Christian Universalism: Judas Iscariot

Christian Universalism: Judas Iscariot January 21, 2011

I know that I said I’d write this week about Christian Universalism and cosmologies, but this week has gotten away from me, what with the launch of Social Phonics and all.

Also, I’m leading the sermon discussion this Sunday at Solomon’s Porch, along with my dear friend Rabbi Joseph Edelheit, the official Rabbi of Solomon’s Porch.  I asked him to sit on the stools that spin with me this week because the text we’re to tackle is John 18, which is Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.  John is arguably the most anti-semitic Gospel, probably because it was authored decades after the synoptics and the Christians were intent on differentiating themselves from the Jews from which they had sprung.  (Judas=Jew-dus)

But it also occurred to me that Judas is a a perfect case study for exploring the possibility of Christian Universalism.  Judas’s place in history is notorious, and he became more and more the scourge of Christian history.  For example, Dante puts Judas in the lowest ring of hell, head first in Lucifer’s mouth, being eternally chewed by Satan but never consumed.  Sounds like Hell to me.

One of the arguments against Universalism is, How could a God who believes in justice allow Hitler to not be in Hell?  That rather contemporary question is superseded in Christian history by the same question about Judas.

We definitely have some Judas sympathizers at Solomon’s Porch who agree with Andrew Lloyd Webber that Judas was, in fact, a tragic hero, so I’m sure that it will be a very interesting conversation on Sunday evening.

But my question here is an important one for the consideration of Christian Universalism: Is is palatable to worship a God who allows Judas (and Hitler) to enjoy eternal life in God’s presence?

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  • Well, I think that this post is a good follow-up post to Jay’s book post. I bought the book and had it shipped express (got it last night). I am on about page 75 and I would answer your bold with the word of Grace.

    I am scared and hesitant at time to step into the realm of universalism because of my very conservative up-bringing. But, I would rather love/serve a God who show “dying” love to all then to love/serve a God who severly punishes.

    I have not a clue.

  • trandyrandy

    Only if they have been Justified. God is actually MORE worthy of worship if he is able to justify and sanctify men like Hitler. All of us have the capabilities within us to commit the same acts.
    Universalism doesn’t make sense because there are many that would prefer NOT to be in the presence of God (believe it or not, yes it is true). I would agree with C.S. Lewis on this.
    It is NOT palpable to worship a god who would bring all in “just as they are without one shred of repentance” because then you are locking the rape victim in with the rapist, and the jew in with the nazi. That is no heaven, and no heavenly kingdom. It is earth part 2. We enter the Holy of Holies, partly, to escape sin. If we bring sin in with us, it is just a room like any other room, and there is no just God there.

  • Suggested music for your discussion Sunday: Tom Waits’ “Down There by the Train.”

    There’s a golden moon that shines up through the mist
    And I know that your name can be on that list
    There’s no eye for an eye, there’s no tooth for a tooth
    I saw Judas Iscariot carrying John Wilkes Booth
    He was down there by the train
    Down there by the train
    Down there by the train
    Down there by the train
    He was down there where the train goes slow

    If you’ve lost all your hope, if you’ve lost all your faith
    I know you can be cared for and I know you can be safe
    And all the shamefuls and all of the whores
    And even the soldier who pierced the side of the Lord
    Is down there by the train
    Down there by the train
    Down there by the train
    Down there by the train
    Down there where the train goes slow

    I suppose it’s possible, of course, that Tom has imagined and embraced a mercy even greater than God is capable of imagining, but God < Tom Waits strikes me as an awkward position to have to defend.

  • I just don’t see how any Christian can follow Christ’s teachings and yet want anyone, even Judas or Hitler, to be denied eternal life in God’s presence. It’s playing the part of the disgruntled brother of the prodigal son, or the day laborers called early in the day. Now it might be that damnation exists aside from what we want, but it seems the requirement of every Christian is to hope and pray for universalism to be true.

