Why Christian Universalism is Wrong

Apparently some people looking for the transcript of my debate on Christian Universalism had a hard time getting the whole thing because it’s posted in sections. To make it easier on everybody, I am posting it here in one long post.

Why Christian Universalism is Wrong

What is Universalism?

Christian Universalism (also called Evangelical Universalism) is similar to other types of Universalism in that it argues that all people will ultimately be saved from wrath and received into the bliss of God’s presence for eternity.  Christian Universalism differs from other types of universalism mainly in two ways: (1) Christian Universalists believe that all humanity will be saved, regardless of the religious beliefs (or lack thereof) through the atoning work of Christ, and (2) Christian Universalists argue their case from the Bible.

Note that whenever I mention universalism in these posts, I am referring to Christian Universalism.

I will not address issues of inclusivism nor will I argue for Christian exclusivity since that is irrelevant with regard to Christian Universalism for the reasons stated above.  Also, I will not argue either for annihilationism or an eternal view of hell.  Not only is such a discussion outside the purview of this debate, either of these views argues against Christian Universalism  / Evangelical Universalism since both of these views presuppose that people will actually be annihilated or go to a place of eternal punishment, both of which the Christian Universalist denies.

How do I answer Universalism?

The difficulty in arguing against Christian Universalism should be obvious: it is logically impossible to prove a negative.  Yet, that is what opponents of Christian Universalism must do.  Building on the work of Austin Dacey, however, I can offer two ways to prove a negative that are relevant to this debate:

(1) I can show that the proposition I am negating couldn’t possibly be true because the very idea of the proposition is incompatible with what we are already certain to be true.

(2) The other way to prove a negative is to look very carefully at the evidence for the proposition in the place where you know it would be and see if any evidence exists.  In this debate, we are both agreed that the text of Scripture is our final arbiter.  If we look as best we can for evidence of the proposition, in this case, universalism as we have defined it, and we still can’t find it, we may reasonably conclude that the proposition is false.

How will this proceed?

My argument is that Christian Universalism is untenable from Scripture for the following five reasons:

  1. The sinfulness of humanity and the consequent wrath of God directed against humanity which must be appeased require a salvation that is extended only to those who place active, conscious faith in Jesus Christ alone in order to be accepted into eternal bliss in God’s presence at the time of judgment.  I will argue this from Romans 1:18-32 and 1 John 2:2.
  2. The universal texts of Scripture are emphasized to suit the theological requirements of the Universalists’ arguments while the texts emphasizing the salvation of few are overlooked or are misappropriated to conform to their arguments.  I will argue this from Romans 3:23-24 and Romans 5:12-21.
  3. The reality of hell and the lack of any teaching which allows for people to exit hell once entering.  I will argue this from several key passages misappropriated by Evangelical Universalists.
  4. The nature of God as a God both of love and of judgment argues against evangelical Universalism.  I will argue this from 1 John 4:16 and Hebrews 12:29.
  5. In my final post, I will address several other objections to universalism that demonstrate number 1, above.

The Sinfulness of Humanity and the Wrath of God directed against Humanity argue against Christian Universalism

Christian Universalism suggests that Christ will ultimately save everyone regardless of their faith or lack thereof.  This is a discounting of the view God takes of sin.  Sin is grievous to God and the depth of humanity’s depravity is revealed in all of humanity’s collusion in the death of the Son of God.[1]

Paul begins Romans by grounding the Gospel in the “signs and wonders” (15:29) surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ in fulfillment of OT prophecy (1:3), signs which culminated in the resurrection as the sign of signs that verified Jesus’ identity and God’s acceptance of his completed work (1:4).  In response, however, wicked men revealed their true nature, which is to “suppress the truth” (1:18), which they did in rejecting the prophetic witness and unjustly and viciously executing (murdering) the Son of God.  In so doing, they assumed the place of God.  Since then, humanity’s intentions have been to suppress the truth about their own evil inclinations.  God’s wrath as active in the world today, before the final judgment, is revealed in the Gospel in such a way as to expose the unrighteousness of humanity (1:18).  The Gospel reveals God’s wrath and, consequently, the “culpability of the human race at so egregious a level as to make retribution morally necessary and inevitable.”[2]

The wrath of God is an important concept in Scripture which one cannot overlook.  Leon Morris points out that there are more than twenty words used to express the wrath of God as applied to Yahweh in the OT and collectively they are used over 580 times. [3]  The concept of God’s wrath, Morris says, “cannot be eradicated from the Old Testament without irreparable loss.”[4]  So the Old Testament is full of the concept of the wrath of God.

Many proponents of Universalism point out that Jesus never spoke of God’s wrath.  Jesus, did, however, speak of hell which implies a belief in the wrath of God.  This line of argumentation undercuts Universalism’s own theology since much of their argumentation comes from the epistles and the OT.

