The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Objections to Univeralism

Iscariot is also among the all things given by the Father to the Son to have authority over, so that the Son may authoritatively be giving eonian life (which is explicitly salvational) to everything that has been given to Him, and the Son will lose none of the all which has been given to Him. By those explicit terms (from GosJohn 17:1-2), the only way that the Son and the Father may glorify each other is if the Father gives all authority to the Son so that the Son may give eonian life to everything over which He has authority. That’s the context in which Jesus says (a few verses later) He isn’t praying for the world but for His immediate disciples: He’s asking that they should be preserved as witnesses to the world – about this promise even! – but it’s still the same principle because everything the Father gives the Son belongs to both Persons and must not be finally lost: God would be dishonoring God if that happened. (This is especially a main point against a Calv reading, since that isn’t even only failure of God to honor God; they’re talking about an intentional choice by God to ultimately dishonor God as though that somehow honors God!)

This means that although the “son of perdition” given to the Son to be guarded will perish, so that the Scripture may be fulfilled, he still was also given to the Son for the Son to have authority over, and so shall not be finally lost. Judas isn’t among those whom Christ is praying will stay true for evangelizing the world, but he is among all those over whom the Son has been given authority for the purpose of giving them eonian life.

Aside from that, the Synoptic saying from earlier in the Lord’s Supper scene is elsewhere in the Bible (two or three times in the OT) used as a cry for pity and salvation on the one who would have been better off not born. So even though I agree (including on the Greek linguistics) that Jesus is talking about Iscariot, that doesn’t mean Jesus is talking about some kind of finally hopeless punishment or fate.

George MacDonald has some things to say about Iscariot, too, along that line. You should get his three volumes of Unspoken Sermons plus The Hope of the Gospel (which in all regards is essentially volume 4). They’re available for free in various places, or in good print editions.

I think it is about post-mortem punishment in the unquenchable fire of Gehenna, the fire the eonian, but it’s really necessary to interpret it in line with how Jesus and/or Luke connects it (in several ways) to the main Gehenna warnings reported in GosMatt 18 and GosMark 9.

And that’s a huge discussion of its own first (and also a major section of evidence supposedly in favor of hopeless punishment or fate for some sinners). Anyway, I don’t discuss Dives and Lazarus outside that context.

(You can watch a discussion on it on Episode 1.4, STT.)

Edited to add: of course if someone thinks the main Gehenna warnings are not about post-mortem punishment, then the same would follow for the Rich Man and Lazarus – its interpretation depends on the connections to the main Gehenna block either way. :slight_smile:

I think its important to realize that Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees. John the Baptist, when speaking of Jesus, had used the term “unquenchable fire” or “where the fire is not quenched” regarding the “threshing floor”

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Each seed of wheat has chaff around the seed. Wheat gathered in the harvest to be used for baking is beaten on the threshing floor to separate the chaff off the grain, and only the grain is “gathered”. The treshing floor represents a few things I think. Life, for one thing.

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” 1 Pet 4:12

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, or lose heart when He rebukes you. 6For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastises everyone He receives as a son.” Heb 12:6

His word for another…

12For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Heb 4:12

His eyes are as flames of fire and His face shines like the sun shining in His strength. The word divides soul from spirit, bone from marrow…making manifest the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Everyman will be salted with fire, the fire divides, purges

12If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. 1Cor 3:12

The Day will bring it to light(thoughts and intentions behind deeds

I think this refers both to the actions of Jesus in preparing a temple, “For judgment must begin at the house of God with the elders at Jerusalem” (Peter somewhere)- that which is revealed by the Day of His appearing/presence/countenance- in lfe and also, IMO, “Their thoughts either excusing them or excusing them on the Day when God judges the secrets of men;s hearts by Jesus Christ”(Rom 2)

This is what Gehenna and the Lake of Fire and “the fire prepared for the devil and his angels” all represent to me… a process that has already begun(in the treshing floor of life) and will continue in aionian kolassis for those who need it in whatever measure their hardness of heart requires.

Everymans work will be revealed with fire for the Day shall reveal it.

You might be his only Christian influence so don’t cut ties with him unless he is leading you to sin.
Otherwise, stick with him to be a good influence.

Jesus stuck with the prostitutes and tax collectors.

When you say that “1 John 2 is definitely troubling, though it’s not prima facie incompatible with universalism. Regardless, I’d like to hear others’ thoughts on it. It does seem like it burdens Christians to a life of misery…”,
what verses are you referring to? 15-17 like I talk about?
Obviously when it comes down to it and you have the world or the Father, you choose the father.

What burdens me about 1 John 2:15-17 is that many, MANY Christians say that " Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." is equal to something along the lines of ‘don’t have fun, because entertainment is of the world’

Because of this I get anxious every time I hear 1 John 2:15-17, but it is part of God’s word and it must be dealt with as such.

@Jason Pratt
Yes there is a contextual distinction but it’s worth mentioning.

Still, Abraham offered up his son, I can’t imagine myself having a son and be willing to sacrifice him, that this is coming from someone who is not a father, I imagine it would be even more difficult for a father.
Even giving away money is difficult right now, I ask God to take it by force is need be, I just hope he works that way.
And I can’t see myself actively selling all of my possessions, once again, I ask God to take things away if need be, and since I haven’t seen it happen, I worry.
Of course I want to live right, live for God and sin not but I can’t see myself having the faith of the people of God in the Bible

Well a lot of the pastors and preachers I have listened to on YouTube harp on about music and quote 1 John 2:15-17 to condemn it.
The ‘easy-believism’ preachers are actually some of the worst on this, people often accuse them of teaching a licence to sin but they teach that there is other penalties for sin that don’t relate to salvation (Hebrews 12:6).
There is even a few very extreme people who say you will go to hell for listening to rock music for example.

