Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Arguments/positions against Evangelical Universalism.

Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby BartW » Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:35 am

One problem I see with the idea of universal salvation is that although there are a good number of texts that seem to support (and in a few cases seem to strongly support) the salvation of all, yet there seems much stronger and more explicit (reading Scripture in a general sense) support for the notion of eternal separation and/or punishment. Annihilationism suffers the same problem as universalism; again, reasonable evidence found in the Bible for it but not anywhere near the much more common support for the traditional eternal hell view.

I guess I never studied to see which view has the mathematical edge in terms of passages, but this seems a foolish endeavor anyway...truth--at least normative truth at its core--is not considered to be determined by mathematical precision or numbers. Maybe ET seems the most explicit because it has permeated Christianity for so long. Nonetheless, given lists like this...
https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/ju ... t-in-hell/
...ET seems to have the edge in Scripture, despite what I consider to be fairly powerful logical proofs against it. I don't want to get into a prooftexting discussion, just interested in hearing others' views on this concept.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby steve7150 » Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:15 am

ET seems to have the edge in Scripture, despite what I consider to be fairly powerful logical proofs against it. I don't want to get into a prooftexting discussion, just interested in hearing others' views on this concept.
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ET has the least support of the three views & the other two are about even. If you want to hear a lecture check out thenarrowpath.com under topical lectures & "the three views of hell."
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby Bob Wilson » Sun Mar 19, 2017 1:47 pm

Your argument hangs on the premise that despite many universal victory texts, even more texts warn creation will end with endless punishment for many. That can't be evaluated without debating whether the individual texts confirm that. Recent books, like Four Views of Hell, present the ten prooftexts cited here, and of course those representing other interpretations challenge the ECT reading of those passages.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby BartW » Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:28 pm

Bob Wilson wrote:Your argument hangs on the premise that despite many universal victory texts, even more texts warn creation will end with endless punishment for many. That can't be evaluated without debating whether the individual texts confirm that. Recent books, like Four Views of Hell, present the ten prooftexts cited here, and of course those representing other interpretations challenge the ECT reading of those passages.

You're right of course. I've known for a long time that certain scholars have for years pointed out that most texts used to support the idea of the hell of eternal torment are suggestive and not explicit. That's why I stated in the op that explicitness as I intend it is taken from a "general sense" of Scripture. Maybe a better way of wording this is that God's anger and warlike stance toward sins and sinners certainly throughout the OT and to a lesser degree also in the NT (Jesus' warning that He came not to bring peace but a sword for example, Mat 10:34) make the doctrine of severe punishment seem much more likely than universalism, Annihilationism on the other hand seems to allow for God's mercy in the midst of His wrath; at least He isn't torturing people for all eternity in this paradigm. Alongside the anger and harsh warnings of God are also passages of lovingkindess, reconciliation and forgiveness....but there seem to be limits to the latter imposed by the former. How are these things reconciled?
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby qaz » Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:16 pm

Good question Bart. It's a question I asked myself before I settled on universalism. I don't have an answer, but that doesn't make my belief in universalism feel any less reasonable. For whatever reason, the Lord has chosen not to be as explicit as we might like on certain very important questions. Here are a few other ones:

Why is the Trinity not explicit?
Why isn't sola scriptura explicit?
Why isn't free will or determinism explicit?
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby Bob Wilson » Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:33 pm

BartW wrote:
Bob Wilson wrote:from a "general sense" of Scripture... God's anger and warlike stance toward sinners... makes the doctrine of severe punishment seem much more likely than universalism... passages of lovingkindess, reconciliation (seem to have more "limits")... How are such things reconciled?


Bart,

I think you're spot on that we feel tensions in Scripture and can't avoid asking what will reconcile things. Also that what sense of God's character seems strongest and ultimate to us will determine what we conclude on this. You appear to think God's angry warlikeness toward sinners is the overwhelming "general sense." That's certainly how many conservatives read it, and justify a God whose love and pursuit of the lost would stop.

I don't see that as the overriding thing about God, or the kind of God we need, or the bottom line of Scripture's revelation of God. Of course, for me, every approach is not equal, and it is in Jesus Christ that we have the bottom line clearest revelation of God's character. Further, I don't find the universal promises about God's love and reconciliation, or triumph, to be more limited or less clear than the damnation texts (that you call "not explicit;" indeed they seem to use more debated terms and metaphorical language-including Jesus' sword text you cite). This site honors books of Parry & Talbott which detail evaluations of both kinds of texts. All this to say there is no way to avoid messy exegetical debate.

