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Pope Francis' Message To Atheists and Agnostics: Live A Moral Life and listen To Your Conscience

The Pope has struck a surprisingly conciliatory tone towards atheists and agnostics, saying that God will "forgive" them as long as they behave morally and live according to their consciences.

By Nick Squires, Rome | 11 Sep 2013 | The Telegraph

The unprecedented gesture came as his incoming number two, the Vatican's newly-nominated secretary of state, said that the rule that priests should be celibate was not "a dogma of the Church" and could be open for discussion.

Francis, who has won praise for spontaneous and unusual moves during his six month papacy, wrote a lengthy letter to a newspaper, La Repubblica, which the Italian daily printed over four pages, including page one, under the simple byline "Francesco".

"God forgives those who obey their conscience," he wrote in the unprecedented letter, the latest example of the markedly different tone and style from his predecessors that he has set since being elected in March.

Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/the-pope/10302850/P...

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That's not logic. Its

That's not logic. Its assumption. Its silly assumption to considering what you base it on isn't even real.

We are made of star dust and we love. What could be cooler and more meaningful than that?

Truth is very important to me, thats why I actually seek it rather than swolling the cartoonish gibberish my pastor handed to me.

If truth is paramount to you, then how come you believe in winged people with golden floating halos, devils with pitchforks, dudes who live in whales stomaches and floating country clubs in the sky? Truth is irrelivant to you. You accept nonsense in order to opiate the hard realities of life. You fevorantly try to believe in heavn because you can't deal with death and loss. Truth has no place in your faith-based mind because your faith is nothing more than a way to escape hard truth and hide in fantasy land.

Don't pretend you won't read this.

Assumption

Assumption is apparently going around. So are straw men.

I don't believe half of the things you just said, you create a cartoon of it all to insult people because they disagree with you which is a sure sign of prejudice and anger. You feel the need to say over and over again that I'm delusional, that I love a big grampa in the sky etc etc. You're just poking and prodding. It's ridiculous. You're very smart, but obviously I think you're just as delusional as you think I am. Are we done here? Or do you need to flip out some more?

Even if you only believe in a

Even if you only believe in a quarter of it, you need therapy.

Also I didn't make it into a cartoon. It IS a cartoon.

Ha

Wow, tell me how you really feel. Ha.

If God's...

...goodness is so completely alien to and beyond any smidgen of comprehension by humanity and has little or no intersection with the moral compasses we seem to possess, how are we to tell the difference between that and demonic evil?

This is not how Christ spoke of His Father to the people -- He drew on comparisons to human relationships, of father or mother to child, of brother to brother, of groom to bride to describe the character and goodness of His Father and Himself as the Son.

It is kind of scary if we are commanded to be holy in the manner God is holy, and then to discover that He is not really forgiving and merciful in the 'seventy times seven' sense, His love actually does fail and give up on people and prefer their eternal torture rather than pursuing every lost sheep until it is found. If it is holy for God to eternally hate some people, and I am supposed to be holy in that way, too, whom should I start hating here? But this violates the Great Commandments of loving God and loving neighbors and even enemies.

No, God is good -- and He didn't create us to be completely devoid of resonance with what is truly good. We have that law written on our hearts, our conscience, as Paul spoke of in Romans.

If when I see the Son, I see the Father, then I must say I do not believe the image of Father as being a mean tyrant and labelling it 'good', because I do not see that in the Son.

I agree

I agree, but believe your view is skewed. He is ultimately forgiving, he forgives us if we are his children, 70 times 7. All our sins are forgiven, always, even future sins. It is wiped away, not counted against us. Yet God, who will pour out his wrath on the unbeliever, gives them daily grace, allowing his sun and rain to fall daily on those he could immediately destroy. There is now no condemnation for those of us IN Christ Jesus, some are not IN Him. We are commanded to give common grace, love our neighbors, and to love our brothers in a different way, "As Christ loves the Church", this is in keeping with the disciples asking, how many times shall I forgive a BROTHER who sins against me, he didn't ask, how many times should I forgive my neighbor, or my enemy. This is the familial love of God I think. It is quite different from those who God does not elect, and who are not his "adopted sons".

He has no right to "forgive"

He has no right to "forgive" or "condemn" us for anything. The POS MADE us exactly as we are if you believe the cartoonish mythology. Everything we do is HIS fault.

What kind of mental midget builds a toy, then punishes the toy if it doesn't work right? What kind of power-mad control freak builds flawed creations and then sanctamoniously "forgives" them for the flaws HE installed into them.

The sickest joke of all is that you people don't even understand that the "gods" were invented by the Mysteries to give idiots a moral compass because they didn't believe common people had the intellect to act morally without personified "beings" telling them what to do. Thats why every religeon is divided into two. The half for the "elite" and the half for the "masses."

There are no gods. Not even one. You are either a moral person and conduct your life with reason, or you do not. There are no magical creatures that will help/save you. Do it yourself.

Reason?

Reason can just as easily create plunder as the wonderful people you seem to think it will create. There is no such thing as a moral person if God doesn't exist, just one person pretending one thing is good and another pretending another thing is good, because there is no moral law, no natural law, no law of any kind unless it is above man to create. One of your problems with all your tirades is that you don't even understand the system you're critiquing. You've got a bunch of half understood notions about what you "think" the bible says.

There will always be crime

There will always be crime and immoral people, though even the most evil and corrupt humans don't torture others for trillions of years for menial crimes, so the idea that good cannot exist without your cosmic sadist is laughable at best. Im sure you've got a million rationalizations for how we throw ourselves into hell, or, the devil does it instead of god, but in the end their is no excuse for torture, and god could stop it if he wished.

Logic tells us that it makes no sense as a race to deprive others of their right to life liberty and property if we want our species to prosper. If humans do not enforce these rights, no one can be free, and since the vast majority of humans would prefer to be free and prosperous than to be slaves if they were capable of rational thought (instead of being dumbed down by religeon and the state), it stands to reason that natural law is the only current solution to avoid the horrors of lawlessness and the state. It is no coincedance that natural law is universally reviled by the state, and religeon is encouraged.

You can call it good or bad or whatever. To me there is life lived by coersion (bad) and life lived by voluntary choice (good). Evil is simply initiating force against others. Its true I don't have any cosmic wizards to validate if this is true in the greater scheme of things, but then, I don't care. Logic & reason back me up, and thats all I need.

edit: If you are a Christian who doesn't believe in hell, I still consider you delusional, but at least I don't discount that you might be virtuous. Its impossible to stand behind a tyrant who tortures people and still be virtous. If you believe in hell and still serve god, you are an immoral person.

laughable

but in the end their is no excuse for torture

That statement was just spoken by a hairless ape, an animal, no more important than a piece of grass, who has the same single celled organism as their grandpa. There is nothing wrong with killing grass, or with killing humans if you want to be honestly intellectual in your naturalist world view.

Moral doesn't exist in your framework, so I can't feel indited by your claims. I believe in a God who gives you your life and your rights and your dignity. Without him, you have none of that and your supposed logic and reason are as meaningless as the barking of dogs, because you are no more important then they and ultimately cosmic fodder. So cosmic fodder, what now? What now grass upon the hills? Your words like your life are meaningless.

Thats easy

My words are only meaningless when my logic begins to threaten to a collision between your rational mind and your faith drenched illogical mind. For your own protection, your brain compartmentalises your religeous beliefs from your every-day rational mind that you use to opperate and do your job. Any time this compartmentalization is threatened, your mind throws the mnemonic kill-switch to protect itself, and you go into read-only mode. All that I say will become jibberish to you beyond that point.

If I were talking about Hairy Reed on taxes, or some political subject, you'd be saying: "Damn, that Magwan77 is a smart cookie and knows his stuff. However as soon as that logic is applied to your god, you cannot see anything im saying past: "Magwan hates god!"

But let me waste my time anyway:

This hairless ape doesn't want to be tortured, therefore, he understands that if torture is "normal" than his odds for being tortured some day increase greatly. None of us want to be subjected to totalitarian savgery, so as a matter of self-preservation, we work as reasoning people to form a society where these things are not acceptable. You might call it the golden rule, which is about the only sane thing in the bible. No god needed.

But let me cut to the chase here. Ask yourself: If you found out today that there was no god, would you still love your children, or would you suddenly consider them worthless, meaningless grass? That question alone should collapse your platitude argument like a house of cards if you are capable of reason. The love you have for your children; god or no god, is proof of why we strive for a moral society where our children can be safe from primitive savagery.

