It’s popular today to assume that everyone will be saved and that there’s no need to debate faith and religious claims because “everybody’s in Heaven anyhow.” Pastor D.M. tackled claims similar to this in two of her earlier works, Doctrinal Deception and More Doctrinal Deception, where she delivers a sound defeat to Bishop Carlton Pearson’s Gospel of Inclusion proposal. It reduces to inclusivism and ultimately, universalism.
Now, Pastor D.M. is back to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once more in her latest book, God’s Inescapable Justice: Refuting Thomas Talbott’s Universalism. In this book, as the title notes, Richardson takes on the work of Thomas Talbott. His work, titled The Inescapable Love of God, shows the perceived problems with Augustinianism (or Calvinism) and Arminianism. To Talbott, Calvinists are too exclusive and readily shut out souls from Heaven. Calvinism’s God is too concerned with His glory that He doesn’t care for the reprobate whose soul is perishing and who will end up in Hell because God refuses to save Him.
While Arminianism is a better proposition to Talbott than Calvinism, he still finds it incomplete. To him, Arminianism doesn’t go far enough. Since Arminians hold tightly to free will, God is unable to save some humans because they just don’t want to be saved. In his universalism, however, Talbott is able to hold to the love of God, an Arminian concept, while still saving the world, the entire world, by God’s irresistible power.
Talbott does something of an interesting twist with his book title. He wants to get his point across without writing a logical contradiction, so instead of titling it The Inescapable Power of God, or The Inescapable Grace of God (which would easily have clued Calvinist violins), Talbott focuses on the love of God. Arminians agree: God is love, and any theology worth considering should focus on God’s love. The problem with Talbott’s universalism, however, is that, for God’s love to ultimately be “inescapable,” man cannot escape or avoid it; in other words, man has to ultimately lose free will and God must ultimately force Himself upon man to save him. God’s irresistible grace (or, as Molinism calls it, “Overcoming Grace”) must make the deciding call so that all can experience final salvation. But how is God love if He forces some to believe in Him?
Talbott’s universalism is a fascinating system in theory but bears little fruit in truth. To make his case, Talbott has to contend with the existence of Hell. In the end, he opts for the idea of a second-chance salvation (or postmortem evangelism) and proposes the unbiblical view of conditional immortality (which he himself says Paul never had in mind) as a middle-ground view for those who don’t want to endorse the “barbaric” view of unending torment. But the seemingly “barbaric” nature of unending torment in Hell fire doesn’t eliminate its biblical nature. And while Talbott is willing to sacrifice the permanent, eternal nature of Hell and the unforced nature of human freedom, Bible-believing Christians are not. While not all will experience God’s inescapable love, Richardson says, every person will experience God’s inescapable justice or judgment. Those who don’t have Jesus Christ as their advocate will dread the moment when “court is adjourned.”
Pastor D.M. is the author of several books, including the two-book Doctrinal Deception series above as well as Theo-LOGICAL: An Introduction to Calvinism and Arminianism. Her most controversial book yet is Terror Of The Lord: Critiquing Conditional Immortality, where she argues that God’s ability to “destroy both body and soul in Hell” does not equate to annihilationism. The answer to God’s final judgment must be found within Scripture, not outside it — and assuming the body and soul depart from existence instead of proving it only begs the question. The Book of Revelation says that burning in the lake of fire “is the second death” (see Revelation 21:8), a definitive nail in the coffin for a theory that Talbott himself says the Apostle Paul never thought about when writing his letters to the first-century Christian church.
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