The issue of Universalism comes down to this:
1. If one begins Trinitarian theology on the basis of union then universalism is not an issue.
2. If one begins Trinitarian theology on the basis of dualism then they will automatically conclude in universalsim.
This will do one of two things
a. On the basis of dualist thinking they will embrace the conclusion and accept the doctrine of universalism believing it to be consistent with Trinitarian Theology.
b. Because one believes Trintarian theology appears to conclude in universalism, on this basis, they may reject Trinitarian theology entirely.
Both positions are incorrect. Beginning with objective union, one will rightly conclude that universalism is a heresy. In addition one will rightly conclude Limited Atonement which includes Calvinism and Arminianism or any form of the two are also heresies. This is the position of Perichoresis Australia. We believe both Limited Atonement and Universalism are “Twin Heresies” and are not in any way a part of Trinitarian Theology whatsover.
The seriousness of the issue of what T F Torrance and Karl Barth describes as the Twin Heresies is grossly under estimated. Both the roots of Latin and Western Theology believed the 2nd Commandment only applied to the Jews. The Reformers saw the error in such ignorance in the scholastics and endeavoured to revere the person and work of Jesus Christ as God come to us as Man. Calvinists and Arminianists swung away from the Reformers Christological centre and chose to engage in applying the doctrine of God they had in their own mind onto Christian theology. By ignoring entirely the implications of the Person and work of Jesus Christ, they ignored what God had to say as this Man and subsequently engaged in idolatry. One has to travel through a doctrine of God before they come to Christ. Even though the light shines in the darkness there is the tendency to prefer knowledge grounded in darkness over the one clearly revealed in the Light of Jesus Christ.
We have to also take great care that even though we start with Jesus Christ, we do not try to develop a doctrine of God different from this foundation. The conversation springs from the ground of the Person of Jesus Christ. This conversation has to correspond with what is revealed in the Person. What is determined as Christian Theology can only be defined with what is disclosed within the Person of Jesus Christ.
The problem we have with the doctrines of Limited Atonement and Universalism is they both engage in idolatry. On the one hand, limited atonement will have a doctrine of God prior to Jesus Christ and somehow explain and define Him according to the believed truths regarding the doctrine of God. There is a picture of God that has solidified in their mind and everything has to fit into this picture. On the other hand, Universalism will try to begin with the truth of Jesus Christ and build a doctrine of God that best describe Jesus Christ to fit into the Universalism model. It often begins with the theory or premise, ‘if God is love . . . . therefore He must be . . . . ‘ An image of what He can or cannot do is formulated in the mind as a result. This solidifies into a picture within their minds and everything regarding its doctrine has to fit into this picture. In both cases, God has to look like something that has been established in the mind and in the imagination of human beings and everything is confined within their doctrine. This is idolatry. It turns God from what is revealed in Jesus Christ to what conforms to the picture developed by those in limited atonement and those developed by universalists. We must heed to the same warning as Calvin where he said the human mind is the perpetual factory of idols. Thus trying to use our minds in an imitative way of what we believe we see in Christ is going beyond the function of Scripture. Scripture conveys itself in an acoustic way rather than in an imitative role. It goes much further than a mere imitation to what can be best described as attunement where we become aware of something that is beyond ourselves. What we become aware of is the Triune God, Father, Son and Spirit, revealed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
When it comes to logic and rationale in our theological exercise, we must respect the enormous gulf between the rationale and logic of the human mind and the mind of God. What God has presented to us in the Person and work of Jesus Christ is something that no human mind could have invented. The event of the Incarnation is something entirely new, even for God as Athanasius would say. Our response to it was to kill God. No one understood it so even now we are given the Spirit to help us understand it from the side of God. When we respect the reality of the whole Incarnational event from birth to the resurrection, we should be stunned to silence and in complete humility. We believe yet we need help with our unbelief. When we approach the task of theology we keep in mind the mystery of godliness, manifest in the flesh (2Tim 3:16). The logic of God’s grace is made manifest in the Son. Through His communing with us we are able to participate in His logic. We are not to bring the logic of God down to the level of human convention but have our human mind conform to the mind of Christ.
It is from out from within the Word through which the gospel has come to us and it is out from within the Word through which theological statement are established. T F Torrance says it like this:
“What God is to us in Jesus Christ he really is antecedently and eternally is in Himself – that is the ana-logical reference. But if in Jesus Christ and only in Jesus Christ do we have the one Logos of God, His one self-revelation, so that Jesus Christ is the Way and the Truth and the Life, without there being any other way to the Father, then all theological statements will be consistent with one another in so far as they have this Logos as their centre of reference, and through this Logos speak of all God’s acts in creation and redemption, recreation and sanctification, and therefore not only in the Son but in the Spirit.” (Logic and Analogic of Biblical and Theological Statements in Theology in Reconstruction pp. 36-37).
We cannot define God because we do not know enough about Him to even begin such a process. We only testify to that which is revealed. We can conclude in universal atonement and universal reconciliation but not universal salvation i.e. universalism. Theology is not bringing forth what makes sense in our souls and assuming it must make sense in the soul of Christ. This is still idolatrous in our undertaking. So if we listen to the soul of Jesus and then try and conclude in Universalism we are assuming something which is not there. All those who believe, teach and preach universalism are idolaters teaching and preaching idolatry. As universalism is not clearly disclosed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ but inferred by human rational, it is therefore a heresy.
For an expanded explanation of the reasons why we hold this position please watch the December Monthly Meeting, “The Overarching Love Story” by Dr Bruce Wauchope. Click Here