This article is just one in a long series addressing questions posed by agnostic blogger Larry Simons in his article entitled, 31 Questions Christians Can’t Answer. For the rest of series click here. Enjoy!
- How infinite can Jesus’ love be if for those who reject him as being their savior, he consigns them to an everlasting hell?
- If God is so good, why does he put all of us to death?
Some versions of these questions have haunted non-believers and the Church for it’s entire history. The belief that all mankind will be saved is called Universalism. Universalist claim that their tradition of belief goes all the way back to Jesus himself, relying on passages such as John 12:34 and 1 Peter 3:18-22 to support their view. They have to contend with passages like John 8:24, 1 john 5:11, Matthew 25:41 & 46, and 2 Thessalonians 1:9 that seem to indicate eternal damnation for those who die without faith in Christ.
For those that do not believe in universal salvation there are three basic schools of thought, Calvinism, Arminianism, and Churches of Christ. Calvinists sum up their beliefs about salvation in the acrostic TULIP, also called the Five Points of Calvinism. The five points are Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. Arminian’s beliefs are similar to Calvinist’s except they see election and eternal security as conditional and grace as resistible. The Churches of Christ begin with a belief that lostness isn’t even a factor until a child reaches an age of accountability (usually around 13) beyond that there are several conditions for obtaining salvation; one must be taught biblically and listen expositorily, one must believe or have faith, one must repent of one’s sins, one must confess belief that Jesus is the Son of God, one must be baptised, and one must remain faithful until their earthly death. And finally, you will without a doubt come upon many churches and many pastors who espouse some mixture of some or all of these schools of thought.
Importantly we once again are not at any point addressing anything more consequential than the personality of God. His existence seems to never be in doubt. The questions, however, remain crucial regardless of the impotence of the intended attack on our faith. The Universalist’s answer would be that all are in fact saved, regardless of faith or works, and if the non-universality of salvation as it is normally presented is your major stumbling block to faith the I urge you to atleast give universalism a look. I personally believe it is a dangerous heresy, the religious equivalent of socialism, but as an entry point to belief in God for an atheist it is at least a step in the right direction. On the other hand the Non-Universalist answer would be (in summary) that through a variety of circumstances and mechanisms the Sovereign God of the Universe has provided adequate knowledge and opportunity for all to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, whether those mechanisms include His previously choosing who would be saved or whether we have the choice matters only if you presuppose the exclusive moral goodness of Him saving us, if His justice is also morally good then the loss of any sinner is no moral deficit (saddening as it otherwise may be), either way those who do attain to all of the requirements of salvation are in most cases eternally guaranteed a place with The Father in Heaven.
In the final determination the attempt to present God as a moral monster makes a shotgun pattern of it’s objections while still hitting nothing solid. All of my posts so far, and I encourage you to go back and tell me if I’m wrong, speak with one voice in saying that God alone is the immovable moral law giver and therefore is the only being capable of judging the morality of His own actions, the rest of us are like children screaming at our much older and wiser parent “it’s not fair!”