The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Essential Role of Free Will in Universal Reconciliation


#1

I debated in my own mind whether to make my first topic that of free will or whether to make it Bill Craig’s reply to my “simple argument” for universalism, as I have called it. I settled on the latter; but since several people have raised the issue of free will, I thought I would go ahead and give them a chance to respond to the following.

The Essential Role of Free Will in Universal Reconciliation

I believe in free will. I believe that our freedom plays an essential role in the process whereby God, first, brings us into existence as rational and self-aware beings, and second, perfects us as his sons and daughters. But as a universalist, I also accept two additional Pauline claims: (1) that the very same “all” who died in Adam will most assuredly be made alive in Christ (I Corinthians 15:22), and (2) that our destiny “depends not on human will or exertion, but upon God who shows mercy” (Romans 9:16).

So how do I put these two seemingly disparate ideas together? Fortunately, Paul himself teaches us exactly how to fit them together consistently. For though Paul clearly rejected the idea that we choose freely between different possible eternal destinies, arguing instead that our destiny is wholly a matter of grace, he nonetheless stressed the importance of choice. “Note then,” he wrote in the eleventh chapter of his letter to the Romans, “the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise, you also will be cut off.” So how we encounter God’s love in the future, whether we encounter it as kindness or as severity, is indeed, Paul implied, up to us–a matter of free choice, if you will. But our ultimate destiny is not up to us, because God’s severity, no less than his kindness, is itself a means of his saving grace. In particular, God’s severity towards the unbelieving Jews–even his willingness to blind them, to harden their hearts, and to cut them off for a season–was according to Paul but one of the means whereby God saves all of Israel in the end. In Paul’s own words, “a hardening has come upon part of Israel . . … And so all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25-26). What our free choices determine, then, is not our eternal destiny, which is secure from the beginning, but the means required to achieve it. For the more tenaciously we cling to our illusions and selfish desires–to the flesh, as Paul called it–the more severe will be the means and the more painful the process whereby God shatters our illusions, destroys the flesh, and finally separates us from our sin.

A virtue of the Christian religion, as I see it, is that Christians are never permitted to take credit for their own redemption or even for a virtuous character (where such exists). All credit of this kind goes to God. But the Christian religion also stresses the importance of free choice, of choosing this day whom you shall serve. Nor need there be any tension between these two emphases, provided that we regard our free choices as determining not our eternal destiny, but the means of grace available to us. Essential to the whole redemptive process, I am suggesting, is that we exercise our moral freedom–not that we choose rightly rather than wrongly, but that we choose freely one way or the other. We can choose today to live selfishly or unselfishly, faithfully or unfaithfully, obediently or disobediently. But our choices, especially the bad ones, will also have unintended and unforeseen consequences in our lives; as the proverb says, “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps” (16:9). A man who commits robbery may set off a chain of events that, contrary to his own intentions, lands him in jail; and a woman who enters into an adulterous affair may discover that, even though her husband remains oblivious to it, the affair has a host of unforeseen and destructive consequences in her life. In fact, our bad choices almost never get us what we really want; that is part of what makes them objectively bad and also one reason why God is able to bring redemptive goods out of them. When we make a mess of our lives and our misery becomes more and more unbearable, the hell we thereby create for ourselves will in the end resolve the very ambiguity and shatter the very illusions that made the bad choices possible in the first place. That is how God works with created rational agents. He permits them to choose in the ambiguous contexts in which they first emerge as self-aware beings, and he then requires them to learn from experience the hard lessons they sometimes need to learn.

My point is that a pattern of bad choices can be just as useful to God in correcting us and in teaching the lessons of love as a pattern of good choices can be. And perhaps that is one reason why Paul himself raised the embarrassing question: “Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1). After all, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). But Paul’s correct answer is also most emphatic: “By no means!” That the pain I experience when I thrust my hand into a flame may serve a beneficial purpose–because it enables me to avoid an even greater injury in the future–hardly entails that I have a good reason to thrust my hand into the flame again and again. And similarly, that the misery and unhappiness that sin brings into a life can serve a redemptive purpose–because it can provide a compelling motive to repent–hardly implies that one has a good reason to keep on sinning and to continue making oneself more and more miserable.

