Monday, April 30, 2018

Aulus Pudens and 2 Timothy 4:21

I've become fairly convinced of the theory that the Pudens and Claudia of 2 Timothy 4:21 are the same as Aulus Pudens and Claudia Rufina mentioned by the poet Marital.  I mentioned this in I don't think Nero Persecuted Christians.

Now that belief often gets tied into British Israelism or other ways to try and develop a very Britannia centrist view of History, of Anglicans and other English Speaking Protestants attempting to argue the British Church is the True Church.  Those kinds of views I don't agree with.  But what I do believe is that very early on The Gospels reached every corner of the then known world.  And so my believing it reached the British Isles also ties into my desire to talk about it's history in East Asia, Africa and Arabia, subjects I'll be posting more on in the future.

The thing is, a lot of the people who think Aulus Pudens was Saint Pudens are very Conservative Christians.  So that's why I want to point out an implication of this identification they've overlooked.

Aulus Pudens was Bisexual, Marital records his marriage to Claudia Rufina, but also records his passions for young male slaves.

And that can lead us to another potential answer to the objection that Pudens and Claudia aren't right next to each other in 1 Timothy 4:21.  Claudia Rufina was from Briton, and Julius Caesar records that the Celtic Britons practiced Polyandry.  And believe it or not examples of Polyandry occurred in Rome as well.  There is a common assumption that Polyandry can't ever by compatible with Biblical Laws, only Polygyny can.  But that's derivative of assumptions about the Pre-Marital Sex being a Sin which I've already deconstructed.  And it's easy to make an argument for Fraternal Polyandry from the reasoning behind the Levirate Marriage.  So maybe what Marital left out is that Pudens wasn't the only husband of Claudia.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Nestorianism and The Church of The East

My previous post on the subject of the Nestorian Schisim was a bit mistaken.  The actual Council of Calchedon happened after Cyril of Alexandria and Theodosius II had died.  And Miaphysite Christians tend to identify themselves as being the true followers of Cyril.

YouTuber Ryan Reeves has a series of informative videos on Church History, but they reflect his bias as a Protestant of the Reformed tradition.  He also reflects the very Western Bias in how we tend to view Church History, including when he talks about Nestorius as if the opposing side was the one vindicated by History.  Because the Church that did not condemn Nesotrius may well have actually been larger then all of Calchedonian Christendom at some points during the Middle Ages.

Catholic Apologists will often attempt to smear Protestants by associating them with Nestorianism, chiefly because of the refusal to call Mary by the title Theotokos (Mother of God or God Bearer).  Protestants will respond by saying something like "Nesotrius was disputing the title's technical accuracy while we're concerned with quasi deification".  The thing is it's not like the Nesotrian controversy was already raging and then the Theotokos dispute was a symptom, it was the inciting incident, that's how it started.  And there are other ways in which Nestorians have been compared to Protestants.

In my opinion the core disagreement between Calchedonians, Miaphysites and Nestorians is semantical.  They all view Jesus as both Divine and Human, and as not being one more then He is the other.  Critics of Nestorius have greatly exaggerated the implications of what he taught, there is nothing "Schizophrenic" about the Nestorian view of Jesus because the issue in mind is His Nature(s) not His Personality.  Still, if I had to choose, the Nestorian position on this is the least likely to be the one I'd take, I prefer to think of Deity and Humanity as united or made one in Christ.  So I'm going to defend Nestorians not out of intellectual agreement but out of respect for their Labor for The Gospel.

Ryan Reeves seems to feel that the Nestorian view is a problem for the doctrine of Salvation, specifically of Jesus dying as our substitute. Jesus was our substitute because He was of Adam's flesh and blood, but was without Sin, He was tempted but never sinned.  And it was only His Divinity that made that Sinslessness possible.  The semantic technicalities of how they relate are irrelevant to that.  So no, what Nestorius taught was not inherently related to the Pelagian Hersey.  It is also wrong to suggest that Nestorius believed in something bordering on Adoptionism as Ryan Reeves makes it sound.

The Ancient Church of the East or Assyrian Orthodox Church, does not really call themselves Nestorian.  They refused to condemn him as a Heretic and for that reason rejected the 3rd and all following Ecumenical Councils, but his teachings are not considered core defining doctrines of their Church.  Now there are people who would call themselves Nestorians both within and without that Church, but that position is not the definition of the Church itself.  And I've seen Church of the East followers say they agree that the doctrine that was condemned at Ephesus 1 was Heresy, they just view it as wrong to attribute that to Nestorius.

Before the Council of Ephesus even happened the Christians who were east of what the Roman Empire controlled were already becoming isolated from the Roman Church, partly because the persecutions they faced from the Persian Government were often politically justified by their being associated with a foreign rival nation.

The Council of Ephesus in 431 was really two Councils, one lead by Cyril, who started it before most Bishops likely to be sympathetic to Nestorius arrived, that excommunicated Nestorius without him even being there.  And then when the other Bishops arrived they held their own council that excommunicated Cyril.  The Anti-Nestorius ruling became the official position of the Roman Church essentially because Theodosius II decided they were the valid one, because his sister was good friends with Cyril sharing her immense hatred of The Jews.  So the Christians outside the Roman Empire had very good justification to simply reject those proceedings altogether.

