The Number in Heaven vs. The Number in Hell

The Sledgehammer of Universalism: “Few will be in Heaven but Billions Will Be in Hell”

By Dr. James De Young, Senior Professor, Western Seminary, Portland, Oregon

One of the great, emotional appeals that those who embrace universal reconciliation, and universalism in general, make is to appeal to reason and emotion. They ask: How can a good God bring only a relatively few into heaven and doom all the vast majority of mankind to an everlasting place of torment, i.e., to hell?

Universalists such as Talbott, McLaren, Bell, and most recently, Paul Young in his several novels (The Shack, Crossroads, and Eve) and in his movie make this pitch. It is the pitch of UR throughout its history. And a sales pitch it is. For instead of selling their universalism by sustained, convincing arguments from the Bible (which the church has adequately refuted) and from church history (which the church has also refuted) they make a highly emotional appeal.

Paul Young is typical here, but untypical as to the extent to which he has gone to make this appeal. His language is quite inflammatory. Note his words from what he wrote in 2004 when he converted to UR. Several (at least five) times Young noted the contrast between billions in hell and a few in heaven (in “Universal Reconciliation,” pp. 22-25). Here are a couple examples. Continue reading

Warning To Pastors Re. Young’s Universalism

A Warning to Pastors about Their Uninformed Support of Young and The Shack

By Dr. James De Young, senior professor, Western Seminary, Portland, Or.

Recently I read a posting by a Southern Baptist leader from Oklahoma, Rev. Wade Burleson, who endorses Paul Young’s newest book, Lies We Believe about God. Burleson claims that Paul Young, the author of The Shack, expresses just another, optional viewpoint about the atonement. He cited Al Mohler and Paul Young as both believing in the atonement but differing only on the issue of its extent. Mohler, following Calvin, believes that the atonement, the sacrifice of Christ for sin on the cross, was limited to providing atonement for believers only. Young believes it is for all human beings. At least this is how Paul Young has explained it to pastor Burleson.

Recently, John MacMurray, a supporter of Paul Young (note that he is named on the last page of the book, Lies), argued similarly and criticizes those who fault Young’s theology.

Now my discussion is not just about what Burleson believes. For I suspect that many pastors are in the same position that Burleson is. They are influenced by their personal experience with Paul Young and give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to understanding his theology. They fail to ask the right questions. But with his most recent publication Young has erased all doubt as to what he believes and how far apart he and Mohler truly are. For Burleson and other pastors to fail to recall their evangelical theology and church history is an inexcusable failure. They are uninformed how universal reconciliation has brought havoc to the church. Continue reading

Comparison of Teachings

THE SHACK UNIVERSAL RECONCILIATION THE BIBLE
“I am love” (101); God cannot act apart from love (102); love is holy (107) “There is one God whose nature is love” (Creed, 1899) God is love (1 Jn. 4:9, 16), light (1 Jn. 1:5), holy (3:25), righteous, (2 Thess. 1:6-7)
God does not punish sin; he cures it; sin is its own punishment (120) There is no eternal punishment for sin. The fires of hell are curative and purgatorial. “Righteous judgment of God” (Rom 1:32); judgment of God is against sin (2:2,3,5-6,9); God will judge secrets by Jesus Christ (v.16; 3:6; etc.)
God “redeems” the final outcome (127) There is no everlasting hell; all repent and go to heaven. There are two ways, one leading to everlasting punishment, the other to everlasting life (Matt. 7:13ff.;25:46; Luke 16:19ff; Jn. 3:16-19).
“Judgment is not about destruction, but about setting things right” (169). There is no final judgment; but “a setting of all things right” (apokatastasis, Origen, 3rd cent.=1st prominent Christian universalist). “Jesus will take vengeance and punish with everlasting destruction” (2 Thess. 1:8-9)
There is no mention of the Devil in the description of the Fall (134-137), of his present work, or future destiny. There is no Devil confirmed in his evil choice but he will repent and go from hell to heaven. The Devil was very real to Jesus as the one who sins from the beginning, who tempted him, is the god of this world, for whom hell was prepared (Matt. 4:1ff., 25:41; 2 Cor. 4:4)
At the cross “mercy triumphs over justice because of the cross”; justice was not exercised(164-165); justice flows from love. Justice is “born of love and limited by love” (decree of 1878). The death of Christ enabled God to be just (Rom. 3:25); “judgment is without mercy to the one who shows no mercy (he shows partiality); mercy triumphs over judgment” (Jam. 2:13)
Jesus is a wonderful companion in a “circle of relationship” devoid of authority, power, prominence of anyone “filling roles is the opposite of relationships” (167). Jesus is progressively humanized. To be a Christian is to confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (Rom. 10:9-10; Col. 2:6; etc.) and “head of the church” (Col. 2:19; Eph. 4:15-16)
The whole Trinity became  incarnate and was crucified (99). UR progressively blurs the distinctions within the Trinity (creeds of 1878, 1898). The Father sent the Son (1 Jn. 4:9-10, 14) to be the Savior; the Father “smote him,” “laid on him our iniquity,” “was pleased to bruise him” (Isa. 53:4-10)
God is “reconciled to the whole world” even to those who do not believe (192) The creeds of 1878 and 1899 never mention “faith” or believing. People “are saved by grace through faith”; “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Eph. 2:8-9; Heb. 11:6; 3:12; Rom. 10:9-10).
Love does not force its will; “relationships are marked by submission” (145) God’s will to save all cannot be thwarted; all will choose to respond. “Whosoever will shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13; cf. John 3:16ff.).
“love burns away every vestige of corruption” (227) The fires of hell are corrective, disciplinary, purgatorial, not punitive. Hell is punishment and torment (Matt. 25:41; Luke 16:24-25, 28).
All people are children of God and loved equally by him (155-156) All are God’s children and loved by him. While all are the “offspring of God” only those who believe in Christ are forgiven and receive eternal life (Acts 17:22-34; Jn. 1:12; 3:16ff; 11:25; cf. 1 John 5:11-12).
There will be a new revolution of “love and kindness” when all will confess Jesus is Lord (248). In the end, all in hell repent and go to heaven, and love finally triumphs over all. The enemies of Christ become his conquered footstool (Ps. 110:1; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Heb. 1:3, 13; Rev. chs. 19-22); God the Judge is able to “save and destroy” (Jam. 4:12; cf. 2 Thess. 1:5ff.). The day of the Lord is judgment (1 Thess. 5).
Institutions are diabolical schemes; Jesus “never has, never will” create institutions including the church, government, marriage (178) UR opposes evangelical churches and revival movements. Jesus began the church (Matt. 16:18; 18:15-17) & founded it on the apostles and prophets (Eph.2:20; 4:11-16). There are regulations (1 Cor. 11-14), and officers and ordinances (1 Tim. 3; Tit. 1; 1 Cor. 11-14; 1 Pet. 5:1ff.). Christians are to assemble regularly (Heb.10:25).