I.e. You can't just assert your perception of some 'general sense' that controls the rest. My own bias is that such generalized images of God are like a Rorschach test that reveals more about us than about the true God. And I find that the attitude toward sinners that we so graphically see in the flesh of our crucified Lord is most consistent with affirming the texts of God's profound judgment, and the texts that promise every creature will one day praise Him in a fully reconciled creation.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby BartW » Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:53 pm

qaz and Bob Wilson (Wilson? Hey, didn't you play that deflated basketball in Cast Away?),

I have no arguments against either of your posts, these are ideas I've considered before. Will just go on record as pointing out that while I concur a general sense of Scripture shouldn't trump close study, it does seem odd that God inspired His authors in ways that seem, at first glance, contradictory. If this is how "many conservatives read it" it's because that seems to be the way God wanted it read.

On the other hand I'm all for holding the literal sense of Scripture at arm's distance, as it seems this is where religion gets into trouble so often. This is why I've said in the past if either annihilationism or universalism is true, they must be so in a strongly spiritual or metaphorical sense as the literal seems to lead continually to stumbling blocks.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby Bob Wilson » Sun Mar 19, 2017 7:15 pm

Bart,

You are gracious. As one who finds the Bible can be difficult, opaque, and contains troubling human aspects, I resonate with your implication that reading it with wooden literalism can be problematic, and I too may be interpreted as looking behind it for its ultimate spiritual sense.

I don't see how your conclusion follows that if a group like conservatives reads it one way, then "that seems to be the way God wanted it read." Since the Bible has a skeptical view of deceived human nature, and shows the Biblical conservatives of Jesus day in all out conflict with Jesus' way of reading the Bible, I'd more say that if a given group reads its a certain way, there's a good chance that it's a lousy way to read it.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby Eaglesway » Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:05 pm

The issue revolves around the word forever, as I see it. The reason I came to believe in the salvation of all was that after a brother presented it to me in brief, over the next ten years or so I began to see some very clear scriptures about the reconciliation of all, the restoration of all things, the gathering together of all things in Christ.

I am not a literalist in a strict way, but I strongly believed in the overall integrity of the scriptures so I had to ask myself, "Where is the seam between these views?" That is when I began to look into translation issues, because I believed then that both(or all three if you like) cannot be true.

One of the main things that spoke to me was that if every adversary is subjected and death is anulled and God becomes all in all(1 Cor 15), then only annihilation or UR could be true because if death is anulled the second death cannot last forever.

But if annihilation is true then God would not be all in all (1 Cor 15:28). All things could not be reconciled to God by the blood of His cross(Col 1:15-20). All things could not be gathered into one in Christ(Eph 1:9-11). Unless perhaps one wanted to add "all that is left"- but I do not believe the scriptures supply that interpretation in the verses in the original languages.

So I began to study "olam" and "aion" and came to believe that "eternal" is not a state of endles time, but like "olam", the indefinite time according to the subject to which it is applied(450 Old Testament occurences) and that aion, in a way similar to "olam" was a definition of periods(ages) in the plan of God, seen through a glass darkly.

Now, I see so many verses in the OT and the New that declare(imo) that God will reconcile all things and restore all things because Jesus has been exalted above all things, and every enemy will be made a footstool ofr His feet, and every knee shall bow, whether in heaven or on earth or under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. When the last knee bows, death will be anulled along with "all rule, power and authority", because God will be ""everthing in everyone" and love will rule the whole creation. Rule, power, authority and death will no longer be needed, because sin will be vanquished in its entirety. For punishment to last forever, sin must abide forever(imo).

For me, it has become quite explicit, because it is the only way thatI can see for all those scriptures can be integrated and find harmony.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby davo » Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:24 pm

BartW wrote:Alongside the anger and harsh warnings of God are also passages of lovingkindess, reconciliation and forgiveness....but there seem to be limits to the latter imposed by the former. How are these things reconciled?

I see these things as best reconciled by taking *history* into account when formulating theology… something of a tradition evangelicalism has neglected to do, preferring the more spiritualising approach of generalising across the ages etc.

The problem as I understand it is that evangelicalism understands, interprets and thus represents each category in a grossly suspect way and as a result has engendered all manner of confusion into the debate due to certain key errant meanings being attached.

For example:

1)
Biblical “hell” is automatically assumed to be a postmortem reality, as opposed to considering Jesus’ referring to the prophetic fires of Gehenna being similitudes of the forthcoming fire associated with the AD70 destruction of Jerusalem — HISTORY.

2) Biblical “annihilation” is automatically assumed to be a postmortem reality indicative of the cessation of total existence beyond the grave; annihilation however refers solely to the destructive loss of one’s literal life from THIS life, no more no less — HISTORY.

3) Biblical “universalism” is automatically assumed to be a postmortem reality covering the entirety of humanity. Now while I personally hold to the comprehensive scope and reach of reconciliation, and that through death, universalism fails to take into account that certain inclusive passages actually refer to specific groups in terms of its coverage relative to that particular group, and usually relative to the outworking of redemption — HISTORY.

