Why People Who Should Know Better Become Universalists

William Barclay was perhaps the best known commentator on the Bible of his generation.  People still read Barclay’s commentary.  What some may not know is that Barclay was a solid evangelical who affirmed the basic doctrines of Christianity (including belief in hell as a place of punishment for those who rejected God’s offer of salvation).

Until, that is, his daughter was killed in a boating accident.  She had never confessed Christ and so far as anyone, including her father, knew, was lost.  It was then and there that Barclay turned to universalism.

William Barclay, staunch evangelical, turned Universalist because he had to – he couldn’t endure the thought of his daughter’s  lostness and its consequences.

It’s understandable, of course.  And the very reason that all those who know better than to spout the heresy of universalism do so.  That is, people become Universalists because they need to, not because it’s true.   All who become Universalists do so because they fear the consequences of their loved one’s rejection of salvation.

In other words, you show me a universalist, and I’ll show you someone who hasn’t bothered to share the Gospel with someone they should have and that someone has died.   And then the person left behind becomes someone who wishes universalism were so because they didn’t care enough to share the truth with others.  Universalism is wishful thinking.  Nothing more.

20 thoughts on “Why People Who Should Know Better Become Universalists

  1. Michael Acidri 24 Mar 2011 at 9:42 am

    Hey Jim, easy there. Do you mean to say that theologians like Rob Bell and Eugene Peterson are wishful thinkers?


    • Jim 24 Mar 2011 at 9:53 am

      to be charitable


  2. Peter 24 Mar 2011 at 10:27 am

    I agree with Michael. Woah!
    I’m not a universalist but I think that’s too simplistic. Look at Robin Parry for example. He affirms it due to how he reads the bible. Nit that its right, but lets not build up a straw man!


    • Jim 24 Mar 2011 at 10:30 am

      i dont know any robin parry


  3. Chuck Grantham 24 Mar 2011 at 11:05 am

    Well, of course not, Jim. He’s on Blogger.


  4. Mike Gantt 24 Mar 2011 at 11:23 am

    That everyone is going to heaven is scriptural, and nothing less.

    Your theory of why I believe everyone is going to heaven is way off base. It does not describe my experience. On the contrary, I believe it because the Holy Spirit in sheer grace opened my eyes to what the Bible teaches on the subject.


    • Jim 24 Mar 2011 at 11:40 am

      it wasnt the holy spirit that revealed that to ya…


  5. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert 24 Mar 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I’m with Jim here! Both Rob Bell and Eugene Peterson are simply off base on this subject. One does not need to be a great theolog to see this. God is not going to redeem every human soul, there will be lost souls in eternity! Even John 3:16 admits that men can “perish”! This has been the basic position of the Church Catholic, both biblically and theologically. Perhaps the how and depth of this judgment might be an open question, but not its reality! (Note Luke 12:4-5 / Matt. 10;28)


  6. Patricia 24 Mar 2011 at 1:03 pm

    So Jim somebody like the late US Baptist politician Jesse Helms who supported racial segregation, apartheid in South Africa, unethical American foreign policy and the evil American Tobacco industry is ok because he professed Jesus Christ. Whereas Mahatma Gandhi, who respected the person of Jesus and the face of God in others and lived closer to Biblical Christianity than most of us ever do but couldn’t quite get his head around the resurrection or reject his Hindu upbringing, is out?


    • Jim 24 Mar 2011 at 1:05 pm

      have no idea since i dont know what either of them really thought about this particular matter.


  7. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert 24 Mar 2011 at 1:33 pm


    Let me say in my opinion, that your basic doctrine of God, short of God’s holy and simply “Other” character, is just not biblical. A good read, and one that “believes” God’s Word/Book of Romans, thru St. Paul will certainly challenge you! MY pastoral thought at least! Btw, note I am an Anglican Reformed and a “Calvinist”… a not so accepted theological position today! But, the Doctrines of Grace are Biblical! And note the Anglican Thirty-nine Articles (see Article XVII) Your a Brit, as I am.. and this is my personal challenge to you! 🙂


  8. Tim Bulkeley 24 Mar 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I’m a thorough agnostic about who is “going to heaven”. But, Jim, if Barclay thought like that about his daughter how do you think God thinks about each lost creature?

    PS I am also an agnostic about who is “going to hell”. But have some candidates of my own if the Almighty needed my vote 😉 which thankfully is not the case!


    • Jim 24 Mar 2011 at 2:15 pm

      i dont know either, either way. but i do know that both are real. and i do know that god forces no one’s love or response. ‘strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it. broad is the road and wide is the way that leads to destruction… and many there be who find it’


  9. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert 24 Mar 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Noboby likes Matt. 7:13-14, save those who fear & love God, and know themselves that GOD has drawn them (personal sinners) toward the “strait” and “narrow” gate! And somehow again the doctrine of God’s own “Perseverance”, one the great Doctrines of Grace, is quite involved!


  10. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert 24 Mar 2011 at 2:52 pm

    “And those with HIM are called and chosen and faithful.” (Rev. 17:14)


  11. Peter 25 Mar 2011 at 6:42 am

    This is Robin Parry’s blog: http://theologicalscribbles.blogspot.com/

    He’s the editor for Wipf and Stock (a US-based theological publisher). I highly recommend that you read his book ‘evangelical universalist’ before you carry on slandering (admittedly erred) brothers.
    In Christ.


    • Jim 25 Mar 2011 at 7:32 am

      not interested. slandering? hardly. i have yet begun to lay siege to false doctrine proffered by so called christians.


  12. aliquis 25 Mar 2011 at 8:42 am

    Maybe Barclay realized a God who convicts those to hell who haven’t had the chance to accept Christ is not a just God.


    • Jim 25 Mar 2011 at 9:48 am

      i know you cant seriously be suggesting that barclay’s daughter had no such opportunity. as to what god does with those who never hear the gospel, read romans 1-2.


  13. […] West sparked some pushback with his explanation of why people become universalists. That is, people become Universalists because they need to, not because it’s true.   All who […]


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