Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicked!

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Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicked!

Postby Alex Smith » Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:09 am

Lake of Fire? Eternal Damnation? Who will go to Hell? Is there such a place?

Hear three experts debate the topic of Hell on Monday, November 12 at 7 p.m. in the Johnson Center Sanctuary. Featuring proponents Dr. Duane Watson, Dr. Thomas Talbott, and Dr. Jerry Walls. Moderator is Allen Plug.

More event details:
http://www.malone.edu/worldview-forum/hell.php

Video!!:
http://new.livestream.com/maloneuniversity/hell

Talbott's powerpoint presentation!:
THE CASE FOR UNIVERSALISM.pptx
Talbott's powerpoint
(4.08 MiB) Downloaded 235 times

Talbott wrote:The first eleven slides are the actual presentation that I made. But I in fact made up 22 slides, hoping to use some of the others in the ensuing discussion (although this turned out to be inconvenient) and also hoping to have these available for other occasions. So I enclose all 22 slides, most of which merely repeat, of course, material that I have published elsewhere.



JRP edits to add a topical timestamp map. Be aware that some or all browsers may only be able to "click" on one minute eleven second increments (Jason's was like that), so you may have to 'underclick' by a minute or so to get ahead of the portion you want.

0:00 host introduction and essay
2:22 moderator introduction and essay

8:46 Jerry Walls intro autobiography
11:07 Tom Talbott intro autobiography
15:40 Duane Watson intro autobiography

18:14 Jerry's presentation starts (mostly about how all three sides see clear scriptural warrant)
32:44 Jerry starts main argument (three philosophical considerations, two he recognizes in favor of universalism)
36:11 Jerry's argument on free will and conclusion

39:08 Tom's presentation starts (also mostly about how all three sides see clear scriptural warrant)
43:50 Tom's 3 Inconsistent Propositions (with scriptural support, logical variants and results)

1:01:25 Duane's presentation starts
1:01:30 Duane's main argument data begins (first two observations from NT data)
1:07:30 3rd observation about destruction in NT
1:10:00 4th observation about effects and duration of eschatological fire
1:11:50 how annihilationists put observations together
1:13:50 annihilationism in church history
1:17:44 conclusion with quote from C. S. Lewis

(note: all three guys are Arminians and big fans of Lewis)

1:18:25 Tom asks Duane a question
1:23:43 Jerry asks Tom a question
1:26:06 Duane asks Jerry a question

QUESTION FLOOR CONGA BEGINS :mrgreen:
1:29:25 for Tom, about vengeance in RevJohn (floor mic doesn't work at first but questioner starts over)
1:32:30 for Jerry, about remembering sinners (ECT compared to anni)
1:34:35 for Tom and Jerry, about Paschal's wager (but mostly answered by Tom for obvious reasons)
1:37:41 for Tom, about Apostle's Creed descent into hell
1:39:35 for Jerry, about two ways of suffering (is Jerry talking about active punishment or consequential suffering)
1:41:00 for Jerry, why do finite sins merit infinite punishment? (this is after Jerry says he isn't talking about active punishment)
1:41:55 for all three, what is the gospel?
1:44:00 for Jerry, will not or cannot choose to repent?
1:45:20 for Tom, doesn't universalism negate choice?--and what need for being good in this life?
1:49:30 for Duane, about eternal effect of death vs. ongoing life (why two meanings of eternal; if life is continuously unending why isn't punishment continuously unending?)
1:52:10 for Jerry, is fate of souls in hell ever finally sealed?
1:53:17 for Tom, in light of God's justice how can life of sin allow eternal life?
1:55:14 for Duane, if being born again is figurative why isn't eternal destruction figurative? Also, if humans are annihilated why aren't beast, false prophet, Satan and maggots annihilated?


Clarification: Tom has said that he'll try to answer questions addressed to him in this thread. (Normal forum rules)
Last edited by Alex Smith on Sat Nov 24, 2012 1:16 pm, edited 6 times in total.
Reason: Attached Talbott's PowerPoint presentation; added a timestamp map
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby revdrew61 » Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:39 am

Have listened to the intros so far - EXCELLENT stuff. When I grow up, I want to be Tom Talbott!! :lol:
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby JasonPratt » Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:20 am

It's TT vs. JW again! Yay! (I like Jerry Walls, had a great time chatting with him and Tom after the debate with Mr. Fudge in Nashville earlier this year. I like Mr. Fudge, too, btw; we just didn't talk as much. :) )
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby pog » Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:19 am

Very good (though very quiet to begin with).

Talbott's logical argument is very strong.

It seems that Wall's only issue is the question of free will. But I don't understand why he cannot believe that all people freely come to God? After all, I assume that he believes that heaven isn't risky, nor that God's consistent goodness means that God isn't free?
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby JasonPratt » Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:45 am

When Tom and I were discussing the matter with Jerry after the debate in Nashville this summer, Jerry seemed quite buffaloed by the notion that God would be disrespecting our freedom of will by allowing us to get into a state where we destroyed our freedom of will--not even counting the very salient question of whether it's possible for us to do that when our freedom of will occurs only at all by the continual action of God!

I haven't had time to watch the new debate yet, but I'm curious as to whether Jerry has modified any on that.
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby pog » Sat Nov 17, 2012 9:16 am

Hmmm ... I just don't get how free will necessitates hell, and it seems that the only reason that Wall isn't a universalist is this sticking point. I wish someone asked him about freedom in heaven, since it seems that to be consistent Wall has to believe that people will go in and out of heaven/ hell for all time. I suspect that he will change his mind in time :)
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Cindy Skillman » Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:04 am

I tried to watch but my flash player crashed twice. I may have to go into town somewhere and download it if I want to see it all. I CAN see how someone would say that free will negates a sure universalism, though not a hopeful one. But if you believe in the death deadline, it makes more sense -- the free will thing, I mean.

HOWEVER I cannot see how anyone could stand behind the free will argument after reading Tom's book carefully. His arguments are so strong as to seem completely irrefutable to me.
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby AllanS » Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:01 pm

Nice to be reminded of the arguments. The one like best: If it's not heretical to believe Point 1 (God wants to save us all), and if it's not heretical to believe Point 2 (God achieves his purposes), how can it be heretical to believe both 1 and 2?
Warning! Amateur at work. Usual disclaimers apply. Author accepts no responsibility for injuries sustained while reading this post.
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Paidion » Sat Nov 17, 2012 6:44 pm

Nice to be reminded of the arguments. The one like best: If it's not heretical to believe Point 1 (God wants to save us all), and if it's not heretical to believe Point 2 (God achieves his purposes), how can it be heretical to believe both 1 and 2?


Well, Calvinists would disagree with point 1, and though they wouldn't call it "heresy", they might call it "heterodox."
Arminianists would disagree with point 2, and though they wouldn't call it "heresy", they might call it "heterodox."

So maybe: "heterodox + heterodox = heresy." :roll:
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Paidion » Sat Nov 17, 2012 6:56 pm

I tried to watch but my flash player crashed twice. I may have to go into town somewhere and download it if I want to see it all.


I successfully downloaded it, using "DownloadHelper". But I thought it had not completely downloaded because there were only 299 MB in the MP4 file. I tried running it, and neither Windows Media Player nor Quick Time would play it. I received the message from both that it was incompatible. So I tried downloading it several times more and it always stopped at 299 MB. Then I got the idea that maybe it did download fully, but there was a problem with it being an MP4 file.

I have a program which will convert files. So on a hunch, I converted to a WMV file. This caused the size of the file to increase to 2.46 GB, which is closer to the size given online. When I then ran the video using the WMV file, it worked perfectly! And it included the entire debate.
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Alex Smith » Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:37 pm

Paidion wrote:
I tried to watch but my flash player crashed twice. I may have to go into town somewhere and download it if I want to see it all.


I successfully downloaded it, using "DownloadHelper". But I thought it had not completely downloaded because there were only 299 MB in the MP4 file. I tried running it, and neither Windows Media Player nor Quick Time would play it. I received the message from both that it was incompatible. So I tried downloading it several times more and it always stopped at 299 MB. Then I got the idea that maybe it did download fully, but there was a problem with it being an MP4 file.

I have a program which will convert files. So on a hunch, I converted to a WMV file. This caused the size of the file to increase to 2.46 GB, which is closer to the size given online. When I then ran the video using the WMV file, it worked perfectly! And it included the entire debate.
I reckon VLC would've played it :ugeek: but glad you got it to work anyway.
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Alex Smith » Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:54 pm

Talbott has said he's happy to visit this thread to discuss any questions regarding the debate and/or powerpoint!
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby TotalVictory » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:47 am

Alex:
Shall we ask our questions here, or instead on a thread in Talbott's designated section so to keep all his stuff in the same location??

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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby JasonPratt » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:47 am

We should probably move this thread to Tom's category anyway; I hadn't even noticed it wasn't there already! :lol:

(Edited to add: for guests or members reading this thread later, originally it was posted under "Studies" / "Film, Movie & Video Clips". I just moved it to "Featured" / "Dr. Thomas Talbott" / "Tom's Forums", but left a shadow topic back in the other for people who are used to finding it there.)
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Sherman » Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:23 am

In the question time, a young man asked Talbot something along the lines of:

If Revelation was written to John’s 1st century audience of persecuted believers, what kind of apologetic or ethic would you use to explain passages in Revelation that speak of a call for or promise of “Vengence”, like Rev. 6:10 - “judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood”, later in 19:2 – “avenged on her the blood of his servents”? If the 1st century audience is looking for “vengence” wouldn’t a belief in UR empty these passages of their power to satiate the desire for vengence?

Talbot answered it with a question of how the man deals with passages that affirm UR, thus not directly answering the question. My first thought though was:

1) Revelation is apocalyptic literature and thus not necessarily meant to be taken “literally” or didactically, but to be interpreted like a parable or a movie, seen to affirm large overarching principles. And recall that Revelation is interpreted from at least 4 significantly different viewpoints – futuristically, historically, preteristically, and spiritually. Personally, I do not look to Revelation to “prove” any doctrine of scripture – but to illustrate what I believe scripture affirms elsewhere.

2) Concerning the word “vengence”, as Christians God calls us to forgive our enemies, even love our enemies. The only thing that a person who loves another desires for those who are estranged is for them to be reconciled, not punished, but forgiven by God. “Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Christian Martyrs die not only for their love for God but because of their love for others! Interpreting Revelation futuristically AND interpreting these passages as a call for vengeance on Individuals, such just doesn’t make sense in the light of who we are called to be as Christians. On the other hand, if one interprets the movie Revelation from either a preterist, historical, or spiritualist view, as a call for vengence, they makes sense. Preterist calls for the destruction of the State of Rome which opposed the church – and this happened. Historical – any State or organization opposed to the church, well, it is destroyed. And from a Spiritualist interpretation, all that is within us that is anti-Christ is ultimately destrotyed.

3) Even “IF” one insists on these passages being interpreted from a Futuristic view, ekdikeo, interpreted as “avenge” does not necessarily mean one is looking for retribution for wrongs done, but one of its meanings is to vidicate one’s right, do one justice, to protect, defend one person from another. Thus it could be that what is being promised is that God will ultimately
a. Make things right and
b. Show that the believers were “right” to have followed Jesus though it resulted in their martydom.

Mainly though, I do not look to Revelation as a foundation for any doctrine that I do not see as clearly revealed in the remainder of scripture. And I do not see ECT a clearly revealed in scripture elsewhere. Anyone else have thoughts on this question?
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Cindy Skillman » Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:02 pm

I thought this was particularly interesting, Sherman:

3) Even “IF” one insists on these passages being interpreted from a Futuristic view, ekdikeo, interpreted as “avenge” does not necessarily mean one is looking for retribution for wrongs done, but one of its meanings is to vidicate one’s right, do one justice, to protect, defend one person from another. Thus it could be that what is being promised is that God will ultimately
a. Make things right and
b. Show that the believers were “right” to have followed Jesus though it resulted in their martydom.


So basically, if this is the case, it would be a call for judgment (which is usually a good and desired thing in scriptural context -- though not ALWAYS a desired thing -- depends whether you're the good guy or the bad guy!) And to judge is to show (at least in one of the words I've studied -- so it seems it would be to show the truth. Hence, "Show the world that we were right to follow You." Cool! :D
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Sherman » Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:00 pm

Cindy Skillman wrote:I thought this was particularly interesting, Sherman:

3) Even “IF” one insists on these passages being interpreted from a Futuristic view, ekdikeo, interpreted as “avenge” does not necessarily mean one is looking for retribution for wrongs done, but one of its meanings is to vidicate one’s right, do one justice, to protect, defend one person from another. Thus it could be that what is being promised is that God will ultimately
a. Make things right and
b. Show that the believers were “right” to have followed Jesus though it resulted in their martydom.


So basically, if this is the case, it would be a call for judgment (which is usually a good and desired thing in scriptural context -- though not ALWAYS a desired thing -- depends whether you're the good guy or the bad guy!) And to judge is to show (at least in one of the words I've studied -- so it seems it would be to show the truth. Hence, "Show the world that we were right to follow You." Cool! :D


Yep, I thought that was pretty cool too. The main point though is that the concept of Christian martyrs crying out for the retributive judgement of others is just so outside of the gospel narrative that it doesn't make sense to interpret these passages calling for "vengence" that way, as a call for retributive "justice". I mean, I don't care how badly a loved one hurts me, the last thing I want is for them to punished, much less forever, or annihilated. But I do have a tremendous desire for their blinders to be taken off and for them to see the light as I've seen it, and to see that, well, I was right! ha ha. But of course this is couched in the desire for reconciliation with those whom I've loved.

I believe it is much more a cry for God to "Make Things Right"!
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby tomtalbott » Mon Nov 19, 2012 7:04 pm

Thanks for your reflections, Sherman. I think your answer to that first question I received was better than my own. When I watched the recording of the forum, I found myself wishing that I had explicitly made the same point that you make about Jesus commanding us to love our enemies as well as those who love us; it was simply not enough to refer vaguely to the Sermon on the Mount. When the questioner was prevented from asking a follow-up question, I also wish I had told him that I was interested in his further thoughts and had invited him to pursue the issue further by email.

A couple of additional points: First, the desire for vengeance or revenge in response to truly horrific acts of cruelty is indeed a natural human response, even among Christians. If John Couey had raped my own daughter when she was young and had buried her alive, as he did to poor little Jessica; and if I had an opportunity to do so, I might well have bludgeoned him to death (slowly) with a baseball bat. I’m not saying that this would have been right or the Christian thing to do. But even within a Christian context, there may be a place for giving butchers a taste of their own medicine—not because this satisfies the demands of justice, but because in some cases it may be the only sort of thing that might get their attention. Even so, however, nothing in the relevant texts about avenging persecution would equate such vengeance with unending torment.

Second, the language of retribution and that of correction often get mixed up in our ordinary ways of speaking, and the Bible is no different in this regard. In a context of vengeance and revenge, for example, a man might use the language of correction: e.g., “I’ll teach him a lesson he’ll never forget!” And in a context of correction, loving parents might use retributive-sounding language: e.g., “If you hit your little sister again, you’ll wish you hadn’t!” So you cannot infer the absence of a loving purpose from harsh language alone. For as Paul points out in the eleventh chapter of Romans, even God’s severest acts, including the hardening and blinding that came upon part of Israel, is an expression of his boundless mercy.

Anyway, thanks again for your reflections.

-Tom
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Sherman » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:54 am

Hi Tom, thanks for your reply. I thought you did an excellent job presenting UR in the debate and representing the values of grace and love that we so cherish. I wish they would have had more time, even another session or two, for further discussion.

How is your wife and family doing? Well, I pray.

Blessings,
Sherman
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby JasonPratt » Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:06 am

Incidentally, having now listened to Tom's and Jerry's presentation (working through Duane's), I'm pretty sure their presentation is practically identical (even in regard to particular major and minor points and quirks) to their presentations earlier this year in Nashville. So even though I wasn't able to post up notes on that debate yet, if you watch this video you won't be missing anything. :)

That includes Jerry's rather bizarre insistence that Tom claims the scriptures are utterly clear in their testimony about universalism being true. Tom wasn't claiming that before Nashville, didn't claim that at Nashville, and wasn't claiming it here. As Tom notes at the start of his presentation, he claims no more than Jerry does, namely that some portions of scripture clearly indicate his position while other portions appear to indicate other portions.

Either Jerry or Tom isn't paying enough attention to something that ought to be very obvious about Tom's presentation. :roll: (Edited to add: Jerry tries to claim Tom is "reversing himself" or "going back" at the start of Jerry's question for Tom, and Tom objects to that.)
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Username » Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:24 am

Hi Tom

I just wanted to wish you and your family well, and say thank you for The Inescapable Love of God. It is a wonderful book, and it has helped me more than I can say.

With love and blessings

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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby JasonPratt » Wed Nov 21, 2012 7:01 am

Having just finished the whole thing (and so providing a timestamp map in the initial threadpost now :) ), I think the most astonishing answer was Duane's final answer to the final question.

After leaning so hard on how immortal life is conditional on God and especially on loyalty to God (per the usual anni approach), Duane is asked why the beast and the prophet and Satan do not die if other sinners are annihilated: why does their torment continue "forever and ever"? (Worth noting that RevJohn says this, in the same mode of translation, about human followers, too. Duane appealed to RevJohn frequently for scriptural evidence in favor of his position, so he himself opened RevJohn for comments; I don't recall if he skipped around that particular saying about human sinners.)

I had expected him to answer the obvious anni fashion with, "Duh, they're annihilated, too," (but if they're being tormented forever they haven't been annihilated forever), or "Duh, they aren't real persons just typological personalizations of systems" (but then how could they be "tormented" in any way), or "Duh, they're tormented for an indistinctly long period of time which is what the phrase means, eons of the eons, before being annihilated." Which I'd be willing to buy, other things being equal.

His actual answer amounted to, "Duh, because that's Satan. He's super-evil so deserves more punishment." Which got a smattering round of happy applause.

And Duane's position wasn't that Satan and other super-evil persons deserve more punishment before being annihilated. The questioner followed up with something like, "But they don't ever die", AND DUANE AGREED WITH THAT! His explanation? Satan is inherently immortal.

:shock: :shock: :shock:
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby pog » Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:37 am

In case I don't get another chance, like JohnnyParker I just want to say thank you for your book The Inescapable Love of God. It was, along with this website and few other books, instrumental in my coming to a universalist position. Your logical argument in particular I see as very strong, and I also like your thoughts on free will. Thanks for taking the time and effort to study and write.
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Cindy Skillman » Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:14 pm

I would absolutely love to ask you a question, Tom, but between you and Robin and Gerry, I just can't think of any more questions to ask. I guess my only question would be, how can a thinking person not see that God will never discard any part of His good creation?

Thank you so very, very much for your absolutely gorgeous book!

Love in Jesus, Cindy
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby TotalVictory » Thu Nov 22, 2012 7:01 am

First of all Tom, very enjoyable to have you back here with us discussing these things. Some number of us have been praying for you in your personal/family issues of recent years, so it’s great to see you back. Please consider us here your soul mates and fellow travelers; lifting you up in your family suffering… And we all love your book.

Second, it’s both exhilarating and normalizing to hear your “real” voice (instead of your measured written voice). You suffer “senior moments”… and are overcome by some sort of nasal drainage issues -- right there in public. Wow Tom! I wanted you to be some sort of invincible and perfect voice, totally and completely in control! Perfect! -- You are not that, which is quite the relief in reality. Makes me love you even more actually… (For you are far more human this way…)

To the discussion…
This seems like a rather big step forward for the truth of Universal Reconciliation it seems to me. Walls (he is far more the opponent here than the annihilation dude Watson - nice as he is… Having been raised with annihilationism, I’d imagined it more reasonable than this man presents here… he basically just listed texts) clearly concedes all his arguments and retreats, as his main defense, to the supremacy of “free will”. THREE points are awarded here he claims! -- and why the aesthetic position earns only one point is a monstrous offense it seems to me…

So here you have both adversaries, both fielding their defense against Universalism, doing so as advocates against position #2 -- and doing so on the basis of “free will”. -- That seems to me a huge step in the right direction Tom. I’ve often gotten folks to this spot - that the issue really is one of free will - and asked them to give me a bible study on the topic of free will. Does God freely let us chose our own A) eternal torment or B) non existence.
No one can do it.

Which is really an amazing place to be since now we are (apparently) out from under the “umbrella” of A) the text, and B) the authority of tradition… (not that these are not incredibly important to us as well…) Both things which are held to be deeply respected and honored. So this amazes me that Walls confidently seeks solace for his position behind the wall of “free will”. So confident he gives it “three points”!!!

That tells us where the argument needs now to be directed…

All that said, why not go back and ponder the exact nature of what was going on as it’s recorded in Genesis at the tree. What was/is the basis of our rift (self created) with God? God said this… Satan (or who ever this snake was) said that. They are in conflict. What’s the issue they’re arguing/making claims about? I’m very much in the realm of speculation now, so this is just thought experiment territory…

Could it be that the central issue seems to revolve around our intense need/desire to experience autonomy and independence. But more, the source of our origins. And the nature of our continued existence. We’ve reluctantly agreed that we are not “free” to create the circumstances nor specifics of our existence, yet imagine we are “free” to cause our non-existence. Why is that? Why does it seem so “self-evident” to so many?

So the central temptation unmasked at the tree is to go our own way; to exist apart from God; to see ourselves as be all and end all; to assume responsibility for our own well-being. That sort of thing.

But God says No, that’s actually not the way reality works; if you separate from Me, you will die. We exist at HIS pleasure -- not our own. (Whether we exist FOR His pleasure is a bit of a different question I think…) (And the bible is a record of God demonstrating -- proving, that His reality is the only one...)

What I’m thinking then is that the belief that I can control my eternal non-existence is simply to fall for the original temptation to be the cause of my own autonomy; my own well-being; my own existence. It is a denial of the fact of our God caused and God chosen (He sure didn’t include US in His decision!) being at HIS pleasure. Not ours.

Or something like that.

I’m wondering if you’ve developed this idea or any other explanation for why we Christians largely believe God is somehow obligated to give us eternally what we’ve “chosen”??

Thanks
Bobx3

PS Oh -- and Happy Thanksgiving!!
"GOD COULD NOT HAVE MADE EARTHLY TIES SO STRONG TO BREAK THEM IN ETERNITY"
-- on a tombstone in a quiet cemetery near Savannah Georgia...
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Cindy Skillman » Thu Nov 22, 2012 7:40 pm

I think perhaps you have a point there, Bob. I've noticed also that the bible says precious little if anything about freedom of will. It seems to imply this, though. Joshua says, "Choose this day whom you will serve." Elijah says much the same thing. Our personal experience certainly seems to be one of freedom of will.

Yet Paul also has a point, in that he says, "I have discovered this law: To me, the one desiring to do the right, to me the wrong always lies near" (more or less, quoting very loosely.) And the good news is that the law of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. The law of sin and death is, imo, this "law" that Paul has discovered . . . that though he loves the law of God, he is in bondage to the law of sin and death. And that it is the law of life in Christ Jesus that sets us free from this law of sin, which leads to death.

But we ALL want to do what we see as right, whether right for ourselves or just right as society perceives rightness. Only we can't do either one. So in that sense we are NOT free. It is only in Christ that we BECOME free. And once we do truly become FREE, we will choose that which we WANT to do; that which is in our best interest; and we will be ABLE to do that, having soundness of mind and soundness of knowledge and being no longer in bondage to the law of sin and death. It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.

