Monday, April 25, 2011

What Happens When We Die: Universalism

I've been exploring what happens after we die, which I continue now by looking into the thought of universalism, which suggests that Christ's salvivic work will be applied to all humans at some point.

Immortality in freedom is impossible for those who are not submitted to God. Can God in his omniscience and omnipotence allow that which in anti-God, that which is evil, to be and still be God? I don't think so, it would be saying that he is not sovereign minimally, and ultimately would make evil intrinsic to him. For evil to remain in what he's created would mean that it was reflective of him, that it is one of his attributes.

I've already said the ship has sailed on the possibility of annihilating mankind because we are made in his image, and ensouled by his very breath. I also think the ship has sailed on God enforcing his will on people as if it was their own. We are made like unto God with freedom of will (apart from which there can be no sin or godly love). God could manipulate us, of course, but the cost would be effacing his image in us, which is not his stated will. We are not made of a substance that can be made to do what someone else wants it to and still be in the image in which we were made--God is not of that nature and neither are we.

I have said before that Universalism should be the logical conclusion of Calvinism (insofar as one abides by the meanings of words, that is). To my reckoning, universalism, inclusivism and Calvinism make the error of positing that God will by fiat transform the lost. Though the lost did not want what God wanted nor do as God would have them do, they will because God will make them do so. If Adam and Eve did not live that way in Eden, that is not the way those in God's image live at all. It never has been true on earth and never will be true in the heavenlies!

Granted, some Universalists envision the flames of hell as producing the most beneficial change (repentance) in the those being toasted--God as the ultimate Skinnerian, I suppose; an evangelical approach to purgatory, perhaps. Not only is there not so much as a peep about such a conception in the scriptures, the Apocalypse seems to render the difference between those inside the New Jerusalem and those outside with finality. We have this life until we die to change our minds about God, through the Gospel and the conviction of the Holy Spirit we have our opportunity.

3 comments:

  1. universalism, inclusivism and Calvinism make the error of positing that God will by fiat transform the lost.

    I don't see how this is necessarily the case with inclusivism.

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  2. bethyada,
    It's not even necessarily true for some forms of universalism, which posit post-mortem repentance. But for universalism which doesn't, and that inclusivism which envisions the young, infirm or those who haven't heard yet being included in salvation, it would be true. Is there an inclusivism that doesn't at least have the young and infirm component? This feature, of course, is the bread and butter of Calvinism.

    The irresistible nature of the grace envisioned is where the problem arises for me. It is at odds, fundamentally, with the image of God in man, and if God saves some through its workings, how is that he would not save all that he saves in such a manner?

    ReplyDelete
  3. The irresistible nature of the grace envisioned is where the problem arises for me.

    Agreed.

    ReplyDelete

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