A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar

Is Hell Real?

March 24, 2023 Randy Knie & Kyle Whitaker Season 3 Episode 18
A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar
Is Hell Real?
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Who will be saved in the end? Does the Bible support eternal conscious torment, annihilationism, or ultimate reconciliation (or all three)? Can a good God condemn a majority of human beings who've ever lived to eternal hell? In this episode we tackle these questions and more, and we find out that Randy and Kyle don't quite agree on this one.

In this episode, we tasted both Kinnickinnic Whiskey by Great Lakes Distillery and Heaven's Door Distillery's Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

The resources mentioned in this episode are: 

  • C.S. Lewis: The Great Divorce
  • Rob Bell: Love Wins
  • David Bentley Hart: That All Shall Be Saved
  • Brad Jersak: Her Gates Will Never Shut
  • Event Horizon movie (don't watch it, it's terrible)

To skip the tasting, jump to 7:10.

You can find the transcript for this episode here.


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NOTE: This transcript was auto-generated by an artificial intelligence and has not been reviewed by a human. Please forgive and disregard any inaccuracies, misattributions, or misspellings.

Randy  00:06

I'm Randy, the pastor half of the podcast, and my friend Kyle is a philosopher. This podcast hosts conversations at the intersection of philosophy, theology, and spirituality. 

Kyle  00:15

We also invite experts to join us, making public space that we've often enjoyed off-air around the proverbial table with a good drink in the back corner of a dark pub.

Randy  00:24

Thanks for joining us, and welcome to A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar.

Kyle  00:32

So today, we're talking about Ultimate Reconciliation. This is one of those topics that has come up a couple of times on the show. And it's something that I think Randy has been itching to talk about a little bit. And you might know it better as universalism or Christian universalism, something like that, essentially, the idea that, eventually, this is a crude way of putting it, but eventually everyone makes it, eventually, everybody finds their way to God, in some sense, heaven, whatever you want to call it, nobody is ultimately finally condemned. And this is a, I guess, you could call it a hot button issue currently, or, you know, the last few years. But really, it's been kind of a hot button issue for the last couple, 1000 years and the church, it's got a long history, as we're gonna see. And you know, it's kind of an issue in the Scriptures themselves as well. And it's something that's not even specific to Christianity, it spans lots of different religious traditions thinking about what's going to happen to people after they die, and are some of them going to be punished or the way that they lived? And if so, how's that punishment gonna go? So that's what we're talking about today.

Randy  01:31

Fun times. Yeah. All right. This is something that I've wrestled with for a good long time. And I landed here a while ago. And it's another one of those things that because I'm a pastor, I can't, I really shouldn't talk about things that I believe on the podcast before it talked about it at church. So now my church knows that I believe this. And the funny reaction some had was like, well, Randy, like we've heard you talk without saying that you believe in Ultimate Reconciliation. But

Kyle  02:00

yeah, this is one of those things that it doesn't like it shouldn't, I guess, make you liberal or anything like that. And yet, it's kind of associated with that, hopefully, we'll talk about some of the reasons for that some prominent people who have been kind of cast out of evangelicalism as a result of taking a stance on this issue. But it's actually one of the places one of the few places probably where you're more in that direction than I am. Because I'm not I don't subscribe to this view. So we'll get to see a little bit of why we disagree about

Randy  02:25

that. Yeah, I was gonna say Do you subscribe to any afterlife? Belief?

Kyle  02:31

Not really. Not in the sense of if subscribed means I would defend it as though I had a confident belief about it. No. If I had to pick one of the main options, it would be something like annihilationism I guess which we're going to talk about, if you don't know what that means. So no, I'm not. I don't have like a strong stance.

Randy  02:49

Okay. Well, I'm just enjoying the Kyle of old who I sat down at the cotton cafe with and we were very excited that we were both annihilationists

Kyle  02:58

Oh, that's funny. Well, I guess I never moved. And you did. So there we go. We'll see why

Randy  03:03

one of the very few things. All right, well, on this podcast, we taste alcoholic beverages, because we are a pastor and philosopher walk into a bar and because it's just delicious. So today, we are trying two things. First thing is a local whisky called kinnikinnick Whiskey. And this is from our friend Colin. Colin is a listener to the show. And he is a supporter and he reached out to me and said I got some whiskey. I'd love to give you we love drinking free whiskey. And we love getting stuff from listeners. So Colin, shout out and cheers to Colin years. We decided to make this column into a into a cocktail. So can you tell us what we have in this in this little sweet? What is this called?

Kyle  03:44

It's kind of a whiskey sour Elliot really kind of mixed it up for us. But it's basically just this kinnikinnick Whiskey, which we'll talk about what's in that in just a second. Some lemon juice, a little bit of bitters, and some simple syrup. And it's delicious. It is delicious, straight up. Fire as they say. So this is a blended whiskey. Which just means it's not like bourbon, you know, or it's not like a malt whiskey. It's a blend of several different things. So I think it's a little bit of malt, a little bit of rye and a little bit of bourbon altogether. And I tend to like my whiskey cocktails, often with rye instead of bourbon, because a little bit of spice. And so I'm really digging this.

Randy  04:21

Yeah, I mean, and this is so kinnikinnick is a local Milwaukee distillery which just in general means it's a little bit more of a new brand, which also means that it's going to be a little bit younger, have a whiskey, so we tried it, it's good, but we thought it would be better as a cocktail. And this is something that you can do to entertain and impress friends is to take a decent whiskey that people know and turn it into a really delicious

Kyle  04:45

can't really do it like this would easily cost 14 or 15 bucks at a cocktail bar. It's really great. Yeah, I mean, it's cool

Randy  04:50

if Elliot had a mustache and the bowtie absolutely given them lots of money. So Colin, cheers again, thanks two years and we're gonna be sipping on this through the whole episode. And then what did you bring Kyle to A sample Yeah,

Kyle  05:00

the second thing which we don't normally have two drinks, but I just couldn't resist because it was so on theme for the episode. So this is a bourbon called heaven's door. You might have heard of it because it's associated with Bob Dylan who wrote the song very famously knocking on heaven's door, which just seemed, you know, very, and they actually

Randy  05:18

were talking about they actually got sued by Heaven Hill for having that did Brandon. Yes, that didn't go through.

Kyle  05:24

I bet it didn't. How do you sue Bob Dylan for using the lyrics he wrote? Well, he's

Randy  05:28

like the junior partner within the whole group butter. Yeah, it's a new distillery but they make some pretty old stuff. Yeah, they source

Kyle  05:35

from they don't say where but probably GMP probably maybe some other places. But so because it's a store pick, we know a little bit about it. So the mashbill 77% Corn 15% Right. 8% Barley, which is pretty high barley. Yeah. Mash ingredients. So you don't see a lot of barley a lot of times so I like it.

Randy  05:52

I've tasted those is so good. The nose is like cinnamon. Spicy. Got a really dark caramel color. Got the oak barrel libraries smell in there. This is this. The nose is like getting me excited. Yeah. Oh, man. That's good.

Kyle  06:09

right amount of proof for me. 60%.

Randy  06:12

It says barrel strength, but it doesn't taste it doesn't have the heat of a barrel strength now carries that really well. Oh, my gosh, that's really good and hit your heart at all. But

Kyle  06:20

would you pay for this? You know, I don't remember exactly. But I want to say it was being a single barrel store pick. That's probably six plus years old. It was maybe in the $70 range.

Randy  06:29

I was guessing that. Yeah. Way too expensive for me to do. But I'm glad that I'm co hosting a podcast entering

Kyle  06:35

a raffle that I didn't win. But guess who did?

Randy  06:38

Producer Elliot over here who doesn't have a microphone? Usually joins us for the tastings. But he is doing the whole 30 now so pray for Elliot. Yeah, this is very good. Again, spicy, bulky, complex, but balanced. It's it's really really nice. Yeah. So heaven's door. It's out of Tennessee. Yeah, Nashville. Yep. If you find that this is this is worth this is worth it.

Kyle  07:04

Yeah, I was gonna be gimmicky because you know, the famous whatever, but it's good.

Randy  07:08

It's very good. Yeah. Cheers, cheers. Run here. We'd like to do shoutouts. We have patreon supporters and our Patreon supporters make the show go. And we're so grateful for you. Who are we shouting out today?

Kyle  07:20

Shouting out one of our first pappy level supporters happy level. What does that mean? It means that if you want to join us for a book club once a month, where we sit down for an hour on Zoom and talk through a couple chapters of a book that we featured on the show, you can do that, in addition to all the top addition to all the other perks that you can get. So Alicia Mills, thanks so much for joining us at the pappy level.

Randy  07:40

Alicia Mills, cheers to you. Thank you. Ask good whiskey

Kyle  07:46

cocktails. It's

Randy  07:50

the best whiskey sour I've ever had. So hell, the idea and the concept of hell is this thing that as a 44 year old, lifelong Christian I feel super familiar with, right? It's part and parcel. It's how you're how you're given, given the gospel. You say yes to Jesus, so you don't wind up in hell. And that was just a no brainer for me growing up. Was it for you?

Kyle  08:28

Yeah, totally. Well, maybe not so much growing up, because I think I've mentioned this before, I grew up in a fairly liberal denomination where that really was not emphasized. But that just became more, you know, conservative church base because of some parents decisions, but really, in college, joined a certain kind of Pentecostalism, where it was heavily stressed. So

Randy  08:46

yeah, and I, I lived most of my Christian life, just thinking it was just a given that this is this is a reality. If you don't say yes to Jesus, if you don't put your faith in Jesus, you will spend eternity in eternal conscious torment. And that's there are different concepts of hell when we go through it. It's a nuanced thing. But the by far the vast majority of Protestant Christians, American Protestant Christians believe in eternal conscious torment. Correct?

Kyle  09:11

Is that true? Do you have like data on that?

Randy  09:13

I do not have data, but I would, I wouldn't surprise me at all. I would be shocked if it was anything but

Kyle  09:18

yeah, now so this is maybe one of those pedantic philosopher things, but like when we say believe in it, what do we mean? Usually, that means like, they asked, you know, Barna, or P or somebody asked some questions that were related to it on a survey, and then, you know, a certain number of people subscribed, strongly support or something on that survey, you know, but as my good Pentecostal friends would have said, in my college days, if you believed in it, you would live differently. Yeah.

Randy  09:45

That's, that's David Bentley Hart. He wrote the book, that all shall be saved or something like that. Yeah. And he says, basically, very, very few of us actually really believe in hell. Because if we did believe in hell, a we probably wouldn't have kids because there's a high probability that they will wind up in hell for all eternity eternal conscious torment. And then also, if we really believe that the vast majority of human beings who are alive are going to spend never ending eternity, in eternal conscious torment, we would be out on the street corners, talking nonstop trying to persuade people to say yes to Jesus. So basically, he would say, like, the guys on the street corner, when you go to the local festival, or you know, a concert, those guys might actually even hell, the rest of us really don't.

Kyle  10:27

Yeah, and that's interesting coming from him, because it's the exact same point that those guys make. That's to get people to do what they do. Right? It's worked for me for a little while.

Randy  10:35

Yep. So I, I just took it as a given, and then got to the age where I realized this is a problematic view. I think this is a problematic belief to hold that this Good god, this god that is love this god that is fundamentally good, would create people now there's branches of Christianity within Calvinism, who believe that God literally creates people for eternal conscious torment that he's he's created them and picked them or destined them for hell. Now, that's particularly I'm just gonna say evil. Is that a line?

Kyle  11:11

Maybe? I don't know. It's got to be a case by case thing.

Randy  11:16

Am I saying the people who believe it or evil I'm saying that God?

Kyle  11:19

Oh, sure. Sure. Oh, in that case, yes. I fully subscribed to that. Yeah, I thought you're asking whether it was evil to believe that?

Randy  11:24

No, I mean, I think it's misguided and really crazy. But to believe that a being would create a person, millions. So their

Kyle  11:35

response to that is that it can't be evil. Because evil is a moral term, and moral terms are based on God's nature, or should be right, we should derive their meaning from what God is. And so if God does a thing, by definition, it can't be evil. Because something I think,

Randy  11:50

yeah, but I love listening to David Bentley, Hart, I wish I hope, I hope one day he agrees to come on. I've been trying. I listened to him today talking about this news. Like that's a stupid argument, which the heart is just good for just not mincing his words whatsoever. But he's like, we, we know good versus evil. We know what is evil, what's good. We know what's kind and what's cruel. And it doesn't take a rocket science to think that creating a person a human for eternal conscious torment is pure evil. Yeah. And I would just I have a hard time disagreeing with that. And I think that's, that's an argument when you say, Well, God's ways are higher than ours. That's, that's a blanket statement to say, if you don't like it, take it up with God, he's smarter than you. He knows more than you. He's more just than you. He's more believable, all this stuff. That's just a silly belief. In my estimation, I'm being strong here. But I'm being strong, because I think we don't think about what we really believe a lot of times, and this is a classic case of it.

Kyle  12:46

Yeah, I've had friends who were, you know, convinced Calvinists and sincere and good people and found a way to believe things like that, that I think are morally atrocious. And, you know, you can you can carefully reason yourself into believing that there is an important distinction to be made between the way in which God is good and the way in which I'm good. I don't think that is a fruitful area of justification. But people do do it. And they do it without themselves becoming evil. Yes, I will agree with that, for sure. But I think I agree with

Randy  13:20

heart. Yeah, yeah. So personally, I grew up believing in eternal conscious torment, then moved over to annihilationism, when I was really into Greg Boyd. And I think probably you have similar influence, which annihilationism was just believing that if you don't believe in Christ, that when you die, you're just dead. That's it,

Kyle  13:37

or at least that the terminus of a life that continually rejects God is not existence. Explain that, because he's not used to words, you know, you might there might be an afterlife, you could there could be a resurrection on this view. And at the resurrection, what God does is gives you all know, he's in a good place. No, my wife, oh, my god, okay, no, I can't use that analogy. Because I'm not going to ruin it for you, you have to watch the good place. So like maybe what the afterlife is essentially is God setting up endless or not endless, but lots and lots of scenarios, as many scenarios as it takes to confirm once and for all, finally, that you will always reject. And every time you do a little bit of yourself lessons, this is you know, CS Lewis's view and the great divorce. And so eventually, there's just not anything left. And so what God is going to do is honor your decision. And if your decision is to be other than where God is, then it's a kind of suicide. It's a real suicide in this case, because it's actually the ending of your existence. And God allows that that's the view.

Randy  14:38

So CS Lewis in the great divorce, you're saying supports annihilationism. So yeah, I took it as endless separation from God choosing endless separation from God. So

Kyle  14:49

you know, he doesn't come out and say it, of course, and I'm not sure how it would have been received in the Anglican Church. Maybe, maybe, well, I don't know. But yeah, the I think this is if you haven't read the book, you should But like, this is the implication of why when the gray people visit heaven, it's everything's really solid, difficult and painful. It's because over time they've been shrinking and becoming lesser. And so just real stuff, even if it's just a blade of grass is already more real than they are just by virtue of being in this kind of limbo space. And the longer they refuse to, you know, submit to God's will, essentially, the lesser they become, and so they just literally become smaller in his in his story. And there's only so small you can become. You're just left that's like in another book going. Yeah. And another place, he talks about people moving further and further to the outskirts of the city. Yes. Until there's, you get to a point where no one can reach them anymore.

