Is Universal Reconciliation Unbiblical?

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Lowly Layman, Apr 16, 2013.

  1. Old Christendom

    Old Christendom Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately, it seems Charlie was suspended. And since his posts kept being censored by the moderation, I don't think he's coming back.

    As for the absence of baptism being a visible means of determining the reprobate, that would be the same as saying that absence of circumcision in the Old Testament would determine actual election or reprobation.
     
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  2. Old Christendom

    Old Christendom Well-Known Member

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    The Synod of Constantinople (543) rejected the Apocatastasis doctrine of Origen. Holy Scripture frequently emphasises the eternal duration of hell-punishment by speaking of it as an "everlasting fire" (Judith 16:21; Matthew 18:8 and 25:41), an "everlasting punishment" (Matthew 25:46), an "everlasting destruction" (2 Thessalonians 1:9). That the word "everlasting" is not to be understood in the sense of a duration which is indeed long but limited, is proved by parallel expressions like "unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:13; Mark 9:43), or Hell, "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:46), as well as by the contrast of "everlasting punishment" and "life eternal" in Matthew 25:46. According to Revelation 19:3, "her smoke" (of the damned harlot) "rose up for ever and ever." Also, in Revelation 20:10, the reprobate "shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

    The "restitution of all things" announced in Acts 3:21 does not refer to the lot of the damned but to the renewal of the world which is to take place on the Parousia.

    The Fathers before Origen, like Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus or Tertullian, affirm the eternal duration of the punishment of hell. Origen's denial proceeded from the Platonic doctrinal opinion that the purpose of all punishment is the improvement of the delinquent. Origen was followed by Gregory of Nyssa, Didymus of Alexandria and Evagrius Ponticus. Augustine too defends the endless duration of hell-punishment against the Origenists.

    On the grounds of the teaching of divine revelation, it is to be believed that the will of the damned is immovably hardened in evil and is, therefore, inaccessible to any true repentance.
     
  3. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    It is true that the bible speaks of a fire but I don't believe it is everlasting. There's an interesting book on this subject called Hope Beyond Hell, which is available for a free download. Even if the fire is everlasting, it is something reserved for the Devil and his angels. 1Cor. 3:12-15 speaks about being tested through fire after we die, I think this is a reference to the cleansing fire for those who have not received Christ, but that's a personal interpretation.

    Origen wasn't the only person who was a Universalist in the Ancient Church, nor is his theology the same as mine.
     
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  4. Simon Magus

    Simon Magus Member

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    That's too bad. He was a fine debater. His theology was frequently in conflict with mine and many other posters', but I'm of the mind that any position (be it philosophical or religious) should welcome a rigorous challenge. Ah well.

    Really? I thought the ancient Jews were supposed to have been somewhat Pelagian in their sotierology (such as it was), in that following the Law merited favor with God. Anyway, the Old Testament seems to present a variety of disparate views on hell and salvation. The New Testament seems more concise: "he who believes and is baptized will be saved," and "unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Baptism incorporates one into the Church, "outside of which there is no salvation." Do Calvinists accept anything like baptism of desire?
     
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  5. Pax_Christi

    Pax_Christi Member

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    Sorry for not responding sooner :)

    In my original post, I did assume that you believed that Hell was not just so I apologize. It wasn't assumed out of thin air because there are many who believe that God is love and therefore, would not punish sinners or that Hell is symbolic.

    But I have several more questions for you. If God is all love, shouldn't he forgive the Devil and his Angels as well? Also, if he leaves the people in Hell, is he doing anything wrong?
     
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  6. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    You mind if I answer that? I say no. Quakers and Salvationists (Salvation Army) are not among the reprobate because they have not been water baptized.
     
  7. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    And it is supposed that this refers to water baptism. It does not.
     
  8. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    See my first response in red, above.

    The early church from the time of the Apostles until the 4th century was primarily a Universalist church. Most of the church fathers during this period believed that all people will be saved. Over time, alternative doctrines about the fate of sinners grew more popular, such as annihilationism and eternal conscious torment. These doctrines were often held by Christians who could not read the New Testament in the original Greek language in which it was written, and who interpreted the Bible through the lens of barbaric forms of paganism. It is noteworthy that Irenaeus the Bishop of Lyons wrote a lengthy book called Against Heresies in the late 2nd century, which never once mentioned universal salvation as a heretical belief. This is because for the first few centuries of Christian history, Universalism prevailed as the mainstream understanding of the Gospel.

    The greatest theological school of the Patristic era — which directly descended from the Apostles themselves — was called the Didascalium and was based in Alexandria, Egypt. It was founded by St. Pantaenus (d. ca. 216) in the year 190 C.E. Pantaenus, described by some of his students as “the Sicilian bee,” was a Stoic philosopher who became a Christian missionary and traveled as far as India to spread the Gospel. He sought to reconcile the best of Greek philosophy with the radical new spiritual message of Jesus and the Apostles. He was martyred for his faith in Christ.

    The Didascalium was the earliest catechetical school, and it played a very influential role in the development of Christian theology prior to the rise of the imperial Roman Church. The city of Alexandria was the center of learning and intellectual culture for the entire ancient world. This cosmopolitan metropolis was the meeting place of philosophers, theologians, writers, teachers and students of various belief systems, and during the first three centuries of Christian history it became the most important city in the Christian world. The Alexandria school of Christianity was thoroughly Universalist in its theology. One wonders how history would have been different had Alexandria remained the center of gravity of Christian thought instead of Rome, which developed a diametrically opposite theological system based on the teaching of eternal damnation.
     
  9. Simon Magus

    Simon Magus Member

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    Do Calvinists agree with this?

    John 3:5 doesn't refer to baptism by water? That's news to me.
     
  10. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    I don't think it should be up to what we want to think, but what the truth is. Old Christendom posted a very persuasive exegesis of the orthodox "everlasting" teaching...

    The text I found at that location was this: "each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done." I don't see where this has to do with what you mentioned...
     
  11. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    See first answer in red.

    Here is an interesting article:

    http://www.christianuniversalist.org/resources/articles/salvation-conspiracy/

    I am not liberal, and I would describe myself as a "conditional" universalist based on my belief in free will, but you do not have to be liberal to be a universalist, as the case of the Primitive Baptist Universalists, and others, proves.
     
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  12. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    With all due respect Spherelink, this statement makes no sense. You say opinions don't matter, but rather only the truth matters. Then you state that OC's posted article link (one man's opinion) is persuasive to you (your opinion). What is the point in posting these opinions, if, by your previous statement, they don't matter. Maybe I don't understand your point. Are you trying to be ironical?
     
  13. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    Would you mind showing me where you showed the words to be mistranslated?

    Also if they were mistranslated, how did it happen that they were mistranslated by people who spoke greek and latin fluently as their native languages?

    Also, how would you reconcile your position with the three Creeds, which are binding on the church?


    How do you define liberal?

    I define liberal as someone who rejects the doctrines of the church...
     
  14. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    I am sorry if I was unclear, Lowly Layman. I meant to contrast your answer which was "I believe X" to OC's answer of "I believe X because of 1) 2) 3) exegesis" ...
     
  15. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    See my first answers above in red.

    Read the articles and excerpts that I posted. They explain a lot.

    http://www.christianuniversalist.org/resources/articles/salvation-conspiracy/

    Again:

    When Jesus spoke of God’s judgment upon the wicked, he did so with words that implied a limited, corrective punishment. Specifically, he referred to divine judgment as aionios kolasis, meaning age-long chastisement. The idea was that a person who turns away from God and lives a life of evil will have to face justice — a purgatorial period in the afterlife — before enjoying eventual harmonious reunion with God.

    The word used in the original Greek New Testament is kolasis, which means a beneficial chastening such as a gardener prunes a vine to remove dead vegetation and make it grow more fruitfully.
     
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  16. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Spherelink, I gave many reasons for my beliefs in the OP which come directly from the Word of God (which is imo the truth you said that only mattered). Moreover I provided a link to a book which develops and discusses these ideas at length. Perhaps you should take another look at what has been written. It appears you've missed some things.
     
  17. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    You're right on this PC. There's more than one school of thought on Universalism, so far I've mentioned my own, though I grant that I have not really fleshed it out, and I've pointed to Origen's which I do not endorse an which I agree is probably heretical, or at least unbiblical. But there are others, including the liberal version pushed by Unitarian-Universalists, the Evangelical one that folks like Billy Graham and Robert Schuller have come to embrace, and the version pushed by Presiding Bishop Schori, which imo runs counter to the 39 Articles and says that all people will be saved by following whatever creed they follow. My own version is what I like to call biblical universalism, since my primary understanding of it comes from the bible itself. Like Celtic has pointed out, it is conditional in that one must receive salvation in Christ through faith, but it is also inevitable because God has decreed that he will have mercy on all and that his desire is that no one will be lost, and God's word is always true.

    Moreover, if we recognize the boundaries of our faith as identified by Lancelot Andrewes, ie, “One canon [the Bible] reduced to writing by God himself, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of fathers in that period..." Then I can only assume that Universalism is far more orthodox than exclusivism. Since, as I've shown, the Bible declares it is both the old and new testament, neither the creeds nor the four councils contradict it, and as has been pointed out by others, it was the preeminent soteriogical view of the first 500 years of the church. It was not until the close of the golden age that the councils, which I and most Anglicans do not recognize as authoritative, spoke negatively about any school of Universalism, and when exclusivist ideas of eternal punishment came to the fore. It should be noted that this was the same time that concepts like purgatory, papalism, invocation of the saints and the Marian cult system also began to dominate the medieval church. If you recognize these as inappropriate accretions to the pure faith, then perhaps you'll see exclusivism in the same light.

    Below are examples of the other forms of Universalism I referred to above:


     
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  18. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    My question is this: are you consulting the dictionary in this? If I look into the dictionary will I find "infinite" or "eternal" as some of the possible translation?

    Okay. And yet the creeds were written in the Greek.

    Athanasian Creed:
    1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;
    2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

    43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
     
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  19. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Wow, I came across this video this morning. It appears that great minds think alike, as do mediocre minds. I'll leave it to you to figure out which one is more applicable here... (note: I apologize for some the rather untactful things he has to say about Calvinism and Arminianism, but it should be noted that he was speaking to a room full of universalists so there was little chance he would offend any of them): http://blip.tv/christian-universali...bration-2010-message-by-kalen-fristad-4595426

    Here are some of the works of John Murray, father of American Universalism, who the speaker in the video referred to as a universalist theologian.
     
  20. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    The fact that you had to go to the creeds suggests that their is a dearth of helpful info for your argument in the scriptures. The 39 articles says that the scriptures are sufficient in areas dealing with salvation, thus there should be no need to appeal to extra-biblical sources to teach things about salvation. Moreover, while I accept the catholic Trinitarian doctrine as laid out in the Athanasian formula , no. 43 is an example of works righteousness/salvation if taken at face value so I cannot believe that is either a correct translation or means what you're suggesting it means. Perhaps, this is why the American version of the 39 Articles only recognize the Nicene and Apostle's Creed as fully authoritative (See Article VIII).