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Any universalists here?

Any universalists here?

Postby jo » 14 Mar 2006, 12:15

I know that universalism is considered something of a dirty word round hereabouts, but there must be SOME of you out there, lurking under stones or hiding embarrassed in dustbins or what ever. Anyone?!

I just feel that if there's a God, and He loves us all, that means that in the end, He will want to save everyone also you know? I can't understand how He could say 'okay, I am only having Muslims or Jews or Catholics or Sikhs etc etc'.

I realise that there are some problems biblically with universalism, namely that it's not what Jesus seemed to be implying. But Jesus did not write the bible Himself .. the bible was written by men. Is it possible that, if there's a God, the message about exclusivity has been distorted somewhere along the line?
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re: Any universalists here?

Postby David Jack » 14 Mar 2006, 12:42

Hi Jo. Universalism is one of the 'topics du jour' for me at the moment. The most prominent christian universailists I can think of are/were John Stott and George MacDonald and the reaction against them in their own camp is telling, I believe.
Not that I am a universalist myself. It's just that when universalism is preached and then causes such outrage, it shows something about people's hearts. It's as though they're determined some people will be outside God's grace, rather than having considered the possibility of their salvation and then deciding that LAMENTABLY it can't be so.

The reason I am not a universalist (though of course I leave the door open to the possibility) is that at the moment I can't marry it with free will: the opposite reason from that which the Calvinists would use, in other words. I try to spread the net as wide as God'd word and logic will allow, but as the line in 'Bruce Almighty' expresses it 'how do you make someone love you without affecting free will?'. That, in a nutshell, is the problem.
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re: Any universalists here?

Postby jo » 14 Mar 2006, 12:55

But don't you think that for most people, not loving God is not about deliberate rejection but instead about not believing that God is possible? I mean, if God showed Himself tomorrow, don't you think most people WOULD love Him?

or maybe they wouldn't, I dunno :).
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re: Any universalists here?

Postby Steve » 14 Mar 2006, 12:56

Well if you and Rhoop are right that universalism has a bad name in Christianity, maybe we should be hush hush about this, but you know, that guy in the armchair on the home page? I think he was one, kind of.

I think he affirmed that Christ was the only way to the Father, but that Christ was the way even for those who weren't conscious that they were Christians. He says as much in Mere Christianity, that Christ has unconscious disciples in lots of religions. But he is not totally universalist, as in Great Divorce he maintains that there will be some who will absolutely insist on rejecting God.
Psalm 139:17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
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Re: re: Any universalists here?

Postby Karen » 14 Mar 2006, 12:57

Rhoop67 wrote:Not that I am a universalist myself. It's just that when universalism is preached and then causes such outrage, it shows something about people's hearts. It's as though they're determined some people will be outside God's grace, rather than having considered the possibility and then deciding that LAMENTABLY it can't be so.


Yes, yes, yes. We are to desire the salvation of all, just as God does:

1 Tim 2:3-4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Richard Neuhaus, in his excellent Death on a Friday Afternoon says:

I say that I hope that all will be saved. I do not know. Nobody knows. Only God knows. And we must recognize that there are arguments against that hope....It is a relatively recent and unseemly thing in Christian history that people presume to claim cognitive certitude about their own salvation and equal certitude that the mass damnata will make for a well-populated hell...In seeking entrance to the heavenly kingdom, I will look to Christ and Christ alone. Then I hope to hear him say "Today you will be with me in paradise," as I hope with all my being - because, although looking to him, I am not alone - he will say to all.
I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library. -- Jorge Luis Borges
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Re: re: Any universalists here?

Postby Robert » 14 Mar 2006, 13:25

jo wrote:But don't you think that for most people, not loving God is not about deliberate rejection but instead about not believing that God is possible? I mean, if God showed Himself tomorrow, don't you think most people WOULD love Him?

or maybe they wouldn't, I dunno :).


You know, St. Augustine shared your sentiment, in that, he felt there was an impossibility to even fathom God without His aid. Augustine saw that people all were lost. Lost from complete knowledge, lost from hope, lost from faith, lost from Love. And, it was only God who could give us these things, to where, no amount of freewill within us could conjure up an answer. So, the million dollar question is, why give to only a select number of people.

And I think that most people feel this way when they are forced to see what is the real problem. I mean, why be so partial. But, I can't help feeling the way Rhoop does. There does seem to be a choice somewhere hidden behind the pain, the hurt, the lostness, that perhaps reveals something of the infinite in us. That maybe we are His, or not His, before we even live this life. Maybe we choose God from our infinite side and this life only reveals our timeless decision. It is difficult to understand, but who said this life is simple.
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re: Any universalists here?

Postby jo » 14 Mar 2006, 13:35

I don't understand why anyone would though - I mean not choose God if they knew that God existed. That's why the 'you do believe really, you're just rejecting Him' line of reasoning makes me so annoyed. I DON'T believe, ultimately. Not rejection, not contrariness, but simple disbelief. And yes, if I knew there was a God I would worship, maybe even love Him. But I don't know any such thing.
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re: Any universalists here?

