Universalism an Utterance of the Heart

Introduce the topic of universalism and many Christians will point out instantly that it contradicts Holy Scripture. And when one peruses its pages, it may appear so. But one thing is undeniable by anyone whose heart goes out to others: We intuitively hope universalism is true.

Their kind-hearted and merciful wish is that God might finally bring all humanity into the circle of His grace. If they could, they would decree the redemption of every person on the planet. They would see the ultimate reform of each sinner, were the choice theirs.

Yet the love, mercy and compassion of such souls falls far below God’s. The span between heaven and earth is the span between our love and His. Man’s mercy falters; God’s mercy “endures forever.” (I Chronicles 16:34) Man’s love wears thin; God, on the other hand, is love. (I John 4:8). Man’s compassion extends just so far; God has compassion “over all His works” (Psalm 145:9).

That being the case, how can we assert that God will save fewer – much, much fewer, in fact – than the finite mercy of man would save? Does perfect love redeem a smaller company than would imperfect love?
Many at this point flee for refuge to the inscrutable ways of God. The Lord’s thoughts are not our thoughts, they remind us. He does not always act according to His creatures’ logic. This is true, of course.
But the common rebuttal leaves us with a baffling incongruity. Consider the tendency of humanity: The less godly a man, the narrower his mercy and love. The godlier a man, the broader, the more liberal his. Then consider God, the one whose character the godly emulate. Inexplicably, when love and mercy reach the zenith of perfection, the trend appears to reverse itself. The scope of redemptive mercy constricts. Most of his creatures cease being objects of mercy and become objects of wrath instead.

Isn’t there something wrong with this theological picture? Flawed mercy would rescue all. Impeccable mercy will not. In light of such an enigma, we can’t help but ask: Could it be that the larger portion of the
Christian tradition has missed the mark on this subject?

Some will argue that although God wishes to restore all people, He will not violate our free will. How this free will becomes so invincible, so able to wear down omnipotence, remains to be explained. And why God’s action against it would be a “violation” – as if He is subject to a higher law than Himself – is also unanswerable.

God is able to remove the heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. He can work in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. What human father would hesitate to “violate” the free will of a son who suddenly chooses to dash toward traffic? God is the parent of us all (Malachi 2:10).[1] We are His offspring (Acts 17:28).[2] Would He then not do everything in His power – a power that knows no bounds – to lead us away from ultimate destruction?

There is something intuitive about our desire to expand redemption beyond orthodox boundaries. This is significant. In the first chapter of Romans, Paul expresses a belief that all humans have a law written on the heart. They have an inner monitor that informs them of such concepts as love, mercy, equity. Could it be that this principle is at war with the words of theologians and preachers? Might this explain the unrest of so many? …

Steve Jones (Former Pastor)

[1]“Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother? …” (Malachi 2:10).

[2]“For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring” (Acts 17:28).

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