Will People be Raised as Immortal Sinners?


#1

On another thread (Should we form universalist congregations?), Bob wrote:

If I ever said that this dynamic “can’t” extend beyond our physical death, then it was an overstatement. My view is that it simply doesn’t do so - not because it’s strictly impossible or unreasonable for our future existence to so resemble this one that our character is formed in the same way as it is now, but because I don’t understand Scripture to reveal that it does. In other words, if Scripture taught a future existence but was utterly silent as to the nature of this existence, I would be open to the possibility that the process of character development which begins in this life will continue in a similar fashion in the next. At the same time, I would also have to admit to the possibility that the future existence may have very little in common with the present, and that the means by which a holy character is attained in this life may also be exclusive to this life.

My view is that the principle of analogy as a means to determining what the future state of existence will be like apart from what has been previously revealed is not a principle found in Scripture. In other words, for any particular aspect or characteristic of our future existence for which there is no previous revelation, we find no inspired writer “filling in the gaps,” so to speak, by reasoning from the principle of analogy. Paul’s “seed analogy” is, again, no exception to this, for he was merely giving an example from the natural world to illustrate how there will be continuity between our present personal identity and our future personal identity, in order to make this previously revealed fact more understandable to his readers. As noted before, Paul’s not revealing anything new to them about the resurrection existence that had not been previously revealed by the OT Scriptures or Christ’s resurrection. He’s teaching the same minimalist continuity between this life and the next which had already been revealed. Moreover, Paul’s seed analogy cannot be raised as an objection to Balfour’s argument, since Balfour was arguing against the use of analogies involving the present existence and experience of human beings, not illustrations from nature to defend a previously revealed fact concerning man’s future existence. Paul, in using an illustration from nature, was not thereby sanctioning the use of the principle of analogy to prove that we will begin our future existence with unchanged characters, and that there will be no essential differences between the present and the future existence in regards to moral change and development. And if that’s the case, then your insistence that people are going to be raised (or however you think we will transition into the future existence) in the same sinful state in which we die, need not be seen as anything more than pure speculation that means nothing without a “thus says the Lord” to substantiate it; it would be like me insisting that people who are insane in this life will be raised with the same mental derangement.

Again, the only continuity of which Christ speaks is that of the person, not some non-essential aspect of a person’s present existence and identity which, were it confined to this present existence, would not compromise the essential continuity between their past and future personal identity.

As said earlier, Paul’s use of the “seed analogy” neither involves any aspect of man’s present personal identity and existence, nor is it used to argue for some aspect of our future existence which was not previously revealed. So yes, I would argue that Paul’s illustration from nature is no precedent for thinking that we may reason on the principle of analogy in order to determine how our future existence as human persons will be similar or identical to our present existence as human persons.

Paul was not reasoning on the principle of analogy to reveal anything to the Corinthians that had not already been revealed by the OT, or by Christ’s resurrection. Again, the seed illustration is not an example of Paul reasoning on the principle of analogy between man’s present and future existence, since the illustration is not borrowed from human life but from plant life. And it’s ironic that you mention the “spiritual body,” since in the passage in which Paul uses this expression the emphasis is very clearly on the DISSIMILARITIES between the present and future body. Paul does not write one sentence in 1Cor 15 in which he employs the principle of analogy to argue for how the future existence will be similar or nearly identical to the present. Like Jesus’ discussion with the Sadducees, Paul’s emphasis is on the dissimilarities and discontinuities. The only continuity that Paul or Jesus mentions is that the future existence will be both personal and embodied.

Now, I think you are correct in saying, “We agree that there is both continuity and discontinuity in the texts, and thus seem to be quibbling over how much continuity it would be reasonable to expect.” Whereas I affirm that we should reasonably expect as much continuity between our mortal and immortal existence as is revealed by Scripture, you seem to be saying, “We should reasonably expect there to be as much continuity between our mortal and immortal existence as ensures that the same dynamic by which we attain Christ-like character in this present existence will continue in the future existence; that is, there will be as much continuity between the present and the future state as makes possible a gradual attainment of complete conformity to Christ’s sinless character instead of an instant attainment.” But why is this “reasonable to expect” apart from what Scripture has to say about it? As I noted earlier, some might say it would be “reasonable to expect” that our future existence will be identical to this existence, since our present existence is the only existence with which we are personally familiar. We have no experiential understanding of anything different. But does our familiarity with, and experiential understanding of, this present existence make the expectation that our future existence will be the same as our present existence a “reasonable” one? I don’t see how this follows.

The fact that this life is characterized by an exposure to inevitable pain and death does not mean it is reasonable to expect that our future existence will also be characterized by this. Similarly, the fact that this life is characterized by temptation and sin doesn’t mean this will be the case with our future existence. What determines the nature of our future existence is not our present existence, but the One who has determined what both our present and future existence will be like. We can’t determine from our present existence what God’s plan is for our future existence, so the only reasonable expectation we can have is what God chooses to reveal to us. Just because God saw fit to make this present existence one in which an improvement in character could only be attained gradually (and by faith!) doesn’t mean he has seen fit to continue this dynamic beyond this existence. What may be a perfectly wise and appropriate aspect of our present existence according to God’s redemptive plan (e.g., sin and death as a part of human experience) may be wholly unnecessary in the future, and inconsistent with God’s redemptive plan.

Now, if our subjection to Christ post-resurrection is to be at all analogous to this present existence, then it must be the case that we will experience the same ongoing struggle against temptation, the same conflict between the flesh and the spirit, the same doubt, uncertainty and ambiguity, and the same trials, hardships and suffering, as we do in this mortal existence - for it is these such aspects of our present existence that make the attainment of Christ-like character progressive instead of instantaneous. Remove all ambiguity and false perceptions of reality, take away the source of temptation, and save us from all the actual and potential evils to which mortals are necessarily exposed in this world, and I think instantaneous subjection to Christ is pretty much guaranteed for all. If I may borrow some expressions used by Talbott in chapter 11 of his book: If (when we are awakened in the resurrection) all of our illusions are shattered, all our ignorance is removed, all of the ambiguities we face are resolved, and an absolutely clear revelation of God is imparted to us, I don’t see how a “fully informed decision” to then reject and rebel against God could even be possible.

But I think the main question we should ask (and which I hope will become central to this discussion) is, “What does the Bible teach?” Does it reveal that any are to be raised as “immortal sinners?” I for one don’t see that taught; instead, I see just the opposite. I don’t see where it is revealed that there will be any moral change for anyone (for better or worse) after death has been “swallowed up in victory.” And when I get back from Disney World next week, I’ll try to begin building a case for this. :smiley: Until then, I probably won’t be thinking too much about it (except maybe during the “It’s a Small World” ride, assuming my wife still wants to go on it… :mrgreen:).


Do you believe in Soul Sleep?
#2

Just passing through quickly, but as a quick question: when you deny Biblical testimony for people “being raised immortal sinners” (as you put it), are you including the typical canon, or are you leaving out some books otherwise accepted as canon by the overwhelming majority of Christians? (e.g. are you including Isaiah and RevJohn, or are you exempting them from canon?)

Also (less quickly–sorry :wink: ): are you denying Biblical testimony for people “being raised immortal sinners” while also affirming Biblical testimony that some people will in fact still be sinners when they are raised (so that the distinction is whether such sinners are “immortal” or not, in whatever sense that adjective is being applied here)? Or do you consider any resurrection to necessarily involve immortality in the sense you’re talking about, with sin being practically impossible in that immortality, so that there can be no resurrection without that immortality and thus also no being a sinner after resurrection at all? Or perhaps no practical possibility of it, insofar as conversion from rebel to perfect loyalist must be considered the only actual possibility in that condition rather than continuing rebellion for any more stretch of that person’s history?)

i.e., are you trying to stress denying “sinners may continue to sin and yet still be raised immortal” (which is a position most universalists would deny, too, even if they agree people may and apparently will continue to sin for at least a while even in ideal circumstances for their repentance)? Or are you trying to stress denying “someone may be resurrected and yet continue to sin for any practical amount of time afterward” (the reason for the denial being, for example, because resurrection necessarily involves an immortality where sin is practically impossible)? I’m pretty sure you’re trying to stress denying the latter, but I thought I’d check to be sure. :slight_smile:

(Something to work on when you get back from Disney, while I chew on the new OT Trinity posts. :smiley: )


#3

Aaron! Hope Disneyworld was neat!

