The Evangelical Universalist Forum

My Third Favorite Book - Evangelical Universalist by Robin Parry

This my third favorite book by Robin Parry. It started off with 4 Views on Hell where Parry shows that God’s justice in the Bible is not only retributive but restorative and corrective as well. This is the pattern throughout scripture. We see this at the cross as well. The Bible says Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered. He was the example. The pattern is suffering death and resurrection. Judgment followed by restoration. Since He is the substitutionary punishment for our sins then He laid down the example of what hell is. Hell can’t be eternal suffering for Christ didn’t suffer forever. Hell can’t be eternal death for Christ was resurrected. The pattern is judgment followed by restoration. Just as Sodom serves as an example of what happens to the ungodly. Condemned to extinction and then restoration. Not only am I convinced that the Bible teaches it. but it releases that dread I’ve had. God’s judgments are still painful and fearsome. It’s just enough to motivate obedience. But the fear caused by an eternal hell is overkill. It paralyzed me at times. Eternal hell caused me to go crazy and lose my mind.

1 Like

In scripture, divine judgment serves various ends. It has, as the tradition rightly points out, a retributive aspect. Someone is punished because they deserve to be. It is not hard to find this instinct in Scripture. But we err if we think that retribution exhausts what Biblical justice and punishment are about. Biblical justice is about putting wrong things right. As such, while retribution may possibly be a necessary condition of justice, it cannot be a sufficient condition, because retribution cannot undo the harms done and put right the wrongs. The primary end of God’s justice, with respect to creation, is not punishment, but salvation. And punishment itself is not merely suffering inflicted as a deserved consequence for wrong deeds. Punishment also functions as a deterrent…Furthermore it is also a corrective for those being punished…And these different purposes of punishment need not be mutually exclusive. God’s punishment of Israel say, can be SIMULTANEOUSLY RETRIBUTIVE AND RESTORATIVE ~~ Robin Parry in Four Views on Hell pages 113-114

Here’s an excellent new book that I just recently purchased that gives a justification for retributive justice. Justice and love protect from abusive evil. Punishment is essentially a defense of the honor of the victim. The central purpose of punishment is to restore dignity, self-respect, and honor to the victim, by demonstrating that society does not passively acquiesce in the crime but is willing to risk even life and limb in response to it on behalf of the victim.The book is around a hundred dollars but well worth the price. Here’s the description on the back:

This book addresses the problem of justifying the institution of criminal punishment. It examines the “paradox of retribution”: the fact that we cannot seem to reject the intuition that punishment is morally required, and yet we cannot (even after two thousand years of philosophical debate) find a morally legitimate basis for inflicting harm on wrongdoers. The book comes at a time when a new “abolitionist” movement has arisen, a movement that argues that we should give up the search for justification and accept that punishment is morally unjustifiable and should be discontinued immediately. This book, however, proposes a new approach to the retributive theory of punishment, arguing that it should be understood in its traditional formulation that has been long forgotten or dismissed: that punishment is essentially a defense of the honor of the victim. Properly understood, this can give us the possibility of a legitimate moral justification for the institution of punishment.​

A couple of quotes:

We have argued that the central purpose of punishment is to restore dignity, self-respect, and honor to the victim, by demonstrating that society does not passively acquiesce in the crime but is willing to risk even life and limb in response to it on behalf of the victim. The goal of defending the honor of the victims seems to be morally unobjectionable even to critics of punishment, and it seems to be more reasonable to expect that retributive motive will always be with us - or as Sharon Krause argues, that we need to preserve the motivation to defend one’s honor, a motive on which our liberties depend. Indeed, we have argued that virtually every current theory of punishment has an underlying retributive motive. ~~ page 190

The case for the essential continuity and even identity of revenge and retributive punishment is overwhelming, The two words are dictionary synonyms and are more or less interchangeable; if the revenger demands “retribution” we would not have any doubt about what he meant (nor would we ever think that he was referring to an entirely different conceptual system of punishment). As Zaibert points out, when in the Bible God says “Vengeance is Mine,” it is clear that He means retributive punishment, not sadistic pleasure. Both the revenger and the punisher aim at “justice” ~~ page 106

From William Lane Craig in his book “Atonement”:

During the first half of the twentieth century, under the influence of social scientists, retributive theories of justice were frowned upon in favor of consequentialist theories. Fortunately, there has been, over the last half-century or so, a renaissance of theories of retributive justice, accompanied by a fading of consequentialist theories, so that we need not be distracted by the need to justify a retributive theory of justice. ~~ William Lane Craig, The Atonement pp. 68-69

For the LORD will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants. ~~ Psalms 135:14

now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? ~~ Luke 18:7

Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” ~~ Isaiah 35:4

Uprooting Anxiety And Sin With Faith

Fear and anxiety and worry are about the future. When I’m worried about the future I’m in my mind or ego. In the past this fear of being harmed or plotted against by others has caused me to drink and do drugs. Alcohol released my fears where I could communicate and talk with others but the next day I would feel more fear and shame. Shyness turned into social phobia and social phobia turned into paranoia. I have found that this fear is uprooted by having faith in God. Such a faith secures the future and gives one hope. Hope pushes the desires that lead to sin out of the heart as one relies on God like Christ did. It’s by the joy set before us. Not only does it push desires out of the heart but it brings strong desires to the heart as one is thrown into the current of love. It’s faith - hope - love. It’s faith working itself out through love. The joy of faith. In the Bible faith produces obedience. The power to love is the confidence that God will take care of my future. It’s the obedience of faith as one trusts and relies on God like Jesus did. It’s faith working itself out through love.Christ’s atoning death secures the future with his blood bought promises. Example:

God says: Vengeance is Mine I will Repay

When my faith is in God the desires for sin is pushed out of the heart. I let go and let God handle it. Rather I love the enemy just like Christ did. Another example:

God works all things together for good for those that love Him.

I place my faith in God and Christ as it gives me hope.

Dealing with shame:

If we confess our sins He will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

My faith is in God. Indeed. when facing shame that comes from the rejection, and ridicule of others I trust God when He promises to one day vindicate His children. Oh the glory that awaits those who are despised and rejected by others misplaced shaming. It’s faith working itself out through love. When my future is in the hands of an all powerful and loving God who promises to work out all my circumstances for good, anxiety is broken as the heart opens up to love. The desires that lead to sin are pushed out of my heart as God infuses me and covers me with His righteousness.