Your article on universalism as reality avoidance

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Your article on universalism as reality avoidance

Postby Jon » Mon Jun 01, 2015 6:51 am



(This is an archived correspondence at The Path of Truth. We have sent notification to the correspondent.)


Hi,

With reference to the article of yours whose address is http://www.thepathoftruth.com/falsehood ... idance.htm: Would I be right in gathering from its seventh paragraph that since the rest of the article makes it apparent that you consider fearing hell to be undesirable, the fear of God that you regard as good (or at least more acceptable than other forms of fear) involves not fear of being punished by Him, but rather - and this is paraphrasing something from your splendid article on Mary Baxter - the dread of having one's sinful nature exposed in the light of His glory?

Talking of Mary Baxter: Are the tortures described in her first book really any big deal per se if every adult on the planet does indeed deserve to be afflicted endlessly with such tortures? Put differently: If God would be perfectly within His rights to give us hell for eternity (but chooses not to because of His mercifulness and His love for us), is it appropriate to criticize the book for depicting Him as cruel for forcing people to suffer out of proportion to the severity of their sins, as opposed to just criticizing it for presenting itself as a divine revelation when it's merely a work of fiction?

Whatever, I can understand why some wind up in an asylum due to fear of hell. For whether they feel they deserve it or not, it is surely only natural and human for a person to be terrified of experiencing something excruciatingly painful, and to get very depressed about it too, if they think that they truly are in danger of experiencing it - all the more so if what they're afraid of is being sent to an awful-beyond-comprehension realm in which their agony will never, ever come to an end. Furthermore, many worry greatly about what might become of loved ones of theirs in the afterlife,* although the fact that scores of orthodox Christians decide to reproduce in the face of the teaching of everlasting damnation does make me wonder if it's a teaching that, on a deep, subconscious level, is taken seriously by only a small minority of them (seeing as, according to their brand of religion, their offspring will be at real risk of finishing up in hell). In which case, maybe the Christians belonging to that small minority are the ones most likely to be put in an asylum?

*I once read a purportedly true story telling of a woman who'd become so traumatized at the thought of her unbelieving son being cast into an impossible-to-escape-from hell that she offered to sacrifice herself in his place - in other words, begged God to send her there instead of him.

Jon
Jon
 

Re: Your article on universalism as reality avoidance

Postby Paul Cohen » Wed Jun 03, 2015 5:57 am



Hi Jon,

The fear of God isn't “the dread of having one's sinful nature exposed in the light of His glory.” That's not what we wrote in the Baxter paper. Here are our words:

On the other hand, when the Holy Spirit of God convicts and quickens a soul in its death state, it is not fear of torment that moves that person to repentance, but revulsion at the exposed sin nature and abhorrence of self in the light of God's glory.

The fear of God is holy reverence for Him that causes a man to be repulsed by his sin nature and leads him to forsake his independence by cleaving to God. The fear of God is above all a positive reaction to Him, His light and love, and isn't simply a negative reaction to something undesirable.

You also ask (and I emphasize the portion I will directly respond to):

Talking of Mary Baxter: Are the tortures described in her first book really any big deal per se if every adult on the planet does indeed deserve to be afflicted endlessly with such tortures? Put differently: If God would be perfectly within His rights to give us hell for eternity (but chooses not to because of His mercifulness and His love for us), is it appropriate to criticize the book for depicting Him as cruel for forcing people to suffer out of proportion to the severity of their sins, as opposed to just criticizing it for presenting itself as a divine revelation when it's merely a work of fiction?

It most certainly is appropriate to not only criticize, but to condemn a book that claims to come directly by revelation of God and depicts Him as cruel out of proportion, with no other purpose than inflicting pure pain and torment on depraved and unredeemable humanity.

God, as our Creator, can do whatever He pleases with us, but to describe Him Who is also our Redeemer as throwing in the towel on that venture and deciding rather to endlessly torture His creatures, is to make God out to be the most schizophrenic and psychotic individual imaginable (not to mention the greatest liar). It is satanic confusion, blasphemy, and especially so because attributing the lies to Him.

