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spiritseeker

Progressive Universalism

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Hi everyone!

 

It has been along time since I have posted and I think it is well overdue. As most of you know I have been very passionate about the Church of Natures God and now Unified Deism. I have enjoyed the fellowship their but I feel I need to find a group that is alot more open about Christianity.

 

 

For the last few months I have had unshakable feelings about Jesus. I had decided that these feelings need to be examined further as they were nagging away at me unanswered. A while ago I bought a few books which related to Progressive Christianity. In a nutshell Progressive Christianity is very open minded and some people believe in Jesus as God and then there is the other end of the spectrum where people believe that Jesus was a great teacher who lived and modelled a life of great values and ethics. After reading further and then doing some reflective reasoning (yes I listened to your show Dave :)) I decided that I need to search more as I didn't know what to believe about Jesus in my head but my heart was leaning to Jesus being more than just a teacher.

 

 

 

I decided to go back to more core beliefs which are 1) That there is a creator and 2) There is an afterlife

 

 

 

After some more searching I came across Universalism. Universalism is the belief that Jesus died on the cross to reconciled us with God and that everyone is saved. Now there is alot more to it than that but I don't want to get too detailed here. I have done some intense studying and reflective reasoning over this time and I have made some discoveries that I wouldnt have believed in my wildest dreams a year ago. I call my beliefs Progressive Universalism because I am always open to change in my beliefs and as I learn and experience on my journey things may lead me down a different path.

 

 

 

I know believe:

 

 

 

* Jesus is God

 

 

 

* The Trinity

 

 

 

* The Doctrine of hell is incorrect and is not eternal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I look forward to hearing from you all and I would love to hear your thoughts on Universalism/Inclusion/Universal Reconciliation! :)

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spiritseeker, a very brief word to start the ball rolling. For me, too, Jesus reduced to a moral teacher pure and simple sells Christianity short. As one of my mentors once said......"if moral virtue were Christianity then Socrates was the Saviour." (William Blake)

 

Here is a link that may be useful......

 

Universalist Websites

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spiritseeker, I am glad you came back so we can learn from each other. Soma

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spiritseeker, a very brief word to start the ball rolling. For me, too, Jesus reduced to a moral teacher pure and simple sells Christianity short. As one of my mentors once said......"if moral virtue were Christianity then Socrates was the Saviour." (William Blake)

 

Here is a link that may be useful......

 

Universalist Websites

 

Thanks Tariki! I have been studying Universalism for a while now so I have come across many different pages. I really feel that I am on my true path now. I have not come here to try and make others like me but to merely try and find fellowship with similar people.

 

I really thrive for fellowship with like minded people and I hope I can find it here. :)

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spiritseeker, I am glad you came back so we can learn from each other. Soma

 

Thanks Soma! I really feel that the time was right to comeback and learn here. What are your thoughts on Universalism?

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Guest billmc

Welcome back, Spiritseeker.

 

Out of curiousity, does it bother you that Universalism, at least the Christian kind, begins with the notion that everyone is or was initially damned?

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spiritseeker,

 

I do share your fundamental outlook. Often the idea of universalism is seen as "soft soap", as a sentimentality that does not get to grips with "free will" or the depth of evil. For me, the implication of the ultimate reconciliation of all is that I must NOW seek reconciliation with all. The option of seeing another as "beyond", totally "other", is not on offer. And as Merton has said, we are already one, we do not seek a new unity, what we must be is what we are.

 

Free will I have spoken of elsewhere............As far as free will is concerned, it always seems odd to me that it apparently only exists for this one short sharp ambiguous life, then we must exist without it for "eternity", suffering - or enjoying - its "fruits"! One would have thought that if "free will" was so important to the divinity, it would perhaps exist in a better - and more enduring - way? (And as I have always argued, given that the Divine wills the very best for us, and given that we would indeed wish the very best for ourselves, the idea that any human being fully informed would reject the Divine is fundamentally incoherent. And if not fully informed, the free will argument itself becomes fundamentally flawed.)

 

Again, elsewhere, on Universalism............Freud came to this conclusion about human beings, that.......it is always possible to bind together a considerable number of people in love, so long as there are other people left over to receive the manifestation of their aggressiveness. ("Civilization and Its Discontents")

 

The main argument against Universalism seems to revolve around "free will". For me, the key comes with the words of St Augustine...."You made us for thee, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee". Within Time, duration, Divinity will always be seeking the "salvation" of all. And each will remain "restless" until they become aware of the infinite Love of Reality-as-is. "Eternity" , as duration, IS a long time, as you say! My hope and trust is that all will eventually find such "rest" (though I understand it more as "infinite creativity" than "rest"!)