Christianity had reached Iraq and Persia very early on.  Acts 2:9 lists Jews and Proselytes of Mesopotamia, Elam, Media and Parthia as present at Pentecost.  I also firmly believe Peter was exactly where he said he was when he wrote his First Epistle, and in response to some criticism of that I am going in the future to argue he may have wrote it there before 41 AD.  I also have my theory that Helena, Izates II and Monobaz II of Adiabene may have been Christians.  And Osroene/Edessa was definitely a Christian region before 200 AD because of the Conversion of Abgar VIII also sometimes called Abgar IX.  Traditions also say Simon Zelotes and Thaddeus/Jude of the 12 may have come to Edessa and other parts of Mesopotamia.

So the Christian Communities that rejected Ephesus had deeper roots then those in Rome, Alexandria and Constantinople.

And then the Fifth Ecumenical Council/Second Council of Constantinople's condemnation of the previously consistently viewed as Orthodox Theodore of Mopsuestia as well as certain writings of Theodoret and Ibas of Edessa for their tenuous association with Nestorius, further drove many more Christians of the Schools of Antioch and Edessa out of the Roman Church.  If any Ecumenical Council was the product of the then Roman Emperor asserting his will it was this one.  Justinian had the idea in his head that the way to bring the Calchedonian and Miaphysite Churches back together was to crack down even harder on the Nestorians, it of course didn't work, it only created more divisions.

Antioch was kind of Paul's base of operations in the Book of Acts.  But it's also interesting how the region where Antioch is was part of the Assyrian Empire in the time of Isaiah.  So one could argue it's Antioch and Mesopotamia becoming Christian that partly fulfilled the later part of Isaiah 19.

Nestorianism is thought to have had some presence in Pre-Islamic Arabia, with figures in the biography of Muhammad sometimes said to be either Nestorians or Ebonites depending on who you read.
But one figure of the Church of the East who definitely was born in Arabia was Isaac of Nineveh, born in the region of Beth Qatraye in Eastern Arabia in 613 AD, three years after Muhammad has his first vision.  He lived to the year 700 AD.

Actually it may be much of the reason for this association is how many Christian Communities of Arabia were moved to Mesopotamia by early Caliphs.  So they became part of the Assyrian Communion and basically merged with them making their background also part of the Eastern Church's background.

I recommend this YouTube Video.

It talks about a Monument in China erected in about 780 AD commemorating Christians of the Church of the East coming to China in about 635 AD.  One thing it suggested was that by the time this monument was erected the Church of the East may have been twice the Size of the Western Church.

Claims of the Church of the East reaching Japan are more controversial.  They tend to get tied into speculation about the Hata Clan which in turn gets tied into Lost Tribes coming to Japan theories.  Those theories I have an interest in, but the thing left out is that the Hata Clan arrived and become prominent in Japan before when the Nestorians reached China according to the above video.

Also difficult to investigate are the claims of a Maru Toma who was in Japan during the time of Prince Shotoku (574-622).

However a claim I do find fairly plausible is that a Persian Missionary known as Rimitsui arrived in Nara in 735 AD during the reign of Emperor Shomu (724-749) and that his wife Empress Komyu might have converted.  However these Christians were probably always a small Minority in Japan just as the Catholics have been since they arrived.

Another important factor in the History of Nestorian Christianity in Asia were the Keraites, a Turkic-Mongol Tribe who converted about 1000 AD.  For a time they were the dominant political force in what we today call Mongolia until they were conquered by Genghis Kahn.  The adoptive father of Genghis Kahn Toghrul was a ruler of the Keraites.

So if either side of the 431 Schism should be viewed as the Heretics who broke off from the true Church, it would be the Roman side.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Pelagius was in error but it wasn't Free Will.

I've already shown that Free Will was taught by the Church before Pelagius.  And then contemporary with Pelagius, and not likely to have been influenced by him was Gregory of Nyssa who also taught Free Will.  And also Theodore of Mopseustia wrote against Augustine's understanding of Original Sin.

Calvanists love to use the condemnations Pelagius received from Councils against the doctrine of Free Will, and indeed Theodore was also condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council (the Justinian Council as I call it) because of his association with Nestorianism.  But the seventh and last Ecumenical Council called Gregory the Father of Fathers and a Champion of the Faith.

I feel my fellow Protestant supporters of Free Will are a little too quick to seek to exonerate Pelagius.  Proving it existed before him is sufficient.  I in the past had been reluctant to say much one way or the other on Pelagius himself, but I've now done more research.

It is true that the views of Pelagius were often misrepresented by his critics.  Here is a quote from a letter he wrote to Augustine explicitly denying certain beliefs attributed to him.

Letters of Pelagius
“That Adam was created mortal, and that he would have died whether he had sinned or not sinned. That Adam’s sin
injured only himself, and not the human race. That the law, no less than the gospel, leads us to the kingdom. That
new-born infants are in the same condition that Adam was before he fell. That, on the one hand, the entire human
race does not die owing to Adam’s death and transgression; nor, on the other hand, does the whole human race rise
again through the resurrection of Christ. That infants, even if they die unbaptized, have eternal life. That rich men,
even if they are baptized, unless they renounce and give up all, have, whatever good they may seem to have done,
nothing of it reckoned to them; neither shall they possess the kingdom of heaven.”