In Romans 1:18, Paul explains that the wrath of God is directed toward those who are ungodly and unrighteous before going on in chapters 2 and 3 to argue for the universal sinfulness of humanity.  As Robert Jewett has pointed out,[5] Paul begins with the wrath of God in Romans 1:18 as he develops his Gospel as stated in his thesis in 1:16-17 demonstrates that divine wrath is one of the central elements of the Gospel.  To deny divine wrath, as Universalism does, is to deny a central component of the Gospel.  In Romans 1:24f, that “θεὸς” is the subject of the verbs (most notably, παρέδωκεν, “to hand over” as in for judgment or retribution), indicates that God “is directly involved in the process of moral retribution” even before the final judgment.[6]

God’s “wrath” is directed, as John wrote (3:36) toward all those who do not believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  Those who continue in this unbelief, Paul says, pile up wrath in anticipation of the final judgment which Paul refers to as the “day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:5).  He does not allow for anyone to escape God’s judgment after that day.  In 1 Thess. 1:10, Paul speaks of Jesus as the one who “delivered us from the wrath to come.”  These are just a few of the Scriptural references to God’s wrath.  It is also noteworthy that John, in the Revelation (19:15) speaks of Jesus’ “treading the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God”.

This wrath is God’s judgment upon and punishment of the sinful for their sinful deeds.  The sinfulness of humanity necessitates their judgment.  Their sinfulness is only removed by the death of Christ.  Universalists often point to the terminology of “death” used by Paul to refer to the judgment upon sin and take death literally, as if physical death alone is the judgment upon sin and there remains no further punishment.  This is argued against by Scriptures such as Romans 2:5 (given above) where Paul speaks of heaping up wrath in anticipation of the Day of Judgment.  When pressed on this point, Universalists will often resort to saying that one can be saved from hell, though we will see that the Scriptures do not allow for such salvation.

1 John 2:2 is a favorite of Universalists as it seems to imply that every person in the world will be saved because Christ’s work has effectively appeased the wrath of God for each person.  While this passage does, at first glance, seem to support this idea, there are other places in the NT where this expression, “the whole world” and other similar expressions do not refer to every person without exception.  For example, Luke 2:1 says that “the whole world was taxed” yet we naturally understand the obvious limitations in that statement.  More to this point, Rev. 12:9 says that Satan deceives the whole world yet there are many in the immediate context who have followed Christ.  Rev. 13:3 says that the whole world marveled at the beast yet he also fought against some.  Clearly, then, this expression used there cannot refer to all without exception.  Even in John’s own first epistle this expression is used in a way that clearly cannot refer to each without exception.  In 1 John 5:19 John says that the whole world lies under the power of the evil one even though John himself is not under the power of the evil one and is writing to people most of whom are presumably also not under the evil one’s power.  If 1 John 2:2 can refer to whole world without exception, then the same may be said of 1 John 5:19.

The Misappropriation of Seemingly Universalist Passages and the Need for Conscious, Personal Faith in Jesus Christ

In Romans 1-3, Paul teaches the universal sinfulness of all humanity.  While evangelical Universalists agree with this interpretation (though they often treat it as little more than bad luck or something that can’t be helped, like getting a disease[7]), they often argue that despite humanity’s universal sinfulness, through the redemption of Christ, every person will enjoy universal salvation.  The use of πᾶς in two of the most significant passages, Romans 3:23-24 and Romans 5:18 (in context), argues against universal salvation.

Universalists often want to translate Romans 3:23-24 to emphasize the participles (e.g., “all those who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God are being justified freely by his grace”).  This makes those who are falling short in v. 23 synonymous with those being justified in v. 24.  Their argument, then, is that since “all have sinned” in v. 23 is usually taken as universal, the justification of v. 24 is also seen as universal.

As J. William Johnston argues,[8] however, the pa in v. 23 is anaphoric and refers back to the categories stated in v. 22: Jew and Gentile.  This use of πᾶς is consistent with other similar passages both in Romans (10:12, 16, 11:32) and in other Pauline passages (e.g., 1 Cor. 10:1-4).  So the “all” referenced in Romans 3:23 is all without distinction which means the accompanying participle in v. 24 cannot mean all are justified without exception but must also refer to all believers without distinction.

Since Paul does argue for the sinfulness of humanity and Evangelical Universalists agree on that point, they must seek elsewhere for scriptural support for universal salvation.  They often then turn to Romans 5:18, “So, therefore, as through one man’s transgression all men came to condemnation, even so through one man’s righteous deed justification of life came to all men.”[9]  Once again, it seems that all who are sinful will experience justification through Jesus Christ.  Two factors in the text, however, argue against this conclusion.[10]  First, the connection to v. 17, which one must not overlook, argues that this is an “unbalanced comparison.”[11] In v. 17, death reigns but life does not reign.  Instead, those who “receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness” will reign and Paul states specifically they will reign through Christ.

