Packer’s reason #3 is very interesting, that UR results in a 1) a lessening of emphasis on evangelism, 2) a lessening on pushing people to make a decision for Christ and 3) a greater emphasis on the social gospel – actually loving your neighbor in deed as opposed to just words. “Other ways of loving your neighbor here in this life may now be considered as perhaps more important than seeking to win him to Christ. And it is no accident that keenness on the social gospel, so-called, and universalist theology, have hone hand in hand, viz. G. Muller wrote, ‘almost all leading religious socialists have appeared as universalists in their theology’.”
This is what is happening in my own life. As a result of UR I am becoming more concerned with how I actually live, how I actually treat my neighbor and the man on the street, than I am with trying to convince them to follow Jesus. I’m glad to share my faith in Jesus, glad to share the good news of God’s love, glad to share with all that I consider them brothers and sisters in my family, the family of God; but I feel no need to push them or threaten them to change. I trust the good news of God’s love for us all to draw people to repentance.
On the other hand, I’ve personally come under much greater conviction as to how I live my life because I’ve not only come to accept UR, but I’ve also come to understand that Judgment is based on works, that God rewards and punishes us all as He sees fit to accomplish His good in us. To me, faith in Christ is a gift, a “talent” for which I am responsible. It’s not something I can take pride in myself because of, but something that humbles me and for which I am to be a responsible steward of as evidenced by how I treat others.
So UR leads believers to be more socially responsible! It’s lead me to be more loving and respectful of others. It’s lead me to have a greater compassion for the poor and oppressed. And it’s resulted in me having a greater faith in Christ for not only my salvation, but the salvation of others. It’s even resulted in me living a holier life.
Packer goes on to say concerning missionary activity, — “In evangelical history there have been repeated movements of the Spirit, movements of missionary and evangelistic advance which have had at their heart earnest prayer offered by many good Christian souls, prayer that was made in terms of the belief that without Christ men and women were lost. This is not a question now of how they preached; it is a question of how they prayed. Were they right to pray that way? Such prayer was, literally, the powerhouse of the evangelical awakening in the eighteenth century and many spiritual movements since. Was it off the beam? - Unistructed prayer? - Foolish and stupid prayer? Or did it reflect a true insight into how things were?”
Of course, in this statement Packer is a using a fallacy in logic, just because the result of something is percieved as “good” does not verify the veracity of the assumption. It also does not take into consideration that URs are also very passionate about people coming to faith in Christ, and that we too believe that people without Christ are “lost”. It’s just that we have faith in the power of the Gospel to ultimately bring salvation to all people. We also understand that the present reality of this evil age (Gal.1.3-4) does not cancel the future hope of salvation for all.
Also prayer for the salvation of others is never “foolish” or “stupid”. Though of course, the UR prays with faith, trusting God to accomplish the salvation of all whether in this life or the life to come. The tradtionalist prays with little faith, because they do not trust in God to save others. In fact, they trust that God will not save most of humanity. So their prayers for the salvation of others are not based in the bright light of faith, but only in a dim hope. I pray with much more faith for the salvation of others today, than I ever did as a traditionalist.