“All these statements have not been made by me, even on their own testimony, nor do I hold myself responsible for
The first Red Flag that Protestants should be weary of him is that he's clearly saying he does believe in Infant Baptism.  A subject which comes up again in his letter to Pope Innocent.
"[I have been] defamed by certain persons for [supposedly] refusing the sacrament of baptism to infants, and
promising the kingdom of heaven irrespective of Christ's redemption.  [I have] never heard even an impious heretic
say this about infants.  Who indeed is so unacquainted with Gospel lessons, as not only to attempt to make such an
affirmation, but even to be able to lightly say it or even let it enter his thought? And then who is so impious as to wish
to exclude infants from the kingdom of heaven, by forbidding them to be baptized and to be born again in Christ?"
Now he's not necessarily saying he thinks Unbaptized Babies who die in infancy burn in Hell for Eternity, which Augustine certainly believed.  Just that they can't enter the Kingdom, which I in both my former and current Soterology distinguish from Salvation.  I don't think Water Baptism is necessary to enter The Kingdom, but I suspect the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is.

These quotes show how widespread Infant Baptism already was during an era when Council affirming Protestants want to think Catholic error hadn't really taken off yet.

YouTuber Ryan Reeves in his videos on Augustine wants to emphasize strongly the things he taught that are similar to Calvin and Luther and modern mainline Protestants, ignoring his teachings on Infant Baptism and The Virgin Mary.  And he totally misrepresents City of God ignoring it's Amillennial Statist bent.

Gregory of Nyssa's teaching on Baptism has been interpreted as opposing Infant Baptism, but I'm unsure, even Gregory wasn't perfect.

We don't have Pleagius On Nature in full, just quotations of it, so maybe this was misrepresented, but if it's Authentic it's a pretty major issue.  It's quote number 42 on this web page.

  • [In regards to the passage which states ‘By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men; in which all have sinned. As by the offence of one, upon all men [came a bringing] to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of One, upon all men [came a bringing] unto justification of life (Rom. 10:3-4).’ I teach that] there can be no doubt that not all men are sanctified by the righteousness of Christ, but only those who are willing to obey Him, and have been cleansed in the washing of His baptism [thus there can be no doubt that not all men are sinners, but only those who are willing to disobey him.]"
  • For some reason, what I Copy/Pasted says Romans 10 when this quote of Paul is actually from Romans 5, verses 15-18.

    Now I will say that Pelagius in a way is closer to being right on this passage then Protestants (especially Calvinists) who believe in Eternal Damnation.  He at least recognizes that you can't interpret the amount of people the word "all" refers to differently for Christ then you do for Adam, and you certainly can't make it a smaller number when it refers to Jesus.

    I however strongly believe that yes ultimately all are Made Righteous by Christ, in agreement with Gregory of Nyssa.

    Some might argue verse 19 supports Pelagius interpretation, as there we see many and not all.  But that verse also stresses that it is the Obedience of Jesus that matters.

    I can maybe sympathize with Pelagius when he's just arguing against Augustine's pessimism towards the ability of Believers to live exemplary lives.  But the above quote does show that he's trying to wiggle around the clear teaching of "all have sinned and fallen short" so that he can propose a works based Salvation.

    Defenders of Pelagius love to appeal to the Synod of Diospolis.  I agree it was unfair of Councils he wasn't able to defend himself at to Condemn him.  But we can read much of what transpired at the Synod of Diospolis.  And to some extent his exoneration here was a result of his being very slick.

    First however, on the subject of Free Will itself.
    Synod: Let another section be read.  [It was then read from his book that] ‘all men are ruled by their own will.’
    Pelagius: This I stated in the interest of free will. God is its helper whenever it chooses good; man, however, when
    sinning is himself in fault, as under the direction of a free will.
    Synod: Nor again is this opposed to the doctrine of the Church.
    Wasn't even much of a dispute, this one was probably only an accusation because Augustine insisted on it.

    The problems emerge in what is said next.
    Synod: [Pelagius has written in his book that] ‘In the day of judgment no forbearance will be shown to the ungodly and
    the sinners, but they will be consumed in eternal fires.’  [To this Synod this statement seems to be worded in such a
    way as to imply that all sinners whatever were to be punished with an eternal punishment, without excepting even
    those who hold Christ as their foundation, although ‘they build thereupon wood, hay, stubble,’ concerning whom the
    apostle writes: ‘If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he shall himself be saved, yet so as by fire.’]
    Pelagius: I made this assertion in accordance with the Gospel, in which it is written concerning sinners, ‘These shall
    go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.’  [He] who believes differently is an Origenist.
    Synod: [What you are saying then is] not opposed to the Church.
    What's in [] here seems like it's added commentary from this website, which annoys me that they mislead me into thinking the Synod used that verse of 1 Corinthians 3.

    Pelagius did not even really address the Synod's concern, or try to figure out what their concern was, and I suspect they backed down only because of his using Origenist as a slur.  Already people were using the other things Origen was wrong on to smear all Universalsim by affiliation.  The Synod should have responded by mentioning men like Gregory of Nyssa.

    Pelagius was from the West, and so a Latin translation of Matthew 25 was probably the basis of how he understood it.

    Basically the Synod should have grilled him harder on what his Soterology actually was.  There was no attempt to make sure he understood that Salvation is not by Works.  Instead they just allowed him to say his teaching had some basis in some Scripture.

    Also what I quoted above from On Nature was not brought up in this Council or in the Statement of Faith he sent to the Pope to gain his approval.

    The Council of Orange ultimately Condemned Augustine's Doctrine as much as it did Pelagianism.
    It defined that faith, though a free act, resulted even in its beginnings from the grace of God, enlightening the human mind and enabling belief.[4][5][6] However, it also explicitly denied double predestination (of the equal-ultimacy variety), stating, "We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema."
    Still even that Council made rulings I disagree with.  I only bring them up because Calvanists keep acting like these Councils affirm Calvanism.

