Recently I have been in discussions with some friends that read my blog fairly consistently and they have, in an effort to understand my beliefs, have baited me by calling me a universalist.
That is fair, since I may not have defined every specific teaching as they may want, most likely due to the fact I honestly haven’t come to a settled persuasion on some of the teaching they may ask about me.
Initially, as I have stated in previous posts, I was surprised with the number of passages that support an evangelical universal reconciliation teaching. Please do not think that this teaching is the same as the “all roads lead to heaven” teaching, which I consider to be blasphemous. There is only one way to the Father, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ.
With this, I would like to begin delving into some of the New Testament passages Mr. Giles brought to my attention, for your consideration, edification and civil discussion.
Regarding the book itself, I read it in one sitting, not simply because it was under 200 pages, but that it was challenging my thought process and I found it enjoyable reading. If this topic interests you, please pick up a copy. It is well worth your time.
Our third blog post will begin with passage 3, Romans 5:18-19
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.
For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
It is interesting, as I look for solid teaching on the rebuttal of this verse, that many teachers go out of the way to explain what Paul is not teaching. In one commentary, by James Montgomery Boice, he makes the following statement regarding verse 18. (italics mine)
All men… all men – Paul is using all men with two different meanings for the sake of parallelism, a common practice in the Hebrew Old Testament, which is similar Paul’s repetition of the phrase the many in Romans 5:15 (note). The first all covers all humanity who are born into Adam. The second all refers to that part of the first all who by grace through faith are reborn into the Last Adam, Christ (Paul repeatedly emphasizes righteousness and faith – see notes Romans 1:16; 17; 3:22; 3:28; 4:5; 4:13. To reiterate – Paul is not teaching universal salvation.)
How is it that in using the same phrase, we can negate Paul’s possible intent simply by referring to parallelism? (I understood parralelism to be a method of teaching that reiterated a particular truth in a parallel phrase – Is that incorrect?)
It is telling that this master teacher has to repeat – “Paul is not teaching universal salvation” This reiteration seems to be provided since without it, the text, when simply read, speaks of “One act of righteousness leading to justification and life for all men”. Paul does not explain how this works out in the plan of God, but does give us a summary of his argument in verses 18-19.
Mr Giles quote is helpful from his book.
“Paul leaves us very little wiggle room to read this any other way than what it plainly appears to say: That in the same way everyone was made a sinner due to Adam’s sin, everyone will be made righteous because of Christs obedience.”
I agree with Mr. Giles logic, and yet I refuse to be a “one verse” Christian. I am sure you may have met the believer who rests his entire trust in a specific teaching on a few favorite proof texts, not considering passages that may provide balance, that may provide the whole counsel of God. I grant that focusing on a few verse to maintain a position is appealing, yet it may not produce the well rounded, mature believer that we are to grow up into.
As I have mentioned many times in this blog, the Bible is not equal to a comic strip such as Garfield. A sideways glance at a verse will not produce a deep faith. An overemphasis on a few verses will not result in a balanced faith.
Is the Universal Reconciliation teaching too good to be true? I would ask my reader why we restrict the good news of the life and death of our Messiah?
Why do we take the elder brothers stance when we consider that the love of God may extend much farther that we understand or comprehend.
How do you understand this challenging verse. Can you find a way to avoid the conclusion Mr. Giles offers above, without referring to other passages, but simply from the immediate context?
I look forward to the discussion.
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.