Friday, August 12, 2011


I've assembled a document which forms a page in the tab above.   It's aim is to provide short answers to the major questions and statements Universalism raises.  The document isn't designed to win back Universalists to protestant orthodoxy by sheer argument alone but contribute to the debate, to show that for all the questions Universalism raises there exist good traditional answers!  My prayer is that those who are Universalists will come round, and that this pamphlet contributes positively to that turnaround because ultimately it is the Holy Spirit who brings people to the truth of who Jesus is and what he's done.  


Andrew Bowles said...

Not to address the theology as such, but some of your prooftexts are a little puzzling.

- Matt 5:45 is not about multifaceted attributes of God, but about his constant character, acting lovingly both to the righteous and the unrighteous. It's the opposite of what you imply.

- It's not at all obvious, or even explicable (to me), how you get from Matt 3:17, where the Father expresses his pleasure in the Son and the Spirit comes in Jesus' baptism, to the statement that God is 'the self-sufficient source of his morality '. It was this one that prompted me to look up your references because it sounded odd.

- Phil 2:6 has not much to do with Adam's disobedience or the punishment for it.

- The discussion of 'fire' I found strange. The burning bush (Ex 3) was, in fact, temporary, and it was not a literal fire but a theophany anyway. Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19) was an actual fire not a 'spiritual aspect' of fire, it was also temporary, and in destroying an evil city it was indeed 'purifying'.

I would question a couple of your other references, particularly the ones from Hebrews and Romans, but those would bring in a bit of theological interpretation and not just the text.

Luke Isham said...

Thanks for the feedback, I'm happy to change proof-texts if better ones exist.

Matt 5:45, yes this may speak more to consistency than being multifaceted. Let me think some more on that, the more I think about the more I realise it's not the best reference.

Matt 3:17 "And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” You don't think it shows at least self-sufficency within the Trinity, God doesn't' need need praise from humanity, because the Father is pleased by the Son?

Phil 2:6 "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped," Isn't Adam the one who grasped at equality with God? And it's prooftext that only therefore describes the nature of the disobedience not the punishment, that's why it follows the words "original disobedience".

Evangelical Universalism says the fire of hell is temporary and disciplinary (with a view to restoration) and that all the imagery of fire in Scripture points to this. I'm surprised you don't read the fire as literal (albeit miraculous). Also contra-Universalism: "the bush was on fire it did not burn up." The fire on Sodom and Gomorrah was certainly purifying but definitely not restorative!

Andrew Bowles said...

Apologies for nitpicking and jumping on the theology as well. I was working off some wider frustrations about the whole debate that made a short series of 'answers' to universalism a little provoking. All the best with the whole thing, delete all my comments as appropriate.