Objections to Universalism 

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From the Author 

 Patristic Universalism is the belief that God desires all men to be saved and achieves this desire through His Son Jesus Christ. While some forms of universalism have sprung up that teach there is no hell and that all truth is relative, this is not the universalism I'm defending. The form of universalism advocated in this book is that which was taught by some of the earliest and greatest church Fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Gregory of Nyssa. It adheres to all the traditional teachings with only a few areas of deviationtion such as the doctrine of post mortem evangelism and the doctrine of hell.

The Early Church and Universalism 

Gregory of Nyssa believed that evil existed only through the improper use of our divine gift of freewill and that eventually, all will be restored to God because evil—being the opposite of good— cannot exist forever. Like Clement and Origen, Gregory of Nyssa saw eschatological punishment as having a positive purpose (should we expect anything else from God?) and this “purpose” was the restoration of mankind to God. According to Gregory, divine punishment is like the painful cures of medicine that eventually bring healing and that divine punishment is not administered to exact vengeance, but to bring restoration.

 

What about Hell?

God continues to evangelize to people even after they die (1 Chron 16:34; Isa 9:2; Matt 12:32; Rom 8:35-39; Eph 4:8-9; 1 Pet 3:18-20; 4:6) The main problem with the traditional view – and one that has never been satisfactorily addressed – is how can one “accept Christ” if they have never heard of Christ, or were unable to understand the message (i.e. too young, mentally handicapped, etc.). The traditional view seems much less appalling when viewed from the balcony of Middle America where there is a church on nearly every corner and Bibles available in multiple translations. 

 Given the environment most people live in throughout the world, a belief in post-mortem evangelism is the only view that makes sense. After all, didn’t Paul tell us that Christ is the God of both the living and the dead (Rom 14:9)?

Wasn’t Origen Considered a Heretic? 

Origen’s belief in the remedial nature of hell and the salvation of all men was “steeped in the Christian Scriptures.” It was his view that the purpose of hell was medicinal, purificatory, pedagogical, and redemptive and that in the end, all would be saved.

Thus Origen’s view of the apokatastasis was a restoration back to the original condition prior to the fall when man shared unity with God. But this universal restoration would never violate freewill according to Origen.