Monthly Archives: February 2011

Is Universalism Possible? An Arminian Perspective

There has been a great deal of hoopla over the possibility that Rob Bell might be a universalist (See here and here). Much of the criticism against Bell has come from those of the Calvinist persuasion.  Given the source of criticisms, it is worthwhile to note that hell is necessary for different reasons for Arminians and Calvinists.

A belief in universalism requires an amalgamation of Arminian and Calvinist belief(1). First, it requires that God genuinely wants to save everyone (Arminianism).  If God doesn’t want everyone to be saved, universalism can’t be true.   Second, it requires that God “make” people believe (Calvinism).  If God doesn’t irresistibly change hearts, universalism can’t be true.

For the Calvinist, hell is necessary to display God’s wrath. Jesus bore the curse of God’s wrath for the elect, but not for the reprobate.  Thus, hell is needed for God to express his wrath against the sin of those for whom Jesus did not atone.

Arminians believe that God’s wrath was fully manifested at the cross. Hell is not necessary in that sense.  Jesus’ sacrifice was intended for everyone, and it is of benefit for everyone who believes.  For Arminians, hell would become unnecessary if everyone believed (for humanity, not fallen angels).

For the Arminian, hell is for those who reject the sacrifice of Jesus.  Those who reject Jesus do it by their own choice, not because of a lack of grace from God.   C.S. Lewis once wrote, There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’(2)

For the Arminian, God does not want to or need to damn anyone.  Hell is necessary because of the nature of the way that God created us with free will. God doesn’t work coercively to make us believe, because to do so (in Wesley’s words) would destroy the very nature which He has given us.(3)

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1Universalism could also be true if God permits sin in heaven and/or what Jesus taught on hell was inaccurate. I don’t consider either a viable option.
2C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce.
3John Wesley, Predestination Calmly Considered.

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Bono Interview – Grace Over Karma

Wesleyan Arminian is usually a “Bono free” zone, however, I found this Q&A with Bono to be interesting.

Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond  in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that’s not so easy.”

Make sure to read on to get his thoughts on Grace and the deity of Christ.

Interview here: Grace Over Karma

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Sexual Fidelity – Good Post by Ben Witherington

Here’s a great article by Ben Witherington 3 about sexual fidelity:  Eros Defended or Eros Defiled.

He addresses  what he calls “same sex sexual sharing”, and what Jesus, Paul, the Church (throughout history), and the Wesley’s taught about it.

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How to Pray for Egypt

A college friend of mine, John Hanna, has written a good blog post on how we can pray for Egypt.  He gives seven specific ways.  Be sure to check it out.

John is Egyptian by ancestry, his parents were born there.

From a Pastor’s Heart – Revolution in the Middle East.

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A Calvinist Answers the “Questions for Calvinists”.

I did a post a while back entitled Questions For Calvinists.  Dr James Gaylon (an irenic Calvinist) is taking the time to respond to the questions.  I’ll leave it to you the astute reader to decide if the questions are answered or not. :)   Either way, I appreciate him taking the time and effort to respond.

1) If sovereignty means that God freely and unchangeably ordains whatsoever comes to pass, why does evil exist?

2) Where did evil first come from? Did it in any way originate from God?

Reply: 20 Questions for Calvinists

Non-Calvinist Baptist Peter Lumpkins also did a post about this: Calvinists, the Southwest Alabama Bible Conference 2011, and the “20 Questions”

3) Does God love everyone in a meaningful sense?

4) In what sense does God love those whom he deliberately withholds grace from?

5) Is God sincere?

Reply: Questions on the Love of God

6) If God’s hidden will sometimes conflicts with his revealed will, how can you trust what he says?

Reply: What is God’s Will?

8) If “Irresistible Grace” is true, why doesn’t God save everyone?

10) I hope that everyone goes to heaven, does this mean I love more than God does?

11) Does it trouble you that God deliberately leaves most people in a state of inability, and that their damnation is unavoidable?

Reply: Why Not All?

 

Questions still to come:

7) Does God have an intrinsic sense of morality and character that guides his decision making?  Is it meaningful to us?

9) Was God’s justice fully manifested at the cross?  Doesn’t it minimize Jesus’ death to argue that reprobation is necessary to show God’s justice?

12) Historically, areas with Caucasians have been more Christian.  If Unconditional Election is true, why does God show an apparent  preference for Caucasians?

13) Do you ever doubt that you are elect?  How do you know whether God wants you to be saved or not?

14) Why did God choose you?

15) How do you avoid feeling proud that God loves you and not someone else?

16) Why did God decree the holocaust?  How did it give him glory?

17) How does evangelism make a difference?

18) The devil wants all to go to hell.  God wants most to go to hell.  How can you tell the difference between God and the devil?

19) Ezekiel 18:23 If God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked and wants them to turn and live, why is reprobation necessary or even possible in the Calvinist system?

20) Matthew 23:37 Why didn’t Jesus gather up everyone in Jerusalem when he longed to?

21) Mark 10:21-22 If Jesus loved the rich young ruler, why wasn’t he saved?

22) John 3:16 If God loves the world and irresistible grace is true, doesn’t that mean everyone will be saved?

23) Romans 11:32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.  Who does all refer to in this verse?  Is the first all used in a different sense than the second all?

24) 1 Timothy 1:18,19 What does it mean to shipwreck one’s faith?

25) 1 Timothy 2:3-4 If God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth, how is hell possible?

26) 1 John 2:2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.  How can “whole world” mean anything else other than whole world?

 

[I  plan to update this post to include any future replies. 03-6-11]

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