universalist-particularist spectrum

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universalist-particularist spectrum

Postby mitchellmckain on October 14th, 2017, 5:38 am 

This is a spectrum in Christian theology though of course you will find a few other religions like Islam taking various stands on this issue as well.

The first thing I want to make clear is that there is little justification for making this issue a basis for exclusion from Christianity. Christianity has long been divided on this issue and you find great theologians of Christian history in all parts of this spectrum.

The second thing I would out is that this is not a one dimensional spectrum. The reason is that while the universalist end of the spectrum is singular the other end is not. Once you say that some are saved and some are not, then the question arises with regards to why, i.e. what is the criterion by which some are saved while others are not?

Here are the three most common answers to this question.

1. Performing a set of rituals. (e.g. baptism, last rights, etc...)
2. Believing in a set of dogmas. (e.g. that Jesus died for our sins, Jesus is God, etc...)
3. Some kind of balance sheet regarding good deeds versus bad deeds.

Of these, number 3 is the most widely believed for the simple reason that it makes the most sense. The other two are very useful to religion but cannot stand up to any objective scrutiny. I, however, agree with Christianity that number 3 is incorrect, but I also reject the first two as well. This means that I must be suggesting another answers to the question...

4. It is a matter of choice, values, desire and heart. Do you choose what is right? Do you value what is good? Do you want the best for others? What is in your heart?
5. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to change? Will you surrender your heart's desire in order to embrace what God desires for you instead?

Number 4 goes largely with the idea that the gates of hell are locked from the inside so to speak, and it seems to be much more sensible for a number of reasons. But like number 3 it doesn't fit too well with the idea of a polarized or diverging destiny of heaven or hell without drawing some unjustifiable arbitrary line somewhere. For criterion such as 3 and 4 there are much more sensible ways of achieving justice for such things, so that this heaven versus hell idea looks both childish and a little barbaric.

Number 5 however does fit with polarized destiny. This is not to say that it is necessarily simple or black and white. Gravity isn't one dimensional always simple either, but it is still polarized. In a gravitational field you can start with many kinds of trajectories and yet in the end you still either go up into the sky or you go down into the ground. I frankly, you can think of it as the competition between the two most basic forces of creation and destruction. While your desire for change and the help you allow can build you up, your self-destructive habits continue to tear you down.
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