Jesus Draws a Line in the Sand
Debunking the Heresy of Universalism
Koinonia News — Faith Matters
In laying the groundwork for the International Catholic Confederation it is imperative that we speak with a unified voice to the issues confronting the church in this age and beyond. This stance includes repudiating ancient errors and heresy that are moving back into the mainstream.
In the 14th Chapter of John, Jesus draws a line in the sand (figuratively speaking), saying that he is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Continuing on he says “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well…” In saying this, Jesus is proclaiming that He is the only way to the heavenly realm — not Ala, the Buddha, or any other religious paradigm. Without a need for Christ-centered salvation, there would be no need for the Catholic Church. In the understanding of the heresy of Universalism, faith in Christ is unnecessary for salvation.
We simply don’t have the liberty to speculate that ancient peoples were saved, outside of Christ. That sort of judgment falls to God alone. Speculating anything other than a Christ-centered salvation diminishes the importance and even the necessity of Jesus’ self-sacrifice.
This Christian position is not stated to proclaim some sort of elitism, but a proclamation of faith in Jesus’ words, and the historic deposit of faith. Salvation in Christ is not exclusionary of individual races or ethnicities, but inclusive of all men and women who turn to Christ and seek to be reconciled unto God. Faith in Jesus as Messiah is central to fulfilling Old Testament soteriology and the teachings of the New Testament.
We all have ancestors, friends, and family who may not have found their way to conversion to Christ. This fact is not limited to any particular region of the world. There is not one way to heaven for Africans or Europeans that is different from those of us in the Americas. Spiritual relativity does not change the clear words of scripture.
The idea of universal salvation has been growing in popularity ever since the Second Vatican Council. I was reminded of this recently in a discussion with a Kenyan Catholic (non-Roman) priest who stated that ever since Pope John Paul II’s visit to Kenya that he has embraced the theology of that council, just not Rome itself. His rationale appears to be an understanding presented by the late pontiff that his ancestors who never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ would be “saved.”
Additionally, in our day, Pope Francis is continuing this erroneous teaching. Firstly, Francis has been consistently rejecting the need and command that Christians become an evangelical people — preaching the good news of salvation to the whole world. This pontiff has also been reported as telling people that atheists will be in heaven, that the punishments of hell are not permanent and that the multiplicity of religions is God’s will. Others, such as Bishop Robert Barron are advocating this concept. In one of Barron’s many popular YouTube videos he says that we have a “ reasonable hope that hell will be empty.”
Contrary to what Pope Francis, Bishop Barron, and the modern Church of Nice is teaching, Universalism was taught by Origen (185-254 A.D.) but was declared heresy by the Council of Constantinople in 543 A.D.
The main argument for universalism is that a good and loving God would not condemn people to eternal torment in hell. Some universalists, such as Pope Francis, believe that after a certain cleansing period, God will free the inhabitants of hell and reconcile them to himself. Others say that after death, people will have another opportunity to choose God.
For some who adhere to Universalism, the doctrine also implies that there are many ways to get into heaven. Bishops, such as Barron, often temper their heresy by claiming that “we have a reasonable hope that all will be saved.”
Universalism teachers utilize passages like Acts 3:21 and Colossians 1:20 to mean that God intends to restore all things to their original state of purity through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:18; Hebrews 2:9), so that in the end everyone will be brought into a right relationship with God (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). In this sort of exegesis, they essentially only present part of the story, neglecting things like Acts 3:23 “Everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be cut off from the people.”
The teachings of universalism are counter to the cohesive and consistent teaching of the Bible that “all who call upon the name of the Lord” will be united to Christ and eternally saved, not all men in general.
Jesus Christ taught that those who reject him as Savior will spend eternity in hell after they die:* Matthew 10:28* Matthew 23:33* Matthew 25:46* Luke 16:23* John 3:36
Universalism Rejects God’s Demands for Justice. Universalism focuses exclusively on God’s love and mercy and ignores his justice and wrath. It also assumes that God’s love depends on what he does for humanity, rather than being a self-existing attribute of God present from eternity, before man was created.
The modernist error is rosy optimism of the universal perfection of man, sin is, for the most part, an irrelevancy. In this understanding, sin is minimized and trivialized.
Even the modern Catechism of the [Roman] Catholic Church seems to be supporting this: By his glorious Cross Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. … Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all men have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all, therefore, enjoy an equal dignity (pars 1741, 1934). Continuing, we also find support in Gaudiem et spes, from Vatican II (par 29): “Since all men possess a rational soul and are created in God’s likeness, since they have the same nature and origin, have been redeemed by Christ and enjoy the same divine calling and destiny, the basic equality of all must receive increasingly greater recognition.”
In a recent daily message, Pope Francis started out great, admonishing the faithful to joyful service rather than focusing on doom and gloom. The most important facet he related is “loving,” he said, “because the strength of the resurrection renders Christians capable of loving even when love seems to have lost its meaning.” he spoke of the need to have “missionaries of hope,” noting that the call for such witnesses is key in the month of October, which is traditionally dedicated to mission. “A Christian,” the Pope said, is not “a prophet of misfortune,” but rather, their task entails announcing Jesus, “who died out of love and whom God resurrected on the morning of Easter.” Great, right? A cogent response to this message might be, ‘why even bother preaching or being a missionary at all if we have a “reasonable hope that all will be saved?”
The greatest teachings can be brought down to the depths of depravity through a single line of error. “True Christians,” Pope Francis said, are “not sad and angry, but convinced by the strength of the resurrection, that no evil is infinite, no night without end, no man is definitively in wrong, no hate is invincible from love.”
“No evil is infinite”and that “no man is definitively in wrong” — these phrases paint a picture in my mind that evil is inconsequential, the concept of hell is an illusion, and that no matter how much we reject Christ and the historic teachings regarding salvation, all will be forgiven in the end. This is the heretical teachings of universalism.
The lie of universalism is that sin does not matter and conversion to faith in Christ is not necessary. Could this insidious heresy be the reason why vocations to the priesthood are so low and multitudes of Churches are closing due to both the lack of attendance and absence of clergy? If a conversion is irrelevant and preaching the Gospel is just some sort of catharsis, why bother — live for today for tomorrow you’re in heaven. This is the false gospel of universalism. This teaching is coming down from the heights of the Roman magisterium, (and other liberal churches) from wolves in shepherds clothing.
The Catholic Church in America and the International Catholic Confederation firmly rejects the lies of modernism, including universalism. We call on all members of the Church Universal to take a stand with us for the truth, speaking out whenever the wolves preach error from the ambo of your church or from positions of so-called authority —no matter how high the heresy reaches.
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