Sunday, September 13, 2009

Universalism and the Salvation of Satan

This idea actually had some prevalence in the early history of the church. It goes back at least as far as Gregory of Nyssa, one of the Greek Fathers, and about as orthodox as it gets.

18 comments:

Gregory said...

The idea of "apocatastasis" first arose in the writings of Origen and St. Clement; both of which, were Alexandrians. Or course, Alexandria was noted for it's Hellenization, having been conquered by Alexander the Great...from which the city derived it's name. It also had a reputation for being a bulwark in the preservance of classical learning...that is, until the Muslims sacked it's Library in the middle of the 7th Century.

Since St. Gregory was influenced by the writings of Origen and the Alexandrian school of thought...at least, up to a certain point...he most likely picked it up there.

While Origen and St. Gregory both affirmed the "restoration" of all things, they did so for much different reasons:

"For Gregory the salvation is accomplished in the joyfulness of God; Origen sees it the light of an abstract idea."

--Robert Payne in "The Holy Fire"

Whereas Origen deduced the idea of "apocatastasis" from a network of concepts related to spiritual growth, St. Gregory reached the conclusion based on an optimistic view of the love of God.

Be that as it may, the Church has never affirmed it as an aspect of Orthodox doctrine. Neither the Scriptures, the Creed, the Councils nor the majority of Fathers, acquiesce this view. In fact, the 5th or 6th Ecumenical Council outright condemned the idea and anathematized Origen!! On the other hand, Origen's condemnation happened several Centuries after his death, so it's a bit peculiar.

But the idea of "apocatastasis" remains in the minority of Orthodox thinkers, as an aspect of their own "theologomena"...which are theological reflections, usually made much later in life. St. Augustine's doctrines of "predestination" are an example. The presence of "heterodox" opinions among Saints, regarding more speculative aspects of theology, has not prevented their veneration and canonization by the Church. In fact, if "heterodox" opinion were enough to bar someone from heaven, then none of us would be there!!

While I don't think everyone necessarily goes to heaven, I can't say whether any particular person "goes to hell". Of course, there is the oft cited passage that says "broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many find it". Yet, I'm not sure that passage is understood aright. For instance, many commentators interpret this verses, in a general sense, as a kind of ratio between the "saved" and the "non-saved". However, the verse might simply be contrasting God's "Way" of salvation to all other ways; namely, salvation is had by Christ and not by the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path....nor by the Hindu's relief of Karmic debt and the resulting realization of him/herself as "God".

Which is not to say that truth is wholly absent from these other "ways"; but, rather, the fullness of the truth does not lay there.

As to the sufficiency, or insuffiency, of salvation in these other ways: I leave this kind of "judgment" in the hands of our merciful God.

Jason Pratt said...

Well, the taming and (re?)-covenanting of Leviathan by God has been around at least as long as the grand finale to the book of Job. (Notably, Job and his friends are quite sure that there is no other fate for Leviathan than destruction at the hand of God.)

The idea of God's hope and action toward reconciling things in the heavens (not only on the earth) to Himself, has similarly been around as long as the first chapter of the epistle to the Colossians.

The idea of God (as Jesus) expecting Satan to get back in line as a loyal follower, has been around as long as Jesus' reply to Satan during the Synoptic temptation scenes: a reply precisely echoed in Jesus' reply to Simon Peter's insistence that the crucifixion should "be far from thee, Lord!"

Witnessing hopefully to rebel primeval spirits in 1 Peter; every tongue ('subterranian' ones as well as 'celestial' and 'terrestrial') acclaiming Jesus Christ is Lord (a term that in scripture, especially the OT ref St. Paul is quoting, refers to praising God for His mighty acts of salvation) in Philippians 2; formally idolatrous gods worshiping YHWH at His return to the inhabited earth in Heb 1/Ps 97... the concept doesn't show up often in scripture (especially in English translations), but it does show up.

Gregory Boyd, who wasn't a universalist when he wrote God at War (and still isn't yet, last I heard), nevertheless does a pretty good job highlighting just how much of OT and NT scripture is focused on God bringing rebel supernatural entities (not only us humans) back into line and ending their rebellion. The main sticking point is, what exactly does it mean for a rebel to no longer be in rebellion? Annihilation out of existence? (No rebel == no rebellion anymore. But how does a cessation of existence fulfill all righteousness, all 'fair-togetherness' in Greek?) Continuing existence with grudging acknowledgment of superior power and authority? (Does continuing to rebel in one's heart constitute no longer being in rebellion? Is God satisfied and glorified with hypocrisy? And how does this fulfill all righteousness?) Or repentance and reconciliation with God, recovenanting with Him, becoming loyal again, honestly praising God for His mighty saving deeds?

If all shall be salted by the everlasting fire of Gehenna, and if salting is the best of things and leads to peace with one another (Mark 9:49-50), then which of those three ends to rebellion fits that concept of salting? Or, are the rebel angels not to be consigned to the everlasting fire (thus avoiding the salting altogether)?

I'm pretty sure they're destined for the eonian fire, from which there can be no escape; but some opinions do differ. {g}

JRP

Gregory said...

To Jason Pratt:

As there is but one Lord and one judge (Eph. 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10), I'm pretty sure that you are not He.

Or have you forgotten the scripture that says:

"But for me it is a very small thing to be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God."

(1 Cor. 4:3-5)

or

"Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said 'The Lord rebuke you.'"

(Jude 9)

But the Scripture does mention someone who is deeply into the business of accusing:

"Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down."

(Rev. 12:10)

Therefore, it behooves us as Christians, by the grace of God, to abstain from speculating on what God will or will not pronounce on the terrible day of judgment. For we all must draw an account of ourselves before the Living God, in whom nothing is hidden. And how shall we expect to fare when we approach him with proud and haughty expectations? What if the Judge of all souls were to say this to you, o man:

"You are like your father, the Devil...accuser of the souls of men and angels. Who art thou, o wretch, who dares sit in the judgment seat of Christ? Dost thou think lightly of My mercy? Has thou forgotten that I came not to condemn, but to save? If thou thinkest I ought condemn the Devil for his loathsome accusations, how then ought I to consider you and your accusing ways, o man?"

But what ought we to do, in light of all that?

"He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

(Micah 6:8)

This is a trustworthy judgment; and a safeguard against kindling wrath against ourselves.

Jason Pratt said...

Gregory (who, for other readers, is very probably not Robin Parry aka Gregory Macdonald, the author of the site Victor linked to: I know Robin, and he doesn't write like this):


{{As there is but one Lord and one judge (Eph. 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10), I'm pretty sure that you are not He.}}

um... me, too. What part of what I wrote involved me judging anyone??

(Granted, a couple of scriptures indicate that at least some Christians will be judging angels, but I don't consider that to be me at this time or maybe even ever.)

I did report a scripture where Jesus states that everyone shall be salted with the everlasting fire that burns in Gehenna; and I wryly adduced that scripture against non-universalists who might try to argue that rebel angels don't have that hope: the only way they could do that would be (ironically) to try to argue that the rebel angels somehow escape the eonian fire. But they and I (perhaps not you?) are both aware of several scriptures indicating that at least some of the rebel angels, Satan most particularly, will be thrown into the lake of fire in the day of the judgment to come.

(Thus, amusingly, in order to excerpt Satan from the hope of Mark 9:49-50, those non-universalists would have to deny Satan will be put into the lake of fire by Christ: something they would otherwise very strongly affirm instead of denying. I agree with their affirmation on that, based on scriptural revelation; I disagree with them on this being hopeless for Satan, on which I can also point to scriptural revelation.)


Maybe you didn't actually read all of what I wrote, but only the final short paragraph? I was pointing out scriptural places which indicate hope or even certainty of God's salvation of even rebel angels from sin (even chief rebel cosmic monsters), and making a very abbreviated metaphysical argument for what we can expect along that line, too.

I'm an orthodox trinitarian universalist; one of the main contributors on Victor's blog for years on this topic. Robin Parry (chief editor for Paternoster in Britain, who until recently was writing as a universalist under the pseudonym "Gregory MacDonald"--whose blog Victor linked to at the top of this post), Thomas Talbott (another longtime friend of Victor's, who also posts here sometimes and who is one of the chief Protestant apologists for trinitarian universalism today) and I, are the current three guest authors at the www.evangelicaluniversalism.com forum.

Where, among other places, I'm fond of pointing out that the ones who call down God's judgmental wrath on themselves in scripture are regularly the ones who refuse to have mercy on their enemies--and who expect God to have no mercy either. (St. Paul alludes to that quote from Micah you gave, for example, during the transition from what we call chp 1 to chp 2 of his epistle to the Romans.)

So yes, I do in fact know all those things you quoted against me. Thanks. {s} Just be aware, in fairness, that when non-universalists are expecting the condemnation of Satan in the Day of the Lord to come, they're also referring to scripture on that topic as a revelation of what will happen in the future. They may be (I think they are) misunderstanding the total picture and implications, but they aren't pronouncing judgment on Satan themselves in the place of God. On the contrary, like Michael in the epistle you quoted, they expect the Lord to rebuke Satan.

JRP

Gregory said...

Jason:

I sympathize with your point of view. And, as Victor's post has noted, there are significant Christian theologians who have adopted "universalism".

While the plea of my post was directed more at those who are quick to "condemn" others....an all too often past-time, especially among fundamentalist Protestants....it is also true to say that it counts equally against attempts to "justify" others.

And I apologize for not fully understanding where you are coming from. Please forgive me.

I think my post indicated, especially in the citiation from 1 Corinthians 4:3-5, to avoid making any judgments concerning any one person's eschatological state, whether men or angels or ourself. And I say that, again, because we are not the Judge.

And our hearts, as Christians, ought to have an obedient attitude towards God, regardless of what our "judgment" might be in the end. Our prayers, in this matter, ought to be like that of St. Basil the Great:

"My God, my God! Why hast Thou forsaken me? Be it unto me according to Thy will, O Lord! If Thou wouldst grant me light, be Thou blessed; if Thou wouldst grant me darkness, be Thou equally blessed. If Thou wouldst destroy me together with my lawlessness, glory to Thy righteous judgment; and if Thou wouldst not destroy me together with my lawlessness, glory to Thy boundless mercy!"

So whether we rise to the heights, or sink to the depths, let us praise God!!

Anonymous said...

One thing I forgot to mention.

We should---as our hearts mature in Christ---hope that "all" would attain to the blessedness of salvation with God....that God would bar no one and that everyone, from least to greatest, would be joined together to feast at the Great Banquet of the divine Bridegroom.

But even while we hope for such things, let us never forget the prayer which says "Thy will be done".

Jason Pratt said...

Gregory: {{I think my post indicated, especially in the citiation from 1 Corinthians 4:3-5, to avoid making any judgments concerning any one person's eschatological state, whether men or angels or ourself. And I say that, again, because we are not the Judge.}}

That's true, and if I was restricting to only a metaphysical expectation I wouldn't go so far as to say that God will surely succeed in saving all from sin. (Only that we can trust God to keep acting toward that goal for everyone and not ever give up at it.)

Reporting what seems to be scriptural revelation on the topic, though, is not at all the same as pronouncing juridical sentence on our own authority. Most universalists (myself included, though not Robin Parry yet last time I checked--I don't recall where Tom Talbott stands on this) think God has revealed in scripture in several ways that He will eventually succeed in saving all sinners from sin. Similarly, non-universalists typically think God has revealed in scripture that He either will not succeed in this for some people or else that He never even intended to save some people from sin.

That's an exegetical debate to some degree (about what the texts can, may or do certainly mean); and a metaphysical debate to some degree (about what is impossible, possible, probable or certain in principle); but it isn't authoritatively judging in God's place either way. It's trying to learn and rightly report about God either way--including any revelations He may have made about how He will judge and what the results will be.

To give an example, the climax of Job is interesting in that it reports God stating it is definitely possible for Him to tame and (re)covenant with Leviathan, and He obviously has more interest in doing so than Job and his three friends were even distantly expecting. Moreover, the prologue reveals that God gave Job over to Satan in order for Satan to learn something important. And again, God certainly acts to reconcile Job with his three friends who had ended up acting as little 'satans' against him (though I don't recall if that specific term is used for them by anyone in the poem). This is all very suggestive--certainly not what the (somewhat Augustinish/Calvinistic) Job and his three friends were expecting anyway. But it isn't testimony that God will certainly succeed in taming and covenanting Leviathan/Satan. So I can't legitimately (so far as I can see) refer to it for that purpose.

