The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Please help me.... A backslider who is terrified of Hell

It probably needs noting the designation “children” can be understood variously according to given contexts etc, BUT Paul in addressing the pagans of Athens notes their poets’ claim to being “His offspring” and then specifically affirms this as fact by declaring they are indeed “the offspring of GodActs 17:28-29.

By nature of creature-hood humanity IS ‘the offspring of God’ and fall under His good graces (Lk 6:35b). There is of course a greater blessedness that affinity with the Father brings… hence the following injunction to renewed thinking i.e., ‘repentance’ in relation to “God” via the gospel as being presented (Acts 17:30-31).

Yea Davo. That was the perfect text. terminolgy, when taken out of context can become a hindrance to perception. Paul speaks very inclusively of all in Acts 17, as God’s children by right of creation.

Everyone lives and breathes and has their being in Him. He has placed everyone in their time and place,

26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

So Paul is calling the children back to Papa, through Christ, all the children of His creation, to be children in His house of prayer for all people. I think these metaphoric terms like body and Bride and sons and wife, etc, are used in different ways when expressing the wisdom of God from different perspectives and explaining various elements.

William, It sounds to me like you are going through a very rough time right now. Rest assured, there is hope for you. The very fact that you are having this “war” within yourself seems to me like God is speaking to your heart. Been there, done that. At first, you think that you just might be going crazy. Take a deep breath. Speaking from experience, there is light at the end of the tunnel. As some have pointed out, in the case of the prodigal son, God is always waiting with open arms to welcome one back who has become lost. I believe the inheritance of which this parable speaks of are the blessings we receive when we live according to God. When we are lost in sin, we squander away the good life we could have been living. The sooner you get back to God’s way of life the better because you don’t want to waste anymore time.

Speaking of Hebrews 6, to me this passage is talking about Israel as a nation. They once knew the ways of the Lord. But over time, they had become so corrupt and set in their ways that they no longer recognized or even wanted to acknowledge the truth when it was presented to them. Thus, they were destined for destruction. This is similar to saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Another example might be that of a house. If neglected and not maintained, over time it decays and falls to pieces. The only thing one can do at that point is to rip it down and start from scratch, or build a new house elsewhere.
Hebrews 10:26 was also mentioned. From my understanding, what this means is that if one knows the truth and chooses not to follow it, then that’s their own choice. At that point, you only end up living in misery and destroying your own life. If you choose to change, then you already know the way back.
I agree with Gabe. Exercise, eating right, and getting proper sleep are important. Getting out of your own mind and finding a hobby of interest may also help, as well as doing what Jesus said: in helping others, we also help ourselves.
Hope this helps. :slight_smile:

I thought I would update everyone on some things that have been happening. I have been in deep prayer and really seeking the Lord, I ran across a sermon from John Wesley that was to backsliders. … acksliders

For the first time in thirteen years I feel like I have hope! I strongly encourage everyone who is struggling with what I am going through to read his sermon. Heck, even if your not struggling read it anyways. He makes it very clear in his sermon that I have not blasphemed the holy spirit and he has seen God restore MANY people who are just like me. Another interesting case of blasphemy of the holy spirit is from Charles Finney. Here is the link to it. … phemy.html

Let me know what you guys think!

This is how you page someone on this type of forum: {tag}JasonPratt{/tag} Obviously, use square brackets and not curly brackets. I only used curly brackets so that you could see how the code works. There’s a button at the top of your reply window, located all the way on the right side: {Tag} which will insert the code for you. All you need to do is type in the person’s nickname EXACTLY as it appears under their avatar. After a while, you just remember, if its someone you tag frequently. You’ll know you’ve done it right if the person’s name appears in blue. Otherwise you probably got their nickname wrong.



The story of the prodigal is a VERY hopeful one. The son (who is a son of the father in the story, who clearly represents God the Father) leaves his father’s house with his “share” of the inheritance. In Semitic culture, an exceedingly shameful thing to do. He has disgraced himself and he has shamed his father and his family. In Semitic culture, the expectation is that this son, should he ever try to return to his father whom he has treated so shamefully, will be shunned and cast out without hope or mercy or love. He has betrayed his father and his family and if he can get a job slopping hogs, then he’d better take it because he is NOT coming home.

Jesus didn’t tell this story for Christians, since there were no Christians at the time. He was speaking to Jews, and probably specifically to the self-righteous priests and Pharisees (the elder brother represents the self-righteous ones). The surprise in the story (there is a surprise in all Jesus’ stories–it’s part of the whole parable thing) is that the Father not only receives the son back as a servant, but that he runs to him (not dignified behavior in a Jewish patriarch at ALL), saves him from the scorn of the village folk by so doing, and that he calls for a ring and a robe and sandals to be PUT ON HIM (note, this is passive on the prodigal’s part–these things are done to him, not offered to him). Robe, ring, sandals symbolize sonship. The son of a great house would wear these things. The ring may even be a signet, which would allow this returning prodigal to do business on behalf his father’s house. This would be a HUGE shock to Jesus’ listeners, who were all set to hear how this prodigal would be tossed out on his ear, and serve him right, too.

Jesus’ point (one of them) was that the lost sheep of Israel are cherished children for whose return the Father waits with longing. The elder brothers who have SLAVED in the Father’s house, not as those who love the Father, but as those who work for privilege, are incensed that the Father receives these prodigals–Jews who have neither lived according to the commandments, nor done anything else to earn it, are received back into the Father’s arms unconditionally. This is how the religious leaders saw the dirty rabble of irreligious Israelites with whom Jesus delighted to associate. Sons of the kingdom who had rejected the Father’s house and who had no right to return. Jesus clearly saw this VERY differently. It applied to Israel and it applies to the church. It applies to us all, and it especially applies to you.

The Father has stood on the crest of the hill, scanning the horizon for YOU, longing for your return. He will never reject you (nor will He reject anyone else, for any reason, who is finally ready to return to Him. As for the elder brother, everything that the Father has has ALWAYS been his. He has NEVER been obligated to slave away. All the Father has ever wanted from either the elder or the younger is love. Some say that the younger brother was received back into the family, but his inheritance (which he had squandered) was lost. Everything the Father has belongs to the elder brother. With an earthly father of finite means, this could be a problem; not with God. He is infinite. His means are infinite. All the Father has can belong to the elder brother AND to the younger, without diminishing either of them by the slightest degree. There is an infinite supply. There is enough for ALL the children to have ALL the inheritance. No one will be slighted, not the elder, not even the younger who wasted what the Father gave him. God has no lack. All is yours, beloved of the Father.

Blessings, Cindy

Sorry for the delay; didn’t see the paging until I checked in a minute ago. :blush: (No, I don’t have a degree, fwiw.)

Re Origen and backsliding, strictly speaking he’s talking about formal apostasy under official persecution – a question that exercised Christian authorities before, during, and after his day. One sect got censured as unorthodox purely for refusing to accept back Christians who had apostasized under threat. During most of Origen’s time, the Imperial court was generally friendly to Christians – the Emperor Philip the Arab even converted to Christianity! (He was well-known by 4th century historians as the first Christian emperor, although Constantine’s importance as the first one to make Christianity a legal religion and to rule publicly as a Christian soon overshadowed him. Memory had not yet faded of the original Titus Flavius Clemens, either, who though not Emperor had ruled as co-regent with his cousin in the late 90s, and was martyred when the Emperor discovered he had converted. Clement of Alexandria, born soon afterward, was given his name in remembrance.)

Origen himself, though not a martyr (you have to die for that), died as a confessor, someone who refused to denounce the faith under governmental pressure; in his case this happened in the great persecution of Diocletian, who overthrew the prior Imperial family and (not too unexpectedly) launched the worst Imperial persecution in Christian history (probably as a side effect of undermining the previous family). Origen had been lauded as the greatest intellectual in Roman history, and so was spared the death sentence, but they broke most of his bones and he spent his final years shackled in stocks in prison. So in his final years, the question of accepting backsliders back into communion was sharper than ever.

As far as I know, what Origen meant was that those who apostasized could be accepted back into communion once but not twice. This wasn’t something someone usually had to guess about (although someone might obscure that they had done so, leading others to wonder if it had happened and to check references: Jason moves to a new town, petitions to join the church, acts like a new convert, but actually apostasized twice in Alexandria, which the new church might never hear about), it was a formal public issue. The people who did it would definitely know they had done it. I mean that there would be Roman governmental records proving that the person had renounced Christ, offered worship to the Emperor, maybe to more heavenly gods, maybe had given up scriptural books to be burned – a special detail of Diocletian’s persecution – maybe had narc’d on other Christians; consequently, he would be formally exempt from governmental persecution henceforth.

The penalty for permanent excommunication would be going into the eonian fire after death. However, Origen regarded the fire as remedial and instructional, so while anyone should have a respectful numinous fear of it, the properly humble and penitent should accept it. For those who continued impenitent, the fire would keep pace into the eons of the eons but it would eventually bring the penitent to convert (and once the last pentient converted, namely Satan, that would be the end of the eons: whether time continued or not, there would be no more transitional periods between one eon and another.) For those already penitent and following Christ, although outside communion technically, it wouldn’t be a problem per se, even though formal repentance wouldn’t be accepted until they entered the fire. (I’m fuzzier about whether Origen thought the fire was the Holy Spirit, but he certainly thought the operations were the same in the long run. His posthumous disciple Athanasius was a little more direct about it being the Holy Spirit, but still treated the modes of operation as completely distinct, which has historically contributed to most students thinking Ath wasn’t a Christian universalist since unlike Origen he didn’t talk about what happened after doers of injustice and the ungrateful went into the final fire; modern annihilationists sometimes treat him as one based on that lack of further discussion as well, and because Ath was very clear that sin leads the sinner into annihilation eventually, or would do so apart from the grace of God. I’m prepping a post summarizing Ramelli’s report on Ath from her Tome material, soon.)

Re God being the Father of all: I recall one or two other places, too, but those are the main ones. God is also called the Father of spirits, and the Bible is pretty clear that no spirit receives its existence from anywhere other than God.

As MacDonald used to say, the scriptures speak of two key ways in which God is Father to creatures (leaving aside the question of Christology). One is by being the one and only creator and sustainer of creatures, especially of the spirits of persons (by which any person is a person of all). This relationship is not optional, and (as MacD says) cannot be superinduced (no one can be made this type of son of the Father, they either are or aren’t, and if they aren’t they aren’t a person at all), nor can it be actually broken. (Except maybe by annihilation, in which case the person ceases to exist.)

The Bible much more often talks about the other way God is Father to creatures, where rational creatures accept and follow Him as their Father, which also by analogy often involves acting as representatives of the family business, as disciples to a teacher, etc.

The prodigal son, to refer to that parable for illustration, was always and remained always the son of the father – so did the elder son – but renounced his sonship socially and acted as though his father had died and dragged the family name through the mud etc.

Awesome stuff, Jason. I didn’t know those things! :slight_smile:

That is the teaching of The Shepherd of Hermas, which I think was written by St. Hermas of the Seventy in the late 1st century. (But in any case it was not written later than the early 2nd century.) People who apostasized under persecution could be forgiven once, but not twice. I can see the logic of that: Repeat apostates might very well be fifth columnists inside the Church who only pretended to believe in Christ so as to help the Roman authorities persecute the Church. Be that as it may, the Church ultimately set that practice aside and has for most of her history forgiven repeat apostates.

Which raises an interesting question. Which canon of scripture do you think contains 100 percent inspired books and why? The Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or another (I.e. Assyrian Eastern tradition, Oriental Orthodox tradition, etc.) I didn’t mention?

Ah, right, I haven’t read the Shepherd in a long time, but I remember Origen was a big fan of the Shepherd. (And also that JATRobinson argued for it being written pre-70.)

Did you get an official government record stating you had renounced Christ and sacrificed to the Imperial gods including the Emperor, absolving you from being persecuted by the government for that anymore?

If not, then what the Shepherd and Origen are talking about doesn’t apply to you.

If so, then yep you can’t be let back into the persecuted church in this life, since they can’t take the chance you won’t narc on them (again) to whichever government was persecuting you – assuming your local persecuted church accepts the teaching of Origen and some other early Christian authorities on this matter. You’ll have to join a congregation outside the persecution area. Fortunately you have options for that today which the early Christians didn’t have; the best they could hope was for regimes which didn’t persecute Christians.

At worst, having formally renounced Christ for the government idolatry, you’ll have given up the right to be one of Christ’s administrators during the eons of the eons, and you’ll have to go into the eonian fire for disciplinary instruction. You won’t be allowed to partake of the communion meal of the Real Presence any more in this life either.