Jump to content

The Protestant Community

Welcome to Christforums the Protestant Community. You'll need to register in order to post your comments on your favorite topics and subjects. You'll also enjoy sharing media across multiple platforms. We hope you enjoy your fellowship here! God bless, Christforums' Staff
Register now

Christforums

Christforums is a Protestant Christian forum, open to Bible- believing Christians such as Presbyterians, Lutherans, Reformed, Baptists, Church of Christ members, Pentecostals, Anglicans. Methodists, Charismatics, or any other conservative, Nicene- derived Christian Church. We do not solicit cultists of any kind, including Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Eastern Lightning, Falun Gong, Unification Church, Aum Shinrikyo, Christian Scientists or any other non- Nicene, non- Biblical heresy. God bless, Christforums' Staff
Register now
Sign in to follow this  
William

Is Universalism Biblical?

Recommended Posts

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).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is the reason you've started several threads on Universalism to discuss the impossibility of it or its possibility?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

 

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

 

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I did state my reply from a position that your contrived method of interpretation fails

Tell me, what specifically about my theology fails in your opinion?

 

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.

But my language assumes no such thing DavidM. It is you who assumes that my method was imagined and that I'm "part of a select few who have been granted an understanding of it". I understand why you drew this conclusion from what I posted, but it's disingenuous to suggest that anything in my language "assumes that [my] method was imagined". Quite the contrary, it is you who are assuming and I want to again ask, what specific elements of my theology provide evidence to you that my method is imagined?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Spiffy, if you read post #6, I don't see how you can continue to try to justify universalism. In short, yes, universalism is in the Bible in the sense that it does not exist and we have plenty of scripture to substantiate that claim. There are those going to perdition and they outnumber those going to the Lord. I believe that people who believe in false doctrine such as universalism pick and choose what they want to believe from Scripture and disregard the Scripture that is outside their realm of belief. You've invented your own Jesus. If you read post #6, you would see what the real Jesus says on this issue.

 

2. In your belief, does universalism extend to the fallen angels as well or just to man?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
your language indicated that you're not sure of your method of interpretation

But this can't properly be derived from my posts, nor is it accurate.

it would make more sense to discuss why discussion of universalism from my perspective is irresolvable in theological discussion with non-Universalists

I stated, "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." There is nothing here to "indicate" that I'm not sure of my method of interpretation. You're forcing a meaning onto my words that simply isn't there.

 

I did state my reply from a position that your contrived method of interpretation fails,

Which of my points of theology led you to the judgment that my method of interpretation fails?

 

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

My language "assumes" no such thing. And your statement that I imply being "part of a select few who have been granted an understanding" of the allegorical approach to the salvation of all I contend for is an emotional judgment. This has no place in an honest discussion of the truth or falsehood of a system of belief.

 

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

Which specific beliefs of mine led you to this conclusion?

 

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.

But isn't lack of contradiction a powerful test of the truth of a complex system of belief? You appear to understand this principle judging by your next statement in the quote below...

 

The proper method of interpretation yields certainty though.

...but here's the clincher:

 

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.

In an earlier post I noted, "...it would make more sense to discuss why discussion of universalism from my perspective is irresolvable in theological discussion with non-Universalists..." The reason honest discussion within much of Christianity is next to impossible today is precisely because of the spirit of grammatico-historical (G-H) methodology. Among its tenets are the automatic rejection of all metaphors or symbolism in language not specifically referenced by Bible authors or referred to in the text. Your posts support this precisely: Since any metaphor beyond those accepted by G-H rules are invalid and acts of individual imagination, any and all interpretive methods which employ such metaphors is automatically false. There's no need for evidence, G-H has spoken.

 

G-H is a manmade poison which controls what Scripture is allowed to say. Atheists use the same circular reasoning with Christians: "Come debate God's existence with me! The rules are that the only real stuff occupies points in time and space....now then, tell me all about your God." Obviously if one can define the rules before hand so one can't lose, and everyone must play by those rules, one is not going to lose. At least in one's own mind.

 

Truth is the loser, sadly. The structure of the G-H method is poison. The Pharisees used it. Religions throughout history have used it. It's called by different names, but the spirit of G-H is legion. The reason truth is the enemy of orthodoxy is that adherents of G-H have raised their interpretive methodology to the same status as truth itself. If your doctrine is truth, it is approved by Truth Himself, and is flawless, righteous and able to defeat all that wages war with it.

 

Unlike G-H, the allegorical methodology I contend for places truth at the pinnacle of its doctrine. It's able to explain why truth is as hated a commodity in Christianity as it is in all humankind. Recall my asking several times which of my beliefs led you to your conclusions that my methodology was false? I asked to see if you would glimpse the truth--that you didn't need to know any of my points of Scriptural evidence because you don't let facts get in the way. Your mind was already a closed trap, completely made up. I was already tried, convicted and hanged without a shred of evidence. Btw, Christ Jesus was crucified specifically because He told the truth to those whose hearts were hardened and already made up. They didn't have evidence either, so they made false evidence up. The corrupt soul does that and calls it righteousness.

 

Fortunately, there's hope. Jesus said of those who murdered Him, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do." All humanity is going to be thankful for His mercy, some more than others.

 

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.

You are very clear on the position you hold DavidM. As to your professed "openness", are you really? Or are you gnashing your teeth in rage looking for something to tear apart?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is a pleasant sentiment to hold that God will redeem all humankind and it makes many debates about hell and justice much less difficult if you can fall back on the comforting fiction that all will eventually be saved and enjoy eternal life in heavenly bliss but it isn't true and that is the most powerful reason for rejecting universalism. It is a system of belief that seeks to make mankind kinder than God and human mercy greater than God's mercy so when you give it some thought the idea that all will be well for all people is a kind of blasphemy because it makes people feel better and more just and more merciful and more moral than God. It will, in the end, lead to unbelief because it makes the holy scriptures vindictive and God who is the ultimate author of the holy scriptures quite wicked.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It is a pleasant sentiment to hold that God will redeem all humankind and it makes many debates about hell and justice much less difficult if you can fall back on the comforting fiction that all will eventually be saved and enjoy eternal life in heavenly bliss but it isn't true and that is the most powerful reason for rejecting universalism. It is a system of belief that seeks to make mankind kinder than God and human mercy greater than God's mercy so when you give it some thought the idea that all will be well for all people is a kind of blasphemy because it makes people feel better and more just and more merciful and more moral than God. It will, in the end, lead to unbelief because it makes the holy scriptures vindictive and God who is the ultimate author of the holy scriptures quite wicked.

 

You'd be surprised regarding how many people step outside the Word of God to His defense.

 

God bless,

William

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

You'd be surprised regarding how many people step outside the Word of God to His defense.

 

God bless,

William

 

 

No, not surprised. I've engaged in debates with church-less-christians who refuse fellowship because no church teaches the truth and they almost to a man (and woman) maintain that Hell is pagan and God will either annihilate the wicked (an idea that has spread far and wide with the aid of Jehovah's witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists constantly preaching it) or punish the wicked for a finite time and then bring them home to heaven and eternal bliss. Many of them also reject Christmas and Easter as pagan. Isn't it amazing how influential Jehovah's witnesses have become?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

No, not surprised. I've engaged in debates with church-less-christians who refuse fellowship because no church teaches the truth and they almost to a man (and woman) maintain that Hell is pagan and God will either annihilate the wicked (an idea that has spread far and wide with the aid of Jehovah's witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists constantly preaching it) or punish the wicked for a finite time and then bring them home to heaven and eternal bliss. Many of them also reject Christmas and Easter as pagan. Isn't it amazing how influential Jehovah's witnesses have become?

 

Blurring the lines are seemingly repeatable happenstances throughout history. Just look at Chrislam or such idiotic statements suggesting the Qur'an and Bible have more in common than not....

 

God bless,

William

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Orthodox christians living in the Byzantine Empire had a first hand taste of Islam and its invading armies and they learned by hard experience that the religion of Mohammed was not gentle nor peaceful nor tolerant except when it had full power over everybody. It is a fool's dream to think of Islam in the west as a peaceful and peace loving influence in the lives of its adherents. And even though some make prodigious efforts to dress Islam in peace-maker's robes the history of the religion puts the lie to it. But Islam does not teach universalism.

 

Isaiah the prophet started his book with a chapter observing his stupid his people had become and his words apply to many professing christians who want nothing more than to swallow all sorts of superstitions and false religions while they pooh pooh the holy scriptures and the teaching of the Church.

 

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

(Isaiah 1:2-8 KJV)

 

The christians who advocate universalism will, in the end, deny the gospel and change their image of Jesus until it is utterly unrecognisable. Idolatry doesn't need statues, the idols of false theologies multiply in the land and the people are blinded by them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

No, not surprised. I've engaged in debates with church-less-christians who refuse fellowship because no church teaches the truth and they almost to a man (and woman) maintain that Hell is pagan and God will either annihilate the wicked (an idea that has spread far and wide with the aid of Jehovah's witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists constantly preaching it) or punish the wicked for a finite time and then bring them home to heaven and eternal bliss. Many of them also reject Christmas and Easter as pagan. Isn't it amazing how influential Jehovah's witnesses have become?

 

 

It's hard for me to accept the claims of the churchless Christians that they're not going to church because they can't find a church that preaches the truth. More likely, they're just christ-less Christians. And, I think my standards are higher than most. I strongly disagree with a lot of popular doctrines (like those that only became popular in the 20th century or later), but I'd still go to those churches if no better one was around. The only thing I find intolerable are insincere leaders, such as those who are obvious liars (Benny Hinn), those who don't place high value on the Bible (PCUSA), or those in sinful lifestyles (or obvious unrepentant sin). A church can have the worst doctrine in the world, but as long as its leaders sincerely believe the Bible teaches that doctrine, I can work with that church, if there's nothing better in town.

 

The word "hell" does have a pagan origin, Norse mythology. And, I think the concept of after-life suffering is also of pagan origin, it's certainly a common feature of pagan religions. The word "hell" in the Bible is translated from different words, but generally has only two literal meanings: the grave (we all go to the grave) and a location outside of Jerusalem (probably Jerusalem's garbage dump). It is not a reference to a place of literal after-life suffering. And, no place in the Bible are we told of any after-life suffering except in Jesus's parables and in the vision in Revelation, both contexts do not compel us to take the suffering literally. If hell is a place of eternal suffering, why in 66 books of the Bible is that suffering not mentioned outside of non-literal contexts?

 

Still, every church I have ever been a member of, the pastor has held the traditional belief of eternal suffering for the lost. I believe in destruction of the lost, not universalism.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×