The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Should we form universalist congregations?


#21

Sometimes I’ll be in a service listening to hymns or professions of hope, and part of me is happy to hear them, but part of me is sad because I can’t help thinking: “you don’t really believe that… you don’t know what it is you’re saying.” :frowning:

Maybe we should have a thread devoted to reporting universalistic hope still embedded in hymns.


#22

Guys

I just wanted to say ‘Thanks’ to you all for an honest and wondeful conversation! Just what the forum is for


#23

Jason, please post all that you can think of about universalistic hope still embedded in hymns in “General Theology” or “Church”.: )


#24

Gregory,
Thank you for helping us and motivating us. Indeed if there was a denomination that began, it would certainly have been benefited by you sharing your vision. Your helping others is important.

I’m very much like Mr. Pratt who sings a song and finds myself a bit taken back by the words. Sometimes I sing it louder becuase the hymn is so telling like…

Proned to wander oh Lord I feel it,
Proned to leave the God I love,
Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

though it’s not really a U. statement, it still moves me and I find myself at tears with such truth.

But then I get some other song and just think ohhhh BLA! :slight_smile:

What ever the case I have a deep yearning for this viewpoint to break out of it’s box.
I long for the day when people can truly be inclusive in their view of the world and exclusive in the source of such love (Faith alone in Christ).
Aug


#25

Gregory, a belated thank you for so coherently arguing that the Bible’s story and theology point us toward a universal hope! I too want us to stay in evangelical churches rather than form separate bodies who would put the premium on universalism and encourage other vital truths of our faith to be diminished. And I would never want to break fellowship with other believers.

But on a practical level do you perceive that such churches will allow us to participate? Or are you assuming that this generally can only happen if we remain silent? My perception is that the assumption that God will discard most of his beloved creation to an unredemptive and endless retribution (ECT) poses great obstacles concerning God’s character especially among many of the lost. You indeed are eloquent about this. So do you see this as not significant enough to take opportunity in our congregations to graciously share the possibility of a wider hope. Most believers cannot share such a hope pseudononymously. What have you observed in your own church experience about addressing this dilemma?
Grace be with you, Bob Wilson


#26

I know “Gregory” has to work with a pseudonym in order to protect his teaching job; and I myself can say with some certainty that there is no way the church I currently attend would allow me to be a small-group teacher, much less one of the pastors (even though they desperately need both and even though I certainly qualify as capable enough). And in a way I wouldn’t want to be, because that would introduce too much schism into the leadership corps. We have Arminians and Calvinists both, and that can sometimes lead to serious problems; but at least they all agree that God will not be saving some (many/most) people from sin!

I can be an apologist without necessarily talking about my universalism at any given time; as I do over at the Cadre (which also features a mix of Calv and Arm soteriologists. Though notably I reserve the right to affirm and profess and preach universalism in the comments! :smiley: ) And I could teach various Biblical and theological things without necessarily being a universalist (maybe–though the scriptures are so saturated in it, that to some degree I would have to truncate my teaching to avoid it! :smiley: ) But I don’t believe I can be an evangelist without referencing it; how am I supposed to preach the gospel and train and encourage other people to do the same–a gospel of repentence unto the sending away of sin–without mentioning the scope of the hope of the gospel!? It would be like trying to teach Christology without mentioning the honor, attributes, nature, deeds and seat of Christ. Anything less, just isn’t enough. :slight_smile:

(Not incidentally, when I occasionally contribute a sermon to the main Cadre posts, you can just about bet that sooner or later I’ll refer to the ultimate hope of the gospel. You can also bet with a high degree of certainty, that whatever form the cosmology may look like at any given time in my series of novels, sooner or later, to this or that degree, I’ll be talking about what I am always thinking of in the background: the hope of the gospel, that God will go the farthest distance to seek and save the lost and never give up on them, even when, in various ways, they’ve given up on Him.)


#27

Gregory, can you fill us in on this? I think we’d all like to hear a bit about your experience.

Aug


#28

I’m with Gregory on this one. I see no need for creating ‘universalist congregations’. Things are fragmented enough - would a universalist church be superior to the Orthodox? I don’t think so. The fact is - it has been tried and was marginalized by the rest of church. As a Lutheran, I can find universalistic truths in Luther and the fathers, the Orthodox have the fathers, the Catholics have the fathers. All our roots are the same.


#29

So if not UR congregations, should ECT congregations allow UR members? IOW should I be able to speak freely about my UR views?


