Merriam Webster defines Universalism as ‘a theological doctrine that all human beings will eventually be saved’. It is the application of religious, theological and philosophical concepts to the whole world which claims that religion is a universal quality and considers in particular the nature, cause and purpose of the universe.
Many religions hold a universal belief that their God does not distinguish between a person’s race, colour or religion and if we apply this to our topic of heaven then even a non-believer could be saved. For example, Hindu Universalism emphasises that all religions are true and should therefore be tolerated and respected as if it were their own faith; simply, the world is one large family that gives a different explanation to the sole truth of universe and existence.
Universalism holds that if God is Good then everyone must go to heaven irrespective of their religion and how they conducted their life. For God to be benevolent then his creations must all be saved and their pain extinguished in his kingdom – although this then raises the point that God cannot be perfectly good until we have all been saved (I suppose Christians would argue at this point that Jesus died to saved us). God’s Goodness illustrates the emphasis that Universalists place on morals and ethics, and also questions the existence of Hell. For if God was Good he would not suffer anyone to an eternity in Hell – he would rather destroy them or punish them in Hell until they learnt their lesson, so to speak. Universalism suggests that at the end of time we will all be in heaven and that evil can only exist while Hell is inhabited. Therefore, only when we are all saved can evil – if it truly exists – be destroyed.
However, going back to the point I made about Jesus dying to save us, what is the implication of this on heaven? We have already been saved, we don’t need to go to heaven, do we? Heaven doesn’t even need to exist, does it? Perhaps this is answered somewhat by Unitarian Universalists – ‘Heaven and hell are states of mind, created by human beings. Hell is created in injustice, violence, tyranny, and war. Heaven is created in compassion, mercy, liberty, and love. “Our task is not to get men into Heaven; it is to get Heaven into men.”‘
Universalism is a far broader topic than I realised as many religions and philosophies have their own ‘universal branch’ which is applied to their own beliefs and each explains the universal context in a slightly different way. I keep thinking back to my post yesterday on Theosophy. Both seem to tackle the same problem and come up with different answers. It is the same problem that bugs me most of all, over the questions about why are we here and what happens after we die and all that jazz. It just bugs me that so many beliefs exist world over, connected to each other like some sort of family tree where some beliefs share common genes and others are so far removed you have to wonder how they came to exist at all. We cannot all be right. But we cannot all be wrong either. These beliefs, these things we preach, had to come from somewhere, a circling spiral of Chinese whispers that has left us questioning not only the universe but also each other.