Universalism Today Part II -- By: Harold Lindsell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 122:485 (Jan 1965)
Article: Universalism Today Part II
Author: Harold Lindsell

Universalism Today
Part II

Harold Lindsell

In approaching the question of universalism, it quickly becomes apparent that there are only three possible viewpoints which one can entertain and one of these is so obviously fallacious that it does not deserve any detailed attention. The options are: (1) no one is saved; (2) some are saved, or, to put it another way, some are lost; (3) all are saved. Option number one may be dispensed with immediately. Neither the universalist nor his opponent will have any truck with this viewpoint. If no one is saved then life is meaningless, religion is vapid, and man is helpless and without hope of any kind. One can then easily embrace the materialist, rather than the spiritual, basis for life along with its resultant attitude: eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. And death ends it all. Indeed, if there is no afterlife the whole discussion is fruitless and a waste of time.

Once option one has been discarded there are only two other options left for study, i.e., the options that some are saved, and that all are saved. Let us begin by examining the option that all are saved. The line of argument pursued by those who entertain this notion usually includes the idea that all men are already in Christ whether they know it or not; or all men will come to Christ in this life; or all men ultimately will come to Christ in this life and in the life beyond the grave.

Most universalists who cling to any Christian tradition suppose that salvation derives from Christ and finds its classic orientation in the love of God whose love cannot permit eternal suffering nor allow any to perish eternally. Indeed, the doctrine of eternal punishment appears to be a stumbling

block to many universalists who evidently believe that men are not evil enough to merit this kind of punishment or that God is not sadistic enough to hand out such punishment. If eternal punishment is really the bar to belief in the salvation of some, rather than of all, the universalist could solve this dilemma by doing precisely what the Seventh-Day Adventist does and the Jehovah’s Witness does, neither of whom believes in eternal punishment—just assume annihilation which abolishes torment, yet leaves some out of heaven and eternal bliss while the remainder enjoy the felicity of God.

Perhaps one should look at the basic argument of Nels Ferré who has conveniently reduced his viewpoint within the compass of a few short words. “Either God could not or would not save all. If He could not He is not sovereign; then not all things are possible with God. If He would not, again the New Testament is wrong, for it openly claims that He would have all to be saved.” Laying ...

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