Universalism: Its Appeal and Its Error

Universalism, the notion that we will all go to heaven, is re-entering the church with renewed vigor. Its proponents argue:

  1. We are all created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). God is love and would never subject any of His children to eternal punishment.
  1. The idea that some are “in” and some are “out” is pharisaic and detestable. Instead, Jesus received all who came to Him and denounced the holier-than-thou spirit of pharisaism.
  1. We are saved by grace. What right do we have to point the finger at others and exclude them from grace!

There are also the more secularized forms of these arguments:

  1. We are all part of the same human family. We therefore should all enjoy the same rights and benefits. Exclusivity has no place in a modern and enlightened society. Instead, we need to work for inclusion.
  1. It is sheer prejudice that claims that some humans are more deserving than others and therefore are entitled to more. This kind of prejudice should not be tolerated.
  1. If God is loving, He would find a way to include all His creation.

In light of these challenges, it is imperative that we re-examine Scripture and ask ourselves, “Who is God and what does He want – if anything – from us?”

A good place to start is with Jesus. Although He received all who came to Him, He had His requirements, which determined inclusion and exclusion. He taught more on eternal judgment – the ultimate in inclusion and exclusion – than anyone else. Here are a few of these references just from the Gospel of Matthew: Matthew 10:28; 13:12-15; 13:30; 13:38-42; 13:49-50; 15:13; 16:26; 18:7-9; 18:34-35; 21:41; 21:44; 22:13; 23:33; 24:50-51; 25:30; 25:32-33; 25:41; 25:46; 26:24.

In this regards, Jesus’ warnings are consistent with the rest of Scripture. They give us a picture of a God who hates sin and self-righteousness. Jeremiah, a Prophet of Israel, is reflective of the rest of Scripture. He highlights why God is angry at His people Israel, who had rejected their God:

  • They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord, who brought us up out of Egypt…I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce…The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’…The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols…see if there has ever been anything like this: Has a nation ever changed its gods?…But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols…My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns [instead of the living waters], broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jeremiah 2:6-13)

God, and this includes Jesus, has always made distinctions regarding who is “in” and who is “out.” Clearly, those who reject Him are “out.” Although He pleads for their return, He will punish, but not proactively. Instead, He will allow Israel to be punished by their own choices. Eventually, after we continue to reject Him, He removes His protective hands from us, allowing us to freely pursue own desires (Romans 1:24, 26, 28):

  • “Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me.” (Jeremiah 2:19)

Why does He want them to consider these things? So that they will turn away from their sins by acknowledging them – repent! But this is the very thing that Israel refuses to do. Instead, Israel erected cisterns of self-righteousness:

  • [Israel] you say, ‘I am innocent; he is not angry with me.’ But I will pass judgment on you because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’” (Jeremiah 2:35)

Instead of sincerely acknowledging our sins, we justify them – an abomination in God’s sight (Luke 16:15). God never required His people to accomplish great feats of self-sacrifice to merit inclusion – just an acknowledgement of our sin before our Creator and Redeemer:

  • “Return, faithless Israel…I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful…I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt–you have rebelled against the Lord your God.” (Jeremiah 3:12-13)

Clearly, God cares about sin. Sin separates us from God and creates exclusion. Yes, there is inclusion and exclusion, but this is easily remedied. However, the human race – even the priests and prophets – rejects God’s pleas and seeks to build their own cisterns. In fact, this is the message of all Scripture, leaving little room for universalism and a standard-less God.

However, we also need to face the secular challenge from those who have little respect for Scripture. So here are some considerations:

It’s therefore important that we take a close look at universalism and its implications:

