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If grace is true : why God will save every…
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If grace is true : why God will save every person (urspr publ 2003; utgåvan 2003)

av Philip Gulley

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"Gulley and Mulholland have extended and deepened the meaning of God's grace in decidedly thoughtful and lovely ways." -- Arkansas Democrat Gazette In this controversial bestseller, authors and Quaker ministers Philip Gulley and James Mulholland expand upon their belief in eternal salvation for all through God's perfect grace. For seekers, for thoughtful Christians, and for the simply curious, Gulley and Mulholland offer a beautiful, timeless message of hope.… (mer)
Medlem:SantaCruzFriends
Titel:If grace is true : why God will save every person
Författare:Philip Gulley
Info:[San Francisco, CA] : HarperSanFrancisco, c2003.
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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If Grace is True: Why God Will Save Every Person av Philip Gulley (2003)

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I have some sympathy. Sometimes you look at someone doing some clerical thing which is really immoral, and you just want to ask them, Can’t you use your *conscience*? “Nope I just ask the local Bible Bully.” But then we react, and we get uptight about how the Big Bad Christian is going to blow our house down, and *we* become the person that *they* want to react against. And we can be wrong, because a conscience that never tells you you’re wrong, or at least that negates the consequences of being wrong.... I don’t know. Maybe we should distinguish between conscience and taste. “What you’re doing is wrong.” “Oh, I don’t care for that kind of talk. It sounds like something from, ‘The Epic of Good and the Ballad of Bad’, instead of ‘The Antifeminist Princess and the Big Bad Wolf’.” The parents are always wrong, right.... but I digress.

But I have to be careful too, because although I don’t think that Helen Burns is going to get what she prays for and expects for other people, I do think that she is a better Christian than I am, and more patient in troubles and with the faults of others. (And she’s not stupid, either.) I know that might sound either odd or, more simply, an affirmation of some awful, awful stereotypes about men and women, about more devotional and more theological thinkers, (although: “What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity?” The Imitation of Christ), but I can’t—I just can’t.

Anyway.

I think that most of the benefit of Gulley/Mulholland’s point of view, not condemning “Sally”—the person who screws up their life in an obvious way, and/or turns around without obviously succeeding or obviously embracing the orthodox faith—could be gained simply through the orthodox church’s teaching that *we do not know* who individually is in hell, (at one point he kinda explains why C.S. Lewis thinks there will be people in hell (paraphrase): guy gets off the bus from hell to heaven, sees lots of sinners, says “This is not a good neighborhood”, and gets back on the bus and goes back. Gulley/Mulholland tell it with almost a laugh because it makes the churchy look foolish, then ignores that he just blew a hole in his ship), or what happens to any individual. All that we know, is that we will sometimes be surprised. “For many of the first will be last, and the last first.” Just because the people who get into heaven are not necessarily the “nice people”, (cf Fulton Sheen’s talk), doesn’t mean that everyone is entitled. You have to know that you’re a sinner. And God could fill heaven with slaves if he wanted, but he doesn’t stop us from thinking thoughts in our own minds.... We do not know; we will be surprised. And saying things in this way does not tempt anybody to complacency, or a sense of entitlement. And since hell is the absence of God and he will not leave unless we show him the door—“Lord, I know what you want me to do; this is what I want to do, and I don’t care” (Fr Mike Schmitz on sin)— I do not think this places an unbearable burden on us.

He’s right that eternal punishment is the hardest kind to understand, but we must remember that we do not live in eternity. I think that for many people punishment will not be eternal, but maybe for some it will be, not because their sins are too great, but because they refuse to change, even in eternity. We should not presume that it is all so easy. God wants us to embrace him, but he declines to compel us. Hell is not so much God torturing, as God locked out. Should he force the door like a thief? Can he? We lock ourselves into torment. And although the people in hell might not be the ones with the most dramatic sins, that’s no guarantee that they’ll change their mind. Gulley/Mulholland is issuing us a guarantee, printed on their own paper, that they’ll change their mind.

