The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Preterism and universalism

I am a Calvinistic, preterest postmillenial universalist. Maybe the only one in existence. LOL But I believe that some form of at least partial preterism is the correct eschatology. Preterism is a friend to the universalist. If Matt 25 and Revelation refer to past events rather than future ones, there are no texts left for the proponents of endless torment to use.

Welcome to the forum!

And no, I’m pretty sure you aren’t the only one in existence. :smiley: I think one of our more active commenters, “RanRan”, also takes this position. (Maybe one of the admins, too…? Less sure about that, but he does seem to agree with Ran about penal sub theory being true.) We’ve been having a lot of discussion on it recently, including in relation to Matt 24. (Not so much in relation to Matt 25 yet–I mean along the line of its parables referring to something already long completed in our past, yet still to come from their perspective–though I did try to open that line of discussion.) Ran suggested we just chunk RevJohn. :wink: Not something I’m inclined to do, though I’ve pointed out in his favor that there are a few orthodox Christian groups who don’t accept it’s canonicity. It’s possible he didn’t really mean to chunk it though. (I haven’t caught up with some of those threads yet, in the past week or so; he may have qualified himself on that topic since then.)

I think the main discussion on this topic is currently here in this thread, though there are previous threads related to elements of that discussion, too (some of which are simply waiting for me to reply to them to be active again.) If anyone wants to post links to other relevant threads, please do so! (I see you’ve already commented on a thread asking Tom Talbott his opinion of Matt 25’s judgment of the goats, though I haven’t read it yet. That’s here, for anyone who wants a shortcut to it.)

Anyway, we have a pretty broad mix of universalists here (and a few non-unis here and there, though I wish we had more.) The admins, most of the mods, and the three guest authors (including myself) are ortho-trin; but even within that there’s a lot of discussion. :smiley: And we have plenty of other commentors who either are overtly counter-trin, or who don’t have much opinion on that one way or the other. We also have at least two fine atheistic/agnostic types whom I’m glad to be here. (Though one is busy working on a theology degree this season, I think. The other, Jeff, is one of our mods! I think. Did we make you a mod Jeff? I know we were going to…)


Yes you did! cross me at your peril mortals bwahh haa haaa haa—!

[Admin note: mod powers temporarily suspended.]

Eek! I’ve been banjaxed!


(In case anyone is worried that wasn’t a joke: the further joke is that I’m only formally an admin. My system uses a rotating ip code system that prevents me from having admin powers for longer than 24 hours at a time. So another admin has to give me admin powers, which quickly return to the mere mod powers. :wink: :laughing: )

Hi wmb2003,

While, with the exception of the doctrine of God’s absolute sovereignty over all circumstances and human choices, I no longer consider myself Calvinistic, I am definitely in agreement with you in regards to the Scriptural soundness of a preterist eschatology. I see the entire book of Revelation and all of Matt 24-25 as fulfilled prophecies, and believe that the majority of the passages in Scripture that speak of “Christ’s coming” refer to the events surrounding the overthrow of Jerusalem in 70, when the kingdom of God was established in the world. The only coming of Christ which I understand to be in our future is Christ’s personal, bodily coming to destroy death and instantaneously subject all people to himself, which I think is exclusively referred to in the following NT passages: John 14:2-3; Acts 1:9-11; 3:19-21; 1 Cor 15:22-23; Phil 3:20-21; 1 Thess 4:13-18; 1 John 3:2. And unlike his coming in judgment at the time of Jerusalem’s overthrow, this coming is not to be accompanied by anyone’s being punished (and especially not endlessly tormented!). I suppose this view makes me just one prophecy shy of being a “full preterist!”


I actually had to engage in debate with a bunch of ‘full preterists’ to understand what the term meant. It’s pretty ugly. One of the guys I debated was the guy who started the ‘Preterist Archives’ - he finally saw the light and changed his views from the full-preterist’s grave errors. Not the least of which is their idea of an invisible resurrection and the very nature of Christ’s resurrected body as essentially immaterial and non-physical. More of a gnostic group than Christian. It’s like tribbies gone wild on the next fad. What an anti-christian group!

I ended up with distaste for both titles - ‘partial’ sounds like it’s lacking something and ‘full’ sounds like the complete picture. So I go by ‘preterist’ or ‘orthodox preterist’ - since much of what I garnered was from the church fathers on the subject. It is important for me to stay in the communion of saints.

But I agree with WMB that preterism is a friend to universalism - and I would extend that to the Gospel itself.

