Universal Restoration
Posted on 23 August 2017 09:42 AM

Q. Is the doctrine of Universal Restoration sensible? Will everyone truly be saved?

 

A. The doctrine of universal restoration, also known as ultimate restoration, universal reconciliation, universal salvation, Christian universalism, or universalism, finds its author in the Church Father Origen who lived in te years 200 AD. He believed in reading the scripture allegorically, in the immortality of the Soul and philosophy. He was greatly influence by the teachings of Plato. 

There was two predominant views in the early church regarding the fate of the dead and the wicked. Iraneus taught that the wicked would one day be fully destroyed while Tertullian believed in the doctrine of eternal torment in hell, which was later espoused and popularized by Augustine. Origen spiritualized away the doctrine of Hell through allegorizing the scriptures mentioning it in Old and New Testament and taught that the one day all men would eventually be reconciled to God. However according to Him this universal restoration was not absolute and there would still be a possibility for man to fall again. 

But as Augustinian's theology grew in popularity, who taught the eternal hell doctrine, Origen’s teaching became seen as Heretical and was band in 544, and did not see light again until after the reformation, though in a slightly modified form. Allegorization is still used as a method of exegesis by many scholars today.

Although universal restoration seems like a very hopeful and loving concept, and it may seem to place a large emphasis on the loving and merciful nature of God, it however poses some serious complication when compared with the rest of teachings of the scripture.

It demands that important other teachings be allegorized away. Removing those teaching to make place for Universal restoration, brings into question the purpose of those teaching in the first place, why they were even recorded if there is no real value in them. Paul emphasizes that “all scripture is given by inspiration” and “is profitable for doctrine” {2 Timothy 3:16} it has been recorded “for ensamples” and “admonition” {1 Corinthians 10:11}, but once it is allegorized, the Bible loses it plain meaning, it is no longer a sacred inspired text but fall into the category of a work of fiction.

There are also several questionable implication to the theory of universal restoration. 

Moral decision is then of no real consequence, if at the end all are saved. Freewill is an illusion since we cannot choose to be lost, teaching like Heaven & Hell, the Second Advent, and the destruction of the wicked, Satan & his angels all must be explained away, allegorized or ignored.

It also brings into question the sacrifice of Christ. Was this even necessary if there is no real final punishment for sin. If all men are saved, the need of accepting a saviour is pointless. Faith serves no purpose. Such work as repentance, confession and forgiveness have little consequences in the lives of man. The plan of salvation becomes quite secondary to man, who can still pursue any course of life and still receive eternal life in the end.

Judgement also now becomes obsolete. Despite the many references in the Bible, its process and purpose, the judgement becomes useless if all man receives salvation. Allegorizing such an important teaching removes an important part of the plan of salvation and impacts the character of God. It also brings suspision on the different instances in the Bible where God pronounces judgement and carries out the sentences.

The biggest consequenc, is the way it paints God’s character. By emphasizing His love and mercy it leaves out His justice and portrays Him as a permissive and careless God lacking foresight.

Although the teaching of Universal Restoration may seem to bring hope and joy and may even seem to portray God as all loving, it has many holes that cannot be easily reconciled. It clearly came as a response to the teachin of eternal torment, but unfortunately it is only the other extreme of the spectrum. “The Lord is not […] willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” {2Peter 3:9}, but He also will not force anyone to betray their conscience and freewill by imposing something they do not want. An eternal life in heavenly places would feel like eternal hell for those whose heart has not been changed and whose lives has not been transformed by divine grace.

 

 

Keywords: restoration, reconciliation, salvation, Origen, Iraneus, Tertullian, Augustine, Plato, immortality of the soul, heaven, hell, judgement, Jesus, eternal torment, God, justice, mercy, allegory, hermeneutic, second advent, state of the dead, 
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