Christian Universalism is a school of Christian theology which includes the belief in the doctrine of universal reconciliation, the view that all human beings and fallen angels will ultimately be restored to right relationship with God in Heaven.

Is Universalism Biblical?

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  • Is Universalism Biblical?

    Universalism states that sooner or later all people will be saved. This position holds that the concepts of hell and punishment are inconsistent with a loving God.The older form of universalism, originating in the second century, taught that salvation would come after a temporary period of punishment. The newer form of universalism declares that all men are now saved, though all do not realize it. Therefore the job of the preacher and the missionary is to tell people they are already saved. Certain passages - John 12:32, Philippians 2:11, and 1 Timothy 2:4 - are typically twisted out of context in support of universalism.

    Such passages, interpreted properly, do not support universalism:
    • John 12:32 says that Christ's work on the cross makes possible the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles. Notice, however, that the Lord - in the same passage - warned of judgment of those who reject Christ (v. 48).
    • Philippians 2:10-11 assures us that someday all people will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, but not necessarily as Savior. (Even those in hell will have to acknowledge Christ's Lordship.)
    • First Timothy 2:4 expresses God's desire that all be saved, but does not promise that all will be. This divine desire is only realized in those who exercise faith in Christ.


    The Scriptures consistently categorize people into one of two classes (saved/unsaved, also called believers/unbelievers), and portray the final destiny of every person as being one of two realities (heaven or hell).
    • In Matthew 13:30 Jesus in a parable said, "Let both [tares and wheat] grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn." Here unbelievers and believers are spoken of as tares and wheat. Two classes!
    • In Matthew 13:49 Jesus said, "This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous." Again, two classes are mentioned - unbelievers and believers spoken of as the wicked and the righteous.
    • In Matthew 25:32 Jesus said that following His second coming, "All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats." Here believers and unbelievers are differentiated by the terms "sheep" and "goats." The sheep will enter into God's kingdom (vs. 34) and inherit eternal life (vs. 46). The goats go into eternal punishment (vs. 46).
    • In Luke 16:26 we find Abraham in the afterlife telling the unsaved rich man: "Between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us." Hades apparently had two compartments: "paradise" for the saved, and "torments" for the unsaved - and these compartments were separated by a great chasm or gulf.


    Clearly, then, the Scriptures speak of two classes of people (the saved and the unsaved) and two possible destinies (heaven for the saved; hell for the unsaved). And each respective person ends up in one of these places based upon whether or not he or she placed saving faith in Christ during his or her time on earth (Acts 16:31).

  • #2
    Is the reason you've started several threads on Universalism to discuss the impossibility of it or its possibility?
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    • #3
      Originally posted by spiffy75 View Post
      Is the reason you've started several threads on Universalism to discuss the impossibility of it or its possibility?
      Hi Spiffy,

      Please read: Practical use of the forum

      God bless,
      William
      Comment>

      • #4
        So....is the answer to my question that the articles on universalism are here to inform and present a one-sided opinion from the theological point of view of those who created this board, and not open for discussion?
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        • #5
          Originally posted by spiffy75 View Post
          So....is the answer to my question that the articles on universalism are here to inform and present a one-sided opinion from the theological point of view of those who created this board, and not open for discussion?
          Hi Spiffy,

          I do not understand what is stopping you from discussing the article.

          God bless,
          William
          Comment>

          • #6
            Don't forget 2 Peter 3:9. What I don't understand is that this verse is used by believers in free will to back up their doctrine, yet not believe in universalism. Matthew 7:13-14 tells us most people are going to perdition. Matthew 7:21-23 tells us that many will not be saved, but are self-deceived. So much for universalism. The word "all" is translated from the Greek word, pas, which can mean any, all, and more. "All" in Greek doesn't necessarily mean "all" in English. Although the Scriptures which are used to back up free will look like they do, but they refer to believers, as nonbelievers cannot believe what they read anyway. John 6:44-47 tells us that only those given to Jesus by the Father shall come to Jesus, and He will in no wise cast any of them out. This hooked up with 2 Peter 3:9 makes sense.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
              What I don't understand is that this verse is used by believers in free will to back up their doctrine, yet not believe in universalism.
              G'day Strat,

              From the Reformed perspective this verse in particular (2 Peter 3.9) speaks of God's revealed will (telling us what we should do), not His hidden will (his eternal plans for what will happen). The biblical verse simply tells us that God invites and commands every person to repent and come to Christ for salvation (1 Timothy 2:5-6), but they do not tell us anything about God's secret decrees regarding who will be saved.

              Here's the similarity and difference between Reformed and Arminian conceptions of God's will. Both Calvinists and Arminians agree that God's commands in Scripture reveal to us what he wants us to do, and both agree that the commands in Scripture invite us to repent and trust in Christ for Salvation. Therefore, in one sense both agree that God wills that we be saved -- it is the will that He reveals to us explicitly in the gospel invitation. But both sides must also say that there is something else that God deems more important than saving everyone, and that (according to Romans 9) God's glory is also furthered by the fact that some are not saved. Arminian theologians also say that something else is more important to God than the salvation of all people, namely, the preservation of man's free will. So in a Reformed system God's highest value is His own glory, and in an Arminian system God's highest value is the free will of man. These are two distinctively different conceptions of the nature of God, and it seems that the Reformed position has much more explicit support than the Arminian position does on this subject.

