The Evangelical Universalist

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A couple of posts on www.generousorthodoxy.net on the topic of universalism caught my attention and interest, and I ordered this book they referenced.

The author Gregory McDonald s a pseudonym, probably to protect the author, and enable discussion without personal hostility. That alone is an interesting topic, when can/should christians write pseudonymously, and why would they need to? Giving the book a quick read, it seems to address the issue of a calvinistic exclusivism, and seems more about invlusivism than universalism?

Anyhow, I have made a poll on the right hand of my page, to see what you think, from what follows.

I have generally understood, the issue of who gets saved by God, as falling under the accepted terms, which I see as a spectrum rather than hard and fast delineations:

1. EXCLUSIVISM: Those who live and die without receiving christ will go to Hell, whether or not they heard the Gospel. This is a postion Calvin took in the reformation, developing Augustine's dislike of broad salvation. Sometimes this is known as 'restictivism', where by the majority of mankind will not be saved. This view was not that of the early church, but after the reformation can be traced as a dominant view in fundamentalist churches, and more generally in evangelical churches, asserting that unless people accept christ personally, they won't be saved. However even most evangelicals make exceptions for mentally ill people, and children, which leads us to the next version.

2. INCLUSIVISM: This asserts that anyone saved will only be so through Jesus, and in no other way. But it allows God's grace and salvation to extend to others who have had an imperfect knowledge of him, i.e have not had the chance to know who he is and chose or reject him. People are saved on the basis of what they have know not on what they haven't. This allows for people before the time of Christ, i.e Israel in the OT, children, mentally ill people, but opens up the possibility of adults of other religions or none to be saved (see The Last Battle by C S Lewsi for an example of this!).

3. PLURALISM: The idea here is that all relgions point and lead to God. It does not assert that everyone will be saved though, and allows for some people to not be saved, ie Hitler etc.

4. UNIVERSALISM: This goes further than pluralism, in that you don't need any religion to be saved. Everyone regardless of what they believe, or have done, is saved, unlike pluralism which allows for the idea that some people won't be saved.

When I became a christian I was very much an exclusionist with inclusive tendancies, but have moved right to the end of the inclusivist postion. Within that, I believe in the uniqueness of Christ for salvation, and of calling people to a life lived around Him, but I don't think most people go to hell.

So where are you on this issue? Drop some comments and take the poll.