The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Post-mortem correction for believers

I’m not sure how to answer Pilgrim’s question. Waiting for Sonia’s reply. :sunglasses: She usually says something I can give a thumbs up to. :wink: :laughing: I shouldn’t be sooo lazy. It’s so late, however. When I read the bible it does talk like there’ll be those that avoid hell and those that won’t. And yet we all are salted with fire so I can see where Pilgrim is coming from wanting to know what exactly many of us think happens. I don’t feel comfortable saying what exactly will happen, but I do notice Jesus’ constant emphasis on whether we’ve loved.

Sparrow, I’m not sure we’d align on everything, but you sure shared exactly what I feel like God is teaching me about the importance of love. Thanks for sharing your heart! It was encouraging to read you say the things that I’ve been learning. :stuck_out_tongue:

Hi all
Firstly can I thank everyone for contributing to this thread.
I have a big problem with this issue and I don’t think I can side-step it.
Rline has expressed my concerns extremely well and I am grateful for his input.
I don’t want us to get hung-up on my use of the word ‘hell’ (which I see as ‘hidden place’ ).
what I was trying to suggest in my OP was whether folks here believe that both believers and non-believers ‘go to a place of’ or ‘endure’ post mortem painful correction.
If that is true then what’s the big difference (post mortem) between those who have surrendered at the foot of the cross, and those who haven’t? Apparently, very little or none?
And this despite countless texts seemingly emphasising the difference of believers and how vital it is to believe in Christ.
I don’t think I’m good at expressing myself so please check out rline’s posts because I’m sure he’s understood where I’m coming from.

I gather that some believe that ‘hell’ is down here in this life so that when we die (believers and non-believers) all our troubles are over. I don’t happen to believe this but want to thank you for expressing your view. I believe there are texts indicating a future place of bliss and a future place of torment.

Having read thus far, I feel I should at least write something, even if only a brief comment before going to bed :slight_smile:

Picking up on how I think Bell sees heaven/hell (& being influenced by Sherman about the now-ness of hell), I think it’s a case of “now and not yet”. i.e. the Kingdom of God *has *begun, but at the same time it’s not until He returns and the New Creation, that we see the full intensity and full actualization of the Kingdom. Similarly with hell, it’s already here, but at the same time it’s not until after He returns that we’ll see the full intensity of it.

Both now and post-mortem, I think there is a definite & significant difference between how a believer and a non-believer experiences correction. One experiences it as joyfully receiving discipline, the other as wrath/anger/conflict. I don’t know the details, but like Jesus said, it’s worth settling things [with God] before you go before the Judge.

Sparrow, thanks for expanding on your reasoning, I’m sure my dad would agree with you, although I’m still unsure. i.e. I see the logic of what you’re saying, and believe the observations you make are true, it’s only that I’m uncertain as to when I’m “allowed” to read passages about people, as passages about the old/new man within myself. I hope that makes sense?

I was doing that too :laughing:

I’m unsure on this one, again I can see some merit to the position, and have a feeling the Gregory of Nyssa (or was he only talking about non-believers getting this?) or George MacDonald (burning roses in PaC?) or someone like that, suggested this also?

Oh, I almost forgot :blush: , thanks Pilgrim (and rline for the clarifications) for this important thread.

The difference is that the peace of Christ and the joy of the Lord are an anchor for me as I gaze into the face of Jesus and walk on water through the storms of life.

And hopefully during my time here in this temporary tent, some of what I build is with gold silver and precious stones so that when it is tested by the fire (to which EVERY PERSON’s work is to be subjected!) some will endure. 1 Cor 3:11-15

If we were to sit down and have a discussion, I would also want to explore exactly what you mean when you say “believe in Jesus” and “surrender” because I think there are a lot of pew sitters who THINK they have done those things but have not and are in for a shock when they enter the fire. (Won’t their false expectations of what lies ahead make the reality all the more painful for them?)

