USA (MNN) — Due to the recent release of a controversial book written by a well-known pastor discussing heaven and hell, the topics of pluralism and universalism have risen to the surface of Christian conversation. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship was well-seasoned in combating these beliefs long before any book release.
"There's definitely an increase in terms of young people today being at least open to the possibility of results of universalism and pluralism," says InterVarsity evangelist York Moore. "Among Christians, I think we've seen an increase as well."
A recent study by the Barna Group seems to confirm this. Universalism–defined by the Barna Group as the belief that all human beings will be saved after death–was supported by 43 percent of subject's questioned.
Pluralistic views of Christians toward other religions also appear to be opening wider.
"Year after year, I do think that we are struggling to keep pace with the amount of people who are coming into our chapters from churched backgrounds who are coming with these assumptions that all people are saved. Another thing that this [Barna] study cites is that 51% do not believe that they have a responsibility to tell people about their faith in Christ," explains Moore. "So that lack of responsibility coupled with an openness for universalism and pluralism among Christians is a real problem in InterVarsity."
One of the major results of an expansion of such views has been confusion over orthodox end times views. "The major theological casualties are naturally the great eschatological categories of heaven and hell– the new world, the return of Jesus, the Judgment Day, these kinds of things. Because of that, the ultimate end game, if you will, of the universe is often ignored. There's no sense of urgency for the salvation of souls."
Moore says the danger of straying from these 2,000-year-old truths is significant. "People are gravitating toward that which is easy, that which is more appealing to our American lifestyle, and the consequences of that could potentially be disastrous."
Already the number of college students who leave the church during college and return later in life has declined significantly. Sixty percent of students who left came back to the church later in life in years past, but now only 20 percent return.
Non-churched and churched students alike seem to be predisposed to ideas of pluralism and universalism. The Barna Group reports that young Americans ages 18 to 39 are far less likely to be excited to share their faith than in years past, and more than ever many believe that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
So much confusion fused by Christian leaders with similarly skewed theology does not go unnoticed or unaddressed by InterVarsity. Despite the various voices influencing college students, InterVarsity has been winning this war.
InterVarsity is still seeing a higher number of conversions right now than ever before in their 70-year history.
Standing firmly on orthodox theological views about Christ's return, judgment, and evangelism, InterVarsity has been able to guide a justice-driven generation toward Biblical foundations by encouraging students that people are saved TO something rather than just FROM something when they accept Christ. Moore says it has helped to switch the focus to the excitement of a relationship with the living God and away from a fire-and-brimstone type view.
At the same time, InterVarsity has been able to maintain their firm stance and teaching about orthodox, Biblical eschatology. The ministry continues to see students come to Christ to the point that many InterVarsity staff are praying for all-out revival across the States. Pray that the Lord would continue to protect InterVarsity staff as they teach truth in an increasingly confusing world. Pray that students would continue to grasp the fullness of God's truth.