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“Will all people eventually come to know Christ? He died for all. (I wish)”
This question comes at a very interesting time in my own reading life. I am currently a couple hundred pages into The God Who Saves: A Dogmatic Sketch by David Congdon. Every morning I pray, read some Scripture (usually a selection from each of the OT, Psalm, NT) and then spend 20-30 minutes reading from a book on theology or spiritual formation. Congdon’s book is written at the scholarly level, so it is a challenging read with all the specialized language, but it is a challenging read when it comes to theological reflection as well.
I happened onto this book because my good friend has been pursuing Christian Universalism for the past couple of years and he recommended it during one of our coffee conversations. Just for clarity, this is not the very popular view of pluralistic Universalism where all religions lead to God. Christian Universalism is the view that all things will be restored through Jesus Christ in the end. He even allows for the possibility of Hell, but Hell is judgment from God, and since God is perfectly Good, Just and Powerful, even this seemingly extreme form of judgement is ultimately meant for restoration.
I have not finished Congdon’s book, nor do I have his learning or mind, so I hesitate to try and reproduce his argument here. But it is not an emotional response to inability to conceive of a God who could send people to Hell. It is well grounded in Scripture and theological reflection. I would recommend you read it for yourself and see if it is convincing.
However, I would also strongly recommend listening to a voice that rubs up against your personal preference—clearly signified by your parenthetical note. Because here is the thing, Christian Universalism is a decidedly unorthodox Christian position. While there are a few exceptions of Church Fathers that have held to the view (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa), they are in the extreme minority. Here is a quick 7-minute video from Tim Keller that begins to approach the question of Hell from a very grace-filled, but more traditional perspective:
One thing is certain, Christians have debated Soteriology (how God Saves) for two millennia, and I do not believe that it is going to stop anytime soon. A direct answer to, “Will all people eventually come to know Christ?” in the Christian worldview is a clear and resounding YES! One of the earliest Christian statements of faith declares this:
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
And that is one small sample of a unified witness of Scripture that affirms that ALL will know Jesus Christ is Lord. What position everyone is in to affirm this Lordship is surely the heart of the above mentioned hope.
I cannot possibly provide the answer for you. I could talk through Catholicism, Calvinism, Arminianism, Annihiliationism, Universalism, and much more. At the end of the conversation though, we will still be holding on to “-isms”, human views of the world. What I can confidently share with you is the supremacy of Jesus Christ. God’s Word calls Jesus the author and perfector of our faith—the beginning and the end, the creator and finisher. The more you press into a real and vibrant relationship with the Savior of the World, the more you will come to trust him and the one who sent him. It’s not that these questions go away, but that a peace comes and a willingness to live in the paradox.
The final thing I can personally share with you is your hope. I do not know why we would hope for anything less.