A very brief argument for Universalism

buddhaThe key to a strong argument for universalism lies in acknowledging that the Buddha was right about the illusion of a single, unchanging self that survives one instant to the next.

People ask me if Hitler will be in heaven. I ask, “which Hitler?” Long before Hitler was a mass murdering dictator, he was a terrified boy being savagely beaten by his father while trying to protect his beloved mother. That Hitler will be in heaven.

19 thoughts on “A very brief argument for Universalism

    • Thank you for saying so! I haven’t fully thought this concept out, but I think I see how it can reconcile biblical verses that proclaim universal salvation with those that predict punishment for evildoers.

    • That is exactly right. Brokenness is essential to spiritual development. The only possible starting point for a fruitful Christian journey is at the same place where the tax collector in Luke 18:13 found himself when he said “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

      Unfortunately, that is also the point which the vast majority of so-called “Christians” will move heaven and earth to avoid, because it leaves no room whatsoever for self-righteous indignation or pride. So these people reinvent Christianity to line up with their prejudices.

      Many fundamentalists and evangelicals turn Jesus into a flag-waving American patriot who hates gays and keeps a hunting rifle in his pickup truck. Lots of progressives, on the other hand, imagine Christ as a hybrid-driving social activist, who eats organic fruit and thinks that Obama is much too conservative.

      There’s significant emotional payoff in adopting either of those positions, which explains their popularity. Both views give their adherents a satisfying sense of moral superiority and an excuse to belittle members of other tribes.

      However, each ultimately fails to see Jesus as who he really is: the One who demands that we focus not on the faults of others but on our own. Only then can we say “God be merciful to me a sinner” and mean it. Only then can we truly invite Christ into our hearts.

  1. I wish you well with this blog. The world needs more people to stand up and declare their truth because, while all truth is God’s truth, God is in all of us, and therein lies that truth that we can call our own, and acknowledge to be God’s.

  2. Why would you accept the Buddha’s doctrine of “no-self,” (mis-stating and misunderstanding it, by the way), but not accept his teaching that there is no heaven, certainly not in the Christian understanding of it?

  3. So by your reasoning, if the terrified boy Hitler that’s being savagely beaten by his father while trying to protect his beloved mother is in Heaven, then is the mass murdering dictator adult Hitler in Hell? Why show compassion to one and judgement to the other? And if compassion is due both or if they are both one and the same person, then why make the distinction between them at all?

    • “So by your reasoning, if the terrified boy Hitler that’s being savagely beaten by his father while trying to protect his beloved mother is in Heaven, then is the mass murdering dictator adult Hitler in Hell? Why show compassion to one and judgement to the other?”

      Because one is an innocent child and the other a mass-murdering dictator.

      “And if compassion is due both or if they are both one and the same person, then why make the distinction between them at all?”

      That’s exactly the quandary I addressed in the post.

      • I would also say that punishment can be a form of compassion, if it ultimately leads to redemption. Perhaps the only way Hitler could realize how horrific his actions were would be if he experienced every speck of the pain, misery, and desperation he caused others. This turns Hell into an instrument of God’s redemptive love, where the evil a person commits is still taken seriously, yet the end result of punishment is the salvation of the wayward person. C.S. Lewis explores a similar concept in his book “The Great Divorce.”

  4. I’m not sure Jesus wants us to focus on our faults but to accept that we are flawed and forgiven. I am sure we will be judged, not for our forgiven (accepted) sin but for the good we do in this world.

    • Jesus makes it pretty clear that he wants us to focus on our faults. In modern thinking that might seem taboo, but I think that being brutally honest with oneself is essential to growth. It’s impossible to be honest with oneself w/o taking a rigorous moral self-assessment.

  5. Lately I’ve been thinking that if there is a hell, it must be a hell of our own making, born through the full realization of how we have hurt others. Hell is full moral awareness of our own shortcomings, and the process of coming to terms with our failure to love.

  6. Pingback: Hell…and whatnot | From the evidence to the hope

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