TABLE OF CONTENTS
Synopsis of the Christian Universalist Controversy
The spirit-doctrine of Christian Universalism, also known as Universal Reconciliation, Total Reconciliation (Restoration), and (sometimes) the Victorious Gospel teaches that eventually every human soul consigned at the judgment to hell and the Lake of Fire will yet eventually be “saved,” wherein the torments of netherworld judgment will lovingly mystically work as correction alongside the death of Christ to bring all creatures to reconciled union with Christ by “faith”—something which must (but few adherents will admit) require ultimate reconciliation with Lucifer, his angels and all other hellish creatures including Nephilim (half human / half fallen angels).
Universalism’s core argument is based in the a priori human belief that
a truly loving good God must by His very Nature bring about
universal reconciliation, and therefore will cause it to happen.
This belief is supported by four primary scripture vocabulary-based
arguments in which
the words “all” and
“every,” in reference to salvation, inherently show that salvation is an
absolute effectual power expressing the unthwartable determined
will of God to unexceptionally "save" even the netherworld domain;
2) the words “all” and “every,” wherever referencing creation’s future worship of God under restoration must be interpreted redemptively across creation, and creation must further be assumptively understood to include the netherworld by such time,
3) time is presumed to have an end, and since the original Hebrew and Greek vocabulary describes all future events—including netherworld judgment—literally in terms of “time out of view” and “ages” (not timeless “eternity”), such judgment must have an end, and
4) the apostle Paul’s single statement that at “the end” God becomes “all in all” (I Cor. 15:24→28) is the proof-positive declaration of universal reconciliation that subsumes the entirety of biblical cosmology.
Upon these primary thought pillars, Christian Universalism proceeds to string together a very extensive “skin-deep” collection of individualized scriptures which, when taken together (but apart from their roots in the organic whole), quite appear to support the Universalist narrative. At the same time, and to deal with the remainder of the scripture whole, Christian Universalism refutes all other commonly understood anti-redemptive scripture terminology (such as destruction, annihilation, judgment, wrath, etc.) by counterintuitively transmuting their meanings to accommodate redemptive intent and purpose. This is sometimes accomplished by parsing original Greek and Hebrew words to “find” more redemptive meanings to such words, and other times by interpreting such words “prophetically” to craft a redemptive meaning out of them.
Alongside the foregoing, Christian Universalism brings forth collateral arguments based on 1) an emasculate portrayal of God’s compassion as His universally defining and governing attribute, 2) human questions of fairness and justice, and 3) appeals to early post-apostolic church fathers who bought into the doctrine. Its most ardent proponents go beyond to impugn the reliability of all the common English translations of the Bible, charging all the scholars of the centuries with “human bias” for having used the timeless words “eternal” and “forever” to translate all the original language words for duration.
As a means of persuasion, Universalists* coax the unmoved with the line that Christian Universalism is just an alternate but valid “perspective” on the fate of the damned (though the fine print of the scripture whole will show that the doctrine actually posits an alternate “salvation” and gospel.) And then finally, when all preceding lines of reason fail to persuade, the most doctrinaire proponents will resort to creating an artificial moral and spiritual “high ground” by leveling ad hominem insinuations against those who do not acquiesce to the teaching (“You don’t really ‘love’ people. You don’t ‘want’ people to be saved. You have a ‘mean’ spirit. You create ‘your own theology’ from scripture with a ‘carnal’ and ‘fleshly’ mind,” etc.).
The reason for this elaborate mire of word-craft argument and its concluding emotion-bated character assault of the unpersuaded is that Christian Universalism is actually not just a doctrine. It is a spirit—a deceiving and controlling anti-rational spirit at war with common human language. That spirit grows to consume the hearts of its believers, leading them to see themselves as the “lone faithful witnesses” to the “truth” of biblical cosmology and to make it their life cause to promote this teaching within the body of Christ—as is characteristic of any spirit of cultic heresy. In these modern end times, the Christian Universalist spirit was seeded into and has come to fullest expression through the Latter Rain Movement, proceeding to gain significant inroads in the contemporary mainstream prophetic movement.
important significance is the means by which Christian Universalist
doctrine is transmitted. Very
very few who come into the persuasion of this teaching do so by their
own uncoaxed reading of the Bible alone.
(That this is so is witnessed by the Universalist need to attack the
reliability of all the common English translations of the Bible.) The
Christian Universalist believer is almost always “converted” to this
teaching by reading some other man’s book promoting it. And the reason
the new believer buys into the “guru’s” writing is because he or she
usually has already first doubted the scripture’s cover-to-cover organic
testimony to God’s never-closed enmity with the damned. The Universalist
convert already does not want to
believe that the universal enmity left unclosed by the scripture
mainframe can or should be the final outcome. ("It's just not right!")
Thus, to support the doubt against scripture’s organic unreconciled presentation, Universalist teaching must transmit itself by marshalling one extra-biblical writer after another who can best articulate the word-craft and extra-biblical arguments necessary to challenge the plain commonly read biblical thought flow. (Dependence upon the few post-apostolic and modern gurus would be unnecessary if the teaching were true. For the average believer would see universal reconciliation just as plainly throughout the scripture mainframe as he sees the message of John 3:16, without some other modern or ancient author’s particular support.)
this undertaking, we are combating the syndrome known by the phrase, “can’t see the forest for the trees.”
This abstract steps out from the usual “tree by tree” analysis of
isolated unconnected scriptures, above the gymnastic, flim-flammed
redefinitions of isolated vocabularies and beyond the myopic
“numbers-based” debating over time “durations” and “headcounts” of the
saved versus the damned—to instead examine the entire
forest of scriptural thought flow from which all cosmological
truth regarding salvation and
universal enmity is drawn, and apart from which it cannot be known.
In doing this, we will put all the “red herring” vocabulary and numbers
arguments in their place, answering the one and only true question at
stake: “Does the thought flow of
even one scripture author show that Christ’s death will eventually
yield an ultimate, final and complete closure to the
universe-wide enmity continuum across all three cosmologic
domains (heaven, earth and the netherworld) occasioned by
Lucifer and Adam’s violation of God’s holiness?”
In course of proving the Bible’s negative answer to this question, we will examine only scripture as contexted only by the minds of the writers themselves including the thought flow of Jesus Himself from the gospels through to the Book of Revelation. We have no need to appeal to any post-apostolic guru for external support of our conclusions. For purposes of clarifying ancient cultural beliefs behind certain scriptures and concepts of time, we briefly reference 3 other modern writers’ comments—none of which is critical to proving the cover-to-cover biblical concept of a delimitedly effectual, terrestrially-only engaged salvation that is wholly and only preventative of subjection to a never closed universal enmity with the netherworld.
The Form of this Abstract
This abstract consists of 11 major parts subdivided into themed sections marked with a section symbol (§).
Because of the vastness of the scriptural forest “floor” to be covered, this writing must necessarily take the form of a bulleted abstract in which numbered points and sub points are “simply” made supported by scripture references with minimal narrative. (By “simply,” we mean that concepts are put into as few words as possible. But in many cases, the concepts are deep or possibly complex, requiring diligent consideration.) It is for the reader to apply diligent consideration to the phrasing used in making each point and to examine the scripture references to prove the veracity of the point made by them.
Multiple scripture references within the same point are separated between books and chapters by semi-colons (;), with chapter verses separated by commas (,). All book references are italicized (except inside of sub-references). Following is a typical abstract point:
In some points, scripture references are used in relation to other scriptures to make a complete point. These relational references are separated by “arrows” (→) where the first reference is “pointing to” the second reference to make an association of thought.
Where necessary, the arrow may point to or away from several verses as a group marked with inner parentheses.
In some cases parts of the text and verse references are italicized, made bold and/or underlined because of their especially strong significance in supporting a point.
On occasion other symbols may be used to show connections between verses, (e.g. / and +). Brackets ([ ]) may be used to isolate a thought and/or a scripture reference from among others to indicate a contrast against them. Brackets around a scripture reference may also indicate that the particular reference is unique to the NASB version but not found in other common versions.
Note: For purposes of this abstract, all scripture references are based on the New American Standard Bible (NAS) translation, unless otherwise noted.
In a few instances, x is used to indicate the number of times a word or phrase appears in scripture, (e.g. (Lord of Hosts /Armies – 274x NASB)).
Each point is then usually followed by a descriptive parenthetical rebuttal in smaller font explaining how the abstract point contradicts Christian Universalist belief. (Some of these rebuttals are necessarily very extensive.)
The points in this abstract are thematically grouped together beginning with the largest cosmological concepts, concluding with a detailed scripture profile of hell and the Lake of Fire followed by a Summary of Core Arguments in PART 11. The Summary is an excellent place to begin for the casual student who would like to just apprehend the critical points of understanding without first processing through all the fine points and scripture references. Many different angles are covered in this study. Scriptures will often appear more than once relative to different applicable points. (In a very few cases, complete abstract points will be reproduced under more than one theme of emphasis.)
After the abstract are several appendices. One raises questions for Universalists to answer. Another presents a digest of the meaning of salvation derived from the use of the word throughout the entire New Testament. Yet another describes ten types of interpretive errors behind Christian Universalism while another just lists the hundreds of New Testament verses that leave a state of holy universal enmity open. These appendices are complementary to this Abstract but are not necessary for grasping the truth regarding the deep organic cosmological array of scripture contrary to Christian Universalism.
A Note on Translating Words of Duration
For purposes of this study, we do accommodate the Universalist complaint over the arguably “illegitimate” translation of Hebrew and Greek words for “forever” and “eternal” by using only their literal translations:
Heb. “owlam” = “to time out of view”
Gk. “aión” = “age(s)”
“aiónios” = “age-enduring”
“ton aiona tou aiṓnōs” = “the age of the age”
“eis tous aionas” = “to the ages”
“eis aiṓnōs [tōn] aiṓnōn” = “to ages of ages”
Conclusion: "What's At Stake?"
In closing this introduction, we ask the question: "But why does belief in universal reconciliation even matter? What difference does it make?" The answer is, "It matters because the definition of salvation and therefore of the gospel itself is at issue underneath this belief."
If salvation does not extend into the netherworld because it is only preventative of entrance into hell and the Lake of Fire, it means one thing. If salvation does reach posthumously into the netherworld, it means something entirely different. Both definitions of "salvation" cannot be true. And whichever meaning is false automatically indicates connection to a false gospel. And, as Paul has made clear, a false gospel will lead to certain damnation.
To be sure, arch purveyors of Universalism teach that the orthodox evangelical gospel of limited hell-preventative-only salvation is “another gospel” subject to Paul’s condemnation (Gal. 1:8). If Universalism is true, damnation due to orthodox belief in such a "false gospel" won't finally matter. The preacher of the orthodox "false gospel" will ultimately be "saved" anyway out of his damnation.
But if Universalism is false, damnation due to belief in a false gospel of posthumous “salvation” by agency of the Lake of Fire ultimately will matter, for there will be no return from such damnation. That is what is at stake.
What is even more immediately at stake is the Christian believer's ability to 1) maintain an uncompromising, unmerciful attitude of war to the death against the enemies of the Lord during this age of spiritual warfare, 2) maintain an attitude of identity separation from the world, as well as the ability to 3) resist the appeal of the man of sin to come, who himself will be a consummate "one-world, one-domain" Universalist. It is impossible to maintain such a holy militant attitude against an enemy upon a belief in eventual universal reconciliation with that enemy.
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
Page created/updated October 31, 2018