Concluding thoughts on Universalism

Universalism is a false and dangerous doctrine.  It is unbiblical.  Nevertheless, the teaching that God will forgive all people of all their sins is an appealing teaching. It is comforting to think that no one will go to hell forever-- especially ourselves. It means that we will escape the judgment of damnation.  It means we are safe even in our imperfections, our sins, our rebellion, and our blasphemies.  It means we can offend God outright, reject Him boldly, and not worry about our salvation -- because we'll all be saved no matter what they do in this life.  This is, of course, wrong.

On the other hand, if there are people going to hell, then it means that there is a God who holds them eternally accountable for their actions. It means there is absolute truth concerning condemnation. It means there exists a God who punishes sinners who reject God and separates them from His own infinite holiness.  Down deep inside this can make us uncomfortable and worried.  Such an idea of accountability might force us to examine ourselves and ask, "Am I saved?" "Am I going to heaven?" "Have I offended God?"  "Will I be punished?" "What am I really like deep, down inside?"  The answers to these questions can make us feel guilty, uncomfortable, and even worried, especially when we compare ourselves to a Holy God.

In this world of "tolerance," diluted absolutes, and creature comforts, the idea that all people will be forgiven fits right in. Universalism is a theology of tolerance, of ease, and comfort.  It feels good.  Psychologically it can ease our conscience because if we, in the goodness of our hearts, are wishing the forgiveness of all, doesn't it mean that we too will receive forgiveness due us because of our merciful desire towards others?  Many people think this way and somehow hope that because of their own good will towards others, they will receive it themselves.

It is not comfortable, nor does it make us feel calm and relaxed to think that there is an infinitely Holy God who takes sin seriously and punishes sinners. It can be terrifying to be faced with an eternity of hell fire if you have not made yourself right with God. And such is the complaint of the universalist: God is love and in Him there is no fear of eternal damnation.

The Universalists are often guilty of pick-and-choose theology.  See the papers on Matt. 25:46 and "A look at the word aionion" as examples of how they misuse Greek meanings of words.  In addition, I have encountered many universalists who have stated that they adopted universalism because they did not like the idea of eternal damnation.  In essence, to do this is to adopt a theology based on feelings and this is wrong.

God punishes sinners (Matt. 25:46). Why? Because He is Holy (Isaiah 6:3; Rev. 4:8). His eyes are too pure to look upon evil (Hab. 1:13).  Is He love?  Yes, He is (1 John 4:8, 16).  But that isn't all He is.  He is also just (Neh. 9:32-33; 2 Thess. 1:6) and must punish sinners because sin is an offense against Him and sin separates us from Him (Isaiah 59:2).  In His love, He sent the Son to die for us.  For those who reject Christ, God will be just and punish them.

Hell was not made for people.  It was made for the devil and his angels who rebelled against God (Matt. 25:41).  But hell will also house those who reject God's provision for salvation and side with the evil one (Matt. 18:8; 25:46).  This is a sad reality.

Will Satan too be saved according to the Universalists?  No.  Will the evil people who commit the most horrendous of crimes and who have blasphemed the name of God be allowed to escape their judgment even after openly rejecting the Lord's sacrifice?  Does God simply say, "It is okay for you to reject me, my Son, the Sacrifice, the Agony on the cross.  It does not matter about your blasphemies against Me.  It does not matter that you have given yourself over to evil.  I will save you after a period of chastening in the afterlife.  Enter into My rest and enjoy eternal bliss.  All are saved."?  No, this is not so.

"How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?" (Heb. 10:29).

The teaching of Universalism minimizes the Infinite Holiness and Infinite Justice of God which also resides within His very essence alongside Infinite Love.   It does this by daring to assert that anyone, in the afterlife, through any form of suffering, are somehow "made ready" to be with God.  That is false!  Hell is not a pleasant topic.  It is an awful place.  But it is real and it is powerful and it is eternal.  No one will escape the judgment of God if they forsake Christ in this world.

God gave hell its power.  The power of sin is the Law (1 Cor. 15:56).  To sin is to offend God and to go against His word, His very nature.  The Law is God's word.  He said, "Thou shalt not...."  Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.  God spoke the Law into existence out of the very nature of His own heart.  Therefore, to go against the Law is to go against God and to offend Him.  He is infinite.  The offense is infinite.

He is just and is obligated to punish sin and, hence, the sinner.

He is love and graciously provided His Son to redeem those who would be His.

Universalism makes the latter quality of God override the other, having the sinner escape eternal judgment by going through a period of suffering in the afterlife.  This is wrong.  When such an imbalance occurs, error is the result.  And that is what universalism is: error.  Its danger is that it may cause the heart to be comfortable, to not worry, and to put off seeking a savior.  Such a doctrine is dangerous since it can easily encourage a casual approach to redemption.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.