What Is Christian Universalism and Is it Biblical? :: by Walt Grace

Wikepedia defines Christian Universalism as “a school of Christian theology which includes the belief in the doctrine of universal reconciliation, the view that all human beings and all fallen creatures will ultimately be restored to right relationship with God in heaven.”

This is a view that has been promoted as of late by the writings of Julie Ferwerda, Rob Bell, Rebecca Trotter and surely others, but is not a new belief.

Russell Streeter was probably the first person to use the term in 1820, but the first church bearing the Universalist name dates back to 1785 founded by Adams Streeter, who is an descendant of Russell Streeter. This isn’t to be confused with Unitarian Universalism, which teach that all religions lead to heaven.

So what do they believe?

Universal reconciliation is the belief that all souls will be reconciled to God eventually. They also teach that the penalty for sins is not eternal. They do recognize that Jesus died for the sins of all, with emphasis on love. They also teach that human beings have an eternal soul and that sin does have negative consequences in this and the afterlife. However as with many sects and from this writer’s observation this is open to the believer’s definition of what is “sin.”

On the surface, this seems logical and plausible. How many of us as Christians would genuinely want our friends, loved ones and even our enemies the chance at redemption? This is what we should strive for as does the Lord Himself. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:9, “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.”

Besides, it would seem mean-spirited for a loving God, much less a loving Christian to want anyone to go to a place of eternal punishment. Regardless of how we feel, we still need to go to the Bible for our answers on this matter, especially if they claim to be Christian in their beliefs.

2 Timothy 3:16 says: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

On this premise, if someone wants to write something, we can and should use the Bible for reference. So what does the Bible have to say about this belief?

John 14:5-6: “Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

It would seem that by this verse alone that Christian Universalism does not jibe with the Bible.

Matthew 7:12-14: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and BROAD (emphasis mine) is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

If there was a way for us all to be saved, there would be no need for these three verses. It would be the WIDE gate leading to life and EVERYONE would find it (heaven). One this alone, Universalism cannot stand with the Bible.

But what about eternal punishment? Surely a loving God wouldn’t send people to be tormented for eternity, right? Jesus very often spoke in parables, but this story isn’t a parable. In fact Jesus named one of the persons in this narrative and throughout HIS parables, no names were given. In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus had this to say:

“ There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

Let me clarify something; the rich man was not tormented because he was rich, but because he died in his sins. Lazarus, who died in faith didn’t go to Paradise because he was destitute. The rich man also knew that once his five brothers came to this place, they would add to his torment. The question you really need to ask is that even with the hideous punishment the rich man is going through, maybe Abraham could have at least thrown this man a bone or offered some encouragement. This wasn’t forthcoming and in fact Abraham conveyed quite the opposite; there was NO RELIEF coming.

Isaiah 66:22-24 also says: “For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord. And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

This writer could on with the verses, but the Bible and in fact Jesus spoke more about Hell than HE did of heaven. This alone should blow the Universal theory right out of the water.

Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave is only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Romans 10:13: “ For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Jesus built the bridge to us with a cross and three nails, but we MUST BELIEVE. We must turn over lives over to HIM. We cannot reject Jesus and still expect to be saved? Whatever book you decide to read concerning something as important as your eternity and just as important, what you teach others.

Matthew 18:6: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Jesus isn’t a cosmic cream puff nor is any amount of time going to get us out of hell if we reject HIM. He made it as easy for us to come to HIM, but we need to cross that bridge. He gave us the free will and if we choose a life without HIM, we will receive an eternity without HIM as well.

I know this is going to be a tough pill to swallow, but if you haven’t given your life to Jesus yet, you’re in mortal danger of the punishments and there is no “Get out of hell free card” once your soul leaves your body. Jesus is giving you that chance today. The time for salvation is now while you still have breath in your lungs.