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Why I Do Not Believe in Universal Salvation
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TOPIC: Why I Do Not Believe in Universal Salvation

Re: Why I Do Not Believe in Universal Salvation 2 years, 7 months ago #3358

  • Readheart
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Webb,

I think you missed the point .

In your initial post you objected to salvation for every created being based on your own perceptions of ' will' being free. My point was that : Paul was not a ' willing ' participant .His change of heart while on the road to Damascus, but he was not ' willingly ' looking for Christ.

As far as the topic of pride.. . Paul was very prideful. Paul had a Pharisaical -theological pride, and after his conversion he clearly became humbled. This is a good example for every living person of faith, .Christ is the author and finisher of Faith. ( Hebrews 12:2). His work on the cross deserves the all the glory, not human intellect or abilities.
Let everyone enjoy the full and free liberty of thinking for himself:... — John Wesley
Last Edit: 2 years, 7 months ago by Readheart.

Re: Why I Do Not Believe in Universal Salvation 2 years, 6 months ago #3365

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Readheart wrote:
In your initial post you objected to salvation for every created being based on your own perceptions of ' will' being free.
I don't agree with that characterization of my initial post. I don't object to the salvation of every alienated creature--I highly approve of it, if God through Christ should destine it to come about. I fail to find an adequate basis in Scripture upon which to form a belief in this. And I find what seem to me to be multiple and clear attestations in Scripture for the belief that some will never allow themselves to be reconciled to God. Add Calvinism or Arminianism or Pelagianism to that evidence, and it remains what it is. For example, when Isaiah says things like he does in Isa. 57:15-21 (quoted below), I feel discouraged by specific revelation from harboring the hope that the wicked will ever come to a place of having "a contrite and lowly spirit." How any human being comes to such a position is arguably a separate issue. I agree this far: no human being forms the power to reach contrition--i.e. repentance--apart from the grace of God through Christ. Now, I pray I'm somehow mistaken about what I think this passage is revealing, but it is the simple purport of passages like this which I find to be the roadblock in my desire to believe in universal salvation.

15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
16 For I will not contend forever,
nor will I always be angry;
for the spirit would grow faint before me,
and the breath of life that I made.
17 Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry,
I struck him; I hid my face and was angry,
but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart.
18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners,
19 creating the fruit of the lips.
Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the Lord,
“and I will heal him.
20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea;
for it cannot be quiet,
and its waters toss up mire and dirt.
21 There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

My original post contains my reply to a possible theological objection from a universalist--"Would it not be more loving and just not to create a living being at all, if the Creator foreknew that that being would never take hold of life and become a positive member and contributor to the well-being of the community of creation?" If this objection doesn't make sense to you under a Calvinist paradigm, then you can simply tune out both the objection and the reply--which is specifically tailored to that particular theological objection and grants its foundation for the sake of argument. I'm well aware that a Calvinist would reply to the objection in a different way--e.g. to say,
(1) Whatever God does is loving and just by definition, since God's behavior is the standard for both. Therefore your objection is meaningless. (2) The reason God foreknows that some beings will never repent is that God has determined, before the foundation of the world, that He does not will them to repent (Rom. 9:18), and whatever God wills is good, period. See (1).
Since I'm not a disciple of Calvin, I don't make that reply to the objection. Calvinists can hold up their own end on that.
Paul was not a ' willing ' participant .His change of heart while on the road to Damascus, but he was not ' willingly ' looking for Christ.
Forgive me for being contrary, but you don't actually know any of this. It's just as possible as not, for example. that Paul was indeed looking for Christ--in the sense of earnestly desiring to see the days of Messiah--and that everything he had heard from friends and authority figures about Jesus and his followers was vicious lies. It's entirely possible that, as Paul reflected on the words of Stephen, and on the behavior of believers in Jesus as he went about arresting them, that he was becoming more and more uncertain in his heart, and more and more doubtful of the story that he had uncritically taken on about the believers. It's as possible as not that it was in such a stage of having his inner compass swaying and fluttering that Jesus appeared to him. The Lord Jesus, in other words, could be imagined as having chosen the moment he chose because he knew--and foreknew--that Paul was ripe for conversion at that moment. We don't know one way or the other. That being the case, it is a recipe for an extremely weak case to choose this as your foundation.
As far as the topic of pride.. . Paul was very prideful. Paul had a Pharisaical -theological pride, and after his conversion he clearly became humbled. This is a good example for every living person of faith, .Christ is the author and finisher of Faith. ( Hebrews 12:2). His work on the cross deserves the all the glory, not human intellect or abilities.
I agree with your last statement. And if I, as a human being, should have been gifted by God with the ability to form a love for God and a love for living in conformity with God's will, the glory belongs to God for creating me with that ability. It is absurd to imagine that God cannot bring any other agent into being without robbing himself of glory. And, on the other hand, if your chief concern is pastoral (which your posts 3303, page 3 on this thread, and 3315, page 4 on this thread, led me to believe), then I do not rely on pastoral advice in relation to what I should believe in order to avoid pride coming from a person who cannot humble himself even so far as to admit the obvious biblical fact that there are other children of God in the creation besides us humans. In relation to humility, "Him no playa da game, him no make-a da rules."

Re: Why I Do Not Believe in Universal Salvation 2 years, 6 months ago #3366

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And with that, I undertake to avoid talking about the theories of the famous French reformer unless (1) someone else brings him/them up, and (2) the person's reference to him/them is directly relevant to the matter of biblical eschatology and/or my own eschatological paradigm.

Re: Why I Do Not Believe in Universal Salvation 1 year, 8 months ago #3830

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is it really a fair invitation? In a world full of religions and a god who is invisible the invitation for the majority is pretty much having to listen to the messages in creation and followinging their concience . For me God spoke to me and I followed him so it was a great invitation but not everyone has such a irresistible invitation. Or do they?
Wouldnt a fair invitation be to meet him face to face ...feel his embrace.....see his undefiled pure kingdom and then accept the offer to stay or leave?

Re: Why I Do Not Believe in Universal Salvation 1 year, 8 months ago #3831

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Shundi123 wrote:
is it really a fair invitation? In a world full of religions and a god who is invisible the invitation for the majority is pretty much having to listen to the messages in creation and following their conscience . For me God spoke to me and I followed him so it was a great invitation but not everyone has such a irresistible invitation. Or do they?
Wouldnt a fair invitation be to meet him face to face ...feel his embrace.....see his undefiled pure kingdom and then accept the offer to stay or leave?

Shundi123,

You've posed some deep questions. I think the appearance is, as you say, that many, many people will never in their mortal lives have gotten a clear verbal invitation through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their case, as you put it, is "pretty much having to listen to the messages in creation and following their conscience." It seems to me--since we are discussing how far we might be able to justify a belief in universal salvation--that Paul may possibly be saying in Romans 2 that God will accept, through the same grace as has been given to those of us who feel that we have been personally met by God, those who do respond to the invisible attributes of God as revealed in nature, and who try to follow their consciences, sensing, if not knowing as doctrine, that they need grace from the Creator, and leaning on that grace when they fail. As Paul says,

13 After all, it’s not those who hear the Law read to them that are just: it’s those who carry out the Law who are going to be declared just. 14 For example, sometimes non-Jews, who don’t have the Law, instinctively do the things the Law requires. These people, despite not having the Law, embody the Law in themselves. 15 They demonstrate the result of the Law being engraved on their hearts, bearing witness to their consciences. As I understand the good news, it will be their own arguments and reasonings with one another—whether condemning or approving—that will judge them 16 on the day when God judges the secrets of humanity through Jesus Christ.

Is it possible that the same principle applies as in v. 13 (in relation to those who do not hear the Law), to those who do not hear the gospel? I hope so. But this is something that God knows and that we do not know for sure. I have to say that it is tempting, in this day and age of Christians living more or less exactly like their non-Christian neighbors, to paraphrase Paul's words in Romans 3 like this:
13 After all, it’s not those who hear the gospel read to them that are just: it’s those who carry out the gospel's Law of love who are going to be declared just. 14 For example, sometimes non-Christians, who don’t have the Law of love, instinctively do the things the Law of love requires. These people, despite not having the Law of love, embody the Law of love in themselves. 15 They demonstrate the result of the Law of love being engraved on their hearts, bearing witness to their consciences. As I understand the good news, it will be their own arguments and reasonings with one another—whether condemning or approving—that will judge them 16 on the day when God judges the secrets of humanity through Jesus Christ.
27 If a person is unbaptized, yet fulfills the Law of love by nature, won’t they judge you? Because, despite having the letter of the Law of love, and your baptism, you’re a person who breaks the Law of love. 28 It isn’t those who are outwardly Christians who are Christians, nor is it those who are physically baptized. 29 No, it’s the person who’s a Christian in the hidden place: it’s the baptism of the heart, that’s done by the Spirit, not by the letter of Christian doctrine. That person’s approval is not from human beings, but from God.

Your last question is deep:
Wouldnt a fair invitation be to meet him face to face ...feel his embrace.....see his undefiled pure kingdom and then accept the offer to stay or leave?

I answer, yes it would. This face-to-face meeting will be experienced by every human being that has ever lived when Jesus comes again in glory, and everyone will know that God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, have loved them enough to die for them:
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (Zech. 12:10)

Look! He’s coming with the clouds,
And every eye will see him—
Even the people that pierced him;
And all the tribes of the earth will cry bitterly over him.
Yes, amen. (Rev. 1:7)

6 Although he was in the form of God,
He didn’t regard equality with God as something to run off with.
7 Just the opposite: he poured himself out.
He took the form of a servant, and became the same as a human being.
And being found in the shape of a human being, 8 he humbled himself,
And was obedient all the way to death, even death on a cross.
9 Because of that, God has lifted him up high,
And has given him the name that’s above every name,
10 So that at the name of Jesus
Everyone is going to kneel,
11 And every voice is going to confess
That Jesus Christ is Lord,
To the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:6-11)

Every single human being will see Jesus, and they will know how much he has loved them and how much he has sacrificed for them. But will they feel his embrace? Maybe not all will, because an embrace requires two parties. I do not believe that the God revealed in Jesus Christ would turn away any created being that wanted to be in right relationship with him. Nor do I believe that the God revealed in Jesus Christ would create beings with the specific intention of never giving them the power to form in themselves a desire to be in right relationship with him. So, in my understanding, if anyone will not embrace God, God will give them the freedom to be out of relationship. But that state of alienation from God also, automatically, alienates the created being from everything that God has created. And God cannot allow beings who are destructive in the creation to exist forever. Life cannot forever give in to death and violence.
22 Because just as in Adam everyone dies, so in Christ everyone will be brought to life—23 but each in their own proper order: Christ the first harvest, then those who belong to him, at his coming, 24 then the end. That’s when he hands the kingdom over to God the Father. It’s when he does away with all rule and authority and power. 25 Because he has to rule as king until he completely subdues all his enemies. 26 The last enemy he’ll overthrow is death.

54 And when this mortal body of ours is clothed with immortality, then the words of scripture will come true:
Death is swallowed in victory!
55 Death, where is your victory?
Death, where’s your stinger? (1 Cor. 15:22-25, 54-55)

7 And when the thousand years are over, Satan’s going to be let out of his prison. 8 He’s going to go out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth: Gog and Magog. He’s going to gather them together for battle. They’re as numerous as the sands of the ocean. 9 And they came up, covering the breadth of the earth. They surrounded the camp of the holy ones, the Beloved City. And fire came down out of heaven and burned them up. (Rev. 20:7-9)
I believe that there will come a point, determined in the hidden wisdom of God, when all those who stubbornly insist on living in alienation and destructiveness will be shown for what they are and be permanently removed from the creation. I am an annihilationist. I would like to find, when Jesus comes again, that I am mistaken, but this is where the evidence of theology, the Bible, and a lifetime of experience leaves me at this moment.

Re: Why I Do Not Believe in Universal Salvation 1 year, 6 months ago #4074

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Hi Webb, sorry for jumping into the discussion so late, but I just joined the forum. Now to address your OP.
webb wrote:
I would say, to capsulize the issue, that the vast majority of scripture passages that address the subject assume that many will refuse to be reconciled to God and will therefore not be saved, and that those passages which appear to hold out a promise of universal reconciliation can be understood so as to cohere with the majority.


Actually, I'm amazed at how many passages do not assume but say literally that all shall be reconciled to God. In the present reality, the present evil age, many resist the grace and mercy of God, but I think that ultimately grace wins out. And the many passages of calls to repentance recognize that many people will continue to resist God indefinitely, affirming neither annihilation or UR. And to me it's not a matter of who has the most scriptures to support their position, but which is the most compelling overview of all the various scriptures and issues.

To give just one example, Rev. 21:23-26 could, taken by itself, be interpreted as a promise of universal reconciliation:

23The City [the New Jerusalem] doesn’t need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s glory illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24The nations are going to walk by the light of it. And the rulers of the earth are going to bring their glory into it. 25And its gates will never be shut for the day, because there isn’t going to be any night there. 26And they’re going to bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.

But 21:27, the very next verse, forecloses the optimistic reading:

27And nothing unholy, or anyone that does filthy things, or any liar, is ever going to enter it—only those who are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

The Lamb's Book of Life is, in fact, the citizen rolls of the New Jerusalem. Her citizens will indeed come from all nations. But only those who accept God's invitation to reconciliation through Christ and repent of their lies and filthiness and violence and godlessness will become her citizens. Revelation urges us to understand that most of humanity is not destined to repent and be reconciled to God. Just as there is a predestined remnant of the Jews that will be saved, so there is a remnant of the Gentiles that will be saved.


The problem with using Revelation as a foundation for doctrine is that it's apocalyptic literature, the language of visions and dreams. It's meant to be interpreted more like a painting or wild fictional movie like "Lord of the Rings", than it is to be interpreted like historical narrative or Paul's letters. And Revelation can be interpreted from at least 4 vastly different perspectives - Preteristically, Historically, Spiritually, and Futuristically. In short, very short, the Preterist see in Revelation the destruction of Jerusalem and Rome and the ascendance of the Church with it's ongoing mission to expand the kingdom of God to all nations. The historical perspective sees the Church triumph through the ages and in every culture. The Spiritual perspective sees the ongoing battle between good and evil within ourselves, our families, our cultures and nations with the kingdom of God ultimately triumphing. And the Futurist perspective focuses on the someday seeing Revelation foretelling details of the end-times, how this present evil age is wrapped up, brought to an end.

I see value in all the perspectives. To me the Preterist perspective is the most solid, showing the church triumphing over the Roman Empire. This message would have been the most encouraging to John's immediate audience. The Spiritual perspective is the most inspirational to me, and the Historical perspective I find to be very encouraging, especially when considering the challenges of Islam today. And to me the Futurist perspective is the most sensational, but least practical or applicable of all four perspectives.

That being said, I think that the Lamb's book of life contains the names of all people because Jesus died for all. And that it is true that no evil will enter the New Jerusalem because ultimately every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord. But people see in Revelations what the believe, just like people see different things when they look at Picasso's Guernica.

I also find it interesting that in Revelation before the scene with the lake of the fire and the brimstone every mention of nations and kings they are on the wrong side of the battle between good and evil. After the lake of the fire though the nations and the kings are in the New Jerusalem.

For example, we see in Rev. 7:9-17 that people from all nations will rejoice at the inauguration of the everlasting rule of God and of his Christ, Jesus. That, however, does not mean that all individuals from all nations will be reconciled. The great crowd from all nations "comes out of the great tribulation/persecution," having been persecuted by the majority of humanity, who remain in stubborn and violent opposition to God and everyone associated with God.

Now, if there were a theological principle that had overwhelming weight in favor of universal salvation/reconciliation, I might be able to maximize the significance of those passages that appear universalistic and play down those that appear to say that most of humanity is destined for destruction. But I don't personally sense any such principle. Here is a sketch of my theological thinking, which assumes that God has complete foreknowledge of what human beings will do and become.


Yep, my point exactly, people see in Revelation what they believe. I came to believe UR because of studying a few of the more blatant UR passages in their immediate and extended literary context, especially Romans 5 and Colossians 1. The more I studied these passages the more their literal interpretation filled me with hope, and then faith, that all really does mean all, that the sacrifice of Christ really does completely overcome the sin of Adam, that God will be all in all.

Is it unjust or unloving for God to create beings that he foreknows will ultimately refuse the invitation to everlasting life?

I don't believe so. Let me give an analogy. Suppose a woman prophet becomes pregnant, and before she is even showing, she has a dream that is so vivid and convincing that she just knows it is true. In the dream, she sees her two sons, a blond and a redhead, growing up to age 18. The blond son is destined to be a preacher of the good news and a loving man of God. The redhead is destined to reject God, fall in with a bad crowd, take drugs, steal things, do violent things, and finally take his own life before he reaches 19 years of age. Two questions, which I ask you to answer on the improbable assumption that she actually knows the future, and that she knows with total certainty that she knows the future. (1) Is the most humane and loving thing she can do to secretly euthanize the redhead soon after he is born? (2) If the woman has a Christian heart, will she love the redhead any less or treat him any differently than his brother?

My answers to these questions are, (1) No, she will respect the life that she has engendered. She will respect her son's process of learning to be a human being and deciding whether he wants to live, rather than summarily removing him from life based on knowledge of what he will do in the future. (2) She will love both sons equally, and do everything she can to nurture both of them, regardless of whether they are both going to pass on to others her love and nurture.

God is not being unjust or unloving in creating beings that he foreknows will ultimately spit out the gift of life. He is being loving and just in freely offering the gift of life to them, and giving them the freedom either to take hold of it or throw it away (Isa. 55:1--56:8; 57:15-21; Jn 6:35-41; 7:37-38 || Jer. 2:13; Rev. 22:17).


But would that mother ever be completely happy with her son being destroyed? I think not. Would she forever mourn the loss of her son? I think so. And if she could heal her son's soul, would she not do that? Of course she would. She would give her own life for the healing and continuance of her son; and that's what God did for us all, I think.

To me, grace and love are like an ocean and we're all sinking. All people were created for relationship with God and ultimately all people will come to that realization and joyfully embrace Him. And ultimately every knee shall bow in worship and every tongue shall joyfully proclaim that Jesus is Lord. I believe that God consigned us all over to disobedience so that He could have mercy on us all. I believe that Jesus truly is savior of all. I believe that God is truly sovereign over all and that God is truly love in all.
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