“Readings in Universalism” Updated

We have had a lot of new visitors to Eclectic Orthodoxy over the past ten months, largely thanks to the reviews of That All Shall Be Saved. Some of our visitors, however, may have missed my page Readings in Universalism. This page contains an extensive list of the articles and books on the greater hope that I have found instructive and helpful. If I do say so myself, it’s one of the best lists on the topic available on the web, maybe the best.

Over the past two months I have been updating it by including articles posted on Eclectic Orthodoxy, both by myself and by others. I’m not yet done with this update. I’m sure I have missed some. I will also be adding the  reviews of That All Shall Be Saved that were published last fall on EO.

Please share Readings in Universalism with all who might find it helpful.

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30 Responses to “Readings in Universalism” Updated

  1. Arthur Ja says:

    Just out of curiosity, does anybody know what Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev’s hierarchy thinks of his hopeful universalism?

    It seems to me that the Orthodox clergy are largely divided between those who reject universalism as heresy and those who accept it as a possibility, a division that I did not expect at all initially, tbh.

    Thanks a lot in advance!

    Like

    • Arthur,

      Met. Hilarion has flip flopped. He has written in multiple places that he doesn’t see universalism as an acceptable teaching. We can speculate as to why, but that seems to be a fact. He still calls a “hope” legitimate, but not in the sense of Kallistos Ware, I don’t think. From his latest book, it sounds more like a “wish.”

      Rather than referring to current scholarship on the fifth council, as he did in his universalist days, he now just seems to cite church consensus that it WAS in fact condemned.

      This does not mean Orthodoxy doesn’t have its share of new advocates of universalism, or at advocates of the legitimacy of it as a teaching. Fr Andrew Louth still prefers to speak of it as a hope, but I get the sense he’s fairly confident, and of course, Fr John Behr.

      I recently spoke with another priest that has written quite legitimate books with Orthodox Presses who said he finds Hart’s book very convincing but said he doesn’t intent to preach it from the pulpit.

      Interestingly, even in Hilarion’s current anti-universalist stance, he cites Vladimir Lossky and most certainly Fr Anthony Bloom as supporters of the doctrine.

      Part of me does wonder if St. Mother Maria Skobtsova also supported it because she vociferously supported her father/confessor Fr Bulgakov even in his sophianisn! Andrew Louth’s book of Orthodox thinkers is really interesting on this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • arthurjaco says:

        Thanks a lot, Mark!

        What a shame his Grace has decided to abandon apocatastasis… I had already heard before that he had eventually forsaken it but I had hoped it was only a rumour…

        Fr Louth and Fr Behr are definitely sympathisers, indeed.
        Contrasting Fr Behr’s very positive comments on TASBS to Fr Farley’s extremely negative views on apocatastasis (calling it merely a “fad”) really shows just how divided Orthodox priests can actually be on the matter of the Greater Hope in spite of them sharing both the same religion and the same denomination… I mean, that’s crazy.

        As to the priest who finds Hart convincing but who still won’t preach universalism from his pulpit… it is sad but understandable, unfortunately.
        That’s peer pressure coupled to respect for traditional opinions (even when they’re most probably wrong), isn’t it?
        Can’t blame him… the poor priest would probably lose most of his flock and get into trouble with his hierarchy, I imagine.

        On a much more positive note, I’m pleased to learn that Vladimir Lossky was a universalist.
        With Lossky, Bulgakov, Clément, Evdokimov, Florensky (at least to some extent), Berdyaev and all the others being universalists, it looks like Dr Hart was right when he said that “Every significant Russian Orthodox thinker of the 19th and early 20th centuries was either a universalist explicitly or implicitly” (in his Youtube interview with Robert Wright, from 8:30 to 8:50).
        But then again… is DBH ever wrong, I wonder.

        I had never heard of that Fr Anthony Bloom.
        Gonna do some research about him.

        St Maria Skobtsova seems to have been a friend (or at least an acquaintance) of Berdyaev, too… Her defence of Bulgakov coupled to her alleged friendship with Berdyaev suggests she might have been at least *sympathetic* to the idea of UR, you’re probably right… though I do wonder whether she managed to keep her alleged faith in it in the concentration camp where she unfortunately died.
        In the face of so much evil and suffering imposed to innocent human beings by other human beings, emotions might make it hard to hold strong to one’s sympathies towards the Greater Hope.

