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The dilemma of Jonah
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TOPIC: The dilemma of Jonah

The dilemma of Jonah 1 year, 7 months ago #4057

  • Watt
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The Bible contains almost zero evidence supporting the notion of eternal torment. I have convinced of that. However, I struggle between believing that God will annihilate unbelievers, or that all will eventually repent. I won't revisit the arguments here, but I do want to throw out an idea that I haven't often heard discussed.

This was the message Jonah delivered to Ninevah, "Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown" No if's, and's, or but's.

In the last chapter, as Jonah was whining to God, he said this, "I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity." He clearly is saying that he knew all along that God might refrain from actually destroying Ninevah.

Multiple other times in the Bible, God says something like, "I'm going to destroy such and such". However, when 'such and such' repents, God relents from doing what he said he was going to do.

In my mind, the majority of Scriptural passages seem to indicate that unbelievers will be annihilated. However, if those unbelievers were given the opportunity to repent, then it would be consistent with God's previous behavior to accept their repentance and forgive them.

Even if there is compelling evidence that God has threatened annihilation to unbelievers, there always remain the possibility that God will grant mercy to any that repent.

The only way to argue against this it to find a scripture that unambiguously states that death is the final opportunity for repentance. I know of no such verse.
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Re: The dilemma of Jonah 1 year, 7 months ago #4062

  • LP Dion
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For what it's worth, I believe Jonah actually died during his ordeal. I believe the mariner's sacrifice was Jonah himself. This would strengthen the connection Jesus made to 'the sign of Jonah'.

I guess, in retrospect, and following the OP's line of thought, if Ninevah could be saved after Jonah was raised from the dead, just maybe one greater than Jonah could save the world by His death and resurrection.
Last Edit: 1 year, 7 months ago by LP Dion.

Re: The dilemma of Jonah 1 year, 7 months ago #4065

  • Mcgragor
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Watt said- (In my mind, the majority of Scriptural passages seem to indicate that unbelievers will be annihilated. However, if those unbelievers were given the opportunity to repent, then it would be consistent with God's previous behavior to accept their repentance and forgive them.

Even if there is compelling evidence that God has threatened annihilation to unbelievers, there always remain the possibility that God will grant mercy to any that repent.

The only way to argue against this it to find a scripture that unambiguously states that death is the final opportunity for repentance. I know of no such verse.)


I would think that all of the verses about the death of the wicked whether you place them in the CI or ECT category pretty much say what you think is lacking here.

But, even if one were to concede that you have a point, the lack of a verse to support a view I think would be strong support that such a view does not exist.

What I see happening with UR seems to be extreme reaching by first over literalizing the word "All" or similar language when the context clearly demands the opposite and taking the few verses that could possibly be used to support UR and having them trump the 100's of verses to the contrary.

I have a Pastor friend and he and I have discussed things similar to this using what we call "the brick wall analogy".

If you have a verse that supports something that would count as one brick. One that seems to contradict that support or that you are not sure would fit without a lot of "squeezing", that would be a brick.

So you start building your walls and what ends up happening is the sound doctrine is a huge wall of perhaps 100's of bricks and the opposing view has a few bricks that simply cannot be explained. Now, do you allow the few verses to trump an entire clear doctrine or do you rest in what you know for sure and continue to study and work out what isn't so sure?

Sometimes the opposing views are stronger. For instance I am a calvinist, but the wall of free-will is actually pretty good size, so I like to tell people that the ultimate truth behind God's Providence and man's responsibility is a mystery, but ultimately its all rooted in Providence, so we must be careful not to put the cart before the horse..

Other issues have tiny walls of opposition. For instance, baptismal regeneration-does it save you literally? I got more on this, but for the sake of time, the answer is no and that's because it only has a few bricks, one of them being Acts 2:38.

And so with UR,I see a few bricks and that's it and many of them are from the over literalizing I mentioned before.

If I said the "whole town came out last night for the fireworks", everyone knows I didn't mean literally every single living soul in the entire town. They understand that, by normal language usage.

If I said "All of God's creation is beautiful" on a bright sunny day, everyone knows that I wouldn't be contradicting myself to say that tornadoes ripping through a neighborhood are horrible, even though both the pretty day and the wicked storm are both created by God and part of His creation.

I see the UR's taking a statement like what I said about God's creation being beautiful and demanding that since I used the word "All", that no matter what, all of creation must be beautiful at all times no matter the context, always

Just my thoughts on some of this and like Sherman likes to say- and I agree, l could be wrong and expect I am on many things. I'll just add, that is what makes me lean on Christ even more.
Last Edit: 1 year, 7 months ago by Mcgragor.

! 1 year, 7 months ago #4068

  • Sherman
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You are correct in that there is no scripture that denies the possibility of post-mortem repentance and salvation. Is there any scriptural evidence of Post-mortem salvation? I think so. In fact, I see the story of Jonah as a good example of such. After being cast into the ocean during a storm that scared the crap out of experienced sailors, Jonah quickly drowned and from Sheol (grave, realm of the dead) in torment he cried out to God and God saved him giving him a 2nd chance. Jonah had a "near death experience". He drowned and was dead for three days and God raised him from the dead and gave him another chance because he had repented while dead.

This reminds me of other NDEs where the person died, experienced a hellish reality, repented, cried out to God and was resurrected, changed and saved. What was the hellish reality they experienced while for all accounts physically dead? I think it was the full reality of this present evil age. In this Present Evil Age (PEA) people are oppressed by evil from within and without, even potentially tormented by evil spirits. But we do not fully experience the spiritual reality of this PEA because we have a physical body that acts somewhat as a buffer between us and the cold/hot reality of the spiritual reality of this Present Evil Age. When a person dies he comes into the full reality of whatever kingdom he's a part of. If he's still in the kingdom of darkness, he experiences the full reality of this and instinctually cries out to God who saves him revealing Jesus to him.

Concerning eternal judgment, it is a spiritual reality that we can now embrace but will most certainly experience when we die, whether we are believers or not. And that judgment will burn the hell out of us, delivering us from evil, for our God is a consuming fire.

Well, just some of my crazy thoughts, like believing all means all, unless clearly meant as an overstatement. To me, some passages can be interpreted either way, but some seem to mean exactly what it says. Like Rom.5:18 where Paul compares the universal affect of the sin of Adam, vs. the universal affect of the sacrifice of Christ. Or Col. 1:20 where "all" is emphasized by saying "whether in heaven or on earth", and the word reconciliation recognizes that there is currently enmity between God and some of creation. But it was the purpose of God to reconcile all of creation to himself through Jesus in whom "all" the fullness of God dwelt. So to me there is nothing in the literary context, especially the immediate literary context, of such passages to suggest that "all" was meant to be hyperbole, overstatement, or a generality not meant to be taken literally. And with God being good (love) and sovereign, UR just makes sense to me like 1+1=2. If salvation is completely a work of grace and God loves everyone and everything, then the natural outflow would be all being reconciled to God. Being I believe that 1a) God is love and thus loves everyone and that 1b) God is sovereign (that it is God who saves us and not our right choice(s)) then it makes sense to me that 2) Jesus really is savior of "all" as scripture declares Him to be!

Concerning the death and destruction passages, these primarily reference the death and destruction we experience in this life, but also allude to the destruction of all evil in the life to come. But ultimately every knee bows in worship and every tongue joyfully proclaims allegiance to God. Shoot, Isaiah even prophecies a day when the child will play in the snakes den and the snake will be on the holy mountain! What a powerful picture of ultimate reconciliation completely reversing the result of sin in Eden part of which was "enmity" between the offspring of Eve and the serpent. When I first saw this it blew my mind and I've never been the same since! A complete reversal of the effects of the sin of the serpent, Adam, and Eve! Wow!

Also, concerning Post-mortem salvation, note that Peter mentions Jesus preaching to the spirits in prison, those who died during the time of Noah, the most wicked of all generations to date. Jesus preached the Gospel to them so that they might have life! 1 Pet. 3:18 - 4:6. And they experienced judgment so that they might have life. Cool huh! If one takes it literally.

Re: The dilemma of Jonah 1 year, 7 months ago #4072

  • Singalphile
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I pretty much agree, Watt.

Like others above, I have speculated that if the wicked/lost are conscious in the so-called intermediate state, then they could perhaps humbly call out to God during that time and be saved. If not then, then when everyone is raised and stands before God for judgment, perhaps some can throw themselves on His mercy at that time.

Jesus talked about those scenarios at least twice (arguably) in Luke 16 (Rich man/Lazarus) and Matt 25 (sheep/goat parable), and in both cases, the wicked/lost were able to speak and make a case, as it were. Granted, it doesn't turn out well for them in those parables, but it might for others, I suppose

So I think it's possible, perhaps even probable, that there will be some post-mortem salvation, however, I think it's unlikely that there will be post-judgment/"hell" salvation (for obvious reasons since I lean heavily towards annihilationism, like most here).

In any case, I don't think it will be without regard for how we've lived and responded to God in this life.
"Singalphile" - Name chosen (hastily) to indicate being on a narrow path, pursuing the love of God. Male, upper-30's, USA.
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