Interesting that this is the second site mentioned recently that advocates a “biblical universalism” which turns out not to be universal. (The other is Neal Punt’s site discussed here.) Another attempt to affirm the prophecies of universal reconciliation in name and theory while denying it’s eventual fulfillment.
He mentions that people shy away from the universalistic themes of scripture “for fear of coming across as a universalist.”
This “fear” seems to be provoked by the misconception that universal statements downplay the need for personal responsibility as well as the idea that to be a universalist is to deny or try to “get around” the judgment or “rejection” passages.
The root of the issue is the conviction that the ‘rejection’ is permanent and the judgment of condemnation is hopeless. I’d say the rejection is “permanent” only so long as the rebellion lasts, for the OT prophecies are replete with examples of God crushing his enemies for the purpose of bringing them to repentance so that He can restore them.
This “permanence” or “finality” is really the key issue, in my opinion. What is the purpose of Judgment? Why does God punish sin? That’s probably the essence of my disagreement with this gentleman.
This seems to place too much responsibility (and credit) for salvation on the individual–that is if he means that our efforts, our ability to walk the line between two errors, are the measure by which our “ultimate destiny” is determined. I agree with the idea of our being judged and disciplined based on our actions–just not that our failure to be good enough Christians can result in permanent rejection. But I may be misunderstanding him.
I wonder what reason he would give to justify this change? I read, “God was in Christ reconciling the kosmos to himself” – which is a bit different than saying He merely restored humanity to the possibility of reconciliation.
I’ve gotta run right now, but I’d like to comment further if I have time later. There were also some parts of the article that I thought were very good.
p.s. I left a comment for him on his site to let him know we’re discussing his article here.
Thanks for leaving the alert-comment there, Sonia. I would have done the same thing at Bro. Punt’s site, but I couldn’t figure out where best to do so. (Anyone else who wants to try figuring out how best to alert him of discussion here, can follow Sonia’s link above, and thence to Bro. Punt’s site.)
I’ll probably have comments on the article, too, later, although I’ll try not to double-up on what Sonia said.
Problem I see in that article is his definition of the term ‘universalists’ as “holding to the salvation of all regardless of any positive response to the gospel”. Of course, in EU we don’t hold that position. Contrary, there MUST be a positive response to the gospel, or we cannot be saved. It’s just a matter of when.
While I like his general impression about a the Gospel being universal in scope, that is, " The gospel is about the world and not just individuals. It is about the restoration of all creation and not simply the restoration of human hearts. It is about reconciliation and uniting of all nations and not simply reconciliation between individuals and God", I find it rather hypocritical on down the page when he says in one of his ‘essentials’ (point b), "The question of eternal salvation and judgment is not for speculation about the fate of other people; it is an infinitely serious practical question addressed to me. Which appears to be a matter of the individual, something he just spend a great deal of time NOT emphasizing.
Furthermore, it almost seems that we shouldn’t be concerned for the eternal fate of other people, something that I do spend a great deal thinking about. Should I not speculate, for example, whether or not, my loved one made it into the kingdom or is now suffering profusely under the intense pain in ECT, assuming that is true?
Or maybe I simply misunderstand something.
On a positive note, I agree whole-heartedly with the last two paragraphs on the article.
Sonja, true but I do think it’s more particular that it’s so long as dependent of WHEN God decides to have mercy. I am inclined toward the reformed rendering of Rom 9. Our rebellion (like Paul’s) is dependent upon the action of God breaking us. At least that’s how I see it.
I’d agree with your phrasing also–and I probably should have worded mine better! Thanks for helping me clarify!
To me it’s a matter of perspective: our rebellion cannot be overcome without our willing participation–we must overcome, we must “work out our salvation”. At the same time (I’d say) we cannot overcome apart from the working of God in us to bring us to Him–it is God is us working in us to save us, for we are His workmanship–created in Him for good works, and therefore we cannot boast! The good works that we do were prepared by Him for us to walk in.
Without Him we are utterly without hope. I don’t know if you agree with all that–but that’s how I see it currently.