Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Debating Christian universalism

One subject I do an inordinate amount of thinking about is the question of Christian universalism, whether all will be saved. And that someone recently kindly purchased Talbott's, The Inescabable Love of God for me has just added fuel to my thoughts (it is a great read). However, recently my inner debate has swung against some important universalist exegetical arguments (based on Paul letters) and I was thinking of sharing some of my thoughts here.

So my question: Are there any universalists out there (or at least any aware of the issues involved and sympathetic towards universalism) who happen to read my blog and would fancy offering feedback if I write a few posts?

“Universalims? You’d be a fool to deny it, but an idiot to preach it” (Luther)

(My rather clever friend, David, told me this comes – or something like it – from Luther. Does anyone know that for sure?: His German original: ‘Ein Narr es zu leugnen, ein Esel es zu predigen!’)



At 6/28/2007 12:29 AM, Anonymous Doug Chaplin said...

Chris, I'm not entirely sure I'm a universalist, but I'd like to be! My own view is that I believe it to be profoundly Christian to hope everyone will be saved, but that I must equally deal with the dangerous possibility that everyone might not be. If this qualifies me to be an interblogucator with you, I'm more than willing to take up the challenge.

At 6/28/2007 12:55 AM, Anonymous Jason Goroncy said...

Post away Chris. The gloves are off for this one. :-)

At 6/28/2007 1:09 AM, Anonymous dan said...

Well, I'm more in von Balthasar's camp than Moltmann's (although it was reading Moltmann that opened me up to hearing from von Balthasar!), so I'd be willing to contribute to the dialogue as one who "dares to hope."

At 6/28/2007 2:26 AM, Anonymous Bob MacDonald said...

Hmmm. there is one fire as far as I am concerned - it spells love and it spells judgment. I'm reading... I won't go without realization of the eschaton and I expect to be judged by those I have offended (after of course they realize the error of their ways i.e. they will have known the XSD of the Most High - both reproof and mercy)

At 6/28/2007 2:36 AM, Anonymous Nick Meyer said...

Chris, I'd be interested in reading such a series, although I can't garauntee any feedback. I've been thinking of posting on this myself. I consider myself to be a non-cognitive based inclusivist, that is, I believe people can be in genuine/saving relationship with God regardless of the state of their knowledge about the divine.

At 6/28/2007 2:44 AM, Anonymous Dustin said...

This is a question that is really puling at me of late. I've only just begun to explore it in depth, but I think some comments stemming more from the Biblical Studies side (rather than the Theological side) might prove extremely informative and possibly very fresh. So I say go for it!

At 6/28/2007 2:55 AM, Anonymous T.B. Vick said...

Yeah, I have mulled these sames ideas over and over in my mind, talked with others about them, and ruffled a few feathers with certain questions. So post your thoughts, I for one would be interested to read them.

At 6/28/2007 3:27 AM, Anonymous Jim said...

You guys ever heard of Origen? His doctrine of 'recapitulation'? All the trouble he got into for it?

It seems that to be a universalist one must also mutilate oneself. It's part of the deal I suppose.

As to the supposed Luther quote... one can hardly imagine it coming from him considering his view of Origen! Perhaps he wrote it in mocking tone against some adversary though. I'll keep looking.

At 6/28/2007 3:35 AM, Anonymous Jim said...

Here- for example- an excerpt from Luther's book on Vows-

"Just as piously they [the papists] assert that there is no hell, that the Scriptures only threaten as much on the ground that human reason recoils at the idea of a man tormented throughout eternity. They say Origen made the same mistake. What schools! What faculties! What theologians! What bilge! What newfangled rubbish! So much for your understanding of the words of God, namely, captivity to the obedience of Christ."

(Emphasis mine)

At 6/28/2007 5:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A true universalist would believe that mankind will be saved no matter what or who you believe in. As a believer in Jesus, Son of God, Son of man, Saviour of all mankind, I believe all will be saved only through Jesus. Which means, eventually (in their turn)...Every knee will bow, tongue will confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Though I have no clue what you "theologians" rant about most of the time, I read your blog as well as other "theologians"...and I do put the quotations around that word on purpose!

I would love to see you write about this and probably would comment, although, I can only use the Scriptures that I know, and comment by the leading of the Spirit. If that's okay. Mark 9:35

At 6/28/2007 11:43 AM, Anonymous Jason Goroncy said...

If this series continues, there should be one rule: no posting of anonymous comments! There's way too many closet universalist's around (of both the Christocentric-universalism and the Pluralistic-universalism brand) and it's about time they came out!

At 6/28/2007 2:42 PM, Anonymous Jim said...

Jason's right. Besides, anonymity is cowardice.

At 6/28/2007 4:10 PM, Anonymous J. B. Hood said...

Just a warning on Luther--there are apparently loads of supposed Luther quotes that are falsely attributed. Mark Allan Powell tipped me off to this one; his church history colleague at Trinity Lutheran Seminary collects "false Luther quotes" and passed a number of them on to me, quotes she claims to have never found, despite reading LW in Latin, German, English.

At 6/28/2007 4:17 PM, Anonymous J. B. Hood said...

A few examples of non-Lutherisms:

Luther never said that if he knew the Lord would return tomorrow he would "plant a tree." He never asked, "Why should the devil have all the good music?" He never used the phrase "priesthood of all believers."

At 6/28/2007 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been out of the closet for a long time, and considering my "exile" from "those who believe" I don't consider myself a coward. Who should care who I am anyway? Should I write something that gives insight or write something that is useless in your eyes, would it matter to know me or know my name? Or should I create a picture that is fuzzy so that when I post, you can see who I am not?

Should Chris decide not to allow anonymous posts, that would be fine. I hope he doesn't, because there really are people out here who could help in the discussion, yet, have no need to be known.

By the way, my name is Mark. Mark 9:35

At 6/28/2007 8:21 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thank you all for your comments. JB, your warning is most useful. Thanks.

I'll go ahead with these posts, then. I'll try to get round to writing them soon.

At 6/28/2007 8:21 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Anon (you are free to remain anon if you wish - that is my blog policy),
"A true universalist would believe that mankind will be saved no matter what or who you believe in."

I would suggest Trevor Hart's work for important distinctions as to types of universalism. The only universalims that could ever claim to be biblically based would argue that it does matter who you believe in. That in the end, all will be 'in Christ'.

"As a believer in Jesus, Son of God, Son of man, Saviour of all mankind, I believe all will be saved only through Jesus."

I know universalists who will Amen that.

"I would love to see you write about this and probably would comment"


"although, I can only use the Scriptures that I know, and comment by the leading of the Spirit. If that's okay"

That is certainly OK! And those of us who are "theologians" would also hope to be lead by the Spirit.

At 6/28/2007 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim West opines: "anonymity is cowardice."

No it's not.

At 6/29/2007 1:13 AM, Anonymous Jason Goroncy said...

Anonymous. I was not suggesting that you are a coward nor that good things aren't worth reading whatever the source - named or otherwise. I was suggesting, however, that one's name matters, not because it's then easier to tag people but precisely because we are people - named, addressed by name, known by name, called by name. There's so much anonymity already on the web. In this context where discussion is what it's all about, I consider the introduction of names to be an important part of the chat. If we were to meet face to face, I would consider it rude if I failed to ask your name, or if you failed to tell me. I don't see why such courtesy ought not extend to a biblio-blog or theooblog. Take it as a compliment. There may be other blogs where anonymity might be a preferred thing. Anyway, we are called to be like God who both has and reveals his name: 'God has a name. The misery on this earth is nameless, the evil among men is nameless, for the powers of darkness love to be without a name. Nameless, anonymous letters, letters without signatures are usually vulgar. But God is no writer of anonymous letters; God puts His name to everything that He does, effects, and says; God has no need to fear the light of day. The Devil loves anonymity, but God has a name. He did not get this name by chance; in fact He did not receive it at all: He gave it to Himself because He wants to have a name. For him, name does not mean noise and smoke that cloud the splendour of Heaven; His name is His sign, the sign that shows that He is the true God; His name is His signature, so to speak, His monogram, His seal, His stamp (His trademark, if you will!) – whatever bears His stamp is God’s. God would certainly have had the power to be nameless; but because He loves clarity and hates obscurity He preferred not to be a nameless God'. See

At 6/29/2007 4:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's why I told you my name was Mark. I will sign as Mark...because that is my name. Now...for the anon that replied to Jim West, that was not me. I will always use my name.

Chris, thank you for allowing us to read your blog and to comment. As a believer who believes in Jesus, the Saviour of ALL mankind, I look forward to reading what you and other s will write and discuss.


At 6/29/2007 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my favorite quote from Luther.

"If ever there was a horse's ass, I am he. My mouth is full of dung and my head is full of weeds."
- Martin Luther

Spoken to the writer in a night vision. After he had read another one of Luther's idiotic comments.

Anonymous John :-)

At 3/21/2008 6:46 AM, Anonymous Debbie said...

Hello! I am a Christian Universalist, and I came to that point of view by reading William Barclay. I'd like to provide a link, but maybe another time, I am doing a heap of stuff and have heaps of tabs open.)

I am posting this on Good Friday, which seems most appropriate.

Debbie K


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