Peter Gurry: Universalists don't have the moral high ground


, Peter Gurry"]What does it mean that Christians should hope that universalism is true? This sort of “universalists have the moral high ground” argument seems to come up again and again in this discussion. I don’t really get it. What exactly is the nature of this supposedly virtuous hope in universal reconciliation? Is it the kind of hope I have about Christ’s return? Or the kind of hope that my kids will grow up and turn out all right? I’ve been wondering along with James Smith whether we’re not falling prey to a kind of hubris in suggesting that a hopeful universalism has the moral high ground. As Smith says, “…even our wishes, hopes, and desires need discipline.” At what point in this “hopeful” universalism are we in danger of saying we know a better ending to the story than God does? This uncomfortable question really needs to be asked by those who use this kind of rhetoric.

Also, people have got to stop citing Lewis’s Great Divorce as any kind of support for post-mortem second-chances. As N.D. Wilson (who’s currently writing the screenplay adaptation) rightly points out, “And, of course, Lewis put the universalist George MacDonald in Heaven and made him watch the unrepentant damned get back on the bus to Hell. A little wink and gloat at one of his favorite authors.”

If Lewis meant The Great Divorce to be any kind of argument for second chances he failed miserably. Every one in the story who visits the outskirts of heaven returns to hell whence they came. Lewis is making a point about the after life, but it is not that folks will change their minds once they get there. Quite the reverse, in fact. He is making the point that our trajectory upon exiting this life continues on into the next. I’d say Robin has been too busy to answer him, so would someone like to help? :slight_smile:


This is the same Peter Gurry that was saying that God loved all people with a common grace but still either elected/allowed a majority of people to suffer eternal concious torment? How about starting off with 1 Corinthians 13:7 love hopes all things? and about 1 Timothy 2:3-4 that God desires all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (Who I assume to be Jesus) and relating that to having God’s heart for those who are lost? And on the flip side of the chances of this happening, we know that Jesus said what is impossible for man is possible for God, which for me goes for one of the other statements in 1 Corinthians 13:7 about love, it believes all things.


LOL, someone point him to 1 Timothy and Paul’s explanation that Timothy should pray for the salvation of all people because God desires it. If God is a hopeful universalist, doesn’t that kind of settle where our thoughts should be?


I remember a woman putting in her blog, why are people less offended by God sending everyone to hell than by God allowing people into heaven. It almost seems like a lack of mercy. I remember reading a forum topic where they were discussing the doctrine of eternal security, I remember someone actually saying something like “I don’t know if I want to see anyone in heaven who was not expecting to be there” I was kinda surprised because the parable of the sheep and goats seems to denote that people will be surprised and we should be grateful that God extends mercy and grace to us all.


Good point, Sarah! I didn’t see your post before I posted mine. :slight_smile:


I’m just going to throw out that, whatever your eschatological view, a “wink and a gloat” when considering the hellbound is perhaps ill-advised.


Lewis wanted universalism to be true, but was convinced it violated free will. His views were a million miles away from a “wink and gloat”.

As for the Great Divorce, the man with the lizard of Lust on his shoulder was saved. The lizard turned into the horse Desire, and the man rode off into deep heaven. Peter Gurry had best re-read the book.


MacD also testifies (in the book, though he is not actually a universalist as portrayed by Lewis), while assuring Lewis that the woman frightened by the unicorns may yet be saved, that he has seen it happen before.

PG is confused on several issues. :wink:


I don’t think I have to pray for each individual person, by name, to make “pray for all” valid. For example, when I can pray for my government, I do that hoping God will be working in all the members of the government. I see Paul making an inclusive statement similar to “love your enemies” and just because I fail to live up to that, doesn’t make it any less valid.

I don’t see God just loving all kinds of people, I see Him loving all people without exception. Otherwise I would have to say God hates all kinds of people too, which doesn’t fit with the character of Jesus and philosophically doesn’t work for a number of reasons, not least that I’m commanded to, unconditionally and inclusively, love my neighbor whilst knowing that there a 90% chance God hates them!

Now that Christ has defeated death and brought resurrection, I don’t see why death has to be an obstacle to people coming to repentance and faith.


He’s missing the point of 1 Timothy. 1 Tim doesn’t prove universalism, but it does show God’s concern for ALL people, as do many other places in the Bible. If PG’s arguing against God’s loving concern for EACH and EVERY ONE of his creation, then PG’s got a lot more problems than mere universalism. In fact, if he honestly believes that God does NOT love EACH person (merely loving all “kinds” of people), then of course he’ll never believe it’s morally better to “hope” for universalism.

In fact, a rational argument could be made that if God in fact hates most of his creation, then it’s morally better for us to hate most people and desire their eternity in hell (because that matches better with God’s nature, which must be “good,” as some people on this forum argue). :wink: The statements he’s making, in fact in fact, correlate to such an argument. I fail to fathom how a “Christian” can argue along those lines. :frowning:


Incidentally, Blogger posting is currently botched this morning; otherwise I would have three (more) comments to add to that thread myself.


I think 1 Tim supports universalism but I agree, “proof” requires more than I verse.

Yeah, Jason, blogger wasn’t working for me either yesterday :unamused: it’s disappointing that Google hasn’t ironed out all the bugs by now!

Peter, I think Paul didn’t want us to exclude anyone in our prays because God desires all to be saved & part of the way that can happen is through prayer. I would say that God giving Himself as a ransom for all people so that all people would be saved (assuming God gets what He wants eventually, at His appointed time), is definitely part of His love for all people. I’m glad you think God loves everyone. Given that’s the case (as far as I know), why would He stop loving people when they die? I thought God couldn’t change His mind? Also even humans don’t stop loving people when they die, and we have a mere shadow of God’s love.

Why does judgement stop God loving people? Isn’t judgement part of God’s love for people? i.e. it part of process of making things right in the universe. It will undoubtedly be extremely unpleasant for most people (& I imagine even Christians will feel embarrassed by the ways they have failed to live up to Christ’s standards), but that doesn’t mean He’s doing it because He suddenly hates most people. The Hebrew word in Dan 12:2 is oulm, which doesn’t have to mean “everlasting”. i.e. it appears hundreds of times in the OT, and from memory there are places which it logically can’t mean everlasting, which is probably why Young’s Literal Translation says, “And the multitude of those sleeping in the dust of the ground do awake, some to life age-during, and some to reproaches-to abhorrence age-during.” In regards to Revelations, I suggest reading Robin’s “The Evangelical Universalist” :slight_smile:

For sure, I agree that Jesus strongly warned people of the coming judgement & wrath, and encouraged everyone to immediately repent. I also agree that death is the consequence of sin and part of judgement we share through Adam in the Fall, but given resurrection, I don’t see it as the end of the road. Out of love for all people, God paid the ransom for all people, therefore all further judgment is primarily remedial/corrective/educative (even though those in hell will think it’s retributive, from their perspective).