Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Redemptive judgment in hell? Pt 2

To address the first bullet point (under point 4 of the first post in this series) I will now list the verses cited in Paul used to imply a restorative judgment of God in hell on those not yet 'in Christ' (all NRSV) together with comments by MacDonald and Talbott.

'For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire' (1 Cor 3:11-15)

'It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father's wife ... you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord' (1 Cor 5:1, 5)

'For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world' (1 Cor 11:29-32)

MacDonald claims:

'Divine judgments in the present are usually seen as reformative and educative (Heb 12:5-11; Tit 2:11-12; Rev 3:19; 1 Cor 11:29-32), though they are usually destructive (Acts 5:1-11). I Corinthians 5:1-5 is an interesting case study ... My suggestion is that we see the punishment of hell as fundamentally the same kind of punishment, albeit a more intense form' (136-37).

Commenting on 1 Cor 5:5, Talbott writes:

'So here, anyway, destruction is explicitly a redemptive concept'. Alluding to Paul's comments in Rom 11:32 that 'God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all', he continues, arguing that: 'we should, I believe, interpret all of the biblical ideas associated with divine judgment as redemptive ideas' (97).

In the next post I will suggest a point that speaks against the Universalist line of reasoning. This will lead into another proposal, in following post, that addresses the second of the bullet points in the previous in this series (under point 4). To make it clear, my purposes at this point are not theological but rather exegetical, with implications left to one side as best I can. I will work with the texts and the arguments of the Universalists first as a historical claim before I turn to matters theological.

OK, maybe the graphic is poor taste.



At 7/05/2007 12:17 AM, Anonymous Jim said...

If you could somehow manage to photoshop in an anabaptist it would be a perfect picture. You know, either that or Servetus!!!! Calvin's birthday is the 10th....

At 7/05/2007 3:04 AM, Anonymous Bob MacDonald said...

MacDonald and I are not related. I doubt his suggestion more than any other doubts I might have.

At 7/05/2007 5:55 AM, Anonymous David W. Congdon said...

Chris, I'm still a little wary about where might be going with this. Must we choose between judgment and purgation? I want to be sure we do not replace one set of false dichotomies with a different one. I'm not sure it is wise or even permissible to fix these texts on one side of this issue.

But this is perhaps more of a theological point than a purely exegetical one, so I'll sit back and see where this heads.

At 7/09/2007 12:12 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

"Chris, I'm still a little wary about where might be going with this."
And you are right to be! I only ask you for patience!

At 7/09/2007 12:12 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

"Chris, I'm still a little wary about where might be going with this."
And you are right to be! I only ask you for patience!

At 7/13/2007 4:08 PM, Anonymous Cliff Martin said...

My first post to this blog. Chris, I appreciate what you are doing!

Though, like many, I would love to be able to come down on the side of universalism, I find it difficult to do because of two statements in the gospels.

1. John 3:36 is a simple future tense: "the disobedient one will not see life." Pretty hard to get around that one.
2. Matt 26:24, Jesus's declaration about Judas, that is would be better for him had he never been born. Could such a statement be true of any soul who ultimate achieves eternal bliss, even if only after ages in hell?

On the other side of the issue is the fact that there exists no Greek equivalent for our English "forever". Aion speaks of an age, perhaps a very long age. But it can be argued that the notion of "forever in hell" is absent in the N.T.

My own conviction is that no one residing in hell would ever choose heaven anyway. Heaven is a place where bliss is defined as selfless service. We taste of its benefits in this life, if we choose the way of the cross. Of course, millions refuse that choice today. Why should we think their choice would alter following death?

~ Cliff Martin

At 7/16/2007 4:07 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thanks, Cliff, for your very helpful comment. Especially point two: I think that is a very difficult passage for a universalist!


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