Based on that, it seems to me that only those who HAVE chosen Christ are even capable of exercising freedom of the will. So the free will point in defense of choosing eternal death or eternal conscious torment is a moot point. It is only in Christ that we can experience freedom.
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby dirtboy » Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:32 am

Wom, Tom gave an AWESOME presentation!!!!!!! :D :D
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby pog » Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:08 am

To be fair, though, cindy, I think a lot of the commands (and God's upset with people) imply, and can only be really understood in the light of, at least a degree of genuine human moral freedom. In that sense the bible is saturated with the view that people have freedom (of some sort).
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby TotalVictory » Fri Nov 23, 2012 7:04 am

It’s not specifically my intention to renew the freewill debate about which Tom has written so well. Tom has talked about the limits of free will - not about it’s irrelevance or it’s unimportance.
For example here:
http://www.evangelicaluniversalist.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=205

So rather my question is directed towards the hubris (excessive pride or self-confidence...) of humans who imagine that their freedom extends beyond it’s limits; who fail to accept those limits; who deny those limits. And I’m suggesting that this failure relates specifically to the embrace of the very same premises whose embrace lead our Edenic parents (whoever they were) to sin in the first place.

Namely, a desire to escape the limits inherent in our own creatureliness. To be the cause of our own existence and sustenance. To somehow resent perhaps those very limits and curse God for building a world that contains them (ie contains our limits).

Now to be sure it’s pretty awkward to paint a picture of an opponents view that is explicitly linked to his (our) human sin. But I guess that’s exactly what I’m doing -- or trying to do. “That idea is a manifestation of our embrace of the flawed premises that lead to sin in the first place” is not an entirely winsome line is it!!

So yes, of course God wants us to “choose you this day...” but that need not necessitate the choice of permanent torture or annihilation. It is that such a choice leads to destruction, which causes God pain even as it causes us pain. Surely we’re not saying that God warns only of ECT or annihilation; it seems clear to me He warns of suffering and anguish that result from certain choices.

Bobx3
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Paidion » Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:31 am

Based on that, it seems to me that only those who HAVE chosen Christ are even capable of exercising freedom of the will. So the free will point in defense of choosing eternal death or eternal conscious torment is a moot point. It is only in Christ that we can experience freedom.


It seems obvious that everyone has free will, that is, if they are in a situation where they may choose X or not X, they have the ability to choose either one.

Now I realize that Christ said that people are slaves to sin, and that whom the Son has set free is free indeed. Yet even a slave has the ability to choose. A cruel master might beat a slave if he refuses to obey. Yet that slave has the ability to choose NOT to obey — and face the consequences.

Some non-Christians who were addicted to alcohol have been able to quit drinking, or to control it. Some who are addicted to smoking have been able to cease smoking permanently.

Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)

However, I agree that Christians have the enabling grace of God to assist them, whereas non-Christians don't. So there is a far greater likelihood that Christians will be able to live a more consistently good life.
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby tomtalbott » Sat Nov 24, 2012 11:30 am

I want to thank all of my friends here for your many thoughts and prayers over the past couple of years. My wife seems completely recovered from her bout of breast cancer, and her 95-year-old mother passed on to a better life last December. Because my mother-in-law was in need of constant care (and surveillance) for many years; because the family chose to care for her alternately in our home and in the homes of two of my wife’s brothers; and because my wife has been tied down for a long time with family responsibilities in addition to her battle with cancer, we made considerable travel plans for this past year and the coming year.

Also, as I continue to grow older, I still have a number of writing projects that I want to complete, not the least of which is the second edition of The Inescapable Love of God. I recently completed a 12,000 word essay on Heaven and Hell for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which I expected to be available before now, and I’m still hoping to write a book on the topic of freewill. So my time for additional conversations remains rather limited. I plan to respond further to some of the points raised in this discussion thread. But I also feel compelled to call your attention to an apology I have written on my own website concerning my inability to respond to as many communications as I would like. You can find it at the following URL:

http://www.willamette.edu/~ttalbott/contact.html

Thanks again for all of your thoughts and prayers.

-Tom
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Username » Sat Nov 24, 2012 11:55 am

Hey Tom

That is wonderful news about your wife. My own wife has just come through another cancer scare, having had a mastectomy 14 years ago. Sir, you are a blessing to us all here.

Thank you

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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Cindy Skillman » Sat Nov 24, 2012 2:23 pm

Hi, Brothers -- I guess I didn't express myself very well, because I don't think I disagree with any of what you three have said.

Yes, I agree that I can choose whether or not I commit this or that particular sin. However until I have reached complete freedom in Christ, I can't choose whether or not I will EVER commit sin. If I COULD choose that, well then, I DO choose it right now! :lol: Just a couple of days ago I fell prey to an "outburst of wrath" upon discovering one of my dogs on the picnic table chowing down on the bread I had only JUST set there to cool a bit! I barely turned my head and she wasn't even close when I set it down, but there she was!!! Aaargh!!! I was soooo angry. My husband and everyone else thought it was hilarious when I told them what had happened. :evil: He pointed out what I of course knew, that she is "just" an animal. But really, it's not as if it had been a squirrel. SHE did know better.

Anyway I'm getting off track. The point is that I was out of line. (note -- I didn't hit the dog -- didn't want to -- I'm not THAT mean!) But, I'd never have acted that way if anyone but the dog had been around and I would be ashamed for anyone to have seen (or heard!) me. :oops: But in a very real sense, I did not consciously CHOOSE to sin. It just sort of . . . happened. In order NOT to do that, I'll have to watch myself and consciously CHOOSE NOT to sin.

So, I guess my point was that I think we progressively grow into freedom of will. My littlest grandson does have a will (which he's not entirely responsible for as of yet). He is very good at saying NO! But he doesn't have a lot of freedom. He can SAY no, but he doesn't get what he demands. He can hit his sister, but what he really wants -- that is, to feel good instead of cranky and angry, is beyond his little abilities. He is not free to live by the Spirit of God or even by the dictates of his conscience. He's largely a slave to his immediate desires and impulses. As he grows he will have both more freedom and also more responsibility. (I'm speaking only on a human scale here -- not trying to imply any spiritual maturation process in the natural development of a child, though of course that can be concurrent.) So while he is now "free" to do whatever he can do, he can't actually DO much. And the thing he, and everyone else, truly desires -- joy, or at least happiness -- is beyond his grasp. He doesn't even know how to PURSUE happiness beyond the next few moments.

In the same way, the natural man is slave to his natural desires and impulses. He may, as a mature adult mortal human being, choose whether or not to harm another person. But what he truly desires -- to achieve happiness and (typically) immortality with that happiness, is beyond his ability to even know HOW to pursue. He is a slave to this natural realm and however he may try, there is only one way out of that slavery -- by the strength of Another. He needs a champion. He cannot save himself from sin. Yes of course he can choose whether or not to smoke or drink or fool around with wanton women. But he cannot choose whether or not to sin at all.

Yes, God is angry with the wicked every day. And He was angry with King David, who chose to do a very wicked thing, for which he paid dearly for the rest of his life. But David resorted to his God when he was made to see his wickedness, and that is what all sinners must do, because that and that alone is the way to freedom.

I still don't know whether I'm making any sense here to anyone beyond myself. :lol: Let me try another example . . .

If my little grandson hits his older sister in my presence, then I AM angry with him. I'm not angry because I think he is ready to control his impulses, but because it is wrong of him to hit her and I want him to stop doing that. Can he help what he did? In a general sense, probably not -- he just isn't in control of himself yet. But my scolding and instruction and even my anger are meant to teach him the self control he needs to learn in order to behave in a loving manner in his relationships. It's not that I sit down and say to myself, "This boy deserves my anger because he's acted unrighteously and he consciously chose to sin." In fact, he probably DOES deserve my anger, but that's not why I'm angry with him. I'm angry because he's been unloving to his sister and I need him to stop.

And I should probably stop here too! Hopefully I've managed at least in small part to explain better what I meant. ;)

Love, Cindy
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby amy » Sat Nov 24, 2012 6:53 pm

So happy, Tom, to hear that your wife is doing well and that you will be finding time to write. I can't wait to read anything you write! Amy P.S. It was so nice to finally see you in person, on the last debate. I like you, nose drip and all! Love your sense of humor. :)
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby pog » Sun Nov 25, 2012 12:34 am

I think I understand you cindy, and I totally agree that our will is in a large part subject to various uncontrolled impulses ... Didn't Paul say something similar in one of his letters ...

All the best with the anger management (you're not the only one) :)
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby Melchizedek » Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:35 am

TotalVictory wrote:
That tells us where the argument needs now to be directed…

All that said, why not go back and ponder the exact nature of what was going on as it’s recorded in Genesis at the tree. What was/is the basis of our rift (self created) with God? God said this… Satan (or who ever this snake was) said that. They are in conflict. What’s the issue they’re arguing/making claims about? I’m very much in the realm of speculation now, so this is just thought experiment territory…

Could it be that the central issue seems to revolve around our intense need/desire to experience autonomy and independence. But more, the source of our origins. And the nature of our continued existence. We’ve reluctantly agreed that we are not “free” to create the circumstances nor specifics of our existence, yet imagine we are “free” to cause our non-existence. Why is that? Why does it seem so “self-evident” to so many?

So the central temptation unmasked at the tree is to go our own way; to exist apart from God; to see ourselves as be all and end all; to assume responsibility for our own well-being. That sort of thing.

But God says No, that’s actually not the way reality works; if you separate from Me, you will die. We exist at HIS pleasure -- not our own. (Whether we exist FOR His pleasure is a bit of a different question I think…) (And the bible is a record of God demonstrating -- proving, that His reality is the only one...)

What I’m thinking then is that the belief that I can control my eternal non-existence is simply to fall for the original temptation to be the cause of my own autonomy; my own well-being; my own existence. It is a denial of the fact of our God caused and God chosen (He sure didn’t include US in His decision!) being at HIS pleasure. Not ours.

Or something like that.


Thanks
Bobx3



This is an excellent observation and a very good point, Bob!
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby tomtalbott » Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:49 pm

Bobx3 wrote:
What I’m thinking then is that the belief that I can control my eternal non-existence is simply to fall for the original temptation to be the cause of my own autonomy; my own well-being; my own existence. It is a denial of the fact of our God caused and God chosen (He sure didn’t include US in His decision!) being at HIS pleasure. Not ours.

Or something like that.

I’m wondering if you’ve developed this idea or any other explanation for why we Christians largely believe God is somehow obligated to give us eternally what we’ve “chosen”??

I certainly agree with the general thrust of the above remarks, Bob. Like you, I hold that we no more choose (freely or otherwise) our eternal destiny than we choose our own birth (or choose to come into being in the first place). Both are gifts from God. Or, as St. Paul put it, our glorious destiny “depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy” (Rom. 9:16). But as you know, I also hold that our free choices play an essential role in the process whereby God eventually reconciles us to himself. As I put it in the debate, the consequences of our free choices are themselves a means of revelation that God uses to teach us the lessons we yet need to learn. In that way, salvation is more like a great discovery than an explicit matter of free choice.

As for why so many Christians believe that we have the power to separate ourselves from God forever, you may be right in supposing that many have succumbed to a temptation akin to the one that, according to the account in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden of Eden. But my own inclination has always been to explain this temptation philosophically in terms of an understandable conceptual confusion: the failure to see why a choice to separate oneself from God forever would be utterly unlike any other choice of which we have had some experience and why the very idea of such a choice is utterly incoherent in any case. You can find my own explanation of this matter in my entry on Universalism in Jerry Walls (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology, starting with the section entitled “Free Will and the Problem of Hell.” I make this and other writings available (in a pre-publication format) on my website at the following URL:

http://www.willamette.edu/~ttalbott/publications.html

I also discuss the origin of human sin and give a non-Augustinian interpretation of the Adam and Eve story in “Why Christians Should Not Be Determinists: Reflections on the Origin of Human Sin,” and I defend a Pauline conception of predestination unto glory (for the entire human race) in the book chapter entitled “Grace, Character Formation, and Predestination unto Glory.” And finally, I argue that human freedom should be understood as a reflection of divine freedom in “God, Freedom, and Human Agency,” which may be a bit on the technical side.

Incidentally, Bob, I cannot resist also commenting on the following:
Second, it’s both exhilarating and normalizing to hear your “real” voice (instead of your measured written voice). You suffer “senior moments”… and are overcome by some sort of nasal drainage issues -- right there in public. Wow Tom! I wanted you to be some sort of invincible and perfect voice, totally and completely in control! Perfect! -- You are not that, which is quite the relief in reality. Makes me love you even more actually… (For you are far more human this way…)

Yes, I certainly am human and certainly do have my own human foibles. The name I was unable to recall was that of the Reformed New Testament scholar John Murray, whom I have quoted incessantly and whose two-volume Commentary on Romans I know like the back of my own hand. His name was even included on one of the slides that I did not use. So I found it truly shocking that I was unable to recall such a familiar name. But quite apart from that unusual event, I am indeed a better writer than I am a public speaker, particularly in a formal setting. Jerry Walls, by contrast, is an excellent public speaker.

I can only hope, however, that you won’t be too disappointed to discover that I typically do feel rather “invincible” and “completely in control” when I am writing. [Hee! Hee!] I feel this way not because of any great virtue of my own, but because I really do believe, even as you, Cindy, and others here do, that we have all the better arguments on our side. We only need the time to recover them on particular occasions. When answering questions extemporaneously, one cannot even take ten minutes to gather one’s thoughts; one is therefore stuck with the first thing that happens to pop into one’s mind. But when writing, one is usually free to gather one’s thoughts, to make a judgment about the quality of what one says before submitting it, and to proceed as slowly and carefully as seems to befit the occasion.

Anyway, thank you, Bob, for your warm feelings and for your thoughtful remarks.

-Tom
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Re: Talbott in a Debate about the Eternal State of the Wicke

Postby james.goetz » Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:08 pm

Dear Tom,

Thank you for your debate and I am thrilled to hear that you can focus on a revised edition and a new book on free will. I look foward to reading these.

Blessings,

Jim
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