The dust has REALLY been collecting lately. But the gears never stop turning. As soon as the weather turned warm, the XBox was turned off and I’ve been reading. And thinking. I’m not looking to write anything profound. But this has increasingly dawned on me: understanding what people believe and why they believe it is probably one of the most illuminating and enjoyable things to me.
So, if they’re up for it I’d like to call them out: -R- (you know who you are) and Krime/Bikertomj – Share your minds! Of course, only if you feel like it…
I’ve kind of talked with R about this, but this is more real-world. I was talking with a friend about “Universalism”, the Christian thought that states: All people, from all times, regardless of their actions in their lives, will be reconciled to God after the grave. This isn’t trying to say that all religions are equivalent (equating to each other), though. This is a Christian theology that states: Jesus is the means by which that reconciliation is accomplished. It just doesn’t require that we humans have to know/believe/do anything. It’s just DONE.
This is an ancient Christian belief, but it has always been a minority view (for reasons debatable and very extensive, so I will spare you that). That’s why most people (Christians even) are not even aware of this idea. But before I ask you my question, let me first give you some background.
I have been exploring this idea of Universalism for some time now. And only recently have I come to understand it in such a way that it started making REAL sense to me. It introduces more questions than it answers, but it has that ring of truth to it. You know, one of those things that once you hear it you never perceive anything else in quite the same way. What I’ve learned and what I’ve experienced while exploring this are profound, but I’ll spare you the details at this point.
Back to talking to my friend… I said: one thing I found to be a huge indicator of truth in the idea of Universalism is how much easier that idea makes it to talk to people about God. For those who find themselves outside the bounds of any religion, let alone Christianity; for those who reject Christianity for the violence it has done to them or the world; for those who have never seen anything worthwhile in faith (Christian or otherwise). For these people – if I believe God not only wants to be in a relationship with them, but God is in a relationship with them and that that relationship will deepen (either on this side of the grave or the other) into something more wonderful than any relationship we can imagine this world – that should be good news! At least I think it would be…
But my friend’s response struck me as odd. He said, basically, that he didn’t think this would be an effective picture of God to those who did not identify with the Christian Church. Or rather, he didn’t think this was as effective a picture of God as an “inclusive” (as opposed to universal) picture. He said the Universal idea means that everyone will be reconciled to God (including the Hitlers, Pol Pots, serial rapists, etc) and that those outside Christianity will not like that idea. The “inclusive” idea of God is that most (not all) people will be reconciled to God. This gives room for God to call up the good people who aren’t Christians, but it also gives room for God to reject the Hitlers and gives people the means to reject God.
Semantic issues with that last sentence aside – Here’s the question for you two. Since you aren’t affiliated with any organized religion, what do you think? Is one idea about God more appealing than the other? I’d like to know what (if any) truth either of those ideas of God may convey to you. I’d also like to know what problems you see in those ideas (trust me, there’s no shortage of problems!). Don’t feel obligated, of course. I just really like the way you guys approach things, and you obviously have no agendas when it comes to evaluating ideas of Christian theology.
If either of you feel like sharing I’d love to hear it. Either just post thoughts in the comments or e-mail me and we’ll continue the conversation there. Peace!