Last year I have read a few books on EU, including the wonderful book by Thomas Talbot. I have learned that (i) God is ready, willing, and able to save every person, but also that (ii) God’s `fire’ is his expression of purifying love, removing everything in man that hinders her/him to enter the kingdom of God.
After some pondering, this has led to the following conclusions.
#1. God has some project, called Kingdom of God (KoG).
#2. We are all born unfit for the KoG.
#3. Only by suffering you can become fit for the KoG.
#4. We will all enter the KoG, sooner or later.
#5. All of us are predestined to undergo quite some pain and suffering, here or in the afterlife.
My question is: is this really the state of the world? Or am I missing something?
#1 does not seem to be problematic (I interpret the KoG as a future state-to-come.)
#2 does perhaps not apply to infants or disabled persons, or persons with severe psychologial issues. But it does hold, arguably, for all mentally healthy grownups. Now, I recently learned that the Augustinian doctrine of original sin (``#2 is our own fault’’) stands on shaky grounds. In addition, I (and anybody else, I guess) know how children can be wounded and become truly unfit for the KoG, because their parents have had their own share of wounds, etc. In other words, blaming ourselves for #2 seems too easy. This adds to the feeling that #5 is unfair: we simply cannot help the fact that we need purification.
For #3 there is a lot of empirical `evidence’: just consider the many books written by people who have had to deal with great suffering and in that process experienced profound spiritual growth which they could not have achieved otherwise. Several bible passages seem to support #3, e.g. verses that say things like ‘the old man must die to enter life’. Now, this kind of dying is not a nice process and will inevitably cause pain and suffering. The camel simply doesn’t fit the eye of the needle.
#4 is implied by (evangelical) universalim.
#5 is the conclusion, which feels quite unfair to me, because of the inevitablility of suffering it implies.
Now, I realize that the question is related to the perhaps unanswerable
problem of pain', but universalism (**#4**) adds a strangepredetermined’ flavour to the mix: we are all predetermined to suffer from God’s consuming fire of love. Next to that, I don’t really want to believe #5, but somehow this is my aftertaste of reading Talbot’s book.
If there are some people with wise words, I am listening.