Reformatory view of justice


#1

Everyone.

Reformatory View of Justice. Origen argued that God’s justice has reformation in view, not punishment. He claimed, “The fury of God’s vengeance is profitable for the purgation of souls. That the punishment, also, which is said to be applied be fire, is understood to be applied by fire, is understood to be applied with the object of healing” (2.10.6). He added, “those who have been removed from their primal state of blessedness have not been removed irrecoverably, but have been placed under the rule of those holy and blessed orders which we have described; and by availing themselves of the aid of these, and being remoulded by salutary principles and discipline, they may recover themselves, and be restored to their condition of happiness” (1.6.2).

One cannot apply God’s obvious desire that persons reform their lives to prove that all will be saved in the end. Nor can one assume, contrary to both Scripture and fact, that all persons choose to be reformed (Matthew 23:37; Revelation 20:10-15), or that no decision is final. Likewise, the Bible declares that each person is destined to die one and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27). It is contrary to the proper concept of justice, which is penal, rather than reformatory. God’s absolute justice and holiness demand that a penalty be paid for sin (see Leviticus 17:11; Ezekiel 18:20).

The reformatory view of justice also is contrary to the substitutionary death of Christ. Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God (1 Peter 3:18; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21). “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Why did Christ have to pay the awful price for sin if sin is not an infinite crime and does not have to be punished?

God is indeed interested in reformation. That is what life is all about. Those who refuse to accept what Christ did in the atonement cannot be reformed in this life. And then they must stand without the righteousness of Christ before an infinitely holy God who cannot abide in the presence of sin’s corruption. Separation from God is the necessary punishment for those who cannot exist in God’s presence and are rightly the objects of His anger. This is why God is so long-suffering with those who live. He does not wish that any should parish (2 Peter 3:9).

Origen offered an argument for universalism from God’s wisdom:

God, by the ineffable skill of his wisdom, transforming and restoring all things, in whatever manner they are made, to some useful aim, and to the common advantage of all, recalls those very creatures which differed so much from each other in mental conformation to one agreement of labor and purpose; so that, although they are under the influence of different motives, they nevertheless complete the fullness and perfection of one world, and the very variety of minds tends to one end of perfection. For it is is one power which grasps and holds together all the diversity of the world, and leads the different movements towards one work, lest so immense an undertaking as that of the world should be dissolved by the dissensions of souls.

This again misses the point that God’s wisdom does not act contrary to His love. And love cannot force anyone to do something.

The fact that God is infinitely wise (omniscient) allows Him to know that not everyone will freely choose to serve Him. The attempt to save people God knows will never accept Him would be contrary to God’s wisdom. Still, all are invited, even those God knows will reject Him.

Many, with Origen, respond, “that God, the Father of all things, in order to ensure the salvation of all His creatures through the ineffable plan of His word and wisdom, so arranged each of these, that every spirit, whether soul or rational existence, however called, should not be compelled by force, against the liberty of his own will, to any other course than that to which the motives of his own mind led him (lest be doing the power of exercising free-will should seem to be taken away, which certainly would produce a change in the nature of the being itself)” (Origen, 2.1.2). But God cannot “ensure the salvation of all” without compelling them by force. As long as someone refuses to freely accept God’s love, a loving God cannot ensure they will be saved.


james.goetz on the Devil
#2

But He knows that everyone will accept Him - we know that as well. That’s stated very clearly in scripture. One can ignore it, but, by doing so, shouldn’t pretend to know His wisdom and will.


#3

I don’t care much for trying to defend Origen anyway, but since you (or some source of yours) wrote the above:

1.) Do the Persons of the Trinity, from eternity, enact penalties upon each other as sinners? Or are they unjust to one another instead? Or would you say that God, the source and the living standard of all justice, Whose way is righteousness, and Who essentially is love, has nothing at all to do with justice one way or another among the personal relationships of the Trinity? (Or, perhaps you would deny that God is the source and/or the living standard of all justice?)

2.) When God requires, in the NT and OT both (I will suppose you will be familiar with examples–but if not I can provide them), requires us to render justice to our neighbor, what sort of punishment of our neighbor does He perfectly require of us? And would you say that treating our neighbor as we would wish to be treated (for example) is a lesser or debased or merely human form of justice, not really the proper and basic conception of it?

3.) You agree that God is very interested in reform, and you even insist that reform is what life is all about, but you also insist that penalization is the proper concept of justice (not even reform, much less something like for example the Golden Rule). So, would you say that God is interested in reform as a lesser or debased or maybe merely human form of justice? Or perhaps you don’t consider reform to have anything to do with justice at all? Perhaps you consider reform to be unjust instead of just? What is this reform that life is all about (do unfallen creatures reform? Redeemed and righteous ones? God in three Persons?), and why is this thing that life is all about so much less than the absolute perfection and fulfillment of justice that is penalization?

Obviously, the concept of penalization as the ultimate and most proper form of justice is very important to you and to your theology. So I thought that you might want to add some further comments regarding penalization among the unity of the Trinity as the ultimate ground and standard and source of all justice, etc. :slight_smile:


#4

Also, I am pretty sure I can quote you elsewhere strongly affirming that of course (with scripture prooftexts even) God not only intends but acts so that all at least might be saved.

Yet here, you (or the article you are quoting) turn around and contravene this (my emphasis in the quote):

That’s a position a Calvinist wouldn’t have any problem accepting. But then, the Calvinist wouldn’t accept (against the Arminian) that God was attempting to save some people at all.

The argument would be:

P(roposition) 1: It would be self-contradictory for God to act, even in primary intention, against His own omniscient wisdom.
P2: God, being omniscient, knows that some will never accept Him.
C1: The attempt, or even the primary intention, to save people whom God, being omniscient, knows will never accept Him, would self-contradictory for God to do. (from P1, P2)
P3: God does not do that which is flatly self-contradictory.
C2: God does not even intend, much less attempt, to save some people from sin. (from C1, P3)

That God happens by historical accident to also ‘invite’ the people He knows will never, ever receive Him no matter what He ever did to help them come to Him, could in no way be construed as any serious intention to save them from sin.

From your previous comments though, you were willing to agree (even strenuously so) that God does intend and even acts to save all people from sin; the problem is not with God, Who is not willing that any should perish and Who wills all to come to repentance, but with the sinner who chooses to shut her eyes to the light and to love her sins instead of God.

It looks now like you’re willing to sacrifice that point in order to avoid a universalistic conclusion such as the following:

P(roposition) 1: It would be self-contradictory for God to act, even in primary intention, against His own omniscient wisdom.
P2a: God, being omniscient, can see from His perspective whether He will eventually succeed or not in leading every sinner to be saved from sin.
[Note: a variant of P2 above, which leaves the question of success open instead of proposing it shut]
P3: God does not do that which is flatly self-contradictory.
P4: God acts, and even primarily intends, for all sinners to be saved from sin.
C3: God, in acting to save all sinners from sin, is not acting contrary to His own omniscient wisdom. (P1, P3, P4)
C4: God, in acting to save all sinners from sin, can see from His perspective whether He will eventually succeed or not in leading every sinner to be saved from sin. (P2a, C4)
C5: God, in acting to save all sinners from sin, does so foreseeing (from His omniscient vantage point) that He will eventually succeed in leading every sinner to be saved from sin. (C3, C4)

This is, in fact, exactly the argument Calvinists classically deploy in order to show that universalism (not only their own doctrine of persistence in salvation for whomever God intends to save) would follow from holding to the Arminianistic belief that God intends and acts to save everyone from sin. Thus,

P5: Some sinners shall never be saved from sin.
Con(flict)1: God, in acting to save all sinners from sin, does so foreseeing (from His omniscient vantage point) that He will eventually succeed in leading every sinner to be saved from sin; but some sinners shall never be saved from sin. (C5, P5)

If the logic is valid, then at least one Proposition must be factually incorrect. (And/or at least one relevant proposition still is missing.)


#5

Hebrews 12:8

But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

obviously even believers suffer chastisement (remedial punishment), for what reason shall not unbelievers chastened to be reformed, either in this world, or the one to come, for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness (Isaiah 26:9)

Universalism does not say that sin will not be punished, even Origen whom the author of your article quoted asserted this:
The fury of God’s vengeance is profitable for the purgation of souls. That the punishment, also, which is said to be applied be fire, is understood to be applied by fire, is understood to be applied with the object of healing

The wages of sin is death, did Jesus not die? - I believe if Jesus hadn’t died and arose from the dead, mankind altogether would have perished and there would never be a ressurection or a hope beyond death, Paul seems to agree with this:

1 Corinthians 15:12-19;32

*Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.*

you see, Paul makes no allusion that he believed if Jesus were not raised, mankind would suffer everlasting torment but rather eternal death (i.e. annihilation), can you give me a single verse that suggests otherwise?

The bible does nowhere say that sin is an infinite crime, Jesus suffered also no infinite penalty! But I agree that without Jesus’ sacrifice Adam’s sin would have everlasting consequences for every man, eternal death, but *for since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. * (1 Corinthians 15:21.22)


#6

One of the concepts that was extremely integral in my journey into UR was coming to the understanding that reformation is the ONLY concept of justice that fits the overall biblical view of God’s character at all. (Behold, I am making all things new).

Nothing less than this could be true justice in the eyes of God, who will one day wipe out ALL sin and death from the universe. This (among other biblical promises) leaves no room for an endless “hell” or any such thing like it.


