The Unbeliever Damned

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned." Mark 16:16.

If we admit that "damned" means final torment, we shut out of salvation all infants, idiots, insane, and heathen, for they do not believe. We also consign all the rest of mankind to endless torment, for according to the test given, there is not a believer on earth today. We are told in the next verse that all believers may be known by their being able to heal the sick, and take poison without injury: "and these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Now all are damned who cannot perform these wonderful deeds, because no others are believers in the sense meant. In other words, all souls must be endlessly tormented if the word damned denotes endless torment. It has no such signification. The Greek word rendered damned denotes condemned, says George Campbell, the Presbyterian. Bishop Horne thus translates it: "He that believeth not shall be condemned, or accountable for his sins."

The same word occurs and has the same meaning in several places. In Matt. 20:18, it is applied to Christ; "They shall condemn him to death. Again in Matt. 27:3, "Then Judas, who had betrayed him, (Jesus) when he saw that he was condemned. repented himself," etc. John 8:10, Jesus said to the guilty woman, "Hath no man condemned thee:—neither do I condemn thee." "They all condemned him (Christ) to be guilty of death." Mark 14:64.

The word has no referencer to what the word damnation is popularly supposed to mean.

The text had a primary application to the apostolic age, though by accommodation it may be employed today to state the great fact that believers are saved from the penalties of unbelief, while unbelievers are condemned. John 3:18-19, "He that believeth not, is condemned (or damned) already, and this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." The language has not the remotest reference to the idea of endless torment.

All men have been unbelievers, and therefore—as there is no saving clause for such—if damnation means endless woe, then all men must experience endless torment. But if we give the word its true meaning, and render it condemn, then it will appear that, having experienced the full amount of condemnation earned, faith can follow, and the salvation resulting from Christian faith will ensue.

Cannon Farrar says, (preface to "Eternal Hope"): The verb "to damn and its cognates does not once occur in the Old Testament. No word conveying any such meaning occurs in the Greek of the New Testament. The words so rendered mean "to judge," "judgment" and "condemnation;" and if the word "damnation" has come to mean more than these words do—as to all but the most educated readers is notoriousy the case—then the word is a grievous mistranslation, all the more serious because it entirely and terribly perverts and obscures the real meaning of our Lord's utterances; and all the more inexcusable, at any rate for us with our present knowledge, because if the word "damnation" were used as the rendering of the very same words in multitudes of other passages (where our translators have rightly translated them) it would make those passages both impossible and grotesque."

In his sermon, "Hell—what it is not," he says: "The verb 'to damn' in the Greek Testament is neither more nor less than the verb 'to condemn,' and the words translated 'damnation' are simply the words which, in the vast majority of instances the same translators have translated, and rightly translated by 'judgment' and 'condemnation.'" And in Excursus II, in 'Eternal Hope,' he says: "In the New Testament the words krino, krisis and krima occur some one hundred and ninety times, the words katakrino, katakrisis, katakrimatwenty-four times, and yet there are only fifteen places out of more than two hundred in which our translation has deviated from the proper renderings of 'judge' and 'condemn' into 'damn' and its cognates. It is singular that they should have used 'damnation' only for the milder words kirisis and krima. This single fact ought to be decisive to every candid mind."

He makes these corrections: "Damnable heresies," in 2 Peter 2:1, should be "destructive heresies." 2 Thess. 2:12, "might be damned" should be "may be judged." "Greater damnation in Matt. 23:14, Mark 12:40, Luke 20:47, should be "severer judgment." Matt 23:33, "damnation of hell" should be "judgment of Gehenna." Mark 3:29, "Eternal damnation" should be "aeonian sin." Mark 16:16, "He that believeth not shall be damned," ought to be "disbelieving shall be condemned." John 5:29, "Resurrection of damnation" should be "resurrection of judgment," etc.

Chas. Kingsley says, ("Letters"): "The English damnation, like the Creek katakrisis, is, perhaps,krisis simple, simple meaning condemnation, and is (thank God) retained in that sense in various of our formularies, where I always read it, e.g., 'eateth to himself damnation, with sincere pleasure, as protests of the true and rational meaning of the word, against the modern and narrower meaning."

The unbeliever experiences the condemnation which unbelief imparts— this is the plain and total meaning of the passage.

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  • Medhane
    Are nonbelievers damned?
    7 years ago

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