Some day Jason will come around to the fact that God’s wrath was, indeed, poured out to the last drop in 70ad to fulfill scripture and, because of the cross, He is now not counting men’s sins against them. Until then, that is, until Jason stops thinking that God-the-crazy-angry-one is the very definition of faith, we must humor him. Pray for him.

The Trouble with Tribbies - wasn’t that an old Star-Trek episode? :laughing:


I think my actual position is spelled out several times in the thread I linked to (as well as frequently spelled out in a bunch of other threads going back to when I started posting here at all). Which is why you’ve also charged me with believing that God never was angry to start with, as you might (though apparently don’t) recall.

Be that as it may, I certainly encourage and invite Aaron and WMB2003 to join and add to that discussion (as well as any prior ones on related topics, some of which I’ll be bumping back up to the top of the ‘active thread’ list this weekend with replies, assuming I have the time and energy to do so.)

I’m not quite sure what to make of the above statement; perhaps I’m misunderstanding you. My understanding of what it means for God to count men’s sins against them is simply his allowing them to suffer the full consequences of their sins (Rom 1:18-32). And God’s anger or wrath is simply his disapprobation of sin expressed in temporal judgment (Ex 22:24; 32:10; Num 16:46; Deut 29:23, 28; 2 Kings 22:17; Job 14:13; Isaiah 9:19; 13:9; Jer 7:20; 42:18; 44:6; Eze 9:8; 21:31; 22:20; etc.). While the judgment that fell on apostate Israel in 70 was certainly unparalleled in its severity, I don’t read in Scripture that God would no longer be punishing people after he judged Israel, or that from that point on all sinners would get off “scot-free.” The punishment into which the unbelieving Jewish people were said to go at this time is said to be “aionios,” which presupposes that it would continue long after it began (and history can testify to this fact as well) - and if so, is it not true that God was still counting their sins against them? Moreover, you say that, “because of the cross, God is now not counting men’s sins against them” (emphasis mine). However, I would argue that, even before Christ’s death, God has never counted the sins of those who are righteous against them (Ps 32:1-2); in every age of redemptive history, those whom God has reconciled to himself have been free from the condemnation that sin brings, while those who remain un-reconciled to God have been exposed to God’s wrath. And I don’t think Jesus’ death or the judgment that fell on Israel in 70 in any way altered this fact. God has always rewarded the righteous and punished the guilty, and since God never changes we can be sure he is still judging righteously in the earth today.

Your thoughts?

The consequence of sin is death. Long, lingering, forever death - where the worm never quits. He doesn’t ‘allow’ that, does He? Everyone is resurrected. He’s the God of the living. You’re going to suffer the full consequences of your sin, Aaron, you are going to die and rot until He returns. (That could be ten thousand years from now) Am I the first to break this bleak news to you? Sheesh.

If He was counting your sins against you - you would remain dead. Forever. That’s why Christ is our Hope - our only Hope.

Of course, there’s that special bunch, who think they deserve to be resurrected…only God can burn away that arrogance. Everyone will be salted with fire. Another term for the self-righteous is ‘crispy critters’.

If He is counting your sins against you, Aaron - you are beyond screwed, you are unique, neither part of the God-head nor part of Man. Are you an alien and not a human being? Should I be scared? Write a novel? Ah, we’ll leave that to Jason.

I am unaware of a verse/passage in Scripture which teaches that an indefinitely-long stay in the grave (of any duration) is ever said to be something of which my sin has made me deserving. Moreover, we’re told that the last living generation of people will not die at all; all who will be alive on the earth when Christ returns to raise the dead and subject all to himself will be changed from mortal to immortal in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor 15:50-52; 1 Thess 4:13-18). But if the consequence of sin is a “long, lingering forever death” then these people will never suffer the full consequences of their sin.

Perhaps this will help me understand your view better: How do you understand the words “death,” “dead” (etc.) in verses such as Matt 8:22; John 5:24; Rom 6:16, 21, 23; 7:5, 9, 11, 13; Eph 2:1, 5; Col 2:13; 1 Tim 5:6; James 1:14-15; 1 Peter 4:6; Jude 12; Rev 3:1-2?

I think we’re in full agreement that Christ is our only hope if we’re to be saved from sin and death. I also affirm that we would remain permanently in the grave if there were to be no resurrection of the dead. I simply deny that, were this to happen, it would be the consequence of any sin I’d committed. Now, above you said that I’m going to suffer the full consequences of my sin (which you understand to be my dying and rotting until Christ returns). But now you seem to imply that I’m not, in fact, going to suffer the full consequences of my sin (for you deny that God is counting my sins against me). Could you please clarify?

