OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.
Peter asks a wonderfully succinct & central question: “which ‘proclamation’ has the power to lead to the formation of communities…having the risen Jesus as their focus, experiencing the life-giving Spirit in their midst, and taking a correct understanding of the OT writings and their historical narrative to correctly perceived conclusions?”
from my reading, it seems as if the teaching of universal restoration was at the very least, tolerated within the primitive church. the apolcayptic looms large in the media and i believe that this aspect of eschatology within the evangelical proclamation - which states in short, “God loves you but unless you believe X & Y, He will either destroy you or torture you for eternity ” - is what the majority of non-christians associate with our Faith and what undermines it in the minds of most post-moderns.
maybe the presence of the emergent conversation and the fact that to many non-believers, evangelical christianity seems to worship a sadistic God, suggests that certain fundamentals are indeed not Truth - or are at least in need of serious re-examination & proofing. i refer here specifically to the teaching of eternal torment or destruction - maybe post-moderns are right to reject this. if so, no amount of re-coding or emergenization will cover this up.
many christians put this rejection of an temporally infinite hell by non-believers down to non-acceptance of their own sinful nature. while this may sometimes be the case, we should also give people more credit. having been made in G-d’s image, non-christians have the ability to sniff out heresy & mischief as well.
as someone who is still affiliated to a local evangelical church, i find very few believers either who have, or are willing, to give the teaching of universal restoration a fair hearing.
(for those of us who know little about the doctrine of universal restoration, it teaches that hell - while both real and biblical - is of a definite length and restorative & corrective in nature + part of G-d’s plan of redemption through the incarnation)
as i see it, evangelical theology makes Adam the Victor, and not Christ. within this framework, the first Adam baptised ALL of humanity into death and yet G-d incarnate only manages to redeem a relatively meagre number of those corrupted by the Fall. how does this align with the words, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all
will be made alive.”?
has Christ made ALL alive, only to destroy or punish the majority of humanity for infinity?
the message that while person Y is currently on their way to eternal destruction or torment, they CAN be saved from God’s eternal wrath, cannot be termed “good news”.
from my understanding of the character of G-d, His punishment, according to His very nature, is restorative & healing.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear,
because fear has to do with punishment”. - 1 John 4:18
does love cover a multitude of sins, but not all?
thanks all for a fantastic forum & community.