The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The House of Eli

Exactly, Redhot. Well, the Bible DOES speak of eternity, but only occasionally, and always as something particular to God. Never do the Greek or Hebrew words used of punishment refer to “eternity.”

For us, the horizon conjures up ideas of infinity. For them, the sky was a solid dome holding back the waters above, and the horizon wasn’t all that far away.

Oh, man. lol :laughing: :unamused:

Revival, there’s a difference between a quantitative and a qualitative infinity.

There’s also a difference between a potential infinity and an actual infinity.

I’ll break this down for you:

A potential infinity is one where you can potentially go on naming numbers without limit, for instance… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… 1000… 1 trillion… 1 quintillion… etc. There’s no limit on that. Even if we never find that we need a number past one “centillion,” that wouldn’t stop us from potentially naming numbers past that. But that doesn’t mean that there could actually exist an infinite number of objects.
An actual infinity is where there is actually a limitless amount of objects.

But there’s problems with this. Take Hilbert’s Paradox of the Grand Hotel: … rand_Hotel

If there were an infinite amount of guests in an infinite amount of rooms, you could still fit a separate but infinite amount of guests in the hotel because there would be an infinite amount of rooms. It’s just absurd. Basically this illustration proves that:

Infinity + infinity = infinity

Now furthermore: if all of the guests left at once, an infinite amount of guests would leave the hotel, leaving zero. Or if all of the guests except for the first three left, an infinite amount of guests would leave the hotel, leaving three!

So infinity is self-contradictory, because as that demonstrates:

Infinity - infinity = 0
Infinity - infinity = 3
Infinity - infinity = 27
And so on.

In other words, it’s a fictitious number because it contradicts itself and it contradicts reality as we know it.

But you COULD possibly have a qualitative infinity, outside of the constraints of space-time, at least. While you can’t have quantities (which are an aspect of space-time) OUTSIDE OF space-time, you COULD have qualities. For instance, God has qualities. But one of his qualities is NOT quantity, or else we could say that God is made up of innumberable parts, or that the paradox which asks whether God could create a rock so heavy even he can’t lift it could somehow create a contradiction for omnipotence.

So in other words, we only have infinity as a quality - but what does that mean?

Well very simply, it means that no matter how much you take away from something, it regenerates more exponentially, causing it to never deplete. This is a great description of the Christian God. Since God is not subject to the law of entropy as we are, and is presumably the source of all existence, His energy, or existence rather, never runs out. While this would not mean that there is necessarily an infinite amount of His energy in some quantitative sense, it does mean that in a very qualitative sense that He could never run out since He is self-existent and constantly generates more power.

That make it clearer for you?

It’s in that qualitative sense of infinity that I’m speaking of eternity. In other words, it’s not that there would be an infinite amount of time (which is another spatial dimension), but that there’s as much time as there needs to be. That there’s no limit to the amount of time or space used to fulfill God’s purposes - in other words, it sounds much more like there’s no limit to God’s redemptive power to save us!

And to further clarify, when we say that God is “infinitely big” that’s true, too. Because for him, “bigness” is a quality. But “smallness” is a quality too, which I’d say he fulfills - which is how he is able to affect things on a quantum scale even! :sunglasses:

I second Stellar’s post concerning infinity, and would point Revival to a very respected, and well known Christian apologist, and philosopher - Dr. William Lane Craig, who would agree completely with Stellar concerning infinity.

Very interesting distinctions, Stellar. Hmmm. Qualitative vs Quantitative infinities…

How does the Greek and Hebrew express them?

Did I not say “eternity” was a state of existence without end?

Snitz, why do you agree with the word "“aionion” meaning “eternal” when it describes God, His glory, His life, etc, but when the same word is used for punishment and judgment you don’t agree it means eternal?

If I may give an answer;

“The Titanic is Long

“The distance between the Earth and the Sun is Long

“Man, getting that order of fries seemed rather Long

“The life of God, is a very Long life”

Long, Long, Long, Long - not all equal in Length.

How can the same identical word not have the same meaning or length?

In the same way the Titanic (882 feet 9 inches long) is not as long as God’s lifespan (no beginning, nor end), and in the same way that the distance between the Earth and Sun is a lengthy span of distance, though getting an order of fries is a lengthy span of time.

And there you have it.

I agree. Why would anyone argue about The English Defintion of Eternity. It’s meaning is Irrelevant to Aion. I can see arguing over Aidios, but that greek word is Never used in reference to punishment anyways. :unamused:

Meanwhile Stellars example of actual vs potential Infinity was a nice mind bender.

Nonsense. The NT uses the Greek word **“Sozo” ** meaning salvation or deliverance - spiritually, mentally, and physically - all three of them, all the time. The word carries the same meaning in all three. Salvation is salvation whether it is spiritual, mental, or physical. (spirit, soul, body)

Instead of hi jacking this thread I will start a new one on the word “aionion”.

Revival, if you do not understand that the sense of words changes due to context, then you really ought to stop telling everyone else to mind their context. Lefein’s example was perfectly easy to follow. Are you seriously suggesting that this isn’t true in languages? If so, you’re positing a use of terminology normally seen amongst people with aspergers, as being the norm for everyone else.

And you cannot really take the usage of a noun, compare it to an adjective, and then complain people are using them differently.

Matt Slick sees the passage as a problem for universalism:

Basically, the message of 1 Samuel 3:14 is as translated succinctly in the NLT, i.e., “will never be forgiven.” But not being forgiven does not imply that one cannot ever be corrected of one’s sins or that one is lost forever.

I posted this earlier in a thread I started recently. But perhaps it fits better here.

Many view the word forgive, as used in the Bible, in a way that may not be correct, as discussed by Talbott in The Inescapable Love of God . Here are the New Testament occurrences of the words forgive, forgiven, forgiveness, and the related word pardon.

“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:15)

“Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:32)

“My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)

“but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:29)

“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” (Mark 11:26)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned, pardon, and you will be pardoned.” (Luke 6:37)

Merriam/Webster defines the word forgive in several ways. The definition that leads to confusion is “to give up resentment of.” People interpreting these verses with that definition in mind often conclude that one’s salvation is impossible if one is not forgiven, for God will never give up resentment of such a sin that is not forgiven. Thus, they conclude that one can do nothing to gain salvation if one is not forgiven. That would seem to deal a lethal blow to the concept of universal reconciliation.

But Merriam/Webster also defines the word forgive as “to grant relief from payment of.” Similarly, it also defines the word pardon as “to allow (an offense) to pass without punishment.” These definitions cast a different light on the issue of salvation, for using these definitions, one can easily see that salvation is still attainable even if one is not forgiven or pardoned. It would be attainable if one could somehow pay for one’s sins, for example through punishment.

Does the Bible shed light on this issue? Yes it does, and it seems to favor the concept that forgive is based on the idea of relief from paying a debt. Consider these key verses.

“My heavenly Father will also do the same to you [i.e., hand you over to torturers until you repay all that is owed, from Matthew 18:24], if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:25)

“For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on your way there make an effort to settle with him, so that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not get out of there until you have paid the very last cent.” (Luke 12:58-59)

“Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.” (Matthew 5:25-26)

“Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:18)

So it appears that salvation is still attainable even if one is not forgiven or pardoned. It would be attainable if one pays for one’s sins. That payment could well be what Paul alluded to in 1 Corinthians 3:15.

“If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

Thus, unforgivable or unpardonable may not necessarily mean uncorrectable when it comes to debts in this world or to sins in the next.


Very clever, Lancia!

That angle had not occurred to me. It can be helpful to see how there are different ways that various verses (e.g. Mt.25:46) may be harmonized with the salvation of all. Such as, for example, those offered by amillenialists, premillianists, full preterists, etc. Or the perspectives from URists of different faiths, such as RC, EO, Anglican, etc.

I’ve noticed instances where Tom Talbott accepts the usual translations of allegedly endless punishment “proof texts”, such as “eternal” at 2 Thess.1:9 - as you’ve also done here with 1 Sam.3:14 & the rendering “never” - and is still able to show a harmonizing of such Scriptures with universalism.

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Regarding 1 Samuel 3-4, I feel like larger, more important questions raised by the story are being sidestepped:

  • Is the tragic fate of Eli and his sons—announced in advance as immutable by Samuel—reflective of God’s true nature?

Or, more fundamentally:

  • Is God a unipolar, unchanging Father of only gracious love (e.g., John 3:17, 10:10)? OR is He a bipolar, legalistic judge: if people obey Him, He loves them; but if they rebel against Him, He becomes angry and vindictive against them?

If God is actually the former (a Father, with open hands of love always extended to all), then I would argue that Samuel (and other prophets) sometimes misunderstood God, and misrepresented the compassionate warnings of God to His people of what SATAN, not God, would do if they continued to disobey, as threats of what He (God) would do if they continued to disobey.

As I have argued elsewhere, I think there is evidence that believers (even including prophets in the Bible) sometimes mistakenly conflate the unipolar God with the unipolar Satan into a two-headed monster.

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Well, I thought I would throw in - the Got Questions general perspective. :smile:

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