Universalism is the sentimental false doctrine that everybody will be saved. It is widespread not only among the liberal Protestants, but amongst many Catholics. I’ve never understood how anyone with half a brain can subscribe to such a goofy creed. Doesn’t ordinary human decency demand hell for the depraved beast who stalks little girls, abducts them and chucks their bodies in a ditch when he’s done and never has any remorse? Forgive me if I retain the possibility of hell for such specimens of our fallen race.
How on earth can anyone who has read the gospels even one time through come up with such an idea? Jesus talks more about hell than he does heaven, and whenever he does it is to say quite clearly that hell exists and we should fear hell. Today’s gospel is just about as clear as it can get. In Luke 13:23 someone asks “Lord will many people be saved?” He replies, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, for many will try to enter and not be strong enough.” He then goes on to tell a parable about the master who knocks the door and refuses to recognize those who claim to have a right of entry to the master’s house.”
Not only is universalism alien to Scripture, it doesn’t make a lot of sense in marketing terms. For thirty or forty years now liberal Catholic priests have been teaching either universalism or ‘semi-universalism’ (which is the belief that probably everyone will go to heaven eventually) Then these same fellows turn around and wring their hands and wonder why vocations to the priesthood and the religious life are dropping through the floor and why mass attendance is down, or why the few Catholic they do know are so quick to join Evangelical sects.
Duuh. For forty years you’ve told people that everyone is going to heaven no matter what. The people are not stupid. They’ve drawn the obvious conclusion that they therefore don’t need to go to church, or that it doesn’t matter what church they go to.
The other result of universalism is that churches cease being places where souls are saved and start becoming social centers. This follows logically. If everyone is going to be saved anyway, then the reason to come to church is removed. If everybody’s going to heaven, then what is the raison d’etre of the church? Well, I guess it’s there to have nice social evenings for the old folks, to have youth groups to keep the young out of trouble and learn new life skills, to set up soup kitchens, raise money for charity and perhaps lay on driver education classes, teach teens about ‘safe sex’ etc. etc.
Again, before long people are saying, “But what’s religion got to do with all that? I pay taxes to do all that stuff don’t I?” The church is irrelevant.
Suddenly there’s an old gospel song tune running through my head…”Gimme that ole time religion, gimme that ole time religion, gimme that ole time religion, it’s good enough for me.”