On today’s episode of “Off the Highway”, Paul Young, author of “Cross Roads” and “The Shack” takes a few minutes to unpack a label that he is often accused of, at least some people treat it like an accusation. And let me add, as Paul does in the video, we use accusations and labels to dismiss people… and many have determined to dismiss Paul Young, to their shame.
In light of his many accusations, I chose to ask Paul to his face, “In what ways are you a universalist and in what ways are you not?”
Watch today’s Off The Highway episode for his answer.
When I listen to his words, I am comforted by the articulation and nuance of his thinking. Paul takes the debate away from bumper-sticker dogma and actually has a lovely conversation. I find his distinctions helpful.
We need to remember that blanket universalism (all will be saved) really is an invalidating belief. It invalidates people’s basic humanity and, at least how it is most often framed, it is a violent sort of forced destiny. The irony is that people want to defend universalism as a doctrine of love, but I am not sure that we small humans can imagine it as such in light of our understanding of actualization and free will.
On the other hand, and I have this conversation more often than I want to admit…
I was standing in a Christian university classroom in the midwest not too long ago and we were discussing Islam. One of the students asked me if I thought there would be Muslims in heaven. My answer catalyzed the most wonderful discussion.
As a part of my answer, I made this statement:
“I am not a universalist. The Bible speaks as if some are going to be with God and some will not and I hold to that belief. However, I am not sure a person can call themselves a Christian, by New Testament standards, and not HOPE that all people will be in heaven… that God knows a way to woo all peoples to Godself. If you find delight in some people going to hell, then I am not sure you have Christian affections and beliefs. If you find personal validation from declaring that other people are going to hell than I am not sure what beliefs you hold to.”
Then I went one step further.
“To put it more bluntly… if I claim to be a Christian, and my heart has never begged God to damn my soul that others might know Jesus… I am not sure that my beliefs meet New Testament standards.”