An acquaintance, Ken, posted on Facebook (his page) a question that struck me as tending to incite. The question provided three formulas related to salvation, in the Christian sense, and the formulas seemed to me likely to offend all, each of them. In other words, I thought the question would get lots of comments with more heat than light; sometimes such are referred to as flame wars.

There were several comments of various leanings, more polite than I expected, but some of it was just nonsense. Apparently the author intended to discuss points honestly, and no nonsense was intended. It is often easy to be nonsensical on the internet, especially when trying to be brief.

I made a few comments, to the author and to other commenters, and I composed this rather long statement, at least quite long for Facebook.

As to the universalism you hint at in your comment to Summer, well, it has all been argued before, perhaps since the very beginning of Christianity. There is obvious lack of depth in the thinking that allows for universalism to a soul.

I have always adamantly argued that Christ redemption was for all of creation. All. I have come to accept that includes all life, all. So, not only will Spot be in the New Creation, but so will the dinosaurs, et al. The scriptures seem to clearly indicate that all creation will be made new. All of it. The infinite, immortal God died for it. How could one suppose otherwise? All means all.

Thus, the extension to every individual soul, every person, seems natural, but that is the key. It is only natural. It does not allow for the divine aspect of free will, that absolute truth, “that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!”

Fundamentally, we cannot grasp it. We are dealing with God and eternity. There is always farther up and further in. There is more than can be imagined, as the scriptures clearly state.

There is perspective in time and in the vastness of it and the spacial universe. Note that the vastness of time is only vast because of our short time here on earth. We think of billions of years as long, but we often find that a few billion years is not long at all.

Think of the time of humanity. Think of the Paul’s statement to Timothy, “God our Savior, 4who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Consider the eons before Christ. Consider the millennia since Christ. How long? How many?

During this protracted time, before Christ and since, God, who does not change, desires all to be saved and to know truth. Yet, how many have? Before Moses, essentially no one called upon the name of YHWH. Given what archaeology tells us now, it is hard to take the Moses story as more than an allegory, but still, it is clear that very few knew of the God, the object of our faith, before the time of the Jewish kings, and the Jews made no efforts at evangelisation. With Jesus, he sent out a few to tell the good news, and he instructed them to baptize and disciple.

We have scripture indicating all will hear the good news before the end will come, but in the general sense, that happened some generations ago, yet in the specific sense, it is unreasonable to suppose it could ever happen, and in the absolute sense, it cannot be at all, since so many died without opportunity to hear.

Perspective.

What is God up to?

I assert God because I believe in reason. I think it unreasonable to assert there is no reason for it all, there there is no reason for me to base my reason on. I find atheism to be irrational on its face. Thus, I assert reason, yet I cannot comprehend the reason, at least not in the ultimate sense.

Thus, what is the reason?

Coequally, what is God up to?

I assert there is no “problem of pain” because life is good. Suffering, pain, death, et al., are just parts of life, and life is good. That opens me up to all kinds of objections, but I’ll take them. Kill or be killed. Eat or be eaten. I assert that is part of the good of life.

If Christianity can be accepted at all, though, I must acknowledge that life is not good enough as it is, or Jesus would not have come to bring us life, and life more abundant. So, why does God seem so content with the slow pace? Why don’t we see more success in evangelisation? Why do we see so much corruption in all aspects of what we recognize as churches?

Again, I don’t see clear answers. I don’t even see possible answers. With Job, I realize there are things beyond me.

These things do give us perspective. We can begin to understand some.

Further, I mentioned the vastness of space when mentioning the eons of time. Time, is not, in fact, very vast. Space is.

Space is vast not only beyond comprehension, it is vast beyond all possibility of comprehension. If faster-than-light travel proves impossible, as all available evidence leads us to believe, then we will never venture beyond the Milky Way. Never. Even if we assume humanity continues and continues to recognize itself as humanity, even if we develop power and propulsion systems beyond our imaginations, we cannot go to the next galaxy. It is too far. It is an intractable engineering problem. Its cost will always exceed any reasonably expected value.

If we go ahead and throw caution and reason to the wind and assume faster-than-light travel possibilities, such as Star Gates, or quantum-entanglement type displacement, something like an electron tunneling, then we may be able to get to many galaxies, but if we assume the universe is actually finite, as seems certain, it is extremely improbable that we could explore the entire universe in even trillions of years.

Now, that is vast. What was God thinking? Why make so much?

Again, I have no answers, but these are the sorts of facts in evidence that I try to include, try to comprehend while contemplating the vastness of God, infinity, and eternity.

The calculus tells us much of infinity. Still, it is bigger than we can comprehend, even though we can deal with it effectively mathematically.

God is bigger than that. Free will is divinely bestowed by God. It is unwise to suppose any limits on it, at least not any spiritual or ultimate limits. As with my quote of the stylized William Wallace, there are physical limits to our free will. Those who would enslave us might force us into slavery, might even take our lives, but our freedom, innately, remains. That is why coercion, all coercion, is evil.

Your comments seem to be questioning the existence, the possibility, of hell. Well, the concept of hell was unknown to the ancient Hebrews, and it was not thorough in Jesus’ time, but He talked of it. We could argue the point forever. We could even argue of the nature of the adversary, the devil. A real being, something we generally think of as a person? Most would argue yes, many will argue no. I don’t much think it matters. That which is against us is unquestionable. We are opposed, physically and spiritually. Splitting hairs will not change the fact.

I assert that not all souls will accept God. It is not a matter of unbelief. It is a matter of freedom. God allows me to refuse Him today. God changes not. (I don’t think it matters what one labels wherever not-with-God is.)

God is sovereign, and at some point, my will falls under His sovereignty, but He will not violate my will. At some point, my will becomes finalized in that I am the center of all things in my universe, and exclude God, or I accept that I am not the center, and I am subject.

The great prophet of the 60s said it simply, “You’re still gonna have to serve somebody.”

God chose. We see the results.

Now, for we only have the moment, we choose. We will see the result. “We’ll all know soon enough.”

Ken, I cannot suppose I’ve answered your question. In fact, I really am only guessing at what your question is, but I have tried. My aim was simply to state my view and support it with basic thinking. I’m willing to pursue it further, but I’ll ask you to be specific, and to not assume motives. We cannot be sure of one another’s motives even if stated. We certainly err if we assume or ascribe motives.

Thus concluded my comments on that Facebook post.

I add, Calvinism = Universalism = atheism for practical purposes.

Each leads logically and inevitably to moral abuses because each ultimately asserts that no judgement, by the standards of human understanding, befall the perpetrator.

An atheist cannot assert that there is no meaning, no ultimate, while asserting that his actions, his assertions, have meaning. It is irrational. Asserting no ultimate, no divine, ultimately means there is no such thing as punishment.

Likewise the universalist must admit that ultimately there is no punishment at all.

Finally, while the Calvinist asserts ultimate punishment, it is all up to God. The Calvinist asserts that if I’m elect I cannot be damned. Factually, historically, there are far too many Calvinists who acted damnably to allow that assertion to have significance. That is, while the Calvinist avers punishment, judgement, it is not something we humans can understand, at least not until God shows His glory in full finality. And, for practical purposes, that means nothing we do matters, just like the universalist and atheist assert.

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