Pilgrim, I completely understand your question. I’ve thought about it too since learning of George MacDonald, leaning away from penal substitution, and thinking that God really does want to refine us. It doesn’t happen over night. How long is it going to take for God to make my robe white? …Assuming God really cares what we do and isn’t just about overlooking our sin, but addressing it. Does he just want a heart change of some type that he knows is sufficient or perfection? How will he make us perfect? I also agree with you that there are passages that show sharp contrast between what the evil will get and people that place their faith in Jesus. What I’ve really come to realize is that faith is more then about talk and that we will all be judged. Use to think God was just going to skip me. How convenient! Talk about a pharisee-like disposition, that God would somehow love me, since I believed all the right things, regardless of what I’d done. While I still have many questions fundamentalism, on this side, gets to looking more and more intolerable.

Alex, when I heard sparrows ideas I immediately thought of some things your dad has shared. Interesting, different, than I’ve ever heard, way to look at things!

I think the unbeliever is the prodigal son rotting in the pig-pen. His desperate misery will only grow deeper until he comes to his senses.

The believer is the prodigal son limping home. As such, he is still be very much a work in progress, but the crucial step, the step towards home, has been taken. The stench is left behind. Rain from heaven washes off the filth. Good things await him now, better than he can yet imagine. The liberating revelation of his father’s love. Confession. Tears. Restoration. Celebration. Wisdom.

I like the analogy AllanS although the prodigal has no idea whether the father will receive him or still loves him. Doesn’t scripture suggest that the moment we surrender at the foot of the cross we are embrassed by the father and (by faith) are washed and reconciled?

A lot of good discussion here!

Do I as a UR proponent believe in post-mortem correction for believers? Yes. But what that means, and how it is experienced, will vary.

What does it mean to be “a believer”? We see Jesus, by His own testimony, putting people into post-mortem punishment who believe in Him, and not only nominally so but in some important ways: as those who recognize Him as “Lord Lord” (a double-emphatic title for God in the OT; as those who endure hard strokes for His sake and who care enough about truth to even be testing apostles; as those who expect Christ to be their judge and who somehow believed they would be on the right hand instead of the left for serving Him in this life; as those who even do miracles and exorcisms in His name. The compass is pretty well boxed: all the usual criteria are mentioned somewhere. But some of those examples hint at the solution: they have set aside the primacy of love. They may think they are loving God primarily and can do so while setting aside the commandment like unto it; but he who says he loves God yet does not love his brother is a liar, and God is not in him.

But am I trusting God to save me from my sins? Great!–but worthless if I think I can get away with loving God and not my neighbor.

The process also varies depending on “correction”. Being resurrected into a new body is itself “correction”, but not in itself necessarily punishment. Learning new things is correction, but not necessarily punishment.

What about reconciling under God with those we have sinned against, though? That might be rather uncomfortable, depending on how much we have submitted to love under God. It might reveal where we have not yet repented of something we are holding onto. And in the same vein, what about reconciling under God with those who have sinned against us? That might be uncomfortable, too, in a different way!

If we have trouble with it but still are trying in good faith under God, then I don’t see any punishment coming either way. But if we intentionally refuse to reconcile with our neighbor? And how many charitable Christians are there even now who would refuse to reconcile with their neighbor?–who don’t want to go through the bother, even in principle, with reconciling with neighbors they have sinned against?–who are disgusted and reject the very idea of their neighbors who have sinned against them repenting and being saved by God from their sins? How much of a believer in the Father is the elder brother in the prodigal parable after all?

So what advantage is it to be a Christian now, when it looks (especially from the words of Jesus!) like Christians will be judged more harshly for having more advantages? Why not wait and get through with less risk?

But this way of looking at salvation is primarily as a question of my convenience, not primarily as a question of truth!–nor then as a question of the fulfillment of love in justice, in fair-togetherness (righteousness) between people.

But, on the other hand, doesn’t a Christian get fire insurance? What advantage to me is it, to my convenience, to be a Christian if I don’t get my fire insurance?

