Why I’m Interested in Universal Salvation (Hint: it’s not from being too liberal)
I originally posted this as a comment on Fr. Kimel’s blog, but I realized this is my best telling of a couple of different life events that I have tried, sometimes with embarrassing fervor and long-windedness, to communicate before.
In this comment, I was responding to a commentor who said that in his understanding, saving faith is a gift, but those who go to hell do so because of their own choice. In other words, salvation is God’s choice; damnation is ours. I hope this helps someone. I said:
Everyone, in this view, starts out in the not-believing category. The pre-damned, as it were. God gives faith to some and not to others, for reasons we can’t fathom and aren’t supposed to wonder about.
I used to believe that. I had to face the possibility that I myself did not have true, effective faith and would never be given it. That perhaps my creation, my existence, was for the purpose of God glorifying himself, not by my salvation, but by my damnation – to show his righteousness and justice. After all, he had to have someone on which to demonstrate that holy and adorable attribute of his.
Still, even after the inside-out dark ecstasy of offering myself for eternal damnation, if that would glorify God, was spent, my rational side kicked in and I DID find myself wondering, even if I wasn’t supposed to…. why did God save so many fewer than he damned, especially if he had the power to save them all… did he have some kind of preference for damning people as opposed to saving them? That was against all the doctrine, but…
Then one day as I parked my car and looked out over the hills and fields behind my parents’ house, I had an apocalyptic vision of my own, suddenly bestowed and complete. I saw the final summation of all things within God’s will. I saw the Universe brought to its knees before God and everything gathered up in Christ – every creature in its place.
And off to the side, within that final, finished creation, I saw a bubble of unimaginable evil – not torment, to which I had uneasily reconciled myself through endless philosophizing – but evil. I saw a mass of people whose thoughts and intentions were only evil continually, who raged and fumed with evil, whose only bent was evil. And the more they suffered, the more evil they became, because they had been given no other way to respond to suffering. I also saw that God was the one who was sustaining that place of evil. He had prepared it, he had effectively populated it, and he was making sure it would be there forever, by means of that torment which continually increased the evil of the occupants.
I had this vision in a brief intense flash, and then it receded, but my whole soul had already risen in revolt. As I sat dumbstruck in my car I knew that it was over – I no longer believed in that God (never really had, perhaps) and would now have to find Someone Else to believe in.