Christian Universalism

Discussions surrounding the various other faiths who deviate from mainstream Christian doctrine such as LDS and the Jehovah's Witnesses.
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Christian Universalism

#1

Post by FFC » Thu Mar 16, 2006 12:17 pm

Does anybody buy into this one. That all are saved and that the greek word for hell may not really mean "eternal" but "ages" which is a limited times. Just curious. :)

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Re: Christian Universalism

#2

Post by August » Thu Mar 16, 2006 12:40 pm

FFC wrote:Does anybody buy into this one. That all are saved and that the greek word for hell may not really mean "eternal" but "ages" which is a limited times. Just curious. :)
Huh?

Hell is translated from Geenna, from "the place of the future punishment call "Gehenna" or "Gehenna of fire". This was originally the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their future destruction."

Nothing to do with time.
Acts 17:24-25 (NIV)
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. [25] And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else."

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#3

Post by FFC » Thu Mar 16, 2006 3:10 pm

Huh?

Hell is translated from Geenna, from "the place of the future punishment call "Gehenna" or "Gehenna of fire". This was originally the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their future destruction."

Nothing to do with time.
:oops: Sorry, you are absolutely right. The spirit of stupidness came over me there. I meant to say that some believe that "eternal" could also mean "ages" which the christian universalists say is a limited stay in "hell". Thanks for catching that, august.

Also, thanks for bringing that up about the valley of Hinnom, because it reminded me that when hell is pointed out to them in the scriptures that it is just a allegory...not a physical place.

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#4

Post by August » Thu Mar 16, 2006 3:37 pm

FFC wrote: :oops: Sorry, you are absolutely right. The spirit of stupidness came over me there. I meant to say that some believe that "eternal" could also mean "ages" which the christian universalists say is a limited stay in "hell". Thanks for catching that, august.

Also, thanks for bringing that up about the valley of Hinnom, because it reminded me that when hell is pointed out to them in the scriptures that it is just a allegory...not a physical place.
That still does not work though.

The predominant meaning of eternal aionios is in contrast with proskarios, i.e contrasting the temporal with the eternal. In addition, it is overwhelmingly used in the context of persons and things that are endless by nature, such as God and His power and glory. Furthermore, should they want to argue that damnation is temporary, they must agree by the same token that the eternal life that Jesus promised and died for is also temporary, since the same word is used to describe eternal life. That of course leads to the rather unsupportable conclusion that Jesus' work was not fully done on the cross.
Acts 17:24-25 (NIV)
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. [25] And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else."

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#5

Post by FFC » Thu Mar 16, 2006 4:04 pm

Furthermore, should they want to argue that damnation is temporary, they must agree by the same token that the eternal life that Jesus promised and died for is also temporary, since the same word is used to describe eternal life
Yes. That would certainly be a big road block, but it doesn't seem to slow them down. I checked out Tentmaker.org for awhile and it was very fascinating and almost convincing, but as you say there are so many inconsistencies. check out the link if you want.



http://www.tentmaker.org/smf/

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#6

Post by Bernie » Sat Mar 18, 2006 8:34 am

I'm a universalist who agrees with you that much popular modern universalism seems to turn on this one concept, that aionios doesn't necessarily mean forever. I consider the point weak and of only passing interest to the universalist argument.

Anyone who can figure out the argument I present here...
http://discussions.godandscience.org/vi ... &start=105

....should be able to see that aionios may remain as our forefathers were doubtless inspired to understand it without affecting the notion of universal salvation an iota. When wrath is transferred from individual to essence, eternality ends up simply being the final destination of the property of evil in human spirit.

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#7

Post by FFC » Fri Mar 24, 2006 11:41 am

Bernie, I greatly respect your belief. In many ways it does seem to express the perfect attributes of God; love, mercy, faithfulness, even his justice...because even though right now I believe in a literal eternal hell it seems to me in my finite mind that it would be imperfect justice to sentence a person for an eternity in hell for the sin we inherited and practiced in this finite space and time.

However there is too much evidence in the scriptures for me to think otherwise.

also, it seems to me, if eternal life and eternal death use the same word then either both are limited or both are forever.

another troublesome issue would be our responsibility to the call of salvation. Why the call if we're all going to be saved anyway?

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#8

Post by Bernie » Thu Jun 08, 2006 9:17 am

FFC wrote:Bernie, I greatly respect your belief. In many ways it does seem to express the perfect attributes of God; love, mercy, faithfulness, even his justice...because even though right now I believe in a literal eternal hell it seems to me in my finite mind that it would be imperfect justice to sentence a person for an eternity in hell for the sin we inherited and practiced in this finite space and time.
Hi FCC, I'm getting old....I forgot I was involved in this thread until stumbling across it today whilst reading various threads.
However there is too much evidence in the scriptures for me to think otherwise.
Understood. But evidence is primarily interpretation, would you agree? To me, the Bible is a spiritual book, full of deeper spiritual meaning. I hold the esoteric sense of Scripture as higher truth than the literal, and to my understanding the esoteric sense is necessarily universal in nature. Of course, the definition and nature of esoteric is a whole 'nuther topic. All the same, I also believe the esoteric is by nature rational and subject to rational scrutiny, unlike many mystics today who hold experiential mysticism to be the highest authority...which I think is a great mistake.
also, it seems to me, if eternal life and eternal death use the same word then either both are limited or both are forever.
I agree. This was my point in my first post. My own universalism does not rest on the definition of aionios/aionion as less than eternal.
another troublesome issue would be our responsibility to the call of salvation. Why the call if we're all going to be saved anyway?
Paul makes the distinction between what I call the temporal aspect of salvation, which is salvation attained in time, in 1Tim 4:10. The special salvation of the believer adheres to the principles of time....change, mutability, etc......and can be lost. But the eternal aspect of salvation, which I believe God has graciously granted to all, bears the nature of eternality....immutable and sure. I believe in hell, but in spiritual/figurative language in the OT and New, fire is a conditioner, a smelter of precious metals, separating slag from gold and silver. If we refuse Christ's offer of slow regenerative fires in time (sanctification), the fearful lake of fire (God's pure, true essence of righteousness) awaits those who reject the easy way.

Once one makes the distinction between the eternal and temporal aspects of salvation, it the difficulties vanish IMO.

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#9

Post by Canuckster1127 » Thu Jun 08, 2006 9:31 am

However there is too much evidence in the scriptures for me to think otherwise.
Understood. But evidence is primarily interpretation, would you agree?
No. Interpretation is certainly brought to the evidence and interpretation can be right or wrong. Evidence, particularly as it relates to Scripture, which is the context here, is its own entity independent of the interpretation.

This is the crux of the argument in my opinion. That is the essense of plenary inspiration.

Universalism seeks to superimpose interpretation upon the text to reach a desired conclusion.

Biblically based Christianity seeks to bring interpretation into alignment with the text and draw out the divine truth independent of whether it says what we want to hear or not.
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#10

Post by Bernie » Thu Jun 08, 2006 7:55 pm

Hello C1127, thanks for your response.
"Interpretation is certainly brought to the evidence and interpretation can be right or wrong. Evidence, particularly as it relates to Scripture, which is the context here, is its own entity independent of the interpretation."
Can you elaborate please? I don't think I understand your point. If by stating that "[Scripture] evidence.....is its own entity independent of the interpretation" you're saying that absolute truth is inherent in Scripture, while man's interpretation can be wrong about the assembling of Scripture meaning, then we agree and I was guilty of loose language in my last post. From your post, it seems you may mean something different than this, yes?
Universalism seeks to superimpose interpretation upon the text to reach a desired conclusion.
Of course I'd have to disagree wtih this assesment. If you'll walk with me here a bit, maybe we can explore the extent to which either of our formulas for authenitcating truth are able to withstand reasonable scrutiny.

Let's start with a basic statement of salvation from my point of view.

I believe with my Arminian brethren that God illumines all with prevenient grace: “There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” (Jn 1:9).. I believe this is necessarily a regenerative process, re 1Co 2:14: "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." One must necessarily be raised above the "natural" or carnal state to have any light in spiritual matters, and this raising is by nature spiritually regenerative.

I also believe the Bible when it says that Christ Jesus died for all sin: “….He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1Jo 2:2), and that Paul spoke under the guidance of the Holy Spirit when he wrote, "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1Tim 2:3-4).

Further, I believe God's statement in the Bible, “So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isa 55:11). Now, Jesus appeared to understand His Father's will concerning salvation when He said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself" (Jn 12:32), which is quite consistent with the Spirit's promise of the Son: "A bruised reed He will not break, And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isa 42:3).

It seems quite rational, reasonable and Scriptural to me that if all are illumined with a spark, and the Lord promises to not extinguish even a spark, and if Jesus actually died for the sins of all and will draw all, and if it's God's will that all be saved, and if God always gets His desire...which the Father seems quite adamant about in speaking through His prophet, Isaiah:

"For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?" (Isa 14:27)
"Even from eternity I am He; And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?" (Isa 43:13)

.....then the math suggests that all will be saved.

Paul thought so. He points out that if by the transgression of Adam "many" died, then much more did the grace of the One [Christ] abound to the "many" (Rom 5:15:19). You speak of proper context.....how many humans would you say fit the proper context of the "many" who died in Adam? I believe it's safe to say that Paul clearly saw that the same number we may reasonably apply to the "many" who died is exactly equal to those "many" to whom grace is extended through Christ. Why else would he claim with confidence that all Israel will eventually be saved (Rom 11:26-32)?

My guess is that you'd say that I "superimpose interpretation upon the text to reach a desired conclusion". Yet it seems to me that all the ducks are lining up. Remember, falsity and truth are opposites. They raise tension and resistance in complex propositions. One important aspect of truth is coherence and legitimate [non-contradictory] association of principles and propositions. Where would my interpretation be false, and why? Where do you see tension and resistance (falsity)?

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#11

Post by Canuckster1127 » Fri Jun 09, 2006 7:39 am

Bernie,

Where to begin .....
Can you elaborate please? I don't think I understand your point. If by stating that "[Scripture] evidence.....is its own entity independent of the interpretation" you're saying that absolute truth is inherent in Scripture, while man's interpretation can be wrong about the assembling of Scripture meaning, then we agree and I was guilty of loose language in my last post. From your post, it seems you may mean something different than this, yes?
I mean essentially what you restated. Scripture is inspired, inerrant and absolute truth. When we come to the Scriptures, we come as subordinate disciples, whose purpose is to draw forth from the text the truth and to understand it in such a way that our thinking is aligned with it, transformed by it, and subject to it. This is the essence of exegesis. The opposite of this is eisegesis, whereby we project upon the text that which we bring to it, and in effect make the text subject to our interpretation. This is to be avoided.
Of course I'd have to disagree wtih this assesment. If you'll walk with me here a bit, maybe we can explore the extent to which either of our formulas for authenitcating truth are able to withstand reasonable scrutiny.
OK. However, I'll tell you up front that it is not sufficient to pick and choose those verses that taken by themselves support a position, or drawn out of context from different passages to form a doctrine where no such teaching exists in substantive whole from any one passage. The entire counsel of God and all Scripture must be observed. Further, the framework or "formula" you refer to itself must be shown to originate with Scripture, not simply serve as a device in which to systematize a position which we set out to prove. That is in itself a subtle form of eisegesis. Further reason is certainly an important component, but it is not the final arbiter. God's immutable characteristics tie into a discussion of this nature and I believe that both traditional positions in this realm, Calvinism and Arminianism fail to account for an element of mystery, in my opinion and so I choose not to accept either polarity and to embrace and accept that ambiguity by faith as the natural consequence of my attempting to grasp something that is infinite by the instrument of my finite mind and perspective.

Universalism, such as you are proposing it however, I find no support for in Scripture and I will interact with your positions below to explain why.
believe with my Arminian brethren that God illumines all with prevenient grace: “There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” (Jn 1:9).. I believe this is necessarily a regenerative process, re 1Co 2:14: "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." One must necessarily be raised above the "natural" or carnal state to have any light in spiritual matters, and this raising is by nature spiritually regenerative.
There is a sense of common grace that is extended to all mankind in general terms based upon the goodness of God. John 1:9 clearly is part of an entire passage John 1:1-14 which introduces the Book of John that ties clearly back to the Genesis account and seeks to establish that Christ, the "Word", was tied back to the beginnings of this very world in terms of God's purpose. There is no question that the obedience, sacrifice and resurrection of Christ is sufficient to bring salvation to every single person who is alive, has ever lived, or will yet live. That is not in question. What is in question is your proposal that based upon this premise it follows that God has independently projected that condition upon every person independent of any other factor. Note as well, that the testimony being referred to in the verse you quote is referring to the testimony of John the Baptist to Christ.

The irony is not lost on me that a good deal of the rationale for hyper-Calvinism is similarly supported in these terms by the same or similar passages. The primary difference being one of scope, more than anything else. (I'll pause here. Indignant Calvinists may insert their comments here.) ;)
I also believe the Bible when it says that Christ Jesus died for all sin: “….He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1Jo 2:2), and that Paul spoke under the guidance of the Holy Spirit when he wrote, "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1Tim 2:3-4).
I agree God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. There is a difference, however between what God desires and what God wills to come to pass.

Are God's desires such that they always come to pass? It may surprise you to find that that is not the case. It is not a matter of power to do so. It is a matter of God's overall plan that has allowed for a measure of free will within mankind to make decisions that have implications.

What does Prov 21:3 say? "To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord rather than sacrifice." Do all people do righteousness and justice? Obviously not.

Acts 17:30 states "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent" Do all people repent? Obviously not. This is not the only instances of God willing limits to his actions and power. Part of the mystery of Christ's incarnation as reflected in Phil 2:5-11 demonstrates that Christ "emptied" himself of much that was His due as God, in order to dwell among us and accomplish His purpose. Christ never ceased to be who He was. He did voluntarily limit His will and not exercise His power in order to conform to the overall purpose and plan of God.

This causes a lot of confusion for people. It is one reason why non-believers construct such seemingly logical impossibilities such as "Can God create a rock so big He cannot lift it." The power and ability to do something does not preclude the choice of God not to do it.

I can interact more with what you have below, but as it is based upon the flawed premise above, I have to summarily reject it as derivative of that error.

Further, there is much in Scripture that speaks directly in opposition to the premise that all are saved.

Matt. 7:13-14

"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. 14"For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it,"

Matt. 22:14

"For many are called, but few are chosen,"

Luke 13:22-27

"And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. 23And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them, 24"Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25"Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, 'Lord, open up to us!' then He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.' 26"Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets'; 27and He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers,'"

Rom. 9:27

"And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; 28for the Lord will execute His word upon the earth, thoroughly and quickly,"

Clearly, Christ and other portions of Scripture teach that not all are saved.

Universalism fails the test of the entire counsel of God.
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#12

Post by puritan lad » Fri Jun 09, 2006 11:31 am

Bernie,

Will Satan and his angels eventually end up in Heaven as well?

I respond more to your heresy later...
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#13

Post by Bernie » Fri Jun 09, 2006 8:28 pm

Hello C1127,

Thanks for your response.
I'll tell you up front that it is not sufficient to pick and choose those verses that taken by themselves support a position, or drawn out of context from different passages to form a doctrine where no such teaching exists in substantive whole from any one passage.
If you're referring to my last post, understand that I merely put together a series of passages from Scripture which shows a logical path to the salvation of all. I didn't intend for it to be exhaustive; it was simply a small proof-text starting point for intelligent debate. Hopefully I'll be able to provide a 'substantive whole' over the course of our discussion.
The entire counsel of God and all Scripture must be observed. Further, the framework or "formula" you refer to itself must be shown to originate with Scripture, not simply serve as a device in which to systematize a position which we set out to prove. That is in itself a subtle form of eisegesis.
Good, we're in agreement here. Most 'traditional' forms of 'proper exegesis' are manmade devices which, whether consciously or not, have been created over the centuries to control what men want Scripture to say rather than what God intended to convey. I trust you'll appreciate being called upon to show how your interpretive methodology is Biblical, and I'll expect the same from you.
Further reason is certainly an important component, but it is not the final arbiter. God's immutable characteristics tie into a discussion of this nature and I believe that both traditional positions in this realm, Calvinism and Arminianism fail to account for an element of mystery, in my opinion and so I choose not to accept either polarity and to embrace and accept that ambiguity by faith as the natural consequence of my attempting to grasp something that is infinite by the instrument of my finite mind and perspective.
I'm delighted to present to you, then, the rationally esoteric approach to Scripture, which silences the 400+ year enmity between the warring sisters (Calvinism and Arminianism) and ties the two together into one coherent, universalistic whole.
There is a sense of common grace that is extended to all mankind in general terms based upon the goodness of God. Jn 1:9 clearly is part of an entire passage Jn 1:14 which introduces the Book of John that ties clearly back to the Genesis account and seeks to establish that Christ, the "Word", was tied back to the beginnings of this very world in terms of God's purpose. There is no question that the obedience, sacrifice and resurrection of Christ is sufficient to bring salvation to every single person who is alive, has ever lived, or will yet live. That is not in question. What is in question is your proposal that based upon this premise it follows that God has independently projected that condition upon every person independent of any other factor.
First, you have completely sidestepped the most important feature of the point I made, that Jn 1:9 speaks to a regenerative event. Regeneration is spiritual birth, the component necessary to understanding prescriptive truth. If all are illumined, then all are in some real sense, to some degree, regenerate. [Actually, I contend for a progressive regeneration throughout my theology, as the popular notion of regeneration as accomplished instantly and wholly in a single event raises more problems than it solves. I'll provide further evidence from my writings if requested.] If you'll follow the link I provided in my first post in this thread, you'll find why I believe this point is so important.

Second, you cannot possibly, based on the couple of posts I've made here, have come to a reasonable undersanding that my proposal leads to the conclusion that “God has independently projected that condition [salvation] upon every person independent of any other factor.” In fact, I made no such assertion that God saves 'independent of any other factor'. There are many factors not yet covered which must be brought to consideration before you can begin to understand my position.
Note as well, that the testimony being referred to in the verse you quote is referring to the testimony of John the Baptist to Christ.
What possible difference does this make to the meaning of Jn 1:9?
I agree God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. There is a difference, however between what God desires and what God wills to come to pass.

Are God's desires such that they always come to pass? It may surprise you to find that that is not the case. It is not a matter of power to do so. It is a matter of God's overall plan that has allowed for a measure of free will within mankind to make decisions that have implications.

What does Prov 21:3 say? "To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord rather than sacrifice." Do all people do righteousness and justice? Obviously not.

Acts 17:30 states "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent" Do all people repent? Obviously not. This is not the only instances of God willing limits to his actions and power. Part of the mystery of Christ's incarnation as reflected in Phil 2:5-11 demonstrates that Christ "emptied" himself of much that was His due as God, in order to dwell among us and accomplish His purpose. Christ never ceased to be who He was. He did voluntarily limit His will and not exercise His power in order to conform to the overall purpose and plan of God.
There's a reason many religionists generally and Christianity in particular have stubbornly held to a dualistic view of reality: it is the operating format God has designed His creation in. When a dualistic filter is applied to the meaning of Scripture, many of the traditional arguments—such as the one you refer to, that God does not obtain all His will—vanish. This argument is a very close cousin of the arguments about whether God changes His mind or not. I pointed out an important division in the fabric of reality earlier, temporal and eternal. The nature of time and space is decay, variability, inconstancy and change, while the primary attribute of eternality is immutability.

It's really quite simple. God as Spirit is unchanging and immutable, while man as matter infused by spirit—but whose spirit is fragmentally perfect and imperfect (true/false) or fragmentally regenerate—sees primarily through the senses with weak intuitions into the spiritual. When God deals with man, He interacts within the same principles He has created in His universe. I.e., when in time, God's decrees and desires may be abused and resisted….but only in deference to His eternal decrees. Traditional Christianity fails completely to make this important distinction. Thus, when God changes His mind or is resisted by men's wills, such change and resistance is always in submission and acquiescence to His eternal decrees.

So, no, it doesn't surprise me that God's desires do not come to pass in time. When I read Isa 55:11 I understand that God is here speaking truthfully because He's speaking to the eternal aspect reality, where none can stand against His word. God is perfect and true: when He says He will do all His pleasure, He means it in eternity, and when He says He'll change His mind, He means it in time and space. Study the Scriptures out and you'll see that this principle is sound.
I can interact more with what you have below, but as it is based upon the flawed premise above, I have to summarily reject it as derivative of that error.
Hopefully you can see that you haven't yet understood my premises well enough to make a proper determination of whether they are flawed or valid.

I have to conclude here, am running out of time tonight. Will post part two tomorrow or the next day, which is more important than what's been said thus far, because you've posted the standard arguments I'd expected, and these go directly to the crux of the issue of universal salvation. Looking forward to further correspondence. Thanks for your input.

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#14

Post by Canuckster1127 » Fri Jun 09, 2006 9:12 pm

Bernie.

Just so we are clear from the onset, We will discuss this and I rather suspect that neither one of us will convince the other.

However, so there is no misunderstanding, I refer you to the Discussion Guidelines. This board does not exist to promote endless debate on these issues. The doctrinal beliefs of the sponsor of this board exist on the main page and are available for your inspection. They are not open to endless criticism. We exist for honest seekers not for those whose mind is already made up and only want to argue.

For the purpose of providing a defense to those watching we will engage in this conversation but it will go as far as we can to present the positions and contrast the beliefs. It will not go any further.

I am a moderator of this board. In fairness, I will relinquish that role on this thread and defer to the other moderators to monitor and their decisions as to the value of the conversation will be final.

I'll wait for your next post and then we'll pick it up from there.

So you know where I am coming from, I am 43, a former pastor and church worker who is currently working as a government consultant in Washington DC while completing a Master of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership. I am ordained within the Christian & Missionary Alliance although I attend a different denomination now, the Presbyterian Church of America. I have the equivilent of a BA in Biblical Literature with a concentration in New Testament. I have some Master's level courses in counseling and Homiletics. My testimony is posted on the testimony thread if you want more information.

Why don't you tell us a little about yourself as well before you launch into your second part.

Bart
Dogmatism is the comfortable intellectual framework of self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is more decadent than the worst sexual sin. ~ Dan Allender

//bartsbarometer.com/

Bernie
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#15

Post by Bernie » Sun Jun 11, 2006 3:50 pm

Hello C1127,

Here's my response to the latter part of your post....
Further, there is much in Scripture that speaks directly in opposition to the premise that all are saved.

Mat 7:13-14

"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. 14"For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it,"

Mat 22:14

"For many are called, but few are chosen,"

Luke 13:22-27

"And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. 23And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them, 24"Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25"Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, 'Lord, open up to us!' then He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.' 26"Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets'; 27and He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers,'"

Rom 9:27

"And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; 28for the Lord will execute His word upon the earth, thoroughly and quickly,"

Clearly, Christ and other portions of Scripture teach that not all are saved.
Universalism fails the test of the entire counsel of God.
This is a good time to define salvation. In my own theology, developed from a three year spiritual experience I underwent ('91-'94), I've come to believe that we're being saved from evil, what I call “falsity”. This is very dualistic—and thus rests on a base that's quite orthodox and traditional. To me, all reality, material and spiritual, is made up of “information”. Matter is one kind of information, spirit is another, but both have ontological validity. This is highly unpopular today in our materialistic universe, but I stand firm in the principles taught in the Bible as referring to real things. “True” and “false” are properties inherent in creation. True stands in association with perfection and good, and false with imperfection and evil. If you stop and think it over, this tends to simplify and bring into sharper clarity the teachings of Scripture. For example, salvation is essentially regeneration (the new birth). Regeneration is the destruction of falsity [evil] from the informational structure of human spirit and its restoration to a “true” state. To the extent one's spiritual information is true, to this same extent one is saved, and to precisely this degree one is perfect and good. To the extent my or your spirit is “true”, to this degree we're saved in an eternal sense.

When God declares (Mal 1, Rom 9) that He hates Esau and loves Jacob, it's absurd to suppose that He actually hates one human being while loving the other. This is spiritual language….Esau is a type of falsity, Jacob a type of truth. God hates falsity and loves truth; His wrath is destined for falsity/evil, His blessing is upon all that is true and good. Correspondingly, all that is true is of God, and all that is false is of Satan. This principle is important to note because our eyes in this life are more often on the literal rather than on the incorporeal. To suppose that the primary significance of truth rests in the literal interpretation is itself a darkness the church has been chained in since early Christianity. The literal is a stepping stone to the esoteric; the latter, if true, will never replace or render irrelevant the former, but is always higher in nature and significance….as in the distinction above about God's love and hatred not falling on particular individuals but applying in a more cosmic and spiritual sense which uses literal signifiers to convey higher [spiritual] meaning.

Salvation, like all God's creation, has a dualistic structure: TEMPORAL and ETERNAL. Tradition errs, IMHO, in assigning
only a strictly eternal designation to literally all salvation. As stated earlier, the Bible is a spiritual book. It's subject to spiritual interpretation, not manmade interpretive rules as the organized church has largely fallen to using today. We may or may not delve more into this later, depending on how deep you're willing to take this discussion.

As noted earlier, the spatiotemporal and eternal realms each possess distinct natures. Time and space is subject to change, and the eternal is essentially immutable. The important thing is, the Bible—and most especially Jesus Himself—doesn't tell us clearly and directly which aspect of salvation a given verse or set of verses applies to. Worse, spiritual meaning is quite often layered, and may overlap both temporal and eternal salvation. I suspect this is to a great extent what grants a contradictory appearance to doctrine. Perhaps most notable are the various seeming discrepancies between Calvinist and Arminian soteriologies.

Temporal salvation may be lost [Gal 5:4, Heb 6:4-8, Mat 7:21-23, etc.], while eternal salvation is sure and immovable [Rom 11:29, 2Tim 2:13, Eph 1:4-5, etc.]. My Arminian brethren typically tend toward the truths of temporal salvation, which are subject to change, while my Calvinist brethren subscribe principally to the eternal aspects of salvation, which are sure and immovable.

Here is the rationally esoteric view of salvation in a nutshell:
1) Temporal salvation consists in the will to assent to Christ's call to participate in sanctification [a regenerative, and therefore uncomfortable, process in time] sufficient to forge faith gradually in the fire of inner cleansing which produces it. This salvation may be abandoned and fallen from as it's subject to the nature of time and space. Man's will has very limited power in the temporal.
2) Eternal salvation is God's plan for the entire human race. If one refuses the call in time, he/she will meet cleansing in the lake of fire in the afterlife. All enter eternity in a fragmented state of true/false. But those who have submitted [in assent only; the work of regeneration is entirely of the Lord] to sanctification to the forging of faith are protected from the great Fire, which is the pure righteousness of God's essence, a roaring furnace to the kindling of falsity, injected into human spirit and all reality by Adam, from which God will eventually redeem His whole creation [1Cor 15 20-28].

Christ died to deflect the Father's wrath from individuals (particulars) to the spirit or essence (universals) of every human. Goats and sheep (Mat 25), wheat and tares (Mat 13), etc. speak to elements of truth (evil) and falsity (evil) in the spirit of every human being. All God's structure is dualistic. Once added up, the enmity between Calvinism and Arminianism vanishes and each is seen to cater more to that aspect of salvation—eternal and temporal, respectively—toward which their various doctrines are aimed.

I believe the counsel of God is served most perfectly by the rationally esoteric view, which solves the enmity between Calvinism and Arminianism by restoring perfection to God's attributes….see the link in my original post in this thread. When blessing and wrath are applied to essence rather than individuals, God's love, mercy, faithfulness, justice, etc. are seen in their flawlessness.

BTW, I think the reason the church is in such darkness today is because we've become more interested in formulaic 'gab-it-n-grab-it' salvation which ignores the need for real sanctification, more interested in filling church pews with suppliers of mammon than in associating with weeping, repentant sinners. God help us.

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