Universalism: Love Wins

I had posted as my Facebook status the following: Universalism is the belief that all people, and I mean all people, are loved and received home by the creator. Therefore no matter how far we stray from our human ability to express love to our neighbors we, like the prodigal son, will be welcomed home into the arms of an all forgiving, all embracing creator. Love Wins. The choice is in whether we allow love to win now or later.

A friend then asked the obvious question, “Even Hitler?”  Yes, even Hitler. In the story of the prodigal son there were two brothers, the younger brother took his share of inheritance and wasted it all on prostitutes and drugs.  When he had become destitute he returns to his father’s home. The older brother is filled with rage that his father would throw this lavish party for his no good for nothing brother while not once had his father given him even so much as a young goat that he might celebrate with his friends.  That older brother is us.  It is easy for us who work hard to be just and loving, to do what is right to then become angry when mercy and love is offered to one who is so far from us in our actions.  It is easy to point our fingers at another and say that person is not worthy of love, look at what they have done!  “Give him the Death Penalty!”  “Crucify Him!”

They have conspired to murder, to rape, to terrorism; clearly these things are wrong and therefore worthy of death.  It is easy to justify this.  We as a society must have a standard conduct of behavior or else chaos would reign, right?  And so when a Hitler who has caused directly and indirectly so much evil and untold suffering in the world it is hard to believe that even Hitler could be embraced by Love.

I don’t remember who said it, but there is a quote out there in the universe that goes something like this, “It’s a pretty good bet that if God hates all the same people that you do, then that is not God.”  God should not be made in our image.  If God is all loving then that love extends to even those we detest with our whole being.   Hitler, in  the history of the world, might be such a candidate to be detested with our whole being.

There are some that argue, if everyone gets to heaven, then what motivation is there to do what is right/ to have a moral code of behaviors.  Love wins. If I have been so swayed by the power of love, if I have been so convinced that Love is worth my devotion with my heart and soul then I will choose to seek to do what is most loving, most honorable, most just. To embody Love becomes my motivation to change myself and to change the world towards justice.

I have just purchased the book by Rob Bell entitled Love Wins.  Today is the day it became available.  But it is not a new thought. The notion that God loves all and all will go to heaven is deeply rooted in Unitarian Universalism.  The title says it all.  Love Wins.

If there is any limitation on that love, then love does not win.  If Hitler is not included in Love winning then Love is not love.  If Love refuses a Hitler then it is not love but something else. And if Love refuses a Hitler, who else does Love refuse to embrace? Who else is Love powerless to embrace? Who else is love unable to transform and heal? And who gets to declares this powerlessness, this limitation of Love? Jesus did not.  Buddha, Mohamed, Confucius, Abraham-Hicks, Ram Dass, Thich Nhat Hahn, Dalai Lama, Marianne Williamson, all the spiritual teachers that ever walked this earth never once declared Love to have its limits of being Love.

Either Love wins or Love is not love but selective and prejudiced and biased and judgmental and unforgiving and condemning and vindictive and capricious and …

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7 Comments

  1. Wow. This is a pretty moving post. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. I want to give you a hug. I appreciate your thoughts on loving those who I personally cannot stand.

  3. You get to the heart of why Universalism is so much MORE demanding than non-Universalism. Well said.

  4. I do not know of, or understand, the Creator. Such an eminence is too huge and brilliant for human kind to glimpse and experience. I worship only the Creation. And not all of it, just most of it. The Gaddafis, Mugabes, etc., are jetsam.

  5. And Love of Self? Love creates some injustices of its own making and I like to think G-d ways the justice and injustices we commit and extends G-d’s grace to us all, but as a friend of mine who spent a year of his childhood in a Soviet gulag in 1939 sometimes it’s best to just leave G-d out of it for hell, damanation, and self-love aplenty has been our lot and never more so than the past century.

  6. Thank you all for the replies. This Universal Love is complex and difficult to apply into our lives. Whether you name this Love –God or Creative force or as an Ideal that is therefore unreachable, it seems to me to be better than the bitterness and loathing and destructive hatred that many express when separating the elect from the damned. The question of who is the elect always poses are larger dilemma for me. Of course we see ourselves as the elect even if we are not, that is part of our human nature. Universalism as I have tried to express it here is an ever inclusive concept–an ever expanding ripple of concentric circles on the pond that is life. Each new ripple includes more people into the elect until all, and I still maintain until all are in that circle of Universal Love. It is not an easy path to travel. But it is the path that I believe is the one I want to begin, yet once again, to travel on. Blessings

  7. I’m pretty sure I read the quote about ‘the god who hates all the same people you do’ not being God in a book by Anne Lamott. (Order tracking at amazon tells me I should expect my copy of Love Wins to be delivered tomorrow. Reading, ruminating, and maybe blogging to follow…)

    I think you are correct, Anne Lamott is the author of this quote, though I think I may have paraphrased it quite a bit.


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