“In constructing a Theodicy, Universalism has adopted some of the fundamental postulates of Calvinism. To a certain extent the premises of both theologies are the same, while they fundamentally disagree in their conclusions. Universalism has flourished, partly because of the utterances of Calvinism. If the Calvinistic doctrine of omnipotence be true, Universalism is the legitimate conclusion.”
Thomas Thayer wrote:
For aught we know, God may have created somewhere in infinite space a world without evil, peopled by a race of beings morally perfect. But even if this were so, it would remain to be proved that this world, and man as we find him here, imperfect and subject to evil, do not constitute a link in the endless chain of being, without which it would be incomplete . . . (Thayer, Theology of Universalism p 16)
It is a common theme among Universalist authors—the idea that God probably had good reason to make man imperfect and liable to sin. The best of all possible worlds (henceforth I will call it BOAP), according to the Universalist, is one that probably includes sin. What's fascinating is that the Calvinist fully agrees with this assertion. In fact, it is the very cornerstone of Calvinist theology. The Calvinist believes that the BOAP is one in which God maximally displays all of His attributes. Justice is one of those attributes. God, therefore, had to create vessels of wrath in order to punish as a display of His justice. It is apparent then that both camps accept the idea that the BOAP includes sin. Then why do Universalist authors bother to make this point? One that does nothing to rebut their opponents? Do they labor in vein?
I don't think so. What we have here are two camps doing different dances to the same music. But only one camp is actually dancing in harmony to that music. The point in question does argue against Calvinism. I will demonstrate how. Let us accept the proposition that God wishes to maximally display all of His attributes. Let us further suppose that God never planned to send a single soul to hell. Would God still have had to create man imperfect in order to maximally display His attributes? Could a perfect, pristine universe, untouched by corruption of any kind, have afforded God the opportunity to maximally display His glory to His creatures? And is it likely that He would have wanted to display that glory simply by creating men perfect and instilling in us, at the moment of our conception, all that pertains to happiness and holiness?
If the answer to either of these questions is no, then the Calvinists have a dilemma on their hands. God, in order to maximally display His glory, had to make man imperfect even if He never planned to send a single soul to hell. Then why, when a perfectly good motive naturally exists for making man imperfect, would they want to ascribe to Him such a perfectly awful motive? Indeed it is the very fact that God wishes to maximally display His attributes that all but dictates that He would not create man perfect, for such a method does not really permit much of a display at all; rather it involves an imparting, as one might impart knowledge into a computer by the insertion of a chip. And so the very motive the Calvinist employ to suggest that God made us for hell—His need to maximally display His attributes—is the very same thing that makes it extremely unlikely that He would have made us perfect from the start, thus rendering sin, if not inevitable, at the very least, understandable, and thus not deserving of eternal punishment. We can plainly see, therefore, that the very foundation of Calvinist thought—the idea that if sin exists it can only be in order to punish it—entails a positively stupefying travesty of logic. [END OF EXCERPT]