If one believes that there is nothing a person can do to be saved, it is then incoherent to say there is something one must do in order to be saved; and that, believe.

Quite simply, God is goodness itself. We are icons of God, and since God is actively present in the world, we are drawn to that which is good. That presence is called grace. That draw is called “pistis” in Greek, translated as faith (not episteme). Atonement is found in participation with the good; the “hilasterion”, the “place of atonement”. The experience of doing good, which is atonement, is transformative. This is salvation.

There is always this idea of individual and general resurrection in theology and this is what most equate salvation with. This, then, is the former, individual salvation. For humanity, and given the Jewish understanding of temple practices, Jesus is the High Priest and his sacrifice is for all people and the act itself, regardless of what anyone thinks, feels, believes about it, is expiation. To depart from that idea is to not understand Judaism nor the relation between Israel and Jesus. General resurrection is, on this view, humanity’s response to God’s restoration of the world through mankind itself, made possible through Christ.

Grace and faith are gifts from God, efficacious entirely, for salvation. These are universal because God is omnipresent and he has created us all, bent toward the good. If so, then “pistis Christou” implies salvation is though the faithfulness of Christ, not faith in Christ.

One cannot decide what to believe about Christ or about God; we always believe what we think some case is. To say belief (episteme) is required for salvation is to say Adam is superior to Christ because damnation is most certainly universal but salvation is not. Too, putting belief as a requirement for salvation is to begin enjoining ideas of gnosis. In that case, one ought to read Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies” for insights on such ideas; ideas that have ultimately encroached and embedded themselves in Christianity as many understand it today.

We are icons of God. We are sacraments of God through Christ any time we enjoin the good. We in God and God in us, each time we do. Transformed with each encounter. To coin a phrase from Eastern Orthodoxy and the early church fathers, the teleology being “theosis”.

There is little reason to scripturally suggest epistemic beliefs — propositions about God and Christ that must be believed on command, on coercion, on threat — get us anything but fear and certainly not salvation.

Where, after all, is a single doctrine or creed from Jesus the Nazarene?

Just a thought.

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6 thoughts on “Universalism

  1. Greg says:

    I can’t say I agree with your conclusion, but I do think you make a good case. I particularly like your statement about Adam being superior to Christ if all are damned but not all are saved. I also like your focus on God’s work, grace, and the “re-creation” nature of salvation toward God’s goodness.

    I read this with an incident my son brought to my attention yesterday from his HS Bible class that contradicts this perspective with a teaching that concluded that to suggest any position not in agreement with what amounts to a fundamentalist approach to Scripture is not “saved.” I’m glad my 15 year old thinks carefully through such notions and talks freely and openly with me about them.

    • Steven Hoyt says:

      he’s your son, greg. he too is a good man.

      • Greg says:

        Thanks, Steven.

        I assume you’re in touch with Gijo. Tell him hi for me!

        Keep up the good work. I enjoy reading your thoughts. I like being stretched! 🙂

      • Steven Hoyt says:

        gijo and i can’t resolve differences in theology and he’s not interested in talking, just telling. so, i haven’t spoken to him in at least a year.

        i’m not sure what good work i’m up to but i seem to have a knack for finding things to read that bring up good questions.

        do you have a blog?

      • Greg says:

        Hmmm. I’m surprised to hear that about Gijo. I know he’s really smart and well-read, particularly in religion and politics. I tend to agree with him most of the time. I thought he was a little more open-minded than what you’ve described. Then again, I used to be a lot more dogmatic than I am now. Maybe he’ll come around. I’ve come to the conclusion that I can firm positions about things while also realizing that only God knows for sure. There’s so much out there. In the end the unknown rests in faith. I’ll let God sort out all the confusion.

        I don’t have a blog. I miss some of the interactions I used to get into on OMG. That’s how I found this blog. I remembered your name and that you were from TX, and this blog showed up on page three or four of an Internet search. I look forward to hearing more from you. I’ll make an extra effort to not overwhelm you with my comments on your blog.

        Send my greetings to Terry and William, Jacqui and Mark if you’re still in touch with them.

      • Steven Hoyt says:

        i’m not overwhelmed.

        terry, william, jacqui, mark and i are all still hanging out doing the same old things. i’ll tell them hi for you for sure!

        drop a note any time!

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