Vengeance on His Heart?
Debunking Apocalyptic Visions of a Violent God
By Peter Goodgame
The grief and horror experienced recently in the Las Vegas massacre is really nothing compared to what dispensationalists and many “bible-believing” evangelicals expect to see from Jesus at His Second Coming. You see, they interpret the Old Testament predictions of a violent homicidal hero coming in the future to save Israel entirely literally. Here’s a scene of what they expect:
For the LORD is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their host; he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter. Their slain shall be cast out, and the stench of their corpses shall rise; the mountains shall flow with their blood. All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree. For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom, upon the people I have devoted to destruction. The LORD has a sword; it is sated with blood; it is gorged with fat, with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah, a great slaughter in the land of Edom. Wild oxen shall fall with them, and young steers with the mighty bulls. Their land shall drink its fill of blood, and their soil shall be gorged with fat. For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion. (Isaiah 34:2-8)
Can you imagine the carnage? The desperation of the human victims portrayed here as mere “animal sacrifices”? The piles of bloody corpses? It shouldn’t be hard to imagine, because we’ve just been confronted with horrific scenes from the grounds of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.
Yes, I realize that the context is different. On one hand you have a shooter targeting unarmed civilians, while in the Old Testament we have an image of a hero rescuing Israel from hostile forces. But if we interpret this passage literally then the way that it plays out will be similar because very quickly the Lord’s enemies will realize that they are no match for His power, and the situation will quickly turn to panic, horror, and disbelief for all the victims being cut down. It will be a typical massacre with an invincible aggressor on one side and hopelessly outmatched victims on the other, and in the end the blood-soaked scenes will look very much the same.
Here’s another prophecy of Israel’s hopeful expectation of a savior who will come violently with vengeance against his enemies:
Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. For the day of vengeance was on my heart, and my year of redemption had come. I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me. I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” (Isaiah 63:1-6)
A Day of Justice
1) Upon all the wicked who are alive at the Second Coming, taking the form of the literal fulfillment of numerous Old Testament prophecies as well as the book of Revelation. Many of the enemies of Christ will be literally hacked into pieces or incinerated with His fiery breath, while the rest will be forcefully captured and brought to Jerusalem for judgment and then delivered over to aionian kolasis (Matthew 25:46).
2) Upon all the wicked from all time at the final judgment, in an act of divine violence that takes the form of the wicked being cast alive into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:15), a place of absolute hopelessness and retributive punishment for all eternity.
…as if Jesus turns into a violent and vengeful Superhero who imitates and then outperforms them all!
Just like the ancient Hebrews my perceptions were the product of my own violent culture. How else was I to read these texts? Yet looking back today I see that I was in the same position as James and John, the Sons of Thunder, who were once very eager to see God’s vengeance displayed through deadly violence:
And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:54-56)
Debunking the idea that God deals in retributive violence is a tall order, to be sure. But today I am convinced that this idea is in fact a human invention that is totally against the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The problem is that it has been embedded so deep in our consciousness right from the beginning of human culture that God had to enter into our retributive mindset, and even speak the language of retribution using the symbols of retribution, in order to take us out of it.
So yes, on a superficial level we can read “divine retribution” all throughout the Old and New Testaments from beginning to end. But if we read through the eyes of Christ, with the mind of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will see how our human ideas, expectations, and symbols of divine retribution are completely subverted, ironically fulfilled, and dramatically recast to point to a divine Victory that is truly Good News for all, even for those we would label as God’s “enemies.”
In the end God’s idea of justice is proven to be not vengeful or retributive, as in “an eye for an eye,” but rather restorative. And His triumph occurs not on a future battlefield littered with human corpses after a genocidal Second Coming, but instead the spotlight shines on the Cross, on a divine victim lifted up that spoke a final word of forgiveness rather than muttering threats of end-of-the-age vengeance.
When Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God he repeatedly contrasted it with the usual ways in which humans operate. It is an eternal Kingdom that the carnal mind cannot comprehend. So why would we think that it would mimic human kingdoms by being born out of violence? Well that’s not how it works! The kings of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome all founded their empires on killing, but Christ founded His by dying. The corpses of countless victims are buried under the concrete and asphalt highways of the USA, but the streets of gold in the New Jerusalem are not paved over the bones of God’s victims.
God Loves His Enemies
The idea that God simply does not engage in retributive violence was first articulated by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. In what must have been a mind-boggling teaching to His listeners whose entire conception of God was based upon the Hebrew Scriptures, Jesus declared the following:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:38-48)
Jesus was sent to reveal the true nature of God as our heavenly Father. We are all His children, called to become good and perfect and true just like Him. Jesus begins His teaching with the beatitudes, the seventh declaring, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” For Jesus, God the Father is a peacemaker, not a violent warrior, and those who make peace are truly His sons.
Jesus continues the theme when He teaches that when we love our enemies and refrain from violent retribution against them, then we again prove that we are true sons of our heavenly Father. Yes, God loves His enemies! This is an insight that is far from clear if all that we know about God is what we read in the Old Testament. I’m sure Jesus was grabbing His audience’s attention at that point! “Sure Jesus, tell us more… show us how you’re gonna square this new teaching with the testimony we have about God in our Scriptures!” Jesus goes on to emphasize how easy it is to love those who love us back, but when we love those who are against us then we actually imitate our heavenly Father’s perfection.
Jesus Reveals the True Nature of the Father
According to the New Testament the purpose of Hebrew Scripture was not to testify of the Father, but to point to the Son, and it is the Son who is the only true and perfectly reliable witness of the Father. That is why, on the Mount of Transfiguration in the company of Moses and Elijah (representing the Law and the Prophets) the voice from heaven directed our attention to Jesus saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”
“I and my Father are One.” (John 10:30)
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.” (John 1:17-18)
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’ Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?'” (John 14:6-10)
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15)
“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:3)
- No one has ever seen God, but Jesus has made Him known
- Jesus and the Father are One
- From now on we know the Father, because we know Jesus
- Jesus is the image of God
- Jesus is the perfect representation of God’s nature
The greatest statement that Jesus made about His Father was His life. Not once did Jesus steal, kill, destroy, tempt, invoke a storm, cause a plague, cause a famine, or cause sickness or disease. Not once. Instead he healed, calmed the storm, cast out demons, and rather than striking people dead Jesus raised the dead. As Jesus said, He only did what He saw His Father doing (John 5:19). Jesus lived a life of grace and truth and mercy and unconditional love and self-sacrifice and forgiveness right to the very end, because that is what His Father was doing. That is the true nature of our Father in heaven.
In His teaching Jesus straightened out the convoluted Old Testament conversation on the nature of evil and God’s role in it by indicting Satan as God’s evil adversary. The OT casts Satan as an angel who, from time to time, is allowed or even commanded to carry out God’s “dirty work,” yet remains a servant obedient to “God’s Will.” Jesus, on the other hand, points to Satan as an outsider who works against God rather than with Him. Far from being a servant Satan is actually a rebel and the great enemy of God and humankind. Satan is a liar and a murderer, while God is the source of truth and life.
By clarifying the role of Satan Jesus was able to heal some terrible misconceptions that His disciples may have had about God the Father and His relationship with darkness and evil, misconceptions that stood in the way of genuine relationship and intimacy. No child is comfortable around an abusive Father who threatens violence for the smallest act of disobedience. Jesus disarmed the fears that the apostles may have had about living as sons of God by teaching and demonstrating that God was truly a good Father, far better than any human Father could ever imagine to be.
Because of what Jesus taught we don’t need to worry about God possibly having a retributive dark side manifested in flashes of anger and violence directed at us if we happen to let Him down. It is true that God disciplines His sons, but every act of discipline is in our best interests, for correction and improvement, always motivated by love. His discipline, just like His justice, is restorative and not retributive. It is always discipline for a higher purpose, drawing us closer to our Father rather than driving us farther away. Yes, even “Depart from me, I never knew you,” is a means towards a final restorative end.
Jesus was sent to reveal the Father to humankind and to draw all of us into the fellowship of the heavenly Family, transforming us into true children of God who love unconditionally just like He loves. The letter of 1st John emphasizes all of these themes, beginning with the radical message of how Jesus revealed the true nature of the Father:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life–the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us–that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:1-5)
God is love.
God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
All of these attributes of God the Father work together. None of them contradict. None of them seek to separate us from Him, rather they all work to heal and to restore — to seek and to save that which was lost.
So what do we do with God’s vengeance? How do we deal with the Hebrew prophecies that very clearly depict the Messiah lashing out retributively in anger and wrath at the end of the age? How do we harmonize them with Jesus’ revelation of the unconditional love of the Father that extends even to His enemies? These questions about how we interpret Scripture in light of the revelation of God in Christ will be dealt with in Part Two, but for now I want to end with a couple of uncomfortable questions:
Is God a Pharisee?
Does the same caveat apply to God the Father? “Do what He says, but don’t do what He does!” No, of course not! The whole point of the Gospel is for us to imitate Christ just as Christ imitated God, and in this way we prove that we are sons and daughters of God. The New Testament is crystal clear on this! We can be sure that both the Father and the Son follow their own Gospel!
“For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (John 5:19)
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)
“But the wisdom that is from above is … without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:17-18)
Are we the New Pharisees?
The Pharisees of old were convinced that the Messiah would come to save Israel by dealing out violent retribution against their enemies. Were the Pharisees essentially correct in their expectation of how God would establish His Kingdom, but they merely had their timing wrong?
Yes, this is the traditional answer fed to us by our theological systems… that Jesus came the first time as a Lamb, but He’s coming back again as a Lion, when His attitude towards the lost will be entirely different. No longer will he show mercy, grace, and love towards them, rather His voice will boom over the earth saying, “Time’s up sinners! Your Day of Reckoning has arrived! It’s time to face your DOOM!”
If this is what the future holds, then yes, Christians today are in the same position as the Pharisees of old, waiting for God to appear and win the victory for us by dealing out violent retribution against our enemies. But what if this is not what the future holds? What if Christ’s only plan is to build His Kingdom through self-sacrificing love, beginning with Christ’s example that is now passed on to us?
The problem with the Pharisees went far deeper than merely getting God’s prophetic timing wrong. They rejected Christ not simply because they failed to distinguish between scriptural predictions of the Messiah’s first and second comings. That was not it at all! No, they rejected Christ because they got the very nature of God wrong! And that is why Jesus was sent to this earth, to show all humanity, including His people Israel, what God is really like.
Jesus is pulling all of humanity forward, and the earth itself is groaning in expectation of the fulfillment of God’s promises. There will be vindication of God’s people, there will be justice, there will be the end of sin and death and hell, and evil will be decisively dealt with.
However, part of this process is recognizing the true nature of evil and recognizing who our true enemies are. The Pharisees failed to understand this and they remained blind and held captive on the broad path that led to their own self-destruction. They failed to see that in Christ there are no enemies with a human face. They failed to recognize that God’s holy war is not against the Romans (or the Muslims, or the Socialists, or the Liberals, or the Homosexuals), rather His war, and our war today, is against every inner impulse that fearfully pulls back from LOVE.
From this perspective we will discover that God’s wrath against our real enemies works in perfect harmony with His unconditional, indiscriminate, and inescapable love for all humanity.
October 8, 2017
Jesus deals with Judgement: Who’s Left To Judge? Jesus confronts the Pharisees’ desire for God to enter into history as a Judge delivering a legal verdict on the saved and the lost.
Reading Scripture through the eyes of Christ: One Story, Two Revelations, Four Voices, by Brad Jersak. The Bible reveals itself as a human conversation about God with an inspired trajectory, rather than a monologue dictated word-for-word by God.
The “Wrath of God” as understood from the non-violent perspective of the early Church Fathers: What is the Wrath of God? by Ambrose Andreano. Much of the Bible consists of authors describing God in their image, in humanistic terms, yet God is an immutable Spirit who is not subjected to the fluctuations of human passions.
The book of Revelation as a subversive critique of human empire: The War of the Lamb, by Brian Zahnd
72 thoughts on “Vengeance on His Heart? Part I”
so let me get this straight, YOU don’t like the way the bible describes God’s method of judgement, so YOU, all emotional, and certainly more compassionate than the biblical description of God, suggest an alternative, because, after all, YOU’RE all about love, and for sure, any rational God would definitely fall in lock-step with YOU’RE superior perspective. Why you universalists have lost any concept of the heinous nature of sin can only, i think, be ascribed to your arrogance and blindness. Oh, the quote from Chambers was priceless. Why, one would almost think he was a devotee of universalism. Gripe all you want to, but people are going to go to hell. Along with Satan and his followers (or aren’t they “bad” enough for you?). Perhaps, Peter, you and Hitler will sing Kumbaya on into eternity, but personally, I doubt it. Not that you might not be singing together, but that you’ll be doing it together in heaven. Your heresy is Marcionism in it’s purest form. Get rid of Jahweh and the OT, bring on love and the NT. Unfortunately for you, no one talks about hell more than Christ, so if you get rid of hell, you get rid of Christ. I sense that is your ultimate goal after all. You see, Peter, all of us deserve hell. Everyone of else. None of us seek to do good, no NOT ONE. You and I deserve to burn (or freeze, or whatever the HELL we do) for eternity. That’s it. God has no obligation, not one iota, to save any of us. You’re problem is that you seem astounded that anyone would think we all won’t be in heaven, while the bible teaches us to be astounded that ANYONE AT ALL will be there. You’d do yourself a big favor and just shut up. Take it from JOB. Put your hand over your mouth and SHUT UP. You only bring more judgement on yourself. Just resist the temptation to get your intellectual orgasm, grasp the concept that hardly anyone reads your stuff, develop a bit of humility, and cease rewriting scripture.
