Universalism: A Summary Defense

Early in the history of this blog I posted my reasons for subscribing to universalism. Lately I've wanted to pull those arguments into a summary post. Here, then, are the reasons I believe in universal reconciliation, the eventual redemption of all of humanity.

1. Talbott's Propositions (along with a discussion of moral luck and human volition)
The philosopher Thomas Talbott has us consider the following three propositions:

  1. God’s redemptive love extends to all human sinners equally in the sense that he sincerely wills or desires the redemption of each one of them.
  2. Because no one can finally defeat God’s redemptive love or resist it forever, God will triumph in the end and successfully accomplish the redemption of everyone whose redemption he sincerely wills or desires.
  3. Some human sinners will never be redeemed but will instead be separated from God forever.
All three propositions have ample biblical support. But, as Talbott points out, you cannot, logically, endorse all three. Talbott goes on to show how the various soteriological systems adopt two of the propositions and reject/marginalize the third. Summarizing how this happens:
  1. Calvinism/Augustinianism: Adopt #2 and #3. God will accomplish his plans and some will be separated from God forever. This implies a rejection of #1, that God wills to save all humanity. This conclusion is captured in the doctrine of election and double predestination (i.e., God predestines some to be saved and some to be lost).
  2. Arminianism: Adopt #1 and #3. God loves all people and some people will be separated from God forever. This implies that God's desires--for example, to save everyone--can be thwarted and unfulfilled. This is usually explained by an appeal to human choice. Due to free will people can resist/reject God. Thus, where a Calvinist puts the "blame" on God for someone going to hell (election) Arminians place the blame on people (free will).
  3. Universalism: Adopt #1 and #2. God loves all people and will accomplish his purposes. This implies a rejection of #3. The implication is that God will continue his salvific work in some postmortem fashion. Note that this postmortem salvific work can, and often does, involve a strong vision of hell and can be Christocentric.
I reject Calvinism because I find the doctrine of election to be loathsome. I don't find God worthy of worship, praise or service if he created people with the intention of torturing most of them forever. True, such actions would demonstrate his sovereignty and "justice" but it is hard to see those actions as loving and praise-worthy. Also, I don't see how Calvinism allows for a dynamic and interactive relationship between God and humanity. We end up being mere puppets and playthings.

To be fair, the reason Calvinism and Reformed theology leaves me cold is largely biographical. I grew up in an Arminian tradition. Since college, however, I've grown disillusioned with free will soteriological and theodicy systems. For three interrelated reasons:
  1. Moral Luck: We begin life in very different places, morally and religiously. Some people get a head start on Christianity. Others are raised in different religious traditions. Further, our life journeys can be highly variable, religiously and morally. A child might be abused by a church leader. A missionary might never show up at your village.
  2. The Timing of Death is Unpredictable: The death event is arbitrary in its timing. Some people live to a ripe old age and get to repent of past sins or find the time to explore Christianity (if they were born into another religion). Other people die young and never get the chance, through no fault of their own, to repent or explore Christianity.
  3. Free Will is a Non-Starter: As a psychologist I've come to believe that human volition (will) is very circumscribed and anemic in its powers. Humans have the capacity for choice, and perhaps freedom within a certain range, but at the end of the day human choice is finite and limited. It can only do so much.
Given that our moral and religious journeys are qualitatively different (e.g., moral luck: some people get head starts), that death is random (which can arbitrarily lengthen or shorten your religious and moral journey) and a realistic view of human volitional powers (there is no radical form of free will) it was difficult for me to maintain the Arminian stance of my religious heritage.

So, having rejected both Reformed and Arminian thinking I've settled on universalism as the soteriological and eschatological system that best describes my views on salvation and redemption.

2. A Morally Coherent View of Justice
Most defenders of a classical view of hell eventually make appeals to God's justice. However, for justice to be justice it has to meet a few, almost axiomatic, standards. Most importantly, all notions of justice involve proportionality. As they say, the punishment must fit the crime. Thus, a punishment of infinite duration and unspeakable torment fails to meet any moral standard of justice. More, if we want to link justice to love then there needs to be a rehabilitative facet to the punishment. Not all justice is rehabilitative. Capital punishment isn't. But a loving justice will try to accomplish three things:
  1. Vengeance for Victims (Justice)
  2. Rehabilitation of the Perpetrators (Grace)
  3. The Reconciliation of Perpetrators and Victims (Forgiveness and Repentance)
Of the major soteriological systems only universalism gets us all three of these things.