The question isn't what God is within His rights to do, but rather Who He is - what His character is like according to His words and deeds. Baxter depicts the vilest devil as God contrary to everything we have heard and known of Him. To call her invention “merely a work of fiction” isn't close enough to alerting people to the true evil it represents.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15 MKJV).

Paul Cohen
www.ThePathofTruth.com
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Re: Your article on universalism as reality avoidance

Postby Jon » Wed Jun 03, 2015 5:11 pm



Hello again,

You wrote:

The fear of God isn't “the dread of having one's sinful nature exposed in the light of His glory.” That's not what we wrote in the Baxter paper.

My mistake. Should have referred back to your article on Mary Baxter instead of simply relying on memory.

The fear of God is holy reverence for Him that causes a man to be repulsed by his sin nature and leads him to forsake his independence by cleaving to God. The fear of God is above all a positive reaction to Him, His light and love, and isn't simply a negative reaction to something undesirable.


Well, that certainly seems more logical to me than the idea that we should fear God in the usual sense of the word "fear"!

Do you have an Amazon account, by any chance? If you do, you might want to respond to the initial comment on the review whose address is http://www.amazon.com/review/RRWRO0S429GV0 - a comment listing one biblical verse after another to support its author's stance that we should fear God as in be frightened of Him. (As it happens, the author of that comment is also the author of the book being reviewed by the person whose review kicks off the thread - a book called Hell Testimonies.) I would reply to him myself, but have a feeling that you'd do a better job than I would of explaining why he's in error to interpret the way he does those biblical passages exhorting us to fear God.

Baxter depicts the vilest devil as God contrary to everything we have heard and known of Him.

Although still less vile if you ask me than the god (not a typo) of orthodox Calvinism - a god that will torture most people forevermore because of their having a totally depraved nature that is utterly beyond their control thanks to how he's set things up to play out and his refusal to take responsibility for any of the mess he's created by blaming it all on the devil, the fallen angels and the non-elect. In view of how horrible and irrational their theology is, I'm guessing it's no coincidence that so many Calvinists (not all, admittedly) are so smug and belligerent.

Jon
Jon
 

Re: Your article on universalism as reality avoidance

Postby Paul Cohen and Victor Hafichuk » Sun Jun 07, 2015 5:08 pm



Hi Jon,

We're not disposed to answer this fellow on Amazon, but certainly you could share some appropriate writings from our site, which would allow us to answer him another way and maybe help others in the process. Besides the Baxter posting, you could consider giving him the following writings:

The State and Fate of Hell
An Alleged Visit to Heaven and Hell
Are Eternal Hell and God's Love Compatible?
The True, Scriptural Meanings of “Forever,” “Everlasting,” and “Hell”
The Good News

And here's one for you, Jon, which it sounds like you'll appreciate from what we hear you saying about Calvinism:

True Hope for Reform Church Members and All Calvin Doctrine Victims

You write, “In view of how horrible and irrational their theology is, I'm guessing it's no coincidence that so many Calvinists (not all, admittedly) are so smug and belligerent.

You have something there. The mystery seems to be how they can presume to be the saved ones, even though they teach they can't really know for sure in this life. It occurs to us that their pride and arrogance come from their so-called knowledge of the things of God they alone presume to have.

Paul and Victor
Paul Cohen and Victor Hafichuk
 

Re: Your article on universalism as reality avoidance

Postby Jon » Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:07 am



Hi Paul,

It amazes me that so many people believe these so-called "testimonies" of hell when in places, they blatantly contradict not just one or more parts of the Bible, but something in a similar story. In the one detailing an alleged tour of hell of seven Colombian youths, for example, it's stated that "there is no love, mercy or forgiveness in hell" - which conflicts with not only some of Zambrano's presentation of hell, but a literal reading of Luke 16:27-30, too - for this passage and Zambrano have hell as a realm where some of the condemned *do* have compassion, and are eager for others not to end up where they themselves have ended up. (Zambrano has spoken of seeing in hell a girl who'd died at 15 years old and who implored her to warn others about its horrors.)

The tale of the Colombian youths being shown around hell by Jesus can be read at <http://www.divinerevelations.info/documents/7_jovenes/english_7_jovenes_hell.htm> should you wish to take a peek. In it, the assertion that "there is no love, mercy or forgiveness in hell" is roughly a quarter of the way down the page. Equally noteworthy is that it depicts people being made to dance on spikes because they committed the unforgivable sin of dancing while in mortality, for it seems to fly in the face of 2 Samuel 6:14.

Interesting article of yours on Calvinism. Why any sane, non-bitter, non-hate-filled and non-egotistical person would find orthodox Calvinism the slightest bit appealing is beyond me. You wrote:

The mystery seems to be how they [Calvinists] can presume to be the saved ones, even though they teach they can't really know for sure in this life. It occurs to us that their pride and arrogance come from their so-called knowledge of the things of God they alone presume to have.


I wonder how many orthodox Calvinists ever ask themselves whether a creature of infinite hate and sadism - one cruel enough to create other sentient beings for the specific purpose of torturing them without end - could be trusted to be totally straight with any of us on matters of salvation? I mean, can such folks be sure - 100% sure - that people wouldn't be allowed into heaven to begin with and subsequently expelled from there (i.e., sent to hell for never-ending punishment) because God derived pleasure from fooling them into thinking that they were destined for an eternity in paradise and then seeing the anguished, heartbroken and fearful looks on their faces as they realized that they wouldn't be staying there permanently after all?

Jon
Jon
 

Re: Your article on universalism as reality avoidance

Postby Paul Cohen » Thu Jun 25, 2015 9:46 am



Hi Jon,

You shouldn't be amazed at the lies people believe. When God sends strong delusion on people, how can they not believe contradictory and false things? Don't look to the ability of man to see the truth, but look to the sovereignty and power of God who grants or denies men sight.

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 KJV).

Romans 11:5-8 EMTV
(5) Even so then, at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
(6) And if by grace, it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
(7) What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.
(8) Just as it is written: “God has given them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, to this very day.”

Haven't you been in darkness during your lifetime, believing egregious lies, under the wrath of God? And if you were delivered from this awful state - how? By your will and intelligence, or by the grace of God?

His mercy must reach into hell, or none of us would ever be saved!

As for Luke 16:27-30 and what you perceive it says about the mercy of God, that isn't a spring of pure water. Read The Rich Man and Lazarus A Pagan Parable.

Regarding Calvinism, we need to qualify a technical point from our earlier letter. We asked Martin VanPopta, a brother in the Lord raised in the Reformed Church, about their doctrine:

“Most of the Calvinists are 'certain' of their salvation. These would be the Christian, Canadian, Free, and First Reformed denominations. This is why they are so smug. They are the chosen ones and are afforded this surety of their salvation by virtue of the sacraments of infant baptism and holy supper. Of course, they won't admit that the sacraments are necessarily for or the cause of their salvation, but Calvin himself would.

“It is the Netherlands Reformed Church that preaches the uncertainty of salvation. These would be the strict and particular, black stocking and weird hat wearing ones, that built the big brick church just east of Victory. They preach that you never really know what is going to happen.

“I don't know if your letter needs correction as none of the Calvinist truly have any hope of salvation, but I thought I would put you through Catechism class for a minute :)


This last point of Martin's agrees with what you say about the Calvinist god. Who can truly trust and be secure with such a perverse and hateful god or understand its consort, false religion?

Proverbs 5:1-6 MKJV
(1) My son, listen to my wisdom; bow your ear to my understanding;
(2) in order to keep discretion, that your lips may keep knowledge.
(3) For the lips of a strange woman drip honey, and her palate is smoother than oil;
(4) but afterward she is as bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.
(5) Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell,
(6) lest you should meditate on the path of life, her tracks are movable; you cannot know them.

Paul
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Re: Your article on universalism as reality avoidance

Postby Jon » Mon Jul 13, 2015 5:47 am



Hi Paul,

Is it necessary to be a believer in Christ to have the capacity to spot things in stories that don't add up? I imagine that there are atheists and agnostics, as well as people in other religions, who would notice the contradictions I noticed between Angelica Zambrano's tale and that of the Colombian youths, and few if any of them would be inclined to use the Bible as evidence of their ability to "smell a rat" (so to speak) being God-given.

That said, I do take your point (or rather the point made in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12) about there being people who, because of their lack of desire for the truth, have made themselves particularly vulnerable to falling for fables.

[quote=Paul Cohen]As for Luke 16:27-30 and what you perceive it says about the mercy of God, that isn't a spring of pure water. Read The Rich Man and Lazarus A Pagan Parable.[/quote]

Another inspiring article, but why does it claim just over halfway down that "the story can lead the simple to believe and espouse vile doctrines, perhaps the least of them being that it is wrong or bad to be rich" before going on to acknowledge nearer the end that it is "impossible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God"? How can possessing great wealth not be wrong if it inevitably keeps one out of God's kingdom?

Jon
Jon
 

Re: Your article on universalism as reality avoidance

Postby Paul Cohen » Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:58 am



Hi Jon,

Is it necessary to be a believer in Christ to have the capacity to spot things in stories that don't add up?

No. The children of this world often exercise common sense to spot absurdities and inconsistencies. That said, they also miss the truth that requires revelation and faith:

1 Corinthians 1:21-25 KJV
(21) For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
(22) For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
(23) But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
(24) But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
(25) Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

How can possessing great wealth not be wrong if it inevitably keeps one out of God's kingdom?

Possessing wealth doesn't keep one out of God's Kingdom. Trusting in wealth, however, does.

“The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as a high wall in his own mind” (Proverbs 18:11 MKJV).

1 Timothy 6:9-19 MKJV
(9) But they who will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which plunge men into destruction and perdition.
(10) For the love of money is a root of all evils, of which some having lusted after, they were seduced from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
(11) But you, O man of God, flee these things [love of money] and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness.
(12) Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold on eternal life, to which you are also called and have professed a good profession before many witnesses…
(17) Charge the rich in this world that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, He offering to us richly all things to enjoy,
(18) that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to share, to be generous,
(19) laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Abraham, the father of the children of faith, was a wealthy man. But his confidence was in God and not in his physical riches, which weren't his focus.

As for what is said in the paper about possessing wealth keeping one out of the Kingdom, here's the context, which regards the moral of the story:

Is the lesson that we ought to help the poor? Who is the parable for? Is it for poor people? Is it for the rich? What good is that? Jesus said it was impossible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew 19:23-26). So why a parable for them?

Worse still, with all the other parables, not only of the cluster, but of all those in the Gospels, there is hope offered by way of instruction or principle, but here there is none for the rich man, not now or later. It leaves one without hope or direction. Of course, one would say the implied lesson is to give to the poor, which is the right thing to do, granted the circumstantial conditions.


Though it may sound like it, this isn't saying that a person with wealth can't enter the Kingdom of God. The speculation about the lesson of the parable is hypothetical, presuming it was spoken by the Lord. Why would He address the wealthy who trust in uncertain riches, when He already said it was impossible for them to enter the Kingdom? There was no identification of sin or call to repentance. The rich man was simply told that he had received good things in his lifetime. So what is the point?

But now that you've brought up the matter, I believe we could make things simpler and clearer by combining the paragraphs to read:

Is the lesson that we ought to help the poor? Who is the parable for? Is it for poor people? Is it for the rich? How can that be when, unlike all other parables of the Lord in the Gospels, there is no hope offered to them by way of instruction or principle, not now or later? It leaves the rich without hope or direction and the poor with assurance of Heaven without any faith on their part. Of course, one would say the implied lesson is for the rich to give to the poor, which is the right thing to do, given the right circumstances.


Also adding the following:

There is one more important point: When the Lord said it was harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than it was for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, the disciples gasped. “Who then can be saved?” they exclaimed. Dawning on them was the truth that being saved was impossible for any man, not only for the rich. Only God can save. If only He can save, both rich and poor are at God's mercy. We all need His grace.

For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast(Ephesians 2:8-9 MKJV).

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Jon. The changes are now made on our website.

Paul
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