        I see that both St Maria Skobtsova and (soon to be saint, probably) Metropolitan Bloom of Sourozh participated in the French Resistance during WWII.
        My country and the whole world are thus in their debt.
        I God exists, may He bless them therefore.

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        • ‘the certainty of the salvation of all people cannot be a certainty of the faith, since there are no clear assertions of it in holy scripture that might serve as proof; but it can be a certainty of hope since, knowing God as we know him, we have the right to hope for all things’. The gospel uses the expression ‘eternal torments’, but there is a difference between divine eternity and the eternity of the created world: the latter ‘can be fitted into the confines of time’. If the Devil suc- ceeded in ‘creating an eternal kingdom independent of God’, that would signify his victory over God.”

          This is attributed to Met. Anthony by Alfeyev and he cites a book by Bloom only available in Russian. I couldn’t find it anywhere online.

          He does the same for Lossky. It’s some book I couldn’t find even in the original language online.

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  2. Arthur Ja says:

    I expected Orthodox Christianity to be extremely stern and homogeneous on the question of the Greater Hope… I’m rather glad I was wrong.

    I would also be curious to know whether *converts* to Orthodoxy are more open to Universalism than those who were actually born in the religion (if anyone on Earth has any definitive answer on that particular matter, of course).
    The reason I’m asking this is because all of the contemporary American Orthodox Universalist writers (and bloggers) that I’ve read so far appear to be converts to Orthodoxy : Ambrose Andreano, Fr Kimel, Alura, etc, are all converts.
    On the other hand, it is also true that people like Berdyaev, Fr Bulgakov, Evdokimov and Met Alfeyev aren’t converts at all, so…
    So yeah.
    I don’t really know.

    Like

    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      It’s also true that some of the most vociferous Orthodox opponents of the greater hope are converts. Go figure. This is probably due to the fact that we live in the English-speaking diaspora. Most of us are fairly ignorant about what is happening in the native Orthodox Churches.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Arthur Ja says:

    “It’s also true that some of the most vociferous Orthodox opponents of the greater hope are converts.”
    Indeed, that’s what came to my mind shortly after I published these comments.

    Now, when you say “Most of us are fairly ignorant about what is happening in the native Orthodox Churches”, do you mean that there’s an ongoing theological “revolution” in the native Orthodox Churches in favour of UR?
    Forgive me, I’m not sure I understood what you implied by that.
    My mind is always clouded by fatigue.

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  4. Cycneus says:

    Thank you for your work, Fr Kimel.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Dee of St Hermans says:

    I suppose I’m coming out of the closet and declaring myself as a unversalist. I’ve been more of a “hopeful” but I believe it is better to hold greater faith and less fear. As St Silouan tells us of the Lord’s words, “Keep thy mind in hell and despair not”. I hope that I’m not too adventuresome (or worse infernalist) to say our salvation is a slow burning away of all that does not bring us into God’s Life.

    Thank you both Fr Aidan and Dr Hart in your work.

    I’m one of those Orthodox who is more willing to assume that the infernalists among Orthodox are predominantly former Protestants. Or minimally American Orthodox, heavily influenced by a Protestant (which for me is another description of Western and Modernist) culture. (I’m open to correction on this point–I’m only speaking from personal experience) Having come from a non-Christian (but believer in God) life, who encountered (actually was inflicted by) many Protestants over the course of my life who in their self righteousness wanted to ‘save’ me with their polemic of damnation, I was emphatically not a Christian for these reasons. Christianity (if it can be called that) in this form was repugnant. Only when I learned of a different soteriology within Orthodoxy, did I begin to realize the extent that the Gospel had become distorted.

    And now through the reading list, I’m learning that not all western Christians held the infernalist view. Thank God for his mercies!

    Father Aidan and Dr Hart (if you’re still reading this blog), I’m interested in reading about John Scotus Eriugena and whether his translations might reveal an “Irish” understanding and appreciation of the Eastern Orthodox (universalist) theology. Purportedly, Irish Christianity was heavily influenced by Eastern (rather than Roman) Christianity relative England’s Christianity. This difference was reflected in their iconography and it seems that it is reflected in their early theology. Would either of you have insights on Eriugena or readings that might help my study?

