Rachel Stacy’s question “Can a Christian be a Universalist?” has provoked many thoughtful responses reflecting the diversity of theological perspectives among Friends. Here are a few more:
Victoria Pearson writes:
This post is so helpful, because I think that what gets lost in these conversations is the myriad of ‘-ologies’ associated with Christian theology. What Christianity offers is a frame for exploration of these various disciplines of meaning-making. Universalism is not totalizing to these questions, but rather frames these questions in the complexity of diversity and the lived sense of our Friend in Christ (if that makes sense). Eschatology, soteriology, theodicy, christology– these are framing understandings that a simple Christianity names clearly. From a Universalist frame, I think these studies are more process than answer, more practice than intellectual exercise. And I think, from my take on Universalism, there is so much more room for multiple faith frames, and fruitful interfaith dialogue within one’s own journey. This blows the lid off of finite faith claims. I think the Christian who is a Universalist is exactly that, and that identity is becoming and processual.
Emmett Murphy writes:
This is a potent question for most Quakers. It is likely that many of our evangelical and Christocentric brethren would voice a strong “No” answer. I approach the question from the other end: can a Quaker Universalist really be a Christian. My answer is “Possibly, but not me.” I have been too rigorously affected by scientific skepticism and respect for evidence. I concede there was likely a Creator, but I see no evidence whatsoever that he/she/it maintains contact with our universe, and certainly not with individuals. I wish I had the capacity to discern the fullness of great questions like this, but I long ago concluded that the human brain was simply not created to understand fully such matters as creation, the afterlife, the nature of god. I deeply believe there might be a purpose for life; if so, our great task is to develop a cosmology and a moral code that fosters the healthiest kind of society, the most benevolent interpersonal relationships, and an environment that has the most eternal chance of prospering. Some Christian tenets seem good by these standards, others are inadequate. Belief in the divinity of Jesus seems to me inconsistent with what we KNOW about the universe, though Jesus’s teachings have stood the test of time and can claim high marks by the standards I feel logical. But certainty is impossible, especially if answers emerge that harbor exclusivity rather than inclusivity. In other words, Quaker Universalism is a big tent, and must remain so!