The new house has been a mess. We (by this I mean I) laid laminate floors, panting, fixing broken water pipes in our house, fixing the electrical problems, the window problems, the mechanical problems, moving the stuff from a pile in the garage. Stringing wires for the internet, among other things, and though I have things to blog about, only one thing could get me off my duff: Matt Rose's blog.
(Gotta step in and discipline a trantruming infant, hang on)
Matt is my emergent friend (of a friend) who is helping edit my Romans book. Why not go for an outside perspective I thought, let the man have a chance at it, see what it looks like to him. Can't hurt, and I always appreciate the help.
Well, my guess is that while reading my treatment of Romans 9 it looks like my brand of Calvinism is unhideable, and he has posted his thoughts on it.
(Gotta bring the mower, and hang these pictures.)
I just realized he's a former Calvinist turned partial universalist. Well whattya know.
(Gotta put this kid to a nap so he stops screaming)
He raises a couple of good points. I particularly liked the bit about the use of 'everyone' to open a meeting. We might say 'is everyone here' and we don't mean 'everyone in the whole world without exception.' That particular arrow hit home against the junk Calvinists.
But I think his premise, that God can't be love if some perish, is flawed, and universalism is a large sign post on the way to total disbelief.
(Okay, it's been four hours later and after numerous interruptions, I think I have a chance to finish this thing)
Now this isn't against Matt, because he doesn't hold to full universalism (I asked), but I it got me thinking anyway. The first problem with universalism is that it denies the Scriptures. Jesus speaks of hell in a number of places, Mark 9:46, Matt 13:41-43, 25:41. John speaks of hell in Revelation 20:15. For example. Additionally God is spoken of as not only love, but as 'a consuming fire.' Not someone who messes around with sin. If God lets any old sinner into heaven He's no longer just, and the justifier of the one who believes in Him.
The second problem of universalism is that it corrodes and undoes absolutely everything. It must result in a faithless liberalism as sure as day follows night. The doctrine of hell itself is of course, unpleasant. It's a string that looks like it should be pulled out, because it's out of place, and hard to accept. It's the wrong color. It doesn't jive with a God of love.
But if you take it into your own hands to correct this, you have to pull out some other doctrines too. First is the substutionary atonement of Christ. Without hell there really is no sense in the cross, because everyone is going to make it anyway. The cross then becomes at best God's highest expression of love. That is a kind of sentimentalism- looks how God loves us, we should love like that too.
And once you have given up that doctrine (because it's now cosmic child abuse) you have to give up the person of Christ. Because if He was God then why did He so needlessly die? A real God wouldn't have done that. If He's God then His love is not accessible, but if He's a man, then we could be like that too. So He's not really God. He's a man. A man who loves everyone equally, Hitler, Stalin, the Pope, the Apostles, anyone.
You might be saying 'bah, look at that jump in logic!' But consider it for a moment - if Christ is not necessary to get to heaven, then why is Christ necessary? He's not, He's a vestigial organ that is better removed.
Universalism may be a small heresy, a little seed of disbelief founded on the idea of making much of God's love. But in the end it matures into a mighty oak of obstinance and faithlessness. It must be dug up and poisoned with round up if the Christian is to survive.
After all, if sin (including sins of the mind and belief) wasn't lucrative, nobody would believe it.