How Did We Get Here?
Why the variety of beliefs within Christianity?
While the Bible, the Word of God, is an amazing and unique book - it can be manipulated by man. That's why we have thousands of denominations.
Each group has "proof texts" that support their view and they normally overlook the Bible verses that don't support their sentiment. When it comes to the subject of what happens to people when they die, in particular those who are not "saved", the subject seems to narrow down to three main views:
1) The "lost" are burned or tormented in some way - endlessly.
2) The "lost" are annihilated.
3) The "lost" are resurrected with an amazing revelation in which they know they've been dead, they're now alive again, they see God's presence and glory, and they're given the gift of repentance and faith by seeing God's risen Son, His love and His endless mercy.
(Ultimate Reconciliation or Christian Universalism)
NOTE: This is NOT "Universalism" - Universalism is generally not Bible based nor focused on the finished work of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for the sins of the world.
The Various "Proof Texts"
Each of these views can be debated and each persuasion has a series of favorite Bible passages as well as a variety of responses to scriptures that don't support their doctrine.
The BVB's would be an example of the favorite proof texts supporting God's plan to redeem all men and women - every person who has ever lived. So, what about the contrasting verses?
We will address those verses in detail, however, two words of caution as you consider these issues.
1) Understand that a great deal of the Bible is symbolic, figurative, metaphors, and word pictures. Jesus even told His disciples that He always spoke to the public in parables.
With this in mind, there are many parts of the Bible that are quite direct and forthright - outside of any possible symbolic interpretation. Most of the BVB's fit in this category.
2) Many translations reflect the views and doctrines of the translation teams. This began as early as the Latin Vulgate commissioned in 382 AD.
When we read many of today's Bibles next to the original texts, this becomes quite evident. In fact many of the more recent translations have removed the word "hell". It remains in most common Bibles such as the King James Version, yet the word "hell", nor the concept of hell existed in the early churches texts.
"He that answers a matter before he hears it,
it is folly and shame to him." Proverbs 18:13
"The first to speak in court sounds right - until the other comes and examines him." Proverbs 18:17
The Broader Context of Scripture
Theologians will reject the clear reading and obvious understanding of the BVB's with reasoning like this:
"The burden of proof for a view such as this conflicts with some other teachings in the Bible. We need to look at the 'broader context of scripture'".
Turning the tables . . .
Christian Universalists need to confront those who hold to the view that God can't or won't save all - with this reasoning:
"The clear reading of Scripture is paramount. Context is critical, however, the 'broader context of scripture' states that God will restore and save all."