Universalism

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Toma, Oct 8, 2015.

  1. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,397
    Likes Received:
    1,058
    Country:
    Canada
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Friends,

    I'm wondering if anyone would like to discuss Universalism and its consequences in theology?

    For many years I was a convinced "ECT" Christian: a believer of "eternal conscious torment". It is the most predominant vision of Hell in Christendom. Essentially, those who die in sin or are somehow unacceptable to God will burn forever in a lake of fire, or are spiritually tortured by God's holy presence. This state is everlasting, experienced consciously, and cannot be changed.

    Recently, reflecting on the message that "God is Love" in 1 John 4, I've been having a conflict about this. It seems to me that there are five views of Hell:

    1. ECT (fire & brimstone)
    2. Annihilationism (sinners & demons will cease to exist)
    3. Human Universalism (all men will be saved)
    4. Cosmic Universalism (all persons will be saved, even the fallen angelic ones: demons and Satan)
    5. Indifferentism (all will be saved because all religions are equivalent)

    Indifferentism seems impossible in the context of the message of our Lord Jesus about God. Cosmic Universalism is practically equivalent to Human Universalism, since we can't really affect what happens to the demons by preaching the Gospel to them, so it's not meaningful.

    So we are left with:

    1. ECT
    2. Annihilationism
    3. Universalism

    Do any of you have thoughts? :)
     
  2. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    953
    Likes Received:
    566
    Country:
    N Ireland
    Religion:
    Traditional RomanCatholic
    After we breathe our last, the soul travels through The Worlds of God(heaven) if you prefer. The speed and trajectory of travel is dependent upon how selfless we were on earth combined with others' prayers for us
     
    Toma likes this.
  3. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    2,010
    Likes Received:
    1,816
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    American Anglican
    I am a universalist. I believe the bible gives good cause to believe that all will ultimately be saved, some by responding in trust and obedience in the Gospel of Christ while in the flesh, others by responding in faith and obedience to the Gospel of Christ while in the wrath and tribulation that awaits those who die without a living faith; but all will be saved, if they are to be saved at all, by the grace of God through faith in Christ, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit. There are, of course, problem texts in scripture for the universalist, just as there are for those who believe in eternal torment or anahilation. Christians of goodwill can disagree. But as for me, I will take him at his word then God says through his apostle that he wills that all should be saved. God's word never returns void.
     
    CFLawrence, CWJ, Aidan and 1 other person like this.
  4. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,397
    Likes Received:
    1,058
    Country:
    Canada
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Aidan, I cannot speak for the Baha'i faith, so I will just accept what you say as normative. Thanks for contributing.

    Lowly Layman, you've hit upon something that has been of great concern to me. You said that, whether in the flesh or during the tribulation, all will be saved. I rather like to think that this is the case too - not because of preconceived notions, but because of human nature itself.

    What constitutes the very innermost depth of a human being? From what I can tell from the ancient philosophers, the Scriptures, and the Fathers, it is the 1. heart, 2. freedom, and 3. communion. The heart is the seat of the will. Freedom is the capacity to choose, and the desire to choose. Communion is the urge towards relationship and love.

    All of those basic characteristics depend upon God for their existence. His "Heart" is His essence, His most perfect and glorious and beautiful existence. His Freedom is His total power over being & non-being. His Communion is the Holy Trinity. If we are made in the Image of God, entire, then we must be forever free and seeking communion. It is at the basis of our very hearts.

    Obviously sin has marred our freedom, but this makes us all the more free in Christ Jesus, because by His loving acts we are freed from having to merit our salvation. He accomplished all the requirements of love -- for even the Law was given out of love to mankind, no matter how we screwed it up.

    What I can't reconcile with eternal conscious torment in Hell is these truths about man. Regardless of his state before God when he dies, or at the last judgment, he will always be desirous of communion and freedom. He will not stop desiring these things even if consigned to eternal damnation. How can this state be eternal? The tension makes no sense, given the saving acts of God on Earth.

    Ironically, if Jesus chooses, on the Last Day, to save those who gave drink to the thirsty, food to the hungry, visited those in prison, etc., He would probably be the first among those who would visit those parched, starving, and lonely in the prisons of Hell. I'd certainly follow Him down there, for the sake of those suffering, to give them peace. I don't know how heavenly Heaven would be for me, knowing the torture of billions was going on forever and ever. Maybe that just means I'm an unregenerate sinner who has no love for God. :p

    In the end, what I am most confused about is how ECT-subscribers envision God's actions towards humans, and human nature, on the eternal scale. If He desires our salvation in life, why not in death? He Himself entered death and came out of it, having preached to those who were in prison (1 Peter 3:19). If they, being dead, could hear the Word, why not those who die before or even during the Last Judgment?
     
    Tiffy, Aidan and Lowly Layman like this.
  5. Joshua119

    Joshua119 Member

    Posts:
    38
    Likes Received:
    49
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglo-Catholic
    I don't mean to insult anybody, but I personally feel that the ECT philosophy is incompatible with the truth of God's love, and perhaps even insulting to God. As Lowly Layman said, scriptures seem to show a God who desires all to be saved.

    I saw a really good video by a RC priest once where he discussed the various interpretations of salvation in a Catholic sense, from the total universalism of Origen to the pessimism of St. Augustine. The priest ultimately concluded that we can have "reasonable hope" that all will be saved, even fallen angels and possibly Satan himself.

    The reasoning for this is that we simply can't say how God deals with people (or demons) at the moment of death. Are atheists immediately condemned, or are they shown the truth and given a second chance? Now, it's entirely possible that some poor souls, even at death, may still choose to live apart from God for whatever reason, and I believe that God, in his love, would allow them to live apart from Him if that's what they truly want. Does this mean living forever in hell? who knows.

    Of course, one could then ask, if all go to heaven anyway, why is so much importance placed on the Great Commission to spread the Gospel. To that, I have no answer.

    But I don't believe that God created our souls just to watch them burn forever in torment. A cleansing before heaven? sure. But not an eternity of pain. The Bible really spends very little time on the subject of hell, and even makes references to both hell and hades, one being a place of torment and the other simply a realm of the dead. My personal belief is that the doctrines of hell in many modern Christianities stem from a desire to control the populous, and are not reflective of the true nature of God.

    But that's just my opinion.
     
    Aidan and Toma like this.
  6. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    2,010
    Likes Received:
    1,816
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    American Anglican
    William Law wrote his views on the topic. And his words speak to why we should want to find salvation for ourselves and for others while we are still in this life....to flee the wrath to come. As hard as it is for us to find our way to Heaven while on earth, it must be exponentially harder to find heaven once we enter the outer darkness, and where we have no hope of leaving until we've paid out in suffering the uttermost farthing. For why else would Christ come down to earth--and to hell--if not to spare us from what lies beyond our earthly lives?


    The Revd William Law, "Affectionate and Earnest Address to the Clergy"
     
    Tiffy, Joshua119 and Aidan like this.
  7. Neasag

    Neasag New Member

    Posts:
    9
    Likes Received:
    6
    Religion:
    Anglo-Catholic (ACC)
    None whatsoever, if universalism is true.

    No he will not always desire communion, and the freedom he desires is often that of the freedom from God in the pursuit of his own sin.

    Those people are miserable to the extent that they rejected God, and Jesus himself, and find would presence with Him in eternity a torture rather than a pleasure. That is different than being miserable by virtue of worldly deprivation. This is simply not a good comparison.

    Not all want to be saved. It's as much a case of rejecting God as the other way around (the model C.S. Lewis presents makes quite a bit of sense). I am quite convinced that ECT is true at least in that sense. Universalism strikes me as dangerous and conducive towards complacency. I'm sorry but its popularity smacks me of modernist "go ahead and sin, God loves everyone" mentalities. No, I contend that "they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever". I don't care how comforting thinking otherwise might make some people, in this world of tolerance and libertinism, but it's far safer in any case to live life with the assumption of ECT.

    Father Barron is only saying that we should hope all shall be saved (it would be malicious to wish for the eternal torment of another), not that it is likely to be the case.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2015
    Toma likes this.
  8. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,397
    Likes Received:
    1,058
    Country:
    Canada
    Religion:
    Anglican
    I've never been able to accept the idea that those who see God - the source of all Good, and Goodness Itself - at the Last Judgment would reject Him. How can a person reject the very One Whom he has sought in all things? God will be manifest as the Good that the person was seeking: in literature, music, food, love, and even in sin. There is not a single human person who does not desire God.

    You are correct in saying that a Universalism ambivalent with regards to Christ leads to indifferentism. Christocentric Universalism, however, is the "biblical universalism" that I can see hinted at in the New Testament. Take certain statements of S. Paul, such as the assertion that all will be made alive through Christ, and one man's sin killed everyone, but one man's (Christ's) righteousness made everyone to be righteous. Combine them with unambiguous talk of lakes of fire and Gehenna. Paul speaks of more than just resurrection. Perhaps our Lord & His Apostles spoke of more than just legal punishment in a torture chamber. Perhas Purgatory is Hell.

    I see only one conclusion from the myriad "contradictory" ideas in the New Testament. There will be an eternal lake of fire, which purifies. God is the consuming fire. Remember that fire never destroys; it transforms wood, say, into smoke & ash. Even hotter fire transforms things into their most base materials and even to pure energy. Who knows if this is what God intended? Purification down to our basic core, so that the "Man of Sin" is truly eternally burned up and all that is left is Christ in each human person. I do hope.

    If the "Christocentric Universalism" idea is true, there certainly is a need for evangelization. Who the hell wants to see a beloved brother or sister tormented for as long as it takes to purify them? I'd rather see them go straight into glory. Just because it won't be eternal doesn't mean it would be tolerable to accept that. Faith and Charity will bring souls to Christ - who alone shall save.
     
    Tiffy and Lowly Layman like this.
  9. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    714
    Likes Received:
    909
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    I see this as a very challenging area. Most Christians I know find Calvin's notion of double predestination where some are predestined to damnation to be incompatible with the just loving and merciful God who sends his Son to stretch out his arms in embrace of all creation. However some idea of universalism that implies that there is no need to respond in grace to the grace extended through the cross seems to suggest that the sacrifice of the Savior to be meaningless, or relatively pointless.

    I kind of feel myself caught between the urgency of the Gospel which demands my response, and the abundant grace which surrounds us. In the end I trust God to work this out. I give myself permission not to know everything.
     
  10. Joshua119

    Joshua119 Member

    Posts:
    38
    Likes Received:
    49
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglo-Catholic
    While I find it quite interesting that you know of Fr Barron's videos, you clearly missed the point of the one that I was referencing. Fr. Barron repeatedly states that we can have a reasonable hope that all will be saved, not that we should hope that all will be saved.

    Nobody, regardless of denomination or level of education, can say for sure how God will deal with any individual at the time of judgement, including the fallen angels. We can have a reasonable hope that all will be saved and spend eternity with God. Some may be able to enter immediately and some may require a cleansing of some sort, who knows? I certainly don't.

    God can and will do whatever God wants to do whenever God wants to do it. If He wants to love every individual of His creation than He will. Since God is love, and created us as an expression of His love, then it stands to reason that God will still love His creation even after all that has happened in an individual's life.

    ETC is not an expression of love by any standard.
     
    Tiffy, Anne and Lowly Layman like this.
  11. Mark

    Mark Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    219
    Likes Received:
    366
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Happy Anglican
    Not only is God love, but righteous. I reject Burcer's view of calvinism, double predestination and Bishop Barron's reasonable hope.

    Jesus talks of hell. A place of everlasting fire in Matthew 25:41-46. Matthew 7:13-14 and 21-23. There are many passages in which Jesus and the Apostles talk of hell, those who go there and it is never ending torment.

    If you have Eucharist and use a prayer book......In the Prayer of Consecration the priest repeats the words of Jesus "this is my body given for you" "this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many, for the remissions of sin". Now is Jesus an universalist? No. Does God want the death of a sinner? No. Christ's death is sufficient for all, efficient for some.

    Where we get confused is the fact we think everyone wants to be in God's presence. Sadly no. Satan has been in God's presence, Job, and Christ Jesus presence. No repentance. He acknowledged who Jesus is. So did other demons in the Gospels. St James tells us the demons of Hell know who God is and it does them no good.

    I do not want anyone to go to hell. But many will. Judas walked with Jesus, saw the glory of God, proclaimed Him, with the rest of the Apostles as God. Then walked away, betrayed him and gave himself over to Satan. I would love to see Judas in Heaven. Same with Hitler, Stalin etc. According to God, Jesus and Scripture they will not be there.

    So I guess I am the fire and brimstone guy.

    Fr. Mark
     
    Stalwart likes this.
  12. zimkhitha

    zimkhitha Active Member

    Posts:
    221
    Likes Received:
    207
    Country:
    south africa
    Religion:
    Anglican
    [QUOTE="Mark, post: 21219, member: 1759...................Where we get confused is the fact we think everyone wants to be in God's presence. Sadly no. Satan has been in God's presence, Job, and Christ Jesus presence. No repentance. He acknowledged who Jesus is. So did other demons in the Gospels. St James tells us the demons of Hell know who God is and it does them no good.

    I do not want anyone to go to hell. But many will. Judas walked with Jesus, saw the glory of God, proclaimed Him, with the rest of the Apostles as God. Then walked away, betrayed him and gave himself over to Satan. I would love to see Judas in Heaven. Same with Hitler, Stalin etc. According to God, Jesus and Scripture they will not be there.

    So I guess I am the fire and brimstone guy.

    Fr. Mark[/QUOTE]
    I listened to N.T Wright once and I interpreted what he said as: there is a possibility that we all go to the same place after death, yet the condition of each soul will determine how they perceive the environment. His whole point was that, we do no fully grasp the concept of God, heaven or hell. I like it when you point out the fact that not everyone wants to be in God's presence and if indeed we end up in the same place, I can only imagine the torture such a soul would be under.
     
  13. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    2,010
    Likes Received:
    1,816
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    American Anglican
    I agree that Jesus said that some will go to hell. I do not believe he said they will go there eternally.
     
    Joshua119 likes this.
  14. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    953
    Likes Received:
    566
    Country:
    N Ireland
    Religion:
    Traditional RomanCatholic
    My Faith teaches that after death we enter the worlds of God. The direction and velocity at which we travel is dependent upon the lives we have led and the prayers being offered for us
     
  15. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    714
    Likes Received:
    909
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Hi Aidan, I struggle with this a little, as I would understand this mortal plain on which we eke out our existence here and now to be God's world as well. Neither death nor life will separate us from the love of God. If life is eternal, then it starts now, not sometime in the future after the expiration 0f our mortal coil. I can certainly envisage a sense of journey, in keeping with Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Paul ...
     
    Lowly Layman likes this.
  16. Joshua119

    Joshua119 Member

    Posts:
    38
    Likes Received:
    49
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglo-Catholic
    I am forced to admit, Fr. Mark, that I am in over my head in this debate. I cannot offer any meaningful counter to your point. I am left with a question though: With Satan and the fallen angels, they willfully rebelled and left God's presence. They were consciously aware of God and His righteousness and still chose to leave. So, they were able to make a fully informed choice and must now face the consequences of that choice.

    As humans, with no conscious memory of God, would we be judged the same as the demons? Many atheists are atheist simply because their parents are. They have not been taught of His Truth, and have not made an informed decision to abandon Him. Might a just and loving God offer them a revelation and a chance for retribution at death?

    Wouldn't a finite stay in Hell or some form of penance in a state of purgatory be better and more just than eternal damnation? Certainly some souls may be so corrupt that even after meeting God they deny Him, but wouldn't many accept Him at the moment of meeting even if they were taught to deny Him in life?
     
  17. Mark

    Mark Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    219
    Likes Received:
    366
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Happy Anglican
    Jesus as Matthew tells us in Chapter 25:46 "and these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life".

    Hell is forever, or so says Jesus.

    Joshua, I also wish for all to be in heaven. But not all will. Paul tells us in Romans 1, Col 3:5 and the prophet in Is. 44, that creation reveals God and we have no excuse. Sin and ego drive people away from God. Jesus tells us in the famous John 3:16 passage how much God loves us. Read what He said afterwards in verses 17-21.

    Sin corrupts people, some beyond the love of God. They reject all reason, compassion and love.

    He are two examples I have witnessed of such corruption.

    1) I was a fraud adjuster for 13 years. My job was to find fraud, confront people and give them a chance to withdraw the claim (repent as it was)
    I had this woman who was clearly caught. We were in deposition. After her lawyer examined my testimony he wanted to withdraw the claim.
    She would not, she thought she could beat the system. I offered to forget everything if the claim was withdrawn. NO! She would win. She sat in
    jail for about 7 years.

    2) as a Marine Officer I had a Marine who was mortally wounded. He was an atheist. As he laid dying, he refused the Chaplain. His final words were "I hate you I hate you I hate you" then a sickening moan I hope I never hear again.

    If we get second and third chances after death......what is the purpose of the Cross? If we all are saved when we see God, why did Jesus die on the Cross?
    It was and is not needed. It ends up being a cruel trick God plays on Jesus.

    Because judgment is final, that is why evangelism of the Gospel is so important. Is God cruel? No. He has given us the gift. Sadly too many reject the gift
    of eternal life.

    Fr. Mark
     
    Neasag and Stalwart like this.
  18. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    884
    Likes Received:
    723
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    I hope we realize that universalism (Origenism) has already been condemned as a heresy in the 4th and 5th centuries AD. There's not really an open debate about whether it can be true.

    Robert Barron's teachings are universalist, for which reason he has been labeled as teaching heresy in orthodox Roman Catholic circles. However since Pope Francis is a universalist, Barron has been promoted to becoming a bishop... take from that what you will.

    However none of that has any bearing on our Anglican teaching, nor on the judgment of the Church Fathers concerning universalism.


    Actually he says we have a reasonable hope, his trademark phrase. His theology (as he himself proclaims) is wholly taken from Hans Urs von Balthazar who taught precisely this "reasonable universalism" in the mid-20th century, and had been cited for heresy by the then Roman authorities.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2015
    Anne and Neasag like this.
  19. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    953
    Likes Received:
    566
    Country:
    N Ireland
    Religion:
    Traditional RomanCatholic
    Thank you brother, perhaps I should have said the heavenly worlds of God
     
  20. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    953
    Likes Received:
    566
    Country:
    N Ireland
    Religion:
    Traditional RomanCatholic
    Did Lord Jesus not die so that ALL men may be set free?
     

Share This Page