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Author Topic: Universal Salvation & Christianity  (Read 1436 times)

EclecticWheel

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Universal Salvation & Christianity
« on: June 28, 2019, 05:55:01 pm »
The most (personally) convincing arguments I've read in regard to universal salvation in a Christian perspective are contained in the book The Evangelical Universalist by Gregory MacDonald, but it has been a long time since I've read this book, and I'd like to get reacquainted to remind myself of what I found so convincing about it.

I know that after I left the sect I had adhered to for a brief period in my childhood, I was delighted at no longer dividing up the world into people who belonged to the right religion and people who belonged to the wrong religions and were destined for damnation.  Even Christians who adhere to that sort of mindset are usually more nuanced about it and are open to the idea of salvation for non-Christians (after all, it is commonly believed that Jewish people from the Hebrew scriptures have been saved).  However, the sect I was in was very black and white and didn't leave room for that kind of nuance for many adherents.

I was simply relieved to think that people weren't going to be damned, and in my earlier years in the Episcopal Church I was glad to meet other Episcopalian laity and clergy who adhered to universalist ideas and to find arguments for it from people coming from a more traditional Christian worldview.  It just seemed to make more sense if there is a God who is both omnipotent and benevolent.  I have also come across some Eastern Orthodox laity and clergy who are adherents of universalism or at least sympathetic to the idea.

It makes me wonder why some Christians I have met find this universalist view so repugnant.  I wouldn't like to say how many Christians that would be or even that it is the majority.  Most of the Christians I am personally friends with are either universalists or sympathetic to universalism.  Nevertheless I have come across Christian clergy who utterly abhor the idea.  All of this is just in the realm of my personal encounters -- I haven't looked into any surveys.

I wonder why that would be that universal salvation in a Christian context would seem so abhorrent.  It seems that for a religion that emphasizes grace that this would be a natural idea.  I think part of it comes down to how select scriptural passages can be difficult to interpret in a universalist light, so this might be seen as rejecting scripture, but there are other scriptures that tend more easily to a universalist interpretation.  And there are lots of ambiguous and difficult scriptures generally, and theologians do all kinds of things with them, including universalist theologians.

Most Episcopal laity I know are happy to leave many such matters to theologians.  Perhaps more would be persuaded toward universalism if more theologians made arguments for it.
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Klaw

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Re: Universal Salvation & Christianity
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2019, 06:23:14 pm »
The most (personally) convincing arguments I've read in regard to universal salvation in a Christian perspective are contained in the book The Evangelical Universalist by Gregory MacDonald, but it has been a long time since I've read this book, and I'd like to get reacquainted to remind myself of what I found so convincing about it.

My mother is one of those that believes all nonchristians will be damned. I never could get past that one, started asking questions at an early age. It has been a long time since I read the bible and there are so many versions, I might remember wrong.

It was my understanding that according to revelations that everyone is to be judged and it is there that they choose whether or not to accept Jesus in their hearts. Those that do are saved and the rest are put through another horrible experience and are given another chance to be saved. I think this happens three or four times if I  remember right. I would think that would at least give nonchristians the opportunity.

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Re: Universal Salvation & Christianity
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2019, 06:29:34 pm »
My mother is one of those that believes all nonchristians will be damned. I never could get past that one, started asking questions at an early age. It has been a long time since I read the bible and there are so many versions, I might remember wrong.

It was my understanding that according to revelations that everyone is to be judged and it is there that they choose whether or not to accept Jesus in their hearts. Those that do are saved and the rest are put through another horrible experience and are given another chance to be saved. I think this happens three or four times if I  remember right. I would think that would at least give nonchristians the opportunity.

I don't remember Revelation being that specific, but some Christian universalists among other arguments point to a passage in Revelation saying that the gates of heaven forever remain open (Revelation 21:25).

However, Revelation is obscure, so someone may very well hold the interpretation you gave.
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ehbowen

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Re: Universal Salvation & Christianity
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2019, 10:49:47 pm »
I don't remember Revelation being that specific, but some Christian universalists among other arguments point to a passage in Revelation saying that the gates of heaven forever remain open (Revelation 21:25).

However, Revelation is obscure, so someone may very well hold the interpretation you gave.

I was raised in a fundamentalist milieu, still worship with a fundamental Southern Baptist church, and I have come to embrace the idea of universalism (my pastor begs to differ). But not the lovey-dovey "it's all good" everyone-gets-a-trophy universalism, but a sober realization that true justice cannot be done until all souls are held to account and the further realization that a soul is such a precious thing that it is worth any amount of effort to track down.

