Another pathetic argument against Evangelical Universalism


#1

I just read this article at arminiantoday.blogspot.com/2011/ … ctive.html
It is unbelievable what kind of arguments are being made against EU! Read the comments after (not posted here) - there is a small dialogue between the author and another poster. The author just doesn’t get it:

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"Why Universalism Is So Attractive**
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For 2000 years the Church has had to defend her doctrines. Church History no doubt shows that this was not always an easy task. The councils often took years to meet. A case in point is Arminius’ request for a church council (or synod) to meet to discuss his views regarding the teachings of John Calvin and whether the Church should be allowed to change the catechisms if in fact they were shown to be in error. Arminius died but the Synod of Dort met several years after his death and there condemned Arminianism though the Synod of Dort was a kangaroo court. These councils often would debate for hours, days, and even years over theological issues. How we need this today! Today, in the name of tolerance, we avoid theological differences and we don’t even condemn heresy when it pops its head up.

Universalism, more and more, is now being accepted by many who claim to be “evangelicals.” Liberals have held to some forms of universalism for years but now many are claiming to be “evangelical” but want to hold to a form of universalism whether it is Clark Pinnock, Neal Punt, Amos Yong, or Rob Bell - universalism is drawing a crowd. Carlton Pearson was a former Word-Faith preacher who now accepts universalism. Even Billy Graham has made some statements in the past that seemed as if he at least was sympathetic to universalism.

I think most of my blog readers know where I stand on this issue. I think most of you know that I reject this view completely and strongly advocate an exclusive position to the gospel. In this way, I would align myself gladly with Calvinists such as John Piper, John MacArthur, or James White. I believe that personal faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross is the only way to God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:3-6). I believe Hebrews 9:22 is true and that the only solution to our sinfulness before a perfect, holy, and just God is the perfect, sinless sacrifice of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:15-18). I believe that Romans 10:9-17 is clear, the gospel must be preached for people to be saved. I believe Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47-49; John 20:21; and Acts 1:8 are all serious words for the Church and every disciple to obey. Eternal life is found only in a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-3; Colossians 1:21-23; 1 John 5:1).

But why are so many embracing universalism? What is so attractive about these teachings that causes people to accept that there is no eternal hell and that all will be saved? I know that those who hold to inclusive salvation would argue that they don’t believe that all will be saved but rather that some might be saved apart from knowing Jesus’ name. Most inclusive theologians even seem to hold to some form of hell for say people such as Hitler as compared to Gandhi.

So here are my reasons why I think people hold to forms of universalism.

  1. Laziness in Evangelism.

To be blunt: they never share their faith and its easier to simply embrace a system where people are A) already saved as in universalism or B) they will be saved postmortem. They either fear what people would say about them if they told them about Jesus or they simply don’t want to share their faith at all.

  1. Rejection of Inerrancy and Infallibility of the Bible.

I think this is primarily where Bell comes from. He rejects both inerrancy and infallibility and therefore there is no standard for defining what is truthful and what is not. No doubt Bell will quote from the Bible when it fits his views but as far as using proper exegesis and then submitting to what the Bible says even if it goes against your views is probably not going to happen. When we reject the Bible, we open ourselves to other “truths” and other holy books and other voices. But when we accept what Jesus said in John 10:35, that the Scriptures cannot be broken then we must submit ourselves to what the Lord says about salvation, death, judgment, etc.

  1. Compassion.

I may be hoping here but I would hope that people who reject the exclusive position would really have a heart of compassion. While I believe they greatly misunderstand the holiness of God, they do embrace that God is love and that He has sent His Son for all (John 3:16). I would pray that Bell, for example, does love people and he does want to see people loving God. But we must never confuse compassion for truth.

  1. Tolerance.

In our day and age, it is politically correct to be tolerant of all beliefs even if they are against one another. Christians are told to embrace Muslims and Muslims are told to embrace Hindus. We are all to “coexist” as the bumper sticker says. The problem is that if the Bible is true and if Jesus is risen from the dead, all other religions are wrong (1 Corinthians 15:14-17). If Jesus is alive, He is all that He said He was. If Jesus is not risen, He was a false teacher. But if Jesus is risen (which I believe He is) then He is Lord of all (Philippians 2:5-11). Jesus then would be the only way to the Father as He said (John 14:6). Salvation would be found only by being in Him (John 17:3; Acts 2:38-39). If what Jesus said was true then all other religions are false and Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life.

  1. Conscience

Frankly, if you don’t share your faith and you have no heart for world evangelism then universalism would ease your conscience as you consider that all nations must hear the gospel to be saved. In your conscience you know that Jesus is the only way to the Father and that only those who are saved by faith in Him are His true disciples (Luke 6:46-49) and this bothers you because you know that people in your neighborhood, your job, your school, your city, your state, your nation, etc. need to hear about Jesus and what He has done for our salvation but because you are a lazy and because you are weak in your faith, you would rather believe that there is no hell, that all be saved, etc. This makes you feel better. But it is not true.

I could go on and on. My point is that many people who hold to universalism do so because they frankly don’t want to be bothered with the afterlife and what awaits us. I would rather sleep in peace at night knowing that my passion is to know this Savior who gave His life for me and know that I am doing all that I can for His glory with the time I have left. I don’t want to live my life for my sins, my flesh, and my desires and ease my conscience with false teachings. I want to obey Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19-20 and make disciples of as many people as I can make for the glory of God."*


#2

tsk tsk, “laziness in evangelism” yet again!

frankly, i feel more able to share now then i did before. sharing a faith that makes sense and doesn’t have God as a huge bipolar, authoritarian tyrant ready crush all that oppose is rather a relief. sharing a God that loves us NOW and can save us NOW and is the most wonderful person you’ll ever meet, so why wait? that’s a reason for preaching! love, not fear.

if someone didn’t want to help their neighbour avoid any level of refining/hell/punishment they required post mortem, they’d be failing to be a good neighbour and might also incur similar punishment, as the prophet who was told the blood would be on his hands if he didn’t warn Israel.
not hopeless, but not fun and worth avoiding at all costs.

it doesn’t have to be eternal for it to be worth avoiding!


#3

Good grief, it’s verses like these that compelled me to EU! Obviously someone who can’t bother himself to actually listen to what EUs say. What a shame.


#4

I’ve become far bolder, and far better at sharing the Gospel than I ever was before - now that I indeed have good news to share. It is a whole lot easier when you’re actually sharing the Gospel from Victory, than from a position of being in the trenches staring down a mighty devil-army with naught but a stick, a pamphlet, and a looming threat of a most certain, and grievous defeat.

I’ve found that I can be patient, and focus on sharing the Gospel in areas I never thought I could share it before - like…being a living epistle, for example.

I reject bad fruit from bad interpretations, and bad translations; I reject nothing that is inerrant, or infallible when I am aware that it is inerrant, and infallible. The Spirit inspires, not the text. And the Bible backs that up when it says the Spirit gives life but the letter kills, and “Eternal Life” is standing right in front of us, while the church is content with the religious world to try and find it in a codex it has collected, translated, and stamped with the stamp of perfect in which any questioning of their “divine authority and right” in having done so is tantamount with heresy, and punishable by Hell Fire for ever.

In other words, I don’t reject Truth, and scripture that God brings forth; indeed I embrace it. I reject that which man would try to make God; such as their interpretations that they in their hubris consider infallible.

Compassion such as Jesus had? Shall I be a blasphemer, and a sinner for following after the Deity Incarnate who commanded me to follow him?

Poppycock. It isn’t about being politically correct and tolerant, it is about loving your neighbor as yourself, and not rebelling against the judgement throne of God by condemning your neighbor to endless, hopeless damnation where you have no authority to do so. There is a difference in saying; “You’ll be chastised for that” and “You are damned utterly with no hope!”

Firstly; Universalism = a vast increase in evangelism, from my experience.

Secondly; stop lying about that which you have no knowledge of - you don’t know what is in the the heart of a man, and Universalists are men too.

Thirdly; Universalism made me seriously want to get rid of my sins, for Love’s sake, not just so I kept paying my divine-fire insurance premium; IE so I don’t go to Hell for ever and ever. I also have found greater strength and power against my sins, my secret sins too, because I see God as all-powerful, and my faith in God, and Christ has grown exponentially into far starrier heights than it was before, and has yet even more room to grow. My only fear is the fear of God’s loving chastisement as any child would be afraid of the chastening rod, but my fear is no longer the terror that God will abuse me, and any terror about abuse is that which the church planted in me as wicked seeds - that yet God in his love for me is burning away.


The fruit has spoken, as I have judged it. I shall never go back to the doctrine of Hopeless Damnation, I’ll abandon the faith first, before I ever go back to eating the rotten, maggot filled, fly covered slough that has fallen upon the ground!


#5

My peanut gallery comments: :wink:

  1. Or, maybe it’s that we’ve smelled a theological rat, and are uncomfortable with sharing a false gospel that isn’t good news at all. I’d rather just cease to exist, thanks.

2)Um, we don’t have to have completely inerrant bibles to be able to get to the truth, especially now that we have the Holy Spirit. Just having better (more accurate and consistent with the original languages) translations is a huge step in the right direction. It isn’t that we don’t believe the bible is true, it’s that we (with good reason) question traditional interpretations of some decidedly suspicious doctrines.

  1. This is a perfect example of “the pot calling the kettle black” if I ever saw one. Compassion or no, I wouldn’t believe it if I weren’t convinced it’s true.

  2. Tolerance has nothing to do with it. If the Bible is true and Jesus was raised from the dead, then ALL religions are wrong, including Christianity. He is the way, THE truth and the life, not Christianity.

  3. If you don’t share your faith and have a heart for evangelism, then you either don’t understand the real gospel and are hesitant to share that which you have not experienced yourself, or you are are sharing a false gospel out of duty and fear (ultimately); neither of which ever eased my conscience.

Before I became a universalist, I was always at least hesitant to share the “gospel” I knew, because every time I tried, my internal BS detector went off.


#6

Funny, I went to the website and it seems that the post has been removed. I wanted to ask him how he knew all this stuff.


#7

Personally I would just stop at sin. What many of you are forgetting is that the writer is including ALL universalists. Liberal Christians hold a universal doctrine with a weak grasp of scripture and believing it not to be inerrant and infallible.

More and more we see the groups that embrace universalism promote abortion and gay marriage, allow gay clergy, deny the deity of Christ, practice interfaith etc…

I can see why you personally would have a problem with this article but you should have a problem with those who are in the universalism camp. Until the “evangelical” universalist put out a strong voice against these other groups then you will continually be painted with a broad brush and that will be the fault of yours much like it is ours for not throwing the Rob Bell(s) out a long time ago.


#8

It looks like the whole blog has been removed. :question:


#9

Umm … why exactly should we “throw out” Rob Bell? I happen to think he’s pretty cool. Not that I agree with everything he says, but I agree with a lot. I don’t know if there’s anyone I agree with 100%. My desire is to agree with God 100%, but I don’t consider myself anywhere near arriving at that yet!

And as Rob explicitly denies being a universalist, he’s not even available for us to throw out if we wanted to!

Sonia


#10

A better question may be “Why is Hell so Attractive?”

Where did that blog go? :wink:


#11

We should have thrown out the Rob Bell(s) of the world. I wasn’t talking about Rob Bell. I don’t know Rob Bell, he may be “cool” (whatever that means) but his interpretation of scripture is egregious-that is all I care about. I was talking about the Unitarian universalist, the liberal Christians who deny a physical resurrection etc…


#12

It’s not but the truth isn’t always attractive. Sometimes we have to preach the truth no matter how ugly it sounds to us.


#13

I totally agree. Sin is the ugliest thing ever, but God is the most beautiful thing ever. Which is better than the other and therefore worthy of focus and proclamation?


#14

I know you said “the Rob Bells of the world” – but my assumption was that you were including Rob Bell himself in that category. :astonished:

But, you’re saying you should have thrown out the “Rob Bells” – sorry, I misread you. And you’re saying we should now learn from your camp’s mistakes and make haste to throw out Unitarian Universalists and liberal Christian universalists. Do I have that right now?

Actually, I had the impression that some conservative Christians have been speaking against Bell for a long time now. What more would you have had them do to “throw him out”?

Side note: “egregious” – an interesting word

I understand you intend the current sense of the word, rather than the original, but I thought this was fascinating. I find Rob Bell’s interpretation of scripture at times egregious – in the old sense of the word. :mrgreen:

I think we’ve been working on defining our position and distinctions from other forms of universalism, but it seems many people don’t listen well. Books have been published, articles written, debates and discussions held. I’m not sure what else we can do, but I trust the Lord will work in His time. :sunglasses: Until then, we’ll have the annoyance of being grouped with others that we disagree with, and I pray we’ll bear it with patience and grace.

Sonia


#15

yet another beautiful post, mate! and extra points awarded for use of the word “poppycock”. :slight_smile:

oxymoron, you have a good point. however, just as it’s wrong to lump all standard issue ECT evangelicals together and fail to recognise that there are arminians and calvinists (a fairly important distinction) not to mention all the others in it, so it’s wrong and stupid of him to tar all universalists with the same brush. but it’s sort of understandable that it’d happen…the other day i had to tell someone i was not unitarian, as he thought that’s what universalism is. it happens, but i’d hope that someone would do a bit of bloody research first before attempting to write something authoritative on the subject…


#16

“For 2000 years the Church has had to defend her doctrines.”

Yeah like praying for the dead, the Eucharist, and the teaching that Jesus descended into Hades and set free all that were there? You mean those 2000 year old doctrines that you don’t believe in but were believed in by the church for about 1500 years of its history (and are still believed in today by millions of Christians)? Oh and add Universal Reconciliation for the church’s first 500 years and you see how hard the church has worked to defend her doctrines. Do some research, quite a few Protestant doctrines are 600-900 years old at best.

I am not someone who just automatically says because something is old it is better (bow and arrow vs. gun), in fact I hate tradition, however I also understand that the Church functioned very differently than it does today. For instance most of Protestant Christians adopt the Penal Substitution Atonement theory when understanding Jesus’s death on the cross, but did you know that theory was invented in the 1000’s AD and that for over a thousand years the majority of the church believed in what is called the Christus Victor Atonement theory (one I find that makes so much more sense).

Anyway I only write all that because I can’t stand when people make such blanket statements like the one above, the church has been divided on many doctrines (all within orthodoxy) since it first began. To say that the church has had to defend her doctrines for 2000 years and then rag on UR shows a huge lack of understanding. The arrogance I sense from certain Protestants (and as far as I can tell, I am one) frustrates me, especially after studying the Eastern Orthodox faith ( a gentle and brilliant institution, and if I was a fan of insititution I might consider, but I am a Spirit-filled believer who enjoys my freedom). Some of the ancient ( and yes orthodox at one time) fascinate me, some need to be considered again. For instance if UR is true then prayer for the dead, which was almost universally held in the early church, would make so much sense and be quite appropriate.

In this day and age it is time to reconsider things we think are so black and white, lets start asking questions again and see if they don’t get us in trouble. Jesus was never afraid to ask questions, even shocking ones.