Monday, June 11, 2007

Universalists come forward


I know (or at least I think I do) the spiritual background of a few (surely not all) of the readers to this site. There are Assemblies, Baptists, Anglicans, a couple of agnostics/atheists, a few Reformers, those searching, among others as well as one maybe two Universalist-Unitarians.

Recently, I discovered another person who has become a Universalist (and I am assuming an Unitarian also). I have invited Christian hard-rock/metal lead vocalist Dale Thompson of Bride to talk about (and clarify if he wishes) his universalism. Of course, I hope you all join in also. I will ask that we all play fair whether we agree or disagree.

Dale is my guest here, and I know he will be respected by everyone.

Dale has asked the question, "Did Jesus die to appease an angry God?" His answer is no. So, I'll ask you, "Did Jesus die to appease an angry God?" So we are not caught up in semantics, can I rephrase it, "Did Jesus death appease the wrath of God?" if that is not, in essence, what Dale was asking, he can correct me.

Secondly, Dale has offered some "different" (but certainly not outside of a normal understanding of universalism) interpretations on hell. Basically, "hell" is for "Complete restoration and reconciliation."

Thirdly, are there any Scriptures to suggest the doctrine of universalism is correct. Here are the major ones:

I have examined this doctrine before, in my former seminary life. I read a little John Murray, but was not convinced at all. It sounds very nice, that every person who has ever been conceived will make it into heaven. Therefore, it doesn't really matter which little god you follow, they will all lead you to "God" in the end.

As it has been stated before me by those much wiser than I, in my heart of hearts I want universalism to be true, but there just isn't any Scriptural basis for it. Now, I am not saying that to pick a theological fight with anyone. If I wanted to pick a fight, I wouldn't pick on the loving universalists (Unitarians). Most of the ones I know would make perfect neighbors. If I wanted a fight, I'd pick on my Reformed brothers. They love the fight and are always up for it and will fight and fight and fight. And who can blame them, they are the elected ones. So, even though the Reformers and the Universalists are polar opposites (in more than one way), they share a huge commonality, that forces me to not believe either one of them's system (yeah I know it ain't good English). They both believe that God will and desires to over ride the free-will he has given his Creation. And based on that, I can't be a Calvinist nor an Universalist (and especially not a Unitarian-but that's for another time).

For some reason I keep hearing..."And she's climbing the stairway....to...heaven...." Smile, God still loves both of us.

19 comments:

Kc said...

Great article and topic Pech. I call Universalism “the other white meat” for Determinist.
;-)

It seems that before accepting either double-predestination or Universalism a person would have to accept Determinism. From that point I’ve observed that those who fall into Universalism find consistency in the love of God while those that accept unconditional election find consistency in the holiness of God.

I think that those who “live” by faith accept that God is consistent in both His love and His holiness.

JP said...

They love the fight and are always up for it and will fight and fight and fight. And who can blame them, they are the elected ones. So, even though the Reformers and the Universalists are polar opposites (in more than one way), they share a huge commonality, that forces me to not believe either one of them's system (yeah I know it ain't good English). They both believe that God will and desires to over ride the free-will he has given his Creation.

Some bits in here that don't sit too well... Reformers don't in general like the fight. I think the struggle to understand the truth of scripture and our inability to change it to what we would have it be, is heartbreaking to say the least. Would I like to have everyone universally restored? Absolutely! I would dance a jig of joy if such were the case. Unfortunately, the Word of God tells us this is not so. We 'reformers' don't love the fight, we just feel compelled to stand firm on the truth of His Word when faced with the distortions and wishes of the UR crowd.

I was going to comment on the 'free-will' comment and its base inaccuracy (where does Scripture say God gave His creation free-will?), but perhaps another time...

dorsey said...

From where I stand, it's not the fight that reformers love so much as the noble rush of having "defended the faith" against the onslaught of we free-willies. I can see the attraction, just no real benefit.

Kc, I can see determinism being a requirement for DP, but why do you think it requisite for Universalism? I confess ignorance to the finer points of Universalism, but if everyone get's in, what does it matter how they get there? Or am I misunderstanding what you mean by determinism? My perception is the idea that God, at the beginning of time, foreordained the color of socks I would wear today and that I would scratch my nose with the forefinger of my left hand today at 4:26 p.m.EST.

Kc said...

Dorse I understand theological Determinism to be the belief that God foreordained the eternal destiny of all men and I understand Universalist to believe that God foreordained all men to the same destiny.

I think you are correct concerning philosophical Determinism, which dictates theological Deterinism for some, but I've found that most reformers are only Determinist in theology and not in philosophy.

pecheur said...

JP,

Welcome!!

Just curious does JP stand for Judas Priest? haha just kidding. never really liked their music.

Now to the more important things. This isn't about Reformers vs Universalists. Funny how you picked that out. On the point of eternal destination, we agree. That's what is important.

Why do you feel "compelled to stand firm on the truth." And whose truth? What you are fighting is not truth, but your version of what (and those before you perhaps after) you perceive to be truth! If it were "truth" one of us would have to be wrong and thus be excluded from orthodox Christianity. Now, is the Synod of Dort compulusory for Christian fellowhip/communion? No. So, there is room for us free-willys and those God has elected. That's the beauty of it all.

You are right. And I am right. All at the same time. And if that also does not set well (hey smile), the ways of God are not ours. =)

Anyway, I've fought the Calvanists long enough. I am suppose to love you all as brothers and sisters, so I am not up for the "fight" on that issue anymmore. Besides, if election is true, the entire arguement is so tiny it shouldn't even register on the radar.

thanks for stopping by. Come back sometime.

pecheur said...

Dorsey,

Hey good to see you again.

I'd never thought about it, but I like it. So, I stand corrected. It is the rush of having "defended the faith" that lights their fire.

If everyone makes it, does it matter how? If universalism is true, God can elect whom he will. Me and you can choose. And those in hell will get their butts (I heard John Piper got in trouble for saying As*) burned so badly, that they will turn to Christ and he will hear their cry and bring them in! Voila.

Good points.

Thanks for the visit.

pecheur said...

Kc,

thanks for the clarification. I think I saw what Dorsey was saying.

If i understand you correctly, you are saying there is a difference between determinism theologically and determinism philosophically. And that reformers are only considering one option and not the other. That is, the doctrine that God elects certain ones is concerned but the doctrine of God electing everyone (universalism) is not considered but should since it falls into the determinist camp philosophically.

On that I would completely agree.

Erudite Redneck said...

Hmm. I fall under the non-seminarian umbrella here: All who seek God will find him. God has put the desire to know Him in all hearts. Those who apparently have no such desire simply can't sense it, for some mysterious reason, just as one who is born deaf cannot hear. Just as God will not condemn a deaf person for not being able to hear, He will not condemn one who is unable to sense the desire to know Him. Which might be, now that I think about it, what that whole "he who has ears let him hear" thing is all about.

BTW, I recently discovered that are are some Primitive Baptist Univeralists in Appalachia. I am dang close to them, I think.

Oh, and you shouldn't conflate universalism with unitarianism, unless you specifically mean the UU's.

pecheur said...

ER,

What!! Prmitive Baptist Universalists!! Aren't those two completely things? They sound more like concrete Baptists (throughly mixed up and set in place). Seriously, I can see how Universalism and PB could be very close to each other. It would be the positive Calvinism.

BTW, no seminary needed here!! Just thinking knogin heads, which I don't always exercise myself.

Yes, all who seek will find. But I am not sure it is a question of capability. That too is a Calvinistic idea. One is incapable of belief unless God imparts Faith. What if we are capable but negligent or simply rebellious? Anyway good to ponder nonetheless.

I stand corrected. You are right I should not conflate the two. In theory and historically, one could be one or the other without the other.

Erudite Redneck said...

But we all are negligent, to varying degrees, and rebellious. That's the thing.

And I do think that God enables us, even, to repent. I think that's the chief lesson of the imagery of God breathing life into Adam:

God breathes Himself into us, and like a suffocated man gasping for the oxygen in a mask placed over his face, we convulse, gagging, sputtering, chocking, kicking and hollering, into new life, as we're born from above. Somewhere in their we have the opportunity to push the mask away. Those of us who don't are saved. ...

I'm just thinking out loud here, but I think it's the negative action, of pushing God away, that defines the lost, rather than a positive action of "accepting" or "believing" that defines the saved.

Erudite Redneck said...

