Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Universalism and Contrition

Brandon has a pair of interesting posts (part 1, part 2) dealing with an argument that had been put forth (in a book and on another blog) for universalism (the idea that all will be saved.) The argument itself is novel, though I don't think it works well for reasons that Brandon points out. Briefly put, the proponents argue that heaven must be perfect bliss, yet the bliss of the saved would be marred if they were aware that some souls were suffering in hell, and thus all must be saved or else no one will truly experience the bliss of heaven.

I through Brandon's response was very good, but the point which interested me most was actually something of a side note. He says right near the beginning:
It's worth noting in most of these discussions that, just as original sin is formally lack of original justice and materially concupiscence (craving for lesser goods) arising from such a lack, so hell is formally lack of contrition and materially penalty intrinsic or appropriate to such a lack. Everything else is either fully or partly symbolic, and no serious universalism is possible unless it accounts for universal contrition. (Most universalists don't even make an attempt at such an account, but a few -- like George MacDonald or Hans Urs von Balthasar -- do.)
It strikes me that most claims that all must be saved center either around the idea that no one really sins all that seriously, or that God would be cruel to send anyone to hell even if they weren't contrite for their sins. Perhaps this is in part because people tend to have difficulty conceiving of hell as simply being the state of being eternally unrepentant (and the suffering being that which that would naturally imply.) Brandon's observation that any account of universalism must somehow include and account of universal contrition strikes me as very much on point. Obviously, one once gets to universal contrition, universal salvation is no problem at all. My own severe doubt that all could be saves is simply a doubt that all would be contrite.

1 comment:

bearing said...

Concise, straightforward, and (one would think) pretty easy to explain.