Why the Problem of Evil is a Problem

by Aaron  Brake

“If you hate evil, hate sin.”

—Clay Jones—

Introduction

The so-called problem of evil is one of the most common objections raised against the Christian faith. Perhaps no one has more succinctly stated the apparent contradiction between an all-loving, all-powerful God and the existence of evil as the eighteenth-century Scottish skeptic David Hume:

Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?[1]

More modern skeptics have posed the logical (or deductive) problem of evil this way:

  1. If God is all-good (omnibenevolent), He would prevent evil.
  2. If God is all-powerful (omnipotent), He could prevent evil.
  3. If God is all-knowing (omniscient), He knows how to prevent evil.
  4. But evil exists.
  5. Therefore, either God is not all-good, all-powerful, or all-knowing (or maybe He doesn’t exist!)

The existence of suffering and evil in the world has been an obstacle to faith for many, and for others, a source of constant doubt. When addressing the problem of evil from within the Christian worldview, I am convinced the following points must not only be taken into consideration but earnestly thought through and reflected upon until they become both intellectually and emotionally satisfying. When they are, I believe the problem of evil (POE) largely goes away.[2]

So why is the problem of evil a problem? Here are ten reasons:

#1 The POE is a problem because we fail to differentiate between the problems of evil and their respective solutions.

John Feinberg begins his book The Many Faces of Evil by laying out two very helpful and essential ground rules that must be understood by anyone attempting to discuss God and the problem of evil. These two ground rules are as follows: (1) there is no such thing as the problem of evil and (2) the problem of evil in its logical form is about the internal consistency of any given theological position.[3]

First, we need to realize that there are several problems of evil, not just one. The phrase “problem of evil” can be used to refer to a host of different dilemmas arising over the issue of God and evil. For example, someone who raises the problem of evil may be referring to the religious/emotional problem of evil, the logical problem of evil, the evidential problem of evil, moral evil, or natural evil, just to name a few. That there is not just one problem of evil necessitates that any discussion about God and evil must first begin by clarifying what problem is under discussion.[4] Each problem is separate and therefore may require its own solution. In addition, the skeptic cannot reject a defense for a particular problem of evil by arguing that it does not solve every problem of evil. No one defense addresses every problem of evil, nor was it intended to do so.

For example, an atheist may reject the free will defense because they don’t believe it adequately handles the problem of natural evil. But the free will defense is primarily used when addressing the problem of moral evil, not natural evil. Solving the problem of natural evil may require additional argumentation or an entirely different solution altogether. Either way, the atheist who reasons this way is simply mistaken. As Feinberg notes, “It is wrongheaded at a very fundamental level to think that because a given defense or theodicy doesn’t solve every problem of evil, it doesn’t solve any problem of evil.”[5]

Second, the problem of evil in its logical form is about the internal consistency of any given theological position. In other words, the critic is claiming there is a contradiction in the theist’s system and is therefore obligated to show a specific problem within the system they are attacking. Skeptics must be careful not to artificially generate an internal inconsistency within the theist’s system by attributing views of God, evil, freedom, love, omnipotence, justice, etc., to the theist which the theist himself doesn’t hold.

For example, an atheist cannot object to the free will defense on the grounds that God could create human beings with free will, and yet at the same time eliminate all moral evil, based on the atheist’s belief in view of free will known as compatibilism. If the theist incorporating the free will defense holds to libertarian free will, the atheist would be artificially (falsely) generating an internal inconsistency by importing his own definition of free will into the theist’s system. The atheist again is simply mistaken. If an internal inconsistency exists, it must be shown to exist within the theist’s system, not one imposed on him by the atheist. A critic may not like a particular defense or theodicy and may object to the system on external grounds, but this has nothing to do with whether the theist’s system suffers from an internal contradiction.

Finally, many of these supposed contradictions simply assume that God does not have a morally sufficient reason for allowing the evil He does. But this would be something the critic needs to justify. As long as the theist offers a possible explanation as to why God allows evil, the charge of contradiction becomes groundless. Of course, theists should certainly do their best to offer not just possible, but plausible solutions. In fact, there are already many theological systems that are able to solve their own logical problem of evil. These systems include theonomy, Leibnizian Rationalism, as well as those incorporating a free will defense.[6]

#2 The POE is a problem because we fail to examine it from a worldview perspective.

The problem of evil is not just a problem for Christians. It is a problem for everyone. I do not mean by this that every worldview needs to reconcile the existence of an all-loving, all-powerful God and evil. Rather, I mean that everyone, regardless of their worldview, must give an account for the existence of pain and suffering. This is not an attempt to dodge the objection. It is simply a point of the fact that each person should be able to give some explanation of pain and suffering from within their respective worldview.

Therefore, looking at the problem of evil from a worldview perspective we can frame the discussion by means of two questions:

  1. Which worldview best accounts for the origin and existence of evil?
  2. Which worldview offers the best solution to evil?

It is when we begin to compare and contrast Christianity with other belief systems in light of these questions that the superiority of the Christian worldview becomes evident.

For example, what can atheistic materialism say in response to the existence of pain and suffering? More specifically, can atheistic materialism offer a better account for the origin and existence of evil, as well as a solution, when compared with Christian theism? These questions seem to be relevant given that atheists and skeptics are those most often complaining about the POE.

Regarding the origin of evil, it seems all the atheist can say is “Evil just is.” Nature is red in tooth and claw. Evil is nothing but matter in motion, the same as goodness. Furthermore, how do objective moral values arise from matter, chance, and time? While Christians need to reconcile God and evil, the atheist must not only deal with their own problem of evil but also the problem of goodness, i.e., reconciling the existence of objective moral values with a materialistic universe. Richard Dawkins has stated,

In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.[7]

If atheistic materialism is true, it seems all the atheist can say is that life is filled with gratuitous and unredeemable suffering…and then you die. There is no ultimate justice, let alone ultimate meaning, purpose, or value in life. But this can hardly be considered a solution of any sort. In terms of worldview thinking it is difficult to see how atheistic materialism can offer any consolation in the face of pain and suffering.

As another example, how do Eastern religions deal with pain and suffering? For Hindus evil is Maya, an illusion. Evil is not real. People suffer because of injustices performed in past lives (karmic debt). Therefore, suffering should not be alleviated since this would interfere with the karmic cycle and bring bad karma on the one attempting to aid the sufferer. This position prevents compassion and morally obligatory action in the face of horrendous evil. Furthermore, Hinduism and Buddhism, both advocates of karma and reincarnation, cannot make sense of these two doctrines within their respective religions and end up with logically incoherent systems:

For there to be reincarnated subjects of karma, there must be individual, personal selves that endure and continue as themselves from lifetime to lifetime. But Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta Hinduism do not affirm the existence of individual, personal selves. Therefore, these religions cannot logically support the existence of selves that endure from lifetime to lifetime or which are subjects of karma. Therefore, these Eastern religions cannot logically support reincarnation. If this argument succeeds, it not only demonstrates that they cannot solve the problem of evil, it further shows that both religions propose essential truth claims that contradict each other: (1) there is no self, and (2) reincarnation and karma. Thus, both religions fail the test of internal logical consistency and are necessarily false.[8]

What about Christianity? Christianity does not conclude that “evil just is” nor that evil is an illusion. As Augustine argued, evil can be explained in part as the deprivation (or privation) of good.[9] Evil is what ought not to be. Christian theism can account for both the origin and existence of evil since it teaches there is a part of reality which is non-physical. Furthermore, since evil is not some “thing” but rather the privation of good, God is not the direct creator of evil. Rather, evil came as a result of free beings using their free will badly. Christian philosophers and theologians throughout the centuries have offered numerous defenses in light of the problem of evil, arguing that God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil. Some of these defenses include the free will defense and the soul-building theodicy.

In short, an all-loving, all-powerful God can allow evil so long as He has a morally sufficient reason for doing so. While Christians may not be able to answer why God allows each and every particular instance of pain and suffering, there is no logical contradiction between the existence of evil and an all-loving, all-powerful God. Furthermore, the Christian message of God incarnates entering His creation and suffering in our place so we may have the hope of eternity makes these slight and momentary afflictions of no comparison to the eternal weight of glory that awaits us (2 Cor. 4:17). Those who reject God because of evil are rejecting the only One who can redeem evil and suffering for good. Randy Alcorn summarizes the Christian position this way:

The Bible never sugarcoats evil…The Christian worldview concerning this central problem is utterly unique. When compared to other belief systems, it is singularly profound, satisfying, and comforting….I’m convinced that Christianity’s explanation of why evil and suffering exist beats that of any worldview. Its explanation of why we can expect God to forever deliver His redeemed people from evil and suffering is better still. The answers revealed in Scripture not only account for how the world is, they offer the greatest hope for where the world is headed.[10]

#3 The POE is a problem because we forget that evil is evidence for the existence of God.

When you admit the existence of evil, i.e., things that are really wrong, you are acknowledging the existence of objective moral values. This seems to be problematic for both the atheist and the relativist considering the atheist cannot adequately ground objective morality, and the relativist assumes morality is relative.

The atheist or relativist may call upon the theist to give an account for the internal consistency of the theist’s worldview given the existence of both God and evil, but as soon as the atheist or relativist acknowledges that evil is real they have subsequently surrendered their worldview since they are assuming an objective standard of moral goodness. By “objective” I mean independent of what people think or perceive.[11] Complaining about evil assumes that evil is a real thing that it is objectively wrong; otherwise, we could simply dismiss the atheist or relativist by saying “that’s just evil for you.”

So where does this objective standard of morality come from? The only suitable grounding for objective morality is an objective moral law-giver: God. Ironically then, the existence of evil can be turned into an argument for the existence of God:

  1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
  2. Evil exists.
  3. Therefore, objective moral values exist.
  4. Therefore, God exists.[12]

This argument is logically valid. The skeptic concedes premise two by raising the problem of evil in the first place, e.g., “Why does God let bad things happen?” Therefore, the argument hinges on premise one. However, in reflecting on premise one it seems clear that if there is no God, then there is no objective grounding for moral principles which apply to all people, in all places, at all times. Morality would be relegated to cultural conventions or individual ethical subjectivism. William Lane Craig sums it up this way:

Although at a superficial level suffering calls into question God’s existence, at a deeper level suffering actually proves God’s existence. For apart from God, suffering is not really bad. If the atheist believes that suffering is bad or ought not to be, then he’s making moral judgments that are possible only if God exists.[13]

In short, when the atheist or relativist raises qualms about God allowing evil he implicitly admits to an objective standard of morality which his own worldview cannot account for, but which the Christian worldview can. In other words, in order to complain about evil and raise the objection in the first place, atheists, skeptics, and relativists must borrow from Christian moral capital and the Christian worldview.

#4 The POE is a problem because we fail to take into account the full scope of evidence.

If evil, pain, and suffering were all there is, belief in the existence of an all-loving, all-powerful God might become rather absurd. Unfortunately, this is how the skeptic often paints the picture, emphasizing what seem to be gratuitous examples of suffering while at the same time either denying or ignoring the counterevidence against his position and in favor of God. Only examples of pain and suffering are offered as evidence against God, while any arguments or evidence for God are unfortunately left out.

Arguments which may be offered in favor of the existence of God include the cosmological, teleological, moral, transcendental, ontological, and, as mentioned above, even the argument from evil for the existence of God. Evidence which needs to be considered includes evidence for the beginning of the universe, the fine-tuning of the cosmos, the existence of objective moral values (again, including evil), the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the reliability of Scripture, so forth and so on. Regarding these considerations, William Lane Craig states,

The interesting question is whether God’s existence is probable relative to the full scope of evidence. I’m convinced that whatever improbability suffering may cast upon God’s existence, it’s outweighed by the arguments for the existence of God.[14]

In other words, if we have independent lines of evidence which point to the existence of an all-powerful, all-loving God, then we may be justified in believing in God even in the face of unexplained evil. We need to look at all the evidence, not evil in isolation. In his book Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, Douglas Groothuis places his chapter on the problem of evil near the end of the book for this very reason:

This chapter is placed near the end of the book because we should not take up the problem in a philosophical vacuum. We have contended that the case for Christian faith is multifaceted and cumulative. Christianity is rationally supported by a number of arguments. If so, then the biblical worldview cannot prima facie be refuted by one particular problem…We should consider all the arguments given thus far for the Christian worldview and against its competitors when considering the problem of evil…Therefore, the God-denier cannot declare victory over theism by merely stating the problem of evil.[15]

#5 The POE is a problem because we fail to understand our relationship to Adam.

If we want to know why there is so much pain and suffering in the world, we need to go back to the beginning and look at the first choice.[16] Most of the pain and suffering in the world can be attributed to free agents using their free will badly. This is exactly what Adam and Eve did and what we as their offspring continue to do. In short, our first parents willingly rebelled against God bringing corruption into the world and plunging all of mankind into a lifelong education of the knowledge of good and evil.

But how is it that wholly good beings, placed in a wholly good environment, in perfect relationship with God and one another, possessing wills inclined toward God, could turn against God? William Dembski offers this as a possible solution:

Precisely because a created will belongs to a creature, that creature, if sufficiently reflective, can reflect on its creaturehood and realize that it is not God. Creaturehood implies constraints to which the Creator is not subject… The question then naturally arises, Has God the Creator denied to the creature some freedom that might benefit it? Adam and Eve thought the answer to this was yes…As soon as the creature answers yes to this question, its will turns against God. Once that happens, the will becomes evil. Whereas previously evil was merely a possibility, now it has become a reality. In short, the problem of evil starts when creatures think God is evil for “cramping their style.” The impulse of our modern secular culture to cast off restraint wherever possible finds its root here…No longer able to trust God, humanity turned inward and sought fulfillment in its creaturehood rather than in the source of its being, the Creator.[17]

What were the consequences of this first sin? Not only was the marriage relationship damaged but the ground was cursed.[18] This raises the issue of natural evil. Much of the evil we see in the world including cancer, disease, sickness, pestilence, and death are explained as the result of sin entering the world. Natural evil then is the result of Adam and Eve exercising their free choice badly. Furthermore, sin also affected every aspect of their persons (mind, will, emotion, body), a concept known as total depravity. Mankind is now in bondage to sin and without hope apart from the grace of God.

But why do we suffer for the sin of Adam and Eve committed so long ago? This question fails to take into account that Adam and Eve are not some disconnected couple who lived long ago and have nothing to do with us. They were our first parents, they sinned, and they reproduced! The apostle Paul says in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”

One of the reasons we struggle with the doctrine of original sin is due to our strong sense of Western individuality. In reality, we are less individual than we think. Millard Erickson states,

…the entirety of our human nature, both physical and spiritual, material and immaterial, has been received from our parents and more distant ancestors by way of descent from the first pair of humans. On that basis, we were actually present within Adam, so that we all sinned in his act. There is no injustice, then, to our condemnation and death as a result of original sin.[19]

If this is true, everything that we are we received from Adam and Eve, including our soul and consciousness.[20] Once Adam and Eve became corrupt, all they could produce was corruption, i.e., they could not produce anything better than themselves. To say it again, they were our first parents, they sinned, and they reproduced. Each one of us is a little Adam or Eve. When we understand our relationship to Adam we learn several lessons regarding the problem of evil:

First, evil is the result of free beings using their free will badly.

Second, Adam and Eve plunged all of mankind into a lifelong education of the knowledge of good and evil. God is using evil and suffering to teach free creatures the horror of sin and the horror of rebellion against God. The lesson is this: if you hate evil, hate sin! William Dembski states,

We are the arsonists. We started the fire. God wants to rescue us…But to be rescued from a life of arson requires that we know how destructive arson is… If God always instantly put out the fires we start, we would never appreciate the damage fires can do. We started a fire in consenting to evil. God permits this fire to rage… so that we can rightly understand the human condition and thus come to our senses.[21]

Third, Adam’s seed always deserves to die unless it repents (Rom. 6:23). Jesus Himself takes it for granted that the wages of sin is death and that it is only God’s mercy that keeps us alive. To help emphasize this third point, let’s take a moment to look at Jesus’ own comments regarding the problem of evil.

Excursus: Jesus on the Problem of Evil

In Luke 13:1-5 we have Jesus’ clearest teaching on the problem of evil:[22]

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

Not only is this Jesus’ clearest teaching on the problem of evil but we see Him addressing both moral and natural evil in His response. Notice that Jesus is first questioned regarding an example of what we would call moral evil: the murder of some Galileans by Pilate. In providing an answer, Jesus Himself introduces an example of natural evil: the falling of the tower of Siloam which killed eighteen.

How did Jesus answer the problem of evil presented to Him? Was Jesus taken back, struck by the profundity of such a pregnant question? His answer is short and to the point: “They weren’t worse sinners, they were just sinners. And unless you repent, you’ll die too.”

D.A. Carson in his book How Long, O Lord? Provides several important insights into this passage. It would behoove us as Christians to reflect deeply on these points.

First, Jesus takes it for granted that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23):

Jesus does not assume that those who suffered under Pilate, or those who were killed in the collapse of the tower, did not deserve their fate. Indeed, the fact that he can tell those contemporaries that unless they repent, they too will perish shows that Jesus assumes that all death is in one way or another the result of sin, and therefore deserved.[23]

Second, because death is what we all deserve, it is only God’s mercy that keeps us alive:

Jesus does insist that death by such means is no evidence whatsoever that those who suffer in this way are any more wicked than those who escape such a fate. The assumption seems to be that all deserve to die. If some die under a barbarous governor, and others in a tragic accident, it is not more than they deserve. But that does not mean that others deserve any less. Rather, the implication is that it is only God’s mercy that has kept them alive. There is certainly no moral superiority on their part.[24]

Third, wars and natural disasters are always calls to repentance, and the fact that we question God’s goodness in times of calamity is a reflection of our own depravity and rebellion:

Jesus treats wars and natural disasters not as agenda items in a discussion of the mysterious ways of God, but as incentives to repentance. It is as if he is saying that God uses the disaster as a megaphone to call attention to our guilt and destination, to the imminence of his righteous judgment if he sees no repentance. This is an argument developed at great length in Amos 4. Disaster is a call to repentance. Jesus might have added (as he does elsewhere) that peace and tranquility, which we do not deserve, show us God’s goodness and forbearance.

It is a mark of our lostness that we invert these two. We think we deserve the times of blessing and prosperity, and that the times of war and disaster are not only unfair but come perilously close to calling into question God’s goodness or his power—even, perhaps, his very existence. Jesus simply did not see it that way.[25]

Dr. Clay Jones in his class on Why God Allows Evil entertainingly replays the dialogue from Luke 13 like this:[26]

Questioner: Jesus, we have the problem of evil here, the great problem of the ages. People are being killed Jesus. What have you got to say?

Jesus: They weren’t worse sinners, they were just sinners, and unless you repent you’ll die too. Next?

Questioner: Whoa! Jesus, hold on for a minute here! This is the PROBLEM OF EVIL! The question of the ages! Philosophers have debated this forever! People are dying here Jesus! What have you got to say???

Jesus: They weren’t worse sinners, they were just sinners, and unless you repent you’ll die too. Next?

Questioner: No, Jesus, don’t you get it?!? Let me put it to you this way. You see, if God were all-loving, He would want to prevent evil. If God were all-powerful, He could prevent evil…

Jesus: They weren’t worse sinners, they were just sinners, and unless you repent you’ll die too. Next?

That’s it ladies and gentleman, Jesus’ answer to the problem of evil. All fallen, unregenerate sinners born in Adam are corrupted to the core and deserve death. Whether we die by murder, accident, or disease isn’t anything more than we deserve. It is only by God’s grace that anyone is saved and it is only by God’s mercy that anyone is kept alive.

What implications does this have for Christian apologetics? At least three:

First, it means that Christian apologists need to take the consequences of sin and reality of human depravity seriously when addressing the problem of evil. Many Christians simply pay lip service to what the Bible has to say about these topics. It’s no wonder then we are often at a loss for words when someone asks, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” A completely biblical, though partial, rejoinder is this: no one is good but God alone! Bad things don’t happen to good people because no one is good. Jesus raised no qualms about our naturally born status as sinners before God, the universal corruption, and guilt of humankind, or our need for repentance. He introduced these very issues Himself in addressing the problem of evil. He took it for granted that the wages of sin is death. Christian apologists should do likewise.

Second, when addressing the problem of evil, Christian apologists need to present a theodicy which minimally includes the biblical teaching of original sin and human depravity. Why God allows evil won’t make sense unless we have the problem of sin clearly before us. J.I. Packer stated,

The subject of sin is vital knowledge… If you have not learned about sin, you cannot understand yourself, or your fellow-men, or the world you live in, or the Christian faith. And you will not be able to make head or tail of the Bible. For the Bible is an exposition of God’s answer to the problem of human sin and unless you have that problem clearly before you, you will keep missing the point of what it says.[27]

The same is true for the problem of evil. The subject of sin is essential because in raising the problem of evil, the skeptic must put forth an anthropodicy (justification of man) by arguing that man is “basically good” and God is unjust for allowing the suffering and evil He does. In response, the theist must show these assumptions to be false, and in their place put forth a theodicy (justification of God) which includes evidencing the depths of human depravity and arguing that God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil. Until we clearly articulate and defend the gravity of sin, as well as the universal corruption and guilt of humankind, many of our answers to the problem of evil will largely remain unpersuasive.[28]

Third, the present moral and natural evils we experience are appropriate segues into our need to practice and preach repentance in light of the final eschatological judgment. Those who experience such evils are not any more deserving. Rather, these disasters serve as warnings to all of us that final disaster awaits everyone who remains hardhearted and unrepentant:

So when disaster strikes, let us not wring our hands over the mysterious ways of God but encourage everyone to reflect on their sinful and doomed state in hopes that some will escape the Final Disaster that awaits the ultimately unrepentant.[29]

End of Excursus

Finally, no matter how many examples are presented to us of human suffering and evil, the major recourse is to point to human sinfulness:

Suffering and evil are the result of sin… To those who complain about evil and suffering, our reply should be: “Hate sin!” Our problem in understanding why humans suffer is that we diminish the significance and extent of human sinfulness.[30]

#6 The POE is a problem because we fail to grasp the depth of human depravity.

Human beings apart from the grace of God are capable of horrendous evils. A discussion of human depravity in relation to the problem of evil is absolutely necessary because the most frequently asked question concerning the POE is this: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” This is sometimes referred to as the emotional problem of evil.

A full treatment of human depravity simply isn’t possible here. Dr. Clay Jones of Biola University is well-read in this area and has done excellent work, especially relating human depravity to the problem of evil. His work is highly recommended and so I refer you to these articles and encourage you not to proceed on this topic without reading them first:

            Human Evil and Suffering

            We Don’t Hate Sin So We Don’t Understand What Happened to the Canaanites

To put it succinctly, the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” is based on the false assumption that people are “good.” Given the reality of human depravity, the problem with this question should become immediately apparent. Man is not innately good:

The terrible human evils in the world are the testimony to man’s depravity in his state of spiritual alienation from God. The Christian isn’t surprised at the moral evil in the world; on the contrary, he expects it. The Scriptures indicate that God has given mankind up to the sin it has freely chosen; He doesn’t interfere to stop it but lets human depravity run its course (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28). This only serves to heighten mankind’s moral responsibility before God, as well as our wickedness and our need for forgiveness and moral cleansing.[31]

So the question is not “Why do bad things happen to good people?” but rather “Why do bad things happen to bad people?” But nobody ever asks that question. Perhaps the question we should be asking is this: “Why do good things happen to bad people?” Why has God out of His mercy chosen to dispense any goodness at all on rebellious sinners?

Skeptics, however, are often inconsistent when it comes to the nature of man and the problem of evil. They want to hold to the basic “goodness” of man and at the same time complain about the evil, pain, and suffering which man perpetuates, all the while blaming God for allowing it:

On the one hand, skeptics argue that bad things shouldn’t happen to good people and that the human race consists mainly of good people. On the other hand, their very objections concern the bad things people do to one another: murder, war, rape, child abuse, brutality, kidnapping, bullying, ridiculing, shaming, corporate greed, unwillingness to share wealth or to care for the environment…Since the same human race that commits these evils also suffers from them—since we are not only victims but perpetrators, of sin—what would God’s critics have Him do?[32]

How does a knowledge and understanding of the depths of human evil help us, especially in relation to the problem of evil? In addition to largely answering the emotional problem of evil as discussed above, the following points prove insightful:[33]

First, it demonstrates God’s patience and justifies God’s judgment. If you think that people are basically good, you will often be tempted to ask, “Why is God angry all the time?” when reading passages in Scripture concerning God’s judgment (e.g., the flood, destruction of the Canaanites, etc.). When you begin to fully grasp the depth of human depravity, sinfulness, and corruption, you instead will say, “Wow, God is really patient. Why isn’t He judging people sooner?” C.S. Lewis stated, “When we merely say that we are bad, the ‘wrath’ of God seems a barbarous doctrine; as soon as we perceive our badness, it appears inevitable, a mere corollary from God’s goodness.”[34]

Second, it magnifies the significance of Christ’s sacrifice. Jesus didn’t suffer a brutal, agonizing, torturous death on the cross because you’re basically a good person.

Third, it impassions are a witness. If you think that people are basically good, it will be hard for you to tell them they are corrupt sinners in need of salvation.

Fourth, it increases our desire for the Jesus’ return. When we watch television and see examples of some of the horrendous evil and suffering that takes place around the world, we often cry out, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”

Fifth, it reveals the greatness of our salvation. After all, if you think that you are basically a good person, your salvation doesn’t seem so grand:

We must contemplate men in sin, until we are horrified, until we alarmed, until we are desperate about them, until we pray for them, until having realized the marvel of our own deliverance from that terrible state, we are lost in a sense of wonder, love, and praise.[35] 

Finally, it reveals we have gotten the problem of evil exactly backward:

There is a problem of evil alright. But it isn’t God’s problem—He is only good and doesn’t do any evil. It’s humankind’s problem because we are the ones who do evil. As C. S. Lewis put it, “The Christian answer—that we have used our free will to become very bad—is so well known that it hardly needs to be stated. But to bring this doctrine into real life in the minds of modern men, and even modern Christians is very hard.” Indeed. And a Christian won’t understand why God allows evil unless he or she thinks these things through.[36]

#7 The POE is a problem because we assume God does not have morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil. 

As stated in the introduction, the problem of evil was been formulated this way:

  1. If God is all-good (omnibenevolent), He would prevent evil.
  2. If God is all-powerful (omnipotent), He could prevent evil.
  3. If God is all-knowing (omniscient), He knows how to prevent evil.
  4. But evil exists.
  5. Therefore, either God is not all-good, all-powerful, or all-knowing (or maybe He doesn’t exist!)

Though the argument is logically valid, two of the premises are highly debatable and should be challenged. Premise one is problematic because it assumes there is never a sufficient reason for God to allow evil. It simply does not follow that if God is all-good, He would necessarily prevent all evil, for God may have other goods, purposes, and goals in mind which He desires to actualize and accomplish, even though by doing so evil becomes a possibility, and eventual actuality. An all-good God can do this so long as He has morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil. Ronald Nash states,

There seem to be many evils in the world that can be eliminated only by producing situations containing more evil or costing us some greater good. Suppose that many evils result from the human free will or from the fact that our universe operates under natural laws or from the fact that humans exist in a setting that fosters soul-making. And suppose further that a world containing free will and natural law that fosters soul-making contains more good than a world that does not. If it makes no sense for God to eliminate an evil that would bring about a state of affairs in which there would be less good or more evil, our newest candidate for the missing proposition—that a good being always eliminates evil as far as it can—may safely be dismissed as neither true nor an essential Christian belief.[37]

This is true despite the fact that finite human beings may not know the specific reasons for specific instances of evil.

Premise two is likewise problematic, for it assumes that “all-powerful” means the ability to do anything, including actualizing logically contradictory states of affairs. But this commits a straw-man fallacy by misrepresenting how omnipotence is understood within Christian theism. Omnipotence, or “all-powerful,” does not mean God can do anything, but rather that God can do anything so long as it is logically possible and consistent with His nature, e.g., God cannot sin or make a squared circle. In answering the problem of evil, those Christian theists incorporating the free will defense have noted that God cannot give human beings libertarian free will and yet prevent them from doing evil. Those appealing to a soul-building theodicy argue that God cannot create a world in which individuals exercise certain virtues, develop significant character traits, and learn valuable moral lessons in the face of evil if the world which God creates contains no evil. Hence, premise two is false as well. 

As just mentioned, two traditional defenses offered by Christian theists in the face of the problem of evil have been the free will defense and the soul-making (or soul-building) defense. The free will defense trades on a libertarian view of freedom and therefore can only be used consistently by those holding to libertarian free will (typically Arminians or Molinists in theological circles). This strategy argues that free will is valuable, that God desired to create human beings with genuine free will (libertarian), and that it is better to create free creatures possessing the ability to love and enter into real relationship with God than to create “robots” or “puppets.” However, free will makes evil a possibility since human beings can freely choose to use their free will badly. Alvin Plantinga states,

A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures, but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil, and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. As it turned out, sadly enough, some of the free creatures God created went wrong in the exercise of their freedom; this is the source of moral evil. That fact that free creatures sometimes go wrong, however, counts neither against God’s omnipotence nor against His goodness; for He could have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good.[38]

Unlike the free will defense where evil becomes a possibility given the reality of free creatures, the soul-making defense argues that evil is logically necessary for some good to be accomplished, but that this good outweighs the evil:

…some moral goods are impossible apart from responding to particular evils. Therefore, the Fall (while based on human rebellion against a holy God) opens up possibilities for virtue not possible otherwise. That is, evil serves an instrumental, good purpose in the providence of God… All evils serve some justifiable purpose in God’s economy…God uses certain evils to actualize a good greater than would be possible otherwise… Evils should provide possibilities for virtuous responses to vicious behavior.[39] 

Both the free will and soul-making defense argue that God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil. They both appeal to the existence of a “greater good.” As long as these scenarios are at least possible, the logical (or deductive) problem of evil is defeated. An argument showing the consistency of God and evil can be formed this way:

  1. An omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God created the world.
  2. God creates a world containing evil and has a good reason for doing so.
  3. Therefore, the world contains evil.[40]

While Christians may not be able to answer why God allows each and every particular instance of evil, it does not follow from this that God does not have morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil or that specific instances of evil, as well as evil in general, serve no greater good. In other words, “the morally sufficient reasons for these evils may be inscrutable, but they are not gratuitous.”[41] An appearance of gratuitousness may simply be due to our own ignorance:

…given the limitations of human knowledge, it is hard to see how any human being could actually know that a specific instance of evil really is gratuitous. In fact, it looks as though a person would have to be omniscient before he would be warranted in claiming that he knows that some particular evil is totally senseless and purposeless.

It seems, then, that the most any human can claim to know is that the world contains evil that appears gratuitous.[42]

Knowing the reason God allows a particular evil is a question of epistemology, while the nature of that particular evil (whether or not it is actually gratuitous) is a matter of ontology. From the fact that we don’t know (epistemology) the reason for that evil, we cannot justifiably conclude regarding what is (ontology) the true nature of that evil. This applies to the theist and atheist alike. We may greatly desire to know God’s reasons, and the fact that we don’t know may bother us, but what of significance follows from this? According to Plantinga,

Very little of interest. Why suppose that if God does have a good reason for permitting evil, the theist would be the first to know? Perhaps God has a good reason, but that reason is too complicated for us to understand. Or perhaps He has not revealed it for some other reason. The fact that the theist doesn’t know why God permits evil is, perhaps, an interesting fact about the theist, but by itself, it shows little or nothing relevant to the rationality of belief in God. Much more is needed for the atheological argument even to get off the ground… the theist’s not knowing why God permits evil does not by itself show that he is irrational in thinking that God does indeed have a reason. To make out his case, therefore, the atheologian cannot rest content with asking embarrassing questions to which the theist does not know the answer.[43]

When it comes to apparently gratuitous evil then, are the theist and atheist at a stalemate? Not necessarily. Perhaps the issue can and should be resolved on other grounds:

…the most reasonable position to hold appears to be this: we cannot explain cases of apparently gratuitous suffering until we know whether or not they are indeed gratuitous. And this we can never claim unless we are sure as to the ontological status of God. Since we cannot prove or disprove His non-existence [via the argument from gratuitous evil], we must first prove or disprove His existence. Until that is accomplished, we cannot know whether there are such cases.[44]

In light of this, Ronald Nash goes on to state,

…the one sure way of showing that the world does contain gratuitous evils is to prove that God does not exist. But it would then seem to follow that one cannot appeal to gratuitous evils while arguing against the existence of God—unless, that is, one is unconcerned about begging the question.[45]

In other words, if we have good reasons, arguments, and justification to believe that God exists (see reason #4 above), we can rationally conclude there are no gratuitous evils:

  1. If God exists, there are no gratuitous evils.
  2. God exists.
  3. Therefore, there are no gratuitous evils.[46]

But suppose there are gratuitous evils. Does this count against Christian theism? Again, not necessarily. Some Christian theists have argued that life here on earth may indeed contain gratuitous evil, that is, evil which serves no earthly good from a human perspective, but which is overcome by the glory that awaits believers in heaven, the overwhelming joy they will experience, and the eternal rewards God will lavish on them (more on this below under #10). In light of eternity, i.e., once we adopt an eternal point of view, the problem of gratuitous evil should no longer be a problem:

 In this life, senseless and irrational evils may occur. But when redeemed believers are able to look back upon those evils from their glorified standing in heaven, they will know what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed us in heaven” (Rom. 8:18).[47]

William Lane Craig writes,

It may well be that there is suffering in the world that serves no earthly good at all, that is entirely pointless from a human point of view, but which God permits simply that He might overwhelmingly reward in the afterlife those who undergo such suffering in faith and confidence in God.[48] 

#8 The POE is a problem because we forget our God is a God of redemption who willingly suffers with us.

Biblical examples of God redeeming evil and suffering for good can be seen in both the Old and New Testaments. The most obvious and well-known example in the Old Testament is the story of Joseph. Although Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, transported against his will to Egypt, falsely accused of sexual misconduct with Potiphar’s wife, and sent to jail, God was working behind the scenes to ultimately bring about a greater good: the earthly salvation and preservation of many people. After everything Joseph went through, his merciful attitude toward his brothers reflected a divine perspective:

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive (Gen. 50:20). 

In the New Testament, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the chief example of God not only redeeming evil and suffering for good but also of His willingness to share in our suffering.

Regarding redemption, if Jesus Christ was the Son of God, then His crucifixion has to be the most heinous evil ever perpetuated by man. From a mere human, finite perspective this single act would appear completely gratuitous, without any justifying reason whatsoever. And yet we know that God is redeeming this great evil for good through the salvation of all those who place their trust in Christ. If God, therefore, is able to redeem for good the most evil act ever undertaken by man, how much more is He able to redeem our own light, momentary afflictions? (2 Cor. 4:17)

Regarding His willingness to suffer with us, William Lane Craig states,

God is not a distant Creator or impersonal ground of being, but a loving Father who shares our sufferings and hurts with us. On the cross, Christ endured a suffering beyond all understanding…because He loves us so much. How can we reject Him who gave up everything for us? When God asks us to undergo suffering that seems unmerited, pointless, and unnecessary, meditation upon the cross of Christ can help to give us the strength and courage needed to bear the cross that we are asked to carry.[49]

Douglas Groothuis comments,

No other worldview teaches that God Almighty humbled himself in order to redeem his sinful creatures through his own suffering and death. No other worldview endorses the idea that the supreme reality was impaled by human hands for the sake of lost souls… God in Christ was no stranger to agony and death. Many impugn God’s allowance of evil by claiming that God is far removed from our earthly distress. But he is not. No other God bears the scars of rejection, betrayal, humiliation, and crucifixion. Jesus Christ knows our pain from the inside out because he has suffered more intensely than anyone.[50] 

#9 The POE is a problem because we forget that a life of suffering, persecution, hardship, and self-denial is what Jesus offers us.

Sometimes the “gospel” is presented this way: “Try Jesus, He’ll make your life better!” But reality and life experience tell us this isn’t necessarily the case. In countries around the world, Christians may be raped, tortured, and put to death if their faith in Jesus is discovered. Nowhere in Scripture does Jesus promise His followers a field of flowers to frolic through or a life of health, wealth, and prosperity. Rather, Jesus said,

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues (Matt. 10:16-18).

Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved (Matt. 10: 21-22).

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; AND A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD” (Matt. 10:34-36).

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it (Matt. 16:24-25).

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you (John 15:18-19).

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

The Apostle Paul experienced this first hand and taught the same thing:

Through many tribulations, we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope (Rom. 5:3).

For to you, it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me (Phil. 1:29-30).

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12).

Jesus will always make your life better in the ultimate sense. However, it may well be the case that your life here on earth as a Christian is nasty, brutish, and short. But because knowledge of God is an incommensurable good this problem of evil should not be a problem at all:

One reason that the problem of suffering seems so puzzling is that people naturally tend to assume that if God exists, then His purpose for human life is happiness in this life. God’s role is to provide a comfortable environment for His human pets. But on the Christian view, this is false. We are not God’s pets, and the goal of human life is not happiness per se, but the knowledge of God—which in the end will bring true and everlasting human fulfillment. Much of the suffering in life may be utterly pointless with respect to the goal of producing human happiness, but it may not be pointless with respect to producing a deeper knowledge of God.[51]

#10 The POE is a problem because we fail to have an eternal perspective and appreciate the glory that awaits us in heaven.

The doctrine of heaven is probably one of the most underemphasized and underappreciated doctrines of the Christian faith.[52] For many believers, heaven is simply the “P.S.” to the Christian life. But we ignore the topic of heaven at our own peril. Like the topic of human depravity, a full treatment of heaven is not possible here. I again point you toward an article by Clay Jones as well as his forthcoming book Why God Allows Evil:

 Reigning with Christ

In short, our failure to understand the problem of evil is due in large part to our failure to adopt an eternal perspective and to fully appreciate the glory that awaits us. Heaven is the ultimate solution to the problem of evil, both intellectually and emotionally. C.S. Lewis was right when he said that a successful answer to the problem of evil cannot exclude the reality of heaven:

Scripture and tradition habitually put the joys of heaven into the scale against the sufferings of earth, and no solution of the problem of pain that does not do so can be called a Christian one.[53]

This means that not only is heaven a completely relevant answer to the problem of evil but it is also a necessary one. The knowledge and promise of heaven allows Christians to endure suffering and hardship the same way a child might endure an unpleasant dinner for the promise of dessert. In fact, Scripture commands this should be our focus:

Set your minds on the things above, not on earthly things. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Col. 3:1-4).

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Pet. 1:13).

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this, you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:3-7).

Furthermore, the so-called problem of evil will one day be resolved because God intends to destroy all evil once and for all. The argument could be stated as follows:

  1. If God is all-good, He wants to defeat evil.
  2. If God is all-powerful God, He can defeat evil.
  3. But evil is not yet defeated.
  4. Therefore, evil will one day be defeated.[54]

In other words, the existence of an all-good, all-powerful God and the existence of evil, rather than being an argument against God or His character, can just as easily be used as an argument which demonstrates that God will one day put an end to evil, as He Himself promises:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer by any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away (Rev. 21:1, 4).

The problem then with the skeptic’s argument regarding the problem of evil is two-fold: (1) It assumes God does not have a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil and (2) It fails to take into account the Christian doctrine of heaven and the final eschatological consummation of all things, including the end of all evil, pain, and suffering.

An illustration may help us grasp how heaven will make our pain and affliction experienced here on earth completely trivial and insignificant.[55] Often a complaint is raised regarding the quantity and intensity of evil a person may experience in this world. But given the reality of heaven, this doesn’t seem to be a problem. For example, suppose you live a very painful existence in which you suffer immensely for most of your life, yet despite this, you come to know Christ. Given this scenario, we may ask the question, “What is a finite lifetime of suffering compared to an eternity of glory, joy, and reward in heaven?” There is simply no comparison. If we were to draw an eternal timeline and mark your life of suffering on it, it would be infinitesimal. In fact, a parent who gives their child a measles shot causing her to cry for ten minutes of her life is causing more suffering by comparison than God allows you to experience in an entire lifetime in light of eternity in heaven. I don’t think this point can be overemphasized. Heaven dwarfs evil into insignificance.

This is something the Apostle Paul understood very well. William Lane Craig does an excellent job addressing this point so I quote him here at length:

When God asks His children to bear horrible suffering in this life, it is only with the prospect of a heavenly joy and recompense that is beyond all comprehension. The apostle Paul underwent a life of incredible suffering. His life as an apostle was punctuated by “afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger” (2 Cor. 6:4-5). Yet he wrote,

“We do not lose heart…For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

Paul lived this life in the perspective of eternity. He understood that the length of this life, being finite, is literally infinitesimal in comparison with the eternal life we’ll spend with God. The longer we spend in eternity, the more the sufferings of this life will shrink by comparison toward an infinitesimal moment. That’s why Paul called the sufferings of this life a “slight momentary affliction”: He wasn’t being insensitive to the plight of those who suffer horribly in this life—on the contrary, he was one of those people—but he saw that those sufferings were simply overwhelmed by the ocean of everlasting joy and glory that God will give to those who trust Him.[56]

To summarize, heaven will be eternal and full of pleasure while our suffering on earth is not. Therefore, heaven solves the problem of evil with regard to the quantity and intensity of suffering experienced here in this life. The reason we fail to understand this problem of evil is because we fail to have an eternal perspective. Paul sums up this point best:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Rom. 8:18).

Ironically, those who reject God because of evil are rejecting the only One who can redeem evil and suffering for good:

Paradoxically, then, even though the problem of suffering is the greatest objection to the existence of God, at the end of the day God is the only solution to the problem of suffering. If God does not exist, then we are locked without hope in a world filled with pointless and unredeemed suffering. God is the final answer to the problem of suffering, for He redeems us from evil and takes us into the everlasting joy of an incommensurable good: fellowship with Himself.[57]

Conclusion

If we want to understand the problem of evil we need to take seriously the first three chapters of the book of Genesis and the last three chapters of the book of Revelation. Everything in between is about good and evil, ruling and reigning. Adam has plunged all of mankind into a lifelong education of the knowledge of good and evil. As his descendants, we are born corrupt and deserving of death. God is using the evil and suffering of this world to teach free beings the horror of sin, persuading them that He is right, and drawing them into a relationship with Himself. Those who endure and choose to honor God in spite of sorrow and affliction will be glorified in heaven where they will rule and reign forever. The ultimate lesson to be learned from all of this is that if you hate evil, hate sin. At last, God will make all things right and put an end to all heartache, anguish, and suffering for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28-39; Rev. 21:1, 4).

Amen.

Notes

1] David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, part X, in The Empiricists (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1974), 490, as quoted in John S. Feinberg, Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil, 3rd ed. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2004), 18.

[2] I am indebted to Dr. Clay Jones and his instruction which has deeply influenced my thinking regarding the problem of evil, much of which is reflected in this article. See his website at www.clayjones.net.

[3] Feinberg, Many Faces of Evil, 21-29.

[4] I often use “problem of evil” rather generally to mean “why God allows evil, pain, and suffering.” When a specific problem or different definition is under discussion, it will either be mentioned explicitly or hopefully will be obvious to the reader.

[5] Feinberg, Many Faces of Evil, 27. “A theodicy purports to offer the actual reason God has for allowing evil in our world. A defense…claims to offer only a possible reason God might have for not removing evil.” (29)

[6] See ibid., 33-122.

[7] Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden (New York: HarperCollins, 1996), 133 (my italics).

[8] Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2011), 622-623.

[9] Kenneth Richard Samples, Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004), 246.

[10] Randy Alcorn, If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil (Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 2009), 21, 35.

[11] William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd ed. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 173.

[12] William Lane Craig, Hard Questions, Real Answers (Wheaton: Crossway, 2003), 107.

[13] William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Persuasion (Colorado Springs: David Cook, 2010), 162.

[14] Ibid., 161.

[15] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 617, 619.

[16] I am indebted to Clay Jones for most of the material in this section.

[17] William Dembski, The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World (Nashville: B&H, 2009), 27-28.

[18] Gen. 3:16-17.

[19] Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1988), 654.

[20] This view of the origin of the soul is known as traducianism, contra special creation.

[21] Dembski, The End of Christianity, 25-26.

[22] I am indebted to Dr. Clay Jones for most of the material and insight presented here, as well as pointing me to the following passage by D.A. Carson.

[23] D.A. Carson, How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2006), 61.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] This is a loose reconstruction with some additions of my own.

[27] J.I. Packer, God’s Words, 71.

[28] For more on these first two points, I highly recommend reading Clay Jones, “We Don’t Take Human Evil Seriously so We Don’t Understand Why We Suffer” found at http://www.clayjones.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Human-Evil-and-Suffering.pdf.

[29] Clay Jones, “Disaster Is Always a Call to Repentance!” found at http://www.clayjones.net/2011/11/disaster-is-always-a-call-to-repentance.

[30] Clay Jones, Prepared Defense 2.0, “Free Will and Heaven”, 2011.

[31] Craig, On Guard, 166.

[32] Alcorn, If God is Good, 72-73.

[33] Thanks to Dr. Clay Jones for these points and commentary.

[34] C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperCollins, 1996), 48.

[35] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in Ephesians Chapter 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1972), 12.

[36] Clay Jones, Human Evil and Suffering, 14, available at http://www.clayjones.net.

[37] Ronald Nash, Faith, and Reason: Searching for a Rational Faith (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), 186.

[38] Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 30.

[39] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 637-639.

[40] See Nash, Faith and Reason, 189, as well as Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil, 26.

[41] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 643.

[42] Nash, Faith and Reason, 211.

[43] Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil, 10-11.

[44] Jane Mary Trau, “Fallacies in the Argument from Gratuitous Suffering,” The New Scholasticism60 (1986): pp. 485-486, as quoted in Nash, Faith, and Reason, 212.

[45] Nash, Faith and Reason, 212.

[46] See Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 641, as well as Nash, Faith and Reason, 211-212.

[47] Nash, Faith and Reason, 215.

[48] Craig, On Guard, 167.

[49] Ibid., 170.

[50] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 644.

[51] Craig, On Guard, 163-164.

[52] I am indebted to Clay Jones for most of the material in this section.

[53] Lewis, The Problem of Pain, 148.

[54] Argument adapted from Norman Geisler, If God, Why Evil? (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2011), 42.

[55] I am indebted to Dr. Clay Jones for this illustration.

[56] Craig, On Guard, 166-167.

[57] Ibid., 173.

 


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64 replies
  1. Brent Hurst says:

    Dear Aaron,
    .
    That seems a bit lengthy, understanding evil is as simply as 2 plus 2.
    .
    God creates everything out of nothingness, out of the void, God CREATES the universe, He does not BEGET the universe, therefore Nothingness is still the FOUNDATION of our Being.
    .
    God’s Nature is DIFFERENT than the nature of what He creates.
    .
    So… Everything from angels to ants is created out of nothing, and back into nothing it wants to return. We can see this in our own bodies, if it were not for the breath of soul this body would very rapidly disintegrate into the elemental pools from which it arose, iron to iron, carbon to carbon, etc…
    .
    The Creation is a closed system, birth and death are inseparable, good and evil are inseparable, light and darkness are inseparable.
    .
    The context of our existence is not linear although we experience it that way, our existence is due to separations. God divided light from dark, God divided expanse from expanse, God looked down on the nothingness and divided it, and we exist within this division.
    .
    There is no loss in Creation, neither is there gain, every action produces and equal and OPPOSITE reaction.
    .
    We cannot have good without evil. All is vanity and emptiness.
    .
    God, who exists outside of this creation, sent a seed of His own Being into it and we know that seed as Christ. If we have been given Spiritual Birth than we can transcend this context of good and evil, life and death, pain and pleasure, as all of this is to be destroyed, dust to dust, so all things will return into the nothingness from which they have arisen.
    .
    But those who possess God’s eternal Being within them, they will transcend this death of all things as even the very elements will be dissolved in fervent heat.
    .
    RELIGION fights the battle of good and evil, this is the mind of the flesh. The mind of the Spirit sees beyond both to the Creator who transcends both. Religion has its heaven or hell, Spirit knows only LIFE, a LIFE above this present one, let the dead bury the dead.

    Reply
  2. jcb says:

    If you want to take the problem of evil seriously, you have to show that evil is not really evil, but rather that it is all for the greater good. Until that is done, the evidence shows that there probably is no perfect being. While there is good (kindness, etc) in the world, there continues to be evil (rapes, etc.). Such things show that there probably is no perfect being.
    “God is using the evil and suffering of this world (such as rape) to teach free beings the horror of sin”. False. (It’s like a gross parody of Monsters Inc.: God needs the screams of rape victims (and others) for some greater good.)
    No, as far as we can tell, there is no greater good served in allowing rape. (That’s why kind people try to stop it). If there were an all loving, all powerful being, it would probably stop rape. Rape happens. Thus there probably isn’t such a being.

    Reply
  3. John B. Moore says:

    I have an honest question for Christians: Is heaven any different from the Garden of Eden before the fall? What does the official doctrine say?

    If heaven and Eden are the same, then evil could be what we need to go through in order to get back where we once were.

    But if heaven is different from Eden, then evil could be the development process we need to go through in order to transition from Eden to heaven.

    Reply
    • Brent Hurst says:

      Dear John,
      .
      Heaven is a word that means “expanse” and could also mean in our modern vernacular “realm”, as such there is more than one to which it refers. “third heaven”, “highest heaven”, “kingdom of heaven” etc…
      .
      Before the Creation or rather transcendent to it there is God’s realm. In His realm He alone exists as He is the sum and substance of eternity itself.
      .
      When He created He created the Heavens and the Earth, Heavens or expanses in this sense could refer to the atmosphere, space, and the heavenly sphere where we tend to picture angels and souls. But for simplicity we will divide the Earth as in matter, the material of our physical bodies, and the heavenly substance of our soul.
      .
      The Garden of Eden, Paradise, is part of the Heavenly realm that was created, this can be understood as Christ was on the Cross about to die as spoke that the thief on one side would join Him in Paradise that day.
      .
      In context this reflects that “Adam and his wife”, together, refer to the soul, formed in this heavenly realm, where all the events of the Trees and the serpent took place. Metaphysically they represent the male and female of each of our psyches, our intellect and our emotions as the soul experiences self consciousness.
      .
      But with what is often called “The Fall” as they were expelled from the Garden there is the descent into this present physical realm. Here there is toil for survival, weeds and thorns, and it was only here that Adam named His wife Eve and began to propagate the physical human race.
      .
      Physical sex produces bodies wherein souls can reside for a while and bodies are short lives. The souls on the other hand are far superior to the flesh and exist from the beginning of the creation to its final day or consummation. The vitality of the soul is like a candle, it burns from the beginning to the end with a solid flame, and then is snuffed out at once. The creation of time and space provide the context for the “here and now” whereby the soul can be conscious of itself, but when God ceases to speak, for it is the compressive force of His voice that is maintaining the Creation, when He goes silent so will the nothingness from which the Creation arose return to calm. The vibrations and the waves ceasing, so is there a dissolution of FORM, all things returning to formlessness including the “I am” of the individual souls that inhabit this creation.
      .
      Evil, can be seen as the void from which everything arose and into which everything is seeking to return. Good can be understood as the for of God voice that communicates information into the void, bringing form from formlessness. Physics understands these principles perfectly as a system will tend towards entropy unless it is receiving information from without. For the plants it is the sun, for the body it is the heavenly nature of the soul that holds it together, for the Creation, both heavenly and earthly it is the voice of the Creator.
      .
      Obviously I am telling much more than even the Christian theologian understand, nevertheless this is the biblical cosmology.
      .
      So the “Good” of this creation is the “order” that arose from “chaos-evil”, just as in the beginning God brings forth light out of darkness. But they remain two sides of one coin, balanced, equal, and the “goodness” of this world might bring one to the Heavenly realm of Paradise, but just as the “Law” cannot save a man in Christian theology, our goodness cannot overcome the darkness from which it arose. The “Light” that God brought forth from the Darkness, will return to the Darkness as soon as God ceases to speaks because Creation is maintained only as long as God’s voice resonates providing the information to divide it from the chaos.
      .
      So we have God, who transcends this created order with His divine eternal nature, and we have the CREATURES which He has created existing within this context of time and space.
      .
      To be a creature, is to be born of the flesh, to be a created thing, and this is what is considered the First Birth, to exist as a created soul from the beginning of Creation until its consummation when all created things will be dissolves. This includes even Eden.
      .
      Such created souls are like ovum in the womb of a woman, they have potential, but no real life. God has sent in the form of Christ a SEED of His own divine nature into the Creation, if that Seed bonds with a created soul, (second birth), the soul can now become something more than its native condition.
      .
      In the first birth (creation) it received a perishable nature, in the second birth (Spiritual) it receives an imperishable nature, now God very own life force, that which we could call eternal infinite Being, has become the life giving force of the created soul, and when all of the Creation, heavenly and otherwise returns to the darkness and void from which it arose, these sanctified souls will continue to exist and find themselves in the Fathers presence even as they have been begotten of His own nature.
      .
      So in summary, Good and evil are necessary as they are part of the Creation, its good having arisen from this evil (chaos). There is no gain or loss, they are simply equal and opposite reactions.
      .
      If a created soul receive new information of a divine kind, then it will transcend the destruction of Eden and ascend into the eternal realm with the Father. (New Jerusalem) where there is even no sun but the Father Himself is the Light, not a created light. There is no going “BACK” as so many think of it, and the “RE”s are deceptive as in resurrection because the term actually means “lifted up” and refers to the lifting up of the nature of the soul. The Garden, just like the Law of theology, simply REVEALED the inadequacies of our present nature.
      .
      You had an honest question and I gave an honest answer, but do not expect Christians to understand this even if they have received the divine nature by God’s grace, our lower (created) nature is still in process and still wants to divide the world into the good and evil, the pain and pleasure of the created order, thinking they can somehow be good enough, that perhaps by their free Will they might tip the scales in their favor and take some credit for their own salvation. The truth is just as we had no choice in our first birth, neither will we in the second. By grace we were created, and by a new grace some will enter eternity.

      Reply
        • Brent Hurst says:

          troll2
          trōl/
          verb
          gerund or present participle: trolling
          1.
          informal
          make a deliberately offensive or provocative online post with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.
          .
          2.
          fish by trailing a baited line along behind a boat.
          “we trolled for mackerel”

          Reply
          • St. Lee says:

            One man’s troll is another’s watchman on the wall (a Biblical concept that has unfortunately been misappropriated by another group of heretics). Gnosis (the word from which Gnosticism is derived) is the Greek word for knowledge of spiritual mysteries, especially “secret knowledge.” It seems that Gnosticism comes in enough shades and variations that it is difficult to pin down a specific set of teachings, but one should be careful any time you deal with someone (or group) who claims secret knowledge that has only been revealed to him (or them). It is the belief of many well-informed Christians that the New Testament book of 1st John was written as a warning against the “Proto-Gnostics” of that day. Here is a link to a fuller explanation of the Gnostic religion: https://carm.org/gnosticism Please go and read the linked article, then come back and re-read Brent Hurst’s comment; I think you will see where he is coming from.

        • Brent Hurst says:

          Dear Mr. Lee,
          .
          The word “Gnosis” is merely the word for knowledge, specifically cognitive or intimate knowledge, and there is nothing mysterious about the word any more than there is something mysterious about the English word “knowledge”. Furthermore gnosis is often used and praised in the scriptures.
          .
          “The Greek word gnosis (knowledge) is a standard translation of the Hebrew word “knowledge” (דעת da’ath) in the Septuagint, thus:
          .
          The Lord gives wisdom (sophia), from his face come knowledge (gnosis) and understanding (sunesis)”
          — Proverbs 2.6
          .
          Philo also refers to the “knowledge” (gnosis) and “wisdom” (sophia) of God.[11]
          .
          Paul distinguishes “knowledge” (gnosis) and “knowledge falsely so-called” (pseudonymos gnosis).”
          .
          The disciples had gnosis about Jesus as they knew Him intimately.
          .
          Now there was some cults referred to as Gnostics much later as they did not call themselves Gnostics as we might refer to ourselves as a Baptist, etc…Generally though they had a distinct doctrine, a lot of Sophia (wisdom) and a particular view of the creating of the universe, they also practiced a lot of imaginative writing, kind of like automatic writing or trance writing we might see around today.
          .
          It is this “imaginative” part that I consider to be so much nonsense, I get that they were trying to understand the universe at a deeper level, but their process allowed for too much ego, and speaking of ego.
          .
          It has already been clearly determined you are a “Troll”, a “Watchman” on the wall would not swerve in like a hit and run driver just to mow someone down with an insult and then speed away. Furthermore I think probably Andy is an Atheist and could care less whether I was a gnostic or not.
          .
          And far and above all that this thread is about the nature of Evil, that is as mysterious as it comes, we have to delve DEEPLY to understand why there is evil not only in the world but in us as we are driven to sin.
          .
          To the mind that is caught up in religion, even the atheistic mind, evil is always understood in terms of morality, do this or do that, this ACT is good and that one evil. This is the legalistic mind and these minds can deceive themselves into thinking they are good or some kind of Saint simply because they DO Christ, “I believe, I believe” and so they reject deeper knowledge (gnosis) and understanding because they have dumbed the scriptures down to a simplistic doctrine. And if any one comes along with any deep insight like maybe Jesus did, they are automatically condemned because what did Jesus claim to have, Gnosis of the Father, intimate knowledge.
          .
          And of course all those who wrote the scriptures also claimed Gnosis of God to some degree, and they wrote chapters and long passages because as true watchmen they tried hard to EXPLAIN so that if someone was willing, perhaps they might understand God better.
          .
          Understanding Evil, the mind of the flesh, influence by their fleshly subjective experience of lain and pleasure, sees evil as a something, just as the religious mind might see God and the devil in struggle with one another. But the word itself has to do with the ABSENCE of good, Wicked means twisted, as in wicker baskets of twisted straw, Transgression means to overstep, as if to take something that is not rightfully yours.
          .
          Since you seem to reject a deeper understanding (gnosis) of the scriptures you probably wont get this but others reading might.
          .
          In the beginning God hovers over the “Waters”, this is not H2O BTW, but a description of the empty void (nothingness) and (formlessness), in short CHAOS. When He speaks God IMPELLS ORDER into the void, from Nothing He brings forth Something, from Darkness He brings forth a Light,
          .
          So EVIL, is the foundation of all that is created, held in order by the will and voice of God as His Voice is still sounding out holding the creation, time and space and everything in place, and if His voice ceases to vibrate, all that we see from angels to ants will dissolve back into the formlessness from which He is sustaining it.
          .
          This has been demonstrated in science when we see a thick liquid or beads take shape when subjected to vibrations. As soon as they stop the sound, everything goes back to disorder, chaos, evil. WE also are made of evil, on the sixth day God spoke and out of the void came forth mankind, we were not begotten as was Christ with a divine nature but we are created souls. Reflecting God by our self consciousness but not made of the same stuff as God.
          .
          So evil (chaos) and good (order) are intimately related in the Creation. First there was Darkness (chaos), then God created a Light (Order) out of the Darkness, these are the “good and evil” that envelop most peoples minds.
          .
          But there is a true Light, and Uncreated Light which is the Light and Being of God Himself, the Light enters Creation in the form of Christ as He brings God’s divine nature into the Creation so that if we are born also of that Light, we might continue to exist even if God ceases to hold this Creation together. This is the second birth.
          .
          So you are right that I seem to have a special knowledge, but it is only because I believe the scriptures where you do not, I’m sure you have your Substitutional theology, where you think Christ was punished so you could escape any pain in Hell, all because YOU DECIDE to trust in His name. Escaping possible pain is all that the mind of the flesh cares about.
          .
          To me its all about the Spirit, that when God breathed His own nature into me I was born again, not out of the Nothingness this time but from His own Being. I am now His child and more than the simple creation that I was. You might repeat words to this effect but as long as you think in terms of substitution you cannot believe them as the two are incompatible. To be a Watchmen you have to stand high upon the tower, seeing what those on the ground do not, you have to have knowledge (Gnosis) that those on the ground do not have and it is with this knowledge that you can warn them.

          Reply
          • St. Lee says:

            There you have it, the words of a modern day Gnostic who admits to it and is proud of it, though he would have continued to represent himself as a Christian if he had not been exposed. Note that his first reaction when I suggested that his words had just a slight smell of Gnosticism was not to deny it or to embrace it and say “yes I am a Gnostic and Gnosticism is true, let me tell you about it,” but rather to label me a troll.
            .
            It was against Gnosticism that the greatest battles of the first few centuries were fought by Christianity. Keep in mind that a Gnostic will mix enough truth in with his lies that the unaware may be deceived. Better to ignore all that a Gnostic says than to risk being seduced by his lies which are garnished with slivers of truth.
            .
            BTW, I never stated that he “seemed to have special knowledge”, only that a Gnostic CLAIMS to have secret knowledge, something we have witnessed him do.

  4. Susan says:

    s he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?[1]

    Lol. Way to miss the big picture Hume!

    Substituting your conclusions like they are authoritative for God’s

    I know God is holy not evil because I believe God’s testimony about Himself.

    But that still doesn’t mean that God didn’t create evil. The Bible says God created evil. Also God as the creator created everything.

    But I don’t think most believing thinkers can resolve this complication so they dismiss this fact and serve up an alternative explanation.

    The Bible teaches a lot through contrast. Good-evil, light-dark, etc.

    So maybe God is teaching people right from wrong from a genuine human experience of evil while He provides the accompanying explanation in the text.

    Isaiah 45:7:
    King James Version
    I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

    This is not the opinion of most Christians but God can still be creating and creating His nature in people. This life could be a test life where he builds knowledge of good and evil into us. How did Adam and Eve living like innocent children in an unspoiled garden know anything about good and evil.

    God knew when He placed them their that the fall was inevitable. He has foreknowledge and could have stopped it so maybe the Fall serves a higher purpose of teaching people how to bring good out of evil.

    Because the descendants of Adam and Eve are shown in all their fallenness in the Old Testament but then Christ comes to rescue everyone and give them an example of Christlikeness to serve as a genuine pattern for all human conduct.

    So it could be God intended the human race to fall so they could increase and multiply while He creates a more perfect godly nature in people.
    The natural man is the prototype originally made in God’s image as good but maybe not all knowing.
    Not able to discern good from evil. That is why Adam and Eve were deceived. Wasn’t it a childlike impulsiveness towards temptation that caused them to disobey?

    Why does everyone assume Adam and Eve were adults and not pre-pubescent youths?

    They didn’t come into knowledge until after the Fall.

    Then the corruption of mankind’s nature ensued in many different ways as outlined in the Old Testament.

    So why would God allow them to fall? Maybe because it served His higher purposes and He is still creating with in the human race.

    Maybe humans are suppose to know good and evil and be able to bring good out of evil or overcome evil as God does. That is godlike.

    Anyways, this is just my considered opinion. Take it or leave it. But why put us all through so many trials and testing if not to produce spiritual success in people.

    An interesting essay. Peripheral to this subject:
    If God Could Save Everyone, Would He?
    https://gods-kingdom-ministries.net/teachings/books/if-god-could-save-everyone-would-he/chapter-1-if-god-could-save-everyone-would-he/

    Reply
  5. Susan says:

    You could be too narrow in your interpretation St. Lee.

    We are suppose to worship in Spirit and Truth.

    Some people are too into the spiritual experiences and some people are too into the truth (Word).

    But we need a balance between both.

    You could be word heavy while he is spirit heavy in interpreting.

    That is why you see a difference between denominations according to which of these qualities they emphasize.

    The Word is a spiritual incorruptible seed that produces spiritual understanding through a right understanding of God isn’t it?

    So why are you so sure in a spiritually transformative process that your understanding is better than his?

    The spiritual growth may articulate different understandings and levels of knowledge in people. Besides isn’t everyone still growing up into a full measure of a man.

    Try being a spiritual enabler and encourager instead of using your human mind to tear
    down their belief system.

    It isn’t that easy getting a good understanding of the scriptures.

    Besides why should you control his interpretation?

    God could be working with him differently from you.

    People aren’t identical are they? If they were we could all see God’s ideas more easily.

    So go gently before casting stones at him. He does appear to have done some genuine seeking on his own. He just doesn’t logicize identically to you or apply the truth the same way maybe.

    And there could be a reason for that. What if he serves a different purpose for God than you do.

    Doesn’t he have to establish his own identity in God?

    Why do you get to define his identity?

    If he is a true seeker then God can define him.

    So don’t pass judgment on him too early by jumping to conclusions.

    Reply
    • Brent Hurst says:

      Dear Susan,
      .
      “””Try being a spiritual enabler and encourager instead of using your human mind to tear
      down their belief system.”””
      .
      You give him too much credit, to “tear down” anything he would have actually had to address something, something like “Brent said this but the bible says such and such”. He uses more words but his context never changes, “Brent’s a gnostic, labelled, discarded”, the evidence against me is apparently my knowledge of God. This type of hit and run criticism is what defines him as merely a Troll, no doubt a saint in his own eyes.
      .
      Here a lesson though
      .
      Faith has come to be defined in modern Christendom as a OUR trust and belief in God, to which God grants salvation. Faith has been dumbed down into mere belief and trust is never separate from belief. If you don’t believe a chair will support you, neither will you trust it to actually sit in it. Trust and belief are always synonymous so when Christianity tries to define Faith as a product of their personal will, they try to add “but you must trust Christ also” as if it a separate issue.
      .
      Belief comes from our will, and with this redefining of faith men can and do seek their own righteous, deviously so, and in doing so they reject true faith and its knowledge as they must CEMENT their supposed TRUST in place.
      .
      In short, if you KNOW, there is no credit (righteousness) to be found for believing in something you do not understand.
      .
      To maintain their own righteousness they must remain forever ignorant. And so in many Christians their is this prejudice against knowledge as if it somehow contradicts faith.
      .
      True Faith, the Faith that the Father bestows on a man, is the LIGHT by which his eyes can see and his ears can hear. Just as the light in this world illuminates the things of this world, so does the Light of the Heavenly world illuminate the realities of the Spiritual world. In this world it would be foolish for a man to seek credit for the light of the sun. Likewise spiritually, to be given the revelation from God that for instance, Jesus is the Christ, the son of promise, it is just as equally foolish to try to take credit for what is obvious.
      .
      One might say that Faith is the ability to see spiritual realities, but the eye can see nothing unless the Light is shining upon it.
      .
      And before we bring up Paul’s definition, the emphasis is not on “unseen and hoped for” as so many Christians try to make it, the true emphasis that Paul is pushing is “evidence and substance”.
      .
      Now here’s the kicker, God, out of His Mercy and Grace, decides of His own self to bring for Spiritual Children, and so He pours out His Spirit on a select few, a remnant, and now there are a certain number of people who are not only created as souls, but whom God has also poured His own Spirit into in order they might become His children, born of God.
      .
      BUT they would not KNOW this is the reality of their Being unless God reveals it to them. You were Susan long before you became aware of that fact, and as you have grown you have also come to understand your name, your nature, etc…
      .
      To those who are the children of Light, so too will they grow and become aware that they are chosen by God, birthed by God, and will also inherit His Kingdom, these are the HIDDEN Spiritual realities of their inner Being, but the only way they will come to know that is THROUGH FAITH.
      .
      Faith then is not a CAUSE of our salvation wherein we might take credit as if we are MORE virtuous than someone who might not be saved. No man can boast. But instead Faith (Spiritual vision and revelation) or rather (Spiritual gnosis), is the process (through) by which we become aware of God’s salvation and Spirit within us.
      .
      Now Susan, I know you are a “everyone will be saved” type of person, and such compassion can be admirable, but beyond what we would desire or wish, God’s truth must be our highest motivation and the selectiveness of salvation was not easy for me to deal with, but I could not deny the knowledge and understanding that God gave me, especially the reality of His Spirit infusion as it were as the source of salvation rather than anything born from a man’s will.
      .
      Out of all the people on earth God chose Abraham, and so He chose the seed of Abraham to become His chosen people, yet even though they were the chosen ones, still they were rebellious, but God, FOR HIS OWN NAME’s SAKE, kept them alive and helped them thrived, while other nations have come and gone He has sustained them even bringing them back into their homeland after 1900 years. Not because they are deserving, in fact quite the opposite, but because He chose them.
      .
      So also, those whom are of the seed of Christ, His Spirit having been poured out upon them, are chosen by God. Because of God’s covenant with Abraham He made Him a Father of a multitude, So also the new covenant is between God and His Son, and extends to those who are of the Seed of Christ, sharing in the same Spirit which He has poured upon us.
      .
      It is humbling to be chosen, and although we might not know who IS NOT, because many people, even those who might think of themselves as atheists, not have the faith yet to see their true Spiritual status or nature, we treat all men fairly in this regard. Brothers we might treat good, but even the lost we treat generously since we know they have no hope, like a sick child their live will end even before it has begun.
      .
      I have said all this for your consideration in the future. As for any judgment from Lee or even the atheists here, is it not clear I speak from knowledge, you have read so much of what I write and nowhere do you see me peddling some doctrine, parroting someone else’s list of beliefs, even those of the Gnostics. I would not have been given the knowledge I have if I were not willing to be nothing, we have to cast aside all those things we only think we know as doctrines give us the ILLUSION of knowledge and stand ignorant before God. Then the Spirit of Truth within us can lead us.
      .
      brent

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        You don’t seem to be giving scriptural constructions Brent so maybe you should relearn doctrine. And you are coming across like a guru which is why St. Lee says you are a gnostic.

        You suggested the soul is immortal in your first post in this thread but the Bible says the soul can die so you are not reasoning along with the scriptures as closely as you should be.

        People should be reading the scriptures for themselves. Not only is it our clean, pure spiritual food given for training in righteousness it also allows one to identify when someone is not explaining God’s truth accurately.

        2 Timothy 3:16, NASB

        All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.

        This shows the limitation of this format and debate as a training tool.

        Study is how you learn God’s truth.

        And if you don’t think atheists can be retrained in the scriptures Brent then there is no point to your posting here.

        Apologetics defends the Gospel and is where a lot of doctrinal correction occurs.

        This is where you identify false religion and can explain why they are false.

        When you throw the scriptures out like you do then you threw out God’s communication of His standards to people.

        So stop acting like you have mastered everything.

        Only Christ has. Everyone else that is a serious follower of him is a mere disciple in training.

