Why has Christian Universalism been hidden?


#1

I have attended Church for almost my entire life (60 years). Growing up in England, I attended the Church of England, and Baptist and Methodist Churches. In the USA and Canada, I have attended Baptist, Evangelical Free, and Reformed Churches. In all that time, none of those churches ever uttered a word about Christian Universalism. It just wasn’t discussed - I never even heard of the idea! I considered myself to be a student of the Bible, and I taught Sunday School for teenagers!

Last November (2010), I was challenged to determine what I really believed about salvation and hell. Thanks to the internet, I found all kinds of eye-popping, mind-blowing, websites about Christian Universalism - and many Bible passages make a lot more sense to me now, from that perspective.

But, why, why, has Christian Universalism been hidden? I am truly excited to now be a Christian Universalist, but I am totally annoyed and embarrassed that it took me 60 years to get there! And, now, like lots of other people I read about, I have to deal with the problem of being a “heretic” - perhaps that answers my own question; but I’d love to hear some responses.


#2

Christian Universalism has not so much been “hidden” as anathematized. It has been utterly rejected with fear and loathing by most mainstream churches as a dangerous heresy.

Welcome to the forum!
Sonia


#3

Welcome aboard, Carrots.

The Reformation made the Bible available for all to read. Now the internet makes nuanced translations available, along with every conceivable interpretation. Once, only specialists had access to such stuff, and many of them had taken solemn vows to uphold and defend the party line.


#4

Welcome, glad you found us. Yes, it’s a great shame it’s been hidden, but I think that’s rapidly changing, and we can all help in that regard :sunglasses:


#5

I have sometimes marvelled at this. I haven’t the widespread experience of other denominations and the one I was ‘brought up in’ are annihilationist which somehow seemed less threatening than ECT, so perhaps the subject came up less though I can’t really see that made any difference. Yet I have for many years read widely and for considerable time had variant views; but not until about 4 yrs ago did I seriously come across Universalism (other than my own occasional thoughts). Now it seems to pop up everywhere; but I think it is the Internet that now allows exposure to writings and thoughts that previously one would have never come across. Not unlike the time of the Reformation when the printing press allowed for evangelizing the masses. As Allen has said.

What surprises me is that when I’ve introduced the topic of UR to one or two clergy- more in general discussion than ‘this is what I believe,’ they seem to be quite ignorant that the idea is out there.
In God’s Grace.
S


#6

Unfortunately, the Christian Church as an institution is susceptible to the same things which plague all other institutions in this world. These temptations include greed, control, manipulation, fear, pride, and so on. Obviously not all persons involved in church institutions succumb to these things, but institutions can’t function without hierarchy, controlling people, rules, and exclusivity. The more the Church resembles an institution, the more it needs those things.

All the negative things I’ve listed would be threatened by widespread acceptance of God’s persevering, effectual universal love–or at least that’s what people think who are invested in the hierarchy. I think this is why Jesus warned us against assuming authority over each other (Matt 23).

Now, would everything automagically be fixed if the only expression of the Church were organic? No, because it’s still made up of people affected by sin and fear. But at least there’d be more openness to wrestling with the true meaning of what the Bible says regarding God’s love and salvation.

(
A good translation of the Bible
+
open, Holy Spirit-led discussion
+
a commitment to live it out together

Truth coming out
)

My two cents, anyway. :slight_smile:


#7

NealF
Very good points


#8

Don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before or not, but I’m currently a pastor of a denominational church. Been one for 9 years now. 8 of those 9 years, I’ve come into a whole other realm of vision and thinking, not only on universal thinking, but on how I read the entire Bible as well. Early on in this, I actually prayed the same question . .sorta . . .my prayer wasn’t “God why has this been hidden . . .” My prayer was . .“God, why me? Why am “I” the one in my family to become the heretic? Why now? Where was this when my Grandpa preached the Gospel? Where was this when my Uncle went around starting church across the states? Why me?”

God doesn’t always answer stuff right away. :neutral_face: In fact, I’ve had answers come to prayers and I hadn’t even been aware of it until after I realized it was there for a while.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve since seen and understood. There’s “always” those out there that are going to argue some of this, but just hear me out for a sec.

Everything is patterned after the tabernacle. Everything is about Christ, the Tabernacle was specifically patterned after him, so everything is patterened after the tabernacle. The law was, each household had to go out and gather their own manna for 5 of the 7 days. There was A SPECIFIC AMOUNT that they were to gather in. It all depended on how large the family was. The bigger the family (greater reproduction) the more manna (deeper understanding) they gathered. But it could only be enough to get them through “that day”. The 6th day was a little different. Labor was still very much a part of their gathering, but on the 6th day they were to get a double portion to prepare them for the Sabbath (knowledge will increase) When the Sabbath came, the rules changed. In fact, they were the opposite from the previous 6 days. In the previous 6, labor was the emphasis. But on the 7th, if there was labor at all, you were ostrasized. YOU COULD NOT APPLY THE LAWS OF LABOR ON THE SABBATH DAY . . .

