The Evangelical Universalist Forum

various ways of universal salvation

Ofcourse God is a mystery and “how” he acomplishes His will is mysterious. Ive been thinking about election, pre destination, and free will. As a Catholic, both free will and pre destination are taught. God came to save everyone, and the elect “will” be saved. But people have a “say” in choosing God and “being” the elect. Its circular, in a way. Many Catholics are molinists - the school of thought that God could foresee “who” would respond to His graces, and made those people the elect - but it was in foreseeing their free and willlingly choosing Him - thats what made the difference. And certainly, Catholics tend to be inclusivists - a muslim might live a good and holy life, and through Christ “might” be saved, if he lived by the law as written on his heart and followed God to the best of his ability. How does God achieve this? Possibly through Christ coming to that good muslim in his final seconds. And ofcourse, through purgatory. Mostly, Catholcis believe that only those who reject God fully, to the end of their days, will be lost in Hell, and only God, no human on earth, knows who those people might be. Some Catholics believe the number in Hell is tiny, almost non existent, or maybe none - other Catholics believe Hell is full. The official Church refuses to speculate on what they consider a matter for God alone.

From the calvinist perspective - I wonder if God simply decides who the elect are - but that at the end of the day, because He loves all his children, we are all elect? I honestly think the end result of calvin plus love equals universal salvation.

So Im torn between the free will - the ability to say "no"to God that Catholcis believe is true (even if its very few people who ultimately do so) and the more calvinist-universalist slant of - it does not have to do with free will - God eventually chooses all of us.

Cindy posted a thread on free will here at Free Will: Its Essential Nature and Implications, in answer to another question. The problem in forums like this, is that many questions get repeated - which is OK - along with the answers. I find it interesting that universalists always include Calvinism and Arminianism - along with a response to it - in their world views. There are some excellent posters here, who will answer more of the questions you have. Or they might point you to other threads discussing the same elements. For the record, I also side with the Roman Catholics and corresponding Protestants on inclusivism. In fact, I would extend it do doing strange stuff, like embracing Buddhist meditation, yoga or Native American ceremony participation (i.e. provided it is a "real’ native, trained and following the historical ceremonial context. It’s a indigenous or indigenous trained specialist, following a tradition centuries old - not some new age wannabee), as long as a Christian worldview framework is adhered to. Or taking part in the Russian Orthodox Holy Fools tradition. I’m a hopeful or potential universalist and an annihilationist, along with being a proponent of the Eastern Orthodox viewpoint of heaven and hell as states - not places.

Since Roman Catholicism loves philosophy, Let’s start with something simple. Perhaps purchasing or getting a copy from your local library of The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World’s Greatest Philosophers by William Durant. It’s an easy and fun read. It might shed some light on how historical figures saw free will and determinism. Or look at the thread General Musings. Here’s also an interesting Protestant response called Question: “Calvinism vs. Arminianism - which view is correct?”

One thing I hope folks learn to do in Universalism with theology, philosophy and scripture discussions, is to define the terms first. It’s something many folks here often fail to do also, in discussions of scripture, theology and philosophy. It’s **not **you, as a poster here - mind you. We might end up with something like this, from Abbot and Costello:

Thanks for posting that link, Randy. :slight_smile: That was a great thread, and lots of good discussion from everyone on the question of free will.


I’ll let you have a look at that thread Randy posted regarding free will. As he says, there are determinist (Calvinistic/Augustinian) Christian universalists (CUs) and there are non-determinist (Arminian) CUs. Most (but not all) of us here are primarily Arminian with a touch of Calv (I know, potentially schizophrenic, that.)

If you read Romans (the primary source if I’m not mistaken of determinism/predestination theology in the church), you’ll see that Paul’s primary audience is the church in Rome, which is composed of a “mixed multitude” of Jewish and Gentile Christians. There was a big “thing” going on with them as to whether or not the church ought to keep the law, and Paul goes back and forth about it. “If you feel you should keep the law, then keep it, but don’t expect everyone else to do that, nor should you think yourself better than the non-law-keeping Christians or better than ethnically Gentile Christians.” Then he turns around and says to the Gentiles (and non-law Jews), “Don’t go thinking you’re better because you’re spiritually strong enough to be okay with ignoring the law of Moses, and don’t put down your weaker brethren who have a need to keep that law. In fact, it would be better if you just honored them, at least when you’re together, and avoided practices you know they’ll find offensive.”

This is really the entire focus of the whole letter, though of course you can draw many themes out of it. In Romans, Paul is playing with the concept of election. The Jews considered themselves (not without cause) to be God’s chosen (elect) people. The thing is, though, that they were elected for a purpose, and that purpose was so that they might be a light to the nations (non-Jews). They were elected not INSTEAD of the world, but FOR the world. They were to be the kingdom of priests who brought the other nations to the Father. Among the Jews were the “super-elect” who consisted of the Tribe of Levi, and among the tribe of Levi were the super-duper elect, who were the sons of Aaron – the priestly class. Then of the common people there were the Pharisees. These men were “elect” because they separated themselves, so they were a sort of self-chosen elect. :confused: They were elect not because they were born to it, but because they chose to separate themselves to God and make Him their first priority. ALL of these elect people were elect for OTHERS. They were elect for the purpose of bringing others to relationship with God.

If you study the scriptures closely you’ll see that God does this kind of “nesting doll” thing a lot. “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Yet if you look carefully, you’ll see that Jacob was chosen for the purpose of blessing Esau. (And keep in mind that “Jacob” is here not an individual but a people, as is Esau. Esau was not chosen; he was not of the elect, even though he was a son of Abraham. Paul points this out to show that even among Abraham’s children, not all are elect. Of the elect of Abraham’s children, not even all of these are elect. The point, I think, in his immediate audience, was to show that it is the spiritual children who are elect and not the physical children of Abraham. Branches had been broken out (the Jews who rejected Jesus) so that “you” (the Gentile believers) might be grafted in. But don’t go exalting yourselves against the branches that were broken out, thinking you’re better than them, because if God didn’t spare the original natural branches, He won’t spare you either. If He was able to graft you in, He can break you out and graft the natural branches back in all that much easier, since they belonged to the olive tree from the start.

The whole letter is basically, “Play nice with the other children!” with a whole lot of great stuff thrown in to show why we ought to do that.

So the ekklesia (not the organization; rather, the family of believers) has become the new elect, since Israel never did her job and even rejected her Messiah. Therefore, all the followers of Jesus are elect, and no one is any more elect than anyone else. The Jews aren’t better; the Gentiles aren’t better. We are all one new man in Christ (the second/last Adam). And ultimately, ALL men are included in Christ since as in Adam all died, even so in Christ all are made alive. None of us ought to think more highly of ourselves than is warranted. If we are elect, that is because of God’s choosing of us to be a blessing to all those younger brothers and sisters who (equally beloved) have not yet been grafted into the olive tree.

I really believe this is what Paul was talking about in 1 Cor when he talked of running the race for the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The high calling is the election – the election is an election to service and ministry to others. Maybe Paul’s “high calling” referred to more than ministry on this earth in this lifetime. (Since I’m not sure it’s reasonable to think Paul was dubious about his being elected for THAT honor.) Maybe it refers to being one who, in the life to come, is prepared and ready to go out and minister to those lost sheep and lost coins and prodigal sons who have yet to be brought to the Father’s arms. Now THAT is a very high calling, and surely worthy of our every effort to run the race, leaving behind all the things that would hinder us that we might obtain the prize. What a prize! I long to be counted worthy of such a reward, and I’m sure everyone else here does, too.

Love, Cindy

There is a rehabilitation center and nunnery in Wheaton, run by Franciscan sisters. What’s interesting is they have a Tau center, where that have different spiritual programs. They have a Buddhist meditation night, a Keating Centering Prayer night and a drumming circle. In fact, one of the women who comes is studying Peruvian shamanism and models the center altar in the Peruvian shaman traditions - all supervised and participated in by a Franciscan nun. I thought I would add this.

Thanks for all the great responses and the links as well - Im going to check them all out.

Its interesting - the Protestant debate seems to be between Arminianism and Calvinism, whereas for Catholics its Molinist vs Thomist (though some people think it shouldn’t really be called Thomist as it came more from other thinkers after Thomas)- but the debates are very similar. Molinists have a higher regard for free will than Thomists, as Arminians do vs Calvinists.

Peter Kreeft has a wonderful piece on free will vs predestination - going to see if i can find it and link it -

and an additional kudos to the poster who posted “whos on first”…!!!

– Chinese Proverb

There are three things I have learned in life and try to practice.

From philosophy it’s to define your terms first
From computer science, it’s the KISS philosophy - Keep it simple and stupid
From direct response copywriting (i.e. writing for business or advertising), is to know your audience.

I’ll share part of a lesson I’ve shared elsewhere, on the last point

Who is your audience. :question: In direct response copywriting, you learn these things:

Keep the conversation to a level of eight grade and below
People respond more to buying on emotion then on reason. Then they try to use reason, to justify their emotional based purchase
Talk to them like you’re conversing with a friend at the bar

Actually, if you can do these things well, you could become a millionaire on royalties - like Clayton Makepeace, Bob Bly or Ben Hart did. Can you use that info here? Sure! Ever see the Three Stooges short, where they are talking about Pig Latin? Moe says to Curly:

When you do that, you lose or pass over the “deeper” and correct aspects. But everyone should be able to understand your message.

Yes, great direct response copywriters have much to teach us and command high fees. In fact, famous marketer Ed Dale just revealed today he paid legendary direct response copywriter Gary Halbert 20 K a month to coach him (by the way, I own Fluent Forever, the book he recommends in the last two paragraphs). And to see how to write simply and fast, see this piece from B2B writer Steve Slaunwhite on How To Write Faster Than a Superhero

And you know what? If you want to master the art of persuasion, then direct response copywriting will teach you that. Studying historical and contemporary philosophers for constructing logical philosophical arguments, are all well and good. Studying famous writers for engaging literary styles, are all well and good. But in my book, direct response copywriters are masters at the art of persuasion and well worth studying how they compose their ads and selling stories.

And should a person ever exist who has studied the art of constructing philosophical arguments, engaging literary styles, and direct response copywriting persuasion - while throwing in a love for Socrates matter of questioning - they would probably not want to be someone to provoke. Not that I “really” know any person like that!

Back in seminary my professor, J. Rodman Williams, explained Calvinism and Arminianism as follows:

God Chooses -----> Man is Saved -----> Man chooses

Man Chooses ------> Man is saved ------> God forknows

There were students from both camps in the class. Professor Williams leaned towards Calvinism but readily admitted the scriptural evidence of Arminianism. There were two days of heated debate concerning the topic. I was raised in Arminianism, but could see the scriptural support for Calvinism too. I pondered the question for several days until I finally came to believe that the problem is we think in linear terms like DC electricity flows only one direction. But AC electricity flows both simultaneously. So I changed the illustration to the following: (Please ignore the dots, it was the only way I could get everything to line up.)

…God chooses/forknows
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . /^
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . / . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . / . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . / . . . . . .
. . . Man is Saved <--------------> Man chooses

Like AC electricity flows both ways at the same time, scripture affirms both perspectives. I don’t understand how AC electricity works, but I know that when I turn the switch on I get light. In like manner, when a person chooses to have faith in God and follow Jesus the lights come on and they can “see” (percieve) the kingdom of God!

So my message is, “Repent for the kingdom of God is within reach and you can participate in it!”

Of course, this understanding of salvation simple predispositioned me to be open to UR. Scripture affirms that God is Soverign over all, God is Love to all, and God is Savior of all. If God is sovereign and God is love it only rationally follows that God would be savior of all.

And then when I studied scripture and found how little, if any, evidence there is of there being a Hell, coming to believe in UR was like falling off a horse - inevitible if you ride one enough!

From an Arminian perspective.

“If I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all men unto me.”

The love of God in Christ at the cross will inexorably draw every adversary into subjection. The inevitable superiority of love eventually winning very argument and every heart.

From a Calvinist perspective

“having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory”.

, God chose the elect in Christ and predestined them to be conformed to the image of Christ. To be reconciled and then to participate in the reconciliation of all.

I like the example of AC current a lot. Great illustration.

I have found that UR is quite easily proven for either perspective from the many broad statements about it in the scriptures. Working back from the stated conclusion, regardless of the exact process, it is still undeniable.