              God bless,
              William
              Comment>

              • #8
                Originally posted by William View Post
                I do not understand what is stopping you from discussing the article.
                As you might have guessed, I'm a Christian Universalist (as opposed for instance to UU). I've read through the articles on Universalism here, they contain the same essential arguments found everywhere else. These have been debated and discussed ad infinitum like all other topics of theological interest to Christians who post to theology boards.

                Rather than jump into what will almost certainly be more unresolvable dialog by discussing the proof texts provided, I think it would make more sense to discuss why discussion of universalism from my perspective is irresolvable in theological discussion with non-Universalists if anyone is interested.

                Maybe the best way to start is by posing a brief background, followed by a question. My universalism is unlike that of virtually all other Christian universalists in that I start by positing a certain metaphysical approach which is then developed into a specifically allegorical interpretation of the Bible. According to this structured allegorical interpretation I show that universal salvation is logically superior to either the Annihilationist or eternal separation/torment positions.

                The question I think prudent to pose is: how would my Annihilationist or Eternal hell brethren propose to judge an interpretation like this? I don't want to be accused of 'hiding' anything or presenting "trick" questions, so will state before discussing that I've come to suspect that the conventional form of theological discussion among Christians of different stripes appears to me to cause problems arriving at properly warranted belief.
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                • #9
                  No takers on such a simple question?
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by spiffy75 View Post
                    how would my Annihilationist or Eternal hell brethren propose to judge an interpretation like this?
                    I don't know is my answer. I would have to understand what this "metaphysical approach which is then developed into a specifically allegorical interpretation of the Bible" actually is before I could attempt to respond to it.
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by spiffy75 View Post
                      The question I think prudent to pose is: how would my Annihilationist or Eternal hell brethren propose to judge an interpretation like this? I don't want to be accused of 'hiding' anything or presenting "trick" questions, so will state before discussing that I've come to suspect that the conventional form of theological discussion among Christians of different stripes appears to me to cause problems arriving at properly warranted belief.
                      I would rather ask by what means your hermeneutic is necessitated?

                      People love to devise new teaching and new doctrine, usually failing to realize that whatever the human mind engineers, the human mind can reverse engineer. There will always be flaws in anything that is not of the truth. I'll argue that there will always be contradictions that expose those flaws.
                      Comment>

                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bede View Post
                        I would have to understand what this "metaphysical approach which is then developed into a specifically allegorical interpretation of the Bible" actually is before I could attempt to respond to it.
                        That shouldn't be necessary. Anyone who feels himself reasonably competent to justify proper warrant for his own personal theology should have a system of judgment by which his theology is proven. If the system of judgment is proper, that same system should be able to determine by its own standards whether competing interpretations are true or false. To understand a competing interpretive method first takes focus off the question of what standard of judgment is proper to evaluate another view? Do you see what I mean?
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DavidM View Post
                          I would rather ask by what means your hermeneutic is necessitated?
                          But all you're doing is turning my question back to me. This doesn't answer my question.

                          Originally posted by DavidM View Post
                          People love to devise new teaching and new doctrine, usually failing to realize that whatever the human mind engineers, the human mind can reverse engineer. There will always be flaws in anything that is not of the truth. I'll argue that there will always be contradictions that expose those flaws.
                          I agree with you completely that any Bible interpretation that's "human engineered" is doomed to failure. What is telling is your prefacing this with the caveat that 'people love to devise new teaching and doctrine', implying that you're pretty sure my theology would fall under the banner of contrived doctrine right out of the gate. This is of course expected and normal in discussions like this, but worth pointing out if the discussion advances far enough to have value.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by spiffy75 View Post
                            But all you're doing is turning my question back to me. This doesn't answer my question.
                            Correct, your language indicated that you're not sure of your method of interpretation. Thus why I asked how it's necessitated. I'll mention more below.

                            Originally posted by spiffy75 View Post
                            I agree with you completely that any Bible interpretation that's "human engineered" is doomed to failure. What is telling is your prefacing this with the caveat that 'people love to devise new teaching and doctrine', implying that you're pretty sure my theology would fall under the banner of contrived doctrine right out of the gate. This is of course expected and normal in discussions like this, but worth pointing out if the discussion advances far enough to have value.
                            I did state my reply from a position that your contrived method of interpretation fails, though I should have clarified a bit. First off, I call it 'contrived' based on your own words, "which is then developed into a specifically allegorical interpretation". That language assumes that your method was imagined (by yourself or others) rather than simply revealed by God and furthermore assumes that you're part of a select few who have been granted an understanding of it. Where the method cannot be shown from necessity, this is clearly arrogant.

                            Also, it seems as if your method of interpretation is first based on universalism, rather than having an interpretive method that simply entails it.

                            However, that all wasn't the main reason for my forthright disagreement. Instead, my disagreement was on the basis that your language indicated that you believe your method of interpretation is simply more accurate and yields less issues than others. In turn, that assumes no method of interpretation can be ascertained and if that's the case, certainty isn't possible. The proper method of interpretation yields certainty though. I will argue that method is very simple; a literal, grammatical, historical method by which we human beings normally understand language. This method yields no contradictions at all.

                            I'm open to hearing what you have to say, I just want to be very clear about the position I stand behind so you don't feel you're wasting your time.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by spiffy75 View Post
                              That shouldn't be necessary. Anyone who feels himself reasonably competent to justify proper warrant for his own personal theology should have a system of judgment by which his theology is proven. If the system of judgment is proper, that same system should be able to determine by its own standards whether competing interpretations are true or false. To understand a competing interpretive method first takes focus off the question of what standard of judgment is proper to evaluate another view? Do you see what I mean?
                              No. I'll just wait and see if this goes anywhere.
                              Comment>
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