The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Problem: Universalism “shrugs” at God’s violence

Well Buddy I stand on the scriptures, so I believe that if they are right then I am as well. God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked, in fact he has determined that none perish but that all come to repentance. Here read this verse and be comforted,

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing(boulomai) for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

In strong’s and other concordances this word boulomai has an amazing definition,

**boulomai - be disposed, determine, intend. **

Or as one other so beautifully put it,

While God’s “thelō-offers” can be rejected (see 2309 /thélō), His 1014 /boúlomai (“planning”) always works out His purpose, especially in conjunction with presetting the physical scenes of history.

The truth is this verse should be translated,

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not determining for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

This is just one verse among hundreds I have found that confirm that God’s purpose is to heal all.

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This ancient thread (one of the very first I wrote upon joining this site!) is resurrected!

As time rolls on, things become clearer (eventually) and so it is my worries and thinking on this subject have evolved as well.
The topic of violence can be a vast and ambiguous one.
Is violence that brings/facilitates good alright??
I’ve come to believe that the only one in the entire Universe I trust to DO violence is God.
But that’s only because I see Him as willing to use ANY tool necessary for the saving of His creation…
YES – it’s incredibly sad that learning can only be elicited by the violence of hell; but that’s exactly what hell is according to UR.

What I am simply unable to embrace, or accept, even at the hand of God, is gratuitous and punitive violence. If violence has NO redemptive purpose (and again, I’d rather trust God alone with it) then it is evil.

One of the absolutely horrid things about sin is, it seems to me, that we face, in this realm, choices that are both bad. Both violent. For example, the Atom bomb in Hiroshima was extreme violence. An awful thing. And yet it directly helped end a war whose continuation would have killed far more. Horrible violence and loss, preventing even worse violence and loss. No use being smug about it no matter which side of the discussion one finds oneself. It’s simply awful.

But in the redeemed world of grace and beauty and truth that awaits ALL of us, somehow ALL choices will somehow be good!
How that’s gonna work out I’ve little clue; but DO love dreaming about it!
And it’s a world that UR predicts and describes far better than ANY system I’ve yet discovered…

(See YOU there!!)


Thanks Sherman. When I talk about non-violent injustice, I get blank looks. But when I talk about violent justice, people get angry at me. (Angry pacifists fail to see the irony.) The conditioning is almost complete: “Violence is bad, non-violence is good.” Which means our masters can do whatever injustice they like to us, so long as they do it with a smile. And if someone quite rightly punches them in the nose, he immediately becomes the villain.

Suppose your father(?) had used the same violent energy to save you from a burning car, or to defend you from some pervert. If so, you now would be praising his violence, not condemning it. The thing that sticks in your throat is not the violence itself, but the injustice of that violence.

Just violence must be wise, necessary, controlled and proportionate. It must have the goal of restoring peace and harmony. A grown man beating the hell out of a small boy is none of these things. Rather, it is profoundly destructive and deeply shameful to both the boy and the man.

RE. the stories in the OT, here are three possibilities:

  1. God did not command these horrific acts, but the words were put into his mouth by faithless servants wanting to justify their barbaric behavior.

  2. The stories are not historical, but are metaphors for righteous living. ie. We are commanded to destroy the evil in our own lives. Kill the evil man, woman and child. Do not leave a donkey or a sheep of evil alive in your soul. Not even a feather.

  3. The destruction of the Amalekites etc in fact was wise, necessary, controlled and proportionate, with the goal of establishing peace and harmony.

I sometimes ask myself, “Suppose God had not cut the lives of these people short. Would the world now be better or worse for it?” Since I cannot answer this question, perhaps I shouldn’t be too hasty to condemn God.

“Suppose God had not cut the lives of these people short. Would the world now be better or worse for it?”

Would the world now be better or worse if God had cut short the life of that guy in Norway just before he started his killing spree?

good question…hard to know that from out point of view…only God can know that for a fact.

Good question. Is this the best of all possible worlds, or is God flying by the seat of his pants?

Or does stuff just happen :wink:

good point…and if so, how does that affect “the plan?” is there a plan? i believe there is, but yeah i usually get annoyed with the typical “divine blueprint” type of theology, but it ultimately makes sense for evangelical universalism lol

Well to be fair that has always been the conundrum hasn’t it - Ecclesiastes and Job both explore such issues - of course, in the case of the Amalekites that episode as recorded in the Old Testament may not be history as we expect it to be recorded these days. Depends on whether one sees it as such or the work of later redactors with a purely theological agenda :wink: who knows? (I know the believer’s answer is… God does :wink:

Concerning the OP and the issue or evil and violence, I recall that Adam and Eve chose to “know” good and evil. Well, we certainly “know” the evil side of things. When Adam and Eve sinned, it plunged them/us into what Paul calls “this present evil age”, and frankly “death” is the only way out of it. If God had allowed Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of life and live forever, then they’d have existed in this present evil age, under the dominion of Evil, endlessly. But in God’s mercy, He brings our suffering under evil to an end. The judgments and acts of God flow from both His love for us and His sovereign will and plan.

Well, folks, I’m not so sure that God was responsible for all that violence depicted in the Old Testament. Jesus revealed to us what God is really like. Jesus told us that when we do good to our enemies we will truly be children of the Father, since He makes his sun to shine and his rain to fall on the rightous and the unrighteous alike. Jesus is the exact imprint of the Father’s essence (Heb 1:3). Did Jesus ever command anyone to harm another or bring about severe punishments on the unrighteous? If not, and if He and His Father have the same nature, then the Father would not do such such a thing either.

As I see it, Moses sometimes gave commands as being from God, and uttered words as coming from God, which actually had its origin in his own thinking, though he thought them to be the revelation of God.

In John 8:3-5 we read:

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”

Now if Jesus had thought the Law of Moses concerning the matter came from God, He would have said, “The law is clear. She must be stoned to death!” Perhaps He Himself would have picked up the first stone and hurled it at her. But He first made His accusers recognize their own sin, and then said to her, “I do not condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

On the other hand, in Leviticus one of the laws of Moses reads:

If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall not pity her. Deuteronomy 25:11,12

Can you imagine Jesus giving the command to cut off a woman’s hand for this act — to show her no pity? Yet Jesus is another, exactly like His Father. If Jesus would not have given such a command, neither would the Father.

I coulda swore I posted this once . . .try it again . . .

I could be wrong, but I get the sense that people tend to think that I would say “this” isn’t important, or God doesn’t really mind if you’re doing “that”. And if that’s the case, I apologize to you because that’s not my intent at all. I grew up in the letter of the law. I embraced the concepts that came with it. And, I would also look at the world in general and be left saddened at least, overwhelmed with a sense of hoplessness at most. But seldom would I feel positive or encouraged. But in his Grace, I beleive God brought me to a place where I came to realize it’s not about the shadows in other people’s lives . … it’s about my perspective.

In fact, maybe this will help, let me tell you exactly how God went about this in me. It happened while I was doing one of my favorite things, I was out in the wild country. I was also raised as a hunter . . . my passion is deer season . . .and on this particular day, season hadn’t opened yet but I was basically just hiking around. It was the first time that year that I’d been out so I just wanted to do some scouting and I took my camera with me. I took a bunch of pictures, it was a beautiful day, perfect temperatures, blue skies . . .just a great day to be out. After it was all over and I was at home, I was downloading the pictures off my camera and it was there that things began changing for me . . . in one of my favorite areas, I’d taken a picture when I first came into the clearing . . . it is a valley, has a bluff on one side, a large creek flowing through but it does a unique thing, it somes into the valley and makes a distinct “horse shoe” before it exits the valley on the other side. At one point, it appears the water is flowing up hill, but there’s a sizeable swell in the lay of the land and it forces the creek to flow around rather than through.

Overhanging the creek is this HUGE oak tree. Beautiful limbs reaching clear across the creek as well as up toward the bluff. I’d taken a picture of the view, then walked under and passed the tree and after passing by it, I had turned around and taken another picture of the scenery, but also of the tree. As I was looking at the pictures, I was amazed at the two specific ones that the tree was in. If I didn’t know the land as well as I do, I never would have realized that it was the same tree. The only difference was, the location of the sun. On the first picture, the sun was behind me and the tree still had all it’s leaves yet and all you can see is the shades of green and the shadows caused by the leaves. But in the other picture, I was facing the sun and because the sun was now on the other side, all that stood out was the sun rays piercing through.

And as I sat there in wonderment, the Lord started speaking to me. See, there are many “types” and “shadows” in Scripture. I call them dimensions, but there are many different “levels” of understanding. And there is so much symbolism. In fact, I beleive “that’s” the language God uses to speak to us. I believe he uses the natural things around us as his language “to” us. Because the message will never be lost in translated words or cultures. And one of these “types” in Scriptures are actually trees . . .trees are types of man. In the New Testament, when Jesus was healing a blind guy, he touched him and asked if the guy could see and the guy said “I see men as trees walking”. Then Jesus spit on the ground, rubbed the mud in his eyes and sent him away to wash his eyes and he was healed. But the fact that the guy “appeared” to not be fully healed on Jesus first attempt is not a sign that Jesus was off his game that day . . .everything Jesus did was “on” purpose, “with” purpose. This was a spiritual principle Jesus was revealing. Men are as trees . . .Psalms talks about how we are “like a tree, planted beside still waters . . .”

So when I looked at these two pictures, the Lord started speaking to me about positioning. In my eyes, I can see shadows in other people’s lives just as much as the next guy. But when I do, why? Is it because of the darkness in them? Or is it because of “my perspective” from “where I’m standing”? When I saw the shadows in the picture, the sun was BEHIND me. I’d turned my face away from it’s light and with the Son behind me, I became focused on the shadows of others. But in the other picture, when my face was toward the sun, it wasn’t shadows that became dominant, it was the rays of the sun. What the Lord spoke to me was, the shadows in others is not the issue, it’s my positioning with God that affects my perspective of the tree. So, rather than be concerned about their shadows, I should pay closer attention to keep the SON in my eyes so that as I look at the very same tree, what my attention is drawn to most is not the shadows, but the light of the Son.

