“ . . . The Universalist does not (if we rightly judge) derive his doctrine in the first place from the oracles of God, but rather from the attributes of God. The argument on which he relies as the real basis of his faith is the following: God, as infinitely benevolent, must be disposed to prevent sin with all its evils. God as omnipotent, can prevent sin in all his moral creatures: God therefore will prevent all sin; and thus render his creatures happy forever. The infidel reasons in exactly the same manner, and comes to the same conclusion. But, then, he has discernment enough to see that the Scriptures contain the doctrine of future endless punishment. He, therefore, discards the divine origin of the book, as inculcating a doctrine so obviously false, and inconsistent with the perfections of God.”
Wrong. The Universalist cites many explicit statements of scripture that point to the ultimate restoration of all men. There’s no need to itemize them here; anyone who has ever read any Universalist literature knows precisely the passages to which I refer.
He then goes on to note that Universalists build their doctrine based on God’s attributes. In this He is correct. We do prefer those verses of scripture that harmonize with God’s attributes, as well as His revealed will, as well as His role as Father, than with those verses that would seem to contradict those things. I see nothing wrong with that. This is part and parcel of building one’s theology the right way, as opposed to building it upside down, as the Arminians and Calvinists do. They start with hell and work backwards to a particular vision of God. The Calvinist vision is of a hateful God; the Arminian is of an impudent one. Neither vision can be sustained by scripture. We find overwhelming scriptural evidence that God is both all mighty and merciful. We find not a hint that He can’t save or that He doesn’t desire to do so.
Now, we move onto his next charge, which is that Universalism must be false because it reasons in a way that's similiar to that of "the infidel." This is nothing more than guilt by association. Indeed the same tactic can be employed against Arminianism. Does not secular society exhalt the individual will? Does it not believe that we forge our own destinies? Does it not reason the same way as the Arminian and come to the same conclusions? Don’t they say, basically: I'll do my best and hope God honors it. Is that really any different than Arminianism? Doesn’t both the Arminian and the secular man console themselves on their death bed with the same thought: I was good enough? Yes, the secular man, along with the Univeralist, may derive some peace from the idea that God is too good to damn them, but doesn’t the Arminian also think the same thing, only with the added twist--just so long as I’m also pretty good? What’s the difference, at bottom, between thinking: “God’s too good to damn me” or “God’s too good to damn someone like me?” The only difference that I can see is pride and self-righteousness.
The truth is that Aminianism is a profoundly secular philosophy. It all turns on MAN. God does His part, but the truly important part—the real pivot point—is in how we respond to the gospel.
Consider the following statement by Fisk:
“As the harsh features of Calvinism are disappearing, there is a gradual abandonment of the coarse statements of Universalism. Hence, I shall try to show that Universalism abandons its distinctive tenet—thereby becoming more Scriptural—in proportion as it renounces the fundamental principle of Calvinism, the Divine Omnipotence as the prime factor in the world's salvation.”
Where does one find a greater estimation of the human will and its capacities—in secular society or in scripture? Surely one's estimation of the power of the will is diminished, not enhanced, by study of the scripture. We see that we are really slaves, that freedom only consists in doing good; indeed we discover the great principle—so ADVERSE to secularism—that only in slavery is their true freedom. In short, we discover the great truth: If Christ sets you free, you are free indeed, ie, it is only to the extent that Christ is drawing you toward righteousness that you are free from the natural, gravitational pull toward sin. Freedom consists not, as the Arminian believes, in a state of moral neutrality which renders us able to choose the good or bad; no, scripture knows nothing of such a state. We are free when being pulled toward the good. We always gravitate toward the thing that pulls us the strongest. Even if you believe in free will, it doesn't happen in a vacuum. There must be a reason we choose one thing over another; something must be drawing us harder in one direction than the other.
And so, while the Arminian might claim that the Universalist shares a view of God and sin that's similar to the infidel, the Universalist can claim with equal force that the Arminian sees the human will in the same way as the secular man. Indeed the Calvinist employs the very same guilt by association argument against the Arminians! The poor Arminians sees the human will exactly as the secular man sees it. Fools! They know nothing of the biblical view on this matter.
But that’s not all. What about all the features Arminianism shares with Universalism? Does that mean it's not true? In chapter two of my book I list nine points that I believe constitute the meta-narrative of the gospel as most would understand it. The Calvinist disagrees with all of them! The Universalist and the Arminian, however, agree with all except the last. If the Calvinist so desired, he could employ the very same tactic Fisk does: He could note the similarity between Universalism and the Arminianism as evidence that Arminianism is incorrect.
And what about the parallel between Traditional hellist Christianity and Islam? What are we to make of that? The fact is that the bizarre conceptual framework that informs Christianity also informs Islam, as well as most cults that mainline Christians would not even regard as Christians.
But there's another issue. Fisk's argument assumes if there's a difference in perspectives between the secular man and the Christian, it is proof that the secular man is in error. This pre-supposes that God has a particularly high regard for the thinking of the church. But does He? A.P. Adams writes:
In the light of Scripture as well as the actual state of things around us the entire outward, visible, organized church, is plainly a poor, fallen, corrupt institution, like the Jewish body politic in the time of the old prophet, "the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint; from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it, but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment." There are many in the church who see this wretched condition of affairs and denounce it unsparingly, but still they think that the church may yet be saved, i.e. the organization, saved; to me this seems impossible, disintegration is inevitable; Babylon must come down. In the Revelation we have a degenerate, fallen church represented by A WOMAN SEATED ON A BEAST (Rev.17:1-6). That representation is today the shameful symbol of the entire body of the organized, nominal Christian Church, Greek, Roman and Protestant.