Home » Posts tagged 'universal salvation'
Tag Archives: universal salvation
Economist John Forbes Nash won a Noble prize for game theory. He made two points. (1) The more valuable something appears to be in the minds of the competitors, the higher the price it generates. As an example, he noted that a beautiful girl created greater competition than just a pretty girl vying for the same group of young men.
(2) Competitors seek to keep the final price as cheap as possible, which he called equilibrium. For math-nuts there is a pile of equations which we will ignore here. Both theories apply to modern Christian evangelism.
Nash described a bar scene where a group of college boys discussed the girls. A pretty girl entered and several of the men, but not all of them, went over to get her attention. A little later on a drop-dead gorgeous girl came in and all the men gathered round.
The prize of the game – the girl – earned her value by her perceived worth to the men based on her beauty. Her actual value may have been very little – in fact she might be a tiresome pill. The merely pretty girl may be much more clever, intelligent and talented but this did not factor into the game.
Let us apply this to the issue of Christian evangelism. Clearly the most valuable thing available to humans today is the saving of their soul. Its loss is an eternal disaster.
If we apply game theory two things become obvious. Modern evangelism does not attach a high price to salvation. Television religious programming which reaches the largest audience focuses on the “love of God” to the point of leaving listeners to conclude that God is too nice and too tolerant to ever send anyone to hell.
Theologians dubbed this “sloppy agape” or “cheap grace” so what cost Him everything we regard lightly or not at all. It is one jump from there to the wrong conclusion that God saves everyone and that hell is a wild image from Renaissance literature, with gargoyles spitting and lashing out their tongues at us from the stone walls of ancient cathedrals. Some teachers even conclude that there is no hell at all except for a handful of really BAD people and we all know who they are! The rest they say end up in heaven.
There is a not a shred of evidence to support universal salvation or the absence of hell. To compare this with Nash’s theory, the beautiful girl that the men compete for is not all that beautiful, in fact, she may be very ordinary. Statistically we know that 30% of the born again believers do not go to churches. If there is no competition, no real loss in choices of life or death – why bother??
If hell is not really that big a deal, then being saved is not a big deal either. Many people already believe their sin is not so bad that anyone, much less they must die for it, but just to get their ticket punched each week they show up at church. Equilibrium for them is the uneasy self-satisfaction of knowing they have done their very least.
Originally printed in Pathway Press, 2013.
For forty years now TV evangelists remind us how much God loves us, so much that millions of listeners have come to believe in universal salvation – that God loves everyone so much no one goes to hell. Some even believe there is no hell.
First, God loves what He created – individuals. Like the potter who uses the medium of dirt (think of Adam here) to make a vessel. Some vessels hold water, some oil and others are simply for decoration. The use of the pot does not give it any status.
Vessels don’t compete with each other for rank. At the same time, the Potter can throw the clay back into the mix if there is a problem. He has to remove as much air as possible or the vessel will be flawed. I know a lot of vessels with too much air in them.
Because we are His workmanship God loves us even when we choose to ruin our lives. His role as creator is not changed by your role as a vessel. Human beings are given the opportunity, called grace, to live forever in His presence. We can reject that gift. And if we do, God’s love continues, because it is Holy.
God loves us even when we choose hell. Perhaps it is hard to believe that; how can God still love us when we are there? Because love is not dependent on what you do or what you choose.
He gave you the chance to choose right and you choose something else,. He is not changed by your decision – saddened yes, changed no. In much the same way a woman who is cast off by her husband still loves him even though he goes after another woman. Her love has not changed. His, most likely, never was love for her at all.
But that is because Human Love does not have its root in holiness, at least not until we have a infusion of God’s Holy Spirit. Romans 5:5 “because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
God’s love in us allows us to love others in a new way. Without this there is no explanation for missionaries who endure all kinds if deprivation in order to leave the comforts of home for often dangerous, hostile areas of the world. This love is sacrificial, so God is willing to allow you to reject Him. Either He sacrifices himself on a cross to bring you into His kingdom, or he allows you to leave His kingdom for your own devices. It is a sacrifice either way.
And because humans do not know how to do this, they also cannot imagine God would allow anyone to stay in Hell. Right now some reader is thinking, but doesn’t God send some to heaven and others to hell? Some people teach that?
No, God sent us to earth to live our lives in decision – we decide whether God is central to our lives or Self. I love the early scene in Ghost, the movie. A street gang member kills a man and several black robed demons take the killer off to Hell. It could not be more plain. I bet some Hollywood type out there saw that in a dream. All life is eternal, only where you spend it is your choice.
Human love is bound up in time; God’s love is eternal. We are here for the long haul, not just a few short 75 years, or 80 or more. We have a time-date stamp.