I don’t hate him for saying that they come to their own conclusion after consulting personal experience. I’m not dismissing personal experience. I do not ask them to be a slave or an enemy. “The Bible says X. Take it or leave it.” But I think they tend to dismiss the collective experience of the church. Even minority opinions are of pretty secondary importance in this book; the main thing is what *he* thinks as a complete individual. I’m not sure that this is the right place to grind through all of the arguments for and against the church, so I’ll just say that even when we reason, we can be deceived, but if we submit to the church, we show humility. When you read books, you often have to struggle with them; you cannot simply and easily accept what is strange to you, as God is strange to us, and to struggle like this is to use your own independent mind. But “no man is an island”, as Merton said—not indeed because he invented the phrase himself. There comes a time to surrender. You can trust the experience of the saints, and God will reward your obedience and humility. Think, but do not presume. A gentle monk and an angry husband do not hold spiritual opinions of equal weight. Nobody wants to take the lesser seat, but this is what Jesus advised.

Again, I don’t hate them for things: saying that all parts of the Bible are not equally true, for example. Joshua and Jesus are not equally true; Jesus had not yet been revealed in Joshua’s time, so God told them to conquer a homeland in the only way they or any of their neighbors then knew how. It’s the church’s responsibility to teach us how to be saints in our own time, but that doesn’t mean that we can dismiss any scripture or teaching that makes us uncomfortable. One of the temptations of our time is presumption, thinking that “God owes me”. (I also think at some level he thinks that if enough people write him nasty letters, he must be right.) That is not true. God offers us everything we need, but he is not our servant. To have a relationship with him, we must respect him. We shouldn’t try to drive him off to test him. Many people have indeed taught us a god that does not love, but that does not mean that we’re entitled to One that can’t say no.

It’s not so much the trouble that we wouldn’t deserve God’s love, for he would offer it. But we may come to a place where we are unable to accept it, and the “fear of God” is meant to keep us away from that place.... Basically, praying for a rather empty hell is good; maybe it’s something that we “should” do, but assuming that it will certainly be completely empty is to take a foolish chance.

“(The Calvinists) were right about predestination. God has chosen whom he will save. Their error is in vastly underestimating the number.” Of course, non-Calvinists are usually not like this, holding that you have to co-operate with grace—that God has power to offer us a relationship, but does not force it on us anymore than he rapes people. (Sorry if that sounds mean!) ....He does come around to the non-Calvinists eventually, in that he thinks that we are proud. I suppose that some must be, but I don’t think this is necessary. It’s not a matter of following rules, but choosing a relationship. The purpose of choosing a lover is not to boast of them.

I do not pretend to understand the atonement, but I will say that to dismiss the classical account completely as the work of Mr. Scrooge seems to me to make suffering an aberration that we have to be afraid of, or resentful of, which is not something that makes it any easier to bear.

Of course, I cannot say that what he writes is not inspired by the gospel, even if he is expectant, at times, of illusions. But one passage, drawing on the metaphor of heaven as a wedding banquet, deserves to be repeated. If it is possibly not literally true, it may indeed be poetically true. Maybe if one of those concerned were like “the bad thief” from the gospel, the guardian angel of the person involved would fill in. Anyway, here’s what he wrote:

“I don’t know where we will sit at the final banquet, but I suspect who will sit beside us. On our right will be the person whom we have harmed the most. On our left will sit the person who has done the greatest evil to us. We will be seated between grace received and grace required.”

There might not even be a theological multiple-choice test at that first dinner of eternity, although I do think that how we will have lived will be of some interest.
  goosecap | Apr 16, 2020 |
God will save all people
  JohnLavik | Mar 29, 2020 |
“What is your name besides Burns?”
“Helen.”

I think that eventually even the devils will be converted, something that has been good to me, for many are those who are like devils, and it does not do to hate them. It certainly does not make one like Christ.

...........................

I’m not technically or intellectually exclusionary, but I also need the reminder that God loves people who treat people like crap. “When I am the winter, You are the fire, that burns.”

............................

The description of heaven is haunting; I know of no other word for it. ‘Tis a beauty worth seeing for those who think it all candy-floss dross.

It is almost a terrible beauty; perhaps our training is the very turning of learning to see it as good.

.... People think heaven is like being rich, you know. “I could get expensive ice cream that doesn’t kill me and live in an expensive house that would put me far, far away from fucked-up people.” The gospel doesn’t call us far, far away from fucked-up people. ( )
  smallself | Oct 24, 2019 |
Very good book. The premise that all will be saved I do believe, but not all at once like these authors portend. Evil people non repentant of their sins do not go to heaven. I once believed this was so, but in time, observation and investigation of those who died and returned the hereafter does not have calenders and clocks like we do. There are repentant souls who through cleansing and time do eventually go to the first level of heaven, but this after eons of time, but they would have to repent first, until then they would go to an unhappy place. ( )
  lighten51 | Jun 12, 2013 |
Quaker pastors Philip Gulley, author of the Harmony novels, and James Mulholland make the case for the controversial belief in universal salvation in "If Grace Is True." Grappling with the perceived dichotomy between God's love and God's justice, and in the face of some hard real world experiences, they insist, "I believe God will save every person."

From the beginning, they recognize that this is neither a common nor popular belief among Christians. Indeed, it is likely to inspire passionate, even rabid, opposition from those who believe it is unbiblical and heretical. At its root, universal salvation contradicts the common Christian understanding that those who believe in Christ will go to heaven and those who do not will go to hell.

Contrary to this emphasis on human will in responding to God to receive salvation, Gulley and Mulholland ultimately focus on the divine will to offer salvation. The rationale for universal salvation, clearly implicit in their argument, is this: if God wills to save, and if God's grace extends to all of humankind, why would God allow any not be saved? Believing that God's grace does extend to all human beings, Gulley and Mulholland argued that God does will to save and, thus, God will save everyone.

In their argument, Gulley and Mulholland parse "I believe God will save every person" in detail, using scriptural references and stories from their ministries, and heavily relying on the image of God as a loving parent. At times, the argument is more emotional than rational, though given the significant emotions involved in the debate, that is understandable and probably wise. Given that their intended audience is general Christians, rather than pastors or academic theologians, the argument is much more anecdotal than rigorous and detailed.

As such, Gulley and Mulholland, while clearly empathetic and sympathetic with the beliefs of those who disagree with them, do not seriously consider the counter arguments to their claim. Though understandable, this is ultimately the book's greatest weakness. The challenge of theology is that there are multiple metaphors for God which do not easily co-relate. Gulley and Mulholland emphasize a couple at the expense of others. While few would argue with the significance of divine love or divine grace, one wonders where divine creation, divine revelation, divine justice, or divine suffering fit into the argument of universal salvation.

Still, the book is worth reading and discussing. It is well-written and engaging, and it takes Christians and their beliefs seriously, particularly about love and grace. If there are logical flaws in the argument, such as an unspoken belief in a kind of post-death purgatory to make universal salvation feasible, there is great merit in attempting to push the concepts of love, mercy, and grace to the fullest extent possible. ( )
  ALincolnNut | Aug 22, 2011 |
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"Gulley and Mulholland have extended and deepened the meaning of God's grace in decidedly thoughtful and lovely ways." -- Arkansas Democrat Gazette In this controversial bestseller, authors and Quaker ministers Philip Gulley and James Mulholland expand upon their belief in eternal salvation for all through God's perfect grace. For seekers, for thoughtful Christians, and for the simply curious, Gulley and Mulholland offer a beautiful, timeless message of hope.

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