Category: Highlights

Does the Bible support Christian Universalism?

Below is my transcript of this interview excerpt:

Eric Metaxas: Hey there folks, it’s The Eric Metaxas Show. I’m talking to George Sarris. His book is Heaven’s doors: wider than you ever believed! George you said you have some scriptures you wanted to share?

George Sarris: Yeah, I think that it’s important because most people will go to certain scriptures that talk about Hell and they think that it means never ending—when it doesn’t—but they miss a lot of descriptions that are actually in favor of, or at least speak to, the fact that God is going to ultimately restore. For example:

Christ is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 2:2

Christ came to seek and save what was lost—did he succeed or did he fail?

For as in Adam all die so in Christ all will be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15:22

For God has bound all men [translated “everyone” in NIV, NLT, JUB, et al.] over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Romans 11:32

And a very well known one:

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 2:9-11

The word that is used there for “confessed”, by the way, means positive confession, it means voluntary confession.

Eric: Okay, that’s the key right there because that’s the first thing comes into my mind and I know there a lot of listeners saying, “wait a second, the demons will confess this” but you’re saying there’s a different word for confess?

George: That is correct. It’s a word that means praise and plus the fact that God doesn’t like hypocrites. He doesn’t like people that stand up in the inside while bowing down on the outside. What he wants is true confession—he doesn’t want somebody [pretending]. It would be to God’s shame to say that he’s like the Roman emperors who forced people to say, “Yes, God you are wonderful. I love you.” It’s like a mechanical computer, it’s not a person.

this is good and pleases God our Savior who wants all men [translated “everyone” in HCSB, GNT, NRSV, et al.] to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all men.

1 Timothy 2:3-6

Eric: But wouldn’t people say that’s as a potential ransom? In other words, that he gives himself but he doesn’t force us to accept him?

George: Right, except that it doesn’t say, “a potential ransom”, it says “a ransom for all men”. Now that’s not applied until it’s accepted—that’s understood. By the way, the only thing I’m really saying that’s different than what most Christians believe, is that God doesn’t stop being God. He doesn’t stop his grace at the moment of death. That’s the bottom line. Why would God not continue into the age, ages, because scripture talks about ages plural.

Eric: In our last program you quoted the verse from Hebrews, “It’s appointed once for man to die, then the judgment.”

George: Right.

Eric: I’ve heard that quoted over and over, and people treat it as though that settles the issue. So why do you say that that scripture doesn’t settle the issue?

George: Because judgment doesn’t mean that you’re going to be eternally punished forever. It doesn’t say anything about Hell being forever. It just means that, yes, God makes a judgment, “You’re not allowed to come into my presence right now because you have not accepted the grace that I’ve given through my son Jesus Christ. Therefore you have to go to hell to experience increasingly the consequences of your actions.” But it doesn’t say that he’s going to stop being gracious to them when they’re in hell. There’s nothing in scripture that talks about that being the case.

By the way, you mentioned earlier (in fact one of the big issues that always comes up), “Well, God is also just. He’s not just loving, he’s also just.” Well what that does is bring up a bigger problem, that is, is God conflicted internally? Does he have a problem—that his justice and his love are kind of warring at each other throughout eternity? No! His love (working through justice) or his justice (working through love) are what caused Christ to die on the cross for our sins. That’s why he accomplished his purposes. God is loving and he’s just, and he’s all-powerful and he’s all wise, and he does what he wants to do and that has been revealed. What he wants to do is to save everyone. “It is God’s desire that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” and he’s able to accomplish it.


The next post asks, “If this is true, why have I never heard about it?”

 Heaven's Doors: Wider than you ever believed!

Good News for those you thought you had lost forever!

George Sarris was recently interviewed about his new book, Heaven’s Doors. Below I’ve transcribed his excellent answer to one of the first questions people ask about Christian Universalism, “Why would anyone bother becoming a Christian now, if they’re guaranteed to become one later on?”

Eric Metaxas: Hey there folks. It’s the Eric Metaxas show and I am talking about Hell. It’s “Hell Week” on the Eric Metaxas show and my first guest this week is my old friend, George Sarris, who has a book out, Heaven’s Doors, in which he maintains that hell is real but it is not forever and ever. George, welcome to the program.

George Sarris: Thank you very much.

Eric: Your book, Heaven’s Doors, to some people is not just controversial but it’s heretical and damaging. And they say that your book could lead people not to take [hell] seriously and if it leads one soul away from being with God forever, that there’s nothing worse.

George: One of the key elements of Christianity is that the ends do not justify the means. Right, so if it’s true, you got to preach it.

Number two, the early church preached this [and] they took over the Roman Empire! It was not something that led people away from Christ, it was something that led them to Christ—understanding that God is really good. There are two great Commandments: you’ve got the great commandment to love God with all of your heart [and] you also have the commandment to love people—to love your neighbor as yourself. The biggest problem that I see within the evangelical world today is that we have changed the great commission from making disciples into making converts. And this whole idea of giving a fire insurance policy to somebody—I go in there, I get his name on a card, and I can therefore say, “Hey, this person is now a Christian, I can go to the next person.” I forget about them. I don’t have to worry about them anymore because, “Hey, I got them out of hell”. That’s [seen as] the only legitimate reason for being out there.

Third thing is, hell, in my experience, has been the greatest hindrance to the spread of the gospel, not the greatest help to the spread of the gospel. Eternal conscious suffering for anyone, is not good news! Whatever you say, it’s not good news, it is the most dreadful news ever announced.

There was a man by the name of Francis Xavier, in fact the film Silence relates a little bit to that. Francis Xavier was Portuguese and he was the first missionary to Japan and had a tremendous ministry over there. In 1552, he wrote a letter back to the Vatican, and this is what he wrote in part:

One of the things that most of all pains and torments these Japanese is that we teach them that the prison of hell is irrevocably shut so that there is no egress therefrom. For they grieve over the fate of their departed children, of their parents and relatives, and they often show their grief by their tears. So they asked us if there is any hope, any way to free them by prayer from that eternal misery and I’m obliged to answer that there is absolutely none. Their grief at this affects and torments them, they almost pine away with sorrow. They often ask if God cannot take their fathers out of hell and why their punishment must never have an end. I can hardly restrain my tears sometimes at seeing men, so dear to my heart, suffer such intense pain about a thing which is absolutely done and there’s no way that it can be undone.

That is not good news. That’s one of the reasons why the gospel has not made a significant impact in cultures that have a high view of relationships, like over in the Far East where your ancestors are important to you. Your family is important to you in the Middle East. Your family is important to you.

Eric: Right.

George: Well, it’s great to know that you’re going to get saved but what about my father? What about my sister? What about my uncle? What about my grandfather? My children? That’s not good news and that’s what keeps people away from God. The bottom line is to tell people that this god you’re telling them about (who’s supposed to be so loving) would either cause, or allow, billions of people to suffer consciously forever! That is just… He’s not a very nice God. The one thing that I always fall back on is, I know that God is a just God and that I can trust him.


The next post looks at whether George’s view is biblical…

Videoclip: The Gauntlet Thrown Down by Evangelical Universalists—Williamson at Moore College

Dr Paul Williamson lectures in Old Testament, Hebrew and Aramaic at Moore College, has written a number of books, and was a NIV Study Bible contributor. In the first lecture of the Annual Moore College Lectures, he surveyed the views of the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Zoroastrians, Greeks, and Romans then focused on Evangelical views. He also explained what each of the remaining lectures would cover.

Of particular interest were his comments (clips below) on Evangelical Universalism—he explains the view and says that, “a gauntlet has been thrown down”. In the Q&A it turns out he has read the second edition of Four Views on Hell, and while he disagrees with Robin Parry, he acknowledges that Parry is a genuine Evangelical seeking to be faithful to Scripture.

One other comment that caught my attention was:

Hell has generally been perceived as a place of conscious punishment that endures forever. Not surprisingly, many find such a thought deeply disturbing, indeed there’s probably something wrong with you if you don’t find such a thought deeply disturbing.

Paul Williamson, at 1h 22m 36s

I look forward to seeing him engage these topics further in the rest of the lectures.

Annual Moore College Lectures 2016 "Death and the Life Hereafter" by Dr Paul Williamson
Annual Moore College Lectures 2016
“Death and the Life Hereafter”
by Dr Paul Williamson