A brief history of where the “all men are saved” teaching comes from…
“Traditionally, the doctrine of Universalism was traced by Universalist historians back to the teachings of Origen of Alexandria (c.185-284), an influential early Church Father and writer. Origen believed in apocatastasis, the ultimate restoration and reconciliation of creation with God, which was interpreted by Universalists historians to mean the salvation and reconciliation with God of all souls which had ever existed, including Satan and his demons.
Origen also believed in the pre-existence of souls and that glorified Man may have to go through cycles of sin and redemption before reaching perfection. The teachings of Origen were declared anathema at the Ecumenical Council of 553, centuries after his death, though Gregory of Nyssa, another figure to whom Universalist historians attributed Universalist belief, was commended as an Orthodox defender of the faith by the same Council. Universalist historians have also identified Johannes Scotus Eriugena (815-877), and Amalric of Bena (c. 1200) as Universalists. Much of this research was incorporated by French priest Pierre Batiffol into an article on Apocatastasis later translated for the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia.
During the Protestant Reformation, all doctrines and practices of the Catholic (Universal) Church were re-examined and numerous sects formed, although none revived the belief (originally attributed to Origen) in universal reconciliation. In 1525, Hans Denck (1425-1527) was accused of being a Universalist, but this is now considered unlikely.
Jane Leade (1623–1704), a mystic who claimed to have seen heaven and hell, started a Universalist congregation, the Philadelphians, which dissipated after her death. She was a Behmenist rather than orthodox Trinitarian.
John Murray (1741–1815) was forced to leave the Methodist Church because of his Universalism. In 1770, he came to New England and is credited with being the Father of Universalism in North America. Although Murray was a Trinitarian (as was his mentor, James Relly), his successor, Hosea Ballou (1771–1852) was a strong Unitarian who opposed Trinitarianism, Calvinism, and legalism.”
So the claims are true except it is not the whole truth. The early father teaches this. Not the early fathers. He was stoned for it.
John Murray began to teach the same. He was excommunicated from his church from it.
Here are some of the ways and means they explain certain problematic verses to them.
The following are problematic verses for Trinitarian Universalists and which they usually seek to qualify in some way.
- The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats
- Matthew 25:14-30
- Jesus is teaching a principle of Kingdom living: small acts of kindness have eternal value. This is not a teaching about what merits salvation and what merits damnation and it is definitely not a teaching about the eternity of hell. Also, the Greek word ‘aion’ can be interpreted as “a long time” as well as “eternal”. Finally, this passage may not be dealing with personal eschatology at all, but rather with the judgement of Christ on nations based on how they treat his children. On this view, the passage teaches that nations that abuse Christians will be subject to enduring chastisement while those who protect Christians will enjoy enduring life.
- Pauline writings
- 2 Thessalonians 1:9
- The phrase “everlasting destruction” could be translated as “destruction of the coming age” which makes it a reference to eschatological judgment. The phrase “and shut out” should be translated as “that comes from”. Therefore the verse should be read as: “They will be punished with destruction of the coming age that comes from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.” The imagery is that of the holiness of God burning away forever the sinful nature of unrepentant man.
- Eschaton in Revelation
- Revelation 14:11
- In view of the overwhelming evidence for Universalism in the Bible, especially in the writings of Paul, this description is hyperbole. Revelation images are metaphorical and no one knows what they really mean.
- Revelation 19:3
- This refers to the whore of Babylon which is a metaphor for corrupt political systems and/or economic policies. It is not a reference to the eternal suffering of people.
- In Revelation, the kings of the earth are depicted as in league with the Whore of Babylon, which is probably symbolic of corrupt political and/or socioeconomic systems, and they are drunk on the maddening wine of her adulteries. They weep and mourn when she is finally thrown into the Lake of Fire.Then they gather on the plains of Megiddo with the Beast to fight the “King of kings and Lord of lords” and the armies of heaven in the final battle, Armageddon.
- They are defeated and the Beast and his False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire. Those who followed them are slain with “the sword that came out of the mouth” of the Word of God which is probably symbolic of the Gospel or Truth. But in the last scene in New Jerusalem, where the gates are ever open, where the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations, the kings of the earth are expected to enter, bringing their splendor with them.
- These sound pretty “forced” to me.
- Let’s look at what Origen teaches.
- Origen (pron.: /ˈɒrɪdʒən/; Greek: Ὠριγένης Ōrigénēs), or Origen Adamantius (184/185 – 253/254), was a scholar and theologian of early Christian interest in Alexandria, and one of the writers regarding the early Church. During the fifth and sixth centuries, his orthodoxy was questioned, largely because he believed in the pre-existence and transmigration of souls, and apokatastasis, or universal reconciliation, ideas which were discussed among some patristic writers but which were later rejected as heretical. The Council of Constantinople in 453 CE posthumously excommunicated Origen, and the 2nd Council of Constantinople in 553 CE declared apokatastasis as heresy.
- His writings are included in the general collection of early Church Fathers. However, unlike many church fathers, Origen was never canonized by the Catholic Church, because some of his teachings (for example, that every man and woman, and even the devil and his demons, would ultimately be saved) directly contradicted the teachings and actions of the apostles.
- Origen was a prolific writer in multiple branches of theology, including textual criticism, biblical exegesis and hermeneutics, philosophical theology,preaching, and spirituality. Some of his teachings, however, quickly became controversial. Notably, he frequently referred to his hypothesis of the pre-existence of souls.
- As in the beginning all intelligent beings were united to God, Origen also held out the possibility, though he did not assert so definitively, that in the end all beings, perhaps even the arch-fiend Satan, would be reconciled to God in what is called the apokatastasis (“restitution”).
- Origen’s views on the Trinity, in which he saw the Son of God as subordinate to God the Father, became controversial during the Arian controversy of the fourth century, though a subordinationist view was common among the ante-Nicene Fathers.
- A group who came to be known as Origenists, and who firmly believed in the preexistence of souls and the apokatastasis, were declared anathema in the 6th century. This condemnation is attributed to the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, though it does not appear in the council’s official minutes.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origen
- What about John Murray?In 1760 Murray returned to England and joined George Whitefield‘s congregation; but embracing, somewhat later, the Universalistic teachings of Welsh minister James Relly he was excommunicated.
In regard to Jesus, he taught that in him God became the Son; for “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, are no more than different exhibitions of the self-same existent, omnipresent Being.”
He taught that all men would ultimately be saved through the sacrifice of Christ, the basis for this being the union of all men in Christ, just as they were united with Adam, and therefore partaking of the benefits of his sacrifice.
So there you have it, friends, when you embrace these teachers, and their doctrine, we are left with the unification between Satan and God. I have a real problem with that. Don’t you? I also have a problem to tell me that the Father and the Son is the same person.
My question here is this, Why is Origen and John Murray deemed as error teachers when they called other grace people who believe in hell, faith and election ignorant?