Should we form universalist congregations?


It sounds like you would really be excited Dave, in a class entitled Proofs For and Against the Existence of God. :exclamation: :laughing:

Here’s the only premise and conclusion you need. :exclamation: :laughing:


I like that last one, Randy :laughing:


Muslims and Buddhists aren’t baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They do not profess Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. The difference between Catholics and Protestants on one hand, and Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus on the other is day and night.

I’ll follow up with a quote from Snyder Belousek from Atonement, Justice, and Peace:

(p 604)

(p 605)


Good post qaz.

Goeffrey - we’re not picking on you, really. We’ve all taken our lumps one way or another on this Forum, so you are in GREAT company!! :smiley:


I’m temporary helping out the IRS :exclamation: :laughing:

As the X-files used to say:

Come and get it. :exclamation: :laughing:


qaz Said:

When Christ came on the scene, he came for one thing, the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But through that message and ministry, all the nations were to be blessed. But the only way that can happen is if the message of reconciliation rings true through all the peoples of the earth.

I like what David Embury said about this:

“Spiritual maturity into the grace of God is not marked by who you exclude, or the groups you exclude, or the life styles you exclude. The mark of spiritual maturity into the grace of God is marked by the circle that gets wider and wider, embracing more and more in understanding, that in no matter what a man does he cannot escape the incredible mercy of God.”

Shocking. :open_mouth:


My words to Dave are the same to all: I trust that our disagreements are perfectly amicable without any hard feelings. :slight_smile:

One table of communion is indeed a laudatory goal. The question is, “How best to achieve it?”

The answer can only be that all Christians must come to an agreement as to what is necessary for one table of communion.

The Orthodox Church says that once all Christians unite themselves to the Orthodox Church by converting to Orthodoxy, then there will be no more divisions.

The lowest-common-denominator Christians say that once all Christians give up the importance of their distinctive beliefs and convert to lowest-common-denominator Christianity, then there will be no more divisions.

The Calvinists say that once all Christians convert to Calvinist Christianity, then there will be no more divisions.


In other words, every solution to that problem says, “Hey, y’all gotta stop thinking like you’re already thinking and start thinking like me instead!”

I do not think that Protestantism or ecumenism can provide unity. The briefest survey of modern history will show that it seems to be of the essence of Protestantism to splinter. Just count how many different Baptist groups there are, then remember that’s the merest sliver of Protestant diversity.

As for ecumenism, I am reminded of a true story recounted by Fr. Georges Florovsky. Forgive me that I do not remember the exact particulars. Two Protestant church groups (IIRC, two different groups of Lutherans) became quite bothered that there was division between them. They therefore started talking about how to unite. Over the course of time, a great many people thought they had it figured out, so the two churches united. However, a great many persons in both of the original two churches thought the union was a terrible idea and refused to unite. Thus what started out as two churches was turned into three churches by their attempts at unity:

  1. original church A
  2. original church B
  3. the new unity church


What are you talking about, this is brilliant… what a way for “church growth!” :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :mrgreen:


That’s why we need expert advice, in matters of theology and other concerns. That’s where artificial intelligence comes to play. Science just needs to perfect it. :exclamation: :smiley:


I’m looking for a church community but have virtually no experience outside of the RCC. What do you guys think of Lutheranism? Any denominations you’d recommend for a hopeful universalist?


You may possibly think about starting your own fellowship. :smiley: It will be exciting and stressful and you will HAVE to learn a bunch going in. But the learning and the people around you will help you tremendously, and you will be able to get on with what God wants you to do… You can’t fake your way out of that, but it is very enlightening to both yourself and those you fellowship with.

Some of my fondest memories are times I have spent in home churches. :smiley:

Until I started to believe like you all… and things progressed to… :open_mouth: Where they are now :laughing:

Your fellowship can be with one or two others. It can be good :smiley:

Good Luck …


Very favorable. I grew up in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and went to grade school there through eight grade.
They practice closed communion.

That’s where I probably got ingrained, with this “free will stuff”, rather than embracing the “puppet on a string” viewpoint. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. But to be fair, this same determinism view is shared by Islam - which has over 1 billion worldwide followers. That’s why I’m trying to get on board and help spread the deterministic word - from a Christian perspective. :laughing:

The Evangelical Lutheran Church, is probably where you wish to express hopeful universalism. They practice open communion and tend to be more liberal - as a whole. But each church sets their own standards - more or less. I sometimes attend the Evangelical Lutheran Church in walking distance. They do have an agreement, with the local Islamic center, to share facilities (i.e. parking lots, etc) and get along well together.


Thanks Randy. Open communion is an essential part of any church I wish to join.


What do you guys think of Methodist churches contra Lutheran?


Well, qaz, my mom passed away in October of 2013. I attended some meetings at a local Methodist Church. And they hosted grief sharing meetings, for living family members and friends. And a retired clergy member, did host book meetings, to discuss Love Wins by Bob Bell. And I did attend a few services. They are very nice. And as I mentioned before, I do occasionally attend the local evangelical Lutheran church - within walking distance. Both are nice, but the Methodists don’t celebrate communion each week - like the Lutherans do. And there are also both traditional and contemporary music services - in the Lutheran Church. My suggestion is to go and visit both, including traditional and contemporary music services. See what best works for you. :smiley:


Thanks Randy. Do you think Methodists would be okay with a universalist worshiping with them?


It will probably depend on the pastor and whether your take is evangelical or not. I never seen a sermon on hell, in either the Lutheran or the Methodist Churches. Both are focused on worship and acts of good works or charity. To be safe, I just wouldn’t mention it - unless asked (which is highly unlikely). I’m off the computer shortly, so I might have to respond tomorrow - to future questions.


The Methodist church I’m thinking of checking out has two worship services: Contemporary and Traditional. What are the differences?


I would check out both. Traditional is like listing to classical music. It’s normally the hymns that were composed one hundred or more years ago, played solely on the pipe organ. Contemporary is more folk or rock style worship songs (composed in the past 10 years or so), where you have a modern band playing them. Usually, it’s a couple of singers, along with a couple guitars, an portable organ or piano, a drummer and a bass player. The audience sings along in both cases. If it is a big Church, with a big budget, a contemporary band will have things, like a saxophone player, etc. Almost like the old full orchestra bands **Chicago **or Blood, Sweat and Tears.


Probably musical forms. There may also be a difference amounting to what, in Anglicanism (where Methodism came from and is still a variety of though not in ecclesial unity), is called low church and high church services. High church would be more Anglo-catholic; low church would be, um, more Baptist for want of a better description. :wink:

I kind of doubt that’ll be the distinction – I imagine it’s more about the musical type and maybe how formal the language is – because I’ve never heard of a congregation giving both low and high services and it seems like something a little too important to vary on. But theoretically I suppose a single church could do that to accommodate different members. Come to think of it, I’ve personally (through my family) heard of at least one Roman Catholic congregation who did that; Mom and Dad went to what Anglicans would call the low service, but it also featured ‘high’ services. And now I recall C. S. Lewis maybe relating that an Anglican congregation did that and he preferred the low service. (But I might be reading too much into what he said about it.)

On the point about trinitarian or non-trintarian: while a church could have guest members, so to speak (regular attenders who help contribute somewhat to the upkeep of the church), I do think there comes a point where both the leadership and the membership (per se) of the congregation has to take definite doctrinal stands on what they agree to believe to be true about the deity they’re religiously worshiping. Certainly there are risks in doing that, of people thus coming to take merely tribal identification and competition stances; or even worse taking an effectively gnostic stance of salvation by doctrinal passcard assent. But a concern for truth means believing what is seen, so far as possible, to be true, and not believing what is seen, so far as possible, to be false. Maybe it would be better to say, for such purposes, that analogically trinitarians and modalists and unitarians of various sorts (and binitarians if any such exist) are cousins in Christ, though we can also be friends and in many ways allies under Christ. But as the ideas about God Himself get more and more different, the family relation (analogically speaking) also has to get quite different. There are major conceptual differences about how God operates between even members of the Big Three Theisms on one hand, and nominal deists on the other – and the deists are still supernaturalistic monotheists! The conceptual differences shatter even harder between supernaturalistic monotheists on one hand, and polytheists, or cosmological dualists (or other high-ontology multi-theists), or pantheists; and more still between them and atheists; and ALL THOSE GROUPS could (and sometimes do) easily have various levels of high regard for Jesus of Nazareth personally. But they are not at all saying the same kinds of things, ultimately, about Jesus (or the Holy Spirit either), much less the same things ultimately about God.

So yes, I think it does make a difference who counts as being in a group and why. Am I supposed to religiously worship and trust myself for salvation? No. (And what does “salvation” even mean, and to what degrees?) Am I supposed to religiously worship other humans and trust them for my salvation? No. Am I supposed to religiously worship any lesser lords or gods and trust them for my salvation? No. Am I supposed to worship Jesus (the Son), the Father, and the Holy Spirit, and make disciples in their single name? Yes. Am I supposed to trust them for my salvation? Yes, and not any lesser lord or god. Are they in real interpersonal relationships with each other? Yes, not illusionary ones. Are there multiple Gods Most High? No. What does it mean to be God Most High? To be the one and only ground of all reality. Like in atheism? No, the fundamental ground of reality is intentionally and rationally active. That also means coherent and mutually supporting interpersonal relationships are also the ground of all reality, and that puts morality and reason both at the foundation of reality – which makes a huge difference in how I ought to regard any not-God portions of reality, too, and which makes a huge difference in how I ought to regard salvation.

These topics, and the other variant answers to them, have not in the best cases been whipped up out of nothing for no better reason than for personal advancement and emotional gain even at the expense of other people in various ways – although even those answers to those topics have often been abused for such reasons. But the various answers to those topics do make categorical differences, in various ways, about how we ought to be dealing with reality; and if a group isn’t about cooperating together to deal with reality then the group isn’t even really a group! (For some pantheists, and for some types of atheist, a group literally cannot be really a group anyway. :wink: For other pantheists, a group ultimately should not be a group, the group-iness itself being endemic to what’s wrong to be saved from.)