The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicked!

More event details:


Talbott’s powerpoint presentation!:THE CASE FOR UNIVERSALISM.pptx (4.08 MB)

JRP edits to add a topical timestamp map. Be aware that some or all browsers may only be able to “click” on one minute eleven second increments (Jason’s was like that), so you may have to ‘underclick’ by a minute or so to get ahead of the portion you want.

0:00 host introduction and essay
2:22 moderator introduction and essay

8:46 Jerry Walls intro autobiography
11:07 Tom Talbott intro autobiography
15:40 Duane Watson intro autobiography

18:14 Jerry’s presentation starts (mostly about how all three sides see clear scriptural warrant)
32:44 Jerry starts main argument (three philosophical considerations, two he recognizes in favor of universalism)
36:11 Jerry’s argument on free will and conclusion

39:08 Tom’s presentation starts (also mostly about how all three sides see clear scriptural warrant)
43:50 Tom’s 3 Inconsistent Propositions (with scriptural support, logical variants and results)

1:01:25 Duane’s presentation starts
1:01:30 Duane’s main argument data begins (first two observations from NT data)
1:07:30 3rd observation about destruction in NT
1:10:00 4th observation about effects and duration of eschatological fire
1:11:50 how annihilationists put observations together
1:13:50 annihilationism in church history
1:17:44 conclusion with quote from C. S. Lewis

(note: all three guys are Arminians and big fans of Lewis)

1:18:25 Tom asks Duane a question
1:23:43 Jerry asks Tom a question
1:26:06 Duane asks Jerry a question

1:29:25 for Tom, about vengeance in RevJohn (floor mic doesn’t work at first but questioner starts over)
1:32:30 for Jerry, about remembering sinners (ECT compared to anni)
1:34:35 for Tom and Jerry, about Paschal’s wager (but mostly answered by Tom for obvious reasons)
1:37:41 for Tom, about Apostle’s Creed descent into hell
1:39:35 for Jerry, about two ways of suffering (is Jerry talking about active punishment or consequential suffering)
1:41:00 for Jerry, why do finite sins merit infinite punishment? (this is after Jerry says he isn’t talking about active punishment)
1:41:55 for all three, what is the gospel?
1:44:00 for Jerry, will not or cannot choose to repent?
1:45:20 for Tom, doesn’t universalism negate choice?–and what need for being good in this life?
1:49:30 for Duane, about eternal effect of death vs. ongoing life (why two meanings of eternal; if life is continuously unending why isn’t punishment continuously unending?)
1:52:10 for Jerry, is fate of souls in hell ever finally sealed?
1:53:17 for Tom, in light of God’s justice how can life of sin allow eternal life?
1:55:14 for Duane, if being born again is figurative why isn’t eternal destruction figurative? Also, if humans are annihilated why aren’t beast, false prophet, Satan and maggots annihilated?

Clarification: Tom has said that he’ll try to answer questions addressed to him in this thread. (Normal forum rules)

Have listened to the intros so far - EXCELLENT stuff. When I grow up, I want to be Tom Talbott!! :laughing:

It’s TT vs. JW again! Yay! (I like Jerry Walls, had a great time chatting with him and Tom after the debate with Mr. Fudge in Nashville earlier this year. I like Mr. Fudge, too, btw; we just didn’t talk as much. :slight_smile: )

Very good (though very quiet to begin with).

Talbott’s logical argument is very strong.

It seems that Wall’s only issue is the question of free will. But I don’t understand why he cannot believe that all people freely come to God? After all, I assume that he believes that heaven isn’t risky, nor that God’s consistent goodness means that God isn’t free?

When Tom and I were discussing the matter with Jerry after the debate in Nashville this summer, Jerry seemed quite buffaloed by the notion that God would be disrespecting our freedom of will by allowing us to get into a state where we destroyed our freedom of will–not even counting the very salient question of whether it’s possible for us to do that when our freedom of will occurs only at all by the continual action of God!

I haven’t had time to watch the new debate yet, but I’m curious as to whether Jerry has modified any on that.

Hmmm … I just don’t get how free will necessitates hell, and it seems that the only reason that Wall isn’t a universalist is this sticking point. I wish someone asked him about freedom in heaven, since it seems that to be consistent Wall has to believe that people will go in and out of heaven/ hell for all time. I suspect that he will change his mind in time :slight_smile:

I tried to watch but my flash player crashed twice. I may have to go into town somewhere and download it if I want to see it all. I CAN see how someone would say that free will negates a sure universalism, though not a hopeful one. But if you believe in the death deadline, it makes more sense – the free will thing, I mean.

HOWEVER I cannot see how anyone could stand behind the free will argument after reading Tom’s book carefully. His arguments are so strong as to seem completely irrefutable to me.

Nice to be reminded of the arguments. The one like best: If it’s not heretical to believe Point 1 (God wants to save us all), and if it’s not heretical to believe Point 2 (God achieves his purposes), how can it be heretical to believe both 1 and 2?

Well, Calvinists would disagree with point 1, and though they wouldn’t call it “heresy”, they might call it “heterodox.”
Arminianists would disagree with point 2, and though they wouldn’t call it “heresy”, they might call it “heterodox.”

So maybe: “heterodox + heterodox = heresy.” :unamused:

I successfully downloaded it, using “DownloadHelper”. But I thought it had not completely downloaded because there were only 299 MB in the MP4 file. I tried running it, and neither Windows Media Player nor Quick Time would play it. I received the message from both that it was incompatible. So I tried downloading it several times more and it always stopped at 299 MB. Then I got the idea that maybe it did download fully, but there was a problem with it being an MP4 file.

I have a program which will convert files. So on a hunch, I converted to a WMV file. This caused the size of the file to increase to 2.46 GB, which is closer to the size given online. When I then ran the video using the WMV file, it worked perfectly! And it included the entire debate.

I reckon VLC would’ve played it :ugeek: but glad you got it to work anyway.

Talbott has said he’s happy to visit this thread to discuss any questions regarding the debate and/or powerpoint!

Shall we ask our questions here, or instead on a thread in Talbott’s designated section so to keep all his stuff in the same location??


We should probably move this thread to Tom’s category anyway; I hadn’t even noticed it wasn’t there already! :laughing:

(Edited to add: for guests or members reading this thread later, originally it was posted under “Studies” / “Film, Movie & Video Clips”. I just moved it to “Featured” / “Dr. Thomas Talbott” / “Tom’s Forums”, but left a shadow topic back in the other for people who are used to finding it there.)

In the question time, a young man asked Talbot something along the lines of:

If Revelation was written to John’s 1st century audience of persecuted believers, what kind of apologetic or ethic would you use to explain passages in Revelation that speak of a call for or promise of “Vengence”, like Rev. 6:10 - “judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood”, later in 19:2 – “avenged on her the blood of his servents”? If the 1st century audience is looking for “vengence” wouldn’t a belief in UR empty these passages of their power to satiate the desire for vengence?

Talbot answered it with a question of how the man deals with passages that affirm UR, thus not directly answering the question. My first thought though was:

  1. Revelation is apocalyptic literature and thus not necessarily meant to be taken “literally” or didactically, but to be interpreted like a parable or a movie, seen to affirm large overarching principles. And recall that Revelation is interpreted from at least 4 significantly different viewpoints – futuristically, historically, preteristically, and spiritually. Personally, I do not look to Revelation to “prove” any doctrine of scripture – but to illustrate what I believe scripture affirms elsewhere.

  2. Concerning the word “vengence”, as Christians God calls us to forgive our enemies, even love our enemies. The only thing that a person who loves another desires for those who are estranged is for them to be reconciled, not punished, but forgiven by God. “Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Christian Martyrs die not only for their love for God but because of their love for others! Interpreting Revelation futuristically AND interpreting these passages as a call for vengeance on Individuals, such just doesn’t make sense in the light of who we are called to be as Christians. On the other hand, if one interprets the movie Revelation from either a preterist, historical, or spiritualist view, as a call for vengence, they makes sense. Preterist calls for the destruction of the State of Rome which opposed the church – and this happened. Historical – any State or organization opposed to the church, well, it is destroyed. And from a Spiritualist interpretation, all that is within us that is anti-Christ is ultimately destrotyed.

  3. Even “IF” one insists on these passages being interpreted from a Futuristic view, ekdikeo, interpreted as “avenge” does not necessarily mean one is looking for retribution for wrongs done, but one of its meanings is to vidicate one’s right, do one justice, to protect, defend one person from another. Thus it could be that what is being promised is that God will ultimately
    a. Make things right and
    b. Show that the believers were “right” to have followed Jesus though it resulted in their martydom.

Mainly though, I do not look to Revelation as a foundation for any doctrine that I do not see as clearly revealed in the remainder of scripture. And I do not see ECT a clearly revealed in scripture elsewhere. Anyone else have thoughts on this question?

I thought this was particularly interesting, Sherman:

So basically, if this is the case, it would be a call for judgment (which is usually a good and desired thing in scriptural context – though not ALWAYS a desired thing – depends whether you’re the good guy or the bad guy!) And to judge is to show (at least in one of the words I’ve studied – so it seems it would be to show the truth. Hence, “Show the world that we were right to follow You.” Cool! :smiley:

Yep, I thought that was pretty cool too. The main point though is that the concept of Christian martyrs crying out for the retributive judgement of others is just so outside of the gospel narrative that it doesn’t make sense to interpret these passages calling for “vengence” that way, as a call for retributive “justice”. I mean, I don’t care how badly a loved one hurts me, the last thing I want is for them to punished, much less forever, or annihilated. But I do have a tremendous desire for their blinders to be taken off and for them to see the light as I’ve seen it, and to see that, well, I was right! ha ha. But of course this is couched in the desire for reconciliation with those whom I’ve loved.

I believe it is much more a cry for God to “Make Things Right”!

Thanks for your reflections, Sherman. I think your answer to that first question I received was better than my own. When I watched the recording of the forum, I found myself wishing that I had explicitly made the same point that you make about Jesus commanding us to love our enemies as well as those who love us; it was simply not enough to refer vaguely to the Sermon on the Mount. When the questioner was prevented from asking a follow-up question, I also wish I had told him that I was interested in his further thoughts and had invited him to pursue the issue further by email.

A couple of additional points: First, the desire for vengeance or revenge in response to truly horrific acts of cruelty is indeed a natural human response, even among Christians. If John Couey had raped my own daughter when she was young and had buried her alive, as he did to poor little Jessica; and if I had an opportunity to do so, I might well have bludgeoned him to death (slowly) with a baseball bat. I’m not saying that this would have been right or the Christian thing to do. But even within a Christian context, there may be a place for giving butchers a taste of their own medicine—not because this satisfies the demands of justice, but because in some cases it may be the only sort of thing that might get their attention. Even so, however, nothing in the relevant texts about avenging persecution would equate such vengeance with unending torment.

Second, the language of retribution and that of correction often get mixed up in our ordinary ways of speaking, and the Bible is no different in this regard. In a context of vengeance and revenge, for example, a man might use the language of correction: e.g., “I’ll teach him a lesson he’ll never forget!” And in a context of correction, loving parents might use retributive-sounding language: e.g., “If you hit your little sister again, you’ll wish you hadn’t!” So you cannot infer the absence of a loving purpose from harsh language alone. For as Paul points out in the eleventh chapter of Romans, even God’s severest acts, including the hardening and blinding that came upon part of Israel, is an expression of his boundless mercy.

Anyway, thanks again for your reflections.


Hi Tom, thanks for your reply. I thought you did an excellent job presenting UR in the debate and representing the values of grace and love that we so cherish. I wish they would have had more time, even another session or two, for further discussion.

How is your wife and family doing? Well, I pray.


Incidentally, having now listened to Tom’s and Jerry’s presentation (working through Duane’s), I’m pretty sure their presentation is practically identical (even in regard to particular major and minor points and quirks) to their presentations earlier this year in Nashville. So even though I wasn’t able to post up notes on that debate yet, if you watch this video you won’t be missing anything. :slight_smile:

That includes Jerry’s rather bizarre insistence that Tom claims the scriptures are utterly clear in their testimony about universalism being true. Tom wasn’t claiming that before Nashville, didn’t claim that at Nashville, and wasn’t claiming it here. As Tom notes at the start of his presentation, he claims no more than Jerry does, namely that some portions of scripture clearly indicate his position while other portions appear to indicate other portions.

Either Jerry or Tom isn’t paying enough attention to something that ought to be very obvious about Tom’s presentation. :unamused: (Edited to add: Jerry tries to claim Tom is “reversing himself” or “going back” at the start of Jerry’s question for Tom, and Tom objects to that.)