What is Universal Salvation?

Posted: October 2, 2008 in agnosticism, Bible, bible study, Christian, church, faith, life, love, Personal, Religion, Thoughts, wisdom, women
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Universalism is the belief that eventually everyone will be saved or go to heaven. This view stems from the idea that there is no eternal punishment. Universal salvation was originally proposed by Origen (185-254) who was an early church Father and apologist with a Platonic and Gnostic leaning. Origen’s ideology was considered heretical and eventually condemned by the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 553. The rise of universalism in the twentieth century can be attributed to Karl Barth (1886-1968) who denied the inerrancy of the Bible, and other notable philosophers and theologians such as Clark Pinnock and John Stott. Most liberal theologians hold to some form of a universal belief system and a belief in relative truth.


At the helm of the Universalist’s argument is God’s omnibenevolence. The argument follows, “If God is omnibenevolent, He cannot allow His creatures to endure eternal punishment.” However many orthodox apologists have successfully refuted this argument. C.S. Lewis in his work The Great Divorce, proposed that while God loves the world (John 3:16) and desires none to perish (2 Pet. 3:9), He does not force love upon anyone. Jesus lamented in Matt. 23:37 ““O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” They were not willing, and He would not force them.


Scripture teaches an eternal hell to which human beings will be condemned. Jesus affirmed hell far more than he did heaven. Refer to Matt. 10:28, Matt. 13:40, and Matt. 25:41. Jesus description in Luke 16:23-31 is the most vivid. Further, Heb. 9:27 makes it clear that the human existence is fatal and at death all will face judgment. But “. . . Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God . . .” If sin does not reap an infinite punishment, what was the purpose of the cross? To stand at judgment before an infinitely Holy God without the righteousness of Christ will result in eternal separation from the presence of God. The full purpose in allowing evil is to overcome it in the end resulting in full and complete separation of good from evil.


C.S. Lewis said it best “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’ ” (Lewis, The Great Divorce, 69).


If you are struggling with scripture that seems to support universalism, please send me a list of those scriptures and I will explain each of them within an Orthodox Christian view.

  1. Sabra says:

    Help, I have a dear friend who’s a brilliant lawyer but has bought into universal salvation through the United Methodist Church. He says John was not written by the Disciple John and that makes John 14:6 null and void………. That Jesus didn’t say it. He won’t leave me alone. I’ve told him that if what he believes is true that Jesus died for nothing. He says Fundamentalists are literalists and Bible bullies. He says all the latest findings and research proves the error of Bible translation and on and on ad nauseum. Please help. I have nothing that gets through to him except he’s obsessed because I don’t buy it. Is that because of relative truth?

  2. Nance says:

    Ask him if he is a Christian because Jesus is his Savior. When he says yes, ask him why he needs a Savior.

    My sister is an attorney too and a universalist. We have these discussions all the time. Yes, relativism plays into this. They don’t realize that universalism denies the omnibenevolance of God. One thing I have learned is that attornies hate logic.

    The best course of strategy is to cause him to question his own belief system. Keep asking him questions. He will be forced to recognize the lack of logic in his reasoning and he will either acknowledge the true God of the Bible or he will deny Him. Continue to pray for him, he can’t fight your prayers. Remain confident, you have an unfair advantage in this because you have the truth on your side.

  3. Rickr0ll says:

    “The best course of strategy is to cause him to question his own belief system. Keep asking him questions. He will be forced to recognize the lack of logic in his reasoning”

    My irony meter just can’t get enough of this! Interesting how i myself have posted many important questions, and your best recourse Nance, is to evade the question with semantics or not respond at all. Well, that and claim “victory” because of an assumed moral authority.

  4. Sabra says:

    Therein lies the rib. My friend says that Jesus died so everybody can and will go to heaven. It’s that partial truth which Satan is so fond of using to deceive. He’s not denying what Jesus did was necessary, it just gets twisted in that he believes everybody will benefit from what Jesus did carte blanche, no choices have to be made, etc. No matter what you do or how you live you will get to go to heaven, and that includes the Muslims, and the Buddhists. Jesus is not the only way according to my friend but it’s because of His death that they get to go. Not logical as you say. Lots of holes in their theory. If that were the case where does free will come into it? Maybe the Buddhists and Muslims don’t want to be in heaven with Jesus, have the Universalists ever given that any thought, I wonder?

    • Nance says:

      As an attorney who has a deep sense of justice, don’t you think his belief system is a bit contrary to what he sees as his entire life purpose? And, yet, he is suggesting that God is not just. How does he justify that belief? From where does your friend gain an understanding of what is just if an absolute standard of justice does not exist? If God is not just, then your daughter being raped is the same as your daughter not being raped. Why do you suppose your friend fights for justice? Is justice good?

      As I said, I travel this road often with my sister. Each time, they are confronted with the inconsistencies in their own belief system. Sabra, you can appreciate this story:

      They were visiting over Thanksgiving and my sister and her husband were saying that they believed that “heaven is what you make of it. Like that movie with Robin Williams, What Dreams May Come. What do you think, Nancy?”

      I said, “I find it very interesting that a finite little organism who cannot even determine whether she takes her next breath, seems to believe in spite of that fact that she can determine the infinite of heaven. Interesting. I choose to believe the one Man who has been there.”

  5. Rickr0ll says:

    “Victory is not claimed because of my personal moral authority. It is claimed by Christ because of His.”- Meaning you have no right to that victory, as it is His. Thank you for your understanding.

    Interesting how you almost always choose to make a talking point out of the lesser of the two relavent topics to discuss. I say respond to the questions, you say something not related to that. Amazing how you are looking at Sabra’s situation from the outsider’s perspective, and you cannot help but be ignorant of the fact that the situations between Sabra and her friend and yourself and me are identical in the respect you stated, and which i quoted, merely by substituting some obvious words around.

    Sabra, there is an amazing fellow called Zacharias that appeared on Morsec0de’s blog a while back, and he had many interesting things to say about this, in addition to the very enlightening conversation we were already having. It’s a ways down there- the thread is very long, as it should be. http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/2008/09/25/godless-bible-study/

    • Nance says:

      So you try to make rules for my blog and now you are determining what are worthy talking points and what is not. Control issues, rickroll?

      Seriously, this is great! Only on Womenintheword will you find an Atheist advising a Christian how to evangelize a Universalist. Priceless.

  6. RickrOll says:

    So Nance, you don’t even think we have freedom in the afterlife, huh? Scary stuff.
    If you have questions about what Zacharias beleives, it is the better you understand what he is Saying. You were being very hasty in assuming that what he said is “God is not just.” He is stating emphatically that God transcends even the greatest most worthy human concept of justice. If you think that God will bow to the sad human notions of justice, than YOU are the one who has control issues here.

    Also, i was merely stating that you always take the low road in our conversations. I was making an observation. If you are so affronted, I’ll call the waaambulance because what i noted was hurtful. Emotions aren’t the dictator of reason, no matter what authorization you have.

  7. Walton says:

    Nance, do you not think there are some moral issues with your standpoint here?

    I have a serious problem with the orthodox Protestant doctrine of “sola fide” – that faith in Jesus is both necessary and sufficient for salvation. The problem is that we live in a world with a plethora of different religions, and where there is no unequivocal direct evidence for the existence of any particular God or gods. “Sola fide” suggests that, if a person mistakenly, in good faith, chooses the wrong religion, then he cannot be saved – no matter how honest and decent he is, or how obedient to God’s moral commands. I find this idea morally repugnant, and incompatible with the idea of a benevolent God.

    Just out of interest, what is your stance on salvation for believers of other religions? Do you believe that non-Christians who have not heard the Gospel, but who sincerely follow their religion and seek to do good, can be saved? If not, then how is this fair on those who have not had a chance to choose Christianity, because of being brought up in a different religion? Why would God put us in a situation where it is so easy for an honest person to make the wrong choice by accident, and then condemn us to hell for making the wrong choice?

    I’m not an atheist or anything; I was brought up as a Protestant. But I would describe myself as a liberal Christian (in the theological, not the political, sense; I’m definitely on the right politically).

  8. Nance says:

    Your comment inspired a new post. For your answer please refer to


    I look forward to hearing from you again!

  9. mike says:

    is the soul,is your soul immortal,or is it mortal? who currently posesses immortlity,and who is the one to bestow this gift?

  10. Bible Study says:

    Gotta love the bible! And we must be careful how we hear and what we believe. We must judge everything by the word to know what truth really is.

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