Saturday, June 16, 2012

No Major Theologian for 1600 Years?

In fact, for over 1,600 years, hardly any major theologians argued that everyone will be saved.

Perhaps this statement, more than any other in Chan’s book, is a blatant sales pitch. It galls “the hell out of me.” And I have so much to say about it, I’m not sure where to even start in my rebuttal.

The last 1600 years sounds pretty impressive, yes?  “Hardly any” major theologians have argued that everyone will be saved. 

Wow…universalism must not be true then. 

But let’s think about this for a bit. The last 1600 years? Why pull that figure out of the “there is an eternal hell” hat? How many years is that after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Four hundred-ish?  So why start 1600 years ago? Why not go back closer to the beginning? You know…closer to the actual life…and death…of Jesus.

Wouldn’t there be less chance for errors and inaccuracies in the storyline?

The time period immediately following the birth of Christianity…the spread of Christianity…the early church days..wouldn’t that be the place to start looking?

And what coincides with the 1600 year thing?  Roughly around the time Constantine got the ball rolling and Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire.  The Edict of Thessalonica made Christianity the official religion and started the perversion that led to the Christian persecution of the pagans.  The Dark Ages.  And the Inquisition.  And the Witch Hunts.  And the Crusades.  Major theologians burning other theologians at the stake over theological disagreements…..using green wood, no less.  All in the name of Jesus. 

So he picks as his starting point, the darkest era of Christianity…possibly the darkest eras of human history to cherry pick theologians’ opinions about hell. 

Does that seem like a Kirby Sweeper sales pitch to you?  Does it seem disingenuous? 

I think he picked 1600 years ago as his starting point because, before that, the farther back you go, the closer to the actual life of Jesus and the early church, the more accepted and the more prevalent the doctrine of universalism was. 

Which will be the subject of my next post….

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