Friday, March 25, 2011

Does this sound familiar?

Church Mouse has been blogging on Rob Bell.

According to Bell...(emphasis mine)

“Heaven is full of forgiven people. Hell is full of forgiven people. Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for. Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for.” (“Velvet Elvis,” p 146)

I know a lot of people (Waltherians) who will or at least should agree with the bolded words. Except they will say that people in Hell have been indeed forgiven but they are in Hell because they did not accept the forgiveness...etc.

Me: err, hump, so they have been forgiven and have not been forgiven? So now since, the Cross everyone starts forgiven and only gets un-forgiven due to unbelief? What was the first forgiveness for? So there is a second forgiveness? I am confused.

What is happening with Bell? My analysis is that like the others I am protesting against and they hate me for it- he is equating the atonement with justification (which is forgiveness of sins). Since everyone has been atoned for, everyone, so he thinks, has been forgiven.


Steve Martin said...

God loves and forgives the whole world (so says the Bible).

But not all hear this word of love and forgiveness.

Why not?

That's God's business.

Ichabod the Glory Has Departed said...

Dr. Cruz - Rob Bell is proof that all mainline dogma merges together into the ooze of Universalism. Once the Gospel is used as an excuse for Universalism, nothing else matters.

They continue to contradict themselves and do not seem to realize it. DP Buchholz denies that WELS teaches universal salvation but declared it himself in his convention paper, which was billed as a critique of Kokomo's universalism. The difference was so subtle that I did not discover it.

LPC said...

Something happened to Brett's comments. Here they are...


sma9231961, I disagree. Please share the Scripture passages where God declared the whole world forgiven.

Christ states in Luke 17:3, "Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him."

Also in Matt. 6:15, But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Both statements made by God reject your position that God has forgiven the whole world outside of faith worked graciously by the Holy Spirit through Word and Baptism.

LPC, Waltherians also worship at the feet of more recent theologians like Kurt Marquart of the LCMS. Marquart was equally contradictory in this essay on UOJ. He does have faithful statements that uphold Scriptures declaration of forgiveness (Justification) by faith alone and not before faith. Those statements are intermingled with declarations of forgiveness without and before faith - forgiveness declared which creates faith in the forgivness already present and applied.

"Absolution is prior to, and creates faith, not vice versa"

"At just this point the Roman adversaries, particularly Cardinal Bellarmine, thought they had found a fatal flaw and self-contradiction in the Lutheran system: You say that you are justified by faith, they argued, yet you also say that faith must believe that one has been forgiven already; so when is one forgiven or justified then, before faith, or in faith? Surely both can’t be true.
This objection compelled the Lutherans to explain in what sense forgiveness exists already prior to faith, as its object, and to distinguish that from the actual reception, possession, and enjoyment of the pre-existing treasure, which happens only in faith."

"This, therefore, is the event: In the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s gracious saving judgment on sinful mankind is promulgated. Here God pronounces the gracious and life-giving judgment which causes the one just man to be sin and in exchange makes all sinners free in Him: “He [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5.21; cf. Gal. 3.13; Rom. 8.3). And in this (“objective”) sense we can say that through Jesus Christ all men are justified, because “one has died for all”"

LPC said...


When Ichabod got me alerted in UOJ's misstatements, one of the first article I read was that of Marquart's.

Marquart did not manage to convince me of the soundness of UOJ. Those who defend it wind up confusing but they are oblivious of the confusion, it escapes them.

I am really intrigued to hear a UOJer defend and distinguish himself from Rob Bell's theology. I would be surprized if they dared to come to Extra Nos.

When I pointed to one ex-Calvinist now Lutheran about his Waltherianism, I only got the brunt of his anger. The quasi-universalism I pointed to this ex-Calvinist was similar to that of Rob Bell's.

Note well, UOJers like Rob Bell, deny what is obvious accusation against them, they continue to deny they are universalists.

Yet, it falls down the tubes.

This is best illustrated in an actual scenario...

While in the US, my uncle who has been living there for 35 years spotted a Filipino. He went to the man and said to him - in the Filipino language -- "you are Filipino right"? The man denied this and replied to him using the Filipino language he is not!

Needless to say, my uncle went down the floor laughing.


Steve Martin said...


"For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all" (Romans 11:32).

"Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men" (Romans 5).

"in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them . . ." (2 Corinthians).

"He [Christ] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2).

I thought you were a Lutheran?

When did you become a Calvinist?

LPC said...



All the verses you speak about are well and good. However, the Atonement is not the same as Justification (forgiveness of sins). Justification is grounded on the faith of that Atonement.

Please read the verses in context.

Most specially as you quote in Romans 5.

It says justification leads and is indeed for all men however it does not say that justification has already happened for all.

BoC Lutheranism says, Atonement did happen for all but Justification only happen for some - only those who believe.

Walterian Lutheranism says Atonement happened for all and Justification happened for all too.

Calvinism says Justification did not happen for all therefore Atonement did not happen for all either.

Can you spot the difference?

Since you equate atonement with justification, I must actually say, so when did you become a Calvinist? For that is what Calvinism does, equate Atonement with Justification, the same way you seem to understand the relationship of the Atonement with Justification.


LPC said...


additionally I thought you would not fall for the myth found in this post...

But apparently you did since you accuse me of Calvinism.


Steve Martin said...

Oh come on..."Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."

That was for ALL of us...not just the Roman soldiers and the Pharisees.

Brett Meyer said...

sma9231961 uses this verse to defend Universal Justification (forgiveness)"Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men" (Romans 5).

This is the same defense used by all Lutheran (sic) UOJ defenders who prove their Universalism when taking this verse out of the unity of Scripture. My proof - ...and life for all. Life is salvation! If the whole world is Justified by this verse then the whole world is saved eternally - regardless of their belief or unbelief.

UOJ is pure Universalism and contrary to Christ and His Word.

Steve Martin said...

I DO NOT defend universal justification!

I said God forgave the whole world. This forgiveness is accessed through faith. faith comes by hearing.

Some hear it...and many don't. But don't make the mistake that Calvinists make by pinning that non-hearing on God.

LPC said...


Luke 23:34 should be looked at in context. You should consider the "they" and "them" in the context of that passage and how these words have been used.

Please confirm your point, your point is that the fact that Jesus has atoned for the whole word means too that God has automatically justified (forgave) already the whole world. That is your point correct?

I said God forgave the whole world. This forgiveness is accessed through faith. faith comes by hearing.

Another question, so since God has forgiven the whole world already, a person who does not access this forgiveness by faith is actually not forgiven?

So the whole world is forgiven and yet not forgiven and in relation to the atheist, he has been forgiven and the fact that he is not yet believing, he is not forgiven. Correct?

I am not trying to be thick I am just highlighting if you are aware of the subtleness of UOJ.

Rob Bell is also not defending universal justification according to himself, despite his statements.


Ichabod the Glory Has Departed said...

SMA is playing with words, but worse, juggling with the Word of God. Justification and forgiveness of sin are exactly the same thing. If the whole world is forgiven, as SMA claims, then he does advocate Universal Justification. The earlier term was General Justification, but that means in German (where it came from) that every single person is justified. SMA is merging the Atonement with justification.
One can easily move from his statements to the UOJ claims that Hitler is forgiven, Judas Iscariot is a guilt-free saint in Hell, etc.

LPC said...


I am hoping you will stop for a moment and what Dr. Greg is pointing out.

In the replies woe have seen with UOJers what you are doing with words is no different from the others in that school of thought.

Yet, it is the one that is rationalistic and hence Calvinistic and not Lutheran. Lutheran BOC recognize reason without being rationalistic. UOJ is philosophical and is not founded on proper exegesis of Scripture. In fact it does what modern Evangelicals are doing, that is, take snippets of Scripture and build on doctrine without proper context.


Steve Martin said...

That's BS.

Here is orthodox Lutheran doctrine on the atonement. Christ died for and forgave the whole world. READ YOUR BIBLES.

But not everyone hears that word of grace.

So, not everyone will go to Heaven.

If one more of you calls me a "universalist", then...oh forget it...

Ichabod the Glory Has Departed said...

Universalists teach universal absolution, hence universal salvation.

Steve Martin said...

Sorry. Universalists teach everyone is saved.

Lutherans teach what the Bible ACTUALLY SAYS...and that being that God so loved the WORLD.

Steve Martin said...

Just because I announce to you that your sins are forgiven for Jesus' sake, does that mean you are automatically saved?

I'm sorry, but I thought you guys were way beyond this nonsense.

Becky said...

Not quite on topic, but wanted to share something I saw on TV day before yesterday and made me think more about atonement/justification.

Some men went to rescue some of the elderly in Fukushima, near the nuclear plant. They were in the 30km area which was ordered to be evacuated completely. The news showed several men all dressed in their protective gear (they looked like spacemen), but the woman said, "No thank you. I have decided to stay here."

So, she had the chance to be saved, but she refused it. Lito, how does this parallel with UOJ or not UOJ?

Brett Meyer said...

SMA, your confession contends against Christ's declaration in Matthew:

Matt. 6:15, But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

LPC said...


It is not UOJ. In UOJ she is no longer in Fukishima, she just did not want to believe it.

But in your example, she is still in Fukishima.


LPC said...


just because I announce to you that your sins are forgiven for Jesus' sake, does that mean you are automatically saved?

In BoC Lutheranism, where there is forgiveness, there is life and salvation. There is no such thing as someone forgiven and yet not saved. Forgiveness is announced only to those who repent and believe the Gospel.

You are acting so typical of UOJ defenders we have met. You make assertions without proper quotations and when you do quote, the quote is latched out of context, grasphing at straws.

Perhaps you have not fully weighed the issues so I give you some slack.

Atonement and not the same as Justification (forgiveness). The first is the basis of the latter, and the latter is the benefit of the former. The latter is grounded on the former. I will quote St. Paul to you in full. Romans 3:21-26.

21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all[h] who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Watch verse 24 it is connected to verse 25. God justifes the believing sinner freely through faith in propitiation of Jesus. The object of faith is the atonement not justification. The believing sinner receives from God justification/forgiveness but the believing sinner's object of faith is the atonement. Hence, the two are not the same. One who rejects the atonement is not forgiven and has not been forgiven before either. In this verse, forgiveness happens in the space-time continuum of the believer and not outside of this. What is outside of his historical realm is the ATonement and not Justification.

In your theology (as in Bell's) is that God has already forgiven everyone, but everyone has not believed it yet. So when they do not believe, they get unforgiven. Their faith confirms their forgiveness which has happened already. You believe then something has to exist already before that something can be believed. Is this not rationalism? A rationalism that is Calvinistic? In UOJ believe you are already forgiven and so you are, believe you are not, and so you are not. You get what you believe or do not believe. This is similar to Hagin and Copeland's Word of Faith. Believe you are already healed and so you are, believe you are not and so you won't be. Similar type of object of faith.

So do you have a problem with Rob Bell's teaching? I do. If you do have problem with Bell, what area do you disagree? For Bell denies flat out right he is a universalist, despite what he teaches and confesses.


Steve Martin said...

"SMA, your confession contends against Christ's declaration in Matthew:

Matt. 6:15, But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

OK, Brett...then He forgave no one.

Does that make you happy?

Steve Martin said...


Glad to see that you are stll ok.

I'm anxiously awaiting your next post on Raggedy Lamb.

Brett Meyer said...

SMA, you simply have an emotional appeal to man's reason and no Scriptural or Confessional support for your belief that the whole unbelieving world has been forgiven of their sins without the Means of Grace first working contrition and faith in them.

Steve Martin said...

I listed many Scriptures that back me up (already).

You just refuse to believe that God is really that good and gracious.

You guys want to default to the Calvinist view of the atonement...then be my guest.

I'm going to say this one more time (the Lutheran view) and that's it.

Christ died for and forgave all.
That does NOT (NOT!) mean that ALL go to Heaven.

Forgiveness is accessed through faith, and faith comes by hearing.

Some hear it and others do not.

If you insist on blaming God for those who don't hear it...then do so. I will not. I'll blame those who don't hear it.

Over...and out.

Brett Meyer said...

SMA, your contradictory statement is part and parcel of the false gospel of UOJ.

Christ died for and forgave all.

Forgiveness is accessed through faith

LPC said...


You said

Christ died for and forgave all.

The first part is true, the second part is not.

Mark 16:16.

John 8:24

I keep on telling you that you are being a universalist on the second part. Lutherans are not universalists. Lutherans are also not Calvinists.

Look at John 8:24. According to this, people are still in their sins untill they believe in Christ. What you are saying is that they are no longer in sin and they just have not believed it yet.

You teaching is that people are forgiven already they just do not believe it yet. So that means there are people in hell who are actually forgiven people the only reason they are there is because they did not believe they are already forgiven. Which begs the question how can you be forgiven and still be in hell?

If you say that faith is the one that does it, then this is decisional theology isn't it and it is not confessional.

Look again in John 8:24 that faith there has the object - if you do not believe that I am he!

In your case the object of faith is the concept of forgiveness and not the person/work of Christ. I hope you can see the difference.

That is universalistic as Rob Bell.


Steve Martin said...

(Luke 2:10); “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29); “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16); “This is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world” (John 4:42); “who is the Saviour of all men” (1 Timothy 4:10); “who will have all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4); “who gave himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6); “one died for all” (2 Corinthians 5:14); “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2 Corinthians 5:19); “who tasted death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9); false prophets “even denying the Lord that bought them” (2 Peter 2:1); “who is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9); “he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2); along with the equally clear Luke 14:16-24; Luke 22:20, 21; John 3:17-18; John 6:33; John 6:51; John 8:26; John 12:47; John 16:8, 9; Acts 13:26; Acts 17:31; Romans 14:15; 1 Corinthians 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4; 1 Timothy 2:5; Titus 2:11; 3:4; Hebrews 10:28, 29; and 1 John 4:13, 14.

You know. I really do think that the clay is baked over here.

I'll leave you Luthvinists to your 'reason'.

So long.

LPC said...


Look at the way you quote the scripture, it is typical of UOJers to chop off the context of SCripture - look at the way you quote John 3:16. You chopped off the last bit.

Let us just focus on Luke 2:10. It is speaking about the atonement. If this means that the fact that alll have been atoned for all are already saved then what is the role of John 8:24?

Atonement and Justification are not the same. Justification is what a person receives when the person is led to faith in the atonement of Christ. That is why Lutherans believe in universality of the atonement but does not believe in the universality of justification because the latter is always connected with faith only.

Stop your Luthversalism.


Joe Krohn said...

From Romans 5

"16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ."

The gift (forgiveness and justification) is not like the curse (sin). The curse is ON all men. Forgiveness is not on man unless it is received through faith. (ie: putting on the righteousness of Christ). The work of the cross brings salvation to men, not on men. Only through faith is it on men. See the difference between the curse and the gift? It is not a gift until it is received (through faith).

Joe Krohn said...

Rob Bell's doctrine reminds me of the smooth words of the serpent in the will not surely die!

Ichabod the Glory Has Departed said...

Bell chose to defend his doctrine at the NYC Ethical Culture Center. I looked it up. The place has been a haven for atheists, Universalists, Communists, and Left-wing kooks.

LPC said...


Good points on the distinction between "to" men and "on" men.

Those little words spell a mega bucks of meaning.


LPC said...

Dr. Greg,

It is providential I believe that the likes of Rob Bell has just come to the scene. Rob Bell is making the arguments of UOJ and in a round about way, he illustrates the universalism of UOJ.

I went to Kilcrease lately and he is wondering why some Lutherans are supporting Rob Bell.

Some people are good at missing the obvious.


Joe Krohn said...

Rob Bell's doctrine is a foreshadow of what is in store for Lutheranism in America as long as our leaders look towards the Calvinists and Methodists instead of Luther and his followers.

LPC said...

UOJers are nasty.

They come over here and post something as if it promotes our arguments.

But the publicity they have with Rob Bell and guilt by solid association they have with him can not be easily erased.


Phil said...

Just for the record not all of us Calvinists confound propitiation and reconciliation. Or as you say atonement and justification.
Only the hypers and highs do that. Although I will admit that there are a lot of them running around, it's not really fair to say we are all like that.

LPC said...

Hi Phil,

I appreciate your comment specially from a Calvinist.

I just do not see how one can affirm the L in TULIP without confounding the atonement with justification. I think the L is a conclusion coming from that presupposition. Is there a way to affirm L and deny that the Atonement is not the same as Justification?

Having said that, there are indeed a variety of Calvinistic thinking around and I would readily concede what you have said. The Calvinistic Confessions are not homogeneous.

On our side, I hope ELCA goes down the tube and simply desolve because I am finding it hard to tell my friends in USA that not all Lutherans are anti-nomians.


Phil said...

Where it comes from is that God intended to save the elect alone, and regenerates them alone, so ultimately the atonement is efficacious for a limited number.

It's with respect to the certainty the elect have in Christ that we affirm the L. I know this bleeds into the secret will and the intent to save the elect, but I hope that answers at a high level how justification remains separate from atonement.

I find that the main problem is that the highs think of the atonement as pecuniary, as a monetary debt paid to God, and the historics think of it as judicial, on condition of faith.
If that helps.

LPC said...

Hi Phil,

so ultimately the atonement is efficacious for a limited number

This category of "efficacious" is something of a theological labeling which I do not find in Scripture.

but I hope that answers at a high level how justification remains separate from atonement

First off, it does equate Justification with the Atonement in that those who believe are the only ones whom Jesus eventually died for. That is the thesis of L. It is kinda circular. The conclusion is that a person who does not believe is a person Jesus did not die for.

For example in John 6:37, God has given some people to Jesus but that does not mean that Jesus did not die for them. The category of giving and the category of dying are not the same.

If the elect is the purview, then the only logical and consistent Calvinistic version I know is SupraLapsarianism. If you are a SupraLapsarian, I congratulate you for being consistent.

This was the conclusion I have made. Anything trying to soften the hard edges on this is just kludging it.

Both in Calvinism and the UOJ Lutheranism I criticize make this one fallacy - they mix categories, making one substitutable for the other.

Prima facie procedure is never to do that unless there is direct warrant from Scripture - i.e, Scripture categorically categorizes the two to be the same.