Post Reply
Page 1 of 3  •  1 2 3 Next
Switch to Forum Live View Does being a good person matter?
7 years ago  ::  May 13, 2008 - 7:32PM #1
eklectic
Posts: 40
I hope this question is okay here. I would love to hear some good replies to it. I was in Christian universalism for about 3 years and, in a nutshell, what the belief came down to was this:

It doesn't matter how you live, whether you are of good character or not, you (and everyone else) will go to heaven.

I could never bring myself to accept this conclusion.

So my question is this: Is this the understanding that lies at the center of UU? Does it matter whether we are good people or not if we all end up going to the same place?

(Granted, the brand of universalism I was in was called "biblical universalism" but I don't yet know the distinction, if there is one, between this and UU)
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  May 13, 2008 - 11:43PM #2
ExPluribusUnum
Posts: 61
I guess I should have read this post before starting an entirely new thread!

eklectic wrote:

I hope this question is okay here. I would love to hear some good replies to it.



Of course it's ok, and very appropriate!

I was in Christian universalism for about 3 years and, in a nutshell, what the belief came down to was this:

It doesn't matter how you live, whether you are of good character or not, you (and everyone else) will go to heaven.

I could never bring myself to accept this conclusion.



Neither could I. That's not how I understand universalism at all.

So my question is this: Is this the understanding that lies at the center of UU? Does it matter whether we are good people or not if we all end up going to the same place?

(Granted, the brand of universalism I was in was called "biblical universalism" but I don't yet know the distinction, if there is one, between this and UU)



The basic answer to your first question is: no. However, anyone's understanding of what universalism means is dependent also on their understanding what "heaven" means. If you understand heaven to be "a place on earth" (in other words, at state of mind or being), then of course everyone has access to that heaven; it is the very fact of one's character that would grant you heaven, in this case. If you understand heaven to be "the state of being, after death", and also believe that death brings annihilation, then doesn't it logically mean that everyone goes "to the same place" when they die? These are just two ways to understand universalism. People holding to these ideas believe that they are universally experienced, by the mere fact of being alive.

I will let others respond before I get too long-winded. I'd be glad to explain my understanding of Universalism (capital U!) a little later.

PAX
ExPluribusUnum <--another understanding of universalism

Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  May 13, 2008 - 11:43PM #3
ExPluribusUnum
Posts: 61
I guess I should have read this post before starting an entirely new thread!

eklectic wrote:

I hope this question is okay here. I would love to hear some good replies to it.



Of course it's ok, and very appropriate!

I was in Christian universalism for about 3 years and, in a nutshell, what the belief came down to was this:

It doesn't matter how you live, whether you are of good character or not, you (and everyone else) will go to heaven.

I could never bring myself to accept this conclusion.



Neither could I. That's not how I understand universalism at all.

So my question is this: Is this the understanding that lies at the center of UU? Does it matter whether we are good people or not if we all end up going to the same place?

(Granted, the brand of universalism I was in was called "biblical universalism" but I don't yet know the distinction, if there is one, between this and UU)



The basic answer to your first question is: no. However, anyone's understanding of what universalism means is dependent also on their understanding what "heaven" means. If you understand heaven to be "a place on earth" (in other words, at state of mind or being), then of course everyone has access to that heaven; it is the very fact of one's character that would grant you heaven, in this case. If you understand heaven to be "the state of being, after death", and also believe that death brings annihilation, then doesn't it logically mean that everyone goes "to the same place" when they die? These are just two ways to understand universalism. People holding to these ideas believe that they are universally experienced, by the mere fact of being alive.

I will let others respond before I get too long-winded. I'd be glad to explain my understanding of Universalism (capital U!) a little later.

PAX
ExPluribusUnum <--another understanding of universalism

Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  May 14, 2008 - 3:56AM #4
DotNotInOz
Posts: 6,833
Historically, Universalism originated as a reaction to the Calvinist dogma that there were a select few chosen by God who would go to heaven. You had to live your life hoping but never knowing for certain that you were among those few. Everyone else, no matter how good they seemed to be, was going to hell.

The original Universalists, as I understand what they believed, thought that God was too good and merciful to condemn to hell for no reason people who were striving to lead good lives.

Calvinism was such a pervasive dogma within American Protestant churches of the latter 18th century that Universalism seemed a profound relief, I'm sure.

I don't think that people really thought through what motivation there was for people to live worthy lives if they believed that God would forgive them and they'd go to heaven no matter what they did. "Born-againers" I've talked to who hold the belief that "being saved" automatically means you will go to heaven have usually admitted when pressed that technically you could murder someone or even a series of people and still go to heaven if you are saved.

According to this sort of believer, that Jeffrey Dahmer accepted Jesus and was saved while in prison for his horrific crimes means that Dahmer went to heaven. Some people even say that he didn't have to feel any remorse for what he'd done. Jesus took care of that for him.

I definitely have problems with that!

However, as EPU indicates with the examples he gave above, Universalism today can mean various things, depending upon the individual's understanding of it.

That's my "take" on it, anyway.
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  May 14, 2008 - 12:40PM #5
eklectic
Posts: 40
Thanks, EBU and Dot, for your input.

So then, would it be fair or accurate to say that your (both of you) understanding is that Universalism is not so much about humanity's destination as it is about our commonality in life's journey?

EK
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  May 14, 2008 - 12:42PM #6
bob2
Posts: 179
eklectic,

Your question is very appropriate on this board.

