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*Eternal* punishment?
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TOPIC: *Eternal* punishment?

Re: *Eternal* punishment? 2 weeks, 6 days ago #5132

  • webb
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Timothew wrote:
They say that eternal means aionian, whcih means "pertaining to the age". So eternal punishment is punishment pertaining to the age of punishment. When that age is completed, the sin will be burnt away and the perfected person goes to God. I've said what they say as well as I could. I have a problem with this doctrine though because it leaves the sacrifice of Jesus Christ completely out. If I can have salvation by going through hell, then salvation is not by faith in Jesus Christ. It's almost like having faith in hellfire.
I would say a number of things based on the model of eternal punishment being age-long punishment:

1. Those not found worthy of a resurrection to incorruptible life at Christ's coming in glory don't go through "hell," if that means the lake of fire. They go to or stay in Hades.

2. You don't burn away sin through punishment. A person who refuses to receive and/or to extend the grace of God's forgiveness in Christ may be handed over to the lex talionis--so that the pain they caused to others and refused to repent of and forgive others of ended up being done to them. That doesn't burn away sins any more than the suffering of a prison sentence makes people come out law abiding on the other side. If people want to repent and receive grace and forgiveness while in the prison of Hades, good for them. The blood Jesus Christ shed on the cross does not have a shelf life.

3. Even on the model that people who suffer in Hades (or even the lake of fire) can be saved, they are not saved by atoning for their own sins. If they are saved, they are saved by the "redemption that is in Christ Jesus," who, if it were not for his grace, could have and would have simply expunged them from creation. But "in Christ all are made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22), and "all who are in the tombs will hear his voice, and those who hear will live" (Jn 5:25). That they should be given resurrection at all is down to the grace of God.

4. I am not a universalist, but if I were, I would deny that I had "faith in hellfire." I would affirm that I had faith that God would not bring a created being with the potential for everlasting life into existence unless he had a plan to bring that being into its potential. Just as some convert at a young age and some at an old age, so, in the afterlife some will convert after even longer--but not because their sins are washed away by fire or because God has essentially tortured them into compliance. It will be (on the universal salvation theory) because every being has their own process, and that's between them and God.
Last Edit: 2 weeks, 6 days ago by webb. Reason: misspe
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Re: *Eternal* punishment? 2 weeks, 6 days ago #5133

  • Sherman
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Andrew32 wrote:
Sherman wrote:
Most words have multiple meanings and nuances, so one needs to determine the meaning by the context. The phrase "eternal punishment" is only used in one place in scripture that I'm aware of, Mat. 25.46. Aionian is used to modify kolasis. And kolasis would best be interpreted as chastisement, which is punishment with a remedial purpose. This fits the previous metaphor of the shepherd separating the kids from the flock.

Oh, that's right, not many people notice that the issue in both examples given is maturity. In the metaphor of the shepherd the word mistranslated as Sheep is probaton which actually references any small 4-legged animal. And shepherds in that area typically herd sheep, goats, donkeys, and, if the owner is rich enough, small cattle. The shepherd separates out the eriphos, the kids, the young goats from his flock; he is not separating out the goats from the flock, but the kids from the flock. Why does a shepherd separate out the kids from the flock? He does it so that he can train them which often involved chastisement. Goats by nature are very independent and need training so that they will listen to the shepherd and be able to function as a healthy part of the flock. And goats are just as valuable as sheep. They herd them together because they eat different plants and can feed off the same location without competing.

The other example given are socially immature people, people who do not even see the needs of others around them, much less meet those needs. Socially immature people are self-centered and they too need disciplining so that they can become mature members of the family and society.

It is also significant to note that Jesus is warning of the judgment of the nations, ethnos. This typically refers to the non-Jews, and usually, I think, speaks of groups of people, though it can speak of individuals also. And this judgment is based on how the nations treat "the least of these my brothers"; who is Jesus referring to here? From the literary context Jesus could be talking about the Jews who would be scattered to the nations again; this perspective calls to mind God's promise to bless those who bless the Jews and curse those who curse the Jews, children of Abraham. Or Jesus could be identifying with his followers, especially those who would be persecuted because of Him. Or Jesus could be identifying with the poor and needy of society highlighting how nations that do not take care of the poor will be judged. Or Jesus could be talking about all of the above perspectives -- Groups/Individuals and Jews/Poor/Believers.

So when God judges groups or individuals, his judgment is for their good, like a shepherd that separates out the kids from the flock for chastisement. Now in that context, neither endless nor final seem to me to fit. So what does "aionian" mean? I think it was a means of referencing that which comes from God, that which is spiritual, not physical. It was "aionian" fire that destroyed Sodom, and Hebrews notes that it is aionian judgment that we shall all face. The Judgment that Jesus is speaking of is judgment and chastisement from God, whether that be in this life or the life to come. The phrasing is non-specific because the point of the passage is to call us all to repentance and maturity, especially in how we treat the Jews, the poor, and one another. And btw, Jesus says that aionian life is "knowing the father". It's not about length, but about source and quality.



Sherman,

Do you know of a source for the information in paragraph 2 regarding the kids, goats, and shepherding...particularly in ancient times?

Also do you happen to know the verse in Hebrews which speaks of aionian judgment of Christians? A simple google search doesn't turn it up easily... I'll look more if you don't happen to know.


Andrew, I'm sorry but I don't have a source for shepherds separating out the kids from the flock in ancient times. I've read it somewheres but don't recall where. Eriphos meaning kids and probaton meaning small 4 legged animal is verifiable in many sources. The separation was one of maturity not one of kind.

Being raised on a ranch I understand the importance of training animals while they are young, especially goats. Goats are very independant. Sheep naturally follow the herd. In order for a goat to work as a well functioning part of the flock he must be trained and to do so one would separate him out from the flock as a kid and do so when he/she is young.

No commentaries that I know of focus on the separation based on maturity, but based on kind. But the separation is based on maturity. I wish others had noted this, but sadly such doesn't fit the majority tradition perspective, so it's traditionally thought of as a separation of kind.

Hebrews 6:2 is the "eternal judgment" passage.

Concerning aionian, I think it was a means of referencing that which comes from God, that which has to do with the spiritual realm. Thus aionian judgment, fire, punishment, life is that which comes from God, has to do with the kingdom of God. It is life from God, judgment from God, fire from God, life from God.
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Re: *Eternal* punishment? 2 weeks, 6 days ago #5134

  • jeremiah
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Hey Webb.

I'm pretty sure the majority of UR advocates I'm aware of would say you hit the nail on the head. Excepting number one, but only because I'm not sure what you're saying there.

I imagine a big cause for confusion when people speak of purifying fire is the vast difference between what we envision and our expression of the sight. UR advocates spend a lot of time (myself included) just trying to demonstrate the reasonable plausibility of redemption from hell, that very little time if any is afforded to explaining clearly what we imagine the torments of hell will be like. I trust they won't be much different than the godborne moral forces we experience now in our formation as disciples of Jesus. During which chastisement, one might tell of the anguish involved in struggling against sin, but at the end, it is for our good. I mean this as a parallel only, for naturally the sinner in hell must first be brought to see his need for help and life offered to him by his father.

Anyway brother, grace and peace to you man.
Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.
Last Edit: 2 weeks, 6 days ago by jeremiah.

Re: *Eternal* punishment? 2 weeks, 6 days ago #5135

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Jeremiah wrote:
number one...I'm not sure what you're saying there.
My reading of Luke 20:35, which speaks of those who "have been found worthy of taking part in the age to come and [= which is to say] the resurrection from among the dead," is that Christ's coming in glory is the occasion of a judgment of the living and the dead, which determines who is worthy of taking part in the glorious age to come. Those who are found worthy among the living are not mentioned here by Jesus because the subject is the dead. Paul says the living faithful will be translated into a resurrected, immortal state without first dying (1 Cor. 15:50-54; cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18). What Jesus does say about the dead is that those among the dead who are found worthy will be raised from among the dead, which transparently implies that the rest of the dead, for whom the verdict is negative at that judgment, are not raised. See also Lk. 14:12-14. To me the lake (or, more accurately, the pool) of fire is what consumes those who have been belatedly raised and invited into the good things of the new creation thanks to the grace of God in Jesus Christ, but who, even when invited back into paradise, blind themselves and turn to their godless and violent ways. As far as I can see, there is no recovery hinted for them. I read as parallel Isa. 26:9-11; 27:1-5; 57:15-21; 66:22-24; Rev. 20:7-10; 20:13-15.

There is, according to my reading of Scripture, such a thing as a being for whom no amount of grace and no number of chances will result in repentance. "There is no peace for the wicked," not because God cuts off his grace before they have a chance to repent, but because there is such a thing as a human and an angelic spirit that will never turn to God, and therefore cannot love and cannot be trusted with agency in the creation. Rather than holding stubbornly destructive beings in existence ad infinitum, God gives them one last gracious chance (esp. see Isa. 26:9-11; 27:1-5; 57:15-21, and God's plea, "peace, peace," in the latter two passages), and then expunges them for the good of the rest of creation.
Last Edit: 2 weeks, 6 days ago by webb. Reason: clarify sentence
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