First off, Id like to apologize for not updating this blog for a month. I have been busy with school and such plus I wanted some time to think about this subject a little more in depth:
The heart of the debate between "traditional"(the mainstream doctrine we've come to know anyway) Christianity and Christian Universalism seems to center around the meaning of the Greek word Aionios, which is translated to things like "eternal" and "forever" in our modern-day Bibles.
Some say(non-universalists) Aionios means "everlasting...without end". While others say(Universalists) it "only denotes everlasting in terms of God and his realm...for He is all that is everlasting. And in other cases its duration is relative to the subject".
So your probably thinking "so whats the big deal?Who cares? LET ME GO BACK TO PLAYN' MA Wii!!!". Hold on there video game cowboy, cuz the actual intended meaning of such words as "eternal" is crucial to understanding verses that denote the afterlife, particularly concepts such as Hell and Heaven, and how long humans actually go there for. If Aionios does in fact (as the mainstream church operates off of) mean "eternal" in the sense of Hell and punishment for humans that don't accept Christ...then the whole concept of ultimate reconciliation/universalism finds itself in deep doo-doo. Especially so to those who believe the Bible to be inerrant(without any errors whatsoever, of which I am not personally...but that's for another blog)
However if Aionios's intended duration is strictly relative to the subject of which it is applied to, then we find ourselves with new possibilities and deeper meanings to what seemed like black and white verses. We find a new lens upon which we can see God's plan for humanity. Lets look at some examples...
2 Corinthians 5:1*(the Anglicized form of Aionios)
"1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an [aeonian*] house in heaven, not built by human hands."
Here is a case where Aionios, according to the Universalist argument, would mean eternal or without end BECAUSE of its subject, which is pertaining to God and HIS realm...the only one of which can be "everlasting".
"27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to [aeonian] life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."
Here is another case where Aionios applies to the realm of God, particularly eternal life with HIM. Again the argument is that God and the realm of which God dwells can be truly deemed "eternal". Seems simple enough right? Not too much controversy screaming to "change your beliefs to SATANISM!!!", right?
But what about Aionios when used in relation to such things as eternal punishment in Hell...?
1 Thessalonians 1:8-9
"8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.9 They will be punished with [aeonian] destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power."
Now here's where things get a bit more sticky. If Aionios/Aeonian is NOT relative to the subject(here being punishment) and deems eternal across the board, then we can only assume(as does mainstream doctrine) that people go to Hell... forever and ever into an unhappy pit of fire AHHHH!...you get the idea. However, if it is relative to the subject and only means eternal in the sense of God, then this verse seems to denote temporary separation or punishment. I say that because if Aionios is pertaining to "humanity" and "punishment" as subjects, neither are God or within the realm/presence of God(quite the opposite actually if were talking about separation in Hell), so therefore Aionios has to be(for arguments sake) a specific period of time not exceeding said subjects.
And since said subjects are not known to be God or in his "presence" nor "everlasting" we can only assume that the verse is NOT saying that people will be separated from God forever...but for a time.
I realize that this blog may have "hammered the same points into the ground" repetitively, seeing as I am not a Greek scholar. But this is the building block (or one of them) for the theory of all peoples being (eventually) reconciled to God through Christ at some point. Its not tossing away the idea of Hell all together or simply "cherry-picking" verses, its taking an interpretation of the Bible, particularly the original languages it was written in and going, "well now this usage may not mean people are separated from God forever.". It means maybe there is a greater purpose for it all, for Man...beyond some predestination or "stumbling upon the right set of beliefs in this lifetime".
Maybe God will bring all His creations until himself eventually.