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God Does Not Foreclose: The Universal Promise of Salvation Paperback – October 1, 1990
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He wrote in the Introduction to this 1990 book, “This book intends to make a minor contribution toward the clearing of a major blockage in the North American church… What in fact is the pouring out of God’s love through Jesus Christ on the whole of humankind has come to be viewed as the privileged possession of some… The reason for this in our own day and age is the same as in previous ecclesial generations: the struggle with the tensions of enculturation…. [which] is when the church succumbs to its sociocultural environment…” (Pg. 9-10)
He continues, “we can surely hope that God will manage to bring together the human family in its entirety to celebrate the heavenly feast … We shall examine the scriptural referents for this eschatological hope in some detail. Not only will we find the evidence for it overwhelming, but we shall also find that there are severe biblical warnings against assuming that the church has a monopoly on God’s grace.” (Pg. 12)
He suggests, “The universality of this message… and the particularity of this identity, point us toward a distinction we will ultimately find to be unavoidable. For if Christ died for all the world, yet discipleship in its pristine form has not been practiced throughout the church, then we must surely ask whether discipleship and salvation are the same thing. Addressing this question may well be the answer to our North American dilemma.” (Pg. 55)
He states, “God’s redemption of planet Earth is more, much more, than the salvation of individuals. It means that God’s salvation in Christ cannot and must not be reduced to piecemeal soteriological transactions. Any attempt on the part of individual Christians to announce that they are saved is altogether premature. Christians know they are going to be saved; they know they are being saved; and in one sense, they have a foretaste of their salvation. But the fullness of God’s salvation, the culmination of God’s saving-righteousness, the new heavens and the new earth, all of these lie in the future. No one has that fullness; not yet.” (Pg. 64-65)
He asks rhetorically, “If Christ has accomplished our salvation, is the proclamation of the Good News at all efficacious? Is there any point to committing to a costly discipleship in order to take this Good News to the ends of the earth? Is human response to the gospel of any significance, if our salvation is in fact a birthright by virtue of our very humanity? The answer is a resounding Yes! To each of these questions… no citizen of this planet can merely inherit this birthright. The birthright must be realized in a way of life which is compatible with the coming reign of God. The children of God must behave like the children of God. Then, and only then, will Christ’s work be done.” (Pg. 93)
He observes, “Our salvation, therefore, is not in our own hands. It is a divine fiat… this is a salvation that is going to prevail