Stan

Some Slaves Not Resurrected

In 1858 Ellen G. White wrote that "the slave master would have to answer for the soul of his slave whom he has kept in ignorance. . . . God cannot take the slave to heaven, who has been kept in ignorance and degradation, knowing nothing of God, or the Bible, fearing nothing but his master's lash, and not holding so elevated a position as his master's brute beasts. But He does the best thing for him that a compassionate God can do. He lets him be as though he had not been." [1]

However, a few pages later she reported that she "saw the pious slave rise [in the resurrection] in triumph and victory." [2] In many places she referred to the terrible conditions imposed on slaves in the South, treated "as though they were beasts." [3] Nevertheless, she was equally emphatic that "many of the slaves had noble minds." [4]

In these statements Ellen White was distinguishing between the "pious" slave and the "ignorant" slave who knows "nothing of God." Regarding the latter, she stated with prophetic insight that the most compassionate act for a just God would be to let such slaves remain in their graves, not to be resurrected for judgment.

Some object to this statement because the Bible says that "all who are in the graves will . . . come forth" (John 5:28, 29). A few chapters later, John quoted Jesus: "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself" (John 12:32). Here we have two examples among many where Bible writers used all-inclusive language but with very definite restrictions. No one but Universalists argue that everyone, sooner or later, will be redeemed, regardless of character or desire. Not all people will be drawn to Jesus because not all are willing to be drawn!

Another example of a general, all-inclusive statement is John the Revelator's description of the Second Advent: ". . . every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne'" (Rev. 6:15, 16). Obviously, not all slaves and not all free men are going to be lost!

Prophets, as well as everyone else, use inclusive language at times, and most people understand the implied restrictions. The next question is, How does God deal with those who are neither among those "who have done good," or "those who have done evil" (John 5:29)? The best we can do is to join Abraham, the father of the faithful, and believe with confidence: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:25).

Notes

[1] Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, p. 193 (Early Writings, p. 276).

[2] Ibid., p. 206 (Early Writings, p. 286).

[3] Review and Herald, Dec. 17, 1895.

[4] Ibid.

[Adapted from Herbert E. Douglass, Messenger of the Lord: the Prophetic Ministry of Ellen G. White (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1998), pp. 489, 490.]

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As a universalist (the normative view in historic Jewish thought), I can see that the purpose of the lake of fire is to purify the wicked of their wickedness, but clearly it has other purposes as well, not the least of which is compassion for victims --unrepentant perpetrators must be severely punished in proportion to their crimes. However, in the case of criminals (whether slave or non-slave) whose actions were the result of poor upbringing and thus reduced mental capacity, punishment would be pointless and immoral. No need to burn sin  out of them. Simply let the wickedness in them be as though it had never been, restoring the soul to its original perfection without any trial by fire.

Stan and GayatfootofCross like this

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Hi Stan,

I think your heading is misleading:

There is only one criteria for exclusion from heaven.  Will you live with God under His guidance?  Therefore the "slaves" Sis White refers to are those who reject Him.  She does not say that they will not be resurrected, for all who have ever lived will come up in one of the two resurrections, there are no exceptions!  "As though they were beasts" does not exclude them, for there will be beasts in the new world.  "The lion with the lamb" etc.  Are they not resurrected as God's creatures? 

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~~But He does the best thing for him that a compassionate God can do. He lets him be as though he had not been."~~

 

What is it exactly that is not crystal clear about these words RonP?

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