Randy  15:50

Which is a kind of annihilation ism.

Kyle  15:52

I think it's implied just because it's a kind of functional annihilation. It's like saying, the furthest galaxies from us don't really exist, for all intents and purposes, because there's no way anyone could ever get to them or know anything about them. They might as well not exactly.

Randy  16:09

So yeah, I, I had that view for a while, then I adopted what I thought was a more Lewisian, great divorce type view of just God giving you what you want in the end. And if you want ultimate separation, he will give that to you. And then I just started reading scriptures and started like, there was a bunch of scriptures that I felt like were hiding in plain view, for a long time. And all of a sudden, I started reading them and taking them seriously and stopped in read it, and then read it over again and read the context and just felt like, there's a lot in the New Testament that backs up with people like me better sec, William Paul Young, whoever, called Ultimate Reconciliation, that, in the end, every knee truly shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. There's a lot in the New Testament that speaks to that. So the scriptures, what were what kind of woke me up to that. And then there's all you know, all sorts of things being a dad changed my view of what I think God is capable of, and what God has what, where this is all heading. And then learning about the Church Fathers and what they believed and how some believed in Ultimate Reconciliation, they wouldn't have said that they would have said this big Greek word called the Pakistan stasis. And I'm not a Greek scholar, so I'm not getting that pronunciation, right. But we're gonna go into all that in a few minutes. Yeah. What's your journey with that? Ben, have you been in an isolationist for a good period of time? I

Kyle  17:26

think so. But you know, again, it wasn't like, I didn't I've never done any serious research on this issue. I've just kind of thought through it a little bit and read some, a few major things that everybody's read who's thought anything about this, but and it's not a thing that I, I mean, I do think it's important, but it's not a thing that like, I'm willing to enter into debate about it, because I think we have so little data about it, even you know, from the resources of Christian itself, or the Bible, which we'll talk about. But no, I was, you know, like you convinced believer in hell, thought that it was a just thing that God did that it was eternal, that it was warranted. And then gradually came out of that there wasn't like one thing that sparked that I was an isolationist, I guess long before being a parent. So it wasn't that. I remember, in college, one of my good friends, and pastors at the time, wrote a book, which he now to his credit wishes he hadn't written, ah, if you're listening, in which he describes a dream that he had, the book's purpose was to encourage people to do street evangelism, interesting, but really to live a lifestyle of evangelism. But that was like a concrete outcome of that, which we did a lot of. And so he describes his dream he had about hell, very graphic, so I won't describe it for you. But like he experiences endless hopeless suffering in the stream and then wakes up with the idea that God is telling him that this is the outcome for the people you're not talking to. It was a huge motivator for the ministry we were in and it was taken as kind of a sign from the Lord you know that that dream? Yeah. And so we took it real seriously. And it led us to do very embarrassing things like stand on boxes and busy street he did it shout things. And I did hold signs that said silly things on them. I mean, not all of a sudden said silly things. Some of them said Jesus loves you, which I still believe but others said silly things. And so yeah, took it pretty seriously for a while. And I don't remember really what shifted. I do remember Rob Bell's book coming out where love wins and wherein He's accused of being a Universalist, which I thought was just silly because I had read the credo before so he didn't say anything in it that CS Lewis hadn't said. I mean, like a

Randy  19:45

darling of revenge. He did the classic Rob Bell thing which is like say it without saying it. Yes, in obnoxious and also winsome way.

Kyle  19:54

But somehow by the point of that book, which I really liked and defended, I had At least become okay with the idea that hell understood as eternal, eternal conscious torment wasn't at least the only view and probably not the right view. I don't remember changing my mind, I just, I must have at some point with respect to what I would call universalism, what you're calling Ultimate Reconciliation, which talked about the distinction. I remember meeting a very well known and very well regarded philosopher at a conference, a woman named Marilyn McCord Adams, who she was a force, she died a few years back, unfortunately, complications of cancer, I think, but in the world of philosophy of religion, and medieval philosophy and philosophical theology, she was, I mean, she was as important as it gets pretty much. And I remember reading her about something unrelated. And she concludes this little paper with and that's why I'm a Universalist. I thought, Whoa, and that kind of shook me. And then I met her at a conference and she was sweet and gracious and intimidatingly brilliant. And so that, you know, that got me thinking about maybe there's a really respectable case to be made for everybody will eventually make it. And then I had a really good friend who was also super smart, who believed the same thing. And so I've never been able to do it. But I totally respect the view. There's just a couple things that keep me from it, that we can talk about. And I've never hoped I'm wrong more than then with this.

Randy  21:21

Yeah. So let's talk about first of all, just real quick, the difference between just universalism generally. And then Christian universalism or what I'm calling Ultimate Reconciliation, right, okay. In my mind, universalism is just this kind of blanket, everyone's good. Or if you believe in a higher power, Unitarian Universalist, perhaps even that all streams are leading to the same place, which we can put to the side because we can talk about that another time. Because I think our God is that is that place, that it's all leading, but within that there is no problem of sin. And there is no problem I think there is no problem within a certain brand of universalism, there's no problem of sin, there's no problem of separation from God or, or, or brokenness happening. And therefore, everyone's going to the same place where everyone's in, within Christian universalism or Ultimate Reconciliation. There is the problem of sin. And I would say, in some ways, it's even bigger. It's not this legalistic metaphor. It's a disease. It's a it's a disease that kind of, corrupts us from within. It's all the scriptures that we are helpless to fight against. We're helpless to overcome, and we need to savior that saviors name is Jesus in the in Jesus life, death and resurrection. He accomplishes what we cannot accomplish, which is salvation and life, which we should define salvation in a little bit. But it's all about Jesus. And within Ultimate Reconciliation, I think. The cross in the resurrection, the incarnation and the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus is actually heightened because we believe that Jesus victory actually did bring life to all things and all people and will restore all things, not just those who believe but eventually all will believe because Jesus in His life, death and resurrection, has completely overcome and won the victory over sin death and the power of the enemy. Whether that power of the enemy is metaphorical or not evil call it that basically, this idea of this picture of Jesus in Revelation having a sword coming out of his mouth, and using it to slay all his enemies. This is not some martyr school, you know, feel bro fueled image of Jesus slaying a bunch of human beings because he hates their guts because they're dirty, rotten sinners. It's actually the idea that in the end, God will set the world to rights in Christ, and he has done it already in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. And in the end, he will come to judge all things which means to set the world to right, which means that the things that Jesus is slaying with the sword coming out of his mouth, which by the way, his metaphor for his word, are things like violence, and evil and injustice and oppression and racism and sexism and all the things that hurt God's beloved children, that in the in Christ's life, death and resurrection has and will overcome all things. Yeah, you know, preach you there a little bit, a little bit. It's hard for me not to no worries,

Kyle  24:11

I can hear a sermon series being created as so would it be fair to say then that the kind of more pluralist or I don't know what you want to call it? Yeah, kind of universalism where sin isn't a problem. Everybody makes it because there's nothing to keep them from making it.

Randy  24:30

You'd have to talk to a Universalist in that train of thinking, but that's, that's my perspective. That's my take on it. Okay.

Kyle  24:35

Whereas on your view, there is a thing to keep you from it. And God's response to it is so powerful that it is completely overcome, rather than only partially overcome, which is what would result if you had a hell

Randy  24:47

yes, yeah, yes. And I believe I think hell might be a real thing. It's, hell is the idea of hell that we think is so concrete is mostly always metaphorical in the news.

