Mark Tabladillo’s survey on the unevengelized dead

Editor’s note: Byker Bob, Pasedena Guy10 and James Pate, yes there was a post here but the contrast and comparison chart was simply not working and unfortunately wordpress was not flexible enough to shrink it to size so I had to rearranged something different. To the greater audience, this is a piece that Mark Tabladillo of Jesus Loves Fellowship message board wrote in 2001 about his thoughts about the unevangelized dead and his own survey of the many theories of the destinies of such. Mark has always something interesting to say and I thought this one was absolutely no exception. May all have good read of his post!

Hi all

Classically, WCG would produce booklets which asked questions, and through the text went ahead and showed the answers to those questions. IMHO, they could have saved money by printing simple booklets with a new question on the cover, and put the answer “Jesus Christ” on the inside.

I brought up this postmortem evangelization question with my girlfriend Stefanie, and she did not recall that we had talked about the question before. At first look, she said there is no way God was going to give people a chance to live at the judgment, because that was the essence of the strong message which she had been taught about what the judgment is. In many minds, the judgment is all about opening up the book of life, and if your name is in there, you’re in, and if not, you’re out. With such a simple story, it does not seem like a time to call people.

And yet, it’s also interesting that at the same time, the “books” are opened too. The books are clearly a record of all which has happened. Some people keep scrapbooks and diaries, but these books appear to have a written record of all which has been done, as if a stenographer were watching us at all times — it makes sense, for how could we be guaranteed justice if we did not know the Lord was always paying attention?

Rev 20:14 clearly says that the lake of fire represents the “second death”, and if so, the question is what the “second life” is all about. It is my personal belief (and I will contrast it with competing beliefs) that it is possible for the Lord to call someone at the judgment. This belief is called “postmortem evangelization”. I’m not saying that this is a prophetic event or even a likely occurence, but a definite possibility.

However, the belief does not start with an assumption on Revelation or a creative attempt to fill in the blanks. The assumption starts instead with the question of whether God will present himself to all people and give them a chance for salvation.

Those of the strong Calvinist bend believe that “Limited Atonement” applies — namely that Jesus Christ died ONLY for those who would ultimately accept him. Therefore, by the strict interpretation of this belief, Jesus did not die for any who would reject him. Quickly we get into the debate of whether or not God knew beforehand who would accept and who would not.

Perhaps someone of that thought would draw a distinction between forgiveness and atonement. After all, the Lord Jesus asked for forgiveness for all those who chose to kill him at his crucifixion. Could it be that he was prophesying that all those present would be saved? And if so then we could say that forgiveness and atonement were the same thing. More simply, the counterargument would be that Jesus could forgive an unrepentant sinner, and that unrepentance would also mean that the person had no covering atonement.

However, I believe that forgiveness by God (as in the case with the women caught in adultery) amounts essentially to atonement. Granted, what the words mean are different, but IMHO they require one another.

And even in a practical sense, I find it hard to forgive someone who does not have covering blood. In that sense, I don’t have to ask the question of whether someone is a Christian or not before I forgive them — and that question does not bother me when someone cuts me off on the highway.

But again, the core question is about whether God will present salvation to all. Perhaps largely influenced by the WCG teaching, I believe the “Day of Atonement” is for all Israel, and it is clear in the historical Jewish tradition that everyone was covered, even the stranger in the gates. Even Ruth the gentile (and ancestor of the Lord) was covered too. The covering during Atonement was different from the other ongoing sacrifices — this sacrifice was not offered by the WORKS of the Israelites, but instead was offered by the High Priest. It was an act of faith and trust in the High Priest which extended the ceremony to the rest of Israel.

Therefore, the conditions today are quite similar — those who believe by faith that they will be covered will be.

At the end of the day, however, the debate will still remain whether God did know in advance who will accept him and who will not.

That issue aside, the core question on “postmortem evangelization” is less about the what the Lord could possibly do in the time between a human birth and the time of final judgment (just before the second death, literally at the last moment of “second life”), and more about what God’s intention is about saving all mankind.

I personally challenge people to think about how little we know about what happens at the point of death. Many stories and testimonies are around about “near death” experience, and we simply do not know what the process is of the spirit leaving the body, and the mechanics and specifics of what happens. Could your whole life “flash before your eyes”? Is there communication with God? Does God speak between the first death and second life?

Further, as I started this message, we don’t know what the “second life” will consist of. Historically, WCG speculated that the “White Throne Judgment” would be a period of 100 years. Some jokingly said that since many who died were babies (as in abortion), would not many be resurrected as babies? And who would want to change those diapers? On the other hand, perhaps the second life resurrection is like the creation of Adam and Eve, fully grown adults. Others speculate that the time is much shorter, being made like waiting in line for court where a sentence would be handed out.