  • Scot Miller

    The real problem with eternal punishment is justice. Is it reasonable or just for God to punish someone with infinite and eternal punishment for the finite and temporal evil committed by someone? While it may be the case that everyone deserves to go to hell for a day or two before getting to heaven (a tongue-in-cheek proposal made by my theology professor in seminary), it seems unreasonable to punish someone for all eternity for a finite amount of evil. After all, the legacy of the most horrible human beings to have lived–people like Hitler or Pol Pot (I’m not sure Judas fits this category)–is not only finite, but their evil acts may have motivated acts of goodness and redemption and other attempts to overcome evil (e.g., Bonhoeffer, the story of Anne Frank, Elie Wiesel, etc.). Can any human evil be genuinely beyond God’s redemption? Is it better to worship a God who rightly condemns evil-doers to an eternal punishment for their finite crimes, or a God who eternally works to redeem the evildoers?

    On the other hand, the biggest problem I see with universalism is that it would make human freedom and human responsibility meaningless. If there are no consequences for my decisions, if it doesn’t matter whether I follow God in this life or reject God and life a life of evil because I will end up redeemed, then my freedom is an illusion and my choices are meaningless.

    So perhaps the idea that people can go to hell for a little while may not be as silly as it first sounds (temporary purgatory, anyone?). Perhaps we need to be reincarnated in different universes in an eternal cycle of birth-death-rebirth to progress into God’s presence (a suggestion I think was made by John Hick).

    But if freedom is part of the essential nature of human beings, it seems to me that even in “heaven” there will be the possibility of sinning and falling away. After all, that’s what the myth of Lucifer and the fallen angels holds (i.e., one can be in the very presence of God and turn against God). So I’m not so sure that the story will be over even if someone makes it into heaven.

    So maybe it makes more sense to say that Hell is not a place of eternal, self-conscious torment, but the annihilation of one’s being. And maybe heaven is becoming a positive memory in the mind of God. (As I’ve said before, I have my doubts about self-conscious immortality….)

  • The glory of God is in his ability to create beauty from ashes. That which man would trample upon in this life, God is able to make amazing in the next. That is a God that renders hope to me, a God worthy of worship. A God who only knows how to punish wrong-doers for ever and ever is not worthy of worship, but disdain.

  • The topic of universalism or other related ideas usually comes back to justice. Most, however, would see justice as hitler getting what he deserves. But I think biblical justice and judgment seem to be more concerned with making things right. I can’t think of one incident in jesus’ ministry where he displays our sense of “judicial system” type justice, but rather, through his love, grace, and acceptance of all… Seems to bring people face to face with their sins which could be considered judgment.

    I believe in the recreation of ALL things, but I am not sure if the recreation process will include people being able to completely reject God and therefore being consumed and non-existent.

  • Also, I am a little sympathetic to judas as well.

  • Jim

    Hmm. Frankly, I don’t think God is accountable to our palates. What gives us the right to sit in judgment over who God damns or saves? Our perfect wisdom?

    Really, how can we extol “epistemic humility” and then make theological decisions based on what we, personally, find palatable? Isn’t that, like, the extreme opposite of epistemic humility?

    Sorry, this question just got me riled up.

  • nathan

    Adolf and Judas didn’t sit in the proverbial sandbox and dream of becoming monsters/betrayers.

    I think the possibility of a redeemed universe wherein Adolf Hitler is finally freed and healed to simply be the quiet painter he tried to be as a young man is a hope for sweeping redemption and beautiful reversal–Not because he “deserves” it (either by way of his deeds or the end result of “justification”), but because he would embody the riches of God’s relentless, pursuing Grace.

    The mechanism for this change and return ends up meaning we have to see “hell” as chastisement/correction…but that’s another component of the discussion.


    just my nickel…

  • Richard

    I’m a universalist and I hold onto two beliefs pretty strongly:

    1) Salvation is through Christ. I think there is only one road to the Father: The Way, the Truth and the Life.