Kyle  24:59

Tell me Oh, Okay, let's camp here for a minute. Tell me what sense of how you think might be real.

Randy  25:05

I think if hell is real, and I'm just trying to go off the scriptures, you're both Old and New Testament, that if hell is real, it's this place where this refining fire happens. This is the book of Malikai. This is a number of different places within the scriptures that there's this refiners fire, which is the judgment of God. And I believe that that refiners fire and I get this, I copy this from a number of people, Brad, your sec, being one of the main ones, Brad would say, whose idea of judgment is that it is, first of all, NT right would say again, that judgment is God setting all things to right, restoring all things, new creation coming. But Brad would also say that all of us will walk through the fiery judgment of God, in the fiery judgment of God is the hot, fiery furnace of the Divine Love of God, that will burn away all that is not of divine love within us in all of us will go through that. And so I think, to fast forward the problem of evil, I think that's where it kind of speaks to it. It's not that everything just gets washed away, you're all good. You get a hall pass for all that shit you did in your life. But actually, we're all going to pass through that fiery judgment of God, which is the love of God burning all that is not of love from us. And it's going to be I'm guessing it's going to be an unpleasant experience that it's so I think that's the idea of Hell is similar to Julian of Norwich, when somebody said, Hey, so you don't believe in hell, right? And she said, No, I believe in hell. And she whispered to someone nearby and said, I just don't think anyone's going to wind up there.

Kyle  26:24

Yeah, that's gotta be apocryphal, mostly because she couldn't have whispered to anyone because she lived in a wall, then closer, whatever. They would have had to be leaning through the window for her to whisper. But you know, but it does line up with her kind of view. And she said, super radical things for her time. So that helps maybe for the purposes of this conversation, it would make me feel better if we defined hell as the eternal place from which there is no escape from suffering. Yes. And we call that other thing purgatory. Okay. All right. Or some, you know, the Bardo or somebody

Randy  26:55

say, I believe in Purgatory, like in the classic Catholic sense, but that's pretty much is it's kind of a predatorial view. Yeah,

Kyle  27:01

yeah. Yeah, I don't know. I guess I don't know enough about Catholicism to know what they add to it.

Randy  27:05

It's not like a suspended place or whatever. It's a place where you're being refined to be right to be in a place where your your knee bows and fester. Yeah, we

Kyle  27:15

haven't said anything about where where we think any of these places are when? That's a whole separate thing. Maybe a different episode. Yeah. So like the, I think I met some evangelicals once who literally thought it was in the center of the earth. So that's problematic. Yeah. Or it's like that stupid sci fi movie where it's, they find a place out in space where, actually no, there is hell, I can't remember the name of it. It's so bad. Sam, Sam, Neil.

Randy  27:41

So I think when I also want to think about hell, or or believe in hell, perhaps I would say this is where I get it from Rob Bell, that lots of people are living in hell as we speak, in that they've given themselves over to their brokenness, to send to evil to all of the ugly stuff, and that you can live in hell literally right now. And not literally because it's a metaphorical picture. But I liked that idea as well. That eternity starts now. And you can choose to live in salvation, which I believe is not like heaven, whether or not that exists. Like I think that's a real thing. Jesus said to the to the thief on the cross today, you will be with Me in Paradise. I believe that I believe a lot of the visions in the book of Revelation, but I also think Salvation means more than a place that you're that you go to when you say yes to Jesus, I think salvation is union with Christ, union with God. And that's scriptural. It talks about we're being transformed in Second Corinthians three, I believe it is, it says, with unveiled faces, we see the face of God and we are being changed from glory to glory into into the likeness of Christ, basically, into the image of Christ. And I think that's the idea of salvation is being transformed into the image of Christ and living in union with Christ in this life for the next.

Kyle  28:52

Yeah, yeah, that's helpful. You have on the outline here. This is a peek inside our process, we have outlines that we try to follow and always fail. So did you want to talk about restorative versus retributive justice?

Randy  29:05

Yeah, so restorative versus retributive justice? This is another problem that I have with the idea of hell or that lots of people have with the idea of, of hell is that we human beings, when we talk about justice, it's usually retributive justice, it's, you're gonna get what you got coming to because you got to come into because you were a terrible person. And so I want to, you need to be punished. Parents do this, unfortunately, all the time. It's it's punishment, or it's justice for the sake of getting back at you, you deserve this. And many theologians believe that God's justice is not ever retributive. It's always restorative. It's always for the means of restoring human beings. It's always for the means of restoring creation. It's always for the means of redeeming and renewing and restoring all things. And that seems way more Christ like way more gospel centric and way more scriptural to me, holding to a view of restorative justice rather than retributive Justice. Yeah.

Kyle  30:01

And so the view then would be the, you know, there is no compatibility between a notion of hell and restoration. Yes. Because, you know, in order to restore some things, you have to destroy others essentially or, you know, hold others in stasis of perpetual suffering, something like that. That's the retributive as it gets. Yeah. Now, now, I should be clear making that distinction is not an argument for one or the other. Right. So it's not enough to just say, look, a lot of people are acting in retributive ways. And there are also restorative ways that one could act or one could interpret Scripture instead, that's not an argument for the preference of restoration over retribution. It might for all we know so far be the case that in some cases, retribution is right and best, maybe. So my only point there is that we still have to make an argument for the preference of restoration. So it might be the case that some evils are so horrendous, that the attempt to restore the perpetrator to some kind of relational equilibrium with the victim is immoral, sure, on its own, or at least, you know, not best all things considered or something like that. And that if the alternative then is retribution, then then that would be better. It may not be the only alternative. But, you know, just the the view that in some cases, retribution is warranted.

Randy  31:20

Yeah, I just don't think that that view is in God.

Kyle  31:25

Yeah, so I guess I would want to know where that presupposition if it is, a presupposition is rooted,

Randy  31:32

mostly for me in the scriptures. So this is, let me just go into give you just a little sampling of Scripture scriptures. So I'm just going to bring you through, I don't know six to eight scriptures that points out like why I believe what I believe, but this is just a small sampling, there's several dozen of these scriptures like this. So you look at you go back to the very beginning of the gospel of John and John one, Jesus walks up to John the Baptist, and what does John the Baptist say? Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away what?

Kyle  31:58

I don't know, man. All right. That's the end of the world.

