I noticed recently that there are considerable and great discussions over universalism in the blogosphere. Patrik referred to D.W. Congdon's indexing of posts about univesalism on the ongoing discussion over this among blogging theologians and thinkers and... I was hooked.
My favorite is Jason's post about Gregory McDonald's book entitled "The Evangelical Universalist" and the engaging discussions that ensued after are not only enlightening but edifying as well. If you are a theology students or Bible teacher I recommend reading the posts in these links.
I have to confess however, that prior to reading these posts, my knowledge about universalism was so limited (it is still) and negative. I am an exclusivist by default although I always think that inclusivism is a good alternative. Now, I am open to change my stand about this. Let me explain this further. I came to know Jesus Christ in a very conservative and fundamentalist church. So the idea that salvation is possible outside faith in Jesus Christ is not an option. Exclusivism is the "only" correct option.
When I came to study at the seminary, I had the feeling that inclusivism, pluralism and especially universalism are great ideas but they are not to be held by any church leaders in my denomination. Even our theology professors at the seminary would not state their position about this matter and I understand them perfectly.
Universalism is identified with liberalism and liberalism is synonymous with heresy. If you give a hint in a group discussion among colleagues that you are a universalist they would look at you with disdain and without your knowing the next day you will be labeled as liberal. This is indeed a "career-ender" for any pastor or theology professor in my denomination.
However, after these interesting discussions in the blogosphere I really need to study deeper about universalism. I may not have the boldness and courage of a Gregoy McDonald (even he wrote the book under a pseudonym). But I do want to have a stand for or against universalism.
I have some questions though that have been going through my head ever since I started to study the Bible and theology. If God so loved the world, why would he just save all people? Is sending people to hell especially those who do not have a chance to hear the gospel (and there are so many of them) really in harmony with God's love, mercy and holiness? I know that others would argue that people made their decisions to accept or reject Christ and therefore suffer the consequent of their decisions. But if God is all-powerful why could he not save people from themselves? Does God's holiness and justice require hell? Does God delight that people who reject him go to hell? If he is not, then why allow this to happen?