Christian Universalism

Discussions surrounding the various other faiths who deviate from mainstream Christian doctrine such as LDS and the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Bernie
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#16

Post by Bernie » Sun Jun 11, 2006 4:11 pm

Canuckster1127 wrote: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
Hello C1127,

There's nothing to tell. I'm a 54 year old white guy with a formal 9th grade education and no life accomplishments of any interest to others.

Further:

I found this on this site, that this board....
...serves to provide a defense and persuasive case for Christianity as well as encouragement and instruction for Christian people. Therefore, this message board is intended to reflect that spirit--serving as a place where sincere seekers can ask questions, and where faithful Christians can receive encouragement and instruction. This board is not for those who have already decisively made up their mind that Christ is "not" for them; who merely wish to debate and argue against Christianity, ignoring any and all reasons presented. Therefore, those who are Christian or haven't made up their minds are encouraged to join, while others who merely wish to attack and try to discredit Christianity are discouraged.
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.

1. I have criticised no one's doctrinal beliefs. I am simply presenting my own.
2. The exerpt above refers to those who 'argue against Christianity'. I am a sinner saved by Christ's blood, by God's sovereign choice and none of my own. I've never once argued against Christianity, nor will I ever.
I argue only for Christ as Savior of the world.

We exist for honest seekers not for those whose mind is already made up and only want to argue.

1. I'm not arguing with anyone. I've tried to be polite and curteous in my posts, though I'm used to being treated like a heretic.
2. This site created the Abberant Christiantiy section, not me.
3. I didn't start this thread, I joined it in progress. I notice that you didn't criticise those who first posted here criticising the idea of universal salvation. Am I not part of the 'good ole boy club'?

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.

Why are you treating me as though I need to be kept in check, as though I've done something wrong? If I'm guilty of something, what is it? What rules have I broken or how am I pushing any limits?

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Canuckster1127
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#17

Post by Canuckster1127 » Sun Jun 11, 2006 4:55 pm

Bernie,

You haven't done anything wrong. I'm simply clarifying the purpose of this board and the discussion from the onset.

Christian Universalism is not mainstream Christianity and it in fact is considered aberrent and heretical by the standards of Historical Christianity. Now, perhaps your beliefs, which are your own are not entirely in line with mainstream Christian Universalism and that is fine. I'm not censoring you nor have I.

We can argue semantics. I'm simply referencing the standards of this board so there is no misunderstanding as we procede.

You have been polite. I am not criticizing you at all in that arena, nor am I declining to interact with you. I'm simply drawing the boundaries in keeping with the standards of this, the host board, so there is no misunderstanding as we proceed.

You're welcome to post and interact and I will do the same and we'll see how it goes.

Fair enough?

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

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#18

Post by Bernie » Tue Jun 13, 2006 5:16 am

Hello C1127,
You're welcome to post and interact and I will do the same and we'll see how it goes.

Fair enough?
Sure. I believe the ball's in your court to show how my interpretation thus far is false.....???

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#19

Post by Canuckster1127 » Tue Jun 13, 2006 6:01 am

Bernie wrote:Hello C1127,
You're welcome to post and interact and I will do the same and we'll see how it goes.

Fair enough?
Sure. I believe the ball's in your court to show how my interpretation thus far is false.....???
I will get to it as soon as I can do it justice.

I have classes tonight and Thursday night so it may be this weekend before I can give it the detailed attention it deserves. I will seek to do that however.

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

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#20

Post by Canuckster1127 » Sat Jun 17, 2006 9:26 am

Bernie wrote: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.
Bernie,

Thank you for being patient with me until I had time to address this. As I thought, it was only today that I have time to digest and interact with your post.

While I do not fall cleanly into a Calvinistic or Arminian camp that does not mean that I am stating that both are wrong.

What I believe and observe with regard to these two systems of systematic theology is that both choose to focus upon a particular attribute or characteristic of God and elevate it above the others as a governing characteristic which in effect "trumps" any other approach.

Calvinism elevates the sovereignty of God as evidenced by His omniscience and omnipotence and focuses upon His justice. In so doing, they minimize God's ability to voluntarily confer upon people the right and ability to make their own decisions as a direct exercise of that omnipotence.

I believe Phill 2:5-11 gives some small insight into this principle as Christ empties Himself, not of his divine nature, but rather sets aside much that is due to Him in order that He may dwell among us as fully human, yet not diminishing in any way his divinity. This is not the only passage but it clearly deminstrates the principle.

Arminianism on the other hand, elevates the Love of God and the Free Will of Man and tends at times to minimize God's sovereignty and as such leaves a temptation to man to diminish the Glory of God, the wrath of His justice and His Holiness.

I choose to see this as a paradox or mystery in which all those elements are present and representative of God's nature and plan and as such they are immutable and infinite. We however are changable and fickle and further we are finite and only able to grasp certain elements in the context of our limited reason, senses and experience. So, we tend to project upon God that which we can grasp and understand and then in an effort to find comfort and eliminate ambiguity or mystery, we make the assertion that what we have framed is all there is and therefore anything that falls outside that framework must be wrong.

It's a very human response and both Calvinists and Arminians tend to do this and lash out when challenged because any such challenge must be met in order to maintain our sense of understanding and security.

BW and Puritan Lad have an excellent dialogue going in this area and I encourage all to take a look and see if the modest framework I have painted above helps to lend some understanding as to what is going on. (I'm not seeking to paint them as pure representatives of any camp. They can speak for themselves in that regard.)

Progressive regeneration is a misnomer and frankly represents confusion of what have traditionally been identified in Christian Theology as Justification and Sanctification.

Justification is a specific point in time where salvation is imputed to an individual based upon the shed blood of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit, the belief of the person. There's arguments as to the precise order and the mechanics of the event, (which I think goes beyond the passages and represents some of what I spoke of above in terms of our need to remove ambiguity from something that essentially has some element of mystery to it). You can argue there is a process by which people come to that point, and I wouldn't argue that at all. There is a seminal point in time however in which the work takes place, the person passes from death to life.

What takes place after is Sactification which is indeed a process, although there can be crisis points within it as well. We then grow in the grace we have received.

Much of what I see in Universalism is a confusion of these processes, twisted to reach the desired conslusion that God is bringing all people to salvation.

I'm going to stop there, realizing that there is much still to address. It seems to me that if we don't establish this point, what we move onto is in not going to make much difference.

You have offered to explain your idea of progressive justification.

Please do and while doing so please address:

1. The biblical source of this concept.
2. Why it doesn't represent a confusion with sanctification.
3. Why such a concept would be considered universal in scope.

I apologize for not doing more. I truly am extremely busy and now I have a 10 page paper to prepare analyzing the film Hotel Rwanda and how it represents the primary leadership theories of today. (Sounds exciting!)

Let's keep the focus narrow and deal with one element at a time and then move forward. I think that will be more productive and helpful to those observing.

Thanks,

Bart
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#21

Post by Bernie » Sun Jun 18, 2006 6:18 pm

Hello C1127,

Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to reply.
While I do not fall cleanly into a Calvinistic or Arminian camp that does not mean that I am stating that both are wrong.
Nor do I. In fact, I believe C and A, as stated in somewhat different terms in other posts, are views which merely approach salvation from it's different aspects, A cleaving primarily to salvation's temporal aspect and C in tune with its eternal aspect. I find myself in general agreement with your assessed differences between the two camps.
Progressive regeneration is a misnomer and frankly represents confusion of what have traditionally been identified in Christian Theology as Justification and Sanctification.
To the contrary, I find that when one thinks of regeneration as fragmental and progressive salvation is seen with much greater coherence and clarity. It's my intention to show the relations which accomplish this as our debate continues.
Justification is a specific point in time where salvation is imputed to an individual based upon the shed blood of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit, the belief of the person. There's arguments as to the precise order and the mechanics of the event, (which I think goes beyond the passages and represents some of what I spoke of above in terms of our need to remove ambiguity from something that essentially has some element of mystery to it). You can argue there is a process by which people come to that point, and I wouldn't argue that at all. There is a seminal point in time however in which the work takes place, the person passes from death to life.

