Saturday, February 25, 2012

10 reasons why I don't believe in Universalism.


I have been reading and thinking quite a bit lately about the idea of Univeralism (Universal Salvation), which is an argument that all people will be ultimately saved. The idea is rooted in the belief that a loving God cannot and will not send people to hell. There are numerous positions on this issue among people from the argument of logical and rational thinking (a loving God letting people go to hell being illogical), to the idea that the word "forever" (eternal) doesn't really mean forever and everyone will get an opportunity to go through a short period of "hell-like" experience and then they will eventually bow their knees and confess with their tongue that Jesus is Lord.

Honestly, I too want to believe in this idea because I have a lot of friends and family who have not accepted Christ and it concerns me, so I started exploring the idea with great enthusiasm but eventually came to a realization that without tossing out a whole bunch of Scriptures, it is impossible to establish a case for Universalism.

I am a believer in God's grace and His unconditional love and I am passionate about it and the good news of it. I am also encouraged to see people questioning and challenging the traditional beliefs of institutional church (which I am also doing). But, when it comes to this issue, the argument is seriously flawed.

My attempt here is not to address each and every arguments, but some of it.

1. No Scriptural support.

There are no Scriptural support of evangelism offer to the unregenerate after their death and that they will be released from hell after their 'pruning time'.

2. Freewill is critical.

If God is going to force people to accept him, it is a violation of freewill and if God was going to violate the freewill in the "future", He could have violated it in the Garden of Eden by stopping Adam and Eve from eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. God never violated the freewill and He never will.

3. Being a universalist is not necessarily a sign of "open mindedness" or "thinking outside the box".

People posses a fear of being seen as a religious bigot (subtle influence of secularism?). They want to appear as "open minded" because they think that's kind of cool and modern. They ask the question "Did God really mean it that way?". Well, that's the same kind of question Satan once asked Adam and Eve: "Did God really say...?".

4. If something is not mentioned in some places, that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

Universalists argue that since there aren't a lot of occurance of the word "hell" in the Bible we shouldn't believe that it exist, or it exist in an eternal sense. There are an overwhelming number of passages in the Bible that it is very clear about a separation of believers and unbelievers such as the parable of 10 virgins, where 5 of them being left out in the dark and the parable of separating sheep from the goats. Though the world hell is not directly used in any of these places, it clearly shows us that there is going to be a seperation of believers and unbelievers; and unbelievers are going to be left out. Another example is, Jesus telling "I never knew you, depart from me". There is no reference to hell here, but you can see that He rejects the people who never KNEW him (believed in Him and had faith in Him). Another example is the older brother in the story of the prodigal son that he chose not to join the party though his father invited him.

Another argument is, Apostle Paul being silent on the issue of hell. It is true that Aposlte Paul is not bringing that issue a lot in his epistles, but isn't it because he is writing to churches (believers)? Why would he keep on reminindng those who have already "passed from death to life" about hell (eternal death)?

5. Satan was an archangel and was created by God, but it is ludicrous to believe that Satan will be saved. 

One question I would ask a universalist: Do you believe that Satan and his demons will be reconciled to God? I would assume that their answer is "No", now consider this: Anyone who rejects Christ is anti-christ.

6. "Forever" DOES mean forever.

The argument that "forever" doesn't really mean forever has a huge flaw. If you are going to posit that hell is temporal because of the Greek word used to describe it, you must also be willing to posit that heaven is temporal. The same word that is used to describe the length of hell (aionios) is the same word that is used to describe the length of heaven (aionios).  [Matthew 25:46]

7. We are NOT created in the image of God, in the first place.

Universalists also believe that salvation is nothing but forgiveness of sins and Jesus forgave the sins of the WORLD, then it must mean that the entire world is (or will be) saved. While it is true that the entire world is forgiven and reconciled to God, forgiveness alone is NOT salvation. Forgiveness is only a prerequisite to salvation. Salvation is receiving LIFE from God (receiving Jesus). Jesus said , "I am the way, the truth and the LIFE". "I am the resurrection and the LIFE". "I have come so that you may have LIFE".

We are born into this world spiritually dead (inheriting adamic nature) and in need of Life.

[This is contrary to many people's belief that we are created in the image of God, which is not true. Only Adam was created in the image of God (fully alive to God) and all the people who are born thereafter (after Adam sinned) are born in the image of Adam (Genesis 5:3). Remember, God told Adam that if he eat that fruit, he will DIE, but we all know that he did not die physically as bible says he lived for 930 years, so the death he died that day was spiritual death].

Jesus came to give us that life which we didn't have (which we lost in Adam) when we were born into the world, but in order for us to recieve that life we have to be fully forgiven of all sins for God's life (spirit) cannot be dwelled in a sinner. So Jesus brought forgiveness to the entire world (through His death on the cross) making us ready to receive life (through His resurrection) [This is the experience Jesus explained to Nicodemus that unless you are born of water (natural birth) and spirit (born again OF God), you cannot inherit the kingdom]. However, receiving the life is a choice - you can either accept it (by faith) or reject it and hell is a place or a state of remaining spiritually dead, for those who reject life by their free will.

"For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him (forgivenss) through the death of his Son , how much more, having been reconciled (forgiveness being a prerequisite), shall we be saved through his life (salvation)!  - Romans 5:10

So, I believe in universal forgiveness, not in universal salvation. There is a huge difference.

8. Believing in a loving God and believing that hell do exist is NOT paradoxical, and God is NOT sending anyone to hell.

Universalists think believing in hell and believing in a loving God are somehow paradoxical so they attempt to build a case against hell. It is a noble desire and I understand where they are coming from but the fact is God is not sending anyone to hell, people choose hell (death) by their will. When they reject Life offered by Christ, they remain dead. Remaining eternally dead is nothing but hell.

9. God is Love, but He is also just.

God punishing sin on the body of Christ is something we shouldn't take lightly as it was an act of justice and because of His immeasurable love for us, He chose His own Son to receive the wages of sin (death). But He raised Jesus from dead and is offering us the same resurrection life so that we may be raised with Him from our state of spiritual death.

Those who reject this resurrection life, simply remain dead.

10. It's all Grace, but faith matters.

There are numerous passages in the Scripture where it shows that we receive Jesus (resurrection life) by faith and faith is never compelled upon on anyone.

7 comments:

Adam said...

Hi, please read this comment in the light of the fact that I am not trying to disagree with you, or, even agree with you but merely to provoke thinking from the mind of Christ. Because only in the Spirit are we able to see the concepts without prejudice and pre-supposition.

Unfortunately all christian theologies rely on the mind of man which is loaded with pre-suppositions and in the modern era most of us have a mixture of theologies, and in your post I can see calvanism and armenianism mixture.

Now, you said
"Only Adam was created in the image of God (fully alive to God) and all the people who are born thereafter (after Adam sinned) are born in the image of Adam"

From this fact it is clear that no "sinner" can avoid being anything but that. In other words he /she has no choice or responsibility for being a sinner.

Now in most human societies someone who is insane is considered in this same light. i.e. he/she has no choice or responsibilty for any actions(sins) that are performed and in fact the criminally insane are never prosecuted for their acts. They are never found GUILTY.

If we as humans (sinners) can extend this mercy to the insane how can we view a God who has a case against those who cannot help but be human.

Also, Jesus "commands" we love our enemies yet he apparently satisfies "justice" by punishing his enemies for ever?

You also bring up the parable of the 10 virgins -- well there are 10 virgins, virginity being a sign of purity, so there is a good case to view this as all 10 were "saved". And the sheep and goats also seems to be addressed to believers.

Arguments based on geography and time bind God to the limitations of the human experience. We tend to see heaven (and hell if it exists) as a geographical place and eternal and eternity as never ending time. If God lives anywhere geographical, it is within you and He does not exist in time, He is the NOW, the I AM.

In Christ, I am,

adam

Matthew said...

Adam,

You said,

"I think the following words from Christ would contradict your other statements here as well, when you said "Now in most human societies someone who is insane is considered in this same light. i.e. he/she has no choice or responsibilty for any actions(sins) that are performed and in fact the criminally insane are never prosecuted for their acts. They are never found GUILTY."

Also,

"If we as humans (sinners) can extend this mercy to the insane how can we view a God who has a case against those who cannot help but be human."

My question is, have you considered Jesus' words when he said the following? ....

"And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more."

You said:

"Jesus "commands" we love our enemies yet he apparently satisfies "justice" by punishing his enemies for ever?"

Jesus raised the the law to a standard no one could keep. He commands that believers forgive because they have been forgiven. Believers were guilty of the very same things. However, Christ, who knew no sin, can and will judge the ungodly. You would have to give scripture a ton of remodeling to say otherwise.

You said:

"And the sheep and goats also seems to be addressed to believers."

Jesus said:

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

Does Christ punish those he promised to save?

Matthew said...

You made some great points here, Bino.

I don't pretend to be happy about hell. There's no evidence that my own dad knew the Lord.

But, love rejoices with the truth, and I'm happy to know you're rooted in the scripture, Bino.

Joel Brueseke said...

Thanks for taking the time to write this, Bino! You have so many excellent points here.

I'm tired of hearing the whole "open mind" thing. In saying they want others to have an open mind, what they really mean is that they want others to close their mind to what they already believe. As you say here, I'm all for the idea of questioning things that we have believed. Sometimes that has brought about such great revelations of truth. But along with what Matthew said on his own blog, that doesn't mean that "anything goes" and that I should start believing lies, all in the name of being open minded.

You made so many other great points here... all of them are excellent! Again, thanks for spending the time writing all of this.

Bino M. said...

Adam,

What makes you think that both sheep and goats are believers?

This is the verse right after the parable:

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)

How do you interpret this? Let's say (for argument's sake) that the word 'eternal' doesn't mean eternal here and lets assume that it just means 'temporal'. But why would a 'loving' God separate a group of people from another group? What is the purpose of it?

Ike said...

I missed you Bino.

Bino M. said...

Hey Ike,

Great to see you back! How have you been?