Anyway, I hope I don’t sound like I am repeating myself, I just want to crack this once and for all but my anxiety is preventing me, my biggest concerns are:

-Early Christians believed in Eternal Conscious Torment (
-Near death experience involving in hell, a lot of the ‘visions’ can be written off because of absurdities demons being in charge of torturing people in hell, but I’m talking about actual near death experiences.
-What if I’m wrong? If I believed in annihilationism as opposed to eternal torment and I was wrong, I was still believing in a literal eternal punishment, so it wouldn’t be as much of an issue evangelicalism-wise.
-I have heard someone say that univeralism is a pagan concept, while I take things like that as a grain of salt since I have heard Calvinists say that free will is pagan, but still, it hangs over my mind.
-The large number of universalists who deny both free will and the Trinity, two very important teachings as denial of the trinity denies Jesus being God and as for free will, one can’t be justly held responsible for something they were predestined to do.
-I fear that it may be something more that I want to believe in and I will believe in it for that and not the evidence. .
-The fact that ‘aiōn’ (G165) always describes temporary things and ‘aiōnios’ (G166) always describes life and punishment (apart from one times when it is translated ‘since the world began’).
-If Eternal Torment is false, who would want to believe in it, and thus invent it? same goes for the teaching that having fun is a sin, who would want to believe that, and thus invent it?

I know you have addressed these points but they are still on my mind, sorry for repeating myself.
The transition fro Eternal Conscious Torment (ECT) to Annihilationism/Conditional Immortality (CI) had a few similar road blocks but it wasn’t as difficult because ECT and CI are both literal eternal punishments.

God Bless
Christ Be With You
Sorry for being a nuisance.

Here’s some more objections - in pictures. All in keeping with the historical Christian, Holy Fools tradition. :laughing:

I like music (although I hate music with sinful lyrics, it really annoys me if the beat is catchy but they ruin it with bad lyrics), movies (although I cringe when the Lord’s name is taken in vain in movies :/), video games, not a sports fan but I know others who are, I go to the gym, but for exercise, not for a hobby.

But it is important to keep God above all and always be willing to make sacrifices for God, don’t want to be like the rich young ruler who Jesus told to sell of their possessions (Matthew 19:16-24), which brings up even more points regarding univeralism but that is another story.

Remember there is also:

1 TIMOTHY 6:17:
-17: Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

JAMES 1:17:
-17: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Regarding 1 John 2:15-17, it’s clear context is lust and pride, however with all the abuse with that verse, I get anxious every time I hear it that it makes me wonder if there is something more.

I find it interesting you used the word ‘burden’ because:

1 JOHN 5:3:
-3: For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

I went into more detail on the subject of ‘burdensome’ in my other topic ([Is everything fun a sin? 1 John 2:15-17)), basically I find the Lord’s commandments to not be burdensome, but I do find the commandment to ‘thou shalt not have fun’ to be burdensome.

It is very important that we pray over this.

God Bless
Christ Be With You

I think that has to be decided on a case-by-case basis, depending on various factors. Many of the greatest evangelism stories I’ve heard about involve friends who convert leading other people to convert by being their friends, no matter how long it takes. (The Nazi chief of police in Rome during its occupation eventually converted because his main opponent in the Catholic Church, who didn’t even like him at first, naturally, made an effort to make friends with him in prison, the only friend he had, visiting him once a month for the rest of his life.) I have plenty of friends who aren’t believers; I pray for them all the time and try to stand as a good example, although sometimes that means not cooperating in what they’re doing. It can be heartbreaking, too, as I well know from long experience, not to do X which the world might expect as the standard of behavior because X would be badly mistreating someone else. But hey, my heart needs pulverizing, too. I’m no better than anyone else in that regard.

If you find that your friend’s culture is leading you into sin, and you can’t drink the poison harmlessly in that case (to borrow a promise from Jesus), then yep you have to cut fellowship with him to that extent even if not cut ties exactly. Jesus allows some of us to drink some poison harmlessly, though, for sake of evangelism. (Heh, sometimes literally so! – some of those Appalachian snake handlers are Baptist universalists!)

There are also some intriguing things said in the OT (cited or alluded to in the NT) along the line of God giving us who are faithful our unbelieving loved ones as gifts in the Day of the Lord to come. That would include our friends, opening up the interesting evangelical strategy of making as many true friends as possible so that we may lead them into the New Jerusalem on the Day of the Lord to come. If the former pagan kings of the earth, the worst human rebels against God, can convert and lead their people in, how much moreso should we who are faithful be given our loved ones to lead in thanks to our friendship and love!

George MacDonald would say (paraphrasing), you should wait until God actually asks such things of you before you worry about them. What God is asking from you (not them) now is concern enough for the day. Don’t worry about trying to live up to their faith, but focus on walking according to what light you can see, looking for more light thereby. We have enough challenges already in asking God, “What would You have me to do?” – we can only grow in our faithfulness to God by doing those things which God puts within climbing reach of our hands. Often, that might just involve reaching down from wherever we are to lift up someone else from where they are to somewhere higher than ourselves. :slight_smile:

Fine. However many that is, very many more don’t. But the relative numbers either way don’t really matter (the minority could be more right after all). Pray to God for discernment in your own discipline, what to keep, what to put aside, and how best to use whatever you may keep.

Some did, other big names didn’t. I haven’t looked at that list, but from experience with previous lists I’d bet a Coke they’re citing at least some prooftexts from some authors which are translating “eonian” as “eternal” against the actual context of their work.

NDEs have a tendency to cancel each other out when it comes to soteriology (among other things!) I don’t appeal to NDEs which seem to point to universal salvation; I don’t worry about NDEs which seem to point to an inescapably final hell which the dead people then escaped from. :wink: If people actually die and go to an experience like that, then come back from it (like Jonah) repentant and with a huge life chance (unlike Jonah! :wink: ), then I’d have to conclude it’s a bad interpretation to expect that experience to count toward ECT (much less anni).

I still warn people they could easily be in trouble into eons of the eons for as long as they insist on holding to whatever the truth is exposing as injustice. C. S. Lewis went so far as to argue that such remedial punishment would be more brutal and inhuman in principle than hopelessly final punishment! :open_mouth: :unamused: That’s silly (and he was talking about human versions of it to be fair), but my point is that if someone thinks they can safely get away with murder or even the smallest sins, they didn’t get that from me. Learn to do good now; don’t wait until matters come down to judgment by the consuming fire.

Those people are ignorant: classical pagans did not have such ideas, and who cares what neo-pagans today think. What matters is whether some idea of universal salvation (not every such idea) is truly and faithfully Christian, not whether pagans may have similar ideas to Christians in this or that way (which actually helps in evangelism as a preparation!) That would be like complaining that most pagans have a hidden and respected monotheism behind their traditional paganism, therefore the idea of one and only one God Most High creator of everything not Himself must be pagan and so we should reject it as Christians. THOSE DAMNED PERSIANNNSSS!!! (The early ones, not the later dualistic ones.)

That’s their mistake (you and I would agree). It doesn’t have to be yours. There’s nothing intrinsically about universalism antithetical to trinitarian Christian theism; people come to think they’ve been sold a finally hopeless hell on poor and cheating grounds, and then having lost trust look around to see where else they may have been rooked and decide (maybe also because their preachers linked belief in the Trinity with escaping hell) that they were given poor and cheating grounds to believe the Trinity, too. Theoretically speaking, either or both of those cases could be possible, with both doctrines being nevertheless true! (I should also point out that modalists deny the Trinity but still agree that Jesus is the one and only God Most High. What they deny is that the Father and the Son are distinct persons. We’ve had a few modalists around here occasionally; I seem to recall LLC currently is one.) But anyway, it’s just a case of people looking for suspicion where they think they’ve found reason to be suspicious in other matters, and thinking they’ve found more reason to reject what was being thrust on them previously. That doesn’t mean there’s a logical connection between rejecting the two ideas.

Free will is a bit more problematic, because there are versions of Christian universalism which deny free will to almost any degree. But you don’t have to. Dr. Ramelli argues in depth that, up until around the time of the schism between the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox, most of the key trinitarian and proto-trinitarian teachers were both Christian universalists and also strong advocates of human free will over-against the determinism of Greco-Roman philosophies including in Gnostic groups.

Anyway, if you think free will and the Trinity are true, and you see some point trying to argue incorrectly against them, then don’t accept that point. Easy. I typically find non-universalistic soteriologies implicitly or even explicitly denying some important doctrine of trinitarian Christian theism in order to be non-universalistic! That was a key factor in my own big turning point: rejecting the non-trinitarian lapses required me to accept what added up to Christian universalism.

Okay, good self-critical warning. So be self-critical in evaluation. Everyone should do that anyway, take advantage of the concern. :slight_smile:

Neither of those ‘facts’ are true, although you’ll actually have to study the matter for yourself in detail to realize it I guess. The fact that those two facts are demonstrably false, doesn’t in itself necessarily mean some kind of Christian universalism is true, either; but the situation is a lot more complicated than wherever you’re getting those ideas would have you believe.

There are people with morbid attitudes who don’t want other people having fun either; they would invent such an idea gladly. There are also people who would invent it to get power over other people while they themselves indulge in fun secretly – cult leaders throughout history have been, and still are, notorious for this hypocritical asceticism.

As for ECT, good God Almighty, there are plenty of people who would invent it if it wasn’t true, as a wishful hope for their enemies to be hopelessly tormented forever! – and they’d be willing, if not so much, to sacrifice some of their own loved ones to that fate if it meant their enemies definitely got it. That’s practically the default setting of human psychology throughout human history, and it manifests in other ways, too. One of the commonest complaints I get from religious non-universalists is that those-people-over-there will somehow stop being punished if universalism is true. I even see this complaint with some frequency from non-Christians! – and they aren’t even necessarily complaining about Christian universalism, but about ANY idea of certain evildoers ceasing to be punished!

Now, the demonstrably historical fact that plenty of people would gladly invent it if it wasn’t true, doesn’t even slightly mean that plenty of people (or even one person) did invent it. So I never call that in as evidence against it. But while I’m passing nearby the theory of invention, there are also (if fewer) people who would invent it as fear-fulfillment not wish-fulfillment because they have an emotionally fearful attitude of the worst being true. But I’m not going to lie, I’m the kind of person who would invent ECT because I emotionally want it to be true. I never had an emotional problem with ECT in principle at all. I happily march around even today humming doomy songs of doom and asskicking of the unrighteous. :laughing: I have to self-critically watch out for over-expecting purgative punishment simply because THOSE EVILDOERS OVER THERE HAVE GOTTA PAAAAAYYYY!

