First of all, Bill, my comment about potential “witnessing” in the ARG thread in the BBQ Pit forum was made very much “tongue in cheek.” The discussion of religious befs and scriptural interpretations were very much in the context of that thread, which illustrates (in my mind) how the current “witnessing” policy is the use of a sledge hammer to swat a house fly. We were all “witnssing” to one degree or another, and yet were not offending anyone but the unreasonably oversensitive. If ARG’s ramblings offend people, ban the twit. I think the restriction is unnecessary.
The issue of “second chances” to hear the gospel message or to “expiate” one’s sins in the next life is not uniquely Mormon. The Catholics have traditionally taught the concept of purgatory, and most eastern religions (i.e. Hinduism) teach some form of “reworking” one’s life via a second chance after death, by reincarnation or some other method.
The concept is not Biblical, however. The verses you sight are difficult to interpret, but do not refer to a “second chance.”
The verse you sight in I Peter 4:6 says “For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.” The preaching spoken of here, in the context of the entire passage and in the original Greek, is a past event. The word “now” is not present in the original Greek, but it is necessary to make it clear that the preaching was done NOT after these people had died, but while they were still alive. There is NO opportunity for people to be saved after death, see Hebrews 9:27. The “judgment according to men in regard to the body” is the first reason the gospel was preached to these people before they died. Some interpret this as the judgment to whih allpeople msst submit, either in this life (see John 5:24) or in the next (see I Peter 4:5). The gospel is preached to people IN THIS LIFE so that in Christ’s death they may receive judgment now (with Christ standing in thier place) and avoid the negative judgment that comes after death. Others interpret this verse to mean that these people are judged according to humand standards, i.e. the pagan world, which does not understand wh God’s people no longer follow its sinful way of life (see I Peter 4: vv 2-4) as the world misunderstood Christ himself (See Acts 222-24, 36; 3:13-15; 5:30-32; 7:51-53).
The second reason that the gospel is preached to these folks BEFORE THEY DIE is so they can “live accordng to God in regard to the Spirit.” One interpretation of this half of the verse is that all gospel preachin has as its goal that the hearers maylive as God lives, that is, eternally, and that this life is given by the Holy Spirit. The other interpretation is that preaching leads God’s people to eternal life,so that, even if this wicked world abuses them, God’s people will live eternal lives as the Holy Spirit imparts.
You selectively quote the passage from I Peter 3: 19 and 20a. Its full implication is (starting in verse 18)
“18 For Christ died for sins once
for all, the righteous for the
unrighteous, to bring you to God. He
was put to death in the body but made
alive by the Spirit,
19 through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison
20 who disobeyed long ago when God
waited patiently in the days of Noah
while the ark was being built.”
This is a difficult passage to understand, but I don’t think the “second chance” interpretation washes.
Scripture scholars have taken three different ways to look at this passage:
Some hold that at the time Noah was building the ark, the preincarnate Christ (the “angel” of God who wrestled with Jacob and appeared in the fiery furnance with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) appeared on the earth and preached (either directly or through the person of Noah) to the wicked generation of that time;
Others argue that between his death and ressurection, Christ went to the “prison” where fallen angels are incarcerated and there preached ot the angels who are said to have left their angelic state during Noah’time (cf. Gen 6:1-4, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6). These “sons of God” in Gen. 6:2 & 4 are interpreted by these scholars to be “angels” as hey are in Job 1:6,and Job 2:1. The message Jesus would have preached would have been a declaration of victory;
Still other folks say that between death and resurrection, Christ went to the “place of the dead” and preached to the spirits of Noah and his wicked contemporaries. He may have preached a form of the gospel,or simply a declaration of victory for Christ and doom for the hearers.
The first view is the weakest, because the context of the chapter is Christ’s death and resurrection. The second view presupposes the possiblity of sexual relations between angels and women, and according to other passages of scripture which define angelic beings as spirits, such relations would not be possible. A problem with the third view is that the term “spirits” as used in the passage is only applied to humans in other portions of scripture when other qualifying terms are added. Otherwise, the term is restricted for supernatural beings like demons or angels.
I have always viewed this passage more in the light of the 2nd explanation, without the baggage of the “sons of god” from Genesis 4. It says in Ephesians 4:7-10, it describes how Christ freed from Hell those who had believed and died prior to his coming to earth during the 3 days beween his death and resurrectuion. I’ve always assumed that the I Peter passage occurred at that time too, involving angelic/demonic spirits at war with God at the time of Noah. I can’t say I fully understand it, but I can’t see using the passage as a means to create a doctrine of allowing for people to get a “second chance” at heaven after death, particularly in light of Heb. 9:27 and that passage’s explanation of life after death.
I appreciate your use of the Book of Mormon as support for your argument. I am quite familiar with Mormon scripture (though not as well as I used to be), and have a fairly good grasp of Mormon doctrine. I don’t want to be lumped with Monty’s bigoted “Mormon bashers,” but you and I have been down this road before. Because the book of Mormon sprang from Joseph Smith’s fertile imagination, I do not find it authoritative in any way. Without further support from the Old or New Testament, I cannot concede to your argument. While the scriptures are not entirely clear on the nature of the afterlife, I think the Bible is fairly clear that it is faith in Christ in this life, and this life alone, that redeems us.
“Its fiction, but all the facts are true!”