Randy  32:06

So there's no qualifiers, there just says, Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, those that's one of those verses that's just like, why don't we take that more seriously? Why don't we sit with that? Without all the qualifiers of Yeah, but it says ever, you know, let's just sit with that. Then further on in John 12. I just preached this a couple of weeks ago, it's what made me come out to my church, that I'm a believer in Ultimate Reconciliation, where Jesus is talking. And he says, now's the time for judgment of this world. And we already talked about judgment. And he said, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself, all people to myself, and that all people if you have to, you have to jump through hoops to not make a mean all people, some scholars will say well, he means all people groups or all tribes and nations or whatever. But the words there just mean all people in Greek, let's move on in x 3x. Three, Peter just healed I think the lame beggar or something. He's asked for money. He said, I don't have money to give you but I'm going to heal you in Jesus name, get up and then he starts, preach the sermon. And this is where this word a pocket stasis, that Greek word that I can't get right? In that true theologians are, are cringing at. It's from Acts three, when Peter says in Acts 319, repent, then in turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out. that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send the Messiah who has been appointed for you, even Jesus, heaven must receive Him until the time comes for God to restore everything. As he promised long ago through his prophets, that's a bucket test is restoring everything. It's different every time you sign up. It's like indebted compo. Except I've got that I've gotten that right. I've had like seven years of practice on that one. But that that idea that we're Peter says that God's going to restore everything through Jesus. Another one of those texts like where's that been? Oh, my life. In Romans five, the second half of Romans five. Paul is comparing the work of Adam to the work of Jesus. And he's saying, well, he says this in Romans 518. Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. It's very clear, and juror SEC would say and has said if you watch the Patreon it's extra, that we are all Universalist. If Christians, all Christians are Universalist, when it comes to Adam, we believe that we've inherited the sin nature, we I don't believe in original sin. But I do believe that all of us have this flesh that Paul talks about, or this inability to be perfect to live a perfect life. And we're Universalist when it comes to Adam, that we've all gotten that. But when it comes to Jesus, we're not Universalist, we only think that some will be saved. Paul says here consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification life for all people. Keep moving. Paul has a lot to say about this. And Philippians two, we have this beautiful picture of kenosis the self emptying nature of God that we find in Christ and Paul goes into this hymn of how Jesus was As in very nature, God, he didn't consider God to be equality to go to something to be taken advantage of. But he made himself nothing blah, blah, blah. And then it says in Philippians, two, nine, Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledged that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Now that every in Greek is literally everything, every or all, and even the kind of proclamation because when I've read that, I've imagined like people with their hand behind their back and Gods kind of like twisting it really hard, and they're finally they're like, Fine, I'll confess you know, but again, here's another Greek word that I don't know the pronunciation of, but x some x, some will lega millennial X some will lead to the word is to Professor confess, but it's, it's a joyful confession in the Greek gets to acknowledge open and joyfully. So it's, it's not this like, I hate this or reluctant confession or proclamation. It's this joyful proclamation that Jesus is Lord that Paul says, every single tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. And Paul says, another time in the book of Romans, I believe that if you want to be saved, you must believe in your heart and proclaim with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord. And then he says, In Book of Philippians, every single tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Interesting. Ephesians one, I just got a couple more I know this is getting old. But in Ephesians, one, the beginning of the book of Ephesians is just remarkably beautiful. It's so so good. I want to go through the whole thing, but I'm not going to do it. I'm going to save you from that. But Paul said in Jesus, this is Ephesians, one seven, in Jesus, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us, with a wisdom understand understanding he made known to us the mystery of his will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Christ, here's the mystery of his will, to be put into effect, when the times reach their fulfillment. Here it is, to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. There's no qualifiers there. It just says that God's purpose put into effect but in Christ was to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth, under Christ. That's really beautiful. Second, last one, second, Peter, this is Second Peter three, we all know this one, but Peters talking about the telos or the end and he, he says, Do not forget this one thing, dear friends with the Lord a day is like 1000 years and 1000 years or like a day. There's so much here. The Lord is not slow and keeping his promises some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. And so there would just want to ask, Does God get what God wants? Peters clear, God wants everyone to come to repentance. Why wouldn't God want that? Last one? This is like the Grand Poobah? Paul, we've talked about the resurrection, would we still be Christians? If the resurrection didn't happen? Paul, in First Corinthians 15, very much tells me No, I wouldn't be a Christian. We're fools if the resurrection didn't happen. But he says this in the end. This is First Corinthians 1520. But Christ has indeed been risen from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man, For as in Adam, all die, are you hearing this, so in Christ, all will be made alive, I can be done there, but I'm gonna keep going. But each intern Christ the first fruits, then when he comes those who belong to Him, then the end will come when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power of evil. That's my words that I put in there, For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under His feet. Again, enemies think oppression, injustice, violence, evil, the last enemy to be destroyed as death, for he has put everything under his feet. Now when it says that everything has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God Himself, who put everything under Christ, when He has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him so that God may be all in all. Now that is a beautiful picture of the end, or the beginning of the life to come. But Paul's very clear, death came through on man, now life for all has come through one man, and God is going to be all in all so that tells me there is no separation from God. In the end, there is no, on bended knee, there is no tongue that doesn't confess that Jesus Christ is Lord that tells like all these verses, and there's so many more, speak to this reality that God has a heart and a desire in the design to renew and restore all things and he's done. So in Jesus, and we're heading towards that now.

Kyle  39:26

Thanks for that quick survey course and, you know, biblical exegesis on the afterlife and reconciliation. Now that's very helpful. So you know, though, of course, the Bible says other things too.

Randy  39:42

So that's, that's for sure. I think we need to be humble enough to say the Bible says things that seem to contradict that. And surely it does. At the end of the book of Matthew, for instance, Jesus is talking about separation of the the sheep and the goats and like that, that's a good study in and of itself, because it's done Say if you believe in me, I'm going to let you live. It's whatever you've done for the least of means, then you're going to come into my good graces. But certainly it says, Go away to, you know, weeping and gnashing of teeth. There's many others. In fact, in John 12, that one that I referenced where Jesus says, when I am lifted up from the earth, I'll draw all people to myself. In the second half of it, he talks about how in the end, there will be some who don't receive him. And he doesn't condemn them, but the Father will, but God, God will condemn them. So there are those verses that we have to wrestle with. And here's the thing that I've, I've come to myself is, which, which ones do I believe? Which verses seem more consistent with what God is up to in Jesus, and what God wants to do in the world, which seems more consistent with the big themes in the Scriptures. And to me, I think that the restoration of all things, the renewal of all things, the redemption of all things, is what God is about, in human history, what God is about in the Scriptures at least, and I choose to believe the all verses I choose to believe the restoration of all things, but I do know, there's those verses in there. And so that's why I hold this belief with some humility and some fear and trembling, in with a lot of hope, right, like, but it's more than just blind hope it's scripturally based hope, and we get to choose which ones which of those verses Do you believe which of those verses do you think is more Christ? Like, I choose the all verses,

Kyle  41:21

which is challenging when some of the you know opposing verses I don't know, the verses that are intention anyway, also come from Jesus, you know, yeah.

Randy  41:31

Now again, almost all of them but I will say almost, because I don't want to say all, most of them are metaphorical. Like most of the time, when Jesus was talking about hell he was he was using the word Ghana, which we translate as hell. But it's Ghana was real places to the dump outside of Jerusalem where the fire never went out and they would burn stuff and it would just constant place of where useless things were garbage would get dumped. And Jesus was to use that picture to say this is this is your life apart from me it's as good as going to get when it's good is good as going to the landfill where things just stay there forever, right? Yeah, it's metaphorical language, the stuff where Paul is saying gotta gotta be all in all in the end or death came through one man and so life for all has come through a man that's not metaphorical language has been very literal there. It seems like

Kyle  42:16

Right. Yeah, that's interesting that the bits that you you know, take literally or concretely in the bits that you take metaphorically, I admit it. There's there's this and I'm very pleased that you admitted Oh, I don't have to do that. Now that work is done. So yeah, so there's a hermeneutic operating in the background here and you're very self aware about that. And that's awesome.

Elliot  42:42

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Kyle  43:23

You know, this is why essentially, I don't think the Bible is super helpful in this issue. But like lots of other issues, too, in fact, almost any really interesting theological issue about which there is substantial debate, the Bible isn't going to settle it. I mean, if it was it would have done, there wouldn't be debate about it, you know. So this, to me is a kind of pre theoretical conversation that the Bible might have some data points to offer, if one, you know, puts a certain kind of stock in what the Bible has to say, which we've talked about our differences there before. So I'm happy to consider all those things as you know, points of evidence and along the way in the argument, but they're not going to be decisive for me. So

Randy  44:06

I'm wondering because of the lack of authority you give to the Bible and these as

Kyle  44:10

part of it, but also the the lack of clarity, the Bible doesn't speak with one voice about it, right, and the lack of clarity of a lot of those passages and the separation of ourselves from the author's and the difficulty of getting into their frame of mind or knowing what extendable they understood metaphor to be or, you know, Jesus is a hard dude to understand, like I said, really difficult things. And I'm, I'm kind of resistant to any effort to make anything he said that was difficult, more palatable. Yeah. So yeah. So you know, it's not going to be decisive for me, even though I think some of that stuff you referenced is actually really compelling and beautiful and important. So what other I guess lines of evidence, lead you in the direction of Ultimate Reconciliation.