        Reply
        • Brent Hurst says:

          Dear Susan,
          .
          “””You suggested the soul is immortal in your first post in this thread but the Bible says the soul can die”””
          .
          This is not what I suggest, what I said was that the life and vitality of the soul is constant, at least as long as this Creation is maintained. Thus the analogy of a candle flame which remains constant as the candle burns but will eventually be put out.
          .
          This superior vitality of the soul, and the fact that all souls exist from the beginning of the Creation unto its dissolution or final day, creates the ILLUSION that souls are eternal. This is exemplified in the Garden of the soul as the serpent tells Adam’s wife that “surely you will not die” and modern Christianity sustains this lie with its touting of the immortality of the soul. In the doctrine of Substitional Theology this immortal soul either enters the bliss of heaven (Pleasure) or the torment of Hell (Pain) because the Flesh divides the Universe into these two dynamics as they align with the Subjective experience of the Flesh.
          .
          The Garden, Adam and his wife, teach us of the reality of our own souls, we all eat from the Tree of Knowledge every time we think that knowledge, doctrine, belief, actions, that anything we do, say, or believe can change our inherent nature. Shave a peach and paint it red so it looks like a tomato yet it will always be a peach.
          .
          So it is that the LAW cannot change WHAT we are. And what we are is a “creation”, brought forth from the chaos and darkness of the void from which all things were created. By analogy, from dust we came an unto dust shall we return.
          .
          The only way we might become MORE than we are as creatures is with the infusion of God’s own eternal Being. Thus Salvation is all about God’s Spirit being poured upon us as it merges within our own Being, exactly like a strand of DNA from each parent, begets a NEW Being, so does God’s Spirit intermingled with the created soul, beget a child of God. This birth begins our eternal life as God’s eternal Being has become part and parcel of our nature.
          .
          Thus for the soul it is not the Tree of knowledge but the Tree of Life (Christ) that gives us, the soul, for the FIRST time, eternal existence.
          .
          Since a soul in it’s heavenly realm cannot look at another soul and see it die, since they all exist vitally throughout the life of the Creation, so then did God cast Adam and his wife from the Garden, generally referred to as “The Fall” and this is where God condemned the soul to enter into the life of the flesh, where by our identification with our flesh, we can experience death. It is only AFTER the Fall, that Adam named his wife Eve, had sex, beget children, and scratched a living from this thorny ground.
          .
          The vitality of our existence as a soul in the heavenly realm was deceptive because it was, and is, a Paradise. Hence here we are so we might see the temporal nature of both ourselves and the Creation, and thus seek that LIFE that comes from above all Creation.
          .
          “””””You don’t seem to be giving scriptural constructions Brent so maybe you should relearn doctrine.””””
          .
          Doctrine, and BELIEF in doctrinal assertions, create the ILLUSION of knowledge, therefore the illusion of Faith, this is attested to in scripture as “line upon line, precept upon precept” in the 28th chapter of Isaiah. God is looking for people who want to KNOW Him, not merely know OF Him.
          .
          If a mind searches for Truth, they must discern within themselves what they know from what they believe, like separating the clean from the unclean, unfortunately this reveals quite a bit of ignorance within us. And if we are not willing to confess our ignorance before God, then He will not take the time to reveal true knowledge of Himself to us. Neither will God be BOUGHT OFF by our praise, He has no ego and no need of our Praise, praise is only for our good but people deceive themselves that they are serving God by praising Him.
          .
          God, like any good father, is kindled in His heart by the child that desire to see, to understand him from the inside out, a child who is praising might still be his child, but he is not fooled by such praise as it seeks to serve ultimately the one who is praising, either by receiving something from the father, or generating the self illusion they are a good child. The father will never reveal what is deepest in his heart to a child who approaches him that way. Do you really need a scripture to know that this is the truth.
          .
          I come off like a Guru (teacher) because I am one, I speak with authority because God has given me a deep knowledge of Himself, and what I know I teach, light exposes darkness, and those who only have “belief” in this or that are always offended because they draw their self righteousness from believing. Why should anyone, even Lee be offended by what I say, if I am in error, then what lie I might tell would evaporate into the nothingness for that is all a lie is. Do I or you have the power to effect another person’s salvation, can I stay the will and arm of God, of course not.
          .
          I am just a poster on a forum, I even use my full name instead of hiding behind handles like St. Lee, if I expose hypocrisy, I spell out the reasons why, I don’t hit and run with name calling. Why should any body be offended by a nobody.

          Reply
          • Susan Tan says:

            Well you are spouting a lot of ideas that came from someone who has a partial knowledge of doctrine.

            I distrust gurus. A lot of false cults have been started by people who fancied themselves gurus. The pope is a type of exalted guru.

            So you might want to examine what you are talking about. Don’t take a shot at history and God’s revealed communication to the world then parrot something similar back to people and claim your life experience is better than there’s so they should follow what you say.

            Not everyone has come from the same background or has the personality to duplicate you.

            The pattern is given in scripture. Paul says he is the pattern and Paul met Jesus and studied the Old Testament and wrote a good portion of the New Testament.

            Our emotions are important but we can be deceived by them too.

            In my opinion sin could have affected every person on this planet a bit differently so I would be careful claiming that you have the controlling experience from which to judge by.

            God gave us the scriptures to transfer some core knowledge about Him to people. He is the one people personally entrust themselves. Teachers help guide us but each person ultimately has his own relationship with God to manage don’t they?

            You don’t just take the scriptures that contain the world’s official recording of Jesus and God’s communication through a 1500 year life of prophecy and say “Scrap the Bible world. I experienced something better so I know better. ”

            I do not see the humility in that.

            People should check their teachers, too because Christ’s people follow Christ. Though humans get mixed up a lot and we get a lot of false cult spin offs.

            I want to know God through the scriptures because that is why He gave them and I want to have an original and personal experience of Him not something secondhand given to me by someone else who might be deluded by his own experience.

            A personal experience of God is possible. All the prophets and the apostles had it and so do a lot of other people today.

            So everyone should be actively seeking for himself and using his own mind.

            I am not throwing out the prophecies and God’s plan and all the detailed moral information, etc. for your experience am I.

            No I am getting my own my own way because God gave me a different earthly identity from your’s.

            Why I am reading a book by Amen now where he claims some people go to church where their families before them went. Others change denominations based on their brain types.

            So with all the different intelligences, backgrounds and personalities in this world one the most basic foundational knowledge bonding this big group together is the scriptures.

            They transfer the basic info needed to help us form a relationship with God and that is what evangelists do. Help people form a relationship with God. After that the amount of time and care that people take in seeking to maintain and improve that relationship is in their hands. Do you know any evangelists trying to control anyone? If you do they are probably a cult leader because cult leaders abuse the authority people grant to them.

            But there is no headship line of authority to a cult leader in the Bible.

            The line is God to Jesus to man to woman.

            You ought to be careful when someone wants to control you too much. You could end up a puppet without much of a life because you substituted someone else’s thinking for your own.

            i am in control of my own mind. I change it and reconsider things over time. You can believe in God and change your mind contrary to this dogmatic stereotype atheists label theists with. I changed from eternal torment to universal reconciliation from a better understanding of the scriptures.

            But you aren’t investigating enough. You are quoting a paraphrased dogma back to me that only a few are saved.

            But the scriptures contradict your understanding so you learned it from a mistaken man.

            Here is the King James Version:

            For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

            Here is the Young’s Literal Translation:
            for even as in Adam all die, so also in the Christ all shall be made alive,

            Now looking at the New Living Translation:
            New Living Translation
            Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.

            That is some difference in interpretation of God’s message and these interpretation are being controlled by men.

            Why would I allow the general understanding prevail when the general understanding of a matter could be erroneous.

            That is why I am telling everyone to research on this question of the eternal destiny of people because it concerns them.

            I actually have tried to save unbelievers for Christ. I don’t just assume that I am safe and they are all going to hell.

            Hell is not even a biblical world.

            So you go ahead and spew this ridiculously destructive doctrine and I will continue to tell people to be responsible for themselves and their relationships because there is a lot of inferior understanding in this world posing as the source of all knowledge when the only source of all knowledge is God.

            The Bible points the way to God and you want to kick the sign down for others because you say you don’t need it any more.

            Well if you are so humble why should your will prevail over God’s?

            God gave us those scriptures to serve His purposes not your’s.

            Have a blessed day.

          • St. Lee says:

            Despite slanders to the contrary, I hide behind no screen name. My identity is only one click away (i.e. click on “St. Lee”) There you will find not only my own blog, salvation testimony, writings, name and contact information. In fact, one can even find a link there for the church to which I am accountable as a member. On the other hand, when I search for the name of the one accusing me of hiding behind a screen name, I get 445,000 hits with the most promising being that of the top 10 “Linked In” profiles for that name.
            .
            Our resident Gnostic seems to be quite set on denying the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, given he mentions it in nearly every comment. Yes, I believe in the substitutionary work of Jesus Christ, wherein he suffered on the cross for my sins and I am seen by the Father as having his righteousness. And praise the LORD for that, because all of my righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) A careful reading of the following scripture give at least a small sampling of what the Bible teaches about the substitutionary atonement:
            .
            Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53:4-5
            .
            He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:11-12
            .
            … and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:24-25
            .
            All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21

  6. Brent Hurst says:

    Dear Susan,
    .
    “”””Well you are spouting a lot of ideas that came from someone who has a partial knowledge of doctrine.”””
    .
    Doctrines many times are partially right, for instance Christ righteousness is imputed to us, but whereas the doctrine concludes this as if it is a legal arrangement, as if by contract, or God puts on special glasses or simply just SEEs us AS IF we were righteous—-
    .
    The true methodology lies in the Spirit as God begets His own righteous Being within us. IOWs its as if the righteousness that was in Christ, is transferred to us when we drink His blood. Thus His Blood, His LIFE BEING flows within us now also.
    .
    But the Church today is blind to the Spirit, therefore they have a Substitutional Doctrine where Christ was merely punished so we would not be. and somehow the qualities that belongs to Christ are ONLY imputed.
    .
    Paul was using “imputation” as a metaphor to demonstrate how our Spiritual Birth brought with it such qualities.
    But within the Substitional Doctrine, such imputation is seen as the gist itself, as if God simply “CALLS” us righteous when we are not.
    .
    “”””I distrust gurus.””””
    .
    Guru is merely the Indian word for teachers. You might not use this word, but you claim to teach, you promote the books of other teachers, you claim to be right most the time, and you claim to be able to point out another persons faults or bad doctrine as you are now doing with me, in all ways you are acting a s a guru along with the pastors and ministers of every church, and also the others here such as Lee street who hopes to expose me as a Gnostic. Guru and Gnosis are transliterations, NOT translations, Guru translates into the English as the word “Teacher” Just like Rabbi. If you wish to convert the Atheists around here, it might help if you guys did not exhibit such a religious bias.
    .
    “””” So you might want to examine what you are talking about. Don’t take a shot at history and God’s revealed communication to the world then parrot something similar back to people and claim your life experience is better than there’s so they should follow what you say.””””
    .
    You mean like I should now follow what you say????? Or that any of those others here, Atheists and such should listen to you?????
    .
    “””””So you go ahead and spew this ridiculously destructive doctrine and I will continue to tell people to be responsible for themselves and their relationships because there is a lot of inferior understanding in this world posing as the source of all knowledge when the only source of all knowledge is God.
    The Bible points the way to God and you want to kick the sign down for others because you say you don’t need it any more.
    Well if you are so humble why should your will prevail over God’s?
    God gave us those scriptures to serve His purposes not your’s.
    Have a blessed day.”””””
    .
    You seem offended and angry, But as long as we are talking about kicking down the scriptures “”Hell is not even a biblical world.”””
    .
    Gehenna, Hell, Lake of Fire, Second Death
    .
    A valley of refuge in the time of Christ as used as a metaphor for destruction (not torment)
    .
    Translators imposing their doctrines will translate “Hades” as “Hell” as in the case of Lazarus and the rich man but this is wrong since later in Revelations Hades is cast into the Lake of Fire (Hell) along with Death to be destroyed.
    .
    Hades is where the lost reside until the end of Creation and the Eternal Fire destroys the Earth as well as the Heavens and where Peter speaks of the very elements themselves being destroyed.

    Reply
    • Susan Tan says:

      I am not angry and now after saying doctrine isn’t important you are administering a doctrinal correction in this thread.

      But your own understanding of the scriptures is mistaken just like the Pharisees were mistaken in the time of Christ.

      You are touting annuhilationism on this board and you learned it somewhere.

      I am a redeemed person and. I know the Bible says Jesus came to save the lost and everyone is lost.

      But not everyone is born again in this lifetime or going to make it to the first resurrection. Even some people claiming to be Christians will only make it to the second resurrection.

      So you had better be clear on who God is and what His true nature is and get free of the traditions of men that are clouding Christianity just like they did in the time of Christ to the Pharisees.

      Jesus Christ came to save the world. If he draws out the first fruits first that still does not mean he will abandon the rest of creation to annihilation.

      I am sick and tired of people saying universalism isn’t in the Bible when they never checked the mistranslated words which might have been planted by a false prophet to disrupt spiritual growth in people.

      If you won’t learn doctrine then you cannot sort Biblical truth from Biblical error and could teach an erroneous teaching.

      Universalism Is Not in the Bible? Gary Amirault
      http://www.tentmaker.org/articles/universalism-is-not-in-the-bible.htm

      You had better check your doctrine and get it all straight before you teach anything.

      You are in the midst of a bunch of unbelievers who never learned doctrine but they will rip you apart for a contradiction anyways because they never learned the Berean way is to master God’s perspective and some people are a lot more Berean in the church than others.

      The lazy Thessalonians are the ones who never check.

      Why check the ancient word meanings? Someone else did it right?

      Well this is God’s Word you are disseminating and it brings spiritual growth and change if you believe it in your heart.

      So why would you let a false doctrine stunt your spiritual growth?
      Are you a mental weakling or a coward?

      Read the article above.

      The truth is suppose to set one free.

      Is the Bride of Christ really marrying a bully god who has to respect weakminded people’s sinfully misinformed minds and wills for all eternity?

      God changed the bully Saul into Paul on the Road to Damascus and bullies are usually cowards until they metamorphasize into bullies.

      So Saul metamorphasized from a coward into a bully then God corrected and changed him into Paul and God can’t do this for everyone if He wants to when His expressed will is to save the world.

      Eternal torment and annihilationism are both doctrinal misreasinings from the mind of man encouraged by a false prophet plant in the scriptures.

      God can save this whole world any time He wants to because He is the almighty God so He can do it whenever He wants to in spite of the mistaught reasoning of men that they teach and communicate to others.

      Reply
      • Mark Heavlin says:

        “God can save this whole world any time He wants to because He is the almighty God so He can do it whenever He wants to in spite of the mistaught reasoning of men that they teach and communicate to others.”
        .
        I wonder how you are explaining these two verses from Hebrews Chapter 9 then ?
        .
        Hebrews 9:27-28 27 Just as man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so also Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him.
        .
        Or these verses from John Chapter 3 – particularly verse 18 ?
        .
        John 3:16-21 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness more than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever practices the truth comes into the Light, so that it may be clearly seen that what he has done has been accomplished in God.”

        Reply
      • Mark Heavlin says:

        “Universalism Is Not in the Bible? Gary Amirault”
        .
        “You had better check your doctrine and get it all straight before you teach anything.”
        .
        One wonders how the “universalist” is actually claiming that “ALL” are saved ?
        The following quote from Gary Amirault is the first sentence of the second paragraph under the heading of “New Testament Universalism” from the link in Susan’s post above.
        .
        “God has given His Son “authority over ALL flesh, to give eternal life to ALL whom He has given Him” (John 17:2). ”
        .
        A quick search on the word “eternal” shows that it is the EXACT SAME word in the Greek ( aiōnion ) that the “universalists” say can NOT mean “eternal” when used with punishment or torment because of ancient word meaning. But they are using it to MEAN EXACTLY THAT – ETERNAL when used with the word “life” ? Can someone please tell me how that magic works ?

        Reply
    • Susan says:

      Well I hope you check into universalism. The false prophet spew of eternal torment that makes it look like God is not in control bothered me for a while now.

      But when I actually run into a free, reasonably sane mind some people receive the truth or might even check it.

      But some people are so indoctrinated now that they stopped establishing the truth of a matter for themselves.

      So atheism is attacking a straw man that came from the mind of man.

      There is a limit to what I can do in this format and my current circumstances so why worry about correcting the Christian behemoth when God is in control of everything.

      I really did feel like this doctrinal correction fell on me to perform but why?

      Everyone has a mind to investigate the scriptures and see if any false ideas were intermixed with God’s Word.

      Jesus already accepted responsibility for the whole creation and the Cross is a finished work.

      I just tried to help the furthest down in God’s order get a little higher in it so Jesus can translate them into the Kingdom of Heaven but a doctrinal correction of this magnitude is a Herculean task and should never be on one person when every human being is capable of using his own reason to ascertain the truth of the Gospels if he would only apply himself.

      So I will never be silent on this doctrinal error but I can finally go out and live abundantly knowing God is in control and will and can and has already saved this world whether or not I lift a finger to help Him.

      Because He is able. He really doesn’t need me at all to accomplish a task does He but maybe He likes His children’s involvement and to see signs of our spiritual growth.

      Anyways, don’t think you know it all about the scriptures because nobody but God does.

      Stay in them while the truth gradually reveals itself more and more over time and God’s perspective comes more and more into focus.

      There isn’t a man alive who can foil God’s purpose for forever is there?

      Just be careful to get your own spiritual growth from the best sources.

      Now I can take a break.

      Trying to doctrinally correct zealots who refuse to do the necessary meditation and research work is a hard task.

      God Bless! Hallelujah. God really is in control so I can be free.

      Didn’t you know with men trying to be cult leaders that what they want is control over you?

      But God sets His people free so you know He is the real deal. He doesn’t want to control or threaten us? Where is the righteous relationship in that?

      If you don’t understand doctrine then you probably don’t reason along godly lines of thinking instead you reason like the world and the world is a chaotic jumbled mess.

      So do not discount Doctrine Brent. Meditate on it until God produces godliness in you not guruness.

      God’s way is God’s way and many of the gurus of the world posing as experts never met God in the scriptures so don’t let them water down God’s ways with the world’s.

      Study to be an approved man.

      Reply
      • Mark Heavlin says:

        “Now I can take a break.”
        .
        At this point I am almost willing to bet anyone a large sum of money that this is NOT TRUE. You have been lying about leaving this site for over a month now. On top of that you have FAILED to provide even a single verse from the inerrant WORD OF GOD – THE HOLY BIBLE that you have NOT used OUT OF CONTEXT or been REFUTED in the same passage in your attempt to prove “universalism”. Instead you continue to twist NOT only THE HOLY BIBLE but also anyone’s words who disagree with your position. Up to including comments of demonic activity in the lives of those who disagree with you. When confronted with straight logic that also proves “universalism” is FALSE you simply IGNORE IT.
        .
        .
        “If you don’t understand doctrine then you probably don’t reason along godly lines of thinking instead you reason like the world and the world is a chaotic jumbled mess.”
        .
        Go look in the mirror as this comment fits you perfectly. This would include long winded rants against the Roman Catholic church which continue even after you are told to take that message to the appropriate message board as no one here is either Catholic nor does it have anything to do with the discussion. Misquoting Scripture more times than you have gotten it correct. Other long winded rants that have ZERO semblance of any coherent thought. You have gone so far to say that someone even slipped a lie into Scripture just to make me believe it. You continually say NOT to follow man’s interpretations yet the only thing you do to prove points is point people to a couple of individual men’s comments on their own website. Again go look in the mirror – for all you accuse others here of doing is PRECISELY what you do. And of course the men you quote are CORRECT even when all of the commentaries and Scripture itself says otherwise.

        Reply
        • Susan says:

          I will let you have the last word because I already stated it isn’t wise to dignify the false interpretations of peoole who refuse to research ancient word meanings but you are wrong about no one being Catholic on the board. One of the atheist posters was raised Catholic.

          Over the course of years posting on the Internet I have frequently ran across atheists who were former Catholics. Some of them were irate over the priest pedophile scandal in the Catholic Church.

