Is Universal Reconciliation Unbiblical?

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Lowly Layman, Apr 16, 2013.

  1. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    In another thread, I contrasted Origen's idea of universalism, which was declared heretical in 553 at the 5 th ecumenical council, from what I believe the be the true and biblical idea of universal reconciliation. Some of my Calvinist friends say their chife problem with the doctrine is because it either is not preached in the scripture or else scripture flatly denies it. Rather than take that thread off topic with my response I decided to add it here. With respect to their assertions, I respectfully disagree. I recognize that the idea that universal reconciliation has become the minority view. But it was not always so. I read universal reconciliation on almost every page of the bible...alongside his justice. But the bible tells me that God's anger lasts for a moment but his favor lasts for a lifetime (Psalm 30:5). Thus, his punishment is terrible, but also temporal...we will be freed from it when we have atoned fully (Matthew 5:26).

    "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."-I Cor.15:22

    "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." -Col 1:19-20

    "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" -Romans 5:18

    "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all." -Romans 11:32

    "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."-John 12:32

    "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."-Luke 2:10

    "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."-1 John 2:2

    "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."-John 3:17

    "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands"-Rev 7:9

    Also, I would look at the following parables:

    -The Lost Sheep: "What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost."-Luke 15:4-6

    -The Workers in the Vineyard: "For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?"

    -The Lost Coin: " Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost."-Luke 15:8-9 -The Prodigal Son: "And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."-Luke 15:11-32

    -The Leaven: "Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened."-13:33

    From these parables, I believe that for God the death of one sinner is too many and that a God who wouldn't spare his own son for our salvation would stop at nothing until he has his way.

    I believe the evidence is clear that Universalism is in fact a biblical doctrine and one I hope for.
     
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  2. Pax_Christi

    Pax_Christi Member

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    I have one question to ask you, Lowly Layman, and I do so without meaning any animosity or offense. If God really does send people to hell, how would you view Him? As a monster?
     
  3. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    Based on my belief in free will, the nature and character of God, and the meaning of "aion/aionios" in scripture, I suppose I would say that I affirm a "conditional" universalism.
     
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  4. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Good question Pax. If God sent people to hell in the sense that God chose by sovereign will and determined that a group were destined to damnatiom regardless of what they beloved or, indeed, deprived them of free will to avoid their faith but rather raised then solely for the slaughter, then yeas he would be monstrous in my eyes. Thankfully, I have never met that God in the bible. If we are damned, we damn ourselves through final impatience imho
     
  5. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    I do as well.
     
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  6. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

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    The perfect answer in my opinion LL I don't think I would have put it differently.
     
  7. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

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    :) Pax_Christi you are not trying to start another "Is Calvinism Christian' thread are you? :)

    I don't believe God sends anyone to hell - our free will is what separates us from God IMHO.
     
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  8. Pax_Christi

    Pax_Christi Member

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    No, I'm not :) As you can see in the other thread, I stopped responding because I didn't see the thread going anywhere. Also, I don't think that we want to change the topic of the thread in anyway because it's purpose is stated in it's title :) . Furthermore, I did not start the other thread, and I believe that the admin closed it down. I'm not going to try to start another of that thread so soon ;) nor was it even my slightest intentions :) ....
     
  9. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

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    I knew that PC I was only playing with you and I can see by your selection of smilies that realized that... :)
     
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  10. Pax_Christi

    Pax_Christi Member

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    Thank you for replying, Lowly Layman :)

    • Just a note to all involved, I really do hope this does not become an uncivil debate that degrades into pointless name calling and speaking pass each other. I hope that this thread can have a meaningful purpose with everyone learning something without others feeling hurt when their positions are questioned in any way. We need to separate the attacks on an individual's belief from the individual himself; in addition, we should also try to do everything with gentleness and respect. Whether are beliefs are criticized or supported, we can all keep a level head without degrading into the frivolous name-calling that so often ensues. I am younger than most on this board and still have a lot to learn. I apologize if I have done or will do anything wrong and May God forgive me! :)
    Now with that aside, I shall give my response:

    I think it would be nice if you could elaborate more on your view, Lowly Layman. You state that God "deprived them of free will to avoid their faith but rather raised them solely for slaughter." I believe you are attacking a caricature of your opponent's position. Man by sinful nature is depraved; it was not God that deprived man. Nor did he raise them for slaughter. When God created the world, he called it "good." However, evil entered at the Fall of Man, and therefore, our free will is now under the bondage of sin.

    When Jesus came to die for our sins, did he have to do so? Of course not. As sinners, we are undeserving of the gift he has bestowed upon us. If he choose to not die, is he wrong for doing so? No, because we as sinners are at enmity with God and therefore, deserve death.
    • "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift are God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." ~ Romans 6:23
    Clearly, there is a punishment in the Bible: the wage of our sins is death. Even though we deserved death, Christ payed on the cross the burden of our sins and we who are saved are no longer at enmity with God. Through our faith in Christ Jesus, are sins are pardoned at Calvary. However, how about those who do not possess this faith in Christ Jesus? Are they saved as well? Leaving aside the Arminian and Calvinists debate (Note: people, this thread is not meant for discussion on this), both camps agree that those who do not possess Faith in Christ will sent to second death: to Hell.

    Universalists will say that it is not fair that God sends people to Hell since He is all love and good. On the contrary, I believe that because He is love, we should be condemned. If He is good, should he not condemn that which is evil? If we are evil, should it not follow that we deserve to be condemned? Look at how we treat each other. Cain murdered Abel. Herod murdered many children because of his desire to keep his power. Hitler murdered the Jews out of the antisemitism sentiments. Now we can all feel smug about how we differ from those people. "I'm not like that; I turned out just fine. I did not murder; I didn't kill." Jesus Himself affirmed the law (even to a higher degree): if you lusted after a women you have committed adultery; if you hated your brother, you have murdered. By his own words, we are condemned. I reiterate the question, since the scriptures talk about our punishment because we are at enmity with God, would you feel that as unfair?

    I think I will close my response with from a passage from the novel The Count of Monte Cristo, Chapter 35. It was the Counts comment on an execution while talking to another who also witnessed the execution.

    For the full text: (http://shorttext.com/ItcJ09)
    "Do you pity him? If you heard the cry of `Mad dog!' you
    would take your gun -- you would unhesitatingly shoot the
    poor beast, who, after all, was only guilty of having been
    bitten by another dog. And yet you pity a man who, without
    being bitten by one of his race, has yet murdered his
    benefactor; and who, now unable to kill any one, because his
    hands are bound, wishes to see his companion in captivity
    perish.

    This interesting thing about this is how we think we deserve to be saved. In the story above, a prisoner (who murdered his own benefactor) is furious that another prisoner has received the pardon from his death. Instead of rejoicing, he adamantly protests that it is unfair and that the other prisoner should have died with him. In the same way, instead of rejoicing when God has freed some from the the punishment we deserve, we call Him unfair and injustice and unloving because he does not save everyone. As the scriptures say about the human heart, "the heart is deceitful above all things; who can understand it?"
     
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  11. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    First off, there are a lot of assumptions made about Universalist theologies in that post, but I don't want to get sidetracked so I'll deal with your initial point. And before I move further, let me apologize if I did not give a proper explanation of the Calvinist position. I am an outsider. I am only speaking of how it appears from my perspective. It probably doesn't help that I was taught theology by a Methodist minister. But I digress. All mankind deserves death because of Adam's fall. I agree with that, as harsh as it is to say. But that is not where Calvinism begins. Instead it begins with the "sovereignty of God", from the very beginning, God has determined all things that have or ever will have happen and we are unable to resist his will in all that we do ans there is no such thing as free will because God's will is determinant ans not permissive. This IMO creates some serious implications. First off, if it has always been impossible to resist God's will, how can we call Adams sin sin? If it is impossible to disobey God then Adam only did what he was programmed to do, so why was there any fall at all? IMO this does far more damage to original sin than even the allegorical reading of Genesis ans makes God the author sin. Further, if God is Sovereign how can man become a slave to sin if he is already a slave to God...but it also means that, yes, Jesus, did indeed HAVE TO die on the cross as it had already been determined from the beginning and no one can resist it, right? Thus, if there is no freewill then God condemns the damned to hell for doing what he has willed they do, and since they cannot resist his will, then they go to hell for doing God's will. Seems like what justice Kennedy once called a "logical hiccup". As for Universalists, I for one believe both in hell and just punishment. But, as you pointed out, God is loving and merciful, so these realities are both remedial and temporal. Again, I apologize if I mischaracterized Calvinism this is jmo.
     
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  12. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Ps: sorry for my typos. I'm typing on my phone. Hopefully you get the jist
     
  13. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Ps: sorry for my typos. I'm typing on my phone. Hopefully you get the jist
     
  14. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

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    Yikes and stuttering on your phone :)
     
  15. Old Christendom

    Old Christendom Well-Known Member

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    All of these misconceptions were addressed previously in the other thread.

    But, then again, is this another thread to bash Calvinism?
     
  16. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    I'm not bashing anything OC. Quite frankly, I didn't bring up Calvinism at all until I was asked my opinion about it. I answered honestly. I'd much rather get back to talking about Universalism, but unfortunately it seems Calvinism is all anyone wants to talk about. Please explain to me where I bashed anything.

    And, forgive me, but I don't see where my concerns were dealt with in another thread, at least not in a convincing manner. But at the same time, I don't see why this should be the thread to where it is. My OP was to respond to the charge the universalism is unbiblical. I hope I showed that there is biblical evidence, there is more, but these examples are my favorites. Personally, I think universalism fixes the shortcomings in both Calvinism and Arminianism. It allows for a degree of free will while still recognizing God's sovereign election and predestination. It has been said that Calvinism presents a god who is all-powerful but not all-loving while Arminianism presents a god who is all-loving but not all-powerful. Universalism is the only theology that allows God to be both all-loving and all-powerful IMHO.
     
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  17. Charlie J. Ray

    Charlie J. Ray Active Member

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    My response to all the above passages is fairly obvious. The passages refer to God's elect. You must complete gut the Scriptures to get rid of the doctrine of hell and reprobation. Also, universal reconciliation would make God evil since justice is not served for all the wicked acts committed by the reprobate whose sins have not been paid for by Jesus Christ.

    Secondly, you presuppose that God must fight with Himself to achieve His purposes. God does what He pleases. (Psalm 115:3). Some have proposed the doctrine of annihilationism from verses like Matthew 10:28. I disagree with both annihilationism and universal salvation. Anyone reading the Bible can see that both views are flatly false just from passages like Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 25:31-44; Revelation 20:10, 14, 15. I could cite many other verses to the same effect, including Proverbs 16:4.

    I guess Hitler, Stalin, and Idi Amin are all in heaven right now thanking God for his universal "love". A God who does not punish those who commit genocide is not just or holy.

    He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He. (Deuteronomy 32:4 NKJ)

    Even in society we do not pardon those who commit atrocious crimes. They must pay for their crimes in prison.

    Although it is not impossible for egregious sins to be pardoned by the cross, it requires faith, a faith given only to God's elect. (Ephesians 2:8-10).

    Charlie
     
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  18. Celtic1

    Celtic1 Well-Known Member

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    You mischaracterize the Christian universalist position. They do not deny hell or punishment, they deny the eternality of it, and they do so based on scripture and the nature and character of God. "Aion/Aionios'" does not mean eternal/eternity. Jesus did not teach an eternal hell.

    So you think God would be just in punishing eternally for sins committed during an earthly lifetime?

    When Jesus spoke of God’s judgment upon the wicked, he did so with words that implied a limited, corrective punishment. Specifically, he referred to divine judgment as aionios kolasis, meaning age-long chastisement.

    Proportionality also ensures that any judgments must be temporary and limited, since the sin that caused those judgments to ensue was also limited. The word used in the original New Testament to express this limited judgment is aionios, which means lasting for a distinct age or period of time with a beginning and an end. It is the Greek word from which we derive the English word eon, and it was used in the time of Jesus to refer to a period lasting anywhere from the length of a man’s life to a thousand years. There is no such thing as “eternal hell,” despite what many Christians have been led to believe based on mistranslations of the Bible.
    Another thing the Bible makes clear is that the purpose of divine judgment is reformative not vindictive, to help people to learn from their mistakes and grow closer to perfection. The word used in the original Greek New Testament is kolasis, which means a beneficial chastening such as a gardener prunes a vine to remove dead vegetation and make it grow more fruitfully.
     
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  19. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Great point Celtic. Hell and punishment are featured prominently in the Universalist theological paradigm, however, because God is both loving and merciful, we trust that his punishments are remedial and thus redemptive. While I won't comment on Charlie's last post directly, since it appears he is no longer here to defend himself, I would like to respond to 2 objections he made which are commonly held.

    1. Ad Hitlerum: Often people object to universalism because it means all the worst characters in our history must now be stinking up the heavenly mansions without having to do any penance or amendment of character. This is a mischaracterization of the Universalist vie. Also, it requires a couple of assumptions that I don't think are appropriate. First, it assumes that, even under the exclusivist schemes, these same characters would not be able to get to heaven. Respectfully, there is no guarantee under Calvinism or Arminianism that Hitler and co. are roasting in hell and to make that assumption means to presume to know God's mind and these sinners' hearts. No one knows if these guys were part of God's elect nor do we know if prior to their deaths they repented of their sins and received Jesus Christ into their hearts. Certainly these guys are some of history's most notorious sinners, but that does not make them irredeemable, does it? What a Universalist can be sure of is that if Hitler and co. are in heaven right now, which a Universalist does not necessarily believe, it is because God in his sovereign judgment has decided it is good for them to be so. And, since his judgment is perfect who are we to question it? It is also clear from scripture, that if they are in heaven now, and they did not except the forgiveness offered by Jesus Christ in their earthly lives, that they have paid the uttermost farthing of their punishment in hell prior to getting there and they have accepted Christ's lordship over them as a condition of entering into his rest. Man's reach should exceed his grasp it is said, but God's reach and grasp are likewise infinite. No one Is beyond God's grasp. If Hitler and co. are in heaven now, they likely are singing about God's mercy and goodness, and well they should. They have been given a greater dose than most folks.

    I have to go to work now, so I'll finish with point 2,later. sorry.
     
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  20. Simon Magus

    Simon Magus Member

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    Did Charlie leave? That would be a shame, if so. I wanted to ask him if the absence of a Christian baptism was a visible means of determining the reprobate.
     
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