    The Pelagius-Augustine conflict perfectly anticipates the modern Arminian-Calvanism dispute in that both begin with a false belief that some people won't be saved.

    Friday, April 20, 2018

    The Average Anti-Marxist American doesn't even understand what Marxism is.

    I consider myself a type of Communist and even now a type of Socialist, yet I am not a Marxist.  And the ability to explain what that means is complicated by the fact that most Americans treat those three terms as completely interchangeable.  The irony is my objection to Marx is that he actually encourages the very mentality I find so offensive about traditional conservative American values.  You see what makes Marxism more specific then the first two labels is it's emphasis on the Working Class or "Proletariat".

    Where I agree with Marxism is that the Working Class do deserve more then what they actually get for the Work they do.  A mere Hourly wage, even the proposed $20 an hour Republicans and "Libertarians" currently find to be too ridiculously high a minimum wage, is mere pocket change compared to what they deserve.  The people working full-time especially deserve well over twice that.

    My Dad spent most of his life working hard for various employers, one in particular for over 30 years, and yet he's not as financially secure as he should be.  He had to retire later then he originally planned with less then he originally planned.  But the sad Irony is it's the Pride he puts in all that hard work he's done that makes him hate anything "Socialist" because he thinks all forms of Socialism simplistically come down to taking from those who work and giving to those who don't.

    Karl Marx's proposed "Utopia" included forcing everyone who was physically able to to work.  He was not about giving people Free money for nothing.  The difference between Marxists and American Conservatives is simply that Marxists see the super-rich as the parasites leeching off the working class while Conservatives are selling a ridiculous narrative that it's the poor who are the parasites.

    The thing is I kind of am the Strawman these people think all Socialists are.  My ideal world is one where I can get away with doing nothing but sitting around watching Anime all day.  So that's part of why I support things like a Basic Income or "Guaranteed minimum income".

    But of course I'm the kind of person people are going to be least tolerant of hearing propose such an economic system.  As someone who's currently and has been for most of my adult life Unemployed, and yet am Privileged and Lucky enough that I haven't suffered the way most people for whom that can be said are suffering.  But I'm going to attempt to defend it anyway.  And I am after-all still worried about my future.

    I'm offended by the notion that only those who work matter, that you have to "contribute to society" to deserve to get anything from it.  Left-Wing Marxists may put more polite dressing on how they express that attitude then Conservatives, but it's still basically the same attitude.

    I think everyone is entitled to the means to keep them alive. You should work for what you want in addition to that.

    The argument against the proposed Basic Income system is a belief that if you allow people to get money for nothing you'll eventually wind up with not enough people working to Tax to pay for that system.  But most people are going to want more then the proposed $10,000 a year or $1,000 a month.  Those currently used to making millions every year aren't going to just stop.  And those raising families are gonna need more then that.  Which goes back to my belief that those working should be making far more then they are.  I also want the Labor Income Tax to be drastically decreased and the Capitol Gains Tax to be significantly increased.  And I support the proposed Wallstreet Sales Tax.

    But the people who's desires are small enough that they could live off just that should.  I'm not saying NEETs should live in luxury, just that those who don't want to work because they don't want that much from life shouldn't be forced to have to.

    The thing is not everyone who contributes to society does so in a way that is viable to make money off of.  Many artists were starving the whole time they were alive and not appreciated till they were dead.  And the equivalent of that does still exist.  I'm not even the biggest EndlessJess fan, but I feel he's an artist who's contributed more then enough society to deserve to be set for life.

    And me, I'm someone trying to contribute to society via these Blogs and interacting with people in Social Media.  But I'm not yet remotely doing anything I think anyone would feel worth Paetroning me for.

    Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    Pre-Nicea and Post-Nicea Universal Reconciliation

    I don't need a doctrine to be supported by the "Early Church" for me to consider it true.  But I study the Early Church because history interests me, and I'd like to think that in every era there was someone somewhere who understood what I consider to be the True Gospel.

    Here is a Website on Early Church History that doesn't agree with Universalism.

    I definitely feel my fellow Universalists often overstate their case on this issue.  Outside of Origen I'm not currently aware of any Pre-Nicene fathers clearly indisputably expressing Universalist views.  However outside of maybe Tertulian and Tatian no one was clearly contradicting it either, and they were both influenced by Heretical movements.  The writings of the Pre-Niene Fathers were mostly either Apologetics or refuting Heresies, and yet Universalism was not ever listed among those Heresies, the Soterology they objected to was the Predestination of the Gnostics and Valentinians.

    I can also understand why during the era of persecution Christians might have been less inclined to emphasize it, they found comfort in emphasizing the Judgment that will fall on their persecutors.

    It's become popular in Protestant/Evangelical and Hebrew Roots circles to think anything that became more popular after the Edict of Milan must be bad.  But that's an oversimplification in my view.  For those who were already believers before, the weight of that threat being removed may have allowed them to dig into questions they weren't likely to before.

    Not to mention how both Origen and whoever wrote the version of the Apocalypse of Peter that supports Universal Reconciliation held the view that this truth should be hidden from the casuals because fear is a good motivator.  This of course is another area where I disagree with Origen and don't like him being propped up as the standard bearer of Unviersalism.  Our motivation to do good should be Love not Fear.

    The above linked to site concedes that Aionios and Aonion comes from words for Age and don't inherently mean Eternal.  But they try to insist it does mean that in the context of Aionios fire or punishment for reasons that I responded to in the post I made yesterday.

