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Hell and how to preach it


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#101 SDG

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 11:12 AM

SDG, do you believe in resistable grace?

I'm not sure that "resistible" and "irresistible" are helpful terms, or that anyone can really adequately explain how grace, freedom and predestination are related. Here is what I can say:

  • God gives everyone sufficient grace to be saved.
  • Not everyone who receives sufficient grace is brought to the grace of regeneration (sanctifying grace).
  • Not all who receive sanctifying grace remain in the state of grace all their lives. Some fall into mortal sin.
  • Not all who fall into mortal sin remain in it. Some repent and are restored to grace.
  • All who die in mortal sin, whether they were once regenerated or have never been regenerated, are lost.
  • All whom God predestines to be saved die in the state of grace.
  • God predestines no one to hell.

P.S. This might be helpful: A Thomist version of TULIP.

"A Tiptoe through TULIP" by Jimmy Akin

T = total inability (to please God without special grace);
U = unconditional election;
L = limited intent (for the atonement's efficacy);
I = intrinsically efficacious grace (for salvation);
P = perseverance of the elect (until the end of life).



#102 Ryan H.

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 11:55 AM

Jesus' mortal humanity was passible.

What of his glorified humanity?

I know this question will take us off track just a little bit, but I'm curious as to what your thoughts are on that highly difficult element of the Incarnation and its implications for the nature of the Godhead.

Edited by Ryan H., 29 April 2011 - 12:03 PM.


#103 Attica

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 12:12 PM

SDG said:

:Jesus' mortal humanity was passible. His divinity is impassible. God cannot change because change is incompatible with perfection and with divine simplicity.


I don't really consider God's weeping, over us as being a change at all. I think that is completely compatible with his unchanging divine character.



:On that last point, that's why I said twice "I'm happy to meet exegetical arguments on their own grounds." My account of my guiding principles was an explanation of the basis of my confidence, not a dismissal of the subject.


My point had been intended to be more generally speaking.



:Yes, it was. The website you're linking to appears to be flawed and misleading. Certainly this claim in your second link is pretty much completely false:


Okay. Point taken.



:We are in the realm of mystery here, and it is not possible to diagram the will and action of God and how it relates to the will and action of man, any more than we can diagram how the divine authorship of scripture relates to the human
authorship of scripture. We can say things that are true and false about it, but we can't fully understand or explain it. (One formula that the Church has rejected is the Calvinist formula of double predestination, that God actively predestines
some for hell as well as others to heaven. God is not an agent of the damnation of any soul.)


Yeah that's a tough one to wrap ones head around. I to completely reject the double pre-destination view. Yet Calvin was heavily influenced by Augustine who was a early Roman Bishop. While not having as strong of a view on this as Calvin those tendencies were there.



:No worries!


good ::cheers::



:I'm not advancing such an argument here for anyone but myself. Feel free to look deeper into the doctrine of hell in the Eastern Churches; I believe you'll find it just as implacable as the Western tradition.


I have read some stuff from the Eastern church. One book in particular is "Christ the Conqueror of Hell". Here is the books description.

This in-depth study on the realm of death presents a message of hope held by the first generation of Christians and the early church. Using Scripture, patristic tradition, early Christian poetry, and liturgical texts, Archbishop Hilarion explores the mysterious and enigmatic event of Christ s descent into Hades and its consequences for the human race. Insisting that Christ entered Sheol as Conqueror and not as victim, the author depicts the Lord s descent as an event of cosmic significance opening the path to universal salvation. He also reveals Hades as a place of divine presence, a place where the spiritual fate of a person may still change. Reminding readers that self-will remains the only hindrance to life in Christ, he presents the gospel message anew, even in the shadow of death.

About the Author
Archbishop Hilarion (Alfeyev), Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, is well known throughout the Orthodox Church as a leading theologian, writer, and musical composer. He holds a doctorate in Philosophy from Oxford University and a doctorate in theology from St Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris.



:The bald statement that "there were some Major Ante-Nicene Bishops who were universalists" is problematic. One may argue that some ante-Nicene bishops had universalist tendencies, or entertained universalist speculation,
but to say, e.g., "St. Gregory of Nyssa was a universalist," as if he baldly affirmed "No one goes to hell," much less "The scriptures teach that no one goes to hell" or "The apostolic tradition holds that no one goes to hell," is so
misleading as to be essentially false.


As I have mentioned before. I don't believe that there isn't a "hell", only that it is corrective and not eternal. This is what I'm saying some of these Ante-Nicene fathers had expressed in their writings. As I have mentioned in other posts I have read writings from Origen where he says something along the lines that the spiritually mature (his words not mine) taught eternal hellfire to the babies in Christ in order to keep them in line. But the truth must sometimes be told in order to combat views from outside Christianity that God wasn't good. Now I know that Origen is considered to be a heretic by many, but what I'm trying to get at, is that this writing is indicative of a view that was in Christianity at the time. Which I think was actually rather idiotic.

I don't believe the scriptures teach that no one goes to hell. I believe that they (in their original languages) teach that hell is corrective and not punitive, for the point of bringing the rebellious to repentance, and purifying from evil. That is what the general discussion over Rob's book has been about. The idea of no one going to hell shouldn't really even be on the table.



: You should also consider that universalism was always speculative, controversial and roundly rejected at the conciliar level.


Some of them were more speculative than others, I think. Some of them like Origen or Gregory of Nyssa (being the most famous for this) were at a level beyond mere speculation in their beliefs.

Some of Origen's writings were controversial, but even with those controversial writings, his beliefs on ultimate reconciliation were not that controversial until much later. To my understanding Gregory of Nyssa and the others who expressed similar views, were not considered controversial at all.

The Nicene creed mentions the judgement to come, which nobody is or has really argued against, yet there is no mention of eternal torments in this or the Apostles creed. As we know the idea of ultimate reconciliation of all was floating around at that time (the debate would be as to how much so.) If they had have wanted to squash this belief on the conciliar level eternal torments would have been mentioned in these creeds. The fact that it isn't even touched on says much.

The later Athanasius creed does allude to eternal torments. But scholars say that Athanasius didn't write the creed. In fact nobody really knows who wrote it, and it never came out of a synod. Many are suspicious as to any value this creed might have, even when they agree on it's trinitarian views.



:You will not find the theology of the ancient Churches differing from the moral unanimity of the ante-Nicene Fathers. On any subject where moral unanimity existed, it has been maintained. Baptismal regeneration, for instance.
The possibility of falling from grace, for another.


I agree in regards to those two points (although not necissarily in the Catholic understanding of mortal sin). Yet there were differences. One major one being that the Ante-Nicene fathers had a much higher view of human nature than the post Augustinian church. There are others, but I think that discussion goes on to much of a rabbit trail.


:Individual Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Christians can probably be found believing anything that has entered into the mind of man. That doesn't alter the teaching of the communities to which they belong or the historic
shape of their communities' beliefs.


I have never read any of the individuals writings, only those from Bishops and theologions.


:"Hades" is not a translation at all, but a transliteration. "Hell" has traditionally meant more than one possible destination, a nuance unfortunately lost on most people today.


Hades is more or less the New Testament Greek version of scheol. Which is more or less "the land of the dead". In old Testament times Scheol in no sense had any meaning pertaining to hell.

The word hell comes from the pagan Saxon God named Hele, and shouldn't even be in Christian language. Of course it's in our wording now and isn't about to leave.

Whatever one might think about the traditional meaning of hell, the original language uses Hades for that passage, and Hades is not eternal.



:Bear in mind that Jesus is speaking to Jews and we must consider how the story would have been understood in the matrix of first-century Jewish belief.



Exactly


He was speaking to Jews according to their language and culture, and wasn't talking about hell or eternal torments. The eternal hell tradition has changed the meaning of this parable.
The parables original meaning fits just fine with the teachings and leanings that the previous parables in this series of parables teach.

The links that I added above touch on what he was really teaching

Edited by Attica, 29 April 2011 - 12:25 PM.


#104 Attica

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 05:57 PM

Another thing that I just remembered, is that even if the parable did teach about eternal torments, it doesn't teach that a person couldn't get out of these torments if they repented to Jesus.

It's impossible for this parable to teach this, because Jesus (or God for that matter) isn't even mentioned in the text, just father Abraham.

#105 SDG

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 03:35 PM

I don't really consider God's weeping, over us as being a change at all.

Neither do I. Because it's a metaphor. :)

Passing from happiness to sadness, or from any state to another state, is a change. It implies potentiality and variability between possible states, when God is pure act. It implies that God's existence is dribbled out moment by moment like ours, so that what God was yesterday is gone, and what He will be tomorrow is not yet a reality, whereas in fact God possesses the totality of His being in a single timeless Now.

The idea of God experiencing real emotions over sin (and redemption) implies, further, that in interacting with creation -- and specifically by interacting with fallen creatures, by grieving over their sins, and by redeeming them -- God realizes possibilities for Himself that would not have been otherwise available to Him. It implies that God's own Being is enlarged, His horizons broadened, by new experiences. On this view, it is not just that He created us for our happiness and benefit; He gets something out of the deal too.

The high Christian view is that God is always eternally and infinitely blessed, that He cannot be enlarged or expanded in any way; that His beatitude cannot be increased one iota by the eternal happiness of a hundred billion souls, nor diminished one iota either in connection with human sins or human perdition. Whatever weeping over our sins means is an eternal fact about God that in no way precludes or diminishes His infinite beatitude.

My point had been intended to be more generally speaking.

I got that; I just wanted to be clear. :)

Yeah that's a tough one to wrap ones head around. I to completely reject the double pre-destination view. Yet Calvin was heavily influenced by Augustine who was a early Roman Bishop. While not having as strong of a view on this as Calvin those tendencies were there.

Yeah, Augustine was strongly predestinarian, but the points of contrast with Calvin are crucial. Predestination and grace for Augustine didn't mean the kind of human passivity that it did for Calvin; that's why Augustine maintained that the regenerate were free to fall from grace, and why he didn't find it necessary to make God himself the Author of perdition via double predestination.

I have read some stuff from the Eastern church. One book in particular is "Christ the Conqueror of Hell".

The book seems to be fundamentally an exploration of the event that Western tradition calls "the harrowing of hell," or Christ's descent into that hades called the limbo patronum. The author explores different ways of understanding this event and its applicability to different populations of the dead. AFAICT, his ultimate conclusion appears to be that we don't know whether salvation is actually achieved by all, but it is available for all who wish it. This seems pretty close to mainstream Catholic thought, although with differences in emphasis.

As I have mentioned before. I don't believe that there isn't a "hell", only that it is corrective and not eternal. ... The idea of no one going to hell shouldn't really even be on the table.

Okay, point taken. Perhaps I should have said that Gregory's universalist tendencies don't amount to unambiguously affirming "No one is ultimately excluded from paradise / beatitude / eternal life." Gregory's teaching is apparently more ambiguous than that.

Some of them were more speculative than others, I think. Some of them like Origen or Gregory of Nyssa (being the most famous for this) were at a level beyond mere speculation in their beliefs.

This is at least controverted. Some scholars apparently dispute that either Origen or Gregory really taught universal reconciliation.

The Nicene creed mentions the judgement to come, which nobody is or has really argued against, yet there is no mention of eternal torments in this or the Apostles creed. As we know the idea of ultimate reconciliation of all was floating around at that time (the debate would be as to how much so.) If they had have wanted to squash this belief on the conciliar level eternal torments would have been mentioned in these creeds. The fact that it isn't even touched on says much.

It suggests that the question was not a raging controversy. Hard to draw any other conclusions from silence in the absence of further evidence.

The later Athanasius creed does allude to eternal torments. But scholars say that Athanasius didn't write the creed. In fact nobody really knows who wrote it, and it never came out of a synod. Many are suspicious as to any value this creed might have, even when they agree on it's trinitarian views.

It is a witness of patristic faith, and a popular and respected one. It deserves the same weight as any other mainstream patristic source.

I have never read any of the individuals writings, only those from Bishops and theologions.

Bishops and theologians are individuals, and quirky to heretical opinions can be found even in individual bishops and theologians.

Hades is more or less the New Testament Greek version of scheol. Which is more or less "the land of the dead". In old Testament times Scheol in no sense had any meaning pertaining to hell.

The word hell comes from the pagan Saxon God named Hele, and shouldn't even be in Christian language. Of course it's in our wording now and isn't about to leave.

Whatever one might think about the traditional meaning of hell, the original language uses Hades for that passage, and Hades is not eternal.

:Bear in mind that Jesus is speaking to Jews and we must consider how the story would have been understood in the matrix of first-century Jewish belief.

Exactly

He was speaking to Jews according to their language and culture, and wasn't talking about hell or eternal torments. The eternal hell tradition has changed the meaning of this parable.
The parables original meaning fits just fine with the teachings and leanings that the previous parables in this series of parables teach.

I don't think this account takes adequate note of developments in Jewish thinking about the afterlife during the Second Temple period.

The earliest conception of sheol was simply the abode of the dead, and I'm aware of no evidence that the early Hebrews had any conception of sheol as a temporary destination. On the contrary, much of the OT seems to reflect the common understanding of the ancient world that there was no return from the grave.

Some OT sources, particularly later sources like Daniel, display a developing hope that Israel's God will indeed restore the righteous from sheol. With this new hope comes a welter of new ideas and pictures of the afterlife and the hope for new life, as well as the differing states of the righteous and unrighteous.

Much of my understanding of developing Jewish eschatology comes from N. T. Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God, and -- unhappily for the present discussion -- Wright's focus on resurrection excludes any detailed consideration of hell or torment in the afterlife. Nevertheless, I think I've gathered enough information to make a few relevant observations about the matrix of Jewish eschatological ideas in the world in which Jesus preached.

One Jewish belief, of course, was that there was no afterlife to speak of (the view of the Sadducees). Other Jews believed in a disembodied immortality much like the Neo-Platonist view. The distinctive Jewish hope, of course, was for resurrection in a new world order. Ideas about the intermediate state differed widely, from oblivion to somnolence to beatitude.

Among those who hoped for more after death than the Sadducees, it was widely believed that there was one fate for the righteous and another for the wicked. For those who believed in resurrection, it was widely believed that there was a resurrection to life for the righteous, but not for the wicked. Or perhaps the wicked were to be raised after all -- only to be judged and cast out.

If the unrighteous were not raised to life, what happened to them? Perhaps their souls went to a place of annihilation -- like Gehenna, a realm of pollution, idolatry and fiery destruction.

But Gehenna might not be a place of sheer annihilation. Some saw it as a place of purgatorial or expiatory suffering from which sinners might ultimately be released. Others saw it as a place of punitive suffering with no hope of release. All of these ideas appear to have been current in the world in which Jesus preached.

The story of Lazarus and Dives uses the term hades, not Gehenna -- but the imagery is remarkably Gehenna-like, suggesting the fluidity both of voculary and ideas at the time. Note that this is the one time in the NT the term hades appears as a place of suffering and torment -- and fiery torment at that. (In this connection it's worth noting that the term "Gehenna" appears a total of 10 times in Matthew and Mark, but only once in Luke; perhaps to the ear of the third evangelist, or to his audience, the term Gehenna lacked the currency or familiarity of hades and so Luke used hades instead of Gehenna here.)

However, in one respect the hades of Luke 16 does differ from Jesus' usual teaching on Gehenna: In Luke 16 Jesus is clear that the rich man's body is buried, so what suffers in the fiery hades is not body and soul, but the soul alone.

This is different from Jesus' characteristic description of Gehenna, which is emphatically a place where both body and soul are cast by God. This suggests a place of final punishment after the resurrection.

Jesus explicitly speaks of such a place in Matthew 25, where in the final judgment those on the king's left depart "into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." This closely parallels the lake of fire in Revelation, where the devil, the beast and the false prophet "tormented day and night for ever and ever," and where all the wicked are cast after the resurrection and the final judgment. Jesus' term "eternal fire" in Matt 25 recalls the "unquenchable fire" that Jesus elsewhere ascribes to Gehenna, closely connecting Gehenna and the fire prepared for the devil and his angels into which the wicked are cast.

Nothing in Jesus' teaching on Gehenna or the "enternal fire" suggests that it is remedial, rehabilitative or temporary. In Gehenna, Jesus says, both body and soul are destroyed. In Matthew 23 Jesus calls the Pharisees and their converts "sons of Gehenna" alongside such terms as "brood of vipers" and "whitewashed tombs." "Sons of Gehenna" seems in fact approximately parallel to the Johannine term "sons of your father the devil."

Likewise, James 3:6 says the tongue is set on fire by Gehenna. Clearly the fire of Gehenna, in keeping with its etymological associations, is a fire of pollution, not a cleansing or rehabilitative fire.

Then, in addition to all the Gehenna imagery, there's also all the imagery of exile, of outer darkness and binding hand and foot, of weeping and gnashing of teeth: imagery that connotes inner anguish rather than external torture, and with no hint of future reconciliation -- or hope of relief through annihilation.

And, as previously noted, Jesus combines these two sets of images in Matt 13, where the wicked are cast into the "furnace of fire" where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth." The implication is that these images all refer to the same thing.

All in all, I'd have to imagine a Jewish hearer of Jesus concluding that when He speaks of the wicked being cast body and soul into Gehenna, or bound hand and foot and cast into outer darkness, weeping and gnashing their teeth, etc., that He means a state of exclusion from the resurrection of the just, a state from which there is no hope of redemption.

The links that I added above touch on what he was really teaching

I looked over the links. I didn't find what I saw compelling. In particular, as I said, I find the notion of Jesus adopting a counterfactual eschatology as the premise for a parable massively implausible.

Another thing that I just remembered, is that even if the parable did teach about eternal torments, it doesn't teach that a person couldn't get out of these torments if they repented to Jesus.

Nothing in the NT offers any hope that such repentance is possible. And if it were, would it also be possible for those in heaven to repent of having served God and go the other way? If the one, why not the other?

Edited by SDG, 30 April 2011 - 03:38 PM.


#106 Attica

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 07:42 PM

Hi SDG.

I have family over for the weekend but I'll respond as soon as able.

#107 SDG

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 07:53 PM

Thank goodness! I need some rest!

#108 Attica

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 09:01 PM

Thank goodness! I need some rest!

:)

#109 SDG

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 05:56 PM

Jesus' mortal humanity was passible.

What of his glorified humanity?

I know this question will take us off track just a little bit, but I'm curious as to what your thoughts are on that highly difficult element of the Incarnation and its implications for the nature of the Godhead.

Good question. I deliberately left that part of the equation off the table in my earlier comments.

Short answer: I don't know. I want to say that resurrected and glorified humanity, whether Jesus' or ours, always enjoys the greatest possible degree of beatitude -- I won't say "perfect" beatitude, since only divine infinitude is truly perfect, but the greatest degree of beatitude of which one's glorified humanity is capable. Grief, sadness and pity have no part in resurrected life, I think. Does this mean the resurrected are "impassible"? That might be saying too much. I don't know. A question for wiser heads than mine.


#110 Ryan H.

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 06:21 PM

Short answer: I don't know.

Fair enough. Who does?

I want to say that resurrected and glorified humanity, whether Jesus' or ours, always enjoys the greatest possible degree of beatitude -- I won't say "perfect" beatitude, since only divine infinitude is truly perfect, but the greatest degree of beatitude of which one's glorified humanity is capable. Grief, sadness and pity have no part in resurrected life, I think. Does this mean the resurrected are "impassible"? That might be saying too much. I don't know. A question for wiser heads than mine.

It's a head-scratcher, all right. While we're on the subject, what is Catholic dogma regarding the impassibility of God?

(Oh, and Steven, I just want to take a moment and say that I always appreciate your clarity in conversations like this one, particularly when dealing with Catholic tradition and belief. It almost makes me want to be Catholic. Almost. :))

#111 Attica

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 07:11 PM

Short answer: I don't know.

Fair enough. Who does?

I want to say that resurrected and glorified humanity, whether Jesus' or ours, always enjoys the greatest possible degree of beatitude -- I won't say "perfect" beatitude, since only divine infinitude is truly perfect, but the greatest degree of beatitude of which one's glorified humanity is capable. Grief, sadness and pity have no part in resurrected life, I think. Does this mean the resurrected are "impassible"? That might be saying too much. I don't know. A question for wiser heads than mine.

It's a head-scratcher, all right. While we're on the subject, what is Catholic dogma regarding the impassibility of God?

(Oh, and Steven, I just want to take a moment and say that I always appreciate your clarity in conversations like this one, particularly when dealing with Catholic tradition and belief. It almost makes me want to be Catholic. Almost. :))




Hi. I'm still busy (were heading our for supper in a minute).

But just jump in quick with a thought.

In the gospels the resurrected Christ, hung out with humans, in an intimate and close way. There is every indication that he had emotions, and as well the resurrected Christ still bore the wounds from the cross.


As well... Paul speaking to Christians after the resurrection.


Philippians 2:12 - 13

So that, my beloved, according-as you always obey........be carrying your own salvation into effect, for it is God Who is operating in you to will as well as to work for the sake of His delight (Greek - eu dok e o).



-Delight (eu dok e o) - - have a favourable opinion, be well pleased, have pleasure, think good.

Edited by Attica, 01 May 2011 - 09:09 PM.


#112 SDG

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 07:22 PM

It's a head-scratcher, all right. While we're on the subject, what is Catholic dogma regarding the impassibility of God?

Besides "God is impassible"? Is there some particular angle you're interested in?

(Oh, and Steven, I just want to take a moment and say that I always appreciate your clarity in conversations like this one, particularly when dealing with Catholic tradition and belief. It almost makes me want to be Catholic. Almost. :))

Posted Image Thanks, Ryan, I appreciate your saying so.

At the risk of condescension, which is not my intent, it seems to me, almost if I could say apart from my own Catholic conviction, that there is a sense in which any Protestant should almost want to be Catholic, almost.

I can well understand many of the roadblocks that would stand between a Protestant and Rome. I can understand, to a point, a Protestant sincerely and sympathetically considering Catholic teaching, perhaps testing the waters of the Tiber, and for any number of reasons not taking the plunge. But there seems to me something clean, healthy, honest and frank about the name of "Protestant": about recognizing that one stands in a tradition that exists in a way in dialectical relationship -- a relationship of resistance, critique or opposition -- to another tradition, and recognizing that that other tradition remains in a way part of one's own heritage, one's own cultural DNA.

There are arguments that the separation of the one tradition from the other is necessary -- that for whatever reason something has gone wrong with "being Catholic" in a way that obliges one to "be Protestant" instead. But ideally I think one should recognize the act of "being Protestant" as requiring a sort of justification. To be a Protestant, to own one's heritage as a Protestant, is to be confronted with the question "Why am I not Catholic?" in a way that one is not similarly confronted with the question "Why am I not Hindu?", "Why am I not Muslim?", "Why am I not Eastern Orthodox?" (I hope I need not say that no equivalence is implied among those alternate identities, and that the questions of identity around being Catholic or Eastern Orthodox are in a way even more pressing, though they are not the same sort of question. To be Eastern Orthodox or to be Roman Catholic is not to stand in dialectical relationship to the other in quite the same way; it doesn't carry the same implicit act of resistance or critique that I think being Protestant does and should carry.)

Edited by SDG, 01 May 2011 - 07:23 PM.


#113 Ryan H.

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 07:33 PM

Besides "God is impassible"? Is there some particular angle you're interested in?

I'm just curious about whether there is an accepted range of definitions for divine impassibility. A quick internet survey of the history of the notion suggests that there was some discussion over the topic, and while it's clear that there are ways of approaching this aspect of God that are beyond the pale of orthodox belief, it seems there were some church fathers who held that God actually had emotions in some true sense, but they were primarily of a different nature than our emotions. So I'm just curious where the boundaries lie.

But there seems to me something clean, healthy, honest and frank about the name of "Protestant": about recognizing that one stands in a tradition that exists in a way in dialectical relationship -- a relationship of resistance, critique or opposition -- to another tradition, and recognizing that that other tradition remains in a way part of one's own heritage, one's own cultural DNA.

Well put. Certain strands of Protestant belief understand this connection better than others.

#114 Attica

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 09:11 PM

Ryan H said:


it seems there were some church fathers who held that God actually had emotions in some true sense, but they were primarily of a different nature than our emotions. So I'm just curious where the boundaries lie.



I've heard it described that God has emotions in perfection, whereas ours are troubled and confused because of living in a fallen world.

#115 Attica

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 08:45 PM

Hi SDG. Here are some of my responses and thoughts, unfortunately some of the replies have become rather lengthy.

Better late than never as they say. :)





SDG said (in regards to the Athanasius creed):

It is a witness of patristic faith, and a popular and respected one. It deserves the same weight as any other mainstream patristic source.





What I was mainly attempting to show was that the Athanasius creed didn't come out of any councils or Synods. But this creed and it's widespread acceptance amongst Catholics and some Protestants (from my understanding the
Orthodox church was never completely comfortable with it) is, I think, a good example of how tradition can fall into error, and away from what the Bible teaches on certain matters.

I hadn't thought of the following as being that big of a deal at the time, but when I think about it now it fits hand in glove with what I'm attempting to convey. You see awhile back on the Adjustment Bureau thread you had mentioned
how the Catholic tradition believed that mankind was made up of Soul and Body, which was different what I had mentioned of humans being Soul, Body, and Spirit.

The Athanasius creed says the following.


37 - For the reasonable soul and flesh is one man.





So either the Catholic traditional view was influenced by this aspect of the creed, or influenced it. Yet I don't believe that this is either the Biblical or Ante-Nicene view of the human.



1 Thess 5:23......... May your whole Spirit, Soul, and Body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Heb. 4:12...... The world of God is living an powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the division of Soul and Spirit.




Some examples from the Ante - Nicene writings.


All those who have been enrolled for life will rise again. They will have their own Bodies, their own Souls, and their own Spirits, in which they had pleased God.

Irenaeus (who was and is considered to be Orthodox)


What was his object in praying that these three - that is, the Soul, Body, and Spirit - mighte be preserved to the coming of the Lord.

Irenaeus


It appears that the Soul is something intermediate, between the weak Flesh, and the willing Spirit.

Origen.



This leads me to three conclusions.

1) If the Athanasius creed is in error about this matter, the potential is there for it to be in error about eternal punishments, especially when one considers that this wasn't the main point of the creed.
Throughout history the creed was mainly used as a teaching on the Trinity.

2) If the traditional church has bought into these errors, then the potential is there for it to have bought into other errors.

3) Although there is value in the wisdom and spirit of some of those who have come before, the traditions of the church are not infallible.









SDG said:

Passing from happiness to sadness, or from any state to another state, is a change. It implies potentiality and variability between possible states,





If God is without change, how could the judgements in the Old Testament be, at least in part, with the intention of being restorative and purifying, while his future judgements not be?

Jesus was God in the flesh. His actions were the very representation of God, and he wept and laughed with others.

God is unchangeable in his character, yet the resurrected Christ would have made decisions, and thus change (according to your understanding of change), even if this meant the decision to say certain words,
or change the direction in which he was walking. That is every much a change in the souls activities and thought, as a change in emotions would be.

As well it is highly unlikely that the resurrected Christ spent his short time on earth, after the crucifixion, relating to people without showing any emotion whatsoever. How is that even possible, he would have had
to be acting like some sort of robotic droid.

When Jesus went up "into the clouds" he entered into the Spirit world as the resurrected Christ. Thus was change in the trinity as he now sits at the right hand of the father, interceding for the saints as the perfect
priest who has gone through the trials of being human. He sits upon the mercy throne in living covenant with believing Christians.

The resurrected Christ is still active and living, in the Spirit world. He still bears the scars of the cross but now they are the signs of victory, and the marks of his covenant and Hesed love towards believers.

Holy Spirit exists in this world and "blows where he will". A wind that blows where it will is one that changes. Not necessarily being a change in character, but most certainly this would be a change in direction.

Therefore the eternally risen Christ was capable of "change" (but not in character), and undoubtedly had a personality during his short time on Earth, which would then include emotions.

There is every indication that the risen Christ has the same characteristics as Jesus did before the cross. This was a Jesus who wept over and with people, and therefore I would think a Jesus who still does.

The Latin churches view of God was highly influenced by it's acceptance of the Roman cultural system (including it's hierarchical structure) under Constantine. This influence led to the view of God as being somewhat
akin to the Roman Emperor, being a more impersonal, distant force, that is more likely to be separate from the human struggle (I do believe that Holy is being "separate" in at least some sense.)

My Christianity has never been influenced by this line of thought, and I guess I would view God more of in a tribal context (the Jewish people were tribal.) I view Christ as being a living personal entity yet still with
authority, that is involved with humanity, and cares deeply for all of his creation. He is the King (or leader) in the context of the Jewish tribal sense instead of being the Emperor King in the Roman or medieval sense.

The bible says that we are Christ's in his presence. This indicates a deep mystical union, almost like walking in the "cloud" of Christ. We are his Bride and he is the lover of our souls somewhat like one
finds in the Song of songs. That text portrays as Groom who interacts (meaning change) with his lover, with deep emotions.

The Psalms give every indication of a personal and interactive God.

This isn't just my theology, it also has been the experience of myself and many whom I know.


But I did say that God's character doesn't change, which would include his character and purpose in judgement. Ironically your position of God not changing would add weight to this.











SDG said:

I don't think this account takes adequate note of developments in Jewish thinking about the afterlife during the Second Temple period.





Taken from "Her Gates will never be Shut".

Our understanding, or misunderstanding of the Gehenna tradition(s) shapes our view of Hell and judgement. More than that it profoundly influences our understanding of Jesus ministry and message.

snip

In the Old Testament Gehenna was known as the Valley of the sons of Hinnon (Josh 15:18.) Ultimately it became our inspiration (via the apocalyptic writers and Talmudic rabbis) for post - resurrection hell.
However I would propose at the outset that Jeremiah plainly tells us what the valley symbolizes: he calls it the "Valley of Slaughter" (Jer 7:28 - 35) and that Jesus employs Jeremiah's historic sense of destruction
in his use of Gehenna.

snip

Under Ahaz and Manasseh, Gehenna became a site for sacrifices to Molech (2 Chr 28:33), where the people of Judah burned their children in an effort to satiate this ravenous fire-deity.

snip

Under the reign of Josian, whose name literally means "fire of God" the valley underwent a "cleansing defilement" so that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech"
(2 Kgs 23:10.) Josiah left it a cursed place as a reminder of the people's shameful acts (Jer 2:23)

snip

The fire of God had come to judge and cleanse.

snip

Josiah's cleansing defilement of the valley was merely a foreshadowing of the more devastating fire of God yet to be released through foreign conquest. Note the fire imagery in (2Kgs 23 26 - 27.)

snip

A relationship between God's judgement, the destruction wrought by foreign armies, and the imagery of consuming fire already existed in the Israelite mind, recalling Isaiah's words in (Isa 42: 24 - 43:2.)

snip

In the aftermath of destruction, Gehenna is said to have become a permanent, smouldering garbage dump where unburied bodies were burned.

snip

From their vivid and traumatic national memories of child sacrifice, Josiah's desecration, the city's destruction by Babylon in 587 BC, followed by smouldering carcasses (Jer 52; Lam 4:11), two distinct Gehenna
traditions developed within Judaism. I will refer to them as the Apocalyptic - Talmudic - infernalist thread (or the 1 Enoch tradition) and the Prophetic - Historic thread (or the Jeremiah tradition).
From the Hebrew prophets to intertestamental Jewish apocalyptic writings to the Talmudic tradition of the Rabbis, Gehenna began to replace Sheol as the place of the dead, dropping from the place of physical
destruction on earth into the underworld of postmortem torment. Opinions concerning Gehenna's nature, duration, and inhabitants widen and deepen greatly as we proceed through time. Without mentioning
Gehenna, this sampling of Scriptures mainly retains the old destruction theme but uses language later associated with final judgement, the afterlife, and hell. (Isa 66:24.)

snip

Therefore if we restrict our studies of apocalyptic to the canon of Scripture, we can make a case for drawing a sharp distinction between apocalyptic (symbolic imagery for this - wordly events) and eschatology.
We run into difficulty when we conflate and literalize the two, which is precisely what happened as the apocalyptic - Talmudic - infernalist stream developed. Their authors progressively converted imagery of
God's furnace, from a metaphor for historic destruction, which acts to judge and refine his people, into actual ovens of material flames into which damned souls are tossed.

snip

Following the dramatic carnage depicted in Jewish apocalyptic (like 1 Enoch) many Jews, and then Christians, came to transpose Gehenna (Jerusalem's legendary garbage dump) into a metaphor for the place
of fiery judgement after death.

snip

The annihilationist imagery of Jewish apocalyptic was radicalized into full blown infernalism (with a purgatorial element) among the rabbis of the Talmud - Mishna traditions.

snip

That said, the rabbis of the Mishna hashed through a great range of opinions and theories about Gehenna.

snip

The Rabbis did not all agree on the nature or duration of Gehenna, their thoughts developing and regressing over centuries.

snip

From what they taught there were four major themes.

1) To them Gehenna was a metaphor for hell.

2) Gehenna can have a time limit.

--Even the wicket in Gehenna lasted no longer than twelve months (Shabbath, for. 33)

--Hezekiah saith the judgement in Gehenna is six months heat and six months cold ( Midrash Reheh)

--Rabbi Akiva used to say, "Of five judgements, some have lasted twelve months, others will do so (Edioth, ch 2, mish)

3) Gehenna can have an exit.


--Turnus Rufus once said to Rabbi Akiva, "If your God is a friend to the poor , why doesn't he feed them?' To which he promptly replied "That we by maintaining them may escape the condemnation of
Gehenna." (Bava Bathra, fol. 10)


--All who go down to hell shall come up again except these three: He who commits adultery, he who shames another in public, and he who gives another a bad name. (Bava Metzia, fol. 58)


4) Gehenna can be purgative, that is, it was designed not just for punishment but also for purification in preparation for Paradise.

--"God hath also set the one over against the other", ie. The righteous and the wicked, in order that the one should atone for each other. God created the poor and the rich, in order that the one should be
maintained by the other. He created Paradise and Gehenna, in order that those in the one should deliver those in the other. And what is the distance between them? Rabbi Chanina saith the width of the wall
(between Paradise and Gehenna) is a handbreadth (Yalkut Koheleth, TM 312)


These rabbis did not claim their teachings as divine revelation. Rather the Talmud consists of discussion on Jewish law, theology, customs, and traditions. Their speculations aside, rabbis like Akiva sometimes
help us to see the OT passages with first century Jewish eyes. For example, they saw Psalm 84 (a psalm of ascent sung by pilgrims on the way to Jerusalem's festivals) as pointing eschatologically to our journey
from Gehenna to Zion.

Psalm 84: 5 - 7

Their unique translation of Psalm 49 suggest the eventual dissolution of Gehenna.

--Gehenna itself shall be consumed, but they shall not be burned up in the destruction; as it is said, (Ps 49:14)....."and their figures shall consume hell from being a dwelling" (Rosh Hashanah, fol. 17..... Gehenna
would finally cease to be a place where anyone (the damned) would exist.)