What takes place after is Sactification which is indeed a process, although there can be crisis points within it as well. We then grow in the grace we have received.

Much of what I see in Universalism is a confusion of these processes, twisted to reach the desired conslusion that God is bringing all people to salvation.

I'm going to stop there, realizing that there is much still to address. It seems to me that if we don't establish this point, what we move onto is in not going to make much difference.

You have offered to explain your idea of progressive justification.

Please do and while doing so please address:

1. The biblical source of this concept.
2. Why it doesn't represent a confusion with sanctification.
3. Why such a concept would be considered universal in scope.
Actually, I contend for progressive sanctification, not 'progressive justification'.

Here's how I define these terms….
Justification: The singular point in time wherein God deems an individual just, perfect and righteous.
a) Justification in eternity: The point at which the Father spoke justification [election and predestination] to all mankind, independent of man's actual standing in unrighteousness in time and space.

"I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance” (Isa 45:23).

“My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD; And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever” (Psa 145:21).

“So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men” (Rom 5:18).

“AND ALL FLESH SHALL SEE THE SALVATION OF GOD.'" (Luke 3:6)

“For the LORD will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by the LORD will be many” (Isa 66:16).

“'A clamor has come to the end of the earth, Because the LORD has a controversy with the nations. He is entering into judgment with all flesh; As for the wicked, He has given them to the sword,' declares the LORD" (Jer 25:31).
[Note: The last two verses are among the dozens in the Bible which, when seen through the dualistic filter of the rationally esoteric view, deepens in aspect and meaning to show how God's methodology for saving is woven into the structure of Scripture's description of wrath and blessing.]

b) Justification in time: The singular point in time where the individual is deemed, by virtue of his/her participation with Christ Jesus in sanctification to the degree of spiritual birth necessary to forge saving faith. This represents regeneration, which accomplishes a modification of the ratio of the properties true/false in spirit's information sufficient to create coherence to the Truth of the gospel. Such is the distinguishing characterization of “true” Christianity, that having been brought through regenerational fires crucial to establishing faith, the point of justification is reached, at which point the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the individual and protects him/her from the lake of fire in the afterlife.

This is exemplified in Jn 1:12-13: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” This is the “special” salvation of faith in spatiotemporal reality (1Tim 4:10), or the temporal aspect of salvation. Regeneration, the death of falsity (evil) in human spirit and its replacement/restoration to a true [life; perfection] state is necessarily distressful. John was given a view of these sanctified ones in his revelation, “….he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14). Justification achieved in time in the sanctification process is alluded to in the New Testament as a state of approval…

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

“Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus” (Rom 16:10).

“For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends” (2Cor 10:18).

Sanctification as a regenerational process is borne in trial and tribulation. The process of being brought from belief to full faith necessarily involves a degree of sacrifice and discomfort:

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1Pet 1:6-7).

“And after they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:21-22).

“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope”
(Rom 5:1-4).

“You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1Thes 1:6).

Ans. to Question 2: Why Progressive Sanctification does not represent a confusion with Sanctification

Simply put, regeneration as the mitigating factor in the process we call Sanctification makes perfect sense. Spiritual growth is fragmental and progressive. There is no magic moment at which one is wholly or even mostly “good” or shows evidence of sanctification. Regeneration is a process of destruction that takes place within spirit's structure as falsity is destroyed and 'reborn' to a true state similar to the way cells are shed and replaced within the body. The type God gives us of this methodology is found in the Exodus, where in metaphoric representation of this spiritual process, the 600,000-strong nation Israel which left Egypt is representative of a single individual, led by Christ [Moses], who stands as intercessor to God for sinful Israel. To an observer, a nation of some 600,000 people [a single nation/entity comprised of many parts or portions] paused briefly outside Canaan, then wandered nomadically in the wilderness, returning forty years later to enter and conquer it. During that time, Israel complained of lack of water in (Ex 15) and God provided it. He complained of lack of food and God provided quail and manna (Ex. 16), Israel bewailed a scarcity of water again (chapter 16). God instructed Moses to strike the rock at Meribah (17:6) and water flowed from it. Yet even these miracles failed to convince Israel to listen to God's voice, to believe and obey him.

Because of Israel's unbelief and complaining, “...the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.” (Num 11:1) Notice that Scripture says of Israel, “And the rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, "Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna." (Num 11:4-6). We all have within our spirit a “rabble” (collection or mixed multitude; false information) which influences the mind to hate the light of truth, and induces bitter complaint about His treatment of us when we are brought into life's wilderness and its many tribulations. This is our evil human nature. Just as the rabble incited Israel to complaining and unbelief in the Exodus, so does our own “spiritual rabble” produce in intellect the same traits of rebelliousness and doubt in us. This is our spiritual pathology. The whole person is affected by his or her constituent spiritual components, for good and evil.

In short, the type God reveals in the Exodus is of the death and removal of those components of falsity which prevent faith. As noted in my last post, the Genesis account provides the causative path of evil from spirit to mind to body. Death [falsity] begins in spirit as animating force which influences the cognitive processes, darkening reason, inflaming emotion, etc. To the degree the informational structures of spirit-mind-body are influenced by falsity, to this degree corruption manifests itself. It may be influenza or cancer in the material world, or immorality in the spiritual, but it's all falsity, evil or imperfection as a base cause. Falsity is a form of pathology, it's a disease of reality, corporeal and spiritual. The type exhibited in Exodus is of the human spirit being transformed by the sanctifying process of regeneration—destruction of evil and its replacement with “offspring” (do an Online Bible search of the OT for instances of “offspring”…this is spiritual language which depicts the miracle of birth being brought forth from the midst of destruction). The Bible likens this process to washing or cleansing:

"He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).

"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes [cleanses] it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (Jn 15:1-4).

"But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD, as in the days of old and as in former years” (Mal 3:2-4). Each of these speaks to a process of good brought forth from the midst of evil, of life brought forth from death, of faith brought forth from unbelief.

This makes an awfully long post….theology boards don't lend themselves to in-depth discussion, unfortunately. Will finish in the next day or two by answering your last question.

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#22

Post by Bernie » Mon Jun 19, 2006 7:54 pm

C1127,

In answer to your third question, Why would such a concept [as progressive regeneration] be considered universal in scope?…

First, consider the verses I used for a starting point in my first post.
Second, through His prophets, God makes many promises to all nations and all flesh. Kind David, perhaps the most spiritual of all the Old Testament authors, is especially adamant about this universality in his esoteric poetry….

“That Thy way may be known on the earth, Thy salvation among all nations” (Psa 67:2).
“And let all kings bow down before him, All nations serve him” (Psa 72:11)
“May his name endure forever; May his name increase as long as the sun shines; And let men bless themselves by him; Let all nations call him blessed” (Psa 72:17).
“All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; And they shall glorify Thy name” (Psa 86:9).
“The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens” (Psa 113:4).
“Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples!” (Psa 117:1)
“All nations surrounded me; In the name of the LORD I will surely cut them off” (Psa118:10).
“And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations” (Isa 25:7).
"For I know their works and their thoughts; the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory” (Isa 66:18).
“My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD; And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever” (Psa145:21).
“Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken" (Isa 40:5)

My theology doesn't sit particularly well with other universalists, as I teach all the Bible, that if all are going to be saved, then all are also going to go to hell and will be destroyed….

“For the LORD will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by the LORD will be many” (Isa 66:16).
“A clamor has come to the end of the earth, Because the LORD has a controversy with the nations. He is entering into judgment with all flesh; As for the wicked, He has given them to the sword,' declares the LORD" (Jer 25:31).
“and say to the land of Israel, 'Thus says the LORD, "Behold, I am against you; and I shall draw My sword out of its sheath and cut off from you the righteous and the wicked. Because I shall cut off from you the righteous and the wicked, therefore My sword shall go forth from its sheath against all flesh from south to north” (Ezek 21:3-4)

Third, experience shows that God's work is seen among all people. Many unthinking Christians hold to the untenable position that only Christians are “born again” or regenerate. Yet from the powerful ethics of the ancient Greeks and Taoists to the medieval Arabian moral philosophers to all religions on earth, moral seed can be seen to be sown. Truth finds its way into every crack and crevice of human experience. The beauty of this is that at base, all complex informational configurations exist in a mixed state of either “true” or “false”, and both are exhibited in experience. The true corresponds to all that's good: perfection, righteousness, propriety, precept, etc. The false accords with all things evil: imperfection, privation, adversity, chaos, destruction, etc. All God's creation was initially 'very good' or perfect (Gen 1:31). All information existed in a pure, true state. To the extent good is found in or practiced by any human being, regardless of religion, to this same extent that good can proceed only from a spirit regenerate to some degree. Paul notes that the “…natural [unregenerate] 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” (1Cor 2:14). To propose that good is practiced by any human 'accidentally', as I've heard many Christians state, stands in direct contradiction to the teaching of Scripture and common sense. Moral and immoral behavior are found universally in all humans, to different degrees. It is simply indefensible to suggest that good or moral behavior can be from any but God.

Jesus Himself taught this very principle when He informed His detractors who accused Him of casting out demons by Beelzebul (Mat 12:24), responding, “….Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand?” (vv. 25-26). In short, Jesus taught the prinicple that falsity does not flow from truth, nor truth from falsity. To the extent a human being practices good, that person is necessarily regenerate spiritually. This is much more coherent experientially than the popular view that regeneration takes place completely in a single event. The Lord further exemplified this prinicple in the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10, in which a despised Samaritan stopped to show mercy to the beaten wayfarer after a priest and Levite had passed him by. We need merely read between the lines in the Lord's teachings to see the truth.

I go into a more detailed critique of the modern view of regeneration in my article, The Error of the Wholly Animated Spirit, which can be found here…. http://www.rationalesotericism.com/Rati ... icles.html
There's also an article there you might find appropriate to the discussion, Philisophical Evidence That Christian Salvation is Universally Applied.

This should be enough for starters. Again, thanks for corresponding.

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#23

Post by Canuckster1127 » Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:25 pm

Bernie,

I'll respond as soon as I can do this justice. I'll interact with all the material this time.

I think we're similar in terms of our understanding of justification and the progressive nature of sanctification, although I'd argue there can be crisis points in sanctification. Relative to this conversation they're minor.

In terms of the universal nature of regeneration that is where we part paths.

Christ's sacrifice is sufficient certainly for everyone. I think you are confusing God's generic desire that all might avail themselves of Christ's call to come to Him with the covenent basis upon which people are saved which is based upon free will (armininian emphasis) or God's predestining (calvinist emphasis.) I don't accept either classic construct as absolute choosing instead to embrace some ambiguity and mystery, but regardless of how you see God's limitation in terms of either, or, or both, there still remains boundaries or borders that preclude all from embracing or being embraced by this salvation despite its sufficiency for all.

More as I can examine and respond with the same detail and thoughtfulness that you have. It may be the weekend again but I will do my best to get to it.

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#24

Post by Bernie » Tue Jun 20, 2006 2:49 pm

Hello C1127,

Thanks for responding. I welcome other comments, too. If there are any others reading who see inconsistencies in my theology, I'd be happy to field carefully constructed, non-emotional criticisms.
I'd argue there can be crisis points in sanctification
Interesting notion. I'd be interested to hear how you define 'crisis points'. I have what may or may not be a similar belief, that there are 'destruction events' attached to sanctification (Heb 6:4-8 for example) in which God destroys that specific falsity in spirit which prevents the Christian from attaining faith.
I think you are confusing God's generic desire that all might avail themselves of Christ's call to come to Him with the covenent basis upon which people are saved
To the contrary, I'm much too fundamentalist in my theology to assign "generic" desires to God. I believe the Scriptures: "Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it" (Isa 46:9-11)

I've already alluded to how God accomplishes this. All reality is dualistic. in time and space, where alteration and modification rule the day, we have the power to resist God's call. This is the way He designed His universe, and He participates in it with us according to His design. In the cosmic or spiritual realm, eternality, universality and God's sovereignty rule the day....this is the eternal aspect of salvation, where all that happens in time--including man's rebelliousness and resistance to God's will--is orchestrated by God to serve His sovereign will.

Once these principles are in place, the next part falls naturally into place....the rationally esoteric application of thing/attribute dualism to Scripture to move interpretation from particulars (individuals) to universals (spirit or essence)...and this demonstrates God's methodology for saving. He deflects wrath from individual to essence. Bible prophecies which are framed in literal language all point to the process of destruction and rebirth which takes place in human spirit. All that's left is to figure out when salvation occurs, and whether it's by the easy route (conformity to Christ's call; the ecclesia in time) or the hard way (in eternity, where God's mercy is withheld for all unbelievers (or unbelieving portions within each human) in the lake of fire, the final cleansing place.

Looking forward to your response. Take your time; I understand your time constraints.

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Apology

#25

Post by Canuckster1127 » Thu Jun 29, 2006 7:34 pm

Bernie,

I have to apologize. I cannot give this the time and attention it deserves.

I know I post a lot here, but most of it is quick answers and cut and pastes. I am in the midst of a Master's degree and I just can't give this debate the time and attention it deserves.

If anyone else would like to pick this up, please feel free.

I don't concede the point, but it is not fair to string you along and take so long and then not deal with things completely and I again apologize to you for this.

You have been patient and gracious and I respect you for that.

Bart
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#26

Post by Bernie » Sat Jul 01, 2006 6:46 am

I understand, C1127. Frankly, given your work load, I doubted you'd be able to continue this discussion. You've identified in your post what is to me probably the single biggest problem with theology boards, that they're really not very good for much more than the '20 second sound bite' forms of dialog the world has become so accustomed to these days. It bothers me that many seem content to formulate their theology from these discussions, but that 's apropos to the times.

I'd be happy to continue this discussion if there are others reading who disagree with my views. This should generate some lively discussion, as the notion of universal salvation is obviously undigestible to so many within Christianity. Any takers?

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#27

Post by FFC » Mon Jul 03, 2006 6:41 pm

Bernie wrote:I understand, C1127. Frankly, given your work load, I doubted you'd be able to continue this discussion. You've identified in your post what is to me probably the single biggest problem with theology boards, that they're really not very good for much more than the '20 second sound bite' forms of dialog the world has become so accustomed to these days. It bothers me that many seem content to formulate their theology from these discussions, but that 's apropos to the times.

I'd be happy to continue this discussion if there are others reading who disagree with my views. This should generate some lively discussion, as the notion of universal salvation is obviously undigestible to so many within Christianity. Any takers?
Hi Bernie,
I don't want to argue. Just ask questions if that ok. I respect your knowlege and know that you are sincere in what you believe. Let's start with Hell. What do you do with verses like:

Rev 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

and

Rev 19:20
And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

and

Revelation 20:11,15
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11,15)

In Christ
John
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And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

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#28

Post by Bernie » Thu Jul 06, 2006 7:21 pm

Hello FCC,

Thanks for jumping back in. I spend little time in Revelation and don't pretent to know all its mysteries, but should preface my response by saying I believe the Bible is first and foremost a spiritual book. As such, the literal is primarily a tool to teach deeper prinicples. I also believe that the spiritual rarely replaces the literal entirely, and is both its enhancement and its object.

With this in mind, I wonder if we shouldn't begin by defining what God intends us to understand by the signifiers fire and flame. If you have Online Bible, an interesting study would be to look these up and see how God inspired His authors to use these words.

On the one hand, for instance, God is a consuming fire…..
Deut 9:3, Isa 10:17, 29:6, 30:30, 47:14, Jer 48:45, Isa 66:16, etc.

But the righteous are saved from the flame (Isa 43:2, Dan 3, 33:14-15, Isa 33:14-15, etc.)

My own theology starts with the premise that all that exists is information and has ontological reality, both matter and spirit (yes, a kickback to what I consider to be more enlightened times, Aquinas and the medieval sholastics....) All information possesses in a mixed state the properties of true (good; perfection) and false (evil; corruption). Pretty basic dualism, here, but mind you I'm talking about everything from spirit to mind to body. Corruption is woven throughout all, and this has certain consequences, which God speaks to in Scripture.

In spiritual language, fire represents purity, the perfection of truth. It's consistent with this theme of fire-as-purity that 'fire and brimstone' rained specifically “from heaven” to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:24). This is why God so often inspired His holy ones to prophecy of Him as fire and flame. He is the living essence of fire...i.e., a lake of pure Truth, righteousness and holiness. [Are you starting to see where I'm going with this?] Notice that Jesus' eyes are like fire (Rev 1:14, 2:18, 19:12)....His purity and righteousness fills His risen, glorified body.

Obadiah 1:18 speaks to the mystery of salvation performed in the midst of fire….here, God gives us a hint of the underlying principle of the two great properties, that in which He orchestrated His creation [truth; perfection; good] and that which Adam introduced [falsity; corruption; evil]. That the houses of Jacob and Joseph will be a flame (truth) to Esau's kindling (falsity) is the primary formula for restoring the creation to its original perfection: death and destruction of falsity by fire (pure righteousness and Truth).

So, to your questions.....
Rev 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

If we hold the devil, beast and false prophet to be literal beings, and if the information of these are saturated purely with falsity, they'll be completely destroyed. If, as some believe, these are representations of the power of falisty [evil] itself, the same is true, but the scenario shifts to another plane....the question now becomes, where is this falsity found, in what forms and quantities, and how does being tormented forever apply?

In the literal first reading, it would appear that specific beings are tormented forever. In the second, where falsity is a fragmented property found in the information of human spirit, the verse appears to speak more directly to the burning off and eternal separation. The basis for this judgment is that the word for "torment" means "to test". Notice in Scripture that fire is used to test precious metals....

"And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people,' And they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'" (Zech 13:9)

Eternality to me, doesn't apply to length of punishment, but to length of time falsity will be removed from the true. This is consistent with the Biblical notion of restoration of creation to its first [perfect] state.
Rev 19:20
And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
Essentially same principles as mentioned above would apply here. To possess the mark of the beast is in some sense to possess some ratio of the property of falsity in spirit and mind. Paul teaches us that the "flesh" [falsity] is death, but the "spirit" [truth] is life. I believe this translates to a literal death of evil or falsity, and life to good or the true. In other words, to the extent one follows after the flesh, to this same extent, one will die in the lake of fire, the second death....in God's pure Righteousness.
Revelation 20:11,15
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11,15)
This is an interesting verse. First, remember that this was a vision given to John. In regard to individuals or particulars, we can truthfully say that John did not see any single person cast into the lake; he was only given the information that any not found written in the book of life would be cast into the fire.

On a deeper level, switching our gaze from individual to the essence of every individual--where the properties true and false are fragmentally found woven throughout the whole person--the Lord gives us an interior glimpse into His wonderful mystery of salvation, re destruction to those portions of every human which stand in proud, arrogant, rebelliousness toward God, forever. And in the midst of the flame and destruction, new life or "offspring" (do an OB search) arise from the ashes.

Where then does Christ come into the picture, you ask? To those who follow Him in the regeneration in life, where mutability rules the day and choice plays a part till our last breath, those who remain steadfast in sanctification to the crown of life--or those who hold fast in trials and tribulation to the forging of faith (Rev 3:18) by that same regenerative fire we're sprinkled with in time (Mark 9:49) as is of the same "Lake" in the afterlife--are, like Daniel's friends, shielded by Christ's imputed righteousness to walk through the furnace unscathed....in faith.

This is how I see it, anyway.

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#29

Post by FFC » Fri Jul 07, 2006 7:20 pm

Bernie,
That was pretty impressive for someone with a 9th grade education, and I mean no insult to you at all. You really do lay out a nice presentation. What concerns me is that you have to spiritualize so much of the bible to come to your conclusions. But in fairness you did preface your statement with:
I believe the Bible is first and foremost a spiritual book
The rule of thumb that I was taught in the study of the scriptures is to take everything literally unless otherwise indicated. You seem to take the opposite aproach. In taking this aproach couldn't one make the scriptures say whatever they wanted them to say? Where do you draw the line?
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#30

Post by Bernie » Sat Jul 08, 2006 12:56 pm

Hello FCC,
What concerns me is that you have to spiritualize so much of the bible to come to your conclusions.

The rule of thumb that I was taught in the study of the scriptures is to take everything literally unless otherwise indicated. You seem to take the opposite aproach. In taking this aproach couldn't one make the scriptures say whatever they wanted them to say? Where do you draw the line?
Yes, this stance against spiritualizing seems to be a primary concern of most traditionalists.

First, I don't think I 'spiritualize' to the extent you may think. I hold with the older mystics (Swedenborg, Aquinas, [who isn't technically a 'mystic' but allows considerable room for legitimacy in mystical interpretation] Eckhart and some others who, unlike many modern Gnostics/mystics, held the Scripture in high regard. All agreed that the literal is the starting point for understanding the deeper things of God. I also subscribe to this and hold that the structure God seems to use in the Bible is such that the spiritual, because it springs forth from the literal, can never totally negate the great literal truths.

For example, many mystics claim that the traditional stand against homosexuality is annulled by higher mystical truth in which the greater good of love between two human beings is sufficient to overrule the Bible's condemnation of it. The rationally esoteric response to this is that this teaching is of necessity in error [while maintaining a degree of truth] because it seeks to cancel an irrevocable Bible truth. In fact, Rational Esotericism (RE) adequately explains the error of homosexuality as at base a deviation of the perfection God created in the relationship between man and woman. Falsity is the pathology which, when it arises in complex relationships and associations in the intellectual process, corrupts the good of eros love from its intended perfection (man/woman) to a corruption (man/man, woman/woman). In intellectual operation, to possess homosexual feelings is not a sin, it's a manifestation--like all evil--of the property of falisty in God's creation. To call homosexuality "good", on the other hand, takes on the connotation of wickedness per Isa 5:20 because the pressure [from Scripture, which is derived from absolute truth] to recognize homosexuality as an aberration is available to the intellect to reject or embrace.

Another example: many mystics tend to reject Christianity as any better or worse than any other religion....since all truth is of God, 'it's all good', so to speak. RE also rejects this, despite agreement with the premise that all good is from God, because it embraces as truth that God thought it important enough to take on the form of matter and insert Himself in time and space to suffer humiliation and death for fallen humanity, from which sacrifice the offer of salvation is made to those who hear and obey. There is no power on earth able to overcome this truth, that the highest form of salvation is found in faith this very sacrifice in time and space by individuals who heed this call. Thus, the personal belief in Christ to save is the highest form of adaptation and conformity to God's will in spatiotemporal reality.

Sorry for the tome, but I often hear the arguments you raise, and this blanket, though it works against the more radical forms of mysticism, simply doesn't cover RE IMHO. RE is more fundamentalist than most literal fundamentalism, it holds truth in Scripture in higher regard than most literalists are able to bear.

Second, who do you think created the idea that only the literal is valid? Think about it. There is no such teaching in the Bible. This is an invention of men, of scholars whose professional interests are served and pockets lined by their ability to control what Scripture says rather than what God is actually saying in it. If you think that simply because Christ died in reality for sins that it follows that organized Christianity is without the same fatal flaws of wrongful superintendence [control] than all other religions, I gently submit that you're mistaken. The road to hell is paved with the bricks of pharisaism. Christ Himself warns us of this in Scripture. In fact, inherent in virtually all of Jesus' teachings is the call to step beyond the sterility of rigid literalism. Some go too far and end up Gnostics or Gnostic-like. Most remain at the doorstep to truth, wrapped in the chains and darkness of harsh literalism.

Few are able to to transcend both errors to become Rational Esotericists. In fact, I appear to be the only rational esotericist on earth. But, the position has its perks. As the sole adherent of RE, I recently elected myself President and chief spokesman for the Society of Rational Esotericists for the third year running....and in this capacity am at your service for whatever length of time you wish to dialog.

But let's go over my last post and examine it to see why what I've presented isn't true. If you wish to stand firm in the notion that the Scriptures must be taken literally, please show how this concept is derived from the Bible, and present the arguments you'd use to show how the spiritualizing I contend for is false, okay?

Looking forward to some mutually satisfying correspondence.

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