The Unfundamental Conversion

Merging Calvinism and Universalism Together

August 17th, 2013 | Posted by Lana Hope in Fundamental/Evangelical

Evangelicals believe that a long, long, long time ago, when God created the world, God created people with absolute free will to choose sin or righteousness, to choose God or death. The trick, though, is that God knew that man would choose sin. He knew it. And God knew it while also knowing that he would take everyone – including every animal – and destroy them in the global flood for making the wrong choice.

There is a group of evangelicals, however, who disagree. They say God didn’t actually give man free will at all. Instead, God set the trap, and gave man and woman a weakness, so that man would take the “bait.” In other words, God planned the fall. God also planned the flood. God, basically, planned it all. We call this superlapserianism, or just plain o’ Calvinism at its worse. (Many Calvinists disagree, however.)

The appeal to the Calvinist version is that at least God had a rhyme and reason for the fall. God wanted the fall so that man could feel pain, could experience right and wrong, experience the good the bad the ugly, but also experience life apart from God. He wanted it, so he could one day lavish love upon a chosen people, and they appreciate it. (He also wanted it so the non-elect would experience wrath. It was more about God than us; ask John Piper.)

In Calvinism we often talk about the difference between angels and people. Angels are awesome because they always loved God, but they can’t sing the song of the redeemed. People have a special connection to God. As I said, they know the good, the bad, the ugly.

Obviously I reject Calvinism now, as I wrote, because I see no evidence of a non-elect people group. But I also reject the typical evangelical perspective because a God who wipes everyone out in a flood (and later hell) for making the wrong choice, really, isn’t very helpful.

But my heart still appreciates the other side of Calvinism. The side that says the fall isn’t all bad. The part that says heck, yes, I would have chosen good and evil, too, not because I like evil but because I want to know both good and evil. The part that says that pain is worth something, that it’s a guide and a teacher. The part that says that the songs of the redeem drown out the African plains. The part that says, it’s okay, God *gets* us. He gets that we want our choices, he accepts that part of us, and he will claim us back anyway. The part of Calvinism that isn’t all that different than Buddhism that says, gosh earth is full of suffering, but it’s also redeeming, also a teacher, also part of our journey.

In other words, merge Calvinism and Universalism together  – albeit an oxymoron – and we are getting to a theology I can live with.

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  • I am not much of a Calvinist at all, but I like what you are saying. Pain is worth something, and along with suffering comes redeeming. Thanks!

    • Lana Hope

      Yea, I’m still thinking about this one; it’s not like I want to “justify” suffering. But yet I have trouble seeing value in human life if we take away the risk element. It’s sort of like I can’t imagine the Hobbit tale without the risk of death along the way. I dunno.

  • Calvinism and universalism aren’t necessarily contradictory. Many would say Karl Barth was both, and I’m certainly sympathetic with the idea that God, through his divine providence and sovereignty will ultimately save everyone.

  • Orville

    There is a small sect that I know of (not directly) that does believe in both Calvinism (sort of) and Universalism. It’s a small group of Primitive Baptists in central Appalachia. They aren’t likely fond of missions, don’t allow women preaching and practice footwashing.

    • Omkara

      Orville, a comment from that site:

      “If you do a search on Primitive Baptist & Crypt-o Jews you will see where the church started. basically the Jewish people married into the Cherokee in the Appalachian mountains and used the Term “primitive Baptist ” to hide under. Those people later became know as the melungeons the primitive baptist church is the first place the word was uttered.”

    • Lana Hope

      wow, so interesting.

  • The only problem with your text is that you do not go to scriptures (at all).

    “For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” – Romans 11:32

    The thing about heaven and hell is this: heaven is a place where God is. hell is a place where God is not. So there you go, if a person dies not wanting to be with God, he will go to hell (which is so much worse than a lake of fire, it is eternal separation from him). However, if a person dies wanting to be with God, he will go to heaven (which is so much better than streets of gold, it is eternal communion with God).

    The doctrine of election is there to be sure that we know that we have no merit on our salvation. All the glory is to God. It is like, when we see a sign in the church on the outside, we read “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) and then, when we’re on the inside, we see that sign again and it is written “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, (…)” (John 6:44).

    “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
    – Matthew 7:7

    • Lana Hope

      I could go to scripture. You would just disagree with my interpretations, and around we would go.


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