Universal Restoration

That even the wicked shall at last
Be fitted for the skies;
And, when their dreadful doom is past,
To life and light arise.

I ask not, how remote the day,
Nor what the sinners’ woe,
Before their dross is purged away;
Enough for me, to know

That when the cup of wrath is drained,
The metal purified,
They’ll cling to what they once disdained,
And live by Him that died.
–Anne Bronte, Extract from “A Word to The ‘Elect‘” (1843) 

I try to avoid doctrine. I have studied it, believed it, found it wanting, rejected it. It is the proverbial wineskin which becomes unworthy of new wine. I am interested in the essence of things, and doctrines, or more specifically, dogma, gets in the way of new truths. 

But I now need to make an exception to my post-modern, neo-bohemian ideals. I want to take a good look at a doctrine which I have come to understand as a sort of Mother of all Doctrines. Ladies, Gentlemen, and all created things, this concerns you; I speak of the Doctrine of Universal Restoration. It goes by many other names too, like Universal Salvation, the Doctrine of Inclusion, Radical Grace, or Apokatastasis. 

If you have had a look at my blog entry “A Worthy Worship 6 : In work, play, church, world, in all”,  which concerns dualism, you will remember I suggest that dualism the root of all that separates us from G-d; you might if you wanted to camp it up, call it the Cardinal Sin. And Eternal Damnation is the ultimate dualism. You can’t get more separated from G-d than by being in never ending torment for all eternity. 

In a nutshell, UR is the belief that all things, that is all people and all of creation, will one day be restored by, and reunited with G-d through Christ. A flagship scripture (amongst many) suggesting UR is from 1 Tim 4:10: “we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe”.  

This implies, then, that no-one will suffer eternal punishment. All of the writers I have read espousing UR are adamant that there will be judgment, however. It’s just that the judgment has the purpose of restoration not punishment. The doctrine was generally accepted by the early Church via the likes of Origen. But after the Roman Coup whereby the church was taken over by Empire, by the Roman Empire, it was declared a heresy in the 6th Century. 

The notion of “hell” – the threat of Eternal Damnation – took over as the official Church’s position on the destination for all who didn’t tow “God’s” (That is, the Church’s) line. The doctrine of Eternal Damnation ensured that the people remained loyal and kept the Church in its place of power. The underlying tool? Fear. The sale of indulgences was perhaps the height of this manipulation. Hell could be avoided, for the right price. And by consigning your loved ones to purgatory, the market could be milked even further – not even death was not the final word. 

For example, John Calvin describes hell as: “Forever harassed with a dreadful tempest, they shall feel themselves torn asunder by an angry God, and transfixed and penetrated by mortal stings, terrified by the thunderbolts of God, and broken by the weight of his hand …”  And the Reverend C. H. Spurgeon: “When thou diest, thy soul will be tormented alone; that will be a hell for it, but at the day of judgment they body will join they soul, and then thou wilt have twin hells, thy soul sweating drops of blood, and thy body suffused with agony.” (Both quotes taken from Tentmaker article The Inventors and Perpetrators of Hell)

Amazingly, the idea and threat of Hellfire remains very strong today in the “Christian” and even “Post-Christian” world. It is in fact a fundamental feature of our psychology, even if it exists as residue, it is woven into the fabric of Christianised society. It lurks deep in the recesses of our makeup, a fundamental Archetype. According to an msnbc online poll of 17684 responses (as of the time of writing) the question “Do you believe in Hell?” received  60% yes, 31% no vote. 

To start to get a grip on the subject, we need to take a close look at the Biblical usage of the English words/concepts, “Hell”, and “Eternal” (As is Everlasting punishment/damnation). As translated in the King James Version, the New International Version, and others, “Hell” is an amalgamation of several quite separate words, Hades, Tartarus (Greek), Sheol and Gehenna (from Hebrew). “Hell” itself is from the Anglo Saxon “Helan” and simply means “concealed”, as in helmet, hull, hold, cell, or cellar. See the pithy handbook “Martin Zender goes to Hell”. And the word translated “Eternal” (“Ainos”), meaning timeless, was originally a word meaning the opposite, that is, an Age, or A time. 