"good" and "evil" are born from the way we percieve actions effecting that which we love and value via human reason. That which causes suffering to people we view as bad, because we don't want it to happen to "our" loved ones. Is it really so hard to understand?

I am only important "because" there are those who value me, such as myself and my friends and family. My family are important because "I" and others value them. All things have value for very terrestral reasons. All this is birthed from our individual consiousness and perception. Since we all have this in common (stuff we value and don't want to loose), we realize, often unconciously that it benifits us all if we can form a "moral" society with the intent of safeguarding our rights and freedoms from savagery.

This reason extends to all things. It is in our own long-term self interest then to protect our ecosystem, as the destruction of the food chain will starve us and deprive us of things we value. So... everything has worth without any need for a boogy-man in the sky. All thanks to simple, long term self interest.

Morality is as simple as self preservation (By self I mean yourself and that which you love and value). I want to live in a world where I am free and don't have to worry about my family being killed for their shoes. Therefore I support a system of laws that protects EVERYONE's rights to life liberty and property because it is the most direct and efficient way to protect my family and loved ones.

Anarchy and totalitarianism are identical, both are systems of arbitrary law dependant on coersion from a thug class of humans who illogically believe you can have a world of victims and rulers and remain safe. Their idea is easiest because it requires little throught to achieve, just brute force. However in the long run, those who live by the sword, die by the sword, and they will eventually see their loved ones slaughtered like animals by those they have victimized. Logically, the only way for my loved ones to be safe and free is a system of just law based on natural rights and voluntary choice. This is why I consider natural law "good" and totalitarian lawlessness "evil."

Ha Sorry

You did waste your time, I didn't even read it because it was so insulting. Your arrogance disproves your supposed kindness. Your whole belief is based on existential feelings, not on actual or true goodness, so we know it's a fiction and while I admire anyone that fights for the rights we're endowed by our creator with and already, whether you believe in God or not think you're a smart cookie, the underlying message that you teach is that, time plus chance plus matter equals, what?? Ethics? It equals no true good, no true anything and even truth is dead. Yet ironically you claim it can only exist outside of a God sustained universe. Then you call this logic.

If you found out tomorrow

If you found out tomorrow that there is no god, would you still love your children? Or would you instead find them to be meaningless, worthless grass that you don't care for, love or desire a safe, lawful society for? When you find the guts to answer that truthfully, you'll have disproven your own argument.

Love is the root of "meaning" in this life. "Meaning" is the bond we form with those around us. Morality is our perception of how things will affect them to their benifit or detriment. We hate those things that harm them, and consider good that which helps them.

All that meaning you have in your life is all there dispite the fact that there is no god. You may think there is, but there isn't... and yet you still derive meaning in your daily existance.

You call me hateful, tell me I have nothing to do, tell me im hollow and have an empty life blagh blagh blagh... but its just a subconcious defense mechanism. You have to attack me because if you don't, then you'd have to weigh my words. If you did, it would cause a collision between your faith and your reason. Only one would survive, and you're not ready for that.

You will see only insults because subconciously you know you're treading in dangerous territory. Ive delt with your kind for decades. I know what it looks like when a person goes into read-only mode and tries to desperatly deflect logic that would cause conflict between faith and reason.

I own a business and manage 3 properties that ive built. Typing is something I don't get a lot of time for, however I type very fast and am passionate on the subject. My life is neither hollow nor meaningless, I have a loving wife and two beautiful baby girls. I have a strong community and we are motivated by a worthy cause in liberty. I have an strong notion of right and wrong birthed from knowledge of the philosophy of liberty. I don't stray from my principals and I expect the same from others. I do all of this without a god. You want to call me arrogant, but you're the one telling me that im an unfeeling monster because I don't belive in your fairy tales. You're the one attacking human reason and saying nothing I do has any meaning unless I stamp it with your mythology.

Either you'll come around or you wont. I suppose as long as your in it for liberty, I don't care. Delusional or not, we're in the same sinking boat.

Peace

Peace neighbor.

Didn't think you'd answer

Didn't think you'd answer that one. They never do. But no hard feeling and good luck out there.

Kids

Ok I'll take the bait. If I found out tomorrow if that God wasn't real, despite the fact that I believe he is the only reasonable cause for a life sustaining universe scientifically and that humans have to be more than the sum of accidents plus time and matter, yes of course I'd still love my kids. Would I however give a crap about having to starve your kids for mine to eat? Hmmm... can't answer that. Would I love them the same way I do now that Christ has defined love (1 Corinthians 13), as intensely, with as much fidelity? I can't say the answer to that. Now you can call me whatever you want, I'm sure you'll throw some more insults in. Regardless, Bastiat was a Christian and you know it, and to plunder others to get what I want, would definitely NOT be wrong. You might not approve of it, but what you think would matter absolutely zero to me. Other people's liberty? Who cares, give me mine and get it however I want to, at their expense, sure why not. Kinda like Stalin. Ha. His life is no more morally wrong than yours if an ultimate, objective moral law doesn't exist. I won't be checking back here Magwan, so call me all the names you want and get it out of your system.

The idea that you would

The idea that you would plunder others and not care so long as you got yours would only proove that you are unintellgent, not that morality didn't exist. Your children would "not" be safe if you felt you could plunder mine. They would be in far greater danger in the long run. Logically, if everyone followed your example, no one would be safe, and all of our children would be in constant danger of being murdered/raped/robbed/orphaned. That kind of stressful world would benfit no one, not even the moraly devoid criminals. Sure some morons at the top of the food chain might feel they benifit from a slave/master society for a time, until they pissed off the mob one too many times and had their children dragged out into the streets and butchered.

The average human would prefer to live in a safe, non-violent society. And I am living proof that this inclination does not originate from faith in any particular mythology. It comes from a desire to see our loved ones live in safety and prosperity. Cause and effect.

Because we care about our children and want them to grow up in a safe, civilized world, we as a society work toward a social compact based on protecting one another's rights because its the only way we have a reasonable chance of having our own rights protected.

Last, don't kid yourself. God or no god, you WILL put your children before mine, just as I would put mine before yours if shit hit the fan. However I have 0 doubt that as reasoning humans who understand that the best way for both our children to have saftey and prosperty, we are both capable of figuring out that we would be better off working together to form a society where BOTH our rights are protected by force... even in a post-apocolyptic world where there are plenty of unprepared parasites who want to take that which is not theirs. Reason will rise above anarchy.

However as someone who has absolutly 0 faith in any god, I can tell you right now I value very much the idea that your kids are safe and cared for for a couple reasons: 1) I have compassion and hate seeing any child suffer. 2) When your kids are safe and cared for, you won't be out trying to the food from my children's mouths for their benfit. 3) Because I want to go to my death bed feeling like I lived a good life (did not leave victims) because I derive meaning and value from that knowledge. 4) Because the golden rule applies to everyone, not just religeous people.

Last. If you are given an infinite amount of time and space, logically, everything that is possible will not only occur, but will occur an infinate amount of times over the endless trillions of eons of existance. Therefore, planets that support life are inevitable. They have happened before, they will happen again. I don't pretend to know how it all started (if started is even a relivant term), but I would love to find out. But until I see some bloody proof, im not going buy into one of the dumbest things ever uttered by a human: "the science has been settled."

Take the tail off a monkey and he thinks he's the center of the universe.

Not to...

...blab on, when I wasn't being addressed, but --

I see it more as an evolution of spiritual babes into spiritual children into spiritually mature beings. We as earthly adults, who love our own children, do not discipline them or correct them simply because of a power trip, but to help them grow and survive and avoid the pitfalls we can see and they can't really see themselves (yet). And then sometimes as parents, we have to let our children go, despite our warnings and the grief in our hearts, and experience the pains of going astray, if that is the only way they will learn, as independent, free agents.

This is where I part ways with some fellow Christians -- I don't believe that God will ultimately abandon any of us children, and trust that this will become abundantly clear as His Love is unfolded in the age to come. I think He will never give up on me or you, Magwan, and will work to break down every barrier that stands between us and the Truth of His Love and the path we can take to grow into the persons we were meant to be.

Others will say that some or most of us are without such hope in undying Love, even that God made some of us basically like zombies just to destroy us. I reject these notions.

Some will say then, what is the purpose of this painful earthly life -- why not just teleport everyone to the happy end of the story and bypass all this misery? I'm not 100% sure, but I suspect that we require the perspective of this earthly struggle as a foundation for understanding Truth as our own persons, not as mere puppets. The Creation process has been messy to produce free agents that can choose good or evil, but He is coming behind and sweeping up the mess, and in His time transforming even the most desperately wayward sheep into an heir of the King. I truly believe that at some point, you will find the open arms of your heavenly Father welcoming you in embrace, just as He will for all us prodigals who have given up the old, died in His Son, and risen with new life in His Son.

I don't expect you to just suddenly believe all this, but I am confident you will discover this Love in due time. :)

The difference...

...would be that I view everyone as called to be saved, that God truly loves everyone as His precious creature whom He wants a relationship with. I see everyone as the 'elect', but that the fullness of this won't be realized until the age to come, when God will truly be all in all, after death itself is destroyed (not hanging out in some cosmic corner with most of fallen Creation stuck in the second death for eternity).

The various texts related to predestination, hardening Pharoah's heart, vessels of wrath, 'hating' Esau, etc. I fully agree with, but view those as being true during the working out of human history, not as the final desired outcome. Even those from Sodom get restored (see Ezekiel 15 (?))

So three points:

1. God's will is to save all and have eternal, personal relationships with all. (see I Tim, I Peter, John etc.)

2. God has the ability to perfectly achieve His will.

3. Some will be never be saved.

One of these three can't be true, if the other two are true. The Calvinists (you?) deny #1. The Arminians deny #2 (stymied by free will). The universalists deny #3, because they affirm 1 and 2. I find this last of the three views to be more in line with the idea of 'where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more'. I see the Gospel as being victorious, not mostly-defeated.

I agree

I agree that God has the ability to save all and that Christ's sacrifice would be sufficient to accomplish that reconciliation. But I don't find your argument convincing. God has called a people to himself, as he did with Israel from the start. You seem to suggest that God would be immoral to punish people, despite the fact that you don't make any case for the fact that the people don't deserve punishment. We all do deserve punishment, you and I included Micah, but God extends grace to some and not all. That seems clearly indicated by Scripture over and over again. One Greek word isn't much of a case. I'll look it up though. I've heard Rob Bell talk about it before.

You perhaps misunderstand...

I don't mean at all that there should not be any punishment or that there will not be any. I believe in hell; I just don't believe in God giving up on even the people in hell, but believe that He has both the will and the means to allow such punishment where necessary, as a working out of His Love, to bring about the reconciliation of all His creatures.

Double Post

Double Post

We all share this eternally evolving present moment- The past and future only exist as inconsequential mental fabrications.

Double Post

Double Post

We all share this eternally evolving present moment- The past and future only exist as inconsequential mental fabrications.

Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope? Yes!

I realize this is a pro god song but I always liked that line and along with the pope politicians too.


http://youtu.be/fkmyZ8juZWw

It's hard to tell...

...from the article whether the Pope is a pluralist or an inclusivist.

A pluralist says that there are many ways to God through all faiths and beliefs.

An inclusivist Christian believes that Christ is indeed the only Way, Truth and Life through which we can be reconciled to God, but that others who do not explicitly understand their faith by the label 'Christianity' may yet have a heart response by faith which God in His wisdom can know is on the same trajectory, responding to what light they have, in their conscience or in the Creation, etc. For example, Abram didn't know all the details of Christianity, but responded by faith to leave his home in Ur, and his faith was counted as righteousness.

An exclusivist would insist that not only is Christ the only way, but anyone who is saved must explicitly know and accept the explicit details of Christ.

As a Christian universalist, I believe all creatures will eventually be saved through Christ, not apart from His work which enables such reconciliation, and that this will be an ongoing process both in this age and in the age to come. I believe that anyone who is reconciled will recognize at some point that Christ is that Way which enables them. So I guess I'm inclusivist, but this view is still compatible with exclusivism.

If the Pope is a pluralist, meaning that there is no ultimate reliance on Christ's death and resurrection for reconciliation, that people don't have to enter through that Door, but can skirt around and hop over the side wall, I would disagree.

Where

Where do you find this information about "eventual" reconciliation? I don't see it in any text of Scripture, but I hear people talk about it.

This topic...

…of universalism is pretty broad and can be approached from various angles involving philosophy and reason, but I think you and I agree (?) that it had better hold water when measured against Scripture for it to be considered plausible, and not just from cherry-picking a few verses here and there and twisting them out of context.

So this is an interesting situation where the three Christian views of the ultimate state of the lost after the judgement –‘eternal, conscious torment’, or ECT; annihilationism; and universalism--each find texts in the Scriptures that seem to support that view and pose problems for the others, when read on the surface in the English. Obviously, universalists have to explain the so-called ‘hell texts’, where the English translators give us ‘eternal flames’, etc. if they are to have a convincing case. There are other passages which appear to provide support for the ultimate reconciliation of all things through Christ, which those who hold to ECT have to provide explanations for. Some examples of these passages are:

Colossians 1:15-22

15 He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,
20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled
22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight

Ephesians 1:7-10

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both[a] which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.

1 Corinthians 15:20-28

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.”[a] But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

John 12:31-33
31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

This is just scratching the surface, because as you go through the entire Bible, the overall story over and over again seems to be God’s covenants with people, their falling from covenants due to sin and being set aside/judged (oftentimes in what sounds like a very final judgement), followed by restoration and reconciliation in the end. So much more can be said, but I’ll rest with this for now so as not to write a book here. :)

And to me

These texts are so easily reconcilable that I see no case for universalism, I believe it would be far to contradictory to the direct and clear teachings that God has set apart A people for himself. That not all are saved, that many take the wide path that leads to destruction, which sounds very little like restoration. If you feel it does present a real case, I'm sure you have your reasons. Regardless, anyone that calls Christ savior and the only, is my brother, so God bless!

In reconciling...

...these texts (nice play on words by the way :D), you do still have to go on to explain why they don't really mean what they seem to be saying, at least on the surface in the English: that all of these created things are not also to be reconciled by that peace established on the cross, that the all who are dead in Adam are not the same all that will be alive in Christ, etc. You can posit such explanations, of course, but they aren't evident merely on the surface.

Likewise, when I turn to the 'hell texts', I admit that on the surface in the English, things like 'eternal flames' would seem to be a challenge to universalism. However, on digging deeper into the meaning of the Greek adjective 'aionion' that is translated 'eternal', it turns out that a better translation of it is 'of the age to come', not specifying a particular duration, but merely in which age it occurs (i.e. the next age); sort of a 'beyond the horizon' type connotation. Even if 'aionion' means 'eternal', who holds the keys to hell? Christ. And I will not strip Him of the authority to commute any eternal sentence upon His working of repentance in someone through the fire of His Love. In one way or another, everyone will be 'salted by fire', as Christ Himself mentioned in the Gospels; and salting is a good thing in the end, to make us more salty, or to restore our saltiness.

I fully agree with all the judgement texts, that refer to the wide path, etc., etc.; however, I don't see that as the final word on the matter. I truly believe that death itself is the final enemy to be destroyed, as I cited above in Paul's writings -- and that God will be all in all. If the second death itself is to be destroyed, I would say that's an argument for hell emptying out over time.

Blessings to you, as well, dear brother. :)

----

Oh, and if you would like to read a more in-depth discussion of the overarching Biblical and philosophical arguments for 'evangelical universalism', I'd recommend you check out a book surprisingly titled 'Evangelical Universalism' by Gregory MacDonald.

'Gregory MacDonald' is actually a penname for Dr. Robin Parry, which comes from Gregory of Nyssa (a prominent early Church father who believed in the 'apokatastasis' point of view, and helped establish the Nicene Creed, etc.) and George MacDonald (a 19th century Scottish minister, author; CS Lewis considered him his 'spiritual mentor' although he didn't quite accept MacDonald's universalism; MacDonald's 'Unspoken Sermons' I also highly recommend)

aionion

After reading about this word, I would ask as I've seen many people probably do. How is it that you say, this means an age or season, while it is also the word used for our eternal life, for God's eternal power and many other examples? I could copy and paste you a big list I found, but that would be silly because I like you. Ha. Do you use this meaning of it because you think it then works better with the verses that seem to indicate to you total reconciliation of the universe? Further, why would Christ even warn us about this if you're correct? Why would he place such gravity on our earthy faith in him, spreading the Gospel etc.? If all will ultimately be saved, why not just be all hippy and new agey about it and say, "dude, it all works out in the end! Don't sweat it!" But he didn't, he solemnly warned us.

Matthew 25:46
And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal(aionion)life.

Peace.