Evil: Ancient and Modern


Universal Reconciliation is not a “received doctrine” for me or any of the several other Adventist-leaning people I know who inexplicably found ourselves “there” on our journeys.

Each of us arrived at it idiosyncratically, on essentially nonergodic paths, and therefore it’s hard to ‘splain, even to each other.

I don’t think it can or ever should be taught as some kind of received doctrine from the pulpit. It is “unpreachable,” as far as I can see.

It would doubtless cause endless controversy and confusion, to no good end.

Personally, I associate it with the 1888 Message, which I think is also unpreachable, and with The Elijah Message, which is also essentially unpreachable, in my view.

Adventists are often accused of being elitists, if not megalomaniacs, and this sounds suspiciously like “Remnant-of-the-Remnant-of-the-Remnant” elitism. Or what some are pleased to call “lunatic fringe.”

Hence, fear and trembling and hesitancy to say more—not because I will be considered a heretic (that’s the street where I live: “Nothing-To-Lose Street”), but because there’s no satisfactory way to talk about the inexpressible, and because I’m not in any sense “living it,” so…with no “living proof,” why talk about it, you know? So that’s why I keep telling myself: Just. Walk. Away.

With that disclaimer, here’s a wiki:


@Cassie, this concept is, no doubt, attractive given many things we know about God and His government principle of love. How does it, in your view, fit with judgment?


I appreciate your tenacity…I think…’scuse me a minute…[nervously bites nails]. . . . :cold_sweat:

First of all I’m not at all sure we have “many things we know about God and His government principle of love.” Surely history would have played out differently if we “knew” all those things?

Also, it’s a superhuman task to extract a God with a government principle of love from the Bible, and a lot easier to go on witch-burning hunts (literal or figurative) for that God, it seems to me.

As I recall, the Bible ends with “blood up to the horses’ bridles,” and “wrath poured out without mixture.”

Minds love concepts.

Nobody loves the Cross. Jesus didn’t, and we certainly don’t.

The Cross as a concept is insipid. The Cross as an ontological Reality is revolutionary.

I think I can’t say any more tonight, and I see Dave is replying. Good.


Let’s just say that six years ago life circumstances propelled me into some pretty serious, individual Bible study (I was amazed at what I learned from a variety of more literal translations).

I’m not so sure about the fairies Cassie, but I have found many reasons to believe in ‘the restoration of all things’ to God as Peter said in Acts 3:21, one of which has fascinated me and was mentioned in your Wiki reference: it was the prevailing orthodoxy for the first 400 years of the Christian era.

Concerning the three major feasts, they are important to Christians for several reasons. My comment about them is only one facet, so your friend undoubtedly has other interesting ideas.

I often have attended meetings put on by a Christian group held each spring and fall called ‘Passover Conference’ and ‘Tabernacles Conference’, so some Christians realize the spiritual significance of these feasts to believers today, both individually and corporately.

I think that Passover is most closely associated with justification and Christ, Pentecost with sanctification and the Holy Spirit and Tabernacles with glorification and the Father.
Hence, Tabernacles is of special significance to us because it is also prophetic.

As usual, God has left us many nuggets to uncover.

P.S. Sorry I didn’t address your question, harrpa.
I’m not sure what to say but could try tomorrow if you like but I won’t be available for the next 24 hrs or so. I think it involves looking at God’s law, and the purposes for the penalties for various infractions.


Theologians critical of the Constantinian shift also see it as the point at which membership in the Christian church became associated with citizenship rather than a personal decision.

American theologian Stanley Hauerwas names the shift as the foundation for the expression of Christianity in the United States today that is closely associated with patriotism and civil religion.

This seems to be the spindle the conservative Adventists have fatally wound themselves up on.

It will be a very painful denouement, I fear.


Truly, epically horrifying: Danny Shelton, Yvonne Lewis: 3ABN America, We Are One

Why We Will Aways Have Segregated Conferences

I think this is the jumping off place, where dialogue bleeds into silence.

I thought about trying to go further into all this with terms like intersubjectivity and autotelic personality, and Scriptures like…

But, you know what? Only silence suffices.

I’ll meet you there. . . .

We need an Absolute Compass now more than ever before. . . .


Earlier on this thread I quoted Barry who wrote, ‘…maybe with respect, we need to bracket for the time being the things we’ve been indoctrinated with and widen our scope.’ I think all of us would do well to adopt such an attitude.

It can be difficult and also frightening to examine one’s assumptions and beliefs, especially if held from childhood. Adventism has a theology (a variation of Arminianism which is based on the free will of man) which I accepted with little examination when I joined the church. I look back now and remember how hard it was for me trying to understand how my Calvinist friends had so much difficulty with my theology. They saw things so very differently (and had many verses to back up their view). I now see that confusing time as a blessing because it helped me to value other Christian viewpoints, and I guess, at some level, to realize that if there is to be the unity of believers that Christ prayed for, there must be a third way to see things.

We all struggle trying to comprehend God and we all crave security and thus create systems of theology to answer our need to ‘explain’ Him, to put Him in a box as it were. But we really can’t.

So, I guess one way to attempt to address your question about justice is to look at the nature of God, sovereignty and authority. Adventism maintains that each of us, because of our free will (which it is said God will never overrule), is ultimately responsible for her/himself. This seems most just. My Calvinist friends say no, God is sovereign over His creation and has chosen who will be saved (they call this group ‘the elect’). To one raised in the modern day Western world this doesn’t seem right or ‘fair’. (BTW, I think Calvinism has it wrong; I believe ‘the elect’ aren’t the only ones saved, rather they are the first ones saved.) But, when I started studying Scripture on my own seriously, and trying to ignore my Adventist assumptions, I discovered many, many Bible passages in which God did indeed overrule the will of people for His own purposes.

God created each of us and as Creator He has this right. He is sovereign. We find examples of this in God’s law. If a man creates (starts) a fire and it gets out of hand and burns his neighbour’s crop, he is responsible for the damage. If a man creates (digs) a pit but doesn’t fence it off and an animal falls into it and is injured or killed, he is responsible and must pay damages to the owner of the animal. Thus, as our Creator, God is ultimately responsible for each of us. That is why Christ came as the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1John 2:2). He takes His sovereignty seriously.

Oh, he has given us a degree of freedom. We have some authority. We have some responsibility for ourselves. There will be a reckoning, a judgment and appropriate chastening. Matthew 11 says it will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom, Tyre and Sidon than for the cities in which Christ walked and was rejected. Luke 12 says the slave who knew his master’s will and ignored it will receive more lashes than one who did not know it. I don’t know exactly what form this justice will take, but because God is ultimately responsible for all of us, He is love, and love never fails, so, after all is said and done, whatever is decided will be for our benefit and to restore us to Him.

In my studies I also learned that words translated as destruction, perish, eternal and forever had very different meanings to the ancients. That helped me understand that there are more ages to come in which I believe these things will take place, but at some point all will come to know and love Him.

I realize it is a much different way of looking at salvation, and it took me a lot of study and some prayer to get here but, to me, it more truly reflects the nature of God and thus His plan for us. I hope I have helped answer your question.


“An honest look at history shows that the majority of the early church believed that all would eventually be saved. The Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge by Schaff-Herzog says in volume 12 page 96, “In the first five or six centuries of Christianity there were six theological schools, of which four (Alexandria, Antioch, Caesarea, and Edessa, or Nisibis) were Universalist; one, (Ephesus) accepted conditional mortality; one, (Carthage or Rome) taught endless punishment of the wicked.” A most crucial and important point in church history: when Emperor Constantine militarized and politicized the church, the teaching of Hell became a more powerful weapon of control than a loving God who loved all mankind. At that point the teaching of universal salvation began to be stamped out through severe persecution. The result? The church created what we now call “The Dark Ages.””
-quoted from: http://www.tentmaker.org/articles/Carlton_Pearson-Doctrine_of_Inclusion.html
Ancient or modern, it’s about power and control.


Very disturbing.
What happened to ‘My kingdom is not of this world’?


