The Evangelical Universalist Forum


Hey guys! This is my first discussion post. I think one of my routines will be to see what you all think about certain websites and their standpoints on UR, and even other subjects. I mentioned in my introduction post, that there’s one that particularly nags me. I don’t know; maybe it’s his absolute & conclusive tone of writing, his extremely long explanatory & expository paragraphs, and like you guys, he’s structured a list of “ologies” or studies, some of which I didn’t even know existed (i.e. Pnuematology, study of the Holy Spirit, & even Angelology, Demonology, hardly things the Bible in it’s entirety even mentions; it baffles me! :open_mouth: ).
His name is Dr. Robert Luginbill and the site is And if my description wasn’t enough, he has two lengthy articles directly opposing and “exposing” Universalism. I’m sure you guys’ have aren’t new to this, but something about Mr. Luginbill’s writings (from his website alone, apparently he has books too), doesn’t sit well with me, and I’m wondering if you would be my CIA for UR, and point out any of his argument (any logical or debate fallacies) or doctrinal flaws. This guy is a heavy advocate of libertarian view of free-will and defends it to the death in one article alone! He also believes in the possibility of losing salvation. As I’m sure a lot of you experience the doubt and travail of opposition, especially those make it their duty to prove you wrong, I want to remove this stumblingblock, as I, we have many more trials to face, but get through this together. Thanks. Grace & Love always,

Marc :wink:

Some quick thoughts:

Prof. Luginbill would do well to ask some Christian universalists what they actually believe.

I’ve met no one on this forum who would say “all are saved no matter what”. I believe all will be saved through faith in Christ, through genuine repentance. Until we come to that place, we are destined to experience our own personal hell. Like the prodigal son in the pigsty, like Jonah in the whale, we will suffer until we come to our senses.

If my doctor makes (at great personal expense) a medicine that will infallibly cure my cancer, does that mean there’s no need for me to drink it?

Christ is the medicine I must drink to kill the cancer growing in my soul. If I refuse, I will suffer ever increasing pain. My personal hell will be God’s just punishment on my sins, and since my pain will make me acutely aware of my true situation, God’s justice will also be God’s mercy.

Universalists believe all will drink their medicine, one day, and be cured. This does not make the medicine unnecessary. It makes it essential.

Universalists believe that one day, all will ask (and receive) God’s forgiveness. All things in heaven and earth will be reconciled through Christ. He will be “all in all”.

If the critical factor is my decision, then I am saved by this work, not by grace alone. But Paul tells me otherwise. Before Jacob was born, God chose him. “All that the Father gives me *will *come to me.” We are given new birth by the will of our heavenly Father, not by our own decision. Unless God has woken new life in you, the gospel *cannot *be understood “because it is spiritually discerned”.

I believe God’s grace is irresistible, and that He will open all our eyes in his own good time.

Again, the good Professor should talk to some actual universalists.

For as long as I cling to my sins, I exist in hell. Until I drink the medicine, I am doomed to suffer the torments of the disease.

Universalists do not dispute the need for belief and repentance. God’s judgments and punishments are very real and very terrible, but they are also merciful and loving. The point and purpose of hell is redemptive. Our God is a consuming fire, a refining fire, burning away the darkness. In hell, God will destroy all that is evil and save all that is good. Why would He do otherwise?

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Good morning Marc,

The link you supplied took me to some other site, so I googled Dr. Lugbill. You are correct in noting the guy comes across as authoritarian. His blanket statements though lack truth though. For example he says that “In fact, I can’t think of a single scripture which on its face would be taken by any reasonable person, believer or unbeliever, to mean that “all are saved no matter what”.” I’d suggest that he read Rom.5.18, Col.1.20, and well, plenty others. If one reads such verses in context, without the preconcieved notion that others are certainly damned, then the “prima facia” understanding of these passages is that all shall be saved, reconciled to God. Oh, and his list of scriptures that he assumes affirm that some are certainly lost forever, is just that, an assumption. He interprets them to affirm ECT or annihilation, but many do not, and I certainly don’t. They do affirm that sin results in death and destruction, but not annihilation or ECT.

In his Response 1 to UR, he goes on to argue that if all were to be saved then why not let everyone not die and live forever?This is foolish for death is the result of sin, and in fact, if not for death all humanity would continue to live in this “present evil age” under the dominion of sin, evil, and oppression. This argument is one of the craziest I’ve ever heard against UR. He then says, “If everyone is going to be saved anyhow, then why did Jesus have to die?” This too is a crazy argument. That’s like saying, if 100 people are drowning that the lifeguard need not save them because he knows that he’s going to save them all. Illogical - yes.

Also, you noted that he approaches doctrine from a libertarian perspective, and yet he says, "universal condemnation at birth is not only biblical (Rom.3:23), but is prima facie obvious to all human beings in an intuitive way because everyone dies physically, and that is plain to everyone. " If we are born under “universal condemnation” then where is the freedom in that? If we are born under the dominion of sin, slaves of unrighteousness, in bondage to evil from within and without, tell me, just where in the hell is this “free will” he wants to affirm?!

He then says, “if all are saved apart from their own choice of faith – why is it necessary to have Christ die for that faith to have an object?”. He assumes that UR affirms that people are saved “apart from their own choice”, which is simply not true. We affirm that all shall choose to love God once they are freed from the bondage of evil, raised out of this “present evil age” as Paul calls it.

He then writes, “But of course God’s perfect righteousness is an undeniable fact, and has to be satisfied for sin to be forgiven.” Say what? God’s righteousness has to be “satisfied” before He can forgive us? That’s just too crazy. God can do whatever he dxxx well pleases! Considering who God is, our “sins” against God are about as bad as a gnat urinating on you, from God’s perspective, completely inconsequential. The are only of any consequence to Him because of His love for us and the consequences of sin to us in this life! Just how petty does this guy think God is?!

God is love and love is not easily offended. When my children are babies and burp up or pee on me, do I get upset or just wash it off? Shoot, sometimes it’s even cute and adorable, just part of having the privaledge of loving a baby. If we can love our children, how much more does God love us!

Well, I could go on and on, but this just covers the first few statements of this guy. I don’t know if I’ll read or comment anymore on Dr Lugbill, his arguments imo are almost too ludicrous to address, at least that’s the way his article is starting off.

I think I have to ask what “Itchy’s Art Garage” (largely in Chinese or maybe Japanese kana) has to do with anything. :wink:

Update: don’t worry, it was just a misspelling; I found the intended site and have already corrected it in your post, Mark. :slight_smile: Thank God it only went to a Chinese art barn; with a name like “Itchy’s” I shudder to think what it could have turned up otherwise on the internet! :laughing:

Aside from the good replies already given, allow me to add as someone who is recognized by Dr. Victor Reppert as one of the world’s leading experts and advocates of C. S. Lewis’ theology and apologists, and who like Lewis in Miracles: A Preliminary Study roots his whole apologetic thrust on the reality and importance of human free will:

The more that God respects and protects human free will, especially as a created reflection of God’s own ultimate and divine reality of free rational action, the less by direct proportion we should expect God to allow that free will to be finally destroyed!

The free will defense of final perdition is utterly self-contradictive (yes, when Lewis uses it, too); and does no favors for any trinitarian Christian in the long run either, as it ends up contradicting trinitarian theology, too.

It’s one of the few things Lewis got very wrong and outright contradicted himself on. I understand why he thought he had to do it (because to him it looked like Christ was teaching final perdition), but he should have recognized the conceptual contradiction and tagged that as meaning he had made a mistake somewhere. It’s because I greatly appreciate and honor Lewis’ apologetics and because I make such thorough use of them that I came to see his work coherently points away from that self-contradictory result.

So no one can say they go farther on the defense and importance of free will than I do–except where they start making logical mistakes about it. :wink: I found the mistakes, and had to correct them, and Christian universalism was the result.

I grant, by exactly the same token, that precisely because created free will is so important to God, a never-ending stalemate is technically possible. But categorically that would still be Christian universalism: God acts to save everyone from sin (unlike Calvinistic soteriology) and doesn’t ever quit short of that goal for any reason (unlike Arminian soteriology, including Lewis.)


Hi Marc

Far be it from me to cast doubt on the authority of a chap who holds an M.A.B.S in Hebrew Old Testament 1984 (“highest honours” don’t you know) from Talbot Theological Seminary and wrote Othismos: the Importance of the Mass-Shove in Hoplite Warfare (boy, can I wait to read that page-turner), but since when did what Robert Dean Luginbill PhD thinks matter outside the four walls of the Luginbill residence :smiley: ?

I prefer to read the Bible for myself and make my own mind up. If you haven’t already done so, you might want to check out the impressive list of EU types in Pog’s superb thread ‘List of those who reject traditional hell ism’.

I suspect that if he can find the time in between listing all his qualifications, awards, accolades and prize-winning tomes on his blog pages, the good doctor L might find his hands full trying to deal with that august group.

All the best


I LOVE YOU GUYS :smiley: -

I’m already starting to feel like family!

What do you all think about his endless categorial list of studies aka “every possible Bible ology that ever could exist in human conception”? Any of them seem legit?

That does actually sound pretty interesting to me. :slight_smile: (But then I play games with hoplite warfare occasionally. :mrgreen: )

Doesn’t matter. I study lots of ologies, too. So do plenty of other universalists, plenty of Calvinistic annihilationists, plenty of Arminian annihilationists, plenty of Calv ECTers, plenty of other Arm ECTers (including plenty of Arms who don’t believe Christians can lose their salvation once they’ve convinced God to save them, unlike the harder line proposed by Dr. B – although I know where he’s coming from on that, too. I grew up in the Southern Baptist convention; we had all types of Arms and Calvs, although no Kaths I knew of, and no annis for a long time.)

What matters is whether his data is sufficiently inclusive, sufficiently accurate, and logically valid. On that he has no more inherent advantages than anyone else. If studying ologies made someone inerrant at theology, we’d all be Roman Catholic following the best educated Pope. :slight_smile:

(And Roman Catholics would be Christian Katholicists the way they were supposed to be. :mrgreen: )

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Am I the only person who would consider his statement:

as a lowblow, an ad hominem? Not to mention a false presumption/assumption and a caricature, a strawman of what some URs do believe. I’m not very keen on logical fallacies and feel that as I learn them, I can gain confidence in breaking down arguments as well as defending & constructing my own, especially when it comes to UR.

It’s technically an ad hom, yep. (Lewis would call it Bulverizing.)

I wish it was always only technically an ad hom, but unfortunately there are some notorious public examples otherwise. :frowning:

On the other hand, just like bad Christians in other regards don’t mean their reasoning is bad, Christian universalists who are trying to get out of dealing with their own “gross sins” by going this route don’t thereby void their arguments. By the same token, the saintliest Christian universalists (like Elhannan Winchester and William Barclay the famous Baptist evangelists and systematic theologians; the German Baptist founders of Heifer International; or the actual Saint Gregory Nyssa, Father of Orthodoxy and a key reason why we have trinitarian theism at all today) might have incorrect arguments on the topic. Or they might have some correct arguments and some incorrect ones. Or their arguments might be incorrect and yet they’ve reached the correct conclusions by accident anyway!

The same could in theory be true for any category of non-universalist, too. Dr. B’s arrogant behavior and cheating ad hominems don’t mean he’s wrong in all or any of his arguments. :slight_smile: His insults mean ultimately nothing as far as his position goes, although he’ll be called to account for his own moral unfairness someday. :wink: But that’s between him and God.

(If you really want someone to go through his two articles piecemeal, I can try to work on that later this week; I might use it as an excuse to get back to fleshing out my exegetical commentary collection that I started a couple of weeks ago. For a slightly less hardline Arminian, though, who has had a lot more impact on internet apologetics than Dr. B has had–and who also likes to get touchy about his opponents, at least when they’re non-Christian–may I instead recommend my friend JP Holding? I have a series of posts responding to a counter-challenge from him, where he was responding–sometimes correctly I thought!–to Gary Amirault’s challenges. There is an absolute ton of information in that series.)

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His ignorance, pride, and selfrighteousness is showing. Thinking evil of others who believe/act/live differently than you do is a real sign of pride.

Personally, coming to believe in UR has brought tremendous conviction in my life regarding how I treat others, everyone. And because of the rejection and false accusations I’ve encountered since “coming out” about my belief in UR, I’ve had to grow tremendously in grace and forgiveness towards others, otherwise I’d have become bitter and resentful, sick in my soul on the poison of unforgiveness.