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William

Is Universalism Biblical?

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Universalism states that sooner or later all people will be saved. This position holds that the concepts of hell and punishment are inconsistent with a loving God.The older form of universalism, originating in the second century, taught that salvation would come after a temporary period of punishment. The newer form of universalism declares that all men are now saved, though all do not realize it. Therefore the job of the preacher and the missionary is to tell people they are already saved. Certain passages - John 12:32, Philippians 2:11, and 1 Timothy 2:4 - are typically twisted out of context in support of universalism.

 

Such passages, interpreted properly, do not support universalism:

  • John 12:32 says that Christ's work on the cross makes possible the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles. Notice, however, that the Lord - in the same passage - warned of judgment of those who reject Christ (v. 48).
  • Philippians 2:10-11 assures us that someday all people will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, but not necessarily as Savior. (Even those in hell will have to acknowledge Christ's Lordship.)
  • First Timothy 2:4 expresses God's desire that all be saved, but does not promise that all will be. This divine desire is only realized in those who exercise faith in Christ.

 

The Scriptures consistently categorize people into one of two classes (saved/unsaved, also called believers/unbelievers), and portray the final destiny of every person as being one of two realities (heaven or hell).

  • In Matthew 13:30 Jesus in a parable said, "Let both [tares and wheat] grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn." Here unbelievers and believers are spoken of as tares and wheat. Two classes!
  • In Matthew 13:49 Jesus said, "This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous." Again, two classes are mentioned - unbelievers and believers spoken of as the wicked and the righteous.
  • In Matthew 25:32 Jesus said that following His second coming, "All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats." Here believers and unbelievers are differentiated by the terms "sheep" and "goats." The sheep will enter into God's kingdom (vs. 34) and inherit eternal life (vs. 46). The goats go into eternal punishment (vs. 46).
  • In Luke 16:26 we find Abraham in the afterlife telling the unsaved rich man: "Between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us." Hades apparently had two compartments: "paradise" for the saved, and "torments" for the unsaved - and these compartments were separated by a great chasm or gulf.

 

Clearly, then, the Scriptures speak of two classes of people (the saved and the unsaved) and two possible destinies (heaven for the saved; hell for the unsaved). And each respective person ends up in one of these places based upon whether or not he or she placed saving faith in Christ during his or her time on earth (Acts 16:31).

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Is the reason you've started several threads on Universalism to discuss the impossibility of it or its possibility?

 

Hi Spiffy,

 

Please read: Practical use of the forum

 

God bless,

William

 

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So....is the answer to my question that the articles on universalism are here to inform and present a one-sided opinion from the theological point of view of those who created this board, and not open for discussion?

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So....is the answer to my question that the articles on universalism are here to inform and present a one-sided opinion from the theological point of view of those who created this board, and not open for discussion?

 

Hi Spiffy,

 

I do not understand what is stopping you from discussing the article.

 

God bless,

William

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Don't forget 2 Peter 3:9. What I don't understand is that this verse is used by believers in free will to back up their doctrine, yet not believe in universalism. Matthew 7:13-14 tells us most people are going to perdition. Matthew 7:21-23 tells us that many will not be saved, but are self-deceived. So much for universalism. The word "all" is translated from the Greek word, pas, which can mean any, all, and more. "All" in Greek doesn't necessarily mean "all" in English. Although the Scriptures which are used to back up free will look like they do, but they refer to believers, as nonbelievers cannot believe what they read anyway. John 6:44-47 tells us that only those given to Jesus by the Father shall come to Jesus, and He will in no wise cast any of them out. This hooked up with 2 Peter 3:9 makes sense.

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What I don't understand is that this verse is used by believers in free will to back up their doctrine, yet not believe in universalism.

 

G'day Strat,

 

From the Reformed perspective this verse in particular (2 Peter 3.9) speaks of God's revealed will (telling us what we should do), not His hidden will (his eternal plans for what will happen). The biblical verse simply tells us that God invites and commands every person to repent and come to Christ for salvation (1 Timothy 2:5-6), but they do not tell us anything about God's secret decrees regarding who will be saved.

 

Here's the similarity and difference between Reformed and Arminian conceptions of God's will. Both Calvinists and Arminians agree that God's commands in Scripture reveal to us what he wants us to do, and both agree that the commands in Scripture invite us to repent and trust in Christ for Salvation. Therefore, in one sense both agree that God wills that we be saved -- it is the will that He reveals to us explicitly in the gospel invitation. But both sides must also say that there is something else that God deems more important than saving everyone, and that (according to Romans 9) God's glory is also furthered by the fact that some are not saved. Arminian theologians also say that something else is more important to God than the salvation of all people, namely, the preservation of man's free will. So in a Reformed system God's highest value is His own glory, and in an Arminian system God's highest value is the free will of man. These are two distinctively different conceptions of the nature of God, and it seems that the Reformed position has much more explicit support than the Arminian position does on this subject.

 

God bless,

William

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I do not understand what is stopping you from discussing the article.

As you might have guessed, I'm a Christian Universalist (as opposed for instance to UU). I've read through the articles on Universalism here, they contain the same essential arguments found everywhere else. These have been debated and discussed ad infinitum like all other topics of theological interest to Christians who post to theology boards.

 

Rather than jump into what will almost certainly be more unresolvable dialog by discussing the proof texts provided, I think it would make more sense to discuss why discussion of universalism from my perspective is irresolvable in theological discussion with non-Universalists if anyone is interested.

 

Maybe the best way to start is by posing a brief background, followed by a question. My universalism is unlike that of virtually all other Christian universalists in that I start by positing a certain metaphysical approach which is then developed into a specifically allegorical interpretation of the Bible. According to this structured allegorical interpretation I show that universal salvation is logically superior to either the Annihilationist or eternal separation/torment positions.

 

The question I think prudent to pose is: how would my Annihilationist or Eternal hell brethren propose to judge an interpretation like this? I don't want to be accused of 'hiding' anything or presenting "trick" questions, so will state before discussing that I've come to suspect that the conventional form of theological discussion among Christians of different stripes appears to me to cause problems arriving at properly warranted belief.

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how would my Annihilationist or Eternal hell brethren propose to judge an interpretation like this?

 

I don't know is my answer. I would have to understand what this "metaphysical approach which is then developed into a specifically allegorical interpretation of the Bible" actually is before I could attempt to respond to it.

 

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The question I think prudent to pose is: how would my Annihilationist or Eternal hell brethren propose to judge an interpretation like this? I don't want to be accused of 'hiding' anything or presenting "trick" questions, so will state before discussing that I've come to suspect that the conventional form of theological discussion among Christians of different stripes appears to me to cause problems arriving at properly warranted belief.

 

I would rather ask by what means your hermeneutic is necessitated?

 

People love to devise new teaching and new doctrine, usually failing to realize that whatever the human mind engineers, the human mind can reverse engineer. There will always be flaws in anything that is not of the truth. I'll argue that there will always be contradictions that expose those flaws.

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I would have to understand what this "metaphysical approach which is then developed into a specifically allegorical interpretation of the Bible" actually is before I could attempt to respond to it.

That shouldn't be necessary. Anyone who feels himself reasonably competent to justify proper warrant for his own personal theology should have a system of judgment by which his theology is proven. If the system of judgment is proper, that same system should be able to determine by its own standards whether competing interpretations are true or false. To understand a competing interpretive method first takes focus off the question of what standard of judgment is proper to evaluate another view? Do you see what I mean?

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I would rather ask by what means your hermeneutic is necessitated?

But all you're doing is turning my question back to me. This doesn't answer my question.

 

People love to devise new teaching and new doctrine, usually failing to realize that whatever the human mind engineers, the human mind can reverse engineer. There will always be flaws in anything that is not of the truth. I'll argue that there will always be contradictions that expose those flaws.

I agree with you completely that any Bible interpretation that's "human engineered" is doomed to failure. What is telling is your prefacing this with the caveat that 'people love to devise new teaching and doctrine', implying that you're pretty sure my theology would fall under the banner of contrived doctrine right out of the gate. This is of course expected and normal in discussions like this, but worth pointing out if the discussion advances far enough to have value.

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But all you're doing is turning my question back to me. This doesn't answer my question.

 

Correct, your language indicated that you're not sure of your method of interpretation. Thus why I asked how it's necessitated. I'll mention more below.

 

I agree with you completely that any Bible interpretation that's "human engineered" is doomed to failure. What is telling is your prefacing this with the caveat that 'people love to devise new teaching and doctrine', implying that you're pretty sure my theology would fall under the banner of contrived doctrine right out of the gate. This is of course expected and normal in discussions like this, but worth pointing out if the discussion advances far enough to have value.

 

I did state my reply from a position that your contrived method of interpretation fails, though I should have clarified a bit. First off, I call it 'contrived' based on your own words, "which is then developed into a specifically allegorical interpretation". That language assumes that your method was imagined (by yourself or others) rather than simply revealed by God and furthermore assumes that you're part of a select few who have been granted an understanding of it. Where the method cannot be shown from necessity, this is clearly arrogant.

 

Also, it seems as if your method of interpretation is first based on universalism, rather than having an interpretive method that simply entails it.

 

However, that all wasn't the main reason for my forthright disagreement. Instead, my disagreement was on the basis that your language indicated that you believe your method of interpretation is simply more accurate and yields less issues than others. In turn, that assumes no method of interpretation can be ascertained and if that's the case, certainty isn't possible. The proper method of interpretation yields certainty though. I will argue that method is very simple; a literal, grammatical, historical method by which we human beings normally understand language. This method yields no contradictions at all.

 

I'm open to hearing what you have to say, I just want to be very clear about the position I stand behind so you don't feel you're wasting your time.

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That shouldn't be necessary. Anyone who feels himself reasonably competent to justify proper warrant for his own personal theology should have a system of judgment by which his theology is proven. If the system of judgment is proper, that same system should be able to determine by its own standards whether competing interpretations are true or false. To understand a competing interpretive method first takes focus off the question of what standard of judgment is proper to evaluate another view? Do you see what I mean?

 

No. I'll just wait and see if this goes anywhere.

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I did state my reply from a position that your contrived method of interpretation fails

Tell me, what specifically about my theology fails in your opinion?

 

I call it 'contrived' based on your own words, "which is then developed into a specifically allegorical interpretation". That language assumes that your method was imagined (by yourself or others) rather than simply revealed by God and furthermore assumes that you're part of a select few who have been granted an understanding of it.

But my language assumes no such thing DavidM. It is you who assumes that my method was imagined and that I'm "part of a select few who have been granted an understanding of it". I understand why you drew this conclusion from what I posted, but it's disingenuous to suggest that anything in my language "assumes that [my] method was imagined". Quite the contrary, it is you who are assuming and I want to again ask, what specific elements of my theology provide evidence to you that my method is imagined?

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1. Spiffy, if you read post #6, I don't see how you can continue to try to justify universalism. In short, yes, universalism is in the Bible in the sense that it does not exist and we have plenty of scripture to substantiate that claim. There are those going to perdition and they outnumber those going to the Lord. I believe that people who believe in false doctrine such as universalism pick and choose what they want to believe from Scripture and disregard the Scripture that is outside their realm of belief. You've invented your own Jesus. If you read post #6, you would see what the real Jesus says on this issue.

 

2. In your belief, does universalism extend to the fallen angels as well or just to man?

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your language indicated that you're not sure of your method of interpretation

But this can't properly be derived from my posts, nor is it accurate.

it would make more sense to discuss why discussion of universalism from my perspective is irresolvable in theological discussion with non-Universalists

I stated, "I start by positing a certain metaphysical approach which is then developed into a specifically allegorical interpretation of the Bible. According to this structured allegorical interpretation I show that universal salvation is logically superior to either the Annihilationist or eternal separation/torment positions." There is nothing here to "indicate" that I'm not sure of my method of interpretation. You're forcing a meaning onto my words that simply isn't there.

 

I did state my reply from a position that your contrived method of interpretation fails,

Which of my points of theology led you to the judgment that my method of interpretation fails?

 

I call it 'contrived' based on your own words, "which is then developed into a specifically allegorical interpretation". That language assumes that your method was imagined (by yourself or others) rather than simply revealed by God and furthermore assumes that you're part of a select few who have been granted an understanding of it. Where the method cannot be shown from necessity, this is clearly arrogant

My language "assumes" no such thing. And your statement that I imply being "part of a select few who have been granted an understanding" of the allegorical approach to the salvation of all I contend for is an emotional judgment. This has no place in an honest discussion of the truth or falsehood of a system of belief.

 

Also, it seems as if your method of interpretation is first based on universalism, rather than having an interpretive method that simply entails it

Which specific beliefs of mine led you to this conclusion?

 

my disagreement was on the basis that your language indicated that you believe your method of interpretation is simply more accurate and yields less issues than others.

But isn't lack of contradiction a powerful test of the truth of a complex system of belief? You appear to understand this principle judging by your next statement in the quote below...

 

The proper method of interpretation yields certainty though.

...but here's the clincher:

 

I will argue that method is very simple; a literal, grammatical, historical method by which we human beings normally understand language. This method yields no contradictions at all.

In an earlier post I noted, "...it would make more sense to discuss why discussion of universalism from my perspective is irresolvable in theological discussion with non-Universalists..." The reason honest discussion within much of Christianity is next to impossible today is precisely because of the spirit of grammatico-historical (G-H) methodology. Among its tenets are the automatic rejection of all metaphors or symbolism in language not specifically referenced by Bible authors or referred to in the text. Your posts support this precisely: Since any metaphor beyond those accepted by G-H rules are invalid and acts of individual imagination, any and all interpretive methods which employ such metaphors is automatically false. There's no need for evidence, G-H has spoken.

 

G-H is a manmade poison which controls what Scripture is allowed to say. Atheists use the same circular reasoning with Christians: "Come debate God's existence with me! The rules are that the only real stuff occupies points in time and space....now then, tell me all about your God." Obviously if one can define the rules before hand so one can't lose, and everyone must play by those rules, one is not going to lose. At least in one's own mind.

 

Truth is the loser, sadly. The structure of the G-H method is poison. The Pharisees used it. Religions throughout history have used it. It's called by different names, but the spirit of G-H is legion. The reason truth is the enemy of orthodoxy is that adherents of G-H have raised their interpretive methodology to the same status as truth itself. If your doctrine is truth, it is approved by Truth Himself, and is flawless, righteous and able to defeat all that wages war with it.

 

Unlike G-H, the allegorical methodology I contend for places truth at the pinnacle of its doctrine. It's able to explain why truth is as hated a commodity in Christianity as it is in all humankind. Recall my asking several times which of my beliefs led you to your conclusions that my methodology was false? I asked to see if you would glimpse the truth--that you didn't need to know any of my points of Scriptural evidence because you don't let facts get in the way. Your mind was already a closed trap, completely made up. I was already tried, convicted and hanged without a shred of evidence. Btw, Christ Jesus was crucified specifically because He told the truth to those whose hearts were hardened and already made up. They didn't have evidence either, so they made false evidence up. The corrupt soul does that and calls it righteousness.

 

Fortunately, there's hope. Jesus said of those who murdered Him, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do." All humanity is going to be thankful for His mercy, some more than others.

 

I'm open to hearing what you have to say, I just want to be very clear about the position I stand behind so you don't feel you're wasting your time.

You are very clear on the position you hold DavidM. As to your professed "openness", are you really? Or are you gnashing your teeth in rage looking for something to tear apart?

 

 

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It is a pleasant sentiment to hold that God will redeem all humankind and it makes many debates about hell and justice much less difficult if you can fall back on the comforting fiction that all will eventually be saved and enjoy eternal life in heavenly bliss but it isn't true and that is the most powerful reason for rejecting universalism. It is a system of belief that seeks to make mankind kinder than God and human mercy greater than God's mercy so when you give it some thought the idea that all will be well for all people is a kind of blasphemy because it makes people feel better and more just and more merciful and more moral than God. It will, in the end, lead to unbelief because it makes the holy scriptures vindictive and God who is the ultimate author of the holy scriptures quite wicked.

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It is a pleasant sentiment to hold that God will redeem all humankind and it makes many debates about hell and justice much less difficult if you can fall back on the comforting fiction that all will eventually be saved and enjoy eternal life in heavenly bliss but it isn't true and that is the most powerful reason for rejecting universalism. It is a system of belief that seeks to make mankind kinder than God and human mercy greater than God's mercy so when you give it some thought the idea that all will be well for all people is a kind of blasphemy because it makes people feel better and more just and more merciful and more moral than God. It will, in the end, lead to unbelief because it makes the holy scriptures vindictive and God who is the ultimate author of the holy scriptures quite wicked.

 

You'd be surprised regarding how many people step outside the Word of God to His defense.

 

God bless,

William

 

 

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You'd be surprised regarding how many people step outside the Word of God to His defense.

 

God bless,

William

 

 

No, not surprised. I've engaged in debates with church-less-christians who refuse fellowship because no church teaches the truth and they almost to a man (and woman) maintain that Hell is pagan and God will either annihilate the wicked (an idea that has spread far and wide with the aid of Jehovah's witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists constantly preaching it) or punish the wicked for a finite time and then bring them home to heaven and eternal bliss. Many of them also reject Christmas and Easter as pagan. Isn't it amazing how influential Jehovah's witnesses have become?

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No, not surprised. I've engaged in debates with church-less-christians who refuse fellowship because no church teaches the truth and they almost to a man (and woman) maintain that Hell is pagan and God will either annihilate the wicked (an idea that has spread far and wide with the aid of Jehovah's witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists constantly preaching it) or punish the wicked for a finite time and then bring them home to heaven and eternal bliss. Many of them also reject Christmas and Easter as pagan. Isn't it amazing how influential Jehovah's witnesses have become?

 

Blurring the lines are seemingly repeatable happenstances throughout history. Just look at Chrislam or such idiotic statements suggesting the Qur'an and Bible have more in common than not....

 

God bless,

William

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The Orthodox christians living in the Byzantine Empire had a first hand taste of Islam and its invading armies and they learned by hard experience that the religion of Mohammed was not gentle nor peaceful nor tolerant except when it had full power over everybody. It is a fool's dream to think of Islam in the west as a peaceful and peace loving influence in the lives of its adherents. And even though some make prodigious efforts to dress Islam in peace-maker's robes the history of the religion puts the lie to it. But Islam does not teach universalism.

 

Isaiah the prophet started his book with a chapter observing his stupid his people had become and his words apply to many professing christians who want nothing more than to swallow all sorts of superstitions and false religions while they pooh pooh the holy scriptures and the teaching of the Church.

 

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

(Isaiah 1:2-8 KJV)

 

The christians who advocate universalism will, in the end, deny the gospel and change their image of Jesus until it is utterly unrecognisable. Idolatry doesn't need statues, the idols of false theologies multiply in the land and the people are blinded by them.

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No, not surprised. I've engaged in debates with church-less-christians who refuse fellowship because no church teaches the truth and they almost to a man (and woman) maintain that Hell is pagan and God will either annihilate the wicked (an idea that has spread far and wide with the aid of Jehovah's witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists constantly preaching it) or punish the wicked for a finite time and then bring them home to heaven and eternal bliss. Many of them also reject Christmas and Easter as pagan. Isn't it amazing how influential Jehovah's witnesses have become?

 

 

It's hard for me to accept the claims of the churchless Christians that they're not going to church because they can't find a church that preaches the truth. More likely, they're just christ-less Christians. And, I think my standards are higher than most. I strongly disagree with a lot of popular doctrines (like those that only became popular in the 20th century or later), but I'd still go to those churches if no better one was around. The only thing I find intolerable are insincere leaders, such as those who are obvious liars (Benny Hinn), those who don't place high value on the Bible (PCUSA), or those in sinful lifestyles (or obvious unrepentant sin). A church can have the worst doctrine in the world, but as long as its leaders sincerely believe the Bible teaches that doctrine, I can work with that church, if there's nothing better in town.

 

The word "hell" does have a pagan origin, Norse mythology. And, I think the concept of after-life suffering is also of pagan origin, it's certainly a common feature of pagan religions. The word "hell" in the Bible is translated from different words, but generally has only two literal meanings: the grave (we all go to the grave) and a location outside of Jerusalem (probably Jerusalem's garbage dump). It is not a reference to a place of literal after-life suffering. And, no place in the Bible are we told of any after-life suffering except in Jesus's parables and in the vision in Revelation, both contexts do not compel us to take the suffering literally. If hell is a place of eternal suffering, why in 66 books of the Bible is that suffering not mentioned outside of non-literal contexts?

 

Still, every church I have ever been a member of, the pastor has held the traditional belief of eternal suffering for the lost. I believe in destruction of the lost, not universalism.

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Our example of what will happen to the wicked is Sodom, which is no longer burning.   Mathew 10:28; Romans 6:23; James 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 1 John 5:16; Revelation 20:14; Revelation 21:8; Philippians 3:19; Psalm 145:20; Mathew 7:13; Psalm 68:2; John 3:16; John 10:28; Jude 1:7           Point 3: ​ If the punishment for sin was eternal conscious torment, Jesus must still be dead. Or else his tiny sacrifice of simply death must be meaningless in the face of God’s eternal anger.   Isaiah 53:5-6; John 10:11; 1 Peter 2:24; Mark 10:45; Hebrews 10:9; Romans 3:25; 1 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 5:25; Leviticus 16:10; 1 John 3:16; Deuteronomy 21:22           The supporters of eternal conscious torment use the following passages as core support: ​   1. “ And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh. ” - Isaiah 66:22-24   Ellicot’s Commentary for English Readers Isaiah 66:24 "And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." - “...devoured by worms, or given to the flames. Taken strictly, therefore, the words do not speak of the punishment of the souls of men after death, but of the defeat and destruction upon earth of the enemies of Jehovah…Even so taken, however, with this wider range, it is still a question whether the words are to be taken literally or figuratively (though this, perhaps, is hardly a question), whether the bodies, which represent souls, are thought of as not destroyed, but only tormented, or as consumed to nothing, by the fire and by the worm…”   The commentators are unsure whether or not the worm is literal or figurative. They seem to take the side of ECT, but admit it isn’t clear either way.   The book of Isaiah is known for being the most poetic, figurative book in the Old Testament.   Also,   Quench - the definition of quench verb (used with object)   2. to put out or extinguish (fire, flames, etc.).   3. to cool suddenly by plunging into a liquid, as in tempering steel by immersion in water.           2. “ And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. ” - Daniel 12:1-2   This simply means that their name will forever be held in contempt; that they will never be redeemed. Such as how the people of Sodom are held in contempt even today. 4,000 years later, and most people seem to know that the Sodomites were bad people. Everlasting contempt. The Sodomites will never be redeemed.           3. “It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.” - Mathew 18:6-9   “In like manner, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, who indulged in sexual immorality and pursued strange flesh, are on display as an example of those who sustain the punishment of eternal fire.” – Jude 1:7   Sodom is no longer burning, despite having been burned by this eternal fire.           4. " And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. ” - Mathew 25:31-46   Eternal in result, not in cause. In other words, the death of a human being is eternal (at least if dead for a certain period of time). A dead human will never come back to life. The result of that death lasts forever and ever. But the person isn’t suffering eternal death. The process of death itself is not eternal. It is quick.   Likewise, God’s punishment for the wicked is eternal in result, or in consequence. But certainly not eternal in process, or in action.           5. “ And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name. ” - Revelation 14:9-11   “ For the LORD has a day of vengeance, A year of recompense for the cause of Zion. Its streams will be turned into pitch, And its loose earth into brimstone, And its land will become burning pitch. It will not be quenched night or day; Its smoke will go up forever. From generation to generation it will be desolate; None will pass through it forever and ever. But pelican and hedgehog will possess it, And owl and raven will dwell in it; And He will stretch over it the line of desolation ” – Isaiah 34:8-11   How can an owl, raven, pelican, and hedgehog dwell in this land if it is burning forever?   Also, the symbolic imagery of “smoke rising from a destroyed city” is not new: “… and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace. ” – Genesis 19:28. This imagery is a symbol. The prophet Isaiah is best known for being one of the more poetic writers of the bible. Put two and two together and it makes sense that he would use such imagery and it is perfectly reasonable to believe that he is speaking figuratively when he says the smoke will “go up forever and ever”. In other words, he is speaking of the permanent destruction of the city. While the physical smoke may have dissipated, the memory of it will remain forever and ever. It symbolically will continue to rise.   http://rethinkinghell.com/2017/04/a-primer-on-revelation-149-11/           6. “ And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." - Revelation 20:10; 14-15   This is talking about the Beast, Devil, and False Prophet. Not humans.   http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2015/12/a-primer-on-revelation-2010/           7. “Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment." - Luke 16:19-31   If this passage is meant to be taken as a literal picture of the end times, and not as a metaphorical parable, as proponents of eternal conscious torment suggest, a plethora of massive problems arise. For example, how can a man in hell speak to a man in heaven like he was face to face, despite the “great chasm” that separates them? Also, how can all the righteous fit into Abraham’s bosom? Also, how can Heaven be anywhere near perfect if all the screams from people being eternally tortured in hell are clearly audible?   It is clear that this passage, while uncharacteristic of most other parables, is not meant to be taken as a literal picture of the end times.           Conclusion: ​ The bible distinctly teaches that immortality is a gift given to the elect only, the bible repeatedly describes the wicked as being destroyed, burned up, and killed (souls included), and the bible demonstrates the nature of God’s wrath against unrighteousness by unleashing it unto Jesus in the form of physical death after momentary spiritual separation, and not eternal conscious torment.   Annihilationism is therefore...biblical.  

      in Theological Debate

    • Mary: the biblical woman behind the cultural legend

      What does the Bible tell us about Mary, the mother of Jesus?   More...

      in Bible Study

    • Is There Really No Biblical Support for Unconditional Election?

      Christians have often disagreed over the exact nature of the biblical doctrine of election. Reasonable believers are willing to state their arguments for their views while acknowledging that others, who disagree, have their own, different, arguments. Making a case for and listening to critiques of one’s views while showing perceived deficiencies in opposing views are great ways to strengthen one’s understanding of the Word of God. That is simply the Christian way of engaging brothers who disagree.   Consequently, when a person claims that “the Reformed idea that God chooses some individuals and not others for salvation has no, I repeat, no biblical support,” it is hard to take him seriously. Gratuitous, dismissive assertions have no place in serious theological conversations. Unfortunately, when a respected person makes such a claim some will be tempted to take him at his word.   In order to help those so tempted and to expose the foolishness of such a claim, here are a few of the Bible’s many teachings that highlight God’s sovereign grace in election. I put the key words in bold simply to highlight the precise way that the Bible teaches that God chooses some individuals and not others to salvation.   Matthew 11:25–27 25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him .” If no one knows the Father (isn’t that salvation?) except those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him, doesn’t that mean that some are chosen and not others?   John 6:37 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me , and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. Since all do not come to Christ and yet all that the Father gives to Christ will come to Him, doesn’t that mean the Father gave some to Christ and didn’t give others to Christ?   John 17:1–9 1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him . 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.…   6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world . Yours they were, and you gave them to me , and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours . Evidently Jesus believed that the Father had given Him people to whom He in turn would give eternal life. Unless you believe that Jesus has given or will give eternal life to every person then you must conclude that God gave Jesus (or we could say “chose”) some people and not others for salvation.   Acts 13:48 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed . How many believed? Only as many as were appointed to eternal life.   Romans 9:9–13 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue , not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” Surely even those who reject personal, unconditional election must admit that God made some sort of distinction between Jacob (whom He “loved”) and Esau (whom He “hated”).   2 Thessalonians 2:13–14 13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved , through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was the Thessalonian Christians, not all those living in Thessalonica, whom God chose.   Ephesians 1:4–5 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world , that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will . Who is “us”? Paul and his Christian readers. Those are the ones God chose and predestined to be holy, blameless and adopted.   In light of these clear statements of Scripture it is no wonder the Abstract of Principles of 1858 (the first confession of faith produced by Southern Baptists) affirms unconditional election in Article 5: Election is God’s eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life—not because of foreseen merit in them, but of His mere mercy in Christ—in consequence of which choice they are called, justified and glorified. This is simply a reflection of what the Bible teaches and of what was widely believed among traditional Southern Baptists at the beginning of the SBC.   Source: http://founders.org/2017/07/06/no_biblical_support_for_unconditional_election/

      in Calvinism

    • Biblical Scholar Speaks about Pope's Switch to Our Father: A Loving God Can Still Lead Us into Temptation

      Biblical scholar and Swiss linguist Fr. Reto Nay says the possible change of the sixth petition of the “Our Father” prayer isn’t accurate. Nay’s comments to LifeSiteNews came after a 2017 interview with Pope Francis on Italian TV where he said the traditional translation of “and lead us not into temptation” is “not good.” View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

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