Archive for the ‘Universalism’ Category

Not If, But When

Sunday, March 21st, 2021

As I have often said, salvation is not a question of if, but when. Once you see with God’s eyes, you will see all things and enjoy all things in proper and full perspective. Some put this off till the moment of death or even afterward (“purgatory” was our strange word for this). Salvation, for me, is simply to have the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16), which Paul describes as “making the world, life and death, the present and the future — all your servants — because you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God” (1 Corinthians 3:23).

Everything finally belongs, and you are a part of it.

This knowing and this enjoying are a good description for salvation.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 225

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 22, 2020

Infinite Grace for All

Wednesday, March 10th, 2021

As long as you operate inside any scarcity model, there will never be enough God or grace to go around. Jesus came to undo our notions of scarcity and tip us over into a worldview of absolute abundance — or what he would call the “Kingdom of God.” The Gospel reveals a divine world of infinity, a worldview of enough and more than enough. Our word for this undeserved abundance is “grace”: “Give and there will be gifts for you: full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, and poured into your lap” (Luke 6:38). It is a major mental and heart conversion to move from a scarcity model to an abundance model.

No Gospel will ever be worthy of being called “Good News” unless it is indeed a win-win worldview, and “good news for all the people” (Luke 2:10) — without exception. The right to decide who is in, and who is out, is not one that our little minds and hearts can even imagine. Jesus’s major theme of the Reign of God is saying, “Only God can do such infinite imagining, so trust the Divine Mind.”

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 184-185

Photo: Frozen lake, South Riding, Virginia, March 12, 2015

Outdoing Sin With Love

Friday, March 5th, 2021

The church was meant to be an alternative society in the grip of an altogether different story line. Restorative justice is used in new Zealand as the primary juvenile justice model, and the Catholic bishops of New Zealand have put out very good statements on it. We see this alternative model of justice acted out in scripture — famously in Jesus’s story of the Return of the Prodigal (Luke 15:11ff.), but almost always in the prophets (if we can first endure their tirades). God’s justice makes things right at their very core, and divine love does not achieve its ends by mere punishment or retribution.

Consider Habbakuk, whose short book develops with vivid messages of judgment only to pivot at the very end to his “Great Nevertheless!” For three chapters, Habbakuk reams out the Jewish people, then at the close has God say in effect, “But I will love you even more until you come back to me!” We see the same in Ezekiel’s story of the dry bones (Chapter 16) and in Jeremiah’s key notion of the “new covenant” (Chapter 31:31ff.). God always outdoes the Israelites’ sin by loving them even more! This is God’s restorative justice.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 184

Photo: Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland, July 11, 2003

Very Good

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

Christianity’s true and unique story line has always been incarnation. If creation is “very good” (Genesis 1:34) at its very inception, how could such a divine agenda ever be undone by any human failure to fully cooperate? “Very good” sets us on a trajectory toward resurrection, it seems to me. God does not lose or fail. That is what it means to be God.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 172

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 7, 2021

Not Cast Off Forever

Monday, January 18th, 2021

If Lamentations 3:31-33 is an accurate description of God’s nature, then God’s nature is best understood as unfailing love towards all — a love which does not cast off anyone forever. Though God might be compelled by love to cause grief, God derives no pleasure from it. God ultimately only causes grief as part of a long-range plan to bring God’s lost children back home. The arc of God’s judgment, while perhaps having to last ages upon ages, nevertheless ultimately bends back towards restoration.

— David Artman, Grace Saves All, p. 23

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 2, 2021

Dearly Loved By God

Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

The more I’ve studied the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation, the more I’ve started to notice something about those who embrace the view: they tend to be more loving and accepting of those who are unlike them.

Maybe it’s because when you realize that everyone is equally loved by God and that God is really intending to bring everyone to repentance, and that, one day, every knee will bow and every tongue will gladly confess that jesus Christ is Lord, well, you kind of relax and enjoy being alive.

See, instead of seeing people as “saved” or “lost,” and grouping everyone you meet into the “Christian” or “non-Christian” category, you may start to see people as simply people.

