The following is a translation of a part from a writing of the German evangelical professor Ernst Ferdinand Stroeter (1846-1922):
The further accommodations of the author of this pamphlet (against Universalism) really pleased us:
is the belief that finally all creatures get saved and become
blessed extremely glorious and superior.
We thank our
dear brother from the bottom of our heart for such open and manful
Why dont they accept so obviously and clear words like 1 Timothy 4:10, that God is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe? Wheres the difficulty? - Can it be cleared through careful studying?
Lets hear the author by himself, how he considers the topic as a honest but traditional exponent of the churchs teaching of endless torment. He says: But there is spoken of eternal damnation and eternal torment again and again in the strongest terms. If you want to say that the words for eternal and eternity dont always have the meaning of endless duration, then the argument of the great Augustine is true, that when is spoken of life and bliss they cant keep their meaning too, and that there could no longer be spoken about eternal life (Mt. 25:46).
We gladly notice that our brother makes no attempt to deny, that such words of God like 1 Timothy 4:10 teach without doubt that God really is the Savior of all men, not only desires to be. Thats a great benefit for our study. But whats about the serious stumbling block he mentioned? Its characteristic, that his only argument is the biblical use of the words that have been translated with eternal and eternity.
This is the adversarial argument, which is the clearest for the common and uneducated reader.If we can prove from the Bible, in a way that the common man from among the people will understand that the great Augustine and all that use the same argument became victim of a fallacy, then is this biggest stumbling block and most popular argument against the belief that God is indeed the Savior of all men refuted for every straight thinking man.
We forbear from doing a scholarly examination and want to speak to the common people that only know and accept the Scripture. How do we want to prove that Augustine was wrong? He said: If the words talking about the doom of the wicked dont mean endless duration, then the life and the bliss of the saved have also no endless duration.
If its now possible to demonstrate that the Scripture obviously used the words for "eternal" and "eternity" in the same sentence once applied to something that by its nature can only thought to be infinite and the other time on something that by its nature can never be thought infinite, then Augustines conclusion can only be considered as unscriptural.
Lets look upon two Bible words, the one is written in Romans 16:25-26, according to the revelation of the mystery having been kept unvoiced during eternal (aionios) times, but now has been made plain, and by prophetic Scriptures, according to the commandment of the eternal (aionios) God
There is no need for scholarliness to recognize that times in their nature can never be infinite or eternal, but they are obvious with the same word designated that is used to denote the eternal God. On the other hand no one needs to prove that God in his nature can only thought of being infinite.
If Augustine had used the same logic here as in Matthew 25:46, then he could have said, if the times called eternal here were not infinite - then God called eternal here is not infinite too - a blatant fallacy.
We have a similar example in Titus 1:2 (also 2Tim 1:9) on hope of eternal (aionios) life which the God who does not lie promised before eternal (aionios) times If there is a linguistic term that is fundamentally different from infinity, then it is "time" or "times".
Nevertheless are they called "eternal" (aionios), a striking proof that this adjective itself is not suitable to denote infinity.
All adjectives that refer to God and His life get their true meaning from there, but not the way round. Wherever the word translated "eternal" (Greek: aionios - aeonian or age-long), refers to creature, men or mere human conditions or circumstances it never has the sense of infinity cause nothing creatural can be thought of being infinite, unless it partook in the divine nature of divine life and entity.
Our appreciated brother and friend in the adversarial camp concludes now from Augustines words: Nobody has proved yet, that the Scriptures doesnt teach the infinity of the damnation and torment of the wicked.
After our examination we just want to answer in similar words:
Nobody has sure proved yet, that the words of the Bible teach the infinity of the
damnation and torment of the wicked.
Also this proof will never be adduced as long the Scripture alone and not human philosophy has to determine which sense the word translated with "eternal" has.
As long as this proof cant be adduced without any gap, it is at least very bold to forbid the ordinary children of God believing their heavenly God and Father on his word, that He was in
Christ reconciling the world unto himself (2Co 5:19) and that God will be all in all (1Co 15:28).
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