What I’m NOT Saying (Dispensing with Straw Men Preemptively)
I am confident that many people will be tempted to reject this argument out of hand without even reading it, because they will make certain assumptions about it that they can easily tear down. It is common in debates to see this kind of tactic in which one person describes a caricature of the other person’s argument and then tears that down rather than the actual argument. This is known as the straw man fallacy and is defined as follows:
“ an intentionally misrepresented proposition that is set up because it is easier to defeat than an opponent's real argument.” (from our friend Google).
So I’m going to make a preemptive attack on potential straw men so that you won’t attack irrelevant premises that are not part of the argument.
With that said, here is what I’m NOT saying:
1. I’m NOT saying that all religions are the same and lead to God.
This is clearly ridiculous, as different religions espouse different beliefs. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be different religions. This isn’t to say that other religions don’t have any truth in them, because they clearly do. For example, many of the moral beliefs of other religions are very similar, if not identical, to Christian moral beliefs. If those moral beliefs weren’t true, then the Christian moral beliefs couldn’t be either, logically. All this to say (even if it does seem unnecessary and silly), different religions are different.
2. I’m NOT saying that there is any other way to the Father besides Jesus Christ.
Consider the following Bible verse…
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
That seems pretty straightforward. Nevertheless, there is some question as to how people come to the Father through Christ. That is what we will be addressing.
3. I’m NOT saying that there is no judgment.
The Bible clearly teaches that there will be judgment. I will be arguing that the traditional doctrine of hell misunderstands this judgment.
4. I’m NOT saying that God’s judgment won’t be serious or severe.
I’ve read about God’s judgment and there’s nothing about the language used that suggests it isn’t very, very serious.
5. I’m NOT saying that sin is no big deal or that behaviors described as sinful in the Bible are OK.
The Bible clearly paints a picture of sin as incredibly destructive and awful. I think this is undeniable, scripturally. If anything, I am saying that sin should be taken more seriously, especially by believers.
6. I'm NOT saying that I just don't like the doctrine of hell emotionally, and trying to fit the Bible to my feelings.
Many people who will oppose this argument would like to set up this straw man to discredit the motivations and scholarship of this work. This is a mischaracterization of the argument. As you will see, this not an emotional argument; it is a logical, and most importantly, Scriptural argument. I would challenge those who claim otherwise to be honest in their reading without applying theological constructs to the plain meanings of the text. Read the Bible and use it to interpret the Bible. Don't read a biased commentary to inform your interpretation, and you will see that the view I am presenting is highly Scriptural and incredibly consistent.
Now that we’ve dispensed with the straw men, let’s examine the biblical evidence for the salvation of all people!
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