  1. Universalism makes salvation into an “entitlement” program with all of the negative psychological baggage that goes along with it.
  1. Universalism makes life pointless. If everyone is saved at the end, there is nothing important to learn here – no reason to go to church or study the Bible.
  1. If our lives entail no eternal consequences, then life becomes pointless, apart from having a good time. It’s like a teacher giving all her students an “A+” regardless of their performance. This deprives us of the motivation to do right, especially when we see evil prospering.
  1. All the major religions recognize that there will be eternal consequences for our inhumanity, suggesting that God has written this truth into all our hearts (Romans 1:32).
  1. There is no adequate rationale for moral living or for seeking God without eternal consequences. It makes more sense to get whatever we can out of life if we’re all going to the same eternal home (1 Cor. 15:19). Studies even reveal that those who believe in these consequences are more apt to act in moral ways.
  1. If God is so benign and doesn’t want to see any suffer eternally, why doesn’t He model life on earth in accordance with His final heavenly plan? Why the discontinuity? If any form of eternal punishment is disagreeable to Him, why not also in the temporal world? If God has rejected the idea of eternal judgment, why has He not also ruled against the occurrence of disease, warfare, and tsunamis? Instead, continuity would suggest that we will also have to endure consequences in the next life.
  1. A universalistic God has little interest in justice and victimization if He refuses to do anything about them. Such a God would be an offense to our own sense of justice. This would undermine all of our pursuit after justice. Chaos would necessarily result.
  1. Universalism communicates the wrong message—our behavior doesn’t matter and God doesn’t care. Why then should we? Life would become brutal and unlivable if we tried to model ourselves after such a God.
  1. If we are created in the image of God and therefore have a powerful sense of justice and retribution, shouldn’t we also expect that God would have the same mind-set? If God lacked such punitive concerns, then our preoccupation with law and punitive sanctions would be something displeasing to God. Therefore, if we truly believe in a universalistic God, we should try to model our society after Him and rid ourselves of courts, prisons, fines, and even failing grades.
  1. We need suffering and consequences to become the compassionate, humble, and understanding people God wants us to be. Evidently, consequences for sin are not alien to God’s plan.
  1. Knowing that God will eventually right the wrongs that are done gives us the emotional freedom to love others by committing our concerns and longings for ultimate justice to God. Without experiencing radical victimization, we Westerners have become quite comfortable and fail to appreciate the fact that the imposition of justice brings psychological closure, which enables us to move on.
  1. A God concerned about eternal consequences proclaims that somehow, justice and mercy must coexist. Take a good look at universalism. It provides the affluent, self-indulgent, myopic West with the ultimate in designer gods, one who would tell us, “Live as you like. Far be it from me to interfere with your fulfillments and pleasures. It’ll all be wonderful in the end, however you live.” This fabrication dumps justice in favor of our immediate comforts. How convenient!

We need to ask ourselves, “Why is universalism so appealing?” Is it because it is rational or even pragmatic or is it because it supports our cultural direction and lifestyle choices?

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

DISCLAIMER: Blog entries made by individual authors reflect the views of the author and not necessarily the view of other CAA authors, or the official position of the group at large.
About Daniel Mann

Daniel Mann has been an instructor of theology and apologetics at the New York School of the Bible for 20 years. He is also the author of several books, one published: "Embracing the Darkness: How a Jewish, Sixties, Berkeley Radical Learned to Live with Depression, God's Way." He also gives seminars on marriage, depression and "Reasons to Believe in the Christian Faith."

  • http://www.facebook.com/charles.watson.980 Charles Watson

    What a joke, ignorance is indeed blissful…

    • Daniel Mann

      Serving my Lord is even more blissful!

      • http://www.facebook.com/charles.watson.980 Charles Watson

        Than what? I serve Christ proclaims the blessed hope that Hod will accomplish his goal in saving the world. Christ’s death was sufficient to save the entire world. If He loses one soul, He paid too much. Christ was ripped off.

        • Daniel Mann

          Charles, Do you have any Scriptural support for your position, or do you believe that Scripture is not necessary? Jesus explicitly stated that He did not save Judas Iscariot – that he was LOST! (John 17:12).

          • Brandon Towns

            In reference to the passage in John 17:12 I think you may be putting the cart before the horse if you take this to mean he is lost forever. The context of this verse is in reference to the other disciples and their unity and ministry, not their eternal home. Though Judas may very well be lost forever, not in my belief but in yours, that is not the meaning in this passage. Judas betrayed Christ and later hung himself. He did not go into the world preaching and teaching after the death of Christ, therefore he was lost.

            The Greek meaning behind perdition to your point it does mention eternal misery and the lost of eternal life as a meaning of the word, however this same term is applied to money. And we know that money and people are extremely different.

            With the multiple translations of the same word…consider the possibility that perdition in this verse speaks not to eternal damnation but to simply earthly destruction.
            See that the things which you may believe in fact..are not as solid and secure as you think.

            • Daniel Mann

              Brandon,

              I think that I could better accept your argument had you been arguing for annihilation in place of eternal, conscious suffering. However, you want to limit “perdition” to “earthly destruction.” However, this doesn’t seem to be in keeping with the passage.

              If “earthly destruction” is in Jesus’ view, then Judas’ fate would be the same as the Apostles, but just a bit earlier. Clearly, this couldn’t have been Jesus’ meaning.

            • Guest

              Brandon,

              Elsewhere, I saw that you had left another response. However, it didn’t find its way here?!! Can you re-submit?

          • http://www.facebook.com/paul.cadorette.3 Paul Cadorette

            Daniel there are over 600 scriptures which reveal Gods sovereign plan to save the whole world and its wonderful news.God is not a monster and He is not going to cast countless billions into some fiery hole of eternal torment where babies,moms,grandmothers,uncles,aunts,sons,and daughters will burn in excruciating pain for all eternity.God is responsible for the sin of the world and He knew all that would happen with mankind for it is HIS PLAN! The doctrine of eternal conscious torment in hellfire is the most abominable,blasphemous doctrine ever to come out of the minds of carnal man! The doctrine of mans so called free will or free…from all causality….will is also as false as the day is long.We cannot usurp the will of God and His will is the only will that stands.Man has a will but it is not free…in other words God is causing man to make the choices he makes!God is choosing for Himself the elect thru whom He is going to judge the world and angels and they will (under Christs authority) rule and reign with Christ for a millenium and the sons of God will deliver the creation from corruption.Does the word ALL not mean ALL to you Daniel?The greek word apollumi is translated in the KJV as lost,lose,and destroy and what did Jesus say He came to seek and save? All who are lost,and destroyed…and who is lost and destroyed thru death? Every single person who has ever lived! Did Jesus ever put a time line on the parable of the lost sheep,the lost coin, etc.? No He did not.The world of babylonian christianity teaches that there is no chance left for man once he dies.They also teach the immortality of the soul but its all false doctrine,as well as the doctrine of the trinity,then doctrine that lucifer was an arch angel in heaven who sinned and fell from heaven and became satan,the doctrine that the parable of the rich man and lazerous being NOT a parable and also its meaning that the soul is alive in hell burning in torture,the doctrine of the pre/mid/and post trib rapture of the church,the doctrine that God cannot go against mans freewill and so He can only save a few,and on and on it goes.The teaching of eternal torment in hellfire comes from egyptian folklore and goes against all that is God and love.God IS LOVE and He IS The Father of all spirits and He is capable of going against mans will and savingn them in a moment if He so desires.He did it to Paul who was on his way to kill more christians and Jesus knocked him right to the ground.Paul also said he was the pattern after which man will come to God either in this age or the judgment age to come.We dont have to be afraid of Gods judgements for they are designed to correct mankind as a whole and God is still creating (in the aorist tense where the |KJV puts it in the past tense) man in His image and its fulfillment will not take place until AFTER we die and are resurrected to immortality.Jesus said unless a man is born from above (spirit) he cannot see the kingdom of God and we are given the earnest deposit of the HS in this life and we will not fully be in Gods image until we are resurrected in our spiritual bodies which are indistructible.

            • Daniel Mann

              Paul,

              Thanks for your response. Actually I can sympathize with
              many of your concerns:

              1. I too want to construe God in a way that is comfortable to me and also in a way that highlights His love, mercy, and even justice. However, I am constrained by His Word to remain within the confines of Scripture. Before all else, I am called to faithfulness, which means that I cannot impose my own inclinations upon Scripture

              2. I too am uncomfortable with the Bible’s portrait of an eternal judgment with a fiery suffering. It seems overly severe to me as it does to you. However, I would suggest that there are more Biblical ways to understand this concept than to impose universalism and perhaps incur the displeasure of our Lord. (Remember, that God is offended when we wrongly represent Him – Job 42:7-8):

              My fall-back position is that God is just and will render according to what people deserve (Matthew 11:21-22; Luke 12:48-49). Here are some other thoughts/verses that might make eternal judgment (EJ) more palatable, but in a Biblical way:

              **Some of the descriptions of hell are probably figurative (compare Mat. 13:42 with Mat. 22:13).
              ·
              **Luke 13:28 associates the gnashing of teeth with eternal regret and not with a fiery torment.
              ·
              **There are many verses that indicate that EJ is self-chosen (John 3:17-19)

              3. I too believe in a kind-of-universalism. In the very end, God will pour out His Spirit upon all people who are left alive (Joel 2:28) and every knee will bow to Him (Isaiah 45:22-24).