Take for example *the elect* — universalism per sé typically applies “election” universally across *all humanity* and thus claims “all will be saved”. This however fails to grasp the specific nature, ministry and deliverance of the biblical ‘elect’… in NT times the elect were the “firstfruit saints” involved in the carrying out Jesus' ministry and mandate to Israel, to all Israel far and wide.

‘The elect’ were always specific ones chosen to work deliverance (salvation) ON BEHALF OF the rest. The elect were not promised Heaven at the expense of all else, as per Calvinism… that is to misread, misrepresent and so misapply certain biblical texts. A good OT example of biblical election is Gideon and his band of 300 (Jud 7:7). All those who were dismissed as this group as it was whittled down and so NOT CHOSEN were not summarily considered “lost” or any other pejorative moniker. The elect were chosen ON BEHALF OF the whole; that’s what the elect did, they ministered on behalf of the whole, e.g., the priesthood etc.

Ultimately, Israel’s redemption secured man’s reconciliation, in toto…
Jer 2:3a Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of His increase.

Israel was the chosen (elect) firstfruits ON BEHALF OF “His increase” i.e., the WHOLE harvest, aka humanity.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:57 am

I always find this video, by Anglican New Testament scholar NT Wright - fascinating. Of course, he promotes the P-Zombie viewpoint

I always say, that the first question is this. Are the descriptions of hell literal or metaphorical? Personally, I look at the Revelations' lake of fire...as the Eastern Orthodox view...of being in the presence of God

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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:57 am

Somehow, I got published twice. See above post.
Anglo-Orthodox/ Anglo-Catholic; Holy Fool Theologian; Satirist; Pragmatist; Homeopath; Inclusivist / Purgatorical Conditionalist;
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby davo » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:30 am

Tom Wright is always good value IMO even when he concludes on some things slightly other than I do… he’s a thinker.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby BartW » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:13 am

I don't see how your conclusion follows that if a group like conservatives reads it one way, then "that seems to be the way God wanted it read."

In light of the fact that most Christian denominations (Greek Orthodox being one that I believe openly embraces interpreting the Bible allegorically) have accepted ET as their standing soteriology—and this included a great “mixed multitude” of believers on the left and right—I don’t think it’s accurate to say conservatives read the Bible that way. It is true that in recent decades mostly leftists (Unitarians) were in the universalist camp and conservatives have only fairly recently (last 15 years or so?) been jumping on the wagon. Point is, I think it’s justified to say that God appears to have wanted the Bible read this way as it has been the accepted majority doctrine by all kinds of Christians.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby BartW » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:27 am

Eaglesway wrote:The issue revolves around the word forever, as I see it. The reason I came to believe in the salvation of all was that after a brother presented it to me in brief, over the next ten years or so I began to see some very clear scriptures about the reconciliation of all, the restoration of all things, the gathering together of all things in Christ.

I am not a literalist in a strict way, but I strongly believed in the overall integrity of the scriptures so I had to ask myself, "Where is the seam between these views?" That is when I began to look into translation issues, because I believed then that both(or all three if you like) cannot be true.

One of the main things that spoke to me was that if every adversary is subjected and death is anulled and God becomes all in all(1 Cor 15), then only annihilation or UR could be true because if death is anulled the second death cannot last forever.

But if annihilation is true then God would not be all in all (1 Cor 15:28). All things could not be reconciled to God by the blood of His cross(Col 1:15-20). All things could not be gathered into one in Christ(Eph 1:9-11). Unless perhaps one wanted to add "all that is left"- but I do not believe the scriptures supply that interpretation in the verses in the original languages.

So I began to study "olam" and "aion" and came to believe that "eternal" is not a state of endles time, but like "olam", the indefinite time according to the subject to which it is applied(450 Old Testament occurences) and that aion, in a way similar to "olam" was a definition of periods(ages) in the plan of God, seen through a glass darkly.

Now, I see so many verses in the OT and the New that declare(imo) that God will reconcile all things and restore all things because Jesus has been exalted above all things, and every enemy will be made a footstool ofr His feet, and every knee shall bow, whether in heaven or on earth or under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. When the last knee bows, death will be anulled along with "all rule, power and authority", because God will be ""everthing in everyone" and love will rule the whole creation. Rule, power, authority and death will no longer be needed, because sin will be vanquished in its entirety. For punishment to last forever, sin must abide forever(imo).

For me, it has become quite explicit, because it is the only way thatI can see for all those scriptures can be integrated and find harmony.

