I can well understand someone reading the word ‘pre-existence’ in this title and immediately passing this post by. ‘Whatever problems Universalism may have,’ so the thought would run ‘the silly idea of pre-existence certainly can’t make things more clear.’
This group, if there is any group alive today, knows that just because a view seems heterodox to mainline Christianity, doesn’t mean it has a poor case going for it. I think there is good reason to believe that some form of pre-existence is true. I also think that pre-existence solves many of the recurrent philosophical problems of Universalism.
For instance, one such problem is this: if we have free will, how can God guarantee that all will be saved? If it takes a movement of will that God cannot necessitate, doesn’t it follow that God cannot necessarily save all souls?
A second theological problems that pre-existence solves is this: if God is omnipotent, and if He can guarantee ultimate salvation, why is there any evil in the world now? Jerry Walls, probably the most prominent Arminian defender of Hell today, sees the only possible reason for God allowing evil to be creaturely freedom. But if that freedom is something that He can eventually necessitate when he saves all souls, why doesn’t He just necessitate it now, before all the evil takes place? Why wait for the murderer to kill 20 or 30 people; why not compel him after his first murder; why not after his first murderous thought?
A third theological problem that pre-existence solves is the problem of reconciling God’s foreknowledge and creaturely free will. This area of theology has seen a tremendous amount of diversity in the last 30 years. Speculations range from one end of the spectrum (God being completely ignorant of future free choices) to the other (God has determined all future free choices). The problem is, if we are truly free, how does God know what we will do before we do it? And if He *doesn’t *know, how could He have made predictions about future events? Indeed how could He have guaranteed ‘before the foundation of the world’ that Christ would even be crucified?
These, then, are the three main problems that pre-existence solves: a) how God can guarantee that all are saved; b) why God allows evil; and c) the reconciliation of God’s foreknowledge and creaturely freedom.
I’m going to post below an article that actually argues for the conclusion that pre-existence makes best sense from a philosophical, theological, and Scriptural point of view. And it answers *b *and *c *above. Point a I will address in a following post.
II PRE.docx (60.8 KB)