Though still an oral tradition in the time of Jesus, the rabbinical discussion on Gehenna was clearly in active development.

snip

If what we read in the Mishna is indicative of oral tradition and rabbinical through in the first century, then we can assert that there was no uniform vision of Gehenna in Jesus' day. The elders did relate Gehenna
to afterlife judgement, but any penalty was justly limited in duration and scale according to ones crime and often with a view to rehabilitation. They assumed the perfect justice of God's judgements and would
have likely recoiled at the excessive and lopsided sentence of eternal, conscious torment.





In his (Jesus) mission to redefine our vision of God, he regularly challenged or outright broke the traditions of the elders (what he called the traditions of men, whether oral or written - Math 15: 1- 10, Mark 7: 1-24.)
His listeners could never assume that Jesus meant what the other rabbis meant even when he used common terms like temple (John 2:19) or kingdom (Luke 17:21). Thus, we should not accept too readily that
Jesus shared the other rabbinical teacher's definitions of Gehenna.

When Jesus spoke of Gehenna, he was not merely acting as a rabbi engaging in debate. He opposed the scribes and Pharisees as a prophet in the vein of Jeremiah, whose temple rants paralleled, previewed, and
perhaps prophesied those of Jesus (Her 8: 8-9)

In fact, Jesus raised the stakes when he confronted the teachers of the law as a prophet with his infamous woes, even calling them "sons of Gehenna" (Matt 23:15). Jesus might have been speaking of Gehenna as
the teachers of the law understood it, but in accordance with his actions and his agenda during the Matthew 23 affront, it is more likely that Jesus was speaking of Gehenna as Jeremiah meant it.


Contrasting sharply with the Talmudic Gehenna tradition is the Historic - Prophetic Gehenna tradition, rooted in Josiah's actions, Jeremiah's oracles, and Jesus' warnings. To be strictly biblical, the Jewish prophetic
tradition (climaxing in Jesus) points in a far more historically rooted and this - worldly direction than we find in 1 Enoch or the Talmud. In this tradition, Gehenna recalls the literal fire of destruction that came to
consume Jerusalem for its sins and to cleanse the land and people of sin's defilement.

For Jesus Gehenna primarily retained Jeremiah's prophetic meaning for the wages of sin: death. Between death and resurrection.

snip

After the Day of Judgement, there may be a lake of burning sulphur or a river of fire, but they are never
called Gehenna.

The meaning of Gehenna must be established from facts furnished by the Scripture, not by falsehoods foisted by human tradition. To the reader of the Hebrew Scriptures themselves, Gehenna can only mean
a verdict that, besides condemning a man to death, also ordains that, after death, his body should be cast into the loathsome valley of Hinnom. This being the sense of Gehenna in the Hebrew Scriptures,
we may be sure that this is the sense in which Christ used it.

Let us test, then how Jesus use of Gehenna intentionally referenced Jeremiah's prophetic use of the Valley of Hinnom (Jer 7, 19, 31-32) as an emblem of literal destruction. We shall see how Jesus recalled
the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon in 587 BC as a warning of the impending fall of Jerusalem to Rome in AD 70.

In Jeremiah 7, God sends the prophet to the gates of the temple (7:2). The people through their temple was a sign of God's favour and a guarantee of their safety (7: 4,10), but it had actually become a den
of thieves (7:11) in danger of demolition (7: 14 - 15). Jeremiah lays out the indictment in Jer 7:20, 28 - 31.

snip

(Jer 7:32 - 34) Confronted with temple abominations and domestic injustice, Jeremiah foretold a day when the temple and the entire city of Jerusalem would be destroyed by Babylon's armies. He envisioned
a slaughter so horrible that Hinnom would become a mass burial site, the corpses scavenged by wild beasts and birds. For Jeremiah, Gehenna was not so much a metaphor for personal damnation in the
afterlife but rather, a portrait of mass destruction whenever God's people rebel and make themselves a target for decimation by foreign armies.

snip

In Jeremiah 19, the prophet is told to return to the Postherd Gate where he must smash a clay jar - a prophetic act that repeats and expands on the destruction of the city as punishment for burning her
children in Hinnom. I believe Jesus' act of overturning the temple tables and driving out the moneychangers should be seen as a prophetic echo of Jeremiah's mime. this time, however, Jeremiah was
no longer giving a warning this was a verdict (Jer 19: 1- 9)

Jeremiah marked Jerusalem for the same desecration as the valley itself (Jer 19: 10 - 13)

Then Jeremiah, foreshadowing Jesus, re-entered the temple with his word of woe: (Jer 19: 14-15).


Jesus identified himself strongly with the ministry of Jeremiah, especially through his Passion Week. With his symbolic enactment of the overthrow of the temple, he was consciously recapitulating the
oracle of Jeremiah 7. In his famous "den of thieves" reference, Jesus quoted Jeremiah to deconstruct the security of the temple establishment (Jer 7:11 = Matt 21:13 / Mark 11:17 / Luke 19: 46 ; see
also Isa 56: 7 = Mark 11:17). His woes in Matt 23 to the scribes and teachers of the law no doubt echoed Jer 8:8 (the false pen of the scribes) and Jer 23: 1 (woe to the shepherds who are destroying
and scattering the sheep of my pasture). When Jesus cursed the fig tree's fruitlessness and it withered (Matt 21; Mark 11), he seemed to be drawing from Jer 8: 13 "I will take away their harvest,
declares the Lord...... There will be no figs on the tree, and their leaves will wither". Finally, that same week, Jesus consciously activated the New Covenant as a prophetic fulfillment of Jer 31 - 33
(sep. 31:31) with the Passover Cup (Luke 22:20).

snip

Seeing as Jesus consciously re-enacted Jeremiahs's ministry, is it reasonable to identify his use of Gehenna as a reference to Jeremiahs' warnings of Jerusalem's imminent destruction featuring the
Valley of Hinnom?

snip

We can now se that Jesus' "Little Apocalypse" (Mark 13) functioned as an immediate prophetic warning concerning Jerusalem rather than an eschatological prophecy in the traditional sense. Jesus was not
describing the culmination of the universe. He was purposefully picking up the prophetic - historic tradition of Jeremiah, whose urgent warnings of coming desolation are repeated for his generation.

In Mark 13 and it's parallels, Jesus envisioned the coming judgment in classic biblical terms.

snip

In other word, if the parousia refers to Jesus' own generation, rather than to the end of time, then Jesus' use of the historic desctruction in Gehenna circa 587 BC is not a metaphor for John's eschatological lake of fire.
Exactly the opposite. John's apocalyptic lake of fire is a visionary picture of Gehenna's historic pyres, prophesied by Jesus (reiterating Jeremiah) and fulfilled in AD 70. More simply, Jerusalem's destruction does
not direct us to apocalyptic visions of fire.

Jesus told us all of this as plainly as he could "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened" (Matt 24:34).

Snip

What if Jesus was simply right about this and that it we, not he, who have dislocated the fulfillment of the fulfillment of the parousia and Gehenna passages.

That is not the whole story, but it is in fact, how events played out. Josephus indicated that history repeated itself, and the same valley was heaped with dead Israelites following the Roman siege of Jerusalem.

snip

In Jeremiah 32, God repeats this Gehenna message a third time, but now as part of the new covenant oracle! First the bad news (Jer 32: 34 - 36).

To Jeremiah, this is worth repeating: Gehenna represents the slaughter captivity, and oppression of God's rebellious people in history. This was Jesus' informing theology and the backdrop for his prophetic -
historic use of Gehenna.

snip

Thus, for Jesus gehenna referred primarily to the self - destructive consequences of rebellion, which give rise to bitter mourning and the worm of regret ("weeping and gnashing of teeth") both for the pain we
have caused and the pain we must endure. Gehenna is also called "the outer darkness" (Matt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30) where in each case, those sent there...... have been faithless, fearful, or unrighteous, Gehenna
is judgement to be sure - and may even point secondarily to final judgement - but the picture is first of all about the destructive wake left behind by our sin here and now, not and afterlife of eternal conscious
torment.

When Jesus did extend his use of Gehenna metaphorically to include postmortem disaster for the impenitent, the picture he drew was more akin to the smoking corpses outside the city in Jeremiah and Isaiah's
visions (Isa 66: 24, see also Mark 9:48) than the subterranean fire dungeons of Jewish apocalyptic literature.

The foregoing established, Jesus also appears to add a realized, spiritual and personal dimension to his eschatology, more obviously in the Gospel of John. He could use the term Gehenna
(and its synonym, "condemnation") as a metaphor for spiritual lostness and the torment of alienation from God. The metaphor includes both a current and ultimate condition from which we can be saved.

What is the ultimate destiny of those exiles who experience defeat and dispersion? Jeremiah's final reference to Hinnom, embedded in the New Covenant Kingdom prophecies, now takes a redemptive twist,
rooted in God's solidarity with those who suffer and finally fulfilled in Christ (And I will make an everlasting covenant with them - Jer 32:37).

In this same New Covenant context, we find another allusion to Gehenna in which the once cursed valley is reclaimed and consecrated. (Jer 31: 38 - 40).

The New Covenant promises that not only will Jerusalem be rebuilt; even the valleys of bodies and ashes (Kidron and Gehenna) will be reclaimed an sanctified as holy forever.
The NT describes and explains how this wondrous hope comes about in ways not expected (Luke 24:21, Acts 1:6). Christ's mission was not the literal rebuilding of the temple in the old Jerusalem
but the establishment of a new an living temple and a New Jerusalem. The restoration begins with Jesus' resurrection (John 2:9) and then continues with his church - temple of living stones (1 Cor 3:16, 1 Peter 2)
as part of the spiritual city of Zion (Heb 12:22), and is then completed with the New Jerusalem to come in the new heaven and new earth (Rev 21- 22).

Unfortunately, Christian tradition, theology, and translation followed the apocryphal reading of Gehenna rather than the biblical tradition of Jeremiah and Jesus. The Church zigged with Enoch, Esdras et all when
Jesus zagged with Jeremiah, so to speak.

snip

We ought to also note the irony and incongruence of the Church utilizing the very place where God became violently offended by the literal burning of children as our primary metaphor for a final and eternal
burning of God's wayward people. Thus, God becomes the very Molech who decrees that the angels must deliver his children to the flames, even though this was the very reason he ordered Hinnom to be
desecrated in the first place.



So here we have evidence that Jesus spoke from the Jeremiah tradition instead of the Talmudic - mid testament - apocrypha tradition and understandings. Yet the thing is, even if he was speaking from the
Talmudic tradition, that tradition left plenty of room open for the torments to end, and to be purifying.










SDG said:

But Gehenna might not be a place of sheer annihilation. Some saw it as a place of purgatorial or expiatory suffering from which sinners might ultimately be released. Others saw it as a place of punitive
suffering with no hope of release. All of these ideas appear to have been current in the world in which Jesus preached.



As shown I can see, as you had alluded to, that the intertestamental Talmudic Gehenna tradition, most certainly left room for Gehenna to be purifying, and not eternal, if not outright taught it.


Another thing to note is that this writing touches on how Jesus mentioned that the Gehenna would salt people with fire, and that this would be good. If this was talking about eternal torments, why on Earth would Jesus,
who came, out of the fathers love to save mankind, consider it to be good. The simple explanation is that both fire and salt are considered to have purifying qualities.
In Gehenna in Mark 9: 43 - 44. Jesus states, "... than having your two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched".

Getting back to the Jeremiah tradition, he also uses the term "unquenchable fire" - - "But if you will not hearken onto me,.... then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem,
and it shall not be quenched" (Jer. 17:27). here we have the phrase "not be quenched", but the fire to which it refers ceased to burn when the temple at Jerusalem was consumed, and is certainly not burning eternally.

Thus in the Old Testament the fire that will not be quenched was not an eternal fire; it was a fire which could not be put out. It continued to burn until it has accomplished its purpose. There are references to this as well
in Ezekial.


Matthew 5: 22 - 26

Yet I am saying to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to the judging. Yet whoever may be saying to his brother "Raka" shall be liable to the Sanhedrin. Yet whoever maybe saying, "stupid"
shall be liable to the Gehenna of fire..........You be humouring your plaintiff quickly while you are with him on the way, lest at some time the plaintiff may be giving you up to the judge, and the judge to the deputy
and you should be cast into jail. Verily I am saying to you, By no means may you be coming out thence till you should be paying the last quadrans.

Here Jesus is talking about judgement, in which he mentions Gehenna. Yet in this passage he indicates that a person may come out once he has paid the last quadrans. In other words the just judgement will eventually end.


So in Jesus' references to Gehenna he is not talking about eternal torments.












SDG' said:

In this connection it's worth noting that the term "Gehenna" appears a total of 10 times in Matthew and Mark, but only once in Luke; perhaps to the ear of the third evangelist, or to his audience, the term Gehenna lacked
the currency or familiarity of hades and so Luke used hades instead of Gehenna here.)



Well saying that Luke was using Hades to signify Gehenna is a bit of a stretch I think. I seems to me that this comes from the idea that the parable of Dives and Lazarus must mean eternal hell, so therefore if Hades
doesn't signify an eternal place he couldn't have really meant Hades.

I think he did mean Hades. He meant what he said.

As well in the series of parables in which the Dives and Lazarus parable falls he was speaking to his disciples (Luke 16:1). They would have know what Hades meant, and gave every indication of this in their writings
(Matt 16:18 "and the gates of Hades will not overcome it".) Most certainly Peter understood what the word Hades ment (Acts 2: 27). Here Hades means the unseen or the land of the dead, and has nothing to do with
Gehenna or eternal torments, and Peter would have known that Hades is not eternal.

As well, to reiterate what I had said before, even if it was eternal there is nothing in that parable that indicates that Dives couldn't get our of his predicament, if he repented to Jesus. Jesus isn't even mentioned.

Also even if this was intended to describe Gehenna.......Gehenna doesn't signify eternal torments either.










SDG said:

This is at least controverted. Some scholars apparently dispute that either Origen or Gregory really taught universal reconciliation.





So.... essentially the traditional church has condemned Origen as heretic for 1500 years, for his ideas on universal salvation, and now when people start to take an interest in him they turn around
and say that he never really had these beliefs to begin with.

That's just silly.

It's that kind of thing that makes me want to throw my hands in the air, and give up on the Christian establishment.


From Origen (First Principles)

"There is a resurrection of the dead, and there is punishment, but not everlasting. For when the body is punished the soul is gradually purified, and so is restored to its ancient rank.
For all wicked men, and for daemons, too, shall be restored to their former rank.

From Origen (Taken from the book Spirit and Fire - a thematic anthology of his writings)

"But when the perfection of all things has come and the bride has been made perfect -- which is to say: when the totality of rational creation has been united to him because "he has brought
peace by his blood not only to what is on earth but also to what is in heaven -- then he will be called simply Solomon "when he has delivered the kingdom to God the Father after destroying
every rule and every authority and power". When thus all things have been made peaceful and subject to the father then God will be "all in all"".(page 358)

snip

If every knee bows before Jesus, it is without doubt Jesus to whom all things are put in subjection....... through whom all things are subjected to the father. For it is through wisdom, that is,
by the WORD and by reason, not by force and necessity, that they are put in subjection. Hence it is the manner in which he obtains everything that is his glory; and this is the purest and
most limpid glory of omnipotence, that all things are put in subjection by WORD and wisdom and not by force and necessity. All things must be subjected to Christ and then he himself
must be subjected, but with that subjection which it is worthy to think of taking place in a spiritual being.

It is fitting, then, for him to reign so that he might carry out the mystery of salvation which he had undertaken in the flesh...........But when he delivers the kingdom to the father, that is,
offers to God all those who have been converted and corrected, and has carried out to the full the mystery of the reconciliation of the world, that is when all will stand before God so that
the following words might be fulfilled "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall give praise to God.

If indeed "all nations" are to come and worship the name of the Lord, then clearly those peoples who delight in war will also come. That means, then, that the whole of rational creation
will bow down before the Lord and worship. (Page 363)

snip

For those who have not been healed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit he baptizes with fire. These are divine sacraments (mysteries) which transcend human words and are known to God alone.
But they consist more in the conferring of graces than in different kinds of torments. (page 354)


From Gregory of Nyssa (taken from the book - Universal Salvation - Eschatology in the thought of Gregory of Nyssa)


Perhaps someone, taking his departure from the fact that after three days of distress in the darkness even the Egyptians shared in the light, might be led to perceive the final restoration
which is expected to take place later in the kingdom of heaven (by using the words "is expected" he implies that more than just him have this expectation) of those who have suffered
condemnation in Gehenna. For that darkness that could be felt, as the history says, has a great affinity both in its name and in its actual meaning to the outer darkness. (page 79)

snip

We learn from these things that there will be no destruction of humanity, in order that the divine work shall not be rendered useless being obliterated by non-existence. But instead of
humanity, sin will be destroyed and reduced to non being. (page 80)

snip

When evil shall have some day been annihilated in the long revolutions of the ages, nothing shall be left outside the world of goodness but that even from those evil spirits shall rise in harmony
the confession of Christ's lordship. (page 80) (Note here how he talks about the annihilation of evil in the long revolutions of the ages, this is very significant when one considers that
Gregory of Nyssa read Greek and was reading from the original Greek scriptures.)

snip

On account of the depth of the ingrained evil, the chastisement in the way of purgation will be extended into infinity....according to the quantity of material will be the longer or shorter
time that the flame will be burning; that is, as long as there is fuel to feed it. (Page 85) (Something to note is the very interesting fact that if one was to go to this page in the book there
are writings of Gregory's original Greek where he make use of the word Kolasis - in other words Gregory of Nyssa who was a Greek speaking and writing Christian, and who read from the
original Greek scriptures used the Greek word Kolasis in the context of a purifying chastisement.)


You see. When we read the early writings of these Greek speaking fathers not only do we get insight into their beliefs we also get insight into their use of the Greek language. Gregory's mention
of the long revolutions of the ages in a future time when evil will be destroyed, and his use of the word Kolasis in the context of purifying chastisement is incredibly significant.



Which brings me once again (sigh) to the meanings of the Greek words.

From a word study.

"The word Kolasis has the connotation of beneficial disciplinary correction, such as a parent might punish a child for wrongdoing
with the purpose of reform. This is in sharp contrast to ""Timoria"", meaning punitive or vindictive punishment. Kolasis comes
from a root word meaning "to prune", as a tree or plant. When a gardener prunes, it is not done to torture the vegetation,
but to remove deed or crooked branches and cause it to grow in a better, more beautiful way. Kolasis is loving parental discipline
with the goal of helping the one being subjected to it. If Matthew had meant to suggest that Jesus taught eternal torment, he probably
would have written "aidios timoria" instead of "aionios Kolasis".

Which of course lines up with the pruning of trees mentioned in the scriptures.

From the book "Her gates will never be shut".

Had penal retribution been intended, Matthew could have used the applicable Greek word, timoreo/timoria (Acts 22:5; 26:11; Heb 10:29). Instead he chose the restorative term
kolasis, usually (over) translated as punishment, but which actually carries a connotation of corrective discipline or chastisement.

The Greek word for punish and punishment appears just three times in the NT...... Our common version translates two Greek words, timoreo, "punish", and kalazo, "chastise,: with the same
English word, "punish". Chastising carries the idea of correcting with a view to amendment of one's mistakes, while punishment is penal action. These two words were defined by Aristotle in
his Rhet as,"kolasis is corrective, timoria alone is the satisfaction of the inflictor". Archbishop Trench states in his synonyms of the N.T. "timoria indicates the vindictive character of punishment;
kolasis indicates punishment as it has reference to correcting and bettering the offender.


This view of Kolasis lines up with Gregory of Nyssa's use of the word.


This is taken from the back of my Emphasized Bible.

"On the aionion correction" (Mathew 25:46) no arbitrary limit can be laid - unless indeed the essential nature of - correction - implies it.

Which leads back to the previous discussion of aionos. Most scholars would say that the Greek word aionos could connotate eternity, or an extended period of time depending on it's use in context.

But in this context of Jesus words in Matthew the word aionos would mean a period of time with an end.

There are many Bibles that translate this passage this way. If you do a google search into the most famous of these Bibles you will find that they are almost uniformly considered to the three most
accurate Bibles amongst Christians who are in the know of such things.

For reference they are. the Emphasized Bible, Young's Literal Translation, and the Concordant New Testament.

Here is the Emphasized Bible's translation. "And these shall go away into age-abiding correction, But the righteous into age-abiding life"


Which leads me into how the Bible uses the Hebrew word Olam and it's Greek contemporary aionos.

Take for instance.

1 Cor 10:11 - In greek this says: "ta tele ton AIONION katentekan"

Bibles translate this word as age... the translation being.

"Those upon whom the end of the ages has come"

If Aionion was translated as eternal as it is in the Bibles "hell texts" the translation would be

"Those upon whom the end of the eternity have come"

Which of course doesn't make any sense... how could an eternity have an end.


Next is Ephesians 3:9 (taken from the Concordant Bible)

......And to enlighten all as to what is the administration of the secret (of the Gospel), which has been concealed from the eons (aionos) in God.

Here if the word aionos was translated as eternal he text would be saying that the Gospel is eternally hidden in God. The NIV Bible translates this as age because in the context it can't possibly mean eternal.


Paul goes on to say.

Ephesians 3:10

Who creates all, that now may be known to the sovereignities and the authorities among the celestials, in accord with the purpose of the eons (aionos), which he makes in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Of course this is the text that directly follows Ephesians 3: 9, in which aionos absolutely has to mean ages, yet pick up an N.I.V. bible and you'll see that they translate aionos as eternal in this passage,
even though they translate it as age in 3:9. But yet I don't think that this really makes sense in the context of what Paul is writing. We know that Paul says that the gospel is concealed from the ages,
wouldn't it make sense that in the very next sentence he would be talking about these ages, instead of suddenly changing the meaning of the word to mean eternal?

At the end of Ephesians 3 Paul uses the words aionos again.

Ephesians 3: 21

..... according to the power that is operating in us, to him be glory in the ecclesia and in Christ Jesus for all the generations of the eon (aion) of the eons (aionos).


Here my N.I.V. Bible translates this as for ever and ever, which again doesn't really make sense in the context of Aionos having to mean age in Ephesians 3:9. As well in this passage Paul says "for the
generations of the eon (ages of the eons (ages)". The word generations comes from the word "genea'" which means - A man, considered as a link in the genealogical chain, from his birth to that of a
son, a considerable group or the mass of mankind during such an interval. So therefore generations has a time connotation (as we know in our own culture), which in Ephesians 3:21 would allude to
specific generations (being periods of time) in the age.

Yet in this case if aionos was translated as eternal then Paul would essentially be saying "For all the generations of the eternity of the eternities" . This translation doesn't work on many levels......

1) It doesn't line up with what Paul has already written about the ages in Ephesians 3.

2) If "eternity" is eternal, then an eternity of an eternity (or ever and ever) is impossible.

3) With the above understanding of generations then "generations of the eternity of the eternities" would mean that there will be intervals of time within this eternity of the eternities, and that these periods
of time will be set forth by generations of humans, which of course comes from childbirth. Yet Jesus said that no one will be marrying in the resurrection, therefore it's a pretty safe bet that they won't be having children.

Therefore in Ephesians 3 Paul talks about the generations of this age, which is part of the ages; and the fact that the Gospel has been concealed in the ages before this age, in accord with the purpose of the
ages. I just don't see how aionos can mean eternities in this context.

Translating aionos as eternities in these passages makes no sense.

Now some may say that Paul wasn't meaning generations in the same context as the Bible and cultures have always used it. But here is another scripture where he employs the use of aionos and generations.

Colossians 1:26

... of which I became as dispenser in accord with the administration of God, which is granted to me for you, to complete the word of God - the secret, which has been concealed from the eons (aionos) and from
the generations, yet now was made manifest to his saints.

This scripture clearly put generations in the context of a period of time set forth by generations of humans.

So to put this scripture back to back with the Ephesians scripture.

Ephesians 3:9

......And to enlighten all as to what is the administration of the secret (of the Gospel), which has been concealed from the eons (aionos) in God....... according to the power that is operating in us, to him
be glory in the ecclesia and in Christ Jesus for all the generations of the eon (aion) of the eons (aionos).


One sees that Paul was saying the exact same thing in context to the generations and the ages, only wording it slightly different. Therefore because generations refers to generations in the context
of a period of time set forth by generations of humans in Colossians 1:26 Paul also means this in Ephesians 3:9.

Which proves in several ways that, in context, these verses in the original Greek, must be using the word aionos to refer to age (eon) or ages (eons) and not eternities of the eternities.

So therefore the Greek word aionos describes clearly defined ages which God has created for a purpose .

This also shows that Paul believed in and wrote about these ages and used the term age of the ages
to describe and age which is part of group of ages.

So now one to other examples of Pauls use of the word aion/os

Ephesians 2: 6

... and seats us together among the celestials, in Christ Jesus, that, in the oncoming eons (aionos), He should be displaying the transcendent riches of His grace.

Hebrews 9: 26

......yet now, once, at the conclusion of the eons (aionos), for the repudiation (putting away) of sin through his sacrifice, he is manifest.


So here Paul shows that there are upcoming ages, the conclusion of which involves the putting away of sin, through Christ's sacrifice.
Remember the quote from the Greek speaking father Gregory of Nyssa.

"When evil shall have some day been annihilated in the long revolutions of the ages, nothing shall be left outside the world of goodness but that even from those evil spirits shall rise in harmony the
confession of Christ's lordship. "

This lines up exactly with the above mentioned understanding of Paul's teaching. Gregory of Nyssa
and Origen were Greek reading Christians, reading from the Greek scriptures, they would have understood what the word aionos ment in Paul's writings. Gregory of Nyssa also used the Greek word Kolasis
in the context of corrective chastisment, not punitive torments.

Therefore the divine scriptures in the original Greek taught divine correction in oncoming ages, and not eternal torments, and Gregory of Nyssa's writings give every indication that he new it.

So here's a look at the lake of fire text with the understanding that Paul was talking about aionos in the context of ages, including those to come, where sin would be put away with at the end.

Rev 20: 10

And the Adversary who is deceiving them was cast into the lake of fire and sulphur.....And they shall be tormented day and night for the eons (aionos) of the eons (aionos)

Rev 21:8

Yet the timid, and unbelievers, and the abominable, and murderers....... their part is in the Lake burning with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.



Taken from the book Spiritual Terrorism (page 338)

I have asked many people, clergy and laity, the dictionary definition of the word "brimstone". Only a few, better-educated clergy, have been able to tell me, and only a couple of lay people have
been able to do so. The dictionary definition of "brimstone" an outdated word, is "sulfur."

Sulfur was widely known throughout the ancient world for its medicinal value and fumigation properties according to Douglas' New Bible Dictionary. At the time the Bible was being written, sulfur was
a widely used medication which was taken internally for various ailments. It was used externally to cure body sores. It was burned in sulfur pots to disinfect a home after someone had died there of
an infectious disease. Sulfur was likewise burned to disinfest homes of lice, mice, and other vermin. People used sulfur to purify their produce of disease. Apples were, thus "sulfured" to preserve
them. Sulfur was also burned in religious rituals to symbolize prayers of purification. Every way that sulfur was used had a beneficial meaning.

snip

If this is a literal lake of burning sulfur, any living thing thrown into it would die immediately. That is why some believe that this symbolizes the annihilation of the wicked so that they cease to exist.
At least that makes sense unlike the belief that this symbolizes eternal punishment of all those in this lake of burning sulfur.


Quoted from Charles Pridgeon's scholarly work on the subject of "brimstone". He says:

"the Lake of Fire and Brimstone signifies a fire burning with brimstone; the word "brimstone" or "sulphur" defines the character of the fire.......Sulphur was sacred to the deity among the ancient
Greeks and was used to fumigate, to purify, and to cleanse and consecrate to the deity; for this purpose they burned it in their incense. In Homer's Iliad (16:228), one is spoken of as a purifying
a goblet with fire and brimstone.

The following is taken from the book "Her Gates will never be Shut" (page 91)

Everything we've seen so far in the chapter leads us to the apostles' (Peter and Jude) conclusion: Sodom and Gomorrah are examples of those whose wickedness demands punishment to the full
extent of divine law: 1Pet 2: 6, 9 , Jude 7. I confess that I am still so conditioned to reading through infernalist lenses that my first impression was that we have here two of the clearest cases
of eternal, concious torment in the NT.......This is divine retribution plain, simple, and fatal, serving as a deterrent to all.

However, if we are to be true to the text, we ought not load too many traditional eschatological assumptions onto the front end of these verses.......we could at least say this: as the age of Sodom a
nd Gomorrah ended in flames, so did the second-temple era of Jerusalem, just as it shall for anyone who scoffs at this warning..... The apostolic writers were not describing conscious torment in
the netherword. They were explicit: the unrighteous will perish as these cities did. They are destroyed, reduced to ashes. Annihilated by fire, in history. Traditionally, Sodom's fate was treated as
an earthly type of the echatological lake of fire (hell), but that is not what they Bible says. The cities around the Dead Sea are samples of destruction here an now, over and again, when God gives us
over to the flames, whatever form they may take. The beastly empires and those who worship them have and will fall in sucession into the lake of fire. Ultimately, even death and Hades will be
swallowed up in a judgement that eradicates evil, births the new world, and extends salvation to all - even Sodom.

Most awesome to me is that even after the cinders of Sodom have long cooled, Yahweh prophesies the city's final restoration (Ezek 16: 53 - 55). The profundity of that brief paragraph ought
to extinguish any presumption in our infernalism. Yes, the fire and brimstone comes. Yes there is judgement and destruction. Even a second death in the lake of fire. Ashes, sulfur,
annihilation...... and then - remarkably, miraculously - restoration.



Now back to the early Ante- Nicene Christians.

Clement of Alexandria (taken from "Her Gates Will Never be Shut" - page 121)

Clement's importance, to my mind, is that he clarifies the NT language for "punishment". Clement insists that God's "correction" (paideia - Heb 12:9) and "chastisement" (kolasis - Matt 25:46)
is as a loving father, only an always meant for the healing and salvation of the whole world. He denies that God ever inflicts "punishment" (timoria - Heb 10:29 - vengeance) in the vengeful
sense, a word Jesus never used. Watch how Clement ties judgement to correction with a view to universal redemption.


Clement of Alexandria -

"For all things are arranged with a view to the salvation of the universe by the Lord of the univers, both generally and particularly..... But necessary corrections, through the goodness of the great
overseeing Judge....... by various acts of anticipative judgement, and by the perfect judgement compel egregious sinners to repent (Strom.7.2).

snip

"He, indeed, saves all; but some (He saves) converting them by punishments; others, however, who follow voluntarily (He saves) with dignity of honour; so that every knee should bow to Him, of things in
heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, that is, angels, men and souls that before His advent have departed from this temporal life (Strom. 7.16).

snip


Some Ante-Nicene fathers discreetly, propagated, Christian universalism as something that only mature Christians could accept, as did Gregory Nazianzen and Maximus the Confessor
(Cf. von Balthasa, Dare we Hope?, 63.)

Gregory of Nazianzen - (Voted president of the second great Ecumenical Council by over 100 Bishops, and understood Greek)

"Today salvation has been brought to the universe to whatsoever is visible and whatsoever is invisible...... (today) the gates of Hades are thrown open" (Or xl 11).

"Adam receives death as a gain, and (thereby) the cutting off of sin; that evil should not be immortal: an so the vengeance turns out a kindness, for thus I am of opinion it is that God punishes" (Nazianzen. Orat xl 11).

"....they shall be baptized with fire, that last baptism which consumes all vanity and vice (Orat. xxx1x, 19 - n)


These Ante - Nicene fathers use the word baptize to describe the correction in fire. This is a sacramental language that of course stems from the use of Baptism mentioned in Romans 6: 6 - 7.
Here Baptism is mentioned as being a process that destroys sin and cleanses the person.


The Bible uses a baptismal type cleansing language in describing judgement.


Isaiah 4: 2 - 4

In that day shall the Bud of Yahweh become beautiful and glorious........Everyone written unto life in Jerusalem, When My Lord shall have bathed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, And the blood guiltiness of
Jerusalem he shall wash away out of her midst, - by the Spirit of judgement, and by the Spirit of thorough cleansing.


So my question is..... why would the characteristics of God's judgements and therefore his character change post- mortem.




Moving back to the word aionos. Here is more evidence that it relates to a period of time and not eternity in the scriptures.

1 Corinthians 2:8

... wisdom which has been concealed which God designates, before - before the eons (aionos), for our Glory.

If God designated something before the aionos then there must be something before this, which would make it not eternal, as eternity has no beginning and end.


Heb 1:2

......He appoints enjoyer of the allotment of all, through Whom He also makes the aionos.


If God who is eternal, makes (or made) the aionos then this words means something that obviously had a beginning, and is therefore not eternal.



Here is another argument for the word aionos applying to an age, which comes in the form of a refutation of a common argument for it meaning eternal.


Luke 1:33

......And He (Jesus) will reign over the house of Jacob aionos; and His Kingdom will have no end.


Some have said that the fact that this scripture says that Christ's kingdom has no end, means that the word aionos, in context, must mean eternal.

But here is

1 Cor 15: 24

..... whenever He may be giving up his kingdom to his God and father, whenever He should be nullifying all sovereignity and all authority and power. For He must be reigning until He should be placing
all of his enemies under his feet. The last enemy is being abolished - death.


Here one sees that Christ reigns "until" - meaning the reign eventually ends...... and he gives up his kingdom to God after he abolishes the last enemy being death, which means that the kingdom will not end,
but will continue (after Christ hands it over) under God the father, when God becomes all in all.

Therefore the usage of (aionos) in Luke 1:33 cannot be eternal, because Christ's reign will end.
The word aionos is the plural word, and if not implying eternity must imply ages (aion would imply an age - singular, aionos plural would mean ages.) This means that there must be more than one age in which
Christ will reign, which means that there is at least one age after this one in which he will be reigning, until he hands his reign over to his father. One sees from 1 Cor. 15: 24 - that the purpose of this reign
is to place all of God's enemies under his feet, the last enemy being death. The early fathers
quote above saw this as being done through spiritual correction.



As well the Greek word aion/os is very similar to the Hebrew word Olam, which is used throughout the Old Testament. In the Greek septuigant they use aion/os as the Greek translation for Olam.

In the old Testament the Hebrew word Olam constantly had the connotation of a period of time (unless of course one was to think that Jonah is eternally inside the whale).

Here is a teaching on Olam from the Ancient Hebrew Research Centre (http://www.ancient-h...7_eternity.html).