More than a few have charged that universalists operate with an overly sentimental conception of God’s love. But no one who actually reads the early Christian universalists, especially St. Gregory of Nyssa, could possibly come away with that misconception. If anything, the idea that God will in the end destroy sin altogether rests upon a more rigorous conception of God’s holy love than does the idea that he will keep sin alive throughout an eternity of hell. For according to the former idea, God will not permit any of us to cling forever to our illusions or to remain forever ignorant of the true nature of our selfish choices. We are free to sin and perhaps even to sin with relative impunity for a while, but in no way are we free to sin with impunity forever. So unless we first repent of our sin and step into the life that Christ brings to us, God will sooner or later–in the next life, if not in this one–permit our illusions to shatter against the hard rock of reality. In that respect, God’s holy love is like a consuming fire (see Hebrews 12:29); it will continue to burn us until it finally purges us of all that is false within us. The more we freely rebel against it and try to defeat it, the more deeply and inexorably it will burn, until every conceivable motive for disobedience is consumed and we are finally transformed from the inside out. And so God will eventually destroy sin in the only way possible short of annihilation: by redeeming the sinners themselves.

-Tom


Open Theism and the Origin of Sin
Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicked!
Free Will: Its Essential Nature and Implications
#2

Tom,

Thanks for bringing up this issue. I think you are right about Paul having universalist tendencies but to dogmatically assert universalism is something that the Scriptures won’t allow. Paul himself said in 2nd Thessalonians, “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power…” Whenever, I am tempted to proof-text Paul to support universalism, this verse comes to mind. This fits in with a person like Judas, of whom Jesus said it would have been better if he were never born. If Judas were to be saved in the end, then how could it be true that it would have been better if he were never born?

Just as Judas freely choose to betray Jesus. He also choose not to accept forgiveness but to try and ameliorate his guilt himself by giving the blood money back to the priests. When that failed he killed himself. It appears from Scripture that his tragic choices in life have led him to a bad eternal end in which he is frozen forever in opposition to God and thus to all joy. This eventual fate seems to be what Jesus warns about in his parables and that which Paul refers to in the quote above.

Since God wills for the salvation of all and the judgment has yet to occur, we can still pray and hope for the salvation of all. Hopeful universalism is as far as we can go though, since we have both universalistic statements in the Bible and exclusivistic statements.


#3

Thank you, Tom. I appreciate what you are saying. I suppose that I’m more Arminian in my approach to Universalism compared to you.

For example, I wouldn’t say, “God will not permit any of us to cling forever to our illusions or to remain forever ignorant of the true nature of our selfish choices.”

On the other hand, I believe God gives unlimited offers of salvation. I believe that God would permit somebody to continuously reject God literally forever while I also believe that nobody including Satan will do that. After all, forever is a long time. For example, an infinite number of offers God’s love will eventually reach anybody.


#4

Jim, yes. That’s the way I see it, too.


#5

Dr. Tolbott said

If this one simple message could be accepted by the church it would change everything…and its the only thing that has played out truthfully in my life. We preach that God will work EVERYTHING for good for those who love Him, but it comes out, everything bad that happens to us and not *everything bad that we might cause to happen.
*
He has worked it out regardless of the cause. :nerd:


#6

Tangent conversion between JasonPratt and ImagoDei and Paidion split to new topic in “General Discussion on Evangelical Universalism”. See link below:

[Re: The Essential Role of Free Will in Universal Reconciliation)


#7

Dr Talbott:

Incredibly glad you have included this site in your post retirement activities…

(And thanks also to all contributors here who make this site ROCK… pardons if I’m a bit less ‘academic’ than ‘you’al’ are here.)

Have been a “dogmatic” Universalist now for, maybe, 3 years. And owe no small debt to your book for this. Gm’s book too. (Though “dogmatic” does raise awkward references to being stubborn, inflexible, and so on…)

When I broach the topic (of Universal Restoration) with sincere friends this seems to be the uniting theme in their rejection of Universalism; it is possible, because of free will, to reject God forever. Startling to me how commonly this refrain is sung.
But what sort of freedom is it that insists on paths leading to it’s own destruction? Such is not freedom, but bondage. Imprisoned by an illusion that God wishes us no good, that God is the problem and somehow we contain the entire solution, is… deluded.