3. Missional Concerns Over the Soteriological/Eschatological Disjoint
Many people in the church see salvation as a binary, you are either saved or lost. Christians then fetishize this status, obsessing over who, at Judgment Day, will be saved or lost. This causes the Christian community to become otherworldly in its focus, ignoring the cosmic (e.g., social, political, ecological) and developmental (i.e., sanctification) aspects of salvation. This becomes a missional problem in the church, where people just look to "get saved," eschatologically speaking. But it is hard to fault people for this fetish if they are seeing things correctly, that there will be a non-reversible binary judgement at the end of all things. In short, as much as missional church leaders want to instill the notion that salvation is this-worldly as well as other-worldly they will fail, for clear psychological reasons, unless they undermine the classic doctrine of hell. Leave the classical teaching of hell intact (overtly or by trying to ignore it) and you'll compromise your missional effort. Like it or not, hell and mission are intimately related. Worries over hell (which can't be helped if you leave the doctrine intact) will import otherworldliness into the mission of the church.

4. Regulating Passages
The biggest objection to universalism involves the passages regarding hell in the bible. However, there is no doctrinal teaching that doesn't have contradictory tensions within the biblical witness. Witness the hermeneutical and exegetical diversity within the Christian tradition. In short, universalists are not in any unique position. This is the way it is with just about any doctrine.

The issue, then, ultimately boils down to which biblical texts will regulate doctrinal choices. For example, which of the two passages regulates your doctrine regarding female leadership in the church?
  1. "I do not permit a woman to teach, nor have authority over a man." (1 Timothy 2.12)
  2. "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3.28)
If you are a Complementarian Passage #1 regulates your understanding of Passage #2. If you are an Egalitarian Passage #2 regulates how you understand Passage #1. And there is no way to resolve any debate between the two camps as these are meta-biblical choices.

A similar thing holds for the soteriological debates. Universalists have regulating passages that frame how they understand the texts about hell. Here are four regulating texts for universalists:
  1. "God is love." (1 John 4.8)
  2. "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." (Colossians 1.19-20)
  3. "When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all." (1 Corinthians 15.28)
  4. "For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all." (Romans 11.32)
As with the gender texts one has to choose regulating texts about hell. And these are meta-biblical choices. People who believe in a classical vision of hell will read the four passages above through that lens. Universalists, by contrast, will read the texts on hell through the lens of these four passages. That is, they will teach that hell must:
  1. Be a manifestation that "God is love."
  2. Be a means to "reconcile all things" to God
  3. Allow God to be "all in all"
  4. Provide a way for God to "have mercy upon all"
5. Hope
I think it was Karl Barth who said that he couldn't be sure if universalism was true but that it was every Christian's obligation to hope so.

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33 thoughts on “Universalism: A Summary Defense”

  1. I think the key for an evangelical examination of this issue is the question of whether hell has an exit. A "good" evangelical will probably have to concede that hell exists as some stort-of state of eschatological judgment (though not the Dante-esque ideas that were fostered on us in sermons) - but I don't think the same concessions have to be made as to whether it is a permanent state. In fact, I am somewhat impressed at how much evidence there is that it is NOT permanent.

    To put it another way, in a universe where God's love, grace, and mercy is said to be ultimately triumphant - why should hell get the last word?

    Still, I would describe myself as a hopeful than a full-out universalist.

  2. I think the very fact that we should (and do) hope for universal reconciliation is indicative of the (potential) truth of universalism. For if we are hoping for universal reconciliation and universalism is not true, then we are hoping for something outside of God's plan, and thus probably misunderstanding His character. But even the people I know who are *not* universalists hope for universal salvation, suggesting that they implicitly accept the concordance of universal reconciliation with God's nature.

  3. I find it very interesting that conservatives usually speak of an 'age of accountability' and 'shall not the judge of all the earth do right?' (Gen 18:25) in order to deal with the logical problems of moral luck and timing of death issues--and both are based more on a fundamental (though often ignored) understanding that God is, indeed, loving and gracious. So, even those who are sure many people will burn in hell forever, have some big loopholes available for children who die, or 'people who have never heard'.

    Well-presented summary.

  4. Amen and Amen. If you haven't yet, you should check our Christopher Morse:

    “By identifying the coming judgment as the coming of Jesus Christ, Christian confession entails the refusal to believe that what is ultimately defeated and rejected is ever other than the opposition, in whatever personal and corporate form of denial, betrayal, and crucifixion it takes, to being loved into freedom. . . . The eternally ‘rejected,’ the ‘unsaved,’ and the ‘lost’ is all that is within us and within the world which denies, betrays, and crucifies the love that comes to set us free. . . . Christian faith refuses to believe that the grace of being loved into freedom ultimately stops coming or ceases to be. . . . When such grace is confessed to have ‘descended into hell,’ then hell is acknowledged to have no dominion that can prevail. There is in the proclamation of the gospel no basileia of hell that is at hand, but only a basileia of heaven. Hell has no eternal dominion. If what God eternally rejects throughout all creation, with the fire of a love that remains unquenchable, is every opposition to our being loved into freedom, including our own, then the hellfire and damnation of Judgment Day is precisely the one true hope of all the earth. The old question of whether or not grace is ‘irresistible’ only becomes a problem when theology forgets Who it is whose judgment is confessed to be coming. What else is the Crucifixion if not the resistance to grace? What finally does a Resurrection faith refuse to believe, if not that the resistance to grace is ever its cessation?”

    —Christopher Morse, Not Every Spirit: A Dogmatics of Christian Disbelief (Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press, 1994; 2nd ed., 2008), 340-41.

  5. Excellent post! George MacDonald pointed out that if mercy was at polar odds with justice, then a just God could never be merciful at all. He also points out that God, as a "consuming fire" loves "unto purity," but that His fire burns not from being too close, but from being too distant.

  6. In what sense does universalism achieve vengeance for victims (justice)? Are we talking purgatory?
    Also, you have presented a bit of a false dicotomy (I would imagine unintentionally) in only giving the choices of universalism or the traditional view of hell (eternal torment). There are many that believe that some will not be reconciled to God, but still do not hold the traditional view of hell. Annihilationists for example, also reject the idea of an infinite amount of torture as punishment for a finite amount of sin. Instead, they believe that those that reject God will cease to exist after the judgment. And they can make a pretty good Biblical argument for their point of view.

  7. I've just never been able to believe in a god who judges and condemns on a singular, short lived, often tormented, lifetime. A buddhist or hindu model of reincarnation, or of multiple worlds or even circular time makes more sense. It must be obvious that many people in this world never have a chance to develop any kind of moral sense at all--they are born hurting and they die young. Are we to assume that the christian god intends this truncated existence and judges it the same way he does a long and well lived life, or a long and ill lived life? Does it make sense that one person might make an angry mistake and die, while another person might make the same angry mistake and live long enough to atone for it, and that god would treat their situations exactly the same? or different? And doesn't each version of god's treatement lead us in different and uncomfortable directions if we don't posit more than one lifetime to get it right?


  8. Richard,

    C. S. Lewis once phrased a related question in this way: why would not a loving God who had granted mortals even circumscribed free will not provide a Hell for those who were truly willing to choose to be where God was not? The redemptive power of God reaches far and the Hound of Heaven is dogged, but is it possible that there is an irreparable finality of choice analogous to (but not quite the same as) the suicide on his way down forty stories who realizes he has made a mistake?

    Much of this universalism debate is a kind of midrash on the the parable of the Prodigal Son. The elder brother chooses to stay away from the celebration even though his father offers him his heart and all he has. Does he ever choose to go to the party?

    Peace on earth. And Merry Christmas.

  9. Thanks Richard - a really interesting post. The big problem I have is regarding people with personality disorders / psychopaths. From what I understand, these people cannot be ¨cured¨; are these people beyond redemption? One book on psychopaths is called ¨The Emptied Soul¨, which I find a very interesting title, and really gets to the heart of the issue. If you´re soul is so empty and you have no conscience, how can you be saved?

    I´d really welcome your views on this, as it is one of the big issues I have in my Christian faith.

    Best wishes, and have a happy Christmas.


  10. "Most defenders of a classical view of hell eventually make appeals to God's justice".