This look at Scriptural origins is of course is a small scratch on the surface of a very large and very perilous affair. But I have done enough scratching to be convinced that there is something to the doctrine of Universal Restoration. A good deal of information on the belief, scripture, people past and present, is to be found on Tentmaker  minstries website . A good summary is to be found on wikipedia , which lists around 10 of the most representative scriptures from each camp.  

One of the most high profile cases of “UR conversion” in recent times is that of Bishop Carlton Pearson, a conservative 4th generation Pentecostal preacher based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Read and watch his story . His is a testimony to what I call “Costly Universalism”, a man who had the world at his feet, discovered UR, was actually branded a heretic, lost 90% of his congregation, his church building, and his ministry, but not his soul. But his real importance, it seems, is only now emerging. He will deliver a keynote address at the upcoming Conference entitled  Sacred Activism and the Power of Inclusion” in May 2007. I have a feeling in my bones about this movement. Take a look at this slideshow  on to get a taste of prophetic sociology. But I digress… 

As an Evangelical by tradition, the implications of UR fascinate me. If the Kingdom of God is to include everybody and everything, there can be no end to the celebration. Worship, in fact all of life, becomes all encompassing. Most of the categories that preoccupy us so drop away; religion, race, nationality. We are freed at a deep level from a defensive to an inclusive, generous approach to life.

Is the ultimate reason for Gods love the escape from hell? It seems ridiculous that a Creator, who is and gives Life, would define themselves in such negative terms. Is this my logic taking me for a ride? Is it wishful optimism? Or is it an intuitive, gut feeling about the nature of things? 

How is it possible to aspire towards unconditional love while even the merest threat of eternal damnation hangs over our, mine or anyone else’s head (for we are all connected), or simply lurks in the recesses of our minds? So long as that threat is there, we cannot truly and freely love, our quest is in vain, for it is not a love which conquers all.

35 Comments »

  1. Don R. said

    Nic- Very nice post! You have done a good summary of UR. Thanks for your nice comments on my blog.

  2. Tia said

    Hi Nic. You seem very generous and thoughtful in engaging with so many different theories in order to build your argument. Personally, I find it difficult to go along with any theology that is based on a single text from scriptures that contain so much contradiction. The perceived need for universal restoration proceeds from the (here, it may be elsewhere) unexamined assumption that humans are separated from G-d in the first place. As a woman, I also feel alienated by a solution that involves a “Him”. If restoration were truly universal, it should also be inclusive in name and nature. Final salvation in the above framework rests with the masculine principle and this is marginalising to me. I also find the whole idea of a focus on a future hope a huge red herring when the kingdom of G-d so urgently needs to be discovered and expressed right here, right now.

    • Tia, This answer to your blog is Very late, but I only discovered it when I was searching for more info on Bishop Pearson.
      I felt an inner connection when you stated that the kingdom of G-d needs to be discovered in our own time. I’ve been a great believer in the kingdom of G-d being in the here and now. There are a few saying from the bible I’ve taken to heart I’d like to share; from the o.t. “Be still and know that I am G-d” from Jesus “The kingdom of G-d is at hand”, “The kingdom of G-d is within you and without you, yet men do not see it.” and again “Unles you become like these little children you will not enter the Kingdom.”
      Like little children we must open our eyes and live in the present and become aware of the beauty in everything and everyone.
      I’ve gone on long enough but I suggest you might look into the writings of Anthony de Mello.

  3. Tia said

    Hi again. I realised that I didn’t say in my previous comment that I applaud any thought or writing that moves us toward inclusivity. It might seem from what I said that I thought there was no point in the universal restoration doctrine. On the contrary, I do believe that it’s worthwhile to engage with it, because it presents an alternative voice to the simplistic dualism of traditional heaven/hell theology while using language and references that encourage people steeped in this to open their minds. It is necessary, after all, to stay in the conversation.

  4. liquidlight said

    i like your clear synopsis of the UR position.

    i hear what Tia is saying regarding the overtly masculine terminology & perspective intrinsic to the orthodox or mainstream view – a growing number would agree that a rebalancing of the theological gender equation is long overdue and is in fact one of the major thrusts of creation spirituality, much of the emergent church etc. also, i suspect that the assumption that humans are separated from G-d has been examined deeply – within the arts, philosophy, religion etc – for millenia, by many people, but not all.

    whether we are apart from G-d in an absolute sense is another matter. surely there can be no doubt of the psychological, spiritual and/or material “reality” that millions of people sense, of some kind of fall from perfection.

    if all is in G-d in the panentheistic sense, then if even one splinter – a single molecule – of the Creator’s handiwork lies broken, then restoration is needed and all of creation yearns for it.

  5. nic paton said

    Don
    Very glad you like it. Its important to me that other POV can affirm or critique it. You have done a lot more work on this than I have, especially with your history background. I’m happy to be involved in this/our/the conversation.

    One question for you – have you considered the relationship between UR and Creation Spirituality much?

    Tia, Tia, Tia
    I think you are not as you claim, an Agnostic. You seem to be a bit of a closet believer! (place grin here). Please note, I managed to remain gender neutral throughout my piece. It aint easy, y’know. Should we also change “heaven” to “heraven” and “hell” to “herell”?

    Facetiousness aside, thank you for you provocative thoughts.

    LL
    “if all is in G-d in the panentheistic sense, then if even one splinter – a single molecule – of the Creator’s handiwork lies broken, then restoration is needed and all of creation yearns for it.”

    An excellent point – that if ANY part is imperfect, ALL is imperfect.

    Why is this point so dimly appreciated? Most people (all of us to varying degrees) settle for a non-cosmic truth, which as part true will never be True. Even us cosmic types see through a glass darkly, though we desire to be united in Oneness, even our views of Oneness are not fully cosmic. Our hypocrisy is with us, like a wound in our sides.

    Until we forgive like Christ forgave, we shall forever experience the separation and imperfection. As you say, “All creation yearns for it…”

  6. Mark Cawood said

    Hi Nic

    Do you not think it possible that a person may choose to etenally reject heaven?

    Is there not a difference between dualism and antithesis. Good and bad, black and white, the foundation of rational thought. Do you think there will ulitmately be no antithesis in the universe, all will be good?

    cheers
    Mark

  7. nic paton said

    Hi Mark
    These are some of the questions that need to be asked.

    I do think that it is possible for people to reject heaven, yes. Whether their will is stronger than the Love of God for them, remains to be seen.

    If you don’t mind, might I rephrase your second question as I imagine you to mean it:
    “If all is/will be One, what is the place of evil/death/satan? If dualism is wrong, what term can we use to describe the opposite of good. Antithesis?”

    For me, antithesis is a dynamic term, it originates in Hegel then Marx. An antithesis requires a thesis. And through the process of dialectic there forms a synthesis. This in term becomes a new thesis, which creates new antithesis, on and on. This dialectic aptly describes the ongoing act of creation.

    Dualism is a static and defensive term, referring to artifical divisions of life.

    I think that there is only one duality, that is the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of “this world”. Dualism is a part of the latter.

    Clear as mud?

  8. Tia said

    Sweet friends, let me say at the outset that I love you and my motive in discussion is understanding. This discussion has allowed me to crystallize in words some things that you may find alienating and I do not for one moment wish to lose you as friends and co-respondents, although I am willing to risk that excruciating pain (again) for the sake of my integrity.