Again, my understanding is that God is counting the sins of all who are not in a reconciled relationship with him against them, and that for God to count a person’s sins against them simply means for him to punish them for their sins as he sees fit. While I do find several instances in Scripture where God has punished people with a premature death (Acts 5:1-11; 12:21-23; 1 Cor 11:27-30; 1 John 5:16-17; Rev 2:21-23; etc.) I do not find the position you’re advocating to be thus revealed. Would you mind providing scriptural argumentation in support of the view that, if God were counting our sins against us, we would “remain dead forever?”

Oh, and as it seems we’ve veered from the original topic, should we start a new thread to continue this discussion?

Everyone is in Christ as they WERE in Adam. Both were/are universal states of being for mankind. That being the case, everyone is resurrected into an equally universal state for mankind. Everyone will be salted with fire - which will also be a universal experience for mankind. I take that experience of fire to be the burning away of dross - that which caused us to sin in the first place (the residuals of Adam?) The purpose of which is the universal adoration of Christ - every resurrected knee shall bow and every resurrected tongue shall confess Him as Lord.

Christ took away the sins of the world - that’s also a universal statement. For God to count those sins against mankind would mean that HE would have to ignore the cross and the sin-bearer, Christ. That’s impossible. So just as there is no condemnation in Christ - there is no condemnation in His Father - nor in the Holy Spirit.

I never said you wouldn’t suffer the the confidences of your sin. You will, you will die along with everyone else. Christ was sinless - He did not have to die until He took on our sins. He took on death when He took on our sins. But you (along with everyone else) because of Him (and like Him) will not remain dead.

I agree with all of the above, except perhaps what you say about being salted with fire, which I do not see as applicable to the resurrection of the dead. I view Christ’s words, “everyone (pas) will be salted with fire,” as meaning “all who have chosen to follow me will be refined by trying circumstances” - i.e., the “fiery trials” of 1 Pet 4:12, which, as you say, will result in the “burning away of dross” (Mal 3:2). Though Christ’s words are certainly applicable to Christians of every generation, I think he was referring specifically to the first-century national judgment upon Israel of which “Gehenna fire” is employed as a figure (Jeremiah 19).

Briefly, my understanding of how Christ takes away the sin of the world is this: Because of his death, God exalted Jesus as Lord over all and gave him all authority in heaven and on earth; consequently, by his death, Christ secured future victory over sin. In view of his exaltation as Lord - which was the result of his sacrificial death - it can be said that Christ, through his death, “condemned sin in the flesh,” having dealt it a fatal blow. Because of the cross, it is now only a matter of time before Christ will exert the fullness of his Messianic power by subjecting all people to himself and thereby destroying sin and death. Thus, Christ bore away the sins of the world while he was on the cross only in a figurative sense - the actual taking away of all sin, though secured by Christ’s death, is yet future. This is a huge topic in itself, so I may just start another thread on it.

Here’s where some of my confusion with your view is stemming from: It is my understanding that, for people to have their sins NOT counted against them, and for people to suffer the punishment of which their sins have made them deserving (i.e., the “wages” of their sins), are two mutually exclusive experiences. If my sins are not being counted against me, then this entails I have been forgiven - which means not having to suffer the consequences or “wages” of my sins (whatever one understands them to be). In other words, for God to allow a person to “reap what they sow” necessarily means their sins are being counted against them. Does that make sense?

Now, getting back to something you said earlier: you’ve said that God poured out his wrath completely in 70 A.D. But if I understand you correctly, you believe that, since Christ’s death, God hasn’t been counting anyone’s sins against them. So is it your view that God poured out his wrath on those whom he was no longer counting sins against?

Lastly, could you please comment on the following (from my previous post), because I’m really trying to better understand your view:

I am unaware of a verse/passage in Scripture which teaches that an indefinitely-long stay in the grave (of any duration) is ever said to be something of which my sin has made me deserving. Moreover, we’re told that the last living generation of people will not die at all; all who will be alive on the earth when Christ returns to raise the dead and subject all to himself will be changed from mortal to immortal in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor 15:50-52; 1 Thess 4:13-18). But if the consequence of sin is a “long, lingering forever death” then these people will never suffer the full consequences of their sin. Agree or disagree?

