Posted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:32 am
by JasonPratt
Paidion wrote:In a nutshell:

1. Universalism affirms that those who have died in a lost condition will ultimately be reconciled to God, cease from suffering, and will be saved (forever be in God's presence with those who became Christians while alive).

2. Charles Schmitt affirms that those who have died in a lost condition will ultimately be reconciled to God, cease from suffering, but will not be saved (will forever not be in God's presence with those who became Christians while alive).


That's what I gathered from his monograph, too. (Rather too long to be an essay, even by my standards. ;) )

I see a number of problems with this, including a schism between love/mercy and justice (where justice in effect only means punishment). But my main question is whether these people will ever be saved from their sins. If so, then yes it's universalism. If not, then it's a variety of eternal conscious torment, only with less 'torment' per se. (Eternal conscious inconvenient punishment for sin. Whatever.)

Also, St. Paul strenuously affirms in Romans 5 that if, while we were still enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His son, how much moreso we shall be saved through His life. Which the author actually quotes, but tries to make out that somehow this means there won't be salvation for those whom Christ has reconciled. He does admit it's a prerequisite to salvation, but seems to think that it stops being a prerequisite after "this day of grace". (The Bible, despite what he says, doesn't teach that "today and only today is the day of salvation", as either Paul or a student of Paul's emphasizes that "so long as it is called 'Today'" crosses many different time periods into the coming Day of the Lord, in the epistle to the Hebrews. But of course if what the author is saying was true, no one would have been saved after Paul's day.)

I've seen attempts at trying to divorce reconciliation from salvation from sin before, and this is admittedly the most detailed such attempt I've seen (sort of like being the best professional football players in the Yukon). But by the author's own principles reconciliation (which actually means "down-reachment" or "up-down-reachment" depending on whether a rare prefix is included to represent people reaching back to God) means "to bring again into a state of peace or harmony", and that can't be done without someone being made whole or sound or freed from their sins. The author himself stresses that "[t]he great disruption and disharmony between God and man hinges on this issue of sin", when talking about reconciliation as a prerequisite to salvation. Once the sin is gone, the person has been saved from their sins. The scriptures nowhere indicate that those who have repented and returned to loyalty with God continue to be punished in any way (including by exclusion of fellowship), and everywhere testify to the contrary (including in regard to the Day of the Lord to come) that those who repent and return to loyalty will be restored to even greater fellowship with God, and with their fellow creatures, than they had before.


In short, it's double-talk. No doubt based on what is regarded as testimony of some kind of hopeless punishment, so this is the best the author can do. But I don't have to divorce reconciliation with God from salvation from sin, or divorce salvation from sin from restoration of fellowship with God and man.