Friday, May 2, 2008

Frederic W. Farrar on Salvation for the Dead

Non LDS-theologian Frederic W. Farrar commented on 1 Peter 3:18-19; 4:6 thusly:

In this truth is involved nothing less than the extension of Christ’s redeeming work to the dead....I allude of course to the famous passage...that ‘Christ...went and preached to the spirits in prison.’... Few words of Scripture have been so tortured and emptied of their significance as these...Every effort has been made to explain away the plain meaning of this passage. It is one of the most precious passages of Scripture, and it involves no ambiguity, except as is created by the scholasticism of a prejudiced theology...For if language have any meaning, this language means that Christ, when His Spirit descended into the lower world, proclaimed the message of salvation to the once impenitent dead. No honest man who goes to Holy Scripture to seek for truth, instead of going to try and find whatever errors he may bring to it as part of his theological belief, can possibly deny that there is ground here to mitigate that element of the popular teaching of Christendom against which many of the greatest Saints and theologians have raised their voices [that is, the exclusivist view]....We thus rescue the work of redemption from the appearance of having failed to achieve its end for the vast majority of those for whom Christ died. By accepting the light thus thrown upon ‘the descent into Hell’ we extend to those of the dead who have not finally hardened themselves against it the blessedness of Christ’s atoning work. We thus complete the divine, all-comprehending circuit of God’s universal grace (Farrar, Frederic W. The Early Days of Christianity, 2 Vols. [New York: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Company, 1882] 1:139-143)!

Farrar has given a wonderful insight, and I believe he is absolutely right: You destroy the doctrine of salvation for the dead and the concept of redemption has lost any real meaning and the very atonement of Christ has been made a mockery. This is so because the vast majority of people have never heard the gospel of Christ in this life.

Why are so many modern Christians opposed to this clearly biblical concept? (See my paper HERE for much more information)


JayFlow22 said...

Baptism must be for the dead. The unbaptized dead out number all the current living by 1000-to-1.
If baptism was only for the living, it would be a pretty limited ordinance.

Andrew Miller said...


Even if a person doesn't embrace the necessity of baptism, it would seem that you would still be compelled to believe that the gospel can be received by those who died without a knowledge of it (unless you're Calvinist).

Ken Cook said...


I know that you seem to be a reasonable fellow. However, Quoting Mr. Farrar on the topic of salvation is about as useful to your cause as quoting the Dali Lama. From the Wiki, article you linked to on your post;

"He was a believer in universal reconciliation and thought that all people would eventually be saved, a view he promoted in a series of 1877 sermons"

The guy is a heretic by Every Christian Standard.

I mean, I don't know what you are tying to prove here, I am deeply confused. What's the Point?

Andrew Miller said...

Ken Cook,

I'm not trying to prove anything. I'm just saying that I agree with Farrar on the issue of salvation for the dead (not universal salvation). The meaning of 1 Peter 3:18-19; 4:6 is clear. To limit the atonement only to the living believers would be a mockery of that sacred event.

Ken Cook said...

You say that he meaning of 1 Peter 3:18-19 is clear, and 4:6 is clear. Would you be so kind as to explain your Interpretation of them within the context of the book of 1 Peter?