A while ago, I mentioned that I was reading If God is Love by Phillip Gulley and James Mulholland. The authors believe that God will ultimately save every person. These men are educated, articulate pastors who grew up in what sound like traditional Christian households. I was intrigued by the book, but didn’t think it gave terribly specific support for their theology. So I’ve started reading If Grace is True, their first book, which addresses their beliefs somewhat more expansively. Disclaimer: this post is not intended as either support or condemnation of Universalism.
I find some of their arguments quite compelling. If you don’t know much about this idea, I’m sure your brain is already forming all kinds of questions and objections. Gulley and Mulholland do address many of them. I will not attempt to do that here, but the book is worth reading if you want to know more. There is some very interesting scriptural support for Universalism. Just a few examples include:
- 1 Corinthians 15:21-22: For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
- Romans 5:18: Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.
- John 12:32: And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
I know: You can think of arguments already and about a million other contradictory scriptures. I still think this is fascinating and worth exploring. My issue with the book is that the authors reject certain biblical accounts that don’t conform to their theology and accept others that do. This is a problem for me. I don’t know how one can maintain intellectual objectivity while rejecting parts of the history book and endorsing others. Perhaps they don’t agree with the selection of books that was canonized, but if any of their agreements and rejections are within the same book or even written by the same author, I’m just not sure I can take their conclusions into consideration. I would be much more interested to read an argument for Universalism that reconciles contradictory scriptures, if in fact that can be done.
At the very least, this book has introduced me to another viewpoint. It has also got me reflecting anew on my doubt that logic will ever lead us to a definitive answer regarding spiritual matters. Even the smartest, most devout, faithful and well-intentioned among us hit snags in the fabric of belief. All the more reason to commit to careful examination of our hearts, minds and actions.