Hi Eaglesway,

I understand that a lot of modern Christian universalists accept the 'forever' modification. I can also see how you aligned the universalist proof texts with that idea, but although the aionios/aion distinction is interesting, I find the argument weak frankly. It seems to many traditionalists like Universalists justify their belief by changing (or at minimum throwing doubt on the traditional understanding of) a couple words to justify a doctrine. I just don't think this single issue is strong enough to throw weight of salvation to the universalist side of things.

On the other hand I can't fault your logic that if sin doesn't last forever neither will punishment, and I'm with you also in your belief in the integrity of the bible.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby qaz » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:21 am

BartW wrote:
I don't see how your conclusion follows that if a group like conservatives reads it one way, then "that seems to be the way God wanted it read."

In light of the fact that most Christian denominations (Greek Orthodox being one that I believe openly embraces interpreting the Bible allegorically) have accepted ET as their standing soteriology—and this included a great “mixed multitude” of believers on the left and right—I don’t think it’s accurate to say conservatives read the Bible that way. It is true that in recent decades mostly leftists (Unitarians) were in the universalist camp and conservatives have only fairly recently (last 15 years or so?) been jumping on the wagon. Point is, I think it’s justified to say that God appears to have wanted the Bible read this way as it has been the accepted majority doctrine by all kinds of Christians.


Sola scriptura was not a prevailing doctrine for the first three quarters of Christianity. The logic you're using against universalism can just as easily be used against Protestantism: God appears to have wanted the Bible read in a way antithetical to Protestantism.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby Bob Wilson » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:14 pm

Bart, you come on a minority view site (universalist) with this inquiry:
BartW wrote:...ET seems to have the edge in Scripture, despite what I consider to be fairly powerful logical proofs against it. I don't want to get into a prooftexting discussion, just interested in hearing others' views on this concept.


When we respond that the text matters, that we don't think ET has the edge in it, and engage what we think it actually says, you respond that since most Christians embrace ET, you must conclude that this is what God intended us to believe in. So I'm unclear what views you seek?

If, despite my case that most of God's fallible people have previously read a challenging Bible wrong, you've already determined that all majority interpretations just must be correct, and you "don't want to get into" the text, what's left for us to say? I'd think those who hold a minority view on any Biblical question have concluded that a traditional view isn't necessarily warranted (and indeed is problematic and as you say, not logical).
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby steve7150 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:23 pm

you respond that since most Christians embrace ET, you must conclude that this is what God intended us to believe in. So I'm unclear what views you seek?






Bart,
Very few Christians bother to find out what certain key greek words mean and have accepted the traditional bible translations so that is why ET has historically been by far the most popular view.
But it is a view built on a foundation of sand and really an interpretation formulated to keep the masses in line by the RCC and then incorporated in the Reformation. But if you step back and start with a clean slate and just try to judge it in with an unbiased method you may see ET actually has little support, really just Matt 25.46.
So again i recommend listening to 3 views of hell at topical lectures at thenarrowpath.com
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby Eaglesway » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:20 pm

BartW wrote:Hi Eaglesway,

I understand that a lot of modern Christian universalists accept the 'forever' modification. I can also see how you aligned the universalist proof texts with that idea, but although the aionios/aion distinction is interesting, I find the argument weak frankly. It seems to many traditionalists like Universalists justify their belief by changing (or at minimum throwing doubt on the traditional understanding of) a couple words to justify a doctrine. I just don't think this single issue is strong enough to throw weight of salvation to the universalist side of things.

On the other hand I can't fault your logic that if sin doesn't last forever neither will punishment, and I'm with you also in your belief in the integrity of the bible.


Yea, I agree that by itself the aionios is a weaker proof. However, if you take a good comprehensive look at "olam" you will see that forever is weak also. Of course we would have to make posts that far exceed the practical limits of the forum to go in depth into all of the OT verses that also lean into the restoration of all things, and thoroughly look at "olam", so these points are merely signposts that will hopefully attract your attention as you walk on in the word.

For instance in this portion of Isaiah there is a testimony far clearer than any OT reference to eternal torment, because there is no clear OT reference to eternal torment.

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
7
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
8
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken. Isaiah 25.

God will remove the shroud(2 Cor 4:3-6) from all people and remove the reproach of His chosen people. Paul parallels this in Ro 11(among other places)

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved...

For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!

“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”

“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”

For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:35-36

Most people who say there are more verses pointing to eternal torment are (imo) reading with that presupposition, until they begin to seriously consider the possibility that Jesus meant what He said when he testified,

"If I am lifted up I will draw all men unto me" Jn 12:32

and

He who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new, Write these words, for they are faithful and true." Rev 21:5

In 1 Cor 15 23-28 and Phil 2:9-11, we see that the exaltation of Jesus over all leads to God becoming all in all. And in many, many other verses OT and NT, once the presupposition is removed, there is at the very least a clear possiblility for an honest interpretation that God will not destroy, or eternally torment most of His creation.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.Ro 8:18-21
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby BartW » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:47 pm

Bob Wilson wrote:Bart, you come on a minority view site (universalist) with this inquiry:
BartW wrote:...ET seems to have the edge in Scripture, despite what I consider to be fairly powerful logical proofs against it. I don't want to get into a prooftexting discussion, just interested in hearing others' views on this concept.


When we respond that the text matters, that we don't think ET has the edge in it, and engage what we think it actually says, you respond that since most Christians embrace ET, you must conclude that this is what God intended us to believe in. So I'm unclear what views you seek?

If, despite my case that most of God's fallible people have previously read a challenging Bible wrong, you've already determined that all majority interpretations just must be correct, and you "don't want to get into" the text, what's left for us to say? I'd think those who hold a minority view on any Biblical question have concluded that a traditional view isn't necessarily warranted (and indeed is problematic and as you say, not logical).

Bob you're reading way more into the op than I intended. Of course text matters. I don't want to get into a prooftexting battle because 1] I don't currently have time for poring over text, and, 2] I merely wanted discussion on the concept or idea of ET's wide appeal. Many good reasons were given. You may recall I also stated, "Maybe ET seems the most explicit because it has permeated Christianity for so long", indicating I realized the doctrine's popularity might be merely an interpretational matter.

You read too much into things. I do not conclude that ET is what God wants us to believe in ; I said it seems justified to suppose that God wanted it read this way first because it is and has been for centuries the orthodox position, and second I thought I might generate interesting conversation on why it seems this way.

As to your statement, "If, despite my case that most of God's fallible people have previously read a challenging Bible wrong, you've already determined that all majority interpretations just must be correct, and you "don't want to get into" the text, what's left for us to say?", I've determined no such thing. I merely offered an idea to generate discussion and have certainly never made the silly claim that "all majority interpretations must be correct". You've offered several good ideas for why you think the notion of severe punishment has been commonly accepted and why you do not. Thanks for your contributions.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby BartW » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:55 pm

Hi Steve7150,

if you step back and start with a clean slate and just try to judge it in with an unbiased method you may see ET actually has little support, really just Matt 25.46

Actually from my own studies I also include Dan 12:2 from the OT. Seems to me these are the only two in the Bible that seem to offer anything approaching explicit support for ET--and the fact that they are both from highly metaphoric passages suggests a potential caveat for taking them too literally.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby Eaglesway » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:56 pm

Daniel 12:2 is a good example of what I was saying about olam.

The word translated everlasting in Dan 12:2 is olam(or owlam,or olammim). This word is used 450 times in the OT. Here are a couple examples that clearly do not mean "everlasting".

.....then take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life(olam). Deut 15:17 NIV

.....Then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever(olam). KJV


Clearly he will not be someones slave forever. He will be a slave for the time that remains in his life, as the NIV correctly translates it.

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days--and also afterward--when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old(olam), men of renown. Gen 6:4

Here olam clearly does not mean everlasting or forever. It means in the far distant past.

olam
Word Origin
from an unused word
Definition
long duration, antiquity, futurity(NAS Exhaustive Concordance)

olam
olam: long duration, antiquity, futurity
Original Word: עוֹלָם
Part of Speech: Noun Masculine
Transliteration: olam
Phonetic Spelling: (o-lawm')
Short Definition: forever (Strong's Concordance)

Strong favors the KJV , but clearly states the same thing the NAS does in the definition, because it has to, because in so many places olam cannot be translated forever, or everlasting. It means long duration, forwards or backwards.

In places where olam means something akin to everlasting it is doubled "olam olam" which really means ages of ages, which is as close to forever Hebrew ever got.

“Blessed are You, O LORD God of Israel our father, forever and ever(olam wead olam). 1 Chron 29:10 NAS


olam is determined by its context and the subject is describing, a lifetime(indeterminate period), a long, long way back in time(an indeterminate period), a long way into the future(an indeterminate period)

Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old(olam) Ps 25:6 NIV

"The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever"(olam). Ps 103:8,9

He will not be angry for a long long time. He will not chide for a long, long time. He will not punish the wicked forever.

"As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.

16For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.