 

It seems to me that if "acceptance" of God's love is required, and a time limit set to such acceptance, then "hell" as eternal suffering can be a conclusion. Yet if we think more in terms of becoming aware of a Love that is eternally "given", and set no limits in time, then the Universalist conclusion seems a genuine hope.

 

I agree with Thomas Talbott that all the Biblical ideas concerning judgement should be interpreted as redemptive ideas. Obviously, the Conservative notion of hell can never be seen as redemptive.

Sorry if I seem to be advertising my views. Yet they seem relevant here, and are "cut and pasted" for that reason.

 

All the best

tariki (Derek)

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Welcome back, Spiritseeker.

 

Out of curiousity, does it bother you that Universalism, at least the Christian kind, begins with the notion that everyone is or was initially damned?

 

Hi Bill! Thanks for the warm welcome. Initially your question bothered me but after reading Baxter Krugers books (his website is at www.perichoresis.org) I believe that Jesus was part of the plan to reconcile and invite humans into the circle of the trinity right from the beginning. I also have a theologian friend who I have asked similar questions to and I will post some of his comments to me.

 

The below was my questions.

 

What I want to know is that when Adam broke the rules God was angry and kicked Adam out of the perfect world and said that now humans will turn back to dust like they were created and that they will experience pain (like child bearing). Obviously this is just my inexperienced attempt at shortening parts of Genesis.

 

That doesnt sound very loving! I would love to hear your thoughts on this as this is my next stumbling block. Why would a God who is ALL loving plan for us to fail and be disobedient and then feel his wrath?

 

The below was his answers.

 

Yes, good question! Well, for a start, I am not convinced that God planned for us to fail, in the sense that it had to happen. I am sure He knew it would happen, but that is not the same is Him making it happen. OK, next. I am also not convinced that Adam and Eve are literal people - the Garden of Eden story may just be that - a story. That means we need to ask different questions, primarily "What is this story trying to tell me?" I would suggest simply that the story tells us about what happens to us when we turn from God - it leads us to a bad place. Relationship with God = good; Turning away from God = bad. Viewed this way we don't need to question why God threw his loved creatures out of paradise, because He actually didn't. There is truth in the story, but the story isn't truth. See?

 

 

Obviously these are not definitive answers Bill but I just wanted to share where my thoughts are and how I am getting there. :)

Edited by spiritseeker

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Thought I would pop back again, to give some sort of response to billmc's question (addressed to spiritseeker I know)

 

As I understand it, Christinaity is a religion of "many mansions". Broadly speaking, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and the various Protestant flavours. Each seem to have varying ideas concerning the "image of God" (that we are made in) and as to whether such an "image" was totally destroyed in the "fall" or not. Also, various responses to the ideas expressed by the Latin phrase O felix culpa..........

 

Felix culpa is a Latin phrase that literally translated means a "blessed fault" or "fortunate fall."

 

The Latin expression felix culpa derives from St. Augustine’s famous allusion to one unfortunate event, the Fall of Man, Adam and Eve's fall and the loss of the Garden of Eden, known theologically as the source of original sin. The phrase is sung annually in the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil: "O felix culpa quae talem et tantum meruit habere redemptorem," "O happy fault that merited such and so great a Redeemer." The medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas cited this line when he explained how the principle that "God allows evils to happen in order to bring a greater good therefrom" underlies the causal relation between original sin and the Divine Redeemer's Incarnation, thus concluding that a higher state is not inhibited by sin. The Catholic saint Ambrose also speaks of the fortunate ruin of Adam in the Garden of Eden in that his sin brought more good to humanity than if he had stayed perfectly innocent (Wikipedia)

 

Such ideas are worthy of being reflected upon when considering any notion that we were all "initially damned".

 

In a very modern idiom, it could be surmised that the divine wished to share "his" sense of "being" with "others", knew this would involve suffering, and was prepared "himself" to pay that price. Each of us was chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians) Given the Universalist conclusion to all this, there was never any intention to damn anyone, only the realisation that a price for "creation" must needs be paid, given the probability of the misuse of "free will"....... a price that Love itself was prepared to pay.

 

I realise that these are only words, pointing towards things ultimately beyond us to fully comprehend. Yet worth consideration.

