I’ve been wanting to do a methodical study of Universal Reconciliation for some time now. By methodical I mean starting at Matthew and working my way through the New Testament. Not that the Old Testament is unimportant, but there are relatively few references to the afterlife in it, making it not so much of a problem for a burgeoning Universalist such as myself.
Before we begin, however, a quick note on the phrase Christian Universalist.
Being a Christian Universalist does not mean that I believe all roads lead to Rome – at least not in the Unitarian Universalist sense of all gods being pretty much as good as each other.
It does mean that I believe in Universal Reconciliation (UR) – the idea that all will be reconciled (to God, one another, and all creation) by Jesus Christ.
Of course it should be pointed out that, though all salvation is through Jesus, we need not conclude that he cannot save those who have not explicitly accepted him in this life.
— C. S. Lewis* (1898-1963) “Christian Apologetics,” God in the Dock
But why, you might ask, does it matter? Surely if I am a Christian I will preach the Gospel anyway, whether I think people will end up in eternal conscious torment or not?
Yes, if I am a Christian I will preach the Good News regardless (although some might wonder what Gospel I will preach, if not that Christ died to save us from hell, and non-repentance now will lead to burning forever)
But on the other hand, I will have trouble believing that the News is all that Good when it appears to condemn the majority of the human race to suffering forever. And I will have trouble trusting the goodness and the love – the character, if you will – of the Source of that news. (This isn’t hypothetical, it’s where I am now, in May 2012!)
That makes me a hypocrite. I can’t preach something I’m having trouble swallowing myself. But at the same time, I do believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that his Way is the best if not the only Way. Hence, this study.
*Of course C.S. Lewis was not a believer in UR himself, although another great author, from whom Lewis drew inspiration, was: George MacDonald.