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Universalism

Discussion in 'Controversial Theology (Christians only)' started by Tissue, Apr 27, 2009.

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  1. Tissue

    Tissue New Member

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    Just wanting to kickstart another discussion of universalism, as controversial as it is.

    I'm sympathetic to the movement myself, but not enough to count myself among their number (yet, perhaps). I do find it practically impossible to be joyful if I include the doctrine of hell in my theology. I find it equally impossible to be melancholy if I remove the doctrine of hell in my theology.

    I'm currently digging around some of the early (pre-Augustine) church fathers who did not support a doctrine of hell; I'm also looking in to Carlton Pearson's book 'The Gospel of Inclusion'.

    Let's talk.
     
  2. wayseer

    wayseer New Member

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    That's a hell of a statement.

    Let's see - because I have to die life is therefore one long trudge to the grave. If life is nothing more than a slow and painful decent into yet more pain and suffering - what the hell am I living for? Therefore life is hell.

    But wait - there's more. If there is no hell life is apparently worth living - it's fun. Huh! What suddenly changed? Oh, life becomes a party once you remove hell from the equation.

    I look around me and I see it isn't so. Quite frankly if I did not believe in God I would be living in a stupefying mist of drugs and alcohol - permanently anesthetized against the horrors of what this world offers.

    The theology of a hell sounds a whole lot better choice.

    When you have finished talking you will still have to make some decisions. You might not like the theology of hell but it sure beats any other alternative.
     
  3. Tissue

    Tissue New Member

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    I do not share the same reaction that you do, it seems. This life sucks; that much is certainly true. Yet, while I can be assured of my own salvation, I wonder about the people who will not be saved, who will be eternally tormented. How can I be happy if, caring for these people, they burn while I am in heaven? Forever, there will be pain and suffering. Forever, there will be a burning abyss containing some of my dear friends.

    A denial of the existence of hell doesn't necessarily lead to a hippie drug-fest.
     
  4. wayseer

    wayseer New Member

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    You don't have to go to hell to live in hell. I see lots of people living in hell but they believe its a party.

    What I'm hearing you saying is that you can't cop the idea of hell if lots of people are going to end up there, particularly people you knew and cared for. Reasonable sentiments indeed. But all this achieves is to bring you back to the age old question - why does God allow suffering anyway? Constructing a theology to get around this question is cleaver but hardly deals with the issue as you so plainly make clear.

    There is a difference been universalism and universalist. Universalism refers to the concept that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is applicable to all people. A universalist is someone who believes that God will eventually save everyone I'm guessing you fall into the later category - sorry to box you in like that.

    Now the slippery slope begins because in the not too distant future you will have to come to terms with the idea that because there is no hell, there is therefore no judgement day, therefore we are all going to the big party in the sky regardless of our faith and beliefs and therefore - ready for it? - Jesus' death means nothing. Stupid man! Didn't he know we were all saved anyway! Obvious he was no son of God.

    That's where new age thinking wrapped up in a nice sounding theology leads us - Jesus and the cross mean nothing - it was all a tragic mistake.

    Good luck with the talkfest. When its over please come back to the Church.
     
  5. Tissue

    Tissue New Member

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    Universal Reconciliation, as I understand it, still requires the sacrifice of Jesus for all to be saved.
     
  6. ebia

    ebia Senior Contributor

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    Is your objection to 'hell' an objection to a supposed eternity of torment, or to their being any alternative to being part of God's Kingdom?

    One can have a view that accepts that not all will allow themselves to be transformed and reconcilled and thereby become part of the Kingdom of God, without those people necessarly being eternal torment.

    One tentative suggestion I've read is that we tend to become like that which we worship. Those who continue in idolatory in any form and refuse to turn ultimately to God become more and more like that which they idolise, and less and less like God, until they are no longer in any sense "in the image of God". At that point they are, quite literally, no longer human.
     
  7. 2ndRateMind

    2ndRateMind Pilgrim Defiant

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    I cannot conceive of any sin, any crime, that warrants an eternity of unrelieved suffering as a just and proportionate punishment. What I can conceive of, and seems more appropriate, is an eternity of regret on being confronted with the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything. Regret for misdeeds done, and opportunities missed, and love withheld. But all that relieved by the riches of heaven; all the virtues we own, and others own, and God owns, all the above swept up into an ecstasy of appreciation, part pleasure, part sorrow, completely intense, totally absorbing. And, I think, we need deny no-one this picture of the afterlife, not on any grounds, for it is sufficiently inclusive to allow a place for all within its hierarchies of joy and pain.

    Best wishes, 2ndRateMind.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2009
  8. Yardstick

    Yardstick Prayer Book Catholic

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    I see hell as completely necessary, but not out of some desire to see those I disagree with suffer for eternity. No, hell is necessary for the existence of free will. What kind of god would force a soul that wanted nothing to do with him to exist in his presence for all eternity? That would most certainly be wrong.
     
  9. 2ndRateMind

    2ndRateMind Pilgrim Defiant

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    A just God. A redeeming God. His presence is reward for those that love Him (of whatever faith), and punishment for those that hate Him, and the ideals of goodness, truth, righteousness, kindness and justice He represents. None, however, can be beyond salvation, in this life, or the next, or else God would have no power, there.

    Best wishes, 2ndRateMind.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2009
  10. Yardstick

    Yardstick Prayer Book Catholic

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    I do not mean to suggest that some are beyond salvation, for you are right, that would be a limit on God's power. But the fact remains one would need to desire to be in God's presence.
     
  11. 2ndRateMind

    2ndRateMind Pilgrim Defiant

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    And do you think that the Hitlers, Pol Pots, Stalins, Genghis Khans, Ivan the Terribles and Vlad the Impalers of this world, should be allowed their preferences? Or do you think that it would be justice if they were forced to face the truth about God, the world, and themselves?

    Best wishes, 2ndRateMind.
     
  12. wayseer

    wayseer New Member

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    Thankfully, 2RM, who gets in and who stays out is not our decision to make.
     
  13. 2ndRateMind

    2ndRateMind Pilgrim Defiant

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    Not our decision, to be sure. But we are nevertheless stakeholders, and at the end of days justice must be done. And be seen to be done.

    [Edit] And if you read my previous posts here, you will know that I can't see justice being done by a simple, binary split between the 'in' and the 'out'. Our lives, and their repercussions, are way too complex for such a basic division to realise justice. [/Edit]

    Best wishes, 2ndRateMind.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2009
  14. Norbert L

    Norbert L Member

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    One type of unversalist viewpoint would follow along these lines:

    An interesting verse is He 9:27 in context,

    He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

    The scriptures mention at least three occurrencies of people who would of had to die twice! Lazurus was dead, but raised back to life, there were those after the crucifixion and the child Elijah was used to raise back to life.

    It can be implied that people are able to physically die more than once, live out the remainder of the fleshly life, then the judgement. What does that do to the deaths mentioned in Re 20:13-15?

    "The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire."

    That the first death is the physical death, it can happen more than once. The second death is that which only ever happens "once".

    Peter makes an interesting statement,

    "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now "If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (1 Pe 4:17-18)

    A common doctrine is "To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation" are the elect today, His church is the firstfruits. "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." (Jm 1:18) And that there is an order of resurrection, "But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming." (1 Cor 15:23)

    So as Peter asked, "Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?" At the Great White Throne Judgement?

    The question is how long is that Judgement of resurrected fleshly men? A quick lineup with someone's thumb jesturing left and right? Or a universalist would argue it is the time when all those who never heard the gospel, didn't even know there was a bible and even those who were deceived by a false gospel. That'll be the first time salvation is offered to them with their eyes finally opened, ears to hear and plainly understand the good news.

    That the following is not an allegory but a prophesy,

    "'Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it," says the Lord.' " (Ez 37:12-14)

    It would be a rather rude awakening for the Hitlers, Pol Pots, Stalins, Genghis Khans, Ivan the Terribles and Vlad the Impalers of this world, having to see the millions they murdered face to face.

    That is extremely horrifying for some people today to accept, how hard would it also be for those who actually were brutally murdered? Will a person be able to follow Jesus own example?

    Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." (Lu 23:34)

    King David ultimately knew Who he sinned against after he used his authority to snuff out the life of a man.

    "Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight-- That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge." (Ps 51:4)

    But when all is said and done, everyone will have plainly understood His truth, there won't be this divided Christianity. A world with it's multitude of religions and their conflicting doctrines and the following will remain true,

    " I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Re 21:6-8)

    Not all types of universalism offer a cart blanche to sin.
     
  15. 2ndRateMind

    2ndRateMind Pilgrim Defiant

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    Hi Norbert

    A most learned post. But I cannot help but wonder if this is not a case where scriptures obscure, rather than reveal, the truth. Justice demands that the evil are punished, and the good rewarded. Since we are all good and evil in unique combinations, I suspect we will all be punished, and rewarded, in unique combinations. The scenario I offer allows for that. Why complicate matters?

    Best wishes, 2ndRateMind.
     
  16. Norbert L

    Norbert L Member

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    The short answer, I don't believe in censorship of well formulated doctrines. Not that what I just wrote deserves a Pulitzer by no means, but that "No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord." (Pr 21:30 ESV)
     
  17. timlamb

    timlamb Senior Veteran

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    Remember the story of the boy in the plastic bubble? If your body had no immune system any one carrying germs would be a threat and could not be allowed in your presence.
    Isn't God's righteousness like that, not that He is threatened by us but He cannot tolorate the "germ" of sin. Jesus is the system of cleansing set up to make us able to enter the presence of God with out the Germ of Sim. But if we do not wash in the Blood, we carry sin and cannot be allowed.
    I believe the Bible is correct in that most will refuse to be washed to be with God. There is universal salvation available but it just won't happen. Look at the world. Talk to people about Jesus and sin and salvation, they just might string you up.

    I'm not sure what the fire of Hell is but I suspect it is the burning of fleshly desires that most will not give up but can never be satisfied.
     
  18. Tissue

    Tissue New Member

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    What of children, however, who are younger than the 'age of accountability'? Presumably, they have sin (if you support the doctrine of original sin), but many Christians affirm that they will get into heaven. It seems as though the effectiveness of Jesus sacrifice can be applied to individuals even if they do not have the willpower to claim it. Why can't this same thing happen to individuals past the age of accountability? It is at least theoretically possible.

    One way to think of hell, if it must still exist, is as a remedial, purgatorial holding place that purges (rather than punishes) the individual, such that it is not eternal.
     
  19. ebia

    ebia Senior Contributor

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    Perhaps the flaw here is thinking about faith in Jesus too much in terms of intellectual assent to abstract ideas and too little in terms of appropriate relationship.

    I don't buy the way timlamb puts the "God cannot tolerate sin" idea. It makes God a weakling, and flys in the face of God coming into the sinful world as Jesus of Nazareth. If God has a problem with sin, it isn't for his own sake, but for the sake of his creation that it is damaging.

    Have you read The Great Divorce?
     
  20. Tissue

    Tissue New Member

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    I don't understand the nature of the critique in your first paragraph.

    For the second, it is not a claim of God's weakness, but of his overall holiness; there is no part of him that can exist in the same spot as sin. This is not weakness, or a lack of power, but an overwhelming holiness.

    No, but it has been explained to me (it is on my to-read list). That conception of hell is probably one I resonate with the most. Still, I don't particularly care for it in the end, though I would need to read it thoroughly to provide a detailed critique.
     
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