    Nic, re the closet – I have no reason to be in one. I’m not hiding anything (other than those things that are hidden from myself, in which case you can hardly expect me to admit to them!) As to a believer, well that depends on the supposed object of belief. I am not a believer in a masculine or a feminine God. I am not a believer in the doctrine of original sin. I am not a believer in a concept of The Elect. I am not a believer in any of the heavens or hells that were described to me during my time in the church. I am not a believer in the infallible authority of any (including Christian) scripture. I am not a believer in salvation through Jesus Christ, unless “salvation” is highly qualified (what exactly are we saved from?, what does the salvation consist of?) and “Jesus Christ” is used metaphorically to designate a general principle of being-action that we can seek to incarnate ourselves and that people may incarnate without knowing the name (ask me about that one another time!). I am a believer in a universe in which the whole is usually greater than the sum of its parts, in which the beauty of the rose and the spirt of a person remain mysterious beyond any analysing of them, and in which any human statements only approach truth by degrees of approximation. I also believe in the power of love and in the necessity of our taking responsibility to make meaning in our lives by loving and creating (which is an outflow of love). I also believe that any tiny expression of heaven-on-earth that we can make happen now is more important than any hope of restoration in the eschatological future.

    Ruzl, re this statement :”surely there can be no doubt of the psychological, spiritual and/or material “reality” that millions of people sense, of some kind of fall from perfection”. There may be no doubt that millions of people sense it, but millions of people also believe that HIV is a white man’s disease and that female genital mutilation is a good thing. Billions of people believe that women are inferior to men and many of them base this on scripture.

    The number of adherents of a belief has never been an indicator of its truth. That it might be has been proven repeatedly to be in itself an erroneous belief. People are able to hold to not just iffy but demonstrably incorrect beliefs despite actual evidence to the contrary, when the implications of changing their minds are too much to cope with and particularly when the religious authorities in their lives oppose the change (witness how long it took for Copernicus’ ideas to gain acceptance).

    It is hardly surprising that people can continue to hold to a metaphysical belief that lies beyond the realm of proof and is a determinant of the consequent logic of their entire faith and culture. The “fall from” really depends on one’s definition of perfection. If it is wholeness (a very possible option, scripturally), then this could just as well reflect a dialectial universe in which a deliverance from all evil would be a reduction to less than perfection. It also depends on one’s definition of evil. We normally define evil from an autocentric human perspective which proceeds from an extremely arrogant pre-Copernican view of the universe. Are earthquakes evil? That depends on one’s perspective as to what should and shouldn’t (be allowed to) happen in the universe graced with one’s presence.

    Err… perhaps I should I stop now?

  9. TiaTalk said

    [...] Restoration (my friend gives a pretty good overview of this if you want to check it out at soundandsilence.wordpress.com), but that’s not strictly necessary in order to understand what follows. Our conversation [...]

  10. nic paton said

    Tia

    Cease and desist! Girl, you need to get out more.

    OK – the following is NOT A JOKE.

    I value your rants highly. But you do bring a shedload of angles (or woz it angels?) into the discussion. I won’t go into each and every one here.

    Your passion, struggle and intelligence is hugely appreciated. By me, and the cosmos at large. And that includes G-d. S/he is smiling at us.

    RuZl –
    Get it right man! (Check that with Tia)

  11. liquidlight said

    i relate to what you say Tia in terms of the generalities: man creating G-d in his/her image, a billion people can be wrong, the bible – or any other scripture – should not be seen as the final say etc etc.

    however, if i took your longer post and read it in isolation – without knowing about the blog you were responding to – i would assume that the said blog was a rather right wing, fundamentalist evangelical one. believers of that ilk would take one look at Nic’s blog and probably cast him as a very lost communist and/or homosexual and/or libertarian and/or gnostic and/or muzo.

    what you expressed is in no way at odds with what we are exploring – the embracing of creation & creativity as an act of worship, a rediscovery of the feminine face of G-d etc. each of us is in need of restoration & to echo your words back to you, how could you lose us as friends and co-respondents?

    while i too often fail to meet this ideal, we need to be both fierce & gentle in seeking the truth.

    great thread and thanks to all for contributing…

  12. liquidlight said

    hi Mark.

    you’ve posed several great questions in rapid fire and am sure Nic and yourself will be exploring them further. regarding whether a person could reject heaven, i’d agree with Nic that this is possible. while the doctrine of universal restoration holds that the whole of creation will one day be restored, there’s quite a bit of variation on the logistics – i.e. how does G-d get everyone and everything to that point?

    the only kind of hell i can logically & compassionately believe in is one that exists to purify in order to restore to G-d’s image, rather than punish unceasingly or destroy irrevocably. even if someone remained in hell for several eons – tens of thousands of thousands of years – talking in newtonian time – that person would never exist outside of G-d’s love for them and G-d’s ability & urge to accept back the prodigal and throw a party. if Love overcomes ALL then it will at the end of time gather ALL, overcoming & resolving all that causes resistance.

    this is my conception at present and not something i consider a final answer.

    regarding good vs bad, the way i understand it, if G-d is indeed the Lord of the entire universe, then satan/the dark force or whatever, is ultimately under the authority of G-d. the bible states that Christ was slain before the foundation of the world, suggesting that G-d was well aware that in creating, a fall would ensue. if G-d can see the whole cosmological picture, from alpha to omega point, then surely we can logically & scripturally remain open to the possibility that even evil serves a higher purpose – i.e. an opportunity for G-d to manifest faith, hope, love, grace etc. there is substantial scriptural support for such a view, however heretical or disturbing it might seem to some.

    on that score, i’d recommend Martin Zenders “Flawed by Design”.

    long may this thread continue….

  13. liquidlight said

    one additional point, the whole issue, person & role of satan changed dramatically over the last two millenia of christendom. judaic teaching, as expressed in the first testament, placed satan in service to G-d – as a tester & accuser – rather than some dark opponent doing battle with G-d over the soul of the world and mankind. G-d does not play poker with souls.

  14. [...] orthodoxy, grace, hypocrisy, scandal, eternity, epiphany I mentioned in my post about Universal Restoration  the story of Bishop Carlton Pearson. For those who have any interest in the debate concerning [...]

  15. [...] on ABC. For further background to this issue in the context of this debate, see the posts on Universal Restoration and The Scandal of Carlton Pearson. You will see some of the bile and retro-bile associated with it [...]

  16. Nosferotica said

    I myself am a Theistic Satanist. The core of our belief is that Man and the Divinity are one and the same. The Universal Restoration “movement” suggests we are all “saved” and are therefore “heaven bound” which in Universal Terms means “unified with God” which to me is just a roundabout way of suggesting we are all one and the same.

    Unconditional love. So amazing… We have it for our spouses, or kids… The ultimate contraversy… God might actually have it FOR US?!

    It’s really so hard to understand with so many BILLION people in the world we’d have so many ways to interperet God and so many ways to recognize and understand him… And you have fundamentals trying to say there’s only ONE?!

    Religion is one of those personal things, deeply personal, perhaps even a character trait as it defines a paradigm view… So profound a trait it goes so far as define a world view, and understanding.

    How on earth can there be only one.

    People, once and for all… No matter what you believe, you are right. Who are you to tell ANYONE that they are wrong?

  17. nic paton said

    Hi there Nosferotica. I thank you for taking the time to make your point.

    Am I correct in understanding that you agree with UR? – This seems to be the case, as you understand it to mean “being one and the same as the divinity”. If so that is pretty interesting.

    Its one of those mysteries – how unity and diversity might co-exist. Mysteries are for exploring, not quenching or conquering.

    Would you describe your self as a pantheist? That is “God is all, all is God”?
    I distinguish this from panentheist – “God is IN all, all is IN God” (the Christian view, as I see it).

    Reason I ask is your morality, “whatever is, is right”, don’t you think this level of freedom without the counterbalancing discipline (of love, law or whatever) might self-destruct? I’d like to hear it from you own experience.

    And last 2 questions if you don’t mind my inquisitiveness, what do you see as worshipful in Satan? And you name, Nosferotica – I kind of like that – what does that mean?

  18. ruZl said

    Nosferotica.

    thanks for your comments & i look forward to further contributions from yourself, if u are so inclined. i second Nic’s last two questions, as one’s i would like to ask you myself.

    till then, russ.

  19. Simon said

    Hi there, Nic.
    I just discovered your blog, which is pretty bad given the topic of my own…
    Anyway, I just wanted to add a pointer for Tia’s post (in the hope she sees it), and specifically to the “evil” of natural disasters. She asked “Are earthquakes evil?”. I would answer, “Yes, though indirectly.” I’ll explain.
    One of the many manifestations of the ‘doctrine’ (shouldn’t we write ‘doctrines’) of reintegration of all things occurred in France through Martines de Pasqually in the 1750s. According to him, our very presence on this earth and the fact that we suffer from materiality are due to the fall. Actually, to both falls: that of the first Beings (angels if you want, lead by lucifer) that lead to the creation of a material universe; and then Man’s own fall, which lead to us being entrapped in materiality, thus suffering all it’s consequences. Tia, you may see here that natural disasters can be evidence that there was a fall. The weight of our own choices, if you will…

    This is not really the place to develop and explain all this, but if you’re interested be sure to check out my blog and website at http://www.apokatastasis.org/

  20. nic paton said

    Thanks Simon. I have started to take in your offering. I commented on your first piece on Origen, and I’ll be back for more.

    Your take on UR / apokatastasis is new for me, being very theosophical. And Martines de Pasqually is unknown to me. It’s good to see that these veins of thought are many and run like rhizomes under the surface of orthodoxy.

    One thinker which influenced me deeply many years ago is Nikoli Berdyaev, whose “Meaning of the Creative Act” is one of the 3 most influential books I have ever read.

    Heres to a fruitful interaction…

  21. nic paton said

    Simon – One more point
    I am wondering about the view that materiality is due to the fall. I’m not sure I concur with this aspcet of your ideas; the Incarnational or Creation Spirituality view has a generally far more positive take on Creation and the Material. Matthew Fox for example views our origin as an “Original Blessing”, rather than Sin. And Teilhard de Chardin went as far as to say that matter and evolution were themselves sacred.

    Doesn’t the idea that we “suffer from materiality” have a somewhat gnostic duality to it?

  22. Simon said

    Hi Nic,

    Thanks for your comment on my blog. I too look forward to a very enriching interaction!
    Something I’d like to add to the discussion to dispel any misunderstanding: by theosophy, I do not mean HP Blavaskty’s movement (theosophism, as it were). Rather, I follow Robert Amadou’s definition of the term: the wisdom of God, or of divine matters, in that it falls somewhere between theology and philosophy, but adds active participation. I think my blog reflects that posture… hopefully ;-)

    You raise a very important question about materiality: is it good or evil in my view; is my position dualistic? No, I hold the view that all of Creation is a gift, and a blessing, in the same terms as the Church. I have more sympathies with some kind of non-dualism, I guess. But that doesn’t mean that materiality, or rather our entrapment in it, is not the result of a prevarication. To caricature a bit too far my position (which I mainly derive from Martines de Pasqually’s work), I view matter as both a necessary prison that puts boundaries (space and time) around evil and as a school, a means by which fallen beings are ‘re-educated’ and can reconcile with their Creator. This entails necessarily that evil is not a principle but only a consequence of free-willed Beings, and that all Beings are evil by choice, not by nature. The same free will that got us into trouble can also save us: Pasqually and Louis Claude de Saint-Martin after him used the expression “man of desire” to refer to those who work at their own reconciliation. Gnostic dualism is therefore logically untenable in my view.
    I fully agree with Teilhard de Chardin in that respect: Creation as a whole, including biological evolution, is a blessing.

    For a more detailed explanation of all this, you can follow my posts under this tag: http://homepage.mac.com/s.babayan/Apokatastasis/Blog/files/tag-martines-de-pasqually.html

  23. nic paton said

    NO TO BLAVATSKY! DOWN WITH ALL IMPOSTERS! HAIL TO THE TRUE THEOSOPHY! WISDOM OR DEATH! Got it! ;)

    You have a quite nuanced view on the cosmos, I must say. Space Time Boundaries around evil – thats very intruiging.

    “This entails necessarily that evil is not a principle but only a consequence of free-willed Beings, and that all Beings are evil by choice, not by nature. ” – great quote! (Did you just make that up as you went along?)

    I realise all I am doing is reflecting you back to yourself, but that’s the appropriate response in this case I think. Thanks so much Simon – very rich thoughts.

  24. Simon said

    “NO TO BLAVATSKY! DOWN WITH ALL IMPOSTERS! HAIL TO THE TRUE THEOSOPHY! WISDOM OR DEATH! Got it!”
    mmm…. ‘Thou sayest it’ But I wouldn’t ;-)

    “Space Time Boundaries around evil – thats very intruiging.”
    So if the function of space/time is to act as a boundary, what is that boundary’s nature? An outgrowth of some sorts?

    “great quote! (Did you just make that up as you went along?)”
    Thanks, and yes.

    “I realise all I am doing is reflecting you back to yourself, but that’s the appropriate response in this case I think.” Ok, maybe… but there are a few catches, for instance what if evil beings never change their mind? Can or should they be coerced in some way? Another catch: what about the pre-existence of souls, that reintegration seems to rely on?

  25. nic paton said

    Simon
    Excellent questions, all, totally brilliant. Obviously a blog will never do them justice, but just to get these strands of conversation going:
    - The nature of the “Space-Time boundary” – I suspect that this has all to do with incarnation…
    - What is an “outgrowth”?
    - Evil beings and repentance – this is a mystery I the depths of which I have hardly begun to plumb. But will continue to investigate…
    – Preexistance of souls – you will have to explain this…

    Now you are getting into some of the deeper territory that one making this enquiry will have to traverse. I will at some point start taking in your extensive writing, but thanks for continuing what has begun.

  26. Simon said

    Nic, indeed, comments to a blog post isn’t the best place for such a discussion, but that’s OK…
    - outgrowth: a clumsy word to convey that matter may not be ‘real’ in the sense that it isn’t a being, but is produced by beings. This is a consequence of considering that our senses only tell us about macroscopic behaviour of matter (wood is hard, wool is soft, etc.), but nothing about the molecular, atomic or subatomic reality of matter, and even less what matter truly *is*. It sounds nonsensical to ask what matter truly *is* doesn’t it? Could that be because matter *is* not a being? Since only Beings truly *are*, then it follows that matter is a secretion of Beings, an outgrowth. I admit this sounds wishy-washy, but it is an old idea (Plato, Plotinus, etc.) that physicalism and co. have gently pushed out of our mindset.
    - pre-existence of souls: to be reintegrated into an original state supposes that we existed in some form before our bodily existence (note that I do not find any reason to accept reincarnation as a reality). This has been called anathema (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xii.ix.html – you may want to read up on traducianism and the problems Gregory of Nyssa had trying to shoehorn his intelligence of these matters into the limits of his Church’s dogmas – see Philip Schaff’s ‘The Life and Writings of Gregory of Nyssa’, chp III). I haven’t managed to make sense of the Church’s position on that yet; maybe you, or some of your readers can help?

