Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Practical Universalism

Christian Universalism is the belief that all people will be eventually reconciled to God. Universalism’s fault is not in the truth it affirms, but in the truth it denies. The idea of universal reconciliation is a result of affirming God’s love and mercy to the point of denying His justice; reward without judgement, a Heaven without a Hell. “How could an all-loving God sentence one of His children to eternal damnation"?

To correctly understand light, you need some concept of darkness. Warmth is appreciated most by those who have an understanding of coldness. True knowledge of joy, requires a familiarity with sorrow. And an understanding, appreciation, and knowledge of mercy require it be considered in the context of justice. And a divine mercy can only be fully conceived if considered against a backdrop of divine justice.

Universalism creates the conditions necessary for its own growth and spread. To emphasize God’s love and ignore His justice makes it difficult to see how any action on our part could result in eternal punishment. People begin talking more and more about the mercy of God and how much He loves us, and less about the radical reality of the human will to reject God and place itself under the justice of God. The cycle is fueled by our society’s love of self and loathing of responsibility.

Jacques Maritain described practical atheists as those who, "believe that they believe in God but in reality deny His existence by each one of their deeds." And I think you could describe a practical Universalist as those who, "believe that they believe in Hell but in reality deny its existence by each one of their deeds." A person who would could imagine such a place but not a path leading to it.

I hear a lot about people wanting to "reach out to people and meet them where they’re at" lately. Great! I’m all for whatever that means as long as the meeting includes talk of both sin and blessing, both death and resurrection, both repentance and redemption … and both justice and mercy.

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