Saturday, December 17, 2011

She let it slip that she's a universalist. Given the subject matter - the Book of Revelation - I could understand and wasn't too surprised. The rest were stunned, however, mistakenly thinking she'd have them also adopt universalism. She had no such intention. They sought to disabuse her of her position, citing various Scriptures. Her own son, who had arranged for her to teach at his parish, professed to being as surprised as everyone. "She sees things this way since I've left home!"

But she did persuade some people, I'm sorry to say. Not that I'm so opposed to universalism, but they ended up arriving at the worst conclusions. Must be they just haven't read the books I've read.

For instance, one of them, trying on how universal salvation might work after one died, decided that encountering the overpowering love of God - in the context of a judgment, keep in mind! - would win over absolutely anyone. Well, not according to C. S. Lewis, in a couple of places:
"The point is not that God will refuse you admission to His eternal world if you have not got certain qualities of character: the point is that if people have not got at least the beginnings of those qualities inside them, then no possible external conditions could make a 'Heaven' for them." (emphasis mine)
It's a little like, "It takes one to know one." Emphatically, opposites do not attract.

So, Lewis again:
"For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. ... That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not." (emphasis mine)
With the recent passing of Christopher Hitchens, I'm reminded that there's much in Scripture and Tradition to caution us against universalism.

6 comments:

Barbara Schoeneberger said...

The Church has always taught that there are no second chances after we die. Our wills are fixed at the time of death. If we have chosen God, then no matter how imperfect we are when we die, heaven will be ours. But if we die in the state of mortal sin, we have chosen not God but self, and we will not see heaven. God in His infinite mercy will always give many chances for repentance, but we have to choose Him in this life. So I believe this poor lady is promoting heresy. Maybe the pastor can relieve her of her confusion. But I wonder why she is choosing to believe this in the first place.

Moonshadow said...

Accommodating reactions to her position sounded very much like "second chances," which I'm sensitive to.

It was all I could do not to quote the Catechism at her because I had just read Paragraph 1021 in that week's homework for the Jeff Cavin's Revelation study:

"Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ. (2 Tim 1:9-10)"

I chose to take her study and Cavin's simultaneously because I knew the faults in each would counteract each other.

I feel bad for the others who seem ignorant of Church teaching and are taking her word as "gospel." She got purgatory wrong, as well, a few weeks back but I couldn't think how to correct her. I can't always lay my finger on what I've learned, but I had heard an understandable explanation of purgatory last summer from Dr. Prusak at Villanova.

She does seem a little willful in her position but she's not clergy or religious. We're allowed to be wrong about stuff. And most of us are.

kathleenbasi.com said...

I always think discussions like this woman brought up are a distraction from the real work of pursuing holiness. Why get caught up in the fine line between just in time and too late? Our job isn't to split the hair, it is to personally pursue holiness here and now.

Understand I'm not fussing at you, but at the discussions that ppl spend so much time getting bent out of shape over instead of trying to be holy. I'm having trouble articulating my thoughts here; do I make any sense at all?

Moonshadow said...

She let it slip, Kathy. I don't think she intended to discuss it so extensively. I often get frustrated with how this group of professionals, mostly North Jersey types, don't let anything slide and beat every issue to death. We frequently get off on tangents. They call this "informal" and it suits them.

But I found the underlying group dynamic interesting: whenever someone raises a controversial issue, if those opposed can't find convincing counterarguments, they end up agreeing. People are too easily persuaded. Me, I'm stubborn - don't bother me with evidence to the contrary! :-)

intostillness said...

Not according to C.S. Lewis, not according to the Roman Catholic Church but most importantly not according to Jesus. We tend to forget how sin dims the intellect, so we can think we are thinking clearly and compassionately, but in actuality the Evil One is lying to us and we are listening.
The Truth is not a universal reality. The Truth is a Person, Jesus the Christ, True Man and True God. Thanks for the opportunity to say that.

Moonshadow said...

I read Fr. James Martin's reflection on Christopher Hitchen's death at America.

Among the comments, mention was made of "second chance" - at heaven? In the comments, Fr. Malloy, S. J., is the biggest advocate for universal salvation, even more than the article itself. Also in the comments, Fr. Ryan Hall disagrees with Fr. Martin's thoughts on the afterlife.

intostillness, I won't comment on sin clouding one's intellect but only, again, falling upon the humility of C. S. Lewis:

“It is, of course, quite true that God will not love you any less, or have less use for you, if you happen to have been born with a very second-rate brain.”