    This site I feel overstates the extent to which Post-Origen Universalists held that view because they were influenced by him.  But of course I feel Pro-Unviersalists do the same thing.  Yes Gregory of Nyssa and Athanasius of Alexandria probably had read Origen.  But the fact is they clearly disagreed with Origen on issues like the Pre-Existence of Souls and and whether or not the Resurrection is of the Flesh.  And Origen's version of Apokastasis was tied to his views on those matters.  So the Universalism expressed by the Cappadocian Fathers and people of the Antiochian school was in-spite of not because of Origen.

    As far as any Universalists who signed the Nicean Creed and opposed Arianism goes.  Many of them blamed the origins of Arianism in part on Origen's view that Jesus was originally just another Pre-Existent Human Soul that got untied to the Logos.

    And evidence that it existed before Origen is implied in how Augustine described Origen as different from other Univeralists, saying he didn't go as far as them, not that they went further then he did.

    But let's go on to some people who this site wants to insist weren't Universalist.

    Theophilus of Antioch I can now agree can't clearly be proven to have been a Universalist.  But here is what this site says on him.


    He quotes Theophilus as saying:
    And God shewed great kindness to man, in this, that He did not suffer him to continue being in sin for ever; but, as it were, by a kind of banishment, cast him out of Paradise, in order that, having by punishment expiated, within an appointed time, the sin, and having been disciplined, he should afterwards be recalled.
    I didn't look this up. I'm sure he did say this. However, the context is clearly Adam to Christ, not the eternal kingdom. The punishment to man, being cast out of paradise, was not forever. Now, in Christ, paradise is offered again to us.
    On the subject of eternity, here's what Theophilus said:
    But to the unbelieving and despisers, who obey not the truth, but are obedient to unrighteousness, when they shall have been filled with adulteries, fornications, filthiness, covetousness, and unlawful idolatries, there shall be anger and wrath, tribulation and anguish, and at the very end everlasting fire shall possess such men. Since you said, "Show me your God," this is my God, and I counsel you to fear him and to trust him.
    That is the very last sentence of book 1 of To Autolycus.
    To publicize the first quote while ignoring the second is the product either of ignorance—in which case this man shouldn't be writing on the subject—or dishonesty unworthy of a Christian.
    For the latter quote, if Theophilus said Aionios/Aionion then he's just quoting what Scripture says and not interpreting it.

    On the above quote being about "Adam to Christ" I agree what we don't know what Theophilus thought that meant.  The problem to me is what Paul said about contrasting Adam and Christ in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 should be viewed as unambiguously Universlaist.  In Adam all are made Sinners and in Jesus all are made Righteous.  If the number made righteous is less then the number made sinners then Jesus was lesser then Adam, which is clearly not what Paul taught.

    His attempt to show Clement of Alexandria didn't teach Universal Salvation I also find similarly inadequate, they're quotes about the Judgment but do not prove it would be endless.

    And likewise with the attempt to prove Methodius of Olympus believed in Eternal Punishment, it is again just a quote that proves the Judgment will happen.  And the article doesn't include every Methodius quote from On the Resurrection that can be interpreted as supporting Universal Reconciliation, only two of them.  Some others are

    "The Scriptures usually call 'destruction' the turning to the better at some future time." 

     "The world shall be set on fire in order to purification and renewal."

     "Christ was crucified that he might be adored by all created things equally, for 'unto him every knee shall bow,'"

    Not all believers, all Created things.

    Methodius died in 311 AD, two years before the Edict of Milian.  And he wrote On the Resurrection specifically against Origen defending the Resurrection as being Bodily.

    Regardless of how long the Early Church Fathers thought God's Anger would last.  Psalm 30 defines His Anger as being but a moment.

    Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    Age of Ages

     I already used Scripture to interpret Scripture proving that Aionion/Aionios can't always mean Eternal.  And I also have my kind of rhetorical KJV only Universalism post.

    So I was reading a website against Universalism yesterday that acknowledged that Aionion/Aionios doesn't inherently mean Eternal or Forever.  In fact they said something I hadn't seen before yet, that the phrase commonly translated "for ever and ever" (in verses like Revelation 14:11), which is two forms of Aion used side by side, would most literally be translated "Age of the Ages".

    I found that pretty enlightening.  I know that some Secular ancient Greek usage of Aion seemingly used it as a term for all of Time, and this makes sense in that context.  The Eon with other smaller Eons within it is from when Time began in Genesis 1:1 (as well as John 1:1) to when Time as we currently know it at least will end either in the last verse of Revelation 20 or some point soon after New Jerusalem descends, possibly at Revelation 21:8&9.

    This article however made the same objection I made back before I was a Universalist.  That the same word is used to define the Life of Believers, sometimes with the clear intent of contrasting them.

    First of all my confidence in the never ending life of believers isn't dependent on Aionion/Aionios verses.  Jesus promised those who believe in Him that we will Never Die in John 11:26.

    Meanwhile some of our promises of Aionion Life are specifically in the Aion to Come (world to Come in the KJV).  That future Aion will be one that doesn't end because it is ruled by God dwelling with Humanity. But the Judgment of the wicked is limited to the current Age of the Ages.

    This notion that his judgment on the wicked must be equivalent to the life of believers ignores the clear teaching of passages like Psalm 30:5 that His Anger endures but a moment.

    Fact is, it creates contradictions in The Bible to interpret Aionion verses as referring to endless punishment or annihilation, because we're told Sodom will be restored in Ezekiel 16, and that Jesus is the Savior of ALL not just Believers in 1 Timothy 4:10.

    And now today I found a YouTube video on the Age of Ages phrase.
    That video possibly suggests that the Age of the Ages is the coming age, which is also interesting.

    Here is another.

    Sunday, April 15, 2018

    When does All Mean All?

    Here are at least four passages where the use of the word "all" is viewed as pretty significant by Evangelical Universalists such as myself.  By no means all of the "all" verses Unvierslaists would site, but I want to limit myself here to ones where the counterarguments are most difficult to make, and also to what I personally recall at this moment in time.

    John 12:32
    "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
    Romans 5:17-21
    "For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)  Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.  For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.  Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."
    1 Corinthians 15:21-22
    "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
    1 Timothy 4:10
    "For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe."
    But one could respond to that by pointing to many Bible Passages where the use of the word All does not preclude exceptions.  Here is a Calvanist questing if all ever means all, mostly for the purpose of responding to Arminiasm, in which context verses where All has at face value a Unvierslaist implication are part of his proof it can't mean "all".  There is an article by a skeptic called 10 Bible verses where "all" does not mean "all".  In both of those cases it involved a lot of cases where the qualifier is right there in the verse, all of something specific. But even then, was every single individual in Jerusalem upset about the Magi's arrival?  Probably not but that can't be proven.  In most of the verses I'm talking about the qualified classification is humanity.

    Anthropos is the Greek for "Men" in each of these, so don't even think about saying it precludes women, if it meant only all males or adult males in the Greek it would have been Asren or Andros.

    When "All" truly has an exception to it, it's a rare exception, maybe one only.  So no that can't be used to make these verses consistent with the usual position of Conservative Christians that the vast majority of Humanity will not be saved.

    The verse in Timothy specifically rules out the possibility that the "all" in mind is only those that believe, as does 1 John 2:2 but it doesn't quite use the word all, in English at least.  Those verses at least destroy the Limited Atonement doctrine of Calvinism.

    John's Gospel uses "all men" quite a few times.  Some in passages that you might say at face value imply all men become believers in this life which is demonstrably not true.  However I believe that is fulfilled by all men believing once they're Resurrected.

    Speaking of which, 1 Corinthians 15 is specifically about the Resurrection.  So I know they'll say that we know from Revelation 20 all unbelievers will be Resurrected, to then immediately be sent to Burn for all Eternity or be Annihilated.  I feel that's inconsistent with the tone of what Paul says here, but traditionalists can say Unvierslaists' interpretations of passages on Judgment are inconsistent with their tone.  Revelation can be shown to be consistent with a Universalsit message, but that's for other posts.  What I can say in short is God many times says His Anger is what's limited, His Mercy endures forever.

    The most important of the above passages is Romans 5.

    There is one exception to all Men becoming sinners, that's Jesus.  Jesus however was able to be that Spotless Lamb because He was The Word of God made Flesh.  So to suggest that there could be an equivalent exception to Jesus making All men Righteous suggests there can be an entity who is equally as without righteousness as Jesus is without Sin.  That Satan is just as Sinful as God is Sinless.  And that is Dualism and thus Blasphemy.

    Verse 19 is suddenly saying "many" instead of "all", but that goes for the statement about being condemned as sinners as well.  The fact remains that the same people who became sinners are now made righteous.  In fact in the Greek the definite article is used before both uses of "many", so it should be translated "the many", meaning they can't be referring to separate groups of "many".

    Paul concludes the Chapter by saying that Grace abounds MORE then Sin did.

    Friday, April 13, 2018

    Free Will vs Predestination

    Much of where I differ from other modern Evangelical Universalists may come down to how for most Origen is their favorite of the Early Church Fathers while I prefer the Church Fathers who were Universalists yet critical of Origen.  Because I'm concerned about the ways Origen anticipated things like Arianism via his Platonic ideas.

    However my past uncomfortably with their tendency to reject Free Will isn't one of them.  Origen strongly taught Free Will and condemned those Gnostics who rejected it.  And so did Methodius of Olympus who was critical of Origen but possibly a fellow Universalist.  I do not however agree with Origen's desire to explain what Malachi says about Jacob and Esau via a Prexistence of Souls doctrine. 

    I made a post on this blog already providing quotes about Free Will before Pelagius.  Pelagius's teaching may have included something I'd find heretical, I don't know, we know him only via what his critics said.  But the point is he didn't invent Free Will.

    My perspective on the issue of Free Will and Predesintation has been, not changed so much as clarified since watching this video explaining what Calvin originally taught.

    Calvin mentioned Universalism but without taking it seriously.  Because to him that was an absurdity. So he concluded that God must choose not to Save people in order to maintain God's Sovereignty.  Even though more then one passage in Scripture says it's not God's Will for any to Perish.  Matthew 18:14, 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:3-4.

    Non Calvanist opponents of Unviersalism would respond that the context is explaining why the Parusia is being delayed and clearly implies those who aren't saved before the Parusia are screwed.  The validity of that argument depends on other passages.  Calvinists however need to convince themselves that those verses are only talking about the Elect even though the context clearly doesn't support that.

    As far as the claim that Romans 1 talks about "Reprobates".  Much of Romans 1 is rhetorically laying the views of those Paul is about to scold.  The rest of the Epistle goes on to refute the notion that God gives up on Sinners.

    I have come to realize that instead of putting Universalism into the context of the position I already had on the Free Will/Predestination conflict, I should rather view Universalism as the solution to that conflict.  The Bible clearly teaches both Free Will and Predestination, and it is only an assumption that some will not be saved that sees a conflict there.

    Jesus says in John 12:32 that He will draw all men unto him, the Greek terminology clearly implies the one being drawn isn't in control. 

    We don't have Free Will in terms of Salvation, God won't allow us to destroy ourselves, nor destroy us for rejecting Him.  But we do have Free Will in terms of being a Believer in this Life, being a Citizen of the Kingdom, entering a Relationship with Him.  God makes the first move as Luther would say, because he's made that first move towards everyone, it's now on us to accept it.

    1 John 2:2 destroys limited Atonement "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.".  As does 1 Timothy 2:6 "Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.".

    1 Timothy 4:10 "For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe.".

    Protestants spend so much time emphasizing the importance of us not having any reason to boast of our works.  But we do so in denial that Faith is itself a Work.  We consider it important that we do not think we contribute to our Salvation, yet will still think the Salvation of others is dependent on our Evangelism.

    We're supposed to preach the Good News, not an Ultimatum.  We were told to Be A Witness, not to force our beliefs on people.  There is no Biblical Basis for door to door soul winning.

    Here is one more Link I want to share.

    Thursday, April 12, 2018

    Perpetua and Felicity

    In light of KyleKallgrenBHH and his significant other's recent video lamenting the lack of Queer Women of Color representation, their review of The Watermelon Woman. And my desire to eventually spend more time on this blog deconstruction the European bias on how we view Church History.  I figure I should add my Surprising Church History on Sexuality series a post about Perpetua and Felicity.

    Wikipedia Page

     Or course I don't have much to say that hasn't been said already.  So here are some Links.

    The speculation of Montanism on the Wikipedia article I think is a product of Secessionists who want to think Montanists were the only Contuniations in the Early Church.  When in fact it's been repeatedly noted the objectors to Montanus were not denying the continuance of the Gift of Prophecy but criticism them for how they went about it.

    The images below are taken from the first article.

    Friday, April 6, 2018

    The Heresies of Asia Minor

    I'm annoyed by people appealing to the Early Church Fathers as if a doctrine being affirmed by them from very early on must make it valid, because The New Testament informs us heresies were emerging already in the first generation of The Church.

    In Acts 20:16 Paul arrived in Ephesus and proceeded to warn them about false teachers who will emerge as soon as he leaves them.  Verses 29-31.
    "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.  Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears."
    And later in 2 Timothy 1:15 Paul laments that all of Asia has departed from him.

    In Revelation 2:2 the Ephesian Church being addressed is commended for rejecting False Apostles.  But the same false doctrines Ephesus resisted here we can infer were not so well resisted by the other churches, especially Pergamos.  Jesus refused to say anything bad about Smyrna because they were dying for their Faith, but even martyrs can be influenced by bad doctrines.

    Now the Anti-Paul people insist Revelation is on the other side of this conflict, that Paul and his Clique are the False Apostles Jesus refereed to.  After all Paul said "All of Asia" seemingly not allowing Ephesus as an exception.

    The Bible will sometimes use the word "all" hyperbolically when exceptions do exist.  That Ephesus is where Paul gave the warning, and also the only of the Seven Churches to also be recipients of a Paulian Epistle, is sufficient reason to expect them to be the exception.  Also Timothy himself was a Bishop in Ephesus when these letters were written so clearly he represents some support Paul still had there.

    Meanwhile it could be a specific Church in Ephesus that John was in contact with being addressed.  It can be inferred that Ephesus is the city these False Apostles were operating in and that's why they're relevant to that message.

    However it's also interesting that Jesus addresses them as the "Church of Ephesus" not the "Church in ____" as he did 5 of the 6 following Churches.  Could it be that the true Ephesian Church Paul founded was not actually in Ephesus anymore?  Remember he met with them as Miletus once.

    I should mention that different definitions of what "Asia" meant in these kinds of contexts can create ambiguity about if Phyrgian locations (like Laodicea and the recipients of Colossians and maybe Philadephia) count as Asia. Some texts of 1 Timothy end with Paul saying he wrote that letter in Laodicea.  1 Peter 1:1 by not mentioning Phrygia at all is probably counting it as Asia, but language in Acts 16 seems to imply neither Phrygia or Mysia (where Pergamon was) count as Asia.  The Roman Province of Asia included all Seven cities however.  Polycrates seems to be counting Phrygian locations like Hierapolis and Laodicea as Asia, but since Pergamon and Thyatira aren't mentioned we don't know if he'd count them.

    I think the more specific use of Asia is treating it as a synonym for Lydia (but with Coastal cities like Miletus, Ephesus and Smyrna added), which The Bible never uses as a location name, but in Acts 16 a woman from Thyatira is called Lydia in the KJV but the Greek means Lydian(of Lydia).  Thyatira was on the border between Lydia and Mysia.  Sardis was the capital of Ancient Lydia and the seat of a Proconsul under Rome.

    I talked about the Apostles of Ephesus on this blog before, in that post mostly accepting the traditions at face value.  But now, given this direct Biblical Evidence of False Apostles in Ephesus, I should perhaps be just as skeptical of the traditions about John and the Marys going to Ephesus as I am of Peter going to Rome.  My theory that traditions of Mary Magdelene going to France are derivative of earlier traditions of her going to Ephesus because of Ephesian Christians migrating to France remains valid however.

    It's interesting then how much of the alleged "Apostolic Succession" of the Early Church Fathers goes back to Asia Minor.  Polycarp, Ignatius and presumably Papias were all direct students of a "John" who was in Ephesus in the late first century.  Students of Polycarp founded the early church of Lyon in France, one of whom Irenaus was the mentor of Hipolytus an early Bishop of Rome and only Early Church precedent for Dispensationalist interpretations of Daniel 9 and 11.  Ignatius who is given much of the credit for the development of Early Church Hierarchy was a Bishop of Antioch so also played a role in spreading these doctrines beyond Asia Minor.

    The Montanists also had their origin in Asia Minor, and were an influence on Tertulian the first Church Father to write in Latin and thus a major influence on later Latin Church writers like Augustine. 

    Marcian also first emerged in Asia Minor.  Now at face value he's the opposite of departing from Paul, Marcian was Paul's biggest super fan.  But we see in 1 Corinthians that Paul was also annoyed by people saying they are "Of Paul" he would not like the term "Paulian Christianity".  Paul's warning in Acts 20 was of multiple heresies not just one, some emerging from without and some emerging from within.

    Frankly the reason why so much confusion exists about the Nicolatians is because people keep turning to the Early Church Fathers opinions to identify them when in my view they were the Nicolatians and so in constant denial about who the Nicolatians really were and what they taught.

    What Papias is quoted as saying about John The Presbyter I view as evidence that the original John of Ephesus was not an authentic Biblical John, but that his followers confused him with John later.

    The canonocity of 2 John and 3 John were sometimes disputed in the Early Church.  Including attributing them to John the Presbyter.  But that early dispute gave them the same author, some today think these two Epistles were actually condemning each others authors.  That 3 John's description of Diotrephes fits the author of 2 John like a glove.  And so likewise the author of 3 John could be one of the people 2 John complains about.  Neither text actually identifies itself as having been written by a John.

    But assuming they have the same Author, they still both show heretics had emerged within the presumed Johnian community.

    Diotrephes has been seen as the first Monarchial Bishop.  Some early Church references do imply that in Asia Paul's Churches had many Elders who were all Bishops while Churches founded by "John" had one Bishop and multiple elders, a Structure elaborated upon by his student Ignatius.  So whether he wrote 2 John or not I think Diotrephes which means "nourished by Zeus" could be a name for the false John of Ephesus.

    The origins of identifying the Beloved Disciple with the name of John are partly based on Polycrates statements about the John of Ephesus who he doesn't say was one of the 12.  He does say this John was a Priest (as in Kohen not as in Presbytr) possibly specifically a High Priest since he wore the Sacredotal Plate.  There was a High Priest of the Jerusalem Temple in the First Century named John, he was one of the sons of Ananias and probably the John kindred to the High Priest mentioned in Acts 4.  He served as High Priest twice both very briefly and we don't know what became of him afterwards.

    Crenthius was one of the earliest Proto-Gnostics, and he spent time in Asia Minor.  Some also speculate he specifically was among those John's Epistles were written against.   What's distinct about Crenthius is that while Gnostic in many ways including separating the Demiurge from The Father.  He didn't view the Demiurge as Evil but rather taught we still had to follow The Law of Moses.  In a way that makes him a lot like Rob Skiba, who's an ardent Hebrew Roots believer but believes a lot of quasi Gnostic stuff.

    The claim that Crenthius's Gospel was a version of Matthew I think must be wrong.  His doctrines make much more sense if he was focusing on Mark.  In fact I now think his Hersey was the origin of removing the last portion of Mark 16.

    Melito the Eunuch who fell asleep in Sardis was also someone who seems to have had Legalistic tendencies.  The heresies Paul warned of I think are likely to include falling back into Legalism, after all the Ravening Wolves imagery suggests some of these false teachers will be fellow Benjamites based on Genesis 49.

    This does not mean Asia Minor was the only source of Hersey.  Simon Magus I still believe was the real Peter of Rome, Justin Martyr was another mystic from Samaria who started his own school in Rome, and Tatian (possibly the first to teach Endless Torment and other Gnostic ideas) was a student of his. Justin was an early example of seeking to justify claiming that Socrates and Plato taught Christian ideas because they were in contact with the Logos.

    I'm not trying to demonize anyone.  Some of the people I mentioned in this post were Martyred for their Faith in Jesus, and for that I firmly believe they won the Crown of Life no matter how flawed their doctrines were.  My point is simply that being an early belief of The Church doesn't make it a correct one.

    There is a website called Church-History.Org which has some good information on it, but it says that Protestants were right to reject the Catholic Understanding of Tradition and Apostolic succession but were wrong to reject "Apostolic Tradition".   The problem is this Apostolic Tradition becomes exactly the same thing as the "Oral Torah" of Rabbinic Judaism aka The Pharisees Jesus preached against.  And it cites Ignatius as proof monarchical Church structure isn't heretical while admitting it's not supported by Scripture.

    All references in the New Testament to "traditions" that seem positive are to teachings that became written down in the New Testament.  You need to remember when Paul was writing not even all 4 Gospels had been written down yet, and most of his Epistles predate Luke-Acts which were written while he was in Rome.  One of the things Jude refers to as a teaching from the Apostles is written down in 2 Peter, which some scholars think was written later then Jude.  But for the most part these "traditions" are what Jesus taught in The Gospels and what Peter and John taught in the first 11 chapters of Acts.