Randy  44:49

It's less evidential and more. I don't know, circumstantial case. Okay. The church fathers have have helped me come to this place and feel Secure in this place. Origin. Most of us if you're if you've been around the church, if you've been around a church that is intellectually sound, you've heard of the name origin. He's probably the father of theologians, the first among theologians. I think he was a second century theologian. And origin was a clear Universalist believed in the pocket Tacitus and believed in the restoration of all things origin went so far as to say that Satan demons everything is in. I think that those things are metaphorical. It's interesting, but he literally thought every single thing will be redeemed in the end.

Kyle  45:35

That's radical. That's the kind of random clothes in my life. Yeah,

Randy  45:38

yep. So origin start starts as a Universalist. Then fast forward a couple 100 years, when you come across the Cappadocian fathers, who I think are the best of all the Church Fathers, it's Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus. And then Gregory of Nyssa, his brother, Basil the greats, and also the sister Macrina. The younger, we don't know exactly what Mcrainey thought, because women couldn't write in those days and didn't you know, we don't have her writings. But many think that some of Mrs books, Gregory of Nyssa, her brothers books came from her teaching. The Gregory of Nyssa, has been called the father of the Father's father of the church fathers, the greatest of the church fathers. He is the final editor of the Nicene Creed, which might be the most important non scriptural documents in church history. Not even my it is, and Gregory of Nyssa church historians because I'm not a church historian, church historians would say was, was one of those Church Fathers who was clearly believed in Ultimate Reconciliation. And Gregory of Nyssa is a giant in the church, a huge, huge church father, who believed in it. There's also in the Eastern tradition and the Eastern Church, there's many more who believed in Ultimate Reconciliation and wrench Mokona there's also Maximus the Confessor for sure. Simon of of Nineveh was for sure believed in Ultimate Reconciliation. There's a big list that you can find the church fathers who believed in Ultimate Reconciliation. Augustine wasn't a believer in universalism, or Ultimate Reconciliation. But he, he writes of people and his contemporaries who were, and he calls them literally in Latin, the Compassionate ones or the merciful ones. And he speaks to them as though there's this great number within the church, and in his day in the fifth century, who, who did believe in Ultimate Reconciliation, and universalism. So there's this really substantial, I'm not going to say big, I'm not going to try to pretend I'm a church historian or over overestimated. But Agustin speaks to it in such a way that seems to make it sound that there's a number of people of his contemporaries who believe in Ultimate Reconciliation, he calls them our compassionate ones. Now, when I talked about this in church a couple of weeks ago, I had a person come up to me afterwards and was like, You know what? I want to be one of those compassionate ones. Like, what if it's in Scripture, you know, obviously, there's both in Scripture, and it's within the church history, especially in early church history in the church fathers. Count me among the compassionate ones count me among the merciful ones and I, I'm gonna agree with that. Now, the Western Church doesn't have a whole lot of universalism within it because of Augustine. Augustine was basically like, everything comes within western church history, or tradition and dogma comes from Augustine, and he is really, in many ways responsible for infernal ism, or the doctrine of eternal conscious torment. He was very firm. What

Kyle  48:27

was the first thing you said infernal ism? Is that the same thing so just another word for Yeah, it's like

Randy  48:31

the big branch that is believing in eternal conscious torment, which is infernal ism,

Kyle  48:37

gotcha. Very dark, like metal sounding name,

Randy  48:41

it is, which should be, if it's not a metal band, you should go, somebody should go make that a metal band name. It's dark, in a lot of places, a lot of what we got our theology and our doctrine about eternal conscious torment and infernal ism was from both Augustine and from Dante, from non scriptural stuff. That's a lot because you don't get that in the Scripture so much. But you get a lot of it from that era of literature, right? So the Western Church heavily influenced by Augustine doesn't really make room for a whole lot of Ultimate Reconciliation. The Eastern Church is a whole different thing. And the Eastern Church has a whole different way of seeing things like the sacrifice of Christ and the crucifixion and judgment and the end of all things. It's a more beautiful theology. Clearly, we can go into that another day, we'll have bread reset, come and talk about Orthodox theology, but I think it's clearly more beautiful, and I think Scripture a little more of a good news of the gospel.

Kyle  49:36

Yeah. Okay. Thanks for that. So So that's two lines, I guess. Both of them seem a little abstract for what we're talking about for me. So I'm curious where the rubber really meets the road for you. Do you know what I mean?

Randy  49:50

Here? No, I mean, yeah, I know what you mean. But all I've got is abstract. I mean, the scriptures is like the most concrete. Yeah, like I think those are very much like if you believe in The Scriptures if you think they're inspired, if you think they're authoritative in some way for you, you got to reckon with those scriptures. And by reckon I mean like, be wooed by them. They're beautiful. Okay. But here's, here's another, it's abstract, but it's also concrete. I'm a dad, okay? I'm a dad of four kids. I have almost 16 year old now. And my youngest boy is almost 11. And when I think about my heart for my kids, Jesus tells us to do this Jesus, like, Hey, you guys are good fathers. What father would give a stone to their kid who asked for a fish? Like none of you would do that? God's even better than that. Like, of course, God's better than you said, Don't you think he's gonna give you what you what you need? Jesus, in doing so. To me, it's kind of inviting us to compare ourselves to God and to say, think of the good stuff in you. Now, God is so much better than that. When I think of the good stuff within me as a father, the idea of giving my kid a consequence, for something that they did think of the worst thing that they could do the worst things that they could do, and then saying, well, the consequences, eternal conscious torment for you. Yeah. Or you're gonna cease to exist, even though I could keep you in existence. That seems unconscionable to me. Like, today, I actually thought about, because here's, here's the deal. I said this earlier, and I really do mean it. If I believed in infernal ism, if I believed in eternal conscious torment, I would never have children. Right? Never. Because the thought risk is too great. Majority of people do not believe or not Christians in world history. That means probably a majority of my kids might walk away from the faith, and the thought of my children, as people as a person. Spending never ending eternity, in eternal conscious torment as I thought I'd like. Tried to think about it today a little bit. I had to stop thinking about it, because it disturbed me so greatly. I, I started crying, it was emotional. And I, if, if God is real, he's got to be better than me. Yeah, like, that's just, I can't believe in a God who's not as loving, who's less loving than I am, or less gracious than I am or who loves his kids less than I do. I can't believe in that God. And if I couldn't do that to my own kids, and I think anybody, if they're being honest, would say they would never do that to their children. Right? They would never do that to any human being. It's the most evil thing I've ever heard of in my life. If I'm being totally honest, if I think that I have to believe that God's better than me, and God, God has a better end in mind for his beloved children who he literally sacrificed everything for

Kyle  52:46

Yeah. You go further than that, like there, we could, if we wanted invent scenarios that any reasonable person with a conscience would say, that is grotesque overreaction to anything a human could do. That reaction is evil, that would still fall far short of eternal suffering, right? No thing any human has ever done, has been on the level of inflicting eternal suffering on even one person, much less, most of them. So yeah, right there with you. And to anyone who might think that, you know, well, that's anthropocentric, what you're saying, Randy, it's just, you're saying God is what you are just like the best version of you, right? The perfection of human goodness, as you understand it, and is that's just anthropocentric. You're just, you know, thinking of God as a big human. He's basically Superman. There's a case to be made there. And some philosophers have tried to make it and maybe we should talk to some of them. But I think that's the literal, only thing we can do. And I would like I would, I would go on the record, maybe in a different venue. But I would totally defend the view. That there there isn't any other way to think about this, really, that the parenting analogy, or perhaps the broader kind of inference of which that is an instance like the, what would I do if I had divine power, that that kind of inference, or that style of reasoning, is the best basis any of us have for judging God's goodness? It's really kind of the only basis and it's the root I think of all theodicy. Pretty much we talked about the Odyssey with Brad Jurassic, it's it's the attempt to justify God in the face of suffering, particularly gratuitous or apparently unjust suffering. If I'm trying to reconcile God's goodness, with the existence of that kind of suffering, that's a theodicy. I'm trying to explain it. And any attempt to do that involves, I think, some kind of basic inference about what goodness looks like as I understand it, and one of the most powerful metaphors for capturing that is what would I do to a child? It's particularly Mind, but really any child. And if I can't bring myself to do the kind of thing I'm attributing to God, then why should I believe that a god would right? And I think that's totally reasonable. But I also think and this is where the stick in the mud party comes. It cuts both ways. But I mean, so if my goodness implies that there can't be hypothetical suffering, which is what the hell is, okay, so there's, we've talked about the problem of evil a little bit, I want to go a little further into it. So there's kind of a distinction between the problem of evil and the problem of hell, in the sense that the problem of evil is dealing with real suffering that we know exist, it's concrete, we look around, and there it is, problem of Hell is dealing with hypothetical suffering. Yes. Would God do something like that? Okay. So if I'm saying that my own goodness implies, because God is better than me, so my own goodness implies that there can't be some kind of hypothetical suffering, then it should also imply, shouldn't it? Because it's the same kind of intuition, that there shouldn't be real suffering of the level that there is. But there is, right, so the very same intuition, conviction even, that I feel when I think about, you know, way overreacting to something my son did, should lead me equally, I think, to conclude that if a god exists, the kind of suffering that really does exist in the world ought not to, and yet, it clearly does. And so that leads me to question the inference, if that makes sense.

Randy  56:29

Kind of yeah, you're you're quite a bit smarter than I am. So I'm trying to keep up. So I hear you, in particular, in the evil is concrete hellos, abstract or hypothetical?

Kyle  56:39

Yeah. So let me let me talk a little bit more if I can, about why I don't take this Ultimate Reconciliation view. This is one point in the sort of three parts stool that I'm going to build for why I reject this view. Yeah, I think it maybe ironically, I don't know. It. it exacerbates the problem of evil a little bit, or at least has some some odd implications for it that I don't think are obvious to a lot of people take the view. So I'm wondering what motivates the view, okay, the view that eventually everyone will bow willingly, even energetically and, you know, positively and with their full volition, and worship God, what? Like, I hate to be the philosopher who brings up Hitler, but like, you know, clearest example of like supreme human evil, that even people like that will very much willingly and with gusto, embrace Jesus eventually, what motivates a view like that? And it seems like that it's got to be some, I don't know, some way of saying that eventually, all the crap will be made. Right. And that's a way of achieving it, that goes along with it somehow. So if it's, if it's motivated, in other words, by a concern to show that God is good, because, you know, he wouldn't do a thing like hell or because hell only serves a temporary purpose or something like that, then it is a theodicy of a sort. Sure, and therefore falls prey to the problems that all theocracies fall prey to. And I couldn't embrace it. Because there simply is no, I've said this before on the show, but there simply is no erasing suffering, right. There's no making it right. As far as I can tell. And so if that's its motivation, then it's a little suspect. But if that's not its motivation, then I'm a little confused when motivated, I guess, what is its purpose? Like? Is it just that it's an entailment of sovereignty? I remember, like, reading some Calvinist and thinking. So all these guys are Universalist, right? Like, if that's your view of sovereignty, surely that would entail unless you think God is horrendous, more far more horrendous than any humans ever been through that would entail that everybody makes it. But in fact, they don't like that. So maybe if you if you think that the the Ultimate Reconciliation or universalism or whatever you wanna call it is just entailment of God being God, God being in control, God being omnipotent God being sovereign, I'm fine with that. In that case, you know, if you're trying to make it not a theodicy, right, and you're just saying it's an outpouring, or it's just a result of God being sovereign. So people end up with God as a matter of fact, but evil just is what it is. And the fact that people end up with God doesn't have any justificatory role to play at all. With respect to suffering or evil. I'm fine with that. But isn't that what people mean? And it sounds like it's not what people mean, and in some of the people you've quoted, it sounds like it's not what they mean. Like they, they want this to play some kind of role in making things right and justifying God and I just don't see that it can do that. Now, one tempting reply here would be to say, well, it's less ugly than believing in hell. Right? Sure. I'm gonna say something, maybe a little A radical here. Maybe not as much as most people seem to think, though, because on this view, the Ultimate Reconciliation view, God has still, as far as I can tell, allowed all the suffering, right? And if we don't want to make this a kind of theodicy, then not only has he allowed all the suffering, but he makes no attempt to justify it. People come to him willingly, you know, volitionally, he makes them virtuous through this long process of purgation, or whatever. But that in no way justifies the past suffering. That's a view that I could like philosophically get behind. It would make sense to me, but it's still a God that it's hard to call loving, or good. And so, yeah, so I guess I don't quite understand the motivation for it. If you wanted to take that line of reasoning even further, which I'm not sure I would, but you could, you could say, you know, look, we have two Gods here, we've got the hell God, and we've got the Ultimate Reconciliation, God, the hell God punishes and destroys the evildoers. Right, the ultimate realistically destroy them, but might punishes or destroys them, okay, let's say, let's include a kind of annihilationism on that side. And then the Ultimate Reconciliation, God makes them virtuous, and happy. In the end, in both cases, the evil is unchanged and unjustified. And so is it obvious which is better? I don't know that it is. So, you know, to be the, you know, the Hitler thing again, like, is it a happy, virtuous Hitler better than a suffering or nonexistent Hitler? Can we answer that without presuming a kind of moral basis that's rooted in Christianity? And kind of pre answer some of our questions? I don't know. And so, so these are the, this is one leg of the stool, that makes me a little suspicious of Ultimate Reconciliation. Another one is freewill. It's probably the biggest one. Because I don't know how to have a robust notion of freewill that is compatible with the view that eventually everyone's will will be overcome. And overcome is a already kind of a loaded way to put it right. Everyone will be persuaded. Yes. So I totally believe that God smarter than everybody else. And I totally believe that God can, is more creative than everybody else, and can think of scenarios that would persuade as many people as could possibly be persuaded. But this is where it gets personal. For me. I know my heart. And I know that things that ought to persuade me don't. Not only that, I know that when I encounter what I think is real virtue, it often looks deeply uncomfortable, and like something I don't want. And yet I simultaneously acknowledge that that's a virtue. And that's goodness, and that I need to be heading in that direction. Like Elliott, can I say this on the podcast, just fasted for a long time is that is that a thing I can say? I don't want to do that. And I simultaneously recognize that it is a thing that will make you a better person, if you incorporate things like that into your life. I've even had periods where I've done stuff like that, and it was great, like had like real spiritual breakthroughs from fasting. And simultaneously, I don't do that anymore. I don't like make, I don't form habits that I know will lead me to be a good person, like with full knowledge. And it's because I see it and it's uncomfortable, and it just doesn't match the life I want to lead. And that's like, a very tiny microcosm of the kind of virtue and character you would need to develop to be as I understand it compatible. Just to be around Jesus. Yeah. Like, and that's, you know, use scripture for this if you want, like, most of the people around him, were deeply uncomfortable with the gala. Like, he was not an easy person to be around, in some sense, especially if you were relatively happy with your life. And so when I think of what perfect love would look like, it's not necessarily something I want, it is something I want, but not something necessarily willing to do that, if that makes sense. So if I can see that in me, and again, I don't think I'm the worst human, then it's very easy for me to believe that you could over time and this is the third leg of the stool, build habits that are impossible to get out from under. And I think this is what Louis was getting out with people moving further and further from the city. It's not it's not that people are making a great leap when they choose to be evil. That doesn't happen. Right. Hannah Arendt is great on this, who wrote about the Nuremberg trials, like evil in the sense that we all you know, hold up as this is like the depth of human depravity, these particular figures that we're all familiar with, for very good reason. It's quotidian. It's it's normal. It's vulgar. It's banal, as she put it, it's like little piecemeal decisions that become habits that over time are solidified. And you're chemistry changes and you become used to things. And that's your life now. And coming back from that can become something close to impossible, because the things that would persuade a person to come back no longer have purchase, they no longer have wait. So this is where Aristotle described as, and not just him, but other people. Like, for a fully virtuous person, certain things are not tempting and certain kinds of arguments are persuasive. For a vicious person, those arguments aren't persuasive, because they've in some cases, lost the capacity to be persuaded in that way. Even other philosophers like John Stuart Mill have held views like that, even very different presuppositions. So those things together, kind of make me suspicious of the view. And then I guess we combine that with like, we don't have good data on this one way or the other. Like, the only real data we have is how people act. And how much evil there is in the world. Yeah. And for me the scriptures, but Right, yes, yes. But the scriptures are just testimonies of people acting and trying to respond to evil in some ways. Yeah.

Randy  1:06:01

And so I mean, the exciting thing is that we finally found something that we disagree truly disagree on. But I would say to what you were bringing in, just very briefly, because this episode is gonna go away to keep talking. Because we could we could talk about this endlessly. I want to have there's a philosopher. Yeah, boy, and it would be? Yes, yes, amen. There's a philosopher by the name of Keith throws at you, who's also a Christian who is a Christian Universalist, who I think could really speak a lot better, to the philosophical arguments you have with Christian universalism. So we'll try to have a month. But I would say it is a theodicy of sorts. There really is. And I'm, I don't want to pretend that it's not. I think that God is about restoring and renewing and redeeming all things. And that God ultimately will restore and renew and redeem all things in Jesus, not just like with a wave of magic one, but actually cost God greatly in Christ's experience in life, death and resurrection. But so it is a theodicy of sorts in that, like, for me, that's the only way I can make sense of the suffering I see in the world in that I believe in a God who I've met in the scriptures and who I encounter in the Holy Spirit, I believe, that is moving us towards the resurrection that is moving us towards new creation that is going to redeem all that was stolen from kids on the other side of the world who have known nothing but heartache and hardship and hell on earth, that He is going to restore that, like I believe in this more for them than for me, to be honest with you. And I have to believe it in some ways, because that's the only way I can reconcile God's goodness in the face of evil. For sure, I'll admit it. And I don't like the Odysseys I don't like trying to come up with a straw man to explain away evil. But this is this is that for me, and I think it's scriptural. I think just the scriptures point to God having a heart for restoring and renewing and redeeming all things.

Kyle  1:08:00

Yeah. And I feel that deep in my gut, like nothing I said before, should should like, take away from that I truly get it. And I'm right there with you wanting that to be the case. And when I envision Ultimate Reconciliation, when I said, I hope I'm wrong about it, I really do hope I'm wrong. It is like a glorious thing. And I want it to be true. But I just can't. Yeah, I feel like the philosophers and theologians talk about God's hiddenness where they like, they try there are people who try real hard to see certain things about God, see, God is loving to be in relationship with God, they just can't. I feel a little bit like that with respect to this issue. I see all the arguments, but they don't quite add up to a conviction for me.

Randy  1:08:43

Yeah, we could go more into freewill and all this stuff. But I think we can save our listeners from that and just say, let's, let's have this be an ongoing conversation, we'll have other guests who can who are actual experts and speak to this philosophically and theologically, and keep this conversation going. But the point, I think, for us and for our listeners is, let's think well about what we believe. Yeah.

Kyle  1:09:05

And you know, the point to kind of bring this home I think we can definitely agree about this is that there are people who are zealous about this idea of right. It's one thing to think Scripture teaches it, or to think that your theological presuppositions and tail it, or to hold it in a very conflicted way, which I know a lot of Calvinists do a lot of honest, sincere good people who believe certain things about God's sovereignty, and believe that for philosophical reasons, at the end of the day, God is simply entailed to condemn certain people to eternal suffering, but they feel really conflicted about the view, you know, as any person of strong character would. But then on the other hand, there are a lot of people who seemed kind of happy about it. Yeah. And that is concerning.

Randy  1:09:50

Yeah, no, I mean, Rachel Held Evans. She has this quote, where she said, Some Christians are more offended by the idea of everyone going to heaven than the idea of everyone going to hell. And I've actually For against those kinds of Christians, and that scares me, this is something that whether you believe it or not, whether you see it in scriptures or not, whether you have, you know, you can have an honest conversation or not, I think we should all hope for, at the very least, like you've been speaking to, I can't get on board. But I really hope it's true. I think it's something that we should all hope for. With all the stuff couched with like there has to be consequences for evil. There has to be sure you know, like, all of that has to pass through that fiery blah, blah, blah. But the zealousness with which some Christians stand on this doctrine of hell, I mean, Christian Christian Cobos. Do May she was talking in Jesus and John Wayne, about the three kinds of irrevocable doctrines that evangelicals have held historically within the last several decades and they are patriarchy, sexuality, and hell, if you differ in any one of those three, with traditional evangelicalism, you're out. And I don't know why that like, I don't know what any of them are part of that, that Holy Trinity for evangelicals, but health particularly gets me like, it's a scary, awful concept. Yeah. And I say awful while saying like, even if you believe it, you have to you have to say that it's it's, it's bad,

Kyle  1:11:15

right? I mean, there is something patriarchal about the idea of hell interesting, which some of you maybe talk to someone who knows more about that about but yeah, I mean, it's the idea of subjugating your enemies violently and forcing their you know, unwilling confession and punishing them. That's a that's associated in some strong historical ways, with patriarchal stances on various things.

Randy  1:11:41

Well, and it's a it's a good way to control people, right? It's a good way to manipulate people and to get them to buy into your brand.

Kyle  1:11:47

Yeah, and don't get us started on like, the images of hell that have been popular in literature and how patriarchal and sexist many of those are.

Randy  1:11:54

So let's just cheers to ongoing conversation and talking to friends who have different opinions about this. And we'll keep this

Kyle  1:12:01

when you propose the topic I thought, I don't know if have much to say about that.

Randy  1:12:07

I haven't met a topic that you don't have much to say about.

Kyle  1:12:12

Well, that's it for this episode of A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar. We hope you're enjoying the show as much as we are. Help us continue to create compelling content and reach a wider audience by supporting us at patreon.com/apastorandaphilosopher, where you can get bonus content, extra perks, and a general feeling of being a good person.

Randy  1:12:32

Also, please rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, and Spotify. These help new people discover the show, and we may even read your review in a future episode. If it's good enough.

Kyle  1:12:43

If anything we said really pissed you off or if you just have a question you'd like us to answer, or if you'd just like to send us booze, send us an email at pastorandphilosopher@gmail.com.

Randy  1:12:54

Catch all of our hot takes on Twitter at @PPWBPodcast, @RandyKnie, and @robertkwhitaker, and find transcripts and links to all of our episodes at pastorandphilosopher.buzzsprout.com. See you next time.

Kyle  1:13:08


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