"Is Jesus just a prophet or also God?" - Sam Shamoun vs Anjem Choudary

Possibly Christian Apologist Sam Shamoun's best debate ever. He utterly obliterates Muslim Extremist Anjem Choudary.

Introduction and Defense of Trinitarian Universalism

Disclaimer: Scattered borrowed sources are utilized throughout the post with my own redaction(s).

"The question that needs a precise answer is this: Did He or didn't He? Did Christ actually make a substitutionary sacrifice for sins or didn't He? If He did, then it was not for all the world, for then all the world would be saved." [Edwin H. Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980) pp. 47.]
"I think we in evangelical Christianity have ignored the Sovereignty of God and limited the scope and sweep of His great Love toward all. Scripture says, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:20)— He died once for all. (Romans 6:10 and 1 Peter 3:18) And contrary to popular opinion, our belief systems and religious presuppositions do not invalidate or reverse the effectiveness or efficiency of the finished work of Calvary." (Romans 3:3). [Former Bishop Carlton Pearson, of New Dimensions]

Universalism is not a term only used by the Christian Universalist movement within Christianity. Unitarian Universalism is a religious movement which originally emerged in part out from a (Christian) American Universalist Church, but it no longer holds any official doctrinal positions, being a non-creedal faith. Hence I categorically reject this position as non-Christian.

There are three general types of Christian Universalism today – Evangelical Universalism, Charismatic Universalism, and Liberal Christian Universalism – which by themselves or in combination with one another describe the vast majority of currently existing and identifiable versions of Christian Universalist belief and practice. However there are some vast and fundamentally important exclusory differences even within these branches, I will go over these some other time. 

The focus of this article will be to identify firstly; what kind of Universalist I am, and secondly; why.

The type of Christian Universalism that least departs from traditional orthodox Christianity is known as Evangelical (Christian) Universalism, also called Biblical and Trinitarian Universalism. 

Evangelical Universalists hold to conservative positions on most theological or doctrinal issues except for the doctrine of hell, in which case they assert universal reconciliation instead of eternal torment. They tend to emphasize the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ for the sins of all humanity as the basis for their Universalism. 

Evangelical Universalists derive a large part of their beliefs from Evangelicalism and Reformed theology. This then, is the position I adhere to. But what other views are there and are they more plausible?

Contrasting views in Christianity

Some prevalent views in Christianity are:

  1. Exclusivism: Salvation is exclusively found in Christianity. Anyone who is not a Christian will go to hell.
  2. Inclusivism: Some adherents of other religions may find salvation, but it is still only Jesus Christ who can (and may or will) save them.
  3. Pluralism: One's own religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth; salvation, in principle, may be found in any religion, although salvation is not necessarily found in one's search of any (other) religion(s).
  4. Universalism: All humans will be saved.

Two (2) is disputable. Whether non-Christians can be saved in Christ (inclusivism) is hotly contested in some particulars, e.g. the issue of babies and those ignorant of the gospel. Christians have different views on whether adherents to other faiths who have never heard the Gospel will go to heaven or hell. Likewise do babies who possess no endowment of conscious faith go to hell or heaven? What is clear is that it is only Jesus Christ who can save them. Personally as a Universalist I believe Christ saves all children, infants and those who are unaware of the Gospel, they will be held accountable judged and rewarded and punished based on God's universal moral law and the possible knowledge they had at any given moment. Three (3), Salvation in Christ is not necessary for all people, one can be saved without Christ, Christ just provides one means, but he enables other means of salvation (pluralism) is categorically indefensible within Christianity and universally rejected. Salvation (with the qualified exceptions) only occurs after profession of belief in the Lordship of Jesus Christ (exclusivism). However my position is indeed everyone will confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ (universalism). Therefore both 1 and 4 are true and compatible assuming one does not add: “hell forever” to the first position.

But is my position even considered a possible viable option within the umbrella of Christianity? To answer this question we will go over the Biblical support later, but firstly the history of the Church.

Christian Universalism in Church History

Gregory of Nyssa was declared "the father of fathers" by the seventh ecumenical council, it is likely (although disputed) that Saint Gregory of Nyssa and Saint Macrina the Younger, who were brother and sister, believed or taught universal salvation. Scholar Richard Bauckham in Universalism: a historical survey notes that belief in the final restoration of all souls seems to have been not uncommon in the East during the fourth and fifth centuries and was apparently taught by Gregory of Nyssa, though this is disputed by some Greek Orthodox scholars. 

According to the Universalist historian Rev. George T. Knight, in the first five or six centuries of Christianity there were six known theological schools, of which four (Alexandria, Antioch, Caesarea, and Edessa) were universalist. Origen and Clement of Alexandria were also possible Universalists. Richard Bauckham also stated that while universalism appeared "discredited" due to scholarly resistance to Origen's view, it "seems in doubt" if the Fifth Ecumenical Council specifically endorsed any negative view of it.

The most recent academic survey of the history of universal salvation is by Biblical scholar Richard Bauckham. He outlines the history thus:

"The history of the doctrine of universal salvation (or apokatastasis) is a remarkable one. Until the nineteenth century almost all Christian theologians taught the reality of eternal torment in hell. Here and there, outside the theological mainstream, were some who believed that the wicked would be finally annihilated (in its commonest form, this is the doctrine of 'conditional immortality'). Even fewer were the advocates of universal salvation, though these few included some major theologians of the early church. Eternal punishment was firmly asserted in official creeds and confessions of the churches. It must have seemed as indispensable a part of universal Christian belief as the doctrines of the Trinity and the incarnation. Since 1800 this situation has entirely changed, and no traditional Christian doctrine has been so widely abandoned as that of eternal punishment. Its advocates among theologians today must be fewer than ever before. The alternative interpretation of hell as annihilation seems to have prevailed even among many of the more conservative theologians. 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 Bauckham, "Universalism: a historical survey", Themelios 4.2 (September 1978): 47–54.)

Hence I accept the rather fringe view of Trinitarian Universalism, otherwise known more generally as: Universal Reconciliation; (Christian) Universalism. Personally I think I could cherry pick certain parts of Charismatic and Liberal Universalism that happen to be true (and will express more of this in the future), but fundamentally I identify as a Trinitarian Biblical Universalist. But why am I a Trinitarian Universalist? Later in this article, I will post what I think is the most plausible Biblical evidence for this view, however before we get there, I’ve got some splainin to do.

What is Christian Universalism?

So what is Christian Universalism? Believers in universal reconciliation support the view that while there is a real "Hell" of some kind, it is neither a place of eternal endless suffering nor a place where the spirits of human beings are ultimately 'annihilated' after enduring a just amount of divine retribution. Humankind is created with an immortal soul which death does not end, and which God will never destroy. However Mortalists object to my view, they believe the Bible does not teach any post-mortem torment of souls, either in Hades, nor at the Last Day in Gehenna.

The two central beliefs which distinguish Christian Universalism from mainstream Christianity are universal reconciliation (all will eventually be reconciled to God-without exception, the penalty for sin is not irrevocable at the point of death, i.e. doctrines of everlasting damnation to hell and annihilationism are rejected) and theosis (all souls will ultimately be reconciled and conformed to the image of the glorified resurrected Christ).

How is Hell understood in Christianity?

In Christianity there are three (3) generally accepted understandings of hell:

  1. A literal place of fire where the damned suffer eternal conscious torment.
  2. A metaphorical hell where the suffering is real but is not literally fire and brimstone. The pain may be physical, emotional or spiritual.
  3. Conditional, where souls are punished until retributive justice is met or accomplished, after which these punished souls are annihilated 

Hence I accept (2) but with qualification. Hell is a place of rehabilitation, correction and retribution. The suffering in hell is the anguish of a soul persisting in rebellion against God and later the shame of a soul when it realizes how much it has sinned against a holy God as well as profound regret for what might have been.

Explanation of Divine Justice

It will be fully present for those who persist in rejecting God's gift of salvation. However, God's grace and gift of faith reaches everyone while they are dead in their sins (Eph. 2:1, Col. 2:13) and there is no biblical text that says his mercy and gift of salvation will end when one dies physically. Jesus Christ is proclaimed to be the Lord of the dead and the living (Rom. 14:9). Judgment accompanies wrath and judgment is salvific. It is a fire that purifies and refines, not one that destroys. (Mal. 3:2). If man is not judged and if he does not feel God's wrath, he will not be aware that he has sinned. Judgment and wrath encourages a man to stop what he is doing and repent (turn around). Then he will know forgiveness and feel God's love turn from wrath to warmth. It follows then that true justice includes restoration and reconciliation. Justice is not fully met by punishing wrongdoers. 

God’s true justice it follows is RRRR:

  1. Retribution and/or Revenge: the offender must be disciplined, punished in some adequate sense
  2. Restoration of what was stolen or destroyed
  3. Repentance and reformation of the sinner 
  4. Reconciliation between the sinner and God and the person(s) sinned against

The final word God speaks to Mankind is always reconciliation and redemption. Sodom is portrayed as a very wicked place that was judged by God and destroyed by burning sulfur (Gen. 19:1–29). Jude writes that they "suffered the punishment of eternal fire" (Jude 1:7). But Jesus knew what circumstances would have brought the people of Sodom to repentance and acknowledgement of God (Matt. 11:23). The last word God speaks over Sodom is restoration in an eschatological prophecy by Ezekiel (Ezk. 16:53–55).

A Theodicy Explaining Hell

It is important to qualify when I state God punishes someone he does not actively punish someone without reason or cause. Here is my theodicy for God’s anger, wrath, judgment and justice. Torture is when something extrinsically is causing your pain, something from the outside to the in. Where as torment is when you intrinsically cannot stop causing your own pain; from the inside outwardly; this is your own perpetual cycle of madness and suffering, and your rejection of any possible facilitating aid. Torture then is an external cause of suffering but torment is internal cause of suffering. 