    Fr Aidan, I’ve put a search term (Eriugena) in your blog and found one article so far and will read it.

    There are secondary sources and partial translations of John Scotus Eriugena’s work. However, what I’ve read so far suggests to me that I might be reading Eriugena through the lens of western Christianity as opposed to through an Eastern Orthodox lens. I fear I might need to learn both Greek and Latin before I might obtain a better sense of his theology. (BTW I am learning Greek now)

    I appreciate your thoughts or recommendations for study on Eriugena’s writings.

    Thank you both again!

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      I have good news for you. Eriugena’s ‘Periphyseon’ has just been reprinted by Dumbarton Oaks: https://www.doaks.org/resources/publications/books/periphyseon

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    • arthurjaco says:

      I’ve been wondering about Eriugena too (as well as the other great medieval theologians who are sometimes said to have been universalists, namely Johannes Tauler, Amalric of Bena and Blessed John of Ruysbroeck).

      Some people say that at least *some* of these theologians were universalists and I certainly wish it was the case but I do have a very hard time believing there were any open universalist theologians in the Middle Ages… that era was so dominated by infernalism and “heresy” could be punished in such gruesome ways that I doubt any medieval theologian would have actually argued in favour of apocatastasis.

      Does anybody know about these Roman Catholic medieval theologians?
      I know this is an Eastern Orthodox blog, but still…

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      • Dee of St Hermans says:

        FYI I call Eriugena Irish Orthodox, not Roman Catholic.

        But then nobody calls me a historian or theologian.

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        • arthurjaco says:

          Aren’t we both being quite anachronistic anyways when we say that Eriugena was Orthodox or RC while he lived roughly 200 years before the Great Schism? Ah, anyways… Let’s not focus on such subtleties.

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          • Dee of St Hermans says:

            Arthur,
            I know when the schism happened and when Eriugena lived, which is why I wrote the last sentence ‘tongue in cheek’. Nevertheless, I propose the label is appropriate, even while the audience reading the blog is not all Orthodox. This isn’t a tug of war on terms and dates, I believe there is precedent for ascribing to him the Orthodox label.

            The Orthodox speak of the writings of the saints that both the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church recognize as saints, that is, prior to the schism. But for the saints who come after the schism, there are certainly different ascriptions, not only because of the schism itself, which some argue was merely political, but because tied up with the political were theological outcomes. The etiology of the theological differences began before the schism.

            Eriugena was faced with fierce opposition among the western-based clergy, of a kind that reflects the fact that division of the West from the East had already begun. And the writings he was translating were the “Eastern” Fathers, Gregory of Nissa, Maximus, and Dionysius the Areopagite into Latin and his philosophy appears to be directly involved with those translations. What saved him and his writings was likely his position in the royal court –he would have likely been excommunicated as a heretic without such protection, given what the western clergy stated.

            The ‘heretical’ stance he held appear to be mainstream Orthodox thinking while it was abjectly discredited among the western clergy.

            Among my own questions of his work I’m reading through secondary sources who have “western eyes”, is whether the philosophy he wrote was really some sort of an attempt to integrate Eastern theology into Western theology, or whether this is the unintended translation of a westerner reading of Eriugena’s words.

            One indication that I might be correct in my questioning is the various ways Eriugena’s translation of the Greek word “hypostasis” into Latin words, has been translated from the Latin into English. The English translations in themselves contain terms that do not indicate the theology from which the terms were used in Greek. Was this voice of Eriugena or the translator’s voice of Eriugena? The Orthodox theological understanding of hypostasis has withstood time, and only very, very recently are Roman Catholic theologians becoming aware of what has been lost in the western understanding of hypostasis, and with that, the Eastern practice of venerating of icons.

            A last note and this cannot be emphasized enough, the earliest icons in the British Isles were Eastern and most closely related in style to Egyptian icons. The same icons which are venerated to this day in the Orthodox Church. Iconoclasm did happen in the OC, but the OC recovered early in its history. The veneration of icons in the west is a more complicated history (to put it mildly).

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  6. At says:

    I have a question. Saint Gregory of Nyssa is almost always cited as one of the most famous universalists, but it appears that he may NOT, in fact, have been a universalist.