Same answer. :slight_smile: It isn’t supposed to be about my convenience. It’s supposed to be about truth and love and justice, all of which are ultimately God Himself in His own self-existent action upon which all reality depends for existence, including not-God reality. If I am not putting truth, love and justice above my own convenience, then I am being an idolater, regardless of the depth and accuracy of my theological doctrines otherwise, regardless even of whether God is enacting miracles through me, even regardless of any martyrdoms by me for God. A martyrdom for “truth” and “justice” without “love” on the same par, is certainly of no good use for my convenience, even if I happen to expect it to be.

But as to fire insurance: I am supposed to be salted and baptized by Christ with fire, with the Holy Spirit our God the consuming fire. I do not plan to escape the fire, and I do not care to escape the fire. I am only concerned with whether I am cooperating with the fire of God’s love or not.

If I am, then to the extent that I am, the fire will be light, refreshing and filling me with God’s own life, the eonian life.

If not, then to the extent that I am not, the fire will be eonian crisis, the crisis uniquely from the heart of God.

Either I acquire the fire, receiving the fire, or I refuse to do so.

(Acting against the fire? A good way to get friction-burned. :slight_smile: )


No worries. I’m certainly not always as clear as I think I am.

To me the cross redeems us from slavery to Satan. It frees us from the dominion of Satan, the kingdom of darkness, this present evil age. It liberates us from bondage to sin and the fear of death. The longer one stays in the kingdom of darkness, the greater the bondage. And those who physically die without having been saved, continue in the bondage of Satan, spirits in prison, until they are delivered. This is the closest thing to Hell that I see in scripture, except that it is not endless, but will one day come to an end – tortured souls, torturing one another. People continue in this “Hell” until they are saved - this is NOT remedial correction, remedial punishment, but torture, its only purpose apparently being learning how evil evil is! Some of us most go much deeper into evil before we look up, cry out for salvation.

Of course, Paul speaks of turning a brother over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so that his spirit might be saved; apparently if Christians reject their relationship with God, in effect crucifying the Savior again, then the remedial correction they’ll recieve is most severe, as bad as being sold back into slaver to the devil - maybe until every last sin is paid for.

On the other hand though, I trust everyone, believers included and maybe especially believers, will face the judgment, be extravagantly rewarded for every little good they’ve done, and punished as needed to bring a positive change in them from wicked character traits and patterns of sin that need to be straightened out. But this is merciful , remedial correction/punishment.

These, both “this present evil age” and “judgment and correction” are eternal realities, both now and not yet fully experienced. This present evil age will come to an end. And I trust that judgment and correction will bring about lasting positive change in us. These two concepts seem to overlap in scripture and are often confused and confusing because it is part of the spiritual realm beyond. And it’s very important to recall who is being addressed in each passage. The Jesus Gehenna passages are primarily, if not exclusively, addressed to the Pharisees - those who claimed to be the pure ones, the ones seeking righteousness, but it was a twisted evil “righteousness”. They claimed themselves to be the true children of Abraham, the righteous remnant, but were in reality in the deepest bondage of Satan - religious bondage.

This is why it’s important, I believe, to take one passage at a time. Who is being addressed, what was the literary context and life-setting of the passage. How did the book author present the information. What’s the overall passage. It is metaphorical, didactic, poetice, hyperbole, etc.? UR is a systematic theology, but I enjoy biblical theology much more. What is each passage trying to communicate? Is it possible that Matthew’s theology was different than Paul’s? His audience certainly was. These are all things we should take into account.

Well, those are my thoughts on this thus far. I could be wrong though.

Hi Sherman
Im very grateful for all your input on this thread. I know the quote above goes back to your first post but my mind has gone back to it.
Can you give me examples of passages that refer to judgement/punishment of sin which are addressed to disciples of Christ?