BTW, "Your comment has been saved." But has it been baptized? ;-)

pecheur said...

So would call this enabling "previent grace" as John Wesley did? I think I would. But as you said we can reject the enabling.

If salvation is a deliberate negative (that is purposefully removing the mask) then can we say that we already have it and those who no longer wish to have it give it up (i.e. are lost)? Why would we need it if it weren't something to take?

Good thoughts.

BTW the "right" in France has taken control of the govt. It must be said that the "right" over here probably looks very left center back home.

pecheur said...

ER,

That is my all time favorite ER quote ever. I love reading it at the bottom of your page!!

Erudite Redneck said...

I think you got some words mixed up here. I've inserted "rejecting" where I think you meant it; correct me if I'm wrong:

"If [rejecting] salvation is a deliberate negative (that is purposefully removing the mask) then can we say that we already have it and those who no longer wish to have it give it up (i.e. are lost)? Why would we need it if it weren't something to take?"

It's that some people don't know they have it. Nobody, except our own fairly recent forefathers and foremothers saifd the age of accountability *has* to be 8! Why couldn't it be 48? NOT a sense of right and wrong, which is a result of culture and upbringing, really, but a God consciousnes? Not sure what prevenient grace is: Sounds oike Grace that covers us all until we "get it." If so, then I think I buy that.

Go ... and teach ... has always mean to me, Go and explain, rather than Go and introduce these ideas for the first time, Go and fill in the gaps in the experience of the God-followers, wherhter they are haingin' outside the Temple or someone else seeking God.

Erudite Redneck said...

someone = somewhere

pecheur said...

Yes, I did leave out the word "rejection" Sorry about that.

So when did the age of accountability get moved down to 8? It used to be 12!! Haha. I am not sure there is an age of accountability, that is an arbitrary real age. It would be when God decides to reveal Himself to an individual. That may well be at 48.

So would say we are born with sin inherited from our daddy Adam or are we sinners because we sin?

I will add that the reason babies who die, go to heaven is that they are not necessarily "saved," but "safe." (And I am going out on a limb and I am not too sure I could or want to defend it 100%) I would be open to having that "safe" status extended but when one has crossed out of that state, I am not willingly to guess.

If "hearing" precedes faith, the commission of Christ would be more than they,the heathen, acknowledging their "salvific status." They would be hearing then gaining faith unto salvation. Right? That is my big complaint with hard core Calvinism. In that system of thought, one simply finds out by the preached word (possibly the "hearing")s/he's been chosen (for s/he has really been saved the whole time, s/he just didn't know it). There is no "asking Christ into your heart." Funny thing, no one else ever finds out they are not. Only the "elect" realize their election. And it is always the "elect" who are telling everyone else stuff.

I would rather say that people do not know they are outside God's grace (not they are in it already). And when they hear, if God is "awaking" them, they then must either take the gift or not. But of course this is the mainline Baptist understanding.

Now for the God-fearers and God-searchers. These would be those with whom God has intiated a conversation, and they have kept their ears open.

Good thoughts and commentary as always

Erudite Redneck said...

"So would say we are born with sin inherited from our daddy Adam or are we sinners because we sin?"

I'd say that "sin" isd a human attempt to say "the created" apart from the Creator, therefore distinct from the Unfathomable Creator. There is none with sin, no not one = there is none not created, that is, not apart from God, no not one. Sin = separation, by definition. None are reconciled by the fact that they are created, therefore all need reconciled by God.

Calvin got it half right. There are elect. But we are all elect. What we ultimatrely do with that election -- the placemment of the mask over our mouth -- is up to us. Or not.

Hence Primitive Baptist universalists. ... Just thinkin' out loud again. :-)

I kinda think that some of us are sitting on the beach, in wonder that we have been rescued from the stormy sea; others of us are on the beach but, like some desparate rescued people, are still thrashing about rassling with the life guard, not realizing that we've ben pulled from from the roiling waters and that we actually are on the beach! Jesus told at least some of the ones he'd heald, not I have healed you, but, you are healed -- and *then* some scales fell from some eyes and such.

Erudite Redneck said...

Yikes. Of course, I mean "there is none without sin, no not one" etc., etc.

pecheur said...

ER,

I knew what you meant. No problem.
It has given me something else to think about.