    Many proponents of the above school of thought also rationalize the cliche (paraphrased) - a finite crime against an infinitely holy God warrants an infinite degree of punishment.

    But after being a Christian for over 20 years, I still have yet to meet a man (just 1) who has
    actually taken a step of faith to cut off his right hand or pluck out his right eye, if not do both.

    I know I'm the only one who looks at Stacy Keiber's ass and legs with too much enjoyment, but I haven't worked up the nerve to mutilate my right hand or right eye (or worse yet, "that", or even more to the point, my heart - which is supposedly the real source for much wickedness).

    If Universal Reconciliation is not true, I certainly don't see myself qualifying for salvation at any level.

    Gary Y.

  11. Well, the discussion over at Jesus Creed is off to a speedy start.

    Richard, I began my look-see into UR based on your original series posted here, and from there I read Talbot's [and others'] essays in Universal Salvation?: The Current Debate. I have to say it's your point #1 above that is, for me, the most convincing.

    But Gary Y.'s statement:
    If Universal Reconciliation is not true, I certainly don't see myself qualifying for salvation at any level.

    boils it right down for me. If my hope is based on something, anything, I have to get "right", I'm toast.

  12. Dr. Beck--I do love this conversation on Universalism. Brings back memories of sitting on a tram in Germany with a moleskin out and having this explained to me for the first time.

    First, I want to say that when it all boils down, I am hoping that Universalism is the Truth.

    But having said that here are my doubts, and perhaps you or someone else have some light to shed on these things:

    1. If we're all going to be saved, why did Jesus say that no one gets to the Father except through him?
    2. Why would God send us his Son if he intended to save us all, regardless of how we react to his Son? I feel like if Jesus is supreme, his supremacy is somehow compromised if I also say that in the end it doesn't matter if you chose him while you were on earth or not, because you can just suffer in Hell for a little bit, and then move in to Heaven after that....

  13. 1. If we're all going to be saved, why did Jesus say that no one gets to the Father except through him?

    I think it helps to read the comment in context (John 14).


    2. Why would God send us his Son if he intended to save us all ...

    John 14 suggests a reason. If Jesus lives primarily to help us understand God (and not to die as a substitutionary sacrifice), then the problem goes away.

    Richard talks about substitutionary atonement a little in a previous universalism post:


  14. Richard,
    A very helpful summary-thank you. As others have posted, I'm a hopeful, but unsure, Universalist. My somewhat recent acceptance of conditional immortality has actually increased my skepticism. I can believe God would allow those who reject him to simply cease to exist, an eternal torment I can not. But I'm still hopeful!

  15. All of the propositions are very logical but based upon the assumption that "man cannot thwart the desires of God."

    Even when God permits it?

    I have no quarrel with Peter's observation that "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." But I find "repentance" to be oppositional to "perish."

    I also have no quarrel with John's revelation that "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." I don't understand how names could be written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, but I don't have to understand in order to believe it.

    And I think that's where a whole bunch of us believers have gotten off track ... believing that we have to understand everything about God in order to believe in Him.

    Not possible.

    Merry Christmas, bro, and thanks as always for making quite a few of my neurons fire!

  16. The idea that there is a specific way to get into Heaven is the source of the troubles here. I think people might find themselves in unfavorable conditions post-mortem based on poor decisions. On the other hand, I think growth is eternal; you don't just die and solidify forever. As for this whole god-forsaken RELIGION with its abominable DOGMA and ridiculous ESCHATOLOGY - well, all it takes is the application of basic common sense to realize it has virtually nothing to do with God or human experience.

    People don't choose religions I think. They just naturally believe what they naturally are and their God is a reflection of themselves. A jealous, vengeful God full of wrath and willing to condemn to eternal Hell, who cares only about people being RIGHT about theology ... is indicative of a human being with very little redeeming value. Polytheism, or perhaps a view of God that could be described as e plurbus unum comes naturally to me, because I contain multitudes.

  17. I suggest looking into Katholikos forms of Christianity in the 8 major denominations and their combined insistence on the theological reality of purgatory to balance out hell.

  18. Robyn: Here's how one evangelical universalist (me: I'm not sure I should be classified as an "evangelical," but my brand of universalism is the kind that evangelicals would tend toward) answers your questions:

    1. If we're all going to be saved, why did Jesus say that no one gets to the Father except through him?

    The evangelical version of universalism (as I understand it) says that it is only through Christ that any can be saved, and one must go through Jesus to be saved. We just believe that, eventually at least, everyone will accept Jesus and be saved. So Jesus said that because it's true: Nobody gets to the Father except through him.

    2. Why would God send us his Son if he intended to save us all, regardless of how we react to his Son?

    See above: God saves us (all!) through Jesus. I also think one has to accept Jesus to be saved. (I just think everyone will.)

    I feel like if Jesus is supreme, his supremacy is somehow compromised if I also say that in the end it doesn't matter if you chose him while you were on earth or not, because you can just suffer in Hell for a little bit, and then move in to Heaven after that....

    Do you have a problem with those who reject Jesus at one point in their lives being saved at a later point in their earthly lives by accepting Jesus then? If not, why would it be a problem if people got further chances after death? From my point of view, the problem would be in supposing that it has to happen before death, given that in this earthly life people are presented with the choice, if at all, under such different circumstances, and that some are presented with the choice under circumstances that are extremely hostile to a positive reaction. Think of cases of people horribly abused by their parents as children, and who come to associate the Christian choice with their abusers. On the other hand, others are presented the choice under circumstances that it would take a great effort *not* to accept. Given all this, I would be very surprised to learn that God's decision was to end everyone's chances to accept strictly at death.

  19. This is an excellent post that I found by way of Jesus Creed.

    I find it interesting that you continue to reject Reformed Theology considering the objections you have to Arminianism. It seems to me that God's Sovereignty (or Divine Providence, or whatever you want to call it) solves objections #1 and #2. People are not born and do not die by luck or chance or good fortune - God places you in the time and place and family and culture of his choosing for His inscrutable reasons. And your objection #3 to Arminianism addresses the problem you have with humans being nothing but puppets under the Reformed perspective. We aren't just puppets, but neither are we truly free.

    The fact of the matter is that only the most extreme and un-"Calvin" of Calvinists see people as puppets. And not all those who ascribe to Reformed Theology agree with Double Predestination. In the main, Reformation Theology admits that there is some kind of balance between Divine Election and Human Responsibility.

    I could say more about your objections to Reformed theology, but I have no desire to nitpick. My goal with this comment is not to try to talk you into Reformed Theology! I don't really care whether a person is Arminian, Reformed, or whatever, so long she is truly loving and seeking the Lord. But I do find myself frequently defending the Reformation perspective. I can easily get pricked by what I see as slanted, sweeping statements and out-of-hand rejection of deep theological ideas. :)

    Oh, one other thing. Regarding to point #2. You say that a punishment of infinite duration and unspeakable torment is not a fit punishment to any human sin. I have often thought that myself! But the reason I have always been given for the contrary is that any sin against an infinitely perfect Creator God IS deserving of such a punishment. I wonder about your response to that.

  20. Amy, the idea that the punishment for sin must be infinite because God is infinite falls apart at a glance, for me.

    I am bigger, stronger, and have a more advanced sense of morality than my cats. If I were to say, based on that, that I have the right to drop-kick my cats across the room when they "sin" against me - say, scratch the furniture - you would rightly consider me a monster.

    Particularly because I am closer to "perfection" than my cats, I have the obligation to be understanding of my cats' limitations. Any "punishment" I mete out is with the desire for rehabilitation and reconciliation.

  21. Thanks for this fantastic summation.

    #5 reminds me of a recent conference with Jurgen Moltmann that I attended with Mark Love. Upon being asked if he was a universalist, Moltmann replied, "No no, there are some people I've met that I do not wish to meet again. But God, now God might be a universalist."

    The place erupted.

  22. It seems to me that the bible writers were always looking at election and salvation retrospectively. Perhaps free will is just an illusory quantum of uncertainty, and observation collapses the wave function.

    So we're in any case not free unless the truth has SET us free - unless freedom is observed. Thus "Free will" only occurs in the spiritual realm, as a kind of hope (much like universalism). Until then, we're a slave to our own uncertain and unknowable natures.

    But our natural ignorance of God, lack of love or a despair for salvation (justice, redemption) is hell, causes hell, and ends in hell. This is a real and present danger, since it obscures God's love and limits our volition.

    On the one end of the scale people are literally trapped in their circumstances; on the other end, people are so comfortable with their moralistic therapeutic deism that their perceived freedom is itself a trap. Both are equally far from heaven.

    But Jesus made sure death would only be a superficial barrier, no longer the scythe-wielding 'decision-maker'; He moved the goalposts so that life is no longer this "Cartesian race" to be run, but a victory to celebrate. We don't have to wait (or hope) for death to fix our spiritual state.

    But how is this knowledge gained? By faith. Only those who actually know - or believe in - God's grace are free to worry about other things than their salvation/election. Jesus IS the election, God's "yes" to all our pleas, and represents freedom from natural or religious determinism. Knowledge/ignorance can then no longer paralyse the 'fruits of the Spirit' - redemptive, co-creative action.

    The gospel isn't spread TO save people, it's shared so that they may KNOW their salvation. It brings hell up from below and heaven down from above, so that nobody has to wait for death before they may live.

  23. I realise I'm a little late to the universalist party, but may I attempt to contribute from another angle?

    Firstly, thank-you so much for the clarity and conciseness you bring to this difficult subject, Richard.

    A 'self-organised learning' treatment of this issue might run thus:

    People are very good at mixing up purposes and outcomes. One example of this is seen in target-setting cultures. In such cultures, (good/appropriate) outcomes are taken and changed into (bad/inappropriate) purposes. This can result in unintended consequences, disconnection from core values, loss of ownership etc.

    An example from (UK) education: School league tables and wider government policy create a system in which raising SAT scores is turned from a desirable outcome into an over-bearing target. As a result, children with difficulties accessing the curriculum are marginalised, young people with behavioural problems are excluded, teachers forget why they ever went into their supposed 'vocation' and start to chase pay awards instead of their own core values.

    What's this got to do with hell, I hear you ask? (You've obviously never worked in a target-driven school! @-;¦)

    Could it be that when salvation becomes a target - "How many times have you shared your testimony this week?"; "How many responded to the appeal last Sunday?" - it results in unintended consequences in otherwise loving people:

    Judgemental attitudes
    Holier than thou religion
    Preservation/prioritisation of in-group (Christian) values
    etc etc etc.

    Could it be that our PURPOSE as Christ's body is to love God and our neighbour - respectfully, humbly, unprejudicially, justly, self-sacrificially - and that the OUTCOME of all this on-going work of Christ is salvation?

  24. Why can you not believe all three tenants?

    1 Timothy 2:4 (Universal in opportunity with Christ; Esau, Pharoah and Judah are pre-resurrected/restored Christ; post-resurrection it is possible to maintain all three with the new covenant)

  25. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active - not more happy - nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago.
    Edgar Allan Poe

  26. I just found your blog Richard.  This post is amazing.  All of what I believe may be just Wishful Thinking, but I believe it anyway.  It reminds me of an entry in Buechner's little book Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC. 

    Paraphrasing Buechner:
    If there is suffering in Hell, there is life and where there is life, there is hope.  The Creed states "He descended into Hell" and the Psalms say "If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there."  There seems to be no depth to which He will not sink.  Maybe even Old Scratch may not be able to hold out against Him Forever.

  27. Excellen summation Dr Richard and one with which I can identify with all my being. As a former Seventh-day Adventist I was shocked and dismayed when I discovered that mainstream Christianity is split into the two major camps of Arminianism and Calvanism.   Like you Calvanism left me cold and I found it loathsome that God could deliberately make humans as fuel for eternal fire.  .

  28. Hi
    I'm reading through Ephesians and finding that my only remaining difficulty with universal reconciliation is in trying to understand why Paul went through the sufferings he did in order to communicate the good news. There seems to be this preoccupation in Paul with rescuing people from the corruption that is in the world etc. but the lengths he seems to have gone to to achieve this (violence at the hands of Jews, romans, et al) seems disproportionate if all will finally be rescued.
    Thanks so much for all your posts. Having gone through a disorientating time of paradigm shifting I feel like, after reading you on universalism, I can worship again.
    Love in Him

  29. I have a question. Why are some universalists (Greg MacDonald is one such example) only "hopeful" universalists?  Are there so many shades of grey? If so then would that not make the whole approach suspect?

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