Thursday, March 12, 2009

Universalism and Salvation

I've been thinking more about universalism lately.

The basic idea behind universalism is that a loving God would not subject His creatures to an eternity of Hell. If God is love, or so the argument goes, ultimately the power of that reconciling love will save all beings, even those who have done all in their power to defy or destroy all that is good. That includes Pol Pot, Hitler, and, yes, even Simon Cowell. All are saved. All.

Although that's understandable as a theological construct, it also bugs the crap out of me, because universalism assumes that God--on a very basic level--is not just. The emphasis on grace becomes so intense that all other aspects of God are obliterated, and we end up with a God who seems to ask nothing of us.

Then, on the other hand, there's the modern evangelical mantra that the only thing that counts is claiming a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. For all others, damnation. If you haven't been saved, you haven't been saved. Period. Goodness, kindness, charity, compassion, and love don't mean squat if you aren't down with Jesus. This is true especially for the Unitarians, whose motel rooms in Hell will only carry Fox News and Satan's Funniest Home Videos.

Christians holding that position are forced to assert that God will eternally condemn everyone who does not believe as we do, no matter how much they may show caring in the world. It's Kierkegaard's scandal of particularity, writ narrower than the narrow gate, and it isn't really Good News in any discernable way. Personal Profession becomes the new Law, and grace withers and dies.

There must be a path between this theological Scylla and Charibdas.