Category: Engaging People

Is Scarcity a Dangerous Idea?

Dr Robert Zubrin concluded the above presentation at the 22nd Annual International Mars Society Convention with a passionate address on what he perceives to be the greatest threat to humanity:

How you conceive of the far future will control what happens in the near future. Now people talk about threats to humanity today: global warming, resource exhaustion, asteroid impact, overpopulation, whatever. I don’t think any of those things are the real threat to humanity today. Some of them are issues that need to be dealt with, some are overdrawn, but the real threat to humanity comes from bad ideas.

Humanity did not have catastrophes in the 20th century because of resource depletion, global warming, overpopulation, or asteroids. It had it because of bad ideas and in particular, one bad idea—with a number of variants to it. And that bad idea is that there isn’t enough to go around.

Dr Robert Zubrin, Mars Society, The Case for Space

He explains how World War I and World War II are examples of nations acting on this bad idea—the former being “the seminal catastrophe of the 20th century that sets in motion most of the rest.” We pretty much created hell on earth.

It is simply not true that humanity is composed of nations or races in a struggle for existence over scarce resources—that is a false point of view but nevertheless, if it is embraced it has the capability of causing absolute catastrophe.

Zubrin

In recent years, he has heard scarcity again being given as a reason for an “inevitable” war—this time between China and America. To my relief and delight, he powerfully and succinctly refutes that logic:

Now, this is a false point of view. I mean the fundamental point of view is Malthusian, “There’s only so much resources… population increases, standards of living go down…” In fact, history shows the exact opposite—as the world’s population has gone up, the standard of living has gone up! Why? Because consumption depends upon production. Production is people times technology.

Zubrin

The more people there are, the more inventors there are, and inventions are accumulative—that is why people create resources. There’s no such thing as a “natural resource”, there’s only natural raw materials. They are turned into resources by resourceful people.

Zubrin

It’s not that we’re gonna get oil from Mars, it’s that we’re gonna disprove a fallacy. We’re gonna disprove this fallacy that there’s only so much to go around—that there’s a roof on the Earth. There’s not a roof on the Earth—Earth comes with an infinite sky and it’s wide open. And that’s The Case for Space.

Zubrin

Serendipitously, The Bible Project also discussed scarcity in their recent video on generosity.

Creation is an expression of God’s generous love. He is the host and humans are his guests in a world of opportunity and abundance.

Dr Tim Mackie, The Bible Project, Generosity

While this was God’s intention, they acknowledge it’s often not how people think and act.

The story of the Hebrew scriptures [claim] that our “scarcity” problem isn’t caused by a lack of resources. Rather, the problem is our mindset that God cannot be trusted.

Once we are deceived into that mindset of scarcity, we can justify the impulse to take care of me and mine before anyone else. That leads to envy, anger, violence and a world where it seems like there is not enough.

Mackie

Now, I’m excited that Zubrin encourages going to Space to “disprove this fallacy that there’s only so much to go around” but I’m even more excited that for thousands of years God has been working on proving that there is more than enough for everyone, as Mackie goes on to explain. Unfortunately, the the nation God initially engages doesn’t get it and become another example of war resulting from the idea of scarcity.

[The Israelites] act like [the land of abundance] is all theirs and like there is not enough. It leads to war and Israel’s self-destruction.

Mackie

Thankfully, God is more persistent than us and made his surprising next move—poetically, giving us the most generous gift of all, himself, in Jesus.

Jesus lives with the conviction that there is enough. And that our generous host can be trusted. His mindset of abundance allowed him to live sacrificially and generously even towards his enemies.

Mackie

Despite personally experiencing poverty, Jesus viewed the world differently:

[Jesus] would say things like this: Look at the birds. They do not store up food for themselves, yet they have enough. Or, consider the wildflowers. They are beautiful and abundant. And they do not stress about their existence. And you all should live that way, too.

Mackie

Jesus encouraged us to follow him in trusting in God’s abundance.

That is why he said things like, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” Or, “Do not worry about your life.” He is inviting us to live by a different story. One that is built on trust in God’s goodness and love.

Mackie

However, change takes time.

Jesus knows we are all hopelessly deceived by this lie that there is not enough.

