Universalism a Deterrent to Christian Evangelism?


#6

For many years I taught a course on Evangelism called “Share Jesus Without Fear” and was active in sharing my faith in Christ with people. And I used to pray for a revelation of the reality of Hell, assuming that understanding just how bad Hell is would motivate me to be even more passionate in sharing my faith in Christ and teaching/motivating others how to do the same.

One can only imagine how surprised I was when in studying what scripture actually says concerning “Hell” and the punishment of sin, I came to believe in UR. And having come to believe in UR, I’ve also come to believe that the doctrine of Hell actually significantly HINDERS evangelism for several reasons:

  1. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news and the doctrine of Hell is the ultimate Bad News!
  2. The doctrine of Hell limits the power and/or scope of the Atonement. Because of the doctrine of Hell, Calvinists limit the scope of the Atonement, and Arminianists limit the Power of the Atonement.
  3. The doctrine of Hell also tends to engender “fear” not “faith”; people share the “gospel” out of “fear” that Jesus will not save instead of out of “faith” that Jesus will save!
  4. The doctrine of Hell also tends to encourage judgmentalism and pride. The reason I am saved is because “I” accepted Christ. The reason others are not saved is because “they” choose not to. So “I” am better than “them”.

Frankly, I find the gospel of UR to be much more empowering and encouraging. It is truly Good News. It puts us All in the same boat - people loved by God needing saving. And it fills us with faith in Jesus to save. We do not believe God to be some tyrrant who punishes people forever because they don’t…whatever. Rather, we believe that God loves all humanity and does not fail to save those whom He loves!

In short, I believe faith is a much more powerful and lasting motivator than fear! Faith in God to save is much more powerful than fear of God to damn! Jesus did not come to condemn the lost, but to save us! Hallelujah!


#7

btw, in the course, one of the principles taught is asking people to read the scripture and asking them what it says to them, in essence helping people hear God speak to them through His Word. This is done with all scriptures except Rom. 6.23, “the wages of sin is death”. For that scripture, the course teaches one to “interpret” death as Hell and tell the person what that scripture means to you. It always bothered me that we had to do that because, well, death does not mean Hell. And 2) instead of letting God speak to the person we were “interpreting” the passage for them.

Well, anyhow, it’s a good course, especially if one believes in UR and sets aside the misinterpretation of Rom. 6:23.


#8

Thanks, Sherman

I think your response pretty much answers my question, and I appreciate your taking the time to be so thorough.

I’ve never been convinced that frightening people into salvation works, anyway. I came to God because he offered hope, love and acceptance. Those are much stronger draws, and longer lasting.


#9

Although I think Sherman hit the major highlights, this article explains why not only does universalism not deter evangelism, but actually requires it. evangelicalsforsocialaction. … 0Salvation


#10

Before I came to UR I never even wanted to evangelize. To me God was like the crazy uncle that you don’t really want to talk about. Yeah you love your uncle but he always ends up talking about the time he was abducted by aliens and probed :open_mouth:
Thats how it was with God, He was great and all, but I was so weirded out by hell that I never wanted to share the “good news”. Now although I’m no street preacher or anything, I definitely want to talk about Him and even want to be a missionary although I haven’t heard the call.

When I came to UR we told some missionary friends of ours about this great discovery. They were pretty sympathetic and pretty much agreed. The first thing they asked was how does that affect missions/evangelism.


#11

To be an evangelist literally means ‘to be the messenger of good news’.
It’s ironic that the church has twisted this message and interpreted it to mean the bearer of the news that the vast majority of humankind will roast eternally.
So for me, as others here, UR has liberated me and enabled me to realise that the news I have is truly, madly, deeply GOOD!

P.S. DO all Americans omit the ‘d’ off the past-tense writing ‘I use to…’ rather than ‘I used to…’ ??


#12

Hey. I found this post by Eric Reitan, who was asked this very question about evangelism.

Hope it helps. :ugeek:

splitframeofreference.blogspot.c … ts-be.html

–Nick


#13

Not all Americans, no. It is incorrect, but some write it as they speak it. Many drop the “d” in speech and so also drop it in writing.


#14

Yes, that’s a mistake I’ll make occasionally. It’s actually commonly pronounced “yoost” though correctly spelt “used” and commonly mispelt “use” as I did above but corrected. Thanks for pointing it out Mel.


#15

I appreciate the interest shown in this topic and your help in improving my understanding.

My intention when I started it was to “take the pulse” of you all. To see your heart for God. I am happy that you have more than made me feel safe here, acceptance and love are very important to me.

The links suggested have indeed been useful, I’ve been able to read them and then use them as a springboard to other sites. My minister is pretty open to my “divergent views” while he is very evangelistic and has encountered these concepts before; few in the congregation have. I’ve just backed away from Bible study for the past month since I found myself being to schismatic, even for me. There is a place for peace in the church, and I only go so far as to make my positions known and that I’m willing to discuss the issues should there be any willing ears. More often than not I’m given free rein.

I’m not one to take dogmatic views beyond the deity of Christ, and His sacrificial love. The more I can encounter other reasonable positions such as yours, the closer I am to knowing God, whose very being and plan I feel is beyond our complete comprehension. We have a responsibility to Know God as Arthur Pink wrote,

[size=85]God can only be known by means of a supernatural revelation of Himself Apart from the Scriptures, even a theoretical acquaintance with Him is impossible. It still holds true that ‘the world by wisdom knew not God’ (I Cor. 1:21). Where the Scriptures are ignored, God is "the unknown God’ (Acts 17:23).
But something more than the Scriptures is required before the soul can know God, know Him in a real, personal, vital way. This seems to be recognized by few today. The prevailing practice assumes that a knowledge of God can be obtained through studying the Word, in the same way as a knowledge of chemistry may be secured by mastering its textbooks.
An intellectual knowledge of God maybe; not so a spiritual one. A supernatural God can only be known supernatural (i.e. known in a manner above that which mere nature can acquire), by a supernatural revelation of Himself to the heart. ‘God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’ (11 Cor. 4:6). The one who has been favored with this supernatural experience has learned that only ‘in thy light shall we see light’ (Ps. 36:9).
[/size]

As to our poster Melchizedek, I do not claim to speak English, or even write it coherently, I do American-English which is much more fluid and is being written as more of a form of short hand than composition. Most of us can still figure out what the other is intending to say. I’m glad you across the pond, still catch a glimpse of what we want to share, too.


#16

By the way, I was not intending to be disrespectful to anyone using “use” instead of “used”. I was merely attempting to answer pilgrim’s question in a neutral but understandable way.

Language and its usage does change over time, and even the (technically) same language can change in its usage quite differently in different cultures. There are some differences in spelling between British and American English, but this is not classically one of them.
In recent years, it has become more common in casual American writing to drop the “d”, because when we say “used to”, it sounds like “use to”. Because it is a type of contraction based on pronunciation, I expect that a technically correct way to write this would be “use’to” to denote the dropped letter, but that looks odd… :ugeek:

Ok, enough of that.


#17

Thanks Mel
Likewise, I’m happy however people use English and however it evolves. I love finding the differences between American-English and UK-English. Language is fascinating. No disrespect intended.


#18

Hello everyone! :smiley:

From my perspective, the coming of the Kingdom of God here and now, to be consummated in the future, is an integral part of the Christian worldview. This implies that the world is more and more being transformed into how God wants it to be.

Part of this is evangelism, which, as William Abraham defined, is ‘initiation into the Kingdom of God’. It is the work of God, through the work of human agents, and it is essential for the coming of God’s Kingdom.

It’s part of the UR perspective which I believe to best represent reality that everyone will ultimately be evangelised (i.e. initiated into the Kingdom of God). Of course, the timing will be different; some will occur during this life, potentially some post-mortem conversion, and potentially some after the Last Judgement.

Our present efforts seek to ensure that people come into the Kingdom of God now, and hence be spared the considerable difficulty and suffering involved in alternative routes, and the (albeit restorative) judgement. It makes sense to evangelise to help people avoid final judgement (even though they will be redeemed from this eventually). This judgement does not have to be eternal to be well worth avoiding.

In this way, I believe evangelism to be very important, together with apologetics, and the discipleship of those who are already Christians.

Blessings to everyone! :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


#19

I came to UR about 18 months ago. I have been a Christian for 40 years. I love the Lord.

I was going to start a thread entitled, “UR evangelism in an ECT world,” but found this thread instead. Excellent! It seems to me that, from the point of view of UR evangelism, there are distinct groups of people: Christians who believe in ECT, and everyone else. I would like to learn how to be able to usefully discuss UR with both groups.

My church is ECT. At a recent church Crossways class, the materials specifically referenced 1 Corinthians 15: 21-22. Going against my usual restraint, I took the opportunity to point out the word “all” in the phrase, “in Christ all will be made alive.” The reactions of others in the class were varied: our pastor wanted to read “will be” as “can be;” one other class member chimed in, “but that’s not what it says!”, and smiled at me; a third class member went to his iphone and shortly reported that the word “made” could be translated in other ways; the majority of the class seemed to be oblivious to the implications of the phrase. In a way, it was all rather comical.

In talking with non Christian-ECTers, I get the feeling that UR comes across as a quaint idea, similar to reading tea leaves or tarot cards.

When I get the time, I will check out the links posted above. Any other comments and suggestions would be most gratefully received!


#20

When one takes the view that punishment for sin can, and does, occur in this life - it can be a powerful tool for evangelism, for even the worst sinners are cognizant of cause and effect, and there isn’t one among them who doesn’t meditate on the possibility that some of the things going wrong for them are a result of ‘bad karma,’ which we would interpret for them as God’s disapproval of their unbelief and disobedience.

This is not to say that we should preach a works-based salvation to them, but rather they are already receptive to the notion that a lifestyle of practical sanctification can be rewarding, and it is only a small leap from there to justification by faith and grace.

On the other hand, preaching the view that souls are purified after death could have the same effect as the hellfahr an’ brimstone message in that the unregenerate are willing to ‘risk it’ because it doesn’t affect them right away, or come away with the impression that purification will affect everyone equally and thus it doesn’t matter what they do now (antinomianism).


#21

I don’t believe that a scripturally robust universalism is a deterrent to evangelism at all. It certainly does require that we seriously rethink our motivations for evangelism, but I personally think it’s very freeing to be giving the real good news!


#22

Why would UR be a deterrent to evangelism? While we can view ourselves as bearers of better news than ECT proponents, unless you are an ultra-universalist, there is still the matter of purgatorial hell. And whatever that might entail, one certainly has cause to effectively warn those of God’s judgments toward the unrepentent. Certainly, there is enough in scripture to warrant a sense on impending doom to sinners of the temporal torments that await those who haven’t come to Christ. Indeed, there may even be cause to seek the backsliders in our own ranks to warn of possible retribution and chastisement of God:

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” - I Peter 4:17

The call is for the sinner to repent, saved or not.


#23

I’ve found that faith in Jesus to reconcile all, to make all things right, that He really is the savior of all has filled me with faith in the power of the Good News of God’s love for us - “for God so loved…”. And I’m encouraged that my message is the same message as the one preached by John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles - “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand (within reach).” They did not preach, “Repent or go to Hell”; and that is NOT Good News, but it’s BAD News.

Coupled with the revelation that Jesus is truly savior of all, the Lord also revealed to me the brotherhood of all humanity. For several days I had been thinking on the meaning of all being created in the image of God. This is a familial phrase, “image of God”, signifying that we are all children of God. My sons and daughter bear my “image”; they are created in my image. The Lord gave my son and I a life-changing lesson on this. At the time my son and I carpooled together to work. As we were going into work we drove under an interstate overpass to get to the onramp. Under the overpass a homeless man had spent the night. You could tell he had soiled himself and was just waking. The Holy Spirit filled our car and said to me, “If that was Ronnie, your brother, what would you do?” As we passed by the man and we’re getting on the onramp my son, who was driving, looks over at me and says, “Dad, what are we going to do?” He did not hear the Lord but he felt the conviction that we needed to do something. We’re on the interstate though and the next exit is a few miles down the road. His work hours are not flexible, mine are; so I decided to take him to work and return to see if I can help this man.

An hour later I return, honestly hoping that the man has moved on already, only to find him still there. I stopped and asked if I could help, which he gladly recieved. Took him to breakfast, to a store for some new clothes, and he wanted to go to the bus stop an hour North, when my work is 30 minutes south. So I took him to the bus stop and gave him what cash I had to help buy a ticket to get him home. Well, turns out his name is “Ronnie” and he’s a veteran that had fallen on some hard times who was just trying to get home, having already walked hundreds of miles, and he was a Christian. So he was really my brother Ronnie!

That was on a Monday. Tuesday evening my son and I went to help feed the homeless at a worship service that is held underneath one of the bridges in Nashville every Tuesday night. I “coicidentally” sad beside a homeless man whose name was also “Ronnie”!

What Jesus said to me, “What would you do if that was Ronnie, your brother?” actually haunts/empowers me to this day. It convicts the hell outta my selfish nature, and it encourages me to value everyone I meet as part of my family.

To me, the reality of God being “OUR Father in heaven” has changed my perspective on everyone. I see everyone as having a value of immeasurable worth - regardless of how messed up they are. Everyone is part of my family and this deserving of love and respect. And I am filled with tremendous passion to participate in OUR Father’s mission of reconciling all of OUR family, to set the captives free, to raise the dead to life, to bring home my prodigal brothers and sisters. He has revealed His love to me for me for all and I get to participate in revealing His (now OUR) love for all to all! I don’t have to judge. I don’t have to worry about who’s in and out. I don’t need to criticize. I get to simply love others as I’ve been loved. And I really believe that “Love never fails.” OUR Father will not fail to rescue, save, any of OUR family, my brothers and sisters!

God loves you, so go and love others! It’s pretty simple. The truth of UR has has empowered me to love God and everyone more, and to have faith in the power of love!


#24

If avoiding everlasting punishment is the main motivation for becoming a Christian, then I have my doubts whether those who respond to an “evangelistic” appeal only to avoid hell, thereby become disciples of Christ.

Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV)

So to become a disciple of Christ one must deny himself and die to self (take up his cross daily). But if a person is chiefly interested in escaping hell, then this is just one more example of serving himself.


#25

Amen!