Interestingly, for me at least, my mum’s cousin’s husband has just confessed on his blog (in a post on Universalism), that he leans “fairly strongly to the universalist side”
Anyway, here are just a few of his interesting observations.
"On [paintingfakes.blogspot.com/2011/ ... alism.html:
http://paintingfakes.blogspot.com/2011/03/universalism.html) , Jon"]The dialogue, such as it is, seems to me to be pretty much a dialogue of the deaf. It’s fascinating to read debates in the various blogs where both universalists and believers in hell (what is the catchy term for that?) argue their cases from the Bible. I suspect there are two reasons why the sides remain so far apart. One is that in fact both views are present in the New Testament (and neither is in the Old Testament, where life after death has not been thought of). As Hans Kung says, the New Testament already contains a number of different theologies. I also suspect that the issue of heaven and hell was far less central to the New Testament writers than it is to us - they were both less individualistic than we are, and less steeped in the platonic notions of ideal forms and immortal souls. They were not driven to answer this question clearly because they had other things on their minds.
Some excellent points here, although to be really picky, I’d have said “believers in ECT” rather than “believers in hell”, as I believe in hell, albeit a temporary one.
"Later in [paintingfakes.blogspot.com/2011/ ... alism.html:
http://paintingfakes.blogspot.com/2011/03/universalism.html) , Jon"]It [universalism] changes the way we grieve. With an orthodox world-view, when relatives or friends die outside the Christian faith, the proper response is despair - or perhaps despairing resigation. Your mum is now burning in hell. Thankfully most orthodox believers I know are unable to actually rise (or fall) to this level of consistency and resort to a fudge - you never know what was in people’s hearts, God moves in mysterious ways, insert your comforting phrase here. For a universalist, grieving can always be conducted in hope, since God’s mercy will triumph. It can focus on our own pain, the awful empty space in our lives that no other person will ever fill.
It changes the way we evangelise. Traditional evangelism is driven by the need to save people from eternal torment. It is driven by fear as much as love. The task is urgent and literally a matter of (eternal) life and death. For a univeralist, the eternal question doesn’t come into our sense of mission. The entire question is - is the love, message and person of Jesus worth spreading in the world? It is of small consequence whether or not people convert, our only motive can be to incarnate Jesus’ love in the here and now, hoping to bring forward the Kingdom of God.