A friend has presented me with a copy of "ETERNITY," a "Magazine of Christian Truth," published in Philadelphia, U.S.A., by the Evangelical Foundation Inc.
The issue for September, 1956, contains an article by Walter R. Martin entitled "Universal Salvation: Does the Bible Teach It?"
From the fact that the Editor in Chief, Donald Grey Barnhouse writes an article graciously admitting the extraordinary fact that Seventh-Day Adventists may now be admitted as Christians, while the Jehovah's Witnesses must continue to be "utter heretics," I had already gathered that sentence had been passed upon the Universal Reconciliationists. No mercy is shewn to them, so presumably they are heretics also, seeing that they have "laid the groundwork for many heresies."
In particular two Publishing Concerns are criticized, both "splinter groups of Universalists," namely, the Scripture Studies Concern (Miss Grace R. Todd, Corona, California), and The Concordant Publishing Concern of Los Angeles, California. Why only these two groups are mentioned is a mystery. I suppose the aim is to make readers think that the Reconciliation Movement is only a very feeble "splinter."
The writer describes the head of the Concordant Concern, Mr. A. E. Knoch, as "a rabid Universalist and also an Arian in the tradition of Jehovah's Witnesses." We note, however, that Miss Grace H. Todd is not denounced in similar terms. Just as well too, as her labours for Christ are well known all over the Americas, and throughout Britain.
The charge is then made that these two groups are "almost totally ignorant of the original languages in Scripture." To back this up, certain "basic texts" are appealed to, as used by universal reconciliationists. It is then stated that through the sin that entered the world through Adam, the judgment of God came upon all men to "eternal death." I hereby challenge Mr. Martin to state where in the whole Bible "eternal death" is ever mentioned. Where is the Greek word aiOnios coupled with "death"? In the Greek this expression is deliberately avoided.
Matt. 25:41 is also quoted, "Depart from Me ye cursed into everlasting (aiOnion) fire . . ." But apparently the writer here has failed to observe the parallel verse, 46, which shews that this eonian fire is also eonian chastening (kolasis). Does anyone really believe that human beings will go on being chastened for ever and ever? What would be the good? What would God get out of this? Chastening can only be for a good purpose. Anyone who thinks that human beings will be tormented for ever and ever must possess the mentality of a very devil, and is proclaiming the Devil's masterpiece.
There then follows a rather condensed summary of Romans 5:16-18, "as the judgment came unto all men to condemnation for sin, the justification of life unto all men was supplied only upon the condition of acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour." But Paul does not here use the last fifteen words. He says nothing about acceptance here.
"The universalists' argument on the basis of the word 'all' melts into nothingness when the context is clearly understood." In v. 18, then, is the second "unto all mankind" (eis pantas anthrOpous) anything different from exactly the same statement earlier in the verse? According to Paul, through one righteous-standard (dikaiOma), there will be, unto all mankind, a "making righteous of life." But Mr. Martin does not wish this.
Nor does he wish the fact of Co1. 1:20, and just here he refuses his own doctrine as to the word "all." He says its meaning is governed by the context. I thoroughly agree. But it is just the context that he avoids here. He must be afraid to read it and explain it. The "all things" are mentioned in v. 16. Why not examine this verse?
The funny thing is that he goes on to deal with 1. Tim. 4:10, and says, "It is very true that God's desire is that all men should be saved." He adds, "He could not be a loving God unless His desire was that His creations be delivered from the fruit of their own wickedness. .." There are many things which I might desire, but I cannot attain them. Is God in the same boat? Mr. Martin has evidently taken no account of the word "specially." God is the Saviour of all mankind, in a special manner of those believing now; (pistOn). We possess a special salvation, as it is eonian. But many will miss eonian life. Of course, these people who have never studied the Ages cannot understand the teaching of the Ages. How I wish with all my heart that everyone could read the grand works of C. Ryder Smith, D.D., such as "The Bible Doctrine of Grace," recently published. On page 217 he writes thus: "The statement that it is God's purpose in Christ to recapitulate all things in Christ is a splendid interlude in a passage that begins with the largesse of God's grace to Christians in the Beloved and resumes this theme with 'in Him in whom also we were made a heritage' (Eph. 1:6-11). So too it is on the destruction of the last enemy, death, by the resurrection of all 'in Christ,' that 'the end comes,' and the Son, who has all the while been Master of the universe, restores it perfected to God (1. Cor. 15:22-26). Paul's theodicy is consistent. It would not be pertinent here to discuss the difficulties of the astounding doctrine that the fate of the universe depends upon the redemption of man. The relevant point is that for Paul the healing of the breach that sin has made in the fellowship of God with man is the 'one thing needful' for the perfecting of an imperfect universe. All else is sequel and complement. When mankind is 'in Christ,' 'all things' will once more be 'very good' (Gen. 1:31)."
Mr. Martin then proceeds to say that God in the measureless depths of His eternal love has made provision for men's salvation. But I would ask, just what kind of Love is eternal Love? Will your God go on eternaliy loving those who are lost, whom He wished to deliver, but He let the Devil cheat Him of His loved ones? Fie for shame! ye who thus dishonour the Cross of Christ, and set a limit to the eternal love of God. Sinfully, and with your eyes wide open, you limit the Holy One of Israel, through your tragic unbelief and your stubbornness of heart.
Why not take a page out of the New Testament, of Nathaniel Scarlett (1798) who uses the word eonian throughout, in place of the unscriptural "everlasting" or "eternal," which are quite inconceivable by the human mind.
An appeal is then made to scholarship, but it is painfully evident that very few scholars understand how to utilize a Concordance, or why it exists. Mr. Martin would have us seek after "recognized scholastic authorities." But exactly regarding the terms "everlasting" and "eternal" they cannot agree. Mr. Martin himself is unable to tell us what "Eternity" is. He shews his confusion by mentioning "this side of eternity." So it has sides! I wonder whether he has heard of Jerome's great joke (or did he actually believe what he wrote) at Micah 4:5 and Ex. 15:18, in his Latin Vulgate, "unto Eternity AND FURTHER." The Latin has it, in aeternum et ultra. Jerome, a recognized scholastic authority gave the show away altogether. It is quite clear that in his time, the fourth century, "eternity" was not eternal, and only meant "age-lasting."
A.T. Last updated 8.2.2006