Often times, people will learn of the Biblical teaching of Universal Reconciliation and they will begin their evaluation with "But what about..." or "This means that you believe..." This article is written to address those.
• "So you believe that people can be saved outside of Christ?"
NO. Not in the least. There is one Savior, Jesus Christ. No one comes to the Father but by Him. Unto Jesus "Every knee will bow and every tougue confess". We simply understand that the Bible is consistent in that Confession is made to Salvation. And, as Scripture says in both Old and New Testament, "every" tongue will confess Jesus. "There is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved." We believe that scripture is true. Jesus is the only way to God. And Jesus says he won't lose anyone the father gave to him. He says that he leaves the 99 sheep to find the one lost one. He doesn't give up until all 100% are his. He made that clear didn't he? If you believe that he will NOT bring 100% into his kingdom eventually, then you certainly have a problem with Jesus parable about the 99 and 1 lost ship.
• "Your belief makes the work of Jesus unnecessary or it makes it not as important"
Every time I hear this I am amazed. So, in other words, you are saying because he is 100% successful in his work, his work is not as important as if he had failed in some measure? The logic of that question - or the gross illogic of it - is baffling. The most God-Honoring doctrine possible is one that says God is 100% successful. God is All in All. Jesus never fails. THAT is what we believe and teach. The teaching of an eternal torture place that God is either unable or unwilling to rescue people from does NOT honor God - it exalts Man and his free will OVER God.I heard one time that you can tell a heresy by something that diminishs God. We all agree scripture says Jesus came to "Seek and save the lost". Which diminishs God? A) He gets finds and saves some of the lost. B) He is 100% successful and finds and saves all the lost. There is no question that saying Jesus is 100% successful in seeking and saving the lost exalts God FAR FAR more than saying he will lose some.
• "God must respect our free will. Only those who chose Him will be saved"
The second part of the statement is true. We must bow our knee and confess Jesus. The first part is completely unscriptural and makes our will stronger than God's. Really - who has the stronger will - you or God? The scripture is clear. God. So while it is true that those that chose Him will be saved, we see that it is very clear that in the end, every single soul that has ever lived will indeed chose to bow and confess Jesus. Not wishful thinking, but plain scripture. It is also true that God DOES indeed override our so-called Free Will. Romans 9 proves that no one can resist His will. It simple says it. How much more clear could the scripture be?
• "But you have to accept Him before you die or else it's too late"
One question: where does it EVER say it's too late to repent and seek God after you die? I know the scripture that says "it is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment" but that says only that there is judgment following death. Just as there are many judgments in this life. No judgment ever is said to make it impossible for someone to repent. If that is every explicitly said in scripture, please feel free to point it out. You won't find it - we looked.
• " Ok, but most people in the Chuch believe in eternal torture. How can they all be wrong?"
That's a fair question. We should learn from others and not easily disregard their views. We must have solid reasons and evidence to do so. We have that evidence in the scripture that clearly and strongly supports Universal Reconciliation. The evidence for the UR view is far stronger, with many more scriptures and heavier support than eternal torment.
Additionally, it is important to remember that the Church has been grossly wrong in the generally accepted beliefs a number of times and for hundreds of years at a time! Recall that the understanding of Saved by Grace was absent from the Church as doctrine from shortly after the time of the Apostles until the Reformation many HUNDREDS of years later. The general Christian world believed we were saved by our works and our adherence to Church law. Now we would call that heresy. Second, let's recall that for hundreds of years the general Christian world believed in selling Indulgences - pay the church and then you are free to sin without consequences. This was accepted for a very long time as well. And of course, the religious world as a whole except for a few scattered people believed that Jesus Christ was a fake and a phony. Boy we sure got it wrong then didn't we? No, no - don't say they. You and I would have most likely been in that crowd too. And we could go on. But the point is clear - just because a large number of people believe something does not make it true. The scriptures have always been true even when the church and the whole Christian world didn't know or rejected that truth.
• "If everyone is going to be saved anyway, then why not just go sin all I want?"
The answer to that should be self-explanatory. Sin is bad for you. Not just in the ultimate consequences, but in the here and now. The majority of judgment and punishment that is discussed in the Bible is judgment in THIS LIFE. To say, "why not just go sin?" would like saying, "why not just go get completely drugged out on meth?" The answer is because it will hurt you in the here and now! When someone asks that question, we must ask them if they accept Christ out of fear or out of love? Out of "fire insurance" or out of a deep conviction that we will be greatly better off in our spirit in this life, as well as the next, if we follow Jesus. Is sin such a great thing that, freed from otherworldly punishment, we would run after it? Not hardly. Further, Evangelical Universalists strongly believe in the reality of judgment. That judgment is very effective and often very painful. Just because it doesn't last forever doesn't mean it's not something to be avoided! Illustrating again, you know that if you put your hand into the fire place it will hurt, but it won't hurt forever so...just go ahead. Crazy talk isn't it? Pain, even a short duration, is something to be avoided. Hurting ourselves is something to be avoided. The question is full of mistaken assumptions and really has no true meaning.
Matthew 25:46 is often used an objection to universal restoration. However, this passage is NOT about Final Judgment, but is about the judgment that occurs at the return of Christ before the "millenial reign", however you understand that period of time. It cannot be referring to eternity because the judgment is a works judgment, not a judgment of who has confessed Christ as Lord and Savior. If you interpret this to be the Final Judgment, then accepting Christ as Lord and Savior and confessing him means nothing, as salvation is really about charitble works. Clearly, this is not about eternity. Take a look at some notes we did on the subject. Not a complete explanation, but an outline that helps put this passage in CONTEXT. Click here to download the PDF explanation.