Regarding Universalism

Pax Christi, everybody!

After entertaining the “saving everybody” form of Universalism for a couple of months, I became disillusioned with its premises and am no longer sure that I can support it. While I am hopeful that everybody will be saved from the self-inflicted “Hell state” and believe it is possible for some to come to Christ after death, I’m not so sure that everyone will find their way in the end. My father advised that I shouldn’t say who is going to Hell and who isn’t, especially since that kind of judgement may eat at my own soul, so for now I will simply throw up my hands and say I don’t know.

What do you guys think?

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So you don’t know if God is competent or not?

I think Jesus said this:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14

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Some here have brought up the idea of “hopeful universalism” – not a dogmatic idea, but more of an appeal to God’s character in general – that he chooses mercy over judgment and will make a way for everyone to come to him, eventually, even if there isn’t an ironclad “prooftext” for it that removes every doubt. I would agree with not making judgments about anyone else’s eternal destiny – for lots of reasons, but one being that it’s too easy to get drunk on power when someone becomes convinced they can make God-level determinations like that.

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Jesus can. ; - )   (That wasn’t an argument for ECT.)

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Yeah… that’s why he’s God and I’m not. :wink:

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For me at the moment Im not convinced of universalism. But I’m not entirely against it. I am currently a Conditionalist / Annhilationist.

There are three main views.

  1. Eternal Conscious Torment ( ECT ). The lost receive eternal life only to spend it separated from God in some form of physical and mental agony. Usually in the form of fire, demons and Hellbound maggots that eat you forever and ever and ever with no hope of salvation.

  2. Conditional Immortality ( CI ). The lost miss out on eternal life. At the second resurrection they are not saved and hear their names called and are then destroyed. Some say they destroy themselves, some say God actively destroys them and some say God simply cuts off his eternal life and they just drop dead. But ultimately the lost received the eternal punishment of the second death, the destruction of body and soul where they die and remain dead forever and ever without any chance at later on being resurrected. All the typical passages for the previously mentioned ECT are interpreted through a different lens highlighting often the symbolism and metaphors of things like worm that won’t die, fire, endless smoke and all consuming fire.

  3. Universalism ( U ) They highlight the passages where it says “ Christ died for all, for god so loved the world and that all of creation will be restored. If everything is restored how can anything be left out including anyone. After all our breath of the spirit of God. They do something that CI do. Only they take more passages , such as “ wide and narrow gate “ and further show how it’s also just symbolism for restoration.

For me personally I’m 100% convinced ECT is terrible and not found in scriptures. I am about 90% certain CI is but there is about a 10% chance that UI is a better interpretation. Almost every single U I know begin as a CI with just a few exceptions. Almost every CI I know admits that there is some potential U may be a better fit.

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While I certainly believe that universalism or apocatastasis (the reconciliation of all things to God) have long been part of the Christian spectrum. Personally I do not buy it. God says “I set before you life and death, therefore choose life.” He does not say, “I set before you life and death so I can force life upon you eventually,” or “…so I can teach or convince you life is the correct choice.”

I very much think it requires a choice. No… not the choice of which religion to believe in …but the choice to embrace the challenge of life to learn what is good.

Where does that put me among @SkovandOfMitaze 's list of views? A little bit of each… maybe? To be sure Christ died for all and God loves all but love requires freedom otherwise it is a kind of stalking or rape. It is unconditionally offered to all as a gift, for accepting a gift does not make it something which is earned. But yes it is a hard fact of love and life that some reject what is offered – both love and life. Jesus certainly speaks of eternal torment but also indicates that those lost in their sins are somewhat lacking in consciousness. And this is not because anyone torments them but is the natural logical consequence of eternal existence without that which make eternal existence worthwhile.

So my position is a combination of the following…

  1. Eternal Conscious torment with possibly diminishing consciousness over time (ECTPD). And indeed this is something which people do to themselves. We ourselves are the danger we need to be saved from – not God.
  2. Unconditional eternal existence but conditional eternal life.
  3. Universal offer of the gift of salvation to all. And accepting this gift is not the acceptance of some dogma or religion but accepting the most basic challenge of life itself to learn and grow.

Yes, but I wonder sometimes if he’s not talking about life and death in the here and now. The OT mainly dealt with life in the world; and Jesus’ “narrow gate” seems to fit in with His discussion of the Kingdom of Heaven that is now, as in the Beatitudes, I think. Most of His talk was about bringing God’s kingdom to earth now, not about how to be saved in the afterlife, as well.

We can make huge choices about how our lives turn out–whether we choose life or death, in sacrificing for others or living for ourselves, in the here and now; and that can make it living hell or heaven for us and those around us.

I would be interested in what you think.

Thanks.

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I’ve read it a couple of times now, but I can’t remember where…possibly a Chesterton quote? Anyway, someone’s said that having Christ’s character, we should at least want universalism to be true.

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I think it was J I Packer, who interestingly didn’t believe in universalism. To be fair, I don’t think anyone wants anyone damned.

If you want to see folk damned, there is something wrong with you! - Randal Rauser

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Aye, it’s all about living in the moment. Nothing to do with eternity.

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Entirely fair!

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Universalists can play the proof-text hunt game as well and whether all are saved or not, I think Jesus offered amazing advice there. We should strive to enter. Until that is our disposition, to love God and strive after Him we aren’t getting in whether it’s in this life or the next. If we think “I’m saved already, I don’t have to obey God” then obviously we aren’t ready yet to be in whatever heaven is.

For me the difficult is many believe one judgment happens at death or after a slumber (“it’s appointed for me to die once……”.) But the Catholic in me wants to point out the obvious need for a purgatory like existence after death. A place for continual growing. I’m sure I’ll have more growing to do when I’m dead. I won’t be ready to play harps in heaven if I’m still me. Others may need less growing or more. I don’t see a Cartesian “up or down” upon death based exclusively on whatever choices you made with the hand this life dealt you. That is certainly possible but I would not assume it in all my theology. So I take Jesus’s comment as saying it’s really easy to fall into sin and lose sight of what’s really good in this world. Sinning is like dieting for a lot of people. Hard to take the weight off, but super easy to gain it. Jesus id telling us if we love God we need to build a fence around sin. Stay as far from the edge of the cliff as possible. Not see how close we can come. I don’t see Jesus’s statement as a factual declaration of how many will and will not be saved. I see it as good apocalyptic warning against the dangers of sin getting a foothold and developing bad habits.

I’m not convinced reading Jesus with thousands of years of developed theological belief about a Dante’s like inferno as the background is the best idea.

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Great article too, thanks for sharing! I tend to go down a Rauser rabbit hole whenever someone here shares his stuff. What he says really puts the the parable of the prodigal son in a new light too.
I also like this quote:
“You mean people could all be saved after they die?” this Christian exclaimed. And then came the key: “Then what’s the point of being a Christian now? ” Ouch. What a revealing question.

The Christian message as I’ve heard it seems driven by the threat of hell and the carrot of heaven. Even if we agree it’s about Jesus. The stated necessity of sharing the bad news of hell makes the gospel about “the gospel AND get out of hell.” And according to the communities I hear this from, “the gospel AND…” is not the true gospel. But I’ve been wondering, isn’t Christ worthy, isn’t the gospel GOOD, even if we don’t get rewards in heaven? Because I’ve also heard my whole life that Christianity isn’t about the rewards.

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Reminds me of C S Lewis’ writing that he wanted/believed in Purgatory, too–“Even so, Lord,” [clean me up a bit]! C. S. Lewis Believed in Purgatory & Prayer for the Dead | Dave Armstrong (patheos.com)

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But aren’t you suggesting that these choices ultimately have no importance but are eventually consequence free? I believe our life afterward our very spirit is the creation of our choices now and thus have consequences which are unescapable. This is why annihilationism looks too easy to me… providing such an easy escape to oblivion.

Such is the only heaven I believe in. For we all need such cleaning.

(a) Did you choose your parents?
(b) All go to Him
(c) He finds everyone
(d) Who the Hell are you?

From my perspective absolutely not. No one is in “heaven” until they are ready. Even if all are saved, digging yourself into a deep hole only means you have further to climb out on your journey in the next. In no sense does universalism teach that what we do doesn’t matter. It just says in the end God’s love is so strong it will win over. I suppose free will could be grounds for contending that but every choice we make matter.

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That’s a great question. However, much of the language from OT and NT, including those verses, applies to this life–and the OT is particularly strident against those who oppress the poor and alien, without outlook of afterlife (at least, not developed).
In my own psyche, I look for justice ultimately in the hereafter, but think that God’s able to do that through purgatory or correction, too.

We all do, don’t we!

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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