Studying the Church Fathers has been the beginning of what I am beginning to see will be a life-long love and joyous apprentice ship with the minds of our Patristic Elders.
I am not committing myself to the view that follows but it is a thread that I have seen in the Father’s writings and it challenges much of my reformed leanings with regard to the nature of Hell.
It appears to me that in the works of Augustine and related teachings from other Fathers that there is a partial assent to the notion that one can be given the gift of eternal life but also condemned to not receive the reward of Christ.
This view and perspective is especially challenging because it logically forces the following conclusions as it would seem to me.
- Annihilationism is true for those unelected
- Eternal Security is limited in that it is secure for the eternal existence but not destination
- Libertarian free-will is a gift to the saved but through it they may condemn themselves and ship-wreck their faith. This does not enable them to change themselves to those who will be annihilated.
- The Elect are incapable of denying the Gift of Eternal Life
- God preserves the saints elected to be the bride of Christ (this may be all making point 3 impossible in practice. if however the saints being preserved are a portion of the Body elected to be the Bride, point 3 still stands)
- Hell could be filled with those Christians who claimed the name of Christ but lived as though He was not Lord.
I AM NOT SAYING I AGREE WITH THE ABOVE.
Studying the fathers is an interesting journey and their thoughts are deeply moved by their sacramentalism and love for Christ.