In the ancient Hebrew mind the past is in front of you while the future is behind you, the opposite way we think of the past and future. The Hebrew word olam means in the far distance. When looking
off in the far distance it is difficult to make out any details and what is beyond that horizon cannot be seen. This concept is the olam. The word olam is also used for time for the distant past or the
distant future as a time that is difficult to know or perceive. This word is frequently translated as eternity or forever but in the English language it is misunderstood to mean a continual span of time
that never ends. In the Hebrew mind it is simply what is at or beyond the horizon, a very distant time. A common phrase in the Hebrew is "l'olam va'ed" and is usually translated as "forever and ever"
but in the Hebrew it means "to the distant horizon and again" meaning "a very distant time and even further" and is used to express the idea of a very ancient or future time.

Here is an online list of the places where Olam (septuigant aion/os) couldn't possibly mean eternity in it's Old Testament usage.


http://www.hopebeyon...bible-mean/

Some quick examples from the list show how faulty translating the word olam as eternal is.



Jonah was in the fish forever [olam] until he left three days later (Jon. 1:17; 2:6).

Sodom’s fiery judgement is eternal [olam] until God returns them to their former state
(Ez. 16:53-55;Ju. 7).

A Moabite is forbidden to enter the Lord’s congregation forever [olam] until the 10th generation
(De. 23:3).

Hills are everlasting [olam] until made low…earth is burned up (Ge. 49:26; De. 33:15; Is. 40:4; 2Pe. 3:10).

Mountains are everlasting [olam] until they are scattered (Hab. 3:6).

A slave serves his master forever [olam] until death ends his servitude (Ex. 21:6).

The Mosaic covenant is everlasting [olam] until it vanishes away (Le. 24:8; He. 8:7-13).

The Aaronic priesthood is everlasting [olam] until the likeness of Melchizedek arises
(Ex. 40:15; Nu.25:13; He. 7:14-22).

These “stones” are to be a memorial forever until (Jos. 4:7)? Where are they now?

The leprosy of Naaman shall cling forever [olam] until his death, of course (2K. 5:27).

God dwells in Solomon’s temple forever [olam] until it is destroyed (2Ch. 7:16; 1K 8:13; 9:3).




As well. Some studies of the words, online.




http://hopebeyondhel...t/Eternity.html


http://www.members.c...ndivided.html#9


http://www.tentmaker...time/index.html


http://www.tentmaker...s/Aion_lim.html


And a chart showing the Bibles use of these words with a refutation of disagreements.


http://www.saviourof...ceptofAion.html





N.T. Wright seems to take a bit of a middle ground when it comes to his understanding of the word aion/os.

"Aionian relates to the Greek aion, which often roughly translates the Hebrew Olam. Some Jews thought of there being two "ages" - ha olam ha-zeh, the present age, and ha olam ha - ba, the age to come.
Aionian punishment and the like would be punishment in the age to come." ("Your Questions to N.T. Wright", para 3)

So for N.T. Wright what ever the punishment means, belongs to the age to come.


If one was to still insist that the Greek words aion/os or Olam mean eternal then one would have to look at these scriptures in the light of eternity.

Ps. 136 - Where we read (twenty six times) that God's faithful love "endures forever".

Ps 103: 9

He will not .... harbour his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve, or repay us according to our iniquities.

(So he certainly won't repay us for more than our iniquities deserve under the law, which an eternal hell would mean).

Isa 54: 8

In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you, says the Lord your Redeemer.


So, if according to strong amount of evidence, the word aionos refers to a period of time in it's Biblical usage, then the Bible doesn't even touch on eternal torments, but instead age-abiding correction.
Yet even if aionos did refer to eternity there is a definite Biblical hope that God can and will relent from these punishments.



















SDG said:

Nothing in the NT offers any hope that such repentance is possible. And if it were, would it also be possible for those in heaven to repent of having served God and go the other way? If the one, why not the other?



Well..... there is the Abrahamic Covenant



In the covenant God made with Abraham he promised to bless everyone of Abraham's heritage (the nations) through the seed (Christ).

The new covenant is linked to, melded with, came over, the Abrahamic covenant (according to whatever ones theology would be on the subject). But needless to say, that Christ is the
seed mentioned in the Abrahamic covenant.

I'm sure you know these things, but in order to help convey what I'm getting at. Here is the covenant.

Genesis 19: 2 - 3

That I may make you into a great nation, and bless you, and make great your name, and become to you a blessing.
That I may bless them that bless you. But him that makes light of you will I curse.

So shall be blessed in you all of the families (nations) of the ground.


Part of this covenant is conditional, but the part that says that all of the families of the ground is not. It is an unconditional covenant.

Genesis 22: 18 says........ So shall all of the nations of the earth be blessed in thy seed (being of course Jesus.)


You see many theologians look at this covenant and say. Oh Jesus' death on the cross was a blessing for the nations in that the free gift is now open to all who want it. Or they say...
Oh that means that God has promised to save at least some people out of every nation on the earth.


But that's not what the following passage says.


Acts 3: 19, 24 - 26

But indeed all of the prophets - From Samuel and those following after, as many as have spoken, have announced even these days. You are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant
which God covenanted unto your fathers, saying in Abraham. And in thy seed shall be blessed all of the families (nations) of the ground..

Unto you first (being of course the Jews) God has raised up his servant - Has sent him forth ready to bless you, When you turn away, each one, from his wickedness (repent.)



Therefore in the Abrahamic covenant, God has covenanted to bless everyone in Christ Jesus, and this blessing happens after repentance to Jesus (when they fall under the new covenant.)

If God was to give up on or walk away from the Abrahamic covenant he would essentially be committing divorce. So therefore he has to bring all of the nations of the earth into repentance in
order to bless them, this first being offered to the Jews.

Some would say, oh that means that only some people from the nations will repent. But look closely, when he is talking to the Jews (being a nation) he says... when you turn away each one from
his wickedness. If he means every single person within the Jewish nation, then he obviously means every single person within the other nations as well.


Galatians 3: 9

Know consequently that those of faith, these are sons of Abraham. Now the scriptures perceiving that God is justifying the nations by faith, brings before, a message to Abraham,
that in you shall all the Nations be blessed. So those with faith are being blessed.


In other words God has made a blood covenant that every single person in the nations will, receive a blessing, after coming to repentance to Jesus Christ. This blessing comes with
these people being justified by faith, as those with faith are being blessed. God can not back out on this covenant, otherwise that would essentially mean he has committed divorce
(divorce is the breaking of a covenant.)

Therefore he has to, and is going to eventually, bring all people to repentance (without affecting their free will), which of course means eternal life.


Now one could say..... that people can choose not do their part to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant, so God doesn't have to do his part in this covenant.

But he didn't make the covenant with us. He made it with Abraham, who is the only possible person that could ever do anything to break this covenant....... And he's dead.




The judgements in Revelation are a judgement of sin, but they are also God shepherding the nations because of the Abrahamic covenant. These judgements also
have the purpose of bringing people to repentance, just as the judgements in the books of the prophets. As mentioned above repentance and faith comes before God's blessing.

This is where the End Times movement has gone the furthest astray, I think. They don't seem to have any concept of these things.

Rev 9: 20 - 21

..... and the rest of mankind who were not killed of the calamities repent not..... and they repent not of their murders.


Rev 12: 5

..... and she brought forth a son, a male, who is about to be shepherding all the nations with an iron club.


So these judgements are Jesus still shepherding the nations, meaning he hasn't given up on the nations that he has promised to bless.


Rev. 7: 9 - 17

.... and Lo. A Vast throng which no one was able to number, out of every Nation and out of the tribes and peoples, and languages, standing before the throne, and before the Lamb.....
and they are crying with a loud voice saying, "Salvation be our God's,...... and the Lamb's.".........and one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These clothed in white robes, who are
they and whence came they?"....... and he said to me..... "These are those coming out of the great affliction". And they rinse their robes, and they whiten them in the blood of the Lamb........

.......the throne centred Lamb shall be shepherding them (being the people of the nations), and shall be guiding them to living springs of water, and every tear shall he be brushing away from their eyes.



This happens to those who are coming out of the great affliction, and in context, what else could the great affliction possibly be, but end times judgements. There those who have been brought to
repentance through judgement are then blessed according to the promise God made with Abraham.


The Bible indicates that it is Godly behaviour to bless those who persecute you, so therefore doesn't it make sense that God would be working to bless those who persecute him.







the "Lake of fire "and the "City of God"


Revelation 21:1

".... and I perceived a new heaven and a new earth for the former heaven has passed away and the sea is no more. And I perceived the Holy City Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God.

Revelation 21: 22

For the city has no need for the sun and the moon.


So from this one knows that after the final judgement Christians are placed into the City of God (or are the city of God), in a future time, after the earth as we know it has been destroyed and the sun
and moon are no more.

We also know from Rev. 20: 13 - 15 ,that the unrepentant in this life, are at this time in the lake of fire.

So at this point the goats have been separated from the sheep.


But now, look at Rev 21: 23 - 27. this text clearly says that people will walk into the City of God (being Christians), which exists at a time after the heaven and Earth have been destroyed and the sun and moon
are no more. Which means that people will be able to, and will be, walking into the City of God in the afterlife.

As well, by this time there are only two camps of people, being the goats in the lake of fire, and the sheep in the heavenly city. Those who believe in eternal hell believe this.

So with this in mind my question is who are the people walking into the City in Rev 21; 24 - 25 and where are they coming from. They of course have to be coming from the "lake of fire" because at this point it
is the only other place that is left. People can't be walking from the City of God into the City of God.

Rev 21: 27 says that no one will walk into the City except those who are written in the Lambskin's scroll of life, and we know that one gets written into the scroll of life when they repent and become a Christian.
So therefore those who are judged and thrown into the lake of fire, not having been written in the scroll of life, will eventually be written into this scroll upon repentance and will walk into the City of God in
righteousness, seeing as Rev. 21: 29 says that no evil - doers will be allowed into the city.


References to Isaiah in Rev. 21

In the New Testament there are many references to the prophet Isaiah, which usually highlight some prophecy that was fulfilled by Jesus. Matthew's gospel frequently demonstrated how Jesus became the fulfillment
of Isaiah's messianic prophecies, however the Gospel writers frequently quoted from Isaiah, as did Paul.

With the exception of the book of Psalms, no other Old Testament book is quoted or referred to more often in the New Testament than Isaiah. Thirty one of Isaiah's sixty - six chapters are quoted in the New Testament.
The favourite chapter of Isaiah is Isaiah 53, which prophesies of the suffering servant or Messiah, being Jesus.

The favourite use of Isaiah by Matthew, when he quoted from the prophet, began with "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying......" This phrase was used to introduce verses from Isaiah
giving prophetic evidence for Jesus.

As well Isaiah 40:3 is used in all four gospel accounts as both a prophecy about the prophet John's ministry and a deeper teaching on what he was saying when he said "prepare ye the way of the lord" (Matthew 3:3)

In Matthew 13: 14 - 15 Jesus specifically referred to Isaiah 6: 9 - 10 in his teaching.

In Jesus' teaching on Jerusalem and the last days he borrowed some phrases from Isaiah 13:10 about the sun being darkened and the moon not giving her light as one of the signs of the times (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13: 24.)

In summary in the New Testament, writers had a tradition of using the prophecies in Isaiah. Jesus used Isaiah passages as he taught, referencing quotes to support and verify his teachings. The New Testament writers
also showed that the Isaiah texts were prophetic, in regards to aspects of Christ and his kingdom.


Possibly one of the New Testament texts that has the most references to Isaiah is the afore mentioned
Rev: 21.

Now read Isaiah 61 and you will surely notice that these scriptures are using the exact same language and context as Rev: 21. Isaiah 61 is talking about the nations that have been judged in the "day of the lord" which is
mentioned in Isaiah 13. As touched on before the Isaiah text is a deeper teaching on the Revelation text that references it.

Have a look at how Rev. 21 references Isaiah 61


Rev 21: 23 - 27

And the nations shall be walking by means of it's light, and the kings of the earth are carrying their glory into it.

Isaiah 61: 1- 3

Arise - shine For thy light has come. And the Glory of Yahweh on you (Jerusalem) has beamed. For lo! Darkness covered the earth, And deep gloom the people - But on you beams Yahweh, And his glory
on you is seen. So shall nations come to your light And Kings to the brightness of your dawning.



Rev. 21

And it's gates should under no circumstances be locked by day; for there shall be no night there. And they shall be carrying the glory and the honour of the nations into it.


Isaiah 61: 11

So will your gates be open continually. Neither day nor night shall they be shut - That they may bring unto you the riches of the nations, and their kings be led.



Rev 21:

And the city has no need of the sun nor of the moon, that they should be appearing in it, for the glory of God illuminates it, and it's lamp is the Lambkin.


Isaiah 61:18

Violence shall no more be heard in you land, Wasting nor destruction within your boundaries, - But you will call your walls victory and your gates praise. You will no more have the sun for light by day, Neither for brightness will the moon give light to you, - but Yahweh will become your age - abiding light. And God your adorning. Nor more shall go in you sun, Nor your moon withdraw itself, - For Yahweh will become to you, an age-abiding light, So shall be ended the days of you mourning. And your people shall all of them be righteous.........That I may get myself glory.




Here we see that Rev 21 makes nearly exact references to Isaiah 61 and Isaiah 61 is talking about the nations coming into the city through the gates that are always open, upon repentance after being judged. Therefore this is the meaning for text in Rev 21.

As well here is a prophetic statement in the Psalms.


Psalm 118: 19 - 21

Yah chastened me sore, But unto death did not deliver me.

Open to me the gates of righteousness, I will enter therein, I will give thanks unto Yah. This is the gate for Yahweh, Such as are righteous shall enter therein, I will thank you because you have answered me, And have become my salvation.


Rev: 21

And the nations shall be walking by means of it's light, and the kings of the earth are carrying their glory into it. And it's gates should under no circumstances be locked by day; for there shall be no night there. And they shall be carrying the glory and the honour of the nations into it, and under no circumstances may anything contaminating, or one who is making an abomination and a lie be entering into it, except those written in the Lambkins scroll of life.


There are also references in the other prophetic books in regards to walking into the city through it's gates, being related to repentance after judgement.


It is clear from this, that Revelation 21 is talking about the people of the nations repenting and walking into the City of God (New Jerusalem), through its gates that are always open, after being judged in the "lake of fire".

This shows a fulfillment of the promise that God covenanted with Abraham.

God has covenanted himself to the human race through Abraham, and in this covenant he will not give up on us or forsake us, and he will not fail us.









All in ALL


1 Cor 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........ For he must be reigning until He should be placing All His enemies under his feet..... FOr He subjects all under His feet.......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.


Some would say that 1 Cor. 15: 23,23 teaches that the All in Adam who are dying are all of humanity, and the All in Christ who will be made alive are not the same All that was in Adam,
but only people in Christ, (meaning Christians and not the rest of humanity), therefore saying that in this verse the two "versions" of All do not mean the same group of people.

Thus in their minds.

All who are dying in Adam = all of humanity who belong to Adam
All who are being made alive in Christ = only those of humanity who accept Christ in this life

But yet look further down in the text where Paul says that Christ must be reigning until he is placing all his enemies under his feet. In this instance the All who are mentioned cannot
be relating just to Christians, because Christians have already been reconciled to God and are not his enemies.

1 Cor 15: 26

For he must be reigning until he shall be placing all of his enemies under his feet. For he subjects all under his feet.........Now whenever all may be subjected to him, then the son himself
shall be subjected to him, Who subjects all to him that God may be All in All.


Here then it's clear that the all includes Christ's enemies therefore meaning all people. These, are subjected to God that he will be All in All. Also this must mean a loving subjection, because this
texts understanding of all being subjected to God, includes Christ being subjected to him.

Now the All who are God's enemies has to include unrepentant humans in this life, otherwise it wouldn't be All of God's enemies. So these unrepentant humans will eventually be part of this loving
subjection, and part of the All in All.

As shown the enemies mentioned here cannot be Christians, therefore they cannot be in the same class as "those who are in Christ's presence". So now this scripture is talking about three classes
who will be made alive, one of those being Christ's enemies (the unrepentant.)

1 Cor 15: 23 - 24

In Adam all are dying thus also in Christ all shall be made alive, yet each in his own class:
1) the firstfruit, Christ
2) thereupon those who are Christ's in his presence
3) Thereafter the end........for he must be reigning until he places all of his enemies under his feet.

So when the scripture says that through Adam all die, and in Christ all will be made alive, the all who are being made alive include each class, one of these being Christ's enemies (the unrepentant), and is therefore everyone.

So the All who are dying is everyone in Adam, and the All who are being made alive, is going to eventually be every one of these people, but in Christ.

Once every single person is subjected to Christ, he will give up his reign and God will be All in All.

In this passage, when Paul was talking about all he clearly meant ALL. So when these scriptures say that Jesus subjects All to God that God may be All in All, this means every single person that ever lived will eventually be lovingly subjected to God, through Christ.

If someone is being eternally tormented in Hell then they still have rejected Christ, are not being subjected to God, and are most certainly not part of God's All in All.




In order to add weight to this Paul's understanding of All here is.

Ephesians 1: 7 - 11

In whom we are having the deliverance through his blood, the forgiveness of offenses in accord with the riches of his grace....... making known to us the secret of his will to have an administration of the fullness of the times,
to head up ALL in the Christ both that in the heavens and that on the earth in him. Whom our lot was cast also.


The words "head up" comes from the Greek word "Anakephal ai o o" which means to "gather into one".

According to this there are several points to make from the above passage of scripture.

1) All can't mean a select group that Christ has died to save, because he died for every living person.


2) If ALL meant just Christians (in this life), then Paul's text would be saying that God's will for the administration for the fullness of the times was for Christians to gather together into one, Christians (all) in the Christ.

When thought through this makes no sense. Why would Christians need to gather together Christians into one in the Christ. The very fact of being a Christian means that one is already in Christ.

One possible explanation could be that Paul was talking about different groups or factions of Christians, hoping to draw them into one group in Christ.

But in Ephesians 1:1 it shows that Paul is including "all of the Saints" in this writing. He isn't talking to or about separate groups or factions of Christianity.

In Ephesians 1:22 Paul says.

"..... rousing him from among the dead and seating Him at His right hand among the celestials, up over every sovereignty and authority and power and lordship, and every name that is names, not only in the eon (aion),
but also in that which is impending: and subjects ALL under his feet, and gives him, as Head over All to the ecclesia, which is His body, the complement of the One completing the ALL in ALL.


The first thing to notice is Paul's use of the word aion in context. If he had meant aion to mean "eternal" then he would have been saying....."not only in the eternity, but also in that which is impending". Which makes no
sense. Here Paul speaks of this age, which we know has an end (because he mentions an impending age)...... and then he mentions the age that is impending. If, in context he thought that this age has an end, and then
makes mention of one to come, then it just stands to reason that he would think that the age to come would have an end as well.

The second thing to glean from Ephesians 1:22. is that, in context, the ALL can't just be "all who are in Christ", otherwise the text would be saying......"and subjects Christians (All) under his feet, And gives as head over
Christians (All) to the Christians (ecclesia), which is His body, the complement of the one, completing the All in Christians (All).

Which is more or less a bunch of senseless gobledeygook.


But if ALL means "every human being" he then would be saying. ".....And subjects every human being (ALL) under his feet, and gives Christ as head over everybody (ALL) to the Ecclesia (called out Christians who have been
subjected to Christ), which is his body, the complement of the one, completing the ALL in ALL.

This makes perfect sense, in light of the great commission. God is calling the body of Christ to bring ALL other people to Christ. Eventually everybody will be subjected to Christ and God will be ALL in ALL.

Edited by Attica, 08 May 2011 - 12:55 AM.


#116 Darrel Manson

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 08:57 PM

Hi SDG. Here are some of my responses and thoughts, unfortunately some of the replies have become rather lengthy.

Better late than never as they say. :)

Let me just say, Wow!

Edited by Darrel Manson, 07 May 2011 - 08:57 PM.


#117 Attica

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 08:59 PM

Ryan H said:


:Big "if." As far as I'm concerned, the trichotomist understanding of the human person is on exceedingly shaky ground.




I suppose that might depend on the views of the tradition one is in. In my circles I have never heard anything but that understanding.

As well..... that is what the Ante-Nicence Christians that I quoted thought. So this at least shows that the Athanasius creed had a different
view on the human person than at least some of the Holy fathers.



:Shaky interpretation of this term. The idea that the Spirit "blows where he will" more or less signifies that he does his own thing and is beyond the control out of outside influences, not that he changes, per se.



I had said that he doesn't change........ but this scripture does imply a change in what Holy Spirit is doing, which I think he obviously does when I see what God is doing in the world. You had said yourself that he does his own thing.




:It's not conclusive, but it strikes me as a plausible option given Luke's audience.



As I had mentioned.... the Bible indicates that Luke's audience, at the time he said the parable, would have understood what Hades ment.


It's a stretch.

Edited by Attica, 07 May 2011 - 09:01 PM.


#118 Ryan H.

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 09:08 PM

In my circles I have never heard anything but that understanding.

Because it goes hand-in-hand with the theological tradition that seems to have strongly influenced you. Nevertheless, this POV is a strong minority position, both in the eye of history and in terms of the current Christian landscape, and for good reason: it suggests the scriptures that speak to spirit/body say something more definite than they actually say. It's a hermenutical misstep, the equivalent of reading the poetic imagery in the Psalms as descriptions of actual reality.

So this at least shows that the Athanasius creed had a different view on the human person than at least some of the Holy fathers.

Naturally. But just because such diversity existed doesn't mean that later consensus was wrong. After all, let's not forget that it was consensus that eventually shaped the Biblical canon.

I had said that he doesn't change........ but this does imply a change in what Holy Spirit is doing. You had said yourself that he does his own thing.

"Doing your own thing" doesn't mean that you change. It means that you operate according to your own will, which may or may not be unchanging. This is precisely what the wind imagery suggests.

As I had mentioned.... the Bible would indicate that Luke's audience, at the time he said the parable, would have understood what Hades ment.

Your arguments are unconvincing, because they don't take into account that this was a text written to Theophilus. What the disciples would have understood by "Hades" is immaterial. The question is what would Theophilus, depending on who Theophilus was, would have understood by "Hades."

Edited by Ryan H., 07 May 2011 - 09:14 PM.


#119 Attica

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 09:08 PM


Hi SDG. Here are some of my responses and thoughts, unfortunately some of the replies have become rather lengthy.

Better late than never as they say. :)

Let me just say, Wow!







Did you get the impression that I don't believe hell is eternal. :azzangel:

#120 Attica

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 09:16 PM

Ryan H said:

:Because it goes hand-in-hand with some of the theological ideas you espouse. Nevertheless, this POV is a strong minority position, and for right reason: it suggests the scriptures that speak to spirit/body say something more specific than they actually say.



There are lots of people who don't believe in universalism that believe in a trinitarian view of the human. This belief is not just in the traditions that I have walked,
and I would think it is not a a strong minority position.




:Naturally. But just because such diversity existed doesn't mean that later consensus was wrong.



I agree.




:"Doing your own thing" doesn't mean that you change. It means that you operate according to your own will.



I agree with that as well. I'm talking about change in the sense that the resurrected Christ would have changed. I don't mean
a change in character, but he did have to have some sort of change in order to adjust to his surroundings ect.





:Your arguments are unconvincing, because they don't take into account that this was a text written to Theophilus. What the disciples would have understood
by "Hades" is immaterial. The question is what would Theophilus, depending on who Theophilus was, would have understood by "Hades."


Okay.... you might have a point there :)

Edited by Attica, 07 May 2011 - 10:35 PM.