The attractive prospect of universal reconciliation

Perhaps it is fitting and proper to state first that I am not a universalist.

Being an Evangelical I hold such high esteem towards the Scriptures and its content and as far as Scriptures are concerned there is judgment that awaits all of us on the basis of God's righteousness.

I still uphold the Reformation formula of salvation in Christ alone; by grace alone through faith alone.

The reason I am writing this is because in recent days I had encounters with fellow Christians who hold such a high esteem for Calvin's doctrine of Total Depravity. For them it is an insult to talk about the possibility of everyone being reconciled with God because it diminishes the work of Christ on Calvary. Now don't get me wrong I believe that as well but what I like us all to look at is that this can be looked at on another angle, from the angle of the cosmic significance of Christ work of redemption and that possible reconciliation of all with God on the basis of God's freedom to take in account Christ's redemptive work to be valid for all.

Also under normal circumstances I would agree with them. But at the same time something troubles me –that is the way we Evangelicals act as though we are in the position to determine who is and who isn't going to hell!

The tragedy there is that knowing who is and who isn't is God's business. Moreover, as I listen to staunch upholders of Calvinism within modern Bible Christians I cannot help but feel that perhaps those who're going to heaven are only those few doctrine-knowing members of our local church. Way back I also in a way believe that. But now to think that makes me shudder – what about my Christian friends who are not 'born again' in accordance to what was taught to me during my youth; what about my non-Christian friends?; What about my Roman Catholic loved ones which includes my parents?; what about those morally outstanding activist friends that I've met who could put to shame even the most pious folks at our local church?

Thinking those thoughts now makes the possibility of universal reconciliation very attractive.

I believe this quote from the final paragraph of Gregory MacDonald's The Evangelical Universalist puts a very good argument for the prospect of universal reconciliation:

"In conclusion, let me ask you to hold in your mind traditional Christian visions of the future, in which many, perhaps the majority of humanity, are excluded from salvation forever. Alongside that hold the universalist vision, in which God achieves his loving purpose of redeeming the whole creation. Which vision has the strongest view of divine love? Which story has the most powerful narrative of God's victory over evil? Which picture lifts the atoning efficacy of the cross of Christ to the greatest heights? Which perspective best emphasizes the triumph of grace over sin? Which view most inspires worship and love of God bringing him honor and glory? Which has the most satisfactory understanding of divine wrath? Which narrative inspires hope in the human spirit? To my mind the answer to all these questions is clear, and that is why I am a Christian universalist."

I am not yet resolved about the issue, of universal reconciliaton, whenever I would think about hell the image of loved ones who in my book are not yet 'saved' makes me think hard and all the more makes the prospect more attractive.

MacDonald, Gregory. The Evangelical Universalist. (Cascade 2006) pp. 176-77

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