s good ‘will’ toward all (1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9)/:m]
]The universal ‘scope’ of the cross (2 Cor 5:19; Col 1:20; Tit 2:11; Heb 2:9; 1 Jn 2:2)/:m]
]The ‘wide’ reach of the atonement (Jn 12:32; Rom 5:18; Eph 1:10)/:m]

But to interpret any of these references to use them to show that God will in the end save ‘everybody’ is clearly…

]Going beyond what the writers have actually said/:m]
]Going beyond their intention/:m]
]Ignoring the contexts of these references in which there are usually other references to either condemnation of the wicked or a final divorce of good and evil/:m]

Bibliography: New Bible Dictionary; Evangelical Dictionary of Theology; Dictionary of Biblical Theology.

Joe: Universalism - Whether to draw the line?

I’m looking forward to reading Joe’s reflections after he reads the book! In the meantime, here are just a few brief responses to his initial reasons against UR.

We are not told that the “age to come” is never-ending; this has to be assumed.

If ‘aionion’ is indeed the derivative adjective of ‘aion,’ then it can only have the inherent and fixed meaning of “eternal” if ‘aion’ has the inherent and fixed meaning of “eternity.” But since ‘aion’ is a flexible and relative word which expresses no exact duration of time, ‘aionion’ (as the adjective form of the word) cannot necessarily mean “eternal” or “everlasting.” If the age or ages to which the adjective ‘aionion’ refers are endless, then ‘aionion’ pertains to an endless duration of time. But if the age or ages to which it refers is not endless, then ‘aionion’ cannot refer to an endless duration of time. Even for Plato, the only reason ‘aionion’ carried the meaning of eternal duration is because he employed ‘aion’ to mean “eternity.” But for the NT authors (who were Jewish), ‘aion’ does not mean “eternity” but “age,” and (along with ‘aionion’) is employed as the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew ‘olam.’

  1. Like the noun from which it was derived, ‘aionion’ is a flexible, elastic word. In addition to being applied to God, it is used in the LXX numerous times in reference to things that are neither absolutely endless in duration nor extend beyond this temporal world. So it does not follow that ‘aionion’ could not be applied to God unless it always denoted endless duration. The duration expressed by the noun ‘aion’ and the adjective ‘aionion’ must be determined by the context, and the subject to which the words are applied.

  2. It may not have been Paul’s intent to express the eternal existence of God by his use of the word ‘aionion’ when describing him. Calling God the “God/king of the ages” does not limit God’s existence or kingship to the ages which he created (Heb 1:2; 11:3) anymore than calling God the “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” limits his relationship to these three patriarchs alone. Rather, it simply emphasizes his sovereignty over, and providential involvement in, the ages of redemptive history. Similarly, to say God is “blessed for the ages” doesn’t mean God wasn’t blessed before the ages began (Titus 1:2), or will cease to be blessed after the ages in view have ended. The emphasis would simply be on the ages in which God is working out his redemptive plan for the human race.

  3. The OT authors frequently explain their use of ‘olam’ (the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek ‘aion’ and ‘aionion’) when applied to God, his reign and other things by adding parallel expressions such as, “throughout all generations,” “to a thousand generations,” “many generations,” “from generation to generation,” “from age to age,” “unto children’s children,” etc. (Gen 9:12, 16; 17:7; Ex 3:15; 12:14; 27:21; 30:21; 31:16; 40:15; Lev 6:18; 10:9; 17:7; 23:21, 31; 24:3; Num 10:8; 15:15; 18:23; Deut 23:3, 6; 32:7; Josh 8:28; Psalm 33:11; 45:17; 49:11; 61:6-7; 72:17; 79:13; 85:5; 89:1-2, 4, 29, 36-37; 100:5; 102:12; 103:17; 105:8; 106:31; 135:13; 145:13; 146:10; Prov 8:23; 27:24; Isa. 34:10, 17; 51:8-9; 58:12; 60:15; 61:4; Lam. 5:19-20; Dan 4:3, 34; Joel 3:20; cf. Eph 3:21). It is in reference to a world in which ages come and go, and generations of people live and die, that ‘olam’ is used. None of the above verses have any reference to a future state of existence beyond this temporal world, nor were they written to or for anyone inhabiting “eternity.”

I think my first point above applies to this objection as well. Moreover, the assumption seems to be that the “reward of the righteous” of which Christ speaks in Mt 25:46 refers to a post-mortem blessing of endless duration in the heavenly realm. But this has to be assumed. If it instead refers to an ante-mortem blessing (like the possession of Canaan, which in the LXX is also said to be ‘aionion’ - Gen 17:8; 48:4), then the objection loses its force.

Again, as the adjective form of ‘aion,’ ‘aionion’ simply means “pertaining to an age (or ages).” An ‘aionion’ sin is simply a sin with age-lasting consequences. That is, the effects of the sin extend beyond the time in which the sin was committed (this was the case for that generation of Jews who were guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, for their “house” or temple was left to them “desolate”). Compare with Heb 9:12, which speaks of an “aionion redemption.” This doesn’t mean that believers are being continuously redeemed, but rather that the effects of our past redemption continue as long as we live, in every generation.

Those who have not been forgiven by God are deserving of whatever punishment the sin of which they are guilty has made them deserving. These verses are only problematic for UR if the punishment of which their sins have made them deserving is an endless punishment. If it isn’t, then being unforgiven would not preclude future salvation after the punishment has been experienced. Moreover, there is no indication that the inspired authors even had people’s post-mortem destiny in view in the above verses.

Expressions such as this have nothing to do with endless punishment, or even a post-mortem state. Leviticus 6:12-13 speaks of the fire in the altar as being one that “shall always be burning” and which “shall never go out.” No one understands this language to mean the fire would go on burning for “all eternity.” Similarly, an “unquenchable fire” is not a fire that burns absolutely without end. What we read of in Isaiah 66:24 (from which Christ’s words in Mark 9 are derived) is simply typical OT language used to describe temporal judgments upon nations (Jer 17:27; 21:10-12, 14; Isa 34:9-10; Ez 20:47-48; Amos 5:6-7). Similarly, Homer wrote about the Trojans using “unquenchable fire” against the Grecian ships (Iliad 16. 123, 194; 1. 599), and Eusebius used the same expression to describe how a Christian martyr was burned to ashes (Eccles. History 6. 41).

Luke 16:26 is a parable which borrows from the tradition of the Pharisees. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume this story is to be understood as a literal, historical account of two people’s actual, post-mortem experience. So is Lazarus going to stay at “Abraham’s side” for all eternity? And is the “rich man” is going to be in Hades for all eternity? I don’t know of any Christian who believes this. Even for those who understand this parable literally, the place in which Lazarus is in comfort, and the place in which the rich man is in torment, are only temporary states rather than “permanent” or “final.” Since this is the case, it follows that the “great gulf” will no longer exist after the place in which it exists has ceased to be, and cannot therefore convey the idea of permanence or finality.

As for the other verses, Christ’s words would only be problematic for the Universalist if the post-mortem destiny of people was in view. But there is no indication that Christ was speaking of anyone’s post-mortem destiny in these verses. Consequently, these verses are no more a threat to the doctrine of UR than is Deut 3:23-27.

Assuming “hell” means “post-mortem punishment,” I cannot find one saying that plainly speaks of a beginning of this, so it’s not surprising that Scripture wouldn’t have much to say about there being an end of such a punishment!

He did! See John 12:32.

The following verses (among others) indicate that all sin and punishment will ultimately cease: John 12:32; Acts 3:21; Rom 5:12-19; 8:19-22; 11:25-36; 1 Cor 15:20-28; 42-57; Eph 1:9-10; Phil 2:9-11; 3:21; Col 1:15-20; 1Thess 4:13-18; 1 Tim 2:1-7; 4:10; Tit 2:11; Heb 2:8-9; 1John 4:14.

To interpret any of the verses that speak of people being sinful and under condemnation to use them to show that God will in the end save only ‘some’ is clearly…

  1. Going beyond what the writers have actually said
  2. Going beyond their intention
  3. Ignoring the larger contexts of these references in which there are other references to all people being saved, subjected to Christ and reconciled to God



Joe’s “5 reasons” are an unusually gracious and well-thought summary of grounds to reject universalism. They rival N.T. Wright & I.H. Marshall’s classic lists! We rarely get this quality from people with many degrees. I appreciate it.
Here (without having read Aaron’s) is an initial take on what may be needed to convince one of us on the other side:

  1. contends that “Aioniois” always means ‘everlasting.’

    1. If then its’ use with God indeed = it can never mean “limited duration,” it obligates showing that that meaning works in every usage. But I know of no student of Greek who argues that. Can Joe?
    2. This works if as Joe says, Matt. 25 means to verify that either life or punishment has “endless duration.” But if it means the "quality "of both is associated with the coming age, it is not the text indicating duration.
  2. Texts on “unforgiveable” sinners are indeed problematic, even for traditionalists who may act as if all people are potentially forgiveable. But can it be shown that God is not able to reach those whose sin can’t just be remitted? Does “unforgiveable” = unredeemable? It appears that God often purifies and restores those who have committed the unforgiveable, and have been described as cut off and hopeless. Such Scriptures deserve serious attention too.

  3. claims “Gehenna’s” descriptions mean “permanence.” But if Jesus is repeatedly quoting Jeremiah on the Biblical judgment in Hinnom Valley, then this language of fire, etc, is fulfilled in the slaughter that Jesus often predicted and which history confirms. Then it need prove nothing about a place after death, final or otherwise.

  4. Sentence 1 hangs on 3’s belief that Jesus is not warning about Gehenna Valley, but asserting a place of continuous punishment called ‘hell.’ 4 & 5 also depend on each other, since 4 concludes that everything indicates an unsaving punishment as the permanent outcome of God’s plan (which is equivalent to #5’s claim that no text really suggests all men will be justified or ultimately reconciled to God).

But since I sympatize with early church teachers who knew the N.T.'s language, and believed texts Joe cited affirmed this as clearly as it can be said (and is the coherent outcome of the whole Bible’s story), my bias is that this leaves a burden to their critics to explain a different interpretation of those texts (or else such a ‘reason’ is ony an assertion).


Hi Bob
If you have time (or anyone else for that matter) could you give examples of the texts and teachers to whom you refer?


To note Joe’s objections,

  1. Aionios also described the fire that burnt Sodom, and judgment - neither of which are/were endless, both of which were of God. To hang belief in ECT upon a word often very clearly not meant to convey “endlessness” is not wise, I think.

  2. Concerning the “eternal sin”, of course such understanding hangs upon the meaning of aionios, and the passage context. A full discussion of those couple of passages is well beyond the scope of this one post. There are a couple of threads on that already. To me, it seems that if there was a one-time-act that us unforgivable that it would be clearly and repeatedly specified, but of course it’s neither clear and is a rare occurance - “if” translated as such.

  3. Jesus actually primarily warned of Gehenna, Jerusalem’s trash dump that had a continuous fire and no shortage of maggots (maggots did not die, they transformed). As a metaphor it spoke dually of a life of sin resulting in a trashed life and potentially in some form of punishment of sin in the world/life to come, the spiritual realm of God. And of course, the parable of Lazarus is a parable meant to counter teachings of the Pharisees concerning wealth, and not meant to teach concerning either the need for one to be poverty stricken in order to enter Abraham’s bosom or an endless tormented state of being.

  4. Concerning evidence that some experience repentance in the afterlife, Job was in Sheol in the affliction of his soul, repented and God raised him to life. In 1 Cor. 15, Paul mentions affirmatively “baptism for the dead”. And of course Peter speaks of Jesus preaching the gospel to the “spirits in prison” even the most ungodly generation of all time - those who rejected the salvation of God during the time of Noah. Scripture’s primary thrust is the immediacy of the kingdom of God, living in the kingdom of God today, but it does not affirm that we shall not continue to learn and grow in the kingdom to come. It’s also significant to note that there is evidence that the Pharisees thought of Gehenna in Purgatorial terms, and the Jewish tradition of mourning the dead for 11 months underscores this, the belief that when people die the undergo some form of remedial chastizement before the ascend to Ga Eden.

  5. Concerning the many scriptures that affirm the salvation of all humanity, he’s welcome to try and explain them away, but for most people, all means all. I especially appreciate Rom.5.18 in context. There are far more scriptures that allude to the salvation of all than there are that can even remotely be interpreted to convey the concept of endless torment for anyone. Why is it that so many people hang so much faith on a few scriptures that some interpret to speak of endless torment for “others”, when there are so many scriptures that picture Jesus triumphant over all nations, all peoples, liberating all of humanity from the curse of sin and death which we were born into! We had no “choice” to be born into sin and death, why would we think then that God would rest our salvation upon our ability to “choose” righteousness and life!

Well, bro, I hope for the best in your discussions with the leaders in your church, but from experience I’ve found that it’s difficult to teach an old dog new tricks. It’s very challenging to re-think something so as deeply indoctrinated as the concept of the certainty of damnation for some, if not most of humanity. In fact, I’ve found that some people are more certain of damnation than they are of salvation. Grace is a very challenging concept for those who have always lived under to constant threat of damnation.

Several years ago, long before I came to have faith that Jesus is the savior of all humanity, I was on the phone praying with a person that called in to the ministry I work with. The man was upset and GDing this, and GDing that. I couldn’t get a word in otherwise. All of a sudden the Spirit of prophecy filled me and I loudly interupted him saying,
“Sir! Sir! Sir!” (he paused his ranting) “God is not in the Damning buisness! He’s in the Saving buisness and He’ll save your soul today, if you repent!”
He hung up, but I never forgot what I spoke. Jesus did not come to condemn the lost, but to save us! The Gospel truly is Good News. “Joy to the World” is not just a momentary smile, but is an eternal promise! What an awesome time of year to celebrate the Love of God for all of us!


I hope to add some things to this thread myself; but first I’m trying to finish a reply to James Fowler’s paper.

(Just thought I should explain why I haven’t commented in this thread yet. :slight_smile: )


That’s totally fine Jason, I’m glad you’re working on a reply to Jame’s Fowler. I’m happily talking on the blog to Joe, Luke & my minister (Bernie) :sunglasses:


Alex, minor technical correction here–I don’t know if it matters much–but I think you mean aion, not aionion, right? Aion would be the noun corresponding to “age.” Aionios is the adjective meaning “age-like” or “age-ish”. Eonian/aeonian would probably be the most correct English translation, but the word isn’t much in use.



If aion and its variations has been translated “eternal” for so long, one might ask “what was it about this word that made it seem like “eternal” was a good translation”? One doesn’t see a word meaning “10 years” and then translate it as “forever” unless they have a good basis. What is it about the word that leads some to translate it as “eternal”?


Hi Roof,
It’s because eternal comes from the same roots–having to do with an age.

From Online Etymology Dictionary:

eternal (adj.)
late 14c., from O.Fr. eternel or directly from L.L. aeternalis, from L. aeternus “of an age, lasting, enduring, permanent, endless,” contraction of aeviternus “of great age,” from aevum “age” (see eon). Related: Eternally.


Word History

      Date of Origin 14th c.
  Something that is eternal lasts literally for ‘aeons’. The word comes via Old French eternal from aeternālis, a late Latin development of the Latin adjective aeternus ‘eternal’. This in turn was a derivative of aevum ‘age’ (which crops up in English medieval, primeval, etc), a relative of Greek aiṓn ‘age’ (from which English gets aeon) and archaic English aye ‘ever’.
  See also aeon, aye, ever

It’s the usage of “eternal” that has changed over time so that it has come to be equivalent to “infinite”–which literally means “without end”.



I was trying to prove I wasn’t a Greek expert :wink:
But seriously, yeah that’s annoying, I should’ve remembered that Luke corrected me about that when I originally posted that paragraph. :blush: I’ll have to post a correction. I’m fairly sure I’ve come across a Aionios passage that doesn’t make sense as “everlasting”, does anyone remember where that is?


Thanks that’s very helpful :slight_smile:


There’s a couple:

In Romans 16:25 we find the phrase χρόνοις αἰωνίοις, literally: “to (or for) eonian times”, but which is rendered “since the world began” in the KJV:
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began”

But the some of the newer versions try to translate it more faithfully. For example:
“…the mystery that was kept secret for long ages” (ESV)
“…the mystery hidden for long ages past” (NIV and NASB)

In 2 Timothy 1:9 we find the phrase πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, literally: “before eonian times”, but rendered “before the world began” by the KJV:
“Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began”

The newer versions do a little better–to be consistent they should say “before eternal times”–but that wouldn’t make sense, so here’s what they do:
“before the ages began” (ESV–and includes a footnote that the Greek is “before times eternal”)
“before the beginning of time” (NIV)
“from all eternity” (NASB)

We see that exact phrase again in Titus 1:2
“…In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (before eonian times)

The use of eternal (understood in it’s modern sense of “unending”) is also questionable in Jude 7:
“Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

As many others have pointed out, the fire has long since ceased to burn those cities, and indeed the OT prophesies (Eze 16) indicate that Sodom and her sisters–along with Israel–will be restored.

That’s what I have–perhaps others have more? Hope that helps!


Excellent Sonia, 2 Timothy 1:9 was the one I was thinking of. But it’s good to keep the other ones in mind. Eze 16 is handy too.


Seems to me Alex as if your buddy Joe has an awful lot hanging on this one single peg. (ie the correct definition of “eternal”)

Another not so small problem for him it seems is the notion of an eternal sin (or unpardonable sin) in the face of Romans insistence that where sin abounds, Grace abounds all the more. Aren’t those two ideas in direct contradiction? Somethings gotta give and I’m far more likely to lean toward sin losing out than for Grace to be neutered given the overwhelming impression that the bible leaves that God’s “rescue mission” was a complete success!



I think many people get hung up on the correct definition of “eternal”. It certainly was a big issue for me 10 years ago, when I first came across UR. Hopefully a Greek expert will write a book on it or even better convince BDAG to update their definition!

I was a little surprised by the “unpardonable sin” argument. I haven’t had to look at that recently. However, I agree Grace must triumph over sin eventually, in order for there to be a TotalVictory :smiley:


Well, I’m going to try to reply to each paragraph of Joe’s post, as well as meet up with him in person :sunglasses:


Bob, to me it seems that the Universalists have an awful lot hanging on aionios as well!


I sense that both sides feel that the weight resting on aioniois is not so great because they think that the weight of wider Scripture confirms their overarching conclusion (the Bible’s story is either about avoiding the destiny of final separation, or it’s about the God committed to ultimate victorious reconciliation) which then is consistent with their definition of “eternal.”


It might seem so at first glance roofus but not really at all.

My arrival at UR was via a much different route; namely my understanding of things like the Love of God and what Grace actually means and does and of the entire bibles apparent overwhelming insistence in God’s complete Victory and of course things like taking the parables like the lost sheep far too literally! For me the “eternal” debate is almost incidental being as it is academic and “intellectual”. I see God in mostly relational terms though I do believe that eventually the academics and intellect come to line up with the relational…

I will say however that I did kick and scream for several years against the conviction of UR…