#7

One of the concepts that was extremely integral in my journey into UR, was coming to the understanding that even reformation is not the primary concept of justice (whether in metaphysics or in scriptural testimony). But I would say reformation (and thus re-tributive punishment, properly understood, i.e. as restoration to loyal tribute) is the only concept of punishment that fits the overall biblical view of God’s justice at all.

This, by the way, means I wasn’t being sarcastic (though still somewhat ironically humorous) when asking those questions of BA in my first comment for this thread. I was pointing to the total incongruity of considering mere punishment as the absolute standard of ‘justice’ per se, especially from within an acceptance of the truth of ortho-trin theology. (But neither could it be the absolute standard of ‘justice’ per se, even if mere single-person monotheism was true.)


#8

I ditto Jason that I don’t try to justify Origenism, especially while church historians are still trying to define Origenism.:slight_smile:

Anyway, in short, I believe the Bible teaches that punishments in hell result from justice while sinners also enter salvation from hell. And I see the Bible teaching that punishments also help lead people to repentance and faith in God, and I suppose that’s true both on earth and in hell.


#9

Jim.

you said:
Anyway, in short, I believe the Bible teaches that punishments in hell result from justice while sinners also enter salvation from hell. And I see the Bible teaching that punishments also help lead people to repentance and faith in God, and I suppose that’s true both on earth and in hell.

Born Again: I would really like it if you would show in the bible where sinners enter salvation from hell. If you can do that I will believe in UR. Please don’t show me Rev 21:22-27: 1 Peter 3:18-20; 4:6 for your interpretation is mere speculation at best.


#10

Show you Scrpitures that say specifically that sinners enter salvation from Hell, but don’t show you the passages in Scripture that specifically say that sinners enter salvation from hell!? LOL. Wierdo!

Psalm 139:8
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

Ephesians 2:8
This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”
What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions ? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)

Proverbs 15:11
Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the LORD,How much more the hearts of men!


#11

Craig.

Eph 2:8 refers to the Old Testament Saints in Abraham’s bosom, not from Hades.


#12

Ezekiel 18:20 20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

Leviticus 17:11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.

This is your proof that:

Can you explain your proof because I see nothing within these verses that demand punishment is penal without remediation?


#13

Can you prove that, or are you relying on what you were told it meant. I can guaruntee you cannot prove that Paul was saying that.

P.S. This is the last post to you from me. Now that the entire board is going to ignore you, I too will ignore you.


#14

I’m sorry that you feel that my biblical interpretation is speculation while you offer no reasonable explanation for the respective verses. And you’re entitled to respectfully continue with your own speculation. And I 'll keep bringing up that Revelation 19:11- 21:27 teaches that “the kings of the earth” go from getting slaughtered in Armageddon to enjoying heaven, which makes John the Revelator a weak universalist. And how can I believe the view that those prisoners who disobeyed in the Days of Noah are somehow the Old Testament righteous? Where do you get Old Testament righteous from those in prison who disobeyed in the days of Noah?


#15

He has to believe that, because it is the only way he can justify that what he believes is correct. It is the same problem with saying that Lucifer is the real name for Satan, and that Satan was once an Angel of Light who rebelled against the Kingdom of Heaven which he was once it’s protector… …there is no evidence anywhere in Scripture that this is his name, nor that he was an Angel of Light who rebelled. Yet, because it is so tightly wound into free-will conditional salvation doctrine, these stories cannot be denied regardless of the fact it is made up and have no Scriptural support.


#16

I’ve heard other Augustinian speculations on the verses so I wouldn’t say he has no other choice. Anyway, I’m a[n] evangelical universalist who holds to free-will conditional salvation doctrine. And like you I reject that “Lucifer” is the biblical name of the devil while I believe that the Bible teaches that there are fallen angels, which includes the devil and his angels. Since this digresses from the original post, then we could continue this in another thread if you like.


#17

I should rephrase that, in any case, I believe that salvation in this age is a conditioned on a choice, but end salvation based on the univseralist salvation is not a choice as God will be all in all. Your view of conditional salvation and BA’s view are completely different. BA thinks we are saved from perpetual torment, while you believe we are saved from an age-abiding correction.

As for Celestial Beings falling from heaven, there is not one Scripture or collection of presuppositions supported by Scripture which can demonstrate this; in fact, Jesus said clearly any kingdom divided against itself will fail. The only Messengers who have fallen are men entrusted with the Oracles of God and those who had the Gospel and fallen away.


#18

Craig.

Age-abiding correction? Hmmm. The lake of fire being used for correction, huh? Bet you won’t find that in the bible, Craig.


#19

Born Again,
can you explain the scriptures you listed. You stated that they clarify that justice is penal RATHER than corrective.

Aug


#20

You won’t read the Scriptures that say it is, so why bother explaining it to you. Everyone here knows the Scriptures, and we all know that the lake of Fire is corrective punishment, not punitive. So I don’t have much to say concerning it.