WWW The Thinkery
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
(4:58 PM) | Stephen:
When We All Get to Heaven

I have heard it said that anyone who truly experiences grace is at least tempted to become a universalist. This has been true at least in my experience and that of others that I know.

It's a hard issue though, because it deals with concerns that have been cropping up about secular lefties' ability to work with people who believe that everyone who does not share their beliefs will end up in Hell. I can understand that this is a real concern whenever a Democrat starts blathering on about the imaginary problem of hostility to religion within the party. Whenever I have read or heard someone who has this concern, it makes me assess my beliefs regarding this. Should I be more "evangelical?" Should I be sure to share my faith, whatever that means, with everyone I meet, everyone I attempt to work alongside?

I'm reluctant to do so, because my beliefs in this area, as in so many, are in flux. I have experienced grace many times over, and do in fact find myself attracted to some sort of universalism as a result. The reason for this is because of the powerful nature of grace, the fact that it can overcome so much, work so hard and endure for so long.

There's a few different types of universalism. There's the belief that it just doesn't matter what anyone believes, or if they do at all. We all end up in the same place, be that annihilated, heaven, Nirvana, etc. There is such a thing as Christocentric Universalism. The basic idea is that Hell is no impediment to Jesus and his ability to reach out to "lost" souls. Eventually, all people will be won over to Jesus, even if it takes a million years.

People who believe this also tend to believe that those who never hear of Jesus in this life get an automatic pass into heaven, since it's not their fault they aren't Christians. Some of them also believe that those who are faithful to another religion will find their faithfulness and service rewarded as if it were all done and believed within Christianity. C.S. Lewis used this idea in his conclusion to The Last Battle, where a soldier who lived his entire life hating Aslan finds himself in Aslan's presence, rewarded with eternity in paradise.

So I suppose that Christocentric Universalism need not assume that everyone but professing Christians will be in Hell. Those that do manage to end up there, however, will not find it to be an eternal place, and will, if nothing else, be eventually worn down by Jesus' persistence.

This type of universalism is rather arrogant, because it assumes the truthfulness of (most of) Christianity's claims. However, it does avoid the question that a more total universalism always begs, which is "why bother with any belief at all?"

Some form of universalism is immensely attractive to me. I don't know if that's because, having experienced real grace, I naturally extend it in its fullest expression to all others, or if it takes away my obligation as a Christian to evangelize.

Or most troubling of all, if its because universalism lets me put some intellectual discomfort to rest and to associate myself with people whose politics are most closely aligned with my own.

Honestly, I'm not happy with any of my options.

<< Home
About The Thinkery
Site feed

Recent Entries
Potty Mouth
Another bleg
My Beliefs are Less Evil Than Yours
The Church is Doomed
beliefs, Belief & unbelief; 4th in the series
Another Thing
Pro-choice is Pro-life is Pro-child
That's a Lotta Kids
Move over, Chuck



Ezra Klein
Harp and Sword
Brilliant At Breakfast
In This Moment
Faith and Theology
Theology and Biblical Studies
Internet Monk
Boar's Head Tavern
Jesus Creed
Sacra Doctrina
Maggi Dawn
Shadows of Divine Things
Foolish Sage
Per Caritatem
James K.A. Smith
The Ethical Werewolf
A Pedestrian View
Brilliant At Breakfast

May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
March 2008
January 2075

Powered by Blogger

My Ecosystem Details>