Saturday, 26 March 2011


Rob Bell’s book Love Wins seems to have kicked up a lot of interest/discussion/name calling/heresy hunting about Universalism so I thought I’d have a go of putting my views in a blog.  I am no theologian just an average Christian battling with his faith to make sense of it in the world in which we live so I won’t, hopefully, be using theological terms but ones that my brain can understand.

According to Theopedia “Universalism is the theological view arguing that all persons will ultimately be "saved". Some also teach that there is no such thing as a literal hell or eternal punishment.” and so that is the definition I’ll use.  The problem, as I see it, starts with our perception of the nature of God.  A Just God has to condemn sinners to eternal punishment (unless in their mortal life they ‘accept the Lord Jesus as their personal saviour’) but a Loving God has to draw all of His creation to Him. However God is both Loving and Just so neither answer can be correct.

For some years, influenced I think by C S Lewis’s ‘The Last Battle’, I have believed that non-Christians can enter God’s Kingdom but that they do so only because of the work of Jesus, an equal part of the triune God, on the cross.  I couldn’t imagine a heaven that wouldn’t include people like former UN Secretary General U Thant or that great lover of peace and justice Gandhi.  However, until recently that was as far as my thinking went, I still believed in eternal punishment in hell.

It was only when I started to think about God as not only the creator of everything but also the sustainer of everything that my view started to develop further.  Could a loving God sustain someone in eternal torment?  Was that even just? It doesn’t seem so to me so I had to develop a different view of hell.

In Revelation there are references to the second death and this to me is the key.  Hell is not eternal torment but a second death were evil is permanently destroyed.  What happens after death remains a mystery but I believe that those who, even then, reject God will cease to exist so that God can bring His creation to perfect fruition.

So are my view universalist? To me the answer is both yes and no. I believe that in the end God will draw all things to himself but in doing so evil will cease to exist.

Friday, 25 March 2011


Some of my Christian friends have recently been suffering because of actions taken by other Christians.  Recently this has got a bit closer to home and this led me to write the following poem.


It hurts.
Not physically
But my body feels empty;

Why do people behave like this?
Why do Christians behave like this?

You are a God of love,
And justice.
But they deny justice.
Working behind closed doors
Hearing one side,
Finding guilty without a hearing.

We are meant to show the world your love
Your justice.
But it is denied
In the church that bears your name.

It hurts.
But you share our hurt.
You were denied a fair trial,
You were condemned for no crime,
You, the one without sin, found guilty.

Yet you willingly bore the pain
The rejection
The injustice.
You bore it for us.

Help us to bear our hurt
And not look for revenge.
Help us, like you, to love;
Love even those who hurt us.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Doing God's Work

Yesterday my Bible reading included part of Luke 4.  Nothing odd about that I hear you say except it included these words:

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read,  and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Again there is nothing exceptional about that except I was going to spend the evening at church with the local branch of Amnesty doing the IT bit so they could watch the film Burma VJ.  This set me thinking; Jesus clearly says he came to “proclaim freedom for the prisoners” and so is Amnesty, not in itself a Christian organisation, doing Jesus’s work of bringing about the Kingdom of God?  After all Jesus himself said “whoever is not against you is for you.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

New Year Update

For me this year finally got under way on the 28th February.  No, I'm not on some weird calender but that was the first day this year I had enough energy to get on with anything.  Up until then I had been struggling to find enough energy to be retired!  I was sleeping most mornings and cleaning the house on a Friday meant that Saturday was a washout as I had no energy left.  Given that I hadn't felt like this at the end of last year my suspicion is that I picked up some form of viral infection which left me run down but not ill.

My problem now is that I mustn't overdo it but I am back doing a few exercises and I'm trying to make sure I walk at least a mile each day.  Today I went for a 2 mile walk and I feel a bit achy but at least I was able to walk that far again.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Where Did They Come From?

Over the last few weeks my Bible in a Year readings have taken me from Exodus to Leviticus where the people of Israel make and sanctify the Tabernacle - not the most interesting of readings.  Suddenly I got a feeling that something I was reading didn't add up but it has taken me a while to work out what.

In Exodus we have the Israelites complaining that they don't have anything to eat and, when God gives them manna that they don't have any meat.  God does hear their prayer and sends the a flock of quails but, we are told, for the rest of the 40 years they were in the wilderness they only ate manna.  Fast forward to Leviticus and God instructs Moses to build the Tabernacle and to consecrate bot it and Aaron and his sons as priests.  How does he consecrate them? By sacrificing bulls and lambs!  As I said in the Title "Where Did They Come From?"