Friday, January 29, 2016

More Universalism thoughts

My previous Universalim post.

I think it'd be interesting to quote 2 Peter 3:9 to Calvinists
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Simply taking this at what it plainly says, either the Calvinist understanding of The Sovereignty of God (that nothing happens He doesn't want to happen) is false, or Universalism is true (in which case other aspects of Calvinism are not true).

The Calvanist rationalization would probably be that that verse only means the Elect.  But the context doesn't support that, this is eschatological, Peter is talking about ungodly unbelieving men all through this chapter.

But the Sovereignty of God is the Calvansit's strongest argument, after Biblically refuting all five points and Biblically proving Free Will in a debate with one, they just resort to shouting "how dare you insinuate God doesn't always get His way".  Before I was willing to consider Unversalisim a valid option I had a response to that Calvansit argument I had posted on this blog.  But I didn't really cite Bible verses there, I just made a logical argument.

Does Universalism deny free will as much as Calvanism does?  Depends how you look at it, many would say you can choose to reject God, it's just the consequence of that won't be endless punishment but rather separation from God (being not allowed into New Jerusalem).  But some popular Universalist proof texts imply Jesus is drawing all men to Him, not just saving them from damnation., mainly John 12:32.  But the stronger Universlaism proof text of that chapter is verse 47, 32 is easier for anti-Unisersalists to interpret differently without denying the plain reading.

The easiest Point of Calvanism to refute is Limited Atonement, they have no verses in support of it and we have countless verses showing Jesus shed Blood covered All Sin even of unbelievers.  But the one thing Calvanists fall back on is the logical argument of, "how can that be the case if some (even most in the opinions of many Evangelicals) of those people are damned anyway?"  The standard Arminian view is He paid the penalty for your Sin regardless, but if you don't accept Him it will have to be paid twice.

That's enough talking about Calvanism for now.

Back before I was willing to entertain Universalism there was nothing in my Theology that wasn't Conservative.  It was only on political and social issues I'm a Liberal SJW Libertarian.

There are Universalists with a wide variety of views on other issues.  Many Unversalists are full on Progressive Christians with theological views I can't accept.  Some incorporating a Preterist argument for how to deal with the "gnashing of teeth" and Outer Darkness references in Matthew, making it about what happened to Israel in 70 AD.  Long before I changed my perspective on Universalism I had already shown that the Outer Darkness is outside New Jerusalem in the New Heavens and New Earth.

I feel the Unviersalism I'm now pretty convinced of is dependent on a Futurist and Premillenial Eschatology.  It's only taking Revelation 21-22 literally not figuratively that I feel it can be shown our Eternal Destiny isn't as simple as some people are damned and some are saved.  As well as with Chapter 20 for showing that the contemporary after life (whatever it looks like) is NOT our Eternal Destiny.

Lots of Universalists also default to what I criticized on this blog often when I was just arguing for standard Eternal Security, appealing to the authority of the Early Church Fathers.  While many would object to the claim that Universalism was believed by as many of them as proponents claim, certainly no Pre-Nicean father besides Tertulian contradicted it, and same with most Post-Nicean fathers till Augustine of Hippo.

None of those previous posts of mine insists they were wrong on everything, my ultimate point is they should be irrelevant one way or the other.  Universalism supporting statements have been cited from both among the ones I've been the most sympathetic to (like Ireneaus and his pupil Hippolytus) and most suspicious of (like Clement of Alexandria and his pupil Origen).

It does concern me that the Universalists who most lean on the Early Church Fathers for Universalist arguments are also sometimes the most inclined to combine that with other views I don't like, like Denying a Bodily Resurrection, or denying Substitutionary Atonement.  Like in this Book you can read online for free.

Now an argument from Early Church History used against Universalism tends to be attempts to associate it with the Gnostics.  Certainly not all Gnositics believed it as Augustine being all for Eternal Damnation shows.  Universlaism supporters have made a point out of that none of the many books written by Early Church Fathers against the Gnostics cite Universalism as a reason they are heretics.

What's most interesting to me isn't how many Early Fathers might have been Universalists, but who is the first to clearly not be.

Tertulian was also the first Church Father to write in Latin, which is why he is important to the argument that Eternal Damnation has it's origins in flawed translations of the Scriptures into Latin.  But Jerome to whom the Vulgate is attributed (I suspect the Vulgate as it is now has been changed by Catholic editors a lot from what Jerome originally did) has also been cited as supporting Universalism (in quotes I talked about before).  And Jerome has also been quoted as labeling Tertulian not a true Church Father.

Tertulian is also popular with the Jesus Words Only people I've talked about before because in Against Marcion he was incredibly hostile to Paul, denying his status as an Apostle.

What I find interesting in that correlation is that Paul uses Aionion in a way that clearly contradicts it meaning Eternal.  In Romans 16:25, but the KJV doesn't render it Eternal here like it does other times.  "which was kept secret since the world began" there is no Greek word for began here, only Aionon's root Aion being sometimes translated "world" supports using that word here.  He's saying it was kept secret Aionios, but in verse 26 it is clear this secret is made known now.

Paul also wrote many of the strongest Universlaist proof texts.  Most listed here are from Paul.  And I would add to those another from Romans 11 "All Israel shall be Saved" a verse loved by Dispensationalists.  But taken fully literally it means every Israelite, even Ciaphas and Ananias and Judas Iscariot and Dathan and Korah.  Nothing there supports saying only all Israel alive at that time, I believe this eschatological Salvation of Israel is tied to the resurrection of the dead in Ezekiel 37.

Universlaism can be argued for Independent of Paul, but so can Faith Alone and Eternal Security yet that doesn't stop the Jesus Words Only people from thinking rejecting Paul is enough to destroy those doctrines.

Tertulian of course also held views I agree with.  He alone among the Early Church Fathers supported the half brothers of Jesus being born of Mary.  And he did seem to believe in Eternal Security for those who Believed in Jesus in this life.  He said that only the Marytrs go directly to God's presence when they die (where they're seen in Fifth Seal n Revelation 6) the rest of the believers go to Hades/Sheol like the unbelievers but a different compartment, Abraham's Bosom.  A subject which could be worthy of it's own post.

I just want to say one more thing on the Aionion debate.  When Josephus described the Pharrisees as believing in eternal punishment he used the terms eirgmos aidios (eternal imprisonment) and timorion adialeipton (endless torment) not aionion kolasin (age-long chastisement) which Jesus used.

You know the concept that forgiveness is for your own sake not the person you're forgiving?  Well The Bible applies that to God himself.  Isaiah 43:25.
I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
When you understand that concept, Universalisim makes even more sense, it shows He will not be forgiving only those who ask forgiveness.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I support the House Church movement.

I don't want to retread the reason for it that others have gone into on why Biblical Churches were House Churches.  Chuck Missler and Rob Skiba and others do a good Job of that though they also hold views I don't like.  I do like to repeat that there were no Church Buildings till the third century.

For me this overlaps with my objections to the modern concept of a Pastor and why I object to 501c3 Churchs.

The Pastor I do not like to name did a sermon against the House Church Movement.  He of course said a Church could meet in houses.  His main issue was that he said The Church should grow and any successful Church should eventually become too big to fit into a house.  When a Church becomes too big is when it should split up into smaller churches, every city had many churches in NT times as the NT shows, while still not being the majority population anywhere.

This same Pastor when he preached against Women Pastors, criticized certain Churches who will claim to agree with his view, but let a famous Woman in the Christian world speak while calling it a "Seminar" rather then a "Sermon".  That is easy to mock because basically Sermons are Seminars.

Sermons are Biblical, Jesus did Sermons and so did Peter and Paul, and I believe the reason 1 John lacks the usual Epistle introduction is because it is really a transcript of a Sermon.  I've grown Spiritually a lot from listening to Sermons and Seminars from believers I both agree and disagree with.  But that's not what a Biblical Church is supposed to be.

If you look at the instructions given in Corinthians, a worship gathering is supposed to be multiple believers preaching and prophesying and testifying.  It should be everyone edifying each other.  It's not supposed to be one man giving a long speech while everyone else just nods in agreement.

A study of the History of the Synagogue will show that they also began as House Synagogues and buildings showed up later.

Critics of The New Testament love to attack The Gospels and Acts for referring to Synagogues because "the modern Synagogue didn't exist till the 2nd Century, after the Second Temple was Destroyed".  The Emphasis is on modern, I don't know why they think the not very detailed NT descriptions imply it's Synagogues had any of the characteristics that started after 70 AD.  I see no NT evidence any were ruled over by a single Rabbi.  And I so no clear evidence that they weren't house Synagogues.

Josephus is proof the term Synagogue was used before 70 AD, and Archaeologists have identified plenty of Synagogue buildings that go back to Hasmonean times.

People who object to Rabbinic additions to Judaism may desire to object to the idea of Synagogues.  But the Epistle of James does use it as a synonym for Christian Churches, but the KJV translated it Assembly, in Acts 13:43 the KJV translates it Congregation.  There is also one place the NT uses the word commonly translated "church" to refer to something in the Old Testament,

Acts 7:38 used it to refer to the congregation in the wilderness in the days of Moses.  Two Hebrew words are commonly translated Congregation in Exodus, Strongs number 5712 and Strongs number 4150.  Both of them are also used in Psalm 74.  That is the same Psalm that is the only place the word Synagogue gets used in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, including the KJV in verse 8, to translate Strongs number 4150, this same word is also used in verse 4 but translated Congregations there.

The Greek word translated Church comes in it's Secular origin from a term used to refer collectively to the entire citizenry of a city-state, that is the sense being drawn on for The Church, we're Citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, but can also refer to any gathering together of Citizens, that is the local church.

Strongs number 4150 is also sometimes translated Feasts in Leviticus 23.  It refers to times appointed for God's people to gather together.  But only 3 of the Feasts required everyone to gather in Jerusalem (or wherever the Tabernacle was), the rest could be just a local gathering.  Under the New Testament, The Church is The Temple, so even most Christians who think we're still under the Mosaic Law don't see Christians as being required to Pilgrimage to any certain location, (besides Catholics).  And The Sabbath is an Appointed Time itself because it's discussed in verse 3 of Leviticus 23.

So that Synagogues also originally met in houses is further backing for the House Church position in my view.

This is also why I don't necessarily consider church buildings bad.  Even mega churches can serve God.  But what I am very suspicious of is any church that operates like it's a business.  I believe if you have a building it should be legally the private property of a member of that church choosing to share it with the rest of the congregation.

A Biblical Church shouldn't need a 501c3 status, it should be taxation proof to begin with because no one is paid a salary and all money given are freely given gifts.  I support abolishing the 501 tax exempt status period for both secular and religious institutions.  A Church that behaves like a corporation should be taxed like one.