If the whole idea of universalism is that EVERYONE makes it.Does that include the child rapist?
It’s usually more nuanced than that But the simple answer is that, yes we are all sinners but we are all redeemed by Christ.
The more complex answer involves things like recognising that there will be repentance involved & a lots of painful sanctification by the Spirit’s help.
The most usual question asked is, “Will that include Adolph Hitler, who was behind the excrutiatingly painful death of millions of Jews?”
There is no sinner whose sin is so abominable that he cannot be regenerated. It may be that each of us will have to face those whom we have harmed, and gain a total understanding of the pain they endured because of us, experience remorse such as we have never experienced before, and be given an opportunity to atone for our wrongdoing.
Yes, but it might be a very rough ride for them.
I own a computer, costing $1000. Tomorrow, a child in Africa will die because I did not give her that money, but instead, I spent it on myself. Isn’t ignoring a starving child worse than raping her? Am I so very innocent?
Ok. I give the money away and don’t buy a computer. A computer manufacturer in China sacks a few workers due to declining demand. Families go without food. My $1000 ends up on the African black market, enriching a criminal who buys a gun. He enslaves the girl my money was meant to feed…
Humanity is an interconnected network of nastiness. None of us have clean hands. Our sins of omission grossly outweigh our sins of commission, and no one can foresee the end of any action. It will be a miracle if God manages to save a single one of us from the tangle, but if he can, he can save us all.
Well put Allen.
Looking at it from a standpoint of technical principles (I’ll have more to say in favor of those who have been abused below) If God can save X sinner before death, leading them to repentance, then being X sinner is no bar to Him doing so after death either. Being an impenitent sinner is a bar, but the type of sin doesn’t matter: someone could be an impenitent gossip. The quality of chastisement might not be the same as for an impenitent child rapist, but it could still go on into the eons of the eons so long as the gossiper is impenitent!
And the child rapist (strange as it may seem) might even be easier to save than the gossip, if there are psychological and/or physical problems contributing to that which are healed. That won’t help the abuser if after being healed he or she goes on to fondle that intention anyway, of course, but as my teacher Lewis (and his teacher MacDonald) used to say, whatever can be healed will be healed, whatever can be excused will be excused (and God knows all the real excuses, even when we ourselves don’t know them), even though that still leaves over what actually has to be repented of and renounced. God offers forgiveness for that, too, but without repentance the forgiveness is not being accepted. That doesn’t mean God will give up acting to lead the sinner to repentance – no one has to convince Him to persist at it, and no one can convince Him to stop acting toward that – but that does mean He’ll make it as hot as He sees necessary to get the job done.
(Note: Lewis, unlike MacDonald, did think that someone, specifically the sinner, could eventually convince and/or keep God from being able to persist at it. Lewis wasn’t a universalist. But he also used to teach that if we expected less from God than such persistence we were the ones who were in error. That he could flipflop on this himself in the space of a few chapters was one of the first signs for me that he had himself messed up here, pointing toward Christian universalism instead–as his teacher MacDonald believed!)
C. S. Lewis used to go even further by applying the parable of the widow’s mite: it might even be that in God’s eyes a child rapist (not Lewis’ own example but still pertinent) is proportionately more righteous than I am!–because he has managed to act even a little in virtue against overwhelming problems that I’m fortunate not to have, whereas I have done proportionately less with all the advantages I have been fortunately granted!
St. Paul had some things to say along that line at the end of Rom 1 and the beginning of Rom 2. Yes, we can be sure that those nasty sinners over there will certainly be killed by God, just like murderers will, and traitors, and liars, and those who slander, and those who are lazy and other ‘small’ sinners and… have you not reckoned on this, O Romans, that you expect God to be longsuffering and merciful to you, but when you don’t expect Him to be just as longsuffering and merciful to them you’re denying what God does for you?!–how then do you expect to escape the wrath to come!?
So I keep that in mind nowadays whenever I’m inclined to say about some ultra-sinner (which by my temperament is easily common for me), meh I don’t care if God hopelessly zorches him. When I do that, I’m putting myself in the place of the Romans whom Paul was critiquing and warning.
By the same token, those who are direct victims and so find it harder to want the oppressors and abusers to be saved from their sins, are also thus struggling against the difficulties of their circumstances, and God takes that into account in their favor, not holding their unwillingness so much against them as He would against me. More positively, so far as they manage even a little charity for their abusers, in God’s eyes that might be proportionately the same as if I had heroically crippled or killed myself trying to rescue someone I loved.
So if you yourself are a victim of child abuse, fgoad, and because of that find it hard to hope or even in principle agree for the salvation of your abuser from his or her sins, don’t take the principle criticism above to be especially against yourself: you have your excuses, too, and God is aware of those and takes those into account. It’s people like me, who have all the advantages, whom God is lowering the boom on for not being charitable in expecting God to persist at saving other sinners from their sins, the way I would want God to do for me in my sins.
The short answer is “Yes.”
The long answer is “Yes” – with the qualification that “making it” doesn’t mean everyone just walks freely into the kingdom in their sinful state. Jesus says in John 3: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nothing unclean comes into the kingdom.
Or as Paul says in Galatians 5: "Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
The child rapist must have truly repented – as all of us must truly repent – before he can enter the kingdom of God. Paul writes in Colossians 3: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” The sinful self must die and the person be raised up a new creature, born into the life of Christ.
If we say that some people are so bad, their deeds so evil, they should not be saved – what are we really saying? We are implying that we deserve mercy and grace, but those people over there don’t. Then we become the Pharisee who prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.”
The more evil a person is, the more they desperately need to be saved – rescued from their sin, and made righteous. Jesus says there is rejoicing in heaven over a sinner who repents, and that the one who is forgiven much, loves much. The more evil a person is, the more we should rejoice when he repents – it’s not because we are glad that he won’t be punished, we are glad that he has renounced evil and wants to do right – our brother was dead, and now he is alive.
To take a slightly different angle. As long as sin is existing in any person, God is not his Master. Paul teaches in Romans 6 that our Master is whoever we are obedient to. The last enemy to be destroyed is death (which comes from sin), and every knee will bow, and every tongue swear allegiance to God.
When Jesus dined with the tax collector, Zacchaeus, the Pharisees complained that Jesus was being the guest of a sinner. Then … “Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’”
Basically the same answer as others have given, just had to throw in my two cents as well!
Hope that helps,
This is a good question. To understand it properly, we need to understand that the Bible talks about two resurrections - a first and a second.
Will the rapist and Hitler be in the first resurrection? Absolutely not.
Will they be in the second resurrection. Absolutely.
Now the question becomes, “Just who will be in the first resurrection - and the Kingdom of God”?
Read my article on this most important question here: ernestlmartin.com/kingdomofgod-firstresurrection.htm
Thanks for the question.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). While us worldlings may think of *some *as being unworthy of salvation, God’s revealed truth is that *none *are worthy of salvation. We are not justified by our works, but by grace; we are not damned by our works, but saved by grace. This is the glory of Universalism.
Jason, what a wonderful and insightful post! Thank you.
Even as a non-universalist, this is an interesting question. In traditionalist paradigm, if a child rapist or Hitler repented on their deathbeds, they would still be saved despite having committed a lifetime of heinous sins. Serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer and David Berkowitz became Christians. The hope of the gospel is Christ’s redemption out of even the darkest that sin and suffering has to offer. If we don’t believe that, there is no point us being Christians. Yes, I believe it is a painful experience and one where our sinful desires and behaviours are confronted and brought into the light, but even as a non-universalist, that moral argument should be void.
Concerning the child rapist, in traditional infernalist Christianity the child rapist is saved if he but recieves Jesus before he dies. People ask, what about Hitler? So what about Hitler if in the moments before he dies he remembers being taught about the forgiveness of God as a child and asks God for forgiveness and turns to him? Saved, right? So what’s the difference if it happens on judgment day? Does the grace, love, and forgiveness of God stop when we die?
Not only that, but the teenaged Jewish boy, having reached the (non-scriptural) age of accountability and not having received Jesus before Hitler’s thugs hanged him, goes to hell. Do not pass go; do not collect eternal life.
There are different grades and rewards for faithfulness; otherwise, there would be no point being faithful. That “EVERYONE makes it” does not mean that everyone will receive an identical station or reward. Those who are faithful now, IMO, will eternally be blessed with a “better” station. Those who are child rapists will be eternally impacted by their sins. God will restore all, but not all will receive identical blessings.
When the child rapist understands his sin, truly repents, and makes what restitution he can, believing and obeying Christ as Lord, what problem would we have with that?
That child rapist may well have to go through hell, though, before those things are accomplished.
Repentance NOW is another matter altogether, Dave. I don’t think there is any sin that cannot be forgiven, apart from sinning against the Holy Spirit. I know a man who murdered someone before he was a christian; but he never got caught. After he became a christian and repented… he turned himself in to the police and confessed. I don’t know if this was wise or not; that is another subject… He spent years in prison, and he was subject to terrible abuse. This fellow has been struggling with very low self-esteem. I think he still carries the burden of guilt. I know a rapist also who became a christian. He did many years in prison, and he still lives with the stigma and condemnation from others (he would have preferred to be known as a murderer than a rapist). He has since become a christian, but people still know him as the rapist. I feel very sorry for him (and his victims, of course). Sin is a terrible burden for everyone; but God offers us amnesty in Christ.
How about someone MUCH more evil than the child rapist and Hitler? I think of Satan who influenced people throughout history to commit the most heinous and hurtful crimes? Is it possible that Satan could “make it”, fgoad 88? Origen (185-255 A.D.) thought so:
Interesting point. I can’t decide whether I agree with it or not . I believe that all our sins are forgiven, wiped out utterly - as far as the East is from the West, thanks to Christ’s atoning sacrifice. So far, so orthodox.
But I also believe that there must be consequences to what we do in this life. Just as Christ carries the scars of his crucifixion in his resurrection body, so perhaps we must carry the mental and emotional ‘scars’ of our sins into eternity. I don’t know if I would go as far as to say that those who are faithful now will necessarily be “blessed with a better station” in eternity. And of course Christ told many parables in which conventional notions of reward and merit are turned on their head. And yet I think I’m with you in believing that there must be some ‘point’ in being faithful now, when it is often very hard to be so.
All the best
I might have over-stated the reward by saying “a better station”, but as we both agree, there must be some ‘point’ in being faithful now. We can speculate as to what that is, and I do so on the basis that the parables make mention of rewards (and punishments) that are measured to our life’s efforts or circumstances. God certainly measures things different to man… we might congratulate the great efforts of a man who has been given every resource at his fingertips, and give very little attention to the man who appears to have achieved little but done a great deal with the little they have. The widow’s mite comes to mind (Mark 12:43, 44): “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” God sees what man does not see, and this is intended to give us hope that our efforts and struggles are not overlooked by God, even if they are overlooked by man.
Paul also said: “If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Cor. 3:14-15) And again, “For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” We can really only speculate how certain scriptures will be fulfilled. I certainly don’t know… but I do think it is apparent that “To each man He will make an award corresponding to his actions.” (Romans 2:6).
How have you been Johnny? I hope all is good.
The problem is that there are countless monsters who would need to be brain-washed by God in order to become loving and truly desiring Him.
And I don’t believe that true love work like that.