I consider myself a hopeful universalist. Honestly, for reasons I don’t feel necessary to list, I sure as heck hope that every Christian is with me and hopes all men will be saved. God sure does (1 Timothy 2:4).
I find extraordinarily interesting however that despite the number of passages that point to possible Christian Universalism, (belief that Jesus’ death and resurrection saves every one) most Christians not only reject any possibility of this, they label it heresy.
Let’s take a look at some of these passages:
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1: 19-20
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. Romans 5:18
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2
Theological neatniks will immediately chime in with the formulaic “you have to interpret scripture by other scripture.”
Basically what this means is “the bible clearly teaches eternal conscious torment in hell for those who die without faith in Jesus. Because of this clear teaching, the above verses have to mean something else because we know all people won’t have life and justification.”
The only problem here is who decides which scriptures should interpret all the others on a given doctrine. Couldn’t I say that the above scriptures clearly teach universalism and thus the passages highlighting an “eternal conscious torment” approach to non-Christians can’t really mean eternal conscious torment; because we have to interpret those passages with the clear teachings on universalism.
In fact, to make matters more complex, there are many strong arguments that take the seemingly “clear” passages on eternal conscious torment and labels them as “clear” passages that teach annihilation of unbelievers, meaning they will be destroyed once and for all, no immortality to speak of.
Or how about clear teachings of God’s sovereignty, a belief I hold. Pair that with the fact that God wants all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and we have a God that can do anything, wants all men to be saved, but most of them are eternally lost. And this is all at the hands of a sovereign God that has unconditional love for His creation.
My point of this post is to paint a gray picture for all of us. You know, muddy the waters a bit. Smart, devoted Christians approaching the bible with the same level of honor and adherence to it, come away with three different beliefs on what happens to unredeemed people
There should be room at the table of fellowship for all of them.
I’m comfortable with going on the record to say that Christians who believe that Jesus’ blood covers the sins of the whole world (you know, like it says in 1 John 2:2 when it reads “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world”) shouldn’t be seen as heretics. Maybe they’re right. Maybe our belief of people burning in hell forever is traditional teachings from man, not God. Maybe not.
We’ll all see. In the meantime, let’s try and seek Jesus, love one another and cross our fingers that all men will be saved.
My guest on episode 101 seems to think this will happen.
Follow me here on Twitter.