See Part 1
Can a Loving God Send People to hell?
Does God take pleasure in the death of the wicked? No (Ezekiel 33: 11). Does God desire that all be saved? Yes (1 Timothy 2: 4; 2 Peter 3:9). Has God done everything for man to believe in HIM? Yes. So, can a loving God send people to hell? Yes! But the question is not fully correct! God does NOT send people to hell. Instead, people choose hell.
C.S Lewis said, “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.” All that are in Hell choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.” 1 Another perspective is from William Lane Craig, “The exercise of saving faith is not a work we perform for salvation, but merely the allowing of the Holy Spirit to do His work in us. Far from making unreasonable expectations, God is ready to equip anyone for salvation. We have only not to resist.” 2
Man decides his eternal destination, and God allows it.
The late Rev. John Stott and a few other Christian scholars endorse Annihilationism – a next of kin to Universalism. Annihilationism asserts that God will annihilate those who do not believe in Christ or that God will annihilate all of mankind after death.
Annihilationism lends credence to immorality. A subscriber to annihilationism could think, “I can do anything, even evil, for I will be annihilated as the others.” Volitional justification of immorality in any form is an assault against God and HIS Word.
Annihilationism reduces mankind’s purpose of living to a temporal realm as against the eternal life taught by the Bible. Annihilationism opposes the teaching of eternal life from the Bible.
A flavor of annihilationism, which subscribes to annihilation of all mankind, violates the Bible. For instance, the believer of Christ longs for the Second Advent (coming) of the Lord for he confidently hopes to live with his Maker forever and ever (1 John 2: 17; cf. Revelation 22: 20 et al.). Annihilationism deprives a believer of Christ of that glorious hope in the Lord, and Christ is unnecessary if annihilationism is factual.
Annihilationism also deprives justice to man. If a man is convicted of theft, he may be sentenced to a few months to a few years depending on the intensity of his crime. But if man kills another man, then he is imprisoned for life or executed. So a pattern is established in justice – unauthorized plunder of another’s wealth results in a lesser sentence, whereas unauthorized plunder of another’s life justifies life imprisonment or death of the murderer, which is a greater sentence. If a murderer walks away scot-free, all sane minds will term this decision as injustice. Justice is determined by the enormity of the assault, which in turn determines the degree of punishment.
Similarly, since God is infinitely holy and just, any sin against HIM deserves an infinite punishment. But annihilation does not offer an infinite punishment to an evil man. Positing annihilationism eliminates justice. An unjust god is not a good god. Since God, by definition, ought to be good, annihilationism implies a godless universe. The Christian Universalist proclaims that God exists, so his doctrine of annihilationism is a contradictory and a self-defeating doctrine. Therefore, annihilationism is also not a wholly tenable truth claim.
Christian Universalism Mutilates the Loving Relationship between God and Man
Christian universalism destroys the beautiful and a loving relationship between God and man. Imagine an instance where all athletes registered to participate in a race are informed much beforehand that each of them will win the gold medal – the highest prize. If every athlete is guaranteed to win the highest prize, practice prior to the race will be discarded. Therefore, the joy innate to the race would be nonexistent.
The athletes may participate in this farce of a race, but they will never be wholly involved with the race. A man can simply get out of his bed, participate in this farce of a race, and yet win the highest prize. If this be true, imagine the dilemma of an athlete who intensely practices for this race – his practice and preparation mean nothing. The race is reduced to a farce. No sane mind will even conceive this race, let alone implement it in today’s world.
Therefore, if God states that all men will inherit heaven (the highest prize), man need not be involved with God – he need NOT love and worship God. If man need not love and worship God, then there is no meaningful relationship between man and the living God. This life then would be utterly nonsensical.
Christian Universalism Negates Evangelism
Evangelism intends to bring people into the knowledge of truth and eternal life. Christian Universalists declare that all will go to heaven. If so, why evangelize? How then would the Christian Universalist decipher all the verses in the Bible mandating us to evangelize (Daniel 12: 3; Ezekiel 3: 17-20; Matthew 10: 8b, 28: 18-20; Mark 16: 15-16; Acts 1: 8 et al.)?
Consequences of Christian Universalism
By virtue of his universalistic persuasion, a Christian Universalist implies that:
- Bible is corrupt – errant and fallible.
- God is a cruel dictator without holiness, justice and true love. God’s commands need not be obeyed (e.g. evangelism is a non-factor).
- The roles of Christ and the Holy Spirit is a non-factor
- A believer need not be holy, need not love and worship God, and can be immoral.
- A believer need not repent or believe in Christ and need not produce the fruit of the Spirit.
Since Christian Universalism opposes the Bible, we can reasonably assert that Universalism is a heretical teaching and Christian Universalists are a cult (false religion). Christians espousing universalism are not Christians even though they may term themselves as a Christian.
Although I don’t stand in judgment, the Christian Universalist, according to my understanding of salvation, lives dangerously close to an eternal separation from God.
Why does a Christian succumb to Universalism?
- Unbelieving family and friends: If we believe in Christ, and our family and friends do not, then we suffer intensely knowing that those whom we love so dearly are hell bound. This constant pain motivates Universalistic persuasion.
Since universalism is an untenable proposition, a better mode of reconciliation would be to pray earnestly for God’s light to shine in the hearts of our loved ones. Meanwhile, we should gently and respectfully provide reasons for our hope in Christ, hoping that they would turn to Christ.
- Observing the apparently flawless lives of the non-Christians: There are many non-Christians, who through their apparently impeccable life put Christians to shame. So one could wonder how such a life would be deemed to hell.
This situation could be reconciled through the fact that all are sinners and imperfect in thoughts, words, and deeds. None can be as perfect as God. So an impeccable life is only impeccable within the confines of the act(s) that invoke impeccability (e.g. charity). Therefore, since the flawless lives of non-christians are merely confined to certain acts, a reasonable conclusion is that all men are imperfect sinners worthy of infinite punishment.
The Bible affirms that those who lead others to sin (disbelieve in God) are in a great and mighty danger – a potential loss of eternal life (cf. Matthew 18:6; Mark 9:42; Luke 17:1-2).
Universalism states that all will go to heaven. If Universalists are right and the debunking of Universalism is incorrect, then all will go to heaven (I and the Universalists). This is a win-win situation for me. But if Universalism is nonsensical, the Universalists are treading dangerously towards hell. For the Universalists, this is a win-lose situation (they lose, Christians win).
May we earnestly seek to follow and obey God in the light of HIS truth. Amen.
1 C.S Lewis, The Great Divorce.
This article was originally published at http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2013/11/dangers-and-consequences-of-christian.html