A short description of what we’re up to can be found here. Comments are welcome but may be moderated for content and tone.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Debunking Heavenly Mythology VI: Everybody’s Going

For reasons only they fully understand, the Christian Universalist Association would like you to believe the following:
“We believe in universal salvation, the idea that there is no such thing as eternal hell or annihilation because God has planned the universe to produce a positive outcome for all people of all times.”


Under the banner “All God’s Children — No One Left Behind”, clutching tenaciously to their proof text “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself” and a bunch of quasi-logical justifications, these folks take the position that it’s all okay: no matter what you do, say, or think in this life, there has to be SOME good in you somewhere, and God’s omnipotence and benevolence will not allow that to be lost for eternity.
 
So we’re all in. Whew!

Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin. Charles Manson. Paul Bernardo. John Lennon and Mark David Chapman.

Not to be outdone, these guys go even further. UniversalSalvation.org poses this question:
“What sort of a heart could approve of eternal death for some? The doctrine of Universal Salvation teaches that all will have eternal life, including Satan and the demons. And that one day, all will have the same nature as God. What sort of a heart could not approve of Universal Salvation, eternal life for all?”
Translated into English that means, “If you don’t approve of it, it can’t possibly be right”, or the corollary, “if you don’t agree with us, you’re mean-spirited”.
 
To which I have only one question: Where are the dogs?
 
No, really, where are the dogs? I know where the apostle John says they are (and no, he didn’t mean literal canines; there is a significantly greater chance that I’ll see the family pet in glory than that I’ll see anyone the word of God specifically excludes).

John says:
“Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
Leaving aside any debate as to whether this list is comprehensive, or any argument about the specific details of conduct that will exclude men and women from eternal blessing, the point here is that, at the end of it all, SOMEONE is outside. Perhaps a very small number of people, perhaps the bulk of humanity; only the Lord knows.

I’m bothering to quote an actual Bible verse in rebuttal of such teaching because those who advance it also purport to use Scripture to make their cases. The home page of the CUA has 20 Scripture references. The Universal Salvation folks employ just one, but there are dozens in the accompanying articles.

Both maintain their position is “Bible based” as, I’m sure, do most universalists.

Universalism makes the case that the appeals of God and the apostles to “believe in him who he has sent”, laid out for us in many different forms in many different passages, are all meaningless, since we will all go to heaven whether or not we believe. Universalism would insist that when John the Baptist asked religious hypocrites “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”, that rather than “wrath”, he effectively meant “indiscriminate joy and bliss for all”.

The biggest danger I see in this teaching is that, far from emphasizing and glorifying the sacrifice of Christ by showing us that “he’s so great he can save EVERYBODY”, it minimizes and degrades it. If there is no distinction between the righteous and the wicked to be made by God, then surely his Son died to no purpose. He could have come, taught, shown forth God, exemplified the perfect Man, ascended without suffering, death or resurrection and still accomplished exactly the same thing.

Immanuel Can has posted on the issue of Calvinism several times. Universalism appeals to a similar sort of rationale to encourage us to re-read Scriptures we know very well to mean something entirely counterintuitive. They say that because God is so great, his purposes in saving “all” cannot possibly be thwarted. That it is impossible to resist the will of God, and that eventually, nobody will.

Which begs the question, what sort of will does Satan possess, that he has been opposed to the purposes of God for at least seven millennia? This is who we’re talking about here:
“… the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you.”
We’re talking about Satan, who the Lord prized and loved, the most exalted created being in the universe. I am not sure what those who believe in universal salvation, including that of Satan, do with the following verse, but Scripture teaches that:
“… the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10)


This is about as clear and unequivocal a destiny as can possibly be recounted. I do not care to waste time arguing with those who could try to explain this verse away while at the same time alleging that they have even an iota of respect for Scripture. If “tormented day and night forever and ever” should actually be read as “[has] eternal life” and “the same nature as God”, then words and language have no meaning.
 
But if Satan, who refused to submit to his Master, is subject to eternal judgement, then what makes you exempt from that prospective fate? What makes me exempt?

Listen, I fully understand the natural impulse that says, especially once they have passed on, Surely not my sister, my mother, my son, my husband, my wife! I can believe in the concept of Hell theoretically. I just can’t believe in Hell for [fill in the blank].

I have loved ones who don’t know Christ too. The wish that they might be saved in spite of their rejection of, or indifference to, the Son of God is entirely understandable. It’s just, sadly, not Scriptural. It ignores and/or minimizes the holiness of God at the expense of his other attributes (love, omnipotence, generosity).

Regrettably, the teaching of the word of God is that those who reject the perfect, substitutionary sacrifice of Christ in favour of being judged on the basis of their own works will, in fact ...

... be judged on the basis of their works, just as requested.

This is the teaching of the Old Testament.

This is the teaching of the Lord Jesus.

This is the teaching of the apostles.

The culmination of this judgment will be “wrath and fury”. How does one go from “wrath and fury” to universal salvation? Only by ignoring, marginalizing, or defining away some of the most significant and ubiquitous teachings in the word of God.

We do so at our peril.

2 comments :

  1. Why so angry? In your schematic God is essentially powerless and Satan has more influence and power than Christ. You say that you use the scripture to back your doctrine, but really you don't. You use the doctrines of men that lived and died long before you ever got here. God is sovereign and man is utterly powerless even when it comes to his own salvation, for God is the author and finisher of our salvation. Man has little to do with the matter because he is patently degenerate and egotistical. He is fallen. You essentially teach that God cannot bring his entire creation to ultimate perfection. How is it that you can put your infinte, omniscient God into a box?

    How can any man of his own volition decide if he is going to heaven or hell if he is already inherently imperfect and sinful? By saying a few magic words like, "Jesus, come into my heart"? That sounds more like superstition and magic than sound doctrine. All men will be corrected when the day of judgement comes. No man is perfect nor does any many fully understand God.

    Nobody will enter into the Heavenly Jerusalem without first coming to Christ, either in this world or the next. Let me remind you that the gates of the Heavenly Jerusalem remain open forever (Revelation 21:25) for a reason. Hell is not eternal and neither is death. They are both eventually cast into the lake of fire and God will eventually be all and in all.

    The teaching of hell is erroneous. In my experience the ones promoting it are those that are angry themselves and have not known or understood the ultimate love and mercy of God because they have hatred hiding in their hearts for those that do not agree with them. When I was younger I taught the hell doctrine almost strictly out of anger toward those I felt morally superior to.

    If you have children do you stop loving them when they die if they did not live as you desired them to live? If not, is your love for your children greater than God's love for his children? Or do you avoid this conundrum by merely saying man cannot know or understand the ways of God? My friend you do not know your Lord as much as you think you do.

    The doctrine of eternal damnation is an egotistical doctrine for those who are yet "in part" (1 Corinthians 13). Sadly, so very few people today understand the true depths of God because they are selfish and cling to doctrines of men.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You essentially teach that God cannot bring his entire creation to ultimate perfection.

    Not that he cannot, but that he WILL not. It would not serve God's purposes, nor would it be consistent with his revealed character, to perfect men against their will.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond.

    ReplyDelete