Saviour of All Fellowship
Dear Friends in Faith,
There seem to be a number of scholarly studies being published showing that the theory of everlasting damnation was not at all the dominant idea in the few surviving documents of Christian teaching in the early centuries after Christs death and resurrection. A friend sent us one of these studies, entitled: RESCUE FOR THE DEAD, by Jeffrey A. Trumbower (Oxford University Press, 2001), which shows that many believed in the posthumous salvation of non-Christians. It acknowledges that some in fact believed in eventual, universal salvation.
It is not that we would offer this as evidence of the truth of universal reconciliation; only Gods Word itself can establish that. But it does indicate that the idea of an everlasting hell and the denial of all being saved had a late start.
Every now and then someone on the internet makes the statement that the majority of the early fathers actually believed in eternal torment. They then begin to cite this father and that father showing them using the phrase eternal torment or some such phrase. But did those early men actually use the word eternal? It is possible that some of the early Latin ones may have used aeternum. But if we are talking about the early Greek fathers, the word used would have been aionion from which we get eonian. It is the modern translator of the given ancient manuscript that gives aionion the improper meaning of eternal. The person who originally wrote the manuscript, however, had no such idea in mind.
For a fascinating study we suggest the 40 page booklet entitled Whence Eternity by Alexander Thomson. They are only $2.50 apiece. Here is a sentence out of that booklet: Eternal is one of the many hundreds of words that gained entrance into English during the Renaissance. Previous to that time, it was completely unknown.
Our Almont Fellowship at Tom and Joanne Houghs home October 5th was another encouraging time. T. M. brought some friends from Ohio, and Bob and Jill Evely from Kentucky also attended, each one making an important contribution to the fellowship.
Centering as usual on the Scriptures themselves, T. spoke concerning the likenesses and distinctions of the Circumcision and Uncircumcision evangels. Dean Hough directed attention to Genesis 6 concerning Gods grace to Noah involving more than his deliverance through the flood. It also involved his righteousness and flawlessness relative to his generation. Tony Nungesser summed up a message which Dirk Venlet gave on April 15, 1956, contrasting the ministry of the Apostle Paul with that of Peter.
Gods grace and mercy to a few, to Noah, to Israel and to the body of Christ, never contradicts His purpose to head up all in the Christ. It only confirms that judgment and destruction and death are not Gods final word. Only the cross of Christ can have the last say.
As a reminder to our readers, there are three Scripture Conferences coming up. Those in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, will be held on October 12th and November 9th. You can contact Harry Watts.
Yours in Gods grace and peace,
Dean Hough and Tony Nungesser
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