A Universalist’s Response to “Exposing Universalism” by James B. De Young
In the last session we saw the universal scope of the reconciliation accomplished by Christ’s propitiatory death upon the cross. While all have not yet responded to that reconciliation, bowing the knee to Him and confessing Him as Lord, God was in Christ reconciling the whole world (cosmos) unto Himself at the cross and not merely the elect or those who happen to believe before taking their last breath. Jesus is the Savior of all men and not only of those who are privileged to hear the gospel and believe in this life. (1Tim 4:10)
Not only did Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross and His subsequent resurrection bring reconciliation for all, but all mankind who were the passive recipients of original sin in Adam with its resultant sin nature, death, judgment and condemnation, also passively received life justification and righteousness in Christ - the Last Adam, 2,000 years ago through the substitutionary atonement consummated on the cross:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, MUCH MORE the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded (periseuo “super-abound”) to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, MUCH MORE those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to ALL MEN, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to ALL MEN, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience (the) many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience (the) many will be made righteous...where sin abounded, grace abounded MUCH MORE (huperperiseuo “super, super-abounded”).” (Rom 5:12,15-20)
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” (1 Cor 15:22)
Paul, in these two passages draws a contrast between that which “all” received in Adam and that which the same “all” received in Christ - the Last Adam. His use of the words periseuo, “super-abound” and huperperiseuo “super, super-abound,” lays emphasis upon the fact that that which Christ accomplished for all mankind goes far, far beyond a full reversal of man’s fall in Adam.
So how does De Young get around the obvious implications of this passage? He argues that, while the first “all” of Paul’s parallel comparison refers to the whole world of humanity that sinned and die in Adam, the second “all” only includes those who believe during their lifetime. He says:
“‘All in Christ’ is not the same number as the ‘all’ in Adam. Those in Christ are a smaller number and come to be in him by way of exercising faith.” p.213
However, there are several reasons why this cannot be the correct understanding of these passages. In the first place, in Romans 5:18 it doesn’t say “all in Christ” but simply “all men.” The same “all men” who are condemned in Adam are justified in Christ. The phrase: “the free gift came” in verse 18 was added by the King James Translators, giving the impression that justification was simply offered as a gift to all men. Most translations eliminate this addition as we see in the New International Version:
“So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” (Rom 5:18 NASU)
In the second place, the parallel comparison “as” – “even so” requires that the second group be equal in number to the first group. If the “all” of the second group is not the same “all” in the first group, then it wouldn’t make sense to use the parallel comparison “as…even so…” For the sake of illustration, let us imagine that someone was to rob $100,000 from you and it was all you had to your name. Then upon catching the thief you were to say to him: “As you took all I had, even so I want you to give it all back.” What would you be demanding of him? A tithe? No. The expression “even so” following “as” means the last must be equal to the first. In the commentary Barne’s Notes, he, although not himself a Universalist, agrees. He comments on 1Corinthians 15:22 saying:
“If this passage means, that in Adam, or by him, all people became sinners, then the correspondent declaration ‘all shall be made alive’ must mean that all people shall become righteous, or that all shall be saved. This would be the natural and obvious interpretation; since the words ‘be made alive’ must have reference to the words ‘all die,’ and must affirm the co-relative and opposite fact. If the phrase ‘all die’ there means all become sinners, then the phrase ‘all be made alive’ must mean all shall be made holy, or be recovered from their spiritual death; and thus an obvious argument is furnished for the doctrine of universal salvation, which it is difficult, if not impossible, to meet. It is not a sufficient answer to this to say, that the word ‘all,’ in the latter part of the sentence, means all the elect, or all the righteous; for its most natural and obvious meaning is, that it is co-extensive with the word ‘all’ in the former part of the verse.” 
Some point out that in Romans 5:19 it says “many” and not all shall be made righteous in Christ. However, when Paul uses the word “many” in place of “all,” it is not speaking of something less than “all.” When he says, “all sinned” (Rom 5:12), he is not contradicting himself by saying later “many were made sinners” (Rom 5:19). He is just emphasizing that the one individual – Adam, made the many sinners, but the other one individual – Christ, made the same many righteous. The contrast is between the one and the many. The definite article is used in both cases making it say, “the many.” The same many that were made sinners by the one – Adam, are also the many made righteous by the one - Christ.
Finally, if in the end more remain in a state of sin and death in Adam than are made alive in Christ, then how can grace be said to have super-abounded over sin? In such a scenario, would not the opposite be true: “where grace abounded sin much more abounded?” To quote Marvin Vincent: “The effect of the second Adam cannot fall behind that of the first.” 
De Young points to Romans 5:18 as the key to understanding the entire passage. He says:
“This is the most important verse in the passage, since it affirms that identity in Christ the second Adam comes only to those who ‘receive’ the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness. It is they, not ‘all’ who shall reign in life.” (p.167)
However, as we see throughout this entire passage, the contrast is between that which all men receive in Adam and that which all men receive in Christ - the Last Adam. (cf. v.19) The word “receive” is the Greek word lambano, which has two distinct usages: 1) to actively take or receive, or 2) to receive as a passive recipient. The context must determine whether the receiving is passive or active. For example, in several New Testament passages we see that the recipient must receive something he did not even desire to receive, such as a just reward for his disobedience (Heb 2:2), or a greater judgment (Luke 20:47). In other instances, the recipient receives that which he was not even anticipating. For example, everyone in Cornelius’ house was surprised when the Gentiles suddenly received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 10:47) In these examples it is obvious that the recipient is passive.
The highly esteemed Greek scholar Marvin Vincent correctly applies the passive meaning to Romans 5:17. He says: “They which receive (hoi lambanontes). Not ‘believingly accept,’ but simply ‘the recipients.”  Although he does not go into further detail, his rendering of lambano in the passive sense is necessitated by the context. The contrast throughout is between what all men receive in Adam as opposed to what all men receive in Christ - the Last Adam. As all men passively receive death, condemnation and bondage to sin through the one man’s disobedience, even so all receive life, justification, and dominion restored, through the one man, Christ.
However, that being said, even as not every man experientially entered into Adam’s death, condemnation and bondage to sin at the moment Adam sinned, in like manner, not everyone experientially received life, justification or dominion at the moment when Christ - the Last Adam, died and rose from the dead. Even as man must be born into Adam to experience the death, condemnation and bondage to sin he brought upon us all, so also must every man be made alive or born again before experientially entering into that justification and dominion which every man received when Christ the Last Adam died and rose again. Of the Last Adam’s death and resurrection, it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (1Cor 15:45) And again, “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” (1Cor 15:22)
To me, once again, much of De Young’s confusion is due to his failure to distinguish between “already” and “not yet.” Christ already tasted death for everyone and reconciled the world unto Himself. (Heb 2:9; 2Cor 5:14,19) While it is true that no one personally and experientially receives the benefits of justification, sanctification or being made alive in Christ until they have believed in Him for salvation, what we see is that all, in due time, will come to faith in Christ and will submit to Him. Every tongue will eventually confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God. In Christ all will eventually be made alive. At present only those who receive Him are born again and justified and are being sanctified to be received unto Him at His coming, but in due time all will be reunited in Christ – justified, sanctified and subjected to Him as Lord.
De Young rightly points out according to Romans 6 that no individual can be said to be “in Christ” until he has believed and been baptized into Christ by the Holy Spirit. However, Romans 5 is referring to Christ’s one-time sacrifice for Adam’s race when He took away the sins of the whole world 2,000 years ago. All humanity was in Christ at the cross even though one is not yet in Him experientially until the day of his visitation. De Young reads Romans 5 and 1Corinthians 15:22 as though it read “all in Christ” rather than “in Christ all.” If you are looking at the present state, obviously all have not yet been baptized into Christ. However, “in Christ all” who were condemned and died in Adam will be justified and made alive once all have been reunited in Christ in the dispensation of the fullness of the times. (Eph 1:10)
That Romans 5 declares a universal reversal of the fall, resulting in the final restoration of all, is even more evident when we consider 1Corinthians 15:22 in its context. He uses the same “as” – “even so” comparison to contrast what the first Adam lost for all, with what Christ, the Last Adam restored to the same all:
“For as in Adam ALL die, even so in Christ ALL shall be made alive.” (1 Cor 15:22)
The obvious meaning is that the same all who died in Adam will also be made alive in Christ. This is even more evident when we consider the end result of Christ’s reign. After saying that Christ will reign until all enemies are under His feet (which we have already seen in the previous session to be speaking of willful submission on the part of His enemies), Paul concludes by telling us that Christ will then in turn subject Himself to the Father with the final result that God will be all in all.
“Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1Cor 15:28)
Obviously, it isn’t possible for God to be “all in all” without a universal reversal of the fall with all who had their beginning in Him returning to Him (Rom 11:36) - without all first being reunited in Christ (Eph 1:10) and restored. (Acts 3:21) So, how does De Young attempt to resolve this obvious contradiction for the Traditional doctrine of eternal torments? Just as with Romans 5, he argues that the “all” who will be made alive in Christ is less than the “all” who die in Adam. He says:
“…the ‘all’ (‘in Christ all will be made alive’) must refer only to those who have believed in Christ.” p. 168
So, based upon the Traditional presupposition that many are eternally lost, in spite of the obvious parallel language (“as all – even so all”), he must argue that the second “all” only refers those of Adam’s race who have truly believed in Christ in a saving manner before dying.
However, since there is such a disparity between those who die in Adam and those who receive Christ during their lifetime, he seeks to mitigate the disastrous implications by minimizing the number of those who have died in history without believing in Him. He says:
“Statistics show that about 2.7 billion are Christians today…probably well over 50% of the world’s population, now and in the past, will or have gone to heaven. It may be well over 70%.” p.240
This is a common Traditionalist argument. However, it is riddled with problems. In the first place, De Young himself recognizes that one must be born again in order to be in Christ and saved.  We all know that the majority of professing Christians have never truly been born again and therefore die in a lost state in spite of their profession. When you add to that those throughout history who never heard the gospel or rejected the gospel, we would be generous in saying that 10% of mankind actually died in Christ.
Jesus Himself, when asked if only a few would be saved, implies that very few find the narrow gate leading to life this side of the grave. (Matt 7:13-14; Luke 13:22-30) For them to argue that most will be saved in this life is to contradict Jesus’ own words and is inconsistent with what they themselves actually believe.
Also, if just one soul were to be tormented forever it would not make it less unthinkable and horrendous. And if even one were to be eternally lost and in a state of endless separation it could not be said of God that He is all in all. And if “all in all” really only means “all in some” then language becomes meaningless and we are wasting our time studying the Scriptures. Nevertheless, De Young at one point attempts to argue from the context that even the second all, in “all in all,” doesn’t have to mean literally “all.” He says:
“Even Scripture acknowledges explicitly that ‘all’ has exceptions. When Paul the Apostle writes that ‘all will be subjected to God (Christ?)’ (1 Cor 15:27) he goes on to immediately add: ‘But when he says all things are put in subjection,’ it is evident that he is excepted who put all things in subjection to him.’ In other words, when Scripture says that all things are subjected to Christ, God who subjects the ‘all things’ to Christ is an exception to these words.” p.186 (parenthesis mine)
I believe he meant to say, “all will be subjected to Christ” and not to God the Father. (cf. Ps 8:5,6) However, this argument is erroneous in more than one way. It is a basic rule of language that all means “all” unless there is something specific in the context which would limit its scope. Also, when Paul says that the Father was the only exception to the all being subjected to Christ, it is actually an emphatic way of saying, “absolutely all of creation,” since it emphasizes that God the Father was the only exception to the “all.”
De Young, as with all Traditionalists, have great difficulty trying to reconcile this passage with eternal torment for the majority since it clearly teaches that all in Adam will be restored in Christ and become subject to Him, resulting in God being all in all. He seems to be undecided as to what to do with this passage. In the above quote he tries to argue that there is an exception to “all,” implying that it only includes some people or those who believe on Christ in this life. At another point he seems to switch to the argument that it doesn’t refer to people at all, but rather to an impersonal state or condition. He says:
“The verses say that when all things are subjected to Christ he will himself be subjected to the Father who caused all to be subjected to Christ ‘so that God may be all in all’ (vv. 26-28). These final words depict the final state; no other condition is foreseen. It means, therefore, that some are in everlasting subjection and conquest. This can hardly be a ‘loving embrace of Jesus Christ.’” p.220
If I understand Him, he seems to be saying that God becoming all in all is accomplished by all having been brought into subjection, either willingly or unwillingly. In that “final state” He will have received unto Himself those who willingly subjected themselves to Christ and the rest will be confined to eternal torments. So, once again we see that De Young depersonalizes the restoration of all, making it out to be nothing more than the restoration of an impersonal condition or state, rather than the restoration of all people as the result of Christ having drawn all unto Himself, just as Jesus Himself said He would do. (Jn 12:32)
If God will not be all in all people but simply all in all things, how could God be said to be all in all that which is inanimate if evil and hell are inanimate? If He is all in all in every state and condition rather than all in all people, and hell and evil are an eternal state, will He then eternally inhabit evil and hell? To me, this creates more problems than it solves. No matter how Traditionalists look at it, they are confronted with an eternal dualism in which God Himself perpetuates evil in an unending hell. At least the Annihilationists resolve this dilemma by presenting God as exterminating the opposition, thereby becoming “all in all of those who survive.”
Another suggestion given by him as to the meaning of 1Corinthians 15:28 is also confusing to me but only illustrates the extremes to which Traditionalists will go in order to deny the restoration of all. He says:
“It is also possible that this text means that there is not eternal subjection, but at a point of “time” in the future God as Father, Son and Spirit is ‘all in all.’” p. 28
Apparently, what De Young is suggesting here is that once all has been subjected to Christ, there will be a brief moment when every knee bows, and for that brief moment, before those forced to bow to Him against their will are cast into an eternal hell, God will be all in all. But in what sense could God be said to be “all in” the unrepentant, even for that brief moment before casting them into hell? Will they also be forced to receive Him into their lives?
The obvious thrust of the passage is upon the restoration of all of mankind, reversing the fall and reuniting all back into oneness with God through Christ - the Last Adam. That the subjection of all is voluntary is also indicated by the fact that the same word used for the subjection of Christ to the Father (hupotaso) is used 4 other times in just 2 verses referring to all the rest who will become subject to Him:
“For He has put (subjected ‘Gr. hupotaso’) all things under His feet. But when He says ‘all things are put (hupotaso) under Him,’ it is evident that He who put (hupotaso) all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject (hupotaso) to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject (hupotaso) to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1Cor 15:27,28)
It follows that if the subjection is voluntary on the part of Christ, then it will also be voluntary on the part of all the others. That the subjection of all which results in God being all in all is a voluntary subjection, is also seen by the progression of the entire passage. It begins by saying: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order.” (1 Cor 15:22-23a) This speaks of an order or succession of individuals who will be made alive when their ordained time comes, just as we see in Acts 13:48 where it says: “And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Both words “order” and “appointed” refer to a prearranged order or succession. Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved but we do not truly call upon Him until we are at the end of ourselves. Each individual has his own order. Some are more self-willed and obstinate than others and for that reason some are slower to respond to the gospel since God waits until we are at the end of ourselves and only then draws us unto Himself.
The traditional interpretation doesn’t acknowledge this order or succession. They only include the rest of the verse which says: “Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.”
This does not fulfill the statement: “each one in his own order.” This only speaks of Christ the firstfruits and the Church or the Firstfruits Company, who will take part in the first resurrection. (James 1:18) We are the first to trust in Christ and the “firstborn ones” of the new creation. (Eph 1:12; Heb 12:23 lit.) The phrase, “each one in his own order,” refers to the residue of men or the rest of mankind who will be made alive individually when it is their time.
The following verse says: “Then comes the end (telos), when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.” The word translated “end” is telos which means: end, conclusion, fulfillment or final result. I think that perhaps the best way to understand “the end,” telos in this context is, “then comes the fulfillment.” In other words, it speaks of the fulfillment of the declaration that all will be made alive in Christ and not just the firstfruits or those that are Christ’s at His coming. This is verified by looking at the verses that follow, declaring that Christ will continue reigning until every enemy has been destroyed (Gr. katalúo “render null or void”), and all have become subject to Him. It says that the last enemy to be destroyed will be death. That cannot happen until all have been made alive in Christ.
Traditionalists are shortsighted when they try to cut the timeline short at the Second Coming of Christ, or even after the millennium. In 1Corinthians 15 we see that Christ will continue reigning until all have been made subject to Him and God becomes all in all. That will hardly be the case at the Second Coming of Christ or even after the Millennium which culminates with Satan’s final rebellion and the White Throne Judgment. (Rev 20:7-9) Actually, we see that the times of the restoration of all doesn’t even begin until the Second Coming of Christ. (Acts 3:21) It is in the dispensation of the fullness of the times that all are reunited in Him (Eph 1:10) and not before His return. It is in the coming ages that the Church – the firstfruits, will be put on display to show God’s grace to the rest of creation through us. (Eph 2:7)
So, we have seen that Christ’s work on the cross was a universal reversal of the results of the one act of disobedience that caused the fall, the entrance of sin, death and condemnation to all Adam’s race. Christ, the Last Adam, restores all that the first Adam lost and much, much more. All who died in Adam will finally be made alive because of the cross. It is something “already” accomplished but “not yet” since not all have subjected themselves to Christ. However, all will be made alive, reversing the fall, but “each one in his own order.” It is precisely because the subjection must be voluntary and not obligated that all have “not yet” been restored.
 from Barnes' Notes on1Corinthians 15:22
 Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, Romans 5:17
 Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, Romans 5:17
 De Young says: “One needs merely to be born to be in Adam and under judgment; but one needs to be born again to be in the kingdom of Christ (John 3:5-8).” p.213