17But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting(olam wead me olam>>>olam from to olam) upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children" Psalm 103:15-16 KJV


I have examined all 450 occurrences of olam, it is an indefinte period appropriate to the subject, and imo as regards the wicked, it is until "every knee bows, whether in heaven or on earth or under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father"

In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness(pleroma fulness, completion) of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. Eph 1

When the "times" are fulfilled, when time is complete, everything will have been "gathered into one in Christ Jesus"(KJV)

There is an excellent article on this here http://www.tentmaker.org/books/time/Time_6.html and further chapters show the relationship between olam and aionios
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby Bob Wilson » Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:32 am

Bart, I appreciate your gracious correction, that despite emphasizing the widespread consensus that the Bible teaches ET: "I do not conclude that ET is what God wants us to believe in." It was your conclusion below that I'd wrongly thought sounded like you endorsed the opposite reasoning.
BartW wrote: Point is, I think it’s justified to say that God appears to have wanted the Bible read this way as it has been the accepted majority doctrine by all kinds of Christians.


The reasons that a majority view might be incorrect is an interesting topic, and I'm sorry that I misread your words.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby BartW » Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:33 am

Bob Wilson wrote:Bart, I appreciate your gracious correction, that despite emphasizing the widespread consensus that the Bible teaches ET: "I do not conclude that ET is what God wants us to believe in." It was your conclusion below that I'd wrongly thought sounded like you endorsed the opposite reasoning.
BartW wrote: Point is, I think it’s justified to say that God appears to have wanted the Bible read this way as it has been the accepted majority doctrine by all kinds of Christians.


The reasons that a majority view might be incorrect is an interesting topic, and I'm sorry that I misread your words.

No biggie Bob, I was not very clear. For the record, I do not believe ET is the correct view of salvation.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby BartW » Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:41 am

Hi eaglesway,

The word translated everlasting in Dan 12:2 is olam(or owlam,or olammim). This word is used 450 times in the OT. Here are a couple examples that clearly do not mean "everlasting".

I trust you're not making the case that olam is never translated as forever? Assuming you concede it's sometimes [or even quite often] translated as "forever", we run into the same problem here as with aion and aionios. When are we justified in plucking "not forever" from somewhere and plopping it down elsewhere it's commonly thought to intend "forever"? I struggle enough with my native tongue, am not at all learned on the ancient languages, but it does seem to me arguments about words have never [or maybe rarely?] had the strength, after so many centuries of scholarship, to change doctrine. All the same, these are interesting ideas and lend food for thought to the debate.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby steve7150 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:26 am

If you step back and start with a clean slate and just try to judge it in with an unbiased method you may see ET actually has little support, really just Matt 25.46

Actually from my own studies I also include Dan 12:2 from the OT. Seems to me these are the only two in the Bible that seem to offer anything approaching explicit supporlarly t for ET--and the fact that they are both from highly metaphoric passages suggests a potential caveat for taking them too literally.







Hi Bart,
Just out of curiosity in Dan 12.2 how do you see ET in "eternal contempt"? To me it sounds more like annihilation especially because there are no other real references to ET in the OT?
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby qaz » Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:27 pm

Bart, are you Protestant? If so, what are your thoughts on sola scriptura not being a widely held doctrine for almost the first 1500 years of Christianity?
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby Eaglesway » Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:11 pm

BartW wrote:Hi eaglesway,

The word translated everlasting in Dan 12:2 is olam(or owlam,or olammim). This word is used 450 times in the OT. Here are a couple examples that clearly do not mean "everlasting".

I trust you're not making the case that olam is never translated as forever? Assuming you concede it's sometimes [or even quite often] translated as "forever", we run into the same problem here as with aion and aionios. When are we justified in plucking "not forever" from somewhere and plopping it down elsewhere it's commonly thought to intend "forever"? I struggle enough with my native tongue, am not at all learned on the ancient languages, but it does seem to me arguments about words have never [or maybe rarely?] had the strength, after so many centuries of scholarship, to change doctrine. All the same, these are interesting ideas and lend food for thought to the debate.


No, I was not making the point it is never translated forever. My point is that olam is one word. If in many places it cannot possibly mean forever, it is reasonable to consider the possibility that forever is not the best, or correct translation. My point is also that olam means, as both the Strongs and NAS concordances show," long duration, antiquity, futurity", - a period of time in a dependent relationship to the subject it describes and the context.

It is far too convenient to make it "forever" when it suits the purpose. imo it cannot really mean forever if it is attached to things like a slaves life, or an ancient time in history.

A good example of this is "hell" which is translated for three different words(70 some times in the kjv 50 or so in the NAS)- sheol, gehenna and tartarus - none of which is a proper translation. Whatever popular religion has taught for the last millenia- it is easily provable in any lexicon.
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby Paidion » Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:39 am

Here is a text, that although doesn't make universal salvation explicit, does make correction of the unrighteous after judgment explicit.


