Universal Reconciliation

Universal Reconciliation (Wiki)

Universal Reconciliation is intimately related with the problem of Hell. For those who believe in Universal Reconciliation, some posit that hell is an allegory in daily life and all souls will return to God who created them, some posit that souls will endure a limited period of punishment before inheriting eternal life (similar to the state of purgatory). There are various beliefs and views concerning the process or state of salvation, but all conclude ultimately in the reconciliation and salvation of all mankind.

A. God has proclaimed the good news that he loves the world and is reconciling all things to himself through Christ (John 3:16, Colossians 1:20)

B. Those who believe this Gospel are reconciled to God and form the Church, the Body of Christ (John 3:16, Ephesians 1)

C. The rest of humanity will be purified through some form of remedial correction. Everyone will eventually acknowledge Christ as Lord (Philippians 2:9-11).

“I’d like to know your thoughts on universal salvation.” (Jim Jordan)

I think this is a good question to look into and see what it is that we think about reconciliation with God – for all people on the planet. I know I have mixed feelings and thoughts on the issue – but I would like to ask – what do you believe about ‘that day’? Are all people going to be saved or is there something more to this argument than everyone being saved?

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16 thoughts on “Universal Reconciliation

  1. This is what I posted in response to Jim:

    “I don’t think a majority of people will end up in a place of eternal torment, and it comes down to the aspect of reason. The idea of someone rationally choosing Hell ranks right up there with the idea of something rationally choosing suicide. When someone does the latter, we say that they were depressed, or not thinking clearly. Or in a lot of pain, either physical or mental. In most cases, if we see someone committing suicide, we do not respect their choice.

    Hell must be infinitely worse, if it means being cut off from love, light, compassion, and every good thing there ever was. How can someone honestly choose that, and be in their right mind?”

    To expand upon that — I think one of the biggest problems with UR is the idea that even the most monstrous people can “get into heaven” without consequences. Say we have a person who raped and murdered a child. He spends his whole life not regretting it. He dies. All of us would expect some form of justice, some consequence to occur, in payment for the little girl.

    The thing is, most UR I know of would say that there will be some sort of justice delivered against the rapist. It simply wouldn’t be permanent. It would be more of a corrective kind.

    The interesting thing to explore in this, and it goes somewhat off-topic, is say that the rapist repents of his actions, confesses Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and spends the rest of his life as a geniune Christian. Jesus in turn paid his debt. However, is that still just to the victim? Has the victim received justice? Jesus did absolutely nothing to her, and yet Jesus was punished for the crime?

    The other response I see to UR is that some Christians see it as unfair. They do the “work” of trusting in Jesus, trying to live a life pleasing to God, and everyone gets in anyway? Some of them ask “What was the point in faith, then?”

    To me, that response completely misses the whole point of why one has faith or even gets involved with God. It’s not supposed to be “fire insurance.” It’s suppose to be about leaving the old man, and putting on the new. It’s about growing in God, working to see God’s kingdom here, and just becoming the person you were intended to be — the person God originally created.

  2. And that’s an excellent response, OSS. Indeed we are right to expect some sort of justice, or God would not be just. But that shouldn’t be of great concern to us individually (we trust God to handle justice). Our focus should be, as you pointed out in your conclusion, a one-on-one deal.

  3. What I don’t like about UR is it assumes Christianity is the right way and all others are wrong. Jesus means nothing to me, Jesus did nothing for me, and in the end Jesus isn’t going to get me anything. I already have a relationship with God, I didn’t need Jesus in order to have that, nor will I ever, nor will any other Jews.

  4. “The idea of someone rationally choosing Hell ranks right up there with the idea of something rationally choosing suicide” (OSS)

    I agree – I can’t see the majority of people choosing hell – as you mention – quite unrationale on their behalf. However, I would contend hell (if it exists or whatever it exists as) is reserved for those practicing immorality (being immoral in action) – and not so much a choice about choosing ‘hell’ but inflicting ‘hell’ on others.

    “I think one of the biggest problems with UR is the idea that even the most monstrous people can “get into heaven” without consequences” (OSS)

    I agree. Problem scenario number 1 – suppose many Nazi’s (the worst offenders of the lot from that crew) show up on ‘that day’ to be judged of God and they receive a ‘pass’ of sorts for their heinous actions (some punishment is dolled out). What are the Jewish people that were killed as part of the Holocaust to think – ‘I have to live with my murderers/torturers’?

    I would counter – maybe heaven allows for more realization of the offenders to acknowledge their actions in front of God and the offendee’s – so the assaulted side is totally vindicated before all to see – and the other is shamed for the wicked works.

    “They do the “work” of trusting in Jesus, trying to live a life pleasing to God, and everyone gets in anyway? Some of them ask “What was the point in faith, then?”” (OSS)

    See that’s where myself and UR veer into differing strategies when approaching this faith – the idea of belief and what it means. Is this believing the right things about God or believing the right values as taught by God (ie: to do them)?

    I think Jesus is fairly straight-forward in the gospels about your actions being tied to your belief system – and thus defining your faith. You can’t just do anything here and now and have some hope in the there and then to pay off for you anyways – that makes life here as something not as important as it should be (in perspective of reality) – and in essence we ignore the real tough problems for the cop-out position of ‘let God take care of it’?

    Also I don’t see UR as very representative of Jesus’ statements but more of Paul’s statements…so some of this is the same argument we use when talking about the value of the Torah/Prophets (and what do they say on an after-life?). Paul is also not so clear heaven will be filled with the immoral – he seems to also think otherwise in most of his letters (and even gives lists of those not getting in).

    Also UR is based on taking a few scriptural ideas and running them to the max to make Paul or the gospels say something more than was written. They play with word ‘all or everyone’ as if they were authoritative on some level. But they are generalizations, as is common in the scriptures, like when the gospels use a name (ex: Pharisee’s, John uses ‘Jews’ a lot, Romans, etc) of someone but do not mean the whole group – usually is an idetifier of someone specific from that group (or a few people). This their interpretations are based on a lot of ‘word-play’.

    “It’s about growing in God, working to see God’s kingdom here, and just becoming the person you were intended to be — the person God originally created.” (OSS)

    I agree. The onus is the ‘here and now’ and that’s where the level of importance needs to be geared towards – and not truly about the ‘there and then’. If this is all people look at – ‘the there and then’ – then this theory holds some weight – but if they value there ‘here and now’ then this theory is missing some of that (we seem to have our actions taken care of)…again – too much grace is given to a sacrifice the OT explains is limited in it’s atonement qualities.

  5. “But that shouldn’t be of great concern to us individually (we trust God to handle justice)” (Jim)

    I slightly question this – since Tanakh scenarios of God commands/promises are usually accompanied by action (even in Judges).

    I’ll give a modern day example – from a friend of mine I support. My friend Kevin Annett is a former United minister (was kicked out of his faith) who now supports the fight for uncovering the approximate missing 50,000 First Nations children – who died in Residential Schools (1900’s – 1969) and were never accounted for. He is waging a boycott and active protests against 3 major denominations in Canada (United, Catholic, and Anglican) for their willful actions in both this genocide and cover up.

    Now, in the end, these culprits will be handled by the greatest justice of God – but what about justice in the ‘here and now’? Do we just not hold people accountable – even institutions? Rightful burial is something these churches know full well is a right they expect for their families – so why shouldn’t we ask for the same? It’s not a popular stand in Christendom (accountability and justice) – but someone’s gotta do it.

    I could leave that in God’s hands – and for the main part I do. However, Kevin and others are out there challenging the regimes of these churches in Indian country and even asking they leave ASAP – since their actions (now fully known) cannot be atoned for and they do not seek this as of now (they actually have the audacity to deny it all). I say ‘good riddance’ also – and support the things they are trying to achieve – which is ‘just’ and ‘right’ – for the sake of the oppressed.

    So justice sometimes has to be a ‘here and now’ thing – or what use is faith if it only counts for the next life?

  6. “What I don’t like about UR is it assumes Christianity is the right way and all others are wrong.” (Yael)

    I would say that is Christianity (in general)…exclusivity seems to be our cornerstone. Can’t say I am a fan of exclusivity. I lean towards the idea God will judge according to someone’s deeds – not according to someone’s statement of faith or what not. I think someone can believe all kinds of things about God (being unsure of the factuality of their beliefs) and still have actions that are consistent with the teachings of God (which to me is more important – and maybe I am wrong?).

  7. Society,
    The exclusivity is a problem, on many fronts and in many groups. I guess it’s best to just keep a bit of a sense of humor about it all. In the end what anyone thinks doesn’t matter in the least. We each know the life we are called to live and if we go live it, in spite of what obstacles people put in our way, then we have fulfilled our mission in life.

    I actually revived my Pharisees Rock blog today with a name change and change of focus. I named it HaMakom: The Place, which is another name for God. I want to write about the gathering in of Jews from the far flung corners of the earth and just revel in being Jewish with them together in The Place. I’ll leave my old posts because they’re there but I plan to celebrate being Jewish for awhile, my own exclusivity I suppose!

    I’ll still keep chatting here with you, but other than that I’m returning to the Jewish world for awhile. It’s been fun, it’s been a learning experience, but it’s almost Pesach. Time to celebrate, and live, free. You know what I mean?

  8. I can sympathize Yael – sometimes you just need the encouragment of the faith you are a part of and not be too burdened with all these Christian issues (which are really not for you to worry about in the least). I will continue reading and giving input when and however I can.

  9. Society—Now, in the end, these culprits will be handled by the greatest justice of God – but what about justice in the ‘here and now’?

    “But that shouldn’t be of great concern to us individually (we trust God to handle justice)” (Jim)

    Remember that OSS was talking about salvation, not justice in the here and now. Kevin Annett’s fight is a right and noble one. He deserves our support. Is there any new news about that btw?

  10. “Remember that OSS was talking about salvation, not justice in the here and now” (Jim)

    Noted.

    “Kevin Annett’s fight is a right and noble one. He deserves our support. Is there any new news about that btw?” (Jim)

    I was actually going to post something on this the other day but I backed out. Basically Kevin and his crew have done a few protests outide of chuches – and inside them – handing them notices of eviction (mainly RC churches) – and he has supplied video on it.

    I am on facebook and run a group called – Justice for Aboriginal Communiites – that’s where the majority of the updates on this stuff is located (the videos and letters). Also I think you can check hiddenfromhistory – search it in google – this is his site.

  11. **Remember that OSS was talking about salvation, not justice in the here and now**

    Who’s to say the two can’t mean the same thing? 🙂 I believe part of the root word of salvation is “salve,” which corresponds to healing. Justice can be part of healing, in the sense of helping the helpless. Or just getting out of an unjust situation. Oftentimes in the Tanakh, the people cry out for salvation in the here-and-now, and sometimes in the form of justice.

    **Also UR is based on taking a few scriptural ideas and running them to the max to make Paul or the gospels say something more than was written. **

    Actually, I can find some UR ideas in the Gospels, as well. One of which is the idea of the Shepherd going to find the lost sheep, or the woman who sweeps until she finds the missing coin. Or the idea of God loving those who both love Him and don’t love Him, and turning the other cheek.

    I do know which aspects of Paul’s letters you are referring to. A big one is “As all die in Adam, so shall all be made alive in Christ.” I don’t see that one as a generalization, but actually focusing on the entire group, because we all die. And everyone is ‘in’ Adam until salvation (depending on how one reads the Bible), so I see it as referring to everyone. Hence, everyone coming alive in Christ. It would depend on what ‘life’ Paul is referring to there, though. Just a resurrection, or the eternal life?

    What I don’t find in the BIble is that you can be an awful person, and still not suffer consequences. Salvation/love/God/justice — take your pick, but all place demands on us. We have to be willing to work for it — “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who worketh in you …”

    You have to be willing to cast off all the negatives, to grow into a better person. You can’t just coast along, or expend no effort. Repentence literally means “to go beyond the mind that you have.”

    The other thing to consider about hell is what it says about how infinite God’s love is. If you hold to the idea that Jesus took our punishment, then I would see God’s justice as infinite. Either the unsaved are punished in hell, or Jesus was punished on behalf of the saved. Either way, God’s justice is satisifed, and eternal.

    However, what about God’s love? The saved would experience it, but what about the unsaved? Their chance at that love ends at the moment of death. They have to be punished, and are cut off from God’s love. On the other hand, neither the saved/unsaved are cut off from God’s justice.

  12. While I don’t believe in universal reconciliation, I do believe that the kingdom will come in its fullness, resulting in a world that is totally Christian when Christ returns. A few will be false believers, but the earth and the nations will be reconciled to Christ.

  13. “One of which is the idea of the Shepherd going to find the lost sheep, or the woman who sweeps until she finds the missing coin. Or the idea of God loving those who both love Him and don’t love Him, and turning the other cheek” (OSS)

    Now as great as those parables and teachings are – I think we have to read UR back into them to get that theology. That being said, my admiration for the UR theology starts with the focus on these teachings – namely the ideas of grace, mercy, and love and how strongly they are taught in that theology (it’s absolutely admirable).

    “And everyone is ‘in’ Adam until salvation (depending on how one reads the Bible), so I see it as referring to everyone. Hence, everyone coming alive in Christ.” (OSS)

    I actually agree – but I would connotate that we gave access to God via the Christ (I speak of the Gentiles obviously) – and access to something we were foreigners to before (which a lot of us have taken Paul up on – this idea). I am not sure it means all are ‘saved’ now – that’s a stretch (even for Paul) – since Paul does lay out lists of who is and isn’t getting into heaven – which is a needless process to do if all are saved.

    “We have to be willing to work for it — “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who worketh in you …”” (OSS)

    I agree – there is no easy road here (in a sense) – we have to work towards developing the values we desire from the teachings of God (ie: mercy). I think God is developing this with us – but we are responsible for our part in it also.

    “They have to be punished, and are cut off from God’s love. On the other hand, neither the saved/unsaved are cut off from God’s justice.” (OSS)

    This is a good point to be honest. Cause then God is justice – which is what John should of said (lol).

    I think we also have to make room for human choice and freedoms to deny the values of God – and trample humanity in their midst (which some do). For me, immorality is the dividing line between God and humanity – and I think it’s in the immoral actions we see the development of evil on this planet in the first place. I think it is a steady wondering act about God’s love and justice and when each should be used – to be honest – I have no clue what to say about God’s justice – I guess I focus more on the loving aspect.

  14. I get told that my view is too complicated so I’ll spare you. However, I do believe that in the dispensation of the fullness of time ALL of God’s creation will be returned to Him free from the curse of sin and death. God’s desire is that none should perish and I believe that God is very capable of fulfilling His own desires.

    I believe in Universal Reconciliation and Universal Redemption and that the church plays a very important part in bringing this to a conclusion but not all people are called to be Christians. Our Salvation means much more than our own personal destiny.

    Pam

  15. I believe part of the root word of salvation is “salve,” which corresponds to healing. Justice can be part of healing, in the sense of helping the helpless. Or just getting out of an unjust situation. Oftentimes in the Tanakh, the people cry out for salvation in the here-and-now, and sometimes in the form of justice. (OSS)

    Indeed. Plus, the word “sozo” (the Greek word for “saved”) also means “healed”, “delivered”, “rescued from harm”.

    I can find some UR ideas in the Gospels, as well. One of which is the idea of the Shepherd going to find the lost sheep, or the woman who sweeps until she finds the missing coin. Or the idea of God loving those who both love Him and don’t love Him, and turning the other cheek.

    Absolutely. Not to mention there are verses in the OT that support Universal Reconciliation/Restoration as well (in Ecclesiastes, it says “God has made EVERYTHING beautiful in its time”; I’d think that would include humanity…Genesis says that through Abraham, ALL “the kindreds of the earth will be blessed”). Also, in Revelation, Christ says that “I have made ALL THINGS new”.

    Personally, I believe that while all have been redeemed (this happened at the cross), not all are saved right now (delivered or healed from their sin), but all WILL BE saved, as it is God’s will, and I believe God ALWAYS accomplishes his will. (Yep, I believe in UR.)

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