Below is a partial list of questions taken from the website, GodsLoveWins.com, which address the concept of universal salvation as well as some other subjects. These are great questions for anyone who is seeking a better understanding of the kingdom of God.
1. If God is holy and perfect would it be reasonable to conclude that He would leave most of His creation in an eternal state of unholiness and imperfection?
2. Was Jesus Christ the Savior of the World or just the Potential Savior of the World?
3. Can we legitimately and honestly claim that, "God conquered sin, death and hell" if most of mankind are going to exist in a perpetual state of sin, death and rebellion forever in hell? Does God really conquer death or does He "sponsor death"?
4. How can God be "all in all" and "everything to everyone" if most are consigned to an eternal hell "away from" the presence of the Lord?
5. If all living beings are "sustained by His grace" and "held together" by the word of His power how can anyone truly be separated from God in a place called hell forever? Will God be there with them in hell ...sustaining them during their eternal punishment?
6. Why are the words "away from" or "separated from" added to II Thessalonians 1:9 which significantly changes its meaning from "an age of punishment from the face of the Lord" to "away from the presence of the Lord?" Are these not two very different meanings? One is very serious indeed but not without hope given God's promise to "make all thing new". The latter is entirely without hope.
7. How can justice be paid or satisfied with a sentence that never ends? Does God inflict infinite punishment upon those He says "are but dust" and of whom He claims, "He knows our frame"? (Psa. 103:14)
8. Why do we advocate social justice and for "restorative justice" in our prisons if it is only an earthly temporal reality with absolutely no reference to God's ultimate justice? Is not restorative justice a reflection of God's character? Does His character change?
9. How can God promise "justice for all the oppressed" if most of the world's oppressed die before ever receiving it? Are they resurrected to receive their justice for the evil done to them only later to be thrown into hell with their oppressors because they did not put their faith in Jesus before death?
10. If the word justice is the same word for righteousness, which literally means "right-useness", would that mean that God's justice is in harmony with His love which naturally seeks to restore His creation to its original intention and design?
11. If God asks us to pray, "Our Father" and every knee will bow "to the glory of God the Father" and "we are all His offspring" (Acts 17:28) how is it in the end His primary role will be as the Eternal Torturer of most of His offspring?
12. Why is the concept of an eternal state in a place called "hell" absent in the Old Testament? And therefore why would God neglect for thousands of years to warn people of the most horrific reality ever to face mankind?
13. How do you account for all the passages where "the world", "all people", "all of creation", and "every knee" is bowing in worship to God in the future?
14. Is not the idea of death, rebellion, hatred of God and sin cycling forever in "hell" more like a form of dualism than the plan of a holy, loving, all-powerful God?
15. If you are defending an eternal hell on the basis of preserving man's free-will to choose then how is it that eventually every knee is said to bow which, in your estimation, would be against their will?
16. If you claim that man has ultimate free-will then does not this mean that God ultimately loses His? But did he not say, "I am not willing that ANY should perish but that ALL should come to repentance"?
17. When we consider all the references to God's name (well over 600) why is there not found a single name that depicts an image of an Eternal Torturer?
18. Are we to love our enemies while God does not? Does God help us obey His command to love our enemies while He does not?
19. Can we love our neighbor and love God at the same time if He is planning on sending the majority of our neighbors to hell forever? How do we truly keep both commands? If we love our neighbor as ourselves we will naturally wish their good and not damnation (against God). If we love God we will have to naturally support God's damnation of most of our neighbors (against our neighbors).
20. What do you perceive we will be doing in a million years? Will all of heaven hate those in hell while all those in hell hate those in heaven? Or will those in heaven love those in hell? Or will we have to trade our mindset of "loving our neighbor as ourselves" to being callous condemners of the majority of mankind? (... we are told we will be "ruling and reigning with Him.")
21. Does hatred never fail or does "love never fail"?
1. How is it that not one of the names of God depict Him as an Eternal Torturer who will consign most of His creation to a hopeless eternal hell?…
Savior of the World, Redeemer, Restorer, Deliverer, A Righteous Judge, The Awesome God, The Rock, The Defender, The Resurrection and the Life, Our Shield, Strong Tower, Abba Father, The King of Kings, God of All Hope, Grace and Comfort, The Judge of all the Earth, The Good Shepherd, The Bread of Life, The Door, Our Provider, Our Healer, Our Creator, Our Peace, The Alpha and Omega etc.,
2. Would you not expect the names of God to represent the true nature of God revealing who He is and therefore what He does? Please do a search in the Bible or online and see the hundreds of names God is given and has given Himself. Not one portrays a God who is limited in His mercy.
See: http://www.characterbuildingforfamilies.com/names.html or http://ldolphin.org/names.html
God's Name as Savior
1. If Jesus’ name is Savior of the World does it make sense that most of the world will co-exist with Him throughout eternity desperately in need of His salvation without receiving it?
2. If Jesus’ name means savior and we are “being conformed into His image”, wouldn’t that mean that our sanctification will bring about more compassion, love and mercy? Would we not reflect more and more the heart of our Rescuer and Redeemer? What might He be preparing us for? Why are we being made like Christ if there is nothing to save or redeem in the next age?
3. As we become more merciful, gracious, and forgiving as we mature in Christ what does that imply if we are told we are going to “judge nations”? Are we growing in mercy and forgiveness in order to help God condemn the rest of the world to a merciless hell forever in the next age?
4. Why is being a “savior” not the Church's general reputation in the world?
5. Is Jesus Christ the potential Savior of the World or the actual Savior of the World?
6. Did God lose the vast majority of the human race?
7. Was the first Adam more powerful than the last Adam?
8. Did Adam’s fall bring down more people than the cross of Jesus Christ could save?
The Love of God
1. If love is defined by God in 1 Corinthians 13 as never-failing and in 1 John as laying down one's life, why is this not the foundation for how we are to perceive God's love? Are we not commanded to love in the same manner that He loves? “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another” (John 13:35).
2. If God's nature is love how can it be separated from any other aspect of His being? If His nature is one of a loving Father then would not everything that came from Him be as a Father? Would not his wrath and judgment be as “fatherly” as His nurture and sustenance?
3. Do you think that it sounds possible or reasonable that anyone could resist and defeat the love of God, indefinitely?
4. Is love really as powerful as we say it is? Do we actually believe, “God is love”, “love never fails”, “the greatest is love”, “love is the fulfillment of the law”, or as the song, “the love of God is greater far than any tongue or pen can tell”? Can we really make these claims with no qualifications? Are you truly convinced that LOVE NEVER FAILS?
5. What is agape love? How different is it to human love? Could there be any power greater to melt the hearts and lives of people causing them to turn from their destructive ways? What is the alternative? Fear of punishment? Hope of reward?
6. How can I obey the two greatest commandments of loving God and neighbor as myself in light of the following?
“If I approve of a God who fails to love [most] of my neighbors and I am grateful for this fact, then I do not truly love or will the good for all my neighbors: and if I DO love them, then in the very act of willing the good for them I demonstrate my disapproval of any God who does not likewise will the good for them.” Talbott
7. If the summation of the law is “love your neighbor as yourself” does God love us as Himself? In other words does He lay His life down for all of us His “neighbors”? Or does He answer, “Ah, but the question is, ‘Who really is my neighbor? To me it is actually just a few elect.’”
8. Why does the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s definition of God not include love?
“God is a spirit; infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.”
Regarding Reconciliation and Restoration
1. Why is 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 in the past tense?
"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation."
2. What/who are the all things mentioned in this passage?
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him…For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:16-20
3. How could this passage mean that God is going to reconcile all His physical creation of rocks, trees and weather etc., but not the crown of His creation, man? Do not “all things” here literally mean all things including mankind?
4. Is not this passage saying that we need to be reconciled to God since He has already been reconciled to us through the cross? Did He not say that, “while we were still His enemies Christ died for us”?
5. Is the sinner redeemed and reconciled because he repents or is he called upon to repent because he has been redeemed and reconciled? Is an unbeliever someone who has not yet been redeemed or someone who is not yet awakened to what has been already done for him?
6. If we have been given “the message of reconciliation” which is "be reconciled to God," does it not appear that we are announcing something that is already true to the world which they simply do not know has happened to them? Is it more of an announcement of news rather than a conditional premise based upon the response of the recipient? (What remains is for folks to become what they have been declared to be, where God brings our condition up to the level of our position-- this is by grace through faith).
7. When is God going to fulfill the following words?
Habakkuk 2:14, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
Psalm 22:27, “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him.”
Jeremiah 31:34, “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
Zephaniah 3:9, “For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord.”
Regarding the Concept of an Eternal Hell in the Old Testament
1. Why does the Old Testament have no concept of an eternal hell, a subject of unimaginable implications? How could a merciful God be silent about this if it was THE most catastrophic danger ever to face mankind?
2. Is it true that the Jews did not have a developed concept of the afterlife and the words "hell" in the OT should be translated "Sheol" and "Hades" which mean simply "hidden place" or "place of the dead"? Did not the Jews' use of the word "olam" depict an age rather than something eternal? Did not the Jews use a negative in front of a word to denote that something was endless as in, "His mercies never come to an end?" (Lam. 3)
3. How can the concept of an eternal fiery torture chamber be God's intention if when dealing with Israel's sin of burning their own children to the god of Molech Jeremiah said, "He did not command Israel to do this nor did it enter into His mind that they should do this abomination"? (Jer. 32:35)
Regarding the Word "Hell"
1. How is it that when the word "hell" is translated properly it disappears from our translations?
2. How is it that Paul who wrote nearly 3/4 of the New Testament did not mention "hell" once? Judgment yes, but "hell," no.
3. Why did most of the translators add the word "exclusion", "away", or "separated" to 2 Thessalonians 1:9, the one verse used to defend a Pauline concept of an eternal hell, when it is not found in the Greek? The ESV leaves it out in their footnote, why is this? Is not a judgment that comes from the face of the Lord extremely different than one that is separated and away from the presence of the Lord? Was this interpretation the result of an assumption, or a bias?
4. The apostle Paul did not mention the word "hell" once. But the one instance he used the word "Hades" is, "O death, where is your sting? O grave (Hades) where is your victory?" Since this is the same word used in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (and other places) then why was it not translated "hell" here? Is it because it would then say, "O hell where is your victory?" Is this yet another example of selective and biased translating? (I Cor., Chapter 15)
5. Why does the book of Acts not mention an eternal hell?
In Regard to God's Holiness
1. Does it seem coherent that a holy God would allow man to continue sinning, rebelling, and hating Him while in a state of death forever? Or as D. A. Carson sees it, hell is a continuous cycle of sin, guilt and punishment. This sounds more like a version of the dualistic Manichaeism of Augustine's past than of a just and holy God.
2. If an eternal hell does not rid God's universe of sin and death but instead keeps it perpetually cycling forever, does this sound like the plan of a holy God who said He hates sin?
3. If to be holy as God is holy from Leviticus 19 is defined as the keeping of the law and summarized at the end as "Love your neighbor as yourself" then is not love the evidence and fruit of holiness? Since love is the summation of the law of God then are we not condemned by the fact that we have not "loved our neighbor as ourselves"? Therefore is this not the very thing, lack of love for God and neighbor, which has made us unholy? And yet is it not the fulfilling of God's holy law by Jesus (loving us, His neighbor) the thing that actually saves us? So then does His holiness both condemn and save us? Does not Romans say He is both "Just and the Justifier" (3:26)?
4. If you believe God, who is holy, plans to eradicate sin from a certain number of His creatures why would it make Him less holy if we claim He plans to destroy evil and sin among ALL mankind instead of perpetuating it within billions in hell forever?
Salvation and Forgiveness
1. If we are “saved by grace, through faith” does this not mean that grace has already saved us and that faith is nothing more than the proof that God has awakened us to that grace? And if we claim what we are really experiencing in the Church is “grace” then how is it there is so much pride? “It is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, so that no one would boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
2. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” If Jesus is the exact representation of God then is this not the cry of the Father’s heart as well?
3. If He is “faithful and just to forgive us our sin” is this not an indication that forgiveness is part of being just? (1342 Dikaios)
4. If God is going to condemn to an eternal hell most of mankind in the age to come why is He shaping us to be more and more gracious, forgiving and loving? Will there be no future context in which to practice this compassion, love and mercy?
To live your life on this earth and not learn the divine principle of forgiveness is to miss everything that Christ taught and lived.
5. Is not the primary evidence of being a child of God that of being a forgiver-- one who offers mercy? Does not love imply forgiveness, grace and mercy? What are the implications of this if God says we are going to rule and reign with Him and we will judge nations? If we are told that, “if you do not forgive your brother from your heart neither will I forgive you”, then what kind of judges, rulers, kings and priests must He be preparing for that time? Would He be calling out and preparing merciful judges if He Himself will not in fact show mercy in the age to come?
6. Why are the Christian Universalists being accused of making God out to be more loving and merciful than Scripture warrants when Jonah (the archetypal human heart) actually whines to God about this?:
“That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 3:1-2).
7. Why does God give us the exhortation for forgiveness to be offered 70 times 7, signifying indefinitely, if this does not reflect the nature and scope of His own forgiveness?
God's Track Record
1. Would you not consider Sodom’s prophecy to be restored (Ezek., Chapter 16), Egypt and Assyria to be honored above Israel (Isa., Chapter 19), Jonah's Ninevah, the prodigal son's acceptance, and the Gentiles being engrafted into God's Story a few examples of God's mercy trumping our expectations (or even our desires)?
2. Has it not been the trajectory of God to progressively reveal His truth and plan for the ages? Would it not be arrogant to assume we have all the pieces of God's plan already figured out and refuse to explore controversial areas or admit we may have gotten some things wrong regarding His sovereign plan?
1. If sin against an infinite God will incur an infinite punishment would that not be a form of dualism since it would mean that sin, death and evil would parallel God forever?
2. Is it not an illogical assertion that justice can be paid through a sentence that never ends which implies it is never fulfilled?
3. Does not an eternal hell make "the most corrupt, foul and loathsome in man to be as enduring as God Himself? Does it not confer the dignity of an immortal life on what is morally abominable? Does it not teach perpetual anarchy and chaos? Does it not enthrone pandemonium as an eternal fact side by side with Paradise? Is this the promise of making 'all things new' and of the reality of God becoming all in all?" (Allin)
4. What do you think of the comparison of an eternal hell as like unto "an open festering wound of perpetual death and disease in the universe never intended to be healed?" (From J. Bonda, The One Purpose of God)
5. What about the verses that speak of everything returning to God, the Source of all things? "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things". What about all the words that convey the concept of returning back to God and His ways in the Scriptures such as: REstoration, REdemption, REconciliation, REsurrection, REvive, and REpent?
6. Since God is the One who holds literally everything and everyone together, what is referred to as sustaining grace (Col 1:17) then He must be sustaining by His grace every person in an eternal hell in order for them to continue to exist …in order for them to be punished forever. This sounds even worse than dualism as it attributes God with actually sustaining sin and death forever!
In Relation to the Law of God
1. If the Israelites were given as "examples" for us (1 Cor., Chapter 10) pointing to even greater realities beyond them then what of the practice of Jubilee (which many scholars doubt was ever actually achieved)? What does it point to in relation to the plan of God? What does it symbolize? How has it been fulfilled by Christ who "came to fulfill all righteousness"?
2. If God is holy because He never sins and “sin is any transgression of the law” then what is the law? Is not the law a reflection of God’s perfect character contained in the Ten Commandments summarized by “love God and your neighbor as yourself”? Is not therefore God’s holiness reflected through perfect love?