The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Universalism a Deterrent to Christian Evangelism?

I think it’s commonly held that theologies that emphasize the potential to lose one’s salvation have a great impetus to evangelize. Those that believe in eternal security or predestination are viewed as less evangelical. Whether these common views are more or less true is dependent more on the individual who holds to them, than to the churches or denominations that espouse the doctrines.

Of course my presupposition may in and of itself be fallacious, but given that there is a kernel of truth in it; how does the assurance of the “Ultimate Reconciliation of All” impact evangelism in our lives.

World views that hold to the belief that salvation in Christ is gained by honest conversion, but can be lost by either sin or backsliding are commonly viewed as the most evangelical and are well known, for revivals, alter calls and an urgency in prayer for a special or second blessing from the Holy Spirit. I took such a walk down the aisle in my early teens, and have observed the ecstatic seeking of the Spirit many times as an adult.

On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve worshipped in communities where the actions of the congregations have been so self controlled, that had you not heard the Word proclaimed by the hymns, and sermon or the entreaty of the Eucharist, or more importantly not known of the godliness and faith of those in attendance, you would not in any emotional sense, observe the presence of God. Many of these churches hold to a view of conversion that is based on the belief in the “Perseverance of the Saints”.

Is a Christian world view that sees God as so powerful that once he has accepted the earnest conversion of His child, will not allow that one to be let go, any closer to the “God of ultimate reconciliation” than the God who observes and even allows that child to backslide and leave the family of God? Or perhaps there is no relationship, at all.

More importantly, to our world view community, what is the impact on those of us who hold to the Ultimate Reconciliation of all mankind, and all creation, in our desire to see the conversion of mankind in this life? What is the purpose of conversion at all?

Are we more or less likely than those who fear the fires of hell should they slip from the Father’s hand, to proclaim the Good News, but more importantly to my personal concern, are we more prone to sit idly by because God will Reconcile All Eventually?

There’s more to this question, but I’m interested, not so much in a theological arguments of the two predominate viewpoints mentioned, as in the impact our view has on us; on our actions. As an example to perhaps to get the discourse started:

Does a Christian parent espousing UR, seek the face of the Creator/Redeemer, pray, witness to achieve the salvation of a wayward child, as does a parent in either of the other world view communities would do?

Is the title of this site truly relevant to the content. Is a church or denomination that is so unwelcoming to sinners that having “Redeemer”, “Grace”, or “All Saints” in the title, is really false advertising? Shouldn’t our evangelicalism move beyond the condemnation of sinners and conversion, to sanctification and love?

I’m too new here to make such rash judgments about this site or even those that take part, but I do know that the church in general has somehow lost view of the Love that was at the core of the revelation of God the Father, through the sacrificial life and death of God the Son. May the continuing work of God the Spirit redeem the world in our time!

well, i’m personally not evangelical. i actually go so far as to describe myself as post-evangelical, due to all the rubbish i’ve seen preached under that label! that is not meant to be a judgement of indictment of anyone that calls themselves evangelical here…they serve as a reminder that what i’ve come to associate with Evangelicalism isn’t the whole of the picture…there’s good and bad in any group, and to define the whole group using the bad element is unfair.

anyway, i have been a universalist for about a year…not all that long. for years before, i had a guilty feeling that i should do more evangelising (i had a more Arminian worldview, tempered with a wee bit of Calvinism…ie free will followed by perseverence and eternal security). however, the nature of hell, and the fact that deep down it didn’t add up made me really uncomfortable sharing my faith with unbelievers. also, i felt as if i was “selling something”, and i despise that! so i really found it difficult.

it’s quite early days yet, but i do feel more comfortable telling people i believe that God loves everyone and can and will save everyone. i know that i do feel more in love with God then i have in years, and more free to love Him as the limiting factors (theology that makes no sense) are being stripped away.

Maybe I am not completely understanding your point, but is salvation in your opinion only escape from eternal conscious torment or could it possibly be an alternative to a life of sin. Because I love people I want them to have peace with God that comes through trusting Christ now.

I’ve never had much gift for evangelism per se; but I have always regarded apologetics as preparation and support for evangelism. And at least 3/4 of the thousands of pages of apologetics I’ve written (and revised), occurred after my coming to believe in God’s universal salvation of sinners from sin. In fact, my largest single apologetic work (to date!–my next work may be larger :mrgreen: ) led directly to me becoming a Christian universalist at all.

While my evangelical appeals per se are relatively rare, I can think of only one I know of for sure that I made pre-universalism, in a text I never made public (but which I figured the friend I cared the most for might possibly read. Not coincidentally I didn’t realize at the time how much I cared for her, but in hindsight I already did. :slight_smile: Bless her heart, she nearly killed a printer in her college dorm room trying to print that 500-page book. :laughing: But I don’t think she ever read all the way to the end.)

Whereas I’ve spent a large amount of my own money in the years since for purposes of evangelism not merely apologetics, and am planning to spend even more in the future. I’m the only Cadrist I know of who writes evangelical sermons for the Cadre (which I present on holidays, and a new one of which I’m currently fiddling on). I have occasionally released evangelical pieces as international press releases. I’ve designed subtle evangelical efforts into the Mikonese Saga material. I even chose to sacrifice my finale in last October’s debate with Calv apologist TFan to make a purely evangelical appeal to any listening non-Christians, rather than summarize my arguments.

Compared to real evangelists that isn’t a lot. But it’s a whole lot more than I ever did before I was a Christian universalist. :slight_smile:

To “corpselight”

I never took the term “evangelical” as a negative, Evangelist is something else as in “Elmer Gantry”. So I guess we’re on the same wavelength there. I too have been exploring Universalism for a short time but never found God’s rules and punishments inconsistent since, well, He’s God and pretty much makes the rules. Maybe kind of childish, but that’s just the way I thought.

On being uncomfortable in sharing faith, I don’t think most are comfortable in doing so. But you just did! Grabbing people by the collar on a street corner is not, in my view the only form of evangelization. I can remember reading about the theologian Francis Schaffer on establishing his “commune” L’Abri, in Switzerland, that he opened his doors to virtually anyone to just converse about life, letting the Spirit work, as his form of evangelism and it worked mightily for many years. I, in fact, was brought into Reformed theology primarily via a youth group geared to intellectualization of salvation, I now go to a church who’s form of evangelism is an openness to gay Christians of every faith imaginable. There are Catholic, probably a third of the group, most groups generally viewed as evangelicals, and me the loan Calvinist, although most Reformed people view themselves as being evangelical. The minister is unabashedly, an evangelical, but his love and openness to our brokenness, speaks volumes to the love of Christ, and little more is needed to draw each of us closer to God.

Glad to hear that you too, find that your new view of God, makes Him easier to love. My only concern with where I’m at in the process, is that I don’t want to be guilty of creating a new god that is easier to love. Small g on purpose.

To “nimblewill”

I think the vast majority of evangelicals, Arminianism, and Calvinism alike, view the result of evangelism as salvation – being saved from eternal torment. I too held that perspective. Now, while I have lingering doubts about Universal Redemption, I still look at those I love, and long for them to know God, and yes avoid eternal torment. What form that torment would take, is yet another issue for another post.
I have never deluded myself into thinking I could be free of sin. Evangelism, would logically lead to an awareness of a perfect God (how far we are from that perfection) and unable to save ourselves. That was a primary focus of James Kennedy’s “Evangelism Explosion ( Classically moving along the continuum of faith advances to our sanctification and a life that is characterized by denial of sin and becoming more Christ-like. It’s best to let others judge where one is along on that continuum. But thanks for the clarification.

For many years I taught a course on Evangelism called “Share Jesus Without Fear” and was active in sharing my faith in Christ with people. And I used to pray for a revelation of the reality of Hell, assuming that understanding just how bad Hell is would motivate me to be even more passionate in sharing my faith in Christ and teaching/motivating others how to do the same.

One can only imagine how surprised I was when in studying what scripture actually says concerning “Hell” and the punishment of sin, I came to believe in UR. And having come to believe in UR, I’ve also come to believe that the doctrine of Hell actually significantly HINDERS evangelism for several reasons:

  1. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news and the doctrine of Hell is the ultimate Bad News!
  2. The doctrine of Hell limits the power and/or scope of the Atonement. Because of the doctrine of Hell, Calvinists limit the scope of the Atonement, and Arminianists limit the Power of the Atonement.
  3. The doctrine of Hell also tends to engender “fear” not “faith”; people share the “gospel” out of “fear” that Jesus will not save instead of out of “faith” that Jesus will save!
  4. The doctrine of Hell also tends to encourage judgmentalism and pride. The reason I am saved is because “I” accepted Christ. The reason others are not saved is because “they” choose not to. So “I” am better than “them”.