As Douglas Moo makes clear, this “justification of life” in v. 18 has been accomplished in Christ “for all those who belong to him [i.e., Christ]”[12] and the uses of πολλοί in vv. 15 and 19 and πάντας ἀνθρώπους in vv. 12 and 18 confirm this.  In addition, the language of “justification” is only used of “the status actually conferred on the individual, never of the atonement won on the cross itself” and Moo points to the “careful distinctions in Romans 3:21-26”[13] to support his argument.  Each person in the given two groups is affected by the head of that group.  Those who are in Adam are affected by Adam’s sin such that their natures are fallen and under the condemnation of death whole those who are in Christ have received grace, righteousness, and life.

Not only that, the change from πᾶς to πολλοί in vv. 15 and 19 demonstrates that v. 18 is a summary of Paul’s argument from v. 12 up to this point showing the effect of each respective head upon the members of the group of which he is head.

The Reality of Hell

Several passages speak to the reality of hell and almost all of them are explained away by Universalists.[14]  A favorite argument of universalism is that the OT prophets used the images of fire and burning as metaphors for God’s judgment, which they determine to be physical death and nothing more (I will speak more on that in a moment).  When pressed on this issue, they will often then say that people will be saved from hell.  Applying the standard stated above, namely, that one would expect to find evidence of this in Scripture it is telling that the Scriptural passages for the reality of hell both emphasize finality of hell.

For example, Isaiah 66:24, cited by Jesus in Mark 9:42-38, is given in the context of a new heaven and new earth passage (see v. 22) and so must be viewed as emphasizing eternal destiny.  This is also the way Jesus uses the passage in the context of Mark 9.  Neither the OT nor the NT passage allows for one to escape from this destiny.

Daniel 12:2 speaks of life and death as eternal realities, which implies that there will some who enjoy one while still others will experience the other.  Likewise other passages universalists are so fond of quoting such as Matt. 18:6-9, Jude 7, and Rev. 20:10, 14-15, each of which passages speaks of the fires of hell, Rev. 14:9-11 which speaks of torment, Matt. 25:31-46 which speaks of punishment, and Jude 13 which speaks of eternal darkness.  These images, literal or not, speak of a destiny that awaits someone and none of these passages allow for the conviction that one will escape these places once condemned there.  2 Thess. 1:5-10 speaks of the Lord’s return to execute vengeance and to punish those who persecute the believer and those who refuse to believe while glorifying those who do believe in Jesus Christ.  This last passage is consistent with Jesus’ own words in John 5:27 where Jesus says that the Father has given him authority to judge and John 5:29 where the Lord speaks of two destinies for those who will be raised in the final resurrection.  Again, he does not permit there to be any change of status after death, much less final judgment.  Indeed, Paul makes clear that one’s destiny is determined by the actions done in this life (2 Cor. 5:10), implying that there will be no second chance after death, much less while in hell.

The Nature of God: Loving and Just

Universalism prefers to emphasize God’s love at the expense of God’s wrath.  This view does injustice to the wrath of God since God’s wrath is seen as part of God’s glory.  For example, when God reveals himself to Moses in Exodus 34 he reveals not only his compassion and his covenant faithfulness, but also his judging of the sin of the people.  To minimize God’s wrath one must also minimize God’s compassion, his covenant faithfulness, and his forgiveness, all of which are also seen in this divine revelation.

To say that God must practice the same forgiveness he enjoins upon us overlooks two key notions: (1) God does forgive those who come to faith in Christ, and (2) it holds God to an impossible standard in that it expects God to sacrifice one aspect of his character at the expense of another.  To say that God’s love and grace will supersede his judgment and wrath is to establish priorities in the attributes of God that Scripture does not support.

It is true that 1 John 4:8 and 16 use a predicate nominative subset construction to state that God is love.  Note, however that Hebrews 12:29 uses the same construction, in the context of a discussion of God’s judgment against not just humanity but the entire created order (quoting the prophet Haggai) do emphasize that “God is a consuming fire.”  This means that if God is “love” as part of his essential nature, then God must also be a God of wrath and judgment, too, as part of his essential nature.

God’s moral attributes are tempered by his non-moral attributes.  That is, God’s love must be an infinite love.  Likewise, his justice or his wrath, or his truth, must also be infinite.  The Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC) expresses this correctly: “Q. 4: What is God? A: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”  Each of these eight attributes is governed by the three states of infinity, eternality, and immutability.  With regard to this issue, both God’s holiness and his justice are infinite and eternal, not just his love.  To give one priority over the other is to do injustice to the character of God as he is revealed in Scripture.  To alter these priorities to suit our own fallible notions of morality is to fashion a god simply to suit our own likings.

If one can say that we must subordinate divine justice to divine love why can we not do the opposite and subordinate divine love to divine justice?  While this is what the universalist accuses the traditionalist of doing, their accusation falls short of the mark.  The traditionalist recognizes that both God’s love and God’s judgments are attributes of God.  Since God is simple (in the philosophical sense) he must possess both of these attributes as part of his essential nature.  To subordinate one to the other in either direction is to throw God’s nature out of balance and thus make God less than the God he has revealed himself to be.

The fact is, many of the arguments inherent in universalism revolve around the human notion of fairness which not only compels God to act solely in accordance with human understanding, it also overlooks the all-knowing justice of God by which he can judge each person in absolute righteousness since he knows all things including the human heart (John 2:24-25; Heb. 4:13).  It also ascribes to God an attribute absent in scripture.  While the Scriptures repeatedly describe God as “just,” “righteous,” and “holy,” nowhere do they describe God as “fair,” as we understand fairness.  So the EU, since he cannot see divine retribution as anything but unfair, applies human categories of fairness and then accuses God of injustice for his “righteous judgments.”

But why is God unloving simply because he does not save all?  As B. B. Warfield has illustrated,[15] we might be rightfully angry with a doctor who could save everyone but didn’t, but we would not necessarily be angry with a judge who refused to show mercy.  Indeed, we recognize that no criminal has the right to expect mercy and for us to demand mercy for them is overthrow the very idea of justice.

Though God has presented himself in healing terms (Isa. 53:5; Mal. 4:2), he does not present himself as such when it comes to salvation and condemnation.  Instead, he represents himself as a judge (e.g., Gen. 18:25) and Jesus claims the same authority of judgment for blessing or condemnation for himself under the Father’s authority (John 5:26-29).

John 5:26-29: “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation.”

The implication in this passage is that the judgment is final and there is no change in destiny.

Odds & Ends

I would like now to provide some additional objections before summing up this debate

(1) Universalism claims that their view is no deterrent to one’s living the Christian life.  This may be true since evangelical universalists (Christian universalists) obviously identify with Christianity.  Morally, however, I can find religions that will allow me to live as well as many Christians live with fewer obligations.  Eschatologically, if all will be saved I need not worry about my eternal destiny.

(2) Despite many universalist claims that universalism is no hindrance to evangelism, universalists can give no compelling reason why one ought to be a Christian.  If Hitler will be saved (and many universalists make this claim implicitly when they respond to the question “What about Hitler?” by citing Romans 5:20: “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”) I see no compelling reason why I would not be saved.

(3) If universalism is true, there are many passages of Scripture that become irrelevant, not only passages where evangelism and proclamation of the Gospel are enjoined, but also passages that urge holiness of life and passages that warn of falling away from the Gospel.

(4) Universalism tries to have their cake and eat it, too.  For example, when asked why most people in church history did not believe in Universalism, they say majority count does not settle the issue yet they constantly point to Early Christian writers to make their case.  As a corollary, arguments based on historical Christians who held to one of the various forms of Universalism proves nothing.  The Scriptures are the sole and final arbiter deciding the answer to this question.

(5) Universalists say the Bible’s promise that the redeemed will live on in perfect bliss requires universalism because the redeemed cannot live in perfect bliss for eternity when they know that their loved ones are suffering in hell or have been annihilated (depending on one’s view of hell).  This objection is not only telling, it reveals that universalists are arguing based on human emotion and human perceptions of fairness.  The promise to “wipe away every tear” in Revelation 21:4 comes after the final judgment and the lost have been condemned to divine judgment.  In that day, we will be like Christ (1 John 3:2) and we will have the mind of Christ in the fullest (1 Cor. 2:15; Phil 2:5) and will be able to see God’s righteousness clearly.

Conclusion:

I said at the beginning that there are two ways to prove a negative that are relevant to this debate:

(1) I can show that the proposition I am negating couldn’t possibly be true because the very idea of the proposition is incompatible with what we are already certain to be true.

(2) The other way to prove a negative is to look very carefully at the evidence for the proposition in the place where you know it would be and see if any evidence exists.

I have accomplished both of these objectives in tonight’s debate.  I have demonstrated that Universalism is untenable from Scripture for the following five reasons:

1. The sinfulness of humanity requires a salvation that is extended only to those who place active, conscious faith in Jesus Christ alone in order to be accepted into eternal bliss in God’s presence at the time of judgment. 

Universalism is incompatible with this understanding because it posits that all persons will eventually be saved regardless of their faith in Christ in this life.  Universalists also present no evidence for why the Scriptures would call on people to believe in Christ and why Christians are enjoined to proclaim Christ if all will be saved anyway.

2. The universal texts of Scripture are emphasized to suit the theological requirements of the Universalists’ arguments while the texts emphasizing the salvation of few are overlooked or are misappropriated to conform to their arguments. 

Universalism fails to interpret these texts properly not only with regard to the syntax and context of the passages, but also with regard to the whole of the Scripture’s teaching.

3. The reality of hell and the lack of any teaching which allows for people to exit hell once entering. 

Universalism misinterprets passages, misappropriates passages, and ignores other passages to make their case.

4. The wrath of God that is directed toward sinful humanity must be appeased in order for any person to be accepted into eternal bliss in God’s presence at the time judgment. 

