reasons for universal reconciliation universalism apokatastasis

10 Reasons for Christian Universalism

While the Bible is a heterogeneous mixture of literary genres, and largely narrative in structure, Christians have often decided to simply make numbered lists when advocating for certain theological ideas.* Here are ten reasons why I think Christian universalism makes sense. The list is by no means exhaustive, and yet there is even some overlap among the concepts presented in the different points. I’ve decided to only include one Biblical reference per reason listed, although there could be many more reasons enumerated and many more verses cited.

1. If we grow to truly love everyone (Mark 12:31), we will never be completely happy in heaven if we know someone is forever suffering or has been annihilated. Heaven, to really be heaven, must have wholly joyful residents who sincerely love every person.

2. The age of accountability (often held to be around 12 years old) is an idea many Christians accept because it makes sense that the young and ignorant wouldn’t suffer forever in hell for bad acts that they could not fully understand. The same allowance is made for those with mental disabilities. But we are ALL ignorant and confused in many ways, perpetually, while living here and now. A six-year-old child can do things that are obviously wrong and that they know should not be done—but many people accommodate their theology for those situations because the child is young, still learning, and ignorant of the full effects of the act (despite understanding enough to know it is wrong). We are all, to varying degrees, like that child while we live on this earth, in this age. None of us is completely free of ignorance and confusion. For now, we see through a glass, darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12).

3. God’s good creation was not made with the capacity to depart from its original purposes forever. It was made with a degree of freedom allowing for opposition to God temporarily, but to oppose him for all eternity is not a viable option. Creation cannot stray from being itself forever (Genesis 1:31).

4. Christ defeated death completely, not just partially (2 Timothy 1:10), and death will by no means have the last word—whether annihilation or everlasting torment (never-ending spiritual death).

5. As all of creation was corrupted, all of it will be redeemed. The parallel between Christ and Adam does not conclude with Adam having a more extensive effect on humanity than Christ’s redemptive work (1 Corinthians 15:22).

6. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). God, as perfect love, will eventually cast out all fear from every corner of the universe. It is impossible to avoid living in fear of hell (whether for yourself or for others—even long dead people) if one truly loves every person, and hell is thought of as either everlasting conscious torment or annihilation. If the experience of suffering after death is understood as a temporary situation brought about by people’s own sins, then there is no conflict between the concepts of God’s judgement and his love. If everyone is reunited with God in the end, fear of permanent loss can be alleviated.

7. To make sense of God as Love (1 John 4:16), all his acts must be loving. The fires of judgement, then, must be for the sake of restoration. No one will, with minds stripped of ignorance and grace filling their presence, resist God forever. There would simply be no rational reason to do so—and with time on God’s side, irrationality will eventually be banished from the universe.

8. Universal salvation is the happiest possible ending to the story as we know it—and God being perfect and all-powerful did not create a universe with a less-than-maximally-happy final state (Isaiah 46:10).

9. God understands each person so perfectly, and can see their hearts so clearly (1 Samuel 16:7b), that he is able to correct them and help them grow toward him in various ways suited for their individual situations, until ultimate reconciliation occurs for each person without any coercion or forcing their wills on God’s part. 

10. Sin is, by its nature, a finite thing. All have sinned, and yet grace overcomes everyone’s sin (Romans 3:23-24). Rebellion against the infinite is only a temporary distortion that cannot outlast the ground of all being.

*Perhaps the most famous example being Martin Luther’s Nintey-Five Theses, but I also think the lengthy Universalist tract from the 1800s is worth checking out: 150 Reasons for Believing in the Final Salvation of All Mankind.

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