Monthly Archives: April 2013

Universalism is not Pluralism

One can argue – perhaps with theologians like Origen – that there is some hope that all people will find salvation.  Perhaps, with Knitter, one can argue that the love of God is such that it cannot be finally and ultimately frustrated, and that eventually every soul will come to see light and respond to the invitation of grace.  Perhaps, with Hick, one can conclude that the infinite power of God cannot finally be denied, and that to believe in anything like “hell,” as if it were a place of literally endless torment, is to deny omnipotence and the constancy of divine compassion.  Insofar as God’s power is unlimited and God’s love is eternal, there is no end to the call of grace to all souls, and therefore “hell,” however full of recalcitrant souls it may be, must eventually be empty.  I’m not sure this is true, but let us suppose it is.  Let us suppose it is true.  True.  Then pluralism is false.  Note the theological assertions of power and love; note the assumptions of divine personhood and implications of eternal identity in salvation.  These must be taken as truths for the universalist argument to make sense, and yet they contradict other religious views of Ultimate Being and human nature.  Thus this hopeful universalism necessarily makes theological statements and anthropological claims that are ultimately (perhaps) very Christian but, by the same token, not Buddhist or Vedantist.  The result of this for simple logic is that when Knitter says, “The truth of Jesus’ way is open to the truth of other ways,” he’s just wrong.  Rather this Christian truth is the truth that continually offers itself even to the most wayward and misguided.