Pastor Neal Punt and his website


#1

Dear All:
While I was browsing websites about Christian/Biblical universalism I came across this website:
biblicaluniversalism.com/

It belongs to Pastor Neal Punt. He states he has an answer against Biblical Universalism. He actually wrote to the director of Tentmaker ministries and, according to Pastor Punt, he made a good case against Christian Universalism.

This is Punt’s belief:

Nearly every universal declaration found in the Scriptures has exceptions that are revealed in the broader context of the entire Bible. Absolute universals (those that have no exceptions) are exceedingly rare. We can begin with: “I am going to put an end to all people” (Gen. 6:13). Noah and his family proved to be an exception. Then consider the almost innumerable passages that say that all persons were corrupted by the sin of Adam. The immediate context has no hint of an exception. The broader context reveals that there was one “who knew no sin.” “Everything is permissible for me,” says Paul (1 Cor. 6:12). We know very well that murder, stealing, blasphemy etc. were not “permissible” for Paul. “With God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26); yet God “cannot disown himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). Prayers should be made “for all men” (1 Tim. 2:1); but not for the dead and possibly not for some others (1John 5:16). “Everyone in the province . . . deserted me” (2 Tim. 1:15). The following verse speaks of an exception. “In Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22); nevertheless some “will be punished with everlasting destruction” (2 Thess. 1:9); etc.

         BOTH FOCUSED AND PERIPHERAL VISION ARE REQUIRED

                           TO SEE THE TRUE PICTURE

     As I noted in Posting # 2 we must see every passage of the Scriptures with both our focused and our peripheral vision.  With our focused vision we see that the so-called universalistic texts, within and including their immediate context clearly say, "all persons will be saved."  When so viewing them we are cognizant of the exceptions that are described in our peripheral vision (the broader context of the Scriptures) that reveals that certain persons will be finally lost.  Those who will be finally lost are described in no other way in the Scriptures than those who willfully, persistently and finally reject or remain indifferent to whatever revelation God has given of himself to them.

     To view any passage of the Bible without using both our focused and our peripheral vision necessarily results in error.  Paul says, "Everything is permissible for me" (1 Cor. 6:12).  If we view this text with our focused vision exclusively (seeing nothing but the text and its immediate context) we would have to conclude that murder and adultery were "permissible" for Paul.  With our peripheral vision we are made aware that those things explicitly forbidden by God "are not permissible" for Paul.

      Again, consider Romans 3:9-18 and the many other parallel passages that clearly say, "There is no one righteous, not even one."  To view these passages with our focused vision exclusively (seeing nothing but the text and its immediate context) we would have to conclude there is no sinless Savior.

     So also if we view the so-called "universalistic" texts with our focused vision exclusively (seeing nothing but these texts and their immediate context) we wrongly conclude that they teach that everyone (without exception) will be saved.  Our peripheral vision (the broader context of the Bible) presents the full picture that includes certain exceptions.

     As long as we are mindful of the exceptions we can accept the universal declarations of Scripture as written: With the flood God put and end to all people.  All men sinned. God did put all things under Christ's feet. All things were permissible for Paul. With God all things are possible. We ought to pray for all persons. All did turn away from Paul. All will be made alive.  The exceptions do not negate, they merely limit, the basic truth set forth in the universal declaration.

    We make a serious error either if we do not accept the truth proclaimed in the Bible's universal declarations, or if we overlook the exceptions that must be understood from the broader context of the Bible!

WHAT PURPOSE DO GENERALIZATIONS SERVE?

     Generalizations are not self-contradictory. They reveal the mind-set with which the author is working. They give expression to the perspective from which the matter at hand is to be viewed.

    “Everything is permissible for me,” said Paul. That is the new mind-set of Christian liberty. Paul is no longer a legalist viewing all things as unlawful except what the Law permitted. Paul has a glorious new perspective, a new freedom in Christ. "Everything is permissible" for Paul, except those things specifically forbidden by God.

     A similar purpose is served by the so-called "universalistic" texts (Posting # 2). They reveal the mind-boggling change that has taken place through the work of Christ. We no longer regard anyone "from a worldly point of view," viewing them in Adam, on the way to hell, children of wrath with some specifically revealed exceptions.

     The so called "universalistic" texts (Posting #2) give us biblical warrant (authority, right) to regard and relate to "the world," "all persons," "everyone" as elect in Christ, as those for whom Christ died, those certain-to-come-to salvation, unless we have specific knowledge to the contrary regarding a specific person.  Such knowledge to the contrary concerning any person or group of persons will not be given to us until "the last day."

AT THE LAST DAY

    Even if a person rejects Jesus and the words he speaks, we may not judge him or her to be among those who will be finally lost.  Listen to what Jesus says, "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him.  For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.  There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day" (John 12:47, 48).  Paul's admonition to to "judge nothing before the appointed time" but to "wait till the Lord comes" must certainly apply to judging that all persons have been assigned a place in Hell ( I Cor. 4: 5).

     If Jesus, with such seemingly incontestable evidence of a person rejecting him and his words, does not assume that such a person will be lost, how much less justification is there for us to assume that: "All persons will be finally lost except those who the Bible declares will be saved" (Premise "A").

      If we had known Paul, who before his conversion did "all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus" (Acts 26:9-11), we would have assumed that he clearly was among those who will be finally lost.  We would have been in error.

BIBLICAL WARRANT, PERMISSION, AUTHORITY

      We have biblical warrant, permission authority to assume every one we meet is a person for whom Christ died, unless we have specific evidence to the contrary concerning a certain person or group of persons.  Such knowledge will not be given to us until "the last day."

     Therefore the Christian church for the first three and a half centuries continued with the perspective established by the many so-called “universalistic” texts (Posting #2), rejoicing in the fact that "All persons will be saved except those the Bible declares will be lost." "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22) is what Paul taught.  The exceptions will not be made known to us until "the last day."

     We must accept the so-called "universalistic" texts as written.  We may allow only such exceptions that are necessarily imposed upon these passages by the broader context of the Scriptures as a whole.

Since I am new to biblical universalism I would like to know if any of you have encounrered the arguments of this person and how have you answered them. Thanks


"Embracing Universal Salvation Without Becoming a Universali
#2

Hi Ricky,
I am not familiar with Neal Punt’s arguments, except what you posted for us here. I find this a better argument than the usual, and won’t be surprised if others pick it up.

Just a couple of comments:

It’s this idea that a person can be “finally lost” that I disagree with. A person will continue to be lost until they are saved, but I don’t believe the judgment of the “last day” determines one’s “final” – set and unchangeable state from which there will be no rescue possible.

My view is that the judgment of the last day is yet another event intended to bring all to salvation and the knowledge of God. I don’t find this concept of “final” hopeless lostness in Scripture.

This is not a bad attitude to have.

Does he actually present evidence that this is the attitude of the early Church?

I disagree that Paul means we should expect there to be exceptions on the last day. I do think there will be surprises–the “goats” in the parable are surprised to find they were not serving their Lord, while the “sheep” are surprised to find they were. Many will say, “Lord, Lord …” but He will call them evildoers and send them off to the outer darkness. But nothing there indicates that the judgment is “final” and that they will remain there forever–that the mercy of God is not everlasting to them.

To the contrary, we have in Revelation the picture of the gates of the Church standing forever open and the Spirit and the Bride urging people to come and slake their thirst in the water of life which flows out of the city and heals wherever it goes.

That’s my initial thoughts on this; I may have more to say when I’ve thought about it longer.

Thanks for the interesting argument!
Sonia


#3

Some comments on the excerpt as reported (I haven’t checked his website yet):

1.) His case about extended contexts could just as easily cut the other direction, without appeal to a deciding factor. The immediate and local contexts he acknowledges as testifying to universalism could themselves be construed as extended contexts qualifying other testimony elsewhere apparently against universalism. This is why I often point out that sooner or later the case (pro or con!) is always going to come back to metaphysics. Brother Punt’s principle appears to be that the specific trumps the generalization, although his case for the universal scope being only a generalization is inductively built by comparison with selected examples of maximal language being (per extended contexts) only generalization. Another list, however, could be built where maximal language trumps apparent examples to the contrary. (Not incidentally, that list would be largely composed of testimony about the characteristics of God!)

Application of another principle, however, would trump the principle of specific-over-generalization: the greater includes the lesser! And there’s biblical warrant for that greater, too, in the doctrine of God’s grace (not even counting such things as the doctrine of God’s omnicompetent victories!)

2.) Incidentally, I would argue from local and extended contexts :mrgreen: that Paul was quoting his opponents at 1 Cor 6 (most likely Stepmom-Sleeping Guy), where he writes “everything is permitted to me”, not that he believed such a thing himself. This wouldn’t affect Pastor Punt’s main argument, of course.

3.) It’s interesting that Pastor Punt wants to have his mind-boggling extremism in the universal declarations, while also denying them. How exactly is it that we are no longer to regard anyone “from a worldly point of view” as condemned in Adam, and yet regard specially revealed exceptions from that same worldly point of view? (This also gets back to comment #1: why would the texts he himself grants as universalistic testimony not count as special revelation qualifying the apparently hopeless texts somehow?)

4.) One might have thought from his appeal to specific vs. generalization that he had specific examples of specially revealed finally lost souls in mind. (I could have suggested a few candidates myself! Satan? The False Prophet? The Antichrist?) Strangely, though, he goes on to say “Such knowledge to the contrary concerning any person or group of persons will not be given to us until ‘the last day.’” Meaning we can’t and don’t have such specific knowledge now!

I thought I was misunderstanding this, but indeed he goes on to emphasize numerous times that we ought not consider any person finally lost, no matter how bad the situation looks, until the last judgment has actually occured.

This would seem to count strongly against grounds for supposing anyone actually is most certainly finally lost, though. If those grounds are undercut (which I suspect he is doing in order to stay against Calvinistic pre-dis-election), then it seems useless to appeal to specifically revealed examples counting as evidence that declarations of final reconciliation of all sinners are only generalizations for rhetorical emphasis or whatever.

5.) Ultimately, despite his deployed principle of specific special revelation trumping generalized statements, he seems to have no specific special revelation in mind that would count as definite evidence that the universal salvation testimony is only generalization!–meaning he can only be appealing to generalized statements (in principle!) about finally lost sinners. But such generalizations carry no special weight in themselves against other generalizations (apparently declaring something else, namely that all sinners will be saved from sin and reconciled to God). Which is probably why he began by appealing to the concept that special revelation to the contrary would count as evidence that the universals were only generalizations.

(I should note in fairness, though, that my comments are only based on the extent of the report as given. :slight_smile: )


#4

Jason, you said:
“1.) His case about extended contexts could just as easily cut the other direction, without appeal to a deciding factor. The immediate and local contexts he acknowledges as testifying to universalism could themselves be construed as extended contexts qualifying other testimony elsewhere apparently against universalism. This is why I often point out that sooner or later the case (pro or con!) is always going to come back to metaphysics. Brother Punt’s principle appears to be that the specific trumps the generalization, although his case for the universal scope being only a generalization is inductively built by comparison with selected examples of maximal language being (per extended contexts) only generalization. Another list, however, could be built where maximal language trumps apparent examples to the contrary. (Not incidentally, that list would be largely composed of testimony about the characteristics of God!)”

I didn’t understand that at all. Can you try to simplify this? Don’t worry if you don’t have time, that’s cool.


#5

Eh… I can’t think of any way to simplify it that won’t be longer than that paragraph… :laughing:

I’ll try to break it into subunits.

1.1.) Bro. Punt appeals several times to the principle of extended as well as immediate and local context. That’s a good principle, of course, but by itself it isn’t decisive for the case because the principle by itself could cut either way.

Suppose when he’s thinking of immediate and local contexts which he acknowledges as testifying (so far as they appear to go) to universal salvation, he’s thinking of 1 Cor 15. (He quotes from there at least once as acknowledging an apparent universalistic testimony there.) We’ll leave aside questions of interpretation of the immediate and nearby/local context there, and for simplicity sake say (what may, from his presentation, actually be the case!) that he cannot find any reason in that area to count against universalism and plenty to count in favor of it. Call that set of testimony (A).

Now suppose when he’s thinking of testimony against universalism, he’s thinking of Jesus’ warning that “when you see people coming from the East and the West to sit down with Abraham, yet you yourself are outside, you will be wailing and gnashing teeth.” And suppose for purposes of argument there is nothing in the immediate or local context there which might offer hope for those outside once they’re outside. (There is at least one thing about the local context that logically suggests we should hope for their salvation after all, I would say, but it’s rather subtle.) Call that set of testimony (B).

Bro. Punt is thinking in terms of both sets of testimony being clear by themselves–he grants the universalistic case that much (which is nice :slight_smile: Also, incidentally, he doesn’t go Lewis’ route of trumping Paul with Jesus.) But if they’re both clear and if they are mutually exclusive testimony (that’s also an important provision which he certainly accepts, although I would dispute that :wink: ), and if they’re both still good testimony, then one must be read in light of the other.

Bro. Punt obviously reads (or would read) (A) in light of (B). He would say that while we shouldn’t ignore or just discount the immediate and local context of (A), we should also include the extended context of (B). And he argues (sort of, but on another ground) that (B) trumps (A).

However, until he gets to that other ground, he proceeds as if appeal to extended context settles the matter against (A). The case could be turned around the other way, though! I could start by acknowledging that the immediate context of (B) looks hopeless for at least some people; and I could continue by setting aside an observation that the threat of apparent hopelessness is leveled precisely against the people who insisted on hopelessness of salvation for other people, and instead I could pretend for sake of argument that I can’t see anything in the local context indicating I ought to (indeed I had better damned well :mrgreen:) hope for the salvation of the people Christ is warning even after they have been punished by being thrown outside. So I could start by granting for sake of argument that immediate and local contexts at (B) look like a threat of promised hopelessness for at least some people.

But I could then appeal to set (A) as extended context: over here, we see an inspired prophecy showing that even accounting for some people being punished by the wrath of Christ, eventually the Son shall hand over all things in loyalty to Himself as He is loyal to the Father, so that God may be altogether in all. We shouldn’t ignore the threat at (B), but we should read with both our focused and our peripheral vision. With our focused vision we see that the punishment texts, within and including their immediate context, clearly say some people will be punished by God after death. But when so viewing them we are cognizant of the further revelation described in our peripheral vision (the broader context of the Scriptures) that reveals the goal of the punishment, even after death and resurrection, is to lead sinners to repentance and reconciliation with God, and that God says through His prophets that one day He shall succeed in that goal. To view any passage of the Bible without using both our focused and our peripheral vision (I could say just as easily as Bro. Punt, but in the opposite direction) necessarily results in error.

Is that more detailed example help show what I mean, when I say that appeal to extended contexts over immediate/local contexts could be reversed in favor of universalism?

1.2.) Obviously, I didn’t only appeal to the principle of accounting for extended as well as local contexts. I appealed to the principle that the greater includes the lesser. Otherwise I would have no weight settling in favor of reading one text in corrective light of another text. That principle isn’t itself a scriptural testimony though. It’s a metaphysical principle. But even the principle of accounting for extended as well as local contexts is metaphysical.

Bro. Punt uses that principle (just like me) to set the stage, but also appeals to another metaphysical principle to seal the case in one instead of another direction: the specific trumps the general, and in cases of apparent conflict (assuming both sets of data are competent) the specific even counts as evidence of generalization in the universal statements. This principle is also not a piece of scriptural data, though.

We’re both using metaphysics to interpret the data; and this isn’t optional. Moreover, we’re both trying to use principles we’re pretty sure the other side accepts (or at least cannot deny without doing grave damage to their own case so far as it goes!) This is why I said his presentation counts as an example of something I often say, that sooner or later the case is going to come down to metaphysics.

1.3.) Aside from weaknesses in his appeal to specific vs. generalization (which I detailed afterward), I noted in my first point that he builds part of his case from an inductive expectation: since “these” examples turned out to be generalizations with exceptions, we may reasonably suspect (and even first expect) “those” examples to be generalizations, too. My reply was that there are exceptions to his exceptions (so to speak :wink: ), which he himself is aware of, by the way, although he considers them rare. But even supposing they are rare, the exceptions (I noted) where universals are granted without exception, tend to concern the characteristics of God. I also said that this is not incidental to the topic, although for brevity’s sake (yes, hard to believe, I know :wink: ) I didn’t bother to mention why.

Those exceptions to his list of exceptioned generalities, are not incidental for at least two related reasons. First, that which God essentially is makes a difference in what God does, and especially in what God non-essentially does. No one anywhere believes or professes (when pressed on the topic anyway) that God is essentially wrath (even if also essentially love). This is why everyone agrees that God can stop doing wrath to an object, or never do wrath to an object at all. This is also why some theologians deny that God is essentially love! But many of us, especially when we realize the connection of that idea to orthodox trinitarian theism, affirm that God is essentially love. (There’s a good chance Bro. Punt does, too, especially as he is evidently opposing Calvinistic soteriology elsewhere–sometimes to the point of damaging his own case! :wink: Calvs are the theologians most likely, in my experience, to deny God is essentially love, following John Calvin’s own lead on that topic.) Similarly, and on a more technical level, if we agree to profess orthodox trinitarian supernaturalistic theism, we shouldn’t be proposing things that contravene that doctrinal set (not without agreeing to modify that doctrinal set to some other kind of theism, and so stop believing and teaching it.)

Second, while nuances can be allowed for and within context of God’s omni-capabilities, those nuances can only be allowed so far before we start denying God’s omni-capabilities and so start denying supernaturalistic theism for some other kind of metaphysical position. Denying God’s final omni-competency on a topic, would involve denying some point of omni-capability, and so would involve (at least) tacitly professing some other kind of God (at best) than found in supernaturalistic theism. I think Bro. Punt’s position requires denying God’s omniscience at least, maybe also omnipotence (and possibly God’s omnipresence, too!) A Calvinist theologian would certainly agree a denial of God’s omnipotence (at least, and probably omniscience, too) is being proposed by Bro. Punt as part of his theological package: that’s a major critical selling point for Calv theology. Not all Arm theologians would claim God is beaten or incompetent to save, but some do (such as my own teacher, C. S. Lewis) and Bro. Punt looks very much like he goes that route. He either has to do that, though, or deny that God is essentially love (and so chooses eventually to stop loving those He elected to save); or else effectively switch to Calv theology.

Or he has to start taking those absolute statements of universalistic salvation more seriously than he already does. :mrgreen:


#6

Thanks, Jason
I “got” it today with this elucidation. Maybe my dopamine is higher today. :slight_smile:
Interesting points!
Those matters that you speak of (the Calv/Arm/Kath triad) seem to me to be the starting point for you (versus searching lexicons and studying words) , are they not?
R


#7

Roofus,

It’s a true and helpful comparison, but no that isn’t my starting point. Neither is lexicon word study (though that’s very important).

Both historically (so far as my conversion to universalism goes), and as a matter of internal logic, my starting point for soteriology is trinitarian theism.

(Which reminds me, I need to check on the thread I set up for our Luke to discuss why he thinks Calvinism follows from ortho-trin theism instead of Universalism…)


#8

I decided to take a few minutes to poke around on his site before lunch. I think it’s strange (and maybe telling) that he calls his website (in his address) and (in his FAQ) his position “Biblical Universalism” while denying universal salvation (what he calls “Absolute Universalism”) in principle.

Doubtless he means ‘universalism so far as the Bible affirms it’ in the sense of ‘salvation is offered universally, i.e. inclusively, to everyone’. In other words, boo Calvinism. :wink: Still, the banner title for his site, “Evangelical Inclusivism”, makes a lot more sense and is much less potentially misleading.

I have to wonder if he intentionally chose the title to lead in real Christian Universalists, or those hopeful or curious about it, under false pretenses of supplying something else instead. But more likely, he himself actually acknowledges the Bible is teaching universalism–just also something else (he thinks) that modifies it back down to only be inclusivism.

In a backhanded sort of way, this also fits his peculiar insistence that (1) everyone is saved except for those the Bible specifically says will not be saved; and (2) the Bible doesn’t specifically say who won’t be saved. (Though that also fits his counter-Calv anti-pre-diselection stance, as I noted previously.)

Some interesting quotes from his first post, “Brief Introduction To Biblical Universalism”:

Well, yes, because qualified universalism isn’t universalism. Duh. To say that all people will be saved except those who are not saved, is not the same as saying all people will be saved! (As he is certainly well aware.)

Bro. Punt considers this first point to be a “Biblical fact”. He doesn’t seem to understand that when he says we must accept these (“so-called”??) “universalistic” texts as written, he cannot then go on to not accept them as written but to accept them in a different way.

Put another way, Bro. Punt has no problem accepting the scope of those verses “as written”. He has problems accepting what he himself calls the “certain-to-be-realized salvation” of those texts “as written”.

Meanwhile, a quick scan through some selected portions of his FAQ material (which isn’t really a faq, btw), shows no examples of persons certainly excepted in the Bible yet. So his stress on certain exceptions overruling (and indeed counting as evidence for) the universal affirmations being only generalizations, still looks very weak in practice. (Maybe he has particular specific exceptions in mind somewhere else. But I doubt it: to him that would count as evidence in favor of Calv pre-diselection.)


#9

How is that any different than non-universalism or more popularly known as ETERNAL CONSCIOUS TORMENT.

If you ask anyone but a Universalist “all persons will be saved EXCEPT those God damns to hell” what will they say? Everyone WHO IS NOT A UNIVERSALIST WILL GIVE AN AMEN.

Am I missing something?

Aug


#10

To put it simply, Punt’s saying that the Universalistic Texts should be taken as Generalizations and not as Absolutes because:

  1. In “some” texts in scripture universalistic language is clearly used as generalizations and not as absolutes. – But of course, in many texts, universalistic language is meant to convey absolutes; thus his point is not proof against Universalism but highlights the need for.

  2. Scripture affirms the certainty of damnation of some. – But he does not give any examples of such. And he even notes that we should not judge anyone to be damned, but leave such up to God because the “exceptions will not be made known to us until the last day”. We should think of all people as persons whom Jesus died for “unless we have specific evidence to the contrary”. These two statements of course are contradictory.

One of Punt’s foundational assumptions is that scripture affirms the certainty of damnation for some of humanity. It is this assumption that I disagree with. Scripture affirms judgment for us all, believer (especially believers) and unbeliever alike, based on how we actually live, what we do with the revelation, blessings, talents, and gifts that He gives us. And there is significant evidence that such judgment is remedial in nature where the fire of truth purges us from all evil. Judgment is terrible but necessary. Judgment is an eternal reality that we can access today, that we must access today in order to repent of our sins and embrace the forgiveness of Christ.


#11

One thing I haven’t found yet on his site (during my admittedly quick scanthrus) is any indication that God’s punishment in the Bible is often explicitly remedial in goal–even in cases where ultimate ‘eschatological’ punishment is clearly in view.

But maybe he has that in there, too, somewhere and I only haven’t seen it yet.


#12

Unfortunately, I often find when I say it’s remedial punishment, people equate that to mean lame or insignificant punishment :unamused: I try to explain that it’s definitely not portrayed that way! Maybe describing it in other language (i.e. not “remedial”) is more helpful for people?


#13

As a followup: having now (at long last) started reading Von Balthasar’s “Dare We Hope…?”, it seems extremely probable to me, from similarity of ideas and phrasing, that Bro. Punt either has read and largely accepted the arguments of this book (which come as close as possible to universalism without opposing Roman Catholic dogma against it), or else has read and largely accepted it at secondhand through someone else.


#14

Just perusing old topics, saw this and am thinking that this appears to be similar to where Rob Bell falls, or Fr. Barron in his comments on Bell, and supporting Balthasar’s view.

Still confused about who he thinks is going to hell, are we talking Judas, Herrod and Ceasar, or everyone who say is an atheist?


#15

I think he says that we cannot know until the final day, who is actually one of the elect. That’s my guess…


#16

Gotta love fear tactics. Hey, you did everything you thought was right, good and progressive, BUT you don’t know if you are elect or lost until the final day.

Hehe. I hope that isn’t what he thought, but too many do.


#17

I think Neal Punt actually says that we cannot know until the last day who is NOT SAVED. Until that day we are to treat everybody we meet as though they were an elect child of God for whom Jesus died.

Here is a quote from his book “What’s Good About The Good News”? : “God alone can and will decide who has finally and decisively refused “to have God in their knowledge”(Punt’s definition of those who will be finally lost). That decision will not be manifest until “the last day.” Until that last day we must continue with the perspective that all persons are elect (will be saved) in Christ except those who throughout their entire life choose to reject God’s will as it has been made known to them”

So basically, we should live like universalists but always knowing that in the end there will be a final separation of mankind. Some will be finally lost. We live with the paradox that “all are saved . . . some are not saved”. biblicaluniversalism.com/Posting3r.htm. I know this premise won’t be satisfying for everybody. But it is pretty satisfying for me because I have been unable at this point to accept absolute universalism from a biblical standpoint.


#18

Welcome to the forum jwardjazz1. Thank you for posting and I hope you find this site helpful & encouraging as you continue to investigate what is Biblical (which is something I hope we all do) :sunglasses:


#19

Neal Punt’s “evangelical inclusivism” position was/is held by many prominent Christians: Prof. F F Bruce; Dr Edward Fudge; Dr Richard J Mouw … to name but 3.
However, personally-speaking, I believe that the solution to acceptance of the NT’s explicit teaching that “all mankind (without exception) will be saved”, 1 Timothy 2:4,6; 4:10 (also taught in Romans 5:18 & 1 Corinthians 15:22 etc.) … is to ditch the UNbiblical concept that everyone is either “saved” or “lost” i.e. in Billy Graham “born again” terms, during this present evil Age.
The NT teaches that all men & women will be saved (sozo, in the Greek NT), because, although sozo; zoopoieo; egeiro & anistemi, can all mean “resurrected to immortality” (when referring to God’s elect at Jesus’ return, who have either been preserved by God, or have persevered in their faith-walk) … these NT Greek words have a much wider semantic domain.
Specifically, these Greek words more generally (in the NT) mean “physically resurrected for judgment/opportunity”, sometime during the future Ages to come. So, eventually all men & women will be saved/sozo, 1 Tim 2:4, by the Saviour, Soter, of all mankind, 1 Tim 4:10 … because Jesus’ death provided the “substitutionary-ransom on behalf of ALL mankind”, anti-lutron huper panton, 1 Tim 2:6 (see also Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2) [Jesus, the Second Adam, cancelled the universal, 1st death penalty/consequence on Calvary/Golgotha’s tree, that resulted from the First Adam’s original sin] .
IOW, the NT teaches “physical, universal resurrection for judgment/opportunity” aka “the wider hope” OR “future probation”. Temple Farrar


#20

Would it be acceptable, in order to establish which absolutes of “all” etc. are reference to “all without exception”, to use philosophical reasoning and argument to establish whether it is most plausible that God will save all people? I would say yes, that it is OK to use reasoning and philosophy to interpret the Bible, especially as we are using reasoning here when we think about what the word, “all” actually means. It seems to me that the Bible encourages reasoning and rational thought (such as when Paul uses the Scriptures to demonstrate the Messiahship of Jesus).

Then, as per arguments such as the one that people such as Thomas Talbott give (or the one I gave in the “Discussion Affirmative”), we can make judgements as to what the Biblical text most plausibly proclaims in a given expression of, “all”.