Monday, 2 April 2012

Another UR rant, sigh...

I was reading an article by a wonderful man who has an incredible grasp on the the grace of God and our life of perfect unity with him. And there are many who teach the wonderful freedom and joy of  the finished work of Jesus and our union with the Triune God.

But, I am saddened by the ignorance of many of these guys those who oppose Universal Reconciliation (UR)! Now I know many fundamentalists would not even give the idea the light of day, so I'm not addressing those. I'm talking about those who understand something of the wonderful grace and love of Father and what it means to live loved, yet take some aspect of UR, line it up with their interpretation of some scriptures and declare it to be wrong. The problem I've found in every case, is they have misunderstood the depth and extent of the concept of UR, and based their premises on a small part of the argument. They refuse to think that God could be bigger than their paradigms, biases and traditional teachings.

The most popular argument against UR is in regard to those who say we are all saved but just don't know it. They say this denies any act of faith or belief on our behalf, so assume that all UR beliefs are in error based on this assumption. Now I can understand that, because if we say we don't have to apply faith or belief or acceptance in some form, that is a total denial of vast quantities of scripture. So I agree. To be "saved" we have to make a decision, to act upon a conviction, to change our minds.

But the real concept of UR paints a much bigger picture. We are talking about far more consequential questions:

  • At what point is it too late to accept Jesus for who he is - to make that decission?
  • Does the "final judgement" mean most will be eternally tortured in hell with no hope of redemption?
  • Why does God outline the depths of love in 1 Cor 13 yet not apply the same standards to himself?
  • When God says He will never give up on us does that meant NEVER?
  • What about the mistransaltions of the words for Hell and eternity throughout the bible?
  • What about the early church's position on UR for the first 400 years?
  • What about all the scriptures that DO point to UR. They are probably in equal quantity to those that are used against the argument, so how do we reconcile them?
  • Do we totally ignore the obvious similarities between the modern interpretation of hell with classical Greek and medieval mythology? 
  • What about the total absence of the concept of Hell in the Old Testament?
  • If Hell is so important why wasn't it an integral part of the gospel?
  • Why didn't Paul even use scripture, let alone references to eternal damnation in his Mars Hill address in Acts?
  • Why are three different words that have nothing to do with eternal judgement and torture, translated as Hell in the New Testament?
The list goes on and on. I've found at best people just talk round in circles, battling one scripture against another. Surely that in itself tells us something! If it was really that clear from scripture then there would be no argument, but its just not clear, whatever way you look at it, and to say it is would be just pig headed dogma!

So, like I usually end up saying, we have to rely on Holy Spirit to sort things out. God did that on purpose! He didn't write a user manual with clear instructions. He compiled a bunch of letters and documents about relationships. He gave us the fullness of Himself to live in union with Him, and the brains to think for ourselves - to question and reason and wrestle with Him about everything!

So, back to UR. What does our heart say? What do we know about the unconditional love of God? What about the prodigal son, the lost sheep, what about 70 x 7? What about the god who lovingly hand assembled every human being and breathed His life into, knowing that most of them would be damned for eternity?

Most christians, if asked in confidentiality, will say they either wish all would be saved, or that hell was not really eternal torture, or that God has something better in mind and we don't really understand these things.

The final question we end up with is: will everyone ULTIMATELY be saved. Will some face a judgement that requires refining before they can accept Jesus? Will some fall on their knees in joy at the very sight of Him? Will some realise that all their "sin" was dealt with and run to jump in Father's arms the moment they see him face to face. And will they be told "too late"!

What kind of God do you know? What is his true heart of unconditional love and justice? Why would you even want to enter into a relationship with a God that would even consider eternally torturing most of the creatures He created. It just doesn't make sense on any level. Unless of course you are happy to put your God given faculties aside, and believe the staus quo!