A Shattering Revelation...


…happened in Church today when our pastor (much loved for his keen pastoral insight and abilities and preaching) shared that on July 4th, a niece (his sisters daughter) in Iowa had committed suicide. The entire family and community there was shaken and devastated. And he shared that John 3:17 had proven to be of great comfort and hope to all of them.

Now to me, and perhaps many of you as well, this passage simply shouts of Universal Restoration. Emphasis away from condemnation and on salvation. And all because of Jesus. And underlying this whole sad story was the unmistakable awareness that we simply cannot know the inner chaotic mind of one who would see this as any kind of solution.

The Universalistic overtones of this revelation were, for me, overwhelmingly obvious. For if in the end the wicked “die” because of their own “choice” might it not be the product of just as chaotic and distraught a mindset? And that God would have no basis on which to condemn forever one so deluded and tormented as to do such a thing?

… But my pastor, good and moral and noble as he is, cannot see the truth of Universal Restoration. (Yes, I’ve discussed it with him many times and he knows exactly where I stand!) But I’m thinking this tragedy affords the perfect opportunity to bring the topic up again with him…

What do you think? Is this just my human pride and folly wanting to win an argument?
Or is it an opportunity to bring new insight into a matter he might now see with new eyes???



Forgive me if 'm wrong, but I infer from your post that the niece was probably in the class of people who have heard the Gospel but not responded positively to it. I also infer that your pastor would, under general circumstances, teach that such a one was in danger (if not certain) of ECT?
Yet you judge him

If I am mistaken, so be it, but I see little good or noble about finding personal consolation for one’s own crises but preaching against it, in general, to others.


I appreciate your seeing this as an opportunity, Bob. But I would wait until your pastor has dealt with the death of his niece in whatever way he is able, before bringing before him this scripture (which he himself brought forward). He might be more willing to consider it then. If you bring it up too soon, he may see this as a technique of yours to convince him of universal reconciliation while he is still weak, in an emotional state of grief for his niece.


I agree with Paidion.

At some future time I would say, “Don’t be afraid. God is good. He loves that girl more than we can imagine. She is safe in his hands.”

Why can’t people hear the truth in this? Like Adam of old, we are so afraid of God we cower in the bushes.


I agree with Paidion’s recommendation.

And Pilgrim: good and noble men are not always (maybe never in this life) perfectly good and noble. But God seems to be using this to hint to him that the question he denies the truth of is shatteringly relevant. Let us pray that good comes out of this; even if it is the lesser good of him coming to realize that he should not be inconsistent about this for his own emotional weal and so, mournfully or resolutely, steeling himself to be more consistent to what he believes to be true.

That won’t in the least affect what God does with his niece; and a resolve to be sacrificially consistent is better, even if currently wrong as to facts, than emotional opportunism, since at least it is a resolve to be true to the truth and not merely to be convenient.


I agree with the three posts above.
There is probably not a week passes, that someone in a congregation is in a similar situation to the pastor. I ask myself why Jesus was so hard on the religious leaders of His day? Two things come to mind: 1. A higher standard is expected of leaders/teachers (as stated in the epistles)
2. They were guilty of placing a heavier burden on the ‘flock’ than either they themselves lived by or God Himself had commanded.
If we believe that Jesus loved those pharisees just as much as any other human beings, then we must conclude that love manifests itself in very harsh tones when necessary. Please note, I am not suggesting this last point applies specifically to this situation.

Very true. I suppose, at this stage in my journey, I’m finding it difficult to accept that any who preach ECT for 98% of those made in God’s image should be described in a way that would imply they are morally better than your average human/ atheist etc. If we are not to judge, then perhaps that includes ALL judgement (for when I cannot read hearts, yet deem one person to be particularly ‘good’, am I not implying a judgement of ‘less good’ on my fellow travelers?)
If, twelve months down the road, this same pastor is preaching ECT to those like his niece, then any high praise of him might be a great shame for us on our day of judgement.


I agree. I suspect God finds the atheist rejection of such a God to be quite a compliment.

It’s interesting that diablos means “slanderer”. What is ECT if not an abject smear on God’s good name?


Yes – thanks all:
I slept on it last night and came to the conclusion Paidion shared. Seems like taking advantage of a man when he’s down. When he’s vulnerable. Which may of course later be resented by him…??

On the other hand…

It seems to me that a great deal of Truth was spoken by Christ to people who were in very vulnerable times and circumstances. Someone who’s just been healed is far more likely to be accepting and able to listen with openness. The distraught who came to Jesus for healing were about as vulnerable and “weak” as is possible to imagine. Yet think of the great truths Jesus taught about faith and belief in this exact time…

Still, I sense inside my desire to “win the battle” so to speak so will remain silent on this for now… But ready with an answer should it come up in the future…

ECT in this story is not an issue though pilgrim – for as SDA’s, the end is held to be annihilation, not ECT.
My point was simply the observation that in this circumstance, this text seemed to underline everyones desire to focus on the fact that God does not condemn but saves. From whence this incredibly strong desire to do this now, and not do this with those you know less well who you deem to be “hopeless” sinners? Why should the mere fact that they are loved as our own family and blood and kin change matters at all? For does not God love us all as family and blood and kin???

So I’d see this as a huge foot in the door (so to speak) towards considering Universalism for it should be quite apparent that God does in fact move and act in ways that seems so intuitive and proper to these mourning folks in their own present grief.

Anyway much appreciated and hope to have a followup someday…



Yeah – I think you’re right buddyb4… most important is to live in his world of pain and be there with him (my pastor…) because this sort of pain is, well, almost sacred.

What I’d like my pastor to do, is take these deep emotions of forgiveness and lending-the-benefit-of-the-doubt to each and every sinner he imagines will someday “chose” annihilation.

But for now, best not disturb his mourning with my own agenda…