The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Objections to Univeralism

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:

That’s a good question, and it hinges on what we mean by “a majority of EO folks”. Which do we mean here:

A. academic Orthodoxy, as typified by the Orthodox books published by St. Vladimir’s Seminary, etc.
B. internet Orthodoxy
C. man-in-the-pew (except we don’t have pews :slight_smile: ) Orthodox
D. something else

How about this? How about I mention the things that I’ve seen a lot (but not necessarily the majority) of Orthodox believe, but which I do not believe? Here goes:

  1. The aerial toll-houses/booths. I think this is mostly an internet phenomenon. I would bet my eyeteeth that the majority of “C” above has never even heard of the toll-booths. I’ve never seen it mentioned in “A” either. I regard it as a blasphemous heresy concocted by a Manichean-influenced woman roughly 1,000 years ago who was probably clinically mentally ill.

  2. A lot of people in my parish believe in young-earth creationism. (At least 75% of my fellow parishioners are former Protestants.) This is embarrassing and unbiblical nonsense. Even when I first started reading the Bible at age 10 I knew better.

  3. The 25% or so of my fellow parishioners who are “cradle Orthodox” tend to conflate some aspects of Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. They do not, for example, distinguish between a holy icon and a religious image. They think any painting whatsoever of Christ, angel, or saint is an “icon”. They often use Roman Catholic terminology (“mass” instead of “divine liturgy”, “sacrament” instead of “mystery”, “Lent” instead of “the Great Fast”, “Easter” instead of “Pascha”, “Christmas” instead of “the Nativity”, etc.). All this is repugnant to me. (If I had to choose, I would probably choose Lutheranism over Roman Catholicism.) The historical origin of this is that our parish in the 1800s was a Uniate church. In something like 1903 the parish was received into the Orthodox Church by St. Tikhon of Moscow himself. (We have a heart-piercing icon of him cradling our church in his left arm.) Thus these old cradle Orthodox have inherited some left-over Latinisms.

  4. A lot of Orthodox seem to have a little stack of saints they pray to for specific things: “Oh, I pray to St. A when I’m sick. I pray to St. B when I have lost something. I pray to St. C when things get really bad. I pray to St. D for money.” Etc. I do not do that. I pray to the Theotokos and all the saints during the appointed moments of the divine liturgy, because every liturgy is a participation in the ceaseless celestial liturgy in which all the saints take part. But I do not turn them into a little pantheon with individualized, specialized portfolios.

  5. Books by Seraphim Rose. A lot of people in my parish (typically the converts), including the priest (who also is a convert), say they like these books. I can’t stand them. If his books represented Orthodoxy, I would most certainly not be Orthodox. He strikes me as an Orthodox-flavored Young-Earth Creationist/pin-the-tail-on-the-Antichrist type.

I regard myself (spiritually speaking) as an 11th-century inhabitant of Constantinople, the New Rome. I regard my beliefs as those of the Orthodox Church through the ages. Anything that I do not believe that lots of other Orthodox believe I recognize as a parochial, alien growth on the outside of the Church. A barnacle on the Holy Ark, if you will. I am in the middle of the mainstream. Just look at how lurid and ridiculous that other stuff is:

“Watch out! The Antichrist is coming!”
“Look out! The toll-house demons are gonna getcha!”
“Wow! Adam and Eve had dinosaurs for pets!”
“UFOs are demons! It’s the last times!”
“St. _____, please help me find my thimble.”


True Orthodoxy is golden, light, clear, pellucid, pure, pristine. It has nothing about it of nonsense, superstition, ignorance, or obscurantism.

Holy Fool, have you read the 1937 magnum opus of Harvard’s professor of divinity, Georges Florovsky (1893-1979), Ways of Russian Theology?

This two-volume work is heavy reading. He assumes a lot of historical knowledge on the part of his reader (though the English translator supplies hundreds of thorough endnotes as an aid). Basically he shows that Russian Orthodox theology was healthy and thoroughly Orthodox before the fall of Constantinople in A. D. 1453, for the Russians (and other Slavs) stood as pupils in relation to the Byzantines. Virtually overnight with the fall of Constantinople, however, the Slavs (led by Russia) started to move in “new and improved” directions. What this meant 99% of the time was copying from western thought–whether Roman Catholic, Protestant, or non-Christian. The Russians had an unfortunate predilection to be romantically swept away by every wind of false doctrine, incongruously attaching it to the Church and declaring it “Orthodoxy”.

