The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Pantelism, universalism & postmortem punishment

I agree Dave…

Pantelism sees a distinction between reconciliation and salvation — though indelibly linked they are not one and the same. Reconciled is the status humanity has been placed in by the grace of God. Salvation is the standing some come into in responding to the call of God to service in Christ… this standing is achieved through repentance.

Reconciliation can be likened to what some call ‘common grace’ i.e., we all have it, whereas salvation can be likened to what some call ‘saving grace’ i.e., some have it.

Paul gives a good distinction between God’s established reconciliation AND THEN the salvation (eternal life) faith releases one into…

Rom 5:10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Christ’s death (crucifixion) wrought reconciliation for all, period; Christ’s life (resurrection) wrought salvation, i.e., eternal life to those grasping it. Salvation is about purpose NOT position — it is about service to God in this life NOT who gets into heaven in the next.

So… the focus and force of ‘saving grace’ is repentance as per…

Rom 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

2Cor 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Thus we have the workings of salvation… repentance toward God and faithfulness (service) toward Christ.

Acts 20:21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now you don’t have to accept any of this, it is however the pantelist’ rationale on these things.

Hi - I gave kudos and thanks for this on the other thread.
“On the contrary, I think that was a very meaningful and concise explanation, one I agree with as well.
This has been the ‘sticking point’ that I hoped someone would clarify - and you’ve done it, though no doubt there will be some need for further clarification.
So kudos and thanks. Davo!”

Davo, your explanation of seeing being reconciled and being saved as two different things is very helpful. Despite texts that sometimes distinguish them this way, I suspect others of us tend to see reconciliation and salvation as overlapping blessings, and that the differing definitions is a significant part of my difficulty in grasping your view.

Bob - could you expand a bit on where you would differ with Davo’s explanation above? Especially the ‘overlapping’ concept?
Thank you.

Thinking about it - Davo is drawing attention to God’s unilateral act of reconciliation of mankind, and some of us are drawing attention to the necessity of our reconciling ourselves to God by repentence , obedience, and faith.
That is kind of a subtle difference in some ways, and is apt to cause communication problems.
So I reckon we need to be clear about which aspect of reconciliation we are talking about.

Plenty of food for thought there Davo. Thank you.

That’s a huge topic! Every tradition has its’ favored prooftexts. And I think both terms at issue here can be used in varying ways that can’t be neatly systematized in order to so crisply distinguish them. As I told Origen, I don’t find it as easy as my profs thought to line up every text as clearly supporting a given tradition’s interpretation on hardly anything. And here I find terms can be used in different ways that sound in tension. E.g. we can be told that we are reconciled, and then be called to “be reconciled.”

In particular, the nature of Jesus’ atoning death and what it achieves has been systematized in a myriad and reams of ways. My bias is not to see it as a totally “unilateral” transaction that changes God’s fundamental stance toward us, but as more of a demonstration of the love and mercy that he has always had, and more about changing us, than changing his position toward us.

In Davo’s pivotal text, Rom 5:10, it’s not clear to me that the “we” who “were” reconciled" is the “all” that Davo cites. it may refer to readers seen as believers, and just be affirming that for them the cross which they embrace affirms God’s secure promise of their justification (which also can be past, present & future tense!), but that it is the living Christ which goes on to produce the wholeness of salvation in our practical lives. 5:18 can speak of everyone’s justification and life as also already done, and 5:19 in parallel can speak of it as yet future. But all these texts seem to me to be in a context that shows that Paul sees our response to Christ and his claims as pivotal for our position before God. Statements about the cross do not seem to exclude warnings about unbelief and disobedience.

In some ways Col 1:19 would seem a better text for Davo, since it speaks of “all” being reconciled by the cross. OTOH it proceeds to say “he has reconciled you… to present you free from accusation IF You continue in your faith and do not move” etc.

