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RethinkingHell post

August 11, 2014

(To the members of the RethinkingHell facebook group)

I have a hypothetical new position on the final punishment triangle that I’d love some feedback on, somewhere between classic Annihilationism and Universalism. For sake of just having a name to refer to it as, I’m for now calling it Reconstructionism. (This probably already exists as a view somewhere, but as I’m not very well read I don’t know about it – I’m probably just re-inventing the wheel)


I haven’t actually made up anything out of whole cloth, but I do think this view does answer some persistent conundrums in Christianity that no other views I know of do as a whole.

I’m submitting this knowing that no one will agree in total, and many will probably tell me I’m off my rocker (but at least my experience with this group indicates that you will tell me that in a polite manner ;). This is not //about// conditionalism, but as you will see it //requires// conditionalism. It may also require physicalism.

I think this view solves (or at least goes towards solving) the Calvinism vs Arminianism debate, as well as the unpardonable sin, and many others.

This is mainly a different view on the nature of man. That’s what I’d love feedback on.

I call the entire concept regarding the nature of man the “national soul” model, and to put it’s hiddenness in perspective, I think it is found in a similar way that the trinity is found, i.e. not through direct statements but pieced together from the whole. Also, it is based upon a figure of speech I see used in the bible a lot (and even in modern life) but I’ve never seen anyone else talk about. I call it “spiritual equivocation”.

Usually equivocation is bad, i.e. You don’t usually want to use the same word in two different ways in similar contexts and mean different things without being perfectly clear. I think, however, that God is actually doing that in scripture . He’s in charge and he gets to reveal things however he wants.

Before I explain exactly what I mean, I want to point out as an example another similar figure of speech that God does often use (and about which there is at least some agreement on) : the judgment imagery of clouds. (here’s where the preterists may get on board)

I can paste a section on “coming on clouds” imagery following this posting for people into the details if needed. Short version is this: the bible uses the imagery of coming on clouds to mean an earthly government or ruling institution coming to an end by way of God’s destructive judgment.

It is a literary device that is unique to the bible and has a specific function that is hidden unless one is well versed in what’s gone on before in the bible, kind of like how the older humor in Bugs Bunny is hidden from the children viewing it.

So, the bible contains literary devices that, although aren’t always apparent at a surface level reading, are actually there and convey real and important concepts.

The figure of speech I’m calling “spiritual equivocation” is likewise somewhat hidden, but I think both real and important.

Spiritual equivocation in general, and in the bible, is when you talk about / to a person using normal language like “you are this”, or “he is that”, but what you are actually talking about is the current “spirit” or attitude, or set of assumptions that is directing that person’s current words or actions.

Take, for example Jesus’ conversations with Peter :

Mat 16:15-17 NET v 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” v 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” v 17 And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven!
Mat 16:21-23 NET v 21 From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. v 22 So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him: “God forbid, Lord! This must not happen to you!” v 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.”

So which was it? Was Peter blessed or was he the devil? I think Jesus was obviously talking towards Peter’s stance on correcting him. He was talking to Peter and not actually to Satan directly, although he was pointing out that the attitude was ultimately of satanic origin.

I think that a lot of scripture may do that, leading to many seemingly contradictory stances that different people take, like Arminianism vs Calvinism.

So how does my view solve the Calvinism/Arminianism problem? I see the human soul to be like a nation, specifically, the nation of Israel as described in the bible. When a Calvinist insists that once a person is saved they are always saved (I’m simplifying the argument for brevity), that means that if God has deemed fit to give that person the gift of the desire to be obedient to Christ, that is like the presence of one righteous person in a nation that God would otherwise bring to judgment.

The following verses are very similar and suggest at first glance that one can lose their salvation.

Eph 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

1 Cor 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous[a] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[b]

Gal 5:19
Rev 21:7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Although it doesn’t actually say you can be saved, then start acting like this and lose it, we all know people who were apparently Christians and then fall away, living like the world.

The following verses suggest that you can’t lose your salvation:

John 6:39, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.”
John 3:16,
John 10: 7-28, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.”

And this one suggests that you can’t lose salvation, but you appear to.

1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.

Spiritual equivocation solves the dilemma by saying a person can, like OT Israel, consist of God honoring parts (based on repentant belief in Christ), and evil (selfish/self oriented) parts. From man’s perspective, the person is like one coherent nation (Israel) that can ebb and flow, be ruled righteously and unrighteously. But from God’s perspective, each attitude (each individual Israelite) can be talked towards and judged individually. That’s why a person can sin against Christ and be forgiven (outward actions that others can see) when one repents when true faith takes over, but the individual attitude or action that a person does (a true rebellion against the holy spirit inside them) cannot be forgiven and won’t escape destruction in the end.

Basically, Reconstructionism is the view that for those who are chosen (have varying degrees of belief in Christ), the parts of them that are not honoring to God will be annihilated, and their soul will be “reconstructed” out of their Christ-believing parts, filling out their God given personality and talents. The varying degrees coincides with the varying degrees of punishment until all the sin is annihilated. At first this may sound like a form of universalism, but of course there’s no guarantee that Christ has acted in everyone’s souls. It’s probably more like a form of inclusivism, although one that blurs the line between the church and the “unchurched”.

Here’s the pragmatic difference as seen in the “backslider”: Arminianism holds that the backslider is saved, then unsaved (and some might then get saved again etc – I’ll have to write something about Hebrews 6 here). Calvinism holds that if the backsliding is bad enough, maybe you really weren’t saved when you thought you were. Reconstuctionism holds that, while you were faithful you were making progress on your soul, and now that you’re backsliding you’re wasting your talents, but when you become actively believing again, the progress resumes (from a new unique perspective).

The benefit as I see it (if it turns out to be correct) is it prevents us from theologically “resting on our laurels” seeing as each of us will experience the “burning away” of our sins (as per Isaiah’s coal to the lips), and it prevents us from “writing off” the adamantly non-Christians in our lives, as they may inadvertently possess faith in Christ that just needs to be encouraged to help them combat their predominant sinful attitudes and beliefs.
Anyway, this is just an idea in progress… there’s more about it from a couple years ago here:

What do you think? Should I be on the lookout for crowds with torches and pitchforks?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2014 3:02 pm

    I think there is some truth to what you are saying Chris. Lets talk some time 🙂

    • Dave permalink*
      August 14, 2014 6:06 pm

      I’m glad you think that way, but I’m not Chris – he saw this post and then posted it on My name is Dave.

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