The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Objections to Univeralism

( :unamused: at non-RC purgatorial post-mortem punishment being a “Romish” superstition. Of course, that must be where all those Syrian and Alexandrian and non-Latin remedial punishment Fathers going back at least as far as the 2nd century were getting it: from Romish superstition. :laughing: :unamused: :unamused: )

If the situation is ending, then it’s referring to a temporal situation. Nor does the situation have a timeless non-beginning in the past.

Flexibility for eonian doesn’t decisively settle anything; it’s just an example illustrating that context matters. Even if three quarters or four-fifths of the adjective’s use in the NT applied demonstrably to temporary things or situations, the adjective could be still be used consistently to describe some kind of endlessly hopeless punishment in its remaining uses. In theory, it could have been used exactly one time in the NT to talk about an endless thing or situation, which could have been punishment for someone, and every other usage could have (theoretically) only referred to temporary situations or things – and that one ‘eternal’ usage could have still been perfectly valid and accurate. (I’m pointing that out to be fair.)

The term demonstrably doesn’t hold such an ironclad usage in favor of never-ending continuance in the LXX (which is just as ‘inspired’ as English translations, if not moreso); and it demonstrably doesn’t hold such an ironclad usage in Greco-Roman culture (whether Greek or its Latin derivation term avum) up through the time of Jesus; and it demonstrably doesn’t hold such an ironclad usage in at least once in the NT canon (at the end of Romans), since the usage could have theoretically hardened in Palestinian or Hellenistic Jewish culture; and it demonstrably doesn’t hold such an ironclad usage in the Patristic authors for several centuries afterward.

That leaves the door open to the linguistic possibility that Jewish-culture authors, writing in Greek in the mid-to-late 1st century, didn’t always intend it to refer to never-ending continuance elsewhere in the NT. So immediate, local, and extended context has to be the deciding factor on a case-by-case basis. It might have that temporary usage for every other NT instance except in part of one verse of Romans; or other uses might involve temporary situations or things, too.

Either “the death” (it has a direct article in Greek) refers to a state or event of death, in which case universalism must be true since ongoing death in ECT or final total death in Annihilationism wouldn’t be the same as death itself being destroyed; or it’s a Jewish euphamism for Satan. If it refers to Satan, then either Satan is an impersonal power or a personal creature. If Satan is impersonal, then Satan’s annihilation out of existence doesn’t even slightly count against universal salvation of all sinners from sin. If Satan is personal, then Satan’s destruction involves him being subdued to Christ eventually in the same way that Christ is subject to the Father, so that in their shared subjection under the leadership of Christ God will be all in all. And if the worst possible rebel is destroyed that way, then we have no reason to expect lesser rebels to be destroyed in some other way that doesn’t involve them also being put down and subjected personally to Christ and in cooperation with Christ to God the Father.

There really isn’t any coherent way to get something other than universal salvation out of that; and trying to read non-universalism into it (which could be theoretically proper with a proper rationale) ends up voiding parts of the teaching in completely antithetical ways.

Biblical tradition has sheol/hades in several kinds of places, with rebel spirits trapped in the air immaterially, trapped in large bodies of water, trapped in the cold dank ground, trapped in the roots of the earth (a combination of cold water and cold earth). There’s some volcanic imagery, too, every once in a while, although so far as any spatial imagery is used that seems to be on the surface of the earth.

Western tradition afterward (thus Christian in shape, let’s say) tended to think in terms of the center of the Earth being the coldest, deadest place in Nature. Not the hottest. Even in the shift from geocentrism to heliocentrism was ideologically a change from the center of the universe being the (almost literally) crappiest, deadest, coldest place (on the principle that crap runs downhill – I’m not even joking, that was the basic principle, heavy and corrupted things settling downward), to the center of the universe being the most important, brightest, hottest, and (in ethical typology) the ‘best’ place in Nature: obviously the Sun.

The idea of hell being a hot place in the center of the Earth, is relatively recent in Western culture. (Not sure about Chinese culture or Mayan or other cultures, but since they aren’t Judeo-Christian in character their history is irrelevant for this purpose.) It started developing sometime after Dante’s Inferno – where “inferno” meant something practically opposite to what we think of by the word. It was basically a Latin-derived term for hole, and Satan is frozen there in ice at the center of the earth.

Re God as a consuming fire: depends on what He’s consuming. A refining fire consumes impurities in the alloy, and everything that can be shaken will be shaken until only the unshakeable remains as the Hebraist says nearby. That isn’t refinement imagery (as far as I know), but it’s remedial, and this all comes at the end of a chapter that’s largely about explicitly remedial punishment. So actually, yes, the consuming fire description is connected by immediate and local context to remedial, not hopeless, punishment, of misbehaving children whom God intends to inherit.

That said, there are OT citations in the background (primarily Isaiah 33 if I recall correctly) which look more harsh in their nearby context.

It is not that God needs any time to purify a person after death (which means the resurrection as I see it). It’s the person being purified that needs the time. This purification is not brought about by God unilaterally. The purifyee must cöoperate in the process of purification. This takes time—and could take a LOT of time!

The thief on the cross is not necessarily an example of instant purification.
In the times the New Testament was written in Greek, all Greek letters were uppercase, with no spaces between words, and no periods, commas, or question marks. Thus you would have:


Now, admittedly this is not the Greek font that was used in Luke’s day, but I think you get the idea. The above is usually translated like this:

*I tell you, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” *

But the above translation is based upon the supposition that the repentant thief would be taken to paradise immediately after death. The Greek could just as well have been translated as follows. Indeed the following translation may have been what Luke meant:

*I tell you today, “You will be with me in paradise.” *

The thief may not be with Jesus in paradise even yet. The resurrection may have to occur first.
Now some ask, “Why would Jesus say, ‘I tell you today’? On what other day could He be speaking? ‘Today’ would be redundant.”
However, it may have been a figure of speech. I have sometimes heard a person say, “I’m telling you right now…” This form of speech emphasizes what is being said. That may have been the case with Jesus. He may have been emphasizing the truth that the day would come when the man would be with Him in paradise.

In case you are curious as to how the (handwritten) Greek font in those days DID appear, here are the first few letters of the quote in that font. This is a photocopy of characters that were actually scribed by a person around A.D. 150. (I lifted the the individual characters from a photocopy of another ancient document [papyrus 66] and placed them together in that order).

I think the context probably gives greater weight to the standard reading/understanding, as per…

The Greek word translated “when” or “whenever” is <ὅταν> hotan. Thus Jesus’ rejoinder to the thief’s petition… “whenever it is you come into your kingly reign…” Jesus says “***today…***” i.e., henceforth or hereafter or from now on etc. IOW… from that point forward this thief would be part of all that was to be involved with Jesus’ ascending to his throne of majesty… no doubt part of which was the dead in captivity being led captive from hades.

I think aion should be defined with strong reference to the usage of Hebrew “olam” in the OT, where olam occurs over 450 times referring to indefinite periods of time, from the duration of a servants indenture, to the far distant past, to the distant future and to the “worlds” of these distant periods whether past or present- even unto the duration of the life of “El Olam” Which could mean “God Inscrutable” as easily as it means “God of the ages” or “God Evrlasting”

It seems to me as if- and maybe this is the case, that most scholars approach the NT as if it is inherently “Greek” in both language and thought , but even if the original speakers spoke Greek- which I don’t subscribe to but whatever- the writers/speakers of the NT, including Jesus, were speaking from a Hebrew mindset. Jesus spoke straight from the law and the prophets. Paul was a “Hebrew of Hebrews” and certainly a doctor of Hebrew letters and the law. Peter was so Jewish he had to be repatedly remind that the kingdom was overflowing the boundaries of Hebraic history, culture and philosophy. I believe when Paul spoke the word(whatever it was) translated as “aion”, the concept in his mind was akin to, if not exactly, “olam”.

If the Septuagint is the translation of the Hebrew scriptures and Koine Greek finished in the 3rd century BC or so then imo it is reasonable that aion/aionios is the word that was chosen to communicate the concept of “olam”, and imo it is impossible to fully understand the ages and aionan worlds and ages and spiritual concepts without first having a thorough understanding of the Hebrew concept of “olam”.

There’a another possibility that could be brought up. Many folks in other countries, are really multi-lingo and know 2 or 3 languages. It’s quite possible for folks in New Testament times, to be conversant in Koine Greek, Aramaic and Ancient Hebrew.

It’s really not an insurmountable task. Suppose folks here (who know English), wanted to be fluent in Greek and Herbew. Accounting to the US Foreign Language Institute, it would take around 1100 hours (see per language. But far less, to engage in basic conversations.

First I would like welcome you to the group Seeking the Truth. I sense that you are a sensitive soul and my prayer is that you would find a spirit of peace and hope here as you seek Truth on your spiritual journey.
Jason and a few of our regulars have done an excellent job of answering many of your fears and objections and I would not have much more to add.
But that being said, I keep being drawn back to this thread and to many of your statements of fear and anxiety. I sense that maybe one of your problems with EU may be more an understanding of who or what is God really like. Is He the “do good get good/do bad get bad” god of the OT or is He the loving Abba of the Prodigal Son and the Shepherd that will not stop until he finds his last lost sheep that Jesus tried to reveal to us in the NT. I believe that you will not be comfortable with EU until you settle this question in your heart.
Very much the same journey that Father had to take me through in the last 10 years.I would of never have been able to understand or received the wonderful good news of Abba’s unconditional love for ALL if it weren’t for his first helping me see who He really is and what is his true character.
May I suggest that you start there. I would recommend reading Thomas Talbott’s “The Inescapable Love of God” for starters if you have not read it yet. I would also suggest the writings of George MacDonald “Unspoken Sermons”. But even more basic I would say read the “He Loves Me” by Wayne Jacobsen. He is not a Universalist, but he is not a Hell Fire and Brimstone type of guy either. He seems pretty neutral on the afterlife issues and more about living now in Father’s love.
I don’t know why but you have been heavy on my heart and in my prayers. But I really believe if you could see how loving Abba is towards you, it is not a big leap to see how love will never fail towards ALL humanity.
I don’t know if this is of any help, but I pray that you will be blessed in your search for truth and peace.
Grace and peace.

God is exactly that, the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe, if ultra-universalism were true, then the last part of that verse “especially of those who believe” would not be needed.

My problem with ‘αἰώνιος [aiōnios]’ is that I can’t find a single use of the word in Holy Spirit-inspired New Testament Greek that describes a temporal period of time, while one can make the argument that the punishment in Matthew 25:46 is temporal, there is no clear passage of scripture that indicates as such, and when the word is used to describe things like God’s glory and eternal life for the believer, it points to the word meaning eternal.
I am familar with the word’s usage in the LXX (which I think is the Greek Septuagint), however, you said it yourself, it is just as ‘inspired’ as English translations, and that’s exactly the problem, since the English translations are not inspired at all, that is how we ended up with 3 different words translated into one word - hell.

1 Corinthians 15:22-28 could be interpreted in away that all are resurrected in their appropriate resurrection,whether it be the resurrection of life, or the resurrection of damnationm (John 5:29), and then Christ reigns until all his enemies are under his feat, annihilates said enemies, AND THEN, death is destroyed and death will no longer be an issue for the saved that remain?

The salvation of all humans actually hinges on the salvation of satan because the goats in Matthew 25:41 are cast into the same fire that is prepared for the devil and his angels. In the book of Revelation we see them all in the lake of fire, although with different punishments:

Unrepentant sinners - Revelation 14:10-11 - tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night.
Those who took the mark of the beast - Revelation 21:8 - have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
The devil, beast and false prophet - Revelation 20:10 - cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

You appear to be referring to traditions I haven’t heart of, sticking with just the western tradition, tradition says hell is a hot place in the centre of the earth, and science says there is a hot place in the centre of the earth, how does a univeralist reconcile this?

Like I say, I want to believe in universalism, but I fear that I would be making God in my own image if I do because I simply don’t like the idea of God torturing people forever for listening to a catchy rock song with non-sinful lyrics.
About that faith issue I was talking about before, I currently don’t have enough to give to every homeless person I see, and taking the parable (is it a parable) of the Sheeps and the Goats at face value (Matthew 25:31-46), of course I ask God to help me, but the fact remains, I currently don’t have the faith to give to every single homeless person I see because I fear that I won’t have anything left, which really is selfish when you get down to it, The Lord Jesus Christ commanded even one man to sell everything (Matthew 19:16-24) although granted, that commandment is not for everyone.
I pray that I can keep these commandment and I’m waiting on God to change me, but is that enough? I desire to keep these commandments because Jesus said “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15), but lack the faith to do so, which is made worse by the fact that Jesus commanded us not to worry (Matthew 6:34).

Please pray for me in these areas.

I also worry that I am seeking universalism because of my lack of faith in the above areas.

If you really want a good study on these words may I suggest “An Analytical Study of Words” by Louise Abbott. I believe you download a free PDF of it from

The doctrine of Purgatory didn’t spring into being fully-formed in the 12th century, like Athena from the brow of Zeus. The Roman Catholic Church is clever enough to mine stuff from ancient times with some similarities to their distinctive dogmas, dubbing the stuff apostolic “seeds” from which their fully-formed doctrines grew. (John Henry Newman put forth this idea in the 19th century to try to justify Rome’s differences from the ancient Church.)

When considering the voluminous works of the Church Fathers, not to speak of the works of those who are not glorified saints, plus anonymous inscriptions, etc. from the first 1,000 years of the Church, I suppose one could find an extraordinarily wide array of differing opinions, musings, and speculations. In short, anything Rome wants to justify, they would be able to pull something out of some ancient document(s) somewhere as a “seed”.

Of course the Fathers you mention going back to the 2nd century did not travel forward in time to learn about Purgatory from the scholastics. I am simply grouping their semi-purgatorial ideas with Rome’s doctrine developed later. The point I was trying to make is that, of the three main forms of Christianity (Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant), only Catholicism accepts Purgatory. The Orthodox Church rejected it when made aware of it (and no such purgatorial ideas are to be found in her liturgies), and the Reformers fervently rejected it. While I am not a scholar of the Reformers, my impression is that one of their chief polemics was attacking Purgatory with strong language. From Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses, posted on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg in 1517: “27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory. 28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased.” Even the Protestant Church that went the least distance from Catholicism–the Church of England–includes in her Thirty-nine Articles: “XXII. Of Purgatory. The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Reliques, and also invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.”

I therefore make the observation that it is an odd and unfortunate thing when Orthodox or Protestant universalists adopt Purgatory (whether in the scholastic sense or in the sense of its “seeds”).

“God is the Savior of all men” = All men will enjoy never-ending bliss in Heaven.
“especially of those who believe” = Believers are filled with the Holy Spirit. Unbelievers have to make do with poop.

It seemed to me at first, Davo, that you think Jesus came into his Kingdom on the day He died. In what sense would that be coming into his Kingdom? He died, and wasn’t raised to life again until the third day thereafter, so He couldn’t have been coming into his Kingdom on the day He died. But then you indicated that “Today” means “henceforth or hereafter or from now on.” It doesn’t. “Today” means “today”! If I told you I was going to bring you the money I owe you today, and brought you only one cent per day for the next 20 years, you could justly accuse me of lying.

Also, the Kingdom of God was on earth prior to Jesus’ death:
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:20,21 ESV)

A kingdom consists of a king and his subjects. Jesus was the King, and his disciples were his subjects. Thus the kingdom of God was right there in the midst of the Pharisees.

The coming of Jesus into his Kingdom will be a single event, not a continuing process.
Consider Jesus’ answer to his disciples when they asked Him to explain the parable of the tares of the field.

He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matt 13:37-43 NKJV)

Notice that Christ’s Kingdom was present throughout the events in Jesus’ explanation of the parable. Yes, his Kingdom was present while He walked this earth, and it is still present to this day. But the day will come when Christ returns to earth, when “every eye will see Him.” That will be the harvest at the end of the age, the end of the present age. There will be a great separation of the lawless people from the righteous, the former group being cast into the “furnace of fire.” Then Christ will come into his Kingdom to rule, and the Kingdom age will begin.

I know preterists believe that the “end of the age” refers to the end of the Israeli kingdom. But it cannot be. For the events Christ described in his explanation did not occur in 70 A.D.

Thus the repentant thief will be in Paradise with Christ on the day He returns. Whether Paradise is in Heaven or on Earth, I do not know. But it will be wonderful to be under Christ’s direct rule until the day that Christ Himself will be subject to his Father so that God will be all in all. (1 Cor 15:28)

I saw your thread, but my issue is finding GOD-INSPIRED use of ‘αἰώνιος [aiōnios]’ to mean a temporal period of time. My anxiety issues require me to find a God-inspired use of ‘aiōnios’ meaning a temporal period of time for assurance that the word doesn’t mean literally eternal.

What do we do with these early church leader quotes:

They affirm eternal torment.

I have a poll asking about universalists who believe in post-mortem corrective punishment, the Trinity, and free will:
[Poll: Universalists who believe in The Trinity and Free Will)

I am seeking out these very difficult to find people, please vote.
One of my biggest problems with universalism is the simply overwhelming number of universalists who deny the Trinity and free will, two very important truths. The Trinity because denial of it usually leads denial of The Lord Jesus Christ being God, and free will because punishing someone for something they were predetermined to do is just plain wrong.

God Bless
Christ Be With You All

As I understand it, this was all part of the process of Jesus coming into that to which he had been called. Take for example when Jesus cried from the cross “It is finished!”… this was PRE death, PRE burial, PRE resurrection, PRE ascension and PRE parousia, and yet ALL that needed to to happen for the FULLNESS of the event of the Cross and all that that entailed was set in motion, i.e., it was a done deal with no turning back, a “fait accompli”. Not only that… in light of the likes of 1Pet 3:19 I don’t think Jesus was just standing around beyond the grave. Someone who has gone off “into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom” can well and truly be said to be on their way to having entered said kingdom.

Like most illustrations these can be taken both ways, which is WHY I appeal to the evidence of the TEXT itself. The thief’s plea is “WHEN…” and Jesus says “TODAY”. But, to use your rationale… WHEN a politician hits the hustings saying “TODAY we take back this nation blah blah blah”… he means – from this point forward etc.

Indeed it was… “the kingdom of GOD” i.e., the Father’s domain, which Jesus as the Son learning obedience and in due course being raised to glory and honour at the Father’s right hand.

This is unnecessary double-speak where you simply pad out a middle transitioning ground to justify two conflicting points, i.e., Jesus’ kingdom was “present” BUT then “will begin”… which is it??

Actually your “Israeli kingdom” is not correct. The “end of the age” references the old covenant age… God’s old covenant age with Israel, i.e., that which had been “glorious” was being (process) superseded by the “much more glorious” (2Cor 3:6-8). As for “the events Christ described in his explanation did not occur in 70 A.D” consider this…

All that offended and those so practicing lawlessness were the disobedient sons of Israel, and in particular the hierarchy thereof; these would (in time from this prophetic word) find their place in the “furnace of fire” aka “the lake of fire” i.e., the destruction of Jerusalem of AD70. All present (“every eye”) saw this… whether they understood it as such is not the issue.

I suspect Jesus’ “paradise” speaks more of POSITION than PLACE. IOW, this penitent thief would not be acquainted with the terrors of death because he would be WITH Jesus.

Again, instead of ignoring it, I go back to the TEXT… the thief asks WHEN and Jesus says TODAY!

This is NOT “double-speak.” Rather the beginning of the “Kingdom of God” (consisting of Jesus and his disciples) is not tantamount to the beginning of the “Kingdom age.” The latter refers to the culmination of the Kingdom when the kingdoms of this world will have become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Anointed One, and He shall reign into the ages of ages. (Rev 11:15) It is then that the Kingdom age will begin.

This is a three-fold answer:

First, I do not care at all–not a fig–that other people believe in eternal torment. As St. Makrina asked her brother St. Gregory of Nyssa, “Since when are the notions of the ignorant an index to the truth?” Even if the whole universe believed in eternal torment, I would not. God forbid.

Second, even assuming that all those men in the link used to believe in eternal torment, they do so no longer. They know better now. They are now all certainly universalists.

Third, I doubt if any of those men believed in eternal torment. Click here to read what I would need to have before believing that a Greek Church Father believed in eternal torment:

There is a basic example of this very thing in the Scriptures relative to the temporal nature of <αἰώνιος> aiōnios… that which is otherwise referred to as being “eternal”. Take “circumcision”… it is said to be an “everlasting covenant” AND YET such ‘eternal-ness’ applied ONLY WITHIN the “age” wherein it applied and thus functional.

Such was life under the old covenant AND YET this “everlasting covenant” of circumcision was but a type that which was to find true fullness and completion in Christ.

So, what we have is a temporal covenant operative WITHIN a specified “age” i.e., of the old covenant era, described in such language as being “everlasting” and “eternal”.

There are of course many other examples of the same use of “eternal” from the OT relative to the land, the priesthood, the Sabbath etc, yet all finding termination in the fullness of Christ.

STT – will have to catch up on your latest post later, but I don’t understand why you don’t regard the end of Rom 16:25 as a temporal use of eonian – the time had a beginning and had either ended or was coming to an end in Paul’s day and definitely would have an end. (Or maybe why you don’t regard it as inspired scripture?!?)

Allin and Hanson both have accessible quotes from the Patristics, and both are pretty accurate from what I’ve been able to cross-examine, although I think Hanson takes the evidence rather too far.

Geoff: I didn’t get remedial post-mortem punishment from “Romish” purgatorial doctrines, and neither did all the pre-schism (and in some cases post-schism) Fathers who taught it. It’s both unrealistic and unfair to treat non-RCs as getting it from Rome; we regard the RCCs as having perverted the very clear teaching of remedial post-mortem punishment in the Fathers (and we would say going back into scripture) in a procrustean fashion to fit some kind of eternal conscious torment, too. Whether we’re right or not is a whole other question, but charging us as having the RC notion of purgatory and/or getting our non-RC notion of purgatory from the RCC, is silly. (Nor did I get it from the Fathers who taught remedial post-mortem punishment, nor have many other Protestants done so, though no doubt some found it there first – Schaff comes to mind as a famous Protestant scholar who first found it there.)

On the topic of “this day in Paradise”, I agree that the grammar can be read either way, but I also agree on the side of immediate and extended context that Luke was reporting Jesus saying “today you will be with Me in paradise”: partly because that answer fits better with the (admittedly, politely incidental) timing qualification of the penitent rebel’s request (“whenever you may be coming into your kingdom”); and partly because {amên legô soi} “Truly I am saying to you” is a highly characteristic way for Jesus to talk in all four Gospel reports (with GosJohn’s report having a double amen but otherwise being regularly identical) and it would be stylistically unique (though admittedly not impossible) for Jesus to switch up His usual mode of declarative promise to add a rhetorical “today” in the sense of “I’m telling you now: etc.”.

I found this article at Is Hell Eternal Punishment, Eternal Death or Disciplinary Restoration?. I found these statistics interesting:

Jason, I must apologize for not being clear and not making crisp distinctions. I certainly do not mean to say that you or any other universalist in particular adopted the idea of post-mortem unpleasantness from the mature doctrine of Purgatory as taught by the Roman Catholic Church for the last millennium. I know that one of my favorite saints (St. Gregory of Nyssa) taught post-mortem unpleasantness, and it is from such figures that you have adopted post-mortem unpleasantness. The point I was trying (unsuccessfully, alas) to make is this:

While it would be natural for a Roman Catholic universalist to believe in post-mortem unpleasantness (since the Roman Church teaches Purgatory–which by its very nature involves post-mortem unpleasantness–as a dogma), I find it surprising when Orthodox or Protestant universalists believe in post-mortem unpleasantness. Why? Because:

  1. The Orthodox Church, in spite of the ancient figures who taught limited post-mortem unpleasantness, has not adopted that teaching. For example, in the numerous accounts in the liturgy of Christ emptying the grave immediately following His death upon the Cross, it speaks of the splendor of His Godhead instantly obliterating the powers of the grave and Christ leading all of the dead (from Adam to the thief on the cross) up to Heaven. Ultra-universalism, if you will. I am not aware of any liturgical text speaking of post-mortem unpleasantness. At an Orthodox funeral, we speak of the departed as being in a place of lightness, a place of repose, where no sorrow or sickness dwells, where all tears have passed away. We do not speak of post-mortem unpleasantness. In light of all of this, I would naturally expect an Orthodox universalist to be an Orthodox ultra-universalist, kind of like this: “Oh! I used to believe that at death each person immediately went to his eternal destiny either in Heaven or in Hell, but now I know that all will attain to Heaven. Therefore I now believe that when each person dies, regardless of who he is, he goes immediately to Heaven.” Inserting post-mortem unpleasantness there is uncharacteristic of Orthodoxy (but not of Roman Catholicism, which has long taught post-mortem unpleasantness for the departed saints.)

  2. The Protestant Church also, in spite of any ancient teachings of limited post-mortem unpleasantness, has not adopted that teaching. The historic position of the Anglican, Lutheran, and Reformed Churches has been that when a man dies he either immediately goes to Heaven (where he will stay forever) or to Hell (where he will stay forever). Like the Orthodox, the Protestants have taught that no man on earth dies in a state of sinlessness, and therefore when he goes to Heaven Christ instantly purifies him and makes him perfect. They do not teach that the departed saint must go through a process of purification, but rather that the purification is instant. Limited ultra-universalism, if you will. So when a Protestant becomes a universalist, it would seem natural that he would say, “Oh, I now realize that all will attain to Heaven. Therefore, whenever a man dies, he immediately goes to Heaven, no matter who he is.” Inserting the notion of post-mortem unpleasantness seems an uncharacteristic thing for a Protestant to do.

Or, to try to put each of the above succinctly:

A1. An Orthodox ultra-universalist has to do only one thing: Get rid of Hell.
A2. An Orthodox universalist has to do two things: Get rid of Hell AND adopt post-mortem unpleasantness.

B1. A Protestant ultra-universalist has to do only one thing: Get rid of Hell.
B2: A Protestant universalist has to do two things: Get rid of Hell AND adopt post-mortem unpleasantness.

C1: A Catholic ultra-universalist has to do two things: Get rid of Hell AND get rid of Purgatory.
C2: A Catholic universalist has to do only one thing: Get rid of Hell.

Therefore, it is a shorter journey from Orthodoxy or Protestantism to ultra-universalism (with an extra step required to arrive at universalism).
Therefore, it is a shorter journey from Catholicism to universalism (with an extra step required to arrive at ultra-universalism).

I hope that makes sense! :slight_smile: