Thursday, April 10, 2008

Universalism

It seems there is an Eastern Orthodox bishop believes God would not be so cruel as to condemn people to hell for eternity:


In a stunning ecumenical moment at the Catholic Church's first-ever World Congress on Divine Mercy, Russian Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeye, bishop of Vienna and Austria, told a rapt audience of 8,000 that God's love places no limit on his mercy toward humanity, even to the point of imposing a temporal limit on hell.

Quoting St. Isaac the Syrian, a 7th-century holy man revered in Russian Orthodoxy as "famous among saints," Bishop Hilarion noted that "God does nothing out of retribution. Even to think that way about God would be blasphemous. Even worse is the opinion that God allows people to lead a sinful life on earth in order to punish them eternally after death. This is a blasphemous and perverted understanding of God, a calumny of God."


I think that much of the OT is difficult for the more mystical strains of Orthodoxy to swallow. From the quote supplied "God does nothing out of retribution. Even to think that way about God would be blasphemous. Even worse is the opinion that God allows people to lead a sinful life on earth in order to punish them eternally after death. This is a blasphemous and perverted understanding of God, a calumny of God."

The problem is that there are a lot of readings in the Scriptures which state explicitly that God does take vengeance on the sinner, repays, he repays Israel for her sins, he is pitiless (Ezekiel 7) etc. If my theology asserts something else despite these repeated examples, well, I suppose I have to re-evaluate my theology instead of re-imagining the deposit of faith to fit into my notions of what is or is not a calumny towards God.

I am honestly at a loss as to how a bishop--someone educated in godliness, can come to the conclusion that hell is temporary--unless the Scriptures simply don't mean much to him despite traditional Orthodoxy's claims to the contrary that the Scriptures are quite important indeed. The fact is that we have it on good authority that the damned will go away to eternal punishment. If that makes someone squeamish because it sounds mean, or unjust, or violates their sense of what God ought to be like, so be it. Just admit you are not apophatic, and that theology trumps the Scriptures, Tradition, and everything else.

Eternal damnation is what our Lord has taught by his own words, and throughout the Scriptures. It is in the Old and New Testaments, it is supported by the great majority of the Fathers, it has pretty much been widely believed throughout the centuries--except perhaps among speculative theologians. If "Scriptures+Tradition" or "Holy Tradition" do not establish this, they pretty much do not establish anything at all, including other basic tenets of the faith.

(Via TheologyWeb)

UPDATE:

I found this other article from Bp. Hilarion. In it he states:

"On the one hand, it is impossible for one to actively repent in hell; it is impossible to rectify the evil deeds one committed by appropriate good works. However, it may be possible for one to repent through a ‘change of heart’, a review of one’s values. One of the testimonies to this is the rich man of the Gospel we have already mentioned. He realized the gravity of his situation as soon as found himself in hell. Indeed, if in his lifetime he was focused on earthly pursuits and forgot God, once in hell he realized that his only hope for salvation was God[76] . Besides, according to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, the fate of a person after death can be changed through the prayer of the Church. Thus, existence after death has its own dynamics. On the basis of what has been said above, we may say that after death the development of the human person does not cease, for existence after death is not a transfer from a dynamic into a static being, but rather continuation on a new level of that road which a person followed in his lifetime."

To be fair to the bishop, he does not claim this as a dogma of the Church.

So, it seems the bishop claims one can repent through a change of heart, in hell, after death. My only critique of his scriptural example of the Rich Man, is that we are told there is a wide gulf between the Bosom of Abraham and hell, and that his relatives have Moses and the Prophets. In other words, the "change of heart" didn't seem to work, and Christ did not say he had any hope.

15 comments:

Chris Jones said...

Universalism, properly, is the teaching that all will be saved and that all must be saved. The hope that all might be saved, that prays for all to be saved and is unwilling to put anyone beyond God's mercy, is not, strictly speaking, universalism.

I've seen the claim before that somehow the Orthodox devalue or belittle the Old Testament. It's a plausible, but ultimately superficial claim. The fact is that the Orthodox view the Old Testament from a perspective very different from that of Protestants, but they engage the OT just as much as Protestants do.

The Orthodox never forget that the essential message of the Law and the Prophets is to bear witness to the Messiah, and that what it says about the character of God is always to be viewed from the perspective of the Cross and Resurrection. That does not take away the passages of the OT that speak of God's wrath and His vengeance, but it obliges us to understand those passages in a way that is consistent with the love of the God Who died for us upon the tree.

There are not enough specifics in what you quoted for me to understand what Bp Hilarion is really claiming here; but when he says that "God does nothing out of retribution," is that really all that different from what the traditional collect for Ash Wednesday teaches us, when we pray to God "Who hatest nothing
that thou hast made"?

Edward Reiss said...

Chris,

There is a possibility that the article somehow missed bishop Hilarion's meaning, but some Orthodox I interact with agree with the point--hell is temporary. They go on to say that the Church has not definitively said it is eternal, which strikes me as contrary to the bulk of the tradition, as well as the Scripures, plainly teaches us. For instance, Jesus himself says the damned will go to eternal punishment.

Re: the Old testament. While I grant I may be culturally and theologically conditioned, it certainly seems that they simply do away with great swathes of the OT--especially the redeemed by blood parts. I do think it is the more mystical minded Orthodox who think this way and have difficulties with the Old Testament--it is by no means all Orthodox. Ironically, it is the Russian Orthodox I have met who have th eleast problem with the OT.

However, I find it a little disturbing that views like this are tolerated. My feeling is that it is a vestigial Origenism; though he was condemned as a heretic, he still has a lot of influence on Eastern theology. Another example is that a knowledgeable Orthodox I know insisted that Holy Communion is not for the remission of sins, despite the very words of the liturgy. Eventually he agreed it is for the remission of sins among other things (which I don't have a problem with). These kinds of things make me uncomfortable because they seem to border on heresy--though they are by no means universal within Orthodoxy.

Chris Jones said...

I am a bit suspicious of Orthodox who speak of what the Church has, or has not, definitively said -- as if teaching that has not been explicitly decreed by an Ecumenical Council is somehow an "open question." This is to speak as if Orthodoxy had the same sort of institutionalized magisterium that the Roman Catholic Church claims to have. They are (it seems to me) just taking the RC model of authority and substituting the Ecumenical Councils for the Pope. Just as RCs will often say "the Pope has not spoken infallibly on such-and-such an issue, therefore I am free to believe whatever I want to about it," so some Orthodox will say "no Council has spoken about X, so I am free to believe whatever I want to about X."

I frankly do not believe that such an attitude is even Orthodox at all. The idea that a Council, like a Pope, can change what is or is not permissible to believe involves a Roman-style notion of the development of doctrine that should be anathema to any Orthodox Christian.

With respect to your claim that they simply do away with great swathes of the OT, again I must say that you are simply mistaken. What the Orthodox do not do, is to take the OT on its own and attempt to deduce doctrine from it. This is perhaps what looks like "simply doing away with great swathes of it." Rather, they read the entire OT Christologically (which, in turn, often means reading it typologically). In this they are following what our Lord showed to Luke and Cleopas on the road to Emmaus, that all of the Law and the Prophets testify of Him.

The OT Scriptures are not a theological textbook, but a verbal icon which shows forth the Incarnation, Cross, and Resurrection of the Saviour. If they are divorced from that Christological and soteriological purpose, they are worse than useless. That is why at the heart of the Creed is the assertion that Christ rose on the third day "according to the Scriptures." Not just because the Resurrection is the fulfillment of particular prophesies in the OT, but because the whole saving economy of God the Word (which the Resurrection epitomizes) is the entire message of the Law and the Prophets.

Edward Reiss said...

Chris,

I agree that it seems the Orthodox who claim the Church has not defined this or that, so we are free to believe what we want, have in effect adopted a RC view of authority. I am always careful not to say "Orthodoxy teaches X" because I may be wrong. But I have to deal with the Orthodox who deal with me, and they make this claim in so many words.

I am afraid we will have to disagree regarding the OT. While I believe we can read the OT christologically and see the OT temple system as a type of Christ's self sacrifice, quite a few Orthodox have little to no use for the idea--which seems to be re-enforced in several places. I have been told that Christ died to "sanctify suffering". While it is true he sanctified suffering by suffering for us, it does not even begin describe why he died.

In other words, the great majority of Orthodox I deal with (who seem to be Western converts), don't seem to see or have use for e.g. substitutionary atonement, the very concept of sacrifice for sins etc. In its place are concepts like "Christ died to sanctify suffering"--which seem anodyne to me. That is not to say that they are speaking for true Orthodoxy, but it is in fact what they--the Orthodox I interact with, believe, teach and confess.

In fact, it took about a week before some of these Orthodox admitted that they receive Holy Communion for the forgiveness of sins--despite the clear statement of this in the Liturgy! These are Orthodox who have been Orthodox for decades, in some cases.

Josh S said...

This reminds me of something I read some time ago. I think it was Vlad Lossky who said that believing that God's declarations of wrath in the Old Testament mean that he was actually angry about sin is "theologically naive." It seems to me that for many Orthodox, theology is a kind of religious philosophy, and that this religious philosophy then in turn determines what the Scriptures can and cannot say. The Fathers appear to serve as resources for developing this philosophy. A Lutheran is likely to look at what St Isaac said, look at how Scripture describes God, and conclude that on this one, Isaac is wrong. For the Orthodox, this is a non-starter. No Father can be demonstrably "wrong," except Augustine, of course! If a man gains sufficient fame in their church, his work is put beyond criticism and gets added to the many sources from which one can develop theology.

Edward Reiss said...

Josh,

Thanks for stopping by!

"No Father can be demonstrably "wrong," except Augustine, of course! If a man gains sufficient fame in their church, his work is put beyond criticism and gets added to the many sources from which one can develop theology."

Oddly enough, I cannot recall an Orthodox stating a Father is simply wrong--even when he is caught saying something plainly un-Orthodox. I think Fr. Hogg said they don't want to undercut the father's nakedness. I do agree that the Fathers are redacted according to "Orthodoxy". And I share your opinion that Lossky is off his rocker when he says things like that!

Chris Jones said...

Edward,

I cannot recall an Orthodox stating a Father is simply wrong

Clearly you are not familiar with the popular Orthodox aphorism "100% of the Fathers are 85% orthodox."

Of course individual Fathers are sometimes simply wrong. St Gregory of Nyssa (or of Nazianzus -- I always get those two confused) was probably a closet Universalist, SS Irenaeus and Justin Martyr were chiliasts.

The Fathers are not authorities, who thus cannot be wrong; they are witnesses to the authentic tradition, whose individual witness can sometimes be unreliable, but whose collective witness is not.

joel said...

The Bible has passages that seem to teach universalism and other passages that seem to teach endless torment. Given both strains, why do Christians usually explain away the former in light of the latter rather than vice versa? Grace is greater than sin.

Edward Reiss said...

Hello Joel, and welcome!

It might be better if you would explain which passages teach universalism. You also say "seem" for each proposition, which sounds like you are not sure.

Your single best examples for each category will do.

Thanks!

joel said...

Edward,

Much obliged. I imagine we're all familiar with the usual prooftexts for the endlessness of hell, so I'll just mention that Gregory of Nyssa laid great stress on Phil. 2:10-11 as teaching the eventual salvation of all. For him, the punishment of hell was corrective and purifying, just as judgments in the OT were generally intended to be. Other verses along these lines include Rom. 5:18-19; 8:21; 11:32; 1 Cor. 15:22-28; Col. 1:20; 1 Tim. 4:10; Titus 2:11 (Greek); and 1 John 3:8.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

If I may add something to the discussion as someone who defended the doctrine of Eternal Hell before attending seminary, I think it would be good to also think about a number of other factors...

1. The Early Church were Orthodox, who (even though they would not fellowship or agree with Gnostics or Heretics) were allowed to hold various interpretations of different doctrines such as the Creation, Atonement and the nature of Hell.

2. Due to this diversity within the Early Church, Fathers like Augustine held to the doctrine of Eternal Hell, while Fathers like Ambrose, Peter Chrysologus, Clement of Alexandria, Didymus, Gregory of Nyssa and his sister Macrina believed in Universal Restoration. Jerome believed in Universal Restoration and then switched to Eternal Hell. St. Basil, brother of Gregory and Macrina acknowledges their belief but does not agree or disagree with it, leaving it in God's hands.

According to some scholars, a few Fathers held a 3rd belief, claiming that Irenaeus and Justin Martyr believed in Conditional Immortality (or possibly Annihilation).

The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia says that, out of 6 theological schools in the Early church, 4 (Alexandria, Antioch, Caesarea and Nisibis/Edessa) were Universalist, 1 (Ephesus) believed Conditional Immortality, and 1 (Rome/Carthage) believe in Eternal Torment.

3. You mentioned that the Old Testament believes in Eternal Hell. I am surprised that you say this, as we learned that First Temple Judaism did not have any specific beliefs in an Afterlife. The closest we have is Sheol, which is more accurately translated as 'grave' in modern translations. The KJV was incorrect, translating this word into 'Hell'. If you are talking about the 2nd Temple Judaism of the Post-Exile period, then of course, I agree. However, in the writings of the Hebrew Bible, there is no belief in either Eternal Hell, Universal Restoration OR Annihilation. This is why the Old Testament says that BOTH righteous and wicked in Sheol, and Ecclesiastes says it is the end for everyone.

4. As I said before, I used to defend the doctrine of Eternal Hell against what I thought were heretical Annihilationists. I would use two main proof texts. The 'Eternal Punishment' of Matthew 25, and the 'smoke of their torment rises forever and ever' of Revelation 14. However, after understanding that the Greek word 'aionios' is the adjective of the word 'aion' (from which the English word eon or aeon derives), one realises that the Young's Literal Translation is more accurate when it says:

Matt 25:46 And these shall go away to punishment age-during, but the righteous to life age-during.'

Rev 14:11 and the smoke of their torment doth go up to ages of ages;

Of course, my proof texts for Eternal Hell were transformed into proof texts for a Temporary punishment.

Reasonably speaking, if the Early Church were flexible on the matter, the Old Testament did not speculate about the Afterlife, and if the New Testament seemed to say punishment was age-long rather than eternal, there was no reason for me to continue to defend the doctrine of Eternal Hell.

But although I may believe that Universal Restoration and a Temporary corrective punishment is a more accurate description of Gehenna, I believe that, like the Early Church, some can believe in Eternal Hell and Annihilation/Conditional Immortality if they want to. We are still all Followers of Christ, regardless of which theory one wishes to follow. (Although of course, I wish the proportion believing in each one reflected the Early Church more; 67% Universal, 16.5% Annihilation, 16.5% Eternal Hell)

However, when all is said and done, anything after death is speculation, based on theories created from hopes, fears and the limited experiences of humans who have died and been resuscitated (known as the Near Death Experience or NDE), as well as accounts of those who have had visions of a present/future Hell.

Of course, there are many NDE accounts of those who were atheists when they died, but came back to life having been in the Presence of a Being of Unconditional Love, believing that there is an Afterlife. Some Christians have 'gone to Hell' when they died too.

Is there a reason why some atheists 'go to Heaven' and some Christians 'go to Hell'? We cannot say...only that whatever we suggest is speculative, and therefore will only be proven on the other side of death, when we shall know in full.

Regards.

jrh said...

Excellent post, Anonymous. I've basically come to the same conclusions based on the early church history and the greek behind alot of the "eternal hell" scriptures. There were other factors that led the catholic church to choose eternal hell as the doctrine as well, such as, Constantine conversion giving the Roman school of theology more power, Augustines, support of eternal damnation (though he still believed universal rec believers were still orthodox enough and saved, a strong note to anyone who wants to call christian universalists, heretics), and Emporer Justinian having Origins writings condemned, etc.

I'm leaning more in favor of universal reconciliation, but I'm not 100% sure. All I'm sure of is that I've got a long lecture in store for anyone who automatically condemns believers of it. It is also important to distinguish between, universal reconciliation (eventual salvation), the more 'no hell' doctrine of Christian universalism (I think thats right at least), and unitarian universalism (all roads lead to heaven) and not loop them all into one category.

I also lean more towards universal reconciliation because it just seems more logical. If hell does not contain literal torture as some theologians believe, I might be a little more comfortable with it but not entirely appeased logically. If hell is a never ending torture chamber like scare tactic evangelists like Bill Wiese and Mary Baxter claim because of supposed personal hell experiences, then if we were to compare that on any kind of human scale, it would make our glorius God seem like a monster worse than Vlad the Impaler and other torturers.

In fact, if you take it logically on an eternal scale believing the the significance of sin is eternal, consider our own born in nature and limited mind, it all goes back to God because he made the rules. Stretch allowing this torture to continue for eternity, and it makes the worst torturers in histories look like saints incomparision. Is our criminal justice system foolish for having laws against cruel and unusual punishments? If one believes this picture of hell, then, yes. Torture someone for an hour and then ask them if they believe eternal torture is justifiable punishment for even the worse criminals. Granted there are probably different levels of hell even in this doctirine, but again, stretch it out over eternity and call that fair.

I can't really pretend to understand God or his workings, but I can use the mind he gave me to critique questionable doctrines in the church. So far, this mostly fundamentalist view of hell that I'm sure not all of you hold, isn't holding up very well in my mind.

Lastly, ask yourselfs who defend eternal hell unwaiveringly: why am I doing this? Because of tradition? Because most of the Church believes it today? Because you don't want to be wrong about something? People who blindly accept ideas arnt doing themselves any favors aside from staying in their comfort zone. This mentality is not a whole lot different(though much less extreme) than people who walk into malls in Israel with bombs strapped to themselves. As Christians we have to keep an open mind about things that are more difficult to justify logically and scripturally. If you'll keep an open mind, then I will too

Best Regards,

JRH

Edward Reiss said...

Anonymous,

I know it has been a while, but in the future, please leave your name. I also apologize for allowing the discussion to stagnate.

In the first place, you wrote "1. The Early Church were Orthodox, who (even though they would not fellowship or agree with Gnostics or Heretics) were allowed to hold various interpretations of different doctrines such as the Creation, Atonement and the nature of Hell."

I do not accept that the early Church was Orthodox (capital "O").

Now, to the meat:

"You mentioned that the Old Testament believes in Eternal Hell. I am surprised that you say this, as we learned that First Temple Judaism did not have any specific beliefs in an Afterlife. The closest we have is Sheol, which is more accurately translated as 'grave' in modern translations. The KJV was incorrect, translating this word into 'Hell'. If you are talking about the 2nd Temple Judaism of the Post-Exile period, then of course, I agree. However, in the writings of the Hebrew Bible, there is no belief in either Eternal Hell, Universal Restoration OR Annihilation. This is why the Old Testament says that BOTH righteous and wicked in Sheol, and Ecclesiastes says it is the end for everyone."

The prophet Isaiah says that the worm dies not die and the fire is not quenched--a passages cited by Christ himself when discussing eternal punishment.

"Matt 25:46 And these shall go away to punishment age-during, but the righteous to life age-during.'

Rev 14:11 and the smoke of their torment doth go up to ages of ages;

Of course, my proof texts for Eternal Hell were transformed into proof texts for a Temporary punishment."

Christ also used "aionion" for life in the Matthew passage you cite. So, if "aionion" must mean agelong and not ternal, then you must believe that Christ in Matthew was not teaching eternal life either. Since I am confident you do not believe he was teaching life after death was temporary, I don;t find this particular argumet very convincing at all.

JRH,

What do yo uhave to say about the Greek behind "aionion" implying life after death is not eternal?

Or are we to grant an exception because some Fathers said otherwise about eternal torment?

"I also lean more towards universal reconciliation because it just seems more logical. If hell does not contain literal torture as some theologians believe, I might be a little more comfortable with it but not entirely appeased logically."

Interestingly, logic is why I reject Anonymous' argument--if he is right about "aionion" it undermines a doctrine all Christians hold--eternal life in Christ.

"Lastly, ask yourselfs who defend eternal hell unwaiveringly: why am I doing this? Because of tradition? Because most of the Church believes it today? Because you don't want to be wrong about something? People who blindly accept ideas arnt doing themselves any favors aside from staying in their comfort zone."

Those who deny eternal torment should ask themselves why logic and emotional discomfort makes what Christ says inoperative.

Now that I have shown you that cheap psychoanalysis and dubeous exegesis are not formidable arguments, can you explain to me why I should grant an exception for "aionion" meaning eternal for life but not death in Matthew 25? If you state eternal life is stated elsewhere, I will agree, and then ask you wht the eternal worms and fire in Isaiah and cited by Christ should be re-interpreted to mean temporary punishment.

jrh said...

Alright, given that Anonymous left this argument back in October, I kinda doubt he/she is coming back ;) I'll do my best to answer their part too. Im not a seminary student or theologian, but I do my level best to research both sides of the argument to the furthest extent possible.

I apologize if my tone sounded a bit harsh and one-sided. I guess I was blowing off some steam in some ways since I've been researching this for a while and I'm not 100% sure of my findings. Your response touched a bit on why Im not 100% sure and I'll get in to that in a moment.

First off, I'll just ignore the fact that you dismissed my "psychoanalysis" arguments without bothering to logically show that this doctrine makes any logical sense. Considering we are dealing with an eternal "aidios" (meaning eternal and/or unperceived) God and he is the judge and our greatest insight on his nature is the bible, I'll try to refrain from appealing to modern day human common sense anymore for the sake of this discussion.

As for the word "aionian" I've been to many different sites researching this and my information comes from them and other concordence research. A decent site for the other side of the aionian word debate is this http://savior-of-all.com/aionian.html

I don't know what his scholarly qualifications are, but I don't ignore him based on that, especially when I've seen such arguments in other places. I only hope his other bible beliefs don't bias what he has written here.

You seem very quick to dismiss the fact that MOST of the earliest leaders and schools of theology believed in universal reconciliation and claim them to be unorthodox when not even Augustine was willing to do that. They may not have been perfect in their beliefs (definitely some ascetic stoic beliefs show through), but they most likely had the true earliest copies of the new testament manuscripts(which we don't) and a more accurate understanding of greek word meanings of that era. As far as I've been able to tell in researching the word "aionion," it seems it is never translated by itself as "eternal" in all other ancient greek literature without the word "aidios." If you find an instance before certain church fathers (namely Augustine who wasn't even very good at greek) started using it that way, be sure to let me know. Young's literal translation as far as I've been able to determine did not have a universalist agenda, it was simply translating the words as literally as possible based on what is known about first century Greek.

Doesn't it seem a bit suspicious that God would choose a word that does not traditionally mean eternal to mean eternal? Is he trying to confuse future generations? I sure hope not. To understand some of my suspicion on the legitimacy of eternal torment doctrine, it would be benefitial to really research the history of topic and why eternal hell became doctrine. The wiki on universal reconciliation has a decent fairly unbiased overview of this history.

Is it really that disturbing that our reward in heaven may in fact be "age-abiding?" If it means people in hell arn't condemned or even tortured for all eternity, I'm not complaining. If this is the case, what happens at "the end of the ages?" Perhaps God will become all and all as it says in 1 Corinthians 15:28, and in that case, we may still have eternal life and people in hell have payed their toll. I'm speaking somewhat hypothetically here with a slightly jewish like view of hell, but can you see how its at least possible that aionian refers to ages?

About the "worms not dying" verses, he's using this metaphor in the contexts of Gehenna. The literal Gehenna was the valley of hinnon south of jerusalem that was a trash heap. It was always on fire and the poor buried their dead and there was always crying going on. It was a place originally a place of cultic sacrifice as well. The jews believed that this was what hell was like and used it as a metaphor, but the majority of jews believed it was more of a purifactionn and not eternal.

Jesus was known for the use of metaphors and some of them were not accurate scientifically in a modernday sense (like the musturd seed not actually being the smallest of all seeds), but made sense to people who didn't know any different. Ironically, even the pro-universal reconciliation church fathers believed it was better for the uneducated peasents to believe hell was eternal so it would scare them into not sinning. Given the unimaginable tortures used as a deterant for crime in that day, philosophically justifying eternal hell probably wasnt that much of an issue for the peasants. In this day and age, this idea is becoming more of a hinderance to evangelism because its alot harder to logically justify for the common educated man.

With these things in mind, perhaps God was wise in choosing this word because only now like in the early church are we truly understanding it in its proper context and the bible is truly a living word in more senses than we originally imagined.

Origen was the biggest supporter of universal reconciliation of the early church fathers and of a few more controversial beliefs. He made himself a eunuch (ouch) so he could instruct woman in the Gospel without preoccupation(http://urantiabook.org/archive/readers/who_were_they.htm) and was eventually tortured for his beliefs and died later of the injuries. Is he in hell because of believed a bit differently on this issue than the later church?

Again I admit that some of these arguments are a bit on the hypothetical side and I'm not 100% sure of them, but my point here, much like that of Anonymous, is that we don't really know what happens after death and by dogmatically asserting eternal torment in this day and age when there are reasonable objections to be made, we are probably doing more harm than good and sound ultimately close minded. If I choose not to believe hell is eternal before I die, do you believe God will condemn me and Anonymous for that?

Lastly, if hell is a place of eternal torment, why wasn't God screaming about in from the very beginning of the Torah? It just doesn't seem to make sense to me at least.

Logic, and what we know for certain about scripture still leads me to believe more in favor of universal reconciliation. I've probably written too much here, but I hope you can at least consider what I wrote without automatically running back to fundamentalist beliefs on this topic. This effects how we spread the gospel as well, and I worry the old fire and brimstone way is becoming defective.

God bless,

JRH

rodgertutt said...

Calvinism, Arminianism, or Christian Biblical Universalism

Which view of salvation is true?

Two good expositions specifically answering that question!

ABSOLUTE ASSURANCE IN JESUS CHRIST – Charles Slagle
http://www.sigler.org/slagle/absolute.htm

THE LAW OF CIRCULARITY – J.Preston Eby
http://www.godfire.net/eby/circularity.html

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