I ask these friends to imagine being part of a group of students on a hike in the mountains; a hike led by a great teacher such as yourself. The trail leads along a narrow pass, just above a staggering cliff; to fall over such a cliff means sure death. And in time one hiker offers that each of them is “free” to jump off that cliff. To certain death… No takers. In time they come to realize that while such a choice would indeed be a “free” one, such “freedom” does not in fact demand that someone actually jump. The freedom exists as a hypothetical reality; no one needs an actual jump for confirmation.

Very much have appreciated your wisdom on this topic in your “Inescapable Love” book, as well as in the Parry/Partridge work…

And wondering here Jason how you might understand the notion of sin being no more reconciled with your suggestion that Forgiveness will go on forever. I had been thinking that the eternal extent of forgiveness somehow matches the eternal extent of the judgement; eventually the need for both fades into a very informed memory…

Blessings on everyone here…
TotalVictory…


#8

Please pardon my carelessness: my query was not for Jason, but for james.goetz.

If sin is to be no more, is that a hypothetical state or is sin no more because all have made the right choices (eventually)? Just curious…

Thanks,
TotalVictory


#9

Incidentally, I actually agree (to at least some large extent) with what you recently wrote in another thread, that our memories of evil, whether done to us or done by us, are what will safeguard us eventually from ever choosing to sin again. This type of ‘soft’ guarantor fits with the Biblical notion (and one borne out in my own experience as a sinner, by the way), that persons can and do in fact make informed decisions to sin even when they have the best advantages. If blanking part of our minds is the solution, God could have done that from the beginning; ditto for merely resetting us as though God is giving us the three-fingered reboot. As horrid as our evil is, we’re told that God will bring good out of it; and again, to respect us as persons is to respect our history as persons, for better and for worse. When God leads us to freely reject sin, and to grow in grace (not that God’s grace grows but that our grace will grow) so that by our own free will a time comes when we never choose again to sin: that is a victory fit for the God Who, more than mere power, is essentially Love.

Now, that being said, in order to achieve this forgiveness in its fullest sense, including the sending-away-of and the freeing-from sin, forgiveness must be continually offered to those who refuse to send away their sins. I mean forgiveness in the fullest sense, not merely permission to keep on sinning as though the sin is not a sin. But the flip side to this–and I agree with James (and some other people here) on this topic–is that just as God allows us to sin now without simply treating us as puppets in order to make us stop, so it remains technically possible that any sinner, whether Satan or myself, may continually and always refuse to give up that sinning.

My theology, though, is not based on what this or that sinner may or may not do with the rest of his existence into forever. My theology is about God, and is based on what we can expect of God. God will keep acting to lead home that 100th sheep, whoever he or she may be. I trust God never to give up on that, because of Who He is.

This is why I have said elsewhere (in the past week, if I recall correctly), that metaphysically I cannot say one way or another whether all sinners will in fact certainly repent and be finally saved by God. I can say with certainty that God will be always acting toward that, as a metaphysical corollary.

Scripturally, however, not only do I find that God will always be acting toward that, but I also find revelation assuring us that eventually He will be successful at this. In revealing beforehand what someone in the future (from our perspective) will freely choose, God is not locking the person into that choice. If God sees me doing something, He sees me doing it, and is free Himself to report that when and where He chooses.

It is from the scriptures, consequently, not from my metaphysical rationales per se, that my universalism is strongest, although I would still be a universalist trusting God (though without knowing whether there will be a final success or whether God will keep acting toward this for forever) without scriptural revelation to add more. Similarly, I would still be an orthodox trinitarian theist expecting a two-natures Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity, and expecting God to act in history over a period of time with a chosen people toward this event (with a Passion, Execution and Resurrection), even if I didn’t have the scriptures as evidence that this has already happened in human history, with more details than I could generally expect from only a metaphysical rationale.

Putting it a bit oversimply (though still accurately), when I read the story then I discover more of the story than I could ever discover if (for whatever reason) I never went looking.


#10

Hi Jason

Thank you for opening for me this new perspective on forgiveness and God’s willingness to wait. Had not seen it quite that way before. And sorry that I’d not picked up on this theme earlier as I am yet working my way through the many and varied comments on this site. I think I hear what you are saying and it does offer a splendid picture of God doesn’t it!

