Friday, January 25, 2013

Opposition to Universal Reconciliation

I appreciate that most of you read what I write here and either don't comment at all or write to me via email with questions, comments, suggestions, etc.  And that's fine.

But, right now, I would like to get some input here on this blog site regarding my present project, as I am entering an important phase of my research and final preparation for my book(s).

I have spent much time during the past 2 years answering questions and rebutting opposition to the view of the universal reconciliation of all - both from those with whom I have engaged in personal discussion, and from published authors, who promote eternal torment or future annihilation of those who leave this planet as unbelievers.

My present project is to read the whole of the New Testament, slowly and carefully, using several literal translations, to discover if there is anything anywhere in the NT that might throw doubt on the validity of the UR position.

So what am I asking of you?  What input am I asking for?
If there are any verses or passages in the NT that you feel I should not overlook in this "read-through," please let me know by adding a comment below.
After I have investigated the portion you mention, I will place the result of my consideration in a reply to your comment.  That way we will all be better educated about our position, and also become familiar with Scriptural answers to the frequent objections to it.

Would you do that for me please?

Blessings, Barry


  1. HI Barry,
    Hi Barry,
    Even though I hold to your view, I still want to get my head around all the references to "the unpardonable sin", which occur in Hebrews. I know one refers to timing, but another makes no mention of timing, so there are still questions on this.


    1. Thanks Rog.
      Please specify the verses in Hebrews about "the unpardonable sin" you would like addressed.
      Blessings, Barry

    2. Hi Barry,

      Sorry to take so long to get back to you. It was funny going through Hebrews and not being able to find any reference to the "unpardonable sin". I'm glad I had Naves Topical Bible, which helped in the end.

      The verses in Hebrews are Heb 6:4-6, & 10:26-31.

      To these I have to add Matt 12:31-32, and Lk 12:10, as I think they all fall under the same category.

      Bless you, Rog

    3. Hi Rog
      Thanks for your list of texts "that I should not overlook" in my current read-through of the NT.
      I agree with you in saying that they all fall under the same category. All of these texts are addressed to Jews in the first century. The ones from Jesus to Jews in general, the ones in Hebrews to Jewish Christians.

      Here are some thoughts on the Jesus ones, recorded in Matt 12 : 31 - 32 and Luke 12 : 10 (and also in Mark 3 : 28 - 29). (The post on Nov 15, 2010 entitled "Grieving the Holy Spirit" discussed this as well, although I have fine-tuned some of my thinking a bit since then.)

      In Matthew, Jesus warns the Pharisees that speaking against the Holy Spirit was a sin that would not be forgiven in their age or in the one about to come. (to see the nearness of the age to come, you will need a literal translation )
      If this sin is not forgiven in the age about to come (about to come for them) they will miss being in the kingdom and ruling and reigning with Christ in it.
      Mark records that such people are guilty of an age-lasting sin. (note the literal and correct translation)
      Luke's record has only part of what Matthew recorded, and has it placed in a totally different context to that in Matthew and Mark. (I do find Luke's sequence of events different to those in Matthew and Mark quite often.)

      Correctly translated, Jesus is telling his Jewish audience that this sin will cause them to miss the kingdom age, which he confirms in several places like Matthew 21 : 43.
      But, of course, this says nothing about their future beyond that age. Paul fills in the gaps there with statements like Romans 11 : 26 -27 and Colossians 1 : 19 - 20.

      Some thoughts on the Hebrews texts.

      In Hebrews 6 : 4 - 6 the writer is warning Jewish Christians that they too will miss the kingdom age if they turn back from their Christian experience and return to Judaism. The early Christians had such a profound and exciting time as people of faith, and the writer is saying that if after having such an experience they turn back from that, there is no hope of them repenting again in their life time / before their judgement at the parousia / before selection for kingdom age rulers takes place.

      Hebrews 10 : 26 - 31 is warning about the coming fiery destruction of Jerusalem, the temple and the Jewish economy (heavens and earth) in AD 70 as God's judgement on them for refusing to receive His Son. Jesus tells several parables with a similar warning, parables like the parable of the tenants in Matthew 21 : 33 - 46, Mark 12 : 1 - 12, and Luke 20 : 9 - 19.

      We always need to remember to whom these things were said or written and ask what they would have meant to them. There will be some principles revealed that are relevant to us, for the Word of God is alive and active, but the primary meaning must have relevance to the primary audience. Audience relevance is an important key to a correct understanding of the Scriptures.

      Your feedback, comments, questions, criticisms, corrections, etc. are most welcome.
      Blessings, Barry

    4. Hi Barry, Thanks for your thoughts on these verses, and sorry to take so long to get back to you.

      I was wondering if we had a problem when you said that Luke 12:10 did not appear to be in the same context as the Matt and Mark references. Then I thought about it and realised that if it says "won't be forgiven", it can mean just that, and still only be for a limited period of time, even if it does not refer to that period of time. If I don't forgive someone today for something, and won't all week, I'm still not forgiving them, even if the intention is to do so next week. I hope this makes sense. The other scriptures help a great deal in providing support and clarification to the view that the lack of forgiveness is of limited duration.

      The Hebrews scriptures are not as iron-clad in your explanation, as they don't refer to ages etc. Saying that, one can still say that the only other scriptures that can be likened to them, and seem to be written in a similar context, do refer to "ages". I guess here one has to appeal to the bigger picture of scripture and ask if we want to accept the idea there is a contradiction between Heb 6 and 10, with other scriptures, or try to see if there is a way of reconciling apparent differences. Some may wish to be really hard nosed about details in scripture, but in such cases my usual answer is that it is not a science textbook that we are talking about.



  2. Dear Barry
    I have had several meetings with my pastor discussing scripture and hints Universalism (UR) therein. My intention was to get some intelligent discussion about UR with him, but this was not what he wanted to do. Unfortunately he repeatedly and gently told me that I am wrong and that UR is undermining the church (I think he wanted to classify UR as a semi secular new age belief that wants to portray God as a fuzzy love ball). He would not engage me in any discussion where UR views were being analyzed. He did however gently take me on a journey through the new-testament to show me that Jesus was at pains to warn us all about hell. This does seen very true. And after a while I came to see that Jesus’ use of the word Gehenna was an illustration to represent hell. So, we talked a lot about ‘the sheep and the goats’ and that the goats will spend eternity separated from God in hell. He lamented about the ‘unsaved multitude’. He had no answer to questions around the idea that if mainstream Church theology was true there is the corollary of God’s will being weaker than ours and Jesus failing to rescue all people as was His purpose. This was a new concept to him. No comment. No discussion. He never actually made any targeted rebuttal against UR other that saying it is heresy and incorrect.

    So I come to you now no wiser after my time with my pastor, or for that matter do I have any real reason for believing that Universalism is incorrect. So I still hold a UR view. However, I do have some verses that will need some special attention if we are to embrace UR as correct. Here is a tricky one.

    2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 New International Version (NIV)

    7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.

    I have some more but let start with that one as it is clearly a prime verse to use to against UR.

    And let me say Barry – I thank God for your diligent work and perseverance on this quest for truth.


    1. Thanks Glenn.
      I'm sorry to hear your meetings with your pastor have not produced much intelligent discussion. It's a real pity - but I understand fully, as I have personally experienced so much unwillingness to even mention, let alone openly discuss, topics that don't quite fit a church's revered statement of faith.

      Your tricky scripture will take more space to answer than I can fit into a "reply" box, so I will give it a post of its own called "Glenn's Tricky Scripture."
      Although I am still travelling through the Gospels on my NT journey, I'll try to get that post done in the next week or so.

      Thanks again.
      Blessings, Barry

    2. My "Glenn's Tricky Scripture" post is up. Feedback is VERY welcome.
      Blessings, Barry


All relevant comments are most welcome. However, please express any disagreement you might have without being disagreeable and with grace towards those who might not hold your point of view.