Thursday, October 06, 2005

Newbigin and Universalism

Having just posted on how I was really enjoying reading Newbigin, but that he wasn't saying anything that I hadn't already absorbed from his previous writings, his next chapter on Election, has me really struggling in deep water. He writes on how Election should not be a doctrine which creates self-satisfied people, but that God elects some in order to bring salvation to all (drawing upon Romans 11). In the last page of the chapter, he then brings up the question that everyone must be asking: Does his doctrine of election lead to Universalism - is every individual saved?

He is clear that he realises that some people will be not be saved, but he doesn't want to say who. He does not even want to say what sort of people! However, he notes with approval that Paul worried about his salvation, and thinks Christians should do likewise. He likes the fact that in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25), both the saved and lost are suprised by their fate (in his view). He also likes the fact that when Jesus is asked whether there will be few or many who are saved, Jesus' doesn't answer but encourages the questioner himself to seek the narrow way (Luke 13:23ff).

I am very confused about what to think. He seems to be saying a lot of true things, but I don't think he can be right. Skiping forward, I discover that this does not affect his zeal for mission, as he thinks that mission is human-centered when concerned with saving souls, when it should be concerned with giving glory to God, which comforts me a little.

Because he wrote so much, he repeated much of what he said so you can read him on Universalism from page 9-11 here, thanks to, or read his answers to some related questions (2 and 4) here. If anyone has any insights please tell me, I think I will have to ring my uni friend who introduced me to Newbigin, and see what he has to say.

On top of the Universalism point he said a couple of other things in what I read last night which made me sit up and think...Just when I was getting comfortable with him!


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