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Thanks for sharing your perspective there Chuck!
Reblogged this on StarSword.
as always Peter, a pleasure
Dear Peter, I do not get your reasoning; the very portions of the scripture you quote i.e. “the vengeance texts” appear to falsify the very teaching you advance. What evidence is there that these texts should be taken “metaphorically”? and if they are “metaphorical”, what does the metaphors means? If someone claims that a certain text is metaphorical they owe us (a) evidence for this; (b) and an explanation what the metaphors mean. That God is loving and forgiving is shown by the fact that his sacrifice provides a way to be saved from his wrath over sin, not that everybody will be saved. God loves his enemies which are shown by the fact that he died for us meanwhile we were sinners against him, it does not mean that he loves people who will never repent and want to continue forever do evil. To love that would itself be evil. I think you are going serious astray in your reasoning here. Are you promoting universalism? You make the same logical blunder as they do: they violate the basic principle of interpretation that *a more specific statement qualifies the general statements within the same domain, NOT vice versa*. You are imposing your own idea of what mercy and love must mean instead of letting the scripture inform you what it means. Why would it be unloving to destroy the evildoers which do not want to repent? It is certainly loving towards those oppressed by the evildoers. Finally, to the same degree, you decrease the severity of the punishment for sin, to the same degree do you decrease the value of the cross and the grace of God. Mercy is only meaningful against a backdrop of justice and judgment and gets its value in relation to that backdrop. Please reconsider your theology and interpretation thereof, you were much better of before this “universalistic humanism” you are now endorsing. With kind regards, André
How utterly convenient. So we can live any vile way we choose? And still live with Jesus forever? Because He loves us?We can hatefully deny God but it’s okay? Well at least I know who you truly are.
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WOWSIE!!!! When we all become less of the “us and them” perspective and become more in the WE perspective, we will have God’s perspective!!!!! It is not us and them. It never has been nor will it ever be as long as I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE.
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While I can’t share Chuck’s vitriolic insistence on a god who would torture any sentient being for eternity, I very much look forward to your exegesis of Isa 34 & 63. Jesus said that not one jot or tittle of the law would pass away until all is fulfilled, and I’m hoping you can resolve those chapters with the ultimate triumph of love.
Thanks for all you do.
my sentiments exactly Debra. This post is just another overly emotive attempt to pull at the heartstrings by individuals who want to conform God’s integrity and holiness to THEIR concepts of justice. I often wonder if they have even thought through the implications of their positions. I’d hope so. If they have, then they have consciously rejected clear biblical teaching for their own supposedly superior intellect. It does beg the question, exactly what do they consider divine revelation, the bible or their own thoughts. It started in the Garden and just keeps keeping on. Well said.
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careful Joyce. I believe those words are Christ’s, referring to Himself and the Father. You and i are never going to be one with God in that exact way. Just a suggestion.
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I insist on a God(notice the capitol G) who upholds His holiness and justice. I don’t insist on a god (little G, yours) who conforms to my concept of justice, nor one who, no matter WHAT He decides is right, could ever be wrong in His judgements. There are always going to be mysteries about God, His nature, and His actions, that are beyond our comprehension. That’s where trust and faith come in. If WE think God is doing something wrong, the problem is ours, not His. Thus the previous reference to Job. Sometimes it is just better to put our hands over our mouths and SHUT UP. As the ending of Job reveals, God feels no compulsion to explain His divine decrees to us. Seeing as how hell and eternal torment are clearly taught in scripture (mostly by Christ Himself), there can be no biblically based warrant for their rejection. Playing God’s words against themselves is a dangerous path to take. Again, better to say, it’s a mystery than to add or take away from God’s revelation. That, indeed, is a punishable offense.
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Chuck when you say that Christ Himself clearly teaches “eternal torment” where do you find that in Scripture? If you are referring to Matthew 25:46 I can understand your position, but at the same time I would point out to you that the phrase “aionios kolasis” should not be translated “eternal retributive punishment,” but rather “age-enduring chastisement.” God does not deal in eye-for-an-eye retribution or punishment merely for punishment’s sake. The word for that would be the Greek word TIMORIA, whereas KOLASIS is corrective discipline for a purpose that is in the best interests of the one being disciplined. Furthermore the Greek word for eternal or everlasting is AIDIOS whereas the word AIONIOS is an adjective from AION meaning age. It is age-specific and of limited duration.
Chuck, the Pharisees believed in eternal torment. They used both TIMORIA and AIDIOS in referring to their conception of an eternal Hell, having brought this man-made teaching from Babylon. They were the ones who shut the gates of heaven in men’s faces, and Jesus rebuked them for it (Matt 23:13). If Jesus had desired to affirm the Pharisee’s view of merciless and hopeless and eternal punishment in the afterlife He would have used their terms. Yet on the contrary Jesus speaks instead of fatherly discipline (kolasis) for a restorative purpose and limited duration (aionios).
For more on this very necessary and illuminative study on Matthew 25:46 please refer to the following pdf file:
Click to access Pharisees-Aionios.pdf
[I insist on a God(notice the capitol G) who upholds His holiness and justice. I don’t insist on a god (little G, yours) who conforms to my concept of justice, nor one who, no matter WHAT He decides is right, could ever be wrong in His judgements.]
Chuck, it seems to me that insisting on a God who conforms to YOUR concept of justice is exactly what you ARE doing. I maintain that every word in the bible is absolutely true, and that neither Jeshua nor our Father could never be incorrect in judgment nor act in anything but perfect love. The issue is how we understand what is being communicated by all those words in those sixty-six books written by at least fourty humans over a couple thousand years.
[There are always going to be mysteries about God, His nature, and His actions, that are beyond our comprehension. That’s where trust and faith come in.]
I couldn’t agree more. The problem comes when we consider a profound and mysterious paradox like divine justice/mercy and try to resolve it by reading scripture; one “Christian” reads through a very dirty human lens such as vindictive retribution and revenge, while another “Christian” reads through the equally dirty human lens of sloppy agape and cheap grace.
[Seeing as how hell and eternal torment are clearly taught in scripture (mostly by Christ Himself), there can be no biblically based warrant for their rejection.]
Hell is an English word used fifty-four times in the KJV (only 8 unique statements by Jeshua) to translate two Hebrew words and three Greek words, all with very different definitions, but I see no instance in which it must be taken to indicate “eternal torment” except by inferrence from one’s preconceived notion. In fact, Jeshua specifically rejected eternal torment in Mat 10:28 where He said “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to DESTROY BOTH SOUL AND BODY in hell.” To me, the Greek word “apollymi” says total annihilation; no surviving consciousness; blotted out of existence.
[Playing God’s words against themselves is a dangerous path to take. Again, better to say, it’s a mystery than to add or take away from God’s revelation.]
OK Chuck, let’s agree on that!
Bless you my brother.
Peter, i always enjoy your posts, even when i disagree with them. You are creative. So now the concept of hell that christian orthodoxy holds to is attributable to the Pharisees? Seriously? You”re saying that christian orthodoxy and Babylonian concepts of hell are in lock-step agreement? Seriously? My my, you have drank the kool-aid!! Listen, according to Christ, hell is where the fire is NEVER quenched. You can be creative with etymology all you want, but never is never. NEVER. While you may consider substitutionary atonement a case of a wrathful, murdering God, I prefer to see the incredible story of a God who SO LOVED THE WORLD that God the Son would voluntarily take the just punishment for all violations of God’s righteous will upon Himself so we would not have to bear them. This is a story of love, not a vengeful God. God does NOT WILL THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH!!! Anyone who goes to hell does so willingly, having rejected God’s love. You and I CHOOSE that fate. God offers His love to EVERYONE. And here is a newsbreak for you……He had and has no obligation to save ANYONE, because NO NOT ONE seeks after Him on their own. NO ONE is righteous. You, i say again, seem to be amazed that ANYONE will spend eternity in hell. I, on the other hand, am amazed that He would offer salvation to ANYONE. We certainly don’t deserve such a gift. We ALL deserve eternal separation from God.
You trust in yourself and your works (and thoughts) to gain eternal life. I trust only in the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. Wherever I spend eternity, it will be a righteous and unquestionable decision on God’s part. I sometimes think that those who really haven’t committed themselves to faith in Christ sense that perhaps they might be screwing up, so the “loophole” is some sort of purgatory where eventually God, compelled by His own senseless and unfair decree, has to give in to OUR concept of fair play and let everyone into His presence. You might save yourself from this erroneous and fatal thinking and fully acknowledge your sins and unrighteousness and trust yourself to a just and righteous, by HIS definition, God. If there is no “eternal” (in it’s fullest and literal sense) hell, then there is no “eternal” life. Be consistent in your thinking and rational. By trying to rationalize a loophole, you may be creating a trap door.
Thanks Roger, for a reasoned and coherent response. I always appreciate those. Though you attribute the thought or words to me, I am not insisting on MY concept or understanding of hell. It is biblical. And i disagree with your interpretation of “destroy”. See my current response to Peter referencing “eternal’. If eternal torment isn’t really eternal, than neither is eternal life. That would be the logical, consistent, and etymologically coherent conclusion. I trust, as you apparently do, in the inspired nature of scripture. Correct me if i am wrong. This is why i DON’T struggle with eternal torment. Whether i like it or embrace it is irrelevant, and this seems to be the basis of those who reject it. They just don’t LIKE it. It doesn’t “seem” or “feel” right. I leave my feelings and emotions out of it. As you say, whatever God decides will always be righteous and correct. Wouldn’t you agree? Even eternal torment or eternal separation. Some seem to think the “torment” aspect of hell is God gleefully imposing great pain upon those (all of us, really) who have rejected Him. I understand the “torment” as self imposed, the agony and regret from our rejecting God’s love. The “weeping and gnashing of teeth” is not God making us cry or Him forcefully grinding together the teeth of those who rejected Him. It is the natural response to the realization that we went our own way for quick satisfaction and rejected the opportunity to spend eternity with Him.
Look, i personally don’t care what God ultimately chooses. He is ALWAYS right. If He wants to give second chances, all the better. If He wants to save everyone, it’s His creation. I just reject the notion that eternal hell is not taught in scripture, and reject arguments based on what “seems fair” for God to do. The concept of universal salvation makes a mockery of biblical truth. While proponents of such often attempt, vainly i believe, to present their case as one of defending God’s love, this assumes, somewhat hilariously, that we even understand what God’s love actually emcompasses, and often trivializes the attributes of holiness and righteousness of our God.
I too, like you, trust in my Savior. That’s all i need. Not my judgements. Not my concepts of “fair” play. And not my always fallible concept of what God’s love truly encompasses nor how it “motivates” His actions. Thanks again.
From Jacob M. Wright on Facebook:
“Fear him who has the power to destroy both body and soul in hell!” (Matthew 10:28)
Ever hear someone quote this verse as the one time Jesus explicitly promotes being terrified of his Father? It’s not what it looks like. Well, only if it’s excluded from its context. Quoting this verse by itself would be like quoting what the friends of Job said about God and then excluding the fact that later on God says that they were wrong in what they said about him.
If you read the whole chapter, you will see the point Jesus is making. Let’s do a brief overview of the context leading up to Jesus’ words here. First he tells his disciples to go and proclaim the kingdom of God, the coming of which has the effects of restoring people, not destroying them:
“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” (Matthew 10:7-8) That’s what the kingdom coming looks like, restoring the broken world.
Since this kingdom is a kingdom of restoration and peace, it doesn’t come by violent means, so Jesus tells them he is sending them out as sheep among wolves. Wolves tear sheep to pieces. The powers of this world are established on violence. But the kingdom of God is established on martyrdom, because it is come to plant the seed of forgiveness and peace which will eventually be like leaven that works all through the dough. Jesus doesn’t tell them to fight. He tells them they will be flogged and persecuted in both the political and religious centers, and that they will stand before the powers of the world and declare in the power of the Spirit the true kingdom of God. Jesus tells them they will be put to death, but it’s okay, this is how they treated him.
Then he tells them “Do not fear.” Do not fear these people that can kill you. Then comes the dreadful verse.
“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear the One who has power to destroy both soul and body in gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So fear not; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:28-31)
Wait a second, the verse didn’t end at fear? Nope. Notice how Jesus goes from one extreme to the other. First, fear him who has power to destroy you in gehenna (the valley of hinnom), and second, he is a Father who loves and protects every hair on your head, so don’t fear. In other words, all these other guys may be able to kill your body, but there is only one who has power to destroy your actual person, and he would never dream of doing such a thing because he is your Father who cares for even the birds.
Jesus concludes with “Fear not” and affirming our immeasurable worth beyond that of birds. The words “Fear not” are the most repeated words of Jesus.
Again, nice try. Just who would the “him” that be that can destroy body and soul? That obviously would be God. So there is indeed a verse here that says that God can and will destroy (annihilation, i.e., to obliviate something from existence to non-existence) is just not a definition that fits Hebrew or Greek language of Jesus’s time. Even if you allow for a literal meaning of destroy, it is still eternal destruction. Why fear that? Live your life, sin up a storm, and God makes you disappear. Where’s the fear? I would posit that for someone who rejects God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice, that would be a desired ending, a perfect one, if you will. So why fear? Unless perhaps one is hoping, as I pointed out in a previous post, that he or she will eventually be able to “play” on God’s compassion, pull on His heart strings so to speak. “please, it’s been long enough, hasn’t it? Was I really THIS bad? Is this fair? Again, nothing more than emotive ploys.
Your constant attempts to play God’s justice and love against each other reveals, i fear, a frightening ignorance or rejection of the heinous nature of sin against God. To be emotive like you, I can ask “Were my offenses REALLY that serious?” “Are you,God, ACTUALLY that indignant about my transgressions”? “Aren’t you overreacting JJJUUUSSSSTTTT a bit here?.
Actually, Peter, aren’t you, from the annihilation viewpoint, actually asking your loving god to become a mass murderer? From a universalist standpoint, aren’t we making a mockery of both LAW and GOSPEL? Why pretend to be outraged at sin when one (god?) is just eventually going look the other way and invite everyone into the kingdom? What was all the fuss about obedience and the shedding of blood for atonement? Was this just a scare tactic to bring the disobedient into line? All bark and no bite?
Your myopic focus on Matthew is indicative of all arguments against hell, as if it were the only REAL passage dealing with or even hinting at eternal seperation and torment. Why does the devouring worm live forever if it is not devouring anything (analogy or not)? What is the need for a never-ending fire if there is nothing to burn?
You might want to visit a few more passages. They are Isaiah 66:22-24, Daniel12:2-3,Matt. 18:6-9,25:31-46,Mark 9:42-48; II Thess.1:6-10;Jude 7,13; Rev. 14:9-11; 20:10,14-15. The concept of an eternal hell is found throughout scripture, sometimes literally stated, other times implied with the contrast with the fate of the redeemed.
Speaking of which, you continue to evade my question, as you have for sometime, about eternal life. Don’t worry, you have plenty of company. Through the years and many many dozens of times i have asked that question. So far, not a SINGLE proponent of a “temporary hell” or “annihilation” has so much as even tried to answer it. NOT A SINGLE ONE!!!
I’ll state it again. If you believe you have proven that “eternal” actually means a “specific period of time” or “only a while (even if a long one), then, seeing as how the same Hebrew and Greek words translated eternal or forever are used in reference to both eternal torment and eternal life, then on what logical or etymological grounds can you avoid redefining “eternal” life as just meaning “life just for a specific period of time” or life “only for a while” (even if a long while)?
You need to answer that question, otherwise your reasonings are inconsistent, mere cherry-picking whatever meaning you desire to employ, regardless of scriptural usage or context. If you “destroy” an eternal hell or eternal torment, you also, again logically and etymologically, destroy “eternal” life. To avoid this, you either must ignore the sensible use of logical and consistent reasoning, or worse, decide for yourself what you want to believe whether or not it is supported in scripture. I have never had anyone from your perspective as much as try to even acknowledge it, much less answer it. The silence is deafening, and the avoidance is arbitrary. To me this is evidence of a lack of substance in your arguments, and perhaps proof that this really is just about special emotive pleading, or worse, a willful refusal to acknowledge a biblical truth. God doesn’t take polls.
Hi Chuck, the argument that you are advancing regarding aionian kolasis and aionion life is answered in every single book I’ve ever read on universalism. Your argument is the same argument first put forth by Augustine, who admits himself that he was never proficient in Greek, and is easily refuted by anyone who IS proficient in Greek. The fact that you have never heard anyone acknowledge it or answer it makes it entirely clear that you have never been serious in trying to understand the universalist perspective. This is Universalism 101. In any case it’s obvious to me that nothing I can provide will change you mind, but that’s ok. You seem to have set yourself up as your own infallible pope of your own little loveless legalistic sect. Good luck with that, Chuck. In any case there are other readers here who will benefit from our exchange.
The word aionios is highly ambiguous and is highly dependent on context to properly interpret it. Anytime it is associated with God it assumes divine properties and can be translated as “eternal” without losing meaning. And so aionios life with God can be assumed to last forever, going even beyond the aions. However, aionios kolasis is a different story altogether, simply because of the word kolasis. This is the word for chastisement, discipline, corrective punishment. It is punishment for a PURPOSE. So logically such a punishment would have an end, simply by the nature of this word alone, because “never-ending corrective punishment” makes no sense at all. If it doesn’t end, then it is not working! But I can assure you that God’s punishment WORKS! This is why the Pharisees used the word AIDIOS with the word TIMORIA. The word aidios is NOT ambiguous, it means “eternal.” And the word timoria is not corrective punishment but punitive punishment. Aidios timoria matches perfectly with your conception of a loveless and indifferent god entirely obsessed with his own honor and the need to mercilessly punish sinners forever, just for HIS OWN satisfaction, without any corrective goal. The problem is, these words are the words of the Pharisees and not the words of Jesus. These are the actions of a COSMIC OMNIPOTENT PHARISEE, the god you seem to worship, against which I am a happy atheist.
Here’s more on this subject from the previous article on my blog:
Given its semantic range, the meaning of aiónios in any specific text must be determined by context and usage (also see the ruminations of Orville Jenkins). Except when it modifies the noun “God,” aiónios need not signify eternal. For an interesting example, take a look at Rom 16:25-26: in v. 25, the Apostle speaks of “the mystery which was kept secret for long ages [aioníois] but is now disclosed,” which clearly refers to a span of time that has ended; and then in the very next verse he speaks of the aioníou theou, the everlasting God.
Origen, the greatest exegete of the early Church, was well aware of the polysemy of aión and its adjectival forms. In Hom. in Ex. 6.13 he writes: “Whenever Scripture says, ‘from aeon to aeon,’ the reference is to an interval of time, and it is clear that it will have an end. And if Scripture says, ‘in another aeon,’ what is indicated is clearly a longer time, and yet an end is still fixed. And when the ‘aeons of the aeons’ are mentioned, a certain limit is again posited, perhaps unknown to us, but surely established by God” (quoted in Ramelli, The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis, p. 161). And Comm. in Rom. 6.5: “In Scriptures, aión is sometimes found in the sense of something that knows no end; at times it designates something that has no end in the present world, but will have in the future one; sometimes it means a certain stretch of time; or again the duration of the life of a single person is called aión” (quoted in Ramelli, p. 163).
Origen explicitly connects aiónios life to final salvation and apokatastasis. Commenting on John 3:36 he writes: “‘He who believes in the Son has aiónios life.’ For if he who believes in the Son has aiónios life, then when he has been rendered into his hand, he is rendered for his own salvation and betterment” (Fragments on John 50.28; quoted in Konstan and Ramelli, pp. 122-123). “The Savior calls himself a harvester, and the recompense of our Lord is the salvation and reintegration of those who are harvested; the expression ‘And he gathers the fruit for aiónios life’ means either that what is gathered is the fruit of aiónios life or that it itself is aiónios life” (Fragments on John 13.46.299; quoted in Konstan and Ramelli, p. 122). But even the aiónes will come to an end, Origen tells us: “After aiónios life a leap will take place and all will pass from the aeons to the Father, who is beyond aiónios life. For Christ is Life, but the Father, who is ‘greater than Christ,’ is greater than life” (Comm. in Io 13.3; quoted in Ramelli, p. 160). The Father transcends all ages. In the apokatastasis the entirety of creation will participate in the aḯdios life that is the Creator. God will be all in all (1 Cor 15:24-28). The Origenian notion of eschatological stages sounds strange to our ears today. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the Son delivering his kingdom to the Father in cosmic theosis? Origen’s exegesis should at least challenge our default readings of aiónios and the Eschaton. By contrast, the fire that belongs to the world to come, the pur aiónion, most definitely will come to an end. It may last for a long time, but it is not eternal. Evil has no place in the universal restoration.
I pretty much agree with this article except I have a problem with characterizing scripture–which is Gods word and every word is truth according to Jesus– as human impressions and opinions that lead to a divinely inspired lesson but can be cherry picked as we please to make our point. I make exception by pointing out mistranslations are mans error but the original writings are the truth.
Origen was quite the intelligent fellow, and we must credit him for helping the church with it’s development of trinitarian concepts. He was, however, a bit of a fruitcake when it came to hermeneutics, which is why you should have included the disclaimer that he was eventually condemned as a heretic. Not sure i want to be getting my knowledge of important doctrines from a heretic.
Again, while seeing much, you see little. Do you or do you not believe in eternal life? It appears that you do not, which of course, would be considered heretical by any branch of christianity. Correct me if i am wrong. If you do, your lexical wanderings destroy your own beliefs. I have researched and taught Greek for over 40 years. I am quite familiar with it, as you might guess. Your plethora of definitions do not establish your point, nor do they address my question to you. Seeing as how these various greek words and their variants are used referencing BOTH eternal life AND eternal torment or punishment, either they mean eternal (in our concept, forever) or THEY DO NOT. You would violate rules of hermeneutics and laws of logic to say they don’t mean eternal when used to describe hell, but DO when they refer to life. You again fail to acknowledge or address this issue. Origen’s purported ideas about some event in the future (which by the way, does not confirm YOUR apparent “dividing” up of eternity into during and “after” eternity), while interesting, are not biblical truth. Should i be surprised that you find comfort in the company of a heretic? Is HE the ONLY one you can find to support (and i do not believe he does) your belief in “un-eternal” life? Christ giving all things over to the Father, and any other events that will occur, are all included in “eternity”. They are not subdivisions or after the fact.
Lastly, your resort to ad hominem attacks only shows your immaturity and the vacuous nature of your argument. I bet you thought you were above such things, didn’t you. Perhaps you should more substantially develop your thoughts before you post them. Thanks for not addressing (although you are the first to pretend to) my challenge.
I would agree wholeheartedly with you, hamp. Which why i believe that hell, wherever it is and whatever it consists of, is eternal. As should you. After all, it’s what the bible says,right?
The only reason I’m jumping into this discussion between you far more learned ‘heavy hitters’ of God, is due to this verse from 1 Timothy:
” 3 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. “[1 Timothy 2:3,4 AKJV]
I’ve looked it up in several other English translations and it seems to be evenly divided between those translators who render verse 4 as being “who WILL have all men to be saved…”, and those who render it like this, “who desires…”[English Standard V.] and even “who wants…”[Christian Standard V.], all the way to this one, “who doth WILL all men to be saved…”[Young’s Literal Translation–and, my all time personal favorite!]
It’s the one verse that helped give me lots of hope for my loved ones, and close friends, due to how it seemed to be letting us know that it’s God own WILL that “all men” be “saved” and “come unto the knowledge of the truth”, with the “truth” being Jesus Christ, Himself–hence, “come unto the knowledge of the truth”.
I can’t hold a candle to the far more learned among Christians, such as yourselves, but my finding that verse about 10 years ago, has caused me to wonder if God wishes to demonstrate to people that He does have the power to “burn their britches” should it come to that, but that, thanks to His being “Love” itself, He will insure that it doesn’t come to that, all thanks and praise be to His great Love for mankind–AND, because He knows that, once people get a real taste of “the belt”, on their ‘backsides’, aka, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”[Proverbs 29:15 AKJV], they’ll give up wanting to kick and scream against God’s will and they’ll begin to see the wisdom of giving up their love of sin, and start behaving more like His Son, Jesus–after all, God, Himself, said:
“16 Wash you, make you clean;
put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes;
cease to do evil;
17 learn to do well;
seek judgment, relieve the oppressed,
judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord:
though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
19 If ye be willing and obedient,
ye shall eat the good of the land:
20 but if ye refuse and rebel,
ye shall be devoured with the sword:
for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”[Isaiah 1:16-20 AKJV]
Everyone’s favorite words out of those verses is, “COME NOW, AND LET US REASON TOGETHER…” from verse 18–they are also my favorite words–however, the key here is “let us REASON TOGETHER”–not argue, not debate, but ‘reason’, using actual sources, especially His written word. I just wish I knew enough to continue in this discussion, but I look forward to reading any and all subsequent notes from all of you. Thank you, Mr. Goodgame.