 

Anyone interested in a modern representaion of some of these ideas could do worse than give this a read through....

 

Ken Wilber

 

Me, I think I'll pop back to the Pure Land for a rest....... :D

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Guest billmc

Obviously these are not definitive answers Bill but I just wanted to share where my thoughts are and how I am getting there. :)

 

I understand.

 

I was big time into Universalism a few years back. I frequented the tentmaker website and highlighted the "Over 100 Verses in the Bible that Prove God Will Save Each and Every Person." :) This stance seemed to me to be, at the time, the answer I was looking for as I wrestled with how a God of love could allow most of his creatures to burn in hell for all eternity. The answer was: he wouldn't -- Jesus' death had fixed all that. Christ's death had paid the price and eventually, as Paul said, every knee would bow and every tongue would confess that Jesus is Lord (the Christian "formula" for salvation).

 

But, just speaking for myself, I didn't see how Jesus' death ontologically changed anything. Plus the presupposition was that most people still burn in hell until such time that they confess Jesus as Lord.

 

Anyway, I'm probably rambling now, but I believe in a universalism based upon us all going further into what we call God, but this universalism is not based upon Jesus' death as a payment to get us out of hell or off the hook with God. So I suppose I am not a biblical universalist. :D But that's okay (with me, anyway).

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I believe in universalism. I feel some in the world today have forgotten their true nature and have tumbled into chaos. This fall is nothing but the conscious separation of the microcosm from the macrocosm. For me the fall of Adam and Eve symbolizes the looking only at the external forms of creation. This fall for me symbolizes the world as an independent reality different from the Father's. I feel the pain comes from seeing many different things separated from God instead of one ocean of consciousness united in God. When we lose the inner communion with all that there is, we are thrown out to endure the pain and suffering of the external world until once again we return to inner peace.

 

The personal story of Adam and Eve explains the tendency within the universe to disperse. A centrifugal motion radiating from the nucleus is what causes the worldly consciousness to appear to separate from God. In my universalism I feel the world in itself has no reality at all because it is in perpetual change without much meaning or consistency. The objects and things existing in it are separated in time and space and are changing from one moment to the next. Therefore, the microcosm apart from the macrocosm is nothing, but when it knows the macrocosm, it is reality itself, constant and full of being. The feeling that we fell from pure consciousness and loss bliss is due to the separation from our internal existence. This has caused the present era of confusion where everything is divided, not centered, and separated from the whole or pure consciousness. I relate this to the story of Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden or the unit consciousness separating from pure consciousness.

 

Great thread, I really enjoy the different views expressed.

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I understand.

 

I was big time into Universalism a few years back. I frequented the tentmaker website and highlighted the "Over 100 Verses in the Bible that Prove God Will Save Each and Every Person." :) This stance seemed to me to be, at the time, the answer I was looking for as I wrestled with how a God of love could allow most of his creatures to burn in hell for all eternity. The answer was: he wouldn't -- Jesus' death had fixed all that. Christ's death had paid the price and eventually, as Paul said, every knee would bow and every tongue would confess that Jesus is Lord (the Christian "formula" for salvation).

 

But, just speaking for myself, I didn't see how Jesus' death ontologically changed anything. Plus the presupposition was that most people still burn in hell until such time that they confess Jesus as Lord.

 

Anyway, I'm probably rambling now, but I believe in a universalism based upon us all going further into what we call God, but this universalism is not based upon Jesus' death as a payment to get us out of hell or off the hook with God. So I suppose I am not a biblical universalist. :D But that's okay (with me, anyway).

 

Hi Bill and thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. I really do appreciate it. When I study and learn about different religions I always keep an open mind and I go with what feels right to me. I am not talking about an unrealistic view or a dream fairy tale, but I am talking about the really deep down spiritual feelings I get that just resonate a resounding no or a resounding yes to the various religions I have studied.

 

The meaning of Jesus's death/life to me is a connection or a bridge if you like where we humans have been brought into the circle of the trinity. We now have Jesus at the right hand side of the Father who has lived and experienced as a human. We now have the opportunity of a wonderful afterlife and through learning about Jesus and his teachings now we can even experience the best life has to offer here on Earth.

 

I do not believe that people burn in hell until they confess Jesus as Lord. Universalism isn't all about hell redeeming people - it's about all people being saved. I would love to share with you a piece of writing from C.S.Lewis.