Frankly, I find the gospel of UR to be much more empowering and encouraging. It is truly Good News. It puts us All in the same boat - people loved by God needing saving. And it fills us with faith in Jesus to save. We do not believe God to be some tyrrant who punishes people forever because they don’t…whatever. Rather, we believe that God loves all humanity and does not fail to save those whom He loves!

In short, I believe faith is a much more powerful and lasting motivator than fear! Faith in God to save is much more powerful than fear of God to damn! Jesus did not come to condemn the lost, but to save us! Hallelujah!

btw, in the course, one of the principles taught is asking people to read the scripture and asking them what it says to them, in essence helping people hear God speak to them through His Word. This is done with all scriptures except Rom. 6.23, “the wages of sin is death”. For that scripture, the course teaches one to “interpret” death as Hell and tell the person what that scripture means to you. It always bothered me that we had to do that because, well, death does not mean Hell. And 2) instead of letting God speak to the person we were “interpreting” the passage for them.

Well, anyhow, it’s a good course, especially if one believes in UR and sets aside the misinterpretation of Rom. 6:23.

Thanks, Sherman

I think your response pretty much answers my question, and I appreciate your taking the time to be so thorough.

I’ve never been convinced that frightening people into salvation works, anyway. I came to God because he offered hope, love and acceptance. Those are much stronger draws, and longer lasting.

Although I think Sherman hit the major highlights, this article explains why not only does universalism not deter evangelism, but actually requires it. evangelicalsforsocialaction. … 0Salvation

Before I came to UR I never even wanted to evangelize. To me God was like the crazy uncle that you don’t really want to talk about. Yeah you love your uncle but he always ends up talking about the time he was abducted by aliens and probed :open_mouth:
Thats how it was with God, He was great and all, but I was so weirded out by hell that I never wanted to share the “good news”. Now although I’m no street preacher or anything, I definitely want to talk about Him and even want to be a missionary although I haven’t heard the call.

When I came to UR we told some missionary friends of ours about this great discovery. They were pretty sympathetic and pretty much agreed. The first thing they asked was how does that affect missions/evangelism.

To be an evangelist literally means ‘to be the messenger of good news’.
It’s ironic that the church has twisted this message and interpreted it to mean the bearer of the news that the vast majority of humankind will roast eternally.
So for me, as others here, UR has liberated me and enabled me to realise that the news I have is truly, madly, deeply GOOD!

P.S. DO all Americans omit the ‘d’ off the past-tense writing ‘I use to…’ rather than ‘I used to…’ ??

Hey. I found this post by Eric Reitan, who was asked this very question about evangelism.

Hope it helps. :ugeek:

splitframeofreference.blogspot.c … ts-be.html


Not all Americans, no. It is incorrect, but some write it as they speak it. Many drop the “d” in speech and so also drop it in writing.

Yes, that’s a mistake I’ll make occasionally. It’s actually commonly pronounced “yoost” though correctly spelt “used” and commonly mispelt “use” as I did above but corrected. Thanks for pointing it out Mel.

I appreciate the interest shown in this topic and your help in improving my understanding.

My intention when I started it was to “take the pulse” of you all. To see your heart for God. I am happy that you have more than made me feel safe here, acceptance and love are very important to me.

The links suggested have indeed been useful, I’ve been able to read them and then use them as a springboard to other sites. My minister is pretty open to my “divergent views” while he is very evangelistic and has encountered these concepts before; few in the congregation have. I’ve just backed away from Bible study for the past month since I found myself being to schismatic, even for me. There is a place for peace in the church, and I only go so far as to make my positions known and that I’m willing to discuss the issues should there be any willing ears. More often than not I’m given free rein.

I’m not one to take dogmatic views beyond the deity of Christ, and His sacrificial love. The more I can encounter other reasonable positions such as yours, the closer I am to knowing God, whose very being and plan I feel is beyond our complete comprehension. We have a responsibility to Know God as Arthur Pink wrote,

[size=85]God can only be known by means of a supernatural revelation of Himself Apart from the Scriptures, even a theoretical acquaintance with Him is impossible. It still holds true that ‘the world by wisdom knew not God’ (I Cor. 1:21). Where the Scriptures are ignored, God is "the unknown God’ (Acts 17:23).
But something more than the Scriptures is required before the soul can know God, know Him in a real, personal, vital way. This seems to be recognized by few today. The prevailing practice assumes that a knowledge of God can be obtained through studying the Word, in the same way as a knowledge of chemistry may be secured by mastering its textbooks.
An intellectual knowledge of God maybe; not so a spiritual one. A supernatural God can only be known supernatural (i.e. known in a manner above that which mere nature can acquire), by a supernatural revelation of Himself to the heart. ‘God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’ (11 Cor. 4:6). The one who has been favored with this supernatural experience has learned that only ‘in thy light shall we see light’ (Ps. 36:9).

As to our poster Melchizedek, I do not claim to speak English, or even write it coherently, I do American-English which is much more fluid and is being written as more of a form of short hand than composition. Most of us can still figure out what the other is intending to say. I’m glad you across the pond, still catch a glimpse of what we want to share, too.

By the way, I was not intending to be disrespectful to anyone using “use” instead of “used”. I was merely attempting to answer pilgrim’s question in a neutral but understandable way.

Language and its usage does change over time, and even the (technically) same language can change in its usage quite differently in different cultures. There are some differences in spelling between British and American English, but this is not classically one of them.
In recent years, it has become more common in casual American writing to drop the “d”, because when we say “used to”, it sounds like “use to”. Because it is a type of contraction based on pronunciation, I expect that a technically correct way to write this would be “use’to” to denote the dropped letter, but that looks odd… :ugeek:

Ok, enough of that.

Thanks Mel
Likewise, I’m happy however people use English and however it evolves. I love finding the differences between American-English and UK-English. Language is fascinating. No disrespect intended.

Hello everyone! :smiley:

From my perspective, the coming of the Kingdom of God here and now, to be consummated in the future, is an integral part of the Christian worldview. This implies that the world is more and more being transformed into how God wants it to be.

Part of this is evangelism, which, as William Abraham defined, is ‘initiation into the Kingdom of God’. It is the work of God, through the work of human agents, and it is essential for the coming of God’s Kingdom.

It’s part of the UR perspective which I believe to best represent reality that everyone will ultimately be evangelised (i.e. initiated into the Kingdom of God). Of course, the timing will be different; some will occur during this life, potentially some post-mortem conversion, and potentially some after the Last Judgement.

Our present efforts seek to ensure that people come into the Kingdom of God now, and hence be spared the considerable difficulty and suffering involved in alternative routes, and the (albeit restorative) judgement. It makes sense to evangelise to help people avoid final judgement (even though they will be redeemed from this eventually). This judgement does not have to be eternal to be well worth avoiding.

In this way, I believe evangelism to be very important, together with apologetics, and the discipleship of those who are already Christians.

Blessings to everyone! :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I came to UR about 18 months ago. I have been a Christian for 40 years. I love the Lord.

I was going to start a thread entitled, “UR evangelism in an ECT world,” but found this thread instead. Excellent! It seems to me that, from the point of view of UR evangelism, there are distinct groups of people: Christians who believe in ECT, and everyone else. I would like to learn how to be able to usefully discuss UR with both groups.

My church is ECT. At a recent church Crossways class, the materials specifically referenced 1 Corinthians 15: 21-22. Going against my usual restraint, I took the opportunity to point out the word “all” in the phrase, “in Christ all will be made alive.” The reactions of others in the class were varied: our pastor wanted to read “will be” as “can be;” one other class member chimed in, “but that’s not what it says!”, and smiled at me; a third class member went to his iphone and shortly reported that the word “made” could be translated in other ways; the majority of the class seemed to be oblivious to the implications of the phrase. In a way, it was all rather comical.

In talking with non Christian-ECTers, I get the feeling that UR comes across as a quaint idea, similar to reading tea leaves or tarot cards.

When I get the time, I will check out the links posted above. Any other comments and suggestions would be most gratefully received!

When one takes the view that punishment for sin can, and does, occur in this life - it can be a powerful tool for evangelism, for even the worst sinners are cognizant of cause and effect, and there isn’t one among them who doesn’t meditate on the possibility that some of the things going wrong for them are a result of ‘bad karma,’ which we would interpret for them as God’s disapproval of their unbelief and disobedience.

This is not to say that we should preach a works-based salvation to them, but rather they are already receptive to the notion that a lifestyle of practical sanctification can be rewarding, and it is only a small leap from there to justification by faith and grace.

On the other hand, preaching the view that souls are purified after death could have the same effect as the hellfahr an’ brimstone message in that the unregenerate are willing to ‘risk it’ because it doesn’t affect them right away, or come away with the impression that purification will affect everyone equally and thus it doesn’t matter what they do now (antinomianism).