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Challanges to Universalism

PostPosted: July 12th, 2019, 5:52 pm
by hyksos
In another thread on this forum, I documented the passages of the Old Testament, showing that in at least the very early books, there is depicted a racist, tribal patriarchy. LINK

Application in that context was to whether the Bible supports, condones, describes or tries to solve multiculturalism. It was concluded (obviously) that it does not.

It turns out that among religious historians and Biblical scholars, that those researcher are all very much aware of those passages. However, they have quite a different zone of context in which they apply them. In particular, they see those passages as being evidence against the Doctrine of Universalism. Turns out --- to my personal surprise -- that there is a whole bulwark of scholarship that challenges the universalist doctrine. Those OT passages about "strange women" and "sons of a stranger" are but only a fraction of the evidence compiled by them.

Christian Universalism
For brevity's sake, a person wanting extra background on this topic should google "Christian universalism" and browse links. This should give you the basic overview not elaborated upon here.

In this article I will describe the emotional import of this topic , in other words, if this topic is so "scholarly" , then why should I care about it? Well -- it all breaks down to one question at the end of the day :

Does the God of the Bible love everyone on the earth equally?

Does God love the Palestinians as much as he loves the Israelis in the current State-of-Israel? Does God love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as much as he loves Mike Pence? What about Ihan Omar? Does God love her, at all? Take all these as hypotheticals. Now that we have some interest, lets turn to the scholarship.

Challenges to Christian Universalism come from a collection of suspicious facts all lined up in proximity bullet point lists.
  • A branch of Christianity called loosely "Calvinism", does not even hold the the universalist doctrine.
  • A denomination called the Jehovah's Witnesses, goes farther, saying there are a chosen few, and this number is something like 150,000 people.
  • Evangelicals of the American midwest engage in "playing both sides of the fence." When asked if God loves all human beings equally, their answer is a resounding "YES". But wait a day and ask them about the Jews in the State-of-Israel, and the same person will tell you that God has a special thing going on with them and their homeland. So he loves everybody, but a few Jews today have special VIP seats.
  • Thus from the first 3 bullet points we find that Christian Universalism is not even a monolithic solidified doctrine even inside of Christianity. We can turn to the scriptural evidence now.
  • Matthew Chapter 15. Jesus is traveling the coast of (modern day) Lebanon between Tyre and Sidon, and a Canaanite woman cries out for his help because her daughter is fatally wounded and dying. Jesus ignores her outright. The disciples ask Jesus why he is ignoring the Canaanite lady. He answers :

Jesus wrote:I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel

In other words, Jesus is telling the disciples that he can't be Mr. Save-the-World-Superhero because his task here on earth is to bring the "lost sheep" of Israeli clerics back to salvation.

I myself was unaware of the bulk of scholarship that challenges universalism, and I only learned about it later in my life. But this next bullet point knocked my socks off ::

  • We might ask a trivia question. In the entirety of the New Testament , how many people, total does Jesus speak to directly who are gentiles? Or in other words, how many people does Jesus speak to directly who are not Jews living in Israel? The answer is two. 1 The Canaanite gentile woman mentioned above. 2 Pontius Pilate. Absolutely everyone else that Jesus speaks to in all the gospels were Jews living in Israel.
  • Emperor Constantine's decree that Christianity become the officially-sponsored state Religion of the Roman Empire. Presto-change-o, the biblical god of the Israelis suddenly becomes the God of Everyone Everywhere.
  • The laundry list of Christian holidays which were set to certain dates in order to coincide with pagan harvest holidays. The canonical example here is the syncretism between Yule Tiding and Christmas.