If you haven’t studied Ways of Russian Theology, it’s hard to get across how thoroughly westernized Orthodox believers became. Some were virtual Roman Catholics. Some were virtual Protestants. Some were weird, theosophist-like cultists. The one thing these victims of the Hydra of heresy seemed to agree on was that the Byzantines were a bunch of dead losers and has-beens.

Guess where the Orthodox got their texts of the Church Fathers? From Latin printers in Rome. Guess where the Orthodox got their Bibles? From Protestants printers in Germany. Etc. So even when the Orthodox read actual Orthodox sources, they were reading them after being filtered through a western lens. The Orthodox ceased thinking in their own categories of thought and ceased using their own vocabulary, instead adopting those of the Roman Catholics and Protestants.

Of course, when Orthodox sailed to the Americas, they brought with them the only Orthodoxy they knew: That which suffered under a “western captivity” (to use Florovsky’s expression), which had been pseudomorphosized (again using Florovsky’s term). Is it any wonder that all too often in Orthodox books, websites, parishes, etc. one runs into half-baked western ideas with an eastern veneer, preposterously called “Orthodoxy”?

Fr. Florovsky said the Church needed to pass through the strictest school of Byzantium in order to purge itself of the foreign viruses that had invaded the body of the Church. That still remains to be done.

“What about the Greek Orthodox Church?” one may ask. Alas, they were ghettoized for centuries under the Turks. When Greece gained its independence from the Turks in the 19th century, the Greeks didn’t even intend to re-establish Byzantium. They instead looked to the classical age of pagan Greece. Modern Greece owes more to the Parthenon than to Hagia Sophia. Alas, and a thousand times alas. When the Greeks came to the Americas, it seems that all too often they tried to outdo each other on who could be most westernized/Americanized. Thus many Greek churches in America have pews, organs, and western paintings instead of icons. (I kid you not: The Greek church where I live has a reproduction of Raphael’s “Transfiguration”. Unbelievable.)

Is it any wonder, then, that contemporary Orthodox embarrass themselves by teaching never-ending Hell (and other nonsense) as “Orthodox”? They get their ideas from a poisoned well, thinking that all that Latin/Protestant/non-Christian stuff is “Orthodox” simply because many Orthodox have bought into it for the past few centuries. In other words, their “ancient” ideas are modern.

This illustrates why I limit myself to the liturgy and liturgical texts. They were written 100% by the Byzantines before Constantinople’s fall (and mostly around 1,000 years ago). They are pure and uninfected. Of course, one has to be careful of translations. The Hell-people will try to wedge their confusions everywhere. Fortunately, even the translations of the liturgy have very little of that falsehood in them, and the original Greek texts have none whatsoever. I will drink only from the pure well. I won’t drink the donkey piss (a good old KJV word: Isaiah 36:12).

Epigones try to cast doubt on Florovsky’s thesis, but this is a tendentious attempt to justify their pick-and-choose, cafeteria-style Orthodoxy.

Jason :slight_smile:, I am not Gary, My name is John and I have been a moderator at the Tentmaker forum for about 5 years.

No I haven’t. Since you like it, I’ll put it on my to do list, Geoffrey. I once met a Russian Orthodox priest. He said he like the Russian Orthodox flavor the best, because it is the most mystical. He might be right - I don’t really know. :slight_smile:

Yes, Hebrew, no Greek, oops, my bad, again…
anyway, the New Testament writers will familiar with Greek old testament translations of the Old Testament, but at the end of the day, they are exactly that, translations, just like the King James Bible is a translation. I know this response me seem like an extreme considering the knowledge of the New Testament writers, but it’s my anxiety.

I don’t know what else to say regarding ‘aiōn’ and ‘aiōnios’, but I forgot to mention earlier when I was exploring this (probably about 6 months ago, maybe more), I was convinced that ‘aiōnios’ meant age, but then I discovered that ‘aiōnios’ was only ever used describing things that can be eternal, granted they may not necessarily be, but these things had the possibility of being eternal, whereas ‘aiōn’ was always used for temporal things, it was a real kick in the guts.

