Sunday, June 21, 2009

Universal Life

Two books I recently read have helped shape my rethinking of the traditional evangelical view of salvation. The Inescapable Love of God by Thomas Talbot and The Evangelical Universalist by Gregory MacDonald (a psuedonym) make a near impenetrable case that universal reconciliation was the original intent of the apostle Paul and Jesus. How could the church be teaching exclusivism all these years and never have disclosed this fact? My theory is that traditionalism is so strong in evangelicalism and other conservative Christian movements that any diversion from it is suppressed. For example, how many evangelicals were ever taught that the church fathers Origen, Gregory of Nyassa, and several others were universalists? How many know that universliasts have included such prominent people as President John Adams and George MacDonald (a favorite author of C.S. Lewis)? How many people know that the word "everlasting" in Jesus' famous Sheep and the Goats passage is more accurately translated as "pertaining to an age" and that Jesus wasn't talking about a never-ending punishment but a punishment that pertained to the coming age? How many recognize that Paul made several statements that strongly support universalism including "as in one man, Adam, all sinned, so through one man, Jesus, all will be reconciled?" No, most aren't aware of these facts because they don't fit the traditional view and teachers and Bible commentators are either ignorant of them or are deliberately overlooking them. I bring these details and much more out in one of the chapters in my book, Confessions of a Bible Thumper.

8 comments:

dado'10 said...

Hi Mike,
I'm not much of a computer buff, but I came upon your blog a couple of days ago and have been enjoying your entries. What I've enjoyed the most is your unreligiousness. If people would just love the Lord & their neighbor, there wouldn't be any religion, just love. What originally brought me to your blog was a search for "Divine Sex". I had been discussing scripture with this evangelical friend & trying to explain that whatever is done in Love is right. That Jesus set us free from the law and this included sexual freedom. I was looking for more info to back up my argument. (This belief has lost me alot of "Christian" friends.)So when I started my search I was really suprised to see that their are several books on the subject & many people embracing this "new found" ancient freedom.
Then you had this entry which is another not so popular topic amoung traditional churches. I haven't read either of the books you mention, but have beleived in Universal Reconciliation for 30 some odd years. I was doing a Bible study with my two younger boys a few days ago and we were reading from Matthew

"MAT.12:31-32 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."

I was wondering if either of the books refer to these verses. I've always believed that these proved that there is forgiveness in the next life, and the only thing that can't be forgiven would be a rejection of forgivness.

Since you seem to get a kick out of clearing away the rubble of "Churchianity" and getting to the truth of the scriptures, what is your take on spiritual communication? Does the Lord employ various agents, angels, departed saints, to communicate with man? Or is all this taboo?

Michael said...

dado'10,

Thanks for your comments. Keep up your research. There's a lot out there that's not advertised in Christianity Today.

I believe those books do mention that Mat. passage, but I'll have to look again and post another comment. The point is that the word "everlasting" is not a good translation and doesn't denote punishment without end. Also, the Greek word for punishment is always a remedial variety.

Spiritual communication? Hmmm... not exactly my specialty. I think God communicates in dreams. I know Muslims who have seen Jesus in dreams. And sometimes circumstances can be his way of communicating, although you have to be careful and not be looking for signs at every intersection.

Julie Ferwerda said...

Hey, I'd like to pipe in. I love the title of this blog...I wasn't sure if I was signing up for life insurance or finding a fellow adherent to the inescapable love of God!

My husband and I discovered this beautiful truth about 9 months ago and have engaged in hearty research ever since. The story just gets bigger and more beautiful as you go! I recommend Dr. Stephen Jones "Creation's Jubilee" (www.gods-kingdom-ministries.org) as well. He's a brilliant writer and I have learned so much from many of his articles!

As to Matthew 12:32, all one need to is look up the verse in NASB to find out what the Greek really says: "Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come." This is a huge blatant mistranslation by people with agenda!

Blessings,
Julie Ferwerda
www.julieferwerda.com

Michael said...

Julie,
Thanks for your comment. I'll check out that website. I'm impressed with your book. I'm writing one now, Confessions of a Bible Thumper. You probably wouldn't agree with everything I conclude, but I'm glad you've discovered about God's inescapable love. You have a gift to be open to new paradigms and share that with your husband. Keep seeking.

Cheers,
Michael

Julie Ferwerda said...

Well I hope you'll let me read it! Are you publishing or sharing electronically?

Which book of mine? Did you find the One Million Arrows site or you mean the one on my personal website? I just published www.OneMillionArrows.com.

Waiting for your book...

Julie Ferwerda said...

P.S. We're going to launch a very controversial website soon that debunks many of the evangelical errors. Should be fun, but might have to get into the Witness Protection Program!

Christopher Trottier said...

Hi Mike,

I hold opposing views to yours. I am what one perhaps would call a "hyper-Calvinist" -- but since I also hold solipsist beliefs, I am no means a friend of fundamentalism.

With that said, what if one doesn't want to be reconciled to God? Shall this reconciliation be forced upon him?

Michael said...

Hey Christopher,

Thanks for your comment. Sorry about your "hyper-Calvinism." :-) Just joking with you.

Yours is an excellent question and the one that kept me from seriously considering "universal reconciliation" for years. No, reconcilation can't be forced by definition--one must turn to God freely. But why do we assume that if one doesn't want to be reconciled to God in this life, they will aways hold that view for eternity. If God's purposes will prevail, which I believe they will, then his inescapable love will eventually reach those who resist.

Read the books I cite to get a more thorough answer. Thanks again for contributing.