If human free will is, in effect, an uncaused cause (as it must be, to be free); and if therefore free will is autonomous of God's will; then God cannot by any means force a human soul to enter Heaven - and therefore not all can necessarily be saved - even if (as I believe the Christian God does) God wishes to save all Men.
If the free will of each Man is part if the nature of things, then Man must choose Heaven, must choose to allow himself to be saved by Christ - otherwise Man will not be saved, because Man cannot be saved except with his own consent.
The operations of evil are about inducing Man to refuse to be saved; evil cannot block Heaven, evil cannot coerce choice, and evil cannot change the fact that Man is moral (more exactly, that man knows Good and seeks Good).
But evil works to distort and invert the concept of Good into anti-Goods, such that Man, despite knowing Good (and as a Son of God, each Man intrinsically knows Good), uses his free will to reject Good, and prefer anti-Goods.
An anti-Good is something which is Good-according-to-Man's ideas; Good therefore by denial of natural, spontaneous Good - an anti-Good is perceived as Good according to some new scheme of Good which necessarily entails the distortion, denial or inversion of Good.
Thus the essence of evil is not the specific choice against Good, but the schema (the system - for example the moral system) which redefines an anti-Good choice as Good.
Repentance is the recognition of the schema of Good, against which the choice against Good can be understood.
The failure to repent is to make the choice to adopt an anti-Good schema; such that one redefines Good.
The refusal to repent is therefore to be loyal to one's chosen schema of anti-Good; and failure to repent is the one cause of damnation because it is to make choice of a schema which redefines Heaven as Hell.
Salvation is refused by the unrepentant because - according to one's chosen anti-Good schema - salvation is redefined as evil.
Thus damnation - the refusal of Heaven - is not a consequence of hedonism, but for example may be a moral choice, made according to a personal (chosen) anti-moral schema.
In freely choosing an anti-Good schema - a schema which is not God's Good, but is instead Man's own personal 'Good' - a Man may ultimately choose to reject salvation which was won for him by Christ and is open to him simply on the basis of consent.
The evil of modern times in The West is not a matter of evil specific choices, but that anti-Good schemata are so prevalent.
People have en masse chosen to redefine specific anti-Good choices in terms of a false schema which evaluates them as being Good.
It is this societal choice of schemata which distort and an invert reality, which redefine evil as Good-according-to-the-chosen-false-schema - which imperils salvation on a vast scale in the West.
The triumph of evil is to induce so many Men to choose to refuse salvation on the basis that - according to the evaluations of modern Western schemata - salvation is evil.
Therefore, Heaven is shunned because (by the light of modern Western evaluations) Heaven is perceived as immoral, aesthetically-unappealing, and (anyway) a fake.
The paradox is the immorality, aesthetic revulsion and falsehood of Heaven are defined in terms of a schema which itself denies the reality of morality, beauty and truth.
The triumph of evil in the modern West is to induce Men to choose an anti-Good schema; one this has been achieved, damnation is assured since repentance of specific evils is impossible.
Damnation is assured - unless the false schema, the system of anti-Good, is recognized as anti-Good, and the schema is therefore repented and rejected.
Only after the anti-Good schema is repented will repentance of specific evil choices again become possible.
Well, even given the reality of free will, it is still clearly possible to force people to do things against their will. We mortals do it to each other all the time, and God would presumably have the same power. He may choose not to exercise that power, but it's hard to imagine that he doesn't have it.
Like a batsman in form who walks to the crease knowing runs will flow from his bat so you have been in your recent blogging Bruce. A happy and blessed Easter to you and yours.
I know of late you've been intrigued with LDS theology and perspectives; you may appreciate this passage (which echoes of Romans 2:14). This is discussing the `sons of perdition', who in LDS doctrine are the only ones which remain utterly unredeemed (besides resurrection):
Therefore he [the son of perdition] must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory. •And [these] who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received. •For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift. •And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same. •That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.
(D&C 88:28, 32--35)
There was also a time several years ago after reading Karl Barth regarding the proper translation of πίστιϛ as `faithfulness' rather than `faith'---and specifically the faithfulness of God to us---that I started thinking of `faith in God' as `faith in the context of God'. In other words, faith as the ruling schema, in your terms, rather than as a pluralistic choice that the secular world presents.
@Asc - Thanks
@PhilR - Have you heard of the phenomenon when fulsome praise from a commentator is followed by instant dismissal - he 'talks the batsman out' - I think that's just what you did!...
@WmJas - What I mean is that God cannot make us *choose* Heaven - no doubt He could easily force us to *go* there, but not to *want* to go there. There is a difference between doing (which can be forced) and choosing (which cannot).
Would being forced into Heaven be possible for an evil man? I mean, as no evil can exist in Heaven, being forced in Heaven might be a painful process for a soul as all that which rejects God must first be removed/cleansed/purified.
So perhaps as Mormons would suggest, those who are truly evil and fully, knowingly reject God can only be outside Heaven in darkness. For the rest, we may have to exist in purgatory or a lower Mormon heaven until we are purified and able to rise.
@GG - I'm not here trying to give an account of the nature of Heaven and Hell and the New Jerusalem - but trying to answer the commonly expressed view that God (because He can, according to some, do absolutely anything anytime) could save all the damned, could *change their minds*, could make them repent and turn them towards Himself: and therefore He ought to do this.
I don't think re-defining good is necessary. Man chooses evil things because something about the thing chosen *is* good. Thus he chooses adultery because of the good of pleasure, or theft because of the good of obtaining the thing desired. He chooses one good over another.
Whereas morality requires us to forego some good things for the sake of goodness itself. People who choose to do evil, do so because they can't or won't forego immediate gratification for the sake of long-term good, or because they can't or won't believe in an objective justice which will exact punishment for evil.
I agree that modern society, in a sense, has been re-defining ugly as beautiful and vice versa. But I don't think it's turning things directly upside down like that. I think it's more like disregarding beauty in favor of other concepts, like "cool" or "new" or "progressive". If they also happen to be beautiful, that's OK. But if they're beautiful without being "modern", they're out-of-date or boring. Thus, Gregorian chant, for a time, became a "hit" despite being beautiful in the traditional sense, because of being coupled with a modern rhythm track.
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