Universalism fails to explain how the wrath of God has been appeased on behalf of those who do not trust in Christ.

5. The nature of God as a God both of love and of judgment argues against evangelical Universalism. 

Universalism does an injustice to the character of God by emphasizing those attributes which seem more important to their moral understanding and ignores or minimizes passages that emphasize other, less palatable attributes of God.


[1] Robert Jewett, “The Anthropological Implications of the Revelation of Wrath in Romans” in Reading Paul in Context: Exploration in Identity Formation, Essays in Honor of William F. Campbell Kathy Ehrensperger and J. Brian Tucker, eds. Library of New Testament Studies 428 (London: T & T Clark, 2010), 30.

[2] Jewett, 27.  This entire paragraph paraphrases Jewett’s line of reasoning.  Note that Jewet is himself a universalist.

[3] Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 131.

[4] Morris, 156.

[5] Jewett, 24-25.

[6] Jewett, 29.

[7] See Gregory MacDonald, The Evangelical Universalist (London: SPCK, 2008), 20.

[8] J. William Johnston, The Use of Pas in the New Testament in Studies in Biblical Greek vol. 11, ed. D. A Carson (New York: Peter Lang, 2004) 133-137.

[9] This is this author’s translation.

[10] Johnston, 137-143 for a more complete explanation of the issues attendant upon the use of paj in this passage and for a good survey of the commentaries in this regard.

[11] Johnston, 142.

[12] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans in NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 343.

[13] Moo, 343.

[14] For more detail regarding the passages in this section and other passages relevant to this discussion, see Edward William Fudge and Robert A Peterson, Two Views of Hell: A Biblical and Theological Dialogue (Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 129-169.

[15] Fred G. Zaspel, The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Wheaton: Cross way, 2010), 419.

About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Stoicism and Christianity. My theologian is Athanasius. My philosopher is Kierkegaard. My composer is Bach, my music is jazz, my hobby is fly fishing, and my reading is scifi and mysteries. Oh, and I’m a Sherlock Holmes nerd. I’m even part of a Sherlock Holmes society.
This entry was posted in Apologetics, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Why Christian Universalism is Wrong

  1. Nicolas says:

    Dear Michael,
    In Christian love, here are a few places where I believe you are not understanding Christian Universalism:

    “…Christ will ultimately save everyone regardless of their faith or lack thereof.” No, people will only be saved with faith in God’s loving mercy through Jesus — it’s just that we believe that all will get to that faith eventually.

    “To deny divine wrath, as Universalism does…” No one is denying Divine wrath, or the seriousness of human sin.

    “1 John 2:2 is a favorite of Universalists as it seems to imply that every person in the world will be saved because Christ’s work has effectively appeased the wrath of God for each person.” So you believe in limited atonement — that’s a discussion for another day!

    “If 1 John 2:2 can refer to whole world without exception, then the same may be said of 1 John 5:19.” I think it’s well established now that there is no such thing as a word (eg “all”) dividing into “without distinction” and “without exception”. Either it’s a case of the word being used as hyperbole, or used in its natural sense. eg “All Americans love hamburgers” can never literally mean “only some”. It still means “all”, with the word “all” being used in an exaggerated way.

    “… since “all have sinned” in v. 23 is usually taken as universal, the justification of v. 24 is also seen as universal.” But this is the natural sense of the Greek.

    “… the pa[s] in v. 23 is anaphoric and refers back to the categories stated in v. 22: Jew and Gentile.” But v22 doesn’t use “Jews & Gentiles” either. Of course the pas (all) does include “both” Jews & Gentiles, but the text here uses the word “all”, not both (for “both” see Eph 2:14-18)

    Ah, your next piece is really deep. I’ll need to study it and get back. Serves me right for thinking I could just type off a few dismissive comments! Anyway, God bless us all as we work through these deeper issues. Pls forgive the short, curt sounding comments

    • Thanks for the comments Nicolas. Yes, your comments are more assertions rather than arguments. Remember that this is my portion of a debate and so the arguments may not necessarily reflect the belief of every universalist out there, only the one I was debating.

      I’d be happy to respond to any fruitful comments you may have and I echo your prayer for God’s wisdom as we think through these arguments.

    • James Castro says:

      Your first statement regarding Christian Universalism is false, no one will ever be saved regardless of their religion! They are save just like any other Christian is saved in this age, by calling, drawing,sanctification,judgement and most of all Grace. Search your hearts my friends . We can offer nothing to our own salvation it is all God. Many will be turned away on that day of reckoning who claimed they did many works in Christ name. Who do you think this verse is revering to, Muslims, Hindus. Let me let you in on a mystery my friends, this is about most of the Christians who have not the truth and the love of all mankind in their hearts. So turn or burn my friend ( metaphorically speaking of course as God is the fire that purifies the heart of man) God bless .