Cassie, I have never heard of Atwill’s theory about the Gospels. Interestingly, a couple of times in his writings about the Jews, Josephus mentions an itinerant rabbi named Jesus who was executed, so I think Atwill is wrong.

The passage about Constantine was a quote from a commentator I respect. Things went downhill when Christianity became institutionalized and began being used by men for their own purposes of maintaining power and control. I think Constantine saw his empire falling apart and felt he needed to find something to try to hold things together.

FYI, there are some people who put much stock in Biblical gematria. Indeed, to some it is a powerful validation of the divine source of our Scriptures. A man named Ivan Panin spent the better part of his life researching and finding amazing numeric patterns in the words of the Bible. It’s a fascinating field to study.


harrpa, I have been thinking a bit more about your question, specifically your mention of the word ‘government’ and how things may be structured in the future. Here are a few additional thoughts I hope you will consider:

As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I believe the purpose of the IJ is to chose those overcomers who will fill positions of authority in the coming kingdom. The Bible gives us some clues as to a few offices in this future government of God. There will be judges (Matt 19:28; 1Cor 6:2,3), administrators (Luke 19:12, 17, 19), and priests (Rev 20:6). All will be honoured to serve under Christ, our Judge, Lord and High Priest, for the greatest reward is service to others.

I believe Paul wrote of his hope to be chosen for one of these positions when he wrote of ‘the upward call of God’ and that he was ‘pressing on’ in the hope of attaining something in the future (Phil 3:11-14).
Peter wrote that we are to be diligent ‘to make our calling and election sure’. I think he was saying something similar to Paul about positions in this future government because one’s calling is one’s profession, and election (in this case by God) refers to choosing someone to serve others in some capacity.


If you go back to the three feasts, spiritual Pentecost in Acts 2 was when the Christian church was inaugurated in the upper room. It was at the time of the wheat harvest. Saul, the first king of Israel, was crowned on the day of wheat harvest (1Sam 12:17). So, Saul’s reign is prophetic of the Christian church era. He started out well but ended very badly.

David is likened to the next phase, the move into Tabernacles - most unlikely, not even considered by man for any position of authority, the outsider, unwelcomed by the powers that be, but a man after God’s own heart and ultimately selected by God to lead His people. God is preparing a ‘David company’ out there somewhere.


Funny you should mention Jesus’ prayer from the cross today.
I read these words this morning:

“In 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to integrate an all-white public elementary school in the American South. Every day for months, federal marshals escorted Ruby past a mob of angry parents shouting curses, threats, and insults at her. Safely inside, she sat in a classroom alone with Barbara Henry, the only teacher willing to instruct her while parents kept their children from attending school with Ruby.

Noted child psychologist Robert Coles met with Ruby for several months to help her cope with the fear and stress she experienced. He was amazed by the prayer Ruby said every day as she walked to school and back home. “Please, God, forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing” (See Luke 23:34).

The words of Jesus spoken from the cross were stronger than the hatred and insults hurled at Him. In the most agonizing hours of His life, our Lord demonstrated the radical response He taught His followers: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you…Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:27-28, 36).

This remarkable approach is possible only when we consider the powerful love Jesus has given us - love stronger than even the deepest hatred.

Ruby Bridges helped show us the way.”

-from https://odb.org/

(reliquum) #55

Nice application Dave.

A mans final words he intends most specifically, and if he is in his right mind, they are his most profound, meaningful, important, intentional. I winder if we are fully applying what appears to be other potential significance to Jesus last words. We talk of the meaning of the mark of the beast, and we always ascribe it to “the other”, as if WE know what we know is right, and what we do is right. Does that put us OUTSIDE of Jesus final prayer?

I sense that the third part, implied, is that Jesus is saying to Abba, "they are still all your children.
I brought them all back to you-forgive them, even they don’t have the knowledge,
forgive them, for their deeds also are wrong,

but never forget they are now again your children, adopted through my inheritance."

When we miss this kinship through the blood, and divide each other up on basis of deed and doctrine, i sense we do evil, evil to the royal command. Ie, love, love yourselves, love each other (as i love you) and i will know you love me. Do not love me merely with your hand and head (deeds and doctrines); it is your identity-your kinship, your HEART that i want.

I sense this also is messaged via the three rooms in that other earthly thing that is in the image of a heavenly one. The sanctuary tent, ie temple. Could the gospel be much simpler that we dare?

Why is it so easy for us humans to hate like we mean it,
and so hard to love like we don’t?
Like we have only 2/3’s of it


‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’.

I have sometimes wondered why Jesus chose those words. Perhaps, as you say, He wanted to emphasize that we all have one heavenly Father and He is merciful and forgiving to us His children. Or perhaps for another reason…

In Mark 2 Jesus said that He had the authority on earth to forgive sins. Yet, on the cross He did not say, ‘I forgive them…’ but prayed to the Father for their forgiveness in a way we would like to think any of us would.
Is it possible that at that point, He indeed was one of us?
If we believe that to be divine means having life not subject to death, how could He die on the cross?
Is it possible that to proceed through death He had given up His divine nature and was left merely a man?

He had said earlier in His ministry that He and the Father were one, that if you had seen Him you had seen the Father and that He only did what the Father did. But in the garden their wills diverged because He prayed, ‘Not My will but Thy will be done.’
The gospel speaks of us being ‘a new creation’ but maybe in the garden He also entered a new existence, but in a terrifying way because He had never experienced the limitations of mortality and hence separation from the Father before.

There was an unusual sacrifice in the OT to remove bloodguiltness from the people. The neck of an unblemished heifer was broken. We think of the neck as the part of the body associated with the will. We know that Christ was the fulfillment or antitype of all the sacrifices. Was His agony in the garden about His ‘spiritual neck’ or the will left to him (his human will and inherent desire for self preservation) being broken (‘not My will’) for us?
If so, then in the garden, when He was sweating the drops of blood, He set aside His divinity for our sakes, truly descending to and rescuing us from the place we were left by the first Adam.
In the first Adam we were created sinless. His fall resulted in his and our mortality because sin must not go on forever. In the last Adam, on the cross, both Jesus and we died (Paul said he was crucified with Christ) and thus our sentence of mortal life was somehow ended (Christ abolished death).

Further thought (since I’m already in very deep waters anyway) - Christ cryptically said that He would ‘be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth’. In Hebrew the name ‘Adam’, which means a human being or mankind, is the same as the word for red or ruddy (Strong’s #119-121). Many think it’s because the first man was made ‘from the dust of the ground’ or earth which in some places can have a red tone. Hence the name ‘Adam’ is associated with mankind and the earth.
It appears Christ was referring to some sort of important change in His life covering the time period between His night of prayer in the garden and His resurrection. Many feel He meant He would be in the grave for that time (which has caused much disagreement about when he died).
Could He have meant the time period covering His final descent as the last Adam for our salvation?

(reliquum) #58

One quick note-“I and the Father, we are one” may also apply to an internal wholeness, integrity of being, as much to the two being perfectly in union. He may be praying that we also “become whole”, one, with complete integrity in our whole being…and not just in our deeds and doctrines.
Not just our head and hand, but heart (the most holy place)


Such interesting perspectives, @DaveMoffatt.

So if Jesus were not Divine then a man died for our sins? Just like any other man?


It’s all conjecture on my part of course. I’m just trying to put together pieces from various parts of Scripture. And if He was divine at that point we are left with the original problem - God is not subject to mortality so how could He die?
If you look at Him as a sacrifice, He was not like any other man but remained sinless through His life and final ordeal. So, He was the antitype of the physically spotless OT sacrifices.
I believe we were all created sinless in the first Adam when he came into being and when he sinned we fell into mortality in him. Mortality was his ‘gift’ to us. Our resulting weakened state of corruption which leads to death is why we sin. I think this is what Romans 5:12f is saying. Christ stooped all the way down and met us there and we were put in Him to take us through our punishment for sin. The law has been satisfied because we died (Rom 6: 6-7, 23). We are now a new creation in God’s eyes, not yet physically manifested. I believe this is the meaning of the gospel.

(Website Editor) closed #61