    2) Hell exists for the punishment of sin. That is, people like Hitler will “get what they deserve.”

    The issue with universalism, in my view, isn’t about the sufficiency of Christ or the reality of hell. Universalism is simply about time. More specifically, it is about the defeat of death. In “orthodox” soteriologies death controls the the moral clock. The timing of death “fixes” your ultimate fate. Universalism is simply the assertion that that death–as the cosmic moral timepiece–has been defeated. That there will be plenty of time for crime and punishment issues and for every tongue to confess that Jesus is Lord.

    Universalism isn’t about doctrines associated with Christ or hell. It’s about who controls time: Death or God?

  • Is is palatable to worship a God who allows me to enjoy eternal life in God’s presence?

    If the answer to this question is, “Yes,” then we can only hope the answer to your question is also, “Yes.” For we have all sinned against God and our neighbors, the only difference is how often and to what extent.

  • Yes, I think such a thing is palatable. I don’t find anything troublesome about assuming that a God of justice, grace, and forgiveness would welcome even the most heinous sinner.

    However, your posts on this topic keep skirting around the fundamental questions. For a postmodern Christian that rejects (or avoids) metaphysics: what do we make of the various systems of belief that suggest so definitively that what happens after death is either eternal life in God’s presence or eternal life in hell? You need to deal with the role of ancient and medieval cosmologies and mythologies in shaping these scenarios. You need to deal with the fact that the Bible is far from definitive or consistent on what happens after we die.

    I think that missional Christians–mainline, evangelical, emergent, or otherwise–should bag this whole conversation altogether. I don’t think that Jesus was really all that concerned about the afterlife. I think Jesus was much more interested in the kingdom of God coming into existence in the here and now. But it didn’t take Christianity long to shift focus to the afterlife and we have been on that track far too long.

    What is the value of the endless mental gymnastics it takes to talk about these issues (in any other way than straightforward fundamentalism) when people around the world are suffering? Aren’t the needs of these people what Jesus calls us to meet? Isn’t that what salvation is really about?

  • trandyrandy

    Is it just to force worship upon those who have no desire to do so? That doesn’t sound right at all. Universalism is equal predestined forced worship. Sounds like an abusive marriage.

  • For me, I accept the logical possibility of knowingly and deliberately separating oneself from God (which is what the Satan myth is about), while doubting the practically probability of such (if one had all the facts, why wouldn’t one choose to abide in God’s love?). So I wouldn’t call myself a universalist, although I suspect (but do not and cannot know) that if there is a Hell, it is empty.

    But then I butt up the question of whether salvation and the afterlife (if it exists) have anything to do with each other in any case, and it seems necessary to answer that first. (If salvation merely refers to a right relationship with God in this life, it seems unquestionable–and also fairly unproblematic–that not all are saved.)

  • Matt

    Have thought about this one quite a bit. Isn’t it our own personal experience of conversion that it is a both/and type of encounter rather than an either/or one?
    The most profound experiences of God/grace that I have had in my life contained within them boundless joy and connectedness while at the same time leaving me painfully aware of my need for greater awareness and authenticity and deep healing. I see our encounter with the fullness of God’s light and love post mortem as a continuation and completion of this process. God’s love to me is both heaven and hell depending on the mode of the receiver. I can’t imagine anyone not eventually being taken in by the unadulterated love and life of the divine. Quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur.

  • Love, in its myriad forms, will at times look unpalatable. God is love, not justice. Justice may be encompassed or eclipsed by love, but it’s never the whole story.

