The Universalism Delusion

When a recent Barna poll indicated that 57% of self-professing "evangelical Christians" believe that many other religions can lead to eternal life, it is easy to see why a concept such as that of Universalism is on the rise.

Universalism teaches that all religions are worshiping the same God in different ways. There are many who call themselves Christians that are moving toward a universalist view of mankind, where we can accept anyone’s God as the same God of the Scripture claiming we do not worship different Gods but the same one by different names. Thus, universalism affirms that all people will be saved.

Within this belief system, the concepts of hell and punishment are rejected as inconsistent with a loving God. People often want to do away with a concept that they cannot understand nor wish to follow if it collides with their individual belief.

When Paul warned that a person could not be saved by “works,” he referred to the works of obedience to the Jewish law (Romans 3:20). When James called for deeds, he was not suggesting that these deeds resulted in salvation. He was calling for Christians to do what living faith naturally does: show care and concern for those in need (Acts 6:1–4; 9:36–43; 20:34–35; Romans 15:25–27; 1 Timothy 5:1–16).

Combine this with the clear understanding of what is required for salvation—such as in Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 5:1, it becomes extremely clear that works have no basis for salvation and anyone who believes otherwise is denying the truth of God’s Word.

Universalism thrives in a postmodern relativism worldview. We see movements in churches across the country where tolerance is being promoted over truth. Possibly in an effort to grow membership, a trend towards friendship with the world is being espoused so as to not appear as hostile to the “mainstream” beliefs we see on television and movies. Unfortunately, for those who promote this concept, they are in direct contradiction to Scripture (James 4:4). Universalism holds the view that God grants salvation to those who are sincere in their religious beliefs, no matter how false those beliefs are. This of course has been a held position of most of the world religions that already do not believe there is any one way to God.

Therefore, to adopt universalism is to deny the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Since there are multiple pathways to God and eternal life, what value was the death of Jesus? The universalist cannot reconcile John 14:6 or Acts 4:12. This is seen as way too exclusive and therefore must be ignored.

Yes, the Bible teaches God is love (1 John 4:8), but God also punishes the unrepentant sinner. God cannot be reduced to only an infinitely loving God and ignore His other attributes. He is also infinitely just. He must deal with sin because of His nature of being. He must punish the sinner for their refusal to repent, just as He rewards the saint for their work. The one who rejects Jesus does not have forgiveness of sins, and has the wrath of God abiding upon him. What universalists ignore is the clear statements of Scripture that condemn those outside of Christ (John 3:18-21, 36; Romans 3:19-26; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Thus, the danger of universalism is that it can give someone a false sense of security about his or her eternity. It ignores the need for repentance and salvation. What it does remove is accountability for sin and the fear of any judgment. It does not require repentance. A person who adopts universalism can easily conclude that he is going to be saved no matter what he does.

This excerpt from Reverend Moody seems an appropriate conclusion:

“Ah,” some people say, “I believe in the mercy of God; I don’t believe God will allow one to perish; I believe everyone will get to Heaven.” Look at those antediluvians. Do you think He swept all those sinners, all those men and women who were too wicked to live on earth—do you believe He swept them all into Heaven, and left the only righteous man to wade through the flood? Do you think He would do this? And yet many men believe all will go into Heaven. The day will come when you will wake up and know that you have been deceived by the devil. No unrepentant sinner will ever get into Heaven; unless they forsake their sin they cannot enter there. The Law of God is very plain on this point: “Except a man repent.” That’s the language of Scripture. And when this is so plainly set down, why is it that men fold their arms and say, “God will take me into Heaven, anyway?” And yet they believe in the mercy of God, whether they repent or not. My dear friends, don’t go on under that delusion; it is a snare of the devil. I tell you, the Word of God is true, and it tells us, “Except a man repent” there is not one ray of hope held out. May the Spirit of God open your eyes to-night and show you the truth—let it go into your hearts. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous his thoughts.”