          Christian apologists borrow from Catholic apologists sometimes and vice verse so so much for your claim.

          Augustine is one of the most widely read apologists and he is Catholic.

          You probably aren’t an apologist or you would have known this already.

          Reply
          • Mark Heavlin says:

            Well I see I should have taken the bet.
            .
            .
            “I will let you have the last word because I already stated it isn’t wise to dignify the false interpretations of peoole who refuse to research ancient word meanings”
            .
            So the entire main stream church is wrong and been wrong for all of history and only you and the other “universalists” have it right ? Preposterous. If that was TRUE it should be easy for you to prove it using SCRIPTURE from GOD’s WORD – THE HOLY BIBLE. That you have NOT and can NOT only solidifies that you are incorrect.
            .
            .
            How enlightening to know that one can be both an atheist and a Catholic at the same time. Perhaps in your own twisted way you can explain how that is actually possible ?
            .
            .
            That this is NOT a Roman Catholic board is patently obvious. That you think your rants against them belong here is NOT surprising in the least given the rest of your confusion.

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            Feel free to completely ignore all of my comments from above as it seems to be your standard operating procedure anyway.

      • Brent Hurst says:

        Dear Susan,
        .
        “”””If he draws out the first fruits first that still does not mean he will abandon the rest of creation to annihilation.
        I am sick and tired of people saying universalism isn’t in the Bible when they never checked the mistranslated words which might have been planted by a false prophet to disrupt spiritual growth in people.””””
        .
        Most (false) Doctrines are born of scriptural recipes, a verse here and a verse there, a word here or a word there, string them all together and a doctrine is born.
        .
        This type of scriptural dissection and its inherent flaws is what Isaiah 28 is about as line upon line, precept upon precept leads people into traps. In my view, the lazy mind is the mind that depends upon such recipes and does not take the time to consider “CONTEXT”.
        .
        God teaches through Context, in this way even if some devious translators, or simply spiritually unenlightened translators make what might be referred to as errors, the context corrects these and so the scriptures are still profitable.
        .
        For example, how many words in Aesop’s fable of the of the tortoise and the hare would have to be changed before the overall moral of the story would be lost, you would literally have to rewrite whole sentences.
        .
        So God, throughout time, has repeated certain contexts as He has dealt with His Creation and mankind. So instead of letting my mind get bogged down by words, which often may have multiple meaning like “post” or “for”, and digging into the archaic uses of such words for variations that might support what I want them to say, let me just look at the contexts that have been repeated throughout time.
        .
        The flood, wiped out all life, except a few that were chosen
        .
        Fire fell from Heaven and destroyed all those living in Sodom and Gomorrah, except Lot and his family
        .
        The angel of death swept over Egypt killing all the first born of animal as well as humans, except those who placed the blood of the Passover upon their Lintels
        .
        God’s chosen crossed through the sea, but those who were not chosen drown
        .
        Even though God chose Israel, when they rebelled at mount Sanai the Earth opened up and swallowed all those who aligned themselves with Korah, their wives, children and possessions
        .
        and on and on through the scriptures death comes to call and God saves some while others perish.
        .
        And finally Hell, the Lake of Fire, the Second death that can destroy a soul, and ALL THOSE who were not found in the book of life were cast in and consumed by the unquenchable flames that will destroy even the very Heavens.
        .
        And from what doctrine have I parroted annihilation, from the Creation itself as it is designed to teach us of God. Death waits for every single thing there is. A primitive mind might see the sun rise every day since mankind or even life has inhabited this planet, but just as death is all around us daily, so even the sun and stars shall die, and even the universe itself will collapse in upon itself and will become the NOTHING from which it arose.
        .
        This is the nature of the beast, this is the present order, dust to dust, God has no need to kill of punish anyone, it is already build into the system. This is the wrath that is upon all mankind, Substitional theology itself poses a Salvation where God is coming to punish the wicked but from Adam on down death is the order of all things, everything is to be annihilated.
        .
        Biblically there is an error in our thinking known as the Pride of Life, And Universalism just like Substitionalism wallows in it, it is the mistaken assumption that we are alive, and that somehow we have an inherent right to continue to exist AS IF WE WERE ON THE SAME LEVEL AS GOD.
        .
        God alone is the sole possessor of the Eternal and Divine nature.
        .
        Mankind is a CREATION, a breath, a cloud that appears in form only for a short time and then evaporates. God loses NOTHING if all of Creation dissolves back into the void from which He drew it forth.
        .
        In fact, that which is finite and temporal such as this Creation does not even exists in the same dimension as God since the Infinite and the Finite are incompatible with each other. From our perspective we think we are real and solid and God is transparent, but from God’s POV He is the REALity and we are the shadows drifting by.
        .
        No doubt you think of yourself as a good person for the compassion to save ALL of mankind, but in reality to have lifted all mankind to be in possession of the same rights and Glory that belong to God alone.
        .
        The cloud thinking it is a man, the pot thinking it is alive as the potter, the shadow thinking it is the sun, so you assume to possess what belongs to God.
        .
        And if God sends forth a seed of Himself to impregnate SOME with His own Being, that which is true Life, where He has given the opportunity for some that are dead to receive His true life, there is no loss of the others for they have never been truly alive to begin with.
        .
        Just as a child, who has never been born, does not even exist. So also those shadows that walk this Earth with only the APPEARANCE of life are in truth already dead and always have been, and so it is that the dead shall bury the dead.
        .
        And thus, that is “ALL” that needs be said, or is it?

        Reply
        • Susan says:

          I am done arguing Brent.

          Martin Luther upheld predestination in his debate with Erasmus on predestination versus free will.

          But things change with time.

          The Rapture doctrine was no where to be found in Christianity until the late 1800s writings of John Nelson Darby. Now that doctrine is all over the place. I even heard Dr David Jeremiah expounding on it on tv.

          It can be hard to harmonize biblical doctrines. Predestination is certainly in the Bible and man has a will. Whether or not it is free is debatable.

          I wouldn’t bet on free will being dominant in salvation though.

          Because brain science is revealing people do suffer from impulsivity problems, addiction, etc.

          Where was the free will choice in being born with a brain that has poor impulse control?

          You can reprogram your brain to be more sinful, too without being aware of it. Where is the free will choice in that?

          Alcoholism and substance abuse runs in families so it has some genetic basis? Where is the free will in being born with an illness like that.

          There is something wrong with a theology that doesn’t account for these things.

          That just says “Oh well you go to hell. You didn’t choose wisely. See here I have this polyglot word here called hell. It is synonymous with all these words that had different meanings in the original: Tartarus, Sheol, Gehenna and the Valley of Hinnom.

          I think I will think for myself.

          If you can’t correct zealots in deep error at least you can refuse to become one by thinking for yourself.

          Reply
          • Mark Heavlin says:

            SUSAN : “I think I will think for myself.”
            .
            Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            “The Rapture doctrine was no where to be found in Christianity until the late 1800s writings of John Nelson Darby.”
            .
            Personally, I tend to think 1 Corinthians was written well before the late 1800’s.
            .
            1 Corinthians 51-54 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come to pass: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

        • Susan says:

          I did not even read the whole post because I stopped at your putting men’s context above God’s Word.

          The Bible says we learn line by line, precept upon precept and we are suppose to reason from the spiritual to the spiritual.

          There are men in the past and alive today that have tried to assimilate all of God’s Word if they didn’t we could not put together the prophecies.

          The Bible is a transformational truth. It is also a truth that has to be transferred across generations.

          If you reason wrong like some people do then you could miss out on the truth. Gandhi did. He had read the Bible and should have submitted to Jesus but he let his assessment of another person’s life stop Him. This person was a Christian who explained some doctrine to Gandhi yet had trouble living it himself.

          So Gandhi walked some Hindu way instead of following Jesus Christ because he reasoned the wrong way.

          That Christian is not the pattern.

          Jesus is. That is why the disciples followed him.

          Gandhi screwed up and a lot of people make the same mistake Gandhi did.

          How does my failure or success to live up to Jesus determine your failure or success?

          I am on a walk with God. This is a transformational change. It could take longer than you or I realize and we don’t arrive at the place Jesus wants us to be by copping out in our own minds and saying “well that guy failed to be blessed and holy” so I won’t be able to do it either.

          Gandhi did not understand Christianity though he borrowed Christ’s turn the other cheek philosophy and developed his idea of pacific civil resistance from it.

          Reason more closely with God.

          The context is the whole Bible.

          You want to be blessed and holy then pattern yourself after the best pattern: Jesus Christ.

          Paul said he was a pattern because he was patterning himself after Jesus.

          So as a Christian you fall down. Let the good Lord help you back up again and persevere in the faith.

          How can you be Christlike if you give up at the outset and can’t take a hard fall and get back up?

          We have repentance for when we fail.

          So learn the Bible and don’t let “context” limit your learning.

          The Bible is God’s tool to build a spiritual mind in you and helps transfer knowledge of God across generations.

          This is one of God’s ways of not leaving His children directionless in this world.

          You should be done wandering wide in this world between false religions and learn from the truth which is Jesus.

          In apologetics refuting heresies you can be wandering too far afield into false worldly thinking so set your mind in Jesus and get the real truth and not a fake or some watered down version of the truth in your own mind.

          If you are Jesus’ sheep you should be sticking to the shepherd not making excuses from weak deceived reasoning like Gandhi did.

          I don’t think Gandhi was a holy man. Just a strongly opinionated one who lived out his convictions. But not a godly man because only God can make a godly man.

          Of course, the way the world likes to falsely adulate him can confuse people. It did me for a while but he is still not one of Christ’s disciples no matter how much he borrowed from him.

          If he had acknowledged God he could have been a soul winner instead he meddled in evil politics and a lot of people are dead and misguided from his ideas.

          Reply
  7. Brent Hurst says:

    Dear Lee,
    .
    My apologies, you are not as anonymous as your moniker would suggest,
    .
    and you are right, I do not subscribe to Substitional Theology as it is inherently Spiritual Blind. It presupposes the immortality of the soul, therefore it aligns itself with the lie of the Serpent “surely you shall not die”
    .
    And disregards the word of God the “you shall surely die”
    .
    It denies the statement of Christ that God shall destroy both body and soul is Hell (Lake of fire)
    .
    It dies that Christ came to GIVE us eternal life, since the wicked live just as eternally as the righteous.
    .
    Substititional Theology is whole incompatible with the Spiritual Birth
    .
    It is merely a legal arrangement to avoid punishment and regards the Spirit of God as nothing (blasphemy) as it denies God’s Spirit and Nature as the defining actor in our salvation.
    .
    You see Lee, the worst part, the absolute worst, is that you are willing to sacrifice Christ just so you can avoid the pain or death you deserve. I find this the greatest cowardice.
    .
    I get it, you say Christ died FOR you, and I understand the scriptures likewise that Christ died FOR me,
    .
    But you stopped at His death, as if He died in your place,
    .
    And you do not see the Spirit, His own LIFE BEING that was poured out upon those who would become true sons and daughters,
    .
    Born just of their own wills as they might choose to believe for many of these were turned away at the seat of judgment
    .
    But born and begotten of God, though His Spirit as God has chosen to bring forth children for Himself from those whom He created.
    .
    Christ died FOR me, not IN PLACE (Instead) of me,
    .
    But rather He poured out His LIFE into the Creation so that I might share in the same divine nature from which He was begotten.
    .
    But this LIVING Nature that Christ shares with the Father, that which He came to pour out on those doomed to be destroyed when this present order collapses, the Eternal Being that in sharing with us brings eternal life to those who are by their very nature condemned to be destroyed……you have no real need of this because you have made a deal with Death, as if Death, even His Death, is all you need to turn God’s wrath away.
    .
    But fear not, you are by far in the majority, and perhaps you can find safety in numbers, and the blood of Christ is certainly on your hands
    .
    But the question is, is the blood of Christ within your heart, have you truly drank and received His LIfe???? Think about these words…
    .
    Isaiah 28:14
    Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers
    who rule this people in Jerusalem.
    15
    You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death,
    with the realm of the dead we have made an agreement.
    When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by,
    it cannot touch us,
    for we have made a lie our refuge
    and falsehood our hiding place.”
    .
    All the scriptures you used apply to me, Christ did suffer for me, but not as my substitute as if only to fulfill God’s need to punish someone, He suffer and died on my behalf so that He could bring True Life, God’s own Eternal life into this Creation, so that God could impregnate me with His own righteousness as His own Being has become the source of life for my soul.
    .
    Strange how a three letter word like “FOR”, can be understood as either “instead of” or “on behalf of”, because you think you are eternal already, you only have need of His death. But since I know that I was dead, being merely a creature of His Creation, I see my need for His LIFE.
    .
    And yet you think I teach Gnosticism, but the difference between us is not doctrine, it is the difference between Life and Death, and I chose Life.

    Reply
    • St. Lee says:

      As near as I (or, I suspect, anyone else) can tell your system of theology is all over the spectrum, though it is difficult to ascertain given the broad generalities you use. Of course part of the problem is that cults are famous for using words that have a specific meaning to a Christian, but are redefined to fit the doctrine of the cult. That tends to make some of us mistrust statements of those bringing strange teachings. For example, you have not said specifically what the mechanism that you believe reconciles you to God, except you seem to have made it clear that it is not that Jesus paid the price for your sins. Though not based on an outright statement, I get the impression you believe you are born again because of an “emotional/spiritual” experience. If so, that is much like the witness of a Mormon. You say you are not seen with Christ’s righteousness but have a real righteousness which God “impregnated” you with. That sounds like Roman Catholicism.
      .
      Personally I hold to the doctrines commonly called Calvinism (though I am no follower of Calvin), so I have a very high view of the sovereignty of God. But I also have a very high view of the justice of God, and understand that in order to display the glory of his grace without violating his perfect justice, a penalty for sin must be paid. That is why Jesus came and died a cruel death on the cross, to set his people free and to give them life. You say the difference between us is the difference between life and death and you chose life. I say that Jesus chose death on the cross that I might have life, purely through his grace, not an act of my will.
      .
      And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.  Revelation 20:10
      And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.  Revelation 20:12-15
      .
      There are many other things that could be said to refute your comments, but I think scripture does a better job than I ever could.

      Reply
      • Brent Hurst says:

        Dear Lee,
        .
        “”””For example, you have not said specifically what the mechanism that you believe reconciles you to God,””””
        .
        “””” I get the impression you believe you are born again because of an “emotional/spiritual” experience.”””””
        .
        Really? You really cannot see what I am saying????
        .
        All that stuff I say about
        .
        “His own LIFE BEING that was poured out upon those who would become true sons and daughter”
        .
        “But born and begotten of God, though His Spirit as God has chosen to bring forth children for Himself from those whom He created.”
        .
        “But this LIVING Nature that Christ shares with the Father, that which He came to pour out on those doomed to be destroyed when this present order collapses,”
        .
        ” the Eternal Being that in sharing with us brings eternal life to those who are by their very nature condemned to be destroyed”
        .
        I keep speaking of the Spirit of God as if it is a REAL thing, and that the “Spiritual Birth” is a true intermingling of the Divine nature with our created nature,
        .
        and all you can conceive of is some emotional/pseudo-spiritual “experience” ?????
        .
        And this is what its like to have eyes but still be unable to see, to blasphemy the Holy Spirit, God’s own Self and Being, as if it is nothing more than a metaphor.
        .
        “”””””But I also have a very high view of the justice of God, and understand that in order to display the glory of his grace without violating his perfect justice, a penalty for sin must be paid.”””””
        .
        Legalism is is legalism does
        .
        And it doesn’t bother you at all that you would allow Christ to suffer so you could avoid the death that you deserve?
        .
        “”””I say that Jesus chose death on the cross that I might have life, purely through his grace, not an act of my will.”””””
        .
        “purely through His grace”????
        .
        No Spirit necessary, and of course it is by YOUR Will because otherwise it would not apply to you, unless your a universalist also.
        .
        Here’s the deal Lee, God is PURE, and He will not associate with anyone or anything that is not as PURE as He is.
        .
        The Justice He demands is our purity, this is a positive, not a negative as in the penal retribution in a court of law.
        .
        As created creature we could not demonstrate the purity He demands as it is not within us having been born merely of Adam and corruptible seed. God sent Christ, begotten of incorruptible seed (God’s own nature), so that THRU Christ God could share His own pure nature with us. This is the Spirit and it is a real thing. whether we feel, experience our Spiritual Birth or not.
        .
        Now lets try a metaphor you might understand.
        .
        You and all your friends are on a road trip, you are about to cross a desert where there are no gas stations, and no one has enough gas to make it all the way across.
        .
        Except one guy named Jesus, for some reason His tank never runs dry.
        .
        When you bike runs out of gas and every one else does too, Jesus cracks the gas cap of His tank and offers everyone to take from His because His never runs dry.
        .
        Unless you actually put some of His gas in your tank, you will not cross the desert.
        .
        This is what it means to FALL SHORT (sin), to miss the mark. Your CREATED nature cannot bring you into the presence of the Father anymore than you could follow the Commandments, it simply is not in you.
        .
        God alone possesses Eternal Being, and only those whom with He shares it can avoid the angel of death that awaits all that is created.
        .
        But to understand this you would first have to believe that God is real, that His Spirit is a reality, and that salvation and grace is the gift of the Spirit.

        Reply
        • St. Lee says:

          Brent Hurst -” Here’s the deal Lee, God is PURE, and He will not associate with anyone or anything that is not as PURE as He is. The Justice He demands is our purity …” and “When you bike runs out of gas and every one else does too, Jesus cracks the gas cap of His tank and offers everyone to take from His because His never runs dry. Unless you actually put some of His gas in your tank, you will not cross the desert.”
          .
          You are correct, with that metaphor I do now understand your understanding of salvation. You trust in your own righteousness (purity) for as far as it will take you, and then throw in a little Jesus to make up for your lack. Very similar to Mormon doctrine and even the Roman Catholic teaching of a “treasury of merit’ consisting of the excess righteousness of the “Saints” which can be doled out (sold in times past) to sinners. And apparently god, as you imagine him to be, is capricious much like the god of the Muslims whose justice is not so perfect and he is not so holy that sins cannot be ignored and left unpunished.
          .
          As I mentioned earlier, cults like to re-define words. A Christian understands that the term “legalism” means trusting in the works of the law to earn salvation, but Brent uses it to mean trusting in the biblical teaching of penal substitutionary atonement. And for someone who likes to call everyone else spiritually blind, it is quite ironic that he is the one trusting in his own righteousness. Guess what, …God will not share his glory for the salvation of his people, not even with the one being saved.

          Reply
          • Brent Hurst says:

            Dear Lee,
            .
            “”””You are correct, with that metaphor I do now understand your understanding of salvation. You trust in your own righteousness (purity) for as far as it will take you, and then throw in a little Jesus to make up for your lack.”””””
            .
            No you do not, it is because of the fact that there is nothing good within me that God has given His Spirit to be the source of my salvation.
            .
            The self-righteousness that creeps into Christianity is the idea that because they, through their own will, have chosen to follow Christ, and thus that somehow makes them better or more righteous than another who might not be following Christ as they are. Or at least as they suppose they are.
            .
            And you are working very hard at this as you continue with your labelling as if you can discredit me by association. In this one post you mention Mormonism, Catholicism, Islam, cults, on top of the Gnosticism previously addressed.
            .
            Furthermore you start your post speaking to me, but then your last chapter has you exiting the tent of Noah like Ham broadcasting my nakedness for all to see. This shows you have no concern for me as if hopefully to correct a faulty understanding I might have, rather you only seek to expose what sin you might find in me, then perhaps you can by comparison (envy) feel more righteous.
            .
            Add to this the multitude of labels you seek to apply to me and it becomes apparent you are deficient in knowledge of any of them.
            .
            As for the Glory of God, His divine nature, Yes, I have been Born of the Spirit, born of incorruptible seed, and by this birth I have Christ’s righteousness imputed to me, and whereas once I was merely a creature created and descended through Adam, now by the Spiritual Birth, having drunk the Blood of Christ and received His LIFE FORCE, the “Eternal Being” that was in the Blood which He shed, so am I a new creation, a son of the Creator of the universe, a child of God, adopted as it were into His divinity, a saint, set apart, one destined to inherit God’s Kingdom and stand before Him, dressed in the righteousness He has provided.
            .
            All this I RECIEVED through God’s decision to pour His Life within me, to call me from death as a created soul, to true LIfe and Eternal Life has He has shared with me of His own eternal being.
            .
            But what I have NOT done, is to claim that even as a created being, as all are within Adam, that I possess on my own eternal life, an immortal soul, God’s Glory
            .
            And thus the only need I have of God for salvation
            .
            Is that where God having to need to punish someone, to retaliate alone for disobedience,
            .
            He would punish His own child, just so I might avoid such punishment.
            .
            As a father when I punished my children, it was always with a positive intent, to correct self destructive behavior so they might flourish in the future.
            .
            To punish my children only because THEY DISOBEYED ME, (Insert Stallone “I am the Law”) is child abuse, and is base solely upon my ego.
            .
            Now legally in a court of law, yes, retribution is a penal standard. You break the law, you go to jail, it is retaliatory in nature. But in this court of law, where you stand convicted, and the judge brought in his own son to punish instead of me,
            .
            No, I would not stand for it, if I had to die for my own sins then I would accept that rather than allow someone else to be punished in my place. We are all capable of paying for our sins, that’s what Hell and destruction is for, what we cannot do is live and simultaneously pay for our sins.
            .
            You have your legal arrangement with God and your old testament scrape goat,
            .
            I have the life giving Spirit, the Heart of flesh that replaced my heart of stone.
            .
            And since you are adamant about rejecting the Spiritual Birth, I will leave you to your covenant with death

          • Brent Hurst says:

            Dear Lee,
            .
            The Lord FORMED Adam from the ground, and breathed “the breath of life” into him and He became a living soul. This is the analogy which God gives, we can see this within our own bodies as we possess a body of flesh formed from the dust and the soul functions through it like a breath. We breath in oxygen, and this oxygen is distributed throughout the body keeping each cell alive.
            .
            Adam, was not created immortal, hence the need for the Tree of Life within the Garden, and God was clear that in order to live forever Adam must eat from this Tree.
            .
            So, lets look back to this “breath” that was breathed into Adam for the scriptures DO NOT say “God Breathed into Adam” as if to give Adam God’s own Breath, rather there is a predicate within the sentence, “Breathed the breath(s) of life” and yes, the plural is there in the Hebrew for this refers to “mankind” that was created upon day six prior to the forming of Adam in the Garden.
            .
            God creates mankind, then breathes mankind into Adam, and like Levy was within the loins of Abraham paying the tithe, so all mankind that would descend from Adam were breathed into Adam.
            .
            You yourself said God will not share His glory, so if you think God would breath His own breath into Adam then Eternal Being would have entered into Adam and there would be no need for the tree of life. And furthermore God was absolutely clear that as Adam was created from dust so he would return to dust, which I hope we can agree would be symbolic of “nothingness” and not just ground up stones.
            .
            So immortality does not appear in our Adamic nature, yet “Substitutional Theology” presupposes an immortal soul, thus it focus only on our need of God diverting His punishment so that we might continue to live. Instead of God punishing us, He punished His Son in our place, and we thus continue to live.
            .
            It can be noted within this scenario the as we receive Christ, and thus receive Eternal Life, all that we are receiving is amnesty. And this whole process is set out as a legal transaction, we agree to a contract with God that if we accept His Son, so will that cover the price we owe God for our sins. (I know this is overly simplified)
            .
            Now I am going to take the Creation of Adam, as it represents God first birth of us, that of corruptible seed since it was merely creating us as a temporary creation, and show how the second birth follows the same dynamic pattern,
            .
            Our Creation as we are in the we are formed, both soul and body, from the same nothingness, even as God brought forth not only the Earth but even the Heavenly realms from the nothingness and void which He “Hovered” over. Our soul which is really our very identity, the I am within us that mirrors the supreme I AM of God, was FORMED from the dust, as it were, of the Heavenly side of this Creation. This Heavenly side is often thought of as Eternal but scripture is clear that just as it was Created, so the FIRE of God will destroy both the Earth and the Heavens unlike the flood which only wiped out life on the Earth.
            .
            So we come back to the soul, though vastly superior to the flesh, is still created and thus corruptible. (Body and soul destroyed in Hell etc…)
            .
            BUT, God formed this soul body (Identity) from the elements of the Heavens, and in the SECOND BIRTH, breathes into it the incorruptible seed, the LIVING SPIRIT, God’s own eternal divine nature, as provided by the death of Christ, as His blood and the LIVE BEING within it was made available for mankind.
            .
            Adam received the breath that was created like the Manna in the Desert, But Christ brings the true Breath that comes down from the Father Himself, so that as we drink of that Divine Life, it becomes a well of living water within us supporting with incorruptible Life eternally.
            .
            As alive as we seem to be, from the eternal (Christ’s) perspective, our temporal nature as good as dead, just as we were when we thought to cross the desert on a limited supply of gas. The “gas” in my metaphor did not refer to an abstract morality of righteousness, it referred to life because if you run out of gas in the desert, it doesn’t matter if you are a good man or an evil man, you will without a doubt be a DEAD man.
            .
            I could also add to the metaphor that once Jesus puts His gas within our tanks, just as He never runs out of Gas, neither would we for now all our tanks are “forever full and overflowing” because that is the nature of the divine, a few loaves and fish feed 5000, and there is more left over than you started with. This is the divine nature and without it we cannot enter in the Kingdom of God.
            .
            Many disciples followed Christ until He spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, and when so many left at this saying Jesus did not call out “Hey guys, it was just a metaphor” but rather He let them go. And so it is with the church, those claiming discipleship with Christ, they follow up until His death, but to move beyond that to drinking the Life of the Spirit they cannot do.

          • St. Lee says:

            Brent, I think it all comes down to your mistakenly low view of the Holiness of God; a holiness that includes the holiness and perfection of his justice. Yes, you certainly have the lingo down very well, and one could certainly be a Christian and still have a sub-biblical view of the lake of fire and eternal punishment. I’m not really sure that the same can be said for rejection of what Jesus called the greatest love a man can have (Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13) when he did lay down his life for his friends. You do have the book of Hebrews in your Bible, don’t you? Hebrews 9:24-26 “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
            .
            As to your admonition that, “… since you are adamant about rejecting the Spiritual Birth, I will leave you to your covenant with death,” all I can ask is where in the world did you get the idea that I reject the new birth. What can I say? I have experienced it, however I do not place my faith in that experience but rather in Jesus Christ.

            You seem quite sure that man is not immortal. I agree, and if I used the word carelessly previous to this I apologize. Man if not immortal (not subject to death) but it would seem he has been created to be an eternal being I would distinguish between eternal life and eternal death, but it certainly seems that the Bible does not leave another option: Revelation 20:10 “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20:12-15 “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
            .
            If the devil, the beast, and the false prophet are all cast into the lake of fire to be tormented for ever and ever, what do you think is the destiny of those not written in the book of life who are cast in with them? I can’t claim to be all that smart; all I can go by is what the Bible says, guided by the Holy Spirit and with help from the teachers and preachers that God has gifted to the churches through the years.

  8. Susan says:

    I find it strange that you have no ancient language ability yet insist on following around someone who researched the translation errors with bible verses.

    You’re not correcting me. You need an education on the scriptures yourself.

    Why don’t you go back to college and study Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew before taking on a universalist. You are just not qualified to correct Bible scholars who actually researched the word meanings at the time of usage.

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      Well I see I should have taken the bet yet again.
      .
      As you continue to prove yourself a liar by continuing to post here.
      .
      .
      “Universalism Is Not in the Bible? Gary Amirault”
      .
      “You had better check your doctrine and get it all straight before you teach anything.”
      .
      One wonders how the “universalist” is actually claiming that “ALL” are saved ?
      The following quote from Gary Amirault is the first sentence of the second paragraph under the heading of “New Testament Universalism” from the link in Susan’s post above.
      .
      “God has given His Son “authority over ALL flesh, to give eternal life to ALL whom He has given Him” (John 17:2). ”
      .
      A quick search on the word “eternal” shows that it is the EXACT SAME word in the Greek ( aiōnion ) that the “universalists” say can NOT mean “eternal” when used with punishment or torment because of ancient word meaning. But they are using it to MEAN EXACTLY THAT – ETERNAL when used with the word “life” ? Can someone please tell me how that magic works ?
      .
      .
      No surprise on my part that you refuse to attempt to explain the verses below – yet the comment “you need an education on the scriptures yourself.”
      .
      You are a seriously confused person.
      .
      .
      “God can save this whole world any time He wants to because He is the almighty God so He can do it whenever He wants to in spite of the mistaught reasoning of men that they teach and communicate to others.”
      .
      I wonder how you are explaining these two verses from Hebrews Chapter 9 then ?
      .
      Hebrews 9:27-28 27 Just as man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so also Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him.
      .
      Or these verses from John Chapter 3 – particularly verse 18 ?
      .
      John 3:16-21 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness more than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever practices the truth comes into the Light, so that it may be clearly seen that what he has done has been accomplished in God.”

      Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      “I find it strange that you have no ancient language ability yet insist on following around someone who researched the translation errors with bible verses.”
      .
      Do you have any clue as to how ridiculous your statement actually is ?
      .
      .
      “You’re not correcting me.”
      .
      Yep, you are correct. I am NOT correcting you. I am merely continuing to point out how UNSCRIPTUAL your pet theory of “universalism” and how you continue to use Scripture OUT OF CONTEXT. The Holy Spirit will take care of the correction – but only if you use your free will to allow Him.
      .
      .
      “You are just not qualified to correct Bible scholars who actually researched the word meanings at the time of usage.”
      .
      If by qualified Bible scholar you mean Gary Amirault; then let me tell you that in the link you posted above the only Scripture that he did NOT use OUT OF CONTEXT until I got to the one in John 17:2 was the first one from Revelation 13:8 and it does NOTHING to prove “universalism”. The next three Acts 3:21, Hebrews 1:2, and Galatians 3:8 he uses OUT OF CONTEXT. Then we get to John 17:2 & John 17:3 where we find the word “eternal” that is the Greek word ( aiōnion ) that applies to “life” but you have said elsewhere the same word can NOT apply to “punishment and torment”. It is the SAME WORD – duh. If it applies to “life” here then it applies to “punishment and torment” other places. I will readily admit that I stopped reading there because as you have contradicted yourself I see no point in continuing to read what is effectively – garbage. If you insist to continue to respond I will continue and point all of the other places in which he uses Scripture OUT OF CONTEXT.

      Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      Well it would seem that the “universalists” come from a long line of time honored tradition of using Scripture OUT OF CONTEXT to fit their own interpretation. As can be seen by reading just two whole verses past the only Scripture actually quoted by Rev. J.M. Austin in the passage referenced by the link above. I would suggest that you read Acts Chapter 3 Verse 23 until you actually understand its’ meaning.
      .
      Acts 3:21-23 21 whom indeed it behooves heaven to receive until the times of restoration of all things, of which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from the age. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up to you a prophet like me out from your brothers. You will listen to Him in all things, as many as He might say to you. 23 And it will be that every soul who might not heed that prophet will be utterly destroyed out from the people.

      Reply
    • St. Lee says:

      Susan Says:
      “BRIEF HISTORY OF UNIVERSALISM.
      BY REV. J.M. AUSTIN
      Written ca. 1855.”
      .
      Answer:
      BRIEF HISTORY OF ETERNAL DAMNATION
      BY THE APOSTLE JOHN
      Written ca. 90
      “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20:10
      “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:12-15

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        That’s ok. I can’t help it if you have an Old Covenant mindset fixated on the wrath of God can I?

        Why don’t you try coming into the New Covenant now?

        Jesus made peace for everyone on the Cross but some people just can’t seem to get that into their heads.

        Too much fire and brimstone preaching from people like Jonathan Edwards with “Angry God” syndrome.

        If I had that hornets nest of fear in my head that some people have then I probably wouldn’t even believe that God is love but He says He is so I can have peace in my heart.

        I wonder how many people those preachers messed up by delivering the fear message to people who could not or were too young to understand.

        As a man thinks in his heart so he is the Book of Proverbs says.

        Unfortunately you can never get the people who wouldn’t let love cast out fear to stop preaching a fear doctrine.

        Misery loves company.

        Here is what Christ had to say:

        The Sermon on the Mount; The Beatitudes
        5 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the [a]mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,

        3 “[b]Blessed are the [c]poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

        4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

        5 “Blessed are the [d]gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

        6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

        7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

        8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

        9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

        10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

        11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

        That is the spoken mind of Christ who is the image of God.

        Is he angry? Is he waiting to get you if you get out of line or can you trust Him to save the world which is the job God sent him to do?

        God’s order is mysterious. And every Holy impulse comes from God. So why does he have to threaten anybody? Because you believed the false prophet lie rather than rested secure on the character of God that is why you promote this papist false doctrine.

        Can’t admit some sneaky translators put one over on the world?

        Too bad for you.

        I am resting secure on the 24 karat gold character of God who is divine.

        He’s worshipped because His mind and ways are far greater than His children’s and that includes His mercy.

        Have a blessed day!

        Reply
        • Mark Heavlin says:

          “Why don’t you try coming into the New Covenant now?”
          .
          REVELATION IS THE VERY LAST BOOK OF THE NEW COVENANT.
          .
          .
          “Jesus made peace for everyone on the Cross but some people just can’t seem to get that into their heads.”
          .
          This is Jesus speaking here:
          .
          Matthew 10:34 Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
          .
          Why don’t we continue in John 3 with Jesus speaking with Nicodemus just as you yourself suggested Susan.
          .
          John 3:3 Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
          .
          John 3:16-18 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
          .
          I would suggest you go look up the words “perish” and “condemned” in the dictionary and get back to us.
          .
          And then we will continue with the following:
          .
          Romans 3:19-26 19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be justified in His sight by works of the Law. For the Law merely brings awareness of sin. 21 But now, apart from the Law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, as attested by the Law and the Prophets. 22 And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no distinction, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Him as an atoning sacrifice through faith in His blood, in order to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had passed over the sins committed beforehand. 26 He did this to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and to justify the one who has faith in Jesus.
          .
          Jesus was the atoning sacrifice given for the forgiveness of sin. But if you make the free will decision to reject the gift of His sacrifice then the second part of John 3:18 is applied to you.
          .
          .
          The Sermon on the Mount is a message about people who believe not the unbelievers.
          It seems reading comprehension is a lost art.
          .
          .
          “God’s order is mysterious.”
          .
          KJV – 2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
          .
          .
          “Can’t admit some sneaky translators put one over on the world?
          Too bad for you.”
          .
          Might I suggest a reading of the following verses until you actually understand them ?
          And yes this is JESUS speaking here so NOT my words but His words.
          .
          Matthew 25:41 Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
          AND
          Matthew 25:46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
          .
          Same Greek word ( aiōnion ) translated as “eternal” all three places above.

          Reply
  9. Susan says:

    I am no longer reading your posts Heavlin.

    I don’t allow people to force their beliefs onto me or control me.

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      That is probably because you STOPPED posting here a month ago.
      Or you KNOW that your pet theory of “universalism” is FALSE.
      .
      John 8:32-32 31 So He said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
      .
      KJV – 2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

      Reply
  10. Susan says:

    Quotes from Luther’s Bondage of the Will.

    This ought to highlight the importance of a good doctrinal understanding.

    The free will doctrine may be a key misunderstanding keeping believers spiritually disabled.

    That is why I keep telling people especially atheists to start getting personally motivated to seek God on His terms but all the theists teaching free will are teaching people wrong.

    Here it is. Luther correcting Erasmus. But the world forgot Erasmus’ lesson and doesn’t like to reconstruct scripture accurately so the world is left with a weak God that can’t do anything without man’s free will intervening.

    But good parents frequently override the wills of their ignorant evil children in favor of helping them.

    Isn’t God a good parent.

    Start doing your Scriptural analyses atheists if you want to arrive at the truth. You like to use your own minds so try reasoning your way to God and see how He enables people to believe.

    Sin is disabling and could be more disabling for some than others in Saul of Tarsus’ case. In that case God overrode Saul’s evil will and directly intervened to save him because he decided Saul would serve His purposes and Paul said he became the bond servant to Jesus Christ.

    You like to object to free will atheists so maybe you should start trying to form your own doctrines and see if when you do that if God enlightens you.

    Why are you more evil than anyone else? Maybe you are in confusion from doctrinal error so try establishing God’s truth from the scriptures for yourself for a change and ask God to help you and send you in the right direction.

    Personally, I want the godliest interpretation not some inadequate man’s interpretation.

    So start comparing theological views and see if you can get God’s enlightened perspective in your own minds.

    Really, you thought you would attack God’s existence without even trying to receive Him first?
    Where did you learn that bad attitude from? This rude world and it’s spiritually illiterate systems. That’s who.

    Don’t give up on the gift of faith unbelievers you can still get it from God if you can follow His directions and don’t let unqualified men steer you into a wrong understanding of Him.

    Jesus died for you, too.

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      “That is why I keep telling people especially atheists to start getting personally motivated to seek God on His terms but all the theists teaching free will are teaching people wrong.”
      .
      So tell me oh great genius guru of all Christianity the you who are correct and everyone else for all of church history has been wrong: EXACTLY how without “free will” how someone can get “personally motivated” ?????
      .
      .
      “His directions and don’t let unqualified men steer you into a wrong understanding of Him.”
      .
      Yeah with things like “universalism” that twists Scripture to make it say what they want it to say.

      Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monergism
      .
      Monergism is the view within Christian theology which holds that God works through the Holy Spirit to bring about the salvation of an individual through spiritual regeneration, regardless of the individual’s cooperation.
      .
      John 3:18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        Predestination is a big topic.

        Predestination examples:

        Predestination, Of Events
        1 Kings 12:15

        So the king did not listen to the people; for it was a turn of events from the LORD, that He might establish His word, which the LORD spoke through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

        Predestination, Of Persons
        Genesis 21:12-13
        But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named.

        Predestination, Spiritual Events
        Exodus 33:19

        And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”

        Since you seem to lack knowledge of it and discount God’s will in human events maybe you should do a biblical topical study on it before arguing.

        Pro 16:9 KJV – 9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps

        Matthew Henry’s commentary on Prov. 16:9

        Man is here represented to us,

        1. As a reasonable creature, that has the faculty of contriving for himself: His heart devises his way, designs an end, and projects ways and means leading to that end, which the inferior creatures, who are governed by sense and natural instinct, cannot do. The more shame for him if he do not devise the way how to please God and provide for his everlasting state.
        2. But as a depending creature, that is subject to the direction and dominion of his Maker. If men devise their way, so as to make God’s glory their end and his will their rule, they may expect that he will direct their steps by his Spirit and grace, so that they shall not miss their way nor come short of their end. But let men devise their worldly affairs ever so politely, and with ever so great a probability of success, yet God has the ordering of the event, and sometimes directs their steps to that which they least intended. The design of this is to teach us to say, If the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that (Jam. 4:14, 15), and to have our eye to God, not only in the great turns of our lives, but in every step we take. Lord, direct my way, 1 Th. 3:11.

        Pro 16:1 KJV – 1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

        Matthew Henry on Prov. 16:1

        Chapter 16

        Pro 16:1

        As we read this, it teaches us a great truth, that we are not sufficient of ourselves to think or speak any thing of ourselves that is wise and good, but that all our sufficiency is of God, who is with the heart and with the mouth, and works in us both to will and to do, Phil. 2:13; Ps. 10:17. But most read it otherwise: The preparation of the heart is in man (he may contrive and design this and the other) but the answer of the tongue, not only the delivering of what he designed to speak, but the issue and success of what he designed to do, is of the Lord. That is, in short,

        1. Man purposes. He has a freedom of thought and a freedom of will permitted him; let him form his projects, and lay his schemes, as he thinks best: but, after all,
        1. God disposes. Man cannot go on with his business without the assistance and blessing of God, who made man’s mouth and teaches us what we shall say. Nay, God easily can, and often does, cross men’s purposes, and break their measures. It was a curse that was prepared in Balaam’s heart, but the answer of the tongue was a blessing.

        An explanatory quote from Jones on predestination and election:

        In the time of the New Testament, there were three main religious parties in Judea, and each differed in their teaching on predestination. The Essenes believed totally in predestination and totally rejected the idea of free will. Opposed to them were the Sadducees, who had been heavily influenced by Greek philosophy. Like the Epicureans, they denied not only predestination but even the existence of angels, any spirit, and the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:8). Josephus tells us that the Sadducees believed in total free will (Antiq. XIII, v). The Pharisees, on the other hand, stood in the middle, believing partly in predestination and partly in free will, saying that God “helps” men to do good.

        All of these form a backdrop for Paul’s teaching in Romans 9, for surely all these teachings were well known to Paul. Thus, he is not likely to be ambiguous in his words, for the issues were quite clearly defined already in his day. In this context, he says in the ninth chapter of Romans:

        9 For this is a word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

        So we see that Paul takes the case of Jacob and Esau as prime examples of God’s Election, showing that God chose them BEFORE either of them had done either good or evil. Keep in mind that these are Paul’s examples to prove the doctrine; they are not exceptions to the rule. So Esau was NOT rejected on the basis of his evil works, nor was Jacob elected on account of any good works. God is said to have chosen them before birth in order to prove to us that it was NOT “of works” but only “of Him that calleth.”

        Election therefore means that God is causing, and man is responding to that causal force. This is so clear that we cannot deviate from the plain meaning without doing cartwheels in a swamp. The big objection, both for the Greeks and for the Sadducees, was that of maintaining God’s justice. Paul was well aware of this, and so he continues in Romans 9:

        14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

        Here Paul goes into further detail, though he does not really answer the question of God’s justice. Instead, he quotes another Bible story to prove that election determines men’s actions. Men may have what they think is “free will,” but in reality it is a coerced will. Because Pharaoh had been raised up to glorify God as a vessel of dishonour (9:21), his “free will” was hardly free. God’s will was higher and prior to Pharaoh’s. Before Pharaoh was even born, God had determined the purpose of his life. It was to glorify God by providing a backdrop for Moses, who was the corresponding vessel of mercy..

        Reply
  11. Susan says:

    Meant to say keeping unbelievers disabled above.

    But the truth is a bad doctrinal understanding is a disability for everyone who has one.

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      And you are the expert on that with “universalism”.
      .
      KJV – 2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        You have a bad doctrinal understanding so you come on this message board spewing a doctrine of condemnation when the Bible clearly says the Gospel entrusted to His ministers is the Ministry of Reconciliation.

        You are just going to condemn people without giving God a chance to save them st all, huh?

        Saving people is not your Christian responsibility?

        You think you will run around on message boards letting your condemning spirit out on them?

        Then you need to repent your own hard heartedness that you thought you could condemn people as if you are their judge.

        That is what the outcome of the heretical teaching on eternal torment from Catholicism has produced.

        And instead of blindly believing everything you read why don’t you try researching into the concepts.

        Destruction in the Bible never meant eternal punishment.

        Many times in the OT when destruction occurred it involved death only.

        Question: “What did it mean to be devoted to destruction?”

        Answer from got questions.org:

        Question: “What did it mean to be devoted to destruction?”

        Answer: In Exodus 22:20, God commands, “Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction” (ESV).

        The Hebrew word used here is charam, meaning “to curse, annihilate, or destroy.” The literal interpretation is that the Hebrew person who sacrificed to another god was to be put to death. Idolaters received capital punishment.

        The use of the phrase “devoted to destruction” elsewhere in the Old Testament confirms this understanding. In Numbers 21:3 we read, “And the Lord heeded the voice of Israel and gave over the Canaanites, and they devoted them and their cities to destruction” (ESV). The NIV translates it as, “They completely destroyed them and their towns.” The idea of being devoted to destruction included destroying these cities.

        In Deuteronomy 2:34 we read a review of Israel’s time in the wilderness. The narrative includes, “And we captured all his cities at that time and devoted to destruction every city, men, women, and children. We left no survivors” (ESV). In this case, “devoted to destruction” clearly indicates death. Deuteronomy 3:6 offers a similar use of this phrase: “And we devoted them to destruction, as we did to Sihon the king of Heshbon” (ESV); Sihon was a king they had previously put to death.

        In Joshua 6:17, Jericho was devoted to destruction. We read, “And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction” (ESV). In Joshua 10:28 the same fate befalls the city of Makkedah.

        Exodus 22:20 reveals that the punishment for Jews who sacrificed to any god other than Yahweh was that they be put to death under the Mosaic Law. However, in the time of the judges and the pre-captivity kingdom, idol worship among the Jews was a perennial problem. God had made it clear that idolatry was worthy of death. Yet many wicked people and leaders through Israel’s history resorted to open idol worship in ways that brought God’s judgment upon them from other nations.

        The enforcement of this command can be found in 1 Kings 18. In this account, Elijah challenged King Ahab’s 400 prophets of Baal to call down fire from heaven. The God who answered would be the true God. When the Lord God answered, Elijah commanded, “‘Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!’ They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there” (1 Kings 18:40).

        This command notes God’s displeasure with the worship of other gods. He presents Himself as the one God who calls every person to worship Him and to believe in His Son Jesus for eternal life (John 3:16).

        What is the better explanation of what ” the destruction of the wicked” means?

        Here is Dr. Jones explaining it.

        Chapter 16
        Being Devoted to God

        God said through Moses that He would throw the Canaanites into great confusion, so that they would be destroyed from the land that Israel was to inherit. Deut. 7:24 then says,

        24 And He will deliver their kings into your hand so that you shall make their name perish from under heaven; no man will be able to stand before you until you have destroyed them.

        In Scripture, one’s name is an expression of one’s character or nature. I have already shown how the names of the seven nations in Canaan referred to specific characteristics or “works of the flesh” that reside within man’s carnal nature. These must be cast out and eradicated as part of the process of inheriting the Kingdom. There can be no coexistence between us, for Christ in us is the natural expression of the divine law, and all flesh must submit to His authority.

        The Inner Warfare

        The kings of Canaan in Joshua’s time were to be delivered into the hands of Israel, and their name was to “perish from under heaven.” Applied under the New Covenant, the apostle Paul tells us of the war within his own body between the Christ in Him (i.e., “Joshua”) and the old man of carnal flesh. Rom. 7:22, 23 says,

        22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind….”

        The mind of Christ in him concurs (agrees) with the law of God, while the old man of flesh refused to submit, waging war against Christ, even as the Canaanites warred against Joshua. Nonetheless, the promise of God is that “He will deliver their kings into your hand.” We thus have an advantage over Joshua, because under the Old Covenant this law was a command which Israel failed to perform, while under the New Covenant it is a promise that will not fail. Moses continues,

        25 The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God. 26 And you shall not bring an abomination into your house, and like it come under the ban [kharem, “devotion”]; you shall utterly detest it and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is something banned [kharem, “devoted”].

        The silver and golden idols had been devoted to false gods, and they carried a generational curse.

        The Legal Meaning of Devotion

        Israel was to devote all such gold and silver to God Himself, who alone could remove the curse, reclaim that which He has created, and use it for Kingdom purposes. Burning those graven images with fire would destroy the false gods, but not the gold and silver itself. Men create false gods, while God created the gold and silver.

        This principle extends to all things that God has created. Man was given authority (stewardship), but not sovereignty (ownership). We are to use all of God’s creation as stewards in accordance with the laws of the sovereign God who owns all that He created.

        This is bound up in the principle of kharem, or “devotion.” To devote something appears to carry the idea of destruction, and so this is one of the meanings of the word kharem. However, the real question is: What is being destroyed? In the case of idols, the idols were being destroyed, but the silver and gold was being devoted and returned to its true Owner.

        To “devote,” then, really means to restore to God all that belongs to Him. This includes the use of all that God owns, for whatever is devoted to God is then used to glorify God, rather than to worship false gods. Even in “secular” matters, devoting a piece of property to God means that the property is subjected to the laws of God, and using it for unlawful purposes is banned.

        An example is found in the laws of devotion in Lev. 27:16-28. The passage speaks of men sanctifying (setting apart) land for God’s use in verses 16 and 17. Its value was reckoned in silver and calculated in terms of its ability to produce barley. Verse 21 says,

        21 and when it reverts in the Jubilee, the field shall be holy to the Lord, like a field set apart [kharem, “devoted”]; it shall be for the priest as his property.

        Obviously, the field in question was not “destroyed,” nor was it even cursed. It only means that if anyone lays claim to God’s land and usurps God’s place as its Owner, then that person takes upon himself the usurper’s curse.

        The devoted property was given to the priest who served God as a steward of His government. Therefore, what was destroyed was the old manner of life in which a usurper used God’s property for unlawful purposes. The purpose of devoting something to God was to put it back under His feet.

        In fact, the phrase, “as a field devoted” (Lev. 27:21, KJV) prophesied of the Restoration of All Things, for Jesus said in Matt. 13:38, “the field is the world.” Thus, every act of devoting a “field” to God was a prophetic type of the entire world finally being devoted to God after all things have been put under His feet (1 Cor. 15:27).

        All Nations Devoted to God

        When Joshua fought against Jericho, we find that the city and all the metal in it was “devoted” to God (Josh. 6:17). Joshua then gives instructions to Israel, saying,

        18 But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban [kharem], lest you covet them and take some of the things under the ban [kharam], so you would make the camp of Israel accursed [kharem] and bring trouble on it. 19 But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.

        Jericho was destroyed, but the land was turned over to its rightful Owner, and the metal, which the people of Jericho had used for illicit purposes, began to be used for God’s purposes. If anyone usurps what God owns, they come under the curse. This does not mean that man cannot use the things God has created; it means that man is not to treat them as if they have full ownership rights to do as they please. No, they must utilize all of creation lawfully and as the Spirit leads.

        The devotion of Jericho’s silver, gold, bronze, and iron foreshadowed the devotion of all the kingdoms of Mystery Babylon seen in Daniel 2:31-35. These kingdoms were portrayed in terms of these same metals. Hence, John foresaw the devotion of all the kingdoms of this world into the treasury of God. Rev. 11:15 says, “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”

        The kingdom of the world is the image seen in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. In one sense it is to be crushed by the Stone, which is Christ and His Kingdom, but in reality it was the usurpation that was to be destroyed. It was to revert back to its rightful Owner, for Christ is the rightful Heir of all things (Heb. 1:2).

        And so, when Israel took the land of Canaan, God told them to devote all the metal for God’s use. The people were not to take it for themselves, lest they use it for unlawful purposes and thereby come under the same curse that had come upon the Canaanites. On the other hand, these laws of devotion prophesy of the day when all of God’s creation will be devoted to His treasury, and all things will be placed under the feet of Christ.

        When Scripture speaks of the “destruction” of the wicked, we must view that destruction in terms of God’s ownership rights. Nothing that God has created will be lost permanently. When property has been usurped, it makes no sense to destroy the property, for that does not rectify the injustice to the true owner. So also authority over the earth has been usurped, and it is God’s intention to take back that which is rightfully His.

        All of the nations are to be devoted to God, so that only the wickedness and usurpation is destroyed. Like gold and silver, all things will be burned with the “fiery law” (Deut. 33:2) in order to change its form, remove the curse, and subject it to the dominion of Jesus Christ.

        All things will thus be “tried by fire,” whether it be the lawless Church (as in 1 Cor. 3:13-15) or the lawless unbelievers in the “lake of fire” (as in Rev. 20:13-15).

        Jones quote from the work below:

        https://gods-kingdom-ministries.net/teachings/books/deuteronomy-the-second-law-speech-2/chapter-16-being-devoted-to-god/

        .

        Reply
        • Mark Heavlin says:

          “You have a bad doctrinal understanding so you come on this message board spewing a doctrine of condemnation when the Bible clearly says the Gospel entrusted to His ministers is the Ministry of Reconciliation. You are just going to condemn people without giving God a chance to save them st all, huh? Saving people is not your Christian responsibility?
          You think you will run around on message boards letting your condemning spirit out on them? Then you need to repent your own hard heartedness that you thought you could condemn people as if you are their judge.”
          .
          I have condemned no one and if you had even a lick of reading comprehension you would know that. As I am a mere human being just the same as you I have zero thoughts that I could be anyone’s judge. It is as it were above my pay grade. I suggest a reading of John 3:16-18 and John 8:31-32 until you actually understand them.
          .
          John 3:16-18 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
          .
          John 8:31-32 31 So He said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

          Reply
          • Susan says:

            You are violating Christ’s second commandment right now by disrespecting my personal boundaries by trying to force verses on me that I have already read.

            One day you will
            have to give an account to God about why you could not treat people with more love and respect but tried to control them.

            How ironic that you believe in free will yet want to control others.

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            “You are violating Christ’s second commandment right now by disrespecting my personal boundaries by trying to force verses on me that I have already read.”
            .
            If I held a belief that was wrong I would hope that you would continue to try and correct me using Scripture from The Holy Bible. I have already said as much in a few of my comments here in other threads. You have been asked continually for two months now to supply even a single verse that proves your pet theory of “universalism” is true. That you can NOT provide one that is NOT used OUT OF CONTEXT or SELF REFUTED by reading just a few verses further in the same passage does NOT bode well for “universalism”. That you continue to try and assert that it is a mainstream idea is patently absurd at this point.
            .
            .
            “One day you will have to give an account to God about why you could not treat people with more love and respect but tried to control them.”
            .
            That may be true but it will NOT be because of our ongoing conversation as I am telling you TRUTH and you refuse to accept.
            .
            .
            “How ironic that you believe in free will yet want to control others.”
            .
            At the end of the day ultimately every individual is responsible for their own acceptance or rejection of the atoning sacrificial gift that was Jesus’ death and resurrection.

  12. Susan says:

    I am not going over the same ground with you over and over. You can apply yourself especially if you are going to pass out mistranslated eternal torment verses on the Internet lightly.

    Study is required of the Christian by God.

    If you won’t devote yourself to study why should I work to provide you with scriptural insight that you reject.

    Get God’s perspective on your own firmly established and stop beating people over the head until you have genuinely researched. It could take a considerable amount of time. Months or even years or even a lifetime and God could change you but do you want the truth or not.

    If so don’t settle for an argument from someone you can’t even meet in person. Go get the truth yourself and use your mind maybe God will make you more godly if you apply your questions to Him in the scriptures.

    May God Bless You and Keep You!

    Reply

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