 

Dwarves in Narnia

 

This is the same point that C.S. Lewis made toward the end of his famous work The Chronicles of Narnia. It really must be read to be fully appreciated of course, but the one paragraph summary is that Lucy finds herself in a discussion with Aslan the Lion (God) standing together in Narnia (Heaven). Lucy is observing two things that simply dont make sense to her. Firstly, she sees the tremendous beauty that surrounds her in Narnia. Beautiful flowers, magnificent food and wine, and the finest of everything. Secondly, she sees a group of dwarves who are cursing their existence in this place.

 

They complain of the lowly conditions that surround them and of the slop that they are forced to eat and drink. The dwarves simply do not see what Lucy sees. The dwarves are in Narnia, and they are surrounded by the finest of everything, but they cannot see it! The dwarves are in the most magnificent place imaginable, but they do not believe that it is good, they think it is bad, and so they do not wish to be there. The problem is not where the dwarves are, the problem is how the dwarves see where they are.

 

It is not reality, but their perception of reality, that causes the distress of the dwarves. Lucy is in Heaven, and the dwarves are in hell, yet they are in the same place. This is the context in which we must understand repentance and faith. The dwarves are saved but they do not know it. Because they do not know it, they do not experience their salvation. And what is the use of it, if you dont experience it? Despite being saved, the dwarves experience hell and not Heaven. Repentance and faith, and anything else we include as a pre-cursor to salvation, actually occur after salvation, not before. These things are all the result of being saved, and not the mechanism of getting saved.

 

These are just some of my thoughts! :)

 

I would also like to thank you Bill, Tariki and Soma for talking through this with me because there are no communities like this where I live and it is very lonely when your beliefs are outside the mainstream. :)

Edited by spiritseeker

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Guest billmc

I really do appreciate it.

 

I appreciate yours also, Spiritseeker. Please don't take my responses as solid arguments against what you believe, but only as my own thoughts and "internal arguments" within myself on this important subject. See, I would still be a Christian if it wasn't for Jesus' teachings on hell. His teachings on loving God and loving others ring true in my heart, and I try to do my best to follow those. But his teachings on hell offend everything in me that believes in a loving God and a God of justice. So if I could take a Jeffersonian approach and cut out all of Jesus' teachings on hell, I would probably still be a Christian today. This is why universalism appealed to me. But despite all the verses supporting universalism, it still doesn't remove all the verses supporting what I would call everlasting torture. :(

 

Lucy is in Heaven, and the dwarves are in hell, yet they are in the same place.

 

This is indeed an interesting perspective on it, Spiritseeker. As a fundamentalist, I cut my theological teeth on Mere Christianity, the Two Loves, and other books by Lewis. I thoroughly enjoyed his scifi series on Perelandra and read most of the Narnia books to my own children. There is no doubt that Lewis was a brilliant man and a gifted storyteller. However, on this issue, what Lewis says and what Jesus says are in complete disagreement. In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus says that there is a great gulf between where Lazarus is and where the Rich Man is. Despite what Lewis might say, they are not "in the same place." Lazarus can't get to the Rich Man and vice versa. Of course, this is a parable so we can't know how literal to take it. But Jesus did seem to teach in Matthew 24 that the Goats go to everlasting destruction. Not a comfortable thought coming from someone who was suppose to reconcile the world to God. :wacko:

 

In my own journey, I finally had to let go of the heaven/hell (blessed/cursed; saved/damned; chosen/rejected; Christian/non-Christian) paradigm because I couldn't imagine the Creator of the universe stooping to such judgments and retributions upon humanity. As you have said, it just didn't "feel" right in the depths of my soul. On the other hand, for many (most?) Christians, the concept of hell does "feel" right, especially when it is Jesus who is the main preacher of it. So I'm not sure as to how reliable our "feelings" are as gauges of truth. :)

 

So I wish I could follow the path of Christian universalism. But, IMO, doing so would certainly go against what Jesus taught. I find that I have to "pick and choose" which parts of Jesus' teachings "feel right" to me and this makes me, at the very least, no longer a Christian. After all, in Matthew 28, he says his disciples are supposed to hold to EVERYTHING he taught, not just SOME things. I don't hold to hell. Nor to hating parents. Nor to picking up snakes or drinking poison. ;) So I, in good conscience, can't wear the name "Christian", not even of the "progressive" kind.

 

But we must all respond to whatever "light" we find. That is, I believe, all our Creator expects us to do. Please don't let my ramblings disuade you as they are only descriptive of my journey, not prescriptive for anyone else. If biblical universalism does prove to be true, then there is probably no better "light" in which to interpret the Bible God and the death of Jesus.

Edited by billmc

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I appreciate yours also, Spiritseeker. Please don't take my responses as solid arguments against what you believe, but only as my own thoughts and "internal arguments" within myself on this important subject.

 

I completely understand Bill and I love how we can discuss our thoughts with each other. I don't take your responses as arguments as people have to make u their minds on what is right for them. At the moment Universalism is sitting comfortably with me but I know from experience that with further reading, learning and discovery then that could possibly change. It is fantastic that we can discuss our "internal arguments" in a open and respectful way! :)

 

This is indeed an interesting perspective on it, Spiritseeker. As a fundamentalist, I cut my theological teeth on Mere Christianity, the Two Loves, and other books by Lewis. I thoroughly enjoyed his scifi series on Perelandra and read most of the Narnia books to my own children. There is no doubt that Lewis was a brilliant man and a gifted storyteller. However, on this issue, what Lewis says and what Jesus says are in complete disagreement. In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus says that there is a great gulf between where Lazarus is and where the Rich Man is. Despite what Lewis might say, they are not "in the same place." Lazarus can't get to the Rich Man and vice versa. Of course, this is a parable so we can't know how literal to take it. But Jesus did seem to teach in Matthew 24 that the Goats go to everlasting destruction. Not a comfortable thought coming from someone who was suppose to reconcile the world to God. :wacko:

 

In my own journey, I finally had to let go of the heaven/hell (blessed/cursed; saved/damned; chosen/rejected; Christian/non-Christian) paradigm because I couldn't imagine the Creator of the universe stooping to such judgments and retributions upon humanity. As you have said, it just didn't "feel" right in the depths of my soul. On the other hand, for many (most?) Christians, the concept of hell does "feel" right, especially when it is Jesus who is the main preacher of it. So I'm not sure as to how reliable our "feelings" are as gauges of truth. :)

 

Again your comments are spot on and the problem with the bible is that in alot of cases you can argue for and argue against many different issues! That is why I basically pick and choose what I feel is right as well. I know that my beliefs could be wrong but I just don't think I could read something and blindly believe it. It has to resonate deep down spiritually for me to go with it. I am open and realistic enough to know that our "feelings" may not be the truth at all but it is a gauge to keeping me sane in this lifetime and all we can do is be true to ourselves! The talks we are having now Bill is te kind of fellowship that I really crave. I wish there was a group near where I live where I could do this but unfortunately there isn't.

 

So I wish I could follow the path of Christian universalism. But, IMO, doing so would certainly go against what Jesus taught. I find that I have to "pick and choose" which parts of Jesus' teachings "feel right" to me and this makes me, at the very least, no longer a Christian. After all, in Matthew 28, he says his disciples are supposed to hold to EVERYTHING he taught, not just SOME things. I don't hold to hell. Nor to hating parents. Nor to picking up snakes or drinking poison. ;) So I, in good conscience, can't wear the name "Christian", not even of the "progressive" kind.

 

I have to admit that I am very new to the bible so I cannot answer with too much experience but as I mentioned above with the bible you can argue and interpret in many different ways (as people do). I take the view on Matthew 28 that it is impossible to do because of all the ways we can take different paths plus we dont know what to take literally and what are just stories. That is where we have to be true to ourselves and go with what works for us individually. I don't believe in hell, hating parents, picking up snakes or drinking poison either but I feel I could under the label of progressive christian if I wanted. If I had to use a label I would go with the title of this thread which is "Progressive Universalist" due to the fact that I have always believed that everyone is saved (eventually)and I dont believe in an eternal hell. To me the word progressive enables me to keep an open mind and change my thoughts as I go on my journey if deep down I feel that is the right thing to do.

 

But we must all respond to whatever "light" we find. That is, I believe, all our Creator expects us to do. Please don't let my ramblings disuade you as they are only descriptive of my journey, not prescriptive for anyone else. If biblical universalism does prove to be true, then there is probably no better "light" in which to interpret the Bible God and the death of Jesus.

 

I 100% agree Bill and I love how you have written this. Your ramblings are the fellowship that I have been searching for Bill! :)

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Guest billmc

...The problem with the bible is that in alot of cases you can argue for and argue against many different issues!

 

Much agreed. So, IMO, we can't simply pull verses (or even chapters or books) out of the Bible to support our view and say, "See! This settles it!" The Bible is full of a whole bunch of different points-of-view, some of them in stark disagreement with one another.

 

That is why I basically pick and choose what I feel is right as well. I know that my beliefs could be wrong but I just don't think I could read something and blindly believe it. It has to resonate deep down spiritually for me to go with it.

 

I'm much the same way. It infuriates my fundie friends and family to no end because I am a confessing "cherry-picker." They are also (for they have never stoned their children for being disobedient or handled snakes), but *I* have the guts to admit it. Things I believe, I believe and, yes, "feel" deeply. But my beliefs and feelings have also changed over time. So, as you say, it is good to be openminded. But not so openminded that things fall out. :D

 

All we can do is be true to ourselves!

 

This is very similar to what Payne says in the introduction of Age of Reason. I sometimes post at Unified Deism and I'm "trekker" over there. ;)

 

I don't believe in hell, hating parents, picking up snakes or drinking poison either but I feel I could under the label of progressive christian if I wanted.

 

At least until you died of poisoning! ;)

 

If I had to use a label I would go with the title of this thread which is "Progressive Universalist" due to the fact that I have always believed that everyone is saved (eventually)and I dont believe in an eternal hell.

 

Okay, I've kinda avoided this, but I'm really curious...what, in your opinion, is everyone saved FROM if you hold to universal salvation? If everyone is (or will be) saved, what are they saved from and what are they saved to?

 

 

--"The head has its reasons while the heart pumps blood" Bill McCracken :lol:

Edited by billmc

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This is very similar to what Payne says in the introduction of Age of Reason. I sometimes post at Unified Deism and I'm "trekker" over there. ;)

 

:) I thought this may have been the case as you use the same picture but I wasn't sure. What do you think of Unified Deism?

 

Okay, I've kinda avoided this, but I'm really curious...what, in your opinion, is everyone saved FROM if you hold to universal salvation? If everyone is (or will be) saved, what are they saved from and what are they saved to?

 

Great question!!! You have really got me thinking here and I think I use the word saved because I am so use to saying saved from hell to fundamentalist Christians. When I say hell in this sense I mean the fire and brimstone eternal punishment hell. Please bear with me as I have alot of thoughts running through my mind so this may not flow as well as I would like but I will just speak from the heart.

 

I believe Jesus is part of the trinity and is God. Through the story of Adam and Eve (not literally) humanity has fallen big time. In some cults humans sacrificed other humans because they thout it appeased God. This is not the life that God had planned out for us. Through Gods love Jesus lived as a human and demonstrated the love, generosity, passion, trust and peace that could be our lives here if we followed the same ethics and morals. Jesus saved us from ourselves essentially.

 

He is now at the right hand side of the father with the human experience. We have the connection through a human that leads into the divine! I also believe that we all have an afterlife and can be in heaven with God. I also believe that eventually everyone ends up there but it has to be in their own time.

 

If Jesus didn't come then yes I believe we would all still have an afterlife an eventually be saved but through Jesus and his human existence we have a connection that we can follow. We can in a sense feel what Jesus went through, we can experience the highs and lows of what life has to offer. A year ago if you had told me that this is the path I would have been on I would have laughed and said how ridiculous that is but here I am.

 

This is hard to write because putting it all out there I feel like I will be judged (not saying I will be here but I think through fundamental Christianity I still have that feeling). I am glad to share all of this but as Bill has said previously I have no intention to try and convert or de-convert anybody. This is merely where my path has taken

me and I am enjoying the ride! :)

--"The head has its reasons while the heart pumps blood" Bill McCracken :lol:

 

LOL very good! I have struggled with trying to balance the head and the heart for many years but in a way I have decided to take my own leap of faith and follow my intuition.

Edited by spiritseeker

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Guest billmc

This is hard to write because putting it all out there I feel like I will be judged (not saying I will be here but I think through fundamental Christianity I still have that feeling).

 

Thanks for sharing from your heart, Spiritseeker. I'll stir the pot a bit a little later, but I wanted to say that I don't think you'll be judged here. This forum is good about letting people be who they are and where they are and "in process," knowing that none of us has arrived. Heck, I think I even mentioned that I voted Democrat in the last election and I didn't get banned here. :P

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Guest billmc

>>What do you think of Unified Deism?

 

I’ve posted more on Positive Deism than I have on UD. UD doesn’t seem to be very active. I wish the WUD had a forum because I would enjoy chatting with others of a more Classical Deism persuasion. As I’m sure you know, PD doesn’t really want anyone to say anything negative about religion, wanting only positive contributions. I find such a stance odd though, because they hold Thomas Paine and AOR so highly, a work that was very anti-religious for its time. I would also enjoy chatting with those of a Christian deist persuasion but the main proponent for that, John Liddell, isn’t even active on the deist boards and doesn’t want to be.

 

>>You have really got me thinking here and I think I use the word saved because I am so use to saying saved from hell to fundamentalist Christians. When I say hell in this sense I mean the fire and brimstone eternal punishment hell. Please bear with me as I have a lot of thoughts running through my mind so this may not flow as well as I would like but I will just speak from the heart.

 

This was my original response also, that universal salvation still holds to the doctrine of hell and that Jesus’ death saves people from it, apart from any faith or repentance on their part.

 

>>I believe Jesus is part of the trinity and is God. Through the story of Adam and Eve (not literally) humanity has fallen big time.

 

This is, IMO, the other part of the paradigm of universal salvation – the notion that humanity was once perfect and then “fell” into imperfection, which lead to death and hell. Jesus’ death is somehow a payment to either God or Satan that allows humanity to be restored to perfection. What I always found odd in this scenario is the notion that mankind isn’t really morally changed, righteousness is only “imputed” i.e. because of Jesus’ death, God credits us with righteousness so that we can be with him again but essentially leaves our character unchanged.

 

This is, again IMO, why universal salvation just didn’t “work” for me. It wasn’t that I was opposed to people getting out of hell or the notion that everyone went to heaven. It was that I couldn’t accept the presuppositions that humanity fell from perfection (as I don’t think we ever were perfect) or that we were ever separated from an omnipresent Spirit or that God has to pretend that we are perfect in order to have a relationship with him.

>>Through God’s love Jesus lived as a human and demonstrated the love, generosity, passion, trust and peace that could be our lives here if we followed the same ethics and morals. Jesus saved us from ourselves essentially.

 

This is an interesting and progressive way to put it, very similar to my own view. In my Big Story, I believe in universal “maturity” as opposed to universal salvation. As you have said, the word salvation carries a lot of baggage with it, especially that of being delivered from hell and of salvation being all about what God does for us without any participation on our part. For me, it is the maturity of humanity, not its salvation, that is desired and necessary. In my Big Story, Adam and Eve are metaphors for, not perfection, but innocence. They didn’t know right from wrong. So they weren’t “perfect.” They were simply naïve, with no internal compass to tell them right from wrong or love from hate. So when they disobey God, they are thinking only of their own wants and desires (the root of sin) and then are forced to make the first steps as truly sentient beings in realizing that there are real-world consequences to thinking only of self to the exclusion of others. They are forced to learn to live in community, first with family and then with tribe, etc. And my Big Story continues along that journey of people realizing (finally) that God isn’t interested in human blood sacrifices, but in how we live with one another – doing justice, loving mercy, showing compassion. These are the marks of a mature humanity, IMO.

In my Big Story, Jesus’ death isn’t a sacrifice to appease God’s wrath. If it was, as the fundies insist, then such an interpretation shifts theology and human progress all the way back to primitive superstition. In my view, Jesus’ death is the end of a life lived fully for the sake of others – for God and for those whom God loves. Jesus “saves” us from ourselves, not by being a substitute in our place to bear our sins, but by showing us the “Way” of leading a life and dying a death that is rooted in compassion for others. So it is not that Jesus saves us by providing some kind of “cloak of righteousness” that we can wear over our dirty hearts in order to get us into heaven. Rather, Jesus shows us what it means to be truly Human, to be what we were “designed” to be – creatures who live in compassionate community with each other and our world. So, to me, it is not about getting everyone to heaven, but about encouraging others to do God’s will (which is to be compassionate) so that “heaven” comes to earth.

 

Like you, if you had told me this would be my Big Story 5 years ago, I would have laughed and wanted to see chapter and verse. But I’ve been through a lot since then, some of it painful. And I reserve the right to revise my Big Story as my journey continues. :) So I’m not claiming that my Big Story is right, simply that it makes more sense to me than other Big Stories that others have tried to foist upon me. It “works” in my heart for now (yes, I believe in the heart also), even though it probably wouldn’t work in the hearts of others. That is one of the perks of this community, you will find a lot of Big Stories here. But, hopefully, not big egos. :)

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Thanks for sharing that with me Bill! It is great to talk to someone else who understands that we are all on different journeys and that we all take in things differently.

 

I just long for a place to call my spiritual home and unfortunately there isnt much out there for Universalism in that regard. It is lonely but I have to be true to myself and continue on my individual path to truth regardless of how lonely it is.

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I just long for a place to call my spiritual home and unfortunately there isnt much out there for Universalism in that regard. It is lonely but I have to be true to myself and continue on my individual path to truth regardless of how lonely it is.

 

Hello Spiritseeker!

Nice to see another Aussie here :D . I grew up in Australia and will be returning next year, definitely looking forward to that! Enjoy the sun for me while I sit out this Winter!

And may I say that I am totally down your alley when it comes to Universalism, so you are not alone. I've also felt lonely in my views (which are also ever changing) which brought me here.

I resonate with your desire to interact with others of similar, if not completely the same, views.

For me it was also my heart/spirit/intuition that refused to let me discard Jesus. My theology regarding Him and the nature of atonement is all up in the air, but there is something about Jesus that I can't shake, some very deep part of me seems to love Him...and that is more valuable to me than all discussion and community combined. So if I have to be lonely in that, then so be it.

But I am not alone in my quest, at least not online. How much fun would it be to sit down and discuss these things over a glass of wine and platter of good cheese, face to face!

But, for now this will have to do ;)!

When reading this conversation thread, there are a few thoughts that I have that represent what I think I believe right now...these will probably change/expand etc as life progresses...

 

First, on the nature and heart of God. I believe that if Jesus was the exact representation of God, then I have reason to believe that God was never against us, but always for us.

If Jesus did not shy away from our mess, but met us there, then why wouldn't God have the same heart towards our brokenness? Darkness is as light to Him ("It" for the progressers amongst us :P still getting used to that!). So in that line of thought, my theology is starting to shift away from an angry God that Jesus had to save us from (as though God were schizophrenic), to a mercyful God who's heart broke when we broke and became flesh to show us that God is with us in our pain and does not condemn us for it, quite the opposite...Jesus went all the way, to the grave and beyond, the deepest misery, reached to the darkest parts of the universe to show us that nothing can stop Him/Her from pursuing us and bringing us home, where we belong.

So in so many words I agree with you that Jesus came to save us from ourselves and our brokenness. He did not come to judge the world, but to save it from its misery (John 3:17 paraphrased)

Brad Jersak has a nice way of putting it on the following video:

So whatever the theology around Jesus is, for me it has to be something along those lines...bet that in reality God will top even that!?

 

The other thought I had was regarding hell. What is hell exactly? Our broken state? Our misery? Our pain? And all the consequences thereof?

Then yes, I believe in hell and I see it all around me and in my own life...and Jesus met me there and has the keys (what do you think He intends to do with those? Lock us up for failing miserably or set us free in grace and forgiveness?)

And how about in the after-life? If the above God is real and revealed in Christ, then for me everything He/She does needs to fit within a loving/restorative/healing paradigm...so also hell... whatever that may be.

Is truth painful? I would say in some cases yes. And yet it promises to set us free.

So what about hell? What if Jesus' gehenna was something along these lines?:

 

What if hell is the painful encounter with Truth, that in metaphorical terms burns away all of the ignorance that has been shielding us from experiencing the pain of reality?

What if all of this happened within an unconditional, non-judgemental Presence ("God is a consuming fire")?

What if hell is the equivalent to experiencing the pain we have inflicted on others?

For example...We are reminded of each moment and the history leading up to it (from our own and the other person's point of view) and then not only feel our own pain of the moment, but also the pain of the other person involved.

Wouldn't that instantaneously cure us of all malice and anger and bitterness and immediately foster understanding and empathy and forgiveness?

And as such we will have experienced a fair measure of inevitable pain (truth hurts) while at the same time being reconciled to our enemy within a moment of time.

What if that's all hell is? Then I'd still rather avoid it...follow Christ into the ministry of reconciliation here and now, love others as I love myself now, empathise now, give people the benefit of the doubt now while I only see dimly...and thereby avoid that kind of Gehenna in the first place, not just for myself, but for the other person also.

 

I could live with that kind of hell and it would fit comfortably with a loving God as well as with a just God, would it not?

 

I like Gerry Beauchemin's thought: "Here is a God who does not destroy His enemies by annihilating or eternally tormenting them. He destroys them by making them His friends!" Gerry Beauchemin in Hope beyond Hell. (Great book by the way!)

I hope I haven't rambled too much...seeing I have no-one to talk to about these issues I feel like I'm bursting at the seams :wacko::D

 

What are your thoughts when you read the above?

Edited by Deborah

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