“That’s” why I let go of the idea that I need to be an officer of God’s laws. Jesus left us with MANY examples of how he had every opportunity to “cash in” on the shadows of others. But instead of demanding what he deserved, he released forgiveness, mercy, grace. The woman caught in adultery is one of the most memorable. The religious people had every right to bring her to justice, and justice was granted, but not according to the letter of the law. Instead, it was according to the law of grace. I would much rather break the laws of men (religion) than to be found guilty of breaking the law of grace.

So once again, I would say, plant the seed of life in others, encourage, strengthen them, but let the Holy Spirit be with one to speak to them inwardly as to whether or not they’re not living up to their spiritual potential. Jesus preached of liberal things like, life, not just “life” but ABUNDANT life. And things like, easy yokes . . . trading our sorrows in for everlasting joy. Those who become weary at trying to live life according to the standards of others, come to where rest awaits. Not labor, but rest. Not warfare, but celebration. When we enter the Sabbath, the rules change from one of warning, to one of watering.

I think it’s interesting that the reason that God told them not to partake of the knowledge of good and evil, was because the kind of “knowing” we have there in the Hebrew is the same word as is used for a man to “know” his wife. It speaks of an intimate, experiential type of knowledge rather than simply mental understanding, which is why it was so destructive. I believe that Adam and Eve already knew the difference between “right and wrong”, but that they saw it as “true and false” before the tree. Partaking of the tree and gaining experiential knowledge of good and evil caused their souls to become primarily rather than secondarily involved and they did not have the apparatus to handle this new desire-driven internal, intimate knowledge.

Sherman, that is a very good point about the tree of life, and is yet another nail in the coffin of ECT. Even at the beginning, God did not allow us to be consigned to the fate that our popular theology tells us He eventually will.

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Partaking of the tree and gaining experiential knowledge of good and evil caused their souls to become primarily rather than secondarily involved and they did not have the apparatus to handle this new desire-driven internal, intimate knowledge.

Oh man . . . this one resonates!!! Absolutely powerful observation!! It’s exactly how I’ve seen it but you’ve worded it so wonderfully!! And “that’s” what I see Jesus reversing on the cross . . .and in the end, all things will return to it’s original order . . .the soul of man will once again return to it’s rightful place in alignment. “under” the authority of the spirit of God in us.

Oh, and thanks Buddy! I appreciate your comments!!

Thanks. I got this from reading a Jewish Rabbi’s perspective on the A&E narrative. It certainly resonated with me as well, when I read it.

It also seems to me that God set Adam and Eve up; their fall was part of their training for only then could they learn what it takes to get up. Can one really “know” good without “knowing” evil? Can one understand light without understanding darkness, the absence of light? Can one know life without knowing death? I see this all as part of God’s plan for us and for the ages. The more I study it, the more I realize how much I don’t understand it, His ways. I use to think it was all about us, that God wanted us, but now I don’t know for it seems like He wants so much more. He’s doing something with all of creation. And you know, if Satan is turned and does repent, after all that he’s done, can you imagine how much he’s going to love and glorify God, once He comes to his right mind.

I suppose I’m just rambling here because I’m just dumbfounded to think that I use to think I had it all figured out. And the more I study the more I realize just how much I don’t know or have it figured out. And like a child, all the more I trust in our Father. Yes Jesus loves me. Yes Jesus loves me. Yes Jesus loves me. What a profound thought!

Captivated by His love for me, for us all,

That’s the way I see it. We need to find a way of reading the OT that conforms to the mind of Christ.

There are many examples in the New Testament of how “they” did it. When they talk about Abraham, they paint a picture of almost perfection . . .he’s the Father of Faith!! He believed in God so much that he was willing to kill his own kid!! But then when you read the Old Testament account . . . you find that he was very impatient . . . instead of waiting for God’s promise, he took matters into his own hands . . . and he bore an Ishmael as a result. Whenever he felt his life was threatened, he would lie about his wife not being his wife . . .it’s self-preservation all the way . . .but in the New Testament, you don’t see “any” of that.

Then there’s Job . . .to hear the New Testaments side of it, Job was one of the holiest men alive!! He lost everything but remained faithful to God . . .but then when you read the story on him, he may not have given up on God, but jeeze, he complained the ENTIRE time!!

David, a man after God’s own heart . .but he had one of the most prestigious soldiers of his personal guard sent to the heaviest battle line which essentially was murder, and, he had the guy take the sealed message of his own fate to his superiors . .all that so David could cover up the fact that he slept with the guy’s wife. But you don’t see any of that either.

It’s like I said with the tree . . .God doesn’t see our shadows, he sees the light of his Son in us. We need to do the same with one another.

Nathan if there was a “like” button, I’d hit it.