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This verse, Christine, shows that God’s love is impartial. He is not sending anyone to hell. That is their own choice. We can argue about “fairness” all we want to in relation to God’s eternal decrees, but they will be only that, arguments. One must accept that there are mysteries concerning God, things we cannot fathom with our limited and darkened intellect. What scripture asks us to do is to trust Him, to trust that every decision He makes, however “unpleasant” we perceive it to be, is a righteous one. If God were to literally “will” that everyone be saved, we would be little more than automatons, merely deluded into thinking we have free will. While universalists and annihilationists prattle on about “love”, this is merely a disguise excusing the challenging of Him, and His Word. We see something we don’t like or feel good about, we grab our lexicons and desperately search for a way around supposed difficulties. As i have often stated, I have no dog in this fight. I’m all for whatever God decrees, whether I understand it or not. We must be willing to acknowledge He is inconceivably greater than we are, and incapable of evil. If we don’t believe this, we elevate ourselves to godhood, and glorify our own conception of righteousness rather than His. Yes, God is love. He is also righteous. He is not only our Father (for those who embrace the gift of His son), He is also Judge. He is to be unquestioned. Not that we can’t have questions or desire to understand more deeply His character, but as Job found out, He is not to be challenged. When Job did, God showed up. And Job shut his mouth. And God never did explain why He allowed all that happened to Job. Note that He did not induce Job’s suffering, but only allowed it (via the vehicle of Satan). We have to believe that everything we see and experience can be used by God for good. The refusal to do this is little more than self worship, which is where the biblical story begins with Adam and Eve. They did not trust God. They questioned Him. They embraced Satan’s answer, which was, of course, to question God’s motives and character. While, in my utopian mind i would like to think all get to heaven (well, not all), scripture clearly indicates otherwise in opposition to those who would teach otherwise.
What some can’t wrap their heads around is that there are beings (angels, us) who, because they DO have free will, are unwilling to surrender to God’s authority. They just don’t want to submit. Satan is a perfect example. Think of what he has experienced having been in the very presence of God, a cherub that covered God’s throne. Can you even imagine what he saw, what he could do. Yet He rejected his Creators authority, His gifts. If angel, perfect in wisdom and beauty can do this, why do we think we or others wouldn’t? It’s a delusion. The fact that some will experience eternal separation from God is PROOF of His love, His giving of choice. The real miracle is, as scripture reveals, that while NONE of us seek after Him He still reaches out with the invitation to worship and obey Him and thus experience eternal life. He, in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, actually paid the wages of our sins, death. Christ’s ressurection to life eternal can be ours if we are found in HIM.
While we argue about hell, the world just uses our inability to understand as another excuse to reject Him. It is, however, only an excuse, and not a valid reason. Scripture tells us that ANYONE who seeks after Him will find Him. I believe this because i believe His word. Arguments over the level or duration of suffering or separation do nothing to further the cause of the Gospel, and are often used as excuses to reject God’s love. I have no problem with people having their own opinions, but do when they claim they are biblical when they are not. The apostle Paul proclaimed a curse upon those who change the gospel message, any of it. As sad as we may find it, the message of love is accompanied by the message of judgement. It’s not a pick and chose, or multiple choice. To believe God’s word is to believe ALL of it. Don’t worry about anyone’s interpretations. Just believe what you read in His Word.
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food for thought Peter. Maybe too many confuse His second coming, with the Great Tribulation. My sense of the GT is that once the Holy Spirit is removed as Yeshua said, that the depravity, evil, fleshly lusts, hatred,s etc that simmer because they’re being restrained somewhat by the HS, are going to be unleashed as the enemy unleashes his final all out assault on mankind made in the image of the Father. This won’t be Yeshua executing retribution, but rather the wrath of the enemy in full blown expression of his power as prince of this world, as he manipulates his subjects, those who rejected redemption through the blood sacrifice of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world,
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Reblogged this on Gitardood's Weblog and commented:
Pete is challenging all who are believers to examine themselves in the light of God’s word, Spirit, and revelation as to whether they are knowingly or unknowingly harbouring an unChristlike desire for vengeance- almost as if they can’t wait to see the “sinners get theirs”
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Chuck, the Bible says the wages of sin is death, not eternal life in prison or a torture chamber.
well hamp, you and i experience death also, unless Christ returns very soon (at least for me). The bible DOES NOT teach that the wages of sin is annihilation, either immediately after death or some ill-defined or undefined period of whatever in a sort of purgatory. So your statement does not prove your point. I do not see the words prison or torture chamber in the bible, NOR in my arguments, so who actually are you disagreeing with (your own presumptions and conclusions?). Try again,and get over the attempts to “save God’s reputation” or the myopic focus on “love” to the exclusion of God’s other attributes. You only dismember God and rip apart (cherry-pic) the biblical revelation He gives us. God doesn’t need me to “defend” Him or re-explain what the bible reveals about Him so that He will become more palatable to sinful humanity. This is pure hubris and arrogance hidden behind a false image of “fairness”.
excellent point, and often ignored.
if that was “all” Peter was doing, I wouldn’t have any objections. Certainly as Christians we are exhorted to love all, even our enemies, and to do our part in proclaiming that the eternal separation that all deserve has been mended by the sacrificial (NOT symbolic) death of Christ on our part, for those who fully accept Him and His teachings.
Peter is doing far more than you discern. He is redefining historic christian doctrine in ways considered heretical. I never have seen his full statement of faith or doctrine. Based on what i have read, i would not be surprised if his perspectives on the Trinity, deity of Christ, atonement are far different than what 1900+ years of Christian thought and debate have developed. Git, if someone’s belief’s concerning God are different than what the bible reveals, then it only makes sense that that erroneous thinking will permeate all other areas of Christian doctrine.
I think it is only fair that Peter make that clear, if only to let the readers know where and why he differs from orthodox christianity. For some it won’t matter. They probably don’t care what the bible teaches. They may prefer their concepts above those of scripture. Others may care but are not developed in their thinking concerning doctrinal issues but want to be. They have a right to know the basis of Peter’s thought concerning God and biblical revelation, if only to give pause before wholeheartedly embracing his teachings.
You know, Peter is not alone, of course. Polls taken over the last few decades reveal that, on average, only 17% of people who claim to be Christian actually have a biblical worldview. So he has company, knowingly or not. The internet has been both boon and bane to knowledge and fame. Anyone can start a site and claim to be an expert on something. And people hungry for knowledge but unwilling or unable to do the hard work are quick to latch on to what appears to be attractive reasoning. Truth doesn’t come without a price, just like salvation. Christ said He was the Truth, and I take Him at His word. He spoke of eternal hell more than anyone. While Peters lexical meanderings may seem attractive to those already committed to his way of thinking, they are fallacious and self-contradictory. Of course, you wouldn’t know that if you haven’t done the work to adequately understand how biblical languages work and how scripture can be correctly interpreted after much study (Study to show yourself approved) and prayer. There are many things in the bible that are clear and obvious. Others are puzzling and paradoxical. Some are beyond our full understanding. Whatever category, it’s revelations are far superior to yours and mine. Therefore I will adhere to scripture. I am told in scripture to discern every spirit, to reject any pseudo-gospel. That is what i do. I do not judge you or Peter, but I do have an intellectual right and a biblical mandate to challenge anything that appears to challenge biblical revelation. It’s not personal. It’s biblical.
Chuck I do appreciate your comments. I have my own reservations about some of his statements but having read his book on the second coming which was good felt that he may’ve been using hyperbole or been exaggerating to jolt people into examining their hearts. There’s a natural desire in man to want to see others ” get what they deserve” in the eyes of those who feel they’re being trod upon ( for instance). My interpretation was that when Yeshua returns for His believers to catch them away and the Holy Spirit is withdrawn that the devil having a free hand knowing his time is short will execute his wrath of upon the world who are here due to their rejection of Christ. I do not see that as a time we believers should be rejoicing for but rather as His heart is broken for the lost He died for so we should be. We should be avidly sharing the gospel with everyone as the scripture says, pulling them as it were from the very flames of hell. I often say to others that this Laodicean age of the ” church” is typified by the absence of preaching on things like hell, the impending end of the present world, holiness, and passionate heartfelt sorrow for a world of lost damned souls. I emphasized the importance of these in order that we search our hearts to make sure we are in sync with God’s whose love for a lost world prompted Him to send His yachid Son to be the sacrifice for the sins of all so that if any take advantage of the proffered chance of redemption they can be saved. Of course He wants all to take that offer but He knows not all will. Those who don’t Yeshua weeps over because He fully knows what the consequences are.
thanks for the kind response and i embrace your post wholeheartedly. I myself, in 45 years as a christian, have never met ANYONE who ever expressed the slightest glee at the concept of eternal torment (self-inflicted, not God inflicted. I believe the torment is caused by the realization that our own choices have left us separated from the Lord). Those who hold to a reformed faith and substitutionary atonement realize that without the grace and mercy of God, we too would be in “that” place. Anyone who would rejoice in someone being in hell would logically be someone who thinks they are not going to be there because of their good works. That individual would certainly NOT have understood the gospel message. Receiving the gift of eternal life should properly motivate one to, with all their energy, spread the good news of God’s love to ALL people, not just ones we might like.
As for Peter’s motives, I have followed him for a while now. I wish i could attribute his words to hyperbole. I’m afraid i can’t. He has said the same things in so many different ways that it seems beyond doubt that he actually embraces the beliefs i find to be unbiblical or unorthodox. He is certainly free to agree with your assessment if he wants to, but i think you will look in vain for the event to unfold.
Keep on trusting God, studying His word, gathering together with the saints, and expressing God’s love through the gospel message. Wishing you the best.
Hello to you, too, Chuck. I don’t have time right now to elaborate on all of this, but I want to leave these two verses from Isaiah:
“For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven,
and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth,
and maketh it bring forth and bud,
that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:
it shall not return unto me void,
but it shall accomplish that which I please,
and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”[Isaiah55:10,11 AKJV]
Plus, this from the Lord Jesus, Himself:
“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”[Matthew 19:26 AKJV]
“And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”[Luke 18:27 AKJV]
Now, explain please, if that verse from 1 Timothy truly should be translated to read, “wills”, or even if it should be “desires”, how it is that God could fail to accomplish whatever He wills or desires to have happen. Because, perhaps God knows that, when properly persuaded, and/or reasoned with well enough, that people will respond to the truth, even enough so that God is able to pull their fat out of the fire, so to speak. Otherwise, I can’t understand why 1 Timothy says what it does, or why the Lord Jesus said what He did to His disciples concerning salvation, “…with God all things are possible.”
After all, our salvation hinges on one huge thing, which is this:
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”[John 6:44 AKJV]
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The problem here, as is usual, is semantics. Often assuming that a word translated from a different language into english must mean exactly what is means in english. The word here, though, is no big obstacle. I “willed” that my child wouldn’t get into trouble when he was younger, and did everything short of imprisonment to insure that result, but alas, I failed. Primarily because i loved him. He had a free will. Even had i been God, i would never have forced him to obey me (this would require removal of free will). God doesn’t desire, will, wish, hope for…….that any would perish. To read that as a guarantee that no one will is deriving a meaning not intended. You could equally say that it’s God’s will that we obey His commandments. Guess what? We seldom do. Willing it doesn’t make it so. When you speak of God’s will you seem to be implying divine sovereignty. Certainly what God irrevocably wills will come to pass. He has not, that I see in scripture, decided to force everyone into heaven. To assume that some indeterminate period of separation from God will guarantee that one will then decide to submit and suddenly love God and desire His presence forever is begging too much. If this were the case, why did Jesus even die for us? If everyone gets to heaven, then the death was needless, for according to that reasoning, it’s not so much a matter of choice as it is “time”. Enough time, and everyone will come around. I fear this may be a naive understanding of the nature of sin and it’s violation of God’s Holy will. Purgatory is nowhere taught in scripture. Neither is annihilation. Eternal separation, however, is. No matter how unpleasant the concept. It’s there. Jesus taught it.
What worries me about these discussion is the apparent underlying current of thought that says “Well, if that’s how God is, I don’t want Him”, “if He doesn’t fit my concept of fairness, I’ll just walk away”, or to put it more honestly and bluntly “if He doesn’t conform to by concept of righteousness and fairness, I reject Him”. To even think that way is already indicative of one heading for destruction. One should tremble before one even thinks those thoughts. They are indicative of incredible hubris and are pure pride. They potentially make God an inferior person to us.
I decide to trust Him. For my salvation, and in reference to all of His plans and decisions, for now and eternity. If He does something a certain way, i trust that that is the best way to do it. If it conforms to His will, it has to be correct. It has to be just and righteous.