During most of the 19th century,  American Universalists (UCA) were non orthodox Christians. By the end of the 19th and into the 20th century the churches of the  UCA started embracing the concept of universal world religion (many acceptable paths). Today some of  us (me) continue to affirm our roots in Christianity , but many do not. It's *my understanding* that the "Bliblical Universalists" are strictly Christians who believe the only way to God is strictly through Jesus (?)

The 19th century UCA Universalists believed all people were destined to be restored to union with God , but they disagreed with each other on when or how that would happen. Some believed that a person who had not been restored to God in this life would still have a chance in the next. This is a purgatory like belief. After death God would continue to work on the soul until the soul was ready.  This was not Hell, but it wasn't considered to be a good experience either -

Traditional Universalists believed God was LOVE, and therefore a person  who had allowed themselves to be transformed during this life,  would outwardly show the fruits of the spirit (" the greatest of these is Love "). So according to one of the interpretations, a person who was not showing the fruit of the spirit (love) in this life, was probably destined to work it out in the next.

I tend to be skeptical about an afterlife. If there is indeed a heaven , then I feel that all would be reunited there eventually, but I agree that we might need to work on our "fruit" first.
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  May 14, 2008 - 2:56PM #7
eklectic
Posts: 40
Nice to meet you, Bob. Yes, "biblical Universalist" hold that everyone gets to someday go to heaven based SOLELY upon Jesus' redeeming work on the cross where, it is said, God reconciled the world to himself. They readily admit that not everyone is currently reconciled to God, but that everyone will, at some point, come to experience that. They seem to believe that this experience is most like at the event spoken of in the Bible where "every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord."

So they make much of the distinction between themselves and UU, saying that UU's notion of "universal salvation" comes through (according to them) some kind of gnostic experience of God apart from Jesus and his atoning work. Foundational to their thinking is that IF Jesus had never died on the cross to pay for the world's sins, everyone would go to hell. So their understanding of universalism rests much within the heaven/hell paradigm.

For myself, I don't see Jesus' death as a requirement nor as an appeasement sacrifice to an angry God. I see it simply as the way God, in Jesus, sacrifices himself for the sake of others. In other words, Jesus' death wasn't meant to change God's mind about us, but our minds about God.

At the same time, believing in free will, I am not convinced that everyone in the universe will come to...unity...with each other or with the Creator. If we haven't been able to do it in how many millions of years now, I'm not convinced that it is a guaranteed outcome. But this is just my opinion.

EK
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  May 15, 2008 - 12:02AM #8
Jcarlinbn
Posts: 7,078

bob2 wrote:

I tend to be skeptical about an afterlife. If there is indeed a heaven , then I feel that all would be reunited there eventually

I seriously doubt that there is an afterlife, but if I am wrong, I suspect that the afterlife will be more of what we did in this life but with the opportunity to visit with other dead souls, and time to see them all.  Watch a play at the Globe, chat with Mozart about his Mass, etc. 

Jcarlinbn, community moderator
Problems? Send a message to Beliefnet_community
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  May 16, 2008 - 2:15PM #9
bob2
Posts: 179
[QUOTE=eklectic;499136]Nice to meet you, Bob. Yes, "biblical Universalist" hold that everyone gets to someday go to heaven based SOLELY upon Jesus' redeeming work on the cross where, it is said, God reconciled the world to himself. ... ...

So they make much of the distinction between themselves and UU, saying that UU's notion of "universal salvation" comes through (according to them) some kind of gnostic experience of God apart from Jesus and his atoning work. Foundational to their thinking is that IF Jesus had never died on the cross to pay for the world's sins, everyone would go to hell. So their understanding of universalism rests much within the heaven/hell paradigm.

For myself, I don't see Jesus' death as a requirement nor as an appeasement sacrifice to an angry God. I see it simply as the way God, in Jesus, sacrifices himself for the sake of others. In other words, Jesus' death wasn't meant to change God's mind about us, but our minds about God.
...EK[/QUOTE]

The early Universalist Church held similar views about Heaven and Hell, and the redemptive purpose of
Jesus. By the  early 20th century however, most Universalists had begun to think as you do, that the purpose of Jesus was to change "our minds about God". By the merger in 1961, many Universalists were still fully Christians, in the way that you describe yourself, however by 1961, some Universalists had begun to believe that Jesus was *one of several ways to God, or *one of the examples God gave us to change our minds about God.

I think most Christians within the UUA today would probably agree that Jesus is one of the paths, but not the only path that  God provides. This is the reason why Christian UUs are comfortable sitting down with Pagans , Atheists etc.
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  May 16, 2008 - 2:38PM #10
bob2
Posts: 179
Here is the last "declaration of faith" of the American Universalist Church, as it was still  in use at the time of the merger in 1961.

From the General Assemblies of 1935 and 1953
      
      We avow our faith in
    God as eternal and all-conquering love;
    the spiritual leadership of Jesus;
    the supreme worth of every human personality;
    the authority of truth, known or to be known; and
    the power of persons of good will and sacrificial spirit to overcome
        all evil and progressively establish the kingdom of God.
Neither this nor any other statement shall be imposed as a creedal test.

By the way, if you would like to to look at a web page that promotes Universalism within the UUA today I would recommend the New Mass Universalist Convention at : http://www.nmuc.org/

I have driven to their annual convention and found it interesting.

While I'm recommending websites I should ask if have you visited http://www.uuchristian.org/  ?
Quick Reply
Cancel
Page 1 of 3  •  1 2 3 Next
 
    Viewing this thread :: 0 registered and 1 guest
    No registered users viewing
    Advertisement

    Beliefnet On Facebook