Mackie

We need to expose that lie, reforming our thinking to make this world less hellish and more harmonious for all.

So, that is what Jesus was doing when he gave us the gift of his life. Jesus’ death was the ultimate expression of God’s generous love.

Mackie

We are all called to live in the light of this, whether that be building rockets to Mars or simply through our hospitality to those around us.

Yeah, and when you believe there is enough, you start seeing opportunities for generosity everywhere. With our time, money, and our attention.

Jon Collins, The Bible Project, Generosity

Does Christian Universalism take God’s holiness seriously enough?

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole world* is full of his glory.

* His glory doth not only appear in the heavens, but through all the world, and therefore all creatures are bound, to praise him.

Isaiah 6:3, 1599 Geneva Bible with their footnote

The Bible reveals that God’s holiness is so seriously awesome that it eradicates all evil, which brings forth the wholehearted praise of each and every being/creature that ever exists—the only type of praise befitting God. This glorious telos is progressively revealed throughout the Bible—culminating in Christ’s ministry, atonement, Temple/Church, and return. The Bible Project does a brilliant and succinct job explaining this in their 6 minute summary:

God wasn’t content to leave the cosmos in an unholy mess and revealed in Isaiah that He spreads His holiness by removing iniquity and atoning for sin:

He touched my mouth with it and said: Now that this has touched your lips, your iniquity is removed and your sin is atoned for.

Isaiah 6:7, CSB
God’s holiness purifying Isaiah. Image from The Bible Project’s Holiness video.

Ezekiel unpacks this further, with the image of God’s holiness flowing out of the sanctuary—the “Holy Place”—of the temple, bringing life and healing to the desert and eventually, even the Dead Sea (the Lake of Fire cf https://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/lake-of-fire.html).

And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”

Ezekiel 47:12, ESV

Jesus’ atonement—removing iniquity and sin—fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy. Holiness in the form of life and healing flowed out of Jesus during his earthly ministry, beginning to fulfil Ezekiel’s prophecy. He continues bringing life, healing, and hope through his people—the Church, the ultimate Temple (Ephesians 2:19-22, 1 Peter 2:4-5, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Tim 3:15, John 7:38).

Life and healing flow out of Christ’s Church. Image from The Bible Project’s Holiness video.

Finally, Revelation 22—drawing heavily on Ezekiel 47:12—reveals that Jesus (“the Lamb”) completes the fulfilment by imparting life (v2), healing (v3), and flourishing (v2) to all sinners. I say all sinners because up until this last scene, the “nations” in Revelation were those opposed to God, who ended up in the Lake of Fire but God’s holiness will overflow and transform even that “dead sea” as Ezekiel 47:8 foretold. In this way, God eliminates Adam’s curse and everyone comes to delight in following and worshipping him (v3).

Then he showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the city’s main street. The tree of life was on each side of the river, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, 3 and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will worship him.

Revelation 22:1-3, CSB
God’s holiness overflowing into all the cosmos. Image from The Bible Project’s Holiness video.

The last pages of the Bible end with a final vision about God’s holiness… And in his vision we see the whole world made completely new. The entire earth has become God’s temple. And Ezekiel’s river is there flowing out of God’s presence, immersing all of creation, removing all impurity and bringing everything back to life.

Rev Dr Tim Mackie, co-founder of The Bible Project

Engaging Russell Moore—Is Universalism compatible with Christianity?

Below is my transcript of Christianity.com‘s interview of Pastor Russell Moore and my comments on his critique.


Universalism is the belief that ultimately everybody will be saved. There are several different stripes of Universalists.

Some Universalists believe everybody has been reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. So you are reconciled to God—the gospel simply tells you something that’s already true—that you’re reconciled to God. And so the point of Christianity then is to tell people—who are already saved—that they are saved. But ultimately everybody’s going to be saved—that’s one kind of universalism.

It’s refreshing that Moore acknowledges that there are different types of universalism and that Christian Universalists believe that the reconciliation to God is “through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus“, rather than trying to dismiss them as pluralists—the “all roads lead to Heaven” cliché.

One of the challenges that anyone reading the Bible faces is that it frequently describes things as both “now/already” and “not yet”. For example, is the Kingdom already here or has it not yet come? Are we already seated with Christ or not yet? Is evil already defeated or not yet? (For more examples see inaugurated eschatology). Many non-universalist Christians have taught the “now/already and not yet” also applies to salvation, in which case, universalist Christians may agree, albeit extending the scope of that the salvation to all of Creation (e.g. Parry—Church: a foretaste of the age to come).

Another kind of universalism says, “No, there is a hell but God is going to ultimately redeem everyone out of hell”—and some versions of this even the devil and his angels—that the love of God is so persistent that God will not rest until he has wooed back to himself even the most hardened sinner.

Again, I like that Moore presents a fair description. At the same time, I wouldn’t just say that “universalism says this” but that throughout the Bible God is constantly redeeming people out of hellish situations. Whether those situations are seen as “natural consequences” of evil or God’s punishment, the point remains that the pattern and precedent is of God not resting until he has wooed sinful people back to himself.

Universalism is appealing and it’s appealing to people for very good reasons. I mean the Satan never tempts us with something that is in and of itself evil—he has to find something that we want to be true or we’re drawn towards for good reasons and to simply to twist it out into something evil.

I agree with Moore that Satan does try to tempt us by twisting good things—I just don’t think that’s the case for universalism. It’s also an unhelpful argument because it could be used about almost anything. For example, one could claim any grace, or indeed Christianity itself, is simply “appealing to our compassion.” Or one could even assert that “Non-universalism is appealing because we instinctively like to see enemies destroyed—that it’s taking advantage of our desire for revenge.” Whether that’s true or not, I wouldn’t try to dismiss non-universalism on those grounds.

And with universalism, that is the fact that we’re supposed to be broken about the reality of hell. We’re supposed to be heartbroken for our neighbors and our friends and for those that we’ve never seen or heard about—who are dying apart from Christ. No one should take the reality of Hell with a lightness or with a disregard. Jesus doesn’t—he weeps over Jerusalem. So I think there’s often a good impulse behind someone who’s drawn toward universalism.

I think many universalists would agree, that our hearts should ache when we see lives spiralling downwards, that we be concerned about their future. At the same time, we don’t think anyone’s future is ultimately hopeless, as Christ works through Christians and the Spirit—in this age and the next, as I believe the following verse alludes to:

Both the Spirit and the bride [Christians] say, “Come!” Let anyone who hears, say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life freely.

Revelation 22:17, CSB

Problem is, it’s not true. The New Testament explicitly denies universalism.

Where?? What about the explicit affirmations of universalism? For example, Colossians 1, Philippians 2, Romans 5:18, and 1 Corinthians 15:22.

Our Lord Jesus speaks repeatedly about the reality of Hell, about the gravity of judgment and about the eternality of Hell—that the fire doesn’t go out, that this darkness never ends. And that goes all the way through all the Apostolic writings, right up until the final book in our ordering of the Canon—the revelation that Jesus gives to John—in which those who are cast into the lake of fire… again it is—Revelation 20—an eternal suffering, an eternal punishment—the smoke doesn’t end.

As Moore said himself, many Christian universalists don’t deny the reality of Hell or the gravity of judgment. However, they believe that the Bible teaches that Hell is not everlasting—that many translations have mistranslated key words based on their theology (e.g. Is Aionios Eternal?).

Fire in the Bible is primarily a positive image. For example:

The fire being unquenchable is, therefore, a good thing—we never want to stop what God is doing (cf. Immortal Worms & Unquenchable Fire).

Similarly, darkness is sobering but the Bible never describes it as “eternal”, on the contrary, it frequently describes its demise. For example, John reassures us that:

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John‬ ‭1:5

(I look at each “outer darkness” passage in Fiery Darkness).

Regarding Revelation 20, universalists point to Revelation 21 where the same people appear to have been redeemed (see Book of Life).

So I think we have to have broken hearts about those who are lost but our broken hearts ought to motivate us not to denial but to action. That means we need to be taking the gospel with urgency to our neighbors and to those around the world. So that there’s a feeling behind our mission—that’s kind of summed up in what the Apostle Paul talks about in 2nd Corinthians chapter 5, “I am pleading with you, begging you—literally—as though Christ were begging through me be reconciled to God.” That’s the answer to the heart brokenness that we feel and the weight that we feel about the reality of hell. I wish universalism were true but Jesus tells me it’s not and he knows.