But it testifies (for however much its testimony may be worth--it's a rhetorical poetic work, not systematic theology) such a thing to be possible and even something God is interested in. St. Paul in Colossians, on the other hand, states that God has acted to make such a reconciliation possible through the cross (and was pleased to do so); and in his Philippians hymn he outright indicates that God will succeed at this someday.

On the other hand, RevJohn states pretty clearly what kind of judgment God is going to give Satan. As far as a coherent scriptural theology goes, that has to be accounted in, too, one way or another. But using that information isn't the same as judging Satan in the place of God ourselves, whether we're universalists or non-universalists.

{{And our hearts, as Christians, ought to have an obedient attitude towards God, regardless of what our "judgment" might be in the end.}}

I quite agree. {g}

JRP

Gregory said...

Jason:

To say that God has announced in Scripture that He is going to "save" everyone, is to imply that the Final Judgment has already taken place.....that God has already reached the verdict of "universal acquittal".

The idea that the "judgment" has already taken place has been universally rejected by the Church.

For instance, the Creed says:

"And He shall come again to judge the living and the dead, whose Kingdom shall have no end."

What the Church has always taught is that the general Resurrection and Final Judgment occur after the Parousia.

For instance, Revelation 20:11-15 associates the events of the Resurrection and the Final Judgment, chronologically speaking, by either close proximity or by contiguity. Whichever interpretation you take here (i.e. chronological proximity or contiguity), it's clear that these events have not yet occurred. And they will not occur, according to Scripture, until Christ returns.

Listen to the great Apostle in this matter:

"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."

(1 Thes. 4:16,17 compare with Acts 1:6-11)

Furthermore, St. Paul denounces as "heresy" the belief that the general resurrection has already occurred(see 2 Tim. 2:18).

Therefore, it is false to say that God has already prounounced a "final verdict", regarding salvation....for that to be the case, Christ would have to have descended from heaven, raised the dead and separated the, as yet unspecified, "sheep" from the "goats" (Matt. 25). This has not occurred yet. Therefore, no "verdict" has been reached.

Jason Pratt said...

Gregory,

If God can inspire prophets to look ahead to the judgment of the Day of the Lord, that hasn't historically happened yet, God can also reveal to those prophets what various results of His judgment are going to be. I wouldn't have thought that this was a difficult concept to understand.

What can be difficult to understand, is how God interacts with natural history. "The Church" has had different theories about this, ranging from absolute determinism of history to "open theism" where even God doesn't know what even He Himself (much less anyone or anything else) will certainly do later in history but only knows all possibilities and (maybe) all probabilities.

I don't go with either of those two extremes; but trying to describe the Boethian idea of transcendental and immanent omniscience would be time consuming (especially with Blogger's new 4096 character rule.)

The most I can say briefly, is that the idea of God revealing ahead of time (from our perspective) what His goals and what various results are going to be in (what we tend to call) Final Judgment, is no more problematic than for Him to reveal that there will certainly be Judgment to come. If you have a problem with God revealing His actions "ahead of time", then you'll also have to give up the idea of God announcing "ahead of time" that there's going to be any judgment at all. Or a Day of the Lord to come at all. Or a general resurrection. Or a parousia.


{{Whichever interpretation [of Rev 20] you take here (i.e. chronological proximity or contiguity), it's clear that these events [general Res, Final Judgment, throwing the resurrected evildoers into the lake of fire with Satan, the False Prophet and the Beast, to be tormented into the eons] have not yet occurred. And they will not occur, according to Scripture, until Christ returns.}}

I agree. You forgot an important detail of that same chapter, though. I've helpfully supplied it in my contextual bracketing above. {g}

So, if you agree that the general res and the final judgment (though it isn't called "final", but let's say the judgment of Gehenna) won't occur until after Christ returns, why are you not willing to agree that this exact same revelation is accurate about at least three specific persons (Satan, False Prophet, Beast) being thrown in the lake of fire where resurrected evildoers will also go as a result of the judgment to come?

What it means for them to be put into the lake of fire may be debatable--certainly I debate that with contra-universalists all the time. {g} But the language is pretty danged clear (so to speak) that this is going to happen to them.


{{Listen to the great Apostle in this matter:}}

“Then will be revealed the lawless one [the ‘man of lawlessness’, the ‘son of destruction’, who shall be opposing himself to everything called a god and who shall seat himself in the Temple of God as a demonstration that he himself is God], whom the Lord Jesus will despatch with the spirit of His mouth and will discard by the advent of His presence.” 2 Thess 2:8 (compare with 2:3-4, 1:6-10).

Oh, wait, wrong epistle to the Thessalonians. {g} But yes, I do in fact listen to this (and other) great Apostles on these matters. St. Paul, in each Thess epistle, is letting his readers know (as he does elsewhere in another epistle, too--2nd Timothy, as you note) that the 2nd coming, much less the general resurrection, hasn’t in fact already happened, which they can be sure of because other things must occur first and because various things which haven’t yet occurred will occur at-or-just-after the parousia.

Once again, what it means to incur the justice of eonian whole-ruination from the face of the Lord and from the glory of His strength, to be despatched by His mouth and discarded by the glory of His presence, may be debateable. That St. Paul is saying there certainly shall be a particular guy teamed up with Satan who certainly shall suffer judgment in this way, is pretty danged clear, though.

JRP

Gregory said...

Jason, I leave you with the words of St. Paul and St. John:

"But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.

For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.

Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God."

(1 Cor. 4:3-5)

"The I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was no place found for them.

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another Book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.

Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire."

(Rev. 20:11-15)

The Orthodox Church, indeed, has canonized "Saints". These are trustworthy stewards and defenders of our Faith. And they were made "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4) by fearing God's righteous judgment and by putting off the misdeeds of the flesh (Ecclesiastes 12:13,14; Matt. 10:28; Heb. 10:26-39; 1 Pet. 1:17).

"Universalism", on the other hand, removes all "fear" of God; and, hence, all moral restraint. Because, if everyone is going to heaven "no matter what", then--in terms of affecting ones ultimate salvation--it makes no difference how we live or conduct ourselves. So, it panders to man's slothfulness and disobedience to God, it contradicts the testimony of the Biblical writers, it is rejected by the majority of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox adherents, and it was officially condemned by the 5th Ecumenical Council in Constantinople (553 A.D.).

Jason Pratt said...

Gregory,

Your quote from St. Paul is about us refraining from making judgments against one another now as though we could see each others' real motivations and thoughts, which we can't. This is not at all the same thing as coming to a conclusion that God has revealed He will certainly do something or other regarding judgment in the future.

If you're saying Sts. Paul and John were wrong and even sinful to claim to be revealing that some very particular individuals will suffer “eonian whole-ruination” and the lake of fire judgment, and so you are quoting them against themselves, please clearly state so. If you think I (and most other Christians) have misread their claims on this topic, you're welcome to discuss the relevant verses as to how exegetically they ought to be interpreted. The majority isn't always right by being a majority.


I think it's interesting, though, that I'm willing to discuss and incorporate the verses you come up with, but you never address the ones I mention. For example, I'm hardly ignoring the lake of fire judgment if I point out, against your insistence otherwise, that this portion of scripture claims to reveal that particular persons will certainly be thrown into Gehenna for punishment.


Relatedly, if I make a point of emphasizing that there's a judgment of punishment certainly coming for those who refuse to repent of their sins (which I have been doing throughout this thread), then how does this even possibly involve a lack of fear of God's righteous judgment?!

If your ultimate appeal is to tell the guy who has spent most of the thread talking in favor of the punishment of God's righteous judgment, that universalism "removes all 'fear' of God, and, hence, all moral restraint", then I guess my reply is that if you're going to bother to write comments on material, you should read at least a little more closely on what you're supposed to be talking about. It isn't like my affirmation of God's righteous forthcoming punishment has been subtly coded into my comments!


{{Because, if everyone is going to heaven "no matter what", then--in terms of affecting ones ultimate salvation--it makes no difference how we live or conduct ourselves.}}

I routinely state, when talking about the topic, that real repentance from sin is required from us, for us to be saved from sin by God. I've even done it in this thread, though that wasn’t the topical focus so far: "repentance and reconciliation with God, recovenanting with Him, becoming loyal again". This isn't something God can just poof into place.

What part of preaching a requirement of repentance from sin, and warning about coming punishment for the impenitent, involves "pandering to man's slothfulness and disobedience to God"?


{{it contradicts the testimony of the Biblical writers}}

Considering that, between the two of us, I'm constantly the one incorporating more of what "the Biblical writers" have to say, I think I can conclude that my universalism doesn't contradict "the testimony of the Biblical writers" quite as much (at worst) as you insist that it does. {lopsided g}


{{it is rejected by the majority of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox adherents}}

Not so sure that universalism is rejected by a majority of EOx adherents, but I certainly have to grant the majority rejection in all three major branches total. It's typically for reasons as inaccurate and invalid as the ones you've come up with so far, though.

{{it was officially condemned by the 5th Ecumenical Council in Constantinople (553 A.D.)}}

Origen's system of theology was, particularly his idea of pre-existent souls, on which his notion of universalism was grounded. The Eastern Orthodox don’t believe universalism per se was condemned at any council they’ve sanctioned, though. They recognize that an Eastern Emperor anathematized it, and that a western Pope followed his lead in anathematizing it not long afterward; but they don't consider that Emperor's anathema to be dogmatically binding (much less the western Pope's).

JRP

Gregory said...

Jason, here is what the Council pronounced:

"If anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema."

That was a pronouncement of the Council via an Excursus to the main addresses.


Here is what St. Justinian pronounced, as an auxillary commentary on the Ecumenical Councils pronouncment:

"If anyone says or thinks that the punishment of demons and of impious men is only temporary, and will one day have an end, and that a restoration (ἀποκατάστασις) will take place of demons and of impious men, let him be anathema."

St. Justinian is also reckoned an Eastern Orthodox Saint and is commemorated on our calender on November 14. He indeed ruled from the Byzantine sector of the Roman Empire, known as "Constantinople" and "New Rome".

As for the notion that "universalism" removes the "fear" of God....I was speaking in terms of a corollary relationship. A person could, hypothetically, "fear" God and believe that they will be "saved-no-matter-what"; just like a person can believe that they are an awesome vocalist and vocal performer even though the panelists on "American Idol", along with the rest of America, recognize the complete lack of vocal/performance competence. There are people in Mental Institutions who believe that they are, in fact, the Lord Jesus Christ. There are, in fact, people that are fearful that Extraterrestrial agents have infiltrated the Earth's population with the intent of enslaving the human race. There are, in fact, people who believe that the earth is flat, rather than spherical.

In other words, people can, and do, have delusional outlooks. So, it makes little difference whether you maintain "universalism" and also happen to have the "fear of God". What I'm claiming, is that your "fear" is, by way of implication, unfounded. In other words, like the aforementioned examples, it is also a form of delusional thinking. For instance, if you are absolutely certain that your wife will not be unfaithful to you, then, does it make sense to worry about whether she will stray? But you might say "well, I can't really be certain of that....so I would still worry." And I would say to you "don't you think that you are secretly 'hedging your bets' about universalism when you 'fear' God, because you can't be certain of it's truth?"

Lastly, if St. Paul and St. John spoke of the particulars of the eschaton, then they did so by the Spirit of God. Or as Peter put it "no prophecy came by any private interpretation, but holy men were moved by God". The Holy Spirit knows the end. But as to "judgments" concerning who will or will not make it, we are told to withhold judgment. That is the context of 1 Cor. 4:3-5.

Furthermore, the Orthodox Church prays for the dead, precisely, because the "day of Judgment" has not happened yet. Since we don't know of any person that has been damned thus far, therefore we offer prayers for the dead.

If you speak to Orthodox clergy on the matter, they will most likely respond "we must wait and see". And no Priest will be willing to presume a perogative over the Judge.

Whether any particular Saint, theologican or pious Christian happens to affirm "universalism", as an aspect of their own theoria, is ultimately irrelevant. For instance, the bulk of Fathers and Saints reject Augustinian predestination. Not because they have outright renounced the teaching of Augustine, but because their own teachings on soteriology are contrary to his. And the same historical precedent I would make against Augustinism/Calvinism would also apply to Universalism.

Jason Pratt said...

{{Whether any particular Saint, theologican or pious Christian happens to affirm "universalism", as an aspect of their own theoria, is ultimately irrelevant.}}

I wouldn’t call the question of whether they are accurate to do so “ultimately irrelevant”. Nor would I call the question of whether any particular Saint, theologian or pious Christian is accurate to affirm non-universalism “ultimately irrelevant”. Nor would I call the question of whether any Saint, theologian or pious Christian is being most accurate to teach agnosticism on the topic, “ultimately irrelevant”. The relationship of a person to God, Who is truth, may not be “ultimately relevant” (only God is and can be “ultimately relevant”), but neither is it ultimately ir-relevant: that would be the same as saying that God doesn’t care at all about whether we humans relate properly to Him (much less to anything else).

{{Lastly, if St. Paul and St. John spoke of the particulars of the eschaton, then they did so by the Spirit of God. Or as Peter put it "no prophecy came by any private interpretation, but holy men were moved by God". The Holy Spirit knows the end. But as to "judgments" concerning who will or will not make it, we are told to withhold judgment. That is the context of 1 Cor. 4:3-5.}}

Obviously, based on what I have previously written (which I recall, though you may not), I have no disagreement at all with any of those statements. Just as obviously, they are not the ones doing “judgment” if they reveal what God’s judgment is going to be in particular matters. Just as obviously, people who agree with what St. Paul and St. John reveal concerning particulars of God’s coming judgment, are not the ones doing “judgment” either. This shouldn’t be very difficult to understand.

The relevant questions, rather, are first whether St. Paul and St. John revealed some particulars of the coming eschatological judgment; and then, if so, what is the most accurate way to interpret what they’ve particularly revealed? Accusing people who are coming up with interpretations of the latter after deciding the former answer is ‘yes’, of judging souls themselves, is exactly the same as accusing St. Paul and St. John of judging souls themselves if they reveal particulars of God’s coming judgment: either spare the accusations in both cases, or apply the accusations without a double standard. Because either way, the persons are only trying to report what they think God Himself has revealed.

(This is why I don’t bother launching accusations at non-universalists, that they are putting themselves in the place of God for judgment: I would be very unfair to them, to do so.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

{{That was a pronouncement of the Council via an Excursus to the main addresses.}}

And, just like I said, it's primarily about the doctrine of the pre-existence of souls. Including when anathematizing against their eventual restoration as a doctrine which (in Origen's system) follows from his idea of their pre-existence.

Also, just as I noted, the Emperor Justinian's much broader anathema wasn't the actual resolution reached by the council. It's to be respected, therefore (at least by the EOx), but not actually required (even by the EOx, much less by anyone else) as a dogmatic position on this topic.

I appreciate you providing the quotes and the confirming details, though, since I didn’t have them immediately handy. {g}


{{A person could, hypothetically, "fear" God and believe that they will be "saved-no-matter-what"}}

My position as a universalist has always been that God will keep acting (no-matter-what) toward saving all sinners from sin; and, in very recent years, my position has also constantly been that various scriptures (especially when taken together) indicate God revealing that He will one day succeed in this goal. But not, in that case, no-matter-what. The completion of the salvation requires the actual personal repentance of the sinner from sin. Without repentance, there is no salvation. But God doesn't wait for repentance to begin acting to save a person from sin, and I do believe He will keep persisting at that no-matter-what; which is directly connected to why I also believe in a punishment for sin that can (and, per revelation, in some cases will) last into the eons of the eons.

The kind of 'no-matter-what' salvation you're talking about, is a salvation regardless of repentance (and apparently only a salvation from punishment, not salvation from sin); but while some universalists do go that route (especially very liberal anti-theological ones, who aren't thinking about salvation from 'sin' at all, except maybe from other people's sins {wry g}), I will emphasize again as I did in my comment the other day (and as I routinely do whenever I write on the topic): THAT IS NOT THE KIND OF UNIVERSALISM I'M TALKING ABOUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've emphasized it this time a little more strongly (though a lot more briefly) than I emphasized it last time. Hopefully you'll see it this time, if I use one short sentence with lots of formatting, instead of many boring normal sentences with details (that you clearly either never read or didn't understand), so we won't have to waste our time and character-count again talking about something I don't believe in as though that's what I believe.

For example:

{{Don't you think that you are secretly 'hedging your bets' about universalism when you 'fear' God, because you can't be certain of it's truth?}}

Nope. I am absolutely certain that God will punish and will keep punishing impenitent sinners (including me, if I insist on being impenitent about something). And I am absolutely certain that God will keep acting toward saving me and every other sinner from sin. These are not two mutually exclusive propositions, any more than the Hebraist (to give one of very many scriptural examples) was being neurotically “delusional” to believe and teach his readers that God will certainly discipline them with punishment if they insist on sinning because He loves them and is acting to save them from sin. (Therefore they would do well to fear God, “for our God is a consuming fire”.)

When you're ready to talk about (even to oppose) what I actually believe, which does involve the real and punishing wrath of God (and thus the fear of God, even in the lower sense of that concept), instead of what I don't believe, let me know, and we'll go from there.

Otherwise, I have many other things to do, than to spend time trying to discuss what I actually believe while being persistently ignored by someone busily strawmanning me rather than dealing (pro or con) with what I am actually saying.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Pratt said...

Whoops, system double-posted me. Sorry. I'll delete one asap.

JRP

Ross Marshall said...

Gregory! I love you all's postings! I realy do. But, see this and my comments:

QUOTE:
"...ought to have an obedient attitude towards God, regardless of what our "judgment" might be in the end."
ANSWER: Well, am not sure exactly what you mean, but if judgment means ON US, then, NO,...for, what IF God decides to be that hellish damming self-created thing that chooses to throw us into perdition? How about, if we don't
overcome" as He demands - and to what extent He wants us to is real questionable - and we must be HURT by the second death. If we have any humanity left after the resurrection, and I am sure we wilkl, we surly are not going to have too holy of an obedient attitude. In this time zone, I believe we shouyld not either. We must NOT give in to liberism and "what ever will be will be" thinking. We must stick to Greek Scriptures: What does it say? The answers lay within and it is just a matter of time, and Godly intervention that THE TRUTH comes out: light exposes darkness. The Devil is exposed, and most probably saved, after he finds out his Royalty and Cosmology was wrong. "Oooops! I ain't God! By Jove, Jehovah is!"


QUOTE: "Our prayers, in this matter, ought to be like that of St. Basil the Great:
'My God, my God!" Why hast Thou forsaken me?..."
ANSWER: Why even ask, if your attitude is neutral to whether you go to heaven or damnation?
'Be it unto me according to Thy will, O Lord!...'
ANSWER: Yes! By all means, damn me! I don't care. Father knows best!"
'...if Thou wouldst grant me darkness, be Thou equally blessed."
ANSWER: Yes, by all means continue to be blessed, especially if it is contingent upon me being cursed and damned.
'If Thou wouldst destroy me together with my lawlessness, glory to Thee'
ANSWER: Destroy here does not mean, "ruin" for remedial purposes, but annihilated. Glory to Thee for not having any other recours?
'So whether we rise to the heights, or sink to the depths, let us praise God!'
ANSWER: So, whether we be dammed or deified, let us praise God. My question is, how can the dammed praise God?
IF GOD walked into our courts as a defense attorney, I fain to think what His track record would become at the end of time (retirement).

Let us rather HAMMER the E.T'ers out of existence, folks! Truth is, as the older generation died off, and as the younger E.T'ers continue to avoid and neglect agruming the poiints, WEW WILL inevitablly WIN!

Ross Marshall said...

Opps! Sorry for the mis-spellin's ??? Old and finger fumbling me. ROSS