  27. liquidlight said

    hi Simon. i’ve had a look at your site and would be interested to understand your take on the restoration of all things, particularly as it relates to the practice of theurgy through ritual.

    i’m curious because i have explored the teachings of the kabbalists for a number of years, as well has having read The Cloud upon the Sanctuary and a variety of inner/esoteric christian texts. i have found a rich & deep source of tradition here.

    regards,

    russ.

  28. Simon said

    Hi Russ,
    That’s a very astute question indeed! As you may have seen on my website, and gathered through my posts here, I regard Martines de Pasqually as a powerful member of the ‘reintegration’ chain. You may be aware that during the 18th century he established an order named the Elus Coens (Ordre des Chevaliers Maçons Elus Coëns de l’Univers for the full name). Their main remit was to actively work at their own reconciliation with God, and at the restoration of all things, which he called reintegration. Martines held a view similar to that of Iamblichus, that the only means for reintegration was through theurgy and rituals, because we are totally immersed in materiality (see our discussion above).
    So in that sense, at least in principle, I agree with Pasqually’s stance. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that today, in this time and place, we can easily defend acting out those principles – but it is worth investigating with both an open mind and extremely cautious steps. Mind you, one can see the Holy Sacraments (all 7 of them, reformation not withstanding) as theurgical in nature, though saying that could anger some…
    You may want to have a look at my Eleazar Institute page for an in depth exploration of Pasqually’s doctrine. (I won’t link to it for the sake of decency because the Eleazar Institute offers a course for a fee, but you’ll find plenty free material on my website – or just drop me an email).
    Eckarthausen’s Cloud on the Sanctuary is indeed a stunning piece of wisdom. Thanks for mentioning it!
    Simon

  29. liquidlight said

    Simon.

    thanks for your response – there’s much that you touched on that i’d like to explore some more. my fascination with kabbalah and inner – i prefer it to the word “esoteric” – christianity has been long burning and no doubt you have much light to shed on it – so here’s to further communion.

    as an aside, i’m fascinated with the approach the early church fathers adopted towards inclusion/UR, namely that of “honouring with silence”. for more on it, check out:

    http://www.theandros.com/restoration.html

    regards,

    ruzl.

  30. nic paton said

    Russ – thats a good article, and it helps bridge the gap between a post-evangelical, Eastern Orthodox and Theosophical points of view, IMO.

    I have extracted 5 quotes for the benefit of those who find this a bit daunting:

    – “Hell and its fire is not different, essentially, from the benevolent energy of God, when experienced by the sinners.”

    – “[Gregory of Nyssa] … since evil has no real existence, its “relative” existence will be completely annihilated at the end of time. According to how much the souls are attached to the material condition, purification may be instant or long and painful.”

    – “Satan is not presented as the adversary of God but as the adversary of man.”

    – “Although the idea of the restoration of all is a part of the Eastern spiritual tradition (even if as a hypothesis), the Church could never accept it as a doctrine because, if nothing else, its perceived determinism can lead to spiritual apathy.”

    – “Eschatology is one of the most precarious aspects of theological thought … The apophatic “honor by silence” in Maximos’ writings, seems more correct than any treatise on the subject.”

  31. liquidlight said

    point 3, that Satan is the adversary of man rather than of G-d, seems key to me. this aligns with my understanding of the judaic and OT picture of Satan, namely the one who tests, resists and ultimately refines through trial.

    a study of the morphing of Satan from the tester working under G-d’s authority, into to an anti-G-d figure waging war on heaven itself, would be an interesting line of enquiry. i think Elaine Pagels has written a book on the subject, if i’m not mistaken.

    i have often found the fetish/obsession with Satan that elements of the evangelical church have, quite bizarre and creepy.

  32. [...] Universal Restoration (31 comments): Perhaps the most significant shift of faith I have ever had was coming to view G-d as able to save all, and finally getting down and dirty with the theological idea of “Hell”. [...]

  33. Very well written. It is thought provoking and insightful.

  34. [...] Universal Restoration [...]

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