I admire Moore’s passion for the lost and the call for action now, rather than ignoring the plight of others. I think he is reflecting God’s passion and action (both on the Cross and through the Spirit) for each and every person. Encouragingly, in the same chapter Moore cites, the Apostle Paul says:

[Christ] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

… that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.

2 Corinthians 5:15, 19a, NIV

I wish universalism were true but Jesus tells me it’s not and he knows.

If we fallen humans wish that ultimately everybody will be saved, just imagine how much more our merciful Father wishes it—and as God never fails, He achieves it too. I sincerely wish that all Christians would hope and pray that this comes about soon. I’m excited that Jesus doesn’t just tell us he will achieve this amazing feat but actually demonstrates and guarantees this glorious future in his resurrection.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!

For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

Ephesians 2:4-5, 1 CORINTHIANS 15:22, CSB

Are we hellbound monsters?—engaging Washer

Before we get started … [T]here are other people—in this room right now—who if they die, will be sent by the judgment of God straight into hell—where the grace of God is totally removed and they will be revealed as the monsters that they truly are.…

I’m concerned about one thing. One day each and every one of you will stand naked before a holy God and you will be judged. … [S]ome of you … will hear warning after warning after warning and you will not listen and you will die under the wrath of God and spend eternity in hell.

Paul Washer, Do you see God working on your life?

Certainly, an intense prelude to a sermon but is it biblical? Well, the Bible does warn us about God’s judgment and people do often ignore him… At the same time, the Bible reveals that each and every person is made in God’s image—indeed a child of God. Our Father isn’t a monster and therefore, neither are you!

Washer would probably acknowledge that at least currently, God is showing everyone grace. There are lots of examples but here are just two:

The Lord is good to everyone. He shows his mercy to everything he made.

Psalm 145:9, ERV

But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. He lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong.

Matthew 5:44-45, ERV

The question then becomes, is Washer right that God changes his attitude towards people and removes his grace? No, the Bible says God doesn’t change:

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

Numbers 23:19, NIV

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8, NIV

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17, NIV

Washer appears to be saying he is only concerned about “one thing”, namely God’s judgment. However, the Bible calls us to be concerned about many things, such as:

What about Washer’s claim that some people will “spend eternity in hell”? He doesn’t unpack that but it’s likely he is basing it on a common misinterpretation of the Greek word aionios. While many English translations often render aionios as “eternal”, when pressed scholars admit it literally means “pertaining to the next aion/aeon/eon/age”. It’s important to note that just because two things pertain to a particular age, doesn’t mean they have the same duration (e.g. tweeting and programming both pertain to the Information Age, but the former has only been around for about a decade, whereas the latter has been around for over a century). This is the case in Matthew 25:46, where the life and punishment both pertain to the next age but won’t have the same duration.

Aionios life is:

  • in the sustaining/renewing presence of God (Rev 21:23, 22:5)
  • immortal (2Tim 1:10)
  • without death (1Cor 15:26; 2Tim 1:10; Rev 20:14)
  • without rust and decay (Matt 6:20)
  • tied to our relationship with God (John 17:3)

Conversely, the duration of aionios punishment isn’t described in those terms and the Greek word translated “punishment” suggests it is corrective (see the second half of Pruning the Flock? and Punishment – Gr. Kolasis). It’s pertinent to ponder what the Bible reveals about the purpose of punishment. For example, we believe God “corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:12). Surely, this at least opens up the possibility that punishment in the next age could be corrective, educative, and restorative. Even severely unpleasant experiences can (if carefully managed) result in the good of the one receiving it (e.g. detox, chemotherapy, pruning, or refining).

I would suggest that a passage Washer quotes shows God transforming people for their good:

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

Ezekiel 36:26-27, NASB

Later Washer says, “when the holy God looks at sinful men, the only thing their sin motivates God to do is [to] judge them—to condemn them.” However, when Jesus looked at sinful men he was motivated to forgive:

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided his clothes and cast lots.