When someone rejects God, this does not make Him a failure. Of course He could force everyone to “love” Him (would it still be love?). He could do and force anything He wants, and make us all robotic servants. Free will is proof of His love and wisdom, not a bad idea to be recalled or changed. No one is forced into hell. Everyone there will be there because of their own free choice. Life isn’t a big do-over. We are appointed once to death and then the judgement. Second chances sound nice, but how far do you want to carry it. Why not three? Why not four? Heck, why not reincarnation for millions of years until we get it “right”.
No, God has spoken. He has given us Law, and Love, and the gift of grace and faith to believe, IF we seek after Him. Thanks for sharing and i hope all is well with you. If you have specific questions about what i believe, feel free to ask. More than glad to share. Blessings.
Chuck, I don”t think that it’s “begging too much” to believe that death bed conversions can actually take place, out of the sight of all human beings, which is what I am beginning to believe actually happens in many cases, thanks to that verse from 1 Timothy 4. The reason has to do with what people believe about ‘free will’, and man’s ability to handle such a thing responsibly enough, so that the act of having free will isn’t somehow abused by him/her due to blatant immaturity. Because, mishandling it during one’s life time can lead to eternal death.
Let me look at it this way: what if I have small children, who are all still in diapers or barely out of them. In the front yard is a very busy street, with no fence around the front lawn to keep the toddlers inside the yard. Out back I have a swimming pool so large that it takes up nearly the entire yard, yet there is no child-proof fencing out there, and no possibility to put one in in the near future. So, what do I do with those tiny children when the want to go outside and play, if there’s no park area nearby? I could place them on the ends of leashes–child-style leashes–then walk them around to and fro, as they tried to play outside. Because, front or back, the places are both filled with hazards to the health of those children.
Or, I could try to at least teach them to swim, so that, should they accidentally fall into the pool, they might have the ability to get out of the water, or stay alive until rescue arrives.
Or, I could keep them safely inside–if the inside is really safer than the outside is for them, minus the dozens of possible ways they might accidentally injure, or kill themselves while safely in the house–such as electrocuting themselves by shoving something metal into an outlet, or pulling down a pan filled with scalding hot water onto themselves while I wasn’t looking, or tripping and falling down the basement stairs….get my drift about this?
As their parent, who has soul responsibility for those children, yes I can impose my will on them, when it comes to matters of safety. Their very lives depend on me to do that for them, since they are too young, and irresponsible by nature due to their ages, to do it for themselves. Maturity comes late in a human being’s life, taking all the way into the early 20’s to finally become well formed enough in each individual that the decisions they make can be made using as much available input, coupled with wisdom, as is possible for them, as individuals, to have in each individual circumstance they might encounter.
So, up until they are capable, it’s up to me to watch out for their well being–therefore, yes I not only can force my own will on them, when it comes to their safety, I have an obligation to do so, to help try and ensure they will be alive and well by the time they reach the age at which they can fend for themselves.
Now, it’s pretty clear to me that, up until now, Christianity as a whole has not taken that idea to that extreme when it comes to how God approaches all of us. We continually hear that we are His ‘children’. We are told by the Lord that, unless we approach God with the faith of a small child, we will not even see the kingdom of God. Yet, we are also told, at the same time by fellow believers, that, as adults who have reached the age of consent, [the date of which is extremely fuzzy], we are the ones responsible for whether we end up in heaven or in hell–we’re on our own there, with no one to watch out for us should our judgment become even more fuzzy than the ‘age of consent’.
Oh, we might have one another, but who can expect the Almighty to watch out for us, to try and steer us in the right direction, to try and help us forsake sinful ways, so that we will finally ‘find Christ’, and be capable of asking for His forgiveness, and ask Him to be our Lord and Savior? If He did anything like that, He’d be acting against our own free will, even if He ended up pulling our fat out of the fires of hell–right?
Don’t you see that this whole question has not be resolved as of yet between Protestants, and due to the willfulness of each human being within Protestantism, it doesn’t look promising to ever be resolved among us. The Church has one head, as God’s word tells us, and that is Christ. Yet, among Protestants, it seems that each individual is the head of him/herself alone, or alone but with the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit. Our saying we can understand Scripture individually, “with the help of Almighty God”, sounds great–but, what if that is not the way God ever meant for things to be, when it comes to our salvation in Christ? Protestants have no idea about any of that, as a collective. We Protestants are like rabbits who retire each Sunday into our own little warrens of ‘like-minded’ believers, with whom we, as individuals, see ‘eye-to-eye’ on what Holy Scripture says, and means.
Continuing on this way, Protestants will remain “getting nowhere fast” when it comes to the understanding of God’s word, and will remain as factions, disjointed, confused, and endlessly confusing to the unsaved in this world. I don’t understand what the apostle Paul meant, in full, by what he wrote to Timothy concerning God ‘willing’, or ‘desiring’, or even ‘wanting’ all of mankind to come to the knowledge of the truth, because none of the translators could ever agree from translation to translation, as to exactly what the apostle meant by what he said. Nice, isn’t it? Makes one feel completely secure, knowing that the entire Protestant world is at odds with itself over even just the meaning behind one term used by the apostle Paul in that verse. It doesn’t strike confidence in my heart to realize that!
You use the term ‘force’, to refer to what God would need to do in order to find a way to lead every human being to salvation, which would violate the idea of man having ‘free will’. However, what if the term isn’t ‘force’, but is ‘persuasion’ instead? Or, ‘come let us reason together’? Why would God have to force anyone to believe in Him, and in Jesus, when “…God is love.”, so His loving goodness is what He could use instead, to call the unbelievers in this world to faith in His Son, Jesus, and He could do that at any time during that person’s life, even on their death bed, should they be fortunate enough to have one.
I think you are locking yourself into a position that you are afraid you might be talked out of, should anyone else’s ideas on the interpretation of God’s word, that might conflict with yours, ever actually penetrate through the barriers you’ve set up against that ever happening. You need to, instead, trust in the Lord to help protect you from error, while still allowing the Holy Spirit to help you to learn something new should that ever need to be the case. That way you, yourself, would become a far more effective witness for Jesus to the unsaved in this world.
You are ‘fighting the good fight’, but you also need to relax some, and trust the Lord to help, then the fierceness with which you are ‘facing down’ someone whom you see as your ‘opponent’, will give way to a far more softened approach. That way, your ‘adversary’ among the saved will melt away, and your ‘adversary’ from among the unsaved will have a better chance to be turned into possible brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, members of your own family. Then you can stop viewing them as ‘the enemy’, and that includes whatever ideas about Scripture, or God, or Christ, they might have that conflict with your own. Ask the Lord for His help and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results, if you just trust in Him to do so.
“…And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God….”[Matthew 5:2-9 RSV]
Well Christine, you certainly traveled a bit on your response. I could take hours taking apart your analogy, but suffice it to say that analogies, especially drawn between God and man, will always fail, sometimes from the beginning. I can only suggest, were i a parent, i would not decide to live in a house on a busy street with no fences, nor would i even buy a house with a pool, especially with no safety features. Sounds quite horrible does your scenario.
I would also challenge your perspective that someone has to be well into their twenties to become “accountable”, unless that person were mentally challenged. Religions that do have that perspective (particularly christianity and judaism) would be more likely to believe the age of accountability occurs around 10-12, if they pick a specific age at all. Certainly not into their twenties.
As to your “persuasion” argument, just how would God persuade? Does He put us into some form of torment until we “come around”? Sounds more like coercion to me. Or are we in some comfortable “way station” where we are forced to read scripture or listen to sermons by angels or the saved until we are convinced? Gosh, i wish i could find the slightest hint in scripture for that one.
As to enemies, those who pervert the gospel message are God’s enemies, not mine. Ever wonder why Paul, who saw Christ in person, and inspired by the Holy Spirit, would claim a curse on those who preach a different gospel? Doesn’t sound very “loving”, does it. In truth, all humans are enemies of God, from birth. They are sinners. None, no not one, seeks after God or His righteousness. Sure, some may be better (whatever that means) than others, but “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” That’s why salvation is such a wonder, such a gift. God gives us the ability to realize this, and offers eternal life to all who do and receive Christ as their Savior.
Interpretations, versions, denominations, all these become distractions to the real issue. I mean, if all we have is everyones personal opinion and subjective translation, why in the world believe in any of it. Isn’t this just an excuse to pick what we like and discard the rest? The words in scripture are a real language. Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, they all mean something, or things. I have peace that we have an accurate, though not infallible, number of translations. Some are word for word, others more “thought” oriented. To grab a single word, argue over it’s possible meaning to suit our desired purpose, is to ignore what true biblical thought is about. It is the “whole” of God’s word, and one word is not the whole.
Certainly we should be compassionate towards others. But, to use an analogy like yours, if we saw someone stumbling towards the cliff of a deep ravine, how “loving” should we be in our attempts to dissuade them? If talking and pleading don’t work, do you just let them go on or do you try something a little more attention getting? Even forceful, or to them perhaps, a little mean or rude? I guess it depends on how much you care. If just doing your best suits you, then stop where you will and let them be. If stopping them from death worries you, be a bit more forceful. I take a measured approach. If i am talking or writing to someone ignorant of scripture, i start at the basics and try to educate. If they claim to be biblically knowledgeable and are throwing bible passages around like they know what they are talking about, i tend to be more forthright and blunt.Some people know just enough to get themselves into trouble. And if they are perverting God’s word, then they are in great danger. They need to be fervently warned, not coddled.
Thanks for sharing. Blessings.
Exitus et reditus
The first part of the material that follows can be found in a modified form in my contribution to the forthcoming Four Views on Hell counterpoints book, published by Zondervan. (It will not be out for a while.) Everything starts and ends with God. Paul writes that creation is “from” God, “through” God, and “to God” (Rom 11:36). God is the context of the world—the origin and the destiny of creation. That basic pattern informs Christian theology: exitus et reditus—“going forth” from God and “return to” God. It forms the very broad theological framework within which we must operate.
Consider the Christ hymn of Colossians 1.
“For in him [the Son] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. … God was pleased … through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Col. 1:16, 19–20
We see here a story that begins with the creation of all things through Christ and runs on to the reconciliation of the same all things through Christ (i.e., the all things that have been created). Exitus et reditus. Avoiding the universalism in this text remains a significant challenge for those who believe in eternal hell—eternal hell, after all, does not seem much like reconciliation! But I’ll say no more on that now.
So I propose we explore this Christ-centered creation-to-new-creation plotline as a context for considering hell. This hermeneutical judgment—that Christ is the norm for interpreting Scripture—underpins my entire approach. And already we may catch a possible glimpse of a red flag: might an eternal hell foul up the “reditus” of creation? How can creation return to God . . . if it doesn’t ever return to God?
Well, i certainly look forward to the book. I have quite a view of that series. I would also encourage all who visit this post to purchase it when it comes out. I’ve read a number of books like these, by both single and multiple authors. I’ve never found the arguments for the universal salvation viewpoint to stand up to the light of scripture. The arguments are usually overly emotive, an appeal to our own concepts of what is “fair”, or to play on the emotions in order to cloud or conceal clear statements of scripture. So i certainly will be buying it, if only to see if Peter does better there than he does here. I hope he picks up his game a few notches, or he will experience a rough reception.
Actually, now that i think about it, there is already a book on four views on hell by zondervan, the second edition printed in 2016. There’s no need to wait for a new one. Everyone might pick this one up. It deals with the four primary views. I’m not sure how different a new book will be, unless someone has come up with some new views. The book Peter is referring to appears to be, as he stated, from the counterpoints series they print. I can’t imagine anything new, except perhaps more creative appeals from all sides. Order the above one, then grab the new one when it comes out just to give yourself a thorough overlap of the main perspectives. The fact that the contributors get to indulge in some back and forth makes it all the more interesting. Of course, if there are four “different” views, and if they are really different, non-reconcilable views, than at best only one can be right, and, of course, all four could be wrong. Not very comforting, heh? Try to stick with scripture. Of course, everyone claims to do just that. Not very comforting, heh? Someone’s not telling the truth, knowingly or not. Or better, someone’s not teaching the truth. Not very comforting, heh?
I’m sorry Chuck but your reply to me just went to prove my point. Everything I said did a complete “fly by” with you–you missed every single point I was trying to make, which consequently served to make my point to myself, as to why we, as Protestants, are purely hopeless when it comes to trying to ‘reason together’.
You claimed that a fellow believer is not an enemy of yours, yet you speak to fellow believers, or brethren of the Lord Jesus as though we are your enemies. You are too harsh, too cold, too sure of your own interpretation of Scripture, so you approach any other fellow believers who question your interpretations, or who elaborate on what they believe the Lord has led them to see concerning Scripture, as though we are the enemy.
Not seeing ‘eye to eye’ with you puts you on the defensive instantly, which, in turn, puts your ‘adversary’, be they believer or not, on guard against you as well. I see that reaction among far too many Protestants, and so far as I can determine it’s one of the biggest flaws within the idea of Protestantism, and quite possibly one that only Christ will be capable of mending.
