Monday, September 10, 2012

Universalism?


Here are two definitions of Universalism.  (1) “The theological doctrine that all souls will eventually find salvation in the grace of God.”[1]  (2) “The doctrine...that hell is in essence purgative and therefore temporary and that all intelligent beings will therefore in the end be saved.”[2]  Here is my position on universalism.

“That Jesus Christ loves us all and has included us everyone in his life with his Father and the Holy Spirit, I consider to be an absolute, eternal fact.  That every human being will come to experience this life fully, I consider to be a hope, but not a fact.  It is a hope grounded in the astounding love of the blessed Trinity—in the endless fidelity of the Father, the complete and finished work of Jesus, and the redeeming genius of the Holy Spirit.  I think we have every reason to hope for everyone to come to know the truth so as to experience salvation.  But to make such a hope an absolute fact, or a conclusion, or a doctrine is, to me, a mistake.  That would be to deny, theologically speaking, the authenticity of our personhood and our real freedom to participate.  We are real to the Father, Son and Spirit, distinct persons within the life of God, with our own minds, hearts and wills, which will never be violated by the blessed Trinity.  So there remains the possibility that in our distinctness, we will choose to live against our own beings. Such a violation of reality is as absurd as it is painful, but possible.  It is not possible for the Father, Son and Spirit to morph into another God, with another dream for humanity.  In this universe, and in all universes to come, the Father, Son and Spirit will never, ever give up their dream that we would all come to experience fully the trinitarian life together.”


[1] Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, David B. Guralnik, editor, (New York: Simon and Shuster, 1980.
[2] The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, edited by F. L. Cross (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

31 comments:

Ron said...

Thanks for telling this. Universalism is what almost everyone thinks when I tell them what God has done. This will help explain it to them better.

Anonymous said...

One thing that is interesting to consider, is how life begins to degrade the farther you get from connection to the Trinitarian Circle. Evil becomes less of a threat the more completely evil it is. Without life, we lose all that is good, including sanity. I believe that God will heal many a mind at the Judgement, so that he can show them who he is. Can anyone truely refuse true love, once the aroma is appreciated?

Lee

Arthur said...

This is great. I started a study of your book The Great Dance in our home group last week and this was one of the first issues to come up. Two of the woman in our group (including my wife) have had their minds blown (in a good way:) while reading this book, so we have decided to take it on as a small community. I discovered it years ago and it dramatically altered everything for me. I can't wait to see the impact it will have on the rest of the group! Many thanks and blessings. I can't wait to read The Shack Revisited. Please keep up the great work!

Jim T said...

Continue on in proclaiming the good news of what God has done through Jesus. Keep the faith bro...

AndreLinoge said...

Yet without Universalism, the onus is on the person to make sure they have truly accepted/believed in the gospel. For an introspective person, this is an incredible burden.

I know what I am talking about here.

Same old... said...

Andrelinoge...

You are exactly right!!

Same for me- being a sensitive person and a deep thinker the onus is still put on me - even with Perichoresis...

I know quite a few people like me who were into the Perichoresis message but went further into Universal Salvation which is more consistent.
In the end I found Perichoresis official message virtually no better than the Arminianism which is dominant throughout most of the western church.

AndreLinoge said...
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AndreLinoge said...

Dr. Kruger, you speak of "real freedom" to participate; but how free are we when the image of an unspeakable monster is imprinted in us, often at a young and vulnerable age? Throwing that off is not easy, especially when there are erudite voices out there who make a cogent defense of such. The fear doesn't go away. Even when a much better God is presented the fear that the old images might be real remains. What freedom is there in that?

C. Baxter Kruger, Ph.D. said...

The truth does not leave you with yourself, and/or with whether or not you are included. The truth in Jesus leaves you with your eyes fixed on Jesus who has included you. There is no rest in Calvinism or Arminianism, for neither can proclaim to you that you are included, and therefore neither can give you a place to rest.

Anonymous said...

The charge that Trinitarian theology is universalism or quasi-universalism is frequently lobbed my way. And it is so interesting that most Evangelicals who do the lobbing seem more vehemently opposed to such a concept than they do to pretty much any other "heresy". It seems that the idea that God loves everyone equally and has included them in the communion of the Trinity is utterly foreign to their legalistic mindset and incomprehensible in light of their angry God. Is it their pride that is threatened? Pride in their choosing to believe for the Arminians or being one of the chosen for the Calvinists?

BTW, I just finished the 33 part "The Big Picture" lecture series by Baxter. Wow! A monumental deconstruction of Western Christianity and reconstruction of the Gospel Truth. Life changing!

Richard Harstone

Anonymous said...

Amen to that sentiment. If you were a young Catholic kid in the boomer years, the idea of a distant and swiftly harsh God were burned into our brains. Overcoming such early programming may be an impossibility, with tweaks like The Shack altering perceptions a bit. But I say unto you...the burned in data of our psyche does not go away -- it haunts me all the days of my life.

Anonymous said...

The keyword in your statement is "...truly...", that unfortunate qualifier than afflicts Christian theology and thought so much that it goes by unnoticed. Yet it is a cancer. It is an arbitrary value, at the whim of the thinker and observer, and places the believer in a continual transitory state of unacceptability before God. Who can know how much one has repented, or how successfully, or how completely one has embraced Jesus? Our minds are feeble in scope, both hyper-critical and under-critical. If Grace theology is correct, it's an either-or proposition, wihout qualifiers of degrees.

AndreLinoge said...
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AndreLinoge said...

I may be included, but if I don't respond and correctly then it will be as if I'm not included. I'm left with the same unassurance as I would be encountering Arminianism.

AndreLinoge said...

Something else....if Dr. Kruger as your post said "That would be to deny, theologically speaking, the authenticity of our personhood and our real freedom to participate. We are real to the Father, Son and Spirit, distinct persons within the life of God, with our own minds, hearts and wills, which will never be violated by the blessed Trinity" then I have to ask what of babies and young children who die? Do they all experience life with God fully?

Ron said...

Babies and children who die will be with God and God's love will embrace them.

Same Old said...

In that case Ron that why don't we kill all children! Guarantee them a place with God!..

excuse the sarcasm...but seriously isn't that violating their 'free will' to have God's love 'embrace them'?! sounds like irresistable grace to me! We can't have that!

The difference between Perichoresis theology and classic Arminian theology is that with Arminianism you are opt unless you opt in but with Perichoresis you are in unless you opt out...
Both though leave the burden with our 'free will' and in the end the murky ground of this area leaves many people especially those with a sensitive disposition with great insecurity...Ironically the opposite of Baxter's message of healing insecurity!

Ron said...
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Ron said...

God has free will to love, actually he is love so in his free will he will love the children. God's love is more than we can express, that's what this theology teaches us, it teaches us more about God, how much better he is than we can imagine. Knowing him a little more we realize he takes care of the kids.

Tony said...

This makes the most sense. It is a great hope though.

Anonymous said...

We don't have answers to why bad things happen to children do we?

Ron said...

I have had the question, "Why does bad things happen to the young and innocent?" many times and tell people the good news about our loving God and what little I know, but does anyone have any suggestions what to say to people who ask these questions?

Dan Pedersen said...

That's a great way to describe it. I agree, the answer is not clear.

AbiSomeone said...

Hmmm...this always reminds me of Narnia's The Last Battle and the Dwarves who made it to Aslan's land but couldn't see it or experience it as it truly was ... only as they perceived it -- the dark insides of a dirty stable with miserable food. One can only hope that they will eventually "wake up" and move further up and in...

Riley said...

Can you please tell me who you are quoting above?

Anonymous said...

Baxter, if you haven't already been exposed to Hans Urs Von Balthazar, you may be interested in his book, Dare We Hope.

AbiSomeone said...

@Riley -- if you were talking to me, I was quoting C.S. Lewis in the last of his Narnia series of books.

Anonymous said...

Baxter, you wrote:
So there remains the possibility that in our distinctness, we will choose to live against our own beings. Such a violation of reality is as absurd as it is painful, but possible. It is not possible for the Father, Son and Spirit to morph into another God, with another dream for humanity.

Gary: In my opinion AND my experience with Abba, that's just BS. (And I'd like to write in the full spelling of BS.) Why do you, William P., Rob Bell do such a mystical dance that people are not really sure where you stand? Is it really such a mystery? Or is it just plain old cowardice? Jesus saves all. It's not a mystery, it's not a hope, it's a FINISHED fact. Or have you not hear the words, "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." and "IT IS FINISHED!"

Simeon said...

Hi Baxter, I like your teaching on the inclusion of all and feel than in many ways it makes sense (have come to similar conclusions myself), but I find especially in the parables of Jesus examples of times when persons who are seeking his acceptance seem to be rejected by him, for example the parables of the "goats" that are separated from the sheep, the "5 foolish virgins" and the "man at wedding with no wedding garment". Pleaae would you be able to address how you understand these parable in a way that is consistent with the full inclusion of all in Christ

Corey said...

It seems to me that Baxter's message goes beyond the idea that all will one day be saved (universalism) and says that all are ALREADY saved. This is no minor point! His whole focus is on the character of God and the finished work of the cross and what happened in the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Baxter is absolutely brilliant to me! I am so thankful for his teachings.

I think that ultimately salvation is a person. (Jesus) Sooo in my thinking, since Jesus is the same Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, the whole world was saved, is saved, and will be saved. The only way to be separated from God is for Him to cease to be Emmanuel. The only way not to be saved is for Him not to be savior of the world! However we still have choices, we can choose to close our eyes and pretend like He's not there. We can pretend that God hates us. Regardless of our stupid beliefs, truth is truth. God and mankind are united forever in Christ!!!
We get to "put our big boy britches on and deal with it!"

Marcel Hekman said...

Hello dr. Kruger, I grew up believing that death for the "unsaved" means eternal conscious torment. As I read and think about it, I can't imagine that a loving God would allow such a thing for the creation He loves. I hear good explanations about why Jesus' words and Pauls writings about eternal gnashing of teeth etc. should not be taken literally. But: if hell is NOT eternal conscious torment, than it is a very important thing for believers to get that right! Why didn't Jesus at the moments He talked about eternal gnashing of teeth etc say: "wait a minute, before you would now start to believe that I am talking about eternal punishment with no ending, it's important to understand that this is not what I am saying! I mean to say that people will have also a will to choose for Me after they die!" Could you please explain why Jesus wasn't more clear about this? Kind regards!