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  1. #1
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    Evangelical Universalism: Gospel or Heresy?

    The doctrine of Evangelical Universalism asserts that Christ's love is so great that He will ultimately succeed in saving everyone. He is, after all, Omnipotent.

    Some think this doctrine is heretical. Others see it as the "purest form of the Gospel." I would like to explore its pros and cons. Here is a good page with many articles discussing the basic issues:

    http://www.evangelicaluniversalism.com/articles.html

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

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  2. #2
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    I offer the first "pro";

    I Timothy 4:
    10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially those that believe.

    The ultimate reconciliation of all things is a part of the "eternal purpose" that is in Christ. This is part of the "mystery of Christ" that Paul speaks of in Ephesians, which until the gospel through Paul was proclaimed was hidden in God.

    Joel
    For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38,39

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by joel View Post
    I offer the first "pro";

    I Timothy 4:
    10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially those that believe.

    The ultimate reconciliation of all things is a part of the "eternal purpose" that is in Christ. This is part of the "mystery of Christ" that Paul speaks of in Ephesians, which until the gospel through Paul was proclaimed was hidden in God.

    Joel
    Hey Joel!

    Great to see you again. Its been a while. I very much appreciate you contributions on this forum.

    I agree that the "eternal purpose" of God in Christ was the "reconciliation of the world" unto Himself (2 Cor 5:19). So I see your "first pro" and add my second "pro" by saying that it seems to me that since God will be "all in all" at the consummation, there will be no place for damned souls to exist.

    On the contra side, some folks suggest that there will be souls that even God can not persuade to repent and believe, and so they must be damned since God can not force them against their will. But I would counter that God's infinite Love combined with His Infinite Wisdom is probably able to overcome any creaturely resistance, without any violation of anyone's will.

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

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  4. #4
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    Hi All

    I see your "first" pro Joel, and your "second" pro Richard, and adding a "third" pro:
    That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    This verse seems pretty clear as to every tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord, even though I not sure how that will come about, because Scripture also tells us that there are those that are not written in the "Book of Life", and they will be cast into the lake of fire

    What greater glory could there be to God, then for everyone to Praise Him

    Rose
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  5. #5
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    Hi all!
    You are really opening up a can of worms on this one Richard. I've seen this posted in other forums,----and let me just say it will get everybody thinking, and probably stir up some issues.

    Let me enter with a question.

    As Jesus walked and talked during His life on earth, where was His mind on this question of hell and damnation? I mean, we spend so much time and effort on trying to rescue the unsaved from a firey end. If Jesus knew that this is what was going to happen to 99% of the human race that was alive in His day, don't you think that He would have spent more time bringing this home to the people of the whole world? After all, He would be VERY concious of the fact that SOOO many were headed to utter torment within just a few years, and He Knew that He was helpless to stop it!

    Now if that were true,and if I were Him, (Thank God I'm not!!), I would either be bent over in utter tears as I looked at most people, or I would be broadcasting my message to as many as I could. (Not saying He did a bad job, just being hypothetical.)

    It just didn't seem to bother Him. Sure, He gave some examples of what could and would happen, but the anxiousness wasn't there, and I think that there is a very good reason for that. Do you think that there is something that we haven't considered?

    And I'll bet that with enough thought in the right direction, (or revelation by God), the Bible Wheel would verify the real truth. That's one of the most beautiful things about the Bible Wheel, (and I thank God He is using you for this purpose Richard -You're doing an excellent job!) But without having a correct direction, we are blind to any verification.

    Let's see if that pitchfork in the hay brings up some hiding thought.
    Don

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trumpet View Post
    Hi all!
    You are really opening up a can of worms on this one Richard. I've seen this posted in other forums,----and let me just say it will get everybody thinking, and probably stir up some issues.
    Hey there Trumpet,

    Glad you jumped in.

    If there are worms in our "Biblical can" I think we better open it up and get them out of there! I mean, I eat from that "Bible can" every day!

    My hope is that we can explore this issue and dig down deep into what the Bible really says. I really believe this issue touches the most important issue of all - what is the GOSPEL, and what does God really want us to do while we are here?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trumpet View Post
    Let me enter with a question.

    As Jesus walked and talked during His life on earth, where was His mind on this question of hell and damnation? I mean, we spend so much time and effort on trying to rescue the unsaved from a firey end. If Jesus knew that this is what was going to happen to 99% of the human race that was alive in His day, don't you think that He would have spent more time bringing this home to the people of the whole world? After all, He would be VERY concious of the fact that SOOO many were headed to utter torment within just a few years, and He Knew that He was helpless to stop it!

    Now if that were true,and if I were Him, (Thank God I'm not!!), I would either be bent over in utter tears as I looked at most people, or I would be broadcasting my message to as many as I could. (Not saying He did a bad job, just being hypothetical.)

    It just didn't seem to bother Him. Sure, He gave some examples of what could and would happen, but the anxiousness wasn't there, and I think that there is a very good reason for that. Do you think that there is something that we haven't considered?
    Now that's an interesting question. The answer is yes, I do think that there are many things we have not considered. I actually have a sense that 20th century pop-Christianity may have missed the central message of the whole Gospel of the KINGDOM - that is, the RULE OF GOD in our hearts now. The Gospel may not be about "getting a personal ticket to heaven" at all. It may be that God is doing something much grander than that ... for example (this is just a possibility) He may be FORMING SOULS that will live with Him forever. And it may be that our actions here have eternal consequences, so it is God's will that we stop sinning. And when we get to the next world, we will probably say "I wish I quit that sin earlier! Look at all the evil I caused!"

    Quote Originally Posted by Trumpet View Post
    And I'll bet that with enough thought in the right direction, (or revelation by God), the Bible Wheel would verify the real truth. That's one of the most beautiful things about the Bible Wheel, (and I thank God He is using you for this purpose Richard -You're doing an excellent job!) But without having a correct direction, we are blind to any verification.

    Let's see if that pitchfork in the hay brings up some hiding thought.
    Don
    I have found the Bible Wheel to be VERY helpful in bringing doctrines into focus, and for confirming things written in the plain text but which could be overlooked. For example, a lot of modern Bible scholars, even those professing the Bible to be God's Word, are lost when they get to the Song of Songs. They say that its just a love song, and that there is no warrant to interpret it a picture of Christ and the Church because there is nothing in the text itself that would justify that. But when I look at it on the Wheel, I see it on Spoke 22, the Last Spoke, the Spoke of Consummation, and I marvel at the Divine Perfection of the Image of Christ and the Church portrayed there. Just as a Marriage is Consummated when the "two become one" so the first Cycle of 22 books is consummated with a Marriage Song! The CONTEXT confirms the Divine Message. Then when we look down Spoke 22 and see that that Song of Songs aligns with Revelation everything is confirmed again, for it is in Revelation that Christ actually receives His Bride, and we see the same story told again. Thus the books aligned on the Spokes enlighten eachother, and give a greater context that confirms their meaning, and their proper interepretation. This then led me to understand that Revelation is very much like the Song of Songs since they both use poetic, emotional, dramatic picture language to convey their messages.

    Now how the Bible Wheel may help with the question of Evangelical Universalism, I don't know yet ... except to say that to see God's Word as a perfect circle does seem very inclusive, if you know what I mean.

    Richard

    1 Timothy 2:3-4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    It may be that God is doing something much grander than that ... for example (this is just a possibility) He may be FORMING SOULS that will live with Him forever. And it may be that our actions here have eternal consequences, so it is God's will that we stop sinning. And when we get to the next world, we will probably say "I wish I quit that sin earlier! Look at all the evil I caused!"

    When you say 'he may be forming souls', what do you mean by that? Do you mean it in the sense that He is creating something totally new or do you mean it in the sense that He is just moulding existing souls into their ideal state. So to be more specific if all humanity (after the fall) is pieces of clay then only the ones He forms perfectly become men and the rest are just pieces of clay or that all humanity is pieces of clay and He will mould each and every one into a man (man understood as being that which is in the image of God)
    He has told you, O man,what is good;
    And what does the Lord require of you
    But to do justice, to love kindness,
    And to walk humbly with your God

    Micah 6:8

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abigail View Post
    When you say 'he may be forming souls', what do you mean by that? Do you mean it in the sense that He is creating something totally new or do you mean it in the sense that He is just moulding existing souls into their ideal state. So to be more specific if all humanity (after the fall) is pieces of clay then only the ones He forms perfectly become men and the rest are just pieces of clay or that all humanity is pieces of clay and He will mould each and every one into a man (man understood as being that which is in the image of God)
    When I say "forming souls" the metaphor in my mind is of the formation of a baby in the womb. So I am not thinking of a "soul" as a complete "thing" that could be "molded" but as a living being that grows through time. This helps make sense of why God created time. If all God wanted to do was pick the group of souls that goes to heaven, and toss the rest away into the garbage can of hell, it seems he could have done that without all the bother of creating this physical world with its temporal sequences. So what then is the purpose of this physical world and time? It appears that the formation of souls requires time because they are the product of growth and develop. And if this is the real purpose of Creation, then the "ticket to heaven" theology trivializes the Gospel and misses the real purposes of God which is the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and the formation and birth of its members (the wheat that grow along with the tares).

    There are a lot of verses that present the Kingdom like a gradual growth process. For example:

    Matthew 13:31-32 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

    Matthew 13:33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

    Mark 4:26-29 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; 27 And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. 28 For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. 29 But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

    Daniel 2:34ff Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. 35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. 36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. ... And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
    It is not for no reason that God uses the birth metaphor for entrance into His Kingdom. Indeed, when Christ was talking to Nicodemus, He explained that "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3) As an aside, it is interesting to note that Nicodemus could not understand the words of Christ because of his "hermeneutic of literalism" which Christ described as "earthly" when He answered, saying: "Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? ... If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?" (John 3:10ff).

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    When I say "forming souls" the metaphor in my mind is of the formation of a baby in the womb. So I am not thinking of a "soul" as a complete "thing" that could be "molded" but as a living being that grows through time. This helps make sense of why God created time. If all God wanted to do was pick the group of souls that goes to heaven, and toss the rest away into the garbage can of hell, it seems he could have done that without all the bother of creating this physical world with its temporal sequences. So what then is the purpose of this physical world and time? It appears that the formation of souls requires time because they are the product of growth and develop. And if this is the real purpose of Creation, then the "ticket to heaven" theology trivializes the Gospel and misses the real purposes of God which is the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and the formation and birth of its members (the wheat that grow along with the tares).
    Okay, but who are the tares

    Quote Originally Posted by RAM
    There are a lot of verses that present the Kingdom like a gradual growth process.
    Yes I pretty much view it as a gradual thing ...before I would have said 'unfolding' but thinking about it 'growing' is perhaps more natural in the context of time, ...the way I understand this is that the Kingdom of God is all those who are Christ's Inwardly we extend the KoG as we - through growth - bring our own hearts and minds into submission , outwardly we extend the KoG as the Good News conquers the hearts and minds of others

    Quote Originally Posted by RAM
    For example:


    It is not for no reason that God uses the birth metaphor for entrance into His Kingdom. Indeed, when Christ was talking to Nicodemus, He explained that "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3) As an aside, it is interesting to note that Nicodemus could not understand the words of Christ because of his "hermeneutic of literalism" which Christ described as "earthly" when He answered, saying: "Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? ... If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?" (John 3:10ff).

    Richard
    In John 3:5 He says 'unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God' Now I was converted in the Church of Christ so was taught this is a reference to baptizm ie one must be baptized to be saved (enter the Kingdom). Do you see any significance between 'seeing' and 'entering' What is your take on the water coming from the temple in Ezekiel 47.
    He has told you, O man,what is good;
    And what does the Lord require of you
    But to do justice, to love kindness,
    And to walk humbly with your God

    Micah 6:8

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abigail View Post
    Okay, but who are the tares
    Now that's a good question. Christ called them "the sons of the wicked one" here in Matthew:

    Matthew 13:36-40 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
    This presents an apparent problem for Universalism. The tares are burned up, not redeemed. Something similar is seen in John 15:

    John 15:1-6 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
    Those who "abide not" in Christ suffer the same fate as the tares. This also echoes the teachings of Paul transfered now to the metaphor of a building:

    1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
    But now we see a variation on the theme. Here the person's works are burned, but the soul is redeemed, whereas the other two passages sound like the soul itself is "burned" in the fire. Many folks therefore see the tares and the withered branches as suffering eternal damnation, but there are two other possibilities: 1) the burning could be purgatorial - it destroys the sinful works yet the soul "shall be saved" as Paul put it, or 2) the tares and the withered branches could be annihilated in the fire, just as literal tares and withered branches would be in a literal fire. I am not yet settled on the interpretation. That's one reason I like talking about it online. I'm hoping to learn enough to come to a conclusion on this matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Abigail View Post
    Yes I pretty much view it as a gradual thing ...before I would have said 'unfolding' but thinking about it 'growing' is perhaps more natural in the context of time, ...the way I understand this is that the Kingdom of God is all those who are Christ's Inwardly we extend the KoG as we - through growth - bring our own hearts and minds into submission , outwardly we extend the KoG as the Good News conquers the hearts and minds of others
    Very well stated. The KoG speaks of the place where God rules. The Lord's prayer is that God's Rule will be manifest on earth as it is in heaven. Each believer plays an essential role in accomplishing this Divine Purpose. It therefore gives real meaning to life. We have real and important work to do here on earth. God put us here for a reason. We are fellow-workers with God in bringing His Kingdom to earth. It is a vision filled with hope and purpose, and it is this message which is undone by the "end-time madness" that tells everyone God's purpose is just to get as many folks as possible into the Ark before He blows up the world in His Anger.

    Ideas have consequences.

    Quote Originally Posted by Abigail View Post
    In John 3:5 He says 'unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God' Now I was converted in the Church of Christ so was taught this is a reference to baptizm ie one must be baptized to be saved (enter the Kingdom). Do you see any significance between 'seeing' and 'entering' What is your take on the water coming from the temple in Ezekiel 47.
    Are you still a member of the "Church of Chirst"? Did they teach you had to be baptized by them only, or do they accept baptisms from other denominations as valid?

    As for baptism - there is much confusion. The Gospel is not about any human works or rituals that we can perform. It is all about grace through faith in what Chirst has done. That's why Paul said "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" (1 Corinthians 1:17). The "baptism" (if that's the correct interpretation) in John 3 is linked directly to the Spirit - and that is its primary meaning in the NT - we are baptized by the Holy Spirit who seals us in Christ. I do believe the ritual of baptism is a command of Christ and should be obeyed, but it is an outward sign of an inner transformation. To suggest that something "magical" happens when you get dunked or sprinkled seems like a gross superstition to me. God is a spirit, and we must worship Him in spirit and truth. The flesh profits nothing - and we are not born by God's Spirit through any outward action like physical baptism.

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

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