The Lord knows how to deliver the devout out of trial, but to reserve the unrighteous for a day of judgment, to be corrected. (2 Peter 2:9)

Here is an interlinear for your consideration:
οιδεν—κυριος— ευσεβεις εκ πειρασμου ρυεσθαι— αδικους
knows the Lord- devout—out of trial—— to deliver-unrighteous

δε -εις —ημεραν κρισεως—— κολαζομενους τηρειν
but into a day—- of judgment to be corrected to keep (2 Peter 2:9)

The whole strength of this “proof” lies in the translation of the lexical form of κολαζομενους, that is, “κολαζω” as “to correct”. I realize that some may object to this translation, but the Online Bible Greek Lexicon gives the primary meanings of “κολαζω”as:
1. to lop or prune
2. to chastise, correct, punish

Abbott-Smith's A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament gives the meanings:
1. to curtail, dock, prune
2. to check, restrain
3. to chastise, correct, punish

Originally, the word was used to reference to the pruning of trees, shrubs, or vines with a view to correcting their growth by shaping them. Later it was used figuratively with reference to the correction of people, e.g. Children. To translate the word as “punish” is correct as long as it is understood to be reformative rather than retributive. In English, “punish” may have either connotation, although it is more often taken in the latter sense, or in the sense of administering a penalty.

In Greek, the word “τιμωρεω” has the meaning “to punish” in the retributive sense. Indeed, every lexicon I have checked gives the primary meaning as “to avenge”. Strongs indicates that the word was derived from the two words “τιμη” (honour) and “οὐρος”(guard). Put them together, and you have the concept of a person guarding his honour through vengeance. In recording Paul's own words concerning his treatment of disciples of Christ prior to Paul's becoming a disciple himself, Luke wrote:

Acts 22:5 "as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished (τιμωρεω).
Acts 26:11 "and I punished (τιμωρεω) them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.


One of the best ways to get a sense of how a Greek word is used is to note how it is used in literature. The word is used in 4 Macabees 2:12 to indicate correction of children. No good parent punishes his children out of vengeance, but corrects them out of love.

4 Macabees is thought to have been written sometime between 100 B.C. to 100 A.D., that is, in the period in which the New Testament was written. It seems the author had been strongly moved by his reading of the deeds of Antiochus Ephiphanes against the Jews in 1 and 2 Macabees. So much of his “philosophical” thought and “devout reason” centers around the history he read there. In the following sentence he uses both “τιμωρεω” and “ κολαζω“ in a single sentence!

The tyrant Antiochus was both punished (τιμωρεω) on earth and is being corrected (κολαζω) after his death. (4 Maccabees 18:5)

The Judaistic belief at the time was that people's souls survive death. So the sentence seems to say that while Antochus's enemies got their revenge on him and his armies here on earth, God began to correct his soul after death. The author apparently held that post-mortem punishment was remedial. Otherwise he would not have chosen the word “κολαζω” but would have maintained the word “τιμωρεω” for his punishment after death, too.

Here is an example from the Septuagint translation of Ezekiel 43:10-11:

And you, son of man, show to the household of Israel, the house, and show its appearance and its arrangement,that they may cease from their sins. And they shall receive their κολασις concerning all their doings, and you shall describe the house, and its entrances and its foundation, and all its systems, and you shall make known to them all it regulations and describe them in their presence, and they shall guard all my righteous ordinances and all my commands and do them. (Ezekiel 43:10-11)

In this passage, God states His purpose in asking Ezekiel to show the house to Israel, namely that they may cease from their sins. He immediately follows this with “And they shall receive their κολασις concerning all their doings.” If God wants them to cease from their sins, and then gives them κολασις, is he punishing them retributively, or is He correcting them? The answer seems plain. Furthermore the conclusion of the matter is that the Israelites “will guard all my righteous ordinances and all my commands and do them.”

Surely this is reformation, and not mere revenge for their wrongdoing in the past.
Here is the Concordant translation of the verse in question:

The Lord is acquainted with the rescue of the devout out of trial, yet is keeping the unjust for chastening in the day of judging.
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby BartW » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:04 am

Hi davo,

1) Biblical “hell” is automatically assumed to be a postmortem reality, as opposed to considering Jesus’ referring to the prophetic fires of Gehenna being similitudes of the forthcoming fire associated with the AD70 destruction of Jerusalem — HISTORY.

If you’re suggesting God’s meaning in Scripture can include a grammatical-historical literal interpretation of Jesus’ warning of Gehenna as the AD70 historical application allowing freely for other layered other meanings—which would clearly stand outside author intent—then I agree. If you intend to make the case that the former is the in toto meaning then I will take the position you’re performing the literalist corruption of stripping out the most important elements of what God is saying in His word in order to force a single, limited understanding that can be controlled by human reason.

2) Biblical “annihilation” is automatically assumed to be a postmortem reality indicative of the cessation of total existence beyond the grave; annihilation however refers solely to the destructive loss of one’s literal life from THIS life, no more no less — HISTORY.

