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The Recognition of Universal Reconciliation - Part 2
Page 4

By Ernest L. Martin, December 1982
Edited by David Sielaff, August 2002

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“In the restitution of all things, when the true physician, Jesus Christ, shall have come to heal the body of the Church, every one shall receive his proper place. What I mean is, the fallen angel will begin to be that [of his original state] which he was created, and man (who was expelled from Paradise) will be once more restored to the tilling of Paradise. These things then will take place universally.”

• In Eph. iv. 16

And importantly, look at Jerome’s comment on Galatians 5:20,

“With God no rational creature perishes eternally. ... For God pities His creatures, and will not suffer those whom He himself has formed to perish eternally, who are sustained by His breath and spirit.”

• In Isa. lvii.6

Conclusion

Much more could be cited from early theologians (most of whom could read original biblical Greek as you do a newspaper). Yet this should suffice. It abundantly shows that the biblical teaching of a universal reconciliation to Christ (for all rational creatures) was not forgotten by those who came after the apostles. After all, they simply read what the Bible said. Admittedly, it is recognized that some, like Jerome, were not always consistent in this (and other) doctrines. It depended on the audience he wanted to reach. The teaching called “double doctrine” was looked on as a legitimate form of teaching from the time of Plato to Jerome—and it is even in vogue today among some people.

The concept of “double doctrine” involved teaching those initiated into the greater secrets the fullness of any doctrine, while to others traditional teachings were often perpetuated. Some early Christians felt justified in using this method because Christ taught the general masses in parables, but to His intimate disciples He told them the full truth (Luke 8:10)—and in a language they could understand. With the apostle Paul, however, Christ revealed to him (and others) the full teaching of the Mystery (the great secret hidden from the foundation of the world) (Ephesians 3:3–11). Since the time of that great disclosure, called the Mystery, it is no longer necessary to teach in any “double doctrine” fashion—using figures and terms to mean something else. We do not teach in parables or symbolic language. However, the teaching of universal salvation is so all-inclusive that no symbolic teaching can ever exceed (or limit) its sense!

And one thing is certain. The final revelation of God, which Christ commissioned his disciples to instruct mankind, includes the fact that all personalities in the universe will come to a salvation experience in Christ. And the early scholars of Christian persuasion which we mentioned above, also understood it. The teaching of a total salvation to all is incapable of being limited by any parabolic illustrations concerning hell or judgments.

Still, we do need a full explanation of what happens after death for all classes of people on earth today—as well as a knowledge of the ultimate fate of the angelic creatures. The Bible has some answers which may surprise some people! What we want to provide are not some “way-out” suppositions that have no biblical basis, but clear teachings from the Bible. The Bible is becoming plainer all the time. And there is much more to be discovered, which can be made simple and understandable to the ordinary person. But, in regard to mankind’s destiny, the Bible is plain. Christ has already provided a universal salvation for all!
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For additional reading see

• Brian E. Daley’s The Hope of the Early Church: A Handbook of Patristic Eschatology (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1991)

• J.W. Hanson, Universalism, the Prevailing Doctrine of the Christian Church during its First Five Hundred Years (Boston and Chicago: Universalist Publishing House, 1899).

Ernest L. Martin
David Sielaff
david@askelm.com

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