Everyone is Saved! Hold Up…

I hear this a lot of times within certian conversations and I am not sure why – but the idea being via Jesus ‘everyone is saved’…koombuhyah?

I am not sure that is sound theologically or even linguisticly from the texts of the NT.

(a) Theologically is goes against certain ideals Jesus taught on the subject of choice. One can be the ‘good tree’ or the ‘bad tree’ or the idea of the foundations of ‘stone’ or ‘sand’. There is no question Jesus is setting up a stark difference within his teachings between ‘side a’ and ‘side b’…or as was referred to in Judaism as ‘the way of life’ (righteousness) and ‘the way of death’ (wickedness). Jesus really isn’t doing that much new in his teachings as much as he is re-hashing the importance of knowing for yourself what is right and wrong and working on that.

(b) Linguistically it is very questionable to think because Jesus says ‘all are saved’ he means ‘everyone’. The problem is quite simple – the bible speaks in large ‘overtones’ all the time – generic language (large generalizations)…and not in individual nuances as part of it’s literature. This is common from the Tanakh to the NT. Now maybe this has to do with ‘community’ – but even then that’s a ‘select’ amount of people that want to be recognized as community. Fact is, Jesus could say 3/4th’s of the world are doomed to Gehenna and it wouldn’t shake me very much – it’s an emphasis factor and one that was meant to seem ‘bigger’ to make a point. One finds this in Paul and all the other writers if one cares to read a little.

So it raises the question – why say stuff like that at all?

Well security and inclusion would be two key things. For example, I get criticized for using these same kind of generalizations myself – when I refer to Christians doing this or being responsible for that. Well ‘Christians’ is a catch phrase that may not include everyone within Christendom but is aimed as a generalization with ‘no specific name’ – for inclusion sake…you address the concern yourself if you feel you are included in the category (depending on the topic).

Security is about us entering a convo and feeling we have little to lose. In this case, with the mass inclusive language being used the emphasis is to get more people to hearken to the message. Using language that is quite ambigious (as previously shown) will get more people involved in the conversation since no one is being ‘centered out’…we can feel anonymous in some way when we enter the convo. This gets more people into the convo and the use of generalized language makes us feel secure.

The language also has an emphasis overtone to it that makes it seems that much more urgent or important. But of course, we already knew that.

It’s just not that easy to brush these things away if one reads many passages from the Tankah to the NT.

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20 thoughts on “Everyone is Saved! Hold Up…

  1. i dunno if you saw this post: http://toothface.blogspot.com/2009/08/heaven-or-why-i-am-universalist.html

    it’s true that “faith without works is dead” but there is also the possibility that “those dead in christ shall be raised first, while those who die outside of christ will be [saved in the air/spirit/breath/wind]” thus my hope that all those who live wickedly will somehow be included. (brackets are my translation from greek which i think Paul was using as a throw back to the hebrew term “Ruack” found in Gen 1.)

  2. Luke explain your position further – I am interested in your reasoning on this and what being saved in the ‘spirit/wind/breath’ means to you?

    The idea ‘all is saved’ if true undercuts the reasoning for being someone of a ‘faith committment’ as compared to not being someone of a ‘faith committment’. I mean, all things being equal (ockhams razor) – one should take the easiest and most simpliest way – and faith would not be seen as that per se (with it’s ideas/rules/rituals/committment/etc). One should become an atheist an agnostic – something just that much easier with less committments.

    I have thought about his for some time and my reasoning is sound on this issue…I think?

  3. okay, using your rubric, here it goes:

    “Theologically is goes against certain ideals Jesus taught on the subject of choice. ”

    yup! so you can choose to do right or not. the problem then becomes when ppl have made a choice to go with righteousness instead of wickedness, what shape did the righteousness take? which rubric? in Jesus’ day it was Zealot, Sadduccee, Pharisee, or a follower of John the Baptist (just to name a few mentioned in the gospels). now we have whether you’re christian and what type. all are trying to go with “good over evil” but the argument becomes about the rubric.

    ” Linguistically it is very questionable to think because Jesus says ‘all are saved’ he means ‘everyone’. The problem is quite simple – the bible speaks in large ‘overtones’ all the time – generic language (large generalizations)…”

    i don’t think so. there are HUGE differentiations there if you know the socio-historical setting. at face value there’s a lot of generic stuff going on, more specifically in Paul and John’s writings, but not so in James and the synoptics. then when you get into the earliest christian writings with Origen, the Montanists, Gnostics, etc, they are pretty specific as to who and what they are talking about. so i don’t see this holding water at all.

    could Jesus have meant, all that choose to do good are saved? i mean, dude said he didnt’ come for the healthy, but for the sick right? if you start going down the path of “well, not everyone is saved” this turns into a slippery slope and excludes all sorts of ppl and leads to things that you’re decry’n all the time, namely anti-semitism, super-sessionist, and colonialization. unless i’m missing your meaning and purpose of this post.

  4. “yup! so you can choose to do right or not.” (Luke)

    That’s basically the gist of my claims – and the same one’s I see the bible from front to end also saying…it’s about our actions and what we choose to do.

    “all are trying to go with “good over evil” but the argument becomes about the rubric” (Luke)

    But what about those not trying at all – are they in that same category of those religious groupings? I can admit – as different as each group is at least they were ‘trying’ to manage good over their evil…and set standards for that. I am kind of questionng the idea that those who ruin lives are really not ‘saved’…whatever that term means.

    “so i don’t see this holding water at all” (Luke)

    Really…do I have to pull one passage from James or many from the Synoptics to prove this point? Within the bible itself (those writings alone) language that is generalized is used time and time again. Either to speak for the community or the group of people. Now what Origen and other later writers did is of little issue to me – they’re not in the canon anyways – they are building from those ideas.

    It seems very factual Jesus does not think everyone is going to use their time on this earth wisely – and in his parables this is just obvious (like the seeds or the wheat and tares). Jesus felt some people would likely committ evil as part of their lives – and not live by righteous/just ideas. This is all over his teachings, and Paul’s, and every other letter….and in the Psalms, Proverbs, Prophets, and Torah…it’s practically the most common theme in the 66 books/letters

    “could Jesus have meant, all that choose to do good are saved?” (Luke)

    I agree there obviously, but then what does being ‘saved’ mean in that context…the here and now?

    “i mean, dude said he didnt’ come for the healthy, but for the sick right?” (Luke)

    I like that idea of Jesus’ – that teaching is truly wonderful. But what does it mean? Is it a ‘here and now’ type help for the ‘sick’ or some later on type help for the ‘sick’?

    This convo all depends on what we mean by what Jesus was ‘saving’ as a saviour. I am not sure, from a teaching like that above, it was about the eternal as a focal point. It seems the idea is about helping those people in true need – the broken and the poor – those who need and desire the help….now! I am thinking in heaven there is no sick.

    So what is salvation as a current and present idea then?

  5. **The idea ‘all is saved’ if true undercuts the reasoning for being someone of a ‘faith committment’ as compared to not being someone of a ‘faith commitment’. I mean, all things being equal (ockhams razor)**

    Doesn’t it depend on why someone is in the faith commitment? I’ve seen a varation of your comment here where someone says that if everyone’s going to get saved anyway, why don’t they live in whatever fashion? Why not steal, lie, cheat, murder, since they’ll get to heaven anyway?

    Part of how I would view “everyone saved” is that everyone gets redeemed, and grows to be a better/perfect person. What it doesn’t mean is that you can live a horrible life and then BAM, salvation for you in the next stage. There are still consequences for your behavior, and the more horrible you are, the harder the consequences. If we take two people who fully recognizes the results of their actions — one stole his whole life, and one was a mass murderer, I would think the consequences would be harder for the murderer, because of the internal repercussions involved in that action. But the consequences are designed to reform the person, rather than being the end-all-and-be-all.