Also, how do you understand the words “death,” “dead” (etc.) in verses such as Matt 8:22; John 5:24; Rom 6:16, 21, 23; 7:5, 9, 11, 13; Eph 2:1, 5; Col 2:13; 1 Tim 5:6; James 1:14-15; 1 Peter 4:6; Jude 12; Rev 3:1-2?


The wages of sin is death, not resurrection. Adam, King David, etc, have been dead for thousands of years - He’s not the God of the dead - they have no awareness of Him or anything - they’re dead!

The last living generation will die or scripture will be broken - apparently, it happens quickly for them or they are not truly reborn.

But He says EVERYONE will be salted with fire.

It is true that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23) - and I submit that this “death” is the same “death” referred to in the following verses: John 5:24; Rom 6:16, 21; 7:5; 8:6, 13; Eph 2:1, 5; Col 2:13; 1 Tim 5:6; James 1:14-15; 1 Peter 4:6; Jude 12; Rev 3:1-2. However, it is not natural, physical death of which Paul is speaking in chapter 6 (nor in chapter 5). In the next chapter Paul tells his readers that the “death” of which sin is the wages is something he had previously experienced at some point in his past (Rom 7:9-13). Moreover, this “death” is something that neither he nor his believing readers would be experiencing in their future (see Rom 6:16, 21-22). In v. 16, Paul writes: “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” And in v. 21 we read that “the end of those things” which they had been doing prior to being set free from sin was “death.” However, since they had become “slaves to God,” the “fruit” they were now receiving led to “sanctification, and the end, eternal life” (“eternal life,” as you probably know, means “the life of the age,” and is defined for us by Christ in John 17:3).

Now, if this “death” is something that can be avoided by being “set free from sin” and becoming a “slave to God,” then it cannot be literal death. Paul and the Roman Christians were still going to die physically irrespective of the fact that they had been set free from sin. Similarly, Adam would have died physically even if he hadn’t sinned. Why? Because he was created mortal. Notice that the reason God gives Adam for why he would “return to the ground” is as follows: “For out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19). Unlike the “death” of which God warned Adam in Gen 2:16-17, this death was not the result of Adam’s sin; it was the result of how Adam was created (i.e., “from the dust”). And being Adam’s posterity, we too are mortal and will inevitably die (unless, of course, we’re still alive when Christ returns) - not because of sin, but because we share Adam’s “image” and are “of the dust” (1 Cor 15:47-48).

This we agree on! :slight_smile:

But Paul says they will not, in fact, die. Sleep is a metaphor for death, and Paul says “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep,” etc. That is the mystery he’s revealing to his readers - viz., that some will be changed without experiencing death, and that this change from mortality to immortality will take place “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” Paul distinguishes between the dead (who will “put on the imperishable”) and those who will still be living (who will “put on immortality”). If a living person goes from a mortal state to an immortal state - and that not gradually, but instantaneously (the word for “moment” is atomos, which means “indivisible”) - I’m not at all sure how it can be said they died, or how you can squeeze the act of dying into the indivisible period of time in which mortals will be changed into immortals.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say that somewhere during this instantaneous change from mortality to immortality, these people die. I still do not see how their dying would have anything at all to do with their having been sinners. As shown earlier, we die physically because we’re mortal, and we’re mortal because God created us that way.

If you were to receive a message from your boss that reads, “Staff meeting at 8:00. Everyone is required to attend,” would you understand this to mean “everyone who has ever lived or ever will live?” Of course not; it is implied that “everyone” means “every employee.” I submit the same principle should be applied to this verse. If Jesus is talking about the entire human race, then sure, “pas” means every member of the human race, no exceptions. But if Christ is talking about the people of that generation who had chosen to follow him (v. 47), then “pas” should here be understood to mean “everyone who has chosen to follow me.” That Christ is talking about his disciples is likely from the next verse, which is undoubtedly a reference to his disciples and not to all people without exception.

But even if you take the view that Christ is talking about everyone who was to be “thrown into Gehenna” (and I don’t completely discount this view), there is nothing said here about the resurrection of the dead. Since Jeremiah’s day, “Gehenna” had become an emblem for national judgment upon Israel (see Jer 19), and there’s not a doubt in my mind that this was how Christ understood the word and used it when he spoke to the Jewish people of his generation. And if this is so, then the “everyone” of whom Christ speaks here is all the unbelieving Jews who went through this judgment upon their nation.


My posts are disappearing.

Where is this happening Ran?