“Immortal sinners” is not a familiar term for me, though launching an exegesis for Ultr U/preterism is desireable! Yet our own epistomological differences seem like the Peoples/Talbott impass. Glenn seems anxious to show that Bible texts clearly demand his eschatology. But in avoiding circular interpretations, Tom appears to want to first examine differing assumptions that lead to different readings.

I.e. I think more reassertions that it only matters that the Bible endorses your view misses the point on which we engaged. I’ve affirmed Scripture is paramount. But we engaged at your objection to my secondary aside that an openness to recognizing some coherent “analogies” in divine doings during all ages is reasonable.

Citing Balfour, you replied, no Scripture uses analogy to help us understand our future state of existence. I objected: Amid profound discontinuities, Jesus’ and Paul’s main texts to do that do appeal to continuities and analogies. You seem to reply, Yes, but it remains foolish to look for other possible analogies in our post-death existence.

You seem to reason: (1) the Bible analogies are “merely” and “ONLY” to show that there is continuity in our “personal” existence, and our “identity” as “embodied” beings. But since these contested claims strike me as huge issues, these particulars seem to me to only bolster my thesis.

Mostly (2) you repeat that they carry no such weight because they only develop what is clearly and already “previously revealed.” But it escapes me why that would disqualify my perception that the Bible suggests that looking in Biblical revelation for analogous realities could be appropriate.

Further, it just seems incorrect that these analogies add nothing. You sound as if Jesus just reminds the Sadduccees of the OT’s clear and consistent teaching (so that Jesus’ assumption of analogy doesn’t count). But I see an appeal to reasoning from what they know in this life (God is Abraham’s God) to what they should expect in the next: the present reality of our being in relationship will continue. And I think it’s not unreasonable that these (and other) conservative Bible readers hadn’t seen this in the text because in actuality the OT was NOT already so clear on the afterlife.

Similarly, in 1 Cor. 15, you say that Paul only uses similarity to disclose the continuity already revealed (so that again his assumption of analogy would suggest nothing about analogy’s potential usefulness). But instead, most scholars perceive Paul as seeking to be quite revelatory, and to offer some insight about how our differing future form will have some analogy to our present bodily existence. Vss. 35-58, often titled “Analogies of Seeds and Bodies,” argues that one living thing can have a suitably different post-death mode of existence, and yet be the ‘same’ “body” as it moves from one form to the other. E.g. Gordon’s Fee’s commentary: “Debating whether the stress is more on continuity or discontinuity is misguided. Paul’s concern for both emphasizes continuity and transformation.” How this passage can be made irrelevant to my contention, or precludes looking for other possible analogies eludes me.

(Citing Talbott, you also argue the “ontological impossibility” of “growth” in a future existence. But this supposed consensus is precisely the kind of philosophical presupposition that I find to be problematic as ‘knowledge.’ And it seems to be a mis-exegesis of (Talbott and) his view of a purifying hell.)

What stands out most to me, is that even while addressing such secondary perceptions, we already can’t agree on the significance of the texts raised (which probably leaves us each feeling that the other ignores the text because it conflicts with the conclusion that he wants to defend). Thus, we’ll inevitably read additional texts in our arsenals differently as well!

I probably don’t see that Scripture nails down questions about the future with as much specificity and clarity as you do. But I’ll reaffirm that contending for “similarities” does not require ‘sameness.’ And it’s esp. a polarizing and straw man to insist that if how God works now has any relevance, then “every aspect of our future” would have to be analogous (as if we’d have to keep experiencing physical death).

So I’m inclined to retain my thesis. But I’m just arguing for openness to all of the possible arguments and Biblical data. Your enunciation of this same idea in paragraph 1 on May 6 mean that even in our differing inclinations, we share much common ground. Grace be with you, Bob


#4

Thanks for the questions, Jason. I was creating this thread while my wife and I were finishing up our packing for the trip, so I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to unpack everything I wanted to (in regards to the subject of the thread, that is!).

Perhaps I should have opted for the expression “sinning immortals” instead of “immortal sinners,” since the latter expression may convey (to some) the idea that the sinners in view would go on sinning forever, as long as they exist! But all I meant by “immortal sinners” was this: human persons who begin their immortal existence with the same inclination and inevitability to sin as is the case with all mortal human beings (excluding Christ, of course).

The assumption inherent in the title of this thread is this: that persons are either mortal (i.e., death is a potentiality for them) or immortal (i.e., death is not a potentiality for them), and either sinful (i.e., sin, to some degree at least, is inevitable to their existence) or sinless (i.e., sin is not inevitable to their existence, but is necessarily foreign to it). If one doesn’t think these states are the only possible states in which man does or will exist, feel free to elaborate.

Now, you wrote:

I’m including all of the books in the “Protestant canon,” which I’m assuming are those accepted by “Evangelical Universalists!”

I’m trying to stress the latter. :slight_smile: My understanding is that man exists either as a mortal or as an immortal. The former state is characteristic of our present existence (i.e., from our conception to our death), while the latter is characteristic of our future existence (from our resurrection - or change, if we’re still alive when Christ returns - onwards “forever”). Or, if one believes that some conscious part of us continues after we die, then one could say that the release or separation of this conscious aspect of our nature at death is the beginning of our immortal existence. Either way, by “immortal” I mean the final conscious state in which man will exist after this mortal existence, which will not be interrupted by death. I’m assuming that all EU’s agree that Scripture reveals such a future state.

Hope that helps.


#5

Yep, thanks! :smiley:

To clarify, though: you mean to be affirming that all are resurrected to eonian life and none to eonian crisising? And that the Bible testifies to this and not to some being resurrected to eonian life while others are resurrected to eonian crisis?

The reason I ask is:

1.) I think various scriptures, here and there, do testify to some people being raised to eonian life and others to eonian crisis (the basic word behind what we translate as “judgment”). I think RevJohn shows a picture of this at the end, for example, though naturally there’s some debate about that. :slight_smile:

and

2.) I don’t consider people raised to eonian crisis, to be “immortal” yet in any spiritual sense. They don’t yet have zoe eonian, God’s own life, life from the essence of God, “eternal life”. They couldn’t, while still being impenitent sinners who insist on fondling their sins (which is why there’s a continuing crisis for them). Neither do I consider eonian crisis to be their final conscious state.

Thus, I suppose our point of disagreement will be on whether everyone is raised to zoe eonian immediately and from the first, or not. I would agree that people will not be raised as (spiritually speaking) immortal sinners, but I may be in disagreement with you about whether all people will be raised spiritually immortal as an initial state of resurrection.

(Which would be aside from our probable disagreement about whether it’s intrinsically impossible for those who are sinless to sin and so to Fall–which I believe is possible. But that’s a question about whether there can be a fall into the state of being a sinner, and/or whether someone redeemed into a sinless state might possibly fall again. Which is not the same question as whether all persons are raised to “eternal life” from the outset after an initial death, or whether at least some persons are raised to “eternal judgment” instead at first.)


#6

That’s a baffling statement. Who will not be raised to crisis to some degree? The perfectly faithful? Would any of them recite the Lord’s Prayer? Or NEED to?

The soul is not destroyed in death (though it lacks conscientiousness) and is reunited with its (and no other) resurrected body - now, what of those two parts is not immortal?

How is it possible that anyone can ENTER the resurrection (and, thus, immortality) as a sinner?

Hell (call it what you will) must be a state BETWEEN death and resurrection, but understood as neither.


#7

I would answer that neither component is necessarily immortal (in its own nature) of course, but is only conditionally immortal (if immortal at all) by the grace of God.

As to whether God can raise bodies that are not transformed by the spiritual immortality of zoe eonian, that ought to be obvious enough from the existence of our own bodies now (insofar as God should principly be able to restore that which already exists in a particular state, which only happens now by His continual upkeep anyway)–not even counting reports, including in the scriptures (up to and including at least three miracles of Jesus), involving the restoration of dead persons to life yet not to transformed immortality.

Put a little more briefly: if God can raise (the presumably relatively faithful!) Lazarus (4+ days dead and so already decomposing, if not sooner) to something less than a spiritually transformed immortal body, then God can also raise impenitent sinners to something less than a spiritually transformed immortal body. :wink:

As to who isn’t raised to crisis, in one sense I agree and fully expect that we all will be raised to crisis to some degree (I’ve said as much myself in other places–only Jesus, the perfectly faithful, wouldn’t have been raised to any crisis whatsoever). But the eonian crisising mentioned in the scriptures (mostly in the NT, but hinted at in the OT, too, including as quoted in the NT) is clearly distinguished from being raised to zoe eonian. As far as I can tell, the distinction involves whether people are penitent or impenitent about their sins. Those who insist on holding onto (fondling, loving) their sins, will experience eonian crisising. That threat of judgment wouldn’t be given unless it was possible (and apparently in some cases also revealed ahead of time to happen) for persons to continue impenitently holding to their sins, even in the resurrection. Thus the resurrection of the evil as well as the good, the good to zoe eonian and the evil to eonian crisis: a concept found outside RevJohn, too, so taking the minority option to reject RevJohn as canonical doesn’t eliminate the concept from scriptural testimony.

(e.g., GosJohn 5:21-29. While the terms eonian crisis and zoe eonian aren’t used in v.29 the actual contrasting terms are “resurrection of life” and “resurrection of judgment”. The “resurrection of life” is clearly the good hope of “eternal life” or zoe eonian mentioned back in v.24; so what is being contrasted to it? A resurrection to something other than zoe eonian!–not yet anyway.)


#8

Isn’t “Immortal Sinners” an oxymoron? The way I understand it, a sinner is “dead” in trespasses and sins. To be “made alive” or raised from that death is to be “in Christ”. Physical death is a tangible tool to teach us the spiritual reality about what it is to be truly dead. The world is full of the walking dead who need to be released from their death and raised into newness of life in Christ.

Sonia


#9

Aaron’s thread is titled: “Will people be raised [emphasis mine] as immortal sinners?”

In other words: Will any person be able to sin once they are raised (back to life) from physical death?

As Jason points out, is there only one kind of resurrection for all people–one to eternal life–one that occurs at physical death (or at least as far as the person experiences it–soul unconsciousness aside)? Or will there be a (conscious) period of time (for at least some) between physical death and eternal life? This time of course being what is referred to as hell/gehenna/the lake of fire, etc.

Also, how are we defining immortality? Is it just the inability to die physically, or is it also the inability to sin?

If we say it is the first, then people can go through a refining process (hell) after physical death and still be immortal.
If we say it is the second, then eternal life is the instantaneous occurance for all after physical death.
Any more thoughts?


#10

Able. As Paul (and Plato) said, actions outside of faith are sinful. A good man and a bad man can do the same thing - one of the actions will be righteous and the other wrong.

Think in terms of freedom, not law. We can hardly do that - even on our best days.

The gates above Auschwitz read, “Work is Freedom” - slave talk.


#11

Oh, please! ‘Conditionally immortal’ is your invention, not God’s. The resurrected are immortal. Spin that!


#12

OK, that was a little over the top, Jason. But the loving thought was there. What I meant to say was: Is there any example, anywhere, of ‘conditional immortality’?

‘Conditional death’ is just as meaningless to me. The dead are dead. Just as the resurrected are resurrected from it. Death is not a choice, the resurrection is not a choice, being born is not a choice.

Is it conditional on God’s faithfulness, His promise? Everyone will be resurrected, everyone will be salted with fire. There is nothing conditional about promises that are universal. They shall be fulfilled. So where in your paradigm are those promises conditional on another party calling the shots. Is it US making the choice whether to be immortal or not?

Which is to say (perish the thought) that Christ’s sacrifice is ultimately judged by US and not His Father. Which must be the grounds for your ‘condition’ i.e. OUR judgment.


#13

Ran

you said: Everyone will be resurrected, everyone will be salted with fire.

Aaron37: Yes and No. Yes, everyone will be resurrected. No, everyone will not be salted with fire.
Mark 9:49 seems to be a difficult passage at first glance…because of this… it has been translated into 15 different meanings but we know there is only one true meaning. When we keep verse 49 in continuity with verses 42-48 the true meaning presents itself.

In the verses preceding verse 49 (Mark 9:42-48), Mark records that Jesus warned those offending “these little ones,” and declared that one would be better off to rid himself of offending parts of his body than to be cast into hell, where the fire never goes out and “their worm does not die.” It would fit this context to translate verse 49, “Everyone [who is sent to hell] will be salted by fire, that is, destroyed by fire. ( by Weston Fields)

It is very wreckless to lift up verses individually out of their setting to interpret them. This is why we have denominations, cults, and yes, the false doctrine of UR.

God bless,
Aaron


#14

Of course that is in direct contradiction to Christ. If one is not salted, one is not acceptable. ‘God is a consuming fire.’ Is your advice, then, to avoid Him at all costs? (As if that were possible?)


#15

But are not even the ‘resurrected’ sustained by the Source of life–God? Or are you saying that they then will have life apart from God? Can you elaborate a little?

Sonia


#16

Ran

My advice is to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior to be salted with the salt of grace so you won’t be sent to be salted by the lake of fire for eternity.

Ran, it is very important that you do not lift up verses out of its continuity to interpret them. You must interpret the bible with the Holy Spirits guidance…line upon line and precept upon precept . (Isaiah 28:9-10)

God bless,
Aaron


#17

Justin,
My view is that sin and spiritual death are so closely tied together that I would almost say they are the same thing. I wouldn’t say they are exactly and essentially the same, but they are inseparable. That is why (IMO) John says that the one born of God is unable to sin–it is because he is alive with the Spirit of God. When we are separated from sin, we will have ‘immortality’–that is, we will have eonian life.

In my view sin and immortality are incompatible and cannot exist in a person at the same time.

I don’t think the physical resurrection that will occur is going to result in eternal life for all, any more than Lazarus had eternal life when Jesus raised him. Life comes from being ‘born of the Spirit’ and being ‘crucified with Christ’ and 'raised with Him into newness of life." I believe all these things speak of a spiritual truth–that is an intangible thing, not a physical thing–the physical state of a person is irrelevant. The physical death we see now is to teach us of what we cannot see–the spiritual is the true state. Physical states are an illusion.

Adam died the day he ate. He looked alive, but the reality is that he was dead, and became the father of the walking dead.

God is always concerned with the inside–the spiritual. He doesn’t care about the illusions of outward appearances. Death is a state of the spirit.

Sonia


#18

If immortality is a matter of caprice, then, yes, it would be conditional by that caprice. We are sustained by the Word which cannot be broken. I can find nothing in His promise that says the resurrected will be anything less than immortal or become anything less…or that caprice will rule and, thereby, nullify His Word. Can you?


#19

Sonia

Sin is a byproduct of the sinful nature or spiritual death nature. When we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior…the Holy Spirit takes out the sinful nature or spiritual death and replaces it with the life and nature of God in our spirits (aka, being born again). Unless we are born again we will not see or enter heaven.( John 3:3)

Now, when John speaks of those who are born of God do not commit sin; for he seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God ( 1 John 3:9) John is referring to our born again spirits. In other words, John is saying there is a part of you now which cannot sin ( your born again spirit that has the very life and nature of God) and we are to live or walk by our born again life or spirit and not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16) Contrary what religion has taught us we have the ability not to sin if we walk by our born again spirits. Hint, the same way Jesus walked we can too. Glory to God!

Btw, Immortal life comes to those who persevere by faith to the end and receive the fullness of their redemption, their glorified bodies, and avoid the lake of fire, the second death.( Eternal death separated from God)

God bless,
Aaron


#20

Ran,
I agree entirely with the statement, but disagree with how you are defining the ‘resurrected’. As I understand it, the ‘resurrection’ is not about physical resurrection, but spiritual resurrection in Christ.

God is not ‘capricious’ – how could he be and still be the One who is Good?

Not saying I couldn’t be wrong, but I have become convinced that ‘resurrection’ and ‘life’ go beyond the physical. The letter of the law is the physical–what we can see and touch, but God has always been concerned with the spirit.

No doubt the Israelites understood this in a very physical way–just as they also didn’t understood that the sacrifices foreshadowed Christ–but now we realize that ‘the blood of bulls and rams cannot take away sin’. The physical comes first to teach us of the spiritual. The Law comes first as a ‘tutor’ to lead us to Christ.

Sonia