The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Why a literal lake of fire?

Hey Cindy

No you didn’t scare me off, and I am already missing the debate and discussion. I tried switching over to politics, but… politics, shmalitics. I appreciate you be-friending me on this site. Sometimes I just get tired of my own voice, and sometimes am low spirited.
your friend,

Politics! :unamused: Hubby is desperately trying to see what people think about the debate. :laughing: We’re on satelite internet, so not enough bandwidth to watch. Whew! Yes, this is far more interesting.

G’day folks,
I have been thinking about this LoF subject. Now I find this useful discussion going on. It seems to me that the LoF relates to the nature of God himself. One way or another anything unworthy is going to be toast. Only God is eternal. All the rest finds is begining and end in Him. We shall be changed, says Paul, in the twinkling of an eye. Judgment for us all one way or another. Am I on the right wavelength on this? One of my favorite hymns follows - A Universalist Anthem! ChrisB

Souls of men, why will ye scatter
Like a crowd of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts, why will ye wander
From a love so true and deep?

Was there ever kinder shepherd
Half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the Savior Who would have us
Come and gather round His feet?

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.

There is no place where earth’s sorrows
Are more felt than up in Heaven;
There is no place where earth’s failings
Have such kindly judgment given.

There is plentiful redemption
In the blood that has been shed;
There is joy for all the members
In the sorrows of the Head.

For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of man’s mind.
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

Pining souls! come nearer Jesus,
And oh! come not doubting thus,
But with faith that trusts more bravely
His huge tenderness for us.

If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would all be sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.

Frederick W Faber

Great hymn, Chris. Is it sung to “Ode to Joy”? It could be. I was hearing that as I read it. :slight_smile:

I love the 9th. I love Beethoven. Certainly the ode to Joy fits eu perfectly.

I have a slightly different take on this… I understand the LoF as indeed literal, but in a past tense. I see the LoF fulfilled in the Ad70 destruction of Jerusalem [a literal event] where and when all the symbols of the old covenant world met their ultimate end, i.e., the Temple / Priesthood / Law etc all ended. The great conflagration of that time engulfing the entire City, literally going up in a sea of flames; finally then being razed by the Romans as per Jesus’ prophesy [Mt 24:2].

Thus as I understand it, the LoF was never about post mortem realities at all, but rather “the end of the world” i.e., the old covenant world.

Hi Davo and fellow Brisbanite, Question, Was not the revelation of John thought to be penned after ad 70? it does not read like history to me but maybe I am missing some point. Chris

G’day Chris… small world :slight_smile:

If you do a google search for the likes of ‘before jerusalem fell dating book revelation’ etc you can find a lot of material backing an Ad70 timeframe for Revelation; try this link for one example…

Chris; It seems that there are two camps on this, the “late daters” and “early daters”. I looked at the information some years ago, and it appears that the evidence comes out slightly in favor of the early dating of Revelation.

Be that as it may, it doesn’t necessarily mean that even if it is of later dating, that the view of it (mainly or entirely) describing events that took place on or before 70 AD is incorrect; primarily because Revelation is a spiritual vision, and while it qualifies as prophecy, prophecy is not necessarily always forward-looking.

Both the Apostolic movement and the Pantelists hold the view that all of Revelation was fulfilled by the time of 70AD.

In this article I want to primarily respond to the letter written by Cindy on October 14th, but first would like to respond to the viewpoint that the book of Revelation is past history. To imagine that the coming day of God’s indignation can even be compared to 70 AD, is to really not understand the severity of God’s coming wrath. First before this event even occurs God will remove his ambassadors from the world. Paul says God “is giving us the dispensation of the conciliation, how that God was in Christ, conciliating the world to Himself… For Christ then, are we ambassadors” 2 Cor 5:18-20 Since Paul wrote these words God is not judging our world, but is at complete peace with our world. Nothing can be done now to draw down his anger. Not while the body of Christ walks this earth. Paul says elsewhere “and to be waiting for His Son out of the heavens, Whom He rouses from among the dead, Jesus, our Rescuer out of the coming indignation 1 Thess. 1:10 Notice we are to be 'snatched away” commonly called the ‘rapture’ (1 Thess. 4:13-18) and that this must occur before God’s indignation. This is Paul’s point in 2 Thess. 2:1-2 “Now we are asking you, brethren, for the sake of the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to Him, that you be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be alarmed… as that the day of the Lord is present.” You see if the day of the Lord had really been present, then why were they not ‘snatched away’? So my question to those that believe God’s indignation in the book of Revelation is past history. Why has not the ‘body of Christ’ been “snatched away’ yet? Why is Paul’s Gospel of Justification still active today? Why are we still ‘waiting for His Son out of the heavens’? Still while we may not agree on these fine points, we all love the debate, and to debate. I really hope I do not sound crass.
Now concerning the article written earlier by Cindy. I would refer to the 'Parable of the Prodigal Son” and especially in comparing the attitude of the Father to that of the Elder Son. “Now, at his being still far away, his father perceived him and has compassion, and running, falls on his neck and fondly kisses him… Yet the father said to his slaves, 'Quick! Bring forth the first robe, and put it on him, and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet…”

Later we read of the elder son’s indignation, and the father then responds to his elder son “child, you are always with me, and all mine is yours. Yet we must be merry and rejoice, seeing that this your brother was dead and revives, and was lost and was found” Luke 15 11-32

While it will indeed be sad to see some of our loved ones enter the ‘second death’ unlike the elder son, we will rejoice at their time of resurrection and vivification. Indeed like the ‘prodigal son’ they will have done nothing to earn their salvation, and the ‘first robe’ and ‘ring’ and ‘sandals’. However none of us really earn our salvation. It is all of God’s grace. It is the death of Christ that saves us, not our faith, or repentance.

Hope I do not sound to preachy my friends.
God Bless

I am sorry. I admit doing a rush job with my previous article. I now have to use a public computer, since I recently developed a problem with my tablet.

Hi, Puddy

I’m sorry about your tablet! I find myself very anxious when my computer is feeling sickly. I hope you can get yours feeling better soon.

I hear you about the prodigal son. Only there was in fact some point to his being away from the family estate. He was learning; he was not merely non-extant. I can reconcile myself to some needing more learning time, but the idea that their non-existence for a period of time should be some sort of punishment for them (and not for those of us missing them) doesn’t seem logical to me. They’re returned (according to this theory) and perfected when Father is good and ready. They learn nothing during their time away because they CAN’T learn from their time away because they don’t exist. Maybe we learn just how good God is, that we don’t even miss them, but that seems sad, too. And as I said before, surely HE misses them at any rate – and there is simply no point in it that I can see. If He’s going to bring them back and instantly perfect them, why not do it immediately.

The prodigal son had to decide to come home on his own; therefore it was necessary that he be waited for. No one could go and drag him home and achieve the desired result (his willing return under his own power). There is a point to that. The lost coin had to be found; it wasn’t lost because it wanted to be lost; it just rolled away through no fault of its own. So there was a point to its being missing, as it was being sought and hadn’t yet been found. The lost sheep was missing because it wandered off after some shiny thing and got turned around. It was ditzy but not really rebellious, and it had to be found – so again, an effort was being put forth to bring it back. In all three stories the point could be argued that the missing would benefit from its experience, as it was presumably extant during the missing period, and possibly learning things and developing character. In this set of parables, there is always a point to the missing not being instantly returned. It had to be found, or it had to come on its own. But to say the missing ones have to be missing just, well, just because that’s the way it is . . . it doesn’t work for me.

Personally I think they’re missing because that’s probably just the way things had to be; that they need this experience for some reason, and possibly that we who do have the ministry of conciliation also have the need to have the experience of ministering to them and laying down our lives to bring them back home. “What would Father say if we returned without the others?” (G MacD)

On another level, though, I do agree with you. I was leaning toward the more popular view that the rapture is an over-literal view of a passage that Paul would have rolled his eyes over; “You thought I was saying WHAT?” more for the sake of avoiding the cynical eye rolling of my fellow believers :wink: than because I had any real scriptural reasons. It doesn’t have anything to do with avoiding persecution or trouble or suffering. More than half the church is already suffering horribly. Many Christians have lived and died in suffering, while others have had no more than the common share of suffering experienced by most people. Saying that the rapture can’t be biblical on the grounds that we shouldn’t expect to avoid suffering is entirely beside the point.

I do see it in scripture, and in the imminent return of Christ. I do NOT see the church succeeding in bringing about the Kingdom of God on earth. Yes, we must follow Him and continue to follow Him and work for the good of our fellow humans . . . BUT there have been many generations of sincere loving self-sacrificing Christ followers giving their lives for their fellow people and yet the Kingdom is not stronger today but rather is fading. YES, Jesus does return in His followers. Of course He does. But I cannot ignore the possibility that He also returns as a King we can physically look upon and at whose feet we can fall down and worship. I believe that He WILL return physically just as I believe the dead will be physically raised. I believe also that we will physically rule and reign with Him. But over whom will we reign? Cocker Spaniels? I suspect that those over whom we will reign will also be those we are called on to minister to, reconcile, rescue, and otherwise serve with our lives – that is, the life of Christ in us.

As for the idea that the suffering of 70 AD is beyond all suffering ever experienced or ever to be experienced by anyone anywhere ever, well, I agree that 70 AD is a legitimate fulfillment of the prophecy, but certainly not the ultimate fulfillment. I would contend (as many have) that the suffering of the holocaust was probably greater, certainly in terms of numbers of Jewish people suffering, than that of 70 AD. And the prophecy wasn’t, strictly speaking, limited to the Jews. So whether Revelation was written pre or post 70 AD doesn’t seem to me all that significant. I can’t see 70 AD as fulfilling it completely in either case.

I believe that the prophecies have many fulfillments and many layers of fulfillments. To focus only on the spiritual fulfillment may be more accurate than to focus only on the physical fulfillment – but IMO it is a mistake to say that the spiritual fulfillment is the ONLY fulfillment. I believe they are both important and both must come to pass in order for the prophecy to be true.

But we all have our different shades of belief, and it would be foolish for any of us, certainly including me, to insist that we’re absolutely 100% certain we are right about anything. The important thing is that we are all brothers and sisters and love one another, our Lord, and our Father. If we do that, we will do well. :smiley:

Love, Cindy

Regarding #2… I find it interesting that there is another play on words with “stone” in Hebrew going on in the Gospels. The word for stone (eben) is very close to the word for son (ben) and Jesus is the son/stone that is rejected, etc.

I just found this interesting… perhaps again it is Jesus the stone who purifies…

Well, I will have my tablet working for me again this Thursday. So for now I will struggle away on a public computer. It is nice to get some newer posts from Tendtheend and others. However, this is going to be another response to Cindy, and her most recent article.

First concerning the ‘rapture’ of believers before the ‘day of indignation’ I think that as the churches move further away from the ‘grace’ teachings of the Apostle Paul, and the residual effect of the Reformation, that the ‘rapture’ will likely become increasingly ridiculed. It is as if people only read the very last words of 1 Thess: 1.10 “… our Rescuer out of the coming indignation” and then interpret the words to mean ’ our protector through the coming indignation’ Yet the context of these words is that we will be “waiting for his Son out of the heavens” that is what rescues us.

Concerning our discussion about the Prodigal Son. Yes, I think you have some good points as well. What I would point out, is that his learning experience took place in this life. I feel it will be more than enough of a learning experience for humanity, to have lived this present life, and then to give account of their acts at the White throne… The heart of humanity will then be in the same position as that of the Prodigal Son.

Really, what I probably find more shocking is that of the believers before the Dais of Christ 2 Cor: 5.10. Many will be there “as through fire”
1 Cor: 3. 14-15
Most will not endure in their faith 2 Tim. 2 .12 Most will be drowsy “whether we may be watching or drowsing, we should be living at the same time together with him” 1 Thess. 5.10 Really how much will some of these believers learn in this present life? Most of us will remain very immature in the faith. It could be seriously argued that God is unfair, to grant such grace to one lot of people, and yet not to others.

The truth is God is lavishing his grace upon certain individuals, so that the celestial realms can learn about grace, but in God’s wisdom he is simply not choosing the vast majority of humanity. Indeed he seems to be granting his grace, to those that deserve it the least.

Your quote by G MacD, and your point behind it, is very good. The old standard idea that saved believers will just be sitting around in heaven, enjoying their time of bliss, is really not a scriptural thought. Really the purpose of the ‘body of Christ’ is to serve and rule in the celestial realms. The primary purpose is to reach the heavenly realms with the grace of God. They seem to be learning much from us, and probably the absolute grace granted to believers, and how it stands in stark contrast to the general destiny of mankind, all the more highlights God’s grace to us, and for them.

Again, when you say that God surely misses them “and there is simply no point in it that I can see. If he’s going to bring them back and instantly perfect them, why not do it immediately” Well, concerning the ‘body of Christ’ Yes, they will be instantly perfected, but it seems God needs the contrast, and wants to first display his grace to the least deserving. Also, God went an eternity (i guess) before he brought you and I into existence. Why did he wait so long? He already foreknew us, so why did he wait so long? Why does he not immediately perfect all believers, and why allow them to experience death? Could he not have allowed Paul to have lived these last 2000 years, instead of non existence?
God Bless
your friend, Puddy

Hi, Puddy –

Yeah, I guess I just don’t see it. It’s a good thing God doesn’t grade us on being right or we’d all be in deep. :laughing: But one thing for sure; He is good and it’s going to be for the best, however He works things out. That pov still doesn’t make sense to me, but hey – it works for you, and I doubt Abba is going to be irate with any of His kids for genuinely trying to learn the truth from His word.

Nevertheless, we’re family even when we disagree. :slight_smile:

Love in Jesus, Cindy

I do thank you for the discussion we have had. It is good to have to try and defend what I believe, and likely I have done a very poor job at it. When I said that God “seems to be granting his grace, to those that deserve it the least.” I really should have used a more scriptural term than ‘deserve it the least’. Anyway here is some scripture “For you are observing your calling, brethren, that there are not many wise according to the flesh… and the ignoble and the contemptible things of the world God chooses” 1 Cor. 1. 26-28

Also when I said that the heavenly realms “seem to be learning much from us” I should also have given a scripture reference. Here is what Paul says in Eph. 3. 8-11 “…that now may be made known to the sovereignties and the authorities among the celestials, through the ecclesia, the multifarious wisdom of God, in accord with the purpose of the eons”

I feel it is my responsibility to write a few more articles on this thread in order to properly defend the view I am espousing. I really have not dug into certain key scriptures. There is the possibility someone has been reading our debate, and is really wanting it fleshed out a bit more. I wish I was a better writer, that is for sure.

It seems to me that one reason for the difference in viewpoint on the purpose of the LOF and the meaning of the second death, can be attributed to our likely difference when it comes to our understanding of faith and repentance.

I simply do not believe faith and repentance are necessary factors in the ‘justification’ of all mankind. It is the death of Christ that fully saves, and our faith does not contribute to this. All humanity comes down to only two individuals. Adam and Christ. We stand on the sidelines.

Likely after a few more articles, I will give this thread a long rest… almost as long as the second death itself (just kidding)
love, terry

Hi Puddy… I’d like to bring a bit of clarification from my view of pantelism with regards to your statement above, and this is probably where pantelism is at some variance with universalism per se.

Pantelism does not hold to the view that there is “an end” to the ‘new covenant age’ – IOW, the only eschatology relative to the NC age was that of the transitional time of Ad30-70 where the OC age was ending and the burgeoning NC age; or as the writer of Hebrews states… “In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.Heb 8:13. Thus the NC age lasts forever, i.e., there is no end of our time-space universe. The “end” spoken of in the Gospels **Mt 24:3 **et al] was the ending of the Mosaic “world” or age of the old covenant. Thus this life populates the life beyond.

Now it is only natural to view Scripture according to our context, but in doing so we invariably read our world expectations back into the text and see fulfillment, but is this a correct way to approach ‘prophecy’? Pantelism understands that the Scriptures have their primary focus and fulfillment in that age, the age that wrought the reconciliation i.e., 2000+ years ago. The world to come subsequent to that age now lives in is the benefits of what Christ established on behalf of all way back then.

So it is that the scale of the coming destruction Jesus spoke of needs to be considered in terms of ‘covenant sanctions’ again the then covenant people. And this is what Ad70 was – it was Israel’s lake of fire, quite literally a picture of such as Jerusalem, the centre of their world, became ablaze and smouldering sea of destruction. And along with this we see the spiritual or covenantal side of the same event in that this was none other than OC Israel’s ‘second death’. There was to be no resurrection of anything from the OC age.

To “interpret” the likes of the Hitler’s holocaust, as evil as that was, as pertaining to “the coming wrath” based predominately on numbers slain etc would be to miss the biblical point. It’s a bit like when Jesus said “greater works than these shall ye do…” – if one considers that raising the dead was pretty “great” then to what degree more than this could Jesus’ “greater than” refer in relation to believers? Answer… Jesus was not speaking in terms of magnitude of miraculous deed/s, but rather, he was indicating the breadth of scope his followers collectively would minister God’s grace on his behalf, i.e., believers being God’s hands and feet etc Body of Christ] ministering to the wider world.

Hey Davo

I admit I will need sometime to respond to you. Perhaps I won’t be escaping the Lof thread anytime soon. Will people be okay with me staying on this thread longer than I indicated? Please let me know my friends if I over stay my welcome. Sometimes I may fail to understand social cues, and I act strangely. Yes, Davo I will need sometime.


You’re absolutely welcome to stay and post here as long as you like. I haven’t responded mostly because I’ve just been too, too busy – so don’t take that to heart. Always feel welcome, brother, because you are.

Blessings, Cindy

Absolutely no problems at all Puddy… I think we all have various time constraints. :slight_smile: