Universalism is the doctrine that all men will eventually be saved. It is a doctrine which is repudiated by orthodox Christians in all times and in all places, as it does not seem to square with the teaching of Scripture. Both Arminians and Calvinists believe some will go to Heaven and some to Hell, some to eternal life in a glorified state, some to eternal damnation. And yet there are well-known Christians who appear to have gone askew on this point -- a man like George MacDonald, for example, or a woman like Hannah Hunnard. It appears the reason they have come to this position is because they could not square the eternal damnation of a person, particularly one who had never heard the Gospel, with the love of God. There is an appearance of logic in their argument, one I have been rehearsing in my mind of late.
Consider these things we know from Scripture:
- First, God is sovereign in all matters and certainly in matters of salvation. He could regenerate all and save all, but He does not; he could justly consign all to eternal damnation, but He does not. He saves some but not others. Why? For his own pleasure. For His own reasons. His reasons are inscrutable.
- Second, God is just and may not act unjustly. Though sovereign in all things, God may not act against his character. He is just and, thus, may not act unjustly. He is loving and, thus, may not act unlovingly.
- In saving some, He has acted both lovingly and justly. His love compelled Him to save; His justice compelled Him to provide a propitiation for sin in Christ.
Given these things we know, would God be acting unlovingly if he declines to save some who justly deserve eternal damnation? The universalist would answer in the affirmative. They would then proceed to interpret Scripture so as to preserve a loving God: God is loving. God can save all and so will save all. Of course, I'm not sure how they get around so much of Scripture which seems to say that God is love and yet that some will not be saved.
I can't reconcile these things -- the love of God and his choice not to save those he could save. Can you? But, I'm not worried about it either, just like I'm not worried about explaining how three can be one (the Trinity) or how Jesus can be fully God and fully man or how free will reconciles with God's sovereignity. Finite beings must live with paradox.
If you want to see how "Christian" universalists reason, take a look at Tentmaker Ministries here. For me, I'll keep believing that God is good, that Christ came for all, yet saved only some, that Christmas is for all, and yet not for all in the same way.
I know, it's confusing. But I only have so much brain.