Saturday, March 5, 2011

Universalism - the arguments continue

Rob Bell has created quite a stir. His latest book, Love Wins seemingly suggests that "a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering." Thank God!

Many Evangelical Christians openly believe that their personal professions of faith in Jesus Christ's redemptive death and resurrection have more salvific credibility than the holy nature of people's lives of other faiths such as that of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Their argument seemingly is that Christianity possesses a singular pathway to everlasting life with The Divine. This position suggests that a Christian who has accepted Christ, regardless of his ethical manner of life is forever "saved" whereas a Buddhist or Muslim or Jew who has lived a blameless life is sentenced to eternal damnation. That's a theological claim that is illogical, prejudicial, and down-right mean-spirited from my point of view.

The 13th Century Christian mystic Meister Eckhart wrote German words essentially saying: “Whoever possesses God in their being, has him in a divine manner, and he shines out to them in all things; for them all things taste of God and in all things it is God's image that they see.” Eckhart's Christology makes more sense to me.

Tomorrow is Transfiguration Sunday . In Matthew's narrative, The voice of God tells Peter, James, and John that Jesus is God's Son, "listen to him." Jesus consistently teaches his disciples to be righteous in the Gospel of Matthew. He guides them to "love their enemies and to do unto others as they would have others do unto them. Where does Christian exclusivity fall into line with Jesus' commandments? How does an eternal Christian Country Club resemble the Wedding Banquet in Matthew Chapter 22 where good and bad persons alike are invited to the table?

God's love is essentially illogical and radically boundary-less. Therefore, God's nature is especially known and realized through Jesus the Christ's perfect incarnation and resurrection. Human beings, regardless of denominational affiliation or cultural context, are capable of comprehending, accepting, and living into Christ's gift of eternal life.

From an Episcopal Church perspective - the departure point for Christ's redemption is understood in these statements from the Catechism :

Q. What is the New Covenant?
A. The New Covenant is the new relationship with God given by Jesus Christ, the Messiah, to the apostles; and, through them, to all who believe in him.

Q. What did the Messiah promise in the New Covenant?
A. Christ promised to bring us into the kingdom of God and give life in all its fullness.

Q. What response did Christ require?

A. Christ commanded us to believe in him and to keep his commandments.

Q. What are the commandments taught by Christ?
A. Christ taught us the Summary of the Law and gave us the New Commandment.

Q. What is the Summary of the Law?
A. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

There are a couple of interesting points in these statements. First, there is no mention of hell or for that matter, "eternal life." Secondly, the requirement for persons who wish to abide in the relationship of the New Covenant with God through Jesus Christ are not called to offer a confession of faith; they are called to live transformed lives, lives emulating the One who came into the world to offer us Grace and Word to live into the fullness of life in God.

I'll be buying Rob Bell's book in a few days... I think he's onto something and sharing it in a very popular and controversial way, kinda like the way that Jesus did in his day.

Blessings Along The Way,

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