#30

That’s an excellent question. And one with some very tough answers, I think. There are lots of angles to consider–and they don’t all come out in our favor.

(I’m working on another project this weekend, that I hope to finish, but I think this question is worth at least an initial essay. Until then, would anyone care to volunteer some non-obvious angles to the question…?)


#31

Well, down here in the bible belt (Texas) UR doesn’t go over too good. For many evangelicals avoiding eternal hell is the name of the game. If you take that out of the equation then it’s ‘game over’. :wink:


#32

Thanks folks, Jason I’ll be waiting on your reply. My wife won’t even discuss it with me. She asked me to keep my views to myself. It embarasses here when I ask questions to other folks. I’m not 100% sold on UR although I 100% want it to be true. I spent 40+ years believing in ECT or at least thinking I had to. I had a very vivid dream that started my search. Basically I woke from the dream with the thoughts I’d never do that to anyone. I thought it was the Lord but how can I be sure. Anyway that was about four years ago and I’ve gone between doubt and elation. It gets tiring. Maybe you folks could share how you transfered from traditional beliefs to UR. I haven’t read GM’s book yet. I can’t really spend what it costs without explaining it to my wife. Its just not worth the friction that it causes.

Again Thanks for Posting

Still in One Peace

Mike from Georgia


#33

That’s a great sign-off by the way. :slight_smile: (And glad you were able to register in; I saw your message at Gregory’s blog, but by then you had already posted once, so I didn’t bother answering.)

I hope to put up an essay on the various difficulties later, somewhere else. (This is Gregory’s particular category, and I feel like I’m intruding as a co-host when I post much here.)

I also think it would be a good idea to create a whole discussion category for ‘conversion’ stories, so to speak, either to UR or away from it. (We want to be fair, and that might be useful, too. The category would be more for giving a witness story, than for technical discussion, which ought to happen elsewhere.)

As for me, I have always been a universalist at heart, but for many years I couldn’t in good conscience teach it or argue for it because I simply couldn’t see enough scriptural data in favor of it (not having studied enough) and didn’t know of any rationale for legitimately interpreting one apparent type of verses in light of another apparent type. (Though that cut both ways, of course.) After I studied trinitarian theism more closely, in terms of logical coherency, I came to understand that hope for God to always be acting toward saving all sinners from sin, follows as a logical corollary from trinitarian theism. With that, I had an overarching rationale for interpreting one set in light of another; but I didn’t want to simply force interpretations into disparate data so I held back promoting it scripturally for several years until I could study the scriptural issues much further on their own testimony.

One thing that impresses me now, is that the witness for it is scattered so widely and pervasively throughout the scriptures (just like ortho-trin), and yet there is (even for me) a tendency to block out the meaning of what’s being said. In personal scrutiny, I’m sure that this is caused by my intrinsic uncharity; though it may be different for other people. (In many cases, I think it happens from reading scriptures atomistically instead of looking for narrative and thematic contexts. I’m still routinely discovering new data that I had missed before precisely for that reason, too.)

Anyway, I would be glad to send you a copy of Gregory’s EU, through an Amazon wish list, gratis. :sunglasses: You can also page through his book online for free at Amazon, a few pages at a time, with some persistence and Amazon’s “Search Inside The Book” feature.

Back to work…


#34

Thanks again Jason. With your permission I may start a topic on conversions. I will go online and read as much of TEU as I can. I appreciate the info.

This is where I am right now. It helps to see that this may be a natural progression. Its encouraging.

I am unfamiliar with trinitarian theism so I guess I have some research to do.

Again you have been very helpful.

Mike


#35

Not entirely sure which category to send you to for that… which is why I hope one of the admins will create a special topical category for it, somewhere.

Until then, I recommend posting your conversion story (so far) as a new thread in the “Introductions” category. The topic of the thread shouldn’t be UR conversions generally, but that’s certainly a very valid topic in an introduction thread about yourself.

Back to-work-from-lunch… :mrgreen:


#36

Byron, I have been sensing the Lord tell me that the only thing that I was unwilling to give Him was my reputation. I know that there is a price to be paid for truth. I also know that if I don’t surrender my reputation He can take it.

I’ve felt the same thing when worshipping myself. If UR is His truth He will reveal it. I am comforted by Paul’s words in Galatians about the revelation of Grace not coming to him by men but that He was taught by Christ directly. I believe that He alone can teach this to people.

God Bless you and stay in One Peace.

Mike


#37

Im kindof torn about the whole issue really. I remember first coming into universalism how, most people I knew(which were all online save one person in my church that “came out” to me about it in private) it was all they would talk about, while every other issue in christianity seemed to be swept to the wayside. I must say that in some sense I to have put it at the forefront of things perhaps more than I should…but its been more of studying it because it interests me and testing it to be true or not.

God has been reminding me recently(not that I tottally doubted) that alot of good can be done in ET believing churches, and that he has a place/reason for those who believe it. I have to remind myself alot that the only reason I see this as true(universalism, if it is indeed true) is because God allowed me to by his grace, for a purpose. what purpose that is exactly Im not sure yet.

But all this to say, I have to admit I like the idea of churches that do teach/believe in ultimate reconcilliation…though I agree with GM it should be off in the background somewhere behind other foundational teachings. I ask myself constantly how some Christians can sleep at night not knowing this little golden thread of truth, but then I have to remember I did for several years! and for the most part I think my spiritual life was good, I certainly loved God and wasnt rejoycing (or even thinking) about the eternal torment I believed awaited most people. Now there was a point where some irreconcilable questions started coming to mind that left me at a fork in the road in my faith (in which case, I found out about the UR perspective) and I believed God brought me to that crossroads for a reason, as I said. But I think ive concluded, that perhaps the best thing as universalists is just to subtlety impact the churches we are in now, and bring up the subject where applicable. we should not divide ourselves from other Christians(though in my life im finding they want to divide themselves from me over this).

I dont know, its a hard thing to say for sure. but more denominations would be bad…we need unity, a unity that can appreciate each others different perspectives.


#38

Church, congregations, assemblies ?

The age of Pentecost and the “Church in the wilderness” is over. Jesus is our pattern, as we enter into the dawning new age. Organize a group now and you are recreating the same self-centered, need-oriented, program-driven, growth-addicted, destiny-snatching, dream-killing beast that many of us fled from.

The word church does not come from the Greek work ecclesia. The word ‘church’ is a direct decedent etymologically of the Greek word ‘kirke’. In Anglo Saxon it’s the word ‘Circe’; she was a character of Greek mythology who was the daughter of the sun god Sol and Perseis. She was supposed to possess great knowledge of magic and venomous herbs, by which she was able to charm and fascinate. With her magic and potions Circe had the power to turn men into animals.

Stranger than fiction … and we wonder the powers of the spirit world as “church” is the common term today. She still charms and fascinates and those under her spell will defend her come hell or high water.

“Come out of her” (Rev 18:4) sounds good to me!

John


#39

It would seem that there were universalist congregations at some point in the U.S., but they all got absorbed into the U.U. movement. I have heard that there are a larger proportion of new universalist congregations starting in Oklahoma of all places. Apparently, that’s the place to be if you’re a universalist looking for a congregation to join.


#40

Actually, John, the etymology of ‘Church’ goes back to Greek {kuriako_n}, an adjective meaning “of the lord’s”. Originally the term was {kuriako_n do_ma}, or ‘house of the Lord’; eventually the phrase was abbreviated down to “kyriak”.

The cross-spelling as “circe” happened in Old English, after writers got into the habit of dropping out an ‘i’ in the middle. (It started out in Old English as “cirice” from “cyrice”, from old German “kirche”, having already dropped the ‘a’ vowel in the transition to German.)

At some point, either in OE or maybe OG (or both), there may have been a pun involving resemblance to the word “circle” (by metaphor meaning a group of people, as we sometimes still speak of a ‘social circle’ of people); which does go back in Greek past the character Circe to the meaning of, well… circle. :sunglasses: Which itself may be derived from an even-more-ancient description of certain female body parts. (Thus “Circe’s” name would be a pun in Greek going back to the reason for why circles were originally called circles.) But that isn’t how the term for “church” started off.

For goodness’ sake, it ought to have been obvious that they wouldn’t have named their meeting places after a notoriously disreputable minor Greek goddess. :unamused: That would be like saying that RevJohn in Greek was named after the character of Calypso undressing herself! ({kalypso_} means ‘veil’ in Greek; it’s a great name for a sexy female character, rather like {kirke_}, so it’s understandable why Homer uses it in the Odyssey. But really.)

You can still use it as a cute historical accident for a rhetorical slur against “the church” as a seductive whore-enchantress, if you like. Jewish OT authors are even more blunt about describing God’s own best-beloved Israel that way! Just be aware that when you do, you’re starting to slide over into name-calling. That’s fine for some forums, but not here.