The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Winchester: universalism and Christian religious experience

I am no great fan of “experiential” religion myself, but I was very impressed with how Elhanan Winchester presented it as part of the progressing argument of his Dialogues (i.e. The Universal Restoration Exhibited In Four Dialogues etc.) originally published around 1788.

The following is an excerpt from pages 165 onward in the 1831 reprint, where he discusses the issue with a fictional friend composited from discussions he had had with real friends and acquaintences over the years–including on this topic. I have tried to reproduce his emphasis formatting accurately, as well as the old way he spells some words. The paragraph breaks are (unfortunately :wink: ) his original choices, too–but I decided to present them in a column only a few inches across so they would feel less like one big run-on sentence at times.

1 Like

:cry: man oh man thank you for posting this Jason. Every word echoed true in my heart. The experience which he spoke of I have known as well. Brought me to tears. It brought me to prayer. And if anything brings you to joyous and loving prayer, how can that thing not be right?

I think I can say that, aside from the Preface (where he goes into several other autobiographical things of this sort), this was my favorite part of his book.

Which amuses me limitlessly, because things of this sort are typically not my favorite part. :slight_smile: But that’s how good a job he did with it.

It reminds me of the legend of Saint Anthony and the goldsmith (which I recall recounting here on the forum somewhere in the past few months…) “I think of all the people in the city and how great God is that He will be able to save all of them–and then I think of me and what a great sinner I am and how even God may have trouble saving me…” “It is true!–It is true!–I AM NOT EVEN AS RIGHTEOUS AS A GOLDSMITH IN ALEXANDRIA!!”

Edited to add: here is my recount of the story from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers.