The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Rom 6:23 Revisited

Understood. But there seems to be use of the term “destruction” in other passages using other words sufficient to lend support to the notion of annihilation. Also, see below.

While consensus is considered one of a number of truth criteria, it’s admittedly not one that carries a lot of weight. You may agree with me that it carries even less weight in Biblical issues than in the secular realm as Scripture is full of examples that the spiritual language of the Bible has a ‘hidden’ element to it by which God often used individuals to understand truths that the majority missed. This is true of virtually all the prophets.

But to suggest that I’m “resting on a consensus of scholars” is missing the point I made. My point is, perhaps by the constant poring over linguistic minutia to nudge meaning in directions we prefer Scripture to go we are missing what God is saying in Scripture. Arminians pore over word meanings to justify Arminianism. Calvinists do the same for support of Calvinism. I would gently suggest that Universalists do the same thing. I’m not condemning, we’re all trying to connect the dots.

Not entirely sure what you mean that it’s “far wiser to see how God used words in the Sacred Texts”, but it seems to me that the wisdom that comes from constant scrutiny of word meanings in order to support a doctrine may not contain as much wisdom as one might hope. Why should we suppose that God did not guide both His writers and those who have struggled over the centuries to interpret their words to give us what He wants us to know on a level which makes use of the meaning as we have it now? Surely you don’t believe that only those schooled enough to pore over lexicons to discern the subtleties of word meanings can know God’s deeper sense?

Thanks for your comments Cindy Skillman, but you’ve exerted considerable effort for naught; we have no immediate disagreement on the subject of Biblical death. I just used Rom 6:23 as a starting point for discussion of associated concepts as they pertain to salvation. I made the distinction above between spiritual death—which I agree carries no specific attachment to either the annihilationist or ET doctrines—and destruction–which seems to carry stronger annihilationist denotation. At the same time I understand where, on a broader scale, both annihilationists and eternal punishment believers incorporate passages like Rom 6:23 into their doctrine. Rest assured I’m not reading this “fragment of a sentence” as having explicit strength per se. It isn’t my “problem verse” at all. I’m more interested in seeing how all the Bible fits together.

I haven’t been here an awful lot lately, Bart, so I wasn’t and still am not aware of your leanings–so I wasn’t trying to actually convince you of anything. I just wanted to clarify something which you obviously already understood, preparatory to making my point that the passage you put forth doesn’t imply any punishment by God but rather a natural consequence. (And from that point of course, that He has delivered humankind from that death.)

From what you’ve said in your response above, should I infer that you may be leaning toward CI?

Actually I’m interested in exploring a synthetic of all three positions [UR, CI and ET], just trying to weigh concepts one against another to see where they might fit. It’s a bigger task than I have intellectual capacity to handle, but keeps me off the streets and out of the bars on weeknights. :laughing:

Hi Bart, in Scripture, often the writers employ both the literal and figurative. There is a literal death and a figurative death as Cindy has so eloquently shown. In one sentence by Christ we have both the figurative and the literal: “Let the dead bury the dead.” Which means, according to the context: “Let those who are dead to God and dead to Me (Christ) bury the literal dead. Yet you, follow me.” In following Christ, the person would be alive to God and Christ.

Now let’s discuss destruction. The elemental meaning of “destruction” is “from-whole-loose.” No one can be so annihilated that they cannot be saved. 1 Timothy 2:4-6 proves this. In fact, Christ told the disciples to beware of the leaven (teaching) of the Pharisees and Sadducees. What was their teaching? The Pharisees taught eternal conscious torment. The Sadducees taught eternal annihilation. So we need to heed Christ and beware of both eternal torment and annihilation. Jesus taught neither. He taught eonian chastening. That is chastening pertaining to the eon.

I see. Good thoughts. I would say it is possible to remove bias if one uses an unbiased translation. For instance, A.E. Knoch, who translated the Concordant Literal New Testament, and who used to believe in eternal torment, gave each Greek word a consistent standard or parent meaning. So, no matter what his current theological leanings were, he had to translate passages even if they did not agree with his theology. In so doing, he came to believe God will save all. He did not even translate the Greek words “AIWN” and “AIWNION” but brought them directly over in their Anglicized transliterated form as “eon” and “eonian.” We know aiwn’s basic meaning is “duration.” The only way we can determine the duration of an eon or eons is to base our findings on definitive verses where they state the eon ends and the eons as a whole end. Therefore we, without any bias, can determine the eons cannot possibly be eternal and therefore such a things as “eternal torment” is impossible.

Correct. I agree with the above. Many of the most brilliant scholars who have researched the original tongues of the Scriptures disagree with each other. As to your first sentence above, see my reply right above it.

Hello E,

Actually you’re presenting two separate ideas here E, and the second [1Tim 2:4-6] does not follow from the first [no one can be so annihilated that they cannot be saved]. The second is a popular set of passages used for proof texts for UR, but the first is a claim that must get its support from somewhere else in Scripture. How would you support the first?

But this is not sufficient grounds for claiming certitude about a belief. Everyone has bias. I assume Knoch claimed lack of bias in his work. Fine, but millions of people make claims—from grave diggers to college professors—that are either disingenuous about some, maybe many, of their claims, or about which they may be mistaken in their belief they are unbiased, or some combination of each.

Your claim of certitude flies in the face of lots of what appears to be knowledgeable opinion to the contrary, some of it in threads on this site…

What do you make of /u/koine_lingua's arguments? (Part 1)

…and in many places easily found if the topic is googled.

I have no interest in arguing the aiwan thing. It provides interesting word studies, it certainly gives (or should give) the traditionalist Christian some food for thought, but ultimately I find the varied universalist passages, especially in Paul’s (those books traditionally thought to be his) writings, go further in creating problems for traditional soteriology than arguing that forever means ages.

This goes back to a presupposition I admit bringing to discussion… if the Bible is the Spirit-breathed word of God, why after more than 2000 years should we suppose that He has not used both His authors and those He arguably also used to refine the authors’ words into theological coherence found today?

All of this scholarly approach ultimately ends with uncertainty. I believe it an immense waste of time. But of course, I did not realize it until thousands of hours of research. Go figure. Gid us good. Let me be clear: You can invest your entire life researching ECT, Ann, UR and at the end if your life, you still cannot be certain. Knowing this allows one to look elsewhere for answers. Namely, nature and creation. God has revealed the family and love and nature. These things teach us who God is. Amazing if we just take Jesus at his word regarding the sermon on the Mount.

Hi Gabe, thanks for the response.

I agree with the first sentence, but would say all approaches ultimately end only in various degrees of certitude (or if we see the glass half empty, degrees of incertitude); but I wouldn’t say these things are a waste of time. This may appear so to you, and there sure are times I think the whole affair of trying to build a workable metaphysic for one’s theology is never-ending. But I don’t think a scholarly approach * is a waste of time unless one’s time is spent trying to prove a falsehood by attaching convenient truths to it. If the search is ultimately for truth, it’s always worth the effort imo.

So I’m guessing you favor a naturalistic approach to theology?*

I both agree and disagree with Gabe’s assessment of the worth of scholarly pursuits.

I totally get the idea that all the scholarly stuff is a waste of time. In the end, it’s absolutely about relationship. People often approach the Bible as though it is the be-all and end-all reference to God–or even in some cases as though the Bible itself is somehow at least a lesser divinity. No matter how correct we are in interpreting the original languages, it’s vital to remember that the Bible is a book ABOUT God, written by fallible human beings who have nevertheless been INSPIRED by the Holy Spirit to write. It is also READ by fallible human beings who have been inspired to seek after and find God. You will find some help in scripture toward finding God, but ultimately He and He alone can reveal Himself to you–whether through scripture, through the love of His other children, through the “book of nature,” through direct communication from the Holy Spirit, or in some other way. To minutely parse controversial passages and squeeze every possible drop of meaning from them is a hard job for life-long dedicated scholars–and not even THEY come to the same conclusions as one another. Many are led astray by their intellectual deep-diving into missing the whole point–which is and always will be: God is Love, Light, Life.

That said, when treated as a handmaiden and not a mistress, scholarly study of the Bible can also be incredibly helpful–especially in loving those who do approach the scriptures as some sort of demigod. I absolutely believe the scriptures were given us as a tool to help us know and share God with one another. Intellectual pursuits, however, can go too far–and then we find ourselves eating from the wrong tree. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (TOKOGE) IS good for food and pleasant to the senses and desirable to make one wise–but ONLY in the right time and in the right context. The Tree of Life (TOL) is relationship–oneness with Father–getting all the things the TOKOGE has to offer, but through the conduit of our most important Relationship. Jesus died to bring us to reconciliation with our Heavenly Father, not to reunite us with the scriptures. What do you think of a young child who rejects the wisdom of his parents in order to gain wisdom through books and other media? I think we have a word to describe this child: deceived. Yes, he may learn many of the things his parents would have taught him anyway, but to learn it in the context of mere intellectual pursuit apart from human relationship is dangerous, especially to the inexperienced. When we read the scriptures apart from the Holy Spirit’s guiding hand, we become legalistic or scholarly only or judgmental, etc. When we learn from the Holy Spirit (with or without the written word–as many throughout history do not and/or have not had access to it), then we become wise.

Sorry to diverge from the topic–I just couldn’t resist. Go back to Ro 6:23…

Establishing context is supposed to be a scholarly discipline. Great overall scope of understanding sets the tone of our discussions, and removes the fiery sword that prevents our access to the tree of life. Great context Cindy.

Hi Bart, I realize you don’t want to argue "the aiwn thing. But for those who at least want to see a cogent response to the link above supplied by Bart, maybe this will help.

First of all, I won’t go into all the particulars of the author in the link supplied but rather, due to time constraints, hone in on a weakness of his. That weakness is this: “aion can mean eternal.” That is patently false. The Bible, from which we get what we determine truth to be from God, tells us the eons end. Each eon ends individually and collectively. Therefore, at least according to God, no eon or eons can be eternal. Only in man’s misguided attempts can aiwn be suggested to be eternal. Therefore, also, that which is eonian, being the adjective of its root “aiwn” cannot possibly be eternal any more than “American” being the adjective of its root noun “America” be greater than its noun; Heavenly and Heaven likewise.
Furthermore, we are to shy away from “1Ti_4:2 the hypocrisy of false expressions.” If a person is two-faced, they are a hypocrite. If a word can mean eternal AND mean a limited period, that is hypocrisy. God is not the author of confusion. Since the Bible says the eons end individually and collectively, such statements that an aiwn can be eternal and be of limited duration is contrary to the Sacred Scriptures and should be seen as false.

There just is no such critter as “eternal torment.” Now then, it is possible that torment can be everlasting as long as one understands that the torment lasts for an ever. Since “ever” is an “aiwn”, no ever in ever-lasting can be eternal.
In Romans 16:26 where it is stated that God is the eonian God, this is not telling us about God’s duration but rather His relationship to the eons. He is over the eons, directing the goal of each eon and subjecting mankind to each specific goal He has for each eon.

Of course the Universalist understanding should create problems for traditional soteriology. This is not my problem, though. It is their problem.

That depends upon which authors you are talking about who refine the Author’s words into theological coherence found today. How do you determine which author(s) are of God and which are not? Do you have a checklist to determine which author is of God and which isn’t? Please supply us with your criteria.

Dear Gabe, just from an argument point of view, and I don’t mean this in a bad way, but . . . you have merely stated, and that without proof, that nature and creation have the answers and the Scriptures do not. And you basically stated you can’t be certain concerning the three different outcomes for humanity but you can be certain when it comes to nature and creation. I maintain one can be certain that eternal conscious torment and annihilation are wrong and universal reconcilation is correct. If one can be sure of nature and creation, why is there so much infighting and fighting from the outside concerning nature and creation? If one can be sure of nature and creation, why are so many scientists constantly changing their models? And why do you think Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is the truth for all mankind and is what Christ requires of all mankind (which He doesn’t). You see, Gabe, you made some statements that are not a way to win an argument. Humbly stated of course.

That’s odd because reading Gabe’s statement above I simply concluded he might have had the likes of these texts (proof) in view…

You may not understand that I am not here to win an argument. I dropped that mentality years ago. Certainly my statement was a broad one at that and not entirely anti-learning. Searching for the truth is of the utmost importance - but where is the truth found? Anywhere and everywhere that truth exists is where it is found. Who reveals it? God. Who teaches mankind? God.

If one searches for truth at the expense of living the truth they already know then truly it is a waste of time. If you spend hours trying to figure out from the ancient text who is right and neglect your family, feeding the poor, etc… what have you gained? Are you waiting to figure it all out before you decide to get out in the sun and start producing? If you take my statements as absolute, then of course you will disagree with me, but statements are generally not intended to be absolute and without exception.

Yes indeed!

“Truth” IMO and “the search thereof” tends to be a little malleable and therefore relative. I’d be a rich man IF I had a dollar for every “truth” I ever camped at and subsequently praised God for, only then in my endless searchings come to move on beyond such to the next great realisation. A typical example might be when one learns of the Trinity only then in time coming to have one’s conviction turned to embrace a counter position… and yet all the while when embracing said positions holding fast to said “God-given” revelations; is there no end AND is God fazed or worried? — I highly doubt it.

I’ve personally come to the conclusion God doesn’t have an issue with me being wrong. :mrgreen:

The Sermon on the Mount is only for Israel. Believers of the nations do not need to cut off their hand or pluck out their eye so we can escape Gehenna. We are saved by grace. Likewise, our righteousness does not have to be above that of the scribes and Pharisees or we won’t make it into the kingdom Christ is going to set up in Israel. In fact, believers of the nations won’t even be entering that kingdom on earth. We of the nations will be among the celestial realms during the time the believers of Israel are on the earth.

Here is another from that sermon: "Mat 5:5 “Happy are the meek, for they shall be enjoying the allotment of the land.” That is only for Israel. We believers of the nations are to be given celestial bodies to fit us for the celestial kingdom. We won’t have any allotment of the lane [of Israel]. That is for Israelite believers.

Here is another from that sermon:
“Mat 5:22 Yet I am saying to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to the judging. Yet whoever may be saying to his brother, ‘Raka!’ shall be liable to the Sanhedrin. Yet whoever may be saying, ‘Stupid!’ shall be liable to the Gehenna of fire.”

Believers of the nations do not have to worry about being brought before the Jewish courts of the Sanhedrin. Nor do we have to worry concerning being cast into the trash dump called “Gehenna” during Christ’s 1000 year reign on earth. For us of the nations, “there is now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus.” And “God is not reckoning our offenses to us.”

The same thing goes for leaving an approach present on the altar if we offend someone. We don’t live in Israel and so do not go to the temple in Israel to leave an approach present. In fact, there isn’t even a temple yet nor altar in Israel where we can leave an approach present. The Sermon on the Mount is the law of Moses on steroids and the law is only for Israel.

Thank you for proving from the Bible that we can trust the Bible to be true. I wonder if Gabe will tell you he has changed his mind about the Bible now.

Okay, next time I will read your posts with that caveat in mind. I thought you were trying to convince us of your opinion. Next time I won’t take you so seriously.
It is not about winning an argument. It is about putting forth what you believe to be true and then, we give our ideas concerning that.
The Scriptures are God’s revelation to man as to Who He is and what He is going to do with mankind through His Son. Nature can’t tell you this. Nature can’t tell you that God is going to head up all in the Christ, all in the heavens and all on the earth. Nor can nature tell you all the blessings for the universe which come through Christ’s sacrifice.
I don’t believe it is a waste of time to search for the truth in the Scriptures. God doesn’t expect us to live perfectly or in perfect love while we are still maturing nor even after we have matured in the faith. The exhortations in Paul’s epistles to the nations are the ideal we should strive for. They are not laws one must do or be damned.

Davo said

I LIKE IT :exclamation: :smiley:

Frank Schaeffer, son of the revered Francis Schaeffer, in his biography said:

For us to ‘get it’ is a farce. Be it science, theology, humanity, anything. The complexity of creation is, well, a miracle. I am of the opinion that the creator wants us to enjoy the journey. :smiley:

Just curious if you get it that “Christ died for our sins”? Is that subject to being a farce? Just asking. :wink: