A Question of Universalism

For those following discussions of the recent posts, but who want a clearer understanding of what Universalism actually means, below you will find a good explanation from theologian J.I. Packer:

A universalist is someone who believes that every human being whom God has created or will create will finally come to enjoy the everlasting salvation into which Christians enter here and now. Universalism is the recognized name for this belief. . . .

Among Christian theological options it appears as an extreme optimism of grace, or perhaps of nature, and sometimes, it seems, of both. But in itself it is a revisionist challenge to orthodoxy, whether Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant evangelical; for the church has officially rated universalism a heresy ever since the second Council of Constantinople (the fifth ecumenical council, A.D. 553), when the doctrine of apokatastasis (the universal return to God and restoration of all souls) that Origen taught was anathematized.

This passage comes from J. I. Packer’s “Universalism: Will Everyone Ultimately Be Saved? in Hell Under Fire, ed. Morgan and Peterson (Zondervan, 2004), p. 170.

Thanks to Justin Taylor for originally posting this piece.

Love Wins… Does Anyone Lose?

Apparently the dance goes on and on!

That is in reference to the opening statement I made in a post yesterday.  A debate about the Doctrine of Hell has been spreading like a wild fire for a couple weeks now.  I only made mention of it because it is a subject that has subsequently been raised by some from our local congregation.  I wanted to touch on it, offer a few insightful links, and move on.

I am surprised by the interest that post has raised, especially since I came to the dance so late.  Not only are there discussions going on in the comment section, but quite a few folks have visited that post without commenting.

One of the most practical comments was that some people who are objecting to a book by Rob Bell, which is what apparently sparked the debates, had in fact not even read the book before offering criticisms.  This is true.  I appreciated John Armstrong and Mark Galli, two prominent voices who pointed out this glaring neglect and calling for patience that will lead to clarity once the book is released.  I did point out, however, that the responses were not only to the book, which had not been read, but to the publicity video, which many have viewed.  (See Love Wins).  Therefore, while being slow to speak is always wise counsel, those who wrote were not entirely without basis.

Now, however, some are chiming in who HAVE read the book; or who at least read the manuscript provided to reviewers.  In particular I commend Tim Challies’ & Aaron Armstorng’s Love Wins – A Review of Rob Bell’s New Book.  For those who were awaiting informed voices to chime in, I think you will find the tune still sounds quite the same.