HOWEVER…What I would like to ask people who get so worked up about universalism is this: What difference would it make in your life if suddenly God revealed to you in a way you couldn’t deny that he is going to save everyone?
i) One difficulty with answering his question is that we don’t come to that hypothetical as a blank slate. So it generates something of a dilemma. Normally we answer hypotheticals based on what we actually believe to be true. That’s our reference point. We extrapolate from what we know or believe to be the case.
If I know that God is not going to save everyone, then that alone tells me something else: God is wise and good not to save everyone.
And it goes beyond that. Scripture also gives us some specific reasons for why he won’t save everyone. And if Scripture is the word of God, then those are good reasons.
Therefore, this hypothetical calls into question what we already know about God. Calls into question the wisdom of God. For if God is wise and good not to save everyone, if God has good reasons not to save everyone, then you suddenly tell me that, notwithstanding all of that, God is going to save everyone, that raises the question of whether the alternative isn’t less wise, less good, than the status quo ante.
ii) In one respect it doesn’t affect me. It would affect the lost.
iii) But in another respect, to know that nothing I do makes a dime’s worth of difference in the long run would, itself, make a difference in how I live. If there are no long term consequences for what I do or fail to do, if it all comes up roses in the end, then that might, indeed, have a dramatic effect on how I live my life.
iv) Can someone who’s everyone’s friend be anyone’s friend? If someone is your friend, then you mean more to him than someone who is not his friend. You hold a special place in his heart. If you went missing, he’d feel the absence more deeply than for someone who is not his friend.
And that’s true in relationships generally. We care more about some people than others. And that’s part of what it means to love someone, or be loved by another. We're not interchangeable with someone else. We're not a set of identical, replaceable parts.
Of course, we have to make some adjustments when speaking of God. But for now I’m making a general point: Arminians like Olson act as if there’s something self-evidently wrong with “favoritism.” As if it’s inherently unloving not to love everyone.
And I’m making the point that indiscriminate love hardly qualifies as love at all. Is love detached? Is love anonymous–like a generic valentine card? A mass produced valentine. Written to no one in particular, for no one in particular.
BTW, I don’t object to greeting cards. What personalizes the card is who sent it. And the fact that he didn’t send it to every girl in the phonebook, but only to his sweetheart.
v) Finally, Derek Ashton also left a perceptive comment: