The mass of men (Christians) say there is to be an end to punishment and to those who are punished.St. Basil the Great
There are very many in our day, who though not denying the Holy Scriptures , do not believe in endless torments. -- Augustine (354-430 A.D.)
For the wicked there are punishments, not perpetural, however, lest the immortality prepared for them should be a disadvantage, but they are to be purified for a brief period according to the amount of malice in their works. They shall therefore suffer punishment for a short space, but immortal blessedness having no end awaits them...the penalties to be inflicted for their many and grave sins are very far surpassed by the magnitude of the mercy to be showed to them. --Diodore of Tarsus, 320-394 A.D.
And God showed great kindness to man, in this, that He did not suffer him to continue being in sin forever; but as it were, by a kind of banishement, cast him out of paradise in order that, having punishment expiated within an appointed time, and having been disciplined, he should afterwards be recalled...just as a vessel, when one being fashioned it has some flaw, is remoulded or remade that it may become new and entire; so also it happens to man by death. For he is broken up by force, that in the resurrection he may be found whole; I mean spotless, righteous and immortal. -- Theophilus of Antioch (168 A.D.)
Wherefore also he drove him out of paradise and removed him far from the tree of life, not because He envied him the tree of life, as some dare assert, but because He pitied him and desired that he should not be immortal and the evil interminable and irremediable. --Iraneaus of Lyons (182 A.D.)
T hese, if they will, may go Christ's way, but if not let them go their way. In another place perhaps they shall be baptized with fire, that last baptism, which is not only painful, but enduring also; which eats up, as if it were hay, all defiled matter, and consumes all vanity and vice. -- Gregory of Nazianzeu, Bishop of Constantinople. (330 to 390 A.D.) Oracles 39:19
The Word seems to me to lay down the doctrine of the perfect obliteration of wickedness, for if God shall be in all things that are, obviously wickedness shall not be in them. For it is necessary that at some time evil should be removed utterly and entirely from the realm of being.St. Macrina the Blessed
In the end and consummation of the Universe all are to be restored into their original harmonious state, and we all shall be made one body and be united once more into a perfect man and the prayer of our Savior shall be fulfilled that all may be one. -- St. Jerome, 331-420
For it is evident that God will in truth be all in all when there shall be no evil in existence, when every created being is at harmony with iteself and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; when every creature shall have been made one body. --Gregory of Nyssa, 335-390
The wicked who have committed evil the whole period of their lives shall be punished till they learn that, by continuing in sin, they only continue in misery. And when, by this means, they shall have been brought to fear God, and to regard Him with good will, they shall obtain the enjoyment of His grace. -- Theodore of Mopsuestia, 350-428
We can set no limits to the agency of the Redeemer to redeem, to rescue, to discipline in his work, and so will he continue to operate after this life. Clement of Alexandria
Do not suppose that the soul is punished for endless eons (apeirou aionas) in Tartarus. Very properly, the soul is not punished to gratify the revenge of the divinity, but for the sake of healing. But we say that the soul is punished for an aionion period (aionios) calling its life and its allotted period of punishment, its aeon. -- Olnmpiodorus (AD 550)
Wherefore, that at the same time liberty of free-will should be left to nature and yet the evil be purged away, the wisdom of God discovered this plan; to suffer man to do what he would, that having tasted the evil which he desired, and learning by experience for what wretchedness he had bartered away the blessings he had, he might of his own will hasten back with desire to the first blessedness ...either being purged in this life through prayer and discipline, or after his departure hence through the furnace of cleansing fire.--Gregory of Nyssa (332-398 A.D.)
That in the world to come, those who have done evil all their life long, will be made worthy of the sweetness of the Divine bounty. For never would Christ have said, "You will never get out until you hqave paid the last penny" unless it were possible for us to get cleansed when we paid the debt. --Peter Chrysologus, 435
I know that most persons understand by the story of Nineveh and its king, the ultimate forgiveness of the devil and all rational creatures. --St. Jerome
Our Lord is the One who delivers man [all men], and who heals the inventor of evil himself. -- Gregory of Nyssa (332-398 A.D.), leading theologian of the Eastern Church
While the devil thought to kill One [Christ], he is deprived of all those cast out of hades, and he [the devil] sitting by the gates, sees all fettered beings led forth by the courage of the Saviour.--Athanasius , the Great Father of Orthodoxy
Our Lord descends, and was shut up in the eternal bars, in order that He might set free all who had been shut up... The Lord descended to the place of punishment and torment, in which was the rich man, in order to liberate the prisoners. -- Jerome
In the liberation of all no one remains a captive! At the time of the Lord's passion the devil alone was injured by losing all the of the captives he was keeping. --Didymus, 370 AD
While the devil imagined that he got a hold of Christ, he really lost all of those he was keeping. --St. Chrysostom, 398 AD
Stronger than all the evils in the soul is the Word, and the healing power that dwells in him, and this healing He applies, according to the will of God, to everyman. The consummation of all things is the destruction of evilto quote Zephaniah: My determination to gather the nations, that I am assemble the kings, to pour upon them mine indignation, even say all my fierce anger, for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consentConsider carefully the promise, that all shall call upon the Name of the Lord, and serve him with one consent.Origen (185 to 254 A.D.) He founded a school at Caesarea, and is considered by historians to be one of the great theologians and exegete of the Eastern Church.
The nations are gathered to the Judgment, that on them may be poured out the wrath of the fury of the Lord, and this in pity and with a design to heal. in order that every one may return to the confession of the Lord, that in Jesus' Name every knee may bow, and every tongue may confess that He is Lord. All God's enemies shall perish, not that they cease to exist, but cease to be enemies.Jerome (340 to 420 A.D), commenting on Zephaniah 3:8-10
Mankind, being reclaimed from their sins, are to be subjected to Christ in he fullness of the dispensation instituted for the salvation of all. Didymus the Blind
So then, when the end has been restored to the beginning, and the termination of things compared with their commencement, that condition of things will be re-established in which rational nature was placed, when it had no need to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; so that when all feeling of wickedness has been removed, and the individual has been purified and cleansed, He who alone is the one good God becomes to him "all," and that not in the case of a few individuals, or of a considerable number, but He Himself is "all in all." And when death shall no longer anywhere exist, nor the sting of death, nor any evil at all, then verily God will be "all in all" --Origen, De Prinicipiis, 3.6.3 . (Origen founded a school at Caesarea, and is considered by historians to be one of the great theologians and exegete of the Eastern Church.)
