The Evangelical Universalist Forum

A Shorter Case for Universalism

I’m consolidating my former “Approaching Traditionalists” (adapting Talbott’s argument from three Biblical themes), as a potential means of convincing evangelicals that universalists should be just as acceptable as both calvinists & arminians.

I’m not sure what approach to traditional evangelicals best encourages dialogue. But I suspect that it’s better to first encourage an openness to those of differing interpretations, before pursuing a clinching universalist argument. And those challenged may need to see that universalists grasp and respect the case for their own interpretation. Thus, I attach my version, with Scriptures for each traditional belief, and my own universalist conclusions. I welcome your alternatives.
Which of these three ideas do you think a Bible Christian must believe.doc (30.5 KB)

I love how you included Mark 9:49 in your list of #1. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: Clever.

(Most proponents of #1, in my experience, avoid even acknowledging the existence of verses 49-50.)

While it’s true that many Calvs and Arms accept one another as Christian brothers, there are many who do not either. But presumably those people would be immediately nixing either 2 or 3 as heretical nonsense when you mention them, I guess.

It’s a great study sheet!–I wish I could print it off and use it for discussion classes at church. :smiley:

Okay. As a young man, I was a traditionalist, and even a Calvinist who thought it my mission to promote predestination and eternal security (actually unconditional security). However, I was interested in what the early church, right after the days of the apostles, taught. My thinking was that they would have been in a better position to understand what the New Testament writers meant than we, who were born 2000 years later, and are not all that familiar with Christian practice at that time, nor the subtleties of the language. So I began to read early Christian literature. I learned that the early church had communion every Sunday and that they practised body ministry. This early literature also convicted me that my Calvinistic beliefs were in error.

Many years later, I began attending a church in my area which had many practices and beliefs which I had been reading about in early Christian literature. Once when I attended a summer camp, I heard one of the leading brethren, say to another at the dinner table, “I never could believe in an eternal hell.” I was shocked! What had I gotten myself into? This was a cult! I walked around in that camp grounds in a daze, and very disturbed and upset. Then the Lord seemed to say to me, “Don’t worry about this. All will become clear.” So I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the camp meetings.

Whenever I read my bible after I arrived home, when I read some rather familiar passages, I found to my amazement that they taught the reconciliation of all to God. Soon I accepted the truth of the reconciliation.

Now I could have been spared my discomfort at the camp, my disturbing thoughts, my emotional upset, if the brother had not spoken against eternal hell. If he had spoken for the reconciliation of all to God, providing scriptures, I could have eased into the truth that hell is remedial. So my suggestion in approaching “traditionalists” is to provide scriptures which teach the reconciliation of all things to God. Do not mention hell at all until they have dealt with the reconciliation of all to God. Then they will be less likely to reject out of hand as a heresy, the truth of universal reconciliation to God.

Jason, I appreciate the encouragement, thanks!

Paidion, How your conclusion follows from your story seems perplexing. You conclude that the effective way to convince you as a traditionalist is to avoid ‘hell’ texts, but in your own case in point, it was precisely someone addressing the hell issue that soon precipitated the process of changing your traditional conclusion.

I only know I’ve never emphasized the universal reconciliation texts, without a traditionalist responding that out of hand it is heresy, because I’ve avoided the clear-cut hell texts. So it’s hard to picture your preference being effective.

Bob, I posted this for someone to look at and got an interesting reply. He said that if you look at the new testament, that none of those three ideas is a logical construct from the new testament. I’ve asked him to explain himself, as I was intrigued by this. Still waiting for the response…

please keep us posted.

To answer the attachment as a very recently registered member of the forum. I have also very recently responded to the knock and opened the door. My faith has supported me all my life 75 years but all in my head and full of questions and many variations in the answers. The Holy Spirit has finally opened my heart as I opened the door to Christ-s persistent knock. Within my heart and mind it is all suddenly so clear that God loves all humanity, God loves me, you, everyone, and that strikes through to my heart. And amazingly I am led to this forum by my parish priest and my first opening is your attachment. Not difficult for you to rightly guess my answer Yes to both 2 and 3! Thank you.

He never responded… :confused:

I tend to run into the same types of responses. Either I’m taking things out of context, or it’s simply a non-sequitar. For example, I’ve been told by a few people that Lam 3:31 “For I do not cast off men forever” - is not about God casting off man forever, but about his promist of restoring Isreal; his faithfulness to them. But as I read it, it seems God’s point is that he is faithful because he does not cast off forever and thus will eventually restore them. So I don’t really understand why that’s “out of context”.

For your friend to say these (3) ideas are not logically constructed from the NT is really empty without an explanation. I feel at the very least, that Christians should at least say, we can see why it appears that way. But to simply claim it’s illogical or non-contextual without giving a rational reason is sad. - Sort of like your post regarding the bereans. Sure Christians claim theire bereans, UNTIL we Universalists raise our hands that is.


Yeah, I was really hoping for a response as well, because what little he did say intrigued me. He suggested in connection with his comment, that I do a word study on “believe” for example, to understand what that actually entails. It was just kind of a cryptic statement…

welcome to the forum. thanks for sharing some of your story.

Yes, I agree with your last sentence. Yet I think I could have been eased into the acceptance of the reconciliation of all, if the hell issue had not been addressed or at least postponed until the Biblical teaching on the reconciliation had been proclaimed, and on my part, examined and accepted

My experience has been the exact opposite. I have brought forth the reconcilations texts, and some have immediatley accepted the truth of the reconciliaton of all. Many of those who didn’t, didn’t reject out of hand the truth of the reconciliation of all people to God, but exclaimed, “Oh, if only that were true!”

Paidion, thanks for sharing your experience with this. I suspect that you are right that emphasizing the affirmative texts is the most effective approach with many. It may not be, one size fits all, and that I come from a doctrinaire ECT tradition where the damnation texts are seen as decisive for the issue of universal salvation, regardless of how much “all” sounds like all in the affirming passages that I cite.

fmichaeldw, thanks for sharing your journey! I’m blessed to hear about your growth in affirming God’s love.