In hell, God is not randomly torturing anyone for his own benefit or amusement any more than a human judge is. For this is impossible due to God’s character being benevolent by definition. Every infliction of pain a person feels is for his own ultimate benefit and goodness no matter how devastating it may seem to that individual or how ignorant she might be of the reasons, God knows the beneficial outcome. This is similar to the Dentist pulling teeth of a child who is unaware of why she is experiencing so called “needless” pain because she is too young. Neither the Dentist nor God have malevolent intention, in fact both are (after all) acting with good intent. God allows this type of pain only to ultimately benefit his creature in many circumstances (perhaps sometimes we don’t even know immediately. e.g. what good outcome was their from stubbing my big toe) and the ultimate benefit for every person will be for God to reunite his creation with himself.

Further God’s punishment of hell is not active in every sense in the first place. Take for example the first R “Retribution” which without thought implies the torture chamber scenario. Other than facilitating the realm for a state of existence and sustaining creation God’s direct involvement in this part of the punishment is more passive. God is giving over persons to their own desires in their absolute abhorrence, spite and rejection of God. For instead of wanting and loving God their own desire is to be autonomous without God and freedom from knowing him. Now therefore they make themselves guilty of failing to love others, particularly God the very source of their own being who loves them unconditionally. Hence the suffering in hell is the anguish of a soul persisting in rebellion against God and the hatred of self: self loathing. In other words God’s passive punishment is the allowance of a person’s own self-perpetuating torment until they are able to discover growth and development; God is literally acting like any responsible, caring, loving Father. But in the Universalist perspective there is another type of passive suffering, that is case of mourning. The shame of a soul when it realizes how much it has sinned against a holy God as well as profound regret for its history. This correlates to phase (3) of God’s justice. In summation of my view of hell, the fact is God isn't torturing anyone at all, he is facilitating and allowing self-torment for the purpose of divine restoration and reconciliation. Now ontologically speaking this is no different to what he enables here on earth, the only difference is he allows a higher and longer level of degree of self torment and self loathing in hell because that is what is required to rehabilitate these particular souls who refuse to come to God but the immutable God will never relinquish them or cease to give up on them, like they have chosen to relinquish God, God is love. 

The Reality of Reconciliation 

That concludes my view of hell. In the absolute sense no human being is alienated from God as he is their only source of life (John 1:3–4) and in him they live and move and have their being. (Acts 17:28). Jesus Christ is the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity and he is both fully God and fully man. Because he created everything and everything inheres in him, all of creation was (is, and will be) crucified and resurrected with him and therefore reconciled with him. (John 1:3–4), (Col. 1:15–20). In the divine sense, all creation is reconciled with God in past, present and future; in eternity sense. The Bible speaks the same way of the Lamb whom was slain before the foundation of the world: that is although Jesus was not incarnate, nor externally and historically crucified in the flesh and blood before he even possessed flesh and blood, he was reckoned as God’s Lamb who was slain for sinners in an objective sense. There is a fixed sense in which Christ’s atonement is an inevitably decreed divine act. Because any thought in God’s divine mind and corresponding action set up by God’s divine decree has to be absolute and entirely real, then the sacrifice of Christ was ontologically valid and binding before his literal physical death, due to its absolute distinctive nature and real ontological quality within God’s being. Christ’s literal and physical death then was a outward manifestation within time and space, an external manifestation of a divine truth and act impossible to deny, or negate. This mean’s the external physical and ontological reality is inaugurates an already spiritually eternally binding present truth into actual active activity, an outward manifestation.

Another example: Jesus is said to have emptied himself, even of his own divine glory and supremacy, which was restored upon his Resurrection and Ascension, where now he reigns and rules at the right hand of the Majesty on high. However while Christ actively desisted from operating in this fashion, would it still be true to say he possesses full divine glory, full supremacy as ruler in the objective sense? Mind you he didn't externally and outwardly nor manifestly operate in these modes, but he is by nature these modes and qualities and is them by his very intrinsic essence. As a final example that came to mind, we are members of the Kingdom of Heaven and Light, yet we are waiting for the external manifestation of that kingdom, the kingdom is here in one sense, yet in another sense it is not tangibly manifested. As all these examples are mean't to demonstrate, in the same way I believe since Christ’s atonement was fully absolute and entirely real before his own physical outward and external death, then the creation whom he died for is fully absolute and entirely atoned for and reconciled with God in some very ontic sense of reality, and this reality is inaugurated with external outward expressions of profession in the Lordship of Jesus Christ just like Jesus inaugurated his atonement and the new covenant by the external, outward manifestation of his physical death and resurrection. 

Because divinity and humanity meet in Jesus, mankind are now participants in the perichoresis or the divine dance of love within the Trinity. Jesus Christ's death on the cross paid the price for the sins of the world (Rom. 5:15–19) and all men are reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:19). Because all sins have been paid for, all sins are forgiven. Divine forgiveness precedes human response and this forgiveness is both love and judgment because to say, "I forgive you" is to say "I love you" and "You have sinned against me". Man responds by either agreeing with the judgment (repentance) and receive both the love and forgiveness or he can deny the judgment and refuse God's love and forgiveness resulting in his existing in his own spiritual death and torment in hell. At the day of judgment God will proclaim his love and his atonement for the disbeliever, the disbeliever who does not repent will proclaim his rejection of wanting to be close or near to God. God will then grant that unrelenting disbeliever this mercy, which in another sense is God sending them to be punished for rejecting God, they are punished by their own torment hence mercy, and justice are two sides of the same coin; the two are not contrary but nuanced and supplementary. 

As a Trinitarian Universalist I believe anyone who confesses Jesus is Lord with a regenerated heart possesses salivation given to them by God. I believe anyone who has not confessed Jesus as Lord with a renewed heart does not possess salvation given to them by God. I believe every human is justified and reconciled to God in the divine absolute sense, but I am taking salvation in this sentence to mean the inauguration, outward actualization of this very real atoning justification and reconciliation. Externally a disbeliever is not yet reconciled but being reconciled paradoxically hence technically the disbeliever is condemned and spiritually dead in the actual, physical and literal world; however in God's divine mind (which is just as real if not more real) the disbelievers were. are and will be reconciled. God's way of looking at reality obviously cannot be identical on every level to ours, hence God communicates most of the time with us within our very own paradigm, the actual, literal physical creation, and in this space-time continuum every disbeliever is still condemned.

If Christian Universalism is true: why be a Christian?

The first part almost answers itself. If Universalism is true, and you whom possess a truth seeking and truth bearing property have no choice but to value and desire truth (the contrary is impossible), then you will participate in the truth and be a Christian Universalist. This reason alone is sufficient but what are some other factors? If Christian Universalism is true, then the Triune God created you to be loved by him with his image bearing property inferred on you to love others, to love your Creator and seek and desire God’s love, this nature you possess then is inescapable and only fulfilled by the Triune Lord of the Creation. Your spiritual and emotional needs would be best met in full abundance by your Creator. The unique Christian Triune God exists and no other uncreated Creator exists, hence all other religions are incomplete, inadequate or incompatible with reality, aka: false.

But if there is no eternal hell fire, or eternal hell in any other sense, then why be a Christian? Why not sin and live like a hedonist? 

Other than the above reasons that apply to the same question I would like to add some additions.
I believe there is an immediate and fundamental compulsory obligation and requirement on all humanity to return and reconcile with God. Sinners must repent, all humans are required to repent. If you do not repent you are already condemned. If you are already condemned you are leading yourself to hell, you only perpetuate your own suffering by persistently rejecting God. In short: sin and death leave to suffering, suffering leads to anger and misery, sadness, depression, the depravity existence without being alive. 

Biblical Proof for Universal Reconciliation

There are many verses of scripture supporting universal salvation with which supporters of eternal damnation must contend. Some Bible verses commonly cited in Christian Universalist theology are:including (but not limited to): 

"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person perhaps someone might possibly dare to die.) But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by his blood, we will be saved through him from God's wrath. For if WHILE WE WERE ENEMIES WE WERE RECONCILED TO GOD through the death of his Son, HOW MUCH MORE, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life? Not only this, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation. So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned– for before the law was given, sin was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin when there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam until Moses even over those who did not sin in the same way that Adam (who is a type of the coming one) transgressed. But the gracious gift is not like the transgression. For if the many died through the transgression of the one man, HOW MUCH MORE DID THE GRACE OF GOD and the gift by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ MULTIPLY to the many! And the gift is not like the one who sinned. For judgment, resulting from the one transgression, led to condemnation, but the gracious gift from the many failures led to justification. For if, by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through the one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ! Consequently, just as condemnation for all people came through one transgression, so too through the one righteous act came righteousness leading to life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man many will be made righteous. Now the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:6-21)

"Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35-39)

"For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?...For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins." In regard to the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but in regard to election they are dearly loved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you were formerly disobedient to God, but have now received mercy due to their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all people to disobedience so that he may show mercy to them all. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has first given to God, that God needs to repay him? (Romans 11:15;25-35)

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creationfor all things in heaven and on earth were created by him– all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers– all things were created through him and for himHe himself is before all things and all things are held together in him. He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross– through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven." (Colossians 1:15-20) 

"For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleepFor since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he has brought to an end all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be eliminated is death For he has put everything in subjection under his feet. But when it says "everything" has been put in subjection, it is clear that this does not include the one who put everything in subjection to him. And when all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all. Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, then why are they baptized for them? (1 Corinthians 15:19-29)

"For the love of Christ controls us, since we have concluded this, that Christ died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised. So then from now on we acknowledge no one from an outward human point of view. Even though we have known Christ from such a human point of view, now we do not know him in that way any longer. So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away– look, what is new has come! And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people's trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea through us. We plead with you on Christ's behalf, "Be reconciled to God!" God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)

"Jesus said, "This voice has not come for my benefit but for yours. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." (Now he said this to indicate clearly what kind of death he was going to die.)" (John 12:30-33 )

"I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not obey them, I do not judge him. For I have not come to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not accept my words has a judge; the word I have spoken will judge him at the last day. (John 12:46-48)

"As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one shouting in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be brought low, and the crooked will be made straight, and the rough ways will be made smooth, and all humanity will see the salvation of God.'" (Luke 3:3-6)

"What do you think? If someone owns a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go look for the one that went astray? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that one of these little ones be lost. (Matthew 18:12-14)

"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for ALL men — the testimony given in its proper time."(1 Timothy 2:3-6)

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

"This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. In fact this is why we work hard and struggle, because we have set our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of believers. (1st Timothy 4:9-10)

"He IS the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2)

"And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world." (1 John 4:14)

"You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross! As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow– in heaven and on earth and under the earth– and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

They sang a new hymn: "Worthy are you to receive the scroll and to break open its seals, for you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation. You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign ON THE EARTH." Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels in a circle around the throne, as well as the living creatures and the elders. Their number was ten thousand times ten thousand– thousands times thousands–all of whom were singing in a loud voice: "Worthy is the lamb who was killed to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and praise!" Then I heard EVERY CREATURE– in heaven, ON EARTH, UNDER THE EARTH, in the sea, and ALL THAT IS IN THEM– singing: "To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be praise, honor, glory, and ruling power forever and ever!" And the four living creatures were saying "Amen," and the elders threw themselves to the ground and worshiped. (Revelation 5:9-14)

A Deductive Biblically Based Argument for Christian Universalism:

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God. (John 3:16-21 NET)

I’m no Johnnine scholar but W. Hall Harris III is. He identifies here that world in John’s gospel (3:16) refers to humanity and particularly broken humanity:

"Second, and not surprisingly, κόσμος in John’s Gospel can be used to denote the world of humanity: 1:10, 29; 6:33, 51; 12:19; 14:17, 19; 16:20; 17:21. An example of this usage (and another instance of hyperbole) is 12:19, where the Pharisees say, “Look, the world has gone after him.” Particularly interesting is 1:10, where κόσμος occurs three times: the first and second refer to the created order (“he was in the world, and the world was created through him”), but the third instance (“the world did not know [i.e., recognize] him”) must refer to the world of humanity, since cognition is involved. Another special case involving the world of humanity is 4:42 where κόσμος on the lips of the Samaritan villagers at Sychar appears at first glance more neutral and implies “all humanity” in the context (as opposed to Jews only). This is a significant theological assertion as far as the Evangelist is concerned, because it marks the expansion of Jesus’ role as Savior to include non-Jews (mostly implicit during Jesus’ earthly ministry but very important later on as the early church extends beyond Judaism and reaches out to Gentiles). Implicit too, however, is the fallen condition of this world of humanity, since (although its lostness is not emphasized explicitly in 4:42) it does appear to be in need of a savior. This suggests that a similar concept lies behind occurrences in John 3:16, 17 (3x), and 19, where κόσμος does not merely refer to the world of humanity, but the world of humanity in its lost condition. Conceptually John 3:16 relates the gracious and unmerited intervention of God in response to humanity’s lost state in much the same way as Eph 2:4-5. The lost state of “the world” is emphasized even more in the next verse, John 3:17, where by implication (and by right) the Son could “judge” (i.e., condemn) the world, but this was not his mission; he was instead sent to “save” the world (see also John 12:47). A world not lost does not require saving. Finally, the κόσμος as “the world of humanity” is emphasized again in 3:19, where the Son came as “the light” into the world, but people ( οἱ ἄνθρωποι) loved the darkness rather than the light. Whatever else may be said, it is people – men and women, children and adults – who are lost, and who are confronted by Jesus as the Light who has come into the world, and who in this passage (John 3:16-21) are being forced to “choose sides” by either responding to the Light or choosing to remain in the darkness."

Harris adds in a footnote (12):

"This is not the place for an extended discussion of the extent of the atonement, but there is really not much by way of evidence in the immediate context of John 3:16 to suggest that κόσμος here means not “world of humanity in its lost condition” but instead should be limited to “world of the elect. 1 John 2:2 certainly causes some difficulty for the latter view, but even within the Fourth Gospel itself such a limitation appears unlikely. For example, in John 13:1-17 there is evidence in the immediate context (lexical ties to the crucifixion, Peter’s protest at Jesus’ actions, etc.) that the foot washing does not refer merely to an example of humble service (as the passage is frequently understood) but to a symbolic enactment of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross on behalf of his disciples (who in the Fourth Gospel serve more of a representative role). Yet since there is no evidence that Judas was excluded from the foot washing, and since he did not depart the scene until 13:30, by implication Judas got his feet washed by Jesus as well as the rest of the disciples present. Participation in this symbolic event, however, did not place Judas among the saved, because in John’s theological framework Jesus’ sacrificial death is not efficacious unless it is met with a personal appropriation by faith within the individual in question. For Judas this was certainly not the case."

Harris' last comments I think create a theological paradox. Harris believes Christ's atonement is not efficacious without human input. But just how does a sovereign omnipotent savior who intends to save every lost soul fail to accomplish just that which he sets out to do? That is to save every last and lost soul? I will let the libertarian explain that one. 

However if Harris is correct there is no reason to limit the scope of John 3:16-21 to the world of the elect. But then why would Christ die for the whole world if God did not intend to save everyone? This might as-well be a rhetorical question, which means the answer is indisputable. The answer is clear. Christ intends to save everyone, the most magnificent omni-benevolent God we could possibly conceive of actually exists. Christ loves everyone equally as his own and God shows no partiality between any lost sinner. That is unless you want to unnecessarily complicate matters (perhaps) like Dr. Michael Patton happens to on this subject:

"While there are some Calvinists who do deny God’s universal love for all men, this is certainly not a necessary or a central tenet of Calvinism. Calvinists do, however, believe that God has a particular type of love for the elect (an “electing love”), but most also believe that God loves all people (John 3:16). It is a mystery to Calvinists as to why he does not elect everyone. (More on this here.)"

Not only is it a mystery but an unjustified arbitrary leap of imaginative eisegesis. John MacArthur's states in the aforementioned link:

"The fact that some sinners are not elected to salvation is no proof that God's attitude toward them is utterly devoid of sincere love. We know from Scripture that God is compassionate, kind, generous, and good even to the most stubborn sinners. Who can deny that these mercies flow out of God's boundless love? Yet it is evident that they are showered even on unrepentant sinners."

Hence MacArthur is honest to conclude what he does, but refuses to acknowledge the logical implications. If out of God's boundless love mercy flows to the most unrepentant and stubborn sinners, they must then be reconciled to God in the same way an elect creature would be the object of the exact same kind of love and mercy. If God's love and mercy are literally boundless, and his desire to save obstinate unrepentant sinners is unrelenting, this leaves God with no lack of intent to save these very sinners with his full range of divine mercy.

MacArthur goes on to say:

"So an important distinction must be made. God loves believers with a particular love. It is a family love, the ultimate love of an eternal Father for His children. It is the consummate love of a Bridegroom for His bride. It is an eternal love that guarantees their salvation from sin and its ghastly penalty. That special love is reserved for believers alone. 
However, limiting this saving, everlasting love to His chosen ones does not render God's compassion, mercy, goodness, and love for the rest of mankind insincere or meaningless. When God invites sinners to repent and receive forgiveness (Isa. 1:18; Matt. 11:28-30), His pleading is from a sincere heart of genuine love. "'As I live!' declares the Lord God, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?'" (Ezek. 33:11). Clearly God does love even those who spurn His tender mercy, but it is a different quality of love, and different in degree from His love for His own."

Hence according to MacArthur when God declares the call for repentance, this is a genuine calling from from a sincere heart with true love. However this means Christ's really does possess the desire to save everyone (John 3:16) and must be sincere in his proclamation, calling and love which means Christ does not differentiate this kind of saving love vs non-saving love for humans as Patton and MacArthur suggest. 

The problem is MacArthur fails to demonstrate any different quality or degree, in fact he demonstrates the very opposite by quoting Ezekiel, if God has the same calling for people to repent everywhere, he must have the same type of saving love for all, and the same desire to see all saved, otherwise he would have a different revelation for the non-elect person. 

Further more the Father created all things for the glory of his beloved Son as an expression of his infinite love for him. Therefore, since creation belongs to Christ it isn’t surprising, and actually makes perfect sense, that the Son came to redeem that which the Father gave to him out of his infinite love. In fact all the persons of the Trinity created everything for the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, since he is the Heir of all things. In other words, the Father created everything for his Son whom he loves, and that everything possessed by the Father belongs fully and completely to the Son. This means MacArthur's statement "it is a different quality of love and different in degree from his love for his own" is falsified as everything that exists is Christ's own, and Christ as the Heir of all things came to redeem the very possession appointed to him and made by, through and for him. Everything that exists was created for Christ and by Christ which is why Christ literally died to redeem his possession:

"He is the image of the invisible God, THE FIRSTBORN OVER ALL CREATIONfor ALL THINGS in heaven and on earth were created by him– ALL THINGS, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powersALL THINGS were created THROUGH him and FOR himHe himself is before ALL THINGS and ALL THINGS are held together in him. He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in ALL THINGS. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son and through him to reconcile ALL THINGS to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross– through him, whether THINGS on earth or THINGS in heaven. (Colossaions 1:15-20)

Notice 'all things' becomes a synonym for 'all created things anywhere in any realm' (1:16) , used as a follow on and substitution for 'all creation' (1:15). Hence Christ died for all creation which was his own possession to begin with. A possession that he came and redeemed. As Sam Shamoun (who is not a universalist, mind you) says:

"the Son came to redeem creation. As the Heir and Sovereign Possessor of everything that exists by virtue of his relationship as the beloved Son, the Lord Jesus comes to save that which his beloved Father gave him as a token of his love. Christ would not lose the gift which God gave to him but made sure that he preserves it forever. The Lord Jesus did this to demonstrate his infinite love for his Father, as well as his infinite love for the very people that God gave him to possess" (source)

The reason Shamoun points out that Christ could never lose that which God gave him but preserve it forever is because this is the exact teaching of the Bible: 

"Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.’" John 6:35-40

Lets put this together then:

  1. If God has the intention to save someone he will indeed save that someone (desire, will and intention: Ezekiel 33:11; power, ability, sovereignty and accomplishment: John 6:35-40)
  2. But God has the intention to save everyone (John 3:16-17)
  3. Therefore God will indeed save everyone. (see section on Biblical Proof for Universal Reconciliation)
  4. Conclussion: Universalism is true

My view is that God's intention to save someone means that it will be done. If God intends something we are talking about a guaranteed outcome.

Dr. James White has an article expressing why he gave up 4 (4.5) Calvinism in favor of 5 point Calvinism. In it he says this:

"I was faced with a decision. If I maintained a "universal" atonement, that is, if I said that Christ died substitutionarily in the place of every single man and woman in all the world, then I was forced to either say that 1) everyone will be saved, or 2) the death of Christ is insufficient to save without additional works. I knew that I was not willing to believe that Christ's death could not save outside of human actions. So I had to understand that Christ's death was made in behalf of God's elect, and that it does accomplish its intention, it does save those for whom it is made

Hence JW acknowledges the implications I previously picked up on and agrees with me that whoever Christ died for must be inevitably saved.

Dr. White goes on to say:

"At this point I realized that I had "limited" the atonement all along. In fact, if you do not believe in the Reformed doctrine of "limited atonement," you believe in a limited atonement anyway! How so? Unless you are a universalist (that is, unless you believe that everyone will be saved), then you believe that the atonement of Christ, if it is made for all men, is limited in its effect.  You believe that Christ can die in someone's place and yet that person may still be lost for eternity. You limit the power and effect of the atonement. I limit the scope of the atonement, while saying that its power and effect is unlimited!" 
The 4 pointer could merely reverse Dr. White's words here: "You limit the scope of the atonement, I limit the power and effect of the atonement, while saying that its scope is unlimited!". Hence the implicit assumption is that the degree to which the atonement is unlimited is a great argument. However both 4 and 5 point Calvinist then would be defeated by my Universalist position. As neither the scope, nor the power and effect of the atonement are limited, they are all utterly limitless exactly as God intended!

This is further high lighted in this next quote:

"Let there be no misunderstanding at this point. The Arminian limits the atonement as certainly as does the Calvinist. The Calvinist limits the extent of it in that he says it does not apply to all persons...while the Arminian limits the power of it, for he says that in itself it does not actually save anybody. The Calvinist limits it quantitatively, but not qualitatively; the Arminian limits it qualitatively, but not quantitatively. For the Calvinist it is like a narrow bridge that goes all the way across the stream; for the Arminian it is like a great wide bridge that goes only half-way across. As a matter of fact, the Arminian places more severe limitations on the work of Christ than does the Calvinist." (Lorraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination(Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1932) p. 153.)

Why then place any limitation on God atonement? Why are we talking about degree or severity of any limitation in the first place? As you already have implicitly admitted this is inherently inferior and defective to have a more severe degree, then a lesser degree or any degree of limit would not be flawless. However what we have in reality is a flawless, perfect atonement. Our Great God who really does exist, the one we really do worship, the one whom provides an almighty unlimited atonement! The God who is reconciling all things to himself. His love and mercy have no bounds and neither does his atonement for his creation.

Dr. White helps the Universalist position further when he asserts:

"In fact, we are actually presenting a far greater view of the work of Christ on Calvary when we say that Christ's death actually accomplishes something in reality rather than only in theory. The atonement, we believe, was a real, actual, substitutionary one, not a possible, theoretical one that is dependent for its efficacy upon the actions of man."

While Dr. White is completely correct that a real atonement is far superior to a hypothetical atonement, we must also add that a real atonement that is without scope as a demonstration of God's infinite love for his creation is superior to an atonement limited in scope.

Why did Christ come to die? Did He come simply to make salvation possible, or did He come to actually obtain eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12)? Let's consider some passages from Scripture in answer to this question.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost (Luke 19:10). 
Here the Lord Jesus Himself speaks of the reason for His coming. He came to seek and to save the lost. Few have a problem with His seeking; many have a problem with the idea that He actually accomplished allof His mission. Jesus, however, made it clear that He came to actually save the lost. He did this by His death
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners---of whom I am the worst (1 Timothy 1:15). 
Paul asserts that the purpose of Christ's coming into the world was to actually save sinners. Nothing in Paul's words leads us to the conclusion that is so popular today---that Christ's death simply makes salvation a possibility rather than a reality. Christ came to save. So, did He? And how did He? Was it not by His death? Most certainly. The atoning death of Christ provides forgiveness of sins for all those for whom it is made. That is why Christ came."

James White is brilliantly formulating an absolute truth. The only problem is that he over looks some of the passages. In the Lukan reference Jesus actually saves the lost. But the lost of course must include Biblically everyone who is related to Adam: "just as condemnation for all people came through one transgression" (Romans 5:18). Hence Christ actually saves the lost, not part of the lost. And that is the glorious good news! And glory to Jesus for his magnificence salvation to all peoples of all times, everywhere without any limit, truly an act to marvel at:
And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifice, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:10-14)

James White comments:

"First, what is the effect of the one time sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ? What does verse 10 tell us? "We have been made holy," or, another translation would be, "We have been sanctified." The Greek language uses the perfect tense here, indicating a past, and completed, action. The death of Christ actually makes us holy. Do we believe this? Did the death of Christ actually sanctify those for whom it was made? Or did it simply make it possible for them to become holy? Again, these are questions that cannot be easily dismissed. The writer goes on to describe how this priest, Jesus, sat down at the right hand of God, unlike the old priests who had to keep performing sacrifices over and over and over again. His work, on the contrary, is perfect and complete. He can rest, for by His one sacrifice He has made perfect those who are experiencing the sanctifying work of the Spirit in their lives. He made them perfect, complete. The term refers to a completion, a finishing. Again, do we believe that Christ's death does this? And, if we see the plain teaching of Scripture, are we willing to alter our beliefs, and our methods of proclaiming the gospel, to fit the truth?"

White also asks:

Yet, we ask, is there an advantage in presenting to men an atonement that is theoretical, a Savior whose work is incomplete, and a gospel that is but a possibility? What kind of proclamation will God honor with His Spirit: one that is tailored to seek "success," or one that is bound to the truth of the Word of God? When the Apostles preached the Gospel, they did not say, "Christ died for all men everywhere, and it is up to you to make His work effective." They taught that Christ died for sinners, and that it was the duty of every man to repent and believe. They knew that only God's grace could bring about repentance and faith in the human heart. And far from that being a *hindrance* to their evangelistic work, it was the power behind it! They proclaimed a *powerful* Savior, whose work is all sufficient, and who saves men totally and completely! They knew that God was about bringing men to Himself, and, since He is the sovereign of the universe, there is no power on earth that will stay His hand! Now there is a solid basis for evangelism! And what could be more of a comfort to the heart that is racked with guilt than to know that Christ has died for sinners, and that His work is not just theoretical, but is real?...offensive because it proclaims a sovereign Savior who redeems His people"

In conclusion, then there is no question. God has the desire, the power and the will and intention to save all people, everywhere. And so our omnipotent sovereign savior without question: will

Objection: The Biblical Evidence for Hell

In his tetralogy called Word Studies in the New Testament, the 19th century theologian Marvin Vincent wrote:

Aion, transliterated aeon, is a period of longer or shorter duration, having a beginning and an end, and complete in itself. Aristotle (peri ouranou, i. 9,15) says: "The period which includes the whole time of one's life is called the aeon of each one." Hence it often means the life of a man, as in Homer, where one's life (aion) is said to leave him or to consume away (Iliad v. 685; Odyssey v. 160). It is not, however, limited to human life; it signifies any period in the course of events, as the period or age before Christ; the period of the millennium; the mythological period before the beginnings of history....

The adjective aionios in like manner carries the idea of time. Neither the noun nor the adjective, in themselves, carry the sense of endless or everlasting. They may acquire that sense by their connotation, as, on the other hand, aidios, which means everlasting, has its meaning limited to a given point of time in Jude 6. Aionios means enduring through or pertaining to a period of time. Both the noun and the adjective are applied to limited periods....

Words which are habitually applied to things temporal or material cannot carry in themselves the sense of endlessness. Even when applied to God, we are not forced to render aionios everlasting. Of course the life of God is endless; but the question is whether, in describing God as aionios, it was intended to describe the duration of his being, or whether some different and larger idea was not contemplated. (Vincent, Marvin. "Note on Olethron Aionion (eternal destruction)". Word Studies in the New Testament. Retrieved 18 June 2012.)

Final Thought

Rev. Elizabeth Strong, a Unitarian Universalist, sums up the issue:

Hosea Ballou (A Universalist) was riding the circuit in the New Hampshire hills with a Baptist minister one day, arguing theology as they traveled. At one point, the Baptist looked over and said, "Brother Ballou, if I were a Universalist and feared not the fires of hell, I could hit you over the head, steal your horse and saddle, and ride away, and I'd still go to heaven." Ballou looked over at him and said, "If you were a Universalist, the idea would never occur to you." 
Perhaps the reason he expressed this view is because all moral law can be summed up by the two Great Commandments: Love God and Love Others (Rom. 13:8–10) and these two commands are not distinct and exclusive. To love God is to love others and to love others is to love God. The mission is not just to save people from hell but to bring them out of the Kingdom of Darkness and into the Kingdom of Light. I will progressively update my research on Universalism in contrast to other views.


I am going to be away for many months, if you are a writer (Denis, Jose, CBD, Rad, Royal and others) please refer to Denis/Jose to get your articles published. Please pray for me while I am away, as I undergo a profound spiritual journey.

God Bless All The Snipers (and our snipers in training) I am proud of each and every one of you, and see potential in many of you that you may not yet see in yourselves. May our movement become a legacy for all the generations to follow to the Glory of our Father, Son and Holy Spirit one God, amen.

P.S. Please keep our brother Sam Shamoun in prayer. Remember our front line Apologists are being attacked by the enemy severely.

God Bless You all in Jesus Almighty name.

Paul Manata vs Derek Sansone - Does The Christian God Exist?

Paul Manata is quite possibly my favorite debater of all time. He is probably the best pressupositionalist i've heard. He has not lost a single debate I have listened to, including the following one which I have been lucky enough to find was quite a recent upload from last year (only 3 debates of his appear to be available on YouTube altogether):

As you can see this "Atheist", was probably not qualified to step in the room with Paul, this was a complete burial.