Episode 77: Burning Love (and Consuming Fire), a Response to Robin Parry (Part 2)

Rethinking Hell contributors Nick and Allison Quient join Chris Date to respond to some clips from Dr. Robin Parry’s plenary speech at the 2015 Rethinking Hell Conference, in which he presented a theological case for universalism. This episode contains the second half of their two-and-a-half-hour discussion; listen to the first half in episode 76.

Links

RH Conference DVDs, Including Dr. Parry’s Presentation
http://rethinkinghell.com/about/order-dvds
“Justification and Life for All?” Allison’s Breakout Presentation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMDZ1Za8IzQ
RH Conference 2015: Breakout Audio!
http://rethinkinghell.com/2015/07/rh-conference-2015-breakout-audio/
Allison Quient Nicholas Quient Podcast Universalism
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  • Chris

    Hey Chris,

    I would like to challenge you. It may not be much of a challenge because of my lack of knowledge in this area, but I am interested in your response. You mentioned one of the challenges did not really apply to you because of your Calvinist belief. So I would like to ask a question to see what response you would give to it.

    One of the points of Calvinism is “Limited Atonement”. In light of II Peter 3:9 in which Peter says “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”, if God be sovereign even in His election, would this not lend itself to Universalism?

    If it is not His will that any should perish, to me the logical conclusion would be that if He wills all to repent, they will repent. Free will has no problem, because God has created us with a choice in the matter. The election to me is those who heed God’s calling. The atonement to us is only limited to those willing to accept it and be a part of it.

    I also would like to know the best material in your opinion on Calvinism. Since listening to this podcast and reading Edward’s book, I have become a Conditionalist. I have also changed from “Dispensational Theology” to “Preterism”. Both to me have far better support in the Bible. My question comes out of curiosity of your view and why you are so insistent about it. I love all of your work here on this site and your personal apologetics site.

    God Bless,

    Chris Rowe

    • Chris Date

      Hi, Chris.

      Thanks for your question. If by “all should come to repentance” is meant “every single human being who ever lived and ever will,” then the text might, from a Calvinist perspective, lend itself to universalism, but even then not necessarily. We Calvinists recognize what even honest non-Calvinists acknowledge, that God has more than one kind of “will.” There is that will which he perfectly accomplishes by acts of his sovereignty, and there is that will which is an expression of desires he may allow to go unfulfilled for one reason or another. For example, light did not have a choice to appear or not when God said “let there be light.” God willed it, it came into being. Likewise Lazarus did not have a choice to rise or not when Jesus commanded him to rise. On the other hand, we all agree, Calvinists and non-Calvinists, that God desires that his moral law be upheld by human beings, and yet we likewise agree that this will of his is not perfectly fulfilled. So as a Calvinist, if I thought 2 Peter 3:9 was referring to every single human being who ever lived and ever will, I would still have no compelling reason to think it lends itself to universalism, because while God may have a desire that they all be saved, he may nevertheless choose not to fulfill that desire. Why? Well that’s another question, one to which I can offer a few possible answers. But the point is, from the fact that God desires something it does not follow that it will come about, even in Calvinism.

      All of that having been said, it is not clear to me that 2 Peter 3:9 is talking about every human being who ever lived and ever will in the first place. John Piper says (http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/are-there-two-wills-in-god), for example, “It is also possible that the ‘you’ in 2 Peter 3:9 . . . refers not to every person in the world but to ‘you’ professing Christians among whom, as Adolf Schlatter says, ‘are people who only through repentance can attain to the grace of God and to the promised inheritance.’” After all, what does Peter say? He says, “The Lord . . . is patient toward YOU,” and with that in mind, it seems very proper to me to read the rest as, “not wishing that any [OF YOU] should perish, but that all [OF YOU] should reach repentance.” In other words, “any” and “all” later in the verse appear in a particular context, that context being the “you” earlier in the verse. To wrest the “any” and “all” later in the verse away from the “you” earlier in the verse seems improper to me.

      As for resources on Calvinism, I have enjoyed and appreciated Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, James White’s The Dividing Line webcast and his book, The Potter’s Freedom, and the ministry of R. C. Sproul.

      • Chris

        Thanks for your quick response. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question. Love the ministry you all are doing. It has been a blessing to me.

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