I’m also skeptical of Davo’s apparent claim that the call to be “saved” must refer only to an optional purpose of serving God, but not to our “position” before God. The question of salvific language would be a big study in itself.

Most basically, the focus of several papers I’ve posted on the site is the fundamental continuity of the Bible’s narrative, especially in its’ portrait of what God seeks in his creation, including obedience to his ultimate values (finally understood esp. as love). My sense is that Jesus too pursues this, and the apostles see him as assuring such an ultimate outcome.

As I said before, varying ways to unite the textual pieces of the puzzle commend themselves to each of us. So for me to be convinced that the cross (or AD70) has somehow now changed that pervasive criterion as God’s index for evaluating our position or standing before him (such that in his steadfast love for us he chastens and deals with our rebellion to bring us to repentance and faithfulness) would take clearly seeing the pattern in a more ‘dispensational’ way than I do. For I find that even after the cross, such verities are proclaimed, and I see no compelling reason to reject the Christian tradition’s perception that human response remains essential in God’s judgment and design.

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Very clear, very helpful. I like that perspective very much.

Being post-evangelical myself I can say that THAT would be 100% accurate. However, I don’t deny the “overlapping” as I’ve said quite a number of times when explaining this same point in the past… the two ARE indelibly linked — but unfortunately the distinction I note, not made.

Seeing and acknowledging this difference or distinction, however, helps settle what for some has typically been seen as confusing or even contradictory statements by Paul in the likes of 2Cor 5:19-20, but which are NOT contradictory at all.

Verse 19 seems quite straightforward, plain and obvious… “that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” — there is NO contention with Rom 5:10 i.e., they’re saying the SAME thing — Paul agrees with Paul. The apparent problem is verse 20 where the injunction is… “be ye reconciled to God” and so the injunction read as presupposing such reconciliation is YET to occur… and thus the said repentance needed to attain it.

But is this standard evangelical reading reliable? To maintain THAT reading puts it in stark contrast to the previous verse and the likes of Rom 5:10 / Col 1:20 — is Paul the master of his own contradiction and confusion? I don’t believe so.

Thus where there is apparent doubt and confusion perhaps we should first be asking OURSELVES… is there or could there be another way of reading verse 20 that doesn’t undermine the context and does justice to the other texts of Paul? I believe the answer is YES! So how do verses 19 and 20 seamlessly flow without contention? — like this…

The pantelist position understands that God did indeed unilaterally reconcile the world to Himself through Christ, where He, God, unilaterally forgave the condition of humanity’s sin (Jn 1:29)… thus NEITHER counting NOR holding any longer to man’s charge or account, the guilt associated with this. THIS is the most obvious, consistent and plain reading of 2Cor 5:19, i.e., it’s there in black and white. IOW… divine reconciliation was not and is NOT predicated on human response. Again… human response doesn’t establish reconciliation, rather… the human response taps into this pre-existing and established reality.

This ‘human response’ aspect of repentant belief comes from the resultant ‘realisationwhere one gets an inkling of the grace of God that established such wondrous reconciliation in the first place — and thus accordingly expresses heartfelt gratitude to God for this. So, humanity was reconciled in the Cross with the Gospel from that point forward being…you have been reconciled, so NOW come and live in the fullness of it!” Pantelism views this fullness as ‘eternal life’ — THAT is the full import of 2Cor 5:20.

Again, this reconciliatory work as demonstrated in Rom 5:10 which has its natural link with 2Cor 5:19-20 falls right in line with Paul’s further words here…

Col 1:20-22a and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death,…

To those grasping the gospel, in this instance the Colossians, having now become believers Paul remonstrates further the power and place of continuance in faith and steadfastness, OF WHICH obedience and repentance are a natural given for said believers, as per…

Col 1:22b …to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

So it is from the pantelist perspective that the Cross was God’s DECISIVE event in history with the Parousia being His CULMINATING event in history, in establishing God’s new creation of reconciled humanity in Christ.

Again this above is a “pantelist” perspective of which most prêterists would not agree at all given its inclusivity — but THAT’S what the pantelist position is… inclusive prêterism. The funny thing is I was known on prêterist sites for years the dirty universalist and now on universalist sites I’m the dirty prêterist — lol gotta have a sense of humour. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Davo - thanks for the post.
I’m very interested in what you mean when you say that God “unilaterally forgave the condition of humanity’s sin”.
You’re definitely drawing attention to the word ‘condition’ - why?

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I posted this in another forum thread here. But I’ll reproduce it here - for everyone’s benefit.

I came across this long essay…Which appears to be pro-Pantelism. I tried to put this on a separate line. But it doesn’t work for the Pantelism or Comprehensive Grace article. I’ll be interested in article feedback…from ANY pro, neutral and anti pantelism factions here. Here’s the Pantelism or Comprehensive Grace (Short version) article.

I found this statement interesting, in the short version:

This is actually very similar to the soteriology of the Primitive Baptists, whose “orthodoxy” is not usually questioned. They too believe that God saves purely on Grace, and not on a person’s choice (even if “enabled” by “election”). They point out that The “faith” that “grace” works through to save (Eph.2:8) is the “faith” OF Christ (Gal 2:16), not our faith “IN” Christ. (which is fallible as it is, as we see). So to them, God randomly saves independantly of “duty faith”.

NOT that I will embrace Pantelism…or Esoteric Christianity that Theosophical oriented, Liberal Catholic clergy teach…or what Christian Science teachers and practitioners teach.

But the short and long version articles, are VERY interesting indeed.

Anyway, back to entertaining my dinner guests.

Davo, thank you for the rich and very helpful exegesis! I do agree that the nature of the cited “overlap” is at the crux of our differing approaches to affirming the wider text. And I hear you to emphasize reconciliation is already resolved on God’s side, and that the need is on our side, which you describe as “the human response of repentant belief,” or “tapping into” that reality (which some may call ‘receiving’ it). I’d resonate with that :slightly_smiling_face:

When you repeat that Jn 1:29 declares that “God unilaterally forgave the condition of humanity’s sin,” I’m not seeing that language there.

But my real difficulty is that you’ve seemed before to assume that Paul’s many other assertions of conditions on people’s end lest they face God’s judgment and wrath, are texts that should not be equally emphasized, or even perhaps are contradicted by these texts that you persuasively here emphasize.

E.g. even Colossians 1’s amplification of its’ established reconciliation, that we ‘will be presented blameless in God’s sight, free from accusation provided you continue steadfast,’ etc can well sound like another condition of enjoying the reconciliation God provides.

I may misunderstand, but I sense that your conclusion that implies AD70 was the "CULMINATING event of God’s “new creation” is adding assumptions that go far beyond your exegesis here of certain texts on the cross, and may help explain my confusion and impression that this guides you selection of some NT texts as more applicable to our world than others.

I myself am not seeing the promised new creation as already fully established or culminated. My hope is to encounter much more of its’ triumph in the future than is already completed or manifest here.

This is how it works…

Jn 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

As I understand it… humanity has been (past established event) reconciled TO God BY God with regards to “the forgiveness of sin” i.e., the offense or sin CONDITION that lay against man, which in Christ has been cancelled.

The phrase <τὴν ἁμαρτίαν> tēn hamartian = ‘the sin’ which is SINGULAR — speaking of… offense—guilt—condition [noun]; as opposed to “the sins” which is PLURAL — speaking of… transgressions—wrongdoings—actions [verb].

This does not say Jesus came to take away our ability for wrongdoing… wrongdoing is an action, i.e., a verb; Paul’s epistles deal with that a lot. This above however, that is, ‘the sin’ is a NOUN identifying the condition of guilt that Jesus himself efficaciously took to himself in humanity’s stead to abolish it. This is NOT YET something still to occur. Let me quote this on the same…

Carton Pearson wrote:

There is nothing you can do to make God love or stop loving you

John 1:29 says; “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “look, the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.”’ This passage of scripture is often erroneously quoted as “sins of the world.” Jesus did not take away our individual transgressions and failings, our tendency to “miss the mark,” as we discussed earlier. Rather, He took away the offense those acts would cause without His Divine expiation. (highlights mine)

Charlton Pearson — The Gospel of Inclusion pg. 86

It bears repeating…

This condition of alienation from God (the death) that the sin wrought no longer exists. The death of relationship that had man alienated and exiled (relational /spiritual death) from the presence of God has been abolished through the reconciliation in Christ. The gospel has been about making this reality (of reconciliation) known to those sitting in darkness, i.e., sitting in ignorance as to this reality secured in Christ.

Thus the offense, guilt and condition of sin that stood over and against humanity in terms of alienation from God no longer exists, as per…

Jn 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Heb 9:26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away the sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

So the condition or offense of “the sin” (noun not verb) was annulled. Yes we can have sinful actions (verb) to which James advocates… “confess your trespasses one to anotherJas 5:16. This horizontal confession reflects the healing established in Christ’s vertical confession “it is finished!” — whereby the horizontal (man) met the vertical (God) in the Cross of Jesus Christ.

I also have some further thoughts in an old thread HERE.

Thanks, you nicely confirm how I assumed that you read this text, in arguing that taking away sin (singular and you argue past tense) merely means that sin’s “guilt” (or offense) was removed. Yet I am not seeing where taking away ‘sin’ is defined as only the guilt of it, as opposed to including the widely held definition of dealing with the power of our sinful nature’s fundamental rebellious nature as the root of our transgression.

More vital, again, my response’s whole emphasis was that your interpretation is contradicted by many apostolic texts which do not address those in rebellion with declarations that “Jesus’ sacrifice of himself” means they now should hear that there is no guilt or offense attached to their sins. Do you deny that there’s a consistent pattern of warnings about facing God’s judgment and wrath, apart from meeting the conditions the apostles exhort?

Unlike Pearson, those the church is built on don’t proclaim that the cross has already removed all offense on your end, or that forgiveness of sins is unconditional. Rather, that it’s vital that you “repent, and be baptized into Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins…” Or as Paul puts it in 2Thes, “those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord will be punished with everlasting destruction from his presence,” or to Athens, “God now commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice…” (Acts 17:30f)

I find it unpersuasive to press an unconventional interpretation of selected cross texts that limit what was already done there, while seeming to discount the pattern of texts that plainly set conditions of repentant human response for being freed from guilt and judgment, and enjoying the benefits of the victory assured at the cross. As the hymns suggest, I think texts on Jesus’ crucified defeat of “sin” are assuring a more complete victory over both its’ penalty and power. But that this promise does not unilaterally remove the need for our response, or the process that is only consumated over time.

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I’m surprised this is confirmation for you given I’ve stated the same numerous time on this site; but that is what it is. However, as for your “merely”… that’s fairly caviller IMO given the removal of the condition and condemnation of Adam’s offense, i.e., the sin COST Jesus absolutely EVERYTHING — there was NO merely about it — it was a comprehensive act of God’s grace to all. I’m not surprised however at your appeals to the tradition of hymns etc, that’s normal evangelical practice… been there done that. I’m concerned more with the text, i.e., “what saith the Scripture?

IF Jesus and the writer of Hebrews had meant “sins” plural, i.e., one’s errant actions (verb) THEN they would have said as much — they didn’t, AT LEAST NOT in those two texts (Jn 1:29 / Heb 9:26) — you can and DO get that elsewhere where the imputation of condemnation / guilt on transgressions IS likewise summarily done away, i.e., unilaterally forgiven, as per the likes of…

2Cor 5:19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Thus your objection is met and quashed!

This is just more poor form on your part Bob with regards to your own “interpretation” as you CANNOT provide a single quote of mine (I challenge you to) to where I attach no onus on any committing sins (verb) to deal with via repentance / reparations etc… invariably THESE injunctions ARE made, given and implored of THOSE IN COVENANT, i.e., God’s people. And where it is not, the immediate CONTEXT generally makes that reason clear.

Given you know I take a ‘fulfilled’ position with regards to various NT warnings… either by Jesus or his apostles, then your question is odd. And BTW… the answer is of course NO.

Well CLEARLY Bob you read neither Pearson nor myself with any clarity… Pearson, with whom I agree on this point, POINTS TO ‘the SIN condition’ i.e., that which man was left under in Adam. Let me put it this way… those ascribed as being “in Adam” did NOTHING to be so placed in him, i.e., they didn’t need to acknowledge, confess nor believe in Adam — it was a unilateral imposition. Likewise, those ascribed as being “in Christ” did NOTHING to be so placed in him — such placement ON BEHALF OF ALL was the sole work of the Father and Son alone — humanity was the sole beneficiary. (I can’t believe I’m needing to make this case to a universalist, go figure??)

You keep trumpeting faulty ACTIONS (sins plural) that need dealing with — there is NO ARGUMENT from either Pearson or myself on THAT point — which is not the point being made. You have a fundamental mental blockage on this… I truly can identify though as I too was once there.

Finally some texts… something I alluded to earlier in terms of CONTEXT. To WHOM was Peter’s appeal? (Acts 2:36ff) — God’s covenant people Israel. Like their leaders before them they were challenged to turn from their DISOBEDIENCE and return to covenant faithfulness and show the works thereof (Mt 3:7-8; Lk 3:7-8).

Again, the warning of Thessalonica was in the CONTEXT of the Day of the Lord, i.e., AD70 where in terms of the beloved city Jerusalem there was an absolute catastrophic Judgment Coming. Those who… “had their part in lake of fire” i.e., Jerusalem’s conflagration of those days, having survived, were carried away captive by Titus… “away from the presence of the Lord”, i.e., the Temple, forever — never to see it again; their OC world lay in ruins.

As for Acts 17:30f… again the TEXT is most telling. This is how the Greek reads…

Acts 17:30-31 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He is about to judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

Two things here… 1) the CONTEXT shows unequivocally Paul’s the “all men” was pertinent to the Athenians, who being extremely religious even to the point of having an alter dedicated… “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD” of whom Paul then duly testifies to; that’s the CONTEXT. 2) Then you have the FACT that Paul uses the word <μέλλω> mellō = about to. And Paul specifically uses <μέλλει > being the Present / Active / Indicative — such was on THEIR immediate horizon.

And I likewise find it unpersuasive that this is the best objection you can raise and by default appeal to convention, i.e., orthodoxy, and this in evangelical circles coming from a “universalist” — lol.

I liked the way in that book he presented ideas beyond the religious strictures of the evangelicalism he has been familiar with.

Davo, I’d been lost about how we can constructively compare notes on our perceptions of Scripture. I am glad you affirmed “that there is a consistent pattern of apostolic warnings about facing God’s judgment and wrath, apart from meeting the conditions the apostles exhort.” And I suspect that our pivotal difference is your implication that NT readers were meant to see that such a theme was already fulfilled in a way that such “offense and guilt of sin” and its’ alienation “no longer exists” today. That’s why I tried to explain why that would take a lot of persuasion for me.

You won’t be satisfied by this response any more than the rest. But I’ve concluded that we both seem unable to feel that the other has engaged our actual views, and we’re left feeling misunderstood. Here e.g after extensive discussion about the tensions I find between texts, you imply that I reject 2 Cor. 5:19 when I affirmed it and other texts about God’s reconciled posture toward us, and you assert, "You keep trumpeting faulty ACTIONS (sins plural)… when I saw my emphasis on taking away “sin” as being on rescue from the power of the sinful nature. I find our pattern like this of speaking past each other seems endless.

After I had complained of ad hominem responses and frustration that felt like resentment, you kindly sketched a positive view of your exegesis. And I thought I had tried to graciously re-engage, applauding most of your exegetical arguments, agreeing with some of your affirmations, and trying to explain now why some of my conclusions diverge.

But you respond with numerous statements I find belittling: that you are “surprised” that I’d already grasped what you’d stated numerous times, that I am ‘caviller,’ you belittle my references to an evangelical view and to “orthodoxy,” you complain of “more poor form on your part Bob,” voice that I “CLEARLY” don’t read well, that I have a “mental blockage,” and say you can’t believe you need to explain to me as a universalist that our status with God is his “sole work”, “go figure??”

I know you don’t intend such asides to produce offense, but I don’t see what they add to the substance of understanding one another. And I regret that you didn’t see that the amount of time I’ve spent seeking to understand your view and pose my difficulty with it represented a high respect for your ability to engage the text (MM is quite right that you possess a strength in arguing your position unfamiliar to some of us). But about half way through such remarks, I realized I lack ability to avoid returning my own frustration, and have lost belief that we are able to progress more in appreciating one another’s vantage point. And recognizing that I and many former participants here have felt such frustrations in the forum for a good while, I’m going to let you engage others, and give my participation here a rest.

It’s all difficult for me to keep up with. And I do thank you for the diligent and thoughtful effort you have put for a novice like me, into seeking to clarify views that you feel you’ve presented with clarity many times before.

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Yes you’re probably right Bob… but in the bigger inclusive picture no doubt have way more in common. :slight_smile:

Yes sorry Bob… I will take that on board. I think I’d be as guilty as any of reading some stuff with my own blinkers on AND I’d assumed all too readily others ought to be able to tap into what I’m trying to say… maybe not so. :wink:

Anyway it doesn’t hurt to thrash some things around… just gotta try and not thrash each other — well at least I need to own that. :thinking:

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I always keep an open mind, even if I’m embracing traditional theological views. If Pantelism grows like Esoteric Christianity did with Theosophists, via the Liberal Catholic Church…or Christian Science did, via its teachers and practitioners…I’ll be happy to read more later. I look at Pantelism as a view on grace. We just have different perspectives, on how grace unfolds - or had unfolded.

Now I side with the visions, of contemporary Old Catholic church mystic - Tiffany Snow. And I know her husband, who is an Old Catholic church priest. It’s a vision of Amillennialism, Inclusivism, Conditionalism/ Hopeful Universalism (see Conditionalism With Hope and Conditionalism With Hope 2), and a Christian variation of the Secret. Actually, it’s NOT too much different, from watching TV evangelist Joel Osteen (which I do each Sunday).

I also incorporate much from C.S. Lewis and N.T. Wright, in the Anglican spheres. And theologians from the Eastern Orthodox church. I’m also one for incorporating science. Which means I’m also a proponent of intelligent design, with old earth, big bang and possibly evolution.

It all works for me, under the umbrella of Anglo-Orthodoxy and Theosis. And the Franciscan contemplation adaptations of Mindfulness, Fox Golden Key, Yoga, Zen; Red Road.

Let me leave everyone, with an interesting puzzle.

And an interesting article on spiritual healing

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”-- John Steinbeck

And when you add the Zombie Apocalypse to the mix…as the most probable, end-times tribulation model…I’m probably as strange theologically and philosophically - as they come.

And here’s the results, of my Holy Fool job interview.

I offer:
If you two work out your differences let us know, but I have to, as an outside observer, say that there is no mention hell in acts. Gehenna is not mentioned in acts or as far as I can see in any of Paul’s letters.

So does that mean post mortem punishment is still believed by some of us here?

Fulfilled grace is at least a possibility, but I await your comments.

I don’t know how to do the reply correctly… Sorry