Summary: Where did this pernicious doctrine of universalism originate?
1. When my brother called me vicious.
Was I wrong to tell my brother that universalism is a false teaching?
He called my comments "vicious." That's a good Bible word, and I guess my warnings to him about his present course were pretty harsh. But hey, I was in shock. This brother seemed to be such a stalwart soldier of the cross. He had given his life to the Lord and to the Lord's work. A no-compromiser for sure.
And here he was espousing universalism. All will be saved. No one will be lost. There is no eternal punishment.
I started out with warnings. I even suggested once, knowing his sense of humor, that perhaps he was putting all his Facebook friends on. He was going to lead us into thinking he had gone off the deep end so we would rise to the occasion and preach the truth online, for others to see. Then he would jump out of hiding, say "gotcha", and life would go on.
No. He really believes in the doctrine of inclusion. That all will be saved. No hell.
And yet in his eyes, I am vicious. Biblically that adjective applies to wolves, the kind that come in with no concern for the flock, and, well, eat the flock. Now that's vicious. I wanted to shake my brother, but not consume him. Not even hurt him.
The universalist heresy is decidedly vicious by the above description. Vicious on many counts. These are the ones that come to mind:
1. It allows man to continue on in his sin, since he knows that eventually all will be saved.
2. It nullifies the command for us to call all to repentance.
3. It denies the sinfulness of sin, suggesting that God should not judge it so severely.
4. It suggests that God is unjust to allow men to have an eternity without Christ. This sort of suffering is over the top.
5. It denies clear Scriptures that talk of eternal punishment, thus calling into question the inspiration of Scriptures.
6. It depends on the sayings of selected church fathers and even apocryphal writings to prop it up. The sufficiency of Scripture is thus also questioned.
7. It heavily leans on that most unworthy of supports, human reasoning and logic.
8. It draws no clear lines between righteous and unrighteous.
9. The entire missions program of the church, begun by the Great Commission of Jesus, is abrogated. All will be saved. Why go?
10. It applies faulty hermeneutics to writings of Paul, Peter, and John where there are sentiments that seem to support universalism.
11. It joins forces with all the major cults and the deepest feelings of carnal men all over the world. No one likes to be punished.
12. It assumes that if Jesus takes punishment for sin, man must never suffer consequences.
Any religious system that denies the Word, trusts man, belittles God, bypasses repentance, and espouses false promises to the unregenerate can only be called vicious. Awful. Damnable.
Oh people of God! Stay far from this poison and the wolves that promote it!
HISTORY of UNIVERSALIST THOUGHT
How long has this strange doctrine been among us?
2. A pernicious persistent weed...
The fact that fathers and other church leaders through the years have proclaimed a faith in Universalist principles is proof only of the persistence of the Satanic hosts, not of the Spirit's will being infused into the Body. There are persons who might look at a portion of my yard and determine that clover and crab grass are the norm, while bluegrass is an exception to it. Prevalence of lies does not replace the Truth, but in the minds of believers establishes it.
Jesus, Paul, John, Peter... they did not teach universalism. We must look elsewhere for its origins. And this particular aberration seems to have been sprinkled throughout history, giving rise to the boldness of modern adherents, as they point to this or that weed-grower and say "Aha! You see, this thing is not new."
Definitely not new. But not old enough to count, either. As early as the second century one will find a mishmash of "utterances" put together in book form and known as the Sibylline Oracles. Some were written by Christians, some by Jews. Some are good, some are simply pagan. They were rejected early on as inspired of God. But they do seem to favor our subject.
Some church fathers of this time seem to have been swayed toward universalism. In studying other cult beliefs I have found that the church fathers, as wonderful as they might have been in much of their teaching and lives, are not reliable sources of truth. They contradict one another and the Scriptures.
From the mid third century on, universalism was picked up by heretic groups such as the Manicheans. These were simply gnostics in Christian form. The gnostic heresy had already been condemned by the apostle John in his first epistle. But some of their teachings hung on.