Universalism

We live in a society and at a time when people are reacting very negatively to any kind of viewpoint that appears to be exclusionary. Lawyers are having a field day representing all kinds of people who feel that they have been excluded from something or some kind of recognition. We have seen girls suing school systems because they were excluded from varsity wrestling, and in our part of the country, there have been girls who have wrestled competitively with boys. An organization that does not have a member of a racial minority within its membership is very likely to find itself in trouble. I have a talented African-American friend who is constantly solicited by all kinds of groups who wish to include his name and especially his picture in their membership directory. He even had a Scottish bagpipe group contact him because they were receiving pressure from the local political officials to integrate their ranks. I am confident that they have never excluded anyone on any issue, but they had a problem none-the-less.

The problem becomes more volatile when religious and moral issues are involved. Abortion, homosexuality, pedophile behavior, euthanasia, animal rights, and marijuana rights are all represented by people who believe that anyone who has any convictions against involvement in these things is a bigot and guilty of extreme injustices. In the past five years, we have frequently been strongly attacked because we argued that Christianity is the one religion that men and women should follow. To many, this is a narrow minded view which cannot be intelligently maintained. The frequency of attacks on Christians by the media is skyrocketing on the basis that it is prejudicial.

Before going any further, let me clearly state that we are not in this article advocating violence or ill treatment of anyone--no matter what their views on any subject might be. Jesus taught his followers to love their enemies, turn the other cheek, live at peace with all men, and to do good to others with no strings attached. The Christian system has no room for those who would bomb, lynch, beat, or in any other way mistreat someone else--no matter what their religious views might be.

By the same token, the doctrine of universalism not only contradicts the statements of Christ and his followers in the Bible, but it also violates common sense.

Some belief systems are destructive. Suppose you had a child who wanted to join a club that required all members to drink a cup of badly contaminated water. You would forbid your children to do this because you were afraid that drinking the contaminated water will make them ill. Does this qualify you as a bigot? You may consider this to be an extreme example; but it is not, in principle. Religions which teach polygamy (one man–many wives) are teaching a system that denigrates women, eliminates the kind of relationship marriage should offer, produces too many children, and promotes the spread of disease. Teaching against such a religion is not done for the joy of attacking, or hurting others. It is done to help people avoid pain and destructive lifestyles.

In many areas like euthanasia and abortion, the problem has more to do with alternatives. No woman who has had an abortion and no doctor who performs her abortion would describe the whole ordeal as an enjoyable experience. Euthanasia is a gut-wretching process no matter what the connection is between the person dying and the others who are involved. In both abortion and euthanasia, there are things that can be done to solve the problem being addressed. Avoiding the pregnancy is obviously a better answer than abortion. Managing pain and improving quality of life is clearly a more palatable option than trying to decide who should live and who should die. Technology is giving us more and more answers that eliminate the controversial issues and provide quality choices.

The problem with universalism is that, in standing for nothing, destructive practices and behaviors are condoned. As new religions and moralities are invented by man, one cannot take a blind live-and- let-live viewpoint. Marshall Applewait is perhaps the classic example. His preoccupation with comets and his distorted understanding of both their nature and the nature of God eventually resulted in a number of suicides that should never have happened.

One of the favorite games being played by the media these days is to label anyone who has standards based on the Bible as a "fundamentalist." The press seems to feel that having standards automatically marks you as an ignorant bigot who needs to be supressed. A large number of denominations have avoided such identification by not taking a moral stand on anything.

The result of this collapse into univeralism has been catastrophic for young people. With no teaching of any kind against destructive sexual choices, the incident rates of STDs have skyrocketed. Just as severe have been the incident rates of mental problems that aberrant sexual lifestyles have produced. With a continued de-emphasis of the importance of the home, increasing numbers of children are living without any families at all or with one parent who cannot address their needs.

Even in conservative congregations, today we are seeing a growth in the attitude that "anything goes." We not only continue to see a softening of moral convictions, but also an erosion of doctrinal belief. The result is that the young and the weaker members drift--often ending up in a position of no faith at all or with a cult that does their thinking for them by providing iron clad standards that are as far from a universalist position as can be imagined.

The old Bible admonition "...no longer be children, tossed to and fro, by every wind of doctrine,..." (Ephesians 4:14) is certainly needed in our aimless world.

--John N. Clayton


Back to Contents Does God Exist?, MayJun99.