Just seemed wrong that a site called Evangelical Universalist had a thread titled “Evangelism” – that had no posts…
Of all the words and ideas I’ve read here so far, perhaps these are the most sober ones for me. This from Gregory MacDonald’s section called “How Universalism Has Impacted my Life” (one of the best threads on this site so far – in my opinion)
Yet still fresh to, and flush from the excitement of discovering the Total Victory won by Christ as reflected in the reality that ALL will ultimately be saved, now it is suggested that to break such news too early might in fact cause more harm than help to the one I sincerely want to encourage; whose burden I seek to lighten; whose flickering flame of hope I want to revive.
I must confess that this resurrects in me all the guilts and fears of yesteryear that I should be out there warning people of their dire fate unless they …. well, we all know the drill I guess. The idea that, by my inaction, or in this case action, somehow I might be the reason for someone’s future suffering is troubling. Further, causing another to stumble is certainly anathema for me – as it is all of us I’m sure – so that is a line one wants to stay as far away from as possible.
It troubles me to find myself questioning the fairness of a God who would allow someone else’s fate of future suffering to rest in my hands. I mean, the entire universe knows (conceivably) that I’m a flawed sinner, eagerly awaiting redemption, so what would be the purpose of adding to my burden and guilt by being held responsible for another’s suffering? One can drive himself insane with that kind of worry; for where does it logically stop?
On the other hand, I have been thinking lately about a common derisive response from those who ridicule the very idea of Universal Restoration; “well then – guess I can go out and sin with impunity and ‘get away’ with it huh”?!!
This quandary seems to lay bare the reality that not all follow Christ “for the joy set before me” – some may follow to keep their butts from gettin’ kicked! So to speak. Drawn by love and gratefulness – or pushed and pulled by warnings of pain and suffering. I’m just not at all clear how to walk this line. Am I making a false dichotomy? Maybe I should be emphasizing both so all bases are covered?
One of the things that bugs me when being lectured by those trying to convince me how wrong I am about Universalism is when they say that Hell (or annihilation) shows conclusively just how “seriously” God takes sin. “So” I ask in reply “beating the snot out of someone will show them? Is it not possible that a God who was truly serious about sin would HEAL sinners and thereby making sin no more!” Seems to me that mere violence in response to sin is easy; the harder task is to take responsibility for it and HEAL it. More, it seems to me that learning the reality of UR will result in such a relief that people can relax and serve God without all that nagging fear and uncertainty. This presupposes, I guess, that such a one is already serious about enjoying God’s company and living a more Christ-like life.
So I’m just not sure. Is the “Good News” to be put in terms of sufferings to be avoided? (ie Jesus is the Way to minimize suffering; perhaps true, but is it winsome?) Or is it better to simply stay positive and even offer how the book ends – ie Universalism? Then again, salvation really has no context unless one has a comprehension of his need for it; a comprehension that is, of sin. It’s back to that whole law-necessary-to-bring-us-to-Christ dynamic.
The “catch-22” then is tell the Good News of UR – and risk minimizing sin
try to enable a vision of sin – and risk inducing fear and despair and uncertainty
Wow – I’ve got to think about this some more… seems I’ve got more bias on this issue than I had imagined…