My core belief is based on the idea that as in Adam all die, and so in Christ shall all be made alive. Some qualify the second “all” to mean all who accept Christ, but who ever asked me if I accepted Adam? Inherently, IMHO we all accepted Adam’s way, namely the way of man, which today is called humanism.

What is above is enough background to perhaps solve the question, or provide a basis for your own investigation. To help this process, what appears below is a chart from a book called “What about those who have never heard?” — three views on the destiny of the unevangelized (authors Gabriel Fackre, Ronald Nash, and John Sanders).

This book presents a comparative study of this question, and while three viewpoints are well discussed in the text, the authors acknowledge five identifiable viewpoints which all fall within (and this is important) historical and non-heretical Christianity (the footnote on the chart says “The listed adherents of all these views agree that Jesus is the ONLY Savior”).

Granted, there are aspects of these five viewpoints below which some may have already considered “heresy”, but what is important is having not only the viewpoints summarized, but also scriptures to look at (there are a few listed to get started), and also some names of prolific authors to look up. Thus, if you really wanted to know (for example) Origen’s beliefs on this topic, you would know that you could find them.

Views on the Destiny of the Unevangelized 

Restricitivism

Definition:God does not provide salvation to those who fail to hear of Jesus and come to faith in him before they die.

Key Texts:John 14:6, Acts 4:12, 1 John 5:11-12

Adherents: Augustine, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Carl Henry, R.C. Sproul, Ronald Nash

Universal Opportunity before Death

Definition: All people are given opportunity to be saved by God’s sending the gospel (even by angels or dreams) or at the moment of death or by “middle knowledge”.

Key Texts: Daniel 2, Acts 8

Adherents: Thomas Aquinas, James Arminius, John Henry Newman, J. Oliver Buswell Jr., Norman Geisler, Robert Lightner

Inclusivism

Definition:The unevangelized may be saved if they respond in faith to God based on the revelation they have.

Key Texts: John 12:32, Acts 10:43,1 Timothy 4:10

Adherents: Justin Martyr, John Wesley, C.S. Lewis, Clark Pinnock, Wolfhart Pannenberg, John Sanders

Divine Perseverence (Post-Mortem Evangelization)

Definition:The unevangelized receive an opportunity to believe in Jesus after death.

Key Texts: John 3:181 Peter 3:18-4:6

Adherents:Clement of Alexandria, George MacDonald, Donald Bloesch, George Lindbeck, Stephen Davis, Gabriel Fackre, (Editor’s note: Felix Taylor is a 21st century adherent!)

Universalism

Definition: All people will be saved by Jesus. No one is damned forever.

Key texts: Romans 5:18, I Corinthians 15:22-28, I John 2:2

Adherents: Origen, F.E. Schleiermacher, G.C. Berkouwer, William Barclay, Jacques Ellul

What about those who have never heard?” Three views on the destiny of the unevangeluzed, Fackre, Gabriel J., editor, Intervarsity Press, 1995, page 20.

http://formums.delphiforums.com/n/mb/display.asp?webtag=KLF7&msg=322.1

markTab

http://www.markTab.org/
Copyright (c) 2001, Mark Tabladillo

 

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9 thoughts on “Mark Tabladillo’s survey on the unevengelized dead

  1. Apparently, nobody has read Revelation 20 very carefully. Herbert Armstrong sure didn’t. It’s apparent that above quoted sources didn’t read it very carefully either, or they would have presented this unique alternative:

    There will be a second resurrection. All people will live for awhile — maybe 25 to 50 years — at least long enough to prove out which way they will follow.

    If one reads the text clearly and carefully, Satan will be released during this time. This would mean that people who were given the Holy Spirit during this period would, as Jesus and the rest of those who made it to the first, “better” , resurrection, would have to face Satan the Devil to overcome his wickedness while they were converted. Fair is fair. Why should anyone get away with getting into the Kingdom without facing down evil?

    And just think of this: Bill Gates will be there side by side with Genghis Khan. Maybe. The world will be filled with CEOs from Oil Companies. It won’t necessarily be such a fun time, an easy slide into the Kingdom. The ones avoiding this mess will be truly blessed.

    That is, if this scenario is true. If Revelation is wrong, who can fight that?

    Anyway, after this period of the Second Resurrection, THEN, and only then, will God the Father descend and the Great White Throne Judgment will begin. Everyone had their chance. The great Yellowstone Park super volcano will go all postal [a little literary license here] and those of humanity who are not transformed into spirit will find that there is “no place” for them and will be toast as crispy critters.

    Now, Felix, I know we had an exchange about this by email some, oh, what is it, now, 5 years ago. Maybe longer. Maybe not. Your opinion was that God would find some other way for salvation for those who had not heard of Jesus, but you weren’t sure how.

    Now I can truthfully say and would be the first to admit, I sure don’t know what’s going to happen. All I’m saying is that Revelation 20 says what it says. Let the chips fall where they may. I would not want to be in the position to claim [as the Calvinists tacitly do] that God the Father is harsh and unfair.

    That’s the real issue, isn’t it? The whole premise of Armstrongism is that God is harsh and demanding, not loving and fair. In fact, maybe, God is pretty arbitrary. His children never know when they are going to get a swat. What are they to assume: That they are guilty of something they did, when they didn’t do anything? Or are they being tried when really, they’ve done something wrong? And who could tell punishment from trials anyway?

    It should be strongly noted that this was the sort of father and grandfather Herbert Armstrong was: Demanding, often cruel, mostly arbitrary. His own children had to live in poverty and want early on until he came into his empire. GTA was dumped in downtown Los Angeles as a teen to find his way home some how. What kind of father does that? I’ll tell you what kind: A narcissistic arrogant self-righteous arbitrary harsh incompetent abusive parent, that’s what. And by extension, we were all his “children”. It’s no wonder we’ve been so confused.

    The real problem with all of this is that no time has there ever been anywhere at any time that I can tell, a viable view of God the Father as a loving caring Father taking care of His children to make them the best they can be, both physically and spiritually — emotionally there for them, comforting them when they are sick and in need and sharing the joy of accomplishments of understanding and achievements of their goals. The Armstrongists look at the judgment of God and in their own warped way see an abusive parent to be feared so they have to toe the line and fear making mistakes. And when it’s all over, they look forward to being the dominant godletts lording over their hapless victims some time in the future, just as they perceive that God lords it over them.

    And that’s sick. Not one shred of righteousness there.

    So if their is a second resurrection, let us hope that those with such disablements can be healed to know God as God is God, and have their silly belief that they will be God as God is God, but not God, is totally unattainable, much to the relief of the whole world.

  2. Felix, if I may be so bold to prevail upon your patience and magniminity once again to comment about Salvation, I would like to pose a question concerning a certain segment of humanity and collect the perspectives of others concerning this topic.

    Is it not the case that the Apostle Paul spoke from authority when he said that “All of Israel will be saved”? Certainly “the valley of dry bones” in Ezekiel more than suggests that there will be a resurrection of Israelites who had not have an opportunity at salvation under Christ. Perhaps this could be the second resurrection.

    But what of the Arabs who have rejected Jesus as the Christ? Particularly the Islamic Arabs who are taught hate from the time they are children? Will they have a chance? Or have they already had it?

    I note with interest that it appears that there is one kind of person with whom God cannot deal: The arrogant. Jesus was just fine showing mercy toward prostitutes, publicans, sinners of every sort, but the Pharisees not so much. God is Love. People who hate will not make it into the Kingdom.

    There is a chilling Scripture that “Jacob have I loved, but Esau I have hated”. You can see where I’m coming from. According to other Scripture, the Edomites are going to be utterly destroyed either before or at Christ’s return. At least that is what it looks like to me.

    And I wonder.

    Is it possible that God the Father will decide that He’s not even going to deal with certain peoples because He knows in advance, it’s not worth the bother?

    If nothing else, it would be interesting, would it not? To spend several decades protecting the Israelites from the Arabs who hate them during the Second Resurrection?

    It’s just a thought.

  3. A few questions come to mind if you would permit:

    What is the difference between Universalism and Divine Perseverance? Felix you say you are a 21st century believer in Divine Perseverance, but it’s essentially the same as Universalism isn’t it?

    Are Restrictivism and Inclusivism practiced by most evangelicals? I.e., because they walk around preaching all the time, those who hear and “reject” that preaching are automatically gonna fry, by those two perspectives.

    So do the evangelicals evangelize because they want to save people (from a hell that doesn’t exist in my opinion) or do they evangelize specifically knowing that they will be rejected, and they will be satisfied (in themselves) that the “unbeliever” is going to fry?

    Doesn’t seem very christian to me. Then again, a lot of the stuff I have been reading by and about evangelicals recently seems to point to an inherent anti-Semitism that is almost as bad as, if not worse than, the Anglo-Israelism Armstrongites believe(d) in.

  4. ((What is the difference between Universalism and Divine Perseverance? Felix you say you are a 21st century believer in Divine Perseverance, but it’s essentially the same as Universalism isn’t it?))

