Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fundamentalism Vs. Universalism

Over the next couple weeks, I'll be preparing for a persuasive speech in my speech class. I've chosen to speak about why Christian Universalism is wrong. It's a pretty hefty subject, especially for a 8-10 minute speech, but I'm going to go all out with this one. I'm pretty passionate about this subject so you'll probably see some posts over the next few weeks about it. Not a whole lot of people are familiar with what Christian Universalism believes- or what the opposing belief, Christian Fundamentalism, believes. In this post, I want to explain what Christian Universalism and Christian Fundamentalism each believe, and in future posts, I'll tell you about the problems I have with Christian Universalism. I think it'll be easier to explain Christian Fundamentalism before I explain what Christian Universalism is, and I would like to state early on that I am a Christian Fundamentalist. Let's get started!

What does Christian Fundamentalism believe? Christian Fundamentalism is the belief system the vast majority of Christians have. Fundamentalism believes the basics about Christianity, such as God created the world; God is the only God; God is three-in-one: Father, Son, and Spirit; there is a heaven and a @#!*% ; Jesus was the perfect Son of God who came to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins; Jesus rose again on the third day; every man is naturally sinful and will be eternally separated from God unless he repents of his sins and surrenders to Jesus; there is one way to the Father and that is through the Son; in order to be a Christian, the Spirit must be living inside you; the Bible is inspired by God and is inerrant... etc. I could go on and on. But you get me.

Christian Universalism believes essentially the same principles. But according to www.christianuniversalist.org, there are two main differences. The first, and most infamous, is that Universalism believes all people will end up in heaven. They believe Christians and non-Christians will be in heaven (http://www.christianuniversalist.org/articles/divinization.html). They don't believe in eternal @#!*% and they cling to the idea that God is "too loving" to @#!*% people to @#!*% . The second difference is that they think "no human is totally bad" (http://www.christianuniversalist.org/articles/universalsalvation.html). On the www.christianuniversalist.org website, they state, "Since no human being is totally bad, no human will perish eternally. It is God's plan to take what is good in each individual and multiply it, and replace the bad within us with an infusion of His divine goodness, until only the good remains." 


As you surely can see, these two beliefs conflict with many of Christian Fundamentalists' beliefs. The Christian Fundamentalists believe only one people will be in heaven, and that people are the children of God. They also believe Jesus Christ is the only way and that those who follow anyone but Jesus will be in @#!*% forever. When Christian Universalists say that everyone will be in heaven, that obviously says the exact opposite of what the Christian Fundamentalists say. And not to mention that Christian Fundamentalists believe man is naturally sinful and evil. 


I'm really itching to share my side of the argument, but I want to save that for a later post. Until then, I encourage you to read your Bible and talk to your parents/youth pastor/pastor to find out more about heaven/ @#!*% and whether man is naturally sinful.

7 comments:

Christina said...

Really? Are you using 'the secrets of great communications'? Next week I'll have to start preparing my persuasive speech. Looking forward to the rest of what you have to say!

Logan said...

No, I'm not. I'm taking a Speech Communications class at a local private university as a dual enrolled high school senior. Our text book is The Speech Process, 13th Edition.

Leah said...

Hey Logan,
I wasn't quite sure where to post this, so I just decided to post it here... a few days ago I read your post "My Changed Views on Youth Ministry" and was going to comment but I assume you deleted it, because I can't find it... anyhow, I just thought I'd leave you a little note of encouragement because I completely know how you feel. A few months ago my family left our church that I had gone to my entire life. It was extremely difficult, but it wasn't growing. It wasn't where God wanted it to be. I still sometimes question why it all had to happen as it did, but I know we had to do it, regardless of how hard. The crumble actually started several years ago, but for some reason God had not wanted us to leave yet. So, I can understand completely your frustration with your youth group. But, I just want to encourage you to continue to pray and seek God. Maybe he will ask you to leave. If so, you'll know. And if God leads you to leave, then even though it might all not make sense, He will have another door open for you. And if God wants you to say, then go for it! Sometimes God asks us to do things that seem like they don't make any difference (I often wonder why we couldn't have left our Church 2 years ago, since it doesn't seem to have helped to stay... but who knows?). So, I'm so sorry this is SO long (and probably confuzing...) but I just wanted to encourage you that if God wants you to stay where you're at, then you're doing the right thing and He will reward you for your labor. If He wants you to leave then He'll help you know. He has a perfect plan for your life!

Psalm 37:4- Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Tom van Dijk said...

Hi Logan,
interesting subject!

I will split this post in a few parts, since it is way too long for your comments section!

===

Anyone can make a persuasive speech about anything, it's often just a matter of retorics. The best way to go is usually to misrepresent your opponent and then utterly destroy their position by completely bashing the flaws in the misrepresentation to the ground. Obviously, everyone will deeply agree with your 'argumentation', even your opponent, since you're misrepresenting him. The problem for your opponent is that it's much more difficult to explain that he's being misrepresented, especially if you're smart about how you misrepresent your opponent. One very smart thing to do, is to take the point of view that your opponent holds and find someone - it doesn't matter who, but if they have a good website and a name that seems representing, it's better - that has a similar position, but with a few obvious flaws that you can exploit. Then, you can sweep the entire thing off the table, based on the flaws of one of the representatives!

And that's exactly what you're doing, good job on that!

I have also witnessed very good speeches that did not have such false argumentations. Most people don't care either way, because they are not into the subject themselves, but anyone who knows what you're actually talking about will much more appreciate a speaker that makes sense, rather than one that misrepresents and rambles on about some detail that the opponent also disagrees with.

If you want to stand out, you should really investigate what christian universalism is - and what it is not.

It is most definitely not an automatic get-out-of-jail-free card. As long as someone rejects God, they just won't get in heaven. It wouldn't be biblical, would it? And how could you deny that there is such a thing as punishment, when it is clearly in the bible?

You should not be concerned with a variant of universalism that claims humans are good by themselves, and that God won't punish, and that everyone will automatically go to heaven, et cetera. That's easy to defeat and a lot of christian universalists would really agree with you. If you want to go to the core of the issue, then you need to attack the possibility that God may want to rescue all sinners and restore all humanity.

Tom van Dijk said...

Part 2:

You see, there are quite a few reasons for christian universalism. Let's first argue that in the end it matters who God is and what He wants. Let's assume that God is powerful enough to do whatever He wants - if He wants to rescue people in hell, if He wants to keep converting people, if He wants to torture them indefinitely, if He wants to annihilate them, it is all possible, He can do it. That people die, does not mean they cannot be rescued after death. If, and only if, God wants it, they can always be rescued. Now, we can see that if God wants to save all people, He can do it, and if He does not save all people, that is not because He can't, but because He doesn't want to.

Now you can go two roads from here. You can take the approach of the coveted Free Will, stating that God only wants to save people that freely want to submit, because Love demands Freedom. I can tell you it's a dead end, for two reasons. First, free will isn't actually free, because our will is constantly influenced by everything around us - you can see that since most people who are christian, are christian because they were so lucky to be raised in christian families. If it would be determined by free will, then it would simply be unfair for those born in poor, broken families, with crime and rape around them. The second reason is that any person with free will, will always be able to change their mind, but they would never voluntarily make a choice that they know is in no way good or desirable for them. So if God would teach people the truth, in hell, or in any other way, then it is impossible that they choose against them if they have free will. If they would, then this is because their will is not free, but bound. And if God is able to convert us, who are equally sinners as the rest of the world, then He is able to save all, free will or no free will.

So there is the second road, which is that God does not want to save all, but that He wants only to save some, and leave the rest to suffer from the consequences of hell. In order to make this consistent with the loving character of God, you must find something that is as important to God as his love to human beings. For example, you could suggest that God is also righteous and wants to show His wrath. The only problem here is that righteousness doesn't simply demand a punishment, but demand a fitting, just punishment which has clear goals all concerned with making the world a righteous place: the damage of sin must be repaired (God will remove all tears) and the sinner must be corrected and repent, so that he can become a person who does what is right, instead of what is wrong. This is why parents punish their children and why the government punishes wrong-doers: not just to retaliate, although this may sometimes be part of the judgement, but mainly to protect society while the wrong-doer is dangerous, and to educate the wrong-doer so he deeply understand his crime and commit to never do such things again. So if it is righteousness that prevents God from saving all people, it simply won't work, because righteousness would imply that God would punish in order to educate the sinners and that implies that they will eventually convert, believe and repent and thus can be saved.

Tom van Dijk said...

Part 3:

Remember that the sin of Adam had at least these two consequences: mankind became able to sin, and mankind became slaves of death. Now what Jesus did on the cross, was conquer death and He was victorious. He also died for our sins, and not just ours, but those of the whole world, 1 John 2:2, 2 Corinthians 5:19, John 1:29, John 4:42, 1 John 4:14, Hebrews 2:9. So you could argue that somehow, some people still remain under the consequences of Adam's sin and thus will not be saved, despite what Paul says about the second Adam, Christ, bringing more grace than the sin from Adam, Romans 5:15. You will have to find some word play to make sure no one believes what the bible seems to teach. Also, you should argue somehow that Romans 5:18-19 is not true and that 1 Corinthians 15:22 somehow only applies to believers. The same holds for Colossians 1:20, obviously, which suggests that God wants to reconcile everything with himself by having brought peace with Christ's blood on the cross. You will also need to argue that in Philippians 2:9-11 the unbelievers will be forced to bow their knees and confess that Christ is Lord. Without that, it would still seem eventually all will believe.

Now there are two texts that I forgot to mention, but that could be considered "proof texts" by those christian universalists. They are 1 Timothy 2:1-6 and 2 Peter 3:9. They seem to teach that God wants to save all people and that no one is lost. There are a few tricks that you can employ. First, you really should suggest that the text does not really state something about God's will. For example, you could say something about the original Greek text, even though any Greek reader knows that it really is about God's will here. You should argue, as some do, that God merely desires it, or may positively regard it, or that it is only His "resistable will", at least not something that God would really want. Maybe that would mean that you'd suggest that the bible is lying about what God's will is, or that God apparently reveals something that is not really the truth, but this is pretty normal for theologians, because they distinguish God's revealed will, and God's hidden will. The latter is completely unknown and what God really wants. The former is what is in the bible. It works for them, so it could work for you too. The other trick is that you should suggest that it is not about all people. For example, in 1 Timothy, you should say it's only about all types of people, no matter that Paul would have used different words. It is sufficient to reread the part and suggest that we sometimes use the word "all" to do that. In that case, you should also make sure no one reads verse 1, because that would completely disprove that suggestion: because Paul really would not suggest that we should pray for some people of all types, but for all people of all types, including kings. Then, in 2 Peter, you should suggest that he does not speak about all people, but "all of you". Obviously, if he meant that he would have said that, but just suggest that he was a bit brief that day and it'll work out.

Tom van Dijk said...

Part 4 (last):


It may seem that the argumentation for a torment without end is a bit vague, so there's one trick I can tell you about that you should use as the big thing that really proves a torment without end. You should argue that from Matthew 25:46 and 2 Thessalonians 1:9 it is clear that the punishment really lasts forever, because that is the Greek word: aionios. You should state that christian universalists mistranslate it and that their entire theory depends on it. Now, in truth, it is the opposite, the entire theory of torment without end depends on "aionios" always meaning "forever". But just stick to it and it will be fine. Also, in Matthew 25 Jesus says "aionios kolasis" for "eternal punishment" (and aionios really usually refers to a very long, or perceived long [intensive] period of time, or a future period of time, like an Eon or an Age) and kolasis is really a corrective punishment. The Pharisees who believed in an eternal punishment usually used "aidios timoria" which really means unending revenge/wrath. But who knows maybe Matthew just used the wrong words? If you argue eternal punishment, then really Jesus couldn't have meant something else. The same goes for 2 Thessalonians, where Paul uses the word "olethron" for "destruction", which he uses in 1 Corinthians 5:5, where it is clearly suggested that the sinner who has his flesh destructed, will have his soul saved.

So, I think this concludes the argumentation you can use to prove unending punishment! Good luck with the speech. I'm sure it will work out in the end, as long as your listeners think that you're using solid argumentation while in reality you're not.