The Son "breaking in pieces" His enemies is for the sake of remolding them, as a potter his own work; as Jeremiah 18;6 says: i.e., to restore them once again to their former state. --Eusebius of Caesarea (265 to 340 A.D). Bishop of Caesarea
Our Savior has appointed two kinds of resurrection in the Apocalypse. 'Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection,' for such come to grace without the judgment. As for those who do not come to the first, but are reserved unto the second resurrection, these shall be disciplined until their appointed times, between the first and the second resurrection.-- Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (340-397 A.D.)
We think, indeed, that the goodness of God, through His Christ, may recall all His creatures to one end, even His enemies being conquered and subdued.... for Christ must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. --Origen (185 to 254 A.D.) He founded a school at Caesarea, and is considered by historians to be one of the great theologians and exegete of the Eastern Church.
For it is needful that evil should some day be wholly and absolutely removed out of the circle of being. --Gregory of Nyssa (332-398 A.D.), leading theologian of the Eastern Church.
In the present life God is in all, for His nature is without limits, but he is not all in all. But in the coming life, when mortality is at an end and immortality granted, and sin has no longer any place, God will be all in all. For the Lord, who loves man, punishes medicinally, that He may check the course of impeity. --Theodoret the Blessed, 387-458
When death shall no longer exist, or the sting of death, nor any evil at all, then truly God will be all in all. -- Origen
All men are Christ's, some by knowing Him, the rest not yet. He is the Savior, not of some and the rest not. For how is He Savior and Lord, if not the Savior and Lord of all?Clement of Alexandria
God forbid that I should limit the time for acquiring faith to the present life. In the depths of the divine mercy there may be opportunity to win it in the future state. Letter to Hansen von Rechenberg, 1523. (Luther's Briefe, ii. 454.)
Bishop Timothy Ware (of the Greek Orthodox Church) wrote:
Hell exists as a final possibility, but several of the Fathers have none the less believed that in the end all will be reconciled to God....we must not despair of anyone's salvation, but must long and pray for the reconciliation of all without exception. No one must be excluded from our loving intercession. "What is a merciful heart?" asked Isaac the Syrian. "It is a heart that burns with love for the whole of creation, for humans, for birds, for the beasts, for the demons, for all creatures." Gregory of Nyssa said that Christians may legitimately hope even for the redemption of the devil. (The Orthodox Church, New Edition., p. 262)
...On the Nature of Evil
Evil, being negative, as is punishment, neither can stand eternal. John Scotus Erigena (Irish church leader, 875)
Reason teaches us that Good having a divine Principle, ought to be stronger than Evil, which is essentially nothing but Disorder and Depravation; that Evil putting man into a State of Violence, that State cannot continue for ever; that this State of Violence supposes its contrary in Man, struggling against itthat God being the God of Order, and the undoubted Sovereign of the Universe, can never consent that Disorder and Confusion should prevail there for ever. --Marie Huber, Swiss Protestant Theologian, The World Unmaskd, 1736
How could the Bible possibly speak of the perfect victory of God our Creator who loves righteousness and cannot bear evil, if that victory really means that He cannot bring His own creatures at last to hate evil as He hates it, but must confirm multitudes, indeed the majority of them, in their choice of evil for ever and ever?... What sort of victory is it to be able only to subdue evil and prevent it harming any but those who choose it, and to be unable to bring human souls to abominate it and desire to forsake it, so that the evil itself ceases to exist?... Hannah Hurnard
To say that sin, assuming it to be opposed to God, has the power of creating a world antagonistic to God as everlasting as He is, attributes to it a power equal at least to His; since according to this view, souls whom God willed to be saved, and for whom Christ died, are held in bondage under the power of sin for ever; and all this in opposition to the Word of God, which says that God's Son was "manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil..." --Andrew Jukes, The Restitution of all Things, p114
To go on punishing for ever, simply for punishment's sake, shocks every sentiment of justice. And the case is so much worse when the punishment is really the prolongation of evil, when it is but making evil endless. --Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p 49
The almighty maker of souls has various methods of restoring them to the divine image; it is impossible his power can fail; it is impossible for his image to be entirely obliterated; it is impossible that misery, sin, and discord can be eternal! Alison Rutherford Cockburn, author of Flowers of the Forest
Almighty power, wisdom and love cannot be eternally frustrated in his absolute and ultimate designs; therefore God will at last pardon and re-establish in happiness all lapsed beings. Chevalier Ramsey (1686-1743)
Though a fall has been permitted, evil shall have an end, and the creature through God's wondrous wisdom even by its fall be raised to a higher glory. Scripture distinctly teaches that, "the creature was made subject to vanity, not by its own will, but through Him who subjected the same in hope; because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."--Andrew Jukes, the Restitution of all Things, p 113
Here is where I now stand. I believe in both heaven and hell. I do not believe they are equally balanced opposites going on forever. Such would suggest a Zoroastrian dualism, a tie game between God and the devil. Emphatically, NO! The darkness can never overcome the light! --Randy Klassen, "What Does the Bible Really Say About Hell?"
It becomes morally impossible for all things to be both subject to Jesus Christ and yet sinfully rebellious against Him at the same time! --Charles P. Schmitt, "The Unending Triumph of Jesus Christ"
If but one soul were to remain in the power of the devil, death, or hell, to all endless eternity, then the devil, death, and hell would have something to boast of against God. Thus death would not be entirely swallowed up in victory, but always keep something of his sting, and hell would ever more be able to make a scorn of those who would say, 'O hell, where is, your victory?'- The Everlasting Gospel -- Paul Seigvolck, 1753.
