A discussion of Quaker blogging and Universalism would not be complete without mentioning quakerquaker.org for its Universalist discussion group (see http://www.quakerquaker.org/group/universalism). Quakerquaker.org deserves not only mention but commendation for being the nexus that connects the Quaker blogosphere in vitally important ways. I also want to commend Micah Bales for reviewing this important new book by Evangelical leader Rob Bell.—Anthony Manousos
Is Universalism Heresy?
The internet is abuzz with news of Rob Bell‘s forthcoming book, Love Wins, in which it appears that Bell will refute traditional Calvinist teachings on heaven and hell. Based on a recently released promotional video for the book, it seems fair to conclude that Bell probably doesn’t believe that God has preordained the damnation of billions of non-Christians. By Calvinist standards, this would make him a universalist – and many big names in neo-Calvinism are ready to cast him into outer darkness.(1)
But before we start talking about what it would mean for Rob Bell to be a universalist, we need to take a step back. Definitions. What is Christian Universalism? Among Quakers, “universalism” is often used to mean a belief in the transcendental equivalence of all religions: “All roads lead to the top of the mountain.” Radical universalism, as is sometimes found among the Liberal branch(2) of the Quaker denominational family, rests on the premise that all religious perspectives are simultaneously valid and yet incomplete. There is a general sense that human beings are innately good, and that all religions present legitimate paths to enlightenment and/or the Divine.