    He believed there would be exceptions to the rule who would never attain paradise, that Judas “and men like him” were totally doomed (“On Infants’ Early Deaths”). He phrased it as “purgation extended into infinity.”

    Is there any response to this? It’s very weird to find out that perhaps the biggest name of patristic universalism was in fact not a universalist. AFAIK “On Infants” was also a later work, so it reflects his mature thought, which very clearly seems to be non-universalist. I’d like answers, please.

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      At, those who claim that St Gregory was not a universalist represent a very small scholarly group. We can name them on one hand (Giulio Maspero being the most prominent). I have spoken to two patristic scholars, Fr John Behr and Dr Radde-Gallwitz (both of whom know the Gregorian corpus very well) about the claim. Neither of them find it persuasive. We also know that in the 6th century Gregory’s universalism was well known, as evidenced by a letter written by the hermit St Barsanuphius of Gaza. See Ilaria Ramelli’s extended discussion of Gregory in her book The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis, where she responds to Maspero’s thesis. I’m pretty sure she also summarizes her critique in A Greater Hope?, but my copy is buried somewhere in my office, so I can’t confirm. FWIW, my impression is that this revisionist reading of Gregory is driven by the desire to bring him into conformity to the infernalist tradition. But I ain’t no scholar! 😎

      Like

      • At says:

        But what is the response to what Saint Gregory says in “On Infants’ Early Deaths”? Most scholars are saying he was a universalist, alright, but then how are we supposed to interpret what the mature Gregory said in that work?

        “Certainly, in comparison with one who has lived all his life in sin, not only the innocent babe but even one who has never come into the world at all will be blessed. We learn as much too in the case of Judas, from the sentence pronounced upon him in the Gospels (Matthew 26:24); namely, that when we think of such men, that which never existed is to be preferred to that which has existed in such sin. For, as to the latter, on account of the depth of the ingrained evil, the chastisement in the way of purgation will be extended into infinity; but as for what has never existed, how can any torment touch it?” 

        How could any of that be reconciled with universalism? He even explicitly says the chastisement will be extended into infinity.

        Even more shocking, in the same work Saint Gregory appears to endorse the notorious infernalist idea – which Hart often attacks – that the eternal punishment of the damned will increase the joy of those in Heaven:

        “Somewhere in his utterances the great David declares that some portion of the blessedness of the virtuous will consist in this; in contemplating side by side with their own felicity the perdition of the reprobate. He says, “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance; he shall wash his hands in the blood of the ungodly” (Psalm 58:10); not indeed as rejoicing over the torments of those sufferers, but as then most completely realizing the extent of the well-earned rewards of virtue. He signifies by those words that it will be an addition to the felicity of the virtuous and an intensification of it, to have its contrary set against it. In saying that “he washes his hands in the blood of the ungodly” he would convey the thought that “the cleanness of his own acting in life is plainly declared in the perdition of the ungodly.” For the expression “wash” represents the idea of cleanness; but no one is washed, but is rather defiled, in blood; whereby it is clear that it is a comparison with the harsher forms of punishment that puts in a clearer light the blessedness of virtue.”

        If Gregory is supposedly a universalist, what do scholars think of such passages?

        Liked by 2 people

        • Tim says:

          Only the first seems to be infernalist on the face of it.Am I missing something?

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        • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

          At, take a look at this more recent translation of Gregory’s tract on those who die in infancy: Concerning Infants Who Have Died Prematurely.

          Note how Casimir McCambley translates the first text you cite:

          Neither the person familiar with these matters nor the one led to comprehend transcendent reality through the world is simple, untrained and has an undisciplined [J.87] mind. Our argument shows that this state is not more blessed [M.184] according to the contradiction already presented, namely, that the person who is alive is better than the one who is not. For the person free from living in evil would not only be more blessed but would not possess it from the beginning. The Gospel has informed us of Judas where that which does not exist is evil [Mt 26.24]. Does a punishment which uses purification always extend to the depths of innate evil when pain does not apply to what does not exist? We therefore believe it is not right to compare an immature infant to a virtuous person.

          Reads differently, doesn’t it?

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        • At,

          There’s a lot to say here, but the first thing that should be said is that Nyssen, I think, almost certainly has more than one extremely explicit universalist text, and so we can ask the same question: If he was an infernalist, what are we supposed to do with those? In general, my guess is, most scholars think the hellfire passages are easier to make sense of in light of an eventual end to the punishment rather than making the universalist passages make sense in light of eternal torment. Some scholars like Ignatius Green argue Nyssen simply didn’t have a fully developed eschatology and so we shouldn’t be surprised to find both eternal hell statements and universalist statements, but I judge this implausible due to Gregory’s overall philosophy of motion, particulars and universals, and the finiteness of evil, which Maximus the Confessor only elaborates on. But there is more to say, and I do believe there is a key in Gregory’s writings that helps us make very good sense of his passages that seem to imply an eternal hell.

          You are right that his “On the Early Death of Infants” was written near the end of his life, but his Commentary or Homilies on the Song of Songs are usually thought to be his last work. Here, he says this (I’ll quote it in a second), and I don’t think we can overestimate how important this passage is. Before we quote it, recall that Gregory, like Origen, believes there are two senses of scripture, a literal sense, and an allegorical or spiritual sense. Gregory and Origen (and Maximus!) also argue that sometimes the literal sense has no meaning that is worthy of God, and so scripture must be contemplated in a spiritual sense. Here is what Gregory of Nyssa, in perhaps his last work, writes about the literal and allegorical meaning of scripture:

          “This [discerning a meaning worthy of God] applies not only to the words of the Old Covenant but also to the greater part of the Gospel teaching: the winnowing fork that clears the threshing floor, the chaff being blown away, the wheat remaining at the feet of the winnower, the unquenchable fire, the good granary, the fertile tree of the wicked, the threat of the axe that terrifyingly exhibits its sharp edge to the tree beforehand, the stones being altered to human nature (Matt. 3:9-12; Luke 3:8-9).” (Preface to Hom. in Song. 12)

          The funny thing about hell, for Origen (I can quote him below as well on this), is that its literal meaning (eternal hellfire) might be beneficial for some (the spiritually immature), and the spiritual meaning (universal salvation) for others (the spiritually mature). Every universalist after Origen seems to follow this line of thought. Origen even goes so far as to say it’s ok to speak DECEPTIVELY to some, in order to keep them from sinning!

          So what we find in Nyssen is that he has definite passages in his homilies that seem to imply an eternal hell, but very few passages in his very serious theological works that imply an eternal hell, and a great abundance of passages that explicitly state that all will be saved. Hence, the hypothesis that he is tailoring what he says to his audience fits quite well here. And we should count the Catechetical Oration as a serious theological work, since it wasn’t a sermon, but a handbook for priests to use for catechizing others, and he specifically says that not everything in the book will be useful to all people.

          Now, who was Gregory’s audience for “On Infants’ Early Deaths”? It was a governor named Hierius. Although I did see someone argue that this governor was theologically well-informed, Gregory doesn’t seem to congratulate him on his progress in holiness or theology. He seems to congratulate him on being a good governor and being able to make cogent arguments. Is it possible Gregory judged him a little too immature to explicitly hear about the universal hope? Quite possibly. Dealing with civil magistrates was never the ideal place to drop the universalism bomb. Look what happened with Justinian. Gregory addresses another Hierius in Letter 7 who is ALSO a governor, and some scholars seem to think THIS Hierius was not even a Christian, which again, would be good reason for Nyssen to keep things under wraps. I didn’t see any chronological conflict as to why these two people couldn’t be the same person. See here. https://books.google.com/books?id=yPj61OkEsXoC&q=hierius#v=snippet&q=hierius&f=false

          All that being said, I agree that only the passages about Judas seems to imply eternal damnation, the other only implies the existence of hell, which all universalists believe in in the first place.

          So let’s take a look at the passage in its most “infernalist” translation. This is from Ludlow:

          “On account of the depth of the ingrained evil, the chastisement in the way of purgation will be extended into infinity.”

          Now, one possibility is that Gregory the universalist intended this passage to be a 100 percent “infernalist” passage. That would be ok, as long as what I said above holds up. But there is still a problem with the infernalist interpretation. The statement seems half universalist and half infernalist. Gregory uses the word kathareos, which specifically means purgatorial or purifying. So how is Judas’s purification going to go on for eternity? As Ludlow says, it makes the best sense given Gregory’s eschatology as a whole, and the passage itself, to take the word “infinity” (apeiron) literally (just translate it as “infitite,” not “indefinite,” as Ramelli does), but used HYPERBOLICALLY. Purgation or purification can’t go on forever. That doesn’t make any sense. The use of purgation fits perfectly with all of Gregory’s other universalist passages.

          Also, as David Bentley Hart pointed on the OLD version of this page (when he first came out as a universalist, I believe), he cited a scholar that said that every time Gregory uses the word apeiros (infinite), it’s actually a reference to the God himself, and nothing else. I don’t know if this holds up, but it would make sense that Judas’s purgation will extend INTO God himself, and this fits quite well with Gregory’s concept of epektasis (Maximus’ “ever moving rest”). So perhaps this is actually a veiled reference TO universal salvation. Gregory doesn’t go out of his way here to preach it, but as in his homilies, he might hint at it from time to time.

          Now for some quotes from Origen that illustrate what I talked about earlier:

          “I am worried about speaking; I am worried about not speaking. For the
          sake of the worthy, I want to speak so as not to be guilty of defrauding of
          the Word [to] those able to hear it. Because of the unworthy, I hesitate to
          speak, for the reasons mentioned, so as not to throw holy things to dogs
          and cast pearls before swine.” (Dial. 15.8-15)

          “Paul is thus acting as a wise steward of the word. And when he comes to
          the passages in which he has to speak about God’s goodness, he expresses
          these things in a somewhat concealed and obscure way for the sake of
          certain lazy people lest perchance, as we have said, “they despise the riches
          of his goodness and patience and forbearance and store up for themselves
          wrath on the day of wrath” (Rom 2.4–5).” (Comm. in Rom. 5.17)

          “When guiding children we speak to children, and we do not speak to them
          as we do to mature people but we speak to them as children who need
          training, and we deceive children when we frighten children in order that it
          may halt the lack of education in youth. And we frighten children when we
          speak through words of deceit (ἀπάτης λόγους) on account of what is basic
          to their infancy, in order that through the deceit we may cause them to be
          afraid and to resort to teachers both to declare and to do what is applicable
          for the progress of children. We are all children to God and we need the discipline of children (πάντες ἐσμέν παιδία τῷ θεῷ καὶ δεόμεθα ἀγωγῆς
          παιδίων). Because of this, God, since he cares about us, deceives us, even
          if we do not perceive the deceit beforehand, lest as those who have gone
          beyond the infant we may no longer be trained through deceit but through
          acts. In one way the child is led into fear, in another way into progressing in
          age and crossing beyond the age of childhood.” (Hom. in Jer. 19.15.4-5)

          “It is not right to explain to everybody all that might be said on this subject.
          Nor is this an appropriate moment. It is risky to commit to writing the
          explanation of these matters, because the multitude does not require any
          more instruction than that punishment is to be inflicted upon sinners. It is
          not of advantage to go on to the truths which lie behind it because there are
          people who are scarcely restrained by fear of everlasting punishment from
          the vast flood of evil and the sins that are committed in consequence of it.” (Cels. 6.26)

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Does anyone know any detailed responses to Stewart Felker’s arguments.

    Specifically here:
    https://semitica.wordpress.com/2020/01/20/eternal-punishment-in-the-septuagint-and-new-testament-a-response-to-ilaria-ramelli-and-david-bentley-hart/

    I know Christian universalism doesn’t necessarily “rely” on the word aionios, but it would be helpful me (and maybe others?!?) to settle that it’s main meaning is not strictly ‘eternal’. The biggest struggle for me is not the word’s ambiguity but that the word when clearly used on things that are temporary seem to imply that it is used as an hyperbole. Does that refute the definition ‘indefinite period’ and that it’s actual meaning is eternal except when used in an obvious figurative way? And if not why ? (On a slightly related note)Why is aidios timoria not the same or very similar word as aionios kolasis ? Most debates and articles ( from the anti-universalist side) I read about this issue seem to imply that they were used almost interchangeably. Not in Scripture but other works in Greek of course( I think one of them was Maccabees but I can’t be sure).

    Sorry for knowledgeable readers if that it is obvious that he is wrong, I have hard trying to see logical fallacies, false assertions and overall understanding what is being read. When debates get heated or long posts with no good critical responses I often end up more confused than when first starting out. If anyone can help me why his reasons are wrong that will be great, maybe even help me with properly reading and understanding arguments for a later time.

    P.s. I have other questions but they are better for later time.

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    • I don’t think this article you cite is a bad article. And I do think Ramelli overstates her case sometimes, and isn’t even consistent. For example, she sometimes quotes the gospel of John, which uses aionios to describe the life of the redeemed, and she translates it as “eternal life”! What? haha. That seems to defeat her argument, unless she would say that because it’s life based in God, it can be eternal. But still, this seems inconsistent to me. Nevertheless, she DOES cite Tobit as initiating the phrase “topos aionios,” which she thinks implies the world to come and not a length of time. This seems to make sense. I’m not sure if she can sustain that aionios NEVER means eternal when it’s not applied to God (that’s quite a high standard to maintain!), but what she says seems generally plausible.

      Interestingly enough, I had a conversation about this with an Orthodox Jewish woman, very well studied in Talmud, etc. (yes, this is unusual for an Orthodox Jewish woman) who was in my chaplaincy program. She confirmed Hart and Ramelli by saying that the Hebrew word Olam definitely means “the age to come,” and not eternal. And this is the word Aionios translates in the LXX, etc. In fact, when I said that most Christians believe that sinners will suffer eternally apart from God, she seemed absolutely astounded and completely appalled. I guess most Orthodox Jews don’t think non-Jews are going to suffer eternally. From probing her as much as I could, it seems that most Orthodox Jews think that non-Jews will suffer some form of eventual annihilation, not eternal torment, although if I remember, she never completely ruled out universalism either. She was also familiar with Hart’s quip that some Jews believed the wicked would suffer for an 11 month period in the afterlife. So there is definitely truth to Ramelli and Hart.

      Have you seen Fr Aidan’s article here? He covers a lot of ground on this issue. https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/sometimes-eternity-aint-forever-aionios-and-the-universalist-hope/

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      • Hi Mark,

        Thanks for your reply !

        I don’t think the article is bad, he has not written it in the classical bring out the pitch forks and torches article and writes a more It’s more that I was wondering if he has made valid complaints or not.

        I have heard Ramelli has been known to overstate her case . I haven’t seen it in her work and I thought her work was very consistent but maybe that’s because I’m not a scholar. 😉

        Yes, that is a common belief of eschatology among Orthodox Jews and one quite close to scripture (with some odd exceptions). Most Jewish thought concerning final judgement is either annihilation of all wicked and unsaved sinners or the most unrepentant destroyed while the rest get punished for limited time and join the redeemed. Surprisingly it is almost very similar to the early church fathers, who till around 400 a.d. believed in annihilation (to be honest has far more support from scripture than ECT excluding universalism) or some form of universal restoration. It is really around Augustine ( boy did that guy cause a lot of trouble) when ECT came firmly in.

        I breeze read the page but might have a closer look. Thanks for recomendation.

        I will respond back on your other points more tomorrow, as I only have time to write this for the moment.

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        • Hey everyone. I’m debating just paying the $25. I can’t find any free way to get the article but it looks like Ramelli has taken up an entire article giving a universalist interpretation of 1 Cor. 15, interacting with modern Pauline scholars in her exegesis. This seems exciting! If anyone can find a free version anywhere, let me know. https://brill.com/view/book/edcoll/9789004391512/BP000022.xml

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          • Also, analytic philosopher Joshua Rasmussen has a new popular-level novella out pushing the reader to consider universalism. His books on the cosmological argument have received rave reviews, so this might be interesting. I emailed him and he said he is now working a book on the nature of persons, and from what he said, I got the sense that it will reinforce this universalism. Weird that Hart the continentalist is also working on a book on the nature of consciousness that will reinforce universalism.

            https://invadinghell.com/

            I emailed him telling him to add Fr Aidan’s “readings in universalism” to his list of resources. Hopefully he will. Haha. He does have a link to one of his professional papers arguing universal salvation but I haven’t read it.

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  8. johnjlamb says:

    This lady has a nice universalist.

    Like

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