  • Two things repeatedly leap into my mind when this topic comes up: in one of Peter’s letters (I’m terrible at remembering exact citations), he notes that when Jesus’ body was entombed, his spirit was in hell, preaching to those who had died before the Flood. As I recall, Orthodox icons sometimes portray the resurrection not by showing Jesus or the empty tomb, but by showing the dead rising from hell/underground, and among them are some pre-New Testament figures. And I’ve read of a recent tangent on all of this that suggests Christ’s present ministry (while he’s waiting for whatever-it-is that Revelation really promises, and the Spirit is providing his presence here on earth) may be to continually evangelize those who have died outside a state of grace.

    Second, of course, is C. S. Lewis’ wonderful but oft-forgotten book “The Great Divorce.” It’s not God who keeps us in hell, Lewis suggests, but we ourselves who will not give up whatever-it-is that makes heaven unpalatable.

  • TrandyRandy comes closest to what seems to me the predominant Orthodox Christian view. There’s a substantial chance that neither Judas nor Hitler could tolerate the presence of God, let alone find it paradise.

  • John Vest,

    I sympathize with your comments about “bagging” the conversation and focusing on the here and now. I’m not yet a Universalist; I still feel a bit agnostic about it. But I do feel like getting our eschatology straight matters to some degree.

    To indulge my imagination for a moment: if more Christian leaders began to preach that becoming a Christian was not the equivalent of becoming eternally secured in heaven, and that many non-Christians guilty of unbelief would share this new world with us, would that “up the ante” for the kind of life demanded of a Christian? Newbigin has helped reframe “election” for me, seeing the Church as more of a community called to give tangible demonstrations of the end—of God’s Kingdom come. What if it was more deeply embraced that being a Christian means a life of increasing holiness, active love, and compassion for the suffering aided by the accountability of a community, rather than simply being “secured” or “resting in God’s grace?”

    Maybe we would see less seeker-sensitive churches and more communities committed to spiritual formation, for example. Maybe the church would become more of a reconciling presence with a more curious rather than defensive spirit in relation to other faiths and people groups.

    That’s why I believe the discussion matters. It seems like understanding the end helps us better understand our Christian identity. But, maybe such a “revolution” would not coincide with such a theological adjustment. People are busy with their lives; some people seem to feel only anxiety at the thought of a more demanding Christian life, not hopeful optimism. Maybe churches would even begin to empty if being a Christian became “harder.”

    What do you think?

  • Darrell

    The Gospel According to Judas: Is There a Limit to God’s Forgiveness? by Ray Anderson

    an interesting read

  • Justin

    I think a question that needs to be asked (and maybe you’ve saved this for another post) is: would human beings who spent a lifetime rejecting the grace of God even want it in the next?

    Also, someone earlier said they didn’t understand why Christians could follow Jesus and yet want people to be denied eternal life. This might be true of some folks, but many of us who affirm the existence of hell find it to be one of those doctrines we wish we could remove from the Bible. If we talk about it, it’s because we DON’T want people to end up there.

  • John Edmonds

    I think you are being provocative for exposure purposes. The way you treat doctrine, with all the knowledge you’ve accumulated, Tony, the word of God has no hold on what you will or will not believe. What you will teach, or not teach. You’re going to muddy the water and go wherever you want to go.

  • from comment 2: “Universalism doesn’t make sense because there are many that would prefer NOT to be in the presence of God (believe it or not, yes it is true).”

    There are many versions of “universalism,” but the forms of Christian universalism that many of us accept — and that Tony may have in mind by his use of “Christian universalism” — do *not* hold that anyone will be dragged to heaven against their preference. These are forms on which personal acceptance of God is required. They just hold that, eventually at least, all will so accept. (So these are views on which saving acceptance can and often will happen after death.) And no unrepentant, either.

  • Dan Hauge

    The short answer for me is yes, it’s quite palatable. For me, the struggle isn’t so much about people getting what they ‘deserve’, or don’t, after death–it’s how the conceptions of hell and heaven (which, for the record, I don’t think best reflect the biblical understanding) are presented as being so permanent and irrevocable. The God who seems to be all about long-term redemption, pursuing his creation over centuries, apparently reaches a point where people’s “status” gets fixed, with no more possibility of change or healing.

    Even with a very ‘full plenary inspiration’ view of Scripture, I believe it is possible to be agnostic about the permanence of hell, or however you want to name a post-death state of being separate from God. Even all the texts about fire and utter darkness don’t absolutely insist that there is never any coming out of those states. The only text, to my knowledge, that really does insist on a permanent separation is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. There Jesus has Abraham saying “between us a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from there to you cannot.”

    So there you have it, but I do question whether you can use this text to give us some kind of straight description of what happens after death. First of all, it *is* a parable, not Jesus expounding on eschatology (as he sometimes does, speaking about the ‘age to come, and the resurrection of the dead). Second, the main point of the parable has to do with the reversal of rich and poor–those who appear blessed or rejected in the present life may find a drastically different fate in the consummation of Christ’s kingdom. Finally, emphasizing the ‘great chasm’ seems, rhetorically speaking, to be setting up the punch line of the story–that those who are not convinced of their need to repent now will not be helped ‘even if someone rises from the dead’ (which I believe Luke is directing toward others of his own day who are not convinced by Jesus’ resurrection). In any case, the permanent divide, while part of the narrative architecture of the parable, does not seem to be the primary point of the teaching.

    Plus, I believe a narrative read of the whole Bible, taking into account the different moves God makes throughout Israel’s history, points to the idea that even boundaries which God seemed to set in place (such as purity regulations, and the importance of Jews separating themselves from other peoples) can be broken by that same God in the interest of fuller redemption and restoration. Is it not possible that further ‘boundary breaking’ is possible in the future, in whatever the new creation age looks like? And while it may not be possible, from a strict reading of Scripture, to be certain of such a possibility, is there not enough suggestion there of the nature of God and his ways to be hopeful?

  • John Edmonds

    Got to thinking about it. You are accusing the Gospels of being bigoted. I guess you could say John’s gospel is the least Jew hating of the Four.

  • Chuck

    I don’t think I can conceive of a worse eternal punishment for Adolf Hitler than to be stuck in Heaven and having to listen to Dietrich Bonhoffer.

  • Melody

    John Edmonds, you should be ashamed of yourself. I kept silent on some of your comments in other posts, but here you go too far. Tony has in no way accused the gospels of bigotry, nor does he ask provocative questions just for “exposure.” He’s simply raising questions that challenge traditional interpretations of Scripture, because tradition could have it wrong. That’s exactly what Jesus did when he said “You have heard it said…, but I tell you…” He was accused of having a demon because he took a more progressive view of the Torah. I’m not equating Tony with Jesus, but you’re treading dangerous ground when you condemn an honest man for asking honest questions.

  • John Edmonds

    ” John is arguably the most anti-semitic Gospel” – Tony Jones (see above article)

    Well if John is the most, then the other Gospels are too, but not as much.

    Antisemitism: is prejudice against or hostility towards Jews often rooted in hatred of their ethnic background, culture, and/or religion. In its extreme form, it “attributes to the Jews an exceptional position among all other civilizations, defames them as an inferior group and denies their being part of the nation[s]” in which they reside.

    Tony will go antagonistic towards most, if not all, orthodox teachings of American Christianity, Protestant Christianity, Orthodox Christianity, and Roman Catholic Christianity core doctrines. What he teaches and confesses will always be deconstructive and oppositional.

    Money will come Tony’s way by being the “other,” never the “same.” I think he’s finding out how hard the ministry is and is angry.

    I am accurate in what I say. I would like to see different though. I’d be glad if I’m wrong.

  • John Edmonds

    PS. Tony isn’t Jesus.

  • One thing to keep in mind here is how easy it is for humans to get caught up in the perpetrating of horrible evils; the Milgram experiments [ ] are relevant here.

    Victims and (perhaps even more so) the loved ones of victims of horrible evils may find the idea of the perpetrators of these evils ever escaping hell revolting. (This of course doesn’t apply to all of the victims or loved ones of victims: some are astoundingly gracious about this.) I think that those of us who hold that even the perpetrators of the worst evils of this world may eventually be reconciled with their victims & with God should recognize that the resistance these people feel to our view can be coming from a good place — concern for the victims — even as we think it is ultimately wrong.

    I imagine some of loved ones of the victims of Saul of Tarsus’s greatest abuses might have had trouble with the idea of his ever getting into heaven.
    (“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem…”)

  • Michael

    To riff off of a previous comment, there may be no limit to God’s forgiveness but there is certainly a limit to Judas’ repentance. Even Aslan couldn’t convince the dwarves. The suggestion that eventually everyone will succumb to God’s love is an enticing one, but I don’t see how scripture gives any warrant for it. We should strive to be no less merciful than God is, but also no more.

  • To perhaps belabor the obvious, Aslan is a fictional character in a children’s storybook written by an anti-reason misogynist.

  • maboswell, I agree with pretty much everything you say. When I talked about “bagging” the conversation, I guess the conversation I meant is the one about end time scenarios dependent on ancient mythologies. Unless we want to go back to believing in a flat earth, we need to be a little more critical about our afterlife scenarios. You are right to say that being clear about the end is important. But for me, the end isn’t a mythologized heaven and hell. I’m much more compelled by the new world you describe, and I agree that it would “up the ante” for Christian living.

    In preparation for a sermon I preached yesterday, I spent some time reading Rudolf Bultmann’s work on demythologizing the New Testament. I was familiar with his project, but hadn’t read much of it firsthand. It is clearly pertinent for this conversation and I recommend a deeper engagement with his theology.

  • Ah…gotcha. Thanks John. What you are saying makes a lot of sense. And thanks for the Bultmann tip. I’ve read enough authors who’ve been influenced by him, it’s probably time I checked him out.

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  • Francis

    To me the answer to the question is very simple. Both heaven and hell are eternal and perfect. And nothing that can be done in this finite and imperfect world is infinite or eternal. Not by you, me, Hitler, Judas, or anyone else. Therefore hard-edged justice leads to no one deserving either heaven or hell.

    So we come to the question. If someone, anyone goes to heaven the consequences will be infinitely better than they deserve – and if they go to hell the consequences will be infinitely worse, crueller, and more evil. Is the God you worship someone who will be infinitely more evil to someone than they deserve as a “punishment”? Does your God commit infinite evil on those undeserving of it? Because that is what Hell is. Therefore if Hitler is in an Eternal Hell, God is committing an infinite and unjust evil. Which means that the choice is between dropping the dualism and allowing Purgatory (now if you were to give Hitler a million years in purgatory, living the life of all people his had brought to a premature end, that might be just) or a God who is simply infinitely good rather than infinitely and arbitrarily evil to those he doesn’t like.

    As for Judas, Ne’er had that apple by Adam eaten been… There’s a reason (if my memory doesn’t fail me) he’s a Saint in the Orthodox Church

  • Jake

    Francis et all, It seems to me that there is no logical problem with God “sentencing” humans to eternal destinations. The justice is in the fact that all sin is an affront against the holiness of an eternal God.

  • Francis

    The justice is in the fact that all sin is an affront against the holiness of an eternal God.

    I have a simple rule. One of the things about greatness is the ability to cope with problems. It’s the same principle whereby stealing $50 from Bill Gates is less important than stealing the same amount from a beggar although both are wrong. If the mere presence of non-personally directed sin is that great an offence against the holiness of God, then that means that God’s holiness makes him the meanest and pettiest being anywhere. Not worthy of worship so much as pity.

  • Jake

    If the mere presence of non-personally directed sin is that great an offense against the holiness of God, then that means that God’s holiness makes him the meanest and pettiest being anywhere.

    It seems to me that there is a very real difference between a sin as understood in a temporal setting and a sin that endures eternally.
    For Bill Gates and me $50.oo is indeed a very different offense once, but if for Bill the $50.00 was stolen every millisecond of the rest of eternity then the score would be equalized quickly.

    My thought is that because God is eternal all sin endures eternally against him. So God’s inability to square problems of an eternal offense with His Holiness becomes a larger affair.

    I know I sound like a Fundy but I am trying to look at this issue from a logical perspective. I agree heartily with the emotional problems of sending someone to eternal damnation. It is hard for me to understand the justice in such an act from my temporal perspective. However, this forum seems to focus more on rational problems with God’s act of justice.

  • Bizzy Bender

    I have been investigating the Gospel of Inclusion or Universalism for over 10 years now and I am completely at peace with my faith in such a Gospel wherein God loves too much and with the idea that Christ was able to do what He set out to do, which is save the world. I have asked all the questions and came up with answers that leave God in His rightful place and leave me with an overwhelming love for my Creater King that I chose not to sin even though I am free to sin. As far as justice is concerned I have come to the conclusion that God’s ways are not man’s ways and that God who loves without condition will not punish the unrepentant sinner eternally and He most certainly will not reject and cast aside those who do not say the magic words in this lifetime. There is far too much really bad news in what the Evangelicals call Good News.
    All I know is that since I have received this new Gospel in my spirit, I have known such joy and peace.
    Read The Gospel of Inclusion by Carlton Pearson
    He addresses many questions and makes a compelling case for this Gospel and his story of what it cost him is great

  • Van

    Is Judas in heaven? God’s grace is so expansive he can forgive sins before they are repented; even before they are committed (Isa 65:24; Jn 8:10-11; Rom 9:10-16). And according to Ezekiel 36:16-22, God has been known to forgive sinners who didn’t deserve forgiveness.

    See the book: “Judas Iscariot: Revisited and Restored.”
    By Ivan Rogers
    Available from Xulon Press

  • Bizzy Bender

    I have been a convert to Universalism for about 10 years now and have wrestled with all the questions and investigated the Scriptures and have really settled into a place of great joy and peace and have great confidence that this is the ultimate mystery of God. Yes we are free to do what we please with the life God has given us but when you come to believe in this God whose love is inescapable you want only to love, honor and serve Him in response to his great love. The Word says that one day every knee will bow and ever tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord and every means everyone who has ever lived. When we finally see Him face to face we will be like him and our reponse will be to worship Him.
    I recommend reading the Gospel of Inclusion by Carlton Pearson if you want to get a better understanding of Universalism
    And I can’t wait for Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins
    I have preordered my copy

  • Van

    In hell there grew a Judas tree where Judas hanged and died,
    Because he could not bear to see his Master crucified.
    Our Lord descended into hell, and found his Judas there,
    For ever hanging on the tree grown from his own despair.
    So Jesus cut his Judas down and took him in his arms,
    “It was for this I came,” he said, “And not to do you harm.
    My Father gave me twelve good men, and all of them I kept,
    Though one betrayed and one denied, some fled and others slept.
    In three days’ time I must return to make the others glad,
    But first I had to come to hell and share the death you had.
    My tree will grow in place of yours, its roots lie here as well,
    There is no final victory without this soul from hell.”
    So when we all condemn him as of every traitor worst,
    Remember that of all his men, our Lord forgave him first.*

    * Poem by Dr. Ruth Etchells: former Principal of St. John’s College, University of Durham.

    Is Judas in heaven? See the book entitled, “Judas Iscariot Revisited and Restored.” Authored by Ivan Rogers. Available from Xulon Press.

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  • Matteo Masiello

    What’s more important to God, justice or mercy? If God is merciful, then His mercy trumps His justice. Mercy is the withholding of justice. If God were not merciful, He would not be just. His Grace and suffering would be irrelevant and He doesn’t deserve to be the I AM that He is.