Timothy and Universalism - 1 Tim 2:4

who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (NRSV, 1 Tim 2:4).

Does this mean everyone gets to heaven? I realize that this idea of universalism was condemned by the Church, but it was held by Origen, and many at the present time cannot understand how a good God would create a being that would be wretched for all eternity, in spite of free will. Very eminent theologians in Ireland at present believe in universalism.

I have looked at a commentary by Raymond Collins who notes that *everyone *is used to emphasize that not only Jews, observant Jewish-Christians and those with special knowledge can be saved.

What do you think this verse means? Will all of us end up in heaven? If not do you find it hard to appreciate how a good God can allow such suffering for all time? In the final analysis can the desires of God be thwarted?

It certainly seems to be a blow against Calvinist-style predestination, in which God actively creates some people whom he wills to be damned. It could be seen as supporting universalism, though obviously most Christians throughout history have not read it so (and thus the Tradition is against it).

The Catholic position, though there are permitted variations in just what “free will” entails, is that God grants us real freedom to choose, and therefore does permit His ideal will to be thwarted if we so choose. As this verse affirms, though, God does not want anyone to choose against Him and be damned. It would seem He does want us to have the real choice, though, so that damnation must at least be a real possibility.

Some theologians propose that we are permitted to hope that Hell is empty of human souls, or perhaps mostly empty. That is at least a theoretical possibility, since God gives each person the grace to cooperate with Him. We are not, however, permitted to believe in the inevitable salvation of everyone, which is what “universalism” usually means.



thanks for your reply.

Life is tough. God’s ways are not our ways!

The mafia can make you an offer you cannot refuse, but God seems unable to do this.

It sounds like a young child walking down a street whose mother warns him there is a big hole in front of him. The young child ignores her and the mother allows him to fall into the hole.

It seems God does not really want to intervene. Modern psychology shows how easily we are influenced. Yet God may turn a blind eye and let people perish.

One reads:

19 You will say to me then, “Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; 23 and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—
The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Ro 9:19-23.

Tough stuff!

We may not know how, but it is clear that He did. We know that a third of the angels are there.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.