Postby alecto » 14 Mar 2006, 17:50

There are too many definitions of "Universalist", I think, Jo. Are we talking about the ones who believe God can and will save people of good will (like Emeth in The Last Battle) even though they explicitely deny Christ, are we talking about the ones who believe other faiths like Hinduism are actually different versions of the Truth filtered through other cultures, or are we talking about the ones who believe all people will be saved in the end, even Satan? I'm sure there's some I'm missing, too.

As for the question of denying God, I don't think many people would. It's just that in common practice, one person's accepting God may look like another person's disbelief, because of the different faiths out there. And of course, there's also Matthew 25:34-46, which makes clear that simply saying "I believe" is not enough anyway.
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re: Any universalists here?

Postby jo » 14 Mar 2006, 17:53

I mean people who believe all are saved, regardless :)
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re: Any universalists here?

Postby Genie » 14 Mar 2006, 18:08

I am a universalist, but in the secular sense. :p I believe there are universal values that we should adhere to and strive to maintain world peace.
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Re: Any universalists here?

Postby Adam » 14 Mar 2006, 18:21

jo wrote:I know that universalism is considered something of a dirty word round hereabouts, but there must be SOME of you out there, lurking under stones or hiding embarrassed in dustbins or what ever. Anyone?!

I just feel that if there's a God, and He loves us all, that means that in the end, He will want to save everyone also you know? I can't understand how He could say 'okay, I am only having Muslims or Jews or Catholics or Sikhs etc etc'.

I realise that there are some problems biblically with universalism, namely that it's not what Jesus seemed to be implying. But Jesus did not write the bible Himself .. the bible was written by men. Is it possible that, if there's a God, the message about exclusivity has been distorted somewhere along the line?


The moment of creation when God decided to make humanity in His image, the only created being who is blessed to contain a part of Him, is the moment of salvation. The moment He dared to risk calling us His children was the moment that He determined to risk everything to be always our Father. If any human were to be lost, it would not be the loss of a man worthy of God's blessing, or the loss of one man whom God could have nonetheless chosen to have mercy upon; rather, the loss of one man would be a disruption of the very purpose of creation, a violation of the covenant, and the loss of a part of God Himself. It is therefore an offense to God to suggest that He would allow anyone to be lost to Him.

The Christ is the revelation of the Father's determination to risk everything for us. And the revelation of the Unconditional Himself has become a condition, that allegedly I must confess that God is all merciful and loving and would sacrifice anything to hold me close, unless of course I do not believe that He will, in which case He won't. Yet how could I honestly claim to believe in such an Unconditional God? The only gods in which any man, Christian or not, can truly believe is in a conditional god; an Unconditional God is so foreign to us that even when we confess that we have to believe in Him, we are forced to add conditions to enable us to believe. With an Unconditional God, all we can do is hope; and this not a whim or fancy, but an activity, as the prophets hoped "if you throw us into the fire, God will save us, but even if He does not, we shall not bow down to your idols."
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re: Any universalists here?

Postby AllanS » 14 Mar 2006, 23:25

All will be saved when all repent of their sins and turn to God. But like Gollum, we find our sins too precious to leave behind.

So God gives us up to then. They torment us. The pain becomes unbearable. And then, at last, we cry out to God.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

Hell is the mourning before the morning.
“And turn their grief into song?" he replied. "That would be a gracious act and a good beginning."

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Re: re: Any universalists here?

Postby robsia » 15 Mar 2006, 13:47

jo wrote:But don't you think that for most people, not loving God is not about deliberate rejection but instead about not believing that God is possible? I mean, if God showed Himself tomorrow, don't you think most people WOULD love Him?

or maybe they wouldn't, I dunno :).


Well, it would depend on whether or not he was lovable.

Somehow a 'lovable' God doesn't jive - makes him sound like a big teddy bear.

However, if he materialised in my living room and was able to convince me that he was indeed the Creator of the Universe, rather than just a space-faring species with advanced technology, then I would certainly believe he existed.

hey - even Thomas needed proof!
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re: Any universalists here?

Postby David Jack » 16 Mar 2006, 19:33

To clarify our terms here... as far as I'm aware a 'universalist' is someone who believes all men will ultimately be saved (not sure about the devil/fallen angels) not just those who have never acknowledged Christ as Lord (perhpas a better term for that would be 'inclusivist?)
Believing all religions are equal would be pluralism, I think.
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Re: re: Any universalists here?

Postby Shadowland Dweller » 17 Mar 2006, 05:03

Linda wrote:
jo wrote:But don't you think that for most people, not loving God is not about deliberate rejection but instead about not believing that God is possible? I mean, if God showed Himself tomorrow, don't you think most people WOULD love Him?

or maybe they wouldn't, I dunno :).


Well, it would depend on whether or not he was lovable.

Somehow a 'lovable' God doesn't jive - makes him sound like a big teddy bear.

However, if he materialised in my living room and was able to convince me that he was indeed the Creator of the Universe, rather than just a space-faring species with advanced technology, then I would certainly believe he existed.

hey - even Thomas needed proof!


I will join this conversation fully when I have read all the posts, but Ihad to jump in here. Your comment about God sounding like a big teddy bear is true. So many people think "well if God loves so much, how can He let anyone go to hell?" Thinking that they can do what they want and they can just bat their eyes at the pearly gates and all will be forgiven. I have a tough time with this picture too.
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