Not only that, but you also begin to see them as God sees them. You slowly recognize that everyone you meet — regardless of their beliefs or spiritual condition — is someone who is dearly loved by God. You also start to understand that everyone you meet is indeed your brother or sister, and you realize that we all have the same Heavenly Father.

This really starts to change the way you treat other people. It starts to bear good fruit in your life. It even makes it easier to love others as Christ has loved you, without conditions or strings attached.

Eventually, you begin to recognize that God loves everyone much more than you could ever love them; even your own family members who may be far from faith in Christ as the moment. You start to realize that God has a grand design in motion to draw everyone to Himself, eventually. We get to take part in that, if we can learn to abide in Christ and collaborate with the Holy Spirit in the process. But, we can also enjoy a newfound sense of ease with this process. Because now we’re not fighting the clock or worried about closing the sale. Instead, we’re trusting in God’s ultimate victory which is inevitable and unstoppable.

— Keith Giles, Jesus Undefeated, p. 155-156

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, December 2, 2020

Like God

Saturday, October 3rd, 2020

In fact, Jesus tells his disciples to turn the other cheek and to love their enemies specifically because this is what God does to His own enemies. So, when we love our enemies, we are like God who sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike. (See Matt. 5:45)

Jesus also shows us an “Abba” who, like the father of the prodigal son, goes out of his way to seek out his children; to embrace them, forgive them, and extend mercy to them, and who does not require punishment before extending this love to us.

Taking these facts into account, I find it highly unlikely that Jesus would have accepted the new teaching of Eternal Suffering, as the Pharisees had done. It seems far outside of his character to have embraced such a doctrine, especially in light of the merciful, patient, and loving God he revealed to us.

— Keith Giles, Jesus Undefeated, p. 77-78

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 2, 2020.

Good Ending

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

In church circles where people are claiming they “chose Jesus” or “came to Christ” (presumably of their own free will), the Scriptures paint a different picture. “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). Our real first choice actually begins after our eyes have been opened and our heart has received a deposit of belief through an encounter with Jesus.

Because of the Creator’s determined plan that trumps the will of the inferior creature, even the bad intentions and behaviors of others will most certainly be limited and worked out for our good. Sovereign will is one of the most comforting realizations I’ve ever had. If good hasn’t resulted yet, it’s only because the Story hasn’t played out long enough.

— Julie Ferwerda, Raising Hell, p. 200

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, May 13, 2020

Life Right Now

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

Here is what they are missing; “eonian life” is not eternal life. It means coming into life (relationship with Jesus) in the age that the Bible writer is referring to and continuing through the remaining ages. In any age you live that you are connected to Jesus — the life source or “Vine” — you are enjoying life in that age. For instance, as a believer in Christ, I am currently enjoying life pertaining to this age. When the next age arrives, perhaps the seventh age of the “Wedding Feast” or “Sabbath Rest,” I will no longer be enjoying life in this age, but then it will be life pertaining to that age. Eonian life, then, is not so much about a time that begins after we die, but more about a quality and vitality of life right now, lived in fellowship with God through His Son….

There are many more such verses you can look up, correcting them with eonian life and the proper verb tense to experience the greater truth that Jesus came to give us life right now — not just later — and that people’s lives are markedly improved when they believe, understand, and live the true Gospel message.

— Julie Ferwerda, Raising Hell, p. 154-155

Photo: Meadowlark Gardens, Virginia, April 3, 2012

Favorites?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

We must be honest and humble about this: Many people of other faiths, like Sufi masters, Jewish prophets, many philosophers, and Hindu mystics, have lived in light of the Divine encounter better than many Christians. And why would a God worthy of the name God not care about all of the children? (Read Wisdom 11:23-12:2 for a humdinger of a Scripture in this regard.) Does God really have favorites among his children? What an unhappy family that would create — and indeed it has created. Our complete and happy inclusion of the Jewish scriptures inside of the Christian canon ought to have served as a structural and definitive statement about Christianity’s movement toward radical inclusivity. How did we miss that? No other religion does that.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 34-35

Photo: Burnside Farms, Virginia, April 24, 2015