Universalist Quote of the Day #3

“If we consider the outstanding and most significant teaching of the Universalist denomination in that it differentiated it from all others–the belief that all souls will ultimately be saved–what according to our appraisal today was the merit? The protest against endless punishment was moral, and the response to it was so general and widespread, showing that it was a real expression of our humanity. But was the proclamation on the positive side simply a swinging of the pendulum to the opposite extreme? And like most extremes was it too much; too optimistic even as a hope? What, if anything, was its merit? . . .What made it significant and gave it the highest ethical and human quality was its inclusiveness. It refused to allow that things right here or in any ideal heaven, so long as any were in outer darkness, could be cast as rubbish to the void, in the discard, no good. As long as that is so, humanity’s work, which is also God’s work, is not done. It was the spirit of the parable of the ninety and nine, the very essence of Christian motive in missionary work in your own town or faraway Africa. Not for any reason, racial color, condition, social or moral, because Russian, German, or Japanese, can we leave any outside our goodwill. There must always be humanity to the least of these, just as the social worker goes out to rehabilitate a home or person and is not to give up and get discouraged but to persist in her efforts for weeks, months, or even years or until the person of family is able to carry on successfully alone. This is the most difficult faith there is to live up to–no question about it–but it is also the most needed today and always. If we are Universalists really, we must never, never lose sight of this or of the imperative that rests upon us because of our very faith.”

–John Murray Atwood, in The Tao of Universalism: The Thoughts, Teachings, and Writings of Dr. John Murray Atwood, ed. by Rev. John Stewart MacPhee. New York: Vantage Press, 1989: 38-39.

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