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Tuesday: Universalism and Pluralism — 27 Comments

  1. I agree! There is but One path to salvation. This is a belief that is becoming increasingly eclipsed out by pluralism, our modern form of polytheism that has seeped into the pores of the believer and corrupted the Monotheist faith! Contributing to this loss of faith is the fallacious claim that the law is put away with!

    Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to teach fully. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. ....... And then He goes on to teach fully the correct understanding of the law!

    The Scribes/Pharisees were guilty of reducing the law to vain, carnal, meaningless, self-exalting traditions that had no power to save the souls of men, but rather oppressed men.

    Tomorrow evening I will be keeping the Day of At-ONE-nt with my family. We are grateful for the opportunity that Our Father gives to return to a state of Oneness with Him and with His people, delivered beyond the pluralist lack of discernment that can never heal, nor save, nor foster peace for us.

    It's as if advocates for pluralist world-view believe that there can be peace... 'inclusion!' among mankind by EXCLUDING the will of the Father! As if the way to peace is to consider Him a non-factor with whom peace must not be made first and foremost with..?? How audacious is it of us to suppose that we can have peace one to another before first making peace with Yah on His terms... according to His

  2. John 3:16 is a very interesting text my professor at Seminary has 13 sermons on it and I was determined to come in par with him. It is in my quest to such exercise that I have found that this text is the crux and heart of Christianity. The foundation, the body and ultimate test of fellowship. It explicitly states that even though God Loves Every and Each one of all existing human being and those that still to be born in that Jesus came down to live, teach, died for our sins, rose again to finally destroy sin and its penalty but also to intercede or be our lawyer and judge simultaneously, the heart of the matter for all human is that he or she must believe in Jesus Christ, existence, Incarnation, Life, Death, Resurrection and Priestly and High Priestly role and finally as our Coming King. In summary to believe and lovingly be saturated in His Life, Command, Character that is the Holy Scripture or the The Son in the Living Word that which is the only test of our intimate relationship with The Living Son of God. Therefore the Lesson states quite right John 14:6 Jesus is the Way to the Truth of Eternal Life since He is the author, originator and the actual 3 testing truths aforementioned, thus not only making Universal-ism and Pluralism ridiculous, null and void but stupid and utter nonsense according to sola scriptura.

  3. First, using John 3:16 as the text of reference, one would clearly see that God is not a God of universalism, neither is He a pluralistic God. The phrase, "Whosoever believes...," already sets a condition for acceptance into eternity. It is true God loves the world so dearly, but there are some who will never appreciate the love. God gives to all lavishly, but not all may accept a lavish gift. God does not force everyone to accept His offer, instead He identifies with those who have accepted His offer.
    Second, without pronouncing any religion as superior, I wish to submit that the author of every religion dictates the content of the religion. The beliefs and practices is what makes a big difference. I may practice love to fellow human beings and to the god of my choice, however I have to ask myself a few questions: How sure am I that the god I am worshiping guarantee my salvation? What evidence can I give to show that the god in question is a true and living God? Finally, how pure is the worship practice involved?

  4. Universalism, pluralism, and ecumenism (unity among Christian churches/denominations) represent attempts by the arch deceiver to hide from view the light of distinct truths of scripture, especially relevant to the end-times.

    The most inconvenient and often vital truths are the first to be sacrificed in the interest of common unity which is not centered on Christ, nor anchored in scripture. Oneness which undermines the principles of the Creator is of a profane character. Though there is no genuine love shared among them the devils are united in opposition to God.

    That the Bible declares in strident language the fallen state of Babylon cannot be safely ignored or covered by love speech (Revelation 14:8). In any case surface love talk is soon unmasked by adversity and challenge.

    It is not true love, but defiance to disregard or actively work against God’s word and instructions to flee the perishing world in Noah’s day (Genesis 7:1), corrupt and licentious Sodom in Lot’s day (Genesis 19:14-17), and fallen Babylon today (Revelation 18:2-4).

    Going along to get along will never compensate or excuse rebellion. If one must stand alone to honor the Creator consistent with conscience Michael stands by that one (Daniel 12:1).

    Even among the remnant, the last part of the faithful fold (John 10:16) there is no safety in popularity or human consensus. Everyone will answer to the Spirit which leads (John 16:13) and for his/her own convictions, not another’s spirit or opinion. Lean on Jesus and trust the Holy Spirit.

    With the rise of social media and other expanded means of communication the saints ought to be mindful to find adequate time for study and communion with their Savior.

  5. I support Religious Freedom, no earthly civil or religious authority should determine for me who and what I believe.
    However once I accept the Bible as the true Word of the Creator God I have no option but to believe Him when He says I am the only Way, Truth & Life.

  6. I hope for their sake they are right, because it would be very sad for them standing in front of God and have no time to repent. Does it make more sense to be on Gods side? Why do humans always try to do what ever it takes to disobey God? He is real, just look in the mirror. We are a reflection of his love and we are made in his image.

  7. God will not save anyone against their will and so He has given us a challenge and a commission. It is because the Devil is going about accusing and deceiving the children of men that we are called to work for Him. We who are in the world but not of the world are called to assist God in revealing His character to all the world. How will you do this, this day? Will you quote scripture and pray that your enemies have coals of fire thrown down upon them while claiming the Bible promises for yourself? Will you spend a thoughtful hour contemplating the life and death of Jesus? Will you write a letter to a depressed and forsaken prisoner? Will you visit the orphan and the widow? Will you endure trial patiently? We are not talking about saving our soul’s here, we are talking about what will I do because am saved. If I cannot mingle with men as one who cares for their good and win the confidence of men by my consistent course of benevolence toward them I cannot be a part of the solution and call myself a follower of Christ. Of course not everyone will be saved, and absolutely no one will be saved while following known error, so what is the Truth? The Truth is; We can trust God who Himself is Love, and who can say that Love doesn't cover the multitude of sins. “How then can you who are accustomed to do evil, do anything good?” It is “the goodness of God that brings us to repentance” and so we cannot and do not save ourselves. This is what the world needs, and it is Good News.

  8. I believe the bible is very clear and John 3:16 tells us of the love of God for a sinful world, but it also tells us what it is required of us in order to have eternal life and that is that we must believe in the only begotten son. If someone accuses me of arrogant and exclusivisty because of the gospel my answer will be I abide by what is written and the word of God is very exclusive, it is only for sinner that are seeking repentance. Jesus knocks on the door of our heart and he only comes in if we open, he doesn't force himself in.

  9. In discussing this topic, it helps to recognize the uniqueness of Christianity.

    Christianity is the only religion that presents Immanuel, God With Us. It presents the great Creator God who loves humans so much that He came to be one with us. He came to demonstrate His love for us, both by living with us and demonstrating His loving character in daily life and also by giving His life for us.

    Christianity is unique. There is no other religion like it.

    • Furthermore, it is unique in that it is the only religion where God sacrifices himself for his creation rather than the other way around

    • Amen. I love Christianity because its non-violent. I remember Jesus teaching His disciples that He came not to destroy but to save. I have never heard a Christian suicide bomber. I have never heard a Christian killing in the name of God. I love Christianity even when killed they do not revenge because they know that Jesus said revenge is His.

  10. I agree that the Gospel is Truth. And I don't think 'anything goes,' either. Perhaps Paul meant that we must SEE the love and value in our struggling brothers and sisters, just as Jesus exemplified. It is our judgmental attitude that may make us seem exclusive. Only God can know the very heart and soul of any person, and where they are on their Damascus Road. While we may not agree, according to our understanding, we still can love, accept, and pray for others. After all, none of us starts out correct or righteous. We needed that onion to be peeled, layer by layer, until the Holy Spirit converted and humbled us. In Jesus' time, who would have believed a prostitute (Mary); a liar (Peter denying Jesus); a tax collector (Matthew); or a murderer (Paul) could be saved? If we commit our daily interactions to the Lord, he will properly guide us. He will replace any pride or haughtiness with humility. He also will protect us from hurting or being hurt, if we place our faith in him. I praise my Father, Savior and Spirit, for not giving up on me. That's why I pray for my children, today.

  11. Hence, we can see how one false doctrine (eternal torment) leads to another (universalism). (quote from Tuesday teaching) I enjoy attending the SDA's church but written absolute statements like these really disappoint me about this denomination.

    Mat 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

    'Everlasting punishment' can easily be translated 'eternal torment' from the greek words. This is Jesus Christ doctrine and it is not false. God is a God of Justice as well as love. The lake of Fire is prepared for the devil and his angels but sinners will go there too and burn forever for their unrepented sins. This is not my doctrine but Jesus Christs' doctrine. (Matthew 25:31-46)

    • A good challenge Rodney! I am neither a theologian, nor a specialist in ancient languages so my response is a personal one rather than a theological or linguistic one. You have made the comment that the words translated as “everlasting punishment” can easily be translated as everlasting torment” and that is indeed true but that does not mean that it has to be read that way.

      If I read you correctly, you are assuming that all mankind both the righteous and wicked live eternally, only the wicked live in the the lake of fire. I find that there are several references in scripture that refer to the end of the wicked.

    • “The wicked shall be no more” Ps 37:10
    • “For they (workers of iniquity) shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” Ps 37: 2
    • “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” Eze 18: 4
    • And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed. Isa 1:28
    • And of course there are many more references that appear to support the destruction rather than the tormenting of those who have rejected God.

      If we return to the verses in question, Matt 25: 46, I find that translating the words to mean everlasting punishment, an event where evil is consumed, and the result has eternal consequences, is consistent to what the rest of the Bible says about the fate of the wicked.

      • Finally someone who wants to discuss this. Yes, everyone can interrupt Scripture what ever way they want, that is their choice. But this statement is plane as can be by Jesus and is His teaching, your choice is to believe Jesus or Ellen White because that's where your teaching comes from. Eternal torment vs Eternal life. Also their are many others Scriptures which also defend the 'eternal torment' position. 'weeping and gnashing of teeth' 'worm that never dies' 'body and soul thrown into hell' (a reference to the the resurrected immortal body and soul thrown into the lake of fire)'lazarus and rich man in hell story' etc.
        God bless and be like the Bereans. Acts 17:11

        • I think that it is probably a little bit to easy to say that Seventh-day Adventists believe this particular version because of Ellen White. I am a bit short of time at the moment (grandparenting duties) to look up all the details, but I think you will probably find that other people in the early Adventist church came to the same conclusion first. And I think that their are other Christians outside Adventists that also hold similar beliefs. We are not alone on this.

          I have no doubt that the destruction of the wicked is a horrendous event. And there will be those among the wicked who are tormented by decisions that they have made. The lesson of the sin and rebellion will have eternal consequences. (I'm sorry not to have included references and texts for this comment - I am pushed for time but wanted you to know that I am still in the loop and listening :-))

          • Hi Maurice, annihilationism came from George Storr as with 'soul
            sleep' another doctrine I oppose in the SDA church. Generally speaking
            it is only cults and the SDA's that believe these doctrines (Jehovah
            witnesses, Christodelphians, Armstrong aka Church of God), and a few
            apostate church denominations also have taken on annihilationism in
            modern times. So yes, you are not alone on this, but your allies are
            mostly not Christian. My objection to the sabbath school teaching is
            that ('eternal torment' is a false doctrine) and that this claim by the
            SDA church is still unfounded and misleading to the less Biblically
            learned as they trust the teachers writing and publishing the sabbath
            school lessons are telling the truth. God bless.

            Rodney Horrell

          • Dear Rodney,
            Since it is not likely that Maurice will be able to respond to you while he is touring China, I'll respond for now. Please realize that this is a contentious subject that has a record of splitting Christian conventions right down the center, and thus it is not easily resolved in brief blog comments.

            I regret that I'm not particularly conversant with George Storr's writings, but I believe that I can safely assure you that the doctrine of conditional immortality (as we like to identify it) did not begin with him. In the interest of an enlightening discussion, it is not really helpful to term those who disagree with your understanding as belonging to a “cult.” (See our Comment Guide Lines.)

            Please keep in mind that persons such as the following have espoused the view of conditional immortality:

            Ignatius of Antioch (d. 107) wrote in his Epistle to the Magnesians,"Let us not, therefore, be insensible to His kindness. For were He to reward us according to our works, we should cease to be.” http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0105.htm

            William Tyndale (1484-1536), English Bible translator and martyr

            Martin Luther who deemed the pope's declaration “that the soul is immortal” as one of the “endless monstrosities in the Roman dunghill of decretals” when he published a defense of 41 of his propositions in 1520. (See brief post "Martin Luther and William Tyndale on the State of the Dead.")

            Oscar Cullman, a Christian theologian who taught both at the Basel Reformed Seminary an the Sorbonne. He laid out his views on the subject in The Immortality of the Soul or the Resurrection of the Body: The Witness of the New Testament (1956) (You can read it online by clicking on the link.) You can see more of his writings on the Amazon page devoted to him.

            John R. W. Stott, Rector of All Soul's church in London presented his view in Evangelical Essentials: A Liberal Evangelical Dialogue.
            in response to David Edward's position on hell.

            Edward William Fudge, who wrote The Fire That Consumes. None other than respected British theology professor F.F. Bruce, who is probably the most well-known Bible commentator of the 20th century, wrote the preface for The Fire that Consumes. In a letter to John Stott in 1989, Bruce wrote: "Annihilation is certainly an acceptable interpretation of the relevant New Testament passages."

            If you're not that into reading more, the movie about Fudge's quest, “Hell and Mr. Fudge” is really quite entertaining.

            Clark H. Pinnock taught in a number of divinity schools until his death in 2010. He wrote, “This is clearly an important issue in our discussion because belief in the natural immortality of the soul which is so widely held by Christians, although stemming more from Plato than the Bible, really drives the traditional doctrine of hell more than exegesis does. Consider the logic if souls must live forever because they are naturally immortal, the lake of fire must be their home forever and cannot be their destruction . I am convinced that the hellenistic belief in the immortality of the soul has done more than anything else (specifically more than the Bible) to give credibility to the doctrine of everlasting conscious punishment of the wicked.” (The Destruction of the Finally Impenitent – Clark H. Pinnock - See more at: http://claypeck.com/articles/the-destruction-of-the-finally-impenitent-clark-h-pinnock/#sthash.Gv7MoczO.dpuf)

            Henri Nouwen rightly wrote, “Hell is a second death. This is what the Book of Revelation says (see Revelation 21:8). Just as there is an eternal life, there is an eternal death. Eternal life is a second life; eternal death is a second death. Our first death can be a passage not only to eternal life but also to eternal death.” (The Road to Peace

            However, the bottom line is that we should not base our beliefs on what others believe but on what the Bible teaches. And, the overwhelming evidence of the Bible is that man is a living soul (Gen 2:7) who has a body (as C.S. Lewis notes), and only God has immortality. (1 Tim. 6:16) A comment on a day's lesson is not sufficient to cover the subject.

            However, you can review"Biblical Support for Annihilism," in which Preston Sprinkle does a pretty good job of laying out the basic biblical arguments for conditional immortality.

            If you should choose to respond, we would appreciate it if you would respond with specific biblical arguments, rather than wholesale condemnation of our understanding. (I will respond to your comment addressed to me a little later.)

    • Rodney,
      Maurice provides an excellent response.

      Sometimes the Bible gives an appearance of one thing, and it is only on further study it becomes clearer what is really intended. The Bible is best taken as it reads, that is in context (immediate and broader) without introducing personal feelings or preferences. Surely there are people who have honestly believed the doctrine of eternal torment and even preached it who will be saved based on their best understanding.

      However one might consider whether a text like Matthew 25:46 and a few others intended everlasting/eternal in terms of duration or effect. Jude 1:6-7 probably helps to clarify. As we know Sodom, the example according to the Bible, does not burn today.

      The path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18). So we all keep studying.

      • Hi Hugh, Jud 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

        The context is the people not the cities and this verse confirms what Jesus is teaching about 'eternal torment', these people are suffering eternal fire not the cities. God bless.

        • Rodney,
          Thanks for sharing. Given that the wicked (people of Sodom and others) are now burning eternally can you explain what happens in Revelation 20:5-9? Is there a break from eternal torment?

          Also can you help with explanation of Revelation 20:14? How is death and hell cast into the lake of fire (the second death)?

          Lastly can you clarify what 1 Timothy 6:16 and Ezekiel 18:20 are intended to communicate about the soul?

    • Rodney, it is true that the passage of Matthew 25:31-46 taken by itself clearly seems to say that the wicked will go on to "eternal torment." But we must check our interpretation against other things Jesus said, for He did not contradict Himself.

      Do you agree that to experience "eternal torment" it is necessary to be alive, i.e. conscious?

      If so, then the idea of eternal torment contradicts John 3:16 which says that Jesus came specifically so that those who believe on Him should not "perish" but have eternal life. The text does not mention two kinds of eternal life - one kind in heaven and another kind in hell. It mentions only *one* kind of eternal life - which is a *gift.* That corroborates that God is the Source and Sustainer of our lives, and that we have no life within ourselves. It is totally a gift of God, and it is given to those who "believe" on Him. Others "perish."

      What does "perish" mean? What are "perishable" goods, for instance? If you like, you can share what the word means in the original language, and we can go on from there. (There are many other reasons to believe that the dead do not continue to live eternally in hell, but we can look at one aspect at a time.)

      • Hi Inge, yes, George Storr is the originator for the SDA's, JW's, Christodelphines and Armstrongism beliefs in Annihilation-ism according to wikipedia. John Stott said "I do not dogmatise about the position to which I have come. I hold it tentatively... I believe that the ultimate annihilation of the wicked should at least be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to their eternal conscious torment." I have no problem with the SDA's believing annihilationism but I do have a problem with the quote in the sabbath school lessons saying that eternal torment is a false doctrine. My belief, which is shared by the majority of Christian denominations, is not a false doctrine as I have already proved from Scripture. Yet no comment from any SDA members in this blog has admitted that this blatant lie from the sabbath school lesson is what it is, a lie. Eternal torment is NOT a false doctrine! Matt 25:46!!! How is what Jesus saying false? Ridiculous! This SDA position from the sabbath school lesson is unjustified and this obvious dogmatism needs to be addressed as it is misleading to other biblically unlearned SDA believers. On the subject of immortality, yes Jesus is the only immortal 1 Timothy 6:16 because He is the firstfruits of the resurrection 1 Corinthians 15:20 yet we shall be like Him with immortal bodies too - 1 Corinthians 15:53,54. (The same Greek word is used in 1 Corinthians 15:53,54 as in 1 Timothy 6:16 for immortal.) Angels and demons are immortal (they can't die) but they don't have an immortal body as Jesus does. So 'eternal torment' happens for satan and his angels as well as unrepented sinners in their resurrected immortal bodies thrown into the lake of fire - Matthew 10:28. Unsavoury subject, I know but an important one to get our heads around.

        Shabbat Shalom

        Rodney Horrell

  12. Hi Inge, thanks for your comments. Yes I agree
    that 'eternal torment' means conscious state but I don't agree with the
    'eternal life' point you are making. Eternal life is a gift as you say
    but people burning in hell and then later after the White Throne
    Judgement in the lake of fire are experiencing 'eternal death' not
    'eternal life' so this is not a contradiction as 'perish' in the greek
    also can mean 'lost' so no contradiction there in what Jesus is saying.
    An example of the Greek word 'appolumi' used in John 3:16 translated
    'perish' : (Mat 10:39) He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he
    that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. Jesus clearly isn't
    asking people to annihilate their lives for him, although some could
    interpret the greek word to mean 'perish' and then go on to say that. My
    objection to the sabbath school teaching is that ('eternal torment' is a
    false doctrine) and that this claim by the SDA church is still unfounded
    and misleading to the less Biblically learned as they trust the teachers
    writing and publishing the sabbath school lessons are telling the truth.
    God bless.

    Rodney Horrell


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