While I may not grasp the full depth of your observations here, allow me a few thoughts. You are expounding, it seems to me, an attitude on the part of the redeemed, as well as God, of willingness to forgive forever. And willingness to wait – for as long as it takes – for the wayward to have the desire to come home. (eg prodigal son) This surely demonstrates a quality of patience that is very much of the Spirit of God it seems.

What I’m wondering then I guess is how you marry this Godly quality of the saints (eternal forgiveness and patience) with the notions of the totality (completeness) of God’s victory and the idea that sin will be no more? Sure, the redeemed saints possess, and demonstrate the Godly quality of long-suffering patience towards the “lost” – but the very idea of a time when God actually does become “all in all” kind of suggests a time when the drama is over doesn’t it?? A time when sin is no more. In the scenario you describe, sin yet exists, and is almost “enabled” by the patience of God?? It seems to me that the whole point of Talbott’s somber agreement (GM’s too) with the realities of judgment and punishment is that they serve to move a person along in the process of becoming redeemed. But there is an endpoint if you will. You seem to suggest that there may not be an endpoint… (maybe all you are doing is emphasizing that a quality of God’s people is that they are willing to wait for however long it takes… so fiercely have they loved their fellow man and are, consequently, immersed in his well-being…)

So I’m mildly perplexed as to what you mean here…

Thanks

TotalVictory
(realizing a slight departure from the theme of this thread)


#11

While such an attitude on the part of the redeemed should certainly be inferred as being consonant with the attitude of God, to be strictly accurate I’ve been talking about God’s attitude toward intransigent sinners.

Also, while the patient “longsuffering” of God toward sinners is certainly a major theme of the scriptures (maybe even moreso in the OT, but also in the NT), so is the action of God toward sinners; and this action is what I have been focusing on in my comments, including the most recent ones in this thread. I do contend that this action is toward salvation of sinners from sin, but it also includes punishment where God judges that this would be most helpful toward that goal.

Relatedly, the angels of God are occasionally portrayed (OT and NT both) as cooperating in the action of God toward redemption and in punishment. Even more importantly, the redeemed at the end of RevJohn are expected to cooperate with the Spirit in exhorting those who are still outside the New Jerusalem (now and in the day of the Lord to come) to slake their thirst and wash their robes in the river of life flowing out of the never-closed gates from beneath the throne of God, and so obtain permission to enter the city and eat of the leaves of the tree of life. The imagery may be poetic metaphor (or, heck, may be literal for all I know!); but the concept is that active evangelization continues, and the redeemed are expected to cooperate in this action.

So it isn’t only a case of God (and the redeemed) patiently waiting for sinners to pick up the clue phone, for however long it takes. That’s included, too, but the scriptural gist is more action-oriented than that. (And, incidentally, that’s what I would have expected as a corollary to my metaphysical rationales, too.)

Certainly God’s patience over us allows us to sin more than if God simply squacked us into line like puppets; but neither are we supposed to take this as license to be sinning. An abuse of the grace of God is still an abuse.

I thought I had drawn the distinction pretty sharply before, but I’ll try again.

If I go the route of a metaphysical rationale, I arrive at the result that I can trust and expect God to never give up acting toward leading sinners to repent of their sin and be saved. This rationale, though, does not similarly arrive at a result that I can expect all sinners to eventually repent and be saved. If I only stayed with that rationale I would still be a universalist, in regard to God’s intentions and actions, but I would have to be agnostic (though still very hopefully so) in regard to final results.

However: if I look at the scriptural data, I find revelations (OT and NT both) that God will in fact eventually succeed in leading all sinners to repentance. This is in no way contradictive to my metaphysical results, since my metaphysical results arrived at agnosticism on the question of ultimate success. As I said near the end of my previous comment, by reading the story I discover more details than I can figure out (as a matter of principle) without having read the story.

So it isn’t a case where I believe both that God will succeed and also that God (and the redeemed) must always be eternally hopeful of success without knowing whether their efforts will be successful. I do believe the former, not the latter (though the constancy of love and faithfulness would be the same either way; also, the forgiveness will be “eternal” even in total victory, in the sense that God isn’t going to later revoke that forgiveness!) I am only being precise that I cannot (or at least don’t yet know how to) arrive at the assurance of success by the route of metaphysical analysis. I do arrive at the assurance of success by the route of scriptural analysis. If principle reasoning says that it might go either way, and then God reveals to us “it goes this way”, then that settles the question of principle reasoning, too.


#12

Thank you Jason:

I think I now grasp a bit better what you were telling me – and how you think.
Am slowly becoming acquainted with the individual minds here as I read.

Blessings
TotalVictory


#13

Hello Tom2,

Thanks for an extremely thoughtful and well-written post that was a pleasure to read, and sorry for the delay in replying. I fear that I have too many threads going right now and too many outside responsibilities. But in any event, you made a number of excellent points and concluded with the following:

I agree with this, of course. Strictly speaking, the probability of something happening cannot be “less than nil” (i.e., less than .0). But the bare logical possibility that someone might both reject God and continue to reject him forever is indeed compatible with a real confidence that this will never happen; it is compatible, in other words, with the confidence that the infinitely resourceful God will successfully win over all sinners in the end. In fact, as Eric Reitan has successfully argued in my opinion, the assumption that sinners retain their libertarian freedom together with the Christian doctrine of the preservation of the saints yields the following result: We can be just as confident that God will eventually win over all sinners (and do so without causally determining their choices), as we can be that a fair coin will land heads up at least once in a trillion tosses (see Eric Reitan, “Human Freedom and the Impossibility of Damnation” in Universal Salvation? The Current Debate, pp. 136-141).

But having said that, I also hold, as you know, the stronger view that the very idea of someone freely rejecting God forever is deeply incoherent and therefore logically impossible. And I have some sympathy for those who simply bite the bullet, as you describe it, and make following kind of move:

I even wonder how often, if ever, people’s final surrender to God in this earthly life is, strictly speaking, a libertarian free choice. Here is how I put it in my paper “Freedom, Damnation, and the Power to Sin with Impunity” (Religious Studies, 2001):

, Chapter XIV]. Though he always stressed libertarian free will when he tried to imagine the damnation of a soul, the damnation of someone else, his account of his own conversion comes across very differently. He did say, it is true, that ‘before God closed in on me, I was in fact offered what now appears a moment of wholly free choice’. But he then immediately wrote, ‘In a sense’, and he also made it clear that he had in mind a voluntary choice, but not necessarily a libertarian free choice. For he went on to write: ‘I say, “I chose,” yet it did not really seem possible to do the opposite… Necessity may not be the opposite of freedom…’. He even described himself as ‘a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape’, and concluded by identifying freedom in this matter with a kind of compulsion: ‘The words compelle intrare, compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation’.
I find this description of Lewis’ own conversion most illuminating, and I would also point out how well it accords with the perspective of my initial post in this thread. For according to that perspective, our free choices determine not our eternal destiny, which is secure from the beginning, but the means required to achieve it. God thus employs the consequences of our free choices, whichever way they go, as a means of gradually boxing us in, of removing over time every possible motive for disobedience, and of finally checkmating us in the end.

Beyond that, I believe, God himself faces a dilemma with respect to human freedom that few, if any, freewill theists appear to have noticed. For if, as C.S. Lewis insisted, union with God is utter bliss and separation from him an objective horror, then God cannot truly honor someone’s free choice to live apart from him unless the following is true: He is also prepared to permit the consequences of such a choice to correct this person’s faulty judgments in a way that would in the end compel a change of heart. I explain this dilemma more fully in a paper entitled “Misery and Freedom: Reply to Walls (Religious Studies, 2005), and at the risk of making this post way too long, I’ll reproduce a couple of crucial paragraphs below:

].

Anyway, thanks again for your thoughtful and well-written post. I would, of course, welcome any further question you might have or any critical comment you might want to make.

-Tom


#14

No complaint here! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Very much enjoyed your most recent answer, btw. The reference to Lewis’ notion of free will within constraints could be extended by his own famous chess analogy: someone in a chess game against a master is entirely free to take a piece of the master’s with a rook, or not; but if he does so, he isn’t free from being checkmated by the master player in five moves as a consequence.


#15

I like to think of the case of a parent who has booked a holiday and is trying to persuade a recalcitrant child into the car for the journey. The child may delay the journey but is unlikely to be allowed to force the parent to totally abandon the trip (usual analogy constraints apply).


#16

That’s a good analogy, too, Jeff.

It may seem ironic that a spanking has to precede a vacation, but that isn’t (typically) the fault of the parent. It’s the fault of the child (and can be part of a healthy maturation process).


#17

Tom1-

I appreciate the clarification very much. Thanks for taking the time too. And if you can’t get back on this, no worries. We’ll all figure it out in the end, right? ;o)

(The “less than nil” comment was an intentional exaggeration as well. Just wanted to emphasize how very unlikely it would be that any would persevere forever in rejecting God.)

I think the only real difference between us would be how much we’d insist on the libertarian nature of the choice for/against God (or perhaps the place/role such freedom plays in our fulfilling God’s creational purposes for us). As obvious and inevitable as the choice for God might seem (as in Lewis’ conversion, or in St. Paul’s for that matter), I think if we interpret this to exclude the psychological possibility of rejecting God we (a) essentially posit compatibilistic choice determined by God (via God’s arranging of the circumstances in which we are supposedly psychologically incapable of rejecting God; if not ‘libertarian’, then what? ‘Compatibilistic’ it would seem) and then (b) the whole problem of evil surfaces. If God can guarantee the desired choice for God by simply removing the epistemic distance that makes libertarian choice possible, why not simply do so from the start? The fact that creation (this side of the grave at least) is characterized by (among other things) enough epistemic distance to justify making either the wrong or the right choice is what keeps me thinking that this just is the requisite context for creaturely becoming per se, and that it can’t be brushed aside by God if God hopes to get the loving sort of relationship with creatures he wants.

But I have to admit that I do make a difference in ‘contexts’ between this present life and the world to come, where this life is a kind of probationary period and the next (hell) is judgment. And I very much like the idea of hell being that place where we come face to face with the truth of what we made of ourselves and the pain we brought to others and God. Libertarian choice may require some epistemic distance, but that wouldn’t include the right to forever live with our lies and false identities. If hell is a place beyond probation, then it seems that the loving thing to do would be to check-mate. I’m just uncomfortable with saying this leaves agents with no rational room left to fabricate a reason to reject God, for that undermines the libertarian nature of the choice and lands us in the quandary of having to explain why, if God can guarantee outcomes by simply closing the epistemic distance so that choosing wrongly becomes psychologically impossible, why did God not make creation such a place from the get go? It would seem that God’s ends for human being entail the sort of freedom (libertarian) that can only be exercised given a certain amount of epistemic distance. But if God’s purposes for us require such a context ‘now’, how not ‘then’? If God in the end gets what he wants by simply removing the psychological possibility of rejecting God by overwhelming persons with truth/light, what explanation do we give (relative to God’s telos of human being) for God endowing us with such freedom at all?

Pax,
Tom2


#18

I fully agree. Yet it seems that God gives us credit for a virtuous character. Otherwise, rewards and punishments would not make sense. I also noted that you seem to separate “redemption” from “virtuous character”. I am wondering how that can be done in light of Paul’s statements in Romans 2:6-11)

*For he will render to everyone according to his works: to those who by perseverance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give aeonion life; but for those who are self-seeking and are not persuaded by the truth, but are persuaded by wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.

Affliction and anguish for every person who does evil … but glory and honour and well-being for every one who does good … For God shows no partiality. *


#19

An excellent (and quite Lewist… Lewistic? Lewisian? Lewiscistic?!) way of putting it. :smiley:

(I can never figure out how to describe being trained by him and MacDonald. Either of them would loathe the notion of having a family of metaphysics and/or theology named after them, especially one that used -ian in the description, as that would look like the factioning of 1 Cor 1. But it’s certainly handy for summary purposes. :wink: )


#20

And that quote is far from the only such thing in either the OT or NT, Paidion! So yes, virtuous behavior has something to do with being rewarded by God, or the other thing if the other thing.

If, however, we keep in mind that salvation is primarily salvation from sin, then I think there will be less conflict with the idea of rewards and punishments for just and unjust attitudes (and enactions of those attitudes). I do not save myself from sin by doing “good deeds”, thereafter expecting God to ratify my salvation of myself as is only right and proper for Him to do.