This is nothing more than an impression, but I have just begun Hans Urs Von Balthasar’s Dare We Hope, I’ve been reading a lot about David Bentley Hart (still), and I have been thinking about universalism, a concept that anyone should be open to being hopeful about—a stance that is a few steps removed from assenting.
The chief point of an eschatology is not a forensic examination of what happens to the soul after death, but how we ought to live here and now, today. In many ways, eschatologies have everything to do with suffering, and resolving the dissonance—the oh so painful dissonance—between being a creature made from and for love and the experience of suffering.
The universalist arguments currently at play do not seem to me to take a truly serious view of human suffering in this life here and now. Human suffering is not a tension we are supposed to explain away or leap over. Rather, like Job, we are called to dwell in the midst of the terrible tension of praying to the God who swears to protect every hair on our head, even as people we love die, as our bodies are crushed, as our hearts are hurt. What sort of loving God is this? This is the questions that Job asks, this is the question Israel asks, this is the question we ask, over and over again. I do not know that is a question we should resolve too simply.
And I simply have not read a compelling universalist account that takes this awful pain seriously. I know, I know, their arguments may account for this pain, but I don’t believe the arguments, as written, are written from a place of truly desiring to grapple with the question. Rather, they seek to answer it.
The best theology is written from the intersection of the cross, because only from there can we see Resurrection. And the cross is hardly an answer—it is simply God in the question.
I only write this down because it is an impression that I’m sure will change, but today, on May 19, 2020, I remain unconvinced that the current discussions around universalism are really grappling with the magnitude and ubiquity of human suffering—not to mention injustice—and who God is to us and for us as a God of love who “allows” (whatever that means!!) suffering.
That will be all.