Okay . . .so . . .here’s where people may want to get up and argue . . .but like I said, hear me out . . .
From Adam to Abraham, it was roughly 2,000 years . . .from Abraham to Jesus, another 2,000. And from Jesus to today is yet another 2,000 years. Given that a thousand years is as a day is a spiritual principle, we can then see that it was 4 days from Adam to Jesus . . .upon the 4th day, the sun, moon and stars were created . . .elements in the heavens that were light carriers . . . same day Jesus manifested “as” the light to the earth. Then . . .add another two days and it brings us up to the 21st century. Which is saying to me that this earth has passed through 6 days of labor and now the Sabbath Day is dawning and WITH IT comes a totally opposite approach from the previous 6 days. I believe the message of universal salvatin is a Sabbath message . . . it’s one that comes from the source of rest rather than labor. People can enter into rest through labor . . .as Hebrews 4 is all over this. The only labor you want to do now is, labor to find your identity in Rest.

Now . . .the arguement is . . .the math doesn’t add up because calendars are different and some believe man has been here a lot longer than 6 thousand years and so on and for me, I just say “let them”. This is what I feel God has revealed to MY inward parts . .so let them argue, this thing has set me free from worrying and laboring on many levels. The other piece to this is . . .Jesus stated “Tear down this temple and in three days I will raise it up . . .” John explained that Jesus was not refering to the literal temple like those around him assumed. But he was talking about his body as a temple.

But there’s another temple . . .we’re the living stones that are to be fitted together to create the church, right? Well, for me, “this” message is the identity of a church that Christ is resurrecting. And everyone embracing this message is a part of that new temple being erected. For the first time in my life, I’m merely letting Christ build in my “his” house rather than me trying to build my own doctrine, my own belief system . . .instead of building my faith upon what I THINK Scripture says, I let the Word IN ME do the building and from there, as I read Scripture, I see in it the AFFIRMATION of what God has already built in me.

I literally have a crowbar hanging on the wall in my church. It’s a visible reminder that I need to ALWAYS be willing to tear down my stuff so God can build his.


#9

Welcome to EU Carrots! Glad you’ve decided to join us. Why has Christian Universalism been hidden?

On one hand, it’s because it’s Good News and the principalities and powers of this world are set to keep it hidden, to keep it from changing people’s lives. They haven’t been able to stop people from having faith in Christ for their own salvation, but have greatly hindered most Christians from having faith in Christ for the salvation of others.

On the other hand, God is sovereign and He moves through His church and in this world as He wills. I believe it is time for this Revelation to Revelutionize the Church for it is truly a revolutionary concept. For me it has made how I live, especially how I treat others, more important than what I just profess to believe.

Anyhow, welcome again.
Sherman


#10

Nathan,

I’m curious, what denomination are you a pastor in?


#11

I always hesitate when people ask me that . . .because I’m first and foremost a follower of Christ . . .but then again, who in the church would ever think themselves to be otherwise? But in my case, as I sense would be the case of many on boards such as this and Tent and others . . . in order for me to embrace what I see, I have to become a heretic.

Having said that . . .I have been a pastor of a Foursquare church for the past 9 years. 8 of those years, however, have been . . .let’s say . . .the corners have been rounded off a bit . . .now it’s not Foursquare as much as it would be . . .a circle?


#12

Oh, I meant to throw this out earlier but ran out of time . . .I like to play around a bit with biblical numerology . . .nothing too deep, mostly just the basics . . .mainly with the numbers 1-12 but there are a couple others that surface a lot through Scriptures . . .11, 12, 30, 40 . . 50. .120 . . .I believe there’s a specific reason why the numbers are addressed as they have been. That it was 40 days and not 39 or 41. That there were 10 virgins, not 9 or 8.

We talk about the use of translations a lot. But I believe God didn’t rely on words, because words are limited to isolated groups of people. A word will have one meaning in one culture and a totally different meaning in another. So, I believe when God speaks, he uses other means . . .like . . .colors, numbers . . .elements (gold, silver, straw) objects (men are as trees) . . .mountains, rocks, pillars, rivers even . . .like the Jordan . . .did you all know that when the nation of Israel was crossing over the very first time and the priests feet touched the flooded river . . that Scripture states it rolled all the way back to a specific city . . .know what it is?

I’d tell ya but that’s not why I wanted to post right now. Ask me about it later if you’re interested. It’s extremely powerful, I promise!! :slight_smile:

What I wanted to add “here” is connected to what I wrote above about our current generation now entering into the Sabbath day of God where the rules of the church that got us here are no longer effective because this is the last of the last days . . .this is the Sabbath day of the week, the last of the seven days predestined for this realm we live in to adhere to.

What I wanted to point out was something God said in Genesis 6.

1And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
2That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
3And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

I’m just going to put this out there . . .hang on if you can . . .
First verse . . . whenever I see the word “face” to me it signifies “identity”. Should a child go missing, the picture they post on your milk cartons is not a picture of their arm, torso, legs . . .it’s always a picture of their “face” because that’s how we’re “identified”. So . . .people multiplied on the “face” of the “earth”. Earth . . .dirt . . .natural . . .carnality . . .generally whenever earth is portrayed, it’s never a good thing. So “man” is multiplying, but not in God’s image . . .the identity of man’s carnality is multiplying.

All of what I’m sharing is a spiritual application by the way . . .just sayin . . .I’m not about to get into whether or not angels literally left heaven and slept with flesh and blood . . .but . . .what I “do” see is where carnal minded men, who are multiplying in that carnality, had daughters, offspring of carnality . … and those daughters slept with . . .had an intimate relationship with the sons of God . . .in other words, Spiritual truth became blended with natural reasoning . . daughters represents my “mind/soul/Eve” Sons of God represent my heart/spirit/Adam" When I take spiritual truth, mix it with my carnal mind, I produce giants as a result. Who are the giants? For me . . .it’s the religions of the world. They’re so big no one dares to question their validity.

But God makes a decree . . .which is the real reason I wanted to post here . . . the stuff leading up to this was just extra. I’m dropping bombs on many right now but doesn’t Hebrews talk about God doing some serious shaking???

So God makes a declaration . . .My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

Spirit does not “strive” with flesh . . .flesh submits to spirit. However, IN THIS REALM our minds are in full operation. Problem is, we can’t use the same format in the spirit that we use in the flesh. Spiritual truth does not come by way of natural logic and reason. Ask Peter!! He’d tell ya! “Flesh and blood has not taught you this, but the Father who is in heaven has REVEALED this to you. . .” Yet our days shall be 120 years.

Question . . .for those who think this is meant to be taken literally, in all the geneologies through Scripture, how many men can you count that died at the age of 120? Any takers? I’ll tell you . . .one. Who? Moses. Why Moses? Because “he” represtented law. And the Old Covenant law was to harness the mind of men . . .that’s why when Jesus came, it was such a radical change. He walked in faith where the rest of us walked in logic. The two are like oil and water, sure, each has a specific use and purpose, but they just don’t mix.

Okay . . .it’s this 120 that I wanted to get to. I’m not sure how to put this in to script, I can see it, I just don’t know how to clearly “say” it. When Jesus came, it changed everything. It changed man’s vision of God, it changed God’s relationship with man. EVERYTHING was made by Christ, through Christ and For Christ. When God releases vision, it’s through Christ that he sees. Am I making sense so far? I think that’s why so many struggle with just the UR aspect because so many are still walking in logic of how they read Scriptures rather than in the Spirit from which the Scriptures were inspired.

In our church, there are three main things I stress . . .we have a little banner that people walk under when they come in with out even realizing it’s there. It’s the three fundamental truths God has led me into. One is . …lose your mind. Which simply is to say that we should walk in the spirit, listen with our spirit and worship from the spirit. Two . . .go through the wrong door. In order for me to embrace the idea that Jesus actually saved the world, I had to come to a place where I had to admit to myself that perhaps I was wrong about my original belief on what Jesus could and could not do. But lastly . . .have cross-eyed vision. Which simply is to live in love. For God so “loved” the world . . .

But I believe God has cross-eyed vision as well. So when he says the days of flesh will only be 120 . . .I believe he was using Christ as his measuring rod. How so? Well . . . it’s like this . . .everything pertaining to the tabernacle is a pattern of Jesus. I believe the 1000 year reign is not about a literal measurement of time, but it’s connected to the tabernacle measurements. The holy of holies was 10x10x10. That comes to a thousand. The holy of holies was the place of intimacy, it’s where the mercy seat rested over the ark containing the manna (Jesus) stone tablets (law) and Aaron’s rod that budded (prophets). The manna, law and the prophets were the three major componants that Jesus himself consisted of . . .it represents the “heart” of God . . .but that’s another story as well . . .

So . . .according to the tabernacle and it’s laws . .there was one particular one where everything charged against an Israelite was to be erased, everything they had to give away to pay off a debt was to be returned and any children they had to hire out as slaves for unpaid debts was to be returned as well . . .all this took place on the year of the Sabbath. Well . . .I’ve already jumped ahead . . .because we all know about the sabbath “day” of every week. There was a Sabbath “year” every seven years and then . . .there was a Jubilee . . .it was the fullness of Sabbaths. Jesus is not only the Sabbath, he is the Sabbath of Sabbaths . . .so . . .the Sabbath of Sabbath . . . the year of Jubilee, oh, that was also what he stood and proclaimed when he read out of the book of Isaiah “to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord” . . .that’s Jubilee.

It happens every 50 years . . .and THERE’S where I was trying to get. Take the 120 years God ordered for striving with flesh . . .multiply it times Jubilee which is 50 and the sum is . . .6000 . . .a Day is as a thousand years . . .6 days of labor, then the end of the 6th day has come, the day of rest is upon you!!! No longer do we get by with striving flesh . . .Rest has come, we have come to rest in his Rest.


#13

Thanks for sharing Nathan. I was lisenced as a 4square minister for a season, but did not end up fitting in and God led us elsewhere.


#14

Ok, I’m intrigued. Which city was it that you were referring to Nathan?

Wait a sec…You’re THAT Nathan from over on Tentmaker, right?!

Good to finally see you on this board! I always enjoyed your posts over there; I just realized it was the same writing style and some of the same topics.


#15

Yup . . .same guy. Believe it or not . . .I couldn’t figure out what your question was pertaining to “which city” . . .I thought maybe I missed something . . .then I realized “I’m” the one that asked you to ask me!! Yet another reason why we’re not to rely on our own understanding . . .we can barely function in “this” realm . . .let alone trying to operate with it in the spiritual!!

Okay . . .the Jordan river . . .priests step in, water backs up . . .ya think it’s just about getting a couple million sheep across a little ol’ river? Ya’ll know of John 3:16 right? Well . . .it’s the same chapter and verse, just a different book. This one’s in Joshua . . .

16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at **a town called Adam **in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho

Now . . .to me, this is just a stunning picture of the power of God. It’s also pretty “UR” now that I think about it. But there’s so much symbolism here that it’s just . . .well . .mind-boggling. Guess I shouldn’t be surprised on that one. So let’s break it down a bit. First off . . . it’d been 40 years since they were freed from their bondage in Egypt. Why 40? I’ve heard sermons over and over from emotional pastors that’d tell you it’s because they didn’t get it right the first 39 times. But that’s just not true. It was a set time from the very beginning.

Numbers 14:34
After the number of the days in which ye spied out the land, even forty days, for every day a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my alienation.

Again, for me, 40 is the number for birthing . . .everytime I see the number I look for something that just birthed or was about to. In this case, Israel hadn’t yet become a nation, but they were about to. We all know the ark represents God’s presence. The fact that they had to carry the ark on poles rather than a cart is because you can not contain the presence of God, direct the presence of God or “obtain” the presence of God through man-made means. The whole process was all about God being on our shoulders rather than our own minds.

Jordan actually means “descender - to descend” spiritually it speaks of death . . .the opposite of one who descends is one who resurrects. This river depicted carnality in us. but when the presence of God breached it . . .it rolled back the charge of death all the way back to our Adam . . .our origin. It was a picture of God redeeming ALL MEN back to himself. And this was “as” they were being led into the promised land. Jesus was baptized in this same river of death . . .he reversed the curse.

If one ever feels like all mankind is going to hell in a handbasket . . . just keep in mind . . .that river could have backed up to any other city with any other name . . but it didn’t. God used the natural to reveal his spiritual purpose. (Romans 1:20) and for those with eyes that they’re willing to let them see . . .it’s a powerful thing to embrace and know that God went all the way back to my Adam, he rolled back my river of death and darkness and he redeemed us, every one. It wasn’t just a normal river . . .it was out of it’s banks . . .death was out of our control. It went where it willed and it’s force could not be tamed . . .until God showed up.


#16

Cool. Thanks Nathan!


#17

I’m not so sure that the truth of universal reconciliation has been hidden. It flourished in the early church until Jerome and Augustine propogated eternal conscious punishment teaching. There was quite a bit of it in the 1800s right to the present.

Origen (184–253 A.D>) is best known as an early proponent of UR. In those days it wasn’t considered “heresy”. Origen was later denounced by the main church, but not for his teaching on UR, but for other teachings which were considered heretical.


#18

Paidion:

How about “hidden in plain view?”

UR comes as a complete shock, even to people who are lifetime students of the Bible.

I agree with your statement about Origen; I had read that Apocatastasis had been declared anathema (denounced as detestable) in 553 by the 2nd Council of Constantinople (the 5th Ecumenical Council), but when I checked into that I found, as you say, that other teachings were declared anathema but not Apocatastasis.


#19

:blush: :blush: Yes – the most humbling experience of my life! Like suddenly my eyes were “opened” and only then did I realize I’d been blind.

Sonia


#20

I was just thinking,
If knowledge is power, and
Ignorance is bliss, then
the best of both words would be to think you know something, when you really don’t!
That way you feel powerful and blissful.
hmm, maybe not = to Confusious.