People doubt that Paul wrote Ephesians and Colossians? that’s something I haven’t heard before, I have heard claims that Paul was a false apostle though, anyway I find it interesting you cited 1 Corinthians as a book believed to be legitimately written by paul because it did not contain universal salvation themes, I find it interesting because:

1 CORINTHIANS 15:22-28:
-22: For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
-23: But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
-24: Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
-25: For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
-26: The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
-27: For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
-28: And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

I know that these verses are commonly cited by universalists, however, when Christ his enemies under his feet, does this mean they are saved, or annihilated? because verse 26 talks about the destruction of enemy, granted, it’s an entity (death) and not a being, but the question is work asking.

When I was first coming to annihilationism (about this time last year), I listened to Rethinking Hell and even visited their forums [], as you can see, things didn’t get as long-winded as they did here. Although it’s disputable that they are Calvinist, I heard one person on their say something along the lines of ‘some people here at Rethinking Hell are reformed’, and I haven’t really been back to their videos much since,
there is not a doctrine out there worse than Calvinism in my opinion (which is ironic that Calvinism is just a stones throw away from Universalism, yet a world apart), whether the punishment is ECT, annihilation, or restoration, punishing someone for things they were predestined to do is just plain wrong, granted not all Calvinists are that extreme, but even the less extreme ones teach limited atonement, which if true, would make God a respecter of persons, something the Bible says he is not (Acts 10:34-35, Romans 2:11-12).

I was quoting Revelation 21:8 in reference to those who didn’t take the mark of the beast and Revelation 14:11 for those who did, contrasting the two different punishments for the two, for those who took the mark of the beast, the punishment involved “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever” was the punishement for those who didn’t but still didn’t repent of their sins and believe in Jesus was the second death.
The thing about the ‘kings of the earth’ is interesting, but the million dollar question is, are they the same ‘kings of the earth’?

Anyway, another odd point and I can almost guarantee that you have never heard this objection to Universalism before, (hopefully it makes you chuckle, you deserve it for your patience with me), anyway, this objection is, what is in the centre of the earth? tradition says hell is there and science says it gets hotter as you go down. When it comes to this, it makes me hope the flat-earthers are right, but there is one thing they can’t explain.

As for ultra-universalism, that IS heresy, the Bible makes it clear that:

-27: And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

It’s worth mentioning that there is an intermediate state (sheol/hades) between death and the judgement, can one repent in this state? it’s been debated, I don’t know, I lean towards it being an unconscious state, which would make repentance impossible. The only things that seem to suggest that it’s not an unconscious state is:

-8: We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

-23: For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

I’m sad that my hunch was right about Gary Amirault being an ultra-universalist seems to be right.

God Bless
Christ Be With You All


I do not see how that verse says anything whatsoever against ultra-universalism. When a man dies, he is instantly judged by Christ. The Greek word translated “judgment” here is “krisis”. The first definition of krisis in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon is “a separating, sundering, separation; a trial, contest”. When Christ judges a man immediately following that man’s death, Christ separates and sunders the soul from its sin, thereby making the soul into His own perfect image.

I dont see any scriptural evidence for Jesus sundering the soul from sin immediately after death. Maybe you could present some.

Just as there is not a verse that says, “After a man dies, it takes Christ a while to purge his soul from sin”, so there is not a verse that says, “After a man dies, Christ instantly purges his soul from sin.”

I take it as a given that pretty much no one on this planet is ever 100% sinless before he dies. Given that, pretty much everyone after death needs purification. Therefore, we have two options:

  1. Christ, the creator of the universe, instantly purifies the souls of the departed, or

  2. some sort of Purgatory.

I find it more to the glory of God to believe in the omnipotence of the enthroned Christ rather than to believe in Purgatory. I think it comes down to how efficient we think the Second Person of the Holy Trinity is. The less time He needs to purify a soul, the more efficient He is. I think He is not inefficient nor somewhat efficient nor even very efficient. I believe He is efficient as only God can be efficient, and as such His glory is such as to require only the merest instant to do its job of purification.