Universal salvation?

Sometimes I'm asked, "Does GCI teach universal salvation?" My typical reply is this: "It depends on what you mean by universalism." To clarify GCI's teaching on this topic, I recommend the short video below in which William Paul Young (author of The Shack, Crossroads, and Eve) shares a perspective that, in general, aligns with what GCI teaches. For another Surprising God post on this topic, click here.


Anonymous said…
W.P. Young has an interesting approach to establish his position by denying it. On the one hand, he says everything is in Christ's being. But he contradicts it by stating that not all roads lead to Christ. I find that a little confusing and in need of clarification. It almost seems as if he is evading the question. It is like being asked a question and responding, "Well, I am for everything that is in the realm of the right, but against anything that is not". If all things are in or within Christ, then all things are Christ and therefore within the right road. However, if all things will be reconciled to or in Christ, then everything is terminally meaningless. In other words, it doesn't make any difference what a person believes, given that the end result will be the same. I would then ask, is Jesus the right way and the only way to reconciliation with God Jehovah The Father?

My take is a little different. Will everything eventually be reconciled with Christ and The Father? My response is an absolute no. Why? First of all, God created all things with the specific purpose of eradicating corruption, sin, decay, death and all manner of evil (Daniel 9:24), and He gave Himself a specific amount of time in which to accomplish this. Secondly, everything that was created as part of the material world will be destroyed and totally consumed, rather than reconciled (2 Peter 3:10). Third, mankind was created so that Christ could have a physical body through which to annihilate evil (Hebrews 10:5). Our purpose on this earth and universe is to make it possible for Christ to have the victory over death, sin, evil, decay, and corruption. That is the story Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:9. The corruptible must put on incorruption, the natural the divine and the mortal immortality. It stands to reason, however, that not all roads are equally valid, unless they are equally meaningless. I might be wrong, for example, in my assertion that apple pie prolongs life forever. But, if in the end, I end up living forever, in spite of my beliefs about apple pie, what difference does it make?

The fact that we were designed to be temporal is in itself significant.

Carlos Ramirez Trevino
Ted Johnston said…
Carlos, you raise several issues, but I'll address your primary one, which is seeing a contradiction in the idea that all have their being in Christ, yet not all roads lead to Christ. How, you wonder, can both be true. The answer involves an important distinction between what is *objectively* true of all and what is *subjectively* experienced. Objectively speaking, all humans have their being in God, as attested to by Paul who declared to the pagan Athenians, "In him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). Yet he declared to the same audience (speaking subjectively) that God "commands all people everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30). What is true objectively is subjectively realized. Paul made a similar point talking to the Christians in Corinth when he said, speaking of the work of Christ in an objective sense, that "one [Christ] died for all, and therefore all died... God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ" (2 Cor. 5:14, 19). And then he addresses the subjective aspect of this same truth in calling people to "be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20).

What we see in these examples is that what is objectively (universally) true for all, in Christ (God's reality), must be subjectively (personally) received for it to be effective in an individual's life (their reality). When it comes to this personal reality, all roads (all types of personal experience) do *not* lead to Christ in the sense of not bringing individuals to the place of receiving personally what has been true of them, in Christ, all along. It is the "road" of the gospel that brings them to this personal repentance (with repentance understood biblically as a change of mind--a personal embracing of the truth of who they actually are in Christ).