The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Paul on Human Intuition

A while ago I posted a paper by Thomas Talbott, “False Prophets and the Abuse of Revelation”, which reveals our need to test all spirits including Calvinism’s. Most Christians are uncomfortable with this because it calls into question our simplicity for just accepting theological propositions. Over the last few years, in my journey to Universalism, I’ve encountered an idea which continues to present itself; the idea that human intuition is Humanism.

It seems there are Christians, who believe that for one to consider their own intuition, it is a form of Humanism; that is man’s view overrides scripture. Universalists have no problem listening to their own intuition or conscience. But when Universalists object to the hatred or Malevolence of God, Christians sound the “humanism” alarm. Often I’m told that I’m tickling my itching ears by measuring God’s word against my own. If God says he’s going to torture people for all eternity, then I’d better simply accept it and not listen to my own intuition.

As these issues are pressed, the more people argue that the Scriptures trump our intuition because our intuition is defective and can only be guided by scripture. So for many Calvinists, the thought (though as repulsive as it may seem) that God has predestined a great many to eternal torture, of which they could not choose any other, must be accepted on biblical grounds and the intuition must be bypassed (or altered). For many Arminains, the thought (as right as it might sound) that God has gambled up the objects of his love (since that’s the only way that love can exist), must be accepted on biblical grounds and human intuition must be bypassed. So if something appears evil to us or looks dark, we’re called by God to accept it anyhow. We’re called to curtail our intuition by allowing scripture to guide us rather than our own conscience.

So the question at hand is can, people outside of the bible really know what is good and what is bad? If we cannot tell what is good because we must be informed by scripture then why in Romans 1 does Paul write:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

If man cannot know what is good (due to his total depravity) then how is it that since creation [prior to the scriptures being written] man has clearly seeing and understood God’s invisible qualities? If the scriptures are the only source for our knowing what is good or what is moral, then how is it that prior to the scriptures being written man knew?

It seems to me that God expects us to trust our intuition rather than bypass it. So when Arminians say, God gave free will and risked his children’s eternal status, I say my intuition tells me something’s corrupt about that. When Calvinists say, God determined that most people will end up in hell for all eternity and they have no other options, my intuition tells me there’s something corrupt about that aslo. And when Christians appeal to the trump card that the bible teaches either of those paradigms, I say “Perhaps it doesn’t and you’re defective interpretation is leading you down a corrupt path”.

I’m hoping that some people might understand the weight of Talbott’s essay. I’m hoping that some people will understand George Macdonalds statement that if something looks dark but others say it’s not, then trust your intuition; I agree. Not only so, I believe Romans 1 is evidence that prior to scripture or external to scripture, people know what is moral.

Does anyone have a response to my use of Romans 1 and human intuition? I’m open to any dialogue

I agree with you :sunglasses:

However, for some people their intuition tells them that Christianity is a lot of rubbish. If the opportunity was right, I’d say to them that they must’ve misunderstood the message, and perhaps I could help explain it to them better? i.e. intuition and conscience are extremely important but we still need to be reacting to the accurate information.

Also I think the Holy Spirit is in us somehow, trying to point us in the right direction :slight_smile:

There is also Romans 2:14-15:

*"For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)"*

While it is true that our conscience can be seared as with a hot iron, that kind of searing involves deliberate disobedience to His Divine commands. But for those of us seeking God and his righteousness, God has promised that we will find Him if we seek with all our heart (Deut. 4:29). Conscience serves as a tool to distinguish right and wrong, truth from error, and is strengthened as we exercise it. We may see through a glass darkly, but there is enough light shining through to direct our path.

If God made us in His Image, then it is certainly reasonable to expect that we also think in His image. No where in the bible do I find that we are to toast people alive over an open flame, nor do I see God directing the Israelites to do so. We are repelled at the thought because we detect a sense of wrongness about it. God’s business is not about torturing people. Although He has pressed the judgement of death on to many, death only means a cessation of life; there is no torture involved.

So then, is our conscience wrong in telling us that the idea of an eternal conscious torture involving excruciating agony in a real burning flame forever and ever is simply absurd in every fashion? Not to mention the idea of supposed justice associated with it? I would gather that those who even believe in that idea are repelled by it, especially when they are led to believe that some of their own family and friends are current partakers in it.

To be honest, even when I did believe in hell as just described, I surely didn’t dwell on the concept, lest I be driven mad to think too long on the dire consequences that awaits the lost. I simply chose to put such thoughts out of my mind. How could I not?

Evangelism is driven by the idea. Yet most passionate evangelists have to keep some sanity lest the depressed thoughts sink them into perpetual despair. So is it any wonder why in our churches, there is resistance to soul-winning when we ought to be shouting in the streets 24/7 for fear that anyone should go there. It is impractical to maintain that kind of passion for too long without getting morbidly depressed. So we try to shove it from our minds and maybe go out on visitation days. Even then, sometimes our fear of meeting unknown people in our door knocking efforts overrides compassion in seeing them saved. It’s hard to tell someone that they maybe headed to hell. It’s just not something that comes up easily in conversation.

I think I wrong on this.

I thought about it further and think perhaps someone could argue that before the scriptures were written, God revealed to them the truth (through whatever means) and that truth was against they totally depraved intuition.


Hey auggy b.,

Some people do understand!
The simple fact that you, as a human being, understood Talbot’s point is proof that others can, too, because you are someone! And, since human intuition was how you came to, “see,” that there is something inherently wrong in the logic of Calvinism, then other humans see it, too (including Calvinists), and, therefore, the majority can know exactly what Talbot writes about. However, many choose to ignore this intuition, simply because they can, in order to favor a preferred understanding.

To illustrate this point, let me ask some questions.
Taking into account common sense eliminations caused by physical limitations:
Can any human being learn to drive a car? Play a musical instrument? Learn mathematics? Create art? Fly an airplane? Dance?
Can any human being learn to speak, write and read?
The answer is of course, yes. It is inherent in us that we can all learn these things because all of these things involve intuition.
And how do we learn anything? Through communication with words and our interaction with those learned in a subject - and then practice, which brings out talent.
But not everyone is a mathematician, or drives a car, or dances, or can read and write. So, there are reasons why not all do these things with one of the legitimate reasons being that someone just doesn’t want to learn.

And this atttitude of choice seems even more prevalent where religion is concerned; people just don’t want to learn from their intuition, even though they can, with many becoming quite vociferous about not learning, and some to the point of not only suppressing the truth of their intuition within his or her self, but actively working to see that other’s don’t have an opportunity to ask questions that might reveal the deception in the logic they use to suppress their intuition.

Why do we do this? Because we want to. Dondi well addressed this desire to not want to respond to our intuition in his reply when he mentioned that the logic of a hell-based theology leaves one feeling depressed and despondent.

Did you know that instruction to women on how to prevent rape trains them to rely heavily on their intuition? I mention this to illustrate that intuition has its quick conclusions in truth, even if, at the time, we may not be able to verbalize why those conclusions are of truth.
I will also point out that there is a difference between male and female intuition exactly because our perceptions, and therefore, our motivations, are different. That is to say, Male and Female defines who we are as human beings. We *are *different and I say, “Vive la différence!”

However, I must point out there is a difference between the human conscience and human intuition, such that the words are not synonymous and, therefore, not interchangeable.

The basic difference is this: the ability to become intuitive is something we gain through our life experiences interacting with our fellow human beings, and through education, while a conscience is something conceptually inherent in all human beings and from which we all know the difference between right and wrong.

An illustration of this is found in our observations of children. A parent must watch over and instruct a child to keep that child from getting into dangerous situations because of ignorance, that is to say, until their intuition develops and they can perceive danger themselves. But, as we know, a child will lie readily to keep shame and guilt hidden when he or she has been discovered doing something wrong because shame and guilt come from our shared conscience.

So, in the verse you quoted Paul does, indeed, appeal to human intuition, the very same intuition that he knows all have simply because he is a mature human! Now, Paul knows of what he is talking about because there was once a time when he, too, chose to ignore his intuition in favor of his preferred theology. After all, he stood to loose a lot, including his self-identity, if the truth that his intuition was telling him about Jesus Christ was allowed room to breathe. So, he fell back on injustice, and a weakly axiomated logic as justification, in an attempt to restore the status quo.

