Phil, I am not trying to deny the reality of hell or God's judgment of the wicked (or rather those who reject Him and Jesus). It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. People aren't just going to be patted on the back and magically forced to be believers. I'll ask you and Mt to do me one favour please. Please watch the you tube video I linked to in my last post. It will give you a taste of the issues that are involved in understanding 'hell' and God's judgment and how it relates to God saving ALL people. It's not long. Indeed I spent longer reading the links you kindly provided for me yesterday. Thank you again. The one about UR in the Roman Catholic Church was particularly fascinating. If you and Mt think that video does not make a Biblical case for UR then we'll leave it there. I shall continue to research it by studying Church history. It will actually do me good, as it will be killing two birds with one stone as we Brits say (not sure if you have the same saying).
Phil, in answer to your last reply here are a few of the hundreds of verses in the Bible that seem to speak of UR:
John 12:32 --- And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
Romans 11:32 --- For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
1 Tim 2:3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men.
1 Timothy 4:10 --- God is the Saviour of all men, especially (not exclusively) those who believe.
1 Cor 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
Isaiah 57:16-18 --- God’s anger is not permanent. Although He punishes man, He will heal, guide and restore comfort to him.
Mt, I don't believe it is good or right for a believer to be a loner. The Bible is very clear about the body of Christ, His church. I have tried not to forsake the gathering of myself with other believers. Maybe I've been unknowingly associating with people who aren't true members of Christ's body?? I am not sure about how the traditions and instructions have been handed down since the Apostles. This is why I am going to study Church history properly.
CR, good of you to read those links. I found them interesting as well.
Re. the youtube you recommended, this man's exegesis was questionable. Most scholars would consider the "Lake of fire" to be eternal damnation and punishment, consistent with the doctrine of Hell.
- see http://www.equip.org/article/t...onscious-punishment/ for an evangelical biblical scholar's interpretation.
Those are good Scripture passages you share, but I think they can be understood in terms of God's invitation that all be saved. Also, there are still all these passages about Hell, damnation, being lost, etc. that we've pointed out, but which you're ignoring.
It's a basic principle of biblical interpretation that any passage must be understood in the context of Scripture as a whole. We can't just cherry-pick the ones we like and tune out the ones we don't. Then (again!) there's the understanding of the Church that's arisen from discussion of these matters, and that has to be considered as well.
But . . . just curious, here: why is Universal Redemption so important to you? There was this other discussion (mentioned earlier) where this guy just couldn't get off it, but he readily acknowledged scrupulosity because of an earlier period of rigid religious teaching. Is it something similar with you?
Phil, thank you for checking out the video. The Lake of Fire is very scary indeed. The fire is good- it is destroying all that is bad. Once something is destroyed why would it need to be kept in existence? It wouldn't be destroyed then surely? If someone is thrown into the Lake of Fire, what is the point of them being kept alive with all their hates and evil thoughts intact, literally gnashing teeth? How is Jesus making all things new (Rev 21:5) if evil and evildoers are still in existence? The fact that God kills someone (the Lake of Fire is called the 'second death') does not mean that they are now destined to eternal conscious torment, or indeed to eternal annihilation. (Deut 32:39 'I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal'.)
I've read the article you linked to and it makes a good case for eternal conscious punishment referencing the same verses you have Phil. I am not ignoring those verses. I wanted to set the scene first and present some ideas. I am more than happy to address each of those verses. And yes, I agree verses can be taken out of context and hence you have to read the whole chapter or several chapters to get the overall meaning.
