Monday, September 13, 2010

Defining My Universalism

Like any theological concept, the idea of universalism will have varying meanings for different people. In my last post, I discussed how I do not see universalism through the lens of Christianity, despite the commonality of that view. In this post, I will attempt to put forth in more detail exactly what I mean when I state "I am a universalist". The best way I perceive to do this is with a list of what I do believe, what I do not believe, and what I am unsure of.

1. I believe God is absolutely unconditional love and that this love extends to all people indiscriminately, regardless of their beliefs or actions.

2. I believe that, because God is love, God will not allow any of his creation to be lost forever. In the end, all people will be saved.

3. I do NOT believe this means a person is allowed to do whatever he/she pleases and still "get into heaven". I do believe there are consequences for our negative actions, especially those which we do not repent. Universalism is NOT an excuse to sin. It should be an excuse to become a better person when you realize that all people are truly equal in the eyes of God.

4. I am unsure of how exactly sin in punished. I have heard of many options, including a temporary hell of corrective punishment (like a purgatory) or reincarnation (where important life lessons are repeated until properly learned). While I lean toward the former explanation, I have not yet formed a final decision.

5. I do believe that, whatever form punishment may take, God does out of love and concern, not anger.

6. I do believe there are many paths to God and to being a good person, and that a belief in God (theism) is NOT necessary to be a good person.

7. I do NOT believe that all paths lead to God, nor that all paths are equal. Every major religion has (in my opinion) valid paths to God. But every major religion also has paths that I consider lead away from God. Any belief system can lead to God, but when twisted for selfish personal gain, it will quickly lead the follower down a destructive path away from God.

These 7 statements sum up my universalism and my belief about God. Obviously it is not perfect. There is a certain degree of uncertainty (especially in point 4) that I hope to write on in more detail with a later post. Until then, I hope this explanation will at least assist you in understanding more precisely what I mean when I say "I believe in universalism".


  1. Hey there, I don't mean to flame or anything of the sort. I also believe that we need to love each other as God has loved us. However you're words "I am unsure how sin is punished".

    This would lead me to believe you have not read the bible, you will find it clearly stated, in almost any book.

  2. Yes, I have read the Bible. Multiple times, actually. However, while I believe the Bible contains great wisdom, I also believe that the Bible was written by regular men who had their own flaws, bias, and opinions which influenced their perception of God, the world, and, therefore, their writings. Just look at the Old Testament. Slavery was considered normal and women were treated like property. Yet, today we obviously know those attitudes were wrong.

    On top of that, it was men, not God, who decided what books would become the Bible. Many books were left out, including books the Jews had considered sacred for thousands of years and gospels other than the four in the New Testament. Heck, even today, Catholics use books that Protestants don't.

    As you know from this post, I do not believe in an everlasting hell. However, I do believe sin is punished. I just don't know exactly how that happens. Even if you do take the Bible as the literal word of God and believe in an everlasting hell, the Bible does not give many details about the exact punishments that the dammed in hell will be subjected to. Most of our ideas about punishments in hell don't come from the Bible, they come from The Inferno, which is the first part of Dante's The Divine Comedy.

    Honestly, knowing exactly how God punishes sin is not something I am concerned about and I don't think it is something anyone should be concerned about. When we experience injustice, either towards us or someone else, our thoughts should be on helping the victims, and helping, giving just punishment to, and forgiving the wrongdoer. To often have I seen people "forgive" another person only because they get pleasure out of imagining the terrible things God will do to that person in hell. That's not forgiveness. That is just delayed revenge.