Does Christian Universalism take God’s holiness seriously enough?

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole world* is full of his glory.

* His glory doth not only appear in the heavens, but through all the world, and therefore all creatures are bound, to praise him.

Isaiah 6:3, 1599 Geneva Bible with their footnote

The Bible reveals that God’s holiness is so seriously awesome that it eradicates all evil, which brings forth the wholehearted praise of each and every being/creature that ever exists—the only type of praise befitting God. This glorious telos is progressively revealed throughout the Bible—culminating in Christ’s ministry, atonement, Temple/Church, and return. The Bible Project does a brilliant and succinct job explaining this in their 6 minute summary:

God wasn’t content to leave the cosmos in an unholy mess and revealed in Isaiah that He spreads His holiness by removing iniquity and atoning for sin:

He touched my mouth with it and said: Now that this has touched your lips, your iniquity is removed and your sin is atoned for.

Isaiah 6:7, CSB
God’s holiness purifying Isaiah. Image from The Bible Project’s Holiness video.

Ezekiel unpacks this further, with the image of God’s holiness flowing out of the sanctuary—the “Holy Place”—of the temple, bringing life and healing to the desert and eventually, even the Dead Sea (the Lake of Fire cf https://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/lake-of-fire.html).

And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”

Ezekiel 47:12, ESV

Jesus’ atonement—removing iniquity and sin—fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy. Holiness in the form of life and healing flowed out of Jesus during his earthly ministry, beginning to fulfil Ezekiel’s prophecy. He continues bringing life, healing, and hope through his people—the Church, the ultimate Temple (Ephesians 2:19-22, 1 Peter 2:4-5, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Tim 3:15, John 7:38).

Life and healing flow out of Christ’s Church. Image from The Bible Project’s Holiness video.

Finally, Revelation 22—drawing heavily on Ezekiel 47:12—reveals that Jesus (“the Lamb”) completes the fulfilment by imparting life (v2), healing (v3), and flourishing (v2) to all sinners. I say all sinners because up until this last scene, the “nations” in Revelation were those opposed to God, who ended up in the Lake of Fire but God’s holiness will overflow and transform even that “dead sea” as Ezekiel 47:8 foretold. In this way, God eliminates Adam’s curse and everyone comes to delight in following and worshipping him (v3).

Then he showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the city’s main street. The tree of life was on each side of the river, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, 3 and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will worship him.

Revelation 22:1-3, CSB
God’s holiness overflowing into all the cosmos. Image from The Bible Project’s Holiness video.

The last pages of the Bible end with a final vision about God’s holiness… And in his vision we see the whole world made completely new. The entire earth has become God’s temple. And Ezekiel’s river is there flowing out of God’s presence, immersing all of creation, removing all impurity and bringing everything back to life.

Rev Dr Tim Mackie, co-founder of The Bible Project

6 thoughts on “Does Christian Universalism take God’s holiness seriously enough?”

  1. Thank you for a wonderful presentation of the overarching Plan of the thrice-Holy God !
    Absolutely right — with this understanding, we feel the Holiness of God more than ever before.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Universalism takes God’s holiness very seriously.

    A parable:

    Doctor Bob was set apart. He really was one of a kind. He was so brilliant, so committed, so wise and so skilful that no one else even came close.

    Frank was jealous of his success.

    One fine day, Frank spread the rumour that most of Bob’s patients did not get well at all, but died in agony.

    “His success is wildly exaggerated!” he declared on CNN. “The man’s a fraud. Yes, he manages to save one or two, but his reputation is nothing but hype and spin.”

    That very evening, Sally the Reporter hammered on Bob’s door and demanded an interview.

    “You ask me to defend my good name?” said Doctor Bob. “Every one of my patients, every single person who has come to me and accepted my help, has been healed. Is that defence enough?”

    “That proves nothing,” replied Sally, unimpressed. “For all we know, you only take on patients who are not sick at all.”

    “Fair point,” replied Doctor Bob.

    “Here’s the question,” said Sally. “What happens to *really* sick people?”

    “I heal them, if they accept my help. I bring them back from the very brink. Every one.”

    Sally snorted. “And what happens if they refuse to take your magic medicine?”

    “I invite them to return when the pain becomes unbearable. They all do, of course. No one can endure torment for long. Every one returns, and every one is healed, though the longer they leave it the more difficult it becomes.”

    “And you’re prepared to stake your reputation, your good name, your honour, on this extraordinary claim?”

    “I am indeed, because it’s true.”

    The reporter stood to leave. “Well, you’re either a genius or a lunatic,” she said, “and I’m not about to favour the former.”

    “Sally,” he said gently. “Your own cancer will begin to hurt any day now…”

    She laughed. “Well, you sure got that one wrong, buddy. I’m feelin’ just fine.”

    “You have my number,” said Doctor Bob.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, I want the number of the doctor with a 100% success rate, not one who has any patients that don’t get well and die a very drawn out and agonising death.

      Like

  3. Hi Alex, it really hit me anew the Scripture you just quoted (Rev.22:1-3)…….for the healing of the nations and curse removal comes after sinners have been thrown into the lake of fire. If the sinners/r ejectors of Christ are already dealt with, why the need for further healing & curse removal? To me it is obvious that the healing leaves & curse removal is for ALL!

    Liked by 1 person

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