General to Specific Doubts about God worse for Universalist?


#1

Hi Everybody,

I need some arguments, advice anything. Just lately haven’t felt God’s presence (or existence) whatsoever. It would be easier, I think, if i believed in a Calvinist God who “arbtriarily” damns us wretched sinners… but believing UR… why does God feel (and seem) so distant? If God loves us, why all the games? Why the myriad religions, why the plausibility of evolution, why so much pain? What are we learning now? If ultimately God has to give grace - if we cant do it by ourselves, why waiting so long to pull up the curtain? I know, know… countless generations before have lived and died… but, i don’t know, if it is evident that we can’t make things better by ourselves, why does God hold out? Why not Parousia? (Why am i so impatient? hehe)
Aren’t doubts of this sort worse for the universalist?


#2

Not speaking in defence of universalism per sé, but I think the fact that we pretty much HAVE done it by ourselves explains WHY we have a “myriad religions” and a so-called “plausibility of evolution” and “so much pain” — I don’t think God has been the problem, but more so our interpretation of him as some cosmic magician.


#3

Hi Davo,

So are you saying that God is respecting our freedom, letting us stew? But that is an answer I’d expect from an Arminian, right? If God definitely “IS” (determinist “is”, though i know there are some universalists, perhaps yourself, that are non-determinists) going to save all people, is it good enough to say that all this crap now is just God respecting our freedom?

I suppose if i carried my rationale all-the-way i’d have to say that, if God really loves us, we all should have been born in Heaven, and maybe that is absurd. We don’t know if this life is necessary in our formation. BUT… if universalism is truly a free gift from a loving God, though this seems utterly extravagant on its face, maybe, as a universalist, God is conduced much more toward a quick or instant heaven than our current state of his indulging our freedom.

Are you a determinist? Will God have to coerce some (or all) of our wills ultimately or do you believe we all can somehow be coaxed without a will override? is this germane to my original question?

Do you ever feel impatient, waiting for God, or do you feel God’s presence? God, I know faith is more than feeling, but i get resentful during these “dark nights of the soul”, especially as a universalist. As a universalist, I feel entitled! (maybe this means i am a spiritual idiot)


#4

I have doubts all the time. But, as someone pointed out to me a long time ago, that the opposite of faith isn’t doubt.

Doubting is perfectly rational and normal. I doubt because I see such evil in the world. I wonder, where is God? Where is God when someone who is innocent is tortured to death? Where is He?

There must be something we don’t know. In fact, there must be a lot we don’t know. This is why I honestly believe being an agnostic is the only true position we can hold. Beyond that, the rest is speculation and personal experience. We are truly ignorant in this world. Unfortunately, many don’t believe that and think that believing boldly, proclaiming it over and over makes them true and resilient. Maybe resilient, but not true. True is true in the end, and we won’t know it until we experience it. We can believe it, we can have faith in it, but we can’t be certain until it comes to pass.

I have hope that God will work everything out in the end. I don’t have control over life as much as I think I do. I am but an animal at best… But I am God’s animal. I am created by God and therefore, I must server some purpose, as does all of his creation. I don’t know what the purpose is, but long to know what it is.

I doubt God because he obviously created a void in me that longs to be filled with something, even God, but can’t seem to get it filled. There is such dissatisfaction in my soul that can only be temporary relieved through temporal things. Hobbies, Pleasure, etc… But the void still exists. It is like starvation of the soul. Yet, these things can’t be forced. Once can’t say as many suppose and claim “I surrender God”… Done that, and it is but temporary at best. The void is still there and yet God won’t fill it. This is what causes doubt in people. Yet, I have faith that God will fill it and in the end everything will work out. His timing, not mine. I have learned not to force anything. I can’t force my relationship with God. It doesn’t work. It isn’t based on my will, but His.

My theory is that God won’t force himself on anyone, nor will he answer some magical prayer like “Lord, make me your slave” as if he will all of a sudden change you will because you asked for it. Could it happen that way? I suppose it could. But, my theory is that God waits until we have exhausted every other possible resources and come to our sense that he is truly the giver of life. This has to be experienced and cannot be willed into place, in my opinion. I think our union with God happens as a result of him letting us work these things out on our own.

The important thing for me as a Universalist is that God has no ill will towards us. I believe whatever happens, happens because it is the best way way. To second guess God would claim to have the knowledge of God. However, that doesn’t mean that just because someone says God does a thing that he does in fact do it. Many give God attributes that are unlike God and cause me to revolt. So either those things are not true, or God does not possess those evil attributes, or what I perceive to be evil.

In the end, all I think is this: God is good. I need not fear as an evil dictator. I might not like what he is doing to me at the time, but I believe in the end everything will pan out. That is indeed wishful thinking, but isn’t all faith wishful? As I mentioned, we can’t be certain, despite some people claiming otherwise.


#5

Hi Prince :slight_smile:

That’s a lot of really complex questions - and I’m not sure I can do them justice, certainly not all in one go and on an internet forum :slight_smile: It might be better for you if you break up all your issues into bite-size chunks and start a separate thread on each, dealing with one at a time. Maybe:

However, I will attempt a really short shot-gun response to your points as best as I can:
why does God feel (and seem) so distant? - I don’t know. It is specific to you. How is your prayer/worship/moral/church/bible life? hashtag:feelings :slight_smile:
If God loves us, why all the games? - I don’t believe there are any games.
Why the myriad religions, - a mix of human choices, accidents of history and satanic influence
why the plausibility of evolution, - because evolution is probably true
why so much pain? - sin, human and satanic choices
What are we learning now? - many things, but each will have to be considered on a case-by-case basis and depends upon human choice
If ultimately God has to give grace - if we cant do it by ourselves, why waiting so long to pull up the curtain? Involves both God and human choice
why does God hold out? Why not Parousia? (Why am i so impatient? hehe) I think human choice affects the timing, I think God knows the best time
Aren’t doubts of this sort worse for the universalist? Not in my experience


#6

Hi Prince…

I’m not sure I’d go with your… “letting us stew” and “all this crap”. I suspect these are more your subjective view or interpretation of your own experience/s. (??)

Yes I’d see that as “absurd” as God DOES “really loves us” as I believe is demonstrable from the bible. Further, IF “we all should have been born in Heaven” you’d think abortionists would be praised instead of being pilloried for doing plenty a favour.

Not in the sense you are understanding or using it. As I understand it… much of what Christendom haggles over on this issue with regards to mankind *in general *I as a pantelist understand speaks more to OC Israel in particular. The conclusions then from that are in a completely different ballpark.

I highly doubt it.

The older I get the less I worry about the “tangible” evidence feelings, as great as they can be. Life has convinced me God is good and I’ve learnt not assess (judge) God by what I do or don’t “feel”. In the Pentecostal era of my life I had some marvelous feeling-type experiences, most I accepted as genuine but also a number much less so; but either way God is good… that’s my bottom line anyway.


#7

#8

Thanks for all your replies!

Hehe, well maybe I’m VERY faithful (if to have faith requires doubt and pain).

Are all you at peace with God? I mean, when i set aside time to pray, I am terrified. Like God could do anything to me. I think that is my main problem: i am scared of God, even though I know universalism has to be the truth. I don’t know what the root of that fear is, that God is displeased with me, that God is so powerful, that the next life is inconceivable to me (and therefore terrifying? I don’t know why I can’t just feel that it will be heavenly)

I am also mad at God. It is God’s will that all of us will be saved, loved eternally… yet this truth is so mired in ambiguity, false religion, God’s hiddenness. This is what I mean by “playing games”. We are the lucky ones (I don’t know if anybody has statistics on how many universalists there are) but i suspect it is an infinitesimal sliver of the population. Is it disanalogous to compare this to a rich, loving human parent, who for some reason, is much removed from his/her children? Would we praise this parent, no matter how loving or how much they were eventually going to do for us, if for years they were quite inaccessible? Agreed, this isn’t a perfect analogy to Christian Universalism, but it isn’t too far-off-the-mark. The only way I can see around it is that this life must be of AWESOME IMPORTANCE in shaping our eternal lives, our eternal relationships, but given the wide variety of experiences (and terrors) this life can afford, it is hard to see how every person is deriving something so intrinsic in this life.

Of course, as Paul said, we might all forget these “birth pangs” in the joy of finally completely (or much less obstructedly) knowing God in the afterlife. And I HOPE and have FAITH :smiley: that this is true.

I know Thomas Talbott has written an essay 'The Oddity of Our Earthly Existence" (?) related to this problem… i should revisit that.


#9

Hmmm, your “universalism” doesn’t sound too lucky to me :confused:

At a guess, I’d postulate your fear of God is due directly to a certain belief about God… albeit a terrifying one. That in my experience anyway has often been the fruit of evangelicalism — hence why I now see myself as post-evangelical.


#10

Doubt is a lack of faith, THE faith that drives the Christian to search for deeper and more meaningful answers. :smiley:

Author kind of known.


#11

My definition of “evangelical” is “sharing the gospel.”


#12

Yep that’s pretty broad you could drive a 24-wheeler through it. I’m basically referring to the “religious” tradition and all that goes with that.


#13

What are we learning now?

By contrasting things i think we are learning a great deal which we never would if God revealed himself. Good from evil, love from hate, faith from doubt, light from darkness etc. If God revealed himself the negative things would disappear and there would be no contrast and we would lose the benefit of the knowledge of good and evil. The best way we learn is through our experiences. Life may be like a building under construction but hopefully when the scaffolding comes off it will look beautiful.


#14

Am I at peace with God? Mostly. But some fear seems healthy. And I too get angry at God time to time - though obviously that anger is always misplaced, since God is never to blame (one of the benefits of omnibenevolence). :slight_smile:


#15

Davo: What do you mean by post evangelical?

Hmm i think my fear of God is related to the fact that so few people know or believe in Univ. Again, this could be our fault (faulty assumptions about God, too much sentimentality as opposed to brains+heart worship…), but certainly i think God, if being of a universalist disposition, would want to provide his children (namely all of us) with more evidence. So i cant help thinking that perhaps this God is an idol, or worse yet, non-existent…

But, i know down deep that without God (a God that loves and saves everyone) there’d b no point. So i believe and hope God forgives my needing of assurance. Im sure my terror comes not from God, but the one masquerading as him… the devil!


#16

From observing humanity, I see that many people have somehow tricked themselves into believing that God doesn’t know their innermost thoughts. Oh, please will confess it, but the facts would argue otherwise. For example, when someone upholds the doctrine of Hell. Often times this person would pretend that it doesn’t bother them and make an excuse for God as to why it is OK. These people are actually scared of God and somehow have devised a way for them to pretend they love God. They claim on the surface “God’s way are higher than our ways” but internally ,they are eaten up alive, and when the thought comes in that Hell might not be real, they recoil, thinking that God won’t know that their innermost being abhors this Hell.

People do this with a lot of different things. They say one thing, but are eaten up on the inside with doubts. If they don’t acknowledge those doubts, then to them, they don’t exist. They are good little people.

If God knows us better than we know ourselves, than anything less than full honestly is a fruitless position to take. Mad at God? Then tell him! Hiding it will serve no one. Think God is wrong on something? Tell Him! You think your faking it will fool him? Of course you don’t, at least in word, but you must believe it will, since you won’t come out and challenge him. You must be bold, like Job. Yes, God is above reproach, but we must experience that in our relationship with him. If our inner being wants to challenge, we need to follow through with it, let him destroy our misconceptions so that we can truly call him Lord.

Can there ever be a real relationship if you can’t be honest and up front with someone? I know I would not want to be friends with ANYONE who was scared of me. Why? Because that isn’t friendship!

This may seem like a tangent, but I only say that because all too often I see (perhaps no one here) people give pat answers that frankly, are bogus.


#17

I lived in pain every day before I became a universalist; and I still live in pain every day; and my pain got massively worse for about ten years; and in the past, oh, five years or so it has lessened to more of a grinding grumble in the background with occasional spikes. Did any of that have anything to do with my universalism? Not that I can see. Does any of that challenge my trust in God? Sure, absolutely it does. But that was true when I was an Arminian, and as far as I can tell it would still be true (maybe worse?!) if I had been or if I was now a Calvinist. Pain hurts, badly; annoying things annoy. Inconvenient things are necessarily going to be inconvenient, and as creatures we were always going to have to deal with some inconveniences. Would I complain less if the inconveniences were less? I like to think so, but recent social stereotypical snowflake activities give me reason to think I might be just as annoyed at much more minor inconveniences.

Whether I’m a universalist or not, I look to the cross to remember that God voluntarily suffers with me, and with everyone else who suffers. Whether I’m a universalist or not, I weather the pain until it subsides and I remember what the implications of my rationality are, and the implications of the reality of those people I love: that God exists, and ultimately that Christianity (particularly trinitarian Christianity) is true. If I can bring myself to do it while the pain is surging, I also remind myself that the existence of my enemies as people leads by the same implications to the same result! :wink:

Meanwhile, if I can remember to do it, I pour the pain I’m feeling on any parts of my soul that I should be repenting about, so the pain doesn’t go to waste. This often helps the pain go away faster, but even if it doesn’t I think the penitent exercise is important.


#18

Awesome post, Jason. :sunglasses:


#19

Back in 1989 when God touched my Life, I became aware of his intentions to save everybody and that nobody would be lost to him, not one. I was so overjoyed I was busting to tell the Whole World…BIG MISTAKE… there is a World full of Religious Pharisees out there :open_mouth:
Now I know how Jesus Felt when he stood amongst the Pharisees in the temple and they slapped him, hit him spat on him, as a group.
But it is nice to know the Gods plan of Universal Salvation and Reconciliation is still well on track and nothing will prevent it from coming about anyway. I don’t really hate anybody but I must confess I can hardly wait to see the looks on the Faces of the Religiouse Pharisees of today when they find out on Judgement day that they where the Goats, and why.

Grace and Peace to you all


#20

Exactly who are the religious Pharisees of today? And will these “goats” end up with eternal punishment? (Matt 25:46 ESV)

Doesn’t the context of the “sheep” and the “goats” in Matthew 25, indicate that the sheep are those who minister to the needy, while the goats are those who neglect the needy?