Yet another discussion of universal salvation

Indeed. But I take the magical element out of that to say the physical world largely IS the means. It is because the physical world operates by the mathematical laws of nature which cares nothing for our beliefs and desires, that things force themselves into our awareness and more often than not bring us down to that rock bottom where repentance can seem like the only way out. I often use the analogy (for death) of running out onto a frictionless surface, where we keep moving the same direction with no way of changing our momentum. The laws of nature of the physical world provide the friction by which we can change direction and all of that vanishes with the end of our physical life.

This is not to say that God does not also intervene at times in order to bring us to repentance – I do believe in that. Indeed, I think God usually has to liberate our free will from sin to some degree in order for us to choose Him over our sins.

No. Sin is a progressive degenerative thing. It does not diminish but increases. But sin is also destructive. It destroys free will, awareness, and ultimately everything of value within us. So sin increases at our expense and we definitely become less as sin consumes and destroys us. God is not the destroyer – sin is the destroyer. God’s wrath as Paul explains in Romans 1 is to let sin have its way with us – indeed to let us have what we have so foolishly chosen.

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I thought this recent sermon of Bishop Barron’s to be an excellent commentary on our attitudes about salvation (and who all will be saved) and worth re-opening and adding into this thread.


This is a useful discussion of hope for all are saved. There is a comprehensive discussion on universal salvation at

I made the mistake of starting to watch, which is extremely rare, and got to him blaming us for our suffering, because God is love and because we’re free.

Of course I agree whole-heartedly with everything Bishop Barron says about hoping that all will be saved and how hope does not equal knowledge or expectation that all will be saved. The sermon taught me the term “apocatastasis” for the heresy of knowing all will be saved – very interesting. I very much believe in the Godly characteristic of seeing the good in people – and this hope that all will be saved aligns with that. So, I was also giving a big AMEN when he speaks of God being about love only. I believe that too. Yes God gets angry but it is out of love for those who are abused.

My biggest criticism perhaps came at the very beginning, where I thought his explanation of hell was rather lame. He gives an emphatic “of course” to the question of whether hell exists, but his reasons are not so convincing especially in a world where the numbers of unbelievers are increasing. How can they relate to this equivalence of hell with resisting God’s love or the usual formulation of being separated from God? It sounds like a definition straight from people obsessed with God and religion – and it is little reason for any reaction from them but derisive laughter.

And yet there are millions of people, believers and unbelievers, who if you ask them if there is a hell – they too will give an emphatic “of course!” And it is because they have BEEN THERE! I KNOW hell exists because I see it right here on the earth in the inhumanities of man in the treatment of their fellow human beings. And compared to THAT hell, Bishop Barron’s anguish at resisting God’s love or even the classic fiery furnace is a JOKE! It is frankly an INSULT to those who have experienced hell on earth themselves. (and if you are wondering… I am not one of them – I just have the empathy to see it. At most I have merely peered over the edge of the pit and shuddered.)

My vision of hell is nowhere near so lame and tame. By comparison finding myself in one of the Hollywood versions would have me smirking. My vision of hell is being eaten alive by our own sins… our own self-destructive habits tearing down everything good within us until WE become the evil we hate most. That is the hell I fear!

Bishop Barron’s analysis of “enter by the narrow gate” using Luke 13 is superb! Of course my own frequent ranting against entitlement and against making God a Christian property is quite in agreement with everything he says at the end of the sermon.

Stuck waiting at the pharmacy waiting for an rx. This thread popped up again and I had uninterrupted time to read most of it. Fascinating. I’ve never read so many different views spelled out so clearly. Thanks for this (frustratingly thought-provoking) thread.

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This is not to say there is no truth to this at all. Hardly. I very much believe that God is the source of what we need in order to make an eternal existence worthwhile. I believe in an infinite God, with no end to what He has to give and there is only eternal life because there is no end to what we can receive from Him.

But I don’t think the danger is that God will withhold such things if He is angry with us. I think the danger is that our own self-destructive habits can destroy our ability to receive them. What good is all that God has to give in order for us to build ourselves up when we are too busy tearing ourselves down?

This is relevant:

It is extremely presumptuous of any finite human to think they have the wherewithal to determine what “competent love” looks like with respect to God. That’s a brute fact.
Then there is what justice for lèse-majesté, “to do wrong to majesty”, might entail (one might expect some serious repercussions if they called a queen a whore to her face). That’s something that Job did not do amidst his many sufferings:

In all this, Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing.

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Imagine trying to be the perfect Christian and the guy next to you who kills murders rapes etc etc ends up in heaven with you. Seriously i cant understand this rationale

My opinion and I think it’s correct some sins are unforgivable . Period. Not everyone will go to heaven . The fact that even some here are “hoping” for this to be true it just baffles me.

You guys have put love infront of justice and refuse to see anything else.

My question to every Christian that considers this. Is a vengeful God more attractive than the all loving one?
I used to think that way. Now I’d rather choose the God of Israel that looks over his children and provides justice at any way(even if it means whiping a whole village out) rather than the one who would forgive someone who did harm to his child

Are God, Jesus, Grace, & Mercy impotent and limited?
Are They “rejectible”? [A new word that I learned today.]
Seems to me that anyone who denies that they are rejectible, disagrees with Jesus’ words: about “the unforgivable sin”. If they are rejectible, at what cost?
So,are an eternally rejectible God, Jesus, Grace, & Mercy impossible?
In the end, the only thing that matters is my opinion. Or does it?

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I would like to see more discussion on repentance within the overall view(s) on salvation. The facts are that repentance is a requirement - but this is more than regret or wishing things had been different. I am reminded of examples such as that of Paul - I see him as a fanatic who was part of a cruel mob inflicting pain and death to Christians who he considered enemies of Israel, even when he knew they were devout Jews who lived according the teachings of Moses. Surely he is an example of a cruel, disgusting person. Yet when he realized his mistake, he underwent a complete conversion, and at no time did he seek to excuse his actions or try to justify himself. His repentance was that of a complete change in his action, life, beliefs - in toto.

I view this as an example of what repentance means and what is required by God - except we repent, we shall all perish - is a teaching re salvation.

I don’t thiink I’ve encountered any believers of any variety who would disagree with this (even all the way to universalists fully believing in “apokatastasis” or whatever $50 word theologians delight to come up with). Everyone would agree that repentance is essential.

I would have phrased it … “and this is more than regret…” since there is no tension between the two parts of your sentence. Everybody would agree with the 2nd part as well.

In short - Yes! Total agreement. Salvation is meaningless if I am still clinging to my sinful desires and actions. What else could salvation of the highest sort possibly be but to be set free from the sin that enslaves me?

Paul does make an interesting study. His zeal as a law-loving Pharisee remained obvious even after his conversion, and yet he either kept that in check, or subordinated it to his new higher calling, or redirected that zeal in new ways somehow. And I’m with you. More discussion around all this would be interesting.

Yes. The typical idea of universalism is God must ultimately be victorious in persuading everyone to repent. So a legitimate objection to universalism doesn’t appeal to “free lunch” or “cheap forgiveness” characterizations.

It has more to do with skepticism regarding whether love is always triumphant because we frankly see too much evidence that it simply isn’t. We see too much evidence that many people will not change no matter what – and love is no more a universal anodyne than education. Yes sometimes education works. Sometimes love works. And… sometimes they don’t. It seems for some people, their sin (habits of thought and action) has become their final and ultimate truth, and they can no more let go of them than they can cease to be who they are.

But can’t they learn some lesson that these habits are making them miserable? Not necessarily. This because many sins are destructive of our awareness, our ability to learn, and even our freedom of will. To be sure, miracles happen. But they are miracles because they are exceptions to the rule.

This is central to salvation without coercion - can our sinful habits ultimate destroy our capacity and freedom to decide to change? I have pondered on this aspect of freedom and capacity to reason for some time, and I end up with, “God only knows”. On the one hand if a person were to understand that unless he changed, his destiny would be misery, pain and death, I would have thought the desire for self-preservation would motivate him to change. Yet historically humanity has resembled a slaughter house without a limit to cruelty and perversity!

Universalists respond that God is without limits and He can bring people around (but this must be without coercion). The most compelling argument that I can see is that when He provides unfettered knowledge of His goodness and glory, and given sufficient time, even the most wicked would finally realize their error and repent. Would they?

I think only God can answer.

But that doesn’t really work for universalism any better than it works for YEC. The Bible makes it rather crystal clear that things do not always go as God would like. Which means there are limits of reality and logical coherence. God is following a rulebook of some kind and His omnipotence does not mean He can do whatever you say by whatever means you care to suggest. The ends are not independent of the means except in dreams which have no bounds of rationality.

Right. I am not saying these reasons make the issue resolved against universalism. I am just pointing out where the real issues (other than the Bible passages which don’t agree with it) are and thus why many are not convinced that universalism is correct even when they know universalism isn’t suggesting there some way of circumventing the need for things like repentance.

Repent where?In the afterlife? How many have died in sin? Are you talking of a possibillity there beigjn a purgatory?

Then we’re all damned. Paul is an example of what will happen in the Resurrection. Not before.

He does.

Yes, I am referring mainly to Gregory of Nissa who discusses an ‘after’ existence where sinners suffer anguish as they begin to understand the horrible consequences of their evil deeds. He regards this as a purging of the evil in such people, thus the term ‘purgatory’. He believes that as they understand what they have done, they are purged of evil and God’s goodness and grace begins to have the results leading to their salvation. The greater their evil deeds during their life, the longer and greater their anguish and painful realization of the evil in their life.