              Paul, I believe that in the end, God will vindicate His Word and His plan. However, we must not jump ahead of Him as did Adam and Eve.
              Indeed, we shall be like gods. However, they sought to procure this privilege through their own means and at their own time.

              Therefore, here’s my counsel to you. Submit yourself into His hands and His Word. It might not feel comfortable at all times, but perhaps
              we need the discomfort, at least for the time being.

  • Brandon Towns

    Greetings Daniel. I found your article quite informative. I love encountering opposition as it pushes my back to the drawing board to examine my beliefs. Beliefs is an important word here because it is what separates contemporary/orthodox Christians to Christian Universalist. And at the end of the day, it is a silly divider. We are still children of the most high, trying to bring people to Christ today, right here and right now. One comment you made in your exposition which may not be a Christian Universalist opinion but is my opinion as a Christian Universalist is that hell is real. Hell is a place that many of us will go. Thus, life does have a point and there are consequences for the way we live here on this earth. However hell is not “eternal”. A brief rendering of the background of the Greek and Hebrew explanation of the word eternal proves that it is not as firm a statement as our English vocabulary presents. Eternal is uncertain, it may go on for a long long time or just a long time or maybe even forever but there is no certainty.

    Yet, even without hell, righteous living has a definite point and purpose. It is God’s will for us. He desires us to be like him. So we are petitioned to live in that way. Even if there was no heaven I believe at least for myself I would still be a good person. Think of atheist…why are there good atheist? Why do atheist not kill at will and suck the world around them dry? Living a “good” life is not found only in Christianity or theology, but in science, philosophy, and romance.

    I will not respond to everything you have written but I will say that I believe your 11th implication to Universalism proves the message behind Universalism. God will right our wrongs and in that…there is liberty. God does care about how we live and what we do. But he has also created a beautiful masteripiece through the diversity and uniqueness that is present in the many lives, actions, reactions, and situations prevalent in the world today. He is in charge. He is in command. He gets what he wants. I believe God desires to save the world-all of it. So I believe he will.

    With love my brother. I look forward to hearing from you. I can provide scriptural backing for some of the things I have mentioned here if you would like. However I would rather just talk freely. If that is not preferred and you would like to fact check, I can do that.

    • Daniel Mann

      Brandon,

      Thanks for your gentle and irenic response. However, I think
      that several things that you wrote require clarification, at least for me.

      1. How is it that you believe in a hell but yet are a universalist? Are you
      suggesting a purgatory?

      2. You believe that God will right the wrongs, but you have specified no
      mechanism.

      3. You wish to limit the “eternality” of hell. However, the eternality of hell is
      equated with the eternality of heaven (Mat. 25:46). And I don’t think you
      wish to limit heaven’s eternality.

      One other thing – you believe that atheists can be good without God. In the short run, perhaps? But I think that history has laid down
      a different verdict.

  • Michelle

    Dear Daniel,

    It seems that your primary
    concerns are based on a rejection of a tenet of Universalist belief that most
    Christian Universalists don’t even subscribe to. You erroneously believe that
    we believe there is no hell. Most Evangelical Universalists that I know,
    believe firmly in hell and judgment though we don’t all see it in the same
    context and of course none of us believe the Bible teaches that it is “without
    end”. This fact alone makes the majority of your short article irrelevant in
    that it doesn’t address our beliefs.

    6. If God is so benign and
    doesn’t want to see any suffer eternally, why doesn’t He model life on earth in
    accordance with His final heavenly plan?

    Daniel, why do you, a Bible student who presents himself as a
    teacher, say “If”, and accuse God of being benign for not wanting to see any
    suffer eternally? Surely you are aware of verses such as 2Pe 3:9 The Lord is
    not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is
    longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all
    should come to repentance. God’s desire to save all is a clear teaching in
    scripture as well as his power to accomplish all his purposes.

    Your article has revealed that you have not prepared yourself
    for this debate, it is in fact much deeper than you imagine. In seriousness,
    and love, I encourage you to read a couple of good books on this subject. May I
    suggest, The Evangelical Universalist by Gregory MacDonald (Robin Parry); The Inescapable
    Love of God by Thomas Talbot and Universalism, The Current Debate by Robin
    Parry.

    If you wish to prove that The Ultimate Reconciliation of All
    is a false teaching, and champion the orthodox view, these books should be at
    the top of your list for review and debunking. May God richly bless your
    efforts.

    I came across a passage in Amos in my study a couple of days
    ago and it fascinated me. It was Amos 1:11. Thus says the LORD: For three
    transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because
    he pursued his brother with the sword and cast off all pity; he maintained his
    anger perpetually, and kept his wrath forever.

    First I was intrigued by the use of perpetually and forever,
    which could be no longer than Edom lived and if perpetually and for ever do NOT
    mean eternally here, then why must they have that force in other places?, Then
    I had to ponder why it was that God should be upset over this behavior? Isn’t
    it exactly the behavior that you believe God is going to display to the
    majority of his created ones?

  • Michelle

    Hi again Daniel,

    You have extracted out of your understanding of the Bible, a
    God who is NOT the savior of all. (1Timothy 4:10). A God who’s mercy shall NOT
    endure forever. (Psalm 136). A God who Cannot always forgive His enemies. (Matthew
    5:44,45). A God who sent His word, Jesus, to save sinners, who will return
    void, not having accomplished that which He was sent to do. (Isa 55:11; 1Jn
    4:14). A God who sent His angel to announce the coming of His only son Jesus,
    with the words: “Fear not: for, behold,
    I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”, only to
    cause His sons coming to be damnation for most people. (Where is the joy for all
    the saved who have loved ones in torment?)

    A God who created billions of offspring in His own image, (
    Luke 3:38), with complete foreknowledge, (Isa 46:10), according to his own
    perfect design, (Psalm 139:14-16), to put them into existence on this planet
    for a time, and then send them to eternal torment, on the pretense that they
    have chosen this fate, (Jn 1:13;Jn 15:16), while his word teaches our salvation
    is not by our choice, but by His. (When He saves us, then we choose Him.)(John
    6:44).

    The list goes on, but Daniel, wasn’t it you who said in your
    response to Paul Cadorette, “Remember, that God is offended when we wrongly represent Him –
    Job 42:7-8” ???

    I
    heartily encourage you to think differently. The topic you have addressed here
    could be the beginning of a much better understanding of who the Bible teaches
    God really is, which could result in you knowing God better.

    Joh
    17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and
    Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

  • Michelle

    I apologize for my incessant replies, but I am stimulated by your article. I hope you don’t feel I am brow beating you for this is not my heart or intention. Thank you for sharing your views here and for allowing others the opportunity to respond freely.

    A quote from your article:
    “A good place to start is
    with Jesus. Although He received all who came to Him, He had His requirements,
    which determined inclusion and exclusion. He taught more on eternal judgment –
    the ultimate in inclusion and exclusion – than anyone else. Here are a few of
    these references just from the Gospel
    of Matthew: Matthew 10:28; 13:12-15; 13:30; 13:38-42; 13:49-50; 15:13; 16:26; 18:7-9; 18:34-35; 21:41; 21:44; 22:13; 23:33; 24:50-51;25:30; 25:32-33; 25:41; 25:46; 26:24.”

    Perhaps I should take a
    moment and address the verses you selected to support your claim that Jesus
    taught Eternal Judgment.

    Matthew 10:28 merely speaks of judgment, without saying when,
    or specifying the location of hell, or the duration. The judgment is severe,
    destroying the body and soul, yet I know people living who have suffered just
    such judgment from drug abuse and alcohol abuse.

    Matthew 13:12-15 uses the word never in the ESV that you
    have posted, but it reads differently in the KJV and other English
    translations, because the original doesn’t use a word for “never” in this
    verse.

    Mt 13: 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias,
    which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye
    shall see, and shall not perceive: (KJV)

    Mt 13:14 and fulfilled on them is the prophecy of Isaiah,
    that saith, With hearing ye shall hear, and ye shall not understand, and seeing
    ye shall see, and ye shall not perceive, (YLT)

    Mt 13:14 And unto them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah,
    which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in no wise understand; And
    seeing ye shall see, and shall in no wise perceive: (ASV)

    These versions indicate or at least leave room for the idea
    that the condition is transitory, furthermore we have verses that contradict
    the idea that anyone would never know, perceive, or see the truth. (Isa 11:9;
    Hab 2:14; Rev 5:13). Let alone Israel, of whom it is said emphatically,

    Ro 11:25-32 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be
    ignorant of this mystery…that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be
    come in. 26 And so all Israel shall
    be saved… For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. … they are enemies for your
    sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes…For
    the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. 30 For as ye in times past
    have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:31
    Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may
    obtain mercy. 32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he
    might have mercy upon all.

    So Matthew 13:12-15 is again merely speaking of judgments
    without the force of eternal. Matthew 13:30 has no force of eternal in it, and
    Matthew 13:38-42 and 49,50 both reiterate an event that occurs at the end of
    the age, which Jesus specifically said the generation living would see… (Matt
    24) Many biblical students believe that this is a reference to the end of the
    Jewish age which took place in 70 AD and was certainly not given ETERNAL as in “endless”
    purport. The same with the next two references, Matt 15:13 and Matt 16:26. Yes
    there is judgment but that does not mean there can never be deliverance.

    Now, finally in Matthew 18:7-9 you hit upon a verse that on
    the surface seems to import eternality into the judgment. Verse 8 – “rather
    than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.” The word
    everlasting is an adjective modifying the word fire. So the most you could
    prove from this verse if the word everlasting means “without end” (which it
    does not), is that the fire will never go out. This does not say that those who
    are burned by it will never come out of it. (By the way, there are several
    eternal fires spoken of in the Bible like the one that burned Sodom and
    Gomorrah (Jude 1:7) and the one that burned Idumea (part of Edom)( Isa 34:10 It
    shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever:
    from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it
    for ever and ever.) which is currently inhabited by many cities and villages.

    Please do not lose heart! God’s word is true, but when the
    translators used the words that to us sound like for ever and ever, the words
    actually often meant for a lifetime, or many lifetimes or an age. This can be
    readily demonstrated simply by investigating the usage in the Bible. There is
    much more to be said on this, but this is not the place. For a thorough study on
    this topic I recommend this link: http://www.tentmaker.org/books/Aion_lim.html

    The verses in Matthew 18:34,35 if anything, it is an argument
    against eternal damnation for it
    states “ his master
    delivered him to the jailers,11 kuntil he should pay all his debt. “ This is simply stating that there
    is no pardon here. The debt must be fulfilled. Since the debt is finite (no
    matter how large), the punishment also must be limited according to God’s law.
    You cannot kill for an eye, but only an eye can be taken for an eye. To kill
    for an eye would be unjust, and to give eternal consequence to a finite crime
    would be unjust. Some sins are unpardonable, but that does not mean the penalty
    cannot be served, though it may take ages.

    The rest of the verses quoted here are
    similar, you could ask of any of them, “But for how long?” for it isn’t stated
    and can only be implied if we already believe that way. I would, however like to comment on the last
    two verses quoted here.

    First the last, (that’s scriptural :-)
    ) “It would have been better for Judas if he had not been born.” I will let
    Solomon declare my point here. Ec 6:3 A man may have a hundred children and
    live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his
    prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is
    better off than he.

    (NIV)Simply put, if Judas had been
    conceived but not born, he would have escaped the consequences of his many bad
    decisions. There is no reference to his “eternal” destiny here.

    And lastly, the most famous verse used
    to discredit the ultimate reconciliation of all.

    Mt 25:46 And these shall go away into
    everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

    To which is reasoned: “If punishment
    isn’t eternal, than neither can life be eternal.” Here we have the same word in
    the same verse being applied to punishment and life. It is true, that the same
    adjective is used for everlasting punishment, and eternal life. Therefore,
    either life is not eternal or punishment is eternal.

    This reasoning would hold true only if
    the adjective eternal (aionion)had the import of a specific length of time.
    (Eternity) When in fact it’s usage in scripture shows it to have no such force.
    The characteristic of an adjective is
    that its force changes with the noun it is attached to. For instance the adjective
    large, when used to describe an insect has a limited force, compared to when it
    is used of a whale. “I saw a large tree next to a large cat. When aionion is
    coupled with God it’s duration is endless, but when it is coupled with the fire
    in Sodom and Gomorrah, it is a few days at most. You might have a powerful lawn
    mower, but it will be destroyed by a powerful blast such as an atomic
    explosion. (Who would say that their lawnmower must therefore be as powerful as
    a nuclear explosion?) You can find the adective aionion being used hundreds of
    times in the Septuagint to describe things that end, such as the Aaronic priesthood,
    Naamans leprosy, slavery, smoke rising from earthly fires, Jonahs time in the
    belly of a fish, the hills of Jerusalem, Davids reign, Solomons reign, etc.

    So in conclusion, the verses you have
    chosen, though they may appear on the surface to you to teach that some will be
    forever punished, really do not carry that force, and if they did, they would
    contradict so many other verses that speak of the ultimate reconciliation of
    all and of Gods glorious love and mercy to the world of sinners He loves so
    much.

    Ro 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through
    the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

    Ro 5:18 So then as through one
    transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act
    of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as
    through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through
    the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 And the Law came
    in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace
    abounded all the more, 21 that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might
    reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    God bless you in your continuing study
    of Gods word.

    • http://www.facebook.com/DanielWMann Daniel Mann

      Michelle,

      Thanks for your responses. I want to be able to respond
      to you appropriately. So please explain to me what it is that you
      believe. It sounds like you believe in a kind of purgatory followed by a
      full citizenship in heaven??? Or do you believe in a severely
      hierarchical heaven??

      • Michelle

        I’m sorry but I don’t understand your question. What is “purgatory” and what is hierarchical heaven?

        • http://www.facebook.com/DanielWMann Daniel Mann

          Purgatory = A time of suffering to which God subjects the morally unfit to purge away their sins to make them fit for heaven.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jack.dortignac Jack Dortignac

            I believe in hades, or hell, but I don’t believe either makes anyone fit for heaven. I believe the mechanism is more like that which is illustrated in the story of the two sons. The younger son received the consequences of his choices, which turned him back to the Father, who had never rejected His son but was waiting for His return. I believe that all God’s righteous judgments are full of His mercy. Sometimes we commit a sin unto death, but then he that is dead is freed from sin. Rom 6:10

            So, no I don’t believe in “Purgatory”.

            Ps 86:13 For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.

            Ps 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

            Joh 5:21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

            Re 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

            Do you believe Jesus is able to free people from Hell? Anyone He wants to?

            Does it have to change its name to “purgatory” for that to happen?

            • http://www.withalliamgod.wordpress.com/ Prayson W Daniel

              Hej Jack. I believe you made a brilliant case for universalism given the understanding that God desire every person to be saved and that Christ died for every person.

              John Owen made a similar case to show that unless one accepts particular atonement, namely Christ died for all those whom God draws to Him, those whom were elected before time, then universalism is the only available position.

              If Christ atonement was for every person then I believe you are correct that every person, whether she knows or not, accepts or not, she would be free for Christ objectively paid her ransom. If a person A pay a Bank loan for person B, then it does not matter if B accepts or believes that the loan is paid. The Bank cannot demand B to pay what is already been paid.

              You would be correct Jack to hold this position against a person who rejects particular atonement of Christ because if Christ died for each person’s sins, the He died also for their disbelief, their rejection and therefore every single person will be saved.

              In Christ,
              Prayson

              • http://www.facebook.com/jack.dortignac Jack Dortignac

                Those are kind words Prayson. Thank you.

            • http://www.facebook.com/DanielWMann Daniel Mann

              Jack,

              I am very attracted to your idea: “I believe that all God’s
              righteous judgments are full of His mercy.”

              I even sometimes argue this – that even the Fall was
              merciful given human rebellion. In our rebellion, we needed death; eternal life would have been antithetical to our needs.

              However, I have difficulty going the next step with you: “Sometimes
              we commit a sin unto death, but then he that is dead is freed from sin.” [Rom. 6:7]

              Regarding 1John’s “sin unto death,” it seems that this
              person has gone so far, that we should no longer pray for their healing or welfare. This is not a freeing death like the second verse you cite “he that is dead is freed from sin.” This is a death that bristles with permanent separation. If this was not the case, there would be no problem with praying for such a person.

              • http://www.facebook.com/jack.dortignac Jack Dortignac

                Daniel, I appreciate what you say here, and I agree that there are different “deaths” mentioned throughout Scripture. The way I look at God’s word, and the things God has allowed me to understand (correctly or incorrectly), lead me to the belief that His word teaches that through Jesus God has paid for the sins of all and that Jesus will reign until He has brought about the completion of His assignment. (1Tim 2:15, (1Cor 15:22-28) While I hope and pray that God will reveal this to you, I understand that I can no more prove universal reconciliation to be the truth, than we can prove to a Jewish person that Jesus is their creator and Savior. Therefore, my goal is to at least to share things that might allow you to see that christian universalists are not abusing the word of God, but rather are honestly seeking to make sence of the complete biblical narrative, while not denying Jesus as Lord and Savior but exalting Him and His word as our final authority and trusting in Him while obediently bearing the good news to the whole world. Many brothers of ours have been asked to leave their church homes for believing and speaking these things, which is okay for us, but a loss for those who refuse to consider, at least, the things we are seeing.

                Regarding death, we know that Adam died the day he was ousted from the garden, but in a very real sense he was still alive for quite some time. If he wasn’t dead, then God lied and Satan told the truth, so we read in the new testament, 1Ti 5:6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. and again,

                Eph 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

                Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

                So as I understand it, we were all dead in sin. Until Jesus Christ makes us alive, we remain dead. But sometime after the second death, the lake of fire, death is destroyed, perhaps even immediately after.

                1Co 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

                Can you agree that if death is destroyed, then it can have no power to hold anyone? On the other hand, if death holds, as most Christians believe, the majority of humanity for eternity, (wide is the road and many…), then why does Paul boast,

                1Co 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

                Doesn’t it seem to you that Death would reply, “Here is my victory! I have most of creation in my grasp for eternity! Where is your victory God of the Universe?”

                56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

                57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

                58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

                And don’t you agree that (vs 58), if we labor with Christ to save everyone, and lose most, that our labor was in vain but if in fact everyone is a recipient of God’s gracious salvation in Jesus, that none of our labor is in vain?

                Ro 11:32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. (NIV)

                Ro 5:20 … where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

                By grace we are saved, and unbelief is a sin.

                I really appreciate your attitude in this discussion and I hope our time spent here has been profitable to you in that you understand better the ideas Christian universalists are espousing. Thank you for your thoughtful and gentle responses and please feel free to share further concerns or questions. Like you, my heart is to know Him and I have a lot to learn. God’s richest blessings to you and your’s. ~ Jack

      • Michelle

        Here is a question for you.
        Which scripturally supported idea do you reject?
        A- That God is love, and it is His desire and purpose to save all who have sinned. (Everyone)
        or
        B- That God is omnipotent, that nothing is impossible for Him? Including the salvation of any soul?

        • http://www.facebook.com/DanielWMann Daniel Mann

          I certainly believe both, but I probably have a different understanding of love and mercy than you. Unlike justice, mercy is discriminate. That means that we have no entitlement to God’s mercy. He is merciful to whom He wants to be merciful. Therefore, He is not under any obligation to save everyone, and He says as much.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jack.dortignac Jack Dortignac

            ??? You believe God is love and it is His desire and purpose to save all who have sinned, and you believe God is omnipotent, that nothing is impossible for Him, including the salvation of any soul and you believe that God could show mercy to anyone and everyone but since we don’t have an entitlement to God’s mercy therefore He won’t extend it???

            What am I not understanding here? Apparently we are very close in our thinking because I firmly believe the two propositions above too, but they seem to me to exclude the possibility of God denying himself the joy of the return of even one of His created ones… especially in the light of Paul’s words to Timothy…2Ti 2:13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. and God Himself said, Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

            2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

            Your article makes strong claims against what many Christian believers perceive to be Biblical truth, and I think I have put forth reasonable arguments on behalf of these beliefs. I am not claiming we can prove we are right cause I know that we cannot. I also know that you cannot prove you are right either but wouldn’t it be more honorable to admit that there is legitimacy in the way Evangelical Christian Universalists interpret the word of God, though you see it differently?

            By the way, I don’t know why but your site always logged me in as Michelle but my real name is Jack.

            God bless you Daniel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/charles.watson.980 Charles Watson

    I see you hold the belief of in non essentials liberty. That’s a flat out lie.

  • http://www.facebook.com/samuel.m.walton Samuel Martin Walton

    When the Bible uses the term “Lost”, is that loss final or is the finality of that loss contingent on repentance or a lack thereof? Reviewing my beliefs, I find myself tending towards universalism. What I mean by that is that I believe God’s Plan to reconcile all Mankind to Himself but those who do not repent are lost in the sense that they are bound by their unrepentance to being lost in Sin forever. (Isaiah 59:2) Please do help me understand this as I may be forgeting some basic principles here. As far as my belief in Eternal Salvation I always figured it was as simple as “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house.” (Acts 16:31)

    • http://www.facebook.com/DanielWMann Daniel Mann

      Samuel, If I read you correctly, it seems that you’ve got it right: Christ died for the sins of all, but this matters little if they remain unrepentant and continue to resist both God and their conscience.