In the next part of this series we shall interact in more detail with some of the objections universalism (especially Preterist Universalism) raises.
As we begin part 4 of this series we have been increasingly called upon to interact with preteristic universalism (PU), more specifically with the named advocates of PU. Up to this point we have purposely dealt in generalities, avoiding any appearance of going after any individual, so as not to be accused of "attacking" people (though the accusation has still been bandied). So, in part 4 we shall indeed interact with specific individuals, or rather the concepts of those individuals.
Before we do that, let us review our conclusion thus far and consider those conclusions as we interact with what advocates of PU have written.
CONCLUSIONS ABOUT PRETERISTIC UNIVERSALISM
It is often espoused out of emotionalism – A desire to make God love everyone.
It is often espoused from the Arminian theological perspective – That man's will plays the major part in salvation.
It often leads to ambiguity of other theological perspectives – It leads to a form of relativity. I have already addressed these issues, the reader can go back over my replies at their leisure and make up there own minds as to whether Edwards or my point was made.
Let us quote first from one of the main PU websites -- http://www.infinite-grace.com
"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." -- Universalism - An Utterance of the Heart by Steve Jones (http://www.infinite-grace.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=3
Here we are, one of the very first articles posted on the premier PU websites fully admitting that many Christians would reject universalism because why? Because when a person peruses the pages of the Bible, universalism seems to contradict Scripture.Seeming to contradict scripture and contradicting scripture are worlds apart.
The same can be said of the Preterist view, ask someone who hold to the other view and they will tell you that the preterist view seems to contradict scriptures, ask a preterist and they will tell you the other view seem to contradict scripture.
So what has been proven by Edwards quoting that the Universalist saying that Universalism SEEMS to contradict scripture? Absolutely nothing, except to show that Universalist are more honest towards their view then some of those who hold other views.
After all I did not hear Edwards state that the preterist view seem to contradict scripture, but ask one who hold the opposite view of the preterist and they will tell you preterist view seems to contradicts scripture.
What is the first proposition by the writer of the article?
"But one thing is undeniable by anyone whose heart goes out to others: We intuitively hope universalism is true."
This kind of reasoning is a non-starter, it would seem pointless to continue to read the rest of the article, but since I promised PU advocates that I would interact with what they have posted on their websites, we shall continue on.
The writer continues bolstering our first conclusion about PU.
"The kind-hearted and merciful wish 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."
What? The antithesis of this statement is that people, who believe God's justice is ALSO love, are not "kind-hearted & merciful".I have already covered emotions and shown how Jesus Christ used them also towards the lost sheep.
And as we can see Edwards again uses an emotion plea, wanting the reader to feel the injustice he feels at the implication of what he believes makes him not kind hearted and merciful.
Note: no one said Edwards was not kind hearted he just finds that because the Universalist believe a kind hearted God would not eternally torment people they are saying he is not kind hearted. Sound to me like Edwards is putting himself through hoops of his own making.
Next we see our conclusion of point 2 on PU borne out by the writer of this article:
"At this point, many will object. Rightly so, they will tell us that an ardent desire for something doesn't make it true. The church, they insist, must always be guided by Scripture only. But there is one example of a doctrine that Christians have embraced on the basis of intuition, not the Bible. It's the belief that all who die in infancy are saved. The near unanimous voice of the Church has shouted down centuries of belief in infant damnation. And this without a line of Scripture. The basis is our inner conviction. The concept of babies in hell is abhorrent to our sensibilities. The Church has, accordingly, applied universal redemption to those dying below "the age of accountability."
As you can see, the writer is appealing for the reader to abandon Scripture for "intuition", which would even confirm our point 3 of the conclusions. The entire concept of an "age of accountability" is purely an emotionally driven form of Arminianism – "God can't judge little babies – it's not fair!!!" -- Odd, I wonder how many "innocent babies" died in the Flood? Edwards missed the point here it is not the Universalist who says anything about the age of accountability it is a church doctrine that was made up because they could not believe babies would be placed in the eternal lake of fire. The Universalist did not come up with this concept of age of accountability ( we don't need it ) the churches of today like the one Edwards and you readers might belongs to came up with this idea.
So Edwards here believes the same thing as the Universalist does which is there is no such thing as the age of accountability.
The difference of course is Edwards believes babies will be eternally torment and the Universalist don't.
Does that sound like a kind loving or just God to you readers?
Do the advocates of PU really want to build their doctrine "without a line of Scripture"?Huh, I have made an answer to every scripture Edwards has brought up and even added my own scriptures.
Further in this article posted on the premier PU website we have this quote:
"There is also an inward pressure to make allowances for the heathen. The shrinking of our world has brought us into contact with people outside the Christian realm, making it more difficult than ever to sustain the old view. So unpalatable is the thought of entire cultures and civilizations perishing that even evangelicals are looking for ways to get around it."
This is just more emotionalism, looking for "ways around" Scripture! All of this only solidifies what we have been saying about PU & we haven't even moved beyond the first article example. But let us conclude with this author.Again Edwards is missing the point, it is not the Universalist that has to come up with an explanation of the heathen or babies WE DON"T NEED IT, it is the churches of today just like the ones some of you readers belong to that need to come up with another explanation, for even the churches you belong to cannot see a Just God eternally tormenting babies.
"It may be a matter of time before a new notion of heathen salvation joins infant salvation as an intuitive doctrine of the heart."
We agree, that is as more and more people begin to embrace "intuitive doctrine of the heart" (read: emotionalism) over Scripture, it is more likely to generate more PU advocates. As a side note, at the time of the writing of this part of the series, out of the 7 months of articles posted on this PU site, this article was the second most read article, so it certainly was of top interest to those who frequent that site – in case they try to claim it was simply an obscure article.
On another PU website called www.womenbeyond.com
(originally called preteristwomen.com & independent it is now considered a "sister site" of the Transmil/Presence Movement) From this site we interact with an article by Tim King of Transmil called "Comprehensive Grace" (an early code term used by PU advocates trying to distance themselves from the bad reputation of universalism).
In King's article we shall see more of our conclusions validated by his very own words. (http://www.womenbeyond.com/faq-5b.htm
"Universalism offers an alternative, but it comes at an exegetical price. For the Universalist, salvation is 100% efficacious and universal in scope. Universalism is the belief that all individuals will be saved. I finds its argumentation based upon what it feels is the inconsistency between the judgment of God regarding sin and his will for all to be saved."
Even King implies universalism is less than completely exegetical and even further he sees that universalism grapples with making God "fair" regarding judgment & salvation.Eek gad Edwards of course God has to be fair in His judgments, you do believe in a Just God do you not?
There is absolutely no problem in the Universalist view of Gods judgments, for we believe all God judgments lead to salvation.
It is the views held by those who believe in eternal torment and annihilation who have to struggle between Gods judgments and salvation.
We do not need to explain how a Just God could send babies to be eternally torment, whereas those who believe in eternal torment must go through hoops to make God look Just for barbequing them. This is the reason they have come up with the concept of the age of accountability, a concept I have already stated the Universalist does not need. A concept Edwards himself does not believe in, which leaves only one conclusion, Edwards believes the Just God of the universe is going to barbeque babies.
Do you as readers honestly believe God would be working in Justice to eternally torment babies? If so why? What has a baby done to deserve such torment?
As for having exegetical problems I don't have any when I study the scriptures and I am a Universalist, if King sees exegetical problems I can only assume they are of his own making and are not prevalent within Universalism.
So because King states he has exegetical problems Edwards again makes the assumption all Universalist have the same problems
The next quote by King is the bombshell affirmation that I've been trying to warn people about whom are teetering toward PU.
"The biggest problem with the modern Universalist movement is that it tends to marginalize Christ and Scripture regarding the salvation of mankind."WHAT? Universalism does not marginalize Christ we believe He is victorious in everything He came to do, it is those who believe Jesus Christ will lose souls to hell that marginalise Him. Saying He came and sacrificed Himself for the world, but the world cannot be saved by Him.
We keep calling for PU advocates to clearly demonstrate how someone gets "IN CHRIST", but yet they continue to tell us everyone is in Christ, even if they don't yet realize it. I have already addressed this issue also, but like I said Edwards problem here is that he is addressing Universalism via his own view as a preterist.
King further supports our conclusion that the Christian Universalism we see today grew out of the late 1800s and typically leads to psychological & sociological movements & relativism.Already addressed this issue also and have shown just how far Edwards missed the boat on this one.
"While the early proponents of Universalism had a high regard for Scripture and Christ as its revealer (1803 Universalists convention and 1870 reaffirmation), by the time of the 1st World War, Universalism was immersed in German rationalism, biblical criticism and the Social Gospel movement."
But lest anyone think I am trying to show how Tim King doesn't agree with universalism, let the reader continue.
King, as many PU have done, repackages universalism under other labels; Infinite/Comprehensive/Fulfilled/Common Grace.
"Simply stated, man is changed because his world changed. Man is reconciled to God because he no longer lives under the rule of sin and death as determined by the Mosaic world. Through the gift of Christ he dwells in a world of righteousness and life. The issue is cosmic and corporate, not individual and limited."
Here at the start of King's introduction to his brand of universalism we can see the problem –
1) he assumes that sin & death only had to do with the "Mosaic world",
2) he is advocating everyone is already corporately in Christ without really telling us how they get there.Well I can only say here Kings ideas of Universalism are not mine nor are they the views of most Universalist I have spoken to. The problem as I see it here is because both Edwards and King are preterist and so only view scripture from a preterist view.
In order for them both to come unto a clearer view of Universalist they both have to give up on their preterist view.
Universalism in it true form (In my opinion) does not have a pre or post erist, Universalism hold to the view of was, is, and is to come, and until people get rid of their pre and post erist views they will always struggle with scriptures.
Thus Edwards finds fault with Kings views or the PU views on Universalism.