What evidence would you offer to support this notion of a solitary meaning of annihilation?

3) Biblical “universalism” is automatically assumed to be a postmortem reality covering the entirety of humanity. Now while I personally hold to the comprehensive scope and reach of reconciliation, and that through death, universalism fails to take into account that certain inclusive passages actually refer to specific groups in terms of its coverage relative to that particular group, and usually relative to the outworking of redemption — HISTORY.
This may be true of some or even many notions of universal salation, but as I see it universalism that does not take into account the validity of Scripture’s references to specific groups and incorporate them as potential metaphoric patterns to a literal reality don’t have a complete or systematic universalist theology.

Take for example *the elect* — universalism per sé typically applies “election” universally across *all humanity* and thus claims “all will be saved”. This however fails to grasp the specific nature, ministry and deliverance of the biblical ‘elect’… in NT times the elect were the “firstfruit saints” involved in the carrying out Jesus' ministry and mandate to Israel, to all Israel far and wide.
I’d agree with this.

‘The elect’ were always specific ones chosen to work deliverance (salvation) ON BEHALF OF the rest. The elect were not promised Heaven at the expense of all else, as per Calvinism… that is to misread, misrepresent and so misapply certain biblical texts. A good OT example of biblical election is Gideon and his band of 300 (Jud 7:7). All those who were dismissed as this group as it was whittled down and so NOT CHOSEN were not summarily considered “lost” or any other pejorative moniker. The elect were chosen ON BEHALF OF the whole; that’s what the elect did, they ministered on behalf of the whole, e.g., the priesthood etc.

Ultimately, Israel’s redemption secured man’s reconciliation, in toto…
No fundamental disagreement here, either.

Jer 2:3a Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of His increase.
Israel was the chosen (elect) firstfruits ON BEHALF OF “His increase” i.e., the WHOLE harvest, aka humanity.


If universalism is true, I’d take it a step further; if Israel was firstfruits, Christianity is secondfruits, i.e., the expansion of God’s grace in time thus progresses from [possibly ever increasing in size and influence?] specialized groups one after the other, all leading to the eventual unfolding of the whole of salvation. Just as Judaism suffered its own corruption in her rejection of Christ, so modern Christianity is showing her own rejection of the scope of God’s grace by adherence to her own exclusivist doctrines, pushing Christ’s atonement further out into the sea of humanity. If true, I wonder how the next historical step will unfold?
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Re: Why is Universal Salvation not Explicit?

Postby BartW » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:19 am

Eaglesway wrote:
BartW wrote:Hi eaglesway,

The word translated everlasting in Dan 12:2 is olam(or owlam,or olammim). This word is used 450 times in the OT. Here are a couple examples that clearly do not mean "everlasting".

I trust you're not making the case that olam is never translated as forever? Assuming you concede it's sometimes [or even quite often] translated as "forever", we run into the same problem here as with aion and aionios. When are we justified in plucking "not forever" from somewhere and plopping it down elsewhere it's commonly thought to intend "forever"? I struggle enough with my native tongue, am not at all learned on the ancient languages, but it does seem to me arguments about words have never [or maybe rarely?] had the strength, after so many centuries of scholarship, to change doctrine. All the same, these are interesting ideas and lend food for thought to the debate.


No, I was not making the point it is never translated forever. My point is that olam is one word. If in many places it cannot possibly mean forever, it is reasonable to consider the possibility that forever is not the best, or correct translation. My point is also that olam means, as both the Strongs and NAS concordances show," long duration, antiquity, futurity", - a period of time in a dependent relationship to the subject it describes and the context.

It is far too convenient to make it "forever" when it suits the purpose. imo it cannot really mean forever if it is attached to things like a slaves life, or an ancient time in history.

A good example of this is "hell" which is translated for three different words(70 some times in the kjv 50 or so in the NAS)- sheol, gehenna and tartarus - none of which is a proper translation. Whatever popular religion has taught for the last millenia- it is easily provable in any lexicon.

As noted earlier, languages and the minutia associated with them are above my pay grade. I've read that in word usage then as now context plays a major role in interpretation. You may be right that forever may or may not be the best usage for olam, but that can also be turned around to say that it also can't be applied willy-nilly as having non-eternal meaning either. This goes back in my mind to the question I asked in another thread, if God has controlled His Scriptures (which I believe to be true), to be presentable to us today, then are the reasons we want to override consensus interpretation justified, i.e., might it be that God wants it read according to consensus? Admittedly, the power of authority (in this case the authority of scholarship) is not identical to certitude of course, and God is often found in the Bible to be sided with offshoots and individuals instead of the crowds. These are tough nuts to crack.
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