Luke 23:34, CSB

Likewise, the Apostle Paul says that God responded to our hostility with reconciliation:

Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds expressed in your evil actions. But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him

Colossians 1:21-22, CSB

For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.

Romans 5:10, CSB

Washer rightly recognises that “God saves us because he is a savior” but concerningly, says “first of all, God saves men in order to get glory out of that work.” While I agree that saving people is indeed a very glorious act (far more glorious than tormenting someone for eternity), my impression of God’s primary motivation is different. For example:

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.

John 3:16, CSB

As Washer’s sermon over an hour long, there’s a lot more I could engage with if I had time. However, I pray that my brief response at least encourages you to pause and test what he teaches against Scripture—may God bless you as you do so.

Mary Porterfield's painting of a volcanic hell
Painting by Mary Porterfield

Permit Me to Hope

Eclectic Orthodoxy

by Sinner Irenaeus (Brad Jersak, Ph.D.)

“That is all I ask of Orthodoxy—to permit me to hope.” — Fr. Aiden Kimel

After a decade of catechesis and struggle under the guidance of my spiritual father, Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, and godfather, David Goa, I was chrismated into the Orthodox Church in 2013. To some, the tutelage of these sages already disqualifies me, the rhetoric of unity of the Church notwithstanding. But I knew this. I proceeded with eyes wide open into the Orthodox Church despite her conflicts and dysfunctions. I proceeded because I felt drawn from my Evangelical foxhole into the harbor of Christian Orthodoxy, where I was exposed to a more Christlike God.

A key factor in the move was the assurance of some key Scriptures, catechisms and liturgies, along with a number of significant Orthodox saints, hierarchs and theologians, that Orthodoxypermits me to hope—that I could believe…

View original post 6,471 more words

Does God coerce people into loving Him?

No, “coerced love” is an oxymoron… but most people who ask the question already know that, so why do they ask? In my experience, as soon as I say, “God will save everyone”, people assume I’m saying God will have to use coercion to make that happen. However, if the person is a Christian, I’d want to ask them, “Did God coerce you into loving Him?” I suspect the answer will be “No”, so why do they think God has to do something different when it comes to other people?

They might object, “It must be different, as most people reject the Gospel that I’ve accepted.”

Only God really knows someone’s mind but I think that the reason that most people don’t want to be saved is that they are currently not fully experiencing their “choice”** of “independence from God”. God is blessing the rebellious in this age with “sunshine and rain” (Mt 5:45, cf Psalm 145:9, Luke 6:35, Acts 14:17, aka “common grace” ), patiently giving them an opportunity to turn to Christ (2Pet 3:9)—ideally today (2Cor 6:2).

However, for those who insist on being Prodigals (Luke 15:11-32), they will use up their inheritance (common grace) in the foreign land (this life) and end up with nothing in a pigpen (hell), where they’ll become hungrier and hungrier (perishing), until they realise even being a servant for the father (God) would be far better than the pigpen. Amazingly, not only will God accept their return, He forgives, washes, and restores them so that they come-of-age and begin to act as sons and daughters ought (I explore this in greater depth in Are only Christians children of God or is everyone??).

Withdrawing undeserved common grace isn’t coercion, it’s simply allowing someone to fully comprehend the reality of what “independence from God—Truth, Beauty, Love, Goodness, Joy, Light, Life, Mercy, and Justice” is actually like. The Bible repeatedly says that it won’t be a nice experience, and sometimes we get a taste of that now in our own lives. History is full of examples of what starts to unfold when people discard God.

I think one of the reasons God gives us our lives now is that He wants to spare us hell—learning the hard way that cutting off the branch that holds us up is catastrophic! There is a real opportunity for people to heed what God has already kindly revealed.

** I said “choice” but I think desiring “independence from God” only occurs when someone mistakenly thinks that there’s something worthwhile outside of God. When someone discovers there actually isn’t anything worthwhile apart from God, to continue on that path would then be irrational, especially as the further they went from the Light, the darker it became. A will that is enslaved to sin always rejects God, conversely a will that is freed always chooses God as it truly knows that is the only worthwhile path. Therefore, whenever God frees someone’s will, they start being in harmony with Him—the eternally and infinitely Free Will.

You could argue that I was not a free agent [when I converted], but I am more inclined to think that this came nearer to being a perfectly free act than most that I have ever done. Necessity may not be the opposite of freedom…

C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, 224

"Ram It Down" by Judas Priest

Was Bishop Curry preaching Universalism at the royal wedding?

Bishop Curry’s royal wedding sermon caused quite a stir—many loved it (e.g. Bishop Michael Curry reached two billion souls with the love of Christ), some condemned it (e.g. A star-turn offers the world ‘Christianity-lite’). One thing that caught my attention, was that he repeatedly said that Jesus “died to save us all!” (he also tweeted it) Was he promoting Universalism, the belief that Jesus will save each and every person who will ever exist?

If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul, just tell the love of Jesus, who died to save us all!

To figure that out, first we must ask, did he exclude anyone from the “all”? For example, did the “us” before it reduce the scope? Probably not, as he said:

God is the source of us all

And based on passages like Colossians 1:16, most Christians believe God is the source/Creator of everyone who will ever exist. It was also unlikely he was just thinking of the 2 billion people who were listening, as in the next sentence he said that God’s love embodied will result in:

a new world, a new human family

In fact, he mentioned human/humanity ten times in a 13-minute talk:

Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in all of human history … fire was one of the great scientific and technological discoveries in all of human history. Fire, to a great extent, made human civilization possible … made human migration around the world a possibility … the human ability and capacity to take fire and use it for human good … one of the greatest discoveries of all of human history … if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the energy of love, it would be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.

So assuming he thinks God wants “to save” everyone (1Tim 2:4), does that mean he thinks God will actually succeed? That’s harder to figure out but I think there are clues. Will our enslavement to sin stop God? Well, Curry sounded very optimistic when he said:

There’s power in Love to … liberate when nothing else will.

Will our spiritual and psychological delusions stop God? Again, Curry doesn’t seem to think so:

There is a balm in Gilead [Love] to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul… There is power in Love to help and heal when nothing else can.

Remembering that when Jesus healed during His ministry, He was primarily interested in people’s spiritual health—their “sin-sickness”—although He healed people physically too to demonstrate that He could do the former.

Are death and hell a hurdle for God? Probably not, as Curry said:

There’s power in Love to lift up [John 12:32] … when nothing else will.

Maybe Curry forgot about God’s justice? Well, five times he said love can be redemptive and four times he mentioned its sacrificial nature (1John 3:16)—explicitly in regards to Jesus’ death, which traditionally Christians see as fulfilling justice. He also proclaimed:

let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook.

Additionally, he talked about hospitality and addressing poverty—both commonly associated with justice in the Bible.

What about those who don’t want to be saved? Curry talked about Love transforming everything (you, your neighbours, the entire world) and even quoted Jesus who said: “you shall love God … with all your mind” (Mt 22:36-40, noting that “shall” implies something will happen in the future).

He also sees Love bringing Shalom.

we will lay down our swords and shields—”down by the riverside to study war no more”

However, that Shalom can only fully arrive when the last person in hell stops hating God.

There was one other statement that Curry made that I thought was at least suggestive of Universalism:

We were made by a power of Love. Our lives are meant to be lived in that lovethat’s why we are here. Ultimately, the source of love is God himself—the source of all of our lives.

If a luthier creates a guitar to play music, then the assumption is that it will fulfil its purpose. Likewise, as God created humans to love, it is perfectly reasonable to think that will happen eventually.

Rather than Universalism, was Curry actually preaching Pluralism—the belief that sin doesn’t matter for “every road leads to heaven”? I don’t think so. He made statements such as Jesus “died to save us”, “Love is the only way”, our “sin-sick soul” needs healing, and we need to be liberated by God (the Bible says we are enslaved to sin). Similarly, he discussed the need for transformation, which implies that all “roads/states-of-being” aren’t equally good.

So was Curry preaching Christian Universalism at the royal wedding? For the reasons I’ve given, I think he was, although it may not have been intentional. Often enthusiastic preachers who promote both God’s love for everyone and God’s infinite ability, end up preaching what is essentially Universalism.