Please Stop Saying Free Will Contradicts Universal Reconciliation

There’s a meme that universal reconciliation (wherein the Gehenna of Judgment doesn’t last forever) doesn’t work with free will (or agency, or dignity, or cooperation, or what have you).

We’ve discussed this before on this blog, but that material had some distractions that I hope we can avoid this time around.

The point this time is to focus, and make a really simple rebuttal of the idea that these two things are incompatible.

In order to focus, we’re going to avoid defining free will — whether you think it’s the libertarian kind, or a compatibilistic kind, or something else, should be unimportant to the argument.

(The argument is pointing out a non sequitur — “Free will’s falsity is not a corollary of purgatorial universal reconciliation, and PUR’s falsity is not a corollary of free will” — by way of a thought experiment.)

The Three Humans

Imagine that there are only 3 humans: John, George, and Ringo.

Here are 3 possibilities:

  • In possibility 1, only John shall freely submit to God at Judgment, and George/Ringo shall remain in rebellion.
  • In possibility 2, both John and George shall freely submit to God at Judgment, but Ringo shall remain in rebellion.
  • In possibility 3, all three of John, George, and Ringo shall freely submit to God at Judgment.

We don’t have to commit to any of these possibilities, but can talk about a series of “ifs” related to possibility 3.

In other words, let’s “float” possibility 3 for a moment, and see what happens:

  • If possibility 3 happens, there’s no contradiction between possibility 3 and free will, since all three humans in the group freely submitted.
  • Furthermore, if God knows that possibility 3 shall come about, there still shouldn’t be any contradiction with free will.
    • (God knowing something does not have any effect on the group’s free will.)
  • Furthermore, if God inspires a writer to assert that possibility 3 shall come about, there still shouldn’t be any contradiction with free will.
    • (God inspiring a writer to make that assertion does not offend the group’s free will.)
  • Furthermore, if folks read those assertions and subsequently believe with confidence that possibility 3 shall come about, there still shouldn’t be any contradiction with free will.
    • (Folks holding to a conveyed foretelling with confidence does not offend the group’s free will.)

All done.

All across the board, John, George, and Ringo’s free wills have not been offended in any way, even if possibility 3 is held true for the sake of argument. This hypothetical premise simply isn’t catastrophic to freedom, dignity, agency, and whatnot. Everything’s fine.


PUR may be false. Perhaps some will refuse to submit at Judgment, and opt for interminable rebellion instead.

But the truth or falsity of PUR is not presently at issue.

Rather, at issue is the meme, “PUR would contradict free will if it were true.”

And that meme is false. It entails non sequiturs.


How can it be that the above meme is so virulent and resilient, even among very educated, sincere, brilliant thinkers?

The reason is because non sequiturs are extremely difficult to root-out, especially when they involve tough-to-crack concepts like free will.

I suspect that a modal scope fallacy is responsible for this non sequitur. Modal scope fallacies are very, very easy to commit, even from people vastly more intelligent than you or me.

Visit the Purgatorial Hell FAQ and search the page for “free will” to look deeper into the modal scope fallacy we often see here.



About stanrock

Husband, father. Professional game developer, software engineer, & social product analyst. Theology debugger. Fun theology experiments at

One response to “Please Stop Saying Free Will Contradicts Universal Reconciliation”

  1. Jim Moore says :

    This may seem tangential, but then again it may not. You speak of “very educated, sincere, brilliant thinkers” holding certain opinions at the end. What is the basis for thinking that “very educated, sincere, brilliant thinkers” are any more likely to hold opinions that warm the heart of God, and glorify His son.

    What I look at is that most theology, doesn’t seem to scale to God’s love. The place that I look first are the mentally challenged. Corrie Ten Boom wrote a book about her work among those with mental challenges ( “Common Sense Not Needed”)

    My real question has to do with what theology and theologians have put upon the many who don’t know theology, let alone its finer points, but who God deeply loves nonetheless.

    Isn’t it easier to simply say to theologians, use your intellectual gifts to love, and serve God, yourself, and others through your heart. I admire Corrie Ten Boom’s heart, and her love. And, I want to be like her. I can’t think of a theologian that I would say the same thing about.

    Before I leave this, do you think God loves the gifted (gifted in the sense of gifts that the world honors, and the natural man desires)? How is it that He gives theologians great gifts (such as the gifts of intelligence, time, honor, and support), and yet then as Paul writes in 1 Cor 1:26-31, says that there are not many gifted who are part of the kingdom, and how God actually exalts the weak and despised that people wouldn’t boast before Him. I have encountered a lot of “Well, they got theirs here.” types of sour grapes attitudes. What kind of trade is that? Gifts here for heaven there? What kind of God of love would ever do such a thing? My view is that it breaks God’s heart that more of His gifted children are not part of His kingdom. People with these types of gifts, need to reach others with similar gifts to show them the love of God, in knowing and being known.

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