First off, I’m new here, though not new to Universal Reconcilation. I’ve been a proponent of the Victorious Gospel for over a year now, and have read copiously on the subject (though I am just now starting to dig into MacDonals and Talbott’s work) and am always pondering and considering the various facets of our faith.
One thing that had been bugging me slightly is the parable of the lost sheep. Jesus is eating with sinners and, when confronted by the Pharisees, he proceeds to tell several parables, starting with this one. It makes a nice little case that God will, indeed, not stop until he has rescued every sinner.
However, I can see a couple objections to the Universalist stance on this parable and I’ve been wondering how best to make the argument that it does, indeed, refer to God saving all in His time.
- (what an Arminian might say) The sheep only refer to Christians. The unsaved are referred to as “goats” when Christ is talking about dividing the nations, and therefore are not represented in the parable of the Lost Sheep.
My response to #1 would be that, in context, the Lost Sheep parable is talking about all people, as Jesus told it while in the midst of sinners, and would clearly be referencing all of them. The sheep and goats illustration is in a different context, and so, while the unsaved are referred to as “goats” in one passage, they are called “sheep” in another without any kind of contradiction due to the beforementioned context of who he was speaking to and in what situation.
- (Calvinist objection) This is similar to the first one, but in the Calvinist viewpoint that the sheep are the elect, who God will indeed seek out and save, while leaving everyone else out in the cold (heat?). They would, most likely, also point to the illustration of sheep and goats to further drive home the point of God’s desire to save only the elect.
This one I don’t have as good of a response to, except to point out the myriad of scriptures which point to God’s desire to save all (which Calvinists generally write of as only referring to a group of select people anyways).
I’m curious to get any input on this issue from you all and I look forward to spending time here. From what I’ve seen so far, this place seems to be a great place for conversation.