Well Christine, I tried to be nice, loving, and compassionate. So much for what you preach. First, to say that your meandering post had A point is to be a bit facetious. Then you move on to ad hominem attacks (as Peter often does). For people who preach a message of love, the hypocrisy is ironic, if not sad. Do you think that your post didn’t sound like you were addressing an enemy? Or are YOU so blind to your own prejudices and biases that YOU don’t see that you contradict that which you preach?
LIsten (or read carefully) Christine. My allegiance is to God first. Not you, nor anyone else. If I see someone on the road to error and don’t warn them (plenty of scriptural warrant for this), I am definitely NOT being loving and compassionate. I clearly delineated how I approach different people. So are YOU now judging because I don’t embrace YOUR perspective? It is clearly so, and it is disconcerting that you apparently don’t even see this. Just read your words. Any love there? I think not. Just anger at someone who disagrees with you, an amazing development when you just condemned such behavior.
If you’re just going to post overly emotive and ad hominem attacks, why bother? If you’ve nothing substantive to say about the topic but just want to vent, how about following YOUR own exhortations? I would rather talk about what scripture says, or something factual. Your post was like hundreds i see all the time. We leave the world of truth and scripture and just become judgemental. I find these types of posts both vacuous and banal. You want to talk truth, give it another try. You just want to be angry, talk to someone else.
Home run, Andre. All of your points are correct and correlate with correct biblical exegesis. The metaphor argument is used ad nauseum to often explain away the obvious and clear meaning of scripture. While anyone who studies scripture will acknowledge the use of metaphors, to conclude that a metaphor is being used must be established by the context of the passage and the evident teaching of the entire bible. To force it into a verse or passage is almost always done because someone doesn’t like what scripture appears to be clearly stating. It becomes an excuse for eisigesis, reading INTO scripture instead of exegesis, reading from the scripture. Both your post and its exhortation to conform to biblical revelation are apropos. Of course, you will be accused of being heartless or wanting people to suffer eternally, but these are just ad hominem attacks and desperate attempts at genetic fallacy, and are proof that the substantiation for their own arguments are sadly lacking. Well done.
Another one from Jacob M. Wright on Facebook:
“A friend of mine sent my latest post on the book of Revelation to a minister named Eric, and this was his response: “You can put a gun to my head and I’m not moving from the plain word of scripture. My thoughts are your friend is entrenched in a humanistic emotionally based personal narrative which has fashioned a God after his own narrative and is doing acrobatics explaining away the plain text.”
This was my reply: “Actually the text is quite clear that it’s symbolism. Eric and much of mainstream Christianity would be the ones fashioning a god after the image of man, which is violence and anger that has no resemblance to Jesus of Nazareth in the gospels. It ends up being an antichrist they worship, missing the subversive symbolism of the lamb of Revelation, the lamb that lays down its life to take away the sin of the world. The lamb who is symbolically conquering the powers of the world in Revelation is the same lamb whose purpose is to take away the sin of the world. Eric worships a false god and an antichrist, who opposes the Christ who loves his enemies and lays his life down for them.
If a man came declaring himself to be Christ and slaughtering all the heathen, much like ISIS does, as Eric’s theology insists, I’m sure Eric would begin questioning his false doctrine. As for now, I reject the lie that the One who taught that peacemaking is the way to be called a son of God and preached that enemy-love is how we emulate his Father, and exemplified this in laying down his life to reconcile the world, will one day abandon his teaching and renounce the power of the cross to establish his kingdom on violence and subjugation.”
Quite the juvenile post. Nothing more than emotive pleading, exaggerated caricature, ad hominem attacks. and juvenile thinking. Posts like this are good for one thing, though, they reveal the arrogance of the poster and the feeling of moral superiority to all who disagree. Does this crap even qualify as a thoughtful response? I don’t think so. You might want to spend the time imagining what your meeting with God will be like. I’m sure you think of a Santa Claus figure, one who will be OH SO impressed by your compassion and who will undoubtedly bend the knee at your superior spirituality. One who will lay aside His very divine attributes and adopt your far superior plan for eternity. I mean, what was He thinking?
By the way, your post reveals the very heretical nature of your thinking, One can find these heresies cropping up in the early church. Kind of Marcion and Mercellus mixed together. How sad that something as evil as corrupting the Word of God can hide behind such humanistic pretend compassion.
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It’s passed a long time since our last communication. It so happens that I just entered your blog and came across this post. I read all the commentaries below it, except for those that tend to get somewhat redundant. I’ll try to keep mine as brief as possible, especially considering that I’m in the middle of many unavoidable tasks these days. For that sake, I will go straight to the point of what I consider as decisive here.
There are many indications in the Scriptures as to how we should settle down the truth of a given matter pertaining to God’s will and purpose. First of all, there are the Scriptures themselves. However, the Scriptures alone are not enough, for we also need the asistance of God’s spirit in order to understand them (and for that matter, to handle them) properly. “The written word kills, but the Spirit gives life”, as Paul said (2 Cor. 3.6; in the Syriac).
Now, a major indication we have in the Scriptures —one that would indeed have prevented many heressies throughout the centuries had it been faithfully observed and followed by men and had not God have the intention that things were exactly as they have been so far— is the following: “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” (2 Cor. 13.1). This applies also to the utterances of God through his messengers, his prophets and apostles, which are recorded… in the Scriptures themselves. And look, the one referred here is easy to follow, for it is itself a third witness to Deuternomy 17.6 and 19.15 (being the second Matthew 18:16). In other words, with such number of witnesses we can know we are standing on solid ground no matter what we are going to tackle.
As for the salvation of all men, we do have also three such witnesses (being indeed many more when the Spirit is talking to you). But these three, which are clearly written down, are simply undeniable. They are as follow (I’ll quote from the Concordant Literal New Testament, which except for a few passages here and there, is in my view quite accurate):
1) 1 Timothy 2.1-5
I am entreating, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, pleadings, thanksgiving be made for all mankind, for kings and all those being in a superior station, that we may be leading a mild and quiet life in all devoutness and gravity, for this is ideal and welcome in the sight of our Saviour, God, who wills that all mankind be saved and come into a realization of the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator of God and mankind, a Man, Christ Jesus, who is giving Himself a correspondent Ransom for all (the testimony in its own eras).
2) 1 Timothy 4.10
…for for this are we toiling and being reproached, that we rely on the living God, who is the Saviour of all mankind, especially of believers.
Last but not least,
3) 1 Corinthians 15.21-28
For since, in fact, through a man came death, through a Man, also, comes the resurrection of the dead. For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified. Yet each in his own class: the Firstfruit, Christ; thereupon those who are Christ’s in His presence; thereafter the consummation, whenever He may be giving up the kingdom to His God and Father, whenever He should be nullifying all sovereignty and all authority and power. For He must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy is being abolished: death. For He subjects all under His feet. Now whenever He may be saying that all is subject, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who subjects all to Him. Now, whenever all may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him Who subjects all to Him, that God may be All in all.
I am pretty sure that anyone can understand this, for it is no rocket science: the same ALL MEN that died in Adam, are the same ALL MEN that will come to life in the Messiah, though in their own order through the ages. God wills that ALL MEN be saved, so in certain point of time He sent His son in the form of a man in order to become the perfect sacrifice for all creation and to experience and conquer death, becoming thus the Savior of ALL MEN, especially (NOT “exclusivelly”) of those who believe and are confident in and faithful to God. This will continue during a coming age of judgement, right until the consummation of the ages, when God will be ALL in ALL.
Paraphrasing Paul when he stood before Festus and Herod Agrippa, I would say that I speak as boldly here as I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from any of you; for such things were not whispered in a corner, but have traversed the centuries written down in codices and in books (and now on screens) for all to read.
This means that one can discuss with the brothers and sisters in Christ (ideally through reading the Scriptures with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, that is, with a true and mature understanding of them and with love and respect towards the brethren) how, when, why, what for, etc., God will have all men saved one day. Now, on the other hand, nobody can deny that He will do just that without becoming the herald of “another gospel” (Galatians 1.6-9), in which case I would advice a serious repenting before our Father, for as it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“Seek Yahweh while he may be found; call to him while he is near, let the wicked one abandon his way and the sinful one his thoughts, let him return to Yahweh, so he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will be wide in forgiving.” (Is. 55:6,7)
I hope I have been clear enough in my bad English.
Greetings from Argentina.
Peace and grace to all in the name of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ, who are blessed for all the ages and more. Amen and amen.
I can’t express my understanding of the word of God concerning the coming judgement and the doctrine of hell any better than my brother Chuck has. It is truly sad to have witnessed the apostasy that Peter has fallen into.
The word of God is very clear that we should be very careful as to what we teach .It is clear that those who teach false doctrine will face a harsh judgement, because of the fact that in doing so lead people astray.
Which begs the question…to where are they leading them astray to?
good words, John. Despite my often combative posts, what i wish for most is for Peter to submit to the clear teaching of scripture, no matter how uncomfortable. It will always be the best and safest choice.
Mariano, apparently your entire argument is that “all” always means “all”. Could not Paul be referring to “all” that are in Christ, as the last quote says? No, all people are not in Christ. Were that so, there would be no need for a gospel and Christs’ warnings about hell or eternal damnation would be vacuous. I’m not sure where you’re two or three witnesses reasoning comes in. Does that mean that if you theoretically, and simply, list two or three verses that apparently (and in this case, that’s a doubtful “if”) say what you think they say that you’ve proved your point? This would be nonsense, and is never used in proper interpretation of scripture. Two or three witnesses were required for confirmation of violation of OT law, not marshalling evidence for biblical interpretation. The fact remains that when you boldly state that everyone will one day hold hands across heaven you specifically and blatantly contradict the words of the very savior you purport to worship. It should always be a clear warning you are erring when one’s interpretation pretty much contradicts what is clearly being said in scripture.
I hope and pray you will realize the futility of this agreement of universalism…
The same word Aionos is used of GOD himself and of HIS THINGS… be wise and just believe the Bible.
Romans 16:26 KJV — But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the EVERLASTING God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
It is used for “eternal life”, “life everlasting”… also for the Lord Jesus Kingdom…for God’s eternal glory…
As well as eternal damnation…
Believe the Bible… don’t wrest the words to be what they are not… The testimony of the entire Bible shows God’s justice. He is Loving and of great tender mercies but he is also just. He also says even to Israel…:
Ezekiel 33:11 KJV — Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
1 Thess.4:13 ¶But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, EVEN AS OTHERS WHICH HAVE NO HOPE.
So there are sadly enough some “who have no hope”, for the Bible says, they will not believe of their own accord…
2 Thess.2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; BECAUSE THEY RECEIVED NOT THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH, THAT THEY MIGHT BE SAVED.
One must believe friend. Otherwise there is NO hope.
Great article thanks Peter.
God loves his enemies and blesses those who curse Him. Anyone who makes God’s character out to be something other than this is a liar.
Mercy triumphs over judgement!
The doctrine of torment is a doctrine of demons.
God is love!
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OOOOMMMMMMMMM. Yes, all is love, and love is all. God is in all things, and we are God. So you think Jesus taught the doctrines of demons? You’ll forgive me for putting my stock in what the Bible says, not what YOU feel? You don’t mind, do you?
Oh Bobbi, my good Bobbi. You don’t think something as trivial as God’s word will have any effect on the good doctor and his sycophants, do you? Gave up on that a long time ago. It has no effect. You see, their beliefs are all about what THEY think is right and feels good. Their belief system is not based on scripture, but on their own vain philosophies. They have no fear in regards to ignoring innumerable scriptures that contradict their belief system. They pick and chose (the very same thing they castigate others for doing) to proof text what they feel morally good about. You won’t have any more success with them than Jesus had with the scribes and pharisees. They think, these johnny-come-lately’s, that they have much more wisdom than the 2,000 years of scholarship that preceded them. They are blinded by the enemy. You know Bobbi, what makes deception so effective? The deceived don’t know they are deceived. Satan appeals to their weaknesses (usually founded in pride and self-exaltation) to convince them that they are actually morally superior to God!!! They have chosen to exalt their fallible, darkened minds over the mind of God. I do so appreciate your attempt though.
I don’t mind what you say chuck, it’s what you do that matters . A tree is known by it’s fruit! If you bear fruit in accordance with righteousness then it will be well for you. If you think righteousness is some how appointed to you because you have come to a clear understanding of gods doctrine, but bear no good fruit. What benefit is that to you, or to god!
It must be hard to love and serve the poor, the lost and those who suffer in this present world knowing that god will ultimately torment without end the vast majority that fail to enter by the narrow gate!
Have you entered by the narrow gate?
Mockery may feel good but is carnal and well rooted in a proud and arrogant mindset. Tread carefully! You know very well that the pharisees searched the scriptures because they eroneously believed that they would find life therein!
Every Christian cult that ever existed or exists today bases there belief and salvation in scripture, as you yourself do! Scripture is not the issue, but what you do with scripture is the issue. If you falsely believe that god is pleased to reward you for your vigilant study whilst resisting the call to sacrificially serve through a doctrine of love…love god and your neighbour….you will fall into religious deception. I’m telling you these things because ot’s important. We must be faithful in the little.
Don’t measure your salvation according to your self exalting knowledge but rather have a look at the fruit on your tree. Do you walk as Christ walked? Do you see Christ in yourself…or do you see a religous zealot? All questions we should ponder as we seek to enter by the narrow gate.
Sorry friend, scripture is the issue. Why people think that they can ignore scriptural teaching and even contradict it with no important consequences as long as they are “loving” and compassionate puzzles me. They will then quote scriptures about love and mercy while ignoring scriptures about God’s righteousness, justice, and wrath against sin. I mean, make up your mind. Use it or don’t, but don’t chop it up or remove clear teaching just to suit one’s own purpose. It must be taken and understood in it’s entirety. As i’ve said to Tsar and others, if you are uncomfortable with the concept of hell then your issue is not with me or my level of love and compassion, but with Jesus Christ himself. He taught on it in more detail and more frequently than any other voice in the Word, combined.If one can just choose the parts one approves of and disregard the others, then you’ve rendered the scripture voiceless. Tsar can throw out facile accusations such as “you must like the concept of hell”. No, not really. But it’s taught in scripture, which i do happen to like. Doesn’t matter if i find it a pleasant concept or not. It’s there, and for those who claim to honor the teachings of Christ, you might want to get used to it, like it or no. If it seems cruel, then for you God is cruel. That’s your problem. Someday you’ll get to voice your opinion to Him, as if it would matter. Like the clay telling the potter what He can and cannot do. And if you find the biblical God offensive, believe me when I tell you He is not going to force you to like Him or desire to spend eternity in His presence. You will be welcome to attempt reigning in hell. Good luck making it comfortable. Or you can do the smart thing and love both Him and the things you cannot understand. The narrow gate? Indeed I have. It’s the only way says Christ.
And imagining false dichotomies is a waste of time. I serve people because God tells me to. And I also witness the biblical truth. No it’s not hard knowing that in the end they will reject God’s offer of salvation only through His Son. It may be sad, but it in no way affects my desire to show compassion and mercy. Only God knows the heart, and He can do nothing that is unrighteous or unholy. I leave their eternal destiny up to Him. If there is eternal torment, it is righteous and a holy thing to do. This movement to get away from the Word and depend more on feelings and emotions to determine truth is a path that seems wide (loving, compassionate) but leads to destruction. God neither needs nor desires YOUR opinion concerning what eternity should bring for each individual. There is no annihilation. There is no purgatory. Neither are taught in scripture.They are solely man-made traditions. And God doesn’t need you or I to twist scripture in order to “salvage” His reputation, make Him more appealing. You shall KNOW (emphasis on the mind) the truth and it shall set you free. Not you shall feel it. And obeying God and His teaching is the ultimate form of obedience.While it’s true that knowing without love is empty, doing good and thinking THAT makes you a true christian is a doctrine of demons. Performing miracles, healing, doing great works may very well elicit the response “Depart from me, doers of EVIL I NEVER KNEW YOU.”
So quit pretending to have the moral high ground (you don’t). You only deceive yourself. There is no high morality in rejecting the word of God. Just high treason. Thanks for sharing.
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Chuck, again (as in another comment section on one of Peter’s Universalist posts), I agree wholeheartedly with you.
Peter has mentioned several times about some “course” he has taken (and unfortunately, recommends to others). I fear he’s been brainwashed, and it’s so sad.
His comment in the above article:
“And that is why Jesus was sent to this earth, to show all humanity, including His people Israel, what God is really like.”
What an absolute, outright sacrilege!!!
Peter: Christ came so that, through His death, we might have eternal life. What on earth do you think all the sacrifices of spotless lambs in the Bible were about? Peter, if you yourself can’t come out of such apostasy, at least stop trying to put others on your path to destruction. Teachers of a false doctrine will be held accountable… yes, ETERNALLY.
From Zach Christensen on Facebook:
“In Deuteronomy 21:18–21, God instructs the Israelites to take disobedient children and stone them to death. In Matthew 19:14-15, it is written that Jesus said “Let the children come to me,” and he laid his hands on them and blessed them. It would be difficult to let your children go to Jesus if it were true that the God revealed in Jesus wished to kill them over disobedience.
Rather than cutting out the ugly parts of the Bible or trying to awkwardly stitch everything together as if God were bipolar, we can say that God looks like Jesus, God has always looked like Jesus, but that understanding slowly unfolded over time. The way God was understood developed and evolved as the timeline of the Bible advanced, and the early followers of Jesus believed that they had experienced God in a decisive way that redefined all previous encounters with God through the person of Jesus. If Jesus is the human face of God, all other portraits of God in the Bible must be subject to Jesus. This is not a low view of the Bible – it is a high view of Jesus.”
Peter here, yes and this is why the early church fathers such as Origen and Gregory of Nyssa rejected a literalistic reading of the Old Testament in favor of a christological and allegorical approach. They flatly declared that to accept the OT stories about God at face value was to commit horrible blasphemies about God.
well really now, who cares what Origen says. Later declared a heretic, his allegorical readings of scriptures enabled him to come to just about any interpretation he desired. This became endemic in the fourth century on church, and is still prevalent today across all denominations. Look Peter, et. al. if you don’t like the biblical version of God, feel free to come up with your own version (i think you’ve already embarked). You can do that. If the biblical God offends your obviously superior sensabilities, you can make your own God. Now what happens at the judgement, well, I imagine if your reconstituted god doesn’t pass the truth test of the real God, i am sure you will have lots of reasons why you were so compelled to make God in your own image. Just don’t whine then, will you. As you try to explain why the true God just didn’t pass muster with you, try not to speak in squeaky, annoying voices. Try to make your plaintiff pleas brief. Peter, with you, I am not quite sure your version of Jesus is actually the one found in scripture. You try to remain vague about what you believe. You may plead that it is the true version of Jesus, but seeing as how you like to quote church fathers, it would be interesting to see you do a side by side comparison of your concept of Jesus with that of the church catholic, from Nicea up through the Westminster Confessions. Other areas of your belief system too. I’ve already done the checking, and there are many areas of serious concern. Thus i warn others here not to be sycophants but real students of scripture. You seem to be teetering, if not already having fallen, into the Marcionite camp, except with the twist of not having a God and a demiurge, but rather an incorrect, incomplete god eventually revealed fully in Christ. I am not sure that the Son would appreciate your thoughts on His Father, nor your twisting of His Word. God is obviously infinitely beyond our understanding, and He tells us His ways are not our ways. We have but a microbe piece of the big picture, and our first impulse should be to trust God, believing that all His ways are holy, and not to try to explain Him to people in such a way as to not offend anyone’s feelings. He doesn’t need us to defend Him (the very thought should be laughable). There are plenty of good books available by solid authors that attempt to explain difficult passages of scripture. Usually additional cultural information or language studies can clarify what seems confusing or strange. Jesus truly shows us, in a way limited only by our own limited understanding, a fuller picture of God. He does not show us a different God, or a better God. He shows us the same God as the one we find in the old testament. Careful, Icarus.
Maximus the confessor, “On Difficulties in Sacred Scripture”
63.5. … whoever adheres solely to the letter of Scripture has nothing but sensation ruling over his nature, and this reveals the attachment of his soul to the flesh.
“You represent God as worse than the devil; more false, more cruel, more unjust. But you say you will prove it by Scripture. Hold! What will you prove by Scripture? That God is worse than the devil? It cannot be. Whatever that Scripture proves, it can never prove this; whatever its true meaning be, this cannot be its true meaning.
Do you ask, ‘What is its true meaning then?’ If I say, ‘I know not,’ you have gained nothing; for there are many Scriptures the true sense whereof neither you nor I shall know till death is swallowed up in victory.
But this I know, better it were to say it had no sense at all, than to say it had such a sense as this. It cannot mean, whatever it means besides, that the God of truth is a liar. Let it mean what it will, it cannot mean that the judge of all the world is unjust. No Scripture can mean that God is not love, or that His mercy is not over all His works.”
~~Wesley’s Journals, Vol. VII, p. 383.
The majority of the early church fathers were so rich in their understanding of God’s good nature.
They birthed an irrepressible insight about Scriptural interpretation that prompted them to plant their hermeneutical flag deep into the ground. They were willing to stand and contend against ANY dead literal reading of Scripture which maligned and defamed God’s character by attributing to Him any kind of despicable behavior. The fathers believed that any Bible reading was dead wrong if it painted God as a child-drowning, infant-burning, throat-slitting, plague-sending, people-smiting killer.
“Saint Ambrose (and Augustine) took Paul’s statement ‘the letter kills but the Spirit gives life’ as a slogan for allegorical interpretation.” A. Berkeley Mickelson, INTERPRETING THE BIBLE, Eerdmans Publishing, 1963, page 34. Ambrose was the Bishop of Milan was one of the four great doctors of the western church.
Origen, already quoted above, elsewhere wrote, “Ignorant assertions about God appear to be nothing else but this: that Scripture is not understood in its spiritual sense, but is interpreted according to the bare letter.” (On First Principles 4:2.1-2, 4).
Gregory of Nyssa wrote that “allegory” allowed certain OT Scriptures to be “converted from the raw and indigestible state of their literal meaning into a wholesome and healthy intellectual food.” (Hom., in Cant., prol.).
The great western father Augustine taught that the harmful husk (literal reading) of Scripture had to be removed so that the valuable kernel (allegorical meaning) could be consumed. (On Christian Teaching, 3.12.18). Saint Augustine said, “If a passage seems to endorse wickedness or wrongdoing or to forbid selflessness or kindness, it is figurative and not to be read literally.” He believed that all Scripture must be interpreted through the love of God and neighbor, on which all the law and prophets hang. Matt. 22:37-40. (Source: On Christian Teaching, see 3:10.14; 3:11.17; 3.16.24).
Augustine used the Rule of Divine Character when allegorizing, which essentially holds that the character of God revealed in Jesus cannot EVER be violated by the literal reading of ANY Old Testament Scripture. If the passage “appears on its face” to attribute unworthy motives, brutal behavior, cruel intentions, hypocritical conduct or coercive attributes to God, then it must be read allegorically and NOT literally.
“Wherefore, in the Old Testament there is a veiling of the New, and in the New Testament a revealing of the Old. According to that veiling, carnal men, understanding things in a carnal fashion, have been under the dominion, both then and now, of a penal fear. On the other hand, spiritual men… have a spiritual understanding and have been made free through love which they have been gifted.” Saint Augustine (On Catechizing the Uninstructed 4:8; NPNF 1/3:287).
John Cassian stated the church fathers’ dynamic bottom line against dead letter Bible reading in the following excerpt from Institutes 8.4: “And so, since these things cannot without horrible sacrilege be literally understood of him who is declared by the authority of Holy Scripture to be invisible, ineffable, incomprehensible, simple, and uncomposite, the disturbance of anger (not to mention wrath) cannot be attributed to that immutable nature without monstrous blasphemy.”
Cassian, for example, demonstrates his four-fold exegetical method on the meaning of “Jerusalem”: LITERALLY it is the city of the Jews; ALLEGORICALLY it is the Church of Christ; ANAGOGICALLY it is that heavenly city of God which is the mother of us all; TROPOLOGICALLY it is the human soul, which frequently under this title is either corrected or praised by the Lord.
Simply put, the OT saints had a spiritual blindspot in that they thought Satan was God’s left hand, his angry voice in other words. So they would simply say that any particular destruction came from God’s left hand of wrath rather than His right hand of mercy. Their notion of Satan was entirely different than what Jesus taught us about the devil. Jesus is God’s only hand. If we don’t allow for that blindspot when interpreting the OT, we will be a victim of it ourselves.
you must resist the urge to create false dichotomies Peter. I know of no christian (tho certainly there may be some, I not knowing every christian) who worships the letters (alphabet), the ink, or the pages of scripture. That is your implication. In fact, I know of no christian who worships the bible. Christians worship the risen Christ, the Word of God, who gave us God’s word. Perhaps Maximus was confused, If taken at face value for what it really means, adhering the to letter of scripture means very much the same as adhering to the letter of the law (as in today). You discern what it means and does not mean and obey it. Perhaps Max wanted a little more freedom to reinterpret some verses to suit his particular desires at the given moment. Scripture was written in time and in history, and should be viewed accordingly. While I believe all scripture was written FOR us, it was not all written TO us, individually. Cultural context, historical setting, linguistic interpretation and historical interpretation and more should be considered when arriving at the meaning of words and passages. The early church fathers (because of their immediacy) and historical orthodox christian understanding also. We have no original copies. That does not mean we have no idea what was in the originals. We have an embarrassment of sources.
While there are for certain those who think the KJV is inspired, or the most accurate, most christians are content to use whatever translations, for better or worse, are available. Scripture also promises us that the Holy Spirit will guide us to understanding. Disagreements, manuscript variations, differing interpretations are a result of fallen nature, not the bible itself. It is just something we will have to live with and endure, hopefully with humility and compassion and love, until we are given final and full understanding from the Lord Himself. Until then, we are not given permission to pick and chose, and scripture tells us that our understanding should not be based on “private interpretation”, i.e., simply incorporating what we like and dismissing the rest. All scripture is anthropomorphic in nature as God speaks to us in our own fallen and imperfect language, with imperfect understanding. Because of our fallen nature, we should “lean not on our own understanding”, especially if it contravenes clear biblical teaching. As tempting as it is to mythologize parts of the bible, this really does open pandora’s box. Where to you stop? What authority determines correct interpretation? If the bible is rendered no more authoritative than, let’s say, a Hints from Heloise column, it serves no significant purpose at all, and is left with no more authority than a bad book written by an illiterate. You certainly can view it this way if it pleases you, but you have left it no more appealing or attractive than a pile of dried feces. At this point you should just stop quoting or referencing it, and just tell us what you have determined to be the correct view that everyone should adhere to. It’s what you are doing anyway, just be upfront about it.
Despite your appeal to Wesley, having studied him in depth, I think I could say with little doubt of accuracy that the Jesus that you both seperately believe in would have little in common. Plus you give no context whatsoever to this quote, intentional no doubt, in order to leave the reader with the impression that Wesley supports your particular argument. I know of no biblical scholar who would disagree with the meat of his statement. God is not a liar nor is He unjust, nor will we have complete understanding in this lifetime. None of these statements in themselves supports your view.
Again, allegory was a method that began to be employed in the late third into the fourth century. While great for sermons, the result was the gross error that came to be associated with the teachings and customs of the Catholic church, many of which the reformers defined as either unbiblical or heretical. The church of the first few centuries was predominately premillennial. These early believers believed ferverently that Christ was coming soon to institute His Kingdom on earth. Once the church, by Constantine, was relieved of persecution and shortly thereafter became the official state religion, church fathers adopted amillennialism as the theological perspective of the Catholic Church. Even most reformed churches continue this practice. The focus had shifted from a coming kingdom to a current kingdom, with the church building and finalizing it. Allegorical methods became almost the sole method of interpretation leading to hideous and incorrect teachings and a way of justifying any and all needed belief systems. It also planted and grew the seed of supercessionism or replacement theology, i.e., the church had replaced Israel and would now receive all of it’s blessings (though conveniently, none of it’s curses). This opened the door to anti-semitism, not only among the Roman church but even for the reformers, of which Luther was a prime example. I mean, when Hitler can appeal to your writings for support of his pogroms, you have done great damage.
There are different genres of biblical literature. Any student of the bible knows this. Allegory would certainly be one of them, amongst the dozens of others. But when it becomes the default setting for any and all perceived difficulties in scripture, it leads to far more and dangerous error than simple literalism does.
Listen Peter, no one talked about hell more than Jesus. Turning His words into some kind of scare tactic rather than literal truth demeans both his integrity and the bibles. Does it ever occur to you that what you see as some kind of contradiction could in truth be simply attributable to your and my inability to understand fully what God is saying or doing? Life is seldom an either/or proposition. I don’t think God is constrained by laws of logic that we use, having Himself created them. As long as our ways are not His (and they are not), and our thoughts not His, we will never be able to fully comprehend either His will, words, or ways. While I think He is understanding of our ignorance, and gracious and merciful and patient with us as we grapple to comprehend what He is teaching us, I don’t believe this gives us carte blanche to distort His words or character simply to make them more pleasing to ourselves. This habit should smack of pride and satanic suggestion. Was it not, LITERALLY, the first temptation thrown out by the accuser? And when you seek to twist hard to understand scriptures (as some did with Paul’s writings, as Peter said) into something more amenable to your own fallen understanding, do you not see that you are following directly in the footsteps of the first parents? Try to remember that God made us in His image, He never gave us permission to remake Him in our own.
Jesus on the cross was made out to be a criminal by His own people.
God, as depicted in the Old Testament, was made out to be a criminal by His own people
a rather innocuous quote there by mr. boyd. Is he the boyd of openness theology fame? If so, then I doubt he has any room to accuse others of misrepresenting God, which he balefully does in an attempt to avoid eternal torment and the problem of evil. He has come up with a god who only can know what you and i know, except he can know it completely, or in its entirety. He has little if any sovereign will, as he can only guess what may happen, try hard to have events come out his way, and then, like us, breathlessly, cross his spiritual fingers and hope for the best. Mr Boyd et. al. have come up with a god unlike any in the teaching of historic christianity, and is a caricature of the true God devised solely on subjective personal basis in an attempt to make their god more appealing to the unsaved (and sadly, those who claim to be).
The quote you gave says nothing. It is just a personal opinion, a sound bite to impress the unknowing. While it is true that the jewish authorities of Jesus’s day trumped up some sort of criminal charges in order to kill him, and Pilate sheepishly condoned it even while knowing Jesus was guilty of no crime, to use this as an analogy of Israel’s relationship with Jehovah is both vacuous and inane. While Israel no doubt, in their hearts at least, probably accused God of things of which he could not possibly be guilty, to insinuate that they thought of Him as some sort of criminal as we understand the word is ridiculous, and i would wager without any historical foundation at all. Boyd’s statement is just a self-satisfying metaphysical sentence being used as an excuse for his heretical (and yes, it is everything a heresy can be) twisting of scripture.. If this is the best you can do for apparent support with the realm of christian scholarship, may i suggest you jump from that particular sinking ship before you go down (way down) with it.
In Scripture, the essence of God is equated with spirit, light, and love, period, which are not three parts or three distinct elements but three descriptions of the same essence – God is the spiritual light of love.
again, nothing more than subjective choosing. Where are justice? Righteous anger? Judgement? Wrath? All of these and more constitute God’s essence. To simply choose the ones you prefer and ignore or diminish the others constitutes little more than making a god in your own image. God is the spiritual light of love? Seriously? Sounds like some eastern mystical description of an imperfect imagination. You’ve got to do better than this, Peter, at least if you want to offer anything resembling a biblical compendium of God’s character. This is one of the reasons He gave us scripture, to enable fallible imperfect minds to at least get a glimpse of what is beyond human understanding, which should never rise above God’s revelation of Himself.
From Lee O’Hare:
I like how Brian Zahnd explains John 1:18 which states that “No one has ever seen God at any time, but the one and only Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed Him.” After quoting that verse Brian then goes through a list of all the characters in the Old Testament who are reported to have seen God including Abraham, Moses, the 72 Elders of Israel, Jacob, Isaiah and Ezekiel. How can it be said that no one has ever seen God when so many passages in the Old Testament clearly state that they have? Brian says it is a statement showing the absolute superiority of the revelation brought to us by Jesus. Whatever it was that all the others may have experienced when it was reported they “saw” God, when compared to the unveiling that Jesus brought to us directly from the Father (“He who has seen me has seen the Father”), the Apostle John unambiguously and emphatically declared that NOBODY has ever seen Him. What they saw was so veiled, limited, partial and distorted, that when compared to what we now see in Jesus, the inspired writer of John’s gospel could accurately say they did NOT see God at all. Jesus is the only One who is able to clearly, precisely and fully reveal who God is to us. All the others were looking and reporting through a veil or a darkened glass which projected only a partial and distorted image and not the clear and exact representation we see in Jesus.
interesting, but just another subjective take. Perhaps Jesus, when He said that no one has seen God at any time, meant that no human has ever seen His Father at any time. Jesus, incarnate God, seems to be the visible manifestation of the Godhead on earth. A comparison of OT and NT passages clearly implies that God the Son seems to be the member of the triune God that interacts with the physical creation. Do the angels not see God? If all Jesus meant is that no one can see God fully as He is, then this becomes redundant. No one can see or has seen what no one can see. Don’t doubt at all that what we, on earth, need to know about or see of God was manifested in Christ Jesus. No doubt about Christ giving us a “fuller” understanding of who God is and how He desires to relate to us. He was not, however, giving us a contrary (to the OT) vision or understanding of God. Just more complete (and as yet, not fully complete). And in spite of all this, Paul tells us that we STILL see vaguely as through a darkened glass or veil. In our current state, we are not capable of full comprehension of God, or even a full comprehension of what we will eventually be enabled to see or understand. There is no dichotomy in the OT and NT revelations, only a better or improved understanding, no doubt to become even more full as we sit on the throne with Christ. And fair warning, if someone claims to have “seen” or understands God in a way contrary to revealed biblical truth, then this will be a false prophet or teacher, perhaps one with a familiar spirit.
When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” And they went on to another village. (Luke 9:54-56)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
“Judas went out and hanged himself”
“Go ye and do likewise”.
Seriously now Peter, one can come up with all sorts of nonsense by grabbing random verses from different books and totally ignoring context. Certainly, in His incarnation, Christ came to die for our sins and not to inflict eternal judgement at that time, though He made it clear the right to judge was His. The book of Hebrews (note who it is written to. Jews), a book that contrasts the superiority of the new covenant with the old covenant, makes many references to the eternal nature and deity of Christ. Hebrews 13:8 is not saying that whatever Jesus is doing today He will be doing the exact same thing a million years from now. It’s proclaiming His eternal nature.
I certainly expect better than this from you Peter. This is immature biblical eisegesis at best. Even the book you quote from, Hebrews, has a number of passages that deal with future judgement and eternal punishment. To grab a single verse, which does not even address the issue you think it does, and use it to in some way to reverse the teaching found in the entire book is a bit disturbing. It does not engender confidence in your ability to interpret scripture properly. You need to do better, Peter, or give up trying. Better not to use scripture at all than to distort it’s meaning.
Our theology gets bigger as our image of God gets bigger.
When I FIRST came to the Lord, I could not imagine His salvation was for all.
Mainly, this was because everywhere I Iooked I could see that so very many ignored Him, maligned Him, blamed Him, defied Him, and disobeyed Him. I just could see no way for them to ever find God’s salvation in this life, much less the next. In my hubris, I thought I was part of a special remnant, a small band of the faithful who alone would enter heaven.
But then a funny thing happened to me.
I got to actually know and grow in the Spirit of Christ. I saw that it wasn’t really at all about what I perceived or thought in my narrow and reactive thought. Rather, it was about WHO and WHAT God was at the core of His being. And that core was Jesus…
…a good Shepard who leaves the found “ninety-nine” to go after the lost “one,”
…a hero who bravely stands against bloodthirsty mobs seeking to stone the guilty,
…a worker of spontaneous and spectacular cures in impossible situations,
…a teacher who taught forgiveness and blessing toward all our enemies,
…the express essence of a God of light, lightness, and love.
NOW, I can’t imagine His salvation is NOT for all.
I have grown to have more faith in God’s ability, through Jesus, to woo and win us than in our ability to evade and reject His love.
We simply aren’t that strong.
Sure we can withstand His beckoning Spirit for a season, an epoch, even a lengthy age by all human standards…… but resisting His indefatigable goodness forever and ever? Are we really that strong-willed?
Or maybe, just maybe, we need to get over ourselves and just admit that God is ultimately irresistible.
-From Richard Murray
So, apparently at some point, who knows when, God is just going to overwhelm us with His love and FORCE us to receive salvation? What a mockery this makes of the cross, and seeing as how you seem so concerned about what you conceive to be fair, what a mockery it makes of the lives of those who live faithfully and until the end. But you don’t really care about this, do you Peter? I mean, what is really important is what YOU can imagine and what YOU desire the truth to be. Hell with (literally) what scripture says, or at least what ALL of it says, because, based solely on purely emotive reasons, YOU have qualified yourself as capable (I thought we weren’t that strong) of picking whatever verses you like to satiate your ego driven concept of god in your own image.
Does it make you feel all fuzzy inside when you convince yourself that YOU are so much more compassionate and loving than those old literalists christians? Now that you have received a newer and better version of truth than christians over the last 2000 years had, why how does one even fit into his or her car as they spread gnostic, heretical teaching? I mean,what could possibly contain you and your expansive love.
Your arguments are as old as those told in the garden, and no less false. It isn’t about what YOU “think” Peter, it’s about what God says. There is no “your truth” my friend, just THE truth and your opinion of it. And apparently God’s truth just doesn’t meet your standards. So feel free to reject it (as you do large swaths of scripture that directly contradict your desperate views). By all means love your fellow humans, animals, trees, et.al., but do yourself a big eternal favor and stop thinking that your ways and thoughts are above His. And stop reducing the cross of Christ to little more than a moral lesson and a limp metaphorical message.
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