Here's why UR is so important to me and indeed the teaching of eternal conscious torment. It ties in with the title of this thread. Why is the gospel GOOD news? How is it good to find out that probably both parents and many family members (my son included) will be forever lost in eternal suffering? Let's assume I am saved and will be 'in paradise' with Jesus. If we take the Richman and Lazarus literally (which I shall argue is symbolic, not literal)I will be able to see my loved ones in torment, or at least I will be aware they are in torment. My mind and heart tell me there is something very wrong with this. This causes cognitive dissonance big time. God is love and therefore His love never ends. The Bible at various places speaks of God's anger ending, but not his mercy and love. Eternal conscious torment equates to God's love ending for the many. Here are two examples of personal experiences that have convinced me absolutely and completely that God does not keep people conscious in order to do nothing but suffer for all eternity:
My mum was an alcoholic and lived a very Godless life. Her alcoholism made her a nasty, selfish damaged person for many years. Three years ago she was diagnosed with dementia (caused partly by the alcohol). She is now in a nursing home. She has not had any alcohol for three years and a little miracle has happened. Although she is a shadow of the young vibrant woman (a dedicated nurse) that she used to be, she is loving and aware of how she is looked after. She thanks me every time I see her for loving her. Even though she is being maintained in a 'prison' really, and her will is overruled in part(she can't have alcohol or leave of her own accord- not that she wants to now) her quality of life is good compared to what it was before. If hell were that nursing home, then that would make some kind of sense. See, God overrides our wills when it comes to judgment and we don't moan about that. He is God and so He can take life, as he has given it. And so why would we have a problem with God forcing people to be healed? By that I mean, God has all the time it takes for someone to be wooed by His love, to be healed of whatever has caused them to not love. He can bring about whatever circumstances and influences are necessary for someone to learn and heal. Even if it took a billion years why would that be a problem? Why is someone locked into an eternity of suffering for 70 odd years of sinning? When I read the Bible (and my own inner witness of my conscience) God is presented as love, as merciful, indeed as a Father. The Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, never gave up on his son. His love never ended. He yearned for his son. St. Paul says 'we are all His offspring', not just Christians and so does not the Father's love burn for each of His children? Unlike the older brother in the parable, who did not love his younger brother and go out and find him and bring him home, Jesus, our older brother, does go out and find us and bring us home. Some come easily and willingly. Some will come kicking and screaming at first, but as He heals them, they will start to love and trust.
I can't love or trust a God who gives up on His children. That's the bottom line.
When my dad was dying of bowel cancer, I was with him one night, sleeping on the floor near his bed. His pain was bad and I had to give him morphine during the night. I lay there in the dark, and considered how I wasn't sure whether he was 'saved'. I knew though with all my heart, that even if he wasn't 'saved' that an eternity of suffering far more gruesome than what he was suffering then, WAS NOT awaiting him.
Here is how UR is the theme throughout the Bible (as I understand it):
God is working through 'ages' eons/aions, to accomplish His will. (God is outside of time but we are in time and hence there is a set time for how God is accomplishing His purposes). Each 'age' revealed truth about God and His plan for mankind and the universe. Israel was the 'older brother' the first born Son (AMOUNG MANY), but Israel failed miserably. They had to be punished. Israel was a foreshadow of Jesus and His body/bride (fellow believers). Jesus and His bride will rule in the Kingdom and through them, they will bring the other younger brothers into the kingdom so that all nations (Gen 18:18) will love and obey God. God says:
''Turn to me and be saved, ALL you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.'' Isaiah 45:22. Is this a command? Doesn't God get what He wants? "I am the LORD, the God of ALL mankind. Is anything too hard for me?'' Jer 32:27. The prodigal sons of humanity must be brought back into the fold. Otherwise God cannot be ALL IN ALL and His love would have failed and His will would not have been done.
Phil, I shall now write up a response to the Bible verses you mentioned and which the equip article mentions too regarding hell and eternal conscious punishment. I'll try to keep it brief. May take me a day or two.
CR, I'm sorry to hear of the suffering your family members have experienced. It sounds like you've been there with them through it all, helping as you can. I noted in an earlier post my belief that addictions are lifestyle diseases like cancer and need not be evaluated moralistically. Only God knows the degree of freedom from which an addict is acting.
We are going over the same ground that rogertutt unearthed in the long discussion of UR found at the link below:
There's no need to go through the trouble of writing a long, detailed response to all the points that have been made. As I've noted, UR seems to me to be one of those kinds of beliefs that Christians can disagree about, but not divide over. Personally, I hope it's true, but cannot give myself over to teaching it. If creatures truly do have free will, then this must include the possibility of saying no to God, the consequence of which is Hell. I don't think we can judge who these people are, even if their behavior is abhorrent. Only God knows, and we trust in God's goodness and mercy. I am sure that if there is a fraction of freedom remaining in a person at death, God can continue to appeal to them somehow.
CR, I don't think that the examples of your family are really up to the point here. The Church believes now that great many people will be saved (even though in antiquity and later there was an opinion that the number will be very few - notice what Jesus says about the multitude who enter the wide gate towards perdition). So I don't think that examples of your mother and father as potential damned are an argument against the idea of hell.