The current Evangelical Theology involves in its system belief in the deathlessness of sin, the indestructibility of error, and permanence of evil. That though there was a time in the history of the universe when sin in any shape or form did not exist, when no cry of pain or sense of guilt darkened the all-extensive bliss and holiness of creation, yet since sin has once effected an entrance into such a scene, it has come in NEVER TO GO OUT AGAIN, indestructible, unconquerable, ineradicable, endless. Absolute happiness and sinlessness have forever vanished like the phantom of a dream. The 'eternal state' is a universe endlessly finding room for myriads of souls rolling and writhing in the burning agonies of ceaseless flame, eternally sinful, vile and morally hideous. It pictures the "final perfection" yet to be attained as having room for a vast cesspool of immoral and degraded beings, continually existing in opposition to God. --V. Gelesnoff
JUSTICE REQUIRES that sin should be put an end to. --George MacDonald
...On The Restoration of All Things
All beings exist through the same birth as the Son, and therefore shall they all come again to their original, that is God the Father. Johann Tauler (AD 1290-1361).
As for the purification of all human nature, I fully believe it, either in this world, or some after ages. William Law
It appears to me that there is a deed that the Holy Trinity shall do on the last day, and when that deed shall be done and how it shall be done is unknown to all creatures under Christ, and shall be until it has been done. -- This is the great deed ordained by our Lord God from eternity, treasured up and hidden in his blessed breast, only known to himself, and by this deed he shall make all things well; for just as the Holy Trinity made all things from nothing, so the Holy Trinity shall make all well that is not well. Julian of Norwich (13th Century Christian Mystic)
The Father willed through Christ to reconcile the universe once more unto Himself, and so to restore all things whatsoever and wheresoever they be. Dr. John Lightfoot on Col. 1:19,20.
In 1 Corinthians 15 we read of the consummation of His purposethat is, the finality, the conclusion of that purpose, when Jesus Himself having subjected all things unto Himself is Himself also subjected unto the Father, that God may be all in all. There will not be a dissenting voice nor rebellious heart. The will of God has been received, and as a result of the will of God having been received there is no longer a necessity for a Savior, and Jesus Christ in His capacity of Savior of the world has been completed. His mission is completed. John G. Lake "The Habitation of God" (p 183)
The redemption of men from every tribe, tongue, people and race is far from being the whole story of Christ's work of atonement as John understands it. For he hears the choirs of heaven joined by the voices of the whole creation in a final outburst of praise. This should not be dismissed as mere hyperbole. John knows only too well that there is much on earth and under the earth and in the sea which has no inclination to join in the worship of Christ, and that these hostile elements are represented even in heaven. But such is his confidence in the universality of of Christ's achievement that his vision cannot stop short of universal response. He agrees with Paul that God has already in the Cross reconciled the whole universe to himself (Col 1:20), and that to make His act of amnesty and reconciliation known to the world is the royal and priestly task of the church, the success of which is already anticipated in the heavenly Amen. --George Bradford Caird, Senior Tutor of Mansfield College, Oxford
And oh! there lives within my heart
God must be accomplishing a design invariable and without the shadow of turning, the design to save every one of us everlastingly. Florence Nightingale
God will seek us -- how long? Until he finds us. And when he's found the last little shriveling rebellious soul and has depopulated hell, then death will be swallowed up in victory, and Christ will turn over all things to the Father that he may be all and in all. Then every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. --Clarence Jordan - (founder of Koinonia Community, author of Cotton Patch Gospel)
I trust that in Jesus Christ shall all the families of the earth be blessed, by being yet connected together in a better world, where every tie that bound heart to heart in this state of existence shall be far beyond our present conception, more enduring. Robert Burns, 1789
The restoration of the whole human race to purity and happiness. This benevolent doctrinewhich not only goes far as to solve the great problem of moral and physical evil, but which would, if received more generally, tend to soften the spirit of uncharitableness, so fatally prevalent among Christian sectswas maintained by that great light of the early church, Origen, and has not wanted supporters among more modern theologians. Thomas Moore 1779-1852
The Holy Spirit establishes the righteousness of heaven in the midst of the unrighteousness of earth, and will not stop or stay until all that is dead has been brought back to life and a new world has come into being.--Karl Barth
If you want the full and eternal truth, you have to go back to foundational beginnings. Are hell and sin and Gods judgments anywhere in Genesis 1 or 2? No. They arent there. God did not intend for them to be there. His intent was perfection. Thus I believe that such a foundation leads to the inescapable conclusion that perfection will again reign throughout the universe, and that sin (and hell) will ultimately be defeated. How else will Gods original intent ultimately be accomplished? Michael Phillips
In each dispensation, God has a definite and different immediate purpose, all working toward the ultimate purpose of ridding the universe of all rebellion, so that all free moral agents will be willingly and eternlly subject to God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost, as originally planned, with God all in all forever. --Finis Dake, "Notes on Genesis" in Dake's Bible
Apokatastasis (the restoration of all things) represents an ultimate consequence of doctrine of the aeons, and as such a theological necessity. Walter Kunneth
This sublime revelation of the extent of redemption as commuensurate with the whole creation is brought out especially in...Philippians 2:9-10, Colossians 1:20-21. The solitary prisoner, Paul, could see farthest into the glory of the Divine Counsels. --B.F. Westcott, of Westcott and Hort
The Spirit of the Lord says within my soul, that the kingly nature of the Son of God is purposed to be revealed in the nature of every man, that Christs kingliness may be prevalent in all the world and govern the heart of every man, even as it governs the heart of those who know Him and have entered. John G. Lake, "Reality" (p 122)
The aim of redemption is to let Christ have the pre-eminence in all things. In order to have this first place in all things, Christ must first have the pre-eminence in us. And why? Because we are the firstfruits of all creation (James 1:18). After we are in subjection to Christ, all other things will follow in subjection... --Watchman Nee, "God's Plan and the Overcomers"
Isaiah holds out two hopes for mankind. One is immediate, partial, historical: A remnant will return! The other is distant, final, eschatological: the transformation of the world at the end of days. --Abraham Joshua Heschel
In the perspective of the future we have stopped short of the far-off goal, and explained the finale of God's purposes by the episode or process on the way thereto. --A.E. Saxby
Why good men should be so averse to admit it, I know not; - into their own hearts at least, however they might object to its promulgation among the bulk of mankind. But perhaps the world is not ripe for it yet. I have frequently thought that since it has pleased God to leave it in darkness so long respecting this particular truth, and often to use 'such doubtful language as to admit of such a general misconception thereupon, he must have some good reason for it. We see how liable men are to yield to the temptations of the passing hour; how little the dread of future punishment - how still less the promise of future reward can avail to make them forbear and wait; and if so many thousands rush into destruction with (as they suppose) the prospect of Eternal Death before their eyes, - what might not the consequence be, if that prospect were changed for one of a limited season of punishment, far distant and unseen, - however protracted and terrible it might be? I thankfully cherish this belief; I honour those who hold it; and I would that all men had the same view of man's hopes and God's unbounded goodness as he has given to us, if it might be had with safety. Only let our zeal be tempered with discretion, and while we labour, let us humbly look to God who is able and certain to bring his great work to perfection in his own good time and manner. Anne Bronte on universalism, Haworth, 30th December 1848 to the Reverend David Thom
Prophecy always moves in a polarity, yet the tension of yes and no, of anger and love, of doom and redemption, is often dissolved in the certainty of Gods eternal attachment. Abraham Joshua Heschel
If the Divine spark in the soul cannot be destroyed, then we need despair of no sinner... Since God created men to have fellowship with Himself, they cannot for ever be separated from Him... After long wandering, and by devious paths, sinful man will at last return to Him in whose Image he was created; for this is his final destiny. Sadhu Sundar Singh
I want to encourage you, beloved. The Word of God portrays a time and conception of the purpose of Jesus Christ when the world, being redeemed unto Christ, no longer needs the redeeming merit of the Savior. So Jesus, having subjected all things unto Himself, is Himself also subjected unto the Father, that God may be all in all. God is not all in all, and never will be all in all, until the will of God rules in the heart of every man, in the soul of every man, until the redemption of Jesus Christ in its great and ultimate purpose becomes a reality, a finality. John G. Lake "The Habitation of God" (p 184)
Restoration is not restoring man so that man can have a better sense of himself, but restoration is restoring God in a people. Man is not being restored, God is being restored in man! --Dr. Kay Fairchild
God created all things and mankind for the sake of manifesting His glory. Today, believers are manifesting little somethings of Christ. But one day, all things shall manifest Christ because the whole universe shall be filled with Him. In creating all things, God desires that all things will manifest Christ. --Watchman Nee, "God's Plan and the Overcomers"
Some misguided individuals have argued that the reconciliation of all "things" does not mean men or beings. But pray, tell me, what "things" in the whole vast universe, apart from men and other creatures, are described in the Word of God as "enemies" of God, "alienated" from God, "blasphemers" of God, "haters" of God, etc. in need of reconciliation? --J. Preston Eby
The only reasonable answer to the issue of moral justice raised by the fact of the lostness of teeming billions of humanity (and thank God, the answer is as soundly scriptural as it is reasonable), lies the unending triumph of Jesus Christ in the subjecting of all things everywhere to our God. --Charles P. Schmitt, "The Unending Triumph of Jesus Christ"
"Am I a pessimist? Not at all. I am convinced that the history of the human race, no matter how tragic, will ultimately lead to the Kingdom of God. I am convinced that all the works of humankind will be reintegrated in the work of God, and that each of us, no matter how sinful, will ultimately be saved." --Jacques Ellul
And thus, on the grand and final consummation, when every will shall be subdued to the will of good to all, our Jesus will take in hand the resigned chordage of our hearts, he will tune them as so many instruments, and will touch them with the finger of his own divine feelings. Then shall the wisdom, the might, and goodness of our God, become the wisdom, the might, the goodness of all His intelligent creatures; the happiness of each shall multiply and overflow in the wishes and participation of the happiness of all; the universe shall begin to sound with the song of congratulation, and all voices shall break forth in an eternal hallelujah, of praise transcending praise, and glory transcending glory, to God and the Lamb. Henry Brook, Fool of Quality 1720
If God loves all and is omnipotent then all must be saved. Nels Ferri: If he can save all men, then he will save all men.-- William Dalton, Salvation and Damnation
The glory of God, and of His Son Jesus Christ, as manifested in the final holiness and happiness of all men, is the central sun of Universalism. -- Thomas Whittemore, 1840
Orthodoxy is more cosmic than Western Christianity. Neither Catholicism nor Protestantism sufficiently expresses the cosmic nature of the Church, as the Body of Christ. Western Christianity is primarily anthropological. But the Church is also the Christianized cosmos; within her, the whole created world is subject to the effect of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Christ's appearance has a cosmic, cosmogonic significance; it signifies somehow a new creation, a new day of the world's creation. The juridical understanding of redemption as a carrying out of a judicial process between God and man, is somewhat foreign to Orthodoxy. It is closer to an ontological and a cosmic understanding of the appearance of a new creation and a renewed mankind. The idea of Theosis was the central and correct idea, the Deification of man and of the whole created world. Salvation is that Deification. And the whole created world, the whole cosmos is subject to Deification. Salvation is the enlightenment and transfiguration of creation and not a juridical justification. Orthodoxy turns to the mystery of the RESURRECTION as the summit and the final aim of Christianity Thus the central feast in the life of the Orthodox Church is the feast of Pascha, Christ's Glorious Resurrection. The shining rays of the Resurrection permeates the Orthodox world. The feast of the Resurrection has an immeasurably greater significance in the Orthodox liturgy than in Catholicism where the apex is the feast of the Birth of Christ. In Catholicism we primarily meet the crucified Christ and in Orthodoxy - the Resurrected Christ. The way of the Cross is man's path but it leads man, along with the rest of the world, towards the Resurrection. The mystery of the Crucifixion may be hidden behind the mystery of the Resurrection. But the mystery of the Resurrection is the utmost mystery of Orthodoxy. The Resurrection mystery is not only for man, it is cosmic. The East is always more cosmic than the West. The West is anthropocentric; in this is its strength and meaning, but also its limitation. The spiritual basis of Orthodoxy engenders a desire for universal salvation. Salvation is understood not only as an individual one but a collective one, along with the whole world. Such words of Thomas Aquinas could not have emanated from Orthodoxy's bosom, who said that the righteous person in paradise will delight himself with the suffering of sinners in hell. Nor could Orthodoxy proclaim the teaching about predestination, not only in the extreme Calvinist form but in the form imagined by the Blessed Augustine. The greater part of Eastern teachers of the Church, from Clement of Alexandria to Maximus the Confessor, were supporters of Apokatastasis, of universal salvation and resurrection. And this is characteristic of (contemporary) Russian religious thought. Orthodox thought has never been suppressed by the idea of Divine justice and it never forgot the idea of Divine love. Chiefly - it did not define man from the point of view of Divine justice but from the idea of transfiguration and Deification of man and cosmos. --Nicholas A. Berdyaev, "THE TRUTH OF ORTHODOXY"
If the decision be made to turn solely on the
literal meaning of the scriptures, I have no hesitation whatever in
declaring my strong conviction that the Universalist and Annihilist
theories have far more evidence of this sort for them than the
popular view. It seems to me that if many passages of Scripture be
taken quite literally, universal restoration is unequivocally
taught, but that endless torments are nowhere clearly taught--the
passages which appear to teach that doctrine being either obviously
figurative or historically misunderstood. --Canon F.W.
...On The Power of the Cross
If we really believe in one God and in the Jesus Christ, in what He was and what He did, truly shows us what Gods character and His attitude toward men are like, then it is very difficult to think ourselves out of a belief that somehow His love will find a way of bringing all men into unity with Him. C.H. Dodd
The notion of the popular creed, (i.e. that God is in the Bible detailing the story of His own defeat, how sin has proved too strong for Him), seems wholly unfounded. Assuredly the Bible is not the story of sin, deepening into eternal ruin, of God's Son, worsted in His utmost effort. It is from the opening to the close the story of grace stronger than sin -- of life victorious over every form of death -- of God triumphant over evil. --Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant
...I believe the triumph of the Christ began at the cross and ends only when THE RACE, like Himself, has received from God the father, through him, the grace, power and glory of God that makes them sons of God like Himself. It is a long way between the cross of Calvary and the throne of God, but that is the way that Jesus traveled and that is the course for every other soul of man. --John G. Lake "The Second Crowning" (p 203)
Christianity, bless God, is the ringing triumph that began on the morning of the Resurrection and ends when THE RACE of man has come to the understanding, knowledge and consciousness of God Himself. --John G. Lake "The Second Crowning" (p. 204)
The salvation of the whole human race is what God proposed in the creation. It is what Christ came into the world to effect, and for the accomplishment of which he was given all needed power in heaven and earth. To this end he died the death of the cross, and thus tasted death for every man; and I submit that such self-sacrificing love cannot suddenly cool, or readily give over to endless torment souls for which it thus willingly suffered. I should be ashamed of myself, if, believing in God and in Christ, I still feared their ultimate failure in this great work of redemption, whose history fills the Bible -- Thomas J. Sawyer - 1880
If Christ died for all, as Mr. Wesley taught, it will soon appear a necessary consequence that all shall be saved. Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, 1745-1813
I began to feel that the salvation in which I had been rejoicing was, after all a very limited and a very selfish salvation, and, as such, unworthy of the Creator who had declared so emphatically that His "tender mercies are over all His works," and above all unworthy of the Lord Jesus Christ, who came into the world for the sole and single purpose of saving the world. I could not believe that His life and death for us could be meant to fall so far short of remedying the evil that He came on purpose to remedy, and I felt that it must be impossible that there could be any short-coming in the salvation He had provided. The Bible says, "As in Adam all die -- even so in Christ should all be made alive." As was the first, even so was the second. The "all" in one case could not in fairness mean less than the "all" in the other. I saw therefore that the remedy must necessarily be equal to the disease, the salvation must be as universal as the fall.Hannah Whitall Smith
(Jesus) will, in the ages to come, put an end to sin, finish transgressions, and bring in everlasting life unto all lapsed being, as it stands recorded in the scriptures. Christopher Marshall, d. 1797
Until the last lost person comes home (referring to the parable of the prodigal son), God's mind and body are nailed to the cross. --Andrew Sung Park, in his essay, The God Who Needs Our Salvation
God...held council with His Son even before the foundation of the world so as to have His Son come down and go to the cross in order to reconcile all things back to himself, rescue fallen mankind, and resolve the rebellion of Satan. --Watchman Nee, "God's Plan and the Overcomers"
The Spirit of the Lord says within my soul that: The universal sound of praise in which angels and men, all creatures in the earth, the sea, and the sky will eventually join, comes because the consciousness of the overcoming Christ has dawned upon them and possessed their soul. John G. Lake, "As He Is, So Are We In This World" p 60
Yes, Christ stands at the door and knocks; but in the power of his resurrection, he makes his way into locked rooms. Tom Greggs, Jesus College, Univ. of Cambridge
...On Eternal Punishment
Whensoever any such criminal in hell shall be found making such a sincere and mournful address to the righteous and merciful judge of all; if at the same time he is truly humble and penitent for his past sins and is grieved at his heart for having offended his maker, and melts into sincere repentance, I cannot think that a God of perfect equity and rich mercy will continue such a creature under his vengeance , but rather that the perfections of God will contrive a way for escape, though God has not given us any revelation or discovery of such special grace as this. I grant that the eternity of God himself before the world began, or after its consummation, has something in it so immense qand so incomprehensible, that inmy most mature thoughts, I do not choose to enter into those infinite anysses; nor do I think we ought, usually, when we speak concerning creatures, to affirm positively, that their existence shall be equal to that of the blessed God, especially with regard to the duration of their punishment. Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
...On Brotherly Love
And what shall we say of the man Christ Jesus? Who, that loves his brother, would not, upheld by the love of Christ, and with a dim hope that in the far-off time there might be some help for him, arise from the company of the blessed, and walk down into the dismal regions of despair, to sit with the last, the only unredeemed, the Judas of his race, and be himself more blessed in the pains of hell, than in the glories of heaven? Who, in the midst of the golden harps and the white wings, knowing that one of his kind, one miserable brother in the old-world-time when men were taught to love their neighbor as themselves, was howling unheeded far below in the vaults of the creation, who, I say, would not feel that he must arise, that he had no choice, that, awful as it was, he must gird his loins, and go down into the smoke and the darkness and the fire, traveling the weary and fearful road into the far country to find his brother? -- who, I mean, that had the mind of Christ, that had the love of the Father?" George MacDonald
My prayers were comprehensive. My family, my friends, my fellow-citizens, my enemies, all Christians, all men were included in them. I flew to the most distant seas; I penetrated into the deepest mines and dungeons. I embraced in my heart all that is called man, present and future times and nations; the dead, the damned, yea, Satan himself; I presented them all to God, with the warmest wishes that he would have mercy upon all.It is enough, my creator, that thou art love. Love seeketh not her own; thou seeketh the happiness of all, and shouldest thou not then find what thou seekest? Johann Kasper Lavater, 1741-1801
The Saints help in the work of saving souls in hell, because there can be no idleness in heavenThose in hell will ultimately be brought to heaven... Sadhu Sundar Singh
I am one of those who could not think themselves perfectly happy, did they know any Beings must be eternally miserable. --Marie Huber, 1736
To hope for all souls is imperative; and it is quite tenable that their salvation is inevitable. G.K. Chesterson, Orthodoxy
There is a Principle which is pure, placed in the human Mind, which in different Places and Ages hath had different Names; it is, however, pure, and proceeds from God. It is deep, and inward, confined to no Forms of Religion, nor excluded from any, where the Heart stands in perfect Sincerity. In whomsoever this takes Root and grows, of what Nation soever, they become Brethren."--John Woolman on Universalism (d. 1772) The Essays of John Woolman (London, 1922), p. 180.
It must be everybody or nobody. Abraham Lincoln, when questioned who would ultimately be in Heaven.
If I were Jesus Christ, I would save Judas. Victor Hugo (Life, p 154)
The eternity of the "punishment of hell" (of the "fire"), asserted in some New Testament metaphorical expressions, remains subject to God and to his will. Individual New Testament texts, which are not balanced by others, suggest the consummation of a salvation of all, an all-embracing mercy. --Hans Kung, Swiss Theologian
Look then, on the erring sons of men as on wretched prisoners bound in fetters for a time; but recollect that they are and must be eternal as well as you, and that in the endless ages of eternity they will be restored to order. This faith, which is sincerely mine, makes me see things in very different lights from what others do, and perhaps is the key to my whole conduct. Clean and unclean are welcome to my pity; I know that with all our thousand errors flesh is heir to, we will one day be all right. Alison Rutherford Cockburn, author of Flowers of the Forest
Strange! that no one has ever been persecuted by the church for believing God bad, while hundreds of millions have been destroyed for thinking him good. The orthodox church will never forgive the Universalist for saying, "God is love." It has always been considered one of the very highest evidences of true and undefiled religion that all men, women and children deserve eternal damnation. It has always been heresy to say, "God will at last save all." --Robert Ingersoll
To me, the precepts which God has given are in their way as strong a witness as His direct promises...Shall God do that which He abhors? Shall he command that bondmen and debtors be freed, and yet Himself keep those who are in worse bondage and under a greater debt in endless imprisonment? Shall he bid us to care for widows and orphans, and Himself forget this widowed nature, which has lost its Head and Lord, and those poor orphan souls which cannot cry, Abba, Father? Shall He limit punishment to forty stripes, "lest thy brother seem vile," and Himself inflict far more upon those who though fallen still are His children? Is Christ not the faithful Israelite who fulfills the law; and shall He break it in any one of these particulars? Shall he say "Forgive seventy times seven," and Himself not forgive except in this short life? Shall He command us to "overcome evil with good," and Himself, the Almighty, be overcome of evil? Shall He judge those who leave the captives unvisited, and Himself leave captives in a worse prison for ever unvisited? Does He not again and again appeal to our own natural feelings of mercy, as witnessing "how much more" we may expect a larger mercy from our "Father which is in Heaven?" --Andrew Jukes, The Restitution of All Things, p 93-94
...On the Nature of God's Judgments
It is love alone in the holy Deity that will allow no peace to the wicked, nor ever cease its judgments till every sinner is forced to confess that it is good for him that he has been in trouble, and thankfully own that not the wrath but the love of God has plucked out that right eye, cut off that right band, which he ought to have done but would not do for himself and his own salvation. --William Law
It is claimed that it takes the iron out of Christianity because it removes the threat. No longer can the sinner be dangled over the pit of hell. No longer can what Burns called the hangmens whip of the fear of Hell be threateningly cracked over the sinner. But the kind of universalism in which I believe has not simply obliterated hell and said that everything will be all right for everyone; it has stated grimly that, if you will have it so, you can go to Heaven via Hell. William Barclay
A belief in Gods universal love to all his creatures, and that he will finally restore all those of them that are miserable to happiness, is a polar truth. It leads to truths upon all subjects, more especially upon the subject of government. It establishes the equality of mankind it abolishes the punishment of death for any crime and converts jails into houses of repentance and reformation. Benjamin Rush
It were better to have no opinion of God at all than such an opinion as is unworthy of him; for the one is unbelief, the other is contumely; and certainly superstition is the reproach of the Deity. Plutarch saith well to that purpose, Surely, saith he, I had rather a great deal men should say there was no such man at all as Plutarch, than that they should say that there was one Plutarch that would eat his children as soon as they were born; as the poets speak of Saturn. And as the contumely is greater towards God, so the danger is greater towards men. Sir Francis Bacon, (1561-1626) Essays of Superstition
The assertion of Gods universal mercy is more powerful to affect the hearts of the most hardend than the terrifying pictures of the rigorous judgments of God. Pierre Cuppe on universal restoration (Heaven Open to All Men ) 1743
Let no man take offense at the opening of this mystery as though it brought anything new into religion, for it has nothing new in it; it alters no point of Gospel doctrine, but only sets each article of the old Christian faith upon its true ground. Every number of destroyed sinners must, through the all-working, all-redeeming love of God, which never ceaseth, come at last to know that they had lost and have again such a God of love as this. William Law, Way to Divine Knowledge
hell must surely be the terrible experience of being allowed to reap the full harvest of sin and its awful fruits of misery, ruin and torment. Holy Love would so thankfully spare every single soul such an experience, but if there is no other way by which men can be brought to hate and abominate sin and to turn from it willingly and for ever, then they will be permitted to reap that awful harvest. Surely all whom Holy Love permits to pass through that appalling experience will learn at last to turn from evil with utmost horror and loathing, safe for ever after from any future temptation to plunge into it again! Hannah Hurnard
It is claimed that universalism does away with free will...what is forgotten is that God has eternity to work in. It is not a question of God, as it were, rushing a man into heaven. It is a question of God using an eternity of persuasion and appeal until the hardest heart breaks down and the most stubborn sinner repents. William Barclay
To believe that anyone goes into the Lake of Fire to bear that punishment again for sin is actually to diminish the work of Calvary and to detract from the perfect atonement of the cross, making it without effect and altogether unnecessary. Hence, we must view the Lake of Fire as being something other than retributive; and our only alternative is that the Lake of Fire is remedial. --Charles P. Schmitt, "The Unending Triumph of Jesus Christ"
In the New Testament Greek we really find the depth of meaning for this word, reconcile, which is to change thoroughly. There can be no true unification without first a thorough change. Thus, we are not seeking for just a present-time harmony, covering over the past and hoping for the best in the future, but we desire that the Spirit of God, working within, shall bring a thorough change in us, and then we shall be united with our Lord...There must be a change before unification, 'for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness" and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?'" --Ray Prinzing
It is often remarked by those who oppose the doctrine of universal salvation, that if God is the Savior of all men, then there is no difference between the saint and the sinner, the believer and unbeliever. Those who make this remark, seem to forget, that while God is declared to be the Savior of all men, he is also said to be ESPECIALLY the Savior of the believer. Though it is true, that God is the Savior of all, yet a little more attention would teach you, that all along, in Scripture, there is a salvation held forth as the SPECIAL PROPERTY of the believer, in which the unbeliever can have no part or lot. Though all shall be saved with an everlasting salvation, yet the believer ALONE can enjoy this special salvation. -- Rev. I. D. Williamson, 1840
The difference between the Christian and the non-Christian is not one of salvation. Salvation is given by grace to everyone. Christians are simply those charged by God with a special mission. The meaning of being a Christian is not working at your own little salvation, but changing human history. --Jacques Ellul
Salvation. We can best understand the meaning of salvation from the Jews, to whom the Savior was promised. They held that themselves should have the chief place of happiness in the other world; but the Gentiles that were good men, should likewise have their portion of bliss there too. Now, by Christ the partition-wall is broken down, and the Gentiles that believe in him are admitted to the same place of bliss with the Jews; and why then should not that portion of happiness still remain to them, who do not believe in Christ, so they be morally good? This is a charitable opinion. John Selden (1584-1654) Table Talk
Some have asked what good does it do to believe that God will save all men. You might as well ask what good it does to believe that God will save some men... Every evangelist believes that it is God's will to save some men during this present time, or he would not be an evanglist. And if a man does not believe that God will save any men past this present age, what does he expect to be doing in the ages to come? To what end, then, is such a man's "sonship" ministry? Why strive and labor to be a Son, to set creation free, if what God is accomplishing in redemption during this present age is all there is...If there is no out-working of redemption in the ages to come, no extension, nor expansion of the kingdom of God beyond the formation of the Body of Christ, they why not settle for the fundamentalist's version of heaven and content ourselves with spending eternity shouting up and down the golden streets, waving palm branches and strumming harps? --J. Preston Eby
I hold the restoration of all souls; because having myself been the chief of sinners, ... God, through Jesus Christ, by the efficacy of his holy spirit, ... granted me the mercy and the pardon of all my sins, and had plucked me as a brand out of hell, (so that) I could not have a doubt but the whole world would be saved by the same power. George de Benneville
"It is inconceivable that the God who gives Himself in His Son to save us, should have created some people ordained to evil and damnation. There can only be one predestination to salvation. In and through Jesus Christ all people are predestined to be saved. Our free choice is ruled out in this regard. God wants free people, except in relation to this last and definitive decision. We are not free to decide and choose to be damned." --Jacques Ellul
First, the purpose of God by the first-fruits or first-born, is to save and bless the later-born...This glorious truth, though the very essence of the gospel, which announces salvation to the world through the promised seed of Abraham, is even yet so little seen by many of Abraham's seed, that not a few of the children of promise speak and act as if Christ and His Body only should be saved, instead of rejoicing that they are also the appointed means of saving others. Even of the elect, few see that they are elect to the birthright, not to be blessed only, but to be a blessing; as first-born with Christ to share in the glory of kingship and priesthood with Him, not only to rule and intercede for their younger and later-born brethren, but to avenge their blood, and to raise up seed to the dead, and in and through Christ, their life and head, to redeem their lost inheritance. Thank God that if the elect know not thier double portion, God knows and keeps it for them, and will in due time, spite of their blindness, fulfill His purpose in and by them. But surely it is a reproach to the heirs, that they know not their Father's purpose, and that through not knowing it, they bear so imperfect a testimony as to His goodwill to all his fallen creatures. --Andrew Jukes, The Restitution of all Things, p 30,33-34
...On the Fatherhood of God
I believe implicitly in the ultimate and complete triumph of God, the time when all things shall be subject to Him and when God will be everything to everyone (1 Cor 15:24-28). For me, this has certain consequences. If one man remains outside of the love of God at the end of time, it means that one man has defeated the love of Godand that is impossible. Further, there is only one way in which we can think of the triumph of our God. If God was no more than a King or judge, then it would be possible to speak of his triumph, if His enemies were agonizing in hell or were totally and completely obliterated and wiped out. But God is not only king and Judge, God is FatherHe is indeed Father more than anything else. No father could be happy while there were members of his family for ever in agony. No father would count it a triumph to obliterate the disobedient members of his family. The only triumph a father can know is to have all of his family back home again. William Barclay
Thou, O Father, wilt not be angry with thy child because he thoughtand tried to bid others to think just and noble things of thee; though, O Savior, wilt not frown at him because he trusted in the infinitude of thy compassion; and thou, O Holy Spirit, whose image is the soft stealing of the dew and the golden hovering of the dove, wilt know that if he erred it was because he fixed his eyes, not on the glaring and baleful meteors of anathematizing orthodoxy, but on the star of Bethlehem and the clouds that began to shine above the coming of the Lord; and thatif perchance he erredthe light which led astray was light from Heaven. Canon F.W. Farrar, b. 1831
The Spirit of the Lord speaks within my soul and says, Within the breast of every man is the divine image of God (living God), in whose image and likeness he was made, that sin is a perversion and sickness an imposter, and that the grace and power of God through the Holy Ghost delivers man from all bondage and darkness, and man in all his nature rises into union and communion with God and becomes one with Him in the truest sense. John G. Lake, "Reality" (p 124)
Give them not hell, but hope and courage. Preach the everlasting love of God. John Murray
The fact remainswe are Gods offspring, created from a foundation of goodness that has gone wrong. History since the Garden is the gradual story of how God is slowly putting that wrongness right...and will continue to do so. Michael Phillips
For myself I can say, that if there is a God, and he is such a being as [the Universalist] describes, I can bow before him and give him all my heart. He says God is love, made the world in love, and in perfect wisdom, and well adapted to serve the divine purpose. He then made a family, all of them have sinned, and some of them have fallen very low, but God is determined, according to [the Universalist], to stand by His family, every one of them, let come what will come, till he makes all of them respectable. This standing by His family, as every true Father ought to do, is what I like in [the Universalist's]idea of God. But if there is a God, and he has created a family and will at last turn against most of them, and in burning wrath cast them into Hell forever, as [traditional Christianity] describe(s), I should hate himhe is not as good as I am, for I propose to stand by my family and every member of it for as long as I live. It is an insult to ask me to love and worship a God who is guilty of doing what we would detest in an earthly father. Robert Ingersoll
I believe that justice and mercy are simply one and the same thing. [I believe] such is the mercy of God that he will hold his children in the consuming fire of his distance until they pay the uttermost farthing, until they drop the purse of selfishness with all the dross that is in it, and rush home to the Father and the Son, and the many brethren, rush inside the center of the life-giving fire whose outer circles burn. I believe that no hell will be lacking which would help the just mercy of God to redeem his children. - George MacDonald
Suppose it were offered to the father of three children to take his choice whether two should be recieved into heaven and one condemned to Hell, or the whole should be annhiliated unto death. What would a parent say? Where is the father who would dare secure the bliss of two children at the cost of the endless misery of one? Which of the family would he select as the victim, whose undying pain should secure his brother's joy? Is there any one living who would not suffer himself and his children to sink back again into nothingness, rather than purchase heaven at such a price? --Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p 55
...Nothing can be lost that is not first owned. Just as a parent is compelled by civil law to be responsible for his family and his property, so the Creator --by His own divine law--in compelled to take care of the children He has created. And that means not only caring for the good children, but for the bad ones and lost ones as well. So the word lost came to be for Mrs. Smith, a term of greatest comfort. If a person is a "lost sinner" it only means that he is temporarily seperated from the Good Shepherd who owns him. The Shepherd is bound by all duties of ownership to go after all those who are lost until they are found. --Catherine Marshall, "Beyond Ourselves" p 42-43
...Quotes from Others
Although John Wesley is not on record as a universalist, he was greatly influenced by the Moravians, many of whom were universalists. He quoted from Sixteen Discourses (Moravian Literature), the following statement, By his (Christs) name, all can and shall obtain life and salvation. One of Wesleys intimate friends, Peter Bohler wrote: All the damned souls shall yet be brought up out of hell. (Bohler was made the Bishop of American Moravians, next in rank to Zinzendorf). Source: A Cloud of Witnesses, by John Wesley Hanson, p 54
The Reformer Martin Luther had hope for all. In his letter to Hanseu Von Rechenberg in 1522, Luther wrote: "God forbid that I should limit the time of acquiring faith to the present life. In the depth of the Divine mercy there may be opportunity to win it in the future." Bengel's book, Gnomon, quotes Luther's exposition of Hosea as accepting the idea that Christ appeared to souls of some who in the time of Noah had been unbelieving, that they might recognize that their sins were forgiven through His sacrifice.
... Since 1800 this situation has entirely changed, and no traditional doctrine has been so widely abandoned as that of eternal punishment. Its advocates among theologians today must be fewer than ever before.... Among the less conservative, universal salvation, either as hope or as dogma, is now so widely accepted that many theologians assume it virtually without argument." --Richard J. Bauckham, lecturer in the history of Christian thought at the University of Manchester
Dr. J.I. Packer has noted that Universalism "has in this century quietly become part of the orthodoxy of many Christian thinkers and groups."
D. B. Eller asserts in the Evangelical Dictionary
of Theology that it is clear that "Universalism, in a variety of
forms, continues to have appeal for contemporary faith, in both
liberal and conservative circles."
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