Christian universalism is a Christian theology focused around the doctrine of universal reconciliation – the view that all human beings will ultimately be restored to a right relationship with God.
I’ve been doing some rereading from the “fathers” of Christian Universalism and have been thinking about what I believe as a Christian Universalist with feet in both Presbyterianism and Celtic Christianity. What follows is a rough draft of where my thinking is moving. As I wrote these thoughts down I realized that each could be further amplified (at another time) by Celtic Christianity, which in its early form had a universalist strand running through it.
My basic universalist Christian theology is …
Speculative & Progressive
1. God”s love is unchanging, unconditional, and fully inclusive. Simply put, God is Love (pure & unadulterated).
2. God”s image is fully in each of us. Not one person is excluded. God”s spirit dwells in us all, and enlivens all Creation.
3. Thus, we can experience God through natural reasoning. [The Spirit is Wisdom, Wisdom gives us the ability to reason.]
4. Community with/in God is wrought by “Loving God with all of one”s being.” Community with/in God is demonstrated through just acts, the love of mercy, and humility before God (Micah 6-8); e.g., the love of ones neighbor as one loves oneself, while humbly realizing and admitting our failures.
5. Sin may be described as our inability to love one”s self, thus the inability to love one”s neighbor, an inability to act justly and with mercy to one”s neighbor, while humbly realizing one”s own failures.
6. Separation from God is not genetic, e.g., inherited from Adam & Eve (or our parents), but brought about my/our (individual & corporate) wilful refusal to live in community with God.
7. We will reap what we sow. The consequences of our actions will create a “living hell” in our being and often in our body. If there is a hell in the “afterlife”, it will be that fleeting moment for each of us when we stand before God and realize our unholy acts toward, and our lack of community with, our fellow sojourners and Creation.
8. Jesus” mission is to reconcile us to God. Each of us have been brought into holy union (Community)with God thorough the righteousness of Jesus Christ, as if each of us had suffered and obeyed in our own person. Although Jesus” death and resurrection was a past act, it is present and active throughout the time continuum.
9. Therefore, without exception, all shall be saved.
The Divine Community
10. God is Community – Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Humankind are the children of God. The The benefits of the Holy Community are available to all, and active in all. However, rational realization of the benefits is dependent upon our entering into Community with God.
11. The Community is Sacramental – Any activity that conveys the Grace of God is sacramental, whether it be communing with God”s Creation or the Eucharist. Of particular sacramental nature are…
(1) The Community Sacraments of the Eucharist, Marriage, Baptism, The Laying on of Hands, Ordination to the ministry (both formal and informal).
(2) Doing acts of justice, showing mercy, and living humbly before God. The sacramental life as Community is what binds the Community local and universal together. Our sacramental acts toward others enables them to experience the Grace of God, even if not at that moment realized.
12. Discipleship/Ministry– Discipleship is about radical obedience to God in all aspects of life. God”s unlimited love sets us free to live lives of responsible stewardship in which we gladly offer our lives as Ambassadors of a “heavenly kingdom.” Discipleship is both inward and outward sacramental pilgrimage to which the Christ calls us to follow him, and to invite others through our words and acts of justice, mercy and humble living to experience in the present the life-transforming power of Divine Grace.
13. The Scriptures provide wise instruction and Spirit-filled Guiding Wisdom for living, specifically as a person of faith in Holy Community, and in general for universal harmony and peace. The Scriptures, through the work of the Holy Spirit, stand as the ultimate guide with which to examine both my God-experience and speculative theological thinking.
14. “With faith in God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, we face the future in hopeful longing, and with the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray: “Thy kingdom come! Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Definition of “theology”
Our theology is determined by our God-experience. “Theology” that comes from mandate is not theology, but dogma. The Holy Community over the ages provides us with a standard – although not an absolute one — to examine our God-experience. As we are finite and God is infinitely beyond knowing, yet knowable in a finite way, all theology – God experience – is speculative and progressive, otherwise it is dogma. To put it a different way, “dogma” spelled backwards is “am god.” Following dogma creates little gods who think they know God, while speculative and progressive thinking about God allows God”s Spirit to speak to us with Holy Wisdom.
As it is speculative, please comment, critique, and challenge by thinking. Doing so will help me grow in the faith.
Image: The Cross of the Old Christian Universalist Church