Shedd on the doctrine of endless punishment

“The Christian gospel — the universal offer of pardon through the self-sacrifice of one of the divine persons — should silence every objection to the doctrine of endless punishment.”

Shedd’s version of the “free offer” is inextricably connected to his version of a universal atonement. I recommend reading the entire article, but here is an excerpt from an article, The “Free Offer” and Conditionalism:

“The preaching of the true gospel does not offer a salvation to sinners if the sinners would only do their part. The preaching of the true gospel is an unconditional promise of salvation that is conditioned on the work of Christ alone. God’s covenant of grace is not a conditional covenant. It is a sure and certain covenant that ensures the salvation of all whom God gave to Christ. It is based on the finished, efficacious work of Christ. God is not waiting for the sinner to respond before He can do His saving work. God saves unconditionally. And when He saves His people, He causes them to believe the true gospel of salvation conditioned on Christ and to repent of ever thinking that salvation was conditioned on themselves.”

More from Shedd:

“For as the case now stands, there is no necessity, so far as the action of God is concerned, that a single human being should ever be the subject of future punishment.”

From the context of Romans 9:11-22, Esau and Pharaoh “so far as the action of God is concerned,” were necessitated to be the subject of future punishment as vessels of wrath fitted out for destruction. The wrath of God finds its full expression in hell, and the whole of Romans 9 clearly teaches that God chose to create certain vessels to display His power upon and to demonstrate His wrath in. God desires to demonstrate His eternal wrath on some and to pour out His everlasting mercy on others (cf. Romans 9:22-23).

Shedd rejects the clear Scriptural teaching that God desires to demonstrate His wrath against the vessels of wrath that Jesus Christ did NOT die for, in order that He might make the riches of His glory known to the vessels of mercy that Jesus Christ DID die for. Thus, the vessels of mercy prepared beforehand for glory know that it is the propitiating blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ ALONE that makes them to differ from the vessels of wrath that were prepared for destruction.

“The necessity of hell is founded in the action of the creature, not of the Creator. Had there been no sin, there would have been no hell; and sin is the product of man’s free will.”

Certainly man sins voluntarily, but sin is NOT ultimately “the product of man’s free will” since mans’ will is not free from the sovereign control of his Maker. The “necessity of hell” is founded in the will and action of God who desires “to demonstrate His wrath, and to make His power known” (Romans 9:22). Ultimately sin is NOT the product of man’s free will, but the product of God’s decretive will. God desires to demonstrate His holy wrath by actively and unconditionally hardening certain people — to whom He desires, He shows mercy; and to whom He desires, He hardens.

“And after the entrance of sin and the provision of redemption from it, had there been universal repentance in this life, there would have been no hell for man in the next life.”

The entrance of sin into the universe flows from God’s desire to demonstrate His holy wrath against sin and from His desire to glorify Himself in the Person and Work of His Son in the salvation of His elect people (Ephesians 3:11). Shedd can posit the hypothetical universalism of “no hell for man in the next life” because he believes that Jesus Christ made satisfaction for everyone without exception. Thus for Shedd, salvation from the coming wrath is NOT conditioned on the work of Christ but conditioned on the sinner.

“The only necessitating reason, therefore, for endless retribution that now exists is the sinner’s impenitence.”

The sinner’s impenitence is certainly a reason for endless retribution. But the question is WHY do certain sinners remain impenitent indefinitely until their dying breath? It is because God is actively hardening them in their rebellion that He may justly punish them (cf. Psalm 105:25; Romans 9:18; Revelation 17:17).

“Should every human individual, before he dies, sorrow for sin and humbly confess it, hades and gehenna would disappear” (W.G.T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology [single volume edition — CD], p. 930).

Shedd’s blasphemy against Christ is staggering. Shedd believes that Jesus died for everyone without exception, which is the same as saying that He died in vain:

“I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness is through Law, then Christ died without cause” (Galatians 2:21).

If Christ died for those who finally perish in their sins, then obviously righteousness did NOT come solely through His work. Shedd declares that Christ by His death for everyone without exception has removed “all the legal obstacles to the exercise of this great attribute [so-called “mercy” — CD]” (p. 930). To remove all legal obstacles is to fulfill the penal and preceptive demands of God’s holy law (see Romans 10:5 and Galatians 3:10-12).

Obviously righteousness either comes through Christ, or it comes through Law. Either one perfectly fulfills the righteous demands of God’s Law or Christ does. Shedd’s teaching reveals that he is one who had become estranged from Christ, being a debtor to keep the whole law (cf. Galatians 5:3-4).

“But when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality, then will take place the Word that has been written, Death was swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory? Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law; but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)

Shedd had said that, “Should every human individual, before he dies, sorrow for sin and humbly confess it, hades and gehenna would disappear.”

In light of Shedd’s universal atonement doctrine, hades and gehenna are NOT swallowed up in victory by the powerfully efficacious work of Jesus Christ, but by the Satanically anti-christian work of the sinner.

Shedd’s Christ-dishonoring and precious-propitiatory-blood-despising doctrine gives the victory to the sinner through his own “spiritually-enabled” efforts! Clearly, the work or effort that makes the ultimate difference between salvation and damnation is the truly victorious work. Among those who are not able to conquer death through their own efforts, Shedd’s doctrine of demons leaves death with its sting intact and gives hades the victory.

“Then do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me, His prisoner. But suffer hardship with the gospel, according to the power of God, the One having saved us and having called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace given to us in Christ Jesus before eternal times, but now revealed through the appearance of our Savior, Jesus Christ, indeed making death of no effect, bringing life and incorruptibility to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a herald and apostle and a teacher of nations” (2 Timothy 1:8-11).

Shedd’s universal atonement doctrine denies that the true Jesus of Scripture made death of no effect for all whom He represented at the cross. For according to Shedd’s self-righteous scheme many sinners are enabled to make death of no effect (while many are not so enabled).

Shedd does not believe that Jesus Christ is able to abolish and destroy death all by Himself. Shedd is a classic Calvinist (just in case anyone thought otherwise). Shedd is part of the “Reformed Tradition.” To all professing Calvinists: How do you like your tradition now? Is it not obvious that this passage applies to you and your “beloved tradition”?

“This people draws near to Me with their mouth, and with their lips honor Me; but their heart holds far off from Me. But in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matthew 15:8-9).