Sunday, January 03, 2010

christian universalism

Too many people I know seem bent on rejecting traditional teaching. In part I don't blame them because contrary to Scripture (Gal 2.14; 3.3; 4.10, 21; 5.2), we still create a lot of baggage. At the same time, these friends develop disdain for all things traditional and embark on paths that seem bent on invention. In doing so they often miss the clarity and simplicity of Scripture - sadly some even take pride (becoming like those they are rebelling against) in their new found error.

One example is in regard to the atonement. I've posted a number of times regarding how some postmodern innovators reject this wonderful yet basic doctrine. Catholic Nick did a relatively good job pointing out that proponents of penal substitution have overstepped and stretched Scripture to fit the view but he is a long way from putting any final nails in the coffin. He caught our excess but hasn't explained the lion-share of Scriptural support. The post modern has gone too far in referring to the atonement as some sort of "cosmic child abuse". The result is to not only miss the truth regarding atonement but to also layer other false doctrines on top of their rebellious foundation.

Scot McKnight has done a fair job to prompt unbiased and open conversation regarding one of these aberrations, namely Christian Universalism, i.e., that hell is some sort of purgatory from which sinners can still see their error, repent, and become fully reconciled to God through Christ. A key point is that in the end, all will do so. McKnight sees the fallacy of this argument which has heavy reliance on the all in Ro 5.18-21 and 1 Cor 15.20-28 to mean each person in particular rather than all peoples. I find it interesting that those who lean toward universalism reject Calvinism because they think God wouldn't coerce people; yet they leave no room in their theology for someone to reject God. That aside, the innovator is giddy that the conversation is happening and excited to find a new definition for atonement. I think it reinforces the deception they have embraced.

I love the words of William Childs Robinson:

Man’s rebellious enmity against God (Colossians 1:12; Romans 8:7f) has called forth his holy enmity against evil (1 Corinthians 15:25f; Romans 11:28; James 4:4); his wrath (Romans 1:18; 2:5, 8–9; Ephesians 2:3, 5; Colossians. 3:6); his judgments (Romans 1:24–32; 2:3, 16; 3:6, 19; 2 Corinthians 5:10); his vengeance (Romans 12:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:8); and the curse of the broken law (Galatians 3:10). The wrath of God in the final judgment stands in immediate connection with the enmity which is removed by the reconciliation (Romans 5:9–10). Thus God so acted in giving his Son to be made sin and a curse for us that his wrath was averted and his righteousness made manifest even in forgiving believers (Romans 3:25–26). The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ assures them that the sentence of condemnation is no longer against them.

That wrath is eternal judgement in hell. There are no further chances. But none of this is really why I make this post. I've been thinking of an error that is new to me, i.e., that there are forgiven people in hell and that this is due to some two-stage idea of imputation. More on that another time.

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