The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The meaning of "salvation" and universal atonement passages

Hey Daniel- how do you see it if there is no hell?? Do you think all are with God in heaven in whatever that involves but not in a fully unblemished state?? I see your point about Jesus giving salvation to all by His action, whether they realize it or not.I wonder your thoughts on the other thread here where Davo and paidion talk about all or only believers having salvation?? Is UR unconditional or not??

I’m confused. Isn’t it of the essence of universalism that everyone will receive everlasting life at the final judgment?

Midas… which “Scripture speaks of salvation” in terms “of being brought into Heaven/the New Creation” i.e., what specific texts do you have in mind?

Hi Robert!

I’ll have to head over to the thread you mentioned if I have time :slight_smile: So much to potentially read!

I personally struggle to talk away the existence of a “hell”. Though, I do not see hell as an eternal place of being literally scorched in a fire, but rather I see hell as how Lewis illustrated it in The Great Divorce. Life goes on in hell, only it is a place that does not have the joy of the Lord. This view sees hell as having open gates. People don’t want to leave hell and will only leave once they have been awakened by the work of the Spirit. Hell does not have the same presence of God that God has here on earth, yet God is not totally removed to the point where His Spirit is not at work in hell.

Hell to me is a place where people experience the self fulfilling consequences of living a life without God. Therefore hell is intended to be a place of rehabilitation not necessarily punitive as in ETC.
Unless I am mistaken, I do see hell as existing after the final judgement, but by no means implies that the people placed their at the final judgement will escape the work of the cross :slight_smile:

As to whether Universal Reconciliation is conditional or not, I tend to see it as unconditional from a certainty point of view, in that all people will be reconciled. However, the experience of being reconciled is conditional upon our eventual response to God… if that is what you were asking?

The effect is conditional, the promise is unconditional…

I like to see salvation as a journey we walk (The Way) rather than a line we cross.

I agree with what Daniel has mentioned in the fact that salvation is conditional. It is open to all meaning that all are welcome, but the choice of whether one wants to follow God or not, is up to each individual person.

Hi Daniel- Thanks for responding. I agree with you on our subjective experience of it as opposed to the objective reality which it truly is. To you and LLC i would ask- does anyone EVER completely follow God & Jesus??? We all stumble and fall so much right??? So, when you both talk about those who do not live for God & Jesus, do you mean a deliberate constant rejection of Them?? What about people who struggle and seek to follow but just have hurdles they can’t seem to overcome??? I go back to Geoffreys statement- doesn’t UR mean everyone???

Daniel- I trhink JasonPratt or someone went through on a thread or link on here somewhere detailing every passage where hell is translated and the actual word should be gehenna, which is the valley of hinnom. Do you think what you are decribing is a process much like the verse saying people will be saved though through fire??? What you are saying has been commonly held ever since the church began, if the verses cited really do not mean hell as has been taught, what are we left with??

Hope you find time to peek at that other thread :smiley:

How about this thread:

Daniel, you said:

Hear, hear! (Which is to say, I agree completely.) Metaphorically, the way I see this is that our God is a consuming fire. The fire consumes all the wood, hay and stubble. That (metaphorically) hurts. Jesus said we would all be salted with fire, and I think we WILL, and that this will be a very good thing. I don’t want the wood, hay and stubble, and at bottom, I don’t think anyone wants things that are useless and even harmful, however they may cling to them. They cling because they still think those things are beneficial (at least, to themselves), and/or because they fear they will suffer loss if they let go of them. The more you cling to your wood, hay and stubble, the longer it will take and the more unpleasant the experience will indubitably be for you. Nevertheless, the “burning” is for healing and not for harm.

Very very well put Cindy :slight_smile:

Hi Robert!

Hard question ha ha. No one ever completely follows God as far as stumbling in sin is concerned. However, what is important is the intention to follow Christ and to change, though we stumble. Like how Peter and many of the “followers” of Christ were considered to be followers. In that sense, yes we can completely follow Jesus.

This video is clip by Peter Rollins is quite interesting
Here he talks about the importance of living and believing the resurrection, and wrestling with the times we don’t. He is worth a listen, though he is a very controversial figure.

I would say so yes :slight_smile:

David Pawson once said that people compare Christians with good atheists and often point out how much better the atheists are. He said that it is not a helpful comparison. t would be more helpful to compare what those christians would be like if they were not trying to follow Christ and what the “good” atheists would be like if they chose to follow after Christ. We all have our own journeys and Christ knows our hearts. Quick to hear, slow to judge.

Um, I think I already said universal reconciliation meant everyone? I just believe that it happens in the future eons and not necessarily before the final judgement… but who knows, Revelation is a confusing book ha ha.

Hell is an interesting topic. I grew up as a kid thinking that hell was a bed of nails surrounded by fire. I closer reading of scripture would suggest to me that it means so much more than that. Fire is a catalyst in a way -
James 3:6 “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.”

Revelation 22:11 is interesting because it seems to state that evil doers will continue to do evil and the good will continue to do good. A friend of mine said that the Greek text actually means to become more and more evil or good… but I don’t really know :slight_smile:
“Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.””

So when I put these together, it seems that hell could be a place where people exist without God, and exist in an environment where their evil is almost catalysed by the “fire” in hell. Their own evil actions towards one another and themselves are their own hell. That is, until they submit to Christ. Rather like Lewis’s “The Great Divorce”

I’ve heard that before–that the wicked will continue to become more and more wicked, so that they continually reoffend. Thus their sins can never be atoned for (by themselves). With Jesus’s atonement being limited to the elect, or else (if you’re Arminian) limited by your free choice which must be made before the truck runs over you, there is no hope for these people. The merciful believe God will at some point annihilate them.

This doesn’t work–in oh so many ways. First, God IS eternity. Think about that. God doesn’t live in eternity. He is not a creature of eternity. That would imply some larger reality (created by a more powerful Source), of which God is a resident. There is NO WHERE that He is not. He IS everywhere. I’m not saying that He exists in every place, but that He IS every “place.” There is nowhere that is not in God. Therefore, all this virulent wickedness, continuing to increase infinitely would, of necessity, be IN HIM. No way. No.

Furthermore, to say He annihilates the wicked, is to say that He will allow these creatures, made of Himself (His children) to be destroyed (the ultimate violation of ‘free will’) and forevermore deprive them of the opportunity to choose life. That He, in all His wisdom, can NEVER persuade them to turn their faces toward their Father. I don’t believe that.

I think that this universe is in a state of development, and in that state, God of necessity allows His immature creatures to learn for ourselves the consequences and undesirability of selfishness and fear. We must GROW into love in this way–in our way–in order to be real. Otherwise, we are not discrete (as in separate, but discrete works better here) persons. We would only be His cells. He wants children, not toenails. So we have to be allowed to learn things in the ways we choose to learn them. We can choose the easy way (walk with Him in the Garden) or the hard way (listen to the animal nature and do what we think is best, then experience the consequences). Most of us do some sort of combo deal, don’t we? Whichever way we choose to walk in, we also get to experience the consequences of other people’s choices–that’s part of the package. It’s often unpleasant, but it is our duty to them in love, to participate in their development, too. When the wicked and misled see the harm they’ve done they will (eventually) be moved to repent. Often not in this life, alas. Yet there is no end to God’s mercies.

But I don’t see how it is necessary for this view of hell to only be seen in an annihilationist perspective. I think it fits rather well in a universalist perspective

Oh I agree, Daniel. It could certainly be seen from a Universalist perspective. I think someone upstream here may have been talking about anni, and that’s why I focused on that perspective. It’s often ignored, as though it’s either ECT or Kath. Before I ‘went all the way’ and became a Kath (Jason’s word, and it IS handy to have one), I spent a year in the Anni/CI camp.

From the Kath perspective, the wicked don’t continue in their wickedness forever. They are healed, or whatever the view of the particular Kath requires, and are welcomed into the Beloved.

Oh ok, all good.

I am still learning some of the lingo here. Does Kath = Catholicism and what does “CI” mean?


davo: To be clear, I was claiming that the Bible does not understand salvation in that sense without further qualifications (e.g., qualifications related to the Final Judgment). But if you’re asking about why I think those qualifications exist, I’d point to Romans 5:9-10, where justification is linked with salvation. Since we know from, inter alia, Romans 2 and Romans 8:32-34 that justification and condemnation are linked to the Final Judgment, this seems to favor reading Scripture as treating salvation in terms of being delivered from condemnation at the Final Judgment and entering Heaven thereafter. That said, as I write this all out, it seems that the universalist could still understand “being saved” as simply being secured a place in Heaven, and just say that receiving justification and therefore being declared righteous at the Final Judgment is one, but not the only, way of being saved.

Sorry :blush:

Kath is Jason’s nickname for universalist. It may never catch on (alas) but I like to do my part. CI stands for Conditional Immortality, which is kind of Annihilationist with nuance.

Saved from what, precisely, Midas? What did Jesus come to save us from?

I’m not answering for Midas, but I always appreciate that question “saved from what?” In order to make sense of any position on salvation, that question must be answered.

So many people have the idea that we are saved from hell, or saved from death or saved from something so that we can go to heaven.

But the angel didn’t say to Joseph, "You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from hell.” (or “from death” or “unto heaven.” Rather he said, "you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

People need to be saved from wrongdoing. Wrongdoing is what hurts people, and the means by which they hurt each other. Salvation from sin is a life-long process. I’m not sure that anyone will escape a measure of post-mortem correction. In a parable, Jesus spoke of servants what would receive a light beating, and others that would receive a heavy beating. If our salvation has not been completed at the time or our death, surely it will have to be completed after our death. We are not going to be instantaneously righteous just because we die.

And before someone comes back at me with “we shall be changed… in the twinkling of an eye,” I declare that passage refers to Christians who are living at Christ’s return, whose bodies will be instantly changed from mortal bodies to immortal.

Yeah, I agree Paidion. Well put. I am still not certain how quickly God will change us post-mortem. I guess it will depend on the person and their relationship with God.

As an aside, since I see that I was invoked… :wink:

Actually I’m fine with “Gehenna” and “hades” and several other terms being translated as “hell”, although we lose some interesting nuances by doing so.

Gehenna—possibly. But Hades? It seems to me that this word means “the grave.” Right now, the grave prevails. Everyone dies. However, “the gates of the grave (or tomb)” will not prevail over Christ’s Assembly. For He will raise his disciples from death at the last day (John 6:40,44,54)

(The story of Dives and Lazarus was a parable based on the Jewish belief of the day that Hades is a dwelling place for the dead who aren’t really dead.
The purpose of the parable was to show that even if it were possible for someone to return from the dead and report his experience, the Jews to whom Jesus was speaking, would not believe.)