Hi Jason
I particularly wanted your input and thank you for putting your thoughts down.
I probably used the term ‘believer’ in the OP for brevity but mean it in its fullest sense (ie to trust in to the point of surrendering control, to rely on, to know and have relationship with).
Bearing this in mind, I’ve never viewed those people who said “did we not cast out devils”…etc, as believers. Can I take it that you do despite Jesus saying “I never knew you” or have I misunderstood?

I can’t think where scripture says that christians will be judged more harshly for having more advantages.
I’ve just asked Sherman for help on this one. I know it says to whom much is given, much will be expected (I think). But I’m not sure that is about punishment of christians. Then there’s the parable of the talents? Again, I’m not sure that is about punishment. All I can think of off-hand is that those who waste their gifts will lose some extra rewards that other more faithful servants may get (my loose paraphrase).
Am I missing something?

No, my point was that after all they weren’t being faithful to Christ, and so in that most important sense were not believers. But their unfaithfulness challenges the categories of what is often considered faithfulness, and the overlaps are something we ought to be wary about in ourselves. To clarify (though I think I said this earlier), I believe those who are believers in the sense you’re talking about will still receive correction in various ways but not as punishment per se. Those who are childlike in heart won’t have to worry about that. (Maybe the equivalent of a sitting down and a stern talking to. :slight_smile: )

Immediately off the top of my head, I’m thinking of the lazy steward who takes advantage of the delay of the master to beat the slaves.

"The Lord of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect, and at an hour which he does not know…
"…and will severely scourge him (ripping him into pieces), and appoint him a place with the hypocrites–the unfaithful.
"The wailing shall be there, and the gnashing of the teeth.
"And the slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes.
"But, the one who did not know, and committed deeds worthy of flogging, will only receive a few.
“Yet from everyone who has been given much, much shall be required; and to whom they have entrusted much, of him will they ask all the more.”

That was used as an introduction to the Three Great Judgment parables in GosMatt. (The prelude parable is Matt 24:44f; the parables of the talents, virgins, and sheep/goats are in chapter 25. Luke reports the longer version of the prelude parable at Luke 12:42-48.)

And the lazy servant in the Matthean talent parable was in fact “cast into the outer darkness; there shall be wailing there and the gnashing of the teeth.” (The Lukan version doesn’t have that fate for the lazy slave, but does feature slaves who didn’t want him reigning over them being brought to the king to be slain in his presence. The subsequent goat/sheep parable in GosMatt subverts the expected meaning of that: the sheep are surprised to find Christ reigning over them, but are accepted; the baby-goats aren’t surprised He’s their judge, but are surprised to find themselves sent on to eonian chastening.)

Yes. I agree. I suppose I probably have a much narrower idea (than most) of what ‘believer’ means due to my background.

Yes. I can go with that. For me, its essential for universalists to maintain a clear distinction between pre ‘new-birth’ and post ‘new-birth’. I think the two conditions are as different as life and death.

Immediately off the top of my head, I’m thinking of the lazy steward who takes advantage of the delay of the master to beat the slaves.
Thanks for that reference and following explanation Jason. That’s extremely helpful and gives me something to chew on.
God bless

thanks Sherman, i wasn’t ignoring this :slight_smile:
you’ve given me much to think on. i guess because i’m quite self-condemning (though i don’t think i’m being unfair!), i get a bit scared of this, as i know God will expect much of me, and i know how much i fall short. so i defensively take the black and white view that it can’t be true at all, cause i’d be roasting for aeons if it is :laughing:
but i think i can understand it to be an individual thing, ie God isn’t comparing me to others. also, i have to learn to trust Him. Christ died to make a way for me, and His righteousness is now my own, if i abide in Him. so i have to trust in His love, as always, so what’s new? :slight_smile:

I’m still not 100% sure where i stand on post-mortem correction for anyone…i’ve not read that far into TEU yet, and i need to know some of the Scriptural backing before i’m able to take this on as a doctrinal framework.

i do feel as if God is leading me towards much of this, and alot of it looks like Truth to me. so i’m a universalist in progress, i guess, but i’m approaching it cautiously. the post mortem correction aspect is one that i think is rather important, so i’m waiting to be shown what God wants to show me.


When I consider the matter, it comes down to the principle of a story from the Desert Fathers, attributed as having happened to St. Anthony, which has come down to us in two different versions–one involving a gardener hired by the monastery (or maybe visiting on a pilgrimage to donate some food) and the other involving a goldsmith in Alexandria. I’ll tell the latter version as I’m more familiar with it.

In the early days of the monastic movement, Anthony was already the most renowned of monks: revered for his piety, for his dedication to prayer and to studying the scriptures, for his championing of orthodoxy, for his austere lifestyle and his fasting, and for his miracles–people would come to him from all around the region to petition him for healing and for other saving miracles, and God would grant his prayers for their sakes.

But Anthony still felt something was missing from his life; so he sought to refine himself further in righteousness. Alerting his brothers so they wouldn’t be worried, he took himself away to a small cave where he fasted without food and water for three days, praying that God would reveal to him how to be more righteous.

After three days and three nights of intense praying, Anthony begged God: “I know I am already righteous by the standards of the world, but I still hunger and thirst for righteousness. You promised that those who did this would be filled!–and so would be truly pure of heart! I thank You that I am already more righteous than other men, unlike those who live in the world outside our monastery, but what good thing am I missing?!”

Suddenly the Holy Spirit filled the room with fire, flattening Anthony to the ground, and the Spirit declared: “YOU ARE NOT EVEN AS RIGHTEOUS YET AS A GOLDSMITH IN ALEXANDRIA!”

Then the Spirit departed–boom, He was gone.

Anthony lay on the ground stunned at this answer to his prayer! Then quivering, after an hour to recover, he crawled from the cave and back to the monastery, where the monks found him and cared for him. After the sabbath and the holy communion, he had recovered enough to think about what had happened: doubtless this was some divine riddle! For another three days and nights he pondered its meaning; then, after discarding possible explanations, he decided it must mean he should travel to Alexandria and hunt for goldsmiths until he found the one who would be the answer to the riddle.

So he prepared, and after the next sabbath he set out for the great city, the seat of commerce and learning in the Empire, second only in size to Rome.

Arriving after a long walk, he first found the local catechetical school (as Alexandria’s was famous the world over), asking if they had a goldsmith in their employ. They did not. Then he visited the bishop and his congregation. They also did not. He visited the six next largest churches in the city, figuring only the wealthiest churches might have a goldsmith in their employ; they did not. But the priest of the seventh church suggested maybe he should stop looking in churches and go look for the goldsmiths themselves!

“But that means I shall have to go among the people of the city!” shivered Anthony. Still, his current plan wasn’t working, so he asked where the goldsmiths were. The priest said there were currently seven goldsmiths operating in the city, and gave Anthony an idea where to find them.

With trepidation Anthony went forth, trying hard not to look around as much as possible lest he be tempted to sin by the lusts of the city. He still had to ask for directions every once in a while, feeling contaminated by the unbelief and unholiness of the people, most of whom were still pagan or half-pagan, but he figured he could do penance once he returned safely to the monastery.

The first goldsmith he found was entirely pagan; Anthony didn’t bother even talking to him, figuring he had to be more righteous than this man at least!

The second goldsmith he found was also pagan, although of the philosophical sort, an admirer of Celsus and therefore theistic but also strongly anti-Christian. By rapid mutual consent they parted ways.

The third goldsmith was an agnostic. Anthony saw this as an opportunity to evangelize him, which the goldsmith politely listened to, but did not commit. Anthony didn’t ask him much in return, figuring he was surely more righteous than this ignorant and willfully obstinate man.

The fourth goldsmith was Jewish, but only in a superficial way; he lived more like a pagan. Anthony had no business with him and passed on.

The fifth goldsmith was also Jewish, and was the wealthiest of them all. He was a pious man who carefully kept the Law and revered God, but of course did not accept Jesus as the Messiah, much less as God Incarnate. Anthony had to admit he admired and respected this man who was at least religiously serious in worshiping God Most High, and whose discipline rivaled Anthony’s own; but after all this man was not a Christian, so Anthony still felt safe in estimating himself more righteous than he.

The sixth was Christian but nominally so; he treated the faith more like a society for doing good in the city, as he might have any pagan social guild. Clearly he was no one Anthony could learn from, and the monk departed in disgust.

By the time he found the seventh, who was evidently the poorest of the seven main goldsmithers of the city–he even answered his own door and kept shop behind the front table!–Anthony was in a poor mood. He stomped into the room and out of the babble of the sins of the city, and plopped himself in a chair, and glared at the man.

This goldsmith had nearly died of fright when he saw the desert monk, so Anthony knew he had at least found a pious Christian.

“Do you know who I am?” snapped the monk.

“Yes, yes, you are one of the desert monks! I, uh, I welcome you to my store, although I cannot imagine–”

“I am no nameless monk. I am Anthony.”

“Agh! I meant no disrespect! I am sure I am unworthy to even be untying your sandals, but may I offer you water for your feet? And wine to drink?”

“I don’t drink wine. Water will do.” The goldsmith untied his shoes and gave him a pan of water for his feet, cleaning and wiping them off himself, after pouring a cup of water for the monk to drink.

“How else may I help you?” inquired the goldsmith. “It seems unlikely you are here to commission–”

“I am here because I have heard it said that a goldsmith in Alexandria is more righteous than I am!”

This set the goldsmith into such a frenzy denying he had ever dared to spread around any such notion, that the monk had pity on him: “I see, I see, I did not mean I had heard that you were spreading such rumors around. Nevertheless, a reliable source has told me I am not even as righteous as a goldsmith in Alexandria, so I have come here to investigate the matter. You are by far the finest of the seven in the city, so by deduction it must be you. Fear not,” he added over the goldsmith’s ardent denials. “I only want to ask you some questions.”

The goldsmith wasn’t very comforted by that either!–but he did his best to answer.

After an hour of enquiry, however, the monk’s temper was rising again; not due to any arrogance or fault in the goldsmith, but because he was so obviously average as a Christian. He read the scriptures only once a week; was muddled at best in his understanding and profession of the orthodox faith; only fasted at prescribed church times, and never in any specially austere way; certainly never did any miracles; and although he gave to the poor with some regularity, still he was also clearly a wealthy man by normal standards.

“Tell me about your prayer life then!” Anthony demanded, wondering if perhaps he had been tricked by some Satanic deception in the cave. Before the goldsmith even answered, Anthony could see from his penitent demeanor that this might be the worst category yet!

“I confess, Abba, I only pray twice a day. I know I ought to pray more often but–”

“Well, how long then? How many hours?”

“Hours!? No, no, five minutes at most, Abba!”

This was ridiculous. Anthony stood up, intending to ask the man directions back to the catechetical school for the night (as that was the closest thing to a monastery in the city)… but he could not bring himself to think he had fasted and prayed so poorly as to have been victim of a Satanic trick. As an act of faithfulness to God, then, he pressed on:

“How then do you pray? What form do you use?”

“Form? Oh. I… I don’t know…”

“Describe it to me, perhaps I will recognize it. Or perhaps,” he mused, “you have been inspired with a new form, and I have been sent to learn it.”

“I cannot believe it is anything special, Abba! I pray for my family and for my friends; surely that is nothing special.”

“There must be something else!” thundered Anthony, slamming the butt of his walking staff on the floor.

“I… I do… well, there is something else, Abba. But I am ashamed to say so.”

“TELL ME!” roared the monk.

The goldsmith gave a quavering sigh, and hung his head, and tears fell from his eyes, and he fell to his knees, unable even to look up at the monk, and said:

“Every morning and every night… the first thing every morning and the last thing every night… oh, Abba, it is not even a prayer…”

“You say it happens regularly, though? Perhaps it is inspiration! Speak up man, this may be why I am here!”

The goldsmith inhaled and answered: “…I think of all the people in the city… and I marvel at how great and good God is, and how easily He will be able to save them all… whereas for me… I am such a sinner even God Himself may have trouble saving me.”

Anthony stood there stunned. “What?” he eventually asked. The man tried to answer again, but could only shake his head.

At that moment, the wind blew open the door to the front room of the goldsmith. Anthony winced, hearing the rabble outside in the early evening, and pointed to the door. “You hear that noise?!–you think God will have no trouble saving that mess of filth and paganism and degradation and lust outside!?”

The goldsmith could only nod and mutter, “God is so great and so good, I have no doubt at all–for them. But as for me… how evil I am… I do not doubt God’s victory, but how much He must strive to save me, the chief of sinners…”

Then Anthony threw aside his staff, and threw himself face down on the ground in front of the goldsmith, and cried out, “It is true! It is true! I AM NOT EVEN AS RIGHTEOUS YET AS THIS GOLDSMITH!”

So, Anthony left the stunned man, declaring himself his disciple–but only left long enough to find a mudpit, so that he could bring back mud with his own hands to build a cell on the outside wall of the goldsmith’s shop–not even considering himself worthy to build the cell on the wall of the goldsmith’s home!

Thus Anthony stayed one year, watching the frightened goldsmith, begging every day to be taught by the goldsmith–who had no idea what to do about this! But people soon learned the great Anthony was there, and eventually the monk was busy with healing and discernment and acting as arbitrator in disputes and praying for people and all the other things monks were supposed to do.

Yet he always made sure to tell them he was there as the disciple of the goldsmith, so he could learn to be as righteous as the goldsmith was.

When the year was done, Anthony found that he had learned to see the city as the goldsmith saw it; and the goldsmith was now the wealthiest man in the city thanks to the business brought by the monk, although he routinely gave it away to the poor and even sent customers over to his rivals in order to share the business.

So Anthony blessed the man, and returned to the monastery, and in later years he came to be regarded as the greatest of the desert fathers, even to subsequent generations.

But when visiting monks would ask him how to be righteous, he would tell them he was the disciple of a goldsmith in Alexandria, whose sandals he was unfit to untie. :slight_smile:

that’s an amazing story, and very true!
i could see that Anthony had a massive problem with self righteousness at the beginning, and his belief in Works. sounds like a lesson many of us could learn…
and it makes sense, loving God with all we are and our neighbour as ourselves in humility is really the call of righteousness…
i still have alot for God to teach me there, though, so i guess i too am a disciple of a goldsmith from Alexandria, whose sandals i am unworthy to untie :slight_smile:

now, how this relates to post morten correction? well i’ll just keep believing God will complete what He’s started…for all of us :slight_smile:

Your welcome and thanks for such good questions. A prime example is the Mt. 24-25 discourse. Note 24:3 sets the scene,

“As He (Jesus) was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of (E)Your coming, and of the end of the age?’”

The parables concerning judgment were for the disciples, a warning to them. He says in 24:42 “Therefore (you implied)be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” Sadly, the traditional interpretation of these passages make it be about the separation of believer and unbeliever; but these passages were warnings for the disciples, the apostles in particular, and subsequently to all followers of Christ. These warnings are not a warning for unbelievers - who don’t believe anyhow; but are warnings for believers!

The parable of the wise and foolish slave managers, 24:42-51, is a warning to the apostles (and us I believe) to be careful to not abuse any authority over others the Lord might give us. If we abuse authority we’ve been given, there will be plenty of tears of repentance and grinding of teeth in angry at self regret, and we’ll gain an unshakable reputation as being a hypocrite. - (Think of some of the Christian leaders who have fallen, though they repent and have years of doing good, they’re always known as a hypocrite.)

The parable of the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins, 25:1-13, is a warning to be careful to be diligent to be prepared so that we can take advantage of any opportunities that come our way. If we’re not diligent, we’ll miss out on the party, the good things God wants to do in and through our lives. So Jesus says, “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”

The parable of the talents radically changed my life. God spoke to me one day and said that I was lazy and wicked like the 1-talent man, but that He had given me 10-talents. Man I cried for 2 weeks, and ground the points off my teeth literally. Judgment was terrible, but it worked good in me, taught me to be diligent, not selfish and lazy, and delivered me from fear through teaching me the truth about God and myself. 29 “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.” Notice the universality of this statement of judgment.

And I believe that the parable about the separation of the “kids” from the “flock” is about the importance of social maturity. Have you ever noticed how selfish people are so wrapped up in themselves that they have no concern for the evident needs of those around them! But mature healthy people see the needs of others and are even motivated by love to be self-sacrificing and meet those needs, almost unconsciously. They do good for others because of character level maturity. Those who live that way will be rewarded by God, if not in this life, the life to come for sure. And those who are selfish will suffer for their selfishness, if not in this life, the life to come for sure and for certain!

Sadly, the traditional way of interpreting these passages nullifies their power to call believers and unbelievers to righteous living. Unbelievers disregard these passages 1) because they do not believe, 2) because they compare themselves to believers and find no difference, and 3) they note that these passages are based on how one actually lives, not on whether one has faith in Christ or not. And the traditional way of interpreting these passages nullifies their power to call believers to righteous living because they say, “Well, these don’t apply to me, I have nothing to fear, because I’m a believer in Christ and believe I’m saved by grace.” Tradition nullifies the power of the word of God!

On one hand, I’ve come to have faith in Christ for the salvation of all humanity. On the other hand, I’ve come to have a much weightier belief concerning judgment. No longer do I not fear judgment because I’m a believer; but I have a great fear/respect of judgment because I’ve tasted it, and it’s bitter though it be good for me. Through Judgment I believe that the Lord burns the hell out of us. But I trust that though I be purified as though through fire, I’ll come out the other side whole, at peace with God and with everyone, restored in perfect relationship through the fire of truth and love!

One of the things that the Lord delivered me of was a spirit of false humility. By putting myself down, I was able to bury some of my talent; I was, in my thinking, able to not be responsible for the good things God had given me. I thought I was being humble, but it was a false humilty. A true humility recongnizes one’s talent as gifts from God and recognizes one’s responsibility before God to use those talents to serve and bless others who are not talented in that way. It doesn’t hide the talent, but rejoices in the talent. It doesn’t think less of others not talented in that way, but recognizes that the talent must be used in love to bless others.

I’ve also found that being self-condemning is about useless. Just who do we think we are to ultimately judge ourselves, much less someone else! As we have more faith in the grace of God, the more faith we can have towards others. Salvation is completely by grace; and even judgment is based in the love and grace of God, I believe. It’s the judgment of a loving father, a faithful parent - perfect in its terrribleness but also perfect in being good for us!

Also remember, the language of punishment is always severe, often an exageration. It’s meant to illicit fear. It’s meant as a means of calling one to take drastic actions to avoid the punishment, though the punishment might not in reality be as bad as is warned, though it be mitigated by mercy. And the language of punishment rarely highlights its remedial nature, though it be remedial.

I’m thankful for the judgment of God. I’ve tasted it and it is terrible; but it worked in me an awesome good. No punishment is joyous at the time, but in the long run does bring much joy, freedom, and peace! Righteousness, peace, and joy - that’s the kingdom of God!

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Jason, thanks for sharing the story of St. Anthony.

I should probably add that while the story may have a historical core, it has been passed down as a parable, so I expanded it a bit along the line of the themes already present in the story. :slight_smile: