Postmortem Salvation without Scriptural/historical evidence


One of the recurring themes that has popped up in our discussions. I’m copying the Google+ discussion so far (with Luke’s permission), hopefully we’ll just continue it here…

Luke wrote:
Saying other general passages apply, if this is a distinct and legitimate theme it’ll have distinct and legitimate evidence. These are the verses you did put forward, one of which suggests some sort of mysterious activity of God but neither has evidence of post-death belief.
“If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Cor 3:15) Evidence maybe for a post-salvation purgatory but no evidence of faith after death.
“in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison,” (1 Peter 3:19) Evidence for something; God’s activity, but interestingly no mention of how the spirits respond.


I agree with you that 1 Cor 3:15 sounds more like purgatory because v11 assumes the builders at least building on the foundation of Jesus Christ, as opposed to say Muhammad! I only mentioned it as that verse has historically being used for postmortem salvation.

Fair enough, Christ may have being preaching to no avail. Again this in a passage historically understood by some to support the doctrine.

Another historically used one is Ephesians 4:8-9, however, again it’s not watertight, as it depends if “the lower parts of the earth” is referring to hell or not.

However, it sounds like you won’t be convinced about the historical evidence until I can find more primary quotes from church history.

Consider the following:
a) only people who believe in Christ can be saved
b) people come to believe in hell
c) everyone lovingly worships God as He deserves

I think we both agree there’s strong evidence for a) , at least prima facie evidence for c), and inconclusive evidence for b) and that a few historical church figures might have thought the verses supported it.

I’m hoping to find some better passages for b), however, the strongest argument for it remains that a) & c) implies b), especially as I don’t know of any passages that rule it out. The passages that say, “we must believe” or “we need Christ” or “we will be judged”, don’t deny b), they only reinforce a) i.e. point out the steps that must occur before b) can happen.

Btw, it’s not particularly “novel” as Catholics hope it’s possible and C.S. Lewis thought it was possible. Or going back Origen & Gregory of Nyssa must’ve thought it was a certainty.


Luke wrote:
I’m surprised that if a second chance is such a key feature of Evangelical Universalism, (in fact you could say it’s the what makes it strikingly different from agnostic or secular Universalism) that there isn’t more Scriptural evidence or historical evidence.

Lewis in the Great Divorce would say those who catch the bus were only passing through Hell, because of their trajectory was set long ago. (He’s the one I get the whole trajectory language from anyway!)


Since the last post, I have rediscovered so more Scriptural evidence (sorry haven’t tidied up all the historical evidence yet, but I’m still keen too). 1 Cor 15, Isaiah 25 and Hosea 13: post-mortem salvation

Sorry, I’m not sure Lewis would say that, but unfortunately I haven’t read TGD yet, so I can’t give any evidence for my assertion :-p

I actually find the “trajectory” language very unhelpful, the path to salvation isn’t as simple as “fire a rocket north and it will land north, fire a rocket south it will land south”. Just think about how you came to Christ, was it straight forward? More likely it was one way, than another, than back again, etc. Think of the Prodigal Son, that was a huge U-turn. i.e. fired the rocket north and it landed south! In my experience most Christians say it wasn’t a simple “trajectory”, more likely a windy road, like Pilgrim’s Progress.


In one of his essay’s Lewis uses the example of looking around a train and realising all those around him were either on the way to being more beautiful than the angles or more hideous than devils. In other words to loosely quote Rob Bell (would you believe) the path to heaven or hell begin in this lifetime.

But back to the scriptural and historical evidence for “post-mortem salvation.” Admittedly there are several “all/everyone” passages that if taken without context and interpretation could suggest universalism however there are no passages (bar one mysterious reference to Jesus preaching to the imprisoned spirits) to any sort of faith or repentance or for that matter any of the doctrines of grace (except glorification) taking place after death. Why would there be several “all/everyone” passages that suggest Universalism but no evidence for faith or repentance after death? (It’s almost as though the emphasis is on being saved in this life!)


:laughing: I never thought I’d see the day where you quoted Bell! But seriously some may well become more hideous than devils before they respond to the Holy Spirit and turn around :frowning:

Yay, that’s a step in the right direction :mrgreen:

I’ll admit I wish there were dozens of explicit passages describing people coming to repentance & faith in the next age. What did you think of Isa 25?

Even without dozens of explicit passages:

]there isn’t any passages which say there isn’t postmortem repentance/]
]there are ones which describe the end result of universal reconciled relationships with God/]
]there are ones which describe God being all in all (only possible by the Holy Spirit)/]
]there are ones which describe everyone offering God their complete worship/]
]there’s a Biblical pattern of restoration following destruction/]
]there’s God Holiness/perfection which desires to make everything holy/perfect as it was sans Creation/]
]last, but definitely not least, there’s the character of God as a Father overflowing with intertrinitarian love for the other/]

Given we know the only way for the above to be satisfied is repentance & faith in Christ, it’s not a huge jump to say it must happen postmortem when it doesn’t happen during this lifetime.

I agree we are encouraged to be saved in this life, but that doesn’t rule out salvation in the next.


I think the disconcenction between thexz appearnce sometimes of Universalistic themes and the complete lack of post-death repentance and faith is significant.

I was thinking of more direct evidence, such as a reminder to repent or an explanation of how faith works after death.

It’s big jump particularly, because the main tenant of evangelical Universalism is that faith and repentance take place after death for those in Hell.

An argument from silence isn’t strong evidence.

The plain meaning of that statement is that we’re no distinctions, which isn’t true. So whatever God being all in all means, salvation isn’t a necessary collary.

Edom and Moab spring to mind.

Sure we want to keep that in our calculations.

God’s goodness includes both love and wrath. It doesn’t follow from these attributes that he needs to save everyone.