Here is the verse again:

For not ashamed am I of the evangel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who is believing – to the Jew first, and to the Greek as well. For in it God’s righteousness is being revealed, out of faith for faith, according as it is written: “Now the just one by faith shall be living.”
For God’s indignation is being revealed from heaven on all the irreverence and injustice of men who are retaining the truth in injustice, because that which is known of God is apparent among them, for God manifests it to them.
For His invisible attributes are descried from the creation of the world, being apprehended by His achievements, besides His imperceptible power and divinity, for them to be defenseless, because, knowing God, not as God do they glorify or thank Him, but vain were they made in their reasonings, and darkened is their unintelligent heart. Rom 1:16-21 CLV

And here is the verse Dondi quoted, wherein the human conscience is mentioned directly as proof that the law is correct, for the law is but a conceptualization of what we know is the difference between right and wrong.

For not the listeners to law are just with God, but the doers of law shall be justified.
For whenever they of the nations that have no law, by nature may be doing that which the law demands, these, having no law, are a law to themselves, who are displaying the action of the law written in their hearts, their conscience testifying together and their reckonings between one another, accusing or defending them, in the day when God will be judging the hidden things of humanity, according to my evangel, through Jesus Christ. Rom 2:13-16 CLV

The word for conscience appears thirty-two times in the New Testament. So, it would seem that The Words have some significant things to say about it.

There is more I would like to say, but I don’t want this, my first reply to a topic, to be too long.

Thanks for the invitation to reply. I hope to hear from your heart, that is, your thoughts on this, when you have time, as well as from the heart of others.

Be good, auggy b.! It is, after all, what you were created to be!


Thanks Eleutheros (Dennis) for that response.

I’m still inclined to see both systems, Calvinist and Armainian, as having their own set of difficulties regarding this notion that - we can’t know wrong from right. I might especially narrow it down to Arminianism. For Calvinism, it’s very own logic is compatible with reprobates never ever knowing the truth and be damned for their wickedness - they have no quarrel with that. But since Arminians depend on the volition of someone for culpability, then that volition seems heavily relative to one know good from evil. I just don’t see how they can hold to this and state people require the bible to guide them.


Yes, the main problem with BOTH Calvinism and Arminianism is that neither system allows for the free will of man.

In Calvinism, God meticulously controls every event. Both good and evil are God’s doing. Evil events are all part God’s plan for the purpose of leading to a “greater good.” I don’t understand why God couldn’t bring about this greater good without, for example, allowing little girls to be raped and murdered.

In Arminianism, God knows in advance every action that people will do. THAT implies that those actions are inevitable, and therefore there is no possibility that man could choose otherwise. For example, if God knows that you will eat an apple tomorrow, then it is now TRUE that you will eat an apple tomorrow. If it is now true that you will eat an apple tomorrow, then tomorrow you CANNOT REFRAIN from eating an apple, and so with all your other actions. Therefore you do not have free will.

Only open theism permits the free will of man. This view is widely misunderstood. It is assumed that open theists do not believe in the omnipotence of God. However, they do. They believe that God knows all that is possible to know. But it is not logically possible to know in advance what a free-will agent will choose.

Hey Aug,

Please forgive the lateness of this reply. I’ve been busy finishing out this fall semester and now getting ready for Christmas Day.

If I understand your words correctly, the exasperation you’ve expressed comes from how these two theologies, Calvinism and Arminianisim, “explain away,” the dissatisfaction you feel from your intuition (what I recognize as conscience) for their, “theo-logical,” conclusions.
Logical conclusions that, for being derived from postulates proposed by scripture, must be true (they claim), despite the way the conclusions make you feel in your soul. And that uncomfortable feeling revealed to you that you do have a conscience and, therefore, know the difference between right and wrong. Then, frustration sets in when, from this uncomfortable feeling, you ask logical questions that come from the contradictions you perceive in their conclusions, and are told to just, “Accept it, pilgrim. And shut up and sit down and be glad that you aren’t among the damned for putting your faith in our religion. And be sure to tithe.”

If this is a good summation of your experience, then know well that I, too, have felt exactly what you felt.

One of my answers to this predicament came when I realized the fact that the KJV is an ulterior motivated, deliberate mis-translation of the Original Words, a mis-translation that began with the first Latin version.
In fact, the KJV is a translation from the Latin intended to support Augustinian theology, which was not the understanding of the first 400 years or so of Christianity. Armininaism then, is nothing more than a late response to the ugliness in the logical conclusions of Calvinism. That is to say that these theologies are just two sides of the same coin. Flip it to determine what you wish to believe, but don’t try to reconcile the two, because you can’t. And that is because contradiction, which is stating that two opposite things are true at the same time, can never be reconciled. In other words, a door cannot be both open and closed at the same time. Likewise, we cannot have both free will and be subject to predestination at the same time, despite that the Bible tells me so.