    No. The ESN (Exit Support Network) website would disagree—but my answer still remains a stubbornly unchanged a firm no. I believe that there are people that will be eternally seperated from the love and fellowship. I have also mentioned this before, under no circumstances God will overlook anyone and anybody who in this life have spurned their opportunity to turn to Him and rejected every chance and at every turn. In the last day believers will say, “Thy will be done.” God says to the wicked, “Thy will be done.” Not everyone will not be in the love and fellowship of God. Universalism as far as I understand opposes this. Also you might want to read my post “Armstrongism hates non-submission, not evil” (which is in my blog) to refute (very violently mind you) Armstrong’s version of post-mortem evangelization. He gives Hitler, Arafat, Mao, Hussien, Stalin (and even JR of Dallas) a second chance—where as ex-members (like you and me) of his cult have actually only ONE chance and one chance only. Armstrong basically condemned the righteous and justified the wicked. The book of Proverbs isn’t shy nor squeamish in protesting that warped thinking is an abomination of God. I feel it is waay more just for a Sikh,Buddhist, Islamic (not the radical kind),Confucian,even that ethical Atheist (believe you me there is a heck of them—I got a buddy who fits in that category) and so and so on to have a geniune opportunity to have a chance to experience the risen Christ and embrace Him as their own personal Lord and Savior. Even British scholar John Stott seems to be sympathetic by saying, “I have never able to conjure up (as some great Evangelical missionaries have) the appalling vision of the millions who are not only perishing but will inevitably perish. On the other hand…I am not and cannot be a universalist. Between these extremes I cherish and hope that the majority of the human race will be saved. And I have solid biblical basis for this belief.” You might want to look up an article I written on Gary Scott’s defunct blog called XCG at http://xcg.kingary.net/index.php?pg=6 (look for the article, “My Thoughts on the Boyne Article, Grace: Evangelicalism 1; Armstrongism 0). I hope what I have said (albeit lengthy) helps.

    ((Are Restrictivism and Inclusivism practiced by most evangelicals? I.e., because they walk around preaching all the time, those who hear and “reject” that preaching are automatically gonna fry, by those two perspectives.

    So do the evangelicals evangelize because they want to save people (from a hell that doesn’t exist in my opinion) or do they evangelize specifically knowing that they will be rejected, and they will be satisfied (in themselves) that the “unbeliever” is going to fry?

    Doesn’t seem very christian to me. Then again, a lot of the stuff I have been reading by and about evangelicals recently seems to point to an inherent anti-Semitism that is almost as bad as, if not worse than, the Anglo-Israelism Armstrongites believe(d) in.))

    Yes most of evangelicals preach Restrictivism and Inclusivism. Though I believe it is flawed, I would prefer inclusivism over restrictivism any day. At my fellowship, there are a significant amont of those who are inclusivist. At least inclusivism makes God a loving father. I agreee with you 100% about the results of restrictivism and a fair amount of it has been dysfunctional. About anti-semitism in evangelical Christianity, I would be in agreement with Dr. John D.Garr (of the Restoration Foundation which specializes in the Hebraic roots of Christianity) in which he said that mainline Christians are more friendly to the religion of Judaism but hostile against the state of Israel but evangelicals are friendly to the Jewish people but are inimical towards Judaism.

  5. ((Now, Felix, I know we had an exchange about this by email some, oh, what is it, now, 5 years ago. Maybe longer. Maybe not. Your opinion was that God would find some other way for salvation for those who had not heard of Jesus, but you weren’t sure how.))

    Are you sure it was me, Douglas? I don’t sure don’t remember but anyway I have believed in a righteous provision for the unevangelized dead at the Great White Throne Judgement—but it was no longer Herbert Armstrong’s version—but similiar to Mike Feazell’s version (shhh…don’t tell the whole world! Ooops, that has gone out the window! Oh well! 🙂 We’re still NOT friends! Ahh, that makes me feel better! LOL!). In 2008, I would lean probably to 19th century Scottish scholar George MacDonald in which he got his stuff (indirectly or directly, not too sure) from the patristic fathers. I also agree with you about God’s attituted to the arrogant. Did He say that he cannot stand on the proud but gives GRACE to the humble? So what you said is unmistakably supported by scriptures.

    A note about Arab-Americans, most of them who have migrated to the U.S. during the 20th century are mostly Christian (or Christian influenced) and have been pretty outstanding citizens to say the least.

  6. “About anti-semitism in evangelical Christianity, I would be in agreement with Dr. John D.Garr (of the Restoration Foundation which specializes in the Hebraic roots of Christianity) in which he said that mainline Christians are more friendly to the religion of Judaism but hostile against the state of Israel but evangelicals are friendly to the Jewish people but are inimical towards Judaism.”

    Wow. That’s—that is soooooo messed up,

    As for Weazell and the KofG, that’s news to me: I thought WCG’s view now was “Sorry folks, Kingdom’s cancelled! Better luck next time!” No?

  7. And on the other hand, I have my senior moments… minutes… hours… days… weeks… months?

    I am very certain that any Arabs who turn to Christ are in good hands and need not worrying about entering into the Kingdom of God. Unrepentant Islamic Arabs filled with hate? Not so much.

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