The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Robin: "Bell's Hells: seven myths about universalism"

I wanted to have some discussion on "Robin: “Bell’s Hells: seven myths about universalism” as posted in this thread, however for some reason that area of the board isn’t allowing replies.

I’d be interested in finding out more about this view, because right now I cannot wrap my head around it. Can someone please explain?

To me, this is the key issue on the whole matter. What we think about God and who He is will have a direct impact on how we view both God’s justice and God’s mercy.

On the contrary. If anything, sin has become exceedingly sinful because the real issue isn’t about avoiding hell, it is about avoiding sin, which is the heart of the problem. By focusing so much on hell and it’s consequences, I believe many evangelicals, because they are ‘safe’ from the consequences of sin (i.e. hell) and are forgiven (past, present, and future), tend to lapse on the nature of the sin itself and it’s effects on the human soul. I know I have in the past. But now I fear that there just might be some reckoning for the sins I’ve committed since I’ve been saved. Not to mention the collateral effects my sin has caused on my loved ones, friends, amd aquaintances. There is still a fire that we will have to contend with in some fashion. I find it hard to believe that even in the condition that I am in, saved or not, that upon death that which is not perfected in me still needs perfection. We are not just going to wake up in heaven and all our current tendencies will just vanish away. I still believe that we will have to contine to learn and practice righteousness, however that plays out.

This is the view I tend to have. I believe that God lokketh on the hearts of those who perhaps by no fault of their own, grew up in another religion or circumstance where the full knowledge of the gospel has been suppressed, yet there is an intuitive yearning for God and the truth in their heart in which God works toward perfecting (in Christ) even though the knowledge is lacking. I base this on what Paul on Mars Hill said in Acts 17:26-27 "And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: "

If there is any passage of scripture that drove me to this point about the sweet mercies of God and the hope for the world, it is this one.

What a great quote! The focus of evangelizism ought not to merely save them from hell, but to save them from themselves.

The ultimate purpose of God is not to save us, though that is certainly a part of it, but to conform us into the image of Christ. In fact, Salvation IS being comformed to the image of Christ and to know God and His Son (John 17:3).

Check this out: Could a universalist believe in hell as "eternal conscious s

I actually believe this, at least in an existential way. In other words,
–God’s wrath abides on sinners.
–All who resist Jesus continue experiencing God’s wrath (John 3:36). The only thing sinners have in their eternal future is God’s wrath, because of their rebellion–regardless of whether said sinners are in this life or the next. When I was an unrepentant sinner, all I had was God’s wrath in my future, stretching on into eternity.
–BUT as soon as someone repents and receives Christ, he is delivered from that wrath to eternal life. He is no longer sentenced to eternal punishment, because he believes in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice for him.

All people are born into the sentence of eternal punishment for their sin, but God provides an infinite-value sacrifice through Christ. All who turn to Christ and repent are saved from that eternal punishment. And the Bible prophesies that all will turn and repent!

Does that make sense? Basically, it affirms everything non-EUs say about God’s wrath, but also realizes that “God’s wrath” is not described as an abiding, eternal state in Scripture–it’s always described in terms of as long as someone rejects Christ, he is subject to eternal suffering apart from God. This makes total sense–as long as someone is angled away from the Source of blessing and life, all one experiences is disaster and death. BUT trusting Christ reconnects that person to God, “saving” them from an eternity apart from him. If you’re reconciled to God, you no longer fear being separated eternally from him.

Unfortunately there has to be an restricted area where we can put recommended EU material, otherwise anyone could post anything in there, making it hard for visitors to know what EU states for.

I believe the article Neal posted is what Robin’s referring to. I’d add that it also depends on how you see the Holy Spirit working in people now and in Hell i.e. how close/quickly to repentance can He bring people? Also would anyone choose hell when they come face-to-face with God and realise how awesome He is? Is God’s grace to the elect irresistible?

I agree. Also trying to understand His revelation of Himself in Jesus and the Bible.

I’m certainly leaning your way on this too. Even though people love to quote the “changed in a twinkling of the eye” and “the law will be written on our hearts” passages, I find it hard to comprehend how sanctification could be that quick, without brainwashing :confused: It feels like some things in me will require surgery and a rehabilitation/exercise routine!

I understand C.S. Lewis’ at least suggested the possibility of that with Emeth character in The Last Battle, although I’m genuinely unsure about it, as I’m nervous about where the line is between that and pluralism :confused: (Btw I’m not implying that’s you’re a pluralist!) I agree with you that God takes into account the person’s entire situation, and that some are completely unfavorable to understanding/accepting the Gospel (e.g. still births, severe mental disabilities, etc.).


Definitely :smiley:

I’m still recouping from a major stomach virus I picked up last Sunday night, but I thought I’d contribute one bit here:

Minimal universalism (of the sort I find and believe to follow uniquely and logically from orthodox trinitarian theism) is predicated on two positions, both of which should be familiar from Arminianistic and Calvinistic disputes:

1.) God intentionally acts toward saving all sinners from sin. (Broadly affirmed by Arms, denied by Calvs.)


2.) God persistently acts toward saving from sin all sinners He intends to save. (Broadly affirmed by Calvs, denied by Arms.)

Neither of those two positions says anything one way or another about the sinner’s side of the relationship (not even whether the sinner has a side!)

Consequently, so far as the position goes, if (as I also think follows from ortho-trin by the way) God will act to ensure that sinners will not destroy their free will to choose repentance, the sinner may by continuing to have free will still continue to willfully refuse to repent of her sins; and so in theory it is possible that one or more sinners may in fact ever and always refuse to repent from their sins.

This would not stop God from persistently acting toward saving those sinners from sin; but it would mean that any punitive chastisement given by God to the sinner for that purpose (as well as any other continuing gift, such as free will and existence itself!) would always continue with their impenitence.

The result would be technical but only minimal universalism: universalism with also ECT hell.

I’m not saying ortho-trin necessarily results in only that kind of universalism. I’m only saying I don’t think (so far as I’ve studied the topic, which is pretty far :wink: ) that the truth of ortho-trin in itself guarantees that God will certainly succeed in saving all sinners from sin. Ortho-trin only guarantees that God will never give up acting persistently with maximum scope toward that end.

Consequently, someone could be a real universalist (because universalism is primarily about the scope and persistence of God’s action to save sinners from sin), and yet believe either that God has not revealed a final victory in reconciling all sinners to Himself, or that God has actually revealed there will be no final victory but only an ongoing stalemate between Himself and at least some sinners.

When I first came to believe by virtue of Christian trinitarian theism that Christian universalism is true, I was therefore prepared (and somewhat expected) to affirm on further study by scriptural revelation that this was the meaning of the ECT passages. After several years of careful further study, had I thought that the data continued to point toward ECT, I would have been a universalist who nevertheless also affirmed ECT. And aside from grief at knowing ahead of time that some sinners would never repent (which was certainly no new grief to me, since that was what I already believed!), I would have been completely satisfied with that: because I would have been satisifed that God keeps on doing all He can do. He doesn’t give up and He doesn’t exclude, even though sinners give up and insist on excluding themselves.

Or, had I found on closer study that God hadn’t revealed the final result, then I would have bet hopefully and faithfully on God and been a hopeful Christian universalist. (For example, if the overall thrust of the scriptures indicated something like the final chapter of RevJohn where the Son and the Spirit continues to lead the Bride in hopeful evangelization of those outside the city, but while people are still coming in there are clearly people still outside being evangelized.)

As it is, after several years’ further study, I found and so came to believe that the overall thrust of scriptural revelation on the topic is that God has revealed His total forthcoming victory in this matter. (Even if, as appears also the case–though ultra-universalists will dispute this–the victory takes ages of ages in the final Day to come.)

But had I found the data to come out a different way, I could have been a Christian universalist who also affirmed an ongoing (if not ever quite ‘final’) result of ECT.

I’m not entirely sure that this is the sort of thing Robin was talking about. But he might have been; and it does fit his topic. So… :slight_smile: