The Evangelical Universalist Forum

On The Popular Topic Currently Under Discussion :)

Hey everyone :slight_smile: Guess I’m throw in my two cents (or one or three cents, depending on how much value you think it has after all is read and done) on the popular topic many have been discussing on the forum, namely the Trinity versus other views, or, to put it another way, the ‘mechanics’ of God. :slight_smile:
I guess it may be just because I’m not much of a math/science analytical type (and all of this discussion can certainly appeal to those who are a bit more left-brained than myself… though we are certainly called to love God with our minds, so I won’t argue that this kind of thing has its place), but I do wonder sometimes if our Creator just isn’t as concerned about our having a very clear picture or view right now of His ‘mechanics’ as we do of His character.
Take ourselves for example.
There are different views on how we are made up… some say body and spirit, some say body and mind and spirit, some say the soul is a part of us, some say we are a soul, some say this, some say that… :confused:
There are people who have studied the body, and know its anatomy fairly well, who have studied human psychology and have a decent grasp on the mind’s workings, and even those who have studied our spiritual capacity, and have come to some interesting conclusions… but, ultimately, knowing about a person, how they may or may not be made up, though it may certainly be helpful, is ultimately not what is going to create a relationship with that person.
You have to talk to them, listen to them, communicate and connect with them… and finding out a person’s character when it comes to relationship is far more important then finding out their mechanics…
Can you trust them? Can you relate to them? What do they stand for? What do they care about? What are their hopes and their dreams? Their fears and their doubts? What keeps them going, gives their life meaning? Could you call them a friend?
Character, who a person is, is ultimately more important to having a relationship with them than their mechanics, or what they are… and I think God made us this way, so that relationship can’t be effectively approached via formula or scientific method or the like… batting around ideas, philosophy, metaphysics, is fine when you are by yourself… trust me, I know all too well about batting around ideas (I was the king of daydreamers when I was growing up)… but when you are with others you need to actually live… actually make choices… actually apply some of your knowledge and understanding of things, in order to be part of a community of individuals, or you can just go by faith, or take things as they come, when your ideas pretty much fall flat in the face of reality. :neutral_face:
In short, we can’t stay in our ivory towers… we have to step outside. :neutral_face:
And this is really hard. I have had all these great visions of how I want to live, and then either how it plays out comes off as mediocre in comparison to the original vision, or I just totally screw it up. :frowning:
Talking the talk is so much easier then walking the walk. :frowning:
And in a relationship with God, though there are definitely some differences, it’s pretty much the same I think.
I believe God is interested in having relationships with persons, not just ideas. And He wants us to share His values, and not only in how we see people as people and not as ideas, but also that we see God as a person and not as an idea…
Believe you me, this is hard for a guy like me to take. I’m a loner by nature, and have a tendency to get wrapped up and stuck on the inside, and blank everything and everyone around me out… I like batting around ideas, but relationships are definitely a challenge for me…
God has called me out to actually relate to Him and to others… I’m trying, and often I fail miserably, but then I believe that I’m growing in this little by little, and God is very patient with me, and very gracious to me, and I’m thankful for that. :slight_smile:
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we should try to focus on the revealed things more then the hidden things, and remember that even though there is more that we don’t know then what we do know, we don’t have to drive ourselves crazy trying to flip that equation around. :laughing:
It’s like my fiancee, Kaylyn. She tries to keep things simple, whereas I like to think a lot. She’s always telling me ‘you think too much’. :laughing: Sometimes it’s a little hurtful, but most of the time she’s right, I know. :slight_smile: Kaylyn says she just wants to live and enjoy her life. She trusts God, and she’s thankful. She’s no more perfect then I am, but maybe there’s something to her childlike approach to things. :slight_smile:
And to be a Berean we may need to use our brains, but I think issues like Trinitarianism versus non-Trinitarianism just aren’t nearly as important to most people as something like eternal conscious torment and annihilation versus universal reconciliation.
The former, to most people, is simply a matter of mechanics. But the latter, to most people, is really a matter of character.
To me the latter is far more important than the former.
I admit that I struggle with the issue of God’s ‘makeup’ sometimes. How do I pray? To the Father? To Jesus? To the Spirit? Does it even really matter? I like how C.S. Lewis said somewhere in his book Mere Christianity (I’m paraphrasing here because I can’t find the quote), that the important thing is to simply enter into the relationship, and learn from there. :slight_smile:
But ultimately, I have always struggled immensely with the issue of what God will do with us after we die, and what God’s ultimate plan is for humankind… and believing in everlasting hell, and trying to accept it, because I didn’t think that there were any other valid options of how to look at these matters, I was faced with terrifying fears and doubts, and a great deal of anger at times towards a God who held not only my own life, but the lives of my family and my friends, many of whom don’t believe in God or Jesus, in His hands…
If God really does love everyone, being Love in essence, and if God really can save everyone, being Almighty, for Him not to do so is simply illogical in the worst possible sense. God would be utterly schizophrenic and insane. Which made me feel schizophrenic and insane whenever I started really thinking about these things… :frowning:
Spirit of fear and of confusion, anyone? :confused:
My basic struggle with it was this: ‘Hey God, is this really the best you can do? Is that your master plan? Save a few and then give up on all the rest? Wow… do you want me to clap for you?’ :open_mouth:
I don’t mean to come off as blasphemous, but the whole ‘doctrine’ of less saved and more doomed has always made me mad, so much so that in the past I’ve cussed God (or my caricature of God) out and the only way I’ve been able to deal with it has been to compartmentalize it or try to ignore the issue. :frowning:
I tried the best I could to trust God even though I didn’t understand and felt very uncomfortable with the contradictions. :frowning:
So when I started reading about the hope of universal reconciliation, that the Good News really is Good News (and of great joy no less, like Gabriel told the shepherds in the fields on the night of Christ’s birth), and became convinced of it (not that I don’t struggle with doubts about it sometimes, as I do with everything… that and I’m pretty new to this, so…), then it’s like there was this big burden lifted off my shoulders.
I still have things I struggle with, but I’m more hopeful now. :slight_smile:
What I’m saying is this change of view, which I believe God has led me into, has helped me to trust God more, so it must be very important, whereas I’m not sure if coming to a solid view of how ‘the Father relates to the Son relates to the Spirit’ will really do much more for me other than make me feel a bit less mentally cluttered on the subject. :neutral_face:
And what I’m also saying is that I think the things we should really focus on are the ones that have to do with God’s character, because ultimately they are what is most important to our relationship with God.
This other stuff, at least in my own view, is secondary by comparison.
Of course, being only human, I could be wrong about these things in one way or another.
But this is who I am, and where I’m coming from. :slight_smile:
May we all learn and grow not only in our head knowledge of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, but also, and even more, in our heart knowledge. And may we learn to trust, and to love.
May we all have more desire to seek relationships with people more than with ideas.
And may we all know God’s amazing grace in our search for answers and for where we truly belong, which is, in the end, with the Lord, who is our home. :slight_smile:

Blessings to you all :slight_smile:


‘And in this consists the Life of the Ages–in knowing Thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.’

  • John 17:3, Weymouth

Thanks, Matt! Well said, and I agree.

The main point of the discussion of universalism is, for me, not some abstract debate over how many people will go to heaven or hell. It’s about what kind of being God is – Is He trustworthy? Can I rely on Him? Does He really love people? And is that love conditional? If He doesn’t love some humans, it’s impossible for me to trust that He loves me. And if He loves me, but doesn’t love the people I love as much as I love them, in addition to finding it impossible to comprehend such a thing, I find it impossible to love such an irrational God. For years I tried to accept such things. It’s such a joy to now have the freedom to believe as I do!

So far as the Trinity issue … I agree that understanding how all that fits together is far less important than the relationship we have with God himself. I find the idea of the Trinity to be the best short statement of the principles found in scripture, but I don’t think it is an essential thing that everyone must believe. The essentials are about how we live and how we love and how we do the things that Christ teaches us.


Very well said Matt. I agree that the “form” of God doesn’t matter so much, which is why I say I’m agnostic to it. I don’t think theres anything wrong with discussing the particulars, and theorizing, just that its secondary to the relationship. We’re likely all wrong on the particular of God. Some say trinity, some unity, some binity, I say He is an infinity. Our little finite brains can’t comprehend infinity.

Sonia: Thanks Sonia :slight_smile: I totally agree. I’ve always struggled with that too. It sickens me that some have even suggested that God would ‘mindwipe’ us in heaven so we would forget our loved ones who get cast into everlasting hell. :cry: And what’s even worse is such a view is totally unsupported biblically. If you read passages like the story of Lazarus and parts of Revelation according to an ECT view, then you have to make the assumption that we will be totally aware of their punishment. :cry: And won’t have an issue with it, or may even rejoice in it! :open_mouth:
The whole sadistic Jonathan Edwards idea of taking pleasure out of others pain is sadly the logical conclusion of such things. :frowning:
If we are all just ‘sinners in the hands of an angry God’, then life is a sad and tragic game of cat and mouse, where the cat plays with us for awhile and then goes in for the kill. :frowning:
This is why I tried not to dwell on these things too much… I think that deep in my heart I never believed in everlasting hell, didn’t want to, even if in my head I assented to it…
All of this makes me think of something Frederick Buechner said (and I personally believe from reading Buechner’s work that he’s something of a closet hopeful universalist… highly recommend his books, by the way).
I’ll paraphrase it, cuz I don’t know the exact quote. He said that we can never be truly at peace unless we know that everyone else is truly at peace as well…
I could add to that that this would always be the case if we were really compassionate and merciful people.
So those who relish the idea of an everlasting hell, like Tertullian did concerning his enemies, are lacking in very basic compassion and mercy. :frowning:
I mean, we may not all be very great at caring for our fellow man much of the time, but if most of us really thought long and hard about all of this, I don’t think any of us would wish an everlasting hell or even annihilation on the worst of criminals or our worst enemy. :neutral_face:
To believe in universal reconciliation to me is simply following the logic of love, of compassion and mercy, and also of genuine righetousness and true justice for that matter. Otherwise all the beautiful and wondrous passages about God’s goodness and greatness in Scripture basically ring hollow and come off as mere propaganda. :frowning:
So that’s why I feel more hopeful now, because now I’m just following the logic. :slight_smile: And the cry of my heart…
And you’re right. :slight_smile: The essentials have to do with relationship, with God and with one another. :slight_smile:

Thank you for your feedback, Sonia :slight_smile:


Thanks man, and I agree, bro. :slight_smile: I think it’s kind of silly that we think we can figure out an infinite God. We human beings can be so silly sometimes :laughing:
Reminds me of one of my favorite verses:
‘Trust unto Jehovah with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding, know you Him in all your ways, and He does make your paths straight.’ Provers 3:5-6 (MYLT)

Thanks for your comment :slight_smile:

Blessings to you both


Hi Matt,

I agree with a lot of what you say in your OP. I think it’s important that we’re not only discussing theology but trying to live out what we believe in our day to day lives by loving others not just “in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). At the same time, I believe those who think a theological topic is important enough to discuss on this forum should feel free to discuss it with those who are interested, and those who don’t…well, they can spend time discussing what they do think is important enough to discuss. :slight_smile: For some people (such as myself), the extent to which the more inspiring truths of Scripture (such as God’s unconditional love for us and the promise of UR) are found more compelling and “real” to them (such that they more readily sink into one’s heart and contribute to one’s spiritual growth) has a lot to do with the coherency and reasonableness of other doctrines which are believed to be derived from the same source (but which may not seem to be as directly or obviously tied to our spiritual growth). What Scripture teaches concerning how many divine persons there are (or whether God is one or “three-in-one”) may not be as important as what Scripture teaches concerning the character and plan of the divine person (or persons) revealed in its pages, but I think it’s still an important question and deserves study, reflection and discussion (for if, as I believe, Christ believed the Father alone was his God and the “only true God,” then, as a disciple of Christ, I want to believe the same, even if I’m not sure how exactly this truth is contributing to my spiritual growth). And how this question (or similar questions) is answered by the believer may be of greater consequence to their faith than some might think. If I grew up as an orphan and was approached by a person with the extraordinary news that the father I never knew existed has been trying to find me, any doubts I might have would likely be accompanied by the joyous hope that it might be true (and even more so if I viewed the person revealing this news as being reliable and of sound mind). But if the same informant went on to say that my father had three heads (or, to make it even more bizarre, said that one of the heads is being continuously generated by another) I would then view the person sharing the news - as well as the news itself - in a very different light!

Thanks for your comment, Aaron. :slight_smile: It’s also easy to talk about going out there and making a difference, but also very hard to actually go out and do it. :frowning: That’s what I pray about a lot, for the desire and the motivation and the grace to go out and actually make a difference in the real world. Sometimes I feel like I do, but most of the time I feel like I don’t… so I keep praying, and don’t give up…

But I do think that even just encouraging others and helping others through our words is something. Like Brennan Manning said, ‘words can be deeds’. :slight_smile:
After all, Jesus helped others through His words. But then again, He backed up His words with actions. :slight_smile:

And also prayer for others is meaningful. I think if we can’t really do anything tangible for someone, because they are simply out of our range of influence or because our relationship with them is utterly broken and there is nothing tangible we can do to really change that… we can still pray for them, and cast our cares on God, because He cares for us. :slight_smile:
And then there will be times when we can be an answer to prayer. :slight_smile:

But I do want to feel more useful, more a part of what God is doing in this world…
But then perhaps I’m just being too hard on myself, or not giving credit to God for how He has worked in my heart and through my life…

I see what you mean by how these issues can be important though. I can see that you don’t see things from a Trinitarian perspective, and I can respect that. I think at this point I’m agnostic on this issue. I believed in the Trinity because it seemed like the only valid option, as everything else was claimed to be ‘heretical’. :confused:
But now I’m not afraid to ask questions as much as I once was.
Not as afraid to question tradition or the status quo or the majority view. I’m trying to be more open-minded.

It kind of upsets me when I see people looking down on one another for having different views on something that is way above our heads to begin with, and forgetting about what matters most, namely our relationship with God and with one another. :confused:

As far as these issues, I think every view has its merits, and should be heard out, but ultimately we can’t know for sure about something that hasn’t really been spelled out for us. God has been VERY clear about His character in Scripture, in fact clearer about that then just about anything else, but as far as His mechanics… there are some clues, for sure, but about the only thing that everyone on this forum (unless there are some curious seekers or the like looking around) can agree on as far as the ‘mechanics’ of God is that God exists and that God is Spirit. :confused:

The way I think of it is that there is a very deep and meaningful connection between God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit… what the particulars of this connection are I do not yet know or understand…
I also believe that Jesus was both fully divine and fully human…
Jesus Christ was clearly worshipped (by Thomas, for example) in the New Testament, and also clearly came in the flesh and ‘dwelt among us’. Any view that denies this makes me nervous, to be honest, as it denies something that is made quite clear in Scripture, IMO… :confused:
Beyond that though, I am open-minded about this.
I do also think that God will not penalize us for not having Him figured out (if that were even possible) in the correct way in this matter… as long as we are in communication with Him and connected to Him, I think He is thrilled. :slight_smile:

Thanks again for your comment, Aaron :slight_smile:

Blessings to you brother :slight_smile:


God so loved the world while we were yet sinners that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This is God’s unconditional love for the world that does not deserve it. God takes no joy in the death of the wicked. Choose life or Death.

There lies your trustworthiness, his love for people, his unconditional love, and much much more than you can ever imagine.

His arguments in this paper against the weaknesses of Arminianism are great (though Calvinism certainly has its share), and are a major part of the reason that I reject the notion of free will, at least with regard to election and salvation.
Part of the logic of Universalism makes the notion of free will implausible to me, ironically, since Talbott affirms both.

Mel: Who’s arguments do you mean, bro? :slight_smile: If you were referring to me, I’m not really sure if I was really defending Armianism or Calvinism. Personally, I think in some ways both views are right, and in other ways, both views are wrong.
But I agree bro. The whole idea of God putting our fate in our own hands may have be a bit more palatable than being elected for everlasting condemnation, but trusting in a God who is either too weak (yeah… I think not :laughing:) or uncreative (haha, just look around you, and that thought gets smashed quick! :laughing: ) to find a way to save all that is not by arbitrary force (and such is not the nature of real love, but there is i.e. providence and grace, working in the heart over time [whether in this life or after death], and of course, the power of committed love) is no easier than trusting in a God who is too much of a crazy despot to even want to save all. :frowning:
I guess you could say that my view would be this: that the ‘Good News’ should be and has to the best news possible, to be counted truly as ‘good news of great joy for all the people’. :slight_smile:
In short, I would rather believe in something, and someone, worth believing in. :slight_smile:

Blessings to you, bro :slight_smile:

Oh, sorry. I meant the arguments presented in Ravi Holy’s paper. (Ravi Holy is such a great name; if you say it fast, it sounds like ‘ravioli’) :laughing:

Edit: Hang on a sec; I just noticed your location is in Milwaukie, Oregon… I’m in Portland, just up the road!

Haha, I think I was getting something of a big head from a perceived compliment. :laughing:
Yeah, Ravi’s paper was awesome, and certainly deserves some kudos. :slight_smile: And yeah, that is a pretty cool name. :slight_smile: He’s on Facebook, and I chatted with him a bit the other day. Seems like a pretty cool guy. :slight_smile:

Hey, that’s cool. :slight_smile: We should get together and hang out sometime. :slight_smile: