The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Revisiting a Syllogism That Supports Universalism

I’m just reporting what the Bible says.

These verses from the Greek OT (LXX) also contain the Greek word THELO (#2309 Strongs):

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases[THELO]. (Psalm 115:3)

Whatever the LORD pleases[THELO], He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. (Psalm 135:6)

The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes[THELO] (Proverbs 21:1) … &aid=33846

Dave, did you study formal logic? I did, since I minored in philosophy at University.

However, a sound argument does not always work when it is used of God’s doings or non-doings.
Such arguments have been used against God, as in the argument in the classic “Problem of evil.”


  1. Evil exists in the world (murder, rape, torture,etc.)
  2. If God is all-loving, then He would wish to prevent evil.
  3. If God is all-powerful, then He has the ability to prevent evil.
  4. God does not prevent evil.

God is not all-loving, or not all-powerful, or neither.

But Christians believe there must be another way to explain why God does not intervene and prevent evil.
One explanation is that He does not wish to interfere with man’s ability to choose, so that all people may eventually choose Him of their own free will.

Don, I did study logic, and have tried over the years to enlarge my understanding of it.
You make an excellent point, one I was going to bring up contra the OP. It has a direct bearing on premise 2. The ‘fly in the ointment’ is free will.

God’s desires can be thwarted because of the free agency of His creatures. Yes/no?

lancia… you missed the whole point of my “aside” i.e., your statement that… “Humans are powerless to change whatever God determines to happen.” Well no they are not… as the passage I referred to clearly demonstrated. But anyway, as I said it was an aside to the main thrust of your OP, which still has me a little confused…

Is it :question: — I think your more recent notion that… “I could have chosen many other good verses” may hold firmer ground — which if wanting to do what you’re attempting to do, I’d do.

I think your whole point is NOT necessary BECAUSE you’re arguing to his point WHEN his whole point is wrong in the first place. Why argue over a supposed difference between “determination” and “commandment” AND THIS based on his breakdown of <θέλημα> thelēma WHEN the text of 1Tim 2:4 DOES NOT even use that word… so why go there, go figure? The passage in question uses the term <θέλει> thelei which less dogmatic, i.e., neither determining or commanding BUT more generally “wishes” or “desires” as per the likes of…

Yes, I have used the Psalm verses before. Thanks for bringing these verses up.

If God’s determination was for Jonah to warn the evil doers and to get them to repent, He succeeded. He went through great machinations to get Jonah there, 3 days in the sea monster’s belly and all. If that’s the case, humans did not change the will (or determination) of God; they cooperated with it.

I have used them, but in some of them the word desire is translated from the more ambiguous Greek word thelema.

No, as I said, I have used a variety of verses to support this syllogism in the past. Some of these are based on thelema. And that provided cover for those rejecting the syllogism because of the possibility of the two wills of God. With thelo, one cannot so attack the syllogism, which is why I presented this recent version. After presenting the above, recent version, one can present all of these verses. The ones based on thelo provide an anchor to interpret the other more ambiguous ones in a way that is compatible with the thelo definition since these others do have a determination as one of the definitions.

God’s commandments, but not His determinations, can be thwarted because of the free agency of His creatures. So, if desire is based on thelema or some other word that has “command” as a definition, then the answer is Yes. But if desire is based on thelo, which when used for God means “determine” and does not have “command” as a definition, then the answer is No.

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No… you are simply reading into the passage your own “determinative” argument for your own argument’s sake. Jonah was simply instructed of God to declare imminent coming judgement… their repentance moved God’s heart to NOT TO DO what He himself had determined… as is clear from Jon 3:10 — “and God repented of the evil, that he had said that He would do unto them; and he did it not.

They were the beneficiaries of His mercy… BUT it took their own willing repentant response for this to occur — hence the warning in the first place. Jonah could see the end result of this and got cranky at God’s merciful grace — probably not dissimilar to the self-righteous indignancy of the vineyard workers of Mt 20:15.

The reference to prophets (Mt.23:37) seems to refer to OT times before the Son was incarnated.

" Under His great Mediatorial wing would He have “gathered” Israel. For the figure, see De 32:10-12; Ru 2:12; Ps 17:8; 36:7; 61:4; 63:7; 91:4; Isa 31:5; Mal 4:2."

If the Son was desiring(THELO) to gather Israel in OT times, & they would not (Mt.23:37), would His desire not have been in accord with the desire of God the Father? I think Trinitarians may have a disagreement with the view that the Persons of the Trinity had opposing desires or wills in the OT, even if they could accept your view of the incarnate Son being at odds with the will of the Father (Mt.26:39).

Actually, Davo, I think Jonah was more likely miffed because the Ninevites had treated the Israelites pretty badly and he WANTED them judged. BUT, minor point not relevant to your discussion. :blush: I couldn’t help myself.

It seems to me clear that it is Jesus speaking in these verses and in the first person, so I don’t know what more to say here.

Again, I don’t know what more to say. I don’t see how one can deny that the wills of Jesus and God differed, and that God’s will prevailed, since that is exactly what Matthew 26:39 says.

Why would He have sent, with great and persistent effort, Jonah to declare imminent danger if not to warn them to repent? If He warned them to repent, and they did, then why is that not the determination?

The rule that determines what is going on here in Jonah is stated in Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 18:7-8 “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.”

This plan surely looks like a determination to get the nations to repent. Repentance of the nation is part, likely the ultimate part, of the plan.

It is conceivable that before the warning that God had already determined that He would spare Ninevah, if they repented (Jer.18:7-11). And/or had already determined that they would repent. Therefore the threat of punishment may not have been a determined punishment that must occur, but at most merely one of at least two possible outcomes, or not even that if God had pre-determined that they would repent.

"God tells us of the cautionary nature of some of His declarations and the fact that He will act in accordance with our choices: “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it. Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions’” (Jeremiah 18:7– 11). Note the conditional word if: “If that nation I warned repents [like Assyria in Jonah 3] . . . then I will relent.” Conversely, God may tell a nation they will be blessed, but “if it does evil in my sight [like Israel in Micah 1] . . . then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do.” "

Likewise compare the following:

Jonah 3:7 He issued a proclamation and it said, "In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. 8 "But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. 9 “Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”

Jeremiah 26:13
"Now therefore amend your ways and your deeds and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will change His mind about the misfortune which He has pronounced against you.

Daniel 4:27
Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.’

Joel 2:14
Who knows whether He will not turn and relent And leave a blessing behind Him, Even a grain offering and a drink offering For the LORD your God?

Jonah 1:6
So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.”

I think you’re playing with semantics… “destructionWAS THEdetermination” — their repentance moved God’s heart AWAY FROM His determination, i.e., destruction. I have to ask… is your position really blinding you to the obvious?

You may well be right :slight_smile:

No. See the editorial addition to my post about the Jeremiah verses.

Holy log in one’s own eye, Batman! Do you not see that I can turn the same question back on you???

Objections anti universalists will bring against the OP are IME:

  1. The LXX is not inspired. Only the OT in Hebrew is.

  2. You can make the Bible say anything taking a verse from one book & another verse from another Bible book & patching them together.

  3. THELO has different meanings in various contexts.

  4. Do you have the credentials (Greek scholarship) to prove otherwise re (3) above?

  5. Do Greek scholars agree with your analysis of the word THELO?

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:laughing: Touché… but let’s look at this logically.

Impending doom IS ALREADY decreed as imminent thereby making it “determined”… repentance can avert said destruction. Now mercy being God’s default position can be seen as predetermined for sure BUT it is secondary to the PRIMARY position needing change, i.e., the evil conduct under judgement; which IF not dealt with by those called to remedy the situation, God Himself will… according to the determined decree made.

Let’s look at Jeremiah 18:7-8 again.

“If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.”

I don’t know how one can read Jeremiah 18:7-8 and conclude that impending doom is ALREADY decreed as imminent thereby making it “determined.” I mean this is a Christian site and a Universalist one at that! A call to repentance one would think would be a key part of how one looks at the thinking behind the pronouncements or warnings of God, especially considering how many verses, in one way or another, state that God desires all be saved.

Jeremiah 18:7-8 makes repentance at least as important a part of the determination as destruction. To focus on or give dominant weight to destruction at the expense of repentance may be reading more into Scripture than is there.

Repentance is clearly part of the decree, i.e., there is provision in the plan for possible action by the ones targeted for destruction or repentance. Thus, the action of the target, i.e., repentance, is not changing the determination of God; it is one of the two possible outcomes of the determination, likely the preferred outcome by God.

You answered your own query… God announced it! :open_mouth: