Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby DaveF » Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:36 am

Hi Melchizedek,



I suppose I have a more radical view of the extent and purpose of Jesus' suffering and death on the cross than most others who hope for universal salvation. Sharing in Christ's suffering is really not possible in my mind. Christ experienced the full extent of all the suffering and death since the beginning of time, 14 billion years worth. This is how I see the true nature of God revealed to the world in the crucified Jesus, not an omnipotent God but an "omni-empathetic" God who knows and feels all the pain and death of the universe and takes it (the judge who saves the world) into Himself to heal all things by emptying Himself into all of creation. What those who witnessed the crucifixion saw and what we know from their account is like the 4% of the universe that we can perceive while the vast majority is the 96% that is dark (the experience of Jesus' godforsakenness hidden from us) which is beyond our perception and understanding.
When he is revealed to us at the Parousia we will see fully who he is and what he endured for everyone's sake and that will transform us into the authentic image of God we were meant to be.


I think we may be talking at cross-purposes a bit here. I would agree that we can't share in Christ's suffering in the way that you suggest here, but neither do I think that is what scripture is calling us to. None of us will suffer to the same degree that Jesus did, nor will we suffer exactly the same things. Scripture seems to make it clear that we will share in similar manner of sufferings, however (as Paul did).


My concern is that when we talk about the suffering that occurs in this world is what is attributed to be the cause of that suffering. It is one thing to say that 1st century believers suffered at the hands of Rome for the sake of gospel and quite another to attribute the suffering of the infants who we thrown alive into a fire pit at Auschwitz as in any way being a chastisement from God. We need to be very careful and specific when we assert that the suffering that is rife in this world is somehow mandated by God or even allowed by Him. I don't think you or most others on this board are doing that but a general reader who should happen across these kinds of discussions may infer that God does somehow "save" people by putting them through "hell on Earth" experiences in this world rather than saving them from such hells.
It seems that by and large Christians miss the essential truth of what Jesus was saying to Nicodemus when he told Nicodemus about being born anew from above (from God). Resurrection is the new birth from God. Unfortunately, the centrality of resurrection has been overshadowed by the dualistic, Hellenistic contaminate of an immortal soul going to heaven at death.

While I would agree with this statement, I'm not seeing how it bears on the discussion. Perhaps you can clarify this point?


Was our first birth into this world through sexual/genetic processes something that we had any say in or participated in except to the extent of being born. Life was given to each of us without us going through a "lake of fire" experience. Although, tragically and unjustly many are conceived and born into this world with a terrible hand dealt to them: genetic/congenital defects or being born into an environment and conditions that put them into a "hell on earth" from the get go.

Well, no. As far as I know, we didn't have any say in the circumstances or fact of our birth. We weren't put through a lake of fire experience as a process of our physical birth (though perhaps our mothers were :lol: ), but I'm struggling to see how that connects to the (possible) necessity of a purification process connected to being "made new".


Referring back to the full context that I made that statement in, what I am sayings is that what prepares us for living in the new creation is not primarily a purification process through suffering but rather a new birth process through resurrection. Jesus said that we have to become like little children in order to enter the kingdom. Some have interpreted that to mean to become innocent or have the lowly social status that children have in society, especially 1st century children in ancient Palestine. That certainly may be part of what Jesus meant but I think it needs to be taken further, not in a simplistic literal way of actually being resurrected as children but in the way of the Jubilee. The slate wiped clean, the "slate" of our essential being is not smashed (annihilated), but the writing on the slate, our life story and all that we did and experienced is wiped clean and a new story is written by God (an He does not remember our sins) that gives us a new start, a new birth.

When God rewrites the story of our lives he is writing it from the Lamb's book of life. That book is not some sort of ledger book with a list of names and those who's name is not in the book is consigned to the lake of fire. In most translations Rev. 13:8 is rendered as the Book of Life of the Lamb. But instead of only the two definite articles as translated in English it has three in the Greek so it should be translated as: "the scroll of the life of the lamb." It is not simply a ledger book of those who go straight to "heaven" and the others not found in the book are sent to the lake of fire, whether it be a place of everlasting torment or limited, purgative torment. The book of life is the book of the life of Christ. It is actually the book that contains the complete life of the Lamb, who is the Alpha and Omega, the new Adam, the Logos in and through all things are made and live. Our new lives are already in Christ ("we are new creatures in Christ") waiting to be revealed and reborn in the resurrection of the new creation of all things.

It is critical to see that the book of the life of the Lamb is that of the Lambkin. A lot of talk about the judgment, book of life and lake of fire is more reminiscent of the Egyptian god Anubis and the "Book of the Dead." This Egyptian concept of judgment involved weighing of the heart of each individual to determine their worthiness to enter the realm of the gods, or if not worthy to be devoured by the great crocodile (annihilation). But no one faces the judgment of YHWH as a solitary individual before the throne of God. That throne is the throne of YHWH and the Lamb. The Lamb who stands by us every step of the way through all the "hells" of this world, or any other world. Only the Lamb is worthy to open the book of the Life, the Life that he lived and gave to all so that all of our stories may be written anew into his Book of Life.

I suppose the word "purification" can be used to describe the wiping of the slate of our lives, but it becomes problematic when that purification is describes as punitive--being put through some sort of eschatological ringer to make us clean and worthy. Only the Lamb is worthy and our real lives are already written in the book of His Life.


Did Jesus afflict the already afflicted so that they would then have sufficient faith and be healed? He brought the good news of God's Kingdom in the midst of the oppressed and afflicted, his very presence being that Kingdom, and that is what sparked their faith/trust in who he was( Emmanuel, God with us). The simple truth of the matter is those people who were largely the poor, scriptually illiterate, unclean/unholy and looked down on with contempt by the religious elite, finally encountered someone who actually made it possible for them to trust God.


This is an interesting point; So far as I can see, he did not afflict those already afflicted in order to produce faith. But neither do I think that discipline or the lake of fire take the role of "affliction" as such; It seems that these are perhaps more circumstantial manfestations of God's purification; sort of a "trial by fire" concept in order to strip us of that which keeps us from wholeness. By way of example; a surgeon cutting out a cancerous tumor is not afflicting his patient, yet it is a process which must be endured by the patient to become well and restored to wholeness.


The "trial by fire" concept sounds awfully pagan to me, something like trial by combat. But then of course Jesus did not merely cure the sick, he healed them, made them whole in the full sense of the word; a precursor sign of the eschatological resurrection. Modern medicine has made some significant advances in the past century but it doesn't come close what Jesus was able to do. So I don't think comparing the healing touch of Jesus with modern medicine is a fair comparison.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Bob Wilson » Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:23 pm

Dave,

I'm puzzled. You appear to suggest to Mel that it'd be perverse to think that suffering could be "allowed by God"? What's the alternative? Is is to see God as heretofore unable to change the nature of our painful existence? You say, testing by "fire" seems like a pagan idea. Would you agree that Biblical writers appear to affirm this 'pagan' metaphor?

You seem to say that the meaning of Jesus' hidden 'godforsakeness is that we become exempt from 'sharing in suffering.' That does sound as attractive as dispensationalism's vision of a pretribulation rapture. But what basis do you see in experience or Scripture to believe this is the reality? Do you think that Jesus was actually 'forsaken' by God? If so, why?
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Melchizedek » Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:51 pm

Hi Dave; thanks for this reply. I think it's very helpful in clearing up some misunderstanding!

DaveF wrote:
My concern is that when we talk about the suffering that occurs in this world is what is attributed to be the cause of that suffering. It is one thing to say that 1st century believers suffered at the hands of Rome for the sake of gospel and quite another to attribute the suffering of the infants who we thrown alive into a fire pit at Auschwitz as in any way being a chastisement from God. We need to be very careful and specific when we assert that the suffering that is rife in this world is somehow mandated by God or even allowed by Him. I don't think you or most others on this board are doing that but a general reader who should happen across these kinds of discussions may infer that God does somehow "save" people by putting them through "hell on Earth" experiences in this world rather than saving them from such hells.


Ah, Ok. This does make sense to me, and I agree; I just wasn't understanding where you were going with it from the last comment. That is an important distinction for sure.


Was our first birth into this world through sexual/genetic processes something that we had any say in or participated in except to the extent of being born. Life was given to each of us without us going through a "lake of fire" experience. Although, tragically and unjustly many are conceived and born into this world with a terrible hand dealt to them: genetic/congenital defects or being born into an environment and conditions that put them into a "hell on earth" from the get go.



Referring back to the full context that I made that statement in, what I am sayings is that what prepares us for living in the new creation is not primarily a purification process through suffering but rather a new birth process through resurrection. Jesus said that we have to become like little children in order to enter the kingdom. Some have interpreted that to mean to become innocent or have the lowly social status that children have in society, especially 1st century children in ancient Palestine. That certainly may be part of what Jesus meant but I think it needs to be taken further, not in a simplistic literal way of actually being resurrected as children but in the way of the Jubilee. The slate wiped clean, the "slate" of our essential being is not smashed (annihilated), but the writing on the slate, our life story and all that we did and experienced is wiped clean and a new story is written by God (an He does not remember our sins) that gives us a new start, a new birth.


Very good point!

When God rewrites the story of our lives he is writing it from the Lamb's book of life. That book is not some sort of ledger book with a list of names and those who's name is not in the book is consigned to the lake of fire. In most translations Rev. 13:8 is rendered as the Book of Life of the Lamb. But instead of only the two definite articles as translated in English it has three in the Greek so it should be translated as: "the scroll of the life of the lamb." It is not simply a ledger book of those who go straight to "heaven" and the others not found in the book are sent to the lake of fire, whether it be a place of everlasting torment or limited, purgative torment. The book of life is the book of the life of Christ. It is actually the book that contains the complete life of the Lamb, who is the Alpha and Omega, the new Adam, the Logos in and through all things are made and live. Our new lives are already in Christ ("we are new creatures in Christ") waiting to be revealed and reborn in the resurrection of the new creation of all things.

It is critical to see that the book of the life of the Lamb is that of the Lambkin. A lot of talk about the judgment, book of life and lake of fire is more reminiscent of the Egyptian god Anubis and the "Book of the Dead." This Egyptian concept of judgment involved weighing of the heart of each individual to determine their worthiness to enter the realm of the gods, or if not worthy to be devoured by the great crocodile (annihilation). But no one faces the judgment of YHWH as a solitary individual before the throne of God. That throne is the throne of YHWH and the Lamb. The Lamb who stands by us every step of the way through all the "hells" of this world, or any other world. Only the Lamb is worthy to open the book of the Life, the Life that he lived and gave to all so that all of our stories may be written anew into his Book of Life.


Yes, I suppose there is something to this. I don't really know what else to say about it at the moment!

I suppose the word "purification" can be used to describe the wiping of the slate of our lives, but it becomes problematic when that purification is describes as punitive--being put through some sort of eschatological ringer to make us clean and worthy. Only the Lamb is worthy and our real lives are already written in the book of His Life.


Yes, there seems to be an imputed worthiness or righteousness from Christ in play here, just sort of hanging out and waiting for us. It occurred to me on further reflection that this purification/ worthiness that we're speaking of is being held in Christ where our true identity lies. I can't help but wonder what types of circumstances are required to get us to the place where we come to an end of ourselves so that we can even see the need to begin to experience what's already there, but I do see how it's problematic to equate the normal circumstances of living in a fallen world to a purification process. That's actually one of the things that got me wondering about the whole process. If the lake of fire is not a process of purification in this life, and not a final punitive judgment then what is it, precisely? How does the basanizo look and function temporally and/or eschatologically?

The "trial by fire" concept sounds awfully pagan to me, something like trial by combat. But then of course Jesus did not merely cure the sick, he healed them, made them whole in the full sense of the word; a precursor sign of the eschatological resurrection. Modern medicine has made some significant advances in the past century but it doesn't come close what Jesus was able to do. So I don't think comparing the healing touch of Jesus with modern medicine is a fair comparison.


Sure, I can see this as a fair point, and it may indeed be something of a pagan notion as I stated it, though that is not how it was intended. The modern medicine idea is not the most accurate comparison to be sure, but my thought was not to create an exact analogy, but to try to communicate a scriptural concept; namely that it seems that some type of "death" or "loss" is what leads to life. If we want to hang on to our life (apart from Christ) then we will lose it, but if we "lose it for his sake" (let go of that which hinders us from finding the life he has for us), we will find it. I can't help but think that's a process, and any process can sometimes be painful as part and parcel.

I had more ideas/ thoughts on this, but for some reason I just can't seem to get them to solidify in my head at the moment, so I'll have to hold off until later. Perhaps further comments in the thread will jog things a bit for me.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Bob Wilson » Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:11 pm

Two arguments here seem to me contradicted by Revelation's whole storyline: 1. That translations err on 13:8 such that the concern is not with which of us will experience "life" vs. who is sent to the 'fire.' 2. That the Lamb's great worth (which is to be affirmed) means everyone already (automatically?) has the benefits of His life. Isn't the whole book's clearest repeated theme John's concern for faithful obedience during coming testing because that has serious consequences?
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Melchizedek » Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:32 am

Yes, that was part of what I was thinking; thanks for pointing that out, Bob.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby DaveF » Fri Jun 15, 2012 6:21 am

Melchizedek and Bob,

I have been a bit busy with other tasks, but I am also researching and meditating on your last posts. So I will soon have a reply to both of you in the next few days.

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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby DaveF » Sat Jun 23, 2012 1:29 am

Melchizedek and Bob,

This is my combined reply to your last posts.

The Lake of Fire is the presence of Theion, the healing, transforming life of God. It is not a place of separation from God but the actual immersion into the purifying, healing presence of God. Healing is not punitive it is restorative—and even more so it is creative, a new creation. That’s right. It is not at all what has been falsely presented in the translations. The angels (messengers of God) and the Lamb are present on the shore of the lake (limnhn, the root of which is limen, which means “harbor” and it is associated with the nearness of the shore). The Lamb is there with them in the safe harbor of the healing, transforming presence of YHWH. The Lake of Fire is not about torment (basanizo is the testing by the touchstone to determine whether the metal/object is purified), either everlasting or temporary. It is to determine whether that which is immersed into the presence of YHWH and the Lamb has been freed/purified from all that oppressed and corrupted it and is made ready for the new birth of their life that is the new creation in Jesus Christ). All that is not in the book of the life of the Lamb is brought into intimate closeness with the very source of life, YHWH and the Lamb. They are embraced by the Life, freed from all that has tormented them with fear, abandonment, nihilism and hopelessness. Then they become like little children who enter into the new creation of God.

We all live in a state of death. Our daily sustenance depends on the taking of the life of others, whether it be animals or plants. We all partake in the Babylonian systems of exploitation and oppression of the living Earth and of those who are among the least and weakest. If we do not see this then we are in profound denial about the true state of this world. The only alternative to this world of death is a world made new by a Life freely given to all. Not a life forcefully or fraudulently taken from the powerless to stave off our own inevitable deaths, but a Life freely given to all by the sole possessor of Life, YHWH and the Lamb.

Is this “automatic” is this “magic?” No, it is the very essence of agape—the love of God.

The Book of Revelation is both about the Revelation given to Jesus Christ and the revelation of Jesus Christ. The Lamb discloses the true meaning of history and defines and rewrites the history of the world. The Lamb is in complete empathetic solidarity with all those who suffer the horrors and injustices of this reality. He is the Lamb who takes all of the suffering, injustice and death away from the history of the world. He makes way for the unimpeded outpouring of the Life of YHWH into the creation to heal, transform and make new all that has been lost, tormented and killed.

There is no rapture or escape from the suffering of this world, instead there is the Lamb immersing himself into the very depths of the world’s suffering, despair and death. He takes the source of Life into the very abyss of godforsaken nothingness to transform that godforsaken place into the wellspring of God’s living waters, which fills the creation with life all bountiful. It is the faithfulness of the Lamb which goes into those depths where the faithless have fallen into and like the good shepherd will not rest until that most godless are brought into the healing presence of the safe harbor of the living presence of Theion and the Lamb. All things will be made new, all things will be written with a new story and name into the Lamb’s book of Life—the Alpha and Omega of all creation.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Bob Wilson » Tue Jun 26, 2012 2:10 pm

Dave,

My views supportive of Beck's purgation thesis rest very little on having confidence of Revelation's meaning. I am aware of numerous interpretations of it, but your anti-purgation one is unfamiliar, and to me seems especially contradictory to most students' impressions of its' dominant themes. I'm not seeing how your assertions derive from its' text. Is there a commentary or other scholars who find in it the meaning that you do?
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby RuthJ » Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:31 pm

Bob

I think it’s time for you to defend your rejection of God’s unlimited generosity, grace, healing, and kindness.

Dave is writing about the all-sufficiency of the Lamb, the water of life freely given, the total liberation that was at the centre of Jesus’s mission, his faithfulness to his whole creation. He’s talking about the creator, the source of life, giving life in all its fulness to all without restraint. He’s showing how God behaves exactly how Jesus behaved – taking the pain on himself, not putting it on others, in order that they would be healed, restored, and would flourish.

Why on earth would you oppose that?

Do you honestly believe that somehow our pain can achieve in us something that Jesus’s death and resurrection was unable to do?
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Bob Wilson » Tue Jun 26, 2012 5:04 pm

Hi Ruth,

It appears frustrating that most universalists won't just accept your view that we experience grace's freedom from all suffering and judgment without any conditions! I realize that you and Dave sincerely believe that this is the right view to draw from the Bible's story. But I have already enumerated numerous passages that specify such conditions, and just now to Dave that interpretations of Revelation almost universally recognize a major theme is warning precisely of painful consequences of not meeting such conditions. I am failing to see see that you defend your view with a serious engagement of any of this substance.

My perception is that you essentially just assert that the meaning of Jesus is to contradict this broad Biblical narrative that I have defended, when as I've cited, Jesus himself agreed with this sobering Biblical theme. I don't think the reason "why" most oppose what you assert is that it's not desirable to them (I'd be thrilled to find out your view is right). I think the problem is that those who want to be faithful to Jesus perceive that you have been unable to defend your desire in light of the Bible's narrative.

Grace be with you,
Bob
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby RuthJ » Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:42 pm

Bob

Please just answer the questions:

Why on earth would you oppose the all-sufficiency of the Lamb, and God’s unlimited generosity, grace, healing, and kindness?


Why do you deny that God behaves exactly how Jesus behaved – taking others' pain on himself, not the other way round?


Do you honestly believe that somehow our pain can achieve in us something that Jesus’s death and resurrection was unable to do?
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Bob Wilson » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:52 am

Ruth,

We don't seem to be understanding each other! I just answered your first two questions as to why I reject your view that there are no conditions for experiencing God's blessings, by pointing to my numerous citations of a whole pattern of Biblical texts that specify those conditions. I don't know how to tell you any more clearly than that what is the reason that followers of the Biblical Christ give for reaching the beliefs that they do. ISTM the question is why you offer no answer or response to that Biblical substance (I've tried to be responsive to your questions; can you answer this one of mine?) On your third question: Yes, I do honestly believe that God is able to use painful experiences to test, purify, and refine us. I not only believe this is Biblical, but believe that some difficult experiences have nonetheless been growing experiences in my life.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Melchizedek » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:28 am

Take a look at the life of the apostle Paul, for instance. Here was a man clearly chosen by and used of God, but his life from a human viewpoint was an absolute wreck. He suffered a LOT, but we see his response was one of joy in spite of (and in fact because of!) the suffering. God always manifests himself in His glorious power in human weakness and suffering, that is his M.O. This is why the cross is such a stumbling block!

Scripture states that Paul was given (By God, is the implication!) a demonic messenger from satan to beat on him, (The english translation is much more tame) so that he wouldn't be filled with pride. He asked three times for God to remove this affliction from him, and God's response was; No "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Paul then says, 'So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.'

So, it is precisely through these (2nd Cor. 12:10) "weaknesses, insults, troubles, persecutions and difficulties" that the power of God is manifest in our lives!
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Melchizedek » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:37 am

Bob Wilson wrote:Dave,

My views supportive of Beck's purgation thesis rest very little on having confidence of Revelation's meaning. I am aware of numerous interpretations of it, but your anti-purgation one is unfamiliar, and to me seems especially contradictory to most students' impressions of its' dominant themes. I'm not seeing how your assertions derive from its' text. Is there a commentary or other scholars who find in it the meaning that you do?


Bob, It has been awhile since I've read it, but I think J. Preston Eby's lake of fire series takes a similar tack; and it seems somewhat familiar from other sources as well, although I don't recall what they are at the moment. I'm not sure that Eby takes so much an anti-purgation stance as an anti torment stance, but it's probably worth a read.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Melchizedek » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:47 am

RuthJ wrote:Bob

I think it’s time for you to defend your rejection of God’s unlimited generosity, grace, healing, and kindness.

Dave is writing about the all-sufficiency of the Lamb, the water of life freely given, the total liberation that was at the centre of Jesus’s mission, his faithfulness to his whole creation. He’s talking about the creator, the source of life, giving life in all its fulness to all without restraint. He’s showing how God behaves exactly how Jesus behaved – taking the pain on himself, not putting it on others, in order that they would be healed, restored, and would flourish.

Why on earth would you oppose that?

Do you honestly believe that somehow our pain can achieve in us something that Jesus’s death and resurrection was unable to do?


Hi Ruth; I don't think that he's saying that our pain replaces something Jesus was unable to do, but rather that the experience of our process of the realization of the new life includes elements that were modeled in the death and resurrection. We share both in Christ's death and His life; one does not come without the other. Also, see my other post here on the apostle Paul for additional example.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Bret Belko » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:58 am

I'm SO confused!! :!: :? :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops:

And NOW, very, very afraid. :( :cry:
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby DaveF » Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:19 am

Melchizedek wrote:
RuthJ wrote:Bob

I think it’s time for you to defend your rejection of God’s unlimited generosity, grace, healing, and kindness.

Dave is writing about the all-sufficiency of the Lamb, the water of life freely given, the total liberation that was at the centre of Jesus’s mission, his faithfulness to his whole creation. He’s talking about the creator, the source of life, giving life in all its fulness to all without restraint. He’s showing how God behaves exactly how Jesus behaved – taking the pain on himself, not putting it on others, in order that they would be healed, restored, and would flourish.

Why on earth would you oppose that?

Do you honestly believe that somehow our pain can achieve in us something that Jesus’s death and resurrection was unable to do?


Hi Ruth; I don't think that he's saying that our pain replaces something Jesus was unable to do, but rather that the experience of our process of the realization of the new life includes elements that were modeled in the death and resurrection. We share both in Christ's death and His life; one does not come without the other. Also, see my other post here on the apostle Paul for additional example.


Hi Mel,

This is lifted directly from one of Bob's earlier posts in this thread.

Perhaps one could say that the cross created 'salvation,' if this meant something like it 'offers' it or establishes it "in principle." But my preference would be to say that the cross did not "create salvation" in that no one is automatically saved by the cross apart from the appropriate response to the offer of God's grace, and that it is Jesus' life, death, resurrection, exaltation, and his facilitation of the Holy Spirit's work that makes salvation possible. If the past event of the cross alone created our salvation, then wouldn't everyone would already be saved? My sense is that God will secure everyone's salvation, but that this is securely worked out over time, and the Bible's assumption is that we play a part in it as we choose to respond to God's grace. In other words, I think the NT is consistent with the OT in looking for an obedient and righteous response of faith to the always unmerited love and grace of God. Thus I do think saying that Jesus and the cross provide the "path to salvation" is appropriate, since the Bible suggests that experiencing salvation's wholeness involves following his example and taking up our own cross.

That sounds like salvation (which is a problematic word that now means anything and everything) is something that is completed by the individual's experience and not what God has accomplished in and through the experience of Jesus for us. The Gospel is about what is done for us not by us. It is not a about good advise, good practice, good laws or anything else other than the good news of what was done independent of who we are and what we do. The Gospel is not a path to God or of salvation, it is the path from God walked by Jesus through Golgotha and into the new creation of all things. That is what makes the Gospel singularly and unequivocally universal good news for all of creation! The world is in desperate need for real, hardcore good news not more religion, ideology or some other human-centered surrogate for what God and only God can do. We can no more be the saviors of the world, or of our selves, than we can be creators of the universe. Salvation is an act of creation, it is that radical and that comprehensive and universal.

How can anybody claim to experience salvation's wholeness in this broken world where there is so much injustice and suffering going on. Wholeness will only come at the Parousia when all things will be healed and resurrected into the life of the new creation made possible by the singular experience of Jesus at Golgotha.

For those who are still confused carefully read through this thread again and see for yourself what is actually being said. If you are confused by anything that I wrote please let me know I will gladly make my best effort to make it less confusing.

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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby RuthJ » Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:39 am

No - please, no! Bret, if you are confused and afraid, that is NOT the good news you are hearing, so do not listen to it!

Jesus reached out to people who were in pain. He spoke kind words to them, only kind and comforting words, never threatened them, always said, "Don't be afraid!" He never, never told anyone to be afraid. He is Perfect Love, and Perfect Love casts out fear, because fear brings torment - and to PERFECT LOVE, the torment of the beloved (that's YOU) is utterly intolerable. He would rather let HIMSELF be tormented to the end of time... and actually, that's just what he did.

Jesus says, "Don't be afraid!" "It's me, don't be afraid!" because he takes away all reason to fear.

Honestly, now I'm sad, and angry too. Striking terror into people like this is not a game: it does real damage. Jesus got angry too about hurting and frightening people.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Bob Wilson » Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:42 am

Hi all!

I'm heading on the road, and distinguishing our semantics here seems to remain confusing. My impression is that Mel totally catches my position and meaning perfectly. I don't think that affirming that the saving work in us must ultimately be credited to God's work means that we are not called to any participation in the transformation that God seeks. To me, part of the genius of universalism is that it helps us hold together these two major themes in the Biblical narrative. We are called to respond to conditions such as faith and repentance, while at the same time the assurance of the promise of ultimately completing the work that God has begun in us is totally secure because it lies altogether in God's loving character. Both sides of this tension seem amplified in Scripture, and the reading of must students of it. So just as the burden of defending universalism falls especially on us who offer this minority interpretation, so I think it falls on those who argue that Scripture does Not point to conditions for enjoying God's best blessings.

Grace be with you,
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Melchizedek » Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:00 pm

DaveF wrote:Hi Mel,

This is lifted directly from one of Bob's earlier posts in this thread.

Perhaps one could say that the cross created 'salvation,' if this meant something like it 'offers' it or establishes it "in principle." But my preference would be to say that the cross did not "create salvation" in that no one is automatically saved by the cross apart from the appropriate response to the offer of God's grace, and that it is Jesus' life, death, resurrection, exaltation, and his facilitation of the Holy Spirit's work that makes salvation possible. If the past event of the cross alone created our salvation, then wouldn't everyone would already be saved? My sense is that God will secure everyone's salvation, but that this is securely worked out over time, and the Bible's assumption is that we play a part in it as we choose to respond to God's grace. In other words, I think the NT is consistent with the OT in looking for an obedient and righteous response of faith to the always unmerited love and grace of God. Thus I do think saying that Jesus and the cross provide the "path to salvation" is appropriate, since the Bible suggests that experiencing salvation's wholeness involves following his example and taking up our own cross.

That sounds like salvation (which is a problematic word that now means anything and everything) is something that is completed by the individual's experience and not what God has accomplished in and through the experience of Jesus for us. The Gospel is about what is done for us not by us. It is not a about good advise, good practice, good laws or anything else other than the good news of what was done independent of who we are and what we do. The Gospel is not a path to God or of salvation, it is the path from God walked by Jesus through Golgotha and into the new creation of all things. That is what makes the Gospel singularly and unequivocally universal good news for all of creation! The world is in desperate need for real, hardcore good news not more religion, ideology or some other human-centered surrogate for what God and only God can do. We can no more be the saviors of the world, or of our selves, than we can be creators of the universe. Salvation is an act of creation, it is that radical and that comprehensive and universal.

How can anybody claim to experience salvation's wholeness in this broken world where there is so much injustice and suffering going on. Wholeness will only come at the Parousia when all things will be healed and resurrected into the life of the new creation made possible by the singular experience of Jesus at Golgotha.



Ok, I guess my current understanding is perhaps slightly different than Bob's. I see salvation as already a done deal in one sense, but also something that must be 'worked out' in order to experience its fullness. I think this was James' whole point with his works vs. faith thing. It isn't one or the other, it's both; In other words, we can't experience faith without it "working out" in our lives any more than we can experience the salvation that has been provided without its truth permeating our lives, transforming us in the process. I do agree that God does all of it in us somehow; it's really hard (for me) to quantify how our "response" plays into it.

Perhaps a somewhat crude illustration might be helpful here. Let's say that I'm a smoker, and salvation from smoking has already been provided for me. I can mentally assent to the idea that salvation has been provided from that and that smoking is bad for me. But until that knowledge actually transforms me, including the damaging habits, I don't fully experience salvation from smoking until that happens, even if that's a process outside of my control.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Bob Wilson » Fri Jun 29, 2012 7:39 am

Mel,

You express the issue just as I sometimes put it! It's hard to spell this issue out with clarity, but when I speak of God "completing" in us our salvation, this corresponds to what you describe as experiencing its' benefits. I agree that it is already 'complete' in the sense that its' accomplishment lies securely in God's character, where in reality, it's a done deal. But the focus here has been on whether there is any place in our coming to experience God's salvation and wholeness for a process that may involve painful purfication. A great deal of Scripture and experience say to me that the answer is yes. So would we be on the same page if the distinguishing issue is, "There are 'conditions' of response on our end which are necessary for enjoying the benefits of our 'salvation'?
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby stuartd » Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:30 pm

Richard Beck wrote:This post is appearing on my blog tomorrow, on a topic very much of interest to the EU Forum:

I just started reading Jerry Walls's new book Purgatory: The Logic of Total Transformation.

My interest in purgatory comes from the fact that my vision of universal reconciliation--that God will one day be "all in all"--has a family resemblance to the doctrine of purgatory.

The key location of overlap has to do with holiness in heaven. Specifically, sin is more than skin deep. Trouble is, the main problem Protestants tend to worry about when it comes to sin isn't the sin. It's God's anger over sin. Because of this Protestants aren't really all that interested in escaping sin. They are mainly preoccupied with escaping hell. Thus, for many Protestants the answer to our "sin problem" isn't holiness but forgiveness.

Put more crudely, Protestants are more interested in being saved than in being good.

The results of this emphasis, if you look around, are pretty obvious.

The trouble with this view is that sin goes deep. Sin is describing ways we have become morally damaged and disordered. As Walls writes, "The more we sin, the more complicated and extensive the damage we do to ourselves, and correspondingly, the more is required for repair and rehabilitation." Getting this all fixed--repair and rehabilitation--is going to take some time. And more to the point, few of us complete the journey of sanctification (and quite a few Christians don't seem to be making any progress at all) before we die.

So while we might be forgiven at the moment of our death we remain very much steeped in sin. If so, how does that sin play out in heaven? Are we even allowed into heaven if we are not perfectly holy? Walls cites this passage from the book of Hebrews:
Hebrews 12.14
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

That's the issue, isn't it? If we aren't holy at the time of our death how are we to "see the Lord"?

Walls says there are four different ways we might answer these sorts of questions:
Faced with what seems to be this obvious empirical reality [that we all die still infected by sin], the question remains about the fate of such persons. There are four broad possibilities. First, we might say that they go to heaven with their sins, imperfections, and the like intact, so heaven is not in fact essentially sinless. Second, we might think they will simply be lost and never make it to heaven if they die without becoming completely holy. Third, we might say that at the moment of death, God makes people holy by an instantaneous and unilateral act, however imperfect, sinful, and immature in character they may be. Fourth, we may say that the sanctification process continues after death with our willing cooperation until the process is complete, and we are actually made holy through and through.

Walls quickly notes that few Christians believe in options one and two. The debate focuses on options three and four. Does God, on Judgment Day, wave a magic wand making us instantaneously holy? Or is there a process and season of purgation? A time of healing, reconciliation, confession, peace-making, education, repentance, forgiveness, repair, rehabilitation and even punishment?

I find the former possibly implausible for a host of theological and psychological reasons. Consequently, I opt for the developmental view.


why thank-you , an interesting, intelligent and enjoyable post, I don't have the time to read all the responces just now but to quote a movie star ''I'll be back'' ! :D
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby auggybendoggy » Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:04 am

The interesting thing is that Christ was perfected through suffering yet Ruth expects to walk the same path as Jesus without being perfected in suffering. If people go to hell either their suffering will bring about perfection or it will not and they will simply suffer for retribution sake.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Bret Belko » Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:52 am

It's getting a lttle chilly in here. :cry:
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby RuthJ » Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:44 am

auggybendoggy wrote:The interesting thing is that Christ was perfected through suffering yet Ruth expects to walk the same path as Jesus without being perfected in suffering. If people go to hell either their suffering will bring about perfection or it will not and they will simply suffer for retribution sake.

Actually, I don’t expect to walk the same path as Jesus.

    - I am not the Way from God to the creation.

    - I cannot walk around healing others by creating sight where there was never any, by making maimed or withered hands grow again, by creating a healthy working nervous system and/or musculoskeletal structure where someone was paralysed, because I am not the creator.

    - I cannot go to a dead person’s tomb and call them back to life.

    - I cannot take the suffering and pain on myself, so that the creation won’t have it.

    - I cannot go to Golgotha and pour life, healing and forgiveness into the world even as I die.

    - I cannot go into the nothingness, fill it to overflowing with the life of God so even death cannot hold anything any more.

    - I cannot spill so much life that the splashback raises me to a new kind of life that never even existed before.

    - I cannot lead the creation from its death spiral into that new-creation kind of life.

THAT is Jesus’s path.

NONE of us can walk it. Only he ever could walk it.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Eric Fry » Sun Jul 01, 2012 8:52 am

RuthJ wrote:
auggybendoggy wrote:The interesting thing is that Christ was perfected through suffering yet Ruth expects to walk the same path as Jesus without being perfected in suffering. If people go to hell either their suffering will bring about perfection or it will not and they will simply suffer for retribution sake.

Actually, I don’t expect to walk the same path as Jesus.

    - I am not the Way from God to the creation.

    - I cannot walk around healing others by creating sight where there was never any, by making maimed or withered hands grow again, by creating a healthy working nervous system and/or musculoskeletal structure where someone was paralysed, because I am not the creator.

    - I cannot go to a dead person’s tomb and call them back to life.

    - I cannot take the suffering and pain on myself, so that the creation won’t have it.

    - I cannot go to Golgotha and pour life, healing and forgiveness into the world even as I die.

    - I cannot go into the nothingness, fill it to overflowing with the life of God so even death cannot hold anything any more.

    - I cannot spill so much life that the splashback raises me to a new kind of life that never even existed before.

    - I cannot lead the creation from its death spiral into that new-creation kind of life.

THAT is Jesus’s path.

NONE of us can walk it. Only he ever could walk it.


Sorry, Ruth, but all of your points seem to me to be nothing more than excuses why you can't imitate Christ and God, as we are asked to do in the NT. If all of those "cannots" you listed are impossible for you to try, within our human limitations, I would submit that what you are proclaiming is little more than the feel-good prosperity gospel that is so popular in the US these days.

1.) I am not the Way from God to the creation.
Of course, none of us are. Yet we point to the Way by the manner in which we live, showing how to endure, rather than avoid trials and pain.

2.) I cannot walk around healing others by creating sight where there was never any, by making maimed or withered hands grow again, by creating a healthy working nervous system and/or musculoskeletal structure where someone was paralysed, because I am not the creator.
While we may not be able to bring physical healing, we can bring spiritual healing with our compassion.

3.) I cannot go to a dead person’s tomb and call them back to life.
We can go to their tombs, and offer hope and comfort to those who are grieving, leading them to new life.

4.) I cannot go to Golgotha and pour life, healing and forgiveness into the world even as I die.
We can go to Golgotha in our hearts, and partake of what He did there, and bring life, healing, and forgiveness into our own hearts and lives, and into the hearts and lives of those around us.

5.) I cannot go into the nothingness, fill it to overflowing with the life of God so even death cannot hold anything any more.
We do not walk into the void to accomplish what God did. Rather, we step into to it to understand His love more deeply.

6.) I cannot spill so much life that the splashback raises me to a new kind of life that never even existed before.
How can you know that you can't do that if you don't try?

7.) I cannot lead the creation from its death spiral into that new-creation kind of life.
Then what use is any preaching or evangelism if we cannot lead people to the new life in Christ?

8.) THAT is Jesus’s path.

NONE of us can walk it. Only he ever could walk it.


Then why are we asked to take up our crosses and follow Him? If we cannot walk that same path, then there is no way that we can follow Him, and our lives have little meaning in light of His sacrifice.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby RuthJ » Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:01 pm

Eric Fry wrote:Sorry, Ruth, but all of your points seem to me to be nothing more than excuses why you can't imitate Christ and God, as we are asked to do in the NT. If all of those "cannots" you listed are impossible for you to try, within our human limitations, I would submit that what you are proclaiming is little more than the feel-good prosperity gospel that is so popular in the US these days.

First, I heartily disapprove of the prosperity “gospel”. It is anti-justice in that it teaches people it’s fine to get more and more wealth for themselves, never mind if it is at the expense of those weaker than themselves. This completely opposes the spirit of Jesus.

Your other responses amply demonstrate the point I was making – our limitations prevent us doing these things.

You have clearly stated that you know we can’t do what Jesus did - I mean REALLY what Jesus did. In other words, we can’t walk “his path”.

You have made a number of suggestions as to what we should do instead. Well, doing something instead is not doing the actual deed itself. And I have to say that they are very poor substitutes.

Sure, we can do a lot of them but let’s face it, offering hope and comfort to the bereaved doesn’t quite cut it when what’s really needed is to restore their loved one to them alive and in good health: that would REALLY comfort them and give them hope. And a rather nebulous “spiritual healing” (whatever that means) doesn’t grow back a hand that’s been lost in an industrial accident - grow the hand back and the “spiritual” healing will come as part of the package.

Others are also offering compassion and inner healing, providing hope and comfort to those who are grieving, and bringing life, healing, and forgiveness to others. A lot of those doing these things are not even Christians, but this may well be a response to the spirit of Jesus. My feeling about this is - Go for it! Do as much good and alleviate as much suffering as you can!

Eric Fry wrote:1.) I am not the Way from God to the creation.
Of course, none of us are. Yet we point to the Way by the manner in which we live, showing how to endure, rather than avoid trials and pain.

I’m astonished that you present this as comparable to YHWH becoming flesh, coming into the world to experience what we experience, to live among us as one of us. His endurance was not an endurance test, nor was it an example for us to follow: he came to be in solidarity with us in our suffering and to know us intimately by physically experiencing the worst that we experience; he was also after the outcome – to rescue the whole creation from that suffering and give it abundant life.

Eric Fry wrote:4.) I cannot go to Golgotha and pour life, healing and forgiveness into the world even as I die.
We can go to Golgotha in our hearts, and partake of what He did there, and bring life, healing, and forgiveness into our own hearts and lives, and into the hearts and lives of those around us.

What Jesus did was very concrete, very physical, very real. Golgotha is God coming to us, not us going to him.

He went to Golgotha to give Life to all at the cost of his own life. He brings Life to those who are unable to go and get it for themselves – the helpless, the hopeless, those who have given up on even the idea of a god or a healer or any kind of rescue or relief. He gives freely to all, even (and especially) to those who can’t take it for themselves.

He is the creator, we are the creation: we don’t partake in the act of creation, we have life because of it. In just the same way, we can’t partake in what Jesus did at Golgotha; we are beneficiaries because of it.

Eric Fry wrote:5.) I cannot go into the nothingness, fill it to overflowing with the life of God so even death cannot hold anything any more.
We do not walk into the void to accomplish what God did. Rather, we step into to it to understand His love more deeply.

Again, you agree that we don’t accomplish what God did.

It’s hard to understand what you mean by the rest of your comment. Wasn't the purpose of Jesus's death so that we wouldn't step into the void?

Eric Fry wrote:6.) I cannot spill so much life that the splashback raises me to a new kind of life that never even existed before.
How can you know that you can't do that if you don't try?

I’m astonished by your reply. You must have a very different idea of what that means.

On the cross, Jesus poured out the life of God to such an extent that death was overflowed by life: it couldn’t hold Jesus, and he was raised in a physicality that worked differently from what we are familiar with. It was, as Paul puts it, like a solid house in comparison to a tent – we might say super-physical – and the pattern of how the entire creation will be when it is made new, when God is all in all, when he is directly present to all.

That is what I mean – that none of us can start the entire New Creation by our own death!

Eric Fry wrote:7.) I cannot lead the creation from its death spiral into that new-creation kind of life.
Then what use is any preaching or evangelism if we cannot lead people to the new life in Christ?

There’s no point in preaching or “evangelism” if what you preach is not the “evangel” – the good news about Jesus.

In any case, we can't lead anyone, we are not the good shepherd, Jesus is. He is the one who seeks and saves, not us. He goes after the lost sheep, no matter where or how far he has to go, or through what danger, discomfort, or pain. He goes alone, leaving the other sheep behind in a safe place, finds the lost sheep and carries him home.

I’m afraid it sounds as though you’re just presenting another guru, and Jesus didn’t come into the world to teach the world but to save it.

Eric Fry wrote:8.) THAT is Jesus’s path.

NONE of us can walk it. Only he ever could walk it.


Then why are we asked to take up our crosses and follow Him? If we cannot walk that same path, then there is no way that we can follow Him, and our lives have little meaning in light of His sacrifice.

“Taking up one’s cross” meant something very specific to the people Jesus was speaking to: it meant literally carrying a cross to a place of execution and then dying on that cross. It didn’t mean anything other than that or less than that.

Jesus did not ask anyone to do this. He said that if anyone wanted to follow him, it would involve doing just what he did.

I’m not bothered about the meaning of our lives, what matters is the meaning of his life and death – because that’s what brings real life to the world.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Eric Fry » Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:34 am

Well, Ruth, we have little common ground to discuss very much, since it seems to me that you're a literalist, and I have little use for study of scripture on a detached, non-personal surface level.


“Taking up one’s cross” meant something very specific to the people Jesus was speaking to: it meant literally carrying a cross to a place of execution and then dying on that cross. It didn’t mean anything other than that or less than that.

Jesus did not ask anyone to do this. He said that if anyone wanted to follow him, it would involve doing just what he did.

I’m not bothered about the meaning of our lives, what matters is the meaning of his life and death – because that’s what brings real life to the world.


If "Taking up one's Cross" refers only to those in Christ's time literally doing that, then the lives of many devoted followers of Christ since then have been utterly meaningless. And by declaring that statement as having no meaning on our personal lives today, then there can be no new and real life in the world today.

Also, to view that statement as a purely literal call to welcome one's own crucifixion makes no sense at all, since He gave this instruction to the disciples long before He walked the Via Dolorosa, and used that instruction in the context of daily self sacrifice.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Bob Wilson » Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:16 pm

Challenging questions about the nature of what Jesus was seeking to do seem to be at stake in this discussion. Like Eric, my own perception is that when his movement saw "Jesus as the way" to mean that we are called to be "the people of his way," who follow in his steps and teaching, Christianity operated with great power. But when later eras changed to an emphasis on believing that Jesus in himself provided an objective transaction that in some magical sense transformed the nature of God and/or of our existence & what God's calling is, then Christianity lost its' effective purpose & power.

I admit that this is the evangelical paradigm in which most of us have been shaped. But if what Jesus was talking about means that in what God is pursuing there are now no "conditions" on our part, and no significant role for our pursuit of righteousness, then I personally would feel that I am not understanding anything that he was talking about, and as well must reject most of what seems to clearly be the Bible's storyline.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Melchizedek » Thu Jul 05, 2012 5:56 pm

Bob Wilson wrote:Mel,

You express the issue just as I sometimes put it! It's hard to spell this issue out with clarity, but when I speak of God "completing" in us our salvation, this corresponds to what you describe as experiencing its' benefits. I agree that it is already 'complete' in the sense that its' accomplishment lies securely in God's character, where in reality, it's a done deal. But the focus here has been on whether there is any place in our coming to experience God's salvation and wholeness for a process that may involve painful purfication. A great deal of Scripture and experience say to me that the answer is yes. So would we be on the same page if the distinguishing issue is, "There are 'conditions' of response on our end which are necessary for enjoying the benefits of our 'salvation'?


Sorry, I've been on holiday/ vacation. Just getting back into things.

Bob;
I think so, yes. The weird thing for me (and what's harder for me to pin down, but I believe is the crux of the apparent disagreement between parties here) is that God seems to be the cause of us fulfilling the conditions of response allowing us to experience salvation fully, as well as being the initiator of the process. I certainly agree that it's a process, and that it's often painful; not in a punitive way, but more as a matter of course. It just seems to be the way that God designed things to work. For example, let's say that I have a cold. I actually have the virus for several days before I feel its effects, but once I begin to experience symptoms, it's because my body is already working hard to kick the virus out. That miserable feeling that we often get when we have a cold is actually the sign that our body is already recovering, unpleasant as the experience is... This is what many in the natural health professions refer to as a "healing crisis"; the body actually has to feel worse temporarily while it is actually getting better! I see this reflected as well in scripture, as you also seem to see the same themes from a different perspective, but it's certainly there. It's counter-intuitive; we'd all like the quick-fix, but that is the exception that proves the rule. Make sense? Now, it may not always be this way, and once the new heavens and earth arrive, things may operate very differently. But I think at that point, all things are already made new, so the process is over, so to speak...
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Bob Wilson » Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:31 am

Mel,

Thanks, you well express my bias about how to formulate this. I agree that universalists especially should recognize that God is the "cause" who gets the credit for bringing us to meet the required conditions. And I also believe that seeing the process as "the way God has designed things to work" is a healthy view that allows common ground with others who are seeking to make sense of life. It does appear that the Bible can speak of our suffering as direct and punishing acts of God, i.e. "extrinsic." But it also comes to think of sin as bringing "intrinsic" consequences, wherein God is perceived as giving us over to such results, in order to bring us to repentance and restoration. I prefer to emphasize the second, although as theodicy, if God "designs" it that way, perhaps it does not ultimately remove God's personal involvement.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Melchizedek » Fri Jul 06, 2012 11:41 am

Bob Wilson wrote:Mel,

Thanks, you well express my bias about how to formulate this. I agree that universalists especially should recognize that God is the "cause" who gets the credit for bringing us to meet the required conditions. And I also believe that seeing the process as "the way God has designed things to work" is a healthy view that allows common ground with others who are seeking to make sense of life. It does appear that the Bible can speak of our suffering as direct and punishing acts of God, i.e. "extrinsic." But it also comes to think of sin as bringing "intrinsic" consequences, wherein God is perceived as giving us over to such results, in order to bring us to repentance and restoration. I prefer to emphasize the second, although as theodicy, if God "designs" it that way, perhaps it does not ultimately remove God's personal involvement.


Yes; what's interesting to me is that it isn't even always those being given over to the results of unrighteousness that are (immediately) being pushed toward repentance. Israel was (is) cut off (temporarily) in order for the gentiles to benefit from salvation as well.
But I agree. I think it's Isaiah that said that we learn righteousness when God's judgments are in the earth; it isn't his favors, but his judgments that bring righteousness. But it is at the same time the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. And; God is not mocked, man still reaps what he sows. (i.e. natural consequences). I think our problem is that the Church has long held a very wrong-headed idea of what judgment is, and so as universalists our tendency is to react too much the other way.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Bret Belko » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:15 pm

Bob Wilson wrote:Mel,

Thanks, you well express my bias about how to formulate this. I agree that universalists especially should recognize that God is the "cause" who gets the credit for bringing us to meet the required conditions. And I also believe that seeing the process as "the way God has designed things to work" is a healthy view that allows common ground with others who are seeking to make sense of life. It does appear that the Bible can speak of our suffering as direct and punishing acts of God, i.e. "extrinsic." But it also comes to think of sin as bringing "intrinsic" consequences, wherein God is perceived as giving us over to such results, in order to bring us to repentance and restoration. I prefer to emphasize the second, although as theodicy, if God "designs" it that way, perhaps it does not ultimately remove God's personal involvement.


Bob,

It "seems" you are saying that my illness, my pain, and my current conditon, can be a direct punishment from God?? If this IS true, why would I want to worship such a God?? I don't think I like your God very much IF this is the case.... I'd rather be an atheist!!! Or maybe you ARE right and I DO deserve exactly what I'm getting as in one reaps what they have sown. I must have done some pretty horrible, rotten, and very mean things growing up than, because the payback now is horrendous. I realize you are basing your thoughts on the Bible, I just think any of us can find in the Bible whatever it is we want to find. However, IF you ARE right, I want nothing to do with that/your God. Sorry Bob, I just can't believe that God is "up there" passing this harsh of a judgment on me.... what, so I'll get on my knees and beg forgivness?? Been there done that. I'm still dying. As to whether or not God IS personally involved in my situation, I don't know. I'd like to think He's only letting a sinful world do what it does, cause pain and suffering. Your words scare the heck out of me, as I've previously said. Maybe it's because I don't want them to be true?? Again, IF they are true, you can have Him, I want nothing to do with a god like that! :(

Bret
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby RuthJ » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:36 pm

Bret Belko wrote:It "seems" you are saying that my illness, my pain, and my current conditon, can be a direct punishment from God?? If this IS true, why would I want to worship such a God?? I don't think I like your God very much IF this is the case.... I'd rather be an atheist!!! ….

IF you ARE right, I want nothing to do with that/your God…
IF (your words) are true, you can have Him, I want nothing to do with a god like that! :(


Bret

You are saying what a lot of people are thinking and feeling.

Most of those people have been turned so antagonistic towards anything to do with God because of this kind of idea. Most wouldn’t even get as far as coming to this board.

Here are two people who put it rather well:

Remorse is cureless - the Disease
Not even God can heal,
For 'tis His institution - and
The Adequate of Hell.
Emily Dickinson

Thinking as I do that the Creator of this world is a very cruel being, & being a worshipper of Christ, I cannot help saying: "the Son, O how unlike the Father!" First God Almighty comes with a thump on the head. Then Jesus Christ comes with a balm to heal it.
William Blake (a little bit of sarcasm there, I think!)
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Bob Wilson » Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:36 pm

Bret,

Thanks for sharing your valuable vantage point. I love your contribution on our site. I regret that it sounded like I think that your suffering is God's punishment. I don't know your situation well, but I highly doubt that. My impression is that you are a more gracious guy than I am, and I can't imagine that God would find you more in need of woes than He would me. For me, the problem of evil is a difficult and unsatisfying mystery, and it appears to me that Scripture takes a variety of approaches to explaining it. But I don't believe that we should assume that suffering means that we are worse than someone else, or ever conclude from our suffering that God loves us less than others. Please forgive any contrary impression that I left.

Stating that God "can" use our suffering in a redemptive way does not mean that I think we should assume that most suffering is God's punishment for our personal sins. When, you say that "a sinful world does what it does," that is actually identical to what I called the "intrinsic interpretation," which I said I favor. But as you say, I'm trying to articulate whatever it is that the Biblical writers believe, even if it seems problematic to us. I sympathize with the frustration that the Bible seems capable of saying whatever we want. Still, I seem cursedly fascinated with trying to understand its' writers' viewpoints, even if at some points I find that view wrong-headed.

Thank you brother for hanging in there with us whose interpretations can be quite insensitive.

Grace be with you,
Bob
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby AllanS » Fri Jul 06, 2012 3:36 pm

When two fertilized eggs bump into each other in utero, they occasionally fuse together and continue developing as normal. This is called a chimera, where a single person is composed of the cells of two different people. In rare cases, a person can be both male and female. One poor woman nearly lost custody of her children when it was "proved" she wasn't the actual mother. In fact, she was a chimera, and the authorities had tested the wrong set of DNA.

Now suppose Farmer Fred is a chimera. He is made of two different sets of cells affectionately called Jack and Jill. Alas, Jill has a terrible genetic defect which threatens to destroy Farmer Fred. The doctors decide to give him a powerful drug that kills Jill but saves Jack, and sets Farmer Fred free.

The treatment will be painful.

By analogy, I believe we are spiritual chimeras. One part of our being is "born of God" and cannot sin. It hears God's voice, is loved by God and will be saved. Another part is "born of the devil", and can do nothing but sin. It cannot hear God's voice, is hated by God and will be destroyed in the fire of his wrath. The person-shaped shadow-self which we all carry about like an albatross will be filled with divine light. And this will hurt.

There is no fellowship between light and darkness. If I am pure darkness, there is nothing in me to save. If I am pure light, I have no need of salvation. But I can be saved, and I need to be. Therefore I am both light and darkness. I am a paradox. I am in Adam and in Christ, old and new, alive and dead, of earth and of heaven.

Exhortations to holy living are calls to the good in me to rise up against the evil. It's civil war. Worse than brother against brother, it is me against myself. Wake O Sleeper! Put to death (ouch!) the old Adam. Crucify the evil bastard! Christ can help you. Christ will help you. God himself now knows how to die.
Warning! Amateur at work. Usual disclaimers apply. Author accepts no responsibility for injuries sustained while reading this post.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Bret Belko » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:54 am

Edited out for personal reasons.
Last edited by Bret Belko on Sun Jul 08, 2012 10:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby Bob Wilson » Sat Jul 07, 2012 1:17 pm

Bret,

As I said in our private correspondence, you are a dear brother, who have endured so much crummy stuff, and shown way more character than most of us will ever come near. I have deep confidence that you are secure in Him.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby AndreLinoge » Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:07 pm

Paul said that walking in the spirit will produce the fruit of the spirit. No need for purgation. I myself have experienced this several times in my life. When one feels and is aware of acceptance by God, obsessions, compulsions and addictions lose their power.

I don't need purging; I need grace!
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby DaveF » Sun Aug 12, 2012 12:47 am

AndreLinoge wrote:Paul said that walking in the spirit will produce the fruit of the spirit. No need for purgation. I myself have experienced this several times in my life. When one feels and is aware of acceptance by God, obsessions, compulsions and addictions lose their power.

I don't need purging; I need grace!


I happened to be browsing through Derek Flood's "Rebel God" blog the other day and came across this post from 2010:

I think this raises a very important point: when speaking about "basing theology on experience" that needs a qualifier. I should say basing theology on the experience of grace. Grace is the central narrative of the New Testament, and it is also the lens though which Jesus and the authors of the NT interpreted the Old Testament. Grace is what characterized the entire ministry of Jesus to the sick and the sinner. Grace is what turned a violent Saul into the Chirst following apostle Paul. Miss grace and you miss everything.

The gospels tell a beautiful story of a "sinful woman" who washes Jesus' feet with her tears and pours a jar of alabaster perfume over them. The Pharasees are shocked at this display. But Jesus says "those who are forgiven little, love little" (Lk 7:47). From that let me make a bold assertion: Those who do not know grace, cannot properly understand the Bible. Those who have experienced grace little, understand the Bible little.

On the other hand, if we have experienced grace - that is, if we have known God's amazing grace in the middle of all of our brokenness, darkness, and hurt, that unearned wonderful love completely changes us. It sends us to our knees, it melts our hearts. Such a lived experience of grace is absolutely essential to proper theology. Truth to be understood, must be lived. We need to come to the text as those who know grace and have been transformed by it. Otherwise we may miss its central point. We see this in the story of Paul who before his encounter with Jesus has in fact completely misread the narrative of Scripture and as a result was opposing the church. When he was encountered by grace, this changed his whole outlook, including how he read the Bible.
http://www.therebelgod.com/2010/11/basing-theology-on-experience-pt-2.html

This resonates with and compliments what you are saying Rob. Sin is not dealt with by chastisement and punishment or fear and self-loathing. The answer to sin is not more harm and suffering, albeit it may be spinned as "loving" discipline and punishment. The stranglehold of sin is overcome by freely given grace (unconditional generosity, kindness and even handed equitableness of God) to those damaged and enslaved by sin. It is God giving Himself away to all of us and all things in the creation through the great healer and judge (liberator) Jesus Christ.
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Re: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation

Postby auggybendoggy » Tue Aug 14, 2012 7:37 pm

I just don't see it. It seems that much of what I read here are assertions without any real evidence. Claiming that punishment does not have anything to do with love or grace seems to me to require qualifications. Is it possible that God humbles the arrogant in more than just one means (kindness)? Does love get angry? And if so does it not act angry?

I will agree with Talbott that love, when angry, is still love. But I see no logical reason to conclude that angry love behaves the same as non-angry love. Love def. gets angry - but how does it look?

It seems like it's simply a necessary assumption to dismiss God's anger/wrath/punishment/chastisement in order to maintain either an ultra-universalist position or a pacifist position.

Aug
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