Death and suffer question EASILY resolved

Sure thing. Colossians 1: 15-20 " 15The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross."

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Yes, it does depend on interpretation, and could mean a variety of things, however, assuming you did take that interpretation, my statement would still stand as I wasn’t claiming that it was the “correct” interpretation, I was just making an observation.

Hmm,

I am not sure i see it as you do.

On that i agree. I am always reluctant to claim a precise universal meaning, however,

I would see this passage as a foundation for universal forgiveness and reconciliation. I am less convinced about how evil is overcome, from this passage at least.

I will admit that my views on universal reconciliation are not mainstream Christianity, but are based more on my understanding of God than specific verses of Scripture.

Richard

Interesting. I can see how that interpretation is good as well.

Could you give me an example? I’m curious.

One is the realm we were made to have access to, so it’s not a reward – getting there is due to our restoration. The other . . . isn’t supposed to exist.

It was one used by some of the church Fathers who argued that eventually all humans will be saved, it will just take a very, very, very long time. A major point they made was if anyone at all was lost, then Jesus’ victory isn’t complete.
And the “loophole” is that the word we translate “forever” doesn’t mean that, it means a period of time suitable to the thing that defines it, a period called an “age” so the time-related term is “age-wise” – that’s the best English can do. So for a mundane example, the “Age of Exploration” was the period between when at least some humans were first capable of reaching pretty much every point on the globe till everything had been found and mapped. For an “agewise” ‘punishment’ it would last however long it would take for a given person to decide that God’s family is the place to be, which would vary wildly by the individual.
It occurs to me that with Satan & Co. locked up the impetus to wickedness should be reduced, perhaps greatly, which could be the thing that makes universal redemption possible.

On the flip side there’s Lewis’ The Great Divorce, where Hell is just a place where people who don’t want God end up, where they diminish and diminish until they wither away and leave behind a husk that is just a bag of all their sins they wouldn’t let go of – a place of apparently eternal morning until the end comes and the denizens realize that it’s been a very long evening and night is about to come . . . will there be one more bus out?

Though I’m not convinced by that, however a superb description it may be for how Hell is something we build for ourselves, because God sustains everything that is in existence in that existence, and why would He sustain such a horrible place? I think at the very least He would let night fall, and then it would all just blow away like a vapour and be gone.

My guess is he has in mind Colossians 1:20–

. . . and through him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the Blood of his Cross.

I think Gregory of Nyssa referred to it, but I don’t recall clearly; it’s fairly clear he thought everyone would eventually be reclaimed (speaking of the wicked)–

when death approaches to life, and darkness to light, and the corruptible to the incorruptible, the inferior is done away with and reduced to non-existence, and the thing purged is benefited, just as the dross is purged from gold by fire. In the same way in the long circuits of time, when the evil of nature which is now mingled and implanted in them has been taken away, whensoever the restoration to their old condition of the things that now lie in wickedness takes place, there will be a unanimous thanksgiving from the whole creation, both of those who have been punished in the purification and of those who have not at all needed purification.

= - = + = - = = - = + = - =

There is some incredibly deep (and to some unsettling) philosophy in that passage. It centers on the term “firstborn” (which Arius misunderstood); verses 16 and 17 are really an exposition of the implications of that term, they could be left out and the passage would read smoothly but then we’d be left not really knowing what Paul meant by “Firstborn”.

I remember running into it in a special study course where I think three of us read the New Testament in Greek; I was following along in my Nestle-Aland (whatever edition) and I noted “πρωτότοκος” (pro-TOH-toh-kohs) and an eyebrow going up, then reading the next forty-seven words and my jaw dropped and I didn’t quite say out loud, “Oh. My. Lord.” as what I’d just read hit me. Sure, I’d read it before, but in between I’d had some studies in Gnostic and similar theology and knew the weight they gave to πρωτότοκος as meaning “Opener of the Way”, and what Paul had just done there was take up their theology, dismantle it, and reassemble the whole into a package that totally devastated their beliefs point by point, revealing the real importance of the Firstborn, Jesus.
Indeed Paul really picks up the exposition again in verse 18 starting at the second clause an rocking on through the nail in the coffin in the penultimate clause, “having made peace through the Blood of His Cross” – a phrase which, attached as Paul had just done with the real heavy-duty Gnostic terms, would have sent Gnostics into a frenzy of screaming and pulling their hair . . . if they didn’t just fall over from apoplexy.

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As I see it God never wanted, let alone expected perfection from us, but knowing that many people will be unhappy with their imperfection and/ or think that it would separate them from God He sent His son as a demonstration. God forgives sins.
However, Paul, despite realising that forgiveness is not based on our actions still insists that we have to “activate” God’s forgiveness. IOW we cannot receive it unless we believe it or accept if. I do not. I think that God forgives us and wants us to live with Him, warts and all. But. if we do not want to live with Him that is fine also. He will not punish people for ignoring Him and His ways.
Unfortunately Jesus does talk about a place where there will be grinding and gnashing of teeth. My only answer is that they have been offered the forgiveness and rejected it once and for all. They made their own bed and must lie in it.

Richard

That’s what I believe personally. Hell might just be consuming yourself in endless greed and unsatisfiable desires. A place where there is no good precisely because God is not there to sustain it.

Wow, that’s really interesting!

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So essentially you don’t believe hell is a punishment then?

Not in the sense of God’s judgement, more in the sense of stupidity. Let’s just say that it could be avoided. Not due to good/bad works, just due to a stubborn denial of God.

Richard

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Right. That doesn’t seem mainstream for sure, but I don’t think that view is uncommon.