Paul Manata and JD Walters have been sparring over universalism. Among other things, JD said:
Hmmm….sounds a bit like the worker who grumbled that those who worked just a few hours in the evening were being paid as much as those who had toiled for the whole day?
Your original post makes it seem, against all reasoned protest by universalists to the contrary, that universalism posits that those who have to go through hell before getting to heaven have somehow gamed the system, that they get ‘all this and heaven too’.
Why wouldn’t the believer be entitled to make a similar complaint, that his friend got to ‘have fun’ and live his youthful years however he wanted and still got into heaven because of his midlife repentance? How is this scenario any different from the one involving the earthly saint and the post-hell redeemed sinner? Under any scenario salvation is ‘unfair’ and a gift of sheer grace.
A few quick points:
i) Manata wasn’t “complaining” that it’s “unfair” to “game the system.” Rather, he was giving a factual description of what universalism entails. If universalism is true, then, as a matter of fact, “they do get all this and heaven too.”
ii) Actually, it’s the universalist who bristles at the suggestion that sinners can game the system. So, if anything, it’s the universalist who’s complaining about the unfairness of that depiction.
iii) Far from supporting universalism, the parable to which JD alludes is diametrically opposed to universalism. The punch line in Mt 20:16 involves the eschatological reversal of fortunes. But that’s not the case in universalism. If universalism is true, then it’s false to say the first will be last and the last will be first. In universalism, everyone crosses the finish line. Everyone wins the grand prize. There are no losers. Rather, you have complete equality of outcome.
iv) Apropos (iii), wouldn't that be unjust in terms of Mt 20:16?