    So did someone make the faith commitment to escape a punishment? Or to grow into a better person?

  6. “do I have to pull one passage from James or many from the Synoptics to prove this point? ”

    you may have to, because there’s always context that undergirds the passages. some are spoken in general (like the parables) but others are very pointed (like a sadducee questioning Jesus on resurrection, or Sampson and his hair).

    “I like that idea of Jesus’ – that teaching is truly wonderful. But what does it mean? Is it a ‘here and now’ type help for the ’sick’ or some later on type help for the ’sick’?”

    and there’s where your faith tradition and denomination come into play. there are a thousand different denominations and writings on what ppl think Jesus meant by “saving” and “being saved.” that’s why it’s so important for me to study Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Erasmus, Aquinas, Origen, Menno Simons, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, etc etc etc. to see their take on this whole thing… Jesus didn’t leave us with a systematic way to define and understand “saving” and maybe that’s the point. still doesn’t mean we can’t try and figure it out.

  7. So did someone make the faith commitment to escape a punishment? Or to grow into a better person?(OSS)

    Seems to me most people use faith for both. The punishment they receive in this existence is a consequence of their actions. This usually leads to a crappy life in the here and now. So being a better person usually leads to better things in this existence. The view on the afterlife is probably just “bonus” thinking. 😉

  8. “why don’t they live in whatever fashion? Why not steal, lie, cheat, murder, since they’ll get to heaven anyway?” (OSS)

    I think this is the normal pattern – or excuse – people will use when the idea of ‘all are saved’ comes into play. It really does not matter how one acts because nothing they do (as depraved as they are from Adam onwards) matters in terms of their final outcome (eternally)…it’s a license to steal really.

    “But the consequences are designed to reform the person, rather than being the end-all-and-be-all.” (OSS)

    I like this idea also OSS – but how do you go about buiilding the arguement for it – the proof (even if just biblically). I am not sure I find that idea within the teachings of Jesus – I am open to being in error but it’s definitely hard to find.

    “So did someone make the faith commitment to escape a punishment? Or to grow into a better person?” (OSS)

    Starts with escaping punishment – ends with becoming a better person…this is the norm in Evangelical circles anyways.

  9. “and there’s where your faith tradition and denomination come into play.” (Luke)

    For defintion alone (in the current tense). But not for what ‘salvation’ would actually mean – in terms of the texts…the texts are actually denomination free in a sense – being written long before any one of them came into existence.

    Denominations exist now to help cut up the pie (bible) for their congregants – but with so many and so many views on a subject – at some point we just have throw our hands in the air and say ‘as if they are all right’. So at some point the texts have to be treated apart from denominational affiliation – lest one enter with a complete bias.

    I am guessing you think the passages have no ‘most accurate’ answer?

    “Jesus didn’t leave us with a systematic way to define and understand “saving” and maybe that’s the point. still doesn’t mean we can’t try and figure it out” (Luke)

    Really, and yet they use the term in the gospels and within Paul like a billion times. I just want to know what people think it means to them from their read of the texts – and how they see it’s use for ‘now’ and ‘then’. There are many variants on what is being said in there (I agree) – but let’s slim it down to what is being meant…kingdom of God/heaven seems to be the big one in the gospels…where is this kingdom?

  10. “the texts are actually denomination free in a sense – being written long before any one of them came into existence.”

    true, the texts are free of denomination, but we are not free of them. we are saturated with interpretations from 2,000 years of church history. each era has had multiple interpretations based on time and context, each one landing in a different place. so to think that we can get to “some objective meaning” of the text is folly. and you can’t hold the bible in total, so at some point you’ll have to pick and choose.

    “kingdom of God/heaven seems to be the big one in the gospels…where is this kingdom?”

    Gospel of Thomas is the only one to really define it, namely “(113) His disciples said to him: On what day will the kingdom come? It will not come while people watch for it; they will not say: Look, here it is, or: Look, there it is; but the kingdom of the father is spread out over the earth, and men do not see it.” as well as “(3.) Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the (Father’s) kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father’s) kingdom is within you and it is outside you. ”

    Paul has a different take than Jesus did. John, Matt, Luke, and Mark all have different slants on what Jesus meant (Matt is more general, Luke is more Justice for the poor and inclusion of the outcast, Mark seems to steer more political, and John is about Christ coming back in a sense).

  11. for further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_God

    i esp. liked http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_God#Historical_Jesus_scholars
    and Dodd’s idea of “realized eschatology” which is based on Luke 11:20, and Luke 17:21 claiming that “the kingdom of God has come to you” and “the kingdom of God is within you”. Crossan imagined Jesus as a cynic-like peasant who focused on the sapiential aspects of the “Kingdom” and not on any apocalyptic conceptions”

    but once again, it is what you make of it. all we have is metaphor.

  12. Luke good points all around – some might call it weasling around having an ‘opinion’ but not me…I think it’s a good outline of the fact there is no answer that will satisfy such a question. Yes, that was sarcasm. I kid.

    I get it though – I need to define what I mean by what I am saying and not use such generic language to define something that can mean a lot of things…in this case salvation. I guess I am as guilty as the bible (or my claim about some of the texts of the bible) for generalizing…which I do a tad.

    But in the end, does this leave us answerless without us weighing in with an opinion? If everything can mean many things then how do we formulate an answer to anything that means something? I almost lost myself asking that question (lol).

  13. Society,

    **I think this is the normal pattern – or excuse – people will use when the idea of ‘all are saved’ comes into play. **

    Which type of people will use it, though? There’s a story about a 19th century Universalist Hosea Ballou:

    Ballou was riding the circuit in the New Hampshire hills with a Baptist minister one day, arguing theology as they traveled. At one point, the Baptist looked over and said, “Brother Ballou, if I were a Universalist and feared not the fires of hell, I could hit you over the head, steal your horse and saddle, and ride away, and I’d still go to heaven.”

    Hosea Ballou looked over at him and said, “If you were a Universalist, the idea would never occur to you.”

    **I like this idea also OSS – but how do you go about buiilding the arguement for it – the proof (even if just biblically). I am not sure I find that idea within the teachings of Jesus – I am open to being in error but it’s definitely hard to find.**

    Some good books I’ve read on Universalism: “The Inescapable Love of God” by Thomas Talbott, “The Evangelical Universalist,” By Gregory MacDonald, and “The One Purpose of God: An Answer to the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment,” by Jan Bonda. However, it’s been a while since I’ve read those, and I know that none of them just focus on the Gospels for their claims — they use Paul’s letters, as well.

    One of the things I’ve always pondered in terms of universalism — the use of Gehenna in the New Testament. Gehenna was a literal garbage dump, which was constantly burning. But a garbage dump literally burns away the garbage. So let’s say some people did end up in Gehenna, and all the garbage gets burned away. Does that mean the people get burned away, or just the part of them that was garbage?

    **Starts with escaping punishment – ends with becoming a better person…this is the norm in Evangelical circles anyways.**

    Does it really end up with the better person, though? A lot of what I see in evangelical circles — to defend the idea that Christians behave no better and no worse than non-Christians — is that there’s still sin in the world even though they have God’s grace, Jesus came to call the sick, not the righteous, and they won’t truly be the better person until in heaven.

  14. “Which type of people will use it, though? There’s a story about a 19th century Universalist Hosea Ballou” (OSS)

    I think people that only think in terms of the ‘end’ as the core of their theology (and not the here and now).

    “Does that mean the people get burned away, or just the part of them that was garbage?” (OSS)

    I see this same word and also wonder what and how they are using it in the few times it is mentioned. If it is ‘burnt away’ – as in gone – I think that can make some sense (no resurrection to eternal life).

    If we go into the idea of it just burning the part of them that was ‘garbage’ away then it gets complicated. Some theological strains in Christianity believe we will be transformed when we get to heaven to no longer have our ‘sinful behaviors’ – which is similar in intent to what you are saying there.

    Do I think this is the case – no…because isn’t it all a lie then? We live a certain way and become certain people by living through many experiences and this ‘shapes’ us…we come to know who we are in the process. But if this is all for nought and to be ‘burnt away’ – I can say I have learned nothing in the process of living since some of it was unneccesary for living (as deemed by God I guess? Thus I am changed to fit the heavenly experience).

    “Does it really end up with the better person, though?” (OSS)

    I would say, from personal observation, yes (in general). The people I know that attend church and claim some form of Christian faith do not get into trouble very much (as per the law I mean). Now even if they started with a fear of God – they embraced the teachings of Jesus and live for the better in the long run. Now this ain’t everybody in Christian circles – but in general – they don’t committ crimes and to me that’s my biggest concern. If they are not being hauled in front of courts then I think their behaviors are tolerable – if not decent.

    I agree their theology of ‘human depravity’ and ‘God’s grace’ may actually allow for loopholes on behavior – but most of the time this isn’t even exercised and it’s quite anathema to even think that way. I would contend the fact a loophole exists for excuse for their behavior does make it easier to justify a bad behavior and ‘write it off as being human’.

  15. Society,

    ** We live a certain way and become certain people by living through many experiences and this ’shapes’ us…we come to know who we are in the process. But if this is all for nought and to be ‘burnt away’ – I can say I have learned nothing in the process of living since some of it was unneccesary for living (as deemed by God I guess? Thus I am changed to fit the heavenly experience). **

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. Can you elaborate? Because part of living through those experiences and learning about who we are would entail learning about the parts of ourselves we don’t like, and what we would like to be eradicated. We might learn that we’re not always compassionate like we should be, or that we gossip, or something stronger, like stealing. If someone comes face to face with that, a lot of people would wish that to be “burned away.” Maybe their life experiences here were necessary for them to learn why it needed to be burned away.

  16. “Because part of living through those experiences and learning about who we are would entail learning about the parts of ourselves we don’t like, and what we would like to be eradicated” (OSS)

    My point is how is that ‘eradicated/burnt away’? Is it in the choices we make now to make those things ‘change’ or is it something ‘burnt away’ after we die? And why would it be burnt away after we die when that is who we chose to be? That’s kind of what I am getting at in this discussion.

    Cause it seems to me what you are saying is that these things (questionable aspects of our behavior) will be ‘burnt away’ after we die. I am not sure thats how it will work in some afterlife since it doesn’t work that way now. Plus it also means when we get into the afterlife we are not going to be who we chose to be anymore – parts of our character will have disappeared so to speak by being ‘burnt away’…is that really us anymore?

    I know nothing about the afterlife mind you – but for some reason that idea we will lose all our questionable characteristics because we get there seems questionable to me? Doesn’t this also allow us to do whatever we want now with no reprecussions for our behavior or what we chose to become? What makes it so important to live by good ethic in this life? It’s the same loophole as grace in Christian circles just within a Universalist blanket. Or am I wrong?

  17. **And why would it be burnt away after we die when that is who we chose to be? **
    But my point was when people come across negative aspects in their character make-up, they don’t want to choose to be those negative aspects. They work on reducing those negative aspects, through a variety of ways.

    ** I am not sure thats how it will work in some afterlife since it doesn’t work that way now. **
    Why doesn’t it work now? I’ve read several stories where people have had a “born-again” experience in that they were once people who were alcoholics, or smokers, or judgmental, or selfish, or unloving and then found themselves someone else. The addictive components or the negative components had faded away.

    Plus it also means when we get into the afterlife we are not going to be who we chose to be anymore – parts of our character will have disappeared so to speak by being ‘burnt away’…is that really us anymore?

    ** Doesn’t this also allow us to do whatever we want now with no reprecussions for our behavior or what we chose to become? What makes it so important to live by good ethic in this life?**
    No. Because the idea is there will still be repercussions for how you decided to live your life here. You don’t get to go on a killing spree in this life, and then suddenly find yourself without consequences in the next. You still have to face what you did, and there is still a punishment. It’s like … okay, say you wake up one day and you realize that you’re a really unkind person, and that you’ve hurt a lot of people in your life. The realization itself is a sort of consequence, as you face how much pain you’ve caused. But the pain also serves to drive you to become a kinder person. So there is a punishment, but it works in helping you refine yourself. That’s how I’ve seen Universalism presented. There is still a punishment, there are still repercussions for any actions you take here, but the difference is, the punishment isn’t the end. It’s a means to an end. And if we put this back in terms of Gehenna — say the person still clings to being a mass-murderer. Then the “burning” process is incredibly painful until the mass-murderer is willing to let go of that part of his identity.

    The matter of choice in this is also tricky. People choose to commit suicide, and yet we have determine that the choice is not valid, it is a choice made by a mentally unstable person. So we’d step in and try to help the person so they won’t make the choice to kill themselves. Couldn’t we say in this aspect that by doing that, we’re not letting the suicidal person be who they are anymore?

  18. “The addictive components or the negative components had faded away.” (OSS)

    Touche! So you might be able to say Christianity…well…made them a ‘better person’?

    “But the pain also serves to drive you to become a kinder person. So there is a punishment, but it works in helping you refine yourself” (OSS)

    I like the idea personally – which is why I have little negative to say about universalism – as long it produces these types of ideas – which I find very positive! But I get it – in this life anyways – how one’s punishment of ‘guilt’ can drive them to ‘make things right’…I agree 100%.

    “Then the “burning” process is incredibly painful until the mass-murderer is willing to let go of that part of his identity” (OSS)

    So God’s judgment is they deal with their personal choice to be angry and committ such actions against others…I like the idea personally. I tend to see it as God having a court room where the person is tried by his victims and family members of the victim – and people defending him on his side (family likely). But in the end, he has to come to terms with the damage inflicted on the victims and make things right as part of the punishment…and the trial serves this need. He gets to hear the ‘hell’ he caused first hand and what it made people do and think…how it adversely effected a whole wack of things. He will not win obviously – but with the support he may just be able to start the process of healing.

    “Couldn’t we say in this aspect that by doing that, we’re not letting the suicidal person be who they are anymore?” (OSS)

    Good point – I guess some decisions are adverse and not well thought out. I guess sometimes the choice is so adverse it takes away from the being of the person – and in this case – their very life. But isn’t this who they are to some degree? You don’t just accidently arrive at that decision – it’s usually pretty thought upon and no other avenue availed itself they were willing to take. I think we all have this tendency within us – in subtler ways it shows up as ‘giving up’ on various things. But we can choose to work on it or just succumb.

    I don’t know – I sure hope there is room for change in the afterlife as I have my share of problems to work out also.

  19. Society,

    **Touche! So you might be able to say Christianity…well…made them a ‘better person’?**

    🙂 I put the “born again” in quotes, though, because I’ve seen elements of the whole re-birth/born again experience in more than just Christianity. Some dramatic, some occurring over time.

    **But isn’t this who they are to some degree? You don’t just accidently arrive at that decision – it’s usually pretty thought upon and no other avenue availed itself they were willing to take.**
    I don’t know … In these cases, I think people usually say that the person is not in fact thinking, and is suffering from a form of depression, which is labeled as a mental illness. It’s not even a matter of accident, it’s that people are affected by the illness, yet we don’t say the illness should be a part of who they are …

  20. “yet we don’t say the illness should be a part of who they are …” (OSS)

    You know it’s such a good point I have to agree with you on it. Maybe some things are ‘burnt away’ in the afterlife – in the light of seeing the afterlife in the first place and that type of existence? An act like suicide is likely not part of someone’s character – wheras depression would be…and maybe in the afterlife that can be ‘burnt away’.

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