  2. Nicolas says:

    Thank you, Michael, for your personal reply.
    Yes, most of my comments are too short to be detailed arguments.
    Sorry that I hadn’t caught on to the fact you are responding to a specific individual’s presentation.
    So I guess he/she must have been a very “John Hick” kind of universalist !!
    When I get back, I’ll try to have some fruitful Comments to add to where I left off above.

  3. You said:
    1. The sinfulness of humanity and the consequent wrath of God directed against humanity which must be appeased require a salvation that is extended only to those who place active, conscious faith in Jesus Christ alone in order to be accepted into eternal bliss in God’s presence at the time of judgment. I will argue this from Romans 1:18-32 and 1 John 2:2.

    My response:

    2 Corinthians 4:In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

    They are not capable of believing because Satan has blinded their minds. Satan is destroyed at the Lord’s return. Therefore, Satan is not blinding their minds so they “can believe”:

    2 Thessalonians 2: 8And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

    Also, the flesh is enmity towards God. The flesh is made of this earth — it’s a “dirt product”. The first earth is destroyed at the Lord’s return. Thus, the two barriers to the “ability” of the lost to see Jesus and believe are destroyed at the Lord’s return by the brightness of His coming. The souls of the damned are in a “purged state” with the fire having burned their sin out of them, the spirit of the devil, and their flesh. They are souls in the fire with no barrier between them and the Light of the Glorious Gospel, the Light of the Savior shining towards them on that day. They will see Jesus and believe and be saved… through fire.

    1 Corinthians 3:15If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

    I could go on to #2 – but will answer #1 and see if you’d like to respond.

    • There is no Scriptural evidence that anyone’s eternal state can or will change after death much less after the final judgment. (I think I said as much in the post. Repeatedly. No one has yet been able to produce evidence that this view is wrong. No one will be able to produce evidence to the contrary because there isn’t any.

      The first part of your answer assumes that the only thing keeping people from believing is Satan’s active work; you fail to account for the fallenness of human nature which Paul most clearly taught and which even Evangelical Universalists normally believe.

      If Satan’s blinding activity is the only thing keeping people from believing, then one or more conclusions must be reached: (a) God is either unable or unwilling to overpower Satan so that people may believe, (b) we must attribute at least part of salvation’s efficacy to Satan since he would be the one to decide whether or not to permit people to see the truth of the Gospel. I could go on but the absurdity is evident.

      In the second part of your answer, you make several mistakes:

      1. The idea that the first earth is “destroyed” is based on a faulty understanding of καυσόω in 2 Peter 3:10.

      2. Even if the earth is destroyed and the body is part of the old earth, the Scripture holds out the hope of resurrection in which the first body is “destroyed” or renewed and we are given new bodies which are fit for the new heavens and new earth. (Your answer seems to presuppose heaven as a spiritual rather than a physical reality so we would not even be on the same page to start with there.)

      3. The context of 1 Cor. 3:15 clearly relates this loss in terms of eternal reward for those who already have conscious faith in Jesus Christ. There is no evidence that the “purging” in question is purgatorial and thus salvific in nature.

      Once again, there is no evidence that anyone will be saved from hell, saved after death, or saved after the judgment of Satan. No one is able to produce any evidence from Scripture to this effect because there isn’t any. All universalists can produce is proof-texts taken out of context and re-interpreted in light of their own presuppositions.

      • #1. God only saves dead men: Ephesians 2:1And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

        Every single sinner on earth — all mankind — are dead. We are all born dead — born dead in sins and trespasses. That God would save men that are already dead is the means of God saving all mankind — not just those saved on the Last Day through and following Final Judgment. We are not saved apart from death to the flesh, death to this life, death to this world, death to law, etc. In fact, we are crucified with Christ in our most holy salvation. It takes more depth of pondering the scripture to comprehend the miraculous resurrection from the dead that you and I have received — in Christ — through His suffering and death for us.

        You can say that “no one will ever convince you” that what is in the scripture that I tell you is in the scripture that you do not presently see — yet, there was a day you didn’t see in the scripture that Jesus Christ is God come to save us from our sins. Yet, today, you so believe and see. The Holy Spirit alone can convince us of the truth of scripture causing us to see what we previously could not see.

        I presume you do not believe you know everything and comprehend all things of the Word of God — having no need of further study or illumination — having “seen it all” and “known it all”???

        I clearly state that the flesh, which is opposed to God through sin and corruption — the body of death opposes the ability of the soul within to see Jesus. This is human nature. Therefore, there is Satan and the flesh that bars men from seeing Jesus and believing in this life.

        Of course, God is wholly Sovereign and saves all whom He wills. However, there are spiritual laws of physics. For example, God willed to save all mankind — but “willing alone” didn’t save all mankind. Jesus was sent to go to the cross to die in the place of all mankind paying the penalty for all of their sin. So, as you would I assume agree, there are “spiritual law conditions” that must be met in order for mankind to be saved. Those conditions are met through the Sovereign grace and power of God over Satan… as well as man. Neither man nor Satan will stop God from carrying out His will.

        However, just as it was necessary for Jesus Christ to go to the cross, it is necessary for us to believe in order to be saved. This is wrought by God towards us by His Holy Spirit. Some believe in this life. Some do not. This does not mean that God has “chosen” absent grounds in spiritual law why “some are saved” and “not others”. Rather, there is an unseen difference between the tares and the wheat by pre-existent nature that cannot be known from the outside but is known by God.

        The tares — those ungodly men of Jude who before of old were ordained to this condemnation — those wandering stars – those twice dead… those antichrists who Jesus directs in scripture to go into the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels… are the devils in human flesh appearing. Satan most assuredly blinds them from seeing the light of the glorious gospel in Jesus. Their spirit beings are before of old — pre-existent to their being made men. The elect saints believe in this life — but those devils born as men (as Judas per Jesus Christ was a devil) — those sons of perdition… those wandering stars.. they are in a blasphemous state spiritual inside the flesh as devils in true personhood. They will not believe in this life.

        They will go through the fire created for the devil and his angels – in flesh — and having been made flesh — are utterly destroyed according to all evil through what Jesus Christ did on the cross.

        You see, Jesus pursued the fallen angels on the First Day entering hell (see Genesis 1:1-5)… and then created this material dimension and plane so that there would be incarnation of God as a man — and the devil and his angels as men. They cannot be saved in this life and have no power to believe. They are devils spiritually in human bodies — as men.

        God needed to go this “route” in order to destroy and recreate them. They could not be saved but by Jesus becoming a man incarnate — and them becoming men incarnate — Jesus dying for their sins on the cross as men when Jesus died for all mankind.

        Why do you think it is that God so loved the world He sent His only begotten Son to die for the sins of all mankind — yet, you must assume that God had no care nor regard at all for the holy angels who fell to become devils. Mankind fell to become sinners. The scripture states Judas was a devil.

        Do you think God loves fallen men more than God loves fallen angels?? Does God discriminate in His Love??

        No. Rather, fallen men who are not saved really are fallen angels in human flesh appearing. Read Isaiah 14.

        If you think you know the full heart of God — and all revelation of scripture — then explain why you believe God has done nothing to save the fallen angels??

        They cannot be saved in spiritual bodies. God must die for them. God cannot die in a spiritual body… and rise again from the dead. This requires a physical body spiritual beings don’t have (either God in the 3rd Heaven or the fallen angels in hell). This dimension was created to form material bodies… into which God Himself would enter incarnate as a man.

        He’s not the only spiritual person to enter a human body in flesh appearing as a man.

        All the devil and his angels have been born as men… since Cain… and comprise all those on the left of Jesus on Judgment Day.

        So, you see, they were before of old ordained to condemnation as Jude states as the wandering stars of fallen angels made men. God has not failed in His Sovereignty. God has a multi-step plan that must be carried out — and is being carried out.

        What you know and what the Bible reveals — can be two different things. There is something called “great revelation” that it takes really seeing Jesus clearly… to have. I’ve answered in part. The scripture plainly declares it is Satan’s blinding activity whereby men do not believe:

        2 Corinthians 4:4
        In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

        The nature of men who cannot believe in this lifetime is that they are the devil and his angels. The answer to your question is not as shallow as some would see. It is Satan who must be destroyed along with the spirit of sin so that the immortal souls of the fallen angels who are in an inwardly blasphemous state spiritually — can again see and believe and be restored.

        For this cause, Jesus came and was made a man. For this cause, they were/are being made men.

      • PS. I, too, have been a Conan Doyle fan since youth. Sherlock Holmes would have never missed the glaringly obvious and ruled out a precept on the basis of assumption:

        Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

        I consider theology the solving of a crime mystery according to the mystery of God’s plan in Jesus Christ.

        2 Thessalonians 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. (There is a MYSTERY of iniquity and the MYSTERY of Satan appearing as a man as the 666 beast.)

        Ephesians 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: (There is a MYSTERY of the plan and will of God in this creation and His redemptive plan in Jesus Christ before the world began 2 Timothy 1:9).

        This MYSTERY is revealed to apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 3: 3How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;)

        To comprehend this MYSTERY is to be a theologian — to be a “detective” like Sherlock Holmes.

        When the Lord commands those on His left to go into the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels — it’s “missing an obvious clue” to assume according to the rudiments of this world that those going into this fire are mere men — rather than the devil and his angels in human flesh appearing — ie. incarnate made men.

        Therefore, the first rule of solving the “mystery” — is to examine the case and look for further clues revealing the mystery… that those “men” on the left of Jesus really ARE the devil and his angels in human flesh appearing made incarnate as men.

        Sherlock Holmes would have no emotional investment in man which would blind him to a clear clue to the mystery… given in Matthew 25:41. Watson might miss it — Sherlock Holmes… would not. ;)

  4. I see you are a fellow “Michigander” (now). You moved here from Florida?? Really?? We’re all trying to leave for FL for the winter!! lol This winter was mild. We were all snowbirds without leaving MI this year, I say. God bless you!!

  5. Blake says:

    As a universalist who enjoys robust debate, I’d love to respond in detail, though limited time and the constraints of this venue don’t allow this. Will just mention a couple points.

    In your two points of answering universalism, I gently suggest that in point #1 you make the same error I encounter in virtually all who jump in to debate this issue from your side: the circularity of assuming doctrine is identical to truth. Universalism can’t be true because the Bible says there is eternal punishment. Actually it does in only one place in the Bible: Mat 25:46, eternal kolasis. A primary meaning for kolasis is correction, which is more consistent with the rest of Scripture and as such can be seen as a slip, an insertion of the translators’ personal doctrine into the passage, especially in light of the fact that in all other verses used to suggest eternal punishment this concept of eternal punishment is imposed on the text–it is synthetic and presumptive, not categorical.

    To sum: popular doctrine is not identical to truth. It is not finished; it has a future. As such, to use it as “proof” that eternal punishment exists, especially in the absence of definitive proof beyond inference, is circular.

    Second, to “…look very carefully at the evidence for the proposition in the place where you know it would be and see if any evidence exists.” rests on a decidedly literal interpretive scheme which leads its proponents directly back to the point made above. How is it that organized Christianity has painstakingly built (using manmade rules) a harshly literal interpretive structure from a highly figurative (and thus spiritual) book? Something is amiss here. I again gently suggest that the methodology used by the conservative evangelical/literalist is arranged in such a way that to “look very carefully at the [Scriptural] evidence” carries no weight if the interpretation of that evidence is designed to produce a particular conclusion…and we come full circle to the circularity of traditional reasoning.

    One more point. A spiritual principle was established in God’s conversation with Abraham on the road to Sodom (which principle is metaphorically illustrated in detail in the exodus) which destroys the traditional notion that eternal punishment is somehow ‘necessary’ to uphold God’s righteous judgment. In fact, the opposite is true: the idea of eternal punishment denies God’s perfection! The principle can be summed in Abraham’s response to God’s announcement that He was going to destroy Sodom and its inhabitants for their sin: “And Abraham came near and said, ‘Wilt Thou indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?… Far be it from Thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from Thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?’” (Gen 18:23, 25)

    In the passages above, the prinicple that God will not destroy a whole in which some good exists. This is logically necessary. God is the source of all good, and all and any goods found in creation are necessarily attributed to Him….thus Abraham’s astonishment. To destroy those in whom some good exists violates God’s perfection (perfect justice) by virtue of the very maxim He shows us in Scripture! Strong arguments can be made that some good exists in every person. Hence the first hint of the salvation of all in the first book of the Bible via this prinicple. The rest is metaphorically woven into the Bible as the removal of bad elements within each individual (goats, tares, etc. compared to sheep, wheat), accomplishing the salvation of all.

    Food for thought. I will publish my writing on this on Scribd soon which details these things..

  6. john says:

    Michael, i’ve read a lot of stuff on universalism (i’m not a universalists) and you did a great job from the Bible proving it false

  7. Every once in awhile I will step back and wonder why I left the Christian religion. And then I read articles like the diatribe that started this discussion. No wonder at all! I can’t express the magnitute of gratitude I have toward God for freeing me from the chains of religion!

    • Rosch99: Your comment makes no sense. This is not a “diatribe” but the transcript of a debate. (Did you even bother actually to read the article?) And are you saying that you are now irreligious or that you are Christian but do not participate in formal Christianity? If the former then I wonder why you care. If the latter, you still have to have some answer to the questions discussed here and some reason why you hold to the beliefs you do.

      But I suspect that whatever your situation, you only commented to demonstrate your self-perceived superiority. Such smugness neither wants nor warrants any more of a reply than this.

  8. Steve B says:

    Hi Mr. Jones
    I would add these verses
    Rom 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
    Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
    Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
    Rom 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
    and
    Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
    and
    Heb_11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

    Universalists tend to avoid these verses since faith is nurtured and grown whilst we are alive here on earth. Once we die faith is not in play anymore. That is a reason why fallen angels have no salvation plan. They lived with God so there is no faith needed.

    When it come to God’s love, Universalism tends to think that it is some gooey emotional feeley feeley thing. God’s love is an act of the will – tough love if you like and Universalism doesn’t understand this. Actually everybody who criticizes God about Hell and the torture thing does not understand the nature of God’s love.

    Good points against Universalism.

  9. Franz says:

    Many people I encountered that they insist they are not a universalist but all the qualifications of being a universalist is in them. Note that they are also a born again christians but they don’t know universalism. :D thanks for this blog post. it helps a lot. God is love! but God also is just! If I kill many people & i die today and enter in heaven, how can they prove that God is justice? or still God’s love win in the side of the universalists?:)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s