Take a look at those beautiful and wise words from Benedict's XVI encyclical Spe Salvi:
With death, our life-choice becomes definitive—our life stands before the judge. Our choice, which in the course of an entire life takes on a certain shape, can have a variety of forms. There can be people who have totally destroyed their desire for truth and readiness to love, people for whom everything has become a lie, people who have lived for hatred and have suppressed all love within themselves. This is a terrifying thought, but alarming profiles of this type can be seen in certain figures of our own history. In such people all would be beyond remedy and the destruction of good would be irrevocable: this is what we mean by the word Hell. On the other hand there can be people who are utterly pure, completely permeated by God, and thus fully open to their neighbours—people for whom communion with God even now gives direction to their entire being and whose journey towards God only brings to fulfilment what they already are.
Yet we know from experience that neither case is normal in human life. For the great majority of people—we may suppose—there remains in the depths of their being an ultimate interior openness to truth, to love, to God. In the concrete choices of life, however, it is covered over by ever new compromises with evil—much filth covers purity, but the thirst for purity remains and it still constantly re-emerges from all that is base and remains present in the soul. What happens to such individuals when they appear before the Judge? Will all the impurity they have amassed through life suddenly cease to matter? What else might occur? Saint Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, gives us an idea of the differing impact of God's judgement according to each person's particular circumstances. He does this using images which in some way try to express the invisible, without it being possible for us to conceptualize these images—simply because we can neither see into the world beyond death nor do we have any experience of it. Paul begins by saying that Christian life is built upon a common foundation: Jesus Christ. This foundation endures. If we have stood firm on this foundation and built our life upon it, we know that it cannot be taken away from us even in death. Then Paul continues: “Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor 3:12-15). In this text, it is in any case evident that our salvation can take different forms, that some of what is built may be burned down, that in order to be saved we personally have to pass through “fire” so as to become fully open to receiving God and able to take our place at the table of the eternal marriage-feast.
Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God. In this way the inter-relation between justice and grace also becomes clear: the way we live our lives is not immaterial, but our defilement does not stain us for ever if we have at least continued to reach out towards Christ, towards truth and towards love. Indeed, it has already been burned away through Christ's Passion. At the moment of judgement we experience and we absorb the overwhelming power of his love over all the evil in the world and in ourselves. The pain of love becomes our salvation and our joy. It is clear that we cannot calculate the “duration” of this transforming burning in terms of the chronological measurements of this world. The transforming “moment” of this encounter eludes earthly time-reckoning—it is the heart's time, it is the time of “passage” to communion with God in the Body of Christ. The judgement of God is hope, both because it is justice and because it is grace. If it were merely grace, making all earthly things cease to matter, God would still owe us an answer to the question about justice—the crucial question that we ask of history and of God. If it were merely justice, in the end it could bring only fear to us all. The incarnation of God in Christ has so closely linked the two together—judgement and grace—that justice is firmly established: we all work out our salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). Nevertheless grace allows us all to hope, and to go trustfully to meet the Judge whom we know as our “advocate”, or parakletos (cf. 1 Jn 2:1).
The Pope clearly says that only those who utterly destroyed their ability to love and be authentic deserve hell, but the majority of us will undergo purification in the fire of God's love. His words about Purgatory actually seem to resonate with your believes about the "lake of fire" and UR. Don't they?
And today's beautiful reading from the liturgy of the hours, from St. Ambrose of Milan. I like especially the phrase "he does not want to force his way in or seize you against your will":
My father and I will come to him and make our home with him. Open wide your door to the one who comes. Open your soul, throw open the depths of your heart to see the riches of simplicity, the treasures of peace, the sweetness of grace. Open your heart and run to meet the Sun of eternal light that illuminates all men. Indeed that true light shines on all; but if anyone closes his shutters against it then he will defraud himself of the eternal light. To close the doors of your mind is to exclude Christ. Of course he is capable of entering even so, but he does not want to force his way in or seize you against your will. Born of the Virgin’s womb, he shone on the whole world to give light to all. It is received by those who desire the brightness of perpetual light that no night can obscure. For the sun that we see daily in the sky is followed by darkness and night; but the Sun of righteousness never sets, since evil cannot defeat wisdom. Blessed is he, therefore, at whose door Christ comes knocking. Faith is the door of the soul, and if it is strong then it fortifies the whole house. Through this door Christ enters. Thus it is that the Church herself says, The voice of my brother is knocking on the door. Listen to him knocking, listen to him asking to be let in: Open to me, my sister, my beloved, my dove, my perfect one, for my head is wet with dew, my hair with the drops of night. You see that when the Word of God knocks hardest on your door, it is when his hair is wet with the dew of the night. In fact he chooses to visit those who are in tribulation and trial, lest one of them be overwhelmed by distress. So his head is covered with dew, with drops, when his body is labouring hard. It is important to keep watch so that when the Bridegroom comes, he is not shut out. If you are asleep and your heart is not keeping watch, he will go away without knocking; but if your heart is alert for his coming, he knocks and asks for the door to be opened to him. Thus you see that our soul has a door, but we have gates too, as the psalm says: Gates, raise your heads. Stand up, eternal doors, and let the king of glory enter. If you choose to raise your gates, the King of glory will come to you, celebrating the triumph of his own Passion. For righteousness has Gates, as we see it written when the Lord Jesus speaks through his prophets: Open to me the gates of righteousness. It is the soul that has its door, it is the soul that has its gates. To that door Christ comes and knocks, he knocks at the door. Open to him, therefore: he wishes to come in, the Bridegroom wishes to find you keeping watch.
Those are two beautiful and relevant readings, Mt. Thanks for sharing them.
I think the quote from Pope Benedict, in particular, describes the state of those destined for hell.
This is a real possibility, but who knows how many people fit this description? Even if we know someone who seems like that, it may be that a mental illness or something beyond their control is producing such behavior, and that deeper inside, there remains a vestige of openness to God. That is why we simply cannot judge the heart of another, though we have every right to judge their behavior.
Phil, thank you for reminding me that Roger has already covered UR on the other thread, and so I will not go into any more detail on that now. Roger's 'snippets' are far more eloquent than what I would write anyway. ; Whenever I doubt my own salvation and that of others I am reminded of Abraham's appeal: 'Will not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?' Gen 18:25.
Mt, yes, the Pope's words about purgatory and your example of Paul talking about 'through the fire' (as does Jesus when He says 'everyone will be salted by fire' Mark 9:49) does resonate with me regarding the Lake of Fire or rather God's power and judgment.
From my reading of the Bible, I cannot agree with the idea that God 'does not want to force his way in or seize you against your will'. God does that very thing AGAINST YOUR WILL when it comes to judgment. The Bible is full of examples of people having their wills overridden by God's will. Of course this is only 'for a time' in order for God to accomplish His purposes. 'He has bound all over to disobedience so that He can have mercy on all'. Rom 11:32. So I personally (and especially in light of what science is discovering about how the brain works, genes, external influences etc) believe that our wills are not free. And I also believe there is nothing we can do that has eternal consequences. The worst we can do is kill someone and yet God can make alive again, and so we cannot thwart God's purposes and we cannot thwart our own wellbeing as far as eternity is concerned.
What is the worst thing that we can do? I never thought about that. But the first commandment is "you shall not have other gods"...
Maybe rejecting God is worst than killing?
I can't think of any, if by that you mean God making someone do what they don't want to do.
Then please read Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. Even in Nazi concentration camps, he discovered that we are free to choose our attitude and response to the situation we're in. We're not absolutely free, of course, but freedom is a "spiritual muscle" that can be grown through practice, or lost through neglect.
I'm sure it is not possible to really determine what is the worst thing us humans can do. I used 'killing' as an example of how we can override someone else's will to the limit of what a human can do i.e. take life. But really, we aren't taking life because God controls life, not us. So too, with rejection. Us rejecting God does not change anything about God. So I was trying to make the comparison between finite things (man can only effect finite things) and God who is infinite and cannot be 'damaged' for want of a better word. I hope you see what I was getting at.
I must just say that I have 'regained' my faith, and must thank you good folk for helping me along the way. . I am sure that I hadn't really lost it. It was hiding within the doubts and hardness of my own heart, but that mustard seed of faith was still there. I'm not sure about a lot of stuff to do with Christianity and religion, and so I am going to take small steps for now. It feels like maybe I've had lots of dross (religious trappings maybe, or wrong ideas) stripped from me, (or they are being stripped from me) and so I needed to be broken down, in order to build on a better foundation, that is God/Jesus. So I still feel shell shocked somewhat but there is a burning hope and gladness in my heart as I type this.
Phil- I suppose I was thinking of the main example of how God takes someone's life (albeit temporarily) in judgment. I do think we are 'free' in many ways, but as far as our accountability for our behaviour goes, I leave that in God's hands. The Judge of all the earth WILL do right. I was watching a programme featuring some concentration camp survivors and one lady in her 90s now, spoke about how she was aware that if she had been a guard or 'Capo' or something like that, in the camp, could she be so sure, she would have acted differently: e.g. fear for her own family at standing up against such a powerful force, survival instincts etc. It's a very complex issue indeed. I'm sure God can orchestrate the right conditions for those with wasted 'spiritual muscles' (good analogy ) to develop them in due course.
CR, I've thought all along that you reasoned more like a person of faith who's searching for answers than an atheist who's sure there are none. Huge difference!
You've been through a rough time with some of your family, and that seems to have raised deep questions about theodicy and salvation. UR is one way to respond, and maybe you'll remain confirmed in the rightness of that perspective. Whatever the case, it's heartening to hear you say that this dialogue has been helpful, and I'm glad it's posted publicly for others to benefit as well.
I'm also happy for you and praise God for his presence among us!
Thank you guys. And thank you for taking to the time to help me.
Phil, your book arrived this morning. I'm in the middle of a great book (Sisters of Sinai) and so once I've read that, yours is next. I shall come back to you once I have read it. God bless.
CR, you just needed a little nudging.
I think the exchange shows the value of dialogue and Christian community, even if it happens via cyberspace. "Where two or more are gathered in His name . . . "
Amen to that Phil.
Hoping everyone is well.
Phil, I've read some of your book on Kundalini. It is an amazing experience that you document. It is impossible for me to relate to any of it though, as I have not experienced anything like that. I must admit that the main reaction to reading it is one of fear. This is no doubt because I do not understand it and cannot relate to it.
I'm doing much better because I'm sensing God again. I've still got lots of confusions and doubts but I'm leaving them in God's hands. I've come across the writings of a Victorian minister: George MacDonald. They are wonderful and just what my soul needs. He is the man that influenced C.S. Lewis. Thank you again everyone for all your help.
Glad to hear you're hanging in there with God, CR. I'm sure you'll enjoy George MacDonald. Excellent Christian writer! Feel free to process any questions or issues you'd like on the forum.
My book on kundalini describes an uncommon phenomenon that I could have handled better if I'd have known then some of what I know now. No need to be fearful about it, however. You'll most likely not have to undergo this.
I am not sure if I can reboot this thread but let me try.
The good news of Jesus is that we can all be gods in our own right.
Jesus invites us all to do so with the following.
Matthew 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Jesus asked in scriptures, have ye forgotten that ye are gods?
It seems that most people have done just that due to idol worship of the god offered up by Christianity.
Right, we are all called to participate in the divine nature -- to be transformed by the Spirit that we might awaken to our true self in Christ.
We have a thread on this topic that might interest you: Theosis: What it's all about.
This also sometimes referred to as sanctification.
Not in Christ.
More like Christ in us.
We create all Christs and gods so it is more accurate to say that Christ is in us and not us in Christ.
I did a quick scan on that apotheosis thread but declined to comment as part of the definition of apotheosis includes elevation to the divine.
Nothing is divine that has not been named so by humans and to name oneself divine is silly.
Especially given that the divine we might find must be set aside, the bar of divinity raised, and the task of seeking god be allowed to continue.
That is how idol worship of what we found is set aside.
We are to seek god perpetually otherwise that god is not allowed to evolve along with us.
That lack of evolution in thinking has led Christian and Muslim idol worshipers to stagnate with poor laws while secular law has bested most of the laws that have come from those religions.
You disagree with theosis? This has been foundational in Christianity since the first century.
Nothing is divine that has not been named so by humans and to name oneself divine is silly.
You do not understand theosis.
That lack of evolution in thinking has led Christian and Muslim idol worshipers to stagnate with poor laws while secular law has bested most of the laws that have come from those religions.
Western "secular" law is rooted in Judeo-Christian ideas about human nature and justice.
DL, you seem to have dropped in here with some kind of an agenda to set things straight -- and that without even reading or considering the topic under consideration and the points that have been made. That's not how we do things here.
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