You evidently wouldn’t invent ECT – and thank God if not – but as a student of human cultural history, and in penitent examination of my own heart: I know full well, and generally why, lots of people would invent ECT whether or not ECT is true. Even if someone they loved got caught in it. Even if they got caught in it: “I’ll see you in hell” is a badass boast, but indicative of a normal and mutually destructive human attitude, too.

Excellent post, Jason. I would like to underline two points:

  1. Yes, believers in never-ending Hell do indeed tend to screw-up the dogma of the Trinity.

  2. Yes, most people I’ve ever met are horrified and outraged at the thought that other people won’t have to face Hell. (Of course, Hell is always for other people, not for me.) I’m a universalist, I raise my daughter to be universalist, and I’ve half-convinced my wife. That’s it. Everybody else (Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, you-name-it) in my life is most definitely not a universalist. Probably 99% or so of humanity would gladly make-up the idea of never-ending Hell if someone else didn’t beat them to it.

(I’m reminded of Ambrose Bierce’s definition of a universalist: “One who forgoes the advantage of a Hell for persons of another faith.” :laughing: )

With the music issue, I would link some videos but I would like to spare others the anxiety I have.

What you said about early Christians relates to the the αἰών [aiōn] and αἰώνιος [aiōnios] issue, see these links:
-G165 (aiōn): … rongs=g165
-G166 (aiōnios): … rongs=g166
Scroll down to where it says “Concordance Results Using KJV”.

I’m listening to the video on The Wondering Pilgrims video titled ‘The Wondering Pilgrims: Special Guest Gary Amirault’ as I type this and Gary Amirault is saying that even the teaching of gahenna as a place of temporary punishment as a teaching of the pharisees, so (at my current point in the video), it appears that he teaches a non post-mortem punishment form of univeralism with 100% CAN’T be true so it puts my doubts on the issue.

It’s true that the univeralists denying trinitarianism and free will doesn’t have to be my issue, but the staggering number of univeralists who deny these fundamental truths and the extreme rarity of universalists who don’t (2, literally 2) doesn’t help my anxiety issues.

Those people who want people to experience a place of eternal torment should worry about going there themselves, with that being said, how do we explain the words of David in the Psalms:

PSALM 55:15-16:
-15: Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell [Sheol]: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.
-16: As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me.

PSALM 58:6-11:
-6: Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O Lord.
-7: Let them melt away as waters which run continually: when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in pieces.
-8: As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.
-9: Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath.
-10: The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.
-11: So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.

PSALM 109:
-7: When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.
-8: Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
-9: Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
-10: Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.
-11: Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour.
-12: Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children.
-13: Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.
-14: Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the Lord; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.
-15: Let them be before the Lord continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.
-16: Because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart.

Obviously by going by the principles and morals that The Lord Jesus Christ laid out, we are not to pray prayers like this, but they are still scripture and Jesus did say “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

I few more points that worry me is:

-One of the Greek words translated as ‘Hell’ is ‘geenna’ or most commonly pronounced, Gehenna, as we know, Gehenna is the Valley of Hinnom, a place of where the dead bodies were thrown, it was a place of death, this lines up more with annihilationism, rather than universalism, or ECT for that matter.
-The fire was “prepared for the devil and his angels:”, surely they won’t be saved.

Once again, I apologize for being a nuisance, I am probably sounding like a broken record in some area but I have anxiety issues and this is a big thing. It’s worth mentioning that I have been officlaly diagaonised with anxiety issues.
God Bless
Christ Be With You

I don’t think James 4:4 is talking about befriending unbelievers, Jesus did in order to win them, HOWEVER, if you water down your message and morals to please them, that is another story.

Yep, James 4:4 is what you’re thinking of. It’s about being ‘friends’ with the world in a spiritually (maybe also physically) adulterous way so as to break our spiritual marriage communion with God. That isn’t at all the same as meaning that all friendship with non-Christians is the same as not loving God – that would be absolutely contradictve to tons of things in both the OT and NT, not least how Jesus lived and worked. James (who tends to be very Jewish in his references) is talking about the kind of adulterous ‘friendships’ Israel used to have. As always, context is hugely important (though James has a tendency to jump around topics a lot, too.) He’s talking about the kind of behavior in verses 1 through 3: desiring pleasure so much we commit murder and envy and other evil warring, due to the pleasure tearing our bodies apart in an internal war.

That is NOT the same as simply making friends with unbelievers.

(It’s also the context of what James goes on to talk about next, somewhat reffing Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, about mourning and weeping and turning joy to gloom – he’s talking about those people whose pleasures are tearing apart their own bodies and leading them to murder and fight with other people. Damn skippy they ought to be mourning in gloom for a while. Relatedly, don’t judge your brothers.)

Don’t have time this morning; will have to come back later. Quick comments.

I use BLB a lot, too – I had it open a minute ago just as a hand way to look up James 4 – but if their concordance doesn’t show the adjective form in the OT referring to a bunch of things with limited durations (often having nothing to do with life or punishment either), and doesn’t show the noun form in both the OT and the NT referring to prepositional phrases often translated in English as “eternal” and “forever” and “everlasting” and things like that, then they aren’t being good enough on their concordance. Even in the NT, though, the adjective form can be used close by in the same sentence to compare and contrast two things, both described as eonian, one of which definitely had a beginning and which is already ending in Paul’s day (or had already ended in a way), namely the times of the secret, and one of which has no beginning or end, namely God. Habbakkuk compares the limited seeming-eternity of natural hills to God’s true eternity, too. That opens up the linguistic option of things like Matt 25 referring to something that ends (the punishment) and something that doesn’t (the life).

Re the eonian fire prepared for the devil and his angels; if context indicates we shouldn’t expect the eonian fire to be hopelessly punitive for other people, then we have evidence then not to expect it to be hopelessly punitive for them either. They get salted with fire like everyone else, and the salting is the best of things which leads (once accepted in our hearts) to being at peace with one another. There are numerous scriptural verses pointing toward the eventual salvation of the devil and his angels, too – they just don’t get talked about a lot, for what I suppose are obvious reasons. :wink: (And of course they’re totally outnumbered by verses about salvation of human beings, which after all should be the main focus.)

Re Gary and Gehenna, yeah he and I don’t agree about Gehenna sometimes talking about post-mortem punishment or not. I don’t recall offhand if he thinks there’s no post-mortem punishment at all, but a number of Christian universalists do go that way. Around here we distinguish them as ultra-universalists (compared to purgatorial universalists like myself). The numbers fluctuate from season to season but roughly speaking my impression is that our board membership is about half and half.

Re Gehenna poetically pointing toward anni more than ECT or kath: one could make a case for that, but I don’t think the case can stand up to how the figures are used overall. At best any such anni case would be limited to Gehenna being a figure for what happens after the general resurrection, but that nixes the references being direct evidence for what happens – and annihilationists (or terminalists as I’ve seen them calling themselves recently, which is fine, too) have a habit of wanting to treat those references as direct evidence in and of themselves. Which they aren’t, even in the best case for anni.

Re overwhelming numbers of non-trinitarian universalists; that’s a misimpression. I expect most of the members here are trinitarian – we just don’t fly the flag all the time – and broadly speaking there are more trinitarian universalists around the world simply by virtue of there being more trinitarians overall. Two of the ancient trinitarian groups (though they’ve had falling outs with the orthodox center over how exactly the two natures of Christ are supposed to relate to each other), have a long, long history of being universalistic: the Oriental Orthodox (aka the Coptic Orthodox), and the Church of the East (aka the Nestorians). This forum was founded specifically to give trinitarian universalists a place to talk and work (kind of as a response to Gary’s Tentmaker site), though we permit non-trinitarians to talk and make their cases as they wish – we’re a technical discussion board, not a church. Only ten percent of the membership (roughly) has tagged the poll here, but trinitarians still make up almost 3/4 of respondents so far (and half of the responding members are definitely sure, not just fairly sure).

Of course we get lots of non-commenting members (lots and lots and lots), so the actual percentage could be quite different; by the nature of the internet I might not even be surprised if the total membership numbers were trinitarians in the minority, maybe not surprised if the numbers turned out to be a relatively small minority. That isn’t related directly to universalism, though, just people questing around, and realizing (with approval or not) that they have shallower roots in what they’ve been taught; plus we get members who aren’t even Christian (trinitarian or not), whether hostile to Christianity or investigating a branch for some reason.

Edited to add: I should also admit that that poll isn’t set up to ask universalists whether they’re trinitarians or not, so some of the respondents could easily be trinitarian Christian non-universalists, and that would skew the usage of the poll for evaluating Christian universalist numbers.

Re the cursing Psalms: David especially (but not exclusively in that collection) has a tendency to get harsh in his prayers and hopes for his enemies; and he also often has an amusingly hypocritical hope and expectation that even though he has been punished by God, even into a state that might as well be death, he trusts that God will know he accepts his punishment and repents, and that God will someday restore him from sheol (poetically speaking) to faithfully serve God in reconciliation again. His hope for himself is at disjunction (usually) with his insistence for annihilating the hope of other sinners. Sometimes the Psalms point toward universal salvation, though. And in any case we have to decide on what grounds we ought to read some scriptures in light of other scriptures and/or metaphysical principles. Non-universalists are in just the same boat as us there, the difference being somewhat (not always entirely) different answers to why verses should be understood one way instead of another.

Over at Tentmater there has been a continual issue of late about challenges to post-mortem aionian kolassis. As a moderator there I dont mind so much if someone believes that(ultra universalist), as long as they dont “teach” it. To me it is absolutley clear that there is post-mortem correction, and that is the position we take on the site in general.

The Old Testament examples give don’t help much because the word ‘αἰώνιος’ [aiōnios] is a Greek word and the Old Testament is written in Hebrew, I do know about the Greek Septuagint and how it says that Jonah was in the belly of the fish for aiōnios, but the actually inspired Old Testament is written in Greek and not Hebrew, so by going by inspired text alone, the Old Testament is no help here.
I know one Christian on YouTube said “’‘aiōnios’ first and foremost means ‘perpetual’, you even read it, aiōn’, I agree with you, that can mean ‘age’, right, ‘aiōnios’ first and foremost you yourself read ‘perpetual’, ‘eternal’, that’s what it means, and yet you insisted that it had to be a ‘long age’”.

What are the verses that point to the salvation of the devil and his angles?

Basically Gary saying that temporal punishment was taught my the pharisees doesn’t help with the issue because there definitely is punishment, and if temporal punishment was taught by the pharisees, what was taught be Jesus?

In a few weeks (due to one topic per week rule) I will make a poll with the following options:
-Post-mortem punishment universalist who believes in free will and the Trinity.
-Post-mortem punishment universalist who believes in the Trinity but not free will.
-Post-mortem punishment universalist who believes in free will but not the the Trinity.
-Post-mortem punishment universalist who believes in neither free or the Trinity.

Come to think about, it was even difficult to find Annihilationist preachers that believed in the Trinity, this probably didn’t feel as significant though because both ECT and Annihilationism are literal eternal hopeless punishements.

The fact that some do believe in ‘ultra-universalism’ is no help to me, that is when things do become heretical:

JOHN 14:6:
-6: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

How would ‘ultra-universalism’ harmonize with Hitler, the 9/11 hijackers, Kim Jong-il, etc.

God Bless
Christ Be With You All

Another question, how does Universalism relate to those who take the mark of the beast?

Regardless of how we are to read and interpret the Book of Revelation, they clearly get a different punishment than regular sinners:

-11: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

-8: But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

A suggestion: The word ‘Trinity’ is not univocal, so you might want to make clear which ‘flavor’ of trinity theory you intend us to be voting on. It’s just not realistic to think (I’m not saying that you think it) that ‘everyone knows what the Trinity is’ - it is MUCH more complicated than that. Here are a few suggestions from the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy:

  1. One-self Theories
    1.1 Selves, gods, and modes
    1.2 What is a mode?
    1.3 One-self Theories and “Modalism” in Theology
    1.4 Divine Life Streams
    1.5 Difficulties for One-self Theories
    1.6 The Holy Spirit as a Mode of God
  2. Three-self Theories
    2.1 Relative Identity Theories
    2.2 20th Century Theologians and “Social” Theories
    2.3 Functional Monotheism
    2.4 Trinity Monotheism
    2.5 Perichoretic Monotheism
    2.6 Group Mind Monotheism
    2.7 Material Monotheism
    2.8 Concept-relative Monotheism
    2.9 Temporal Parts Monotheism
  3. Mysterianism
    3.1 Negative Mysterianism
    3.2 Positive Mysterianism

Btw, Eaglesway, are you Gary? I’ve forgotten if so! :blush: (Your email address isn’t what I’ve gotten from Gary in recent months, so I’m supposing not, but I don’t want to treat you like you aren’t if you are. :slight_smile: )

(You meant written in Hebrew, not Greek, btw.)

Except that the NT writers were often familiar with Greek versions of the OT (not always our LXX as eventually received), and were working within the notions of the Hebrew (and Aramaic) words, so like the LXX translators that’s how they apply the Greek adjective. Which is exactly why they often use a Greek transliteration of the usual Hebrew phrase, “into the eon” (or eons, or other variations of the prepositional phrase). They tend to do that much more often than to use the adjective {aiônios} for such topics (except for eonian life).

I don’t know who that is, but the adjective can’t really mean a noun, “a long age”. It could mean “agey” (very literally translating), in the sense of “pertaining to an age” or “…to the age” – and that could still be forever if the age is the final Day of the Lord which shall never end, or it might still not be forever if it’s referring to some process to be completed in the final Day. But it could refer to the result of that completion, too.

It could also mean “divine” (by New Testament times, not in OT language, although the concept starts appearing in the usage there, too), in the sense of the noun described by the adjective coming uniquely from God, from the Eternal. There is some evidence of this in linguistic use outside the NT, and the adjectives all test out validly that way in the NT, and it even fits a Hebraism of referring to God by polite euphamism which does happen in the NT (such as Matthew’s habit of rendering “the kingdom of God” by “the kingdom of the-heavens”, which is kind of a translation of the underlying meaning of Elohim more directly into Greek than {ho theos}.) When Jesus talks in GosMatt (notably) about “the fire the eonian”, Matthew looks like he’s translating a way of talking about God Himself as the fire in a Hebraic way. This is certainly picked up elsewhere when talking about the Holy Spirit, and (for the Hebraist toward the end of his epistle) “our God the consuming fire”. This meaning would be neutral to the question of whether the divine thing from God lasts forever: it lasts as long as God sees fit for it to last.

But the adjective could also just mean “lasting” or “continuing”, which might or might not refer to something that continues forever. The secret didn’t continue forever, it was ending or had ended in Paul’s day, but God continues forever. The hills in Habbakkuk didn’t continue forever (whether described with the prepositional phrase for OLM or for AHD), but their God to Whom they will bow down does. The kolasis of those put into “the fire the eonian” doesn’t continue forever, but the life does (and I would argue so does the fire, being God Himself, perhaps especially referring to the Holy Spirit). Context, whether immediate, local, or extended, determines the extent of the meaning, just like for the original underlying prepositional phrases in Hebrew (to the horizon, to the vertical). This is probably the safest way to translate it, which I know Paidion appreciates me agreeing with. :mrgreen: :ugeek:

That’s a huge topic, worth several book chapters if not a whole small book. :wink: But to pull a semi-random example out of the hat: there’s only one class of creatures “in the heavens” who, being alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, would even need reconciliation with God, namely the rebel angels – sometimes described as the thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities, who like everything else where not only created in or through Christ but for Christ, and who like everything that needs reconciliation to God, God has been pleased to reconcile to Himself through the blood of the cross (Col 1:16-22) in order to present before Him those He reconciles as, eventually (once God works us out of being alienated and hostile toward Him) holy and blameless and beyond reproach. For if, while those rulers in the heavens were still enemies, God has reconciled them to Himself making peace with them through the death of His Son, how much more surely shall He be saving those enemies He reconciles into His life! (Rom 5:10) As with us on earth, so with them in the heavens.

In a quite related statement from Ephesians 3:7-11, Paul says one of the purposes of the church, and of himself as a saint, in cooperation with the purpose of the ages which God the creator of all things brought about in Christ Jesus our Lord, is to make known the inimitable riches of Christ and the manifold wisdom of God – which Paul treats as evangelization, leading people to seek salvation from their sin, calling them to loyalty with the one and only God Most High – not only to the Gentiles (as well as the Jews of course), but even to the rulers and authorities in the heavens! Those are the same rulers of this present darkness, the authorities and the spirituals of evil in the heavens, against whom we are also warring (Eph 6:2). Earlier in Eph 3, Paul says that this mystery in Christ was not made known previously to the sons of men (or not as strongly perhaps) as it has now (in Paul’s day) been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit – and this revealed mystery cannot be talking only or even primarily about the inheritance of the Gentiles as fellow members of the body and fellow partakers of Christ, since Paul writes elsewhere (most extensively perhaps to the Romans) that this was revealed plainly and often enough to Israel of old but due to their hardness of heart Israel wouldn’t hear it. At any rate, Paul’s rhetorical point is that if even demons are included in evangelization, then the Gentiles could not possibly be excluded (the rabbinic principle of the greater including the lesser); putting it another way, we’re even supposed to be evangelizing demons to lead them to salvation, so we shouldn’t be stinting on evangelizing the Gentiles! And earlier, in Ephesians 1, the secret will of God now revealed is that God has set all creation and all persons under the feet of Christ so that Christ shall be the head of all, and as the head of all Christ (very emphatically) fills complete the completion of the all in all: and who is included under this headship that shall complete the completion of the all in all? Every original leader {archês} and authority {exousias} and power {dunameôs} and lordship {kuriotêtos} and every name that is named not only in this age but in the age to come – the same terms Paul uses elsewhere to talk about the rebel spirits. Bringing even them under His federal headship (not merely under His feet, they’re already there and as His creations always have been) exhibits the total extent of the surpassing greatness of His power, and Paul mentions their salvation once again as a greater-includes-the-lesser reassurance: if God will be bringing even them to be loyal to Him again, then we can be utterly sure God will succeed in bringing us, too. If the scope includes even them, the scope certainly includes us; if the persistence to victory even includes them, the victorious persistence certainly includes us. Just as the Father had the strength to raise Christ out of the dead ones, so He shall have the strength to do save and complete the all in all by leading all things to submit properly to Christ together, and in Christ to submit to the Father together along with Christ (notice the conceptual parallels here to the middle of 1 Cor 15). But that explicitly includes bringing the rebel spiritual powers under the headship of the Son so that God may fully complete them, too.

This could be gone into in a lot more detail; but I’ll point out with some bitter irony here that one reason it’s popular for even conservative scholars to conclude that the Colossian and Ephesian epistles weren’t written by Paul, is due to the universal salvation themes which they think other epistles legitimately from Paul exclude. (Like Romans and 1 Corinthians, cough, cough, HACK! :mrgreen: )

The Pharisees (and their successors after the fall of the Temple) taught a lot of things; they had variant ideas about whether punishment was temporary or not, and about whether post-mortem salvation was possible or not (and if so then for who and under what conditions). My own impression is that they didn’t teach that punishment was only temporal, in this life, but maybe some of them did. They were a political party, not a religious denomination in the sense we’d think of, based on the idea of leading Israel to be faithful to Torah enough for God to reward Israel by sending the Messiah. Within that they had a lot of variance. At any rate, Jesus definitely did not disagree with everything taught by Pharisees just because Pharisees were teaching them. On the contrary, He was very evidently enough in line with the Pharisees (moreso with Hillel in some cases, moreso with Shammai in others), that He had a lot of Pharisee supporters – GosJohn even suggests up to half of them were on His side or wanted to be! Even in subsequent centuries, down into Imperial times, the school of Hillel had to parry constant suspicions that this or that teacher was secretly a Christian, apparently because it would turn out occasionally that this or that teacher secretly was or even openly converted! Epiphanius, in the late 300s, has a highly interesting story about the history of an heir of Hillel named Josephus (not the historian he hastens to point out) in the days of Constantine, son of a Palestinian patriarch, and a dissolute man who embarrassed his noble father the patriarch, who discovered upon the death of his father that the man had not only been secretly a Christian, along with some of his leading followers (who baptized him on his deathbed, according to common custom in those days), but had even kept in his treasury a Hebrew copy of GosJohn! – and one of the epistles, I forget which (maybe EpistHeb). The heir then changes his life, also converts, and when Epiphanius learned about this (he’s writing many years later of course in retrospective) he petitioned Emperor Constantine himself to empower the man with authority to… well, to oppress Palestinian Jews, to be honest, overthrowing their synagogues and such.

Anyway, the point is that we can’t just say the Pharisees taught X (especially when they really had a wide variance among themselves) and so infer that Jesus must have taught not-X instead.

That’s fine. :slight_smile: Our demographics may have changed anyway.

You should hang with the Rethinking Hell crew (that’s their FB link) from the Rethinking Hell website. They started around the same time we did, maybe slightly later, but they’ve managed to pick up VERY MUCH MORE presence for scholars. I know Chris Date there from before the site even existed, and as far as I know every teacher connected to the main site is trinitarian. They may be incredibly stupid at times about being inconsistently trinitarian :wink: – I have a recent article around here somewhere complaining about Joseph Dear trying to explain what Annis mean by justice and accidentally throwing himself completely off even supernaturalistic theism in the process – but that’s accidental, they don’t mean to be doing it. Most I think are Calv Anni, some are Arm Anni.

I know you asked that of Eaglesway, but first Christian ultra-universalists (as we tend to call them around here because it sounds cool :sunglasses: ) aren’t religious pluralists, so they affirm and don’t deny that statement from Jesus in GosJohn (whether they do so in a trinitarian way or by another Christology).

Second, ultra-u’s tend to think in terms of people being healed of psycho/physical problems which lead people to sin. Those ultra-sinners just get healed, and need more healing than lesser sinners but that’s all. Ultra-u’s tend to be fully preteristic, but they don’t have to be: they could regard the statements of post-mortem inconvenience (let us say) as descriptive of the healing process, and could even agree the healing in some cases continues (for various reasons) into the eons of the eons (although in my experience they tend to think it happens pretty quickly). They just wouldn’t regard it as punishment per se. I don’t disagree with them about the healing, nor about the instruction either (another big factor but less painfully inconvenient); I only disagree that healing and instruction will or even can solve all the problems. Anyway, they have variations about that among themselves. :slight_smile:

Actually, the Rev 21 list (and a similar one in Rev 22:15) goes pretty well beyond only those who take the mark of the beast. Same punishment, and the point at 22:15 is that they’re continuing to love their sins. But they’re also being evangelized by the Church and by the Spirit to accept Christ and to slake their thirst in the freely given water of life running out of the never-closed gates of the New Jerusalem and so obtain permission to enter and eat the fruit of “the log of life” (a reference to both the cross and the original tree of life) and be healed by its leaves (sort of a poetic reference about soothing burns). So their situation isn’t hopelessly final after all. And “the kings of the earth” definitely take the mark of the beast if anyone does, and there they are at the end of Rev 21 following the light of Christ into the New Jerusalem where no one who practices abomination and lying can enter – so they aren’t doing that anymore – and bringing their followers in with them!

Relatedly, not long after that verse in Rev 14, John foresees those who have (in Greek, rather obscured by the English usually) come out from the beast and out from his image and out from the number of his name, victoriously standing on the sea of glass and fire (using a term in Greek there for victory identical to the one Christ previously urges for sinners in one of the seven churches, to overcome their sins), praising God for His mighty saving victories, singing about how David and Isaiah prophesied that all the (previously rebel) nations would come to worship God, and singing “the song of Moses” – which I suppose to be a reference to Deut 32, where God reveals through Moses that He shall vindicate His rebel people once He has destroyed them so utterly that they are neither slave nor free (i.e. dead) after which they shall repent of their sins and be reconciled to God and to righteous people. Soooo, actually yeah at least some of those people who go into the lake of fire judgment come out of it eventually triumphant over their sins and renouncing the beast and his works despite having taken the mark. The “sea of glass and fire” actually describes the “lake/sea/basin of fire” pretty well as typified by the baptism basin in the Temple for washing meat before salting and cooking it as an aroma offering acceptable to God (then feeding the poor in saving charity to them). And while the term for torment there might not have been current in Greek anymore for testing gold refinement (or so I’ve read), the author of RevJohn is clearly steeped in OT prophecies where gold or other metal refinement is always a salvational image (even if sometimes a harshly punitive one as in Micah 3). So I think it’s reasonable to at least consider that he’s using a former technical term for that purpose again, mixing his metaphors a little to show both kinds of images point the same way. (Or maybe God was doing that and John didn’t really notice the meaning. I’m fine either way. :nerd: )

I 100% believe in the Trinity.
I 100% believe in free will.
I 100% believe in universalism.

I cannot take belief in never-ending Hell seriously for a great many reasons. One of them is that believers in it tend to think they can escape punishment for their sins. They tend to think, “Punishment for sin occurs in Hell. I am a sinner. I am not going to Hell. Therefore I will escape punishment.” That is a deep delusion. No sin, howsoever small or inconsequential, will escape full punishment. Thank God for that. The idea of people sinning with impunity is deeply offensive.

I am an ultra-universalist. I do not believe that a sinner has to wait until the afterlife to be punished. I do not think he even has to wait until tomorrow or later today to be punished. I believe that each sin immediately receives its punishment. Some will say, “That’s not true! Look at all the notorious sinners who live lives of luxury and die in their sleep of old age!” That is a worldly attitude. All the “good things” of the world are dung, poop, **** (Philippians 3:8). Yes, sinners often own plenty of poop. (After all, they devote their lives to scooping up as much as they can get.) That is hardly an argument against the fact that sinners are immediately punished for their sins. “The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9). The kingdom of God is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Anything other than the acquisition of the Holy Spirit is loss (Philippians 3:7).

Sinners, therefore, do not have “the one thing necessary” (Luke 10:42). All they have is poop. They are bereft of the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit. One sees this even in his own life: The more righteous a person is, the more joyful he is. The more wicked a person is, the more miserable he is. This is why the martyrs sang for joy even as they were led away to death.

That is the punishment of sinners: Their sin prevents them from having the one thing necessary, the only thing that isn’t poop: peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Alas, too many Christians will say, “Bah! What kind of punishment is that? If that’s all that happened for punishment, then I would sin all the time!” Alas for such “Christians” who value the Holy Spirit less than they value poop. Their words make me wonder if their Christianity is anything more than a paper-thin veneer of religiosity only accidentally acquired by living in a society that is historically Christian.

Never-ending Hell is a boys’ doctrine. It’s something out of a lurid comic book. Once one starts to seriously think about God’s righteous judgments and punishment of sin, he can no longer pay attention to the silly talk of boys.

Question for Jason: What passage(s) were you thinking of when you wrote: "[Christ] had a lot of Pharisee supporters – GosJohn even suggests up to half of them were on His side or wanted to be!"

Geoffrey. A question for you. Aside from being an ultra-universalist, is there any other Eastern Orthodox doctrine and/or belief, you might differ with other Eastern Orthodox believers on (i.e. where a majority of EO folks, are in accord with)? Just curious. :slight_smile: