March 7, 2011 — 10:46

Author: Keith DeRose  Category: Afterlife  Tags: , ,   Comments: 54

AIRLINE OFFICIAL: All the passengers survived the crash.

REPORTER: Do you mean that all of the passengers survived in the “all without exception” sense of ‘all’, or in the “a great many” or “all without distinction” sense?

A: All I meant was that all of them survived in one of those last two senses you mention. I didn’t mean they all survived in the “all without exception” sense of ‘all’. And unfortunately, several passengers did die.

R: Oh.


RELATIVE: I was so excited when I heard on the news that “all the passengers had survived”! “Henry’s alive!” I called out. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that the news report was using the “a great many” / “all without distinction” sense of ‘all’, and that in fact several passengers had died! Now I’m left wondering about poor Henry.


A: I wonder how the students in our town’s high school did on the big state test? How did the underclassmen do? How did the seniors do? I can’t wait to find out!

B: I was just at the high school and heard the news on that: All the students passed the test.

A: Really? Even that Johnny kid from down the block? I wouldn’t have thought he could possibly pass.

B: He did fail.

A: But didn’t you say that all the students passed?

B: I meant that all passed in the “a great many” / “‘all’ without distinction” sense of ‘all’. I didn’t mean that each and every one of them passed.

A: Oh.


There are many ways by which non-universalists try to evade the universalist implications of the New Testament passages typically cited as teaching universalism (like those presented in section 2 of my on-line defense of universalism). Sadly, one of the most common is to claim that ‘all’ (and its Greek equivalent) does not always mean “all without exception”, but has some other, weaker sense, and to urge that the passages are only saying that all will be saved in one of these weaker senses of “all”…