Gospel Guidebook: Getting and Keeping It Right  


Dangerous Teachings in Biblical Christian Universalism

I believe in Biblical Christian Universalism (also known as Universal Reconciliation and the Salvation of All). In recent years, Christian Universalism has seen somewhat of a revival of interest. For this I am grateful. At the same time, however, not all Universalists believe the same things about salvation. I believe that people need to be cautioned about this.

Opponents of Christian Universalism usually complain that Universalists give everyone, even non-Christians, a free and automatic pass into heaven. However, the people who say this have clearly not studied the writings of many Universalists. Far from believing that everyone gets a free and automatic pass into heaven, many Universalists believe that the lake of fire is a type of purgatory where both believers and unbelievers are tormented until they are sufficiently purged of their carnality and sins. According to them, the process of purgation from sin can last ages, if necessary, and can only be avoided by presently living a “cruciform life” that results in sufficient transformation of moral character. As a representative example of this type of teaching, please see this writing by J. Preston Eby on the “Lake of Fire.”

The sad thing about many Christian Universalists is that they really seem to believe that they are teaching good news. However, purgatory for believers is not good news. Salvation is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9, etc.). If salvation requires sufficient experiential purgation from sin, then it is not a gift; rather, it is a contract. A true gift requires nothing of the recipient. Please see my article Explanation and Refutation of “Justification by Experientially Participating in Christ’s Death and Resurrection” for more information on why the view of salvation held by many Christian Universalists is wrong.

As a warning, I do not recommend most of the teachers found on the website Tentmaker. In addition, I do not recommend any of the teachers found on the website Greater Emmanuel International Ministries. As an alternative, I would recommend the website Concordant Publishing Concern (CPC). It offers a grace-based approach to Christian Universalism. In fact, I became persuaded of Christian Universalism after reading an exchange between A. E. Knoch, the founder of CPC, and Arthur Pink.

For several years I was completely ignorant that many Universalists believed in purgatory. Although I am certainly not a poet, I was so overcome with grief when I learned about the teachings of these Universalists that I wrote the following poem.


Alas! O’ grief!
For lo and behold
What was thought to be a million miles from hell
Is no more than a stone’s throw removed
Woe! woe! woe!
To those believers for whom purgatory fire awaits!
Where incorruption is not so incorruptible
Where the gift is not so free
Where grace is not so gracious
And where works must somehow be
Woe! woe! woe!
To those believers for whom the chastisements of fire await!
What was thought to be a gift from the Slain
Came to be an obligation of pain
What was thought to be of the blood of the Lamb
Delivered only more of the same
Woe! woe! woe!
To those believers for whom the astonishment of fire awaits!
Who had an expectation of glory
But are sorely put to shame
Who had belief in the Savior
But found only MENE MENE TEKEL