The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Restitution Of All Things

This is from today’s CAC newsletter.

Summary: An Evolving Faith

A Universal Pattern
Monday, December 30, 2019

Christ is before all things, and in Christ all things hold together. — Colossians 1:17

Anything called “Good News” needs to reveal a universal pattern that can be relied upon, and not just clannish patterns that might be occasionally true. This is probably why Christianity’s break with ethnic Judaism was inevitable, although never intended by either Jesus or Paul, and why by the early second century Christians were already calling themselves “catholics” or “the universals.” They believed God is leading all of history somewhere larger and broader and better for all of humanity. Yet, after Jesus and Paul—except for occasional theologians like Gregory of Nyssa, Athanasius, Maximus the Confessor, and Francis of Assisi—the most widely accepted version of Christianity had little to do with the cosmos, creation, nature, or even history. Our beliefs did not generally talk about the future, except in terms of judgment and apocalypse. This is no way to guide history forward. It is certainly no way to give humanity hope, purpose, direction, or joy.

Christianity puts itself in a limited and precarious position when it is tied to any culture-bound Jesus or an expression of faith that does not include the Eternal Christ. Without a universal story line that offers grace and caring for all of creation, Jesus is kept small and seemingly inept. God’s care must be toward all creatures, or God ends up not being very caring at all, making things like water, trees, animals, and history itself accidental, trivial, or disposable. But grace is not a late arrival, appearing only two thousand years ago when Jesus came, or when a few lucky humans read his words in the Bible. God’s grace cannot be a random problem-solver doled out to the few and the virtuous—or it is hardly grace at all! (See Ephesians 2:7-10 if you want the radical meaning of grace summed up in three succinct verses.)

For me, a true comprehension of the full Christ Mystery is the key to the foundational reform of the Christian religion. Understanding the expansive reality of Christ will move us beyond any attempts to corral or capture God into our exclusive group. As the New Testament dramatically puts it, “Before the world was made, we have been chosen in Christ . . . claimed as God’s own, and chosen from the very beginning” (Ephesians 1:4, 11) “so that God could bring everything together, in heaven and on earth, as a plan for the fullness of times” (1:10). If all of this is true, we have a theological basis for a very natural religion that includes everybody. The problem was solved from the beginning.

Gateway to Presence:
If you want to go deeper with today’s meditation, take note of what word or phrase stands out to you. Come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019), 21, 97-98.

Image credit: Healing of a Bleeding Woman (detail), Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter, Rome, Italy.

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Larger > > > Broader > > > Better

This for me sums up what is Father’s wonderful Plan.

Universal Restoration

“The shape of creation must somehow mirror and reveal the shape of the Creator. We must have a God at least as big as the universe, or else our view of God becomes irrelevant, constricted, more harmful than helpful. The Christian image of a torturous hell, and God as a petty tyrant, has not helped us to know, trust, or love God in any way. God ends up being less loving than most people we know. At this point in history most Christians have been preconditioned by a cheap story line of retributive justice, and no one told them about the much more profound Biblical notion of restorative justice. Those attracted to the common idea of hell operate out of a scarcity model, where there is not enough Divine Love to transform, awaken, and save. The dualistic mind is literally incapable of thinking any notion of infinity, limitlessness, or eternity.” -Richard Rohr-

Continued > > >

Richard Rohr’s Meditation: Universal Restoration.

This is from today’s CAC newsletter. Let me quote an interesting part.

We need to celebrate the best that each tradition can bring—I want the fire of the Pentecostals, the love of Scripture of the Lutherans, the political imagination of the Anabaptists, the roots of the Orthodox, the mystery of the Catholics, and the zeal of the Evangelicals.

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Universal Restoration

The reason why I do not conceive that “forever and ever” doth intend endless duration is because I find the words as often used for times and periods that must have an end, as you find them used for the misery of the wicked. You bring three passages which are all that are to be found in the whole Bible where they are used in that sense; I shall now invalidate those evidences for endless damnation by bringing an equal number of texts where you will allow the words are used in a limited sense. Is. 30:8; Jer. 7:7; Jer. 25:5.

These passages are as many and as strongly expressed as those which you brought to prove endless misery; and yet nothing can be more evident than that they cannot intend endless duration. The words do not necessarily imply that the wicked shall never be delivered from their sins and consequent suffering.

Now if the words “forever and ever” signify without end, then there is a contradiction that cannot be reconciled, but only understand them as the ages of the ages, (as indeed they ought to be rendered), and the whole difficulty vanishes at once.” -Elhanan Winchester –

Elhanan Winchester | American preacher and revivalist

Elhanan Winchester: The Gospel Preached by the Apostles (1788) | Mercy Upon All

There are a number of other words that hold some lustre for the Restitution of the all.

Restoration =

An act of restoring.

The condition of being restored.

To bring back to a former position or condition.

To restore to an unimpaired position or condition.

Definition of QUITTANCE

A discharge from a debt.

God’s working to square the all =

Exactly adjusted : precisely constructed or aligned.

To regulate or adjust to His standard or principle.

To set right.

To bring into agreement. (At-one-ment)

To agree precisely (with nothing intervening).

To bring into accord & harmony.

To redress =

To correct & put right a wrong action.

To correct a wrong that has been done.

To mend a wrong that has been done.

“He made known to us the secret of His will. And this is in harmony with God’s merciful purpose for the government of the world when the times are ripe for it–the purpose which He has cherished in His own mind of restoring the whole creation to find its one Head in Christ; yes, things in Heaven and things on earth, to find their one Head in Him.”

What does restore mean?

Pokathistemi, or the alternative form apokathistano is used to determine a restoration to a former condition of health.

OR

As John Mllton said “Paradise regained.”

Christian Universalism

It is so sad that for many years the church had to reduce its message to a heaven or hell theme in order to persuade people into a decision for Christ. The Gospel persuades man what God believes and what God achieved on humanity’s behalf in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If the Gospel has the power to get people to fall head over heels in love with God and to love their neighbor as much as they love themselves, then this Gospel demands our total attention and emphasis. This automatically frees anyone anyway from the dread of hell or any sense of pending punishment. There is no law against the free expression of the fruit of the spirit. No one can exaggerate love, peace, joy, endurance, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self control. Legalism can neither match nor contradict this.

Continued below>>>>>>

Francois du Toit on rejecting a Christless universalism-Divine Embrace

Elhanan Winchester

Elhanan Winchester | Mercy Upon All

Reconciling Conflicting Convictions on the Sovereignty of God and the Freedom of Human Beings: Three Centuries (16th-18th) of Baptist Universalism | Mercy Upon
All

The Outcasts Comforted by ElhananWinchester

ChristianUniversalism.com represents a community of believers who have come to see that everything we had ever dared hope about God is indeed what the Scriptures reveal! We have also come to realize that the Evangelical Church itself has been teaching this in various ways, moving and converging together into one comprehensive view of the God of the universe…

In fact, the Evangelical Church is presently providing the theological foundation for Christian universalism in at least ten areas. All is being taught at the same time …but not yet all in the same place!

The Church is currently proclaiming and teaching us:

  1. That God is all-loving and that Christ’s blood was shed for every person who ever lived. That God’s heart is a heart of love and that He desires all men to be saved. (Arminianism)

  2. That God is all-powerful and sovereign over His creation and no desire of His can be thwarted. That Christ’s atonement was effectual for everyone for whom He died. (Calvinism/Reformed faith)

  3. That the purpose of being chosen or elected by God is not for ourselves but to be a blessing to the world as taught in Gen 12:3. (The missional movement)

  4. The belief that every person is made in the image of God which leads us to see that, “we do justice when we give all human beings their due as creations of God” (Tim Keller). He continues, “The Biblical gospel of Jesus necessarily and powerfully leads to a passion for justice in the world…If God’s character includes a zeal for justice that leads Him to have the tenderest love and closest involvement with the socially weak, then what should God’s people be like?” From Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just (the social justice movement)

  5. That “restorative justice” ought to replace punitive justice in our prisons leading us to see the nature and goal of true Biblical justice as returning what is wrong to its “right-useness.” While punitive justice (called secondary or rectifying justice ) may need to be applied the ultimate end we are told is for repentance, restoration and reconciliation which is God’s primary justice. (the restorative justice movement)

  6. The return to the Resurrection as the “lynchpin” of our faith focusing on its centrality and implications for personal holiness, community, evangelism and cultural change. We are being shown how the Resurrection was the preeminent theme of the Early Church and means of power for personal and cultural transformation. (see “The Cross Is Not Enough” by Clifford and Johnson)

  7. The Church is being more honest than ever about their desire for Christian Universalism to be true. While they affirm what they believe Scripture to say about an eternal hell they are not holding back from saying that it troubles them greatly and that they “wish it were not true.” God says “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Our collective desire is a huge indicator that God has indeed written it on our hearts!

  8. The theme of total restoration is found in more and more worship songs. We are regularly singing about “all things new” and “You make beautiful things out of dust” ( Gungor ). Mercy Me sings, “All of creation sing with me now…every knee will bow, every tongue will praise the Father, praise the Son and the Spirit in One.” Hillsong’s last album is just brimming with songs of ultimate restoration and, “all of the universe at Your feet.” See many more examples here: God’s Love Wins

  9. The balance of a Systematic Theology approach with the Story of God as a method for looking at the Bible as a whole. We are being led to see that the Bible is not a bunch of rules with stories throughout but rather One Grand Story with principles sprinkled throughout. This approach reveals more clearly the history and path of God as a missionary God continually pursuing His creation. (Biblical Storying method, see echothestory.com)

  10. The Church’s emphasis on a more cosmic redemption involving the entire created order and the belief that Christ’s death was to restore the universe eradicating all evil, sin and decay. This naturally begs the question of where do you place “a world of damned people” (billions) who traditionally we have been taught will be consigned to eternal death in a location in God’s universe called hell? Well, we just don’t talk about it. Listen to a sample of the overriding restoration language of Christianity Today editor, Mark Galli,

“To be holy means to be set apart for divine purposes. God wants nothing less than all creation, which is now subject to decay, futility, and corruption, to become sanctified, alive, and completely dedicated to His purposes.” Jesus Mean and Wild (pg. 44)

Tim Keller is continually weighing in on this theme frequently quoting the line from The Lord of the Rings , “everything sad is going to come untrue.” Hear this quote from The Reason for God:

“How then, will the story of human history end? At the end of the final book of the Bible, we see the very opposite of what other religions predict. We do not see the illusion of the world melt away nor do we see spiritual souls escaping the physical world into heaven. Rather, we see heaven descending into our world to unite with it and purify it of all its brokenness and imperfection. It will be a “new heavens and a new earth.” The prophet Isaiah depicts this as a new Garden of Eden, in which there is again absolute harmony of humanity with nature and the end of all injury, disease, and death.”

Tim Keller, The Reason for God (pg 232)

So there you have it, either you must conclude that every church represents a different God within a different religion or you can let yourself see the big picture: That God is, in His fullness, all of the above. Which aspects would you leave out? All together they form the worldview of “Christian Universalism” or “Ultimate Restoration.”

image

Mystery= musterion =

Not the mysterious, but that which is outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension.

Can be made known ONLY by Divine revelation & at a time appointed by God.

“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, To the praise of the glory of His grace , wherein He has made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace ; Wherein He has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He has purposed in Himself :That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who works all things after the counsel of His own will .”

The Lord Jesus Christ, the Archegos & Prodromos, has a stacked deck. He not only undoes the fall of Adam, He does it with flair!

In Hebr. 9.14 His blood is polus mallon.

In Rom. 11.24 the wild & natural olive branches are in the same polus mallon dimension.

Yes, and this majestic Prince-Leader of Reconciliation not only undoes the despair of Adam, He does it polus mallon!

Mallon =

More.

To a greater degree by far.

Jesus Christ IS the Mallon Saviour of the all.

The Everlasting Gospel

George Klein-Nicolai: The Everlasting Gospel (1705) | Mercy Upon All

Death & destruction are not eternal.

"Jesus knew that John 3:16 was not the end of the story…that’s why He continued to John 3:17 and talked about the salvation of all mankind.

Jesus makes no attempt to use verse 16 to negate or qualify verse 17. He simply makes both statements side by side as if both are completely true. The reason He does this is that both are completely true.

We see this over and over in Scripture, especially in the writings of Paul – a statement about people who have faith now (maybe a warning or exhortation or encouragement about the benefits of taking part in the kingdom of God a.k.a. the next two ages of life on earth right next to a statement about how Christ accomplished the justification of all men. See Romans 3:23-24 and 5:18 and their contexts for example. This is no big deal; none of these statements negate, qualify (change), or contradict each other, because both concepts are 100% true. Some will be saved from death early and take part in the kingdom of God, and everyone else will be saved from death later.

To attempt to use some statements (about those who get saved early) to negate the others statements (about the eventual salvation of all) is to butcher the common sense rules of language and communication. We would never do this to each other in everyday communication; the only reason people try to do it to Jesus and Paul is because they cannot bring themselves to believe the plain statements about the eventual salvation of all mankind.

If I said to my kids, “Those of you who help me clean the yard today will get to go to a movie with me tomorrow, and next week I will take the rest of you to a movie,” I have made it very clear that all the kids will eventually go to the movies. My two statements do not contradict each other or negate each other in any way. This is the exact same thing Jesus does in John 3:16 and 17 – He makes two equally true statements. Yet “hell mindset” Christians try to make one statement negate the other in order to fit their preconceived inherited ideas." -Kenneth Larsen-

What About how the Bible says that those who do not believe will perish or be destroyed?

What Does it Mean to “Perish?”

The master plan of Abba is a long range plan of bringing everything & everybody together into Him with nothing, absolutely nothing exempt from His rule.

He is supreme in the beginning, He is supreme in the end!

All broken & dislocated pieces of the universe fixed in vibrant harmony.

https://www.bible.com/bible/97/EPH.1.msg

https://www.bible.com/bible/97/COL.1.MSG

The Master of the Glory does all things well. He clears the air of the human condition, the disordered mess of struggling humanity to set is right once & for all.

The band-aid of the Law has been swallowed by the Spirit of the living & breathing God.

Our Father Abba = magnificent overflow.

https://www.bible.com/bible/97/ROM.8.msg

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This is from today’s Center For Action And Contemplation newsletter.

Alternative Orthodoxy

At-one-ment, Not Atonement
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Franciscan view of atonement theory is a prime example of our alternative orthodoxy. The Franciscan School was dissatisfied with the popular theological idea that Jesus came to Earth as a necessary sacrifice to appease an angry God. As human consciousness advances, more and more people cannot believe that God would demand Jesus’ blood as payment for our sins. It seems to be inevitable that our old logic needs to break up before we can begin to grow up.

The most common reading of the Bible is that Jesus “died for our sins”—either to pay a debt to the devil (generally believed in the first millennium) or to pay a debt to God (proposed by Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century and holding sway for most of the second millennium). But even in the 13th century, Franciscan philosopher and theologian John Duns Scotus (1266–1308) agreed with neither of these understandings.

Duns Scotus was not guided by the Temple language of debt, atonement, and blood sacrifice, which was understandably used by the Gospel writers and by Paul. Instead, he was inspired by the cosmic hymns in the first chapters of Colossians and Ephesians and the Prologue to John’s Gospel (1:1-18). While the Church has never rejected the Franciscan position, it has remained a minority view.

The terrible and un-critiqued premise of many “substitutionary atonement theories” is that God demanded Jesus to be a blood sacrifice to “atone” for our sin-drenched humanity. As if God could need payment, and even a very violent transaction, to be able to love and accept God’s own children! These theories are based on retributive justice rather than the restorative justice that the prophets and Jesus taught.

For Duns Scotus, the incarnation of God and the redemption of the world could never be a mere Plan B or mop-up exercise in response to human sinfulness; Jesus’ birth, life, and death had to be Plan A, the proactive work of God from the very beginning. We were “chosen in Christ before the world was made” (Ephesians 1:4). Our sin could not possibly be the motive for the incarnation! Only perfect love and divine self-revelation could inspire God to come in human form. God never merely reacts, but supremely and freely acts —out of love.

Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity. It did not need changing. Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God! God is not someone to be afraid of but is the Ground of Being and on our side. [1]

The Franciscan minority position, our alternative orthodoxy, is basically saying that no atonement is necessary. Some call it “at-one-ment” instead of atonement. There is no bill to be paid; there is simply a union to be named. Jesus didn’t come to solve a problem; he came to reveal the true nature of God as Love.

Gateway to Action & Contemplation:
What word or phrase resonates with or challenges me? What sensations do I notice in my body? What is mine to do?

Prayer for Our Community:
O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. [Please add your own intentions.] . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.

Listen to Fr. Richard read the prayer.

[1] This is one of the Center for Action and Contemplation’s Seven Themes of an Alternative Orthodoxy. Join the CONSPIRE 2020 webcast to learn more about this and other themes: https://cac.org/conspire-2020/.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Returning to Essentials: Teaching an Alternative Orthodoxy , disc 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2015), CD, MP3 download;

Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 183-188;

Richard Rohr with Tim Scorer, Embracing an Alternative Orthodoxy: Richard Rohr on the Legacy of St. Francis, session 1 (Morehouse Education Resources: 2014), Participants’ Workbook and DVD.

Image credit: St. Francis of Assisi (detail), Jusepe de Ribera, 1642, El Escorial.

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Perfect=

Brought to consummation or completeness; completed.

Not defective nor redundant.

Having all the properties or qualities requisite to its nature and kind;

Without flaw, fault, or blemish;

Without error; mature; whole; pure; sound; right; correct.

A complete and satisfactory close in harmony

A tense which expresses an act or state completed.

To make perfect; to finish or complete, so as to leave nothing wanting; to give to anything all that is requisite to its nature and kind.

This is the consummation of the Divine embrace as the Author brings everything back into Himself in perfect harmony and at-one-ment as the Finisher.

1 Cor. 15:22 alternate plan b=

“For as in Adam some die , so also in Christ some shall be made alive. But each in his own order; Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished some rule and some authority and power.”

However

"There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man. Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ. But we have to wait our turn: Christ is first, then those with him at his Coming, the grand consummation when, after crushing the opposition , he hands over his kingdom to God the Father. He won’t let up until the last enemy is down—and the very last enemy is death! As the psalmist said, “He laid them low, one and all; he walked all over them.” When Scripture says that “he walked all over them,” it’s obvious that he couldn’t at the same time be walked on. When everything and everyone is finally under God’s rule, the Son will step down, taking his place with everyone else, showing that God’s rule is absolutely comprehensive— a perfect ending! -The Message-

What is the meaning of propitiation?

What it is not = the appeasing of an angry deity.

Our word for today is hilaskomai.

The ghastly idea of propitiating an angry deity was used by the Greeks in making the gods propitious & something to be earned first. It is foreign in the N.T. & Septuagint Scriptures!

Hilaskomai actually means reconciliation, a covering as in the words kaphar & kopher, IOW our Father Abba’s Mercy Seat.

His love & grace reaching out to enfold us into Himself.

“He is the at-one-ment for our sins & NOT for our sins ONLY but for the sins of the whole world.”

Hilasmos = atonement

We have a Priest-Friend in the Presence of Abba. He has solved the sin problem for good, not only ours, but the sins of the whole/pas world.

Jesus Christ is the hilasmos of the holos!