I’ve been vaguely following all the talk of universalism on the net lately and have found myself in a couple arguments with some persons concerning the nature and possibility of it. And what I’ve found more interesting than anything is just how defensive universalists are about the subject, namely, that they would have to be the ones to defend themselves against cries of heresy. Well, my universalist friends, it’s time to put down the shield and take up the sword because you, it seems to me, are far more in the right than those who demand something like hell.
Let me be clear, here: there is a place where universalism can go wrong, a point that our buddy Tripp, through Steve Harmon, has already made. That is, when it takes a stance that turns into is something like a demand that God save all. We ought not and need not go there. Rather, God—his eating with tax-collectors and prostitutes—seems to speak enough to the possibility of universal salvation that we need not demand it of God. Let God be whom God is, and if the God reveals God’s self in Christ, I trust God fully with both my, and everyone else’, ultimate fate. So let universalism reject any demand that God fulfill our hopes and desires for such. Let it affirm, however, that God just may be the one who, in God’s love for the whole world as revealed in Christ, gave us such hopes and desires in faith.
On the other hand, let us universalists also take to the offense, lovingly reminding those who would sneer at this possibility both of God’s love and of God’s freedom. Indeed, those who a priori reject universalism, it seems, can only do so by denying God a possibility. To deny God a possibility, however, is to attempt force God’s hand in a way that it ought not be forced: in accordance with my demands and recognition of what I believe ought to be the case. In other words, it is to set up an idol not in the image of a calf but in the image of myself and my demands on how God ought to be. I might remind the reader, however, that this very move is what many , including Augustine and Luther, interpret original sin to be.
For instance, one of my favorite anti-universalist arguments in this regard is based in the notion of double-predestination. Because God has offered salvation to some, God must deny salvation to others; that is, a yes to some means a no to others. How absurd! Since when is a yes to some a no to others? If I bought one child an ice-cream cone am I denying another an ice-cream cone? I suppose it depends on how many ice-cream cones I have, and if I’m the God who creates out of nothing, I should have plenty. The notion of double-predestination is an attempt, then, to unleash a finite logic onto the infinite God, and it demands far more than a universalist, who only ever affirms the possibility of universal salvation, ever could.
I write this, then, only as a platform to give universalists some confidence. The position, when it does not demand of God something that we cannot demand, seems more in accordance to me with self-expression of God in Christ than the alternative. In other words, I want here to give a universalist call to arms. By a call to arms, however, I mean a call to open our arms to the degree that we can to all those whom God can, just may, and I hope will save, including those who would have us sent to hell for such a position.