So, for knowing this fact, I learned to hold any and all postulates derived from the KJV as suspect. Additionally, for knowing Logic’s, “dirty little secret,” I know that if the postulates are wrong, the conclusions will also be wrong, though the conclusions of Calvinism and Armininanisim are logical conclusions.

For the Dirty Little Secret of Logic, is that logic works independently of truth in the postulates upon which it is founded. That is to say, given a set of postulates, logic will always lead you to a conclusion. But, if the postulates (or axioms as they are also called) are wrong - that is to say they don’t accurately reflect reality - then the conclusions will likewise be wrong. But note that you will arrive at a conclusion!

So, one of the ways to determine if the veracity of a postulate should be suspect is to look for contradiction in the conclusions.

Another way is to learn to heed the appeal of conscience, especially if you have a conscience cleansed and re-invigorated by holy spirit, as scripture declares it to be for those who are born anew.

And amazingly enough, NT scripture seems to support the conclusion that the first believers relied heavily on their conscience, apart from the correct teaching of the apostles (which formed the core postulates), to maintain themselves in doing right - that is to say, in righteousness - while allowing for mis-steps, for which there was grace, and that given to those who were willing to confess when they did wrong.

In my case, the dissatisfaction I felt in my soul from the logical things of Calvinism and Arminianisim dissipated when I was willing to accept what was clearly becoming a fact as I looked into the history of the Bible and what the first Christians believed. For Universalism was the true belief of the first few centuries, before the Clergy/Laity divide (that relied heavily on hell to be viable), replaced that original understanding so that Christianity might become a religion.

In other words, I was willing to learn the difference between keeping an open mind and believing something because I wanted it to be true.
I say willing because I have come to perceive that faith is believing facts, and the conclusions they lead you too, that challenge long held perceptions and will alter, forever, what you previously either choose to believe, or where taught to believe. That is to say, they change your heart.

So, I have come to trust my conscience, apart from the teachings derived from the KJV Bible. Where there is agreement with my soul, there is satisfaction. For the things where there is disagreement from my soul, I have learned to investigate the KJV translation to derive truth, which leads to satisfaction.

After all, Jesus said it was much better for holy spirit (not the Bible) to come than for Him to remain.

Be good!


Well, then, I must be an Open Theist!

This is an idea that a pastor named Gregg Boyd articulates well. I once exchanged a few pleasant e-mails with him before he became swamped and had to quit making personal replies.

Paidion, we’ve exchanged a few scattered replies ourselves and because of your replies to others, I think I know a bit about you. So, because of what you wrote in this reply, I feel comfortable enough to ask you a question, from curiosity, about your understanding. If you wish to reply, I would like to ask, “What do you think: Did Jehovah know, as a fact, that the first humans were going to turn before He created them?”


Much depends on whether you look an open theological system (i.e. open theism) or a closed theological system. But here are some answers given, to similar questions - at Got Questions and Quora:!n=18


Thanks, Randy, for the links. The content of the first two doesn’t bring up anything new to me. In fact, it was exactly those arguments - presented by others - that got me looking hard into scripture, in the original languages, to see if I could discover a rebuttal to the logical conclusions from our English translations that these posters presented with such clarity; for I grew to understand that I would never be able to refute this unsavory logic from our English translations. So, many years ago, I put everything I was taught, “on the table,” and researched, with all my heart, for an answer that satisfied me and wasn’t so disturbing in its consequences.

However the third poster you linked me to presented the problem of predestination vs freewill in a way that I once considered and rejected because it would require belief in a God that could, and would, sin and yet still feel justified in holding us accountable for sin. For as the poster said with such salience: “I’ve come to accept that if there is a God, (s)he created us in God’s image – which is (to say that (S)He is) psychologically messed up, with a bizarre sense of humor, a twist of rage, kindness and regret… basically all the ingredients that I guess you would call “sin” as being. Even sinners are sometimes (if not mostly) kind.”


If that is the God of the Universe, I most certainly could not love Him, much less worship Him, given this thing in me I call my conscience. He sounds to much like how the the pantheon of Greek gods behaved, with a self-serving sense of fairness, capriciousness from megalomania and a wicked sense of humor (and justice) to boot. Kind of like Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation: “I am omnipotent and can do what I damn well please. And who are you to say anything against me, human?

I prefer an omniscient God who behaves virtuously, that is to say He knows of the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, and always chooses to do what is good and right, even when it makes Him look bad in the eyes of His turned creation. That is a God in whose image I would like to imagine I was originally created to be. It certainly makes the offer of Jesus for a life more abundant seem a lot more satisfying.

Like I said, this is what I prefer to believe.

What do you think?

Be good!


Dennis, I don’t understand the phrase “going to turn.” Going to turn away from Him, or going to turn toward Him, or what?


I would ask that you please forgive my application of a phrase that I personally use to describe what most call, “The Fall.” I understand that my phrase might not be as accessible as the more common one.

I use the word, "turning, " because I have come to perceive this pivotal event in human history as much more than a fall; for calling this event, “a fall,” is like describing the events of September 11, 2001 as, “A series of collisions” - the magnitude of the loss is not conveyed.

Therefore, I would have better asked, from my curiosity: “What do you think” Did Jehovah know, as a fact, that the first humans were going to be turned (were going to fall) before He created them?"

Thanks for the chance to clarify.


Hi, Dennis. I am a proponent of open theism. Which means that God would still see things, as most likely outcomes or probabilities. It’s really hard to come to grips, with human suffering and pain. Especially if folks are trying to do, the right thing. Theology and philosophy, may give us some frameworks - to cope with these things. But at the end of the day, we have to chalk some things up - to divine mystery. :slight_smile:

I have studied other things, besides philosophy and theology. Native Americans with their ceremonies, can teach us to be in balance and work with nature. And Buddhists can teach us meditation techniques, to sit in the silence. This way, we are more serene and react less - to the stress. And folks like TV evangelist Joel Osteen, can teach us to expect the best - from God. And Quakers teach you to sit in silence and listen to the guidance of spirit - via the inner light.

But they really don’t have any satisfactory answers, to pain and suffering (AKA the big WHY). Any more then the academic philosophers and theologians offer. :exclamation:

And if you want some answers to examine, just type “answers to pain and suffering” into Google. And review the links on page 1. If you find something that stands out and you find excellent - then please - share it with us. :smiley:

Well, thank you for clarifying!

I believe that God took a big risk in creating human beings with free wills, and therefore did not know (in the absolute sense of “knowing”) whether they would continue to follow Him or turn away from Him, for it is impossible to know (in the absolute sense of the word) in advance what a free-will agent will choose. One can predict what he will choose, based on one’s knowledge of the character of the free-will agent, and as a result the free-will agent often does just what we predicted. But often the agent doesn’t do what we predicted. However God, knowing all things, including our thoughts, is in a much better position to predict the actions of people than we. Yet events do not always transpire as God predicts either. Here is an example:

Jeremiah 3:7 (NASB) "I thought, ‘After she has done all these things she will return to Me’; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it.

Some translations have “I said” rather than “I thought” and that may be correct. But that makes no significant difference, for God wouldn’t say Israel would return to Him, if He had known she wouldn’t. He does not lie.

Man was created in the image of God. That certainly wasn’t the physical image since God is not physical but is spirit (John 4:24). So we must somehow be in His image mentally and/or spiritually. I suspect that one of the main ways in we are like God is in the matter of possessing free will as God does. God wanted people to choose to serve Him of their own free wills. He had no interest in creating a race of robots.

John Sanders wrote a powerful book called “The God Who Risks.” You can get it from Amazon for very little. If you go to the Amazon site below, you can also “look inside” the book without cost.

I have taken your suggestion and am actually on page three and working on a reply. But, its Christmas! And, like a pregnancy, Christmas comes whether your ready or not!

Just wanted you to know that I am pleased to respond, but it will take a bit

to get

to it.

Have a blessed Holiday!


To Paidion,

Very, very cool!

I don’t know how I can convey to you how refreshing it is to read someone else writing as if I were doing the writing. In other words, for all you said: “Couldn’t have said it better myself!”

After I finish replying to Randy’s invitation to write something from my heart, I would wish to start a conversation next week about this very thing you mentioned above; for I asked myself a question once, and, much later, found a ready answer.

The question was: “What is the heart?”

Have a blessed Holiday!


You too, Dennis. I (and I’m sure everyone), would be interested in the Google reading and response exercise I’ve suggested. Perhaps sometime after the holidays?


Merry Christmas and we will all mix it up in the new year. Thanks for coming on board :exclamation: :smiley: