Should or how should universalists evangelize?


#1

So I picked up a hitchhiker today, the first one in a few years. The first one since I began wholeheartedly believing in UR.

In the past, I rarely let a hitchhiker out of my car without at least a feeble attempt to mention the gospel. Don’t want anyone going to hell without at least hearing the gospel, you know?

Today, I thought about it but didn’t. This guy is going to heaven eventually, right?

So what is the best course for an evangelical universalist both as opportunities arise and for planned efforts?


#2

I can’t speak for “evangelical universalists” per se but IMO you already did it the best way possible… your actions speak louder than words. You gave him a lift, and that without an agenda, the best blessing possible. We serve God by serving others. :slight_smile:


#3

I think you just be yourself, Trey. Personally I find it much, much easier to just make a mention of God in general conversation as a natural thing to say. He is the most important thing in my life, so it’s harder NOT to talk about Him than the opposite. In the past, I felt I was obligated to deliver a sales pitch, and I do not do that well. Now the pressure is off. I can simply share what has suddenly become the actual good news it was always billed to be (and wasn’t, as far as I could see.)


#4

Is the threat of hell the only reason to evangelize? Do we not have the good news of Jesus Christ to share? Is not the Holy Spirit given to those who put their faith in Christ? And is it not the case that anyone who does not repent of their sins and egoism and begin to practice the ascetical disciplines of the Church will remain enslaved to their disordered desires and will be condemned to alienation from their supreme Good?

But I agree that we must carefully choose one’s evangelistic moment. Christian mugging really doesn’t work. :slight_smile:


#5

There is something missing in the average person’s life, something wrong with his present life as he lives it. But he doesn’t know what it is. He is seeking for something—a remedy for his emotional ills, for the outbreaks of anger and hate and evil actions which he cannot seem to avoid. We need to show him that Christ can deliver him from all of that.

Even if the only reason for bringing the good news of Christ were to enable everyone to escape hell, wouldn’t this motive be very strong in the believer in universal reconciliation as well? Would you not bother to save a person here on earth from a burning house if you could—just because he’s going to be okay with God some day anyway? If you would be willing to save him from an hour or less of pain, why wouldn’t you be willing to save him from possibly millions of years of discomfort?

I simply fail to see the logic in the idea that some universalists hold — that there’s no need to evanglize since everyone is going to be saved anyway.


#6

Also Christian telemarketing. :wink:

Not that I’ve ever heard of Christians particularly trying that, but I’m kind of horrified by the similarities in the ‘strategies’ I’ve heard in evangelism training sessions. Brrr…


#7

One of the observations we sometimes make on this site is that in a practical sense very few people in the church as a whole really believe in ECT even though articles of faith and other documents clearly state that position. We say this because IT is a part of the message which is a) not well understood thought about or grasped and b) is not good news in any mans language. I sometimes think that maybe the Holy Spirit just blocks the issue? The confidence to be able to share faith effectively requires passion, knowledge, love and empathy to name just a few helpful attributes. Attempts which range from simply ranting to cleaver marketing just do not seem to hack it. Most people and I very much include myself do not have very much confidence if the evidence seems to point to this being an important factor in sharing our faith. From my personal experience it was mostly circumstances, friendship and then careful explanation followed by a spiritual awakening that brought me to faith in Christ in the first place. Quite a chain of events really. If we look at the growth of Christianity from its beginnings we see that it started by the coming of the HS with great hope love and charity, and then gradually over decades and longer translated into a sad state of enforced belief which enslaved the masses. We are still coming out of this, and to some extent suffering at least in the West from a negative reaction to it. If our Christian history embarrasses us to some degree then there is good evidence it should. Not that positives were lacking of course. At this point you may be asking where is Chris going with this? Well what I have observed from the posts prior in this topic range from the practical questions Trey raised to some replies which attempt to offer some directions. I personally resonate a bit with Cindy that her growing confidence in her position re UR and it’s affect on her walk with The Father have tended to make her efforts to share a natural outcome in her life. I too think that there are plenty of occasions where the use of words is not necessary, though Paul does say how shall they hear without a preacher. It agree with Piadon too in that the Gospel is good news and that rightly understood it is nothing to be ashamed of and saves us from our sins. I also understand and cringe along with Jason at some manifestations of “witnessing” I come across. Personally I would say friendship evangelism is more my style but I do need to acknowledge and give encouragement to those of my brothers and sisters gifted in other means of communication even if they do have higher cringe or other factors. Paul was prepared to be all things to all men and even he did not expect to win over all he touched. The thing is that we have a story to tell and the best version to tell is our own one. Hope this helps. Chris


#8

I’ve actually been somewhat stumped by this question for quite some time. I think it is important to ask; what should evangelism look like without the “fear factor”, the threat of (endless) hell? I’ve recently come across a book that I think actually answers this question rather well. The book is titled Flesh; Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth by Hugh Halter. I have no idea if Hugh is an Universalist, but I’d bet he’s at least an inclusivist. If he’s not EU, he should be :exclamation: Check it out:

amazon.com/Flesh-Bringing-In … 0781409977


#9

Not all have the spiritual gift of evangelism. Nevertheless, we all are called to the ministry of reconciliation which stands on the work of Love. But what about Truth? How do we communicate Truth?

Let’s look at how Christ treats Truth. But first, I want to bring up a verse in proverbs 23:23 “Buy the Truth and sell it not.” Clearly, Truth has enormous value. Now let’s skip ahead to John 2:13-16 where Jesus comes into the temple and turns over the merchant tables who are selling worldly possessions. Clearly, there is a contrast between worldly possessions and Truth. Truth is spiritual. Jesus was upset that Truth was not being “bought” in the synagogue. No doubt pharisees in their corruption was making big money off of their job when they were supposed to freely share Truth.

So where does the buying come in if the Truth is preached freely supposedly if pharisees were doing their job? The fact is that Jesus paid the price for our salvation but we “pay” our respects to Him by pursuing holiness and kindness. In other words, we invest time/energy/interest/etc. into our relationship with Jesus for the sake of Him. By choosing Christ, we divert our attention from worldly matters and thinking which concerns itself for temporary reward. The only way others could really know the value of Jesus to us is to share our priorities and their positive effect on our minds and lives. As a result, non-believers see a peculiar people.

What good is our peculiar testimony if we don’t share our desire for the presence of Jesus in our lives? Our testimony bears evidence of the Truth who gives us a reference point for our decisions in life. Because of the disunity and poor example the body of Christ presents, people have a hard time believing the Holy Spirit really exists. This is the most formidable opponent that we evangelical universalists face. I know because I try to explain what I believe to fellow college students and they try to categorize me into a denomination rather than dig deeper into my love for Jesus. I am an evangelical universalist because I believe unity amongst Christians is necessary to the wooing of souls. So I just try to focus on sharing how Jesus is the embodiment of love, purity, kindness, and joy.

Our goal as evangelical universalists is to imitate Jesus in order to lead all Christians into unity and attract all to Him. This is our goal and hope in this age.


#10

I’m quite evangelistic. I call myself an evangelist, but that’s by calling rather than profession.

When I started looking at universalism I got stuck with the question "If EU is true, what’s the point of evangelism? " If evangelism turned out to be unnecessary, it put me in a place where if I accepted EU, I would have to reject the evangelism.

I asked God this during a time of sung worship one Sunday morning and He reply with “Tell them I love them” The nutty charismatics like me would understand when I say I started laughing. God’s laughter. I was never confident about preaching hell and I don’t think I ever did - I always talked to people about God’s love and goodness. So there was no real change in my message or approach, but now I have better answers for the questions about good people dying etc.

I’m not sure your methods need to change, Trey. Lost people are still lost, God still loves them as much as He ever did and the Gospel still has it’s power. Now you have some good news for all mankind - a little like the Angel did.

Blessings,

Mike


#11

I regularly share my faith in Jesus. Why?

  1. I love Jesus and talk about what I love,
  2. I love people and believe that everyone needs a relationship with Jesus.
  3. I enjoy getting to know people and this often includes finding out about their spiritual beliefs which ususally leads to them being interested in my beliefs.
  4. Jesus said that as we live our lives, to share the Good News and make disciples. So I share because I love our Father and Lord.
  5. And UR is really “Good News”. It’s great, Awesome, WONDERFUL News; news that has brought me great comfort and peace. News that I have difficulty keeping to myself!

I also try to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. If I feel led to share or have a reoccuring thought to share something, I ususally try to follow that direction. And concerning doing good, like sharing my faith in Jesus, if I err, I try to err on the side of sharing too much.

Also, salvation for me is not longer about us getting into heaven someday, but getting heaven into us today! The kingdom of God is love, righteousness, joy, and wholeness! Who doesn’t want these qualities to be increasing in their lives, families, and communities!


#12

Hey, I resemble that remark!


#13

Hi Trey!

We haven’t met yet - I haven’t been very active on the forum lately. I’ve been lurking though - I come in occasionally and browse the active topics and read a bit. But I noticed this post and wanted to share with you a link to a blog post I wrote on this very subject - I hope you like it! :smiley:


#14

FatherLearningToLove,
That is a beautiful blog. That was just what I needed to read! The one thing that I really liked that you said about Jesus recognizing Peter’s limitations and basically meeting him where he is at all points in his spiritual journey. I was taught in my religious background that Jesus does reach you where you are at BEFORE you are saved, but after you have a lot of catching up to do. Interestingly, I actually did meet up to the standards of religion but thankfully Jesus reached out to me before I became a complete pharisee and showed me Truth in Love. Now I know that everyday is a new starting point.

Personally, I think religion can be very wholesome for new believers in that it gives and teaches them the “laws” of the Kingdom. Though, religion should be balanced by helping new believers into understanding that the “laws” are actually principles and promises for everyday life in the Kingdom. One way to evangelize or bring people to understand Jesus is to invite them to churches that do what I mentioned above. What do you think?


#15

Thank you so much!

For me, I’ve taken on a new perspective with “the Law” - I don’t take it so much as a gavel that stops all conversation, but rather a conversation starter. I believe that the purpose of laws are to enable us to love more, more effectively, etc. The law could be effectively summed up as “do no harm - neither to your neighbors, enemies, or yourself. Instead, seek to heal and to build up.” For me, if someone is taking a legalistic approach to a law and it can be shown that this approach is causing harm, alarm bells start going off in my head - they must have gotten something wrong. And finally, I believe that we must learn how to apply the law to ourselves rather than “picking at specks in our neighbor’s eyes”. I love how Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts this one:

When we see our neighbors breaking “the law”, I believe that it doesn’t help at all to merely point out “you’re breaking the law”. Rather, we must learn how to seek the suffering that caused this - there always seems to be suffering at the root of transgression. If we can alleviate the suffering, I believe that this will go a long way towards bringing each other into alignment with the law.

I hope that made sense. :wink: Let me know if I need to clarify.


#16

FatherLearningToLove,
Right on!


#17

LOL - I thought you might :slight_smile:


#18

Profound.


#19

There is first question of what is the gospel, gospel which had a specific meaning in the first century, the good news of the rule and reign of Caesar, of Caesar as Lord of the world, as it’s saviour, of the gospel of his peace (the peace of the sword, and it was in reference to Caesar that Paul makes his reference to people crying ‘peace, peace, when there is no peace’, and even Tacitus puts in the mouth of a Briton the words, ‘they (the Romans) make a desert and call it peace’ , the Caesar had it’s own cult, to which other gods bowed (the fact Christians refused to worship Caesar was a political issue just as it was religious, there was no division between religion and politics for a 1st century person and they would not understand our Western definition of and attempts to segregate out those terms, though of course our politics is just as religious, philosophically and ideological driven as their days, we just don’t see it as much until you take step back). He was called the son of God, which was equally a title for the Jews for their Messiah.

Gospel is not just general meaning of good news, but is the good news of the rule and reign of someone, of Ceasar in those days, and therefore when Jesus announces the gospel of the Kingdom of God, that is how is heard, the announcement of the rule and reign of God has come and began, and began in and through Him. And in Him and His teaching, His actions, throughout the Gospel He is explaining and teaching just how the Kingdom of God comes, how it works, just how God’s sovereignty and reign looks like, particularly when people were expecting something very different, they heard His announcement and expected a military leader, of a David and followers in the tradition of the Maccabees, for a Jewish Ceasar and Israel to replace Rome (more a few Christians still think in these lines, expecting a ‘real’ Jesus to show up, and start bringing peace by the sword, massacring whoever are they favourite target groups to hate Muslims, liberals - whatever that means to them, conservatives - whatever that means to them, people that fall within LGBT orientations - as if this were a monolithic group or defined them as persons - and of course this defining people as ‘them’ is itself a deadly thing, once you start thinking of anyone as ‘them’ or ‘those people’, and this is just as true for some Christians who have the same attitude for those the see as to conservative or fundamentalist and look at their brothers and sisters as ‘those people’ and don’t try and enter in and understand them in love), instead the Lord’s teaching and HIs parables and so are constantly trying to slowly teach them what the Kingdom of God and the Life of the new creation is actually like and how it works. In Jesus people are healed, set free, reconciliation and life from death comes about, love is brought to hate, and people’s humanity personally, communally and globally is restored, a breaking of slavery and of truth and blessing for cursing. This is what God’s reign looks like, this is how His sovereignty works and what it looks like, you want to know how it works, look at Jesus, what does He look like, look at Jesus, and at the self-emptying and giving love of Christ, how He confronts evil, with love and truth witnessing to that truth and blessing those who hate and curse Him, not either being bound by that evil and death, or dominated by, nor using or allowing it’s use in His life. He witnesses to the Sanhedrin, to Herod and Pilate (and this to Ceasar) how human authority should, it comes from above, as God would always work through humans and even in their disorder He doesn’t rescind that authority, and Jesus witnesses, He martyrs even to His death to the Truth, and confronts death and evil at all levels, bring healing, and love into the dark places. He constantly teaches the Apostles and disciples when they don’t understand what is happening, expecting something very different (their whole lives and the generations before them had lead them to expect something very different) and reminds them with John and James through Mark 10:35-44 that the Kingdom is not to be lived as those of the Gentiles, not lording or dominating over others, and not hate and violence, but in self-giving love and self-sacrificial service to all, this is life of the Kingdom, of the very Life and Presence of God and the engagement of that Life in Christ itself, and of witnessing to that life and love in all things, and growing in it, bringing by action healing, reconciliation and love into the dark and hurting places of the world, and standing for reconciliation, justice, life and love before abuses and systems of death, as Christ did and the Apostles and Church after Him, not in violent revolution but in continuing to work, do and witness to His love, healing and the new life and authority in this world, reminding leaders at all levels that the new way and management is now in charge and they are to use their human authority to heal not harm, and to bring about freedom and reconciliation not slavery, abuse, dehumanisation and the marring and damaging of those in the image of God. Jesus is the true Lord of the world, not Ceasar or any other king or government, His not any other system is both the truth and reality of the world, death doesn’t reign or hold humanity captive anymore, and humanity should neither live like it does, nor should they collaborate with it and place themselves and others under it’s effects, it is the announcement and enacting of Jubilee everywhere (and therefore forgiving as we are forgiving, releasing and bring reconciliation and to see God’s will done in the sphere of earth as it is in the sphere of heaven). It is important to remember when reading Romans to understand the whole argument in it places demotes and denies the idol of Ceasar, and the titles attributed then to the imperial cult (or any other king) of Lord of the World, Saviour and the gospel of peace (which in Thessalonians he plays on, saying they cry peace, peace when there is no peace, it was and still a charade which we get sucked into) belong only to Jesus, He is now Lord of the world (being sat the right hand of God isn’t going away, it the act of assuming authority over the world and it’s empires, referencing the Danielic figure of the ‘one like a son of man’ as the human figure returning to the intended purpose of humanity over the defeated monsters that came out of the sea which represents evil and chaos, and He is the one who has now all power in heaven and earth, and He works that through us, through Christians as those the human call is being renewed in, only in the way He rules, of selfless and self-giving love and of service to the other), not Ceasar. The idols are removed, even from the idols the governments give themselves, but paradoxically human authority is thereby freed, enobled and set free, to be what it should be, and therefore we respect the authorities for what they are, the expression of the human authority into creation given by God, but are witness the authority of Christ when it acts against that authority or misuses it (and so acts outside and below that authority, indeed gives it to the power of death) by witnessing to the truth of one who is Lord, and the true nature of life and humanity, witnessing in love always respecting the God-given human calling and the expression of that as well as the person’s personal humanity even as they abdicate that authority and misuse it, even to death if need be (as Christ supremely does, forgiving and asking and praying for forgiveness even as they crucify Him, in the very act in which He comes into His Kingdom, in Peter and John and then Stephen before the Sanhedrin where Stephen prays for the forgiveness and release, to so many Christian’s martyrdoms including Peter and Paul before Nero and many others) to work to bring liberty reconciliation and healing even while death and tyrannical systems at all levels rage, meeting love for hate, life for death, blessing for cursing, healing for wounding.

So then, this is the Gospel, the announcement and acting of Kingdom of God, that Christ is now Lord of the world and the ransom and freedom from death has come, of the new life and creation that has even now come upon the world, and affirming in all our acts the love and immortal Life of God and the defeat and humanity’s freedom from death in all things. The Gospel is the new creation life, the Life of God in action, so who should you evangelise is by being a martyr, and witness with your life personally and with others, bring the love of God into others, into the dark places and the hurting places, help to bring reconciliation and restoration, every act of love will not be lost, each act of blessing, of true compassion, and interacting with the other, the needy and the hurting, every act of liberty with and for Christ is the Gospel, it both shows it and brings it, and announces and demonstrates the reign of God in Jesus who is Lord of the world, and shows the defeat of death already here, and to be complete at His appearing.

We evangelise in this way, evangelion means gospel, so to evangelise simple is to manifest, show and bring the Kingdom of God, the new life of the age and the freedom from the power and ways of death into people’s lives, of witnessing (as an action) of being martyrs in that original sense to the Love and Life of God in Christ, and the freedom of humanity and bringing this to people. And with our universalist understanding of the restoration of all humanity we should be freed completely to focus back to this original purpose, to be evangelical in the truest sense of the world, there is no need to bother people in coffee shops or obsessive over ‘saving souls’ (incidentally demoting and forgetting their bodies, or that human beings are not dualistic, but rather a holistic whole now and always of which what soul and body are aspects) but work instead on showing love and working and engaging in saving the whole person, and of communities around you, and of those hurting and in need. The Kingdom of God is here and among you, help people to see it, and bring it to them, and thereby engage that Kingdom and life yourself :slight_smile: .

Instead we follow and live by Jesus Christ, already as we see exhibited in the catacombs of Rome by the end of the first century as the first, faithful, and true Martyr—the true Man or Adam, reversing the curse of death of the first. Jesus Christ as the true Adam has reversed the curse through his victory over both death and Hades, a victory won in his resurrection and ascension. By following Christ in witnessing to the Kingdom, bringing God’s love and light and freedom from death into others life, of forgiving and meeting hate with blessing, love for hate and life for death, even to suffering and death if need be, the early martyrs were partaking of the true life, death, and resurrection of the Lord, the showed the defeat of death, as we are reminded by Paul in Romans (6:4) ‘buried together with him by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life’, we are called to show and bring Christ’s victory by the Spirit, from the beginning God determined to manifest HIs rule, love and nature into creation by humanity as those in His image and likeness, and He will not rescind this ever, and Christians as ones to who this call is being renewed are to show it and manifest it, the new life and freedom now here, to show more and more Christ and an humans truly alive who are the glory of God, and to come fully in the completion of the resurrection, death is defeated, let us show this, and Christ is Lord of the world, let us show this.

In being this martyr in however this plays out in each of our lives, we are showing our renewal following the truly Human One (of whom in His moment of glory and entering His Kingdom Pilate in John’s Gospel declares ‘behold the man’ at last God has completed through the One by Whom all things were made, the human being, the One who is the image and likeness of God, by He who is the Image of the Invisible God, there is what it means to be human, so don’t let yourselves or any human live beneath their dignity or treat them as such, it’s idolatrous to do so). We show we are in the life of Christ the true man, in which the curse of death is broken and reversed and being reversed. As when St Polycarp of Smyrna in the early second century AD faced his death and the completion of his witness, his martyrdom he heard a voice from realm of heaven, ‘Be strong, and show yourself a man’, through his life Polycarp showed the life of Christ, and reign of God and showed himself to be a true human being after the ultimate and true Adam, not it arrogance, controlling or dominating, but rather in quiet and courageous humility and in showing and testifying to love and living in the freedom from death.

This is how we witness, and this is how we evangelise, and being thus true and faithful witnesses, live the life and bring that life to the needy, the hurt, be ministers of peacemaking and reconciliation at all levels, and so citizens of heaven (to be heard not as we are citizens waiting to go someone, but rather as Roman citizens were, they were in the first century settled in coloniae, colonial cities to bring imperial culture and life and the rule of Ceasar out to the provinces, they were never intended to live in Rome, which was overcrowded and didn’t want so violent ex-soldiers coming in to cause more trouble, no Paul is meaning that as imperial citizens bring imperial culture and wait for the emperor to come and restore things so that is what Christians are, they are to bring the culture of heaven to those around them) wherever we are. And so we are to witnesses in humility, self-giving love, self-sacrificial service and in entering and sharing the suffering of others, and to live and show the freedom humanity now has from death.


#20

I used to evangelize atheists and they ask a million questions. Our minds naturally form questions and seek answers so we want our minds to be conforming to God who provides all the best answers.

While evangelizing I would actively do topical research and I ran into everybody…the Calvinists, the Lutherans, the Arminians, the Methodists, the Church of Christ, the Catholics, the Jehovah Witnesses, the Mormons, etc. but I spent most of my time around the many great evangelicals like Wesley, Spurgeon, George Fox, John Wycliffe, Hannah Whtall Smith, D.L. Moody, A. W. Tozer’, Oswalld Chaambers, Billy Graham, Andrew Murray…and of course Jesus Christ in the bible and prayer.

Then I started asking questions about hell doctrine after atheists kept using the word “torture” for 2 years in their questions about God.

I realized that I had never personally questioned hell doctrine because I always knew God was the greatest and that as Abraham said " He would always do what is right"…I knew that without Abraham pointing it out.

But it is nice to be able to show it in writing to anyone who questions.

Then I discovered Origen…from there it was a hop skip and a jump to some of the best sites on the net explaining Universalism. Some of these sites that you can research are Tentmaker, Auburn Univ has a site, becoming one.org, and my favorite:

God’s Kingdom Ministries.net

We have the sites and the info and the scripture to support that God saved the world…We just have trouble linkin everyone up.

One of the main keys is God’s will…people aren’t capable of thwarting God’s will…if God intends to do anything then it is a done deal…our wills are too puny and broken in comparison.

Learn everything you can about theology because that is when you can render the intelligent and persuasive answers and that is one of the ways that God builds the mind of Christ in us.

But stick to the bible a lot…God’s is the best mind and we can compare what people tell us to His thoughts in the bible.