On my pastor's side are some very clear Scriptures which speak unambiguously of the damnation of the wicked and the necessity of acknowledging Jesus Christ as the One Way to be reconciled with the Father. And I accept those words as written. However, after looking into the more metaphysical aspects of time and causality I have come to see history as taking shape in a series of "layers", not in a linear sequence. I believe that universal salvation and total victory over the Evil One was always the objective, from the beginning. But I also believe that, from the perspective of some of those middle "layers", it looked as if the problem was more intractable than even my God had figured at the "beginning" (of the layers; not in linear time...that's important) and it looked as if a fortified enclave of "us four, no more" was the best that could be achieved in the long term. What dispensationalists refer to as the "rapture" would be the break point where the door was closed and the rest of the cosmos was abandoned to go its own way. However, at least in the present "layer", I believe that the way to achieve the total victory which was originally hoped for has been identified. Perhaps not carried out to completion, not yet at least, but I believe that my God feels that the End is in sight. And it will include everyone...including quite a few who have to be dragged before the bar of justice kicking and screaming!

Got to run to work. Happy to discuss at length on another occasion.
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Re: Universal Salvation & Christianity
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2019, 02:12:54 pm »
The most (personally) convincing arguments I've read in regard to universal salvation in a Christian perspective are contained in the book The Evangelical Universalist by Gregory MacDonald, but it has been a long time since I've read this book, and I'd like to get reacquainted to remind myself of what I found so convincing about it.

I know that after I left the sect I had adhered to for a brief period in my childhood, I was delighted at no longer dividing up the world into people who belonged to the right religion and people who belonged to the wrong religions and were destined for damnation.  Even Christians who adhere to that sort of mindset are usually more nuanced about it and are open to the idea of salvation for non-Christians (after all, it is commonly believed that Jewish people from the Hebrew scriptures have been saved).  However, the sect I was in was very black and white and didn't leave room for that kind of nuance for many adherents.

I was simply relieved to think that people weren't going to be damned, and in my earlier years in the Episcopal Church I was glad to meet other Episcopalian laity and clergy who adhered to universalist ideas and to find arguments for it from people coming from a more traditional Christian worldview.  It just seemed to make more sense if there is a God who is both omnipotent and benevolent.  I have also come across some Eastern Orthodox laity and clergy who are adherents of universalism or at least sympathetic to the idea.

It makes me wonder why some Christians I have met find this universalist view so repugnant.  I wouldn't like to say how many Christians that would be or even that it is the majority.  Most of the Christians I am personally friends with are either universalists or sympathetic to universalism.  Nevertheless I have come across Christian clergy who utterly abhor the idea.  All of this is just in the realm of my personal encounters -- I haven't looked into any surveys.

I wonder why that would be that universal salvation in a Christian context would seem so abhorrent.  It seems that for a religion that emphasizes grace that this would be a natural idea.  I think part of it comes down to how select scriptural passages can be difficult to interpret in a universalist light, so this might be seen as rejecting scripture, but there are other scriptures that tend more easily to a universalist interpretation.  And there are lots of ambiguous and difficult scriptures generally, and theologians do all kinds of things with them, including universalist theologians.

Most Episcopal laity I know are happy to leave many such matters to theologians.  Perhaps more would be persuaded toward universalism if more theologians made arguments for it.

A few things. I think that the reason some Christians find the idea of Universalism abhorrent is that they might think it lets murderers and heinous criminals off the hook. This is a misunderstanding of Universalism, in my book. There is still punishment for sins and crimes under Universalism, it is just that the punishment need not be eternal. God is all powerful and all good, and so can solve these problems.

I use the case of Cain and Abel to illustrate my view. Firstly, I do not think that Cain premeditated murder. What happened was that he was jealous of his brother and lashed out with passionate violence. So maybe manslaughter, not premeditated murder.

In any case, if we believe that God can raise the dead, then perhaps Abel can be restored to life. If a murder victim can be restored to life, then the murder can be healed. This gives the killer/sinner/murderer the opportunity to repent and so to be granted mercy. A murder can be healed, so a murder can be forgiven. Again, this does not mean that a killer or a sinner will not be punished. It just means that the crime or sin can be healed, and therefore the sinner can be repentant and be forgiven in the long run. There need not be eternal punishment. God can solve this.

So, to those who think Universalism lets criminals and sinners off scott free- they are mistaken. Furthermore, I think that there are some minority of people who take joy from and Us Versus Them mentality, and like the idea of sinners being eternally punished. There are just some nasty people out there who want to see others hurt or punished, and they hide behind religious justifications to harm other people. That is just a problem with human nature. There are always a small number of sociopaths in any community, including religious community.

[edits for spelling and readability]

Donal2018

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Re: Universal Salvation & Christianity
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2019, 02:44:08 pm »
A few things. I think that the reason some Christians find the idea of Universalism abhorrent is that they might think it lets murderers and heinous criminals off the hook. This is a misunderstanding of Universalism, in my book. There is still punishment for sins and crimes under Universalism, it is just that the punishment need not be eternal. God is all powerful and all good, and so can solve these problems.

I use the case of Cain and Abel to illustrate my view. Firstly, I do not think that Cain premeditated murder. What happened was that he was jealous of his brother and lashed out with passionate violence. So maybe manslaughter, not premeditated murder.

In any case, if we believe that God can raise the dead, then perhaps Abel can be restored to life. If a murder victim can be restored to life, then the murder can be healed. This gives the killer/sinner/murderer the opportunity to repent and so to be granted mercy. A murder can be healed, so a murder can be forgiven. Again, this does not mean that a killer or a sinner will not be punished. It just means that the crime or sin can be healed, and therefore the sinner can be repentant and be forgiven in the long run. There need not be eternal punishment. God can solve this.

So, to those who think Universalism lets criminals and sinners off scott free- they are mistaken. Furthermore, I think that there are some minority of people who take joy from and Us Versus Them mentality, and like the idea of sinners being eternally punished. There are just some nasty people out there who want to see others hurt or punished, and they hide behind religious justifications to harm other people. That is just a problem with human nature. There are always a small number of sociopaths in any community, including religious community.

[edits for spelling and readability]

I would also point out that in my Universalist UPG/Spirituality that there are different levels of existence. High Heavens, Low Hells, and Places In Between. A Soul that is elevated can descend, and a Soul that sinks low can arise. The levels may be permanent, but a Soul's presence in a level can change, upwards or downwards. Spiritual improvement is possible. In fact, I think that it is the point of being spiritual in the first place.

In my Universalism, over very long periods of time, most if not all Souls end up in a higher state. In my view, part of the purpose of spiritual activity is to purify the Self/Soul so as to gain access to higher levels of existence. Those at lower levels of development deserve sympathy and help, not eternal punishment. I find the idea of eternal punishment to be abhorrent and violent, and not fitting for a divine and benevolent Deity (or Deities).

I also believe that there can be lateral movements to different spiritual realms as well. There is not just Heaven, there is Valhalla, the Summerlands, and other places also. So, there are diverse places that a Soul/Human Spirit can end up. It is a spiritual process, in my view. A journey.

[edits for spelling and readability]
« Last Edit: June 29, 2019, 02:45:51 pm by Donal2018 »

ehbowen

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Re: Universal Salvation & Christianity
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2019, 04:19:19 pm »
In any case, if we believe that God can raise the dead, then perhaps Abel can be restored to life. If a murder victim can be restored to life, then the murder can be healed. This gives the killer/sinner/murderer the opportunity to repent and so to be granted mercy. A murder can be healed, so a murder can be forgiven. Again, this does not mean that a killer or a sinner will not be punished. It just means that the crime or sin can be healed, and therefore the sinner can be repentant and be forgiven in the long run. There need not be eternal punishment. God can solve this.

So, to those who think Universalism lets criminals and sinners off scott free- they are mistaken. Furthermore, I think that there are some minority of people who take joy from and Us Versus Them mentality, and like the idea of sinners being eternally punished. There are just some nasty people out there who want to see others hurt or punished, and they hide behind religious justifications to harm other people. That is just a problem with human nature. There are always a small number of sociopaths in any community, including religious community.

While I do not deny that such people are out there wearing the mantle of religion, my pastor and the others like him are not of that type. They are motivated by a love of the Scripture which God has given and a desire to take that Scripture at plain face value. And many such passages do warn of eternal punishment. Which is why it took me a while to build the case, in my own mind, for an alternative.

You see, I feel that God's forgiveness does not obviate the need to make restitution. And, in some cases, justice demands that penalties and restitution be vindictive. And, also, keep in mind the background of the historical "layer" in which those Scriptures were inspired. How would you express the US National Debt, let's say, in Roman numerals? As well as compute the interest upon it, compounded daily? Now, think upon the fact that there are some people...the unknown Pharaoh of the Exodus, Herod the Great, Adolph Hitler, present-day pharmaceutical executives...for whom the current US National Debt would not even cover a day's worth of the interest they owe. In My Humble Opinion, at least.

If you're a deity in a first-century milieu, speaking to a first-century audience in a first-century context, how do you deal with such folks in a way which is both just, consistent, and understandable? Justice demands that they make restitution for their crimes by providing real services...pulling weeds, cleaning toilets, picking up dog poop and such...to real people. How do you express the time it will take to make restitution on a fifty-quintillion-dollar debt...in real ($20 to the Troy ounce) dollars...when the only tasks you are worthy to be entrusted with are worth, maybe, fifty cents a day?

For those who genuinely do come to repentance...and not the I'm-sorry-I-got-caught faux repentance...Jesus and the Father can advance restitution on their behalf and then deal with the matter internally as between a father and child. But if there is no true repentance, or if someone crosses that line of blaspheming the Holy Spirit (which, if you'll remember, entailed the Pharisees looking at the work of the Spirit of God and calling it the works of Satan)...well, I can see how a frustrated God would simply say, "forever and ever" and leave it at that.

At least for the next two thousand years or so. We have mathematical tools available to us these days which the ancients could only dream of. As well as a better understanding of exponents and compounding. Let's say that, oh, Jamie Dimon owes a $googolplex worth of restitution for his crimes. Sounds about right. Well, the first thing which needs to be done is to invent a new system of mathematics...a googolplex is a number so great that it's literally impossible to write down; it would take more sheets of paper than there are atoms in this present physical universe. But I believe that such a challenge is well within the reach of the deity who created and sustains that universe, and that we are part of a much larger Reality within which such ideas can be exactly expressed.

Once the problem is defined, then, how do you deal with the necessity to charge interest? You really don't think that someone like Jamie Dimon would be able to get off without interest...penalty APR of 29.95%, plus late and over-the-credit-limit fees, of course...now, do you? And that's a load that nobody could ever pay off doing menial work computed at what that work is actually worth.

My proposed way out of this dilemma is to, first, establish a system of justice and governance under which people can enjoy and retain the fruits of their labors (the current national kleptocracies found around the globe do not qualify). Secondly, you identify the rate at which productive investment of capital should be able to grow over time. Let's say that's about six percent. Then, you set the default rate for all judgments, large and small, just under that...say five percent. This doesn't mean that, say, a credit card company couldn't charge you twelve percent on an open line of credit...but, if you default, then you pay off the balance at five percent.

So if Mr. Dimon is picking up dog poop for fifty cents a day, but is forced to place five cents of those fifty cents in a trust fund which grows at six percent, on average, while his massive obligation grows at five per cent per annum...then it's just a matter of time. Which, within the kingdom of an eternal God, we have plenty of.
--------Eric H. Bowen
Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!

EclecticWheel

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Re: Universal Salvation & Christianity
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2019, 05:57:30 pm »
While I do not deny that such people are out there wearing the mantle of religion, my pastor and the others like him are not of that type. They are motivated by a love of the Scripture which God has given and a desire to take that Scripture at plain face value. And many such passages do warn of eternal punishment. Which is why it took me a while to build the case, in my own mind, for an alternative.

You see, I feel that God's forgiveness does not obviate the need to make restitution. And, in some cases, justice demands that penalties and restitution be vindictive. And, also, keep in mind the background of the historical "layer" in which those Scriptures were inspired. How would you express the US National Debt, let's say, in Roman numerals? As well as compute the interest upon it, compounded daily? Now, think upon the fact that there are some people...the unknown Pharaoh of the Exodus, Herod the Great, Adolph Hitler, present-day pharmaceutical executives...for whom the current US National Debt would not even cover a day's worth of the interest they owe. In My Humble Opinion, at least.

If you're a deity in a first-century milieu, speaking to a first-century audience in a first-century context, how do you deal with such folks in a way which is both just, consistent, and understandable? Justice demands that they make restitution for their crimes by providing real services...pulling weeds, cleaning toilets, picking up dog poop and such...to real people. How do you express the time it will take to make restitution on a fifty-quintillion-dollar debt...in real ($20 to the Troy ounce) dollars...when the only tasks you are worthy to be entrusted with are worth, maybe, fifty cents a day?

For those who genuinely do come to repentance...and not the I'm-sorry-I-got-caught faux repentance...Jesus and the Father can advance restitution on their behalf and then deal with the matter internally as between a father and child. But if there is no true repentance, or if someone crosses that line of blaspheming the Holy Spirit (which, if you'll remember, entailed the Pharisees looking at the work of the Spirit of God and calling it the works of Satan)...well, I can see how a frustrated God would simply say, "forever and ever" and leave it at that.

At least for the next two thousand years or so. We have mathematical tools available to us these days which the ancients could only dream of. As well as a better understanding of exponents and compounding. Let's say that, oh, Jamie Dimon owes a $googolplex worth of restitution for his crimes. Sounds about right. Well, the first thing which needs to be done is to invent a new system of mathematics...a googolplex is a number so great that it's literally impossible to write down; it would take more sheets of paper than there are atoms in this present physical universe. But I believe that such a challenge is well within the reach of the deity who created and sustains that universe, and that we are part of a much larger Reality within which such ideas can be exactly expressed.

Once the problem is defined, then, how do you deal with the necessity to charge interest? You really don't think that someone like Jamie Dimon would be able to get off without interest...penalty APR of 29.95%, plus late and over-the-credit-limit fees, of course...now, do you? And that's a load that nobody could ever pay off doing menial work computed at what that work is actually worth.

My proposed way out of this dilemma is to, first, establish a system of justice and governance under which people can enjoy and retain the fruits of their labors (the current national kleptocracies found around the globe do not qualify). Secondly, you identify the rate at which productive investment of capital should be able to grow over time. Let's say that's about six percent. Then, you set the default rate for all judgments, large and small, just under that...say five percent. This doesn't mean that, say, a credit card company couldn't charge you twelve percent on an open line of credit...but, if you default, then you pay off the balance at five percent.

So if Mr. Dimon is picking up dog poop for fifty cents a day, but is forced to place five cents of those fifty cents in a trust fund which grows at six percent, on average, while his massive obligation grows at five per cent per annum...then it's just a matter of time. Which, within the kingdom of an eternal God, we have plenty of.

Very nice! This is among the more interesting arguments I've heard.  I'll have to come back to describe a vision my grandmother reported to me on these topics that dovetails nicely with what has been expressed in this thread overall.  And my grandmother did not grow up with a universalist theology or any form of "purgatory," so it is all the more interesting.
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Re: Universal Salvation & Christianity
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2019, 08:58:06 pm »
I wonder why that would be that universal salvation in a Christian context would seem so abhorrent.  It seems that for a religion that emphasizes grace that this would be a natural idea.  I think part of it comes down to how select scriptural passages can be difficult to interpret in a universalist light, so this might be seen as rejecting scripture, but there are other scriptures that tend more easily to a universalist interpretation.  And there are lots of ambiguous and difficult scriptures generally, and theologians do all kinds of things with them, including universalist theologians.

These are just my personal thoughts and may not be correct. But my sense is that for them, to question the concept of heaven/hell/eternal damnation is simply too threatening for their faith. In fundamentalism, the entire faith is based on belief in the inerrancy of scriptures. While they do mental gymnastics to explain other things away, heaven/hell/eternal damnation has always been the majority belief. If you begin questioning it, you have to explain away some scriptures that seem to explicitly state it. . . which means that you may begin questioning other scriptures as well. . . which may lead to your entire foundation of faith crumbling.

I think it is similar to how fundamentalists hold so tightly to a literal reading of Genesis with a 6 day creation approximately 6,000 years ago. If they question that, they have to begin questioning other things in the first few books of the Old Testament, which could lead to questioning other elements of the faith.

One of the primary tenets of fundamentalist Christian faith is also the atonement, typically understood in a penal substitutionary way. If everyone can eventually get to heaven anyway, then faith in Christ (at least as is understood in fundamentalism) becomes sort of unnecessary.




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Re: Universal Salvation & Christianity
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2019, 11:37:38 pm »
These are just my personal thoughts and may not be correct. But my sense is that for them, to question the concept of heaven/hell/eternal damnation is simply too threatening for their faith. In fundamentalism, the entire faith is based on belief in the inerrancy of scriptures. While they do mental gymnastics to explain other things away, heaven/hell/eternal damnation has always been the majority belief. If you begin questioning it, you have to explain away some scriptures that seem to explicitly state it. . . which means that you may begin questioning other scriptures as well. . . which may lead to your entire foundation of faith crumbling.

I think it is similar to how fundamentalists hold so tightly to a literal reading of Genesis with a 6 day creation approximately 6,000 years ago. If they question that, they have to begin questioning other things in the first few books of the Old Testament, which could lead to questioning other elements of the faith.

One of the primary tenets of fundamentalist Christian faith is also the atonement, typically understood in a penal substitutionary way. If everyone can eventually get to heaven anyway, then faith in Christ (at least as is understood in fundamentalism) becomes sort of unnecessary.

From what I've been told in Catholic contexts by those sympathetic to Universalism, faith may be imparted as a gift of grace sometime after death.  The idea is that hell is not a place, but a state of unremitting resistance to grace: it is ongoing.

But given an eternity and the omnipotence of God (in the Catholic viewpoint: some process theologians question omnipotence), every soul will eventually freely receive the grace of faith and justification, that is, by their own judgment and desires or, if you please, their own will.

Now how many fundamentalists will accept that line of reasoning, I do not know, but ehbowen seems sympathetic to universalism and if I remember correctly identifies as a fundamentalist.
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Re: Universal Salvation & Christianity
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2019, 01:28:22 am »


Now how many fundamentalists will accept that line of reasoning, I do not know, but ehbowen seems sympathetic to universalism and if I remember correctly identifies as a fundamentalist.

Whether fundamentalists accept the line of reasoning is hardly important. What ultimately matters is what God thinks. God is motivated to carry out his promises, yes...but in my mind he is always ready to consider suggestions for ways in which he can do something which is even better for everyone concerned in the long run. My post above represents just such a suggestion, and my own UPG is that he likes it. A lot. But if you have something even better, feel free to speak up and share it. You never know....

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Re: Universal Salvation & Christianity
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2019, 07:44:54 am »
The most (personally) convincing arguments I've read in regard to universal salvation in a Christian perspective are contained in the book The Evangelical Universalist by Gregory MacDonald, but it has been a long time since I've read this book, and I'd like to get reacquainted to remind myself of what I found so convincing about it.

Ex-Missouri Lutheran here. I find the differing view points interesting. I was taught that no matter what your sin is, God will forgive, if you ask for forgiveness. I had a lot of questions about that, but it all came back around to that statement. Also that judgement comes for everyone in the last days. I at least was given the impression that you could repent at any point before or during judgement. We were also told once you were sent to hell that was it for all eternity.

I have now removed the concept of sin and haven't really thought about it in almost 20 years. My perspective on how the Christian God would evaluate the severity of individual sin is totally beyond our understanding. What if it isn't so much what the sin is or how many, as much as, how much guilt the person feels?

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Re: Universal Salvation & Christianity
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2019, 08:39:43 am »
From what I've been told in Catholic contexts by those sympathetic to Universalism, faith may be imparted as a gift of grace sometime after death.  The idea is that hell is not a place, but a state of unremitting resistance to grace: it is ongoing.

But given an eternity and the omnipotence of God (in the Catholic viewpoint: some process theologians question omnipotence), every soul will eventually freely receive the grace of faith and justification, that is, by their own judgment and desires or, if you please, their own will.

Now how many fundamentalists will accept that line of reasoning, I do not know, but ehbowen seems sympathetic to universalism and if I remember correctly identifies as a fundamentalist.

ehbowen might be the first fundamentalist I've "met" who is sympathetic to universalism. :) Growing up in fundamentalist churches, I was taught that it was very simple. This life was our one chance to accept Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Do it, and go to heaven immediately upon death. Don't do it, and go to hell immediately upon death. Those were the only two options. Praying for the dead was an abomination.

Interestingly enough, this was the view that was presented to me in several different fundamentalist denominations who otherwise disagreed with each other over details. In this though they were they in complete agreement.

It left me confused for years because of an experience I had with a ghost. I was told that ghosts simply could not exist as every soul immediately went to heaven or hell. Multiple people told me that what I had experienced had to have been a demon trying to confuse me and make me question correct doctrine about heaven and hell.

I can remember also feeling so guilty when a beloved family member died and I still wanted to talk to her. I had this sense that I could pray to her and she could hear me, but that was forbidden. I remember praying to Jesus and asking him to pass along messages to her, and then asking for forgiveness for still wanting to maintain that connection, lol.

As I've mentioned before, I grew up in a particularly hard core fundamentalist part of the world and so my perspective may not be accurate in general. But where I lived, believing in universalism was enough to "buy yourself a ticket straight to hell for questioning the gospel."

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Re: Universal Salvation & Christianity
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2019, 10:44:16 am »
ehbowen might be the first fundamentalist I've "met" who is sympathetic to universalism. :)

I'm either very, very wrong or very, very right. No in-between.

Growing up in fundamentalist churches, I was taught that it was very simple. This life was our one chance to accept Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Do it, and go to heaven immediately upon death. Don't do it, and go to hell immediately upon death. Those were the only two options. Praying for the dead was an abomination.

IMO, this would be true if history and time was in fact linear...as I believe that it was when those Scriptures were first given. However, I believe that between "then" and now the paradigm has shifted to one of multiple "layers"...think the movie, Groundhog Day. And the people whom we interact with in this present layer may be "echoes" of a core personality which is in a different layer or timeline. Unraveling the Gordian Knot is not going to be easy...but I believe that Deity can and is accomplishing it.

Interestingly enough, this was the view that was presented to me in several different fundamentalist denominations who otherwise disagreed with each other over details. In this though they were they in complete agreement.

It appears then, that somebody wants you to believe that. God? Perhaps. If I'm very wrong, yes. But if I'm right...who's the other obviously interested party?

It left me confused for years because of an experience I had with a ghost. I was told that ghosts simply could not exist as every soul immediately went to heaven or hell. Multiple people told me that what I had experienced had to have been a demon trying to confuse me and make me question correct doctrine about heaven and hell.

While I'm not going to argue against the very real possibility of active deception, my present spiritual worldview allows for the existence of what we might call "ghosts". Imagine that, while we are in these physical bodies, we and the echoes associated with us fill, say, a million different layers. Shorn of the physical body, maybe the echoes extend to only fifty layers or so. We would not see the "ghost" unless one of those fifty echoes coincided with either the layer which our core personality is in or one of the very strongest echoes.

While I do believe that those who belong to Christ are indeed taken to Heaven immediately upon death, and that God does have guardian angels assigned who are actively watching for that event, I believe that the other side is not nearly so diligent. Anyone who has dealt with the bureaucracy has probably endured the "that's not my job" mindset. It wouldn't surprise me if, on occasion, souls not officially belonging to Christ "fell through the cracks." Now, I do believe that in the unlikely event that this happened to a Christian believer then the first angel who spotted him would drop everything to ensure that soul got to where he was supposed to be. But if Christ does not have a valid claim on that soul...well, as long as he/she wasn't bothering anyone, I think that God's angels might tend to leave him/her alone. Of course, enemy spirits who are looking for pawns...or, as C. S. Lewis postulated, fodder...who run across him might very well take him as prey.

I can remember also feeling so guilty when a beloved family member died and I still wanted to talk to her. I had this sense that I could pray to her and she could hear me, but that was forbidden. I remember praying to Jesus and asking him to pass along messages to her, and then asking for forgiveness for still wanting to maintain that connection, lol.

I don't have any problems with looking to Jesus or his Father as a third party to establish contact with someone beyond your current abilities to do so. In point of fact, I think that they might welcome your input and insight into the personality of the person you wish to contact. If there are, as in my example above, a million "echoes" to sort through in order to identify the true core personality, your experiences interacting with that personality might provide valuable clues to aid the God of Heaven in his quest "to seek and to save that which is lost."

As I've mentioned before, I grew up in a particularly hard core fundamentalist part of the world and so my perspective may not be accurate in general. But where I lived, believing in universalism was enough to "buy yourself a ticket straight to hell for questioning the gospel."

Oh, I've been called a heretic and worse. I also believe that I've shared the front seat of a car with God the Father and a seat on a roller coaster with the Spirit of Wisdom. My decision is made; I accept the consequences for good or ill.
--------Eric H. Bowen
Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!

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Re: Universal Salvation & Christianity
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2019, 11:49:48 am »
It appears then, that somebody wants you to believe that. God? Perhaps. If I'm very wrong, yes. But if I'm right...who's the other obviously interested party?

Well, not to get off topic, but I don't think there necessarily has to be a supernatural party wanting me (or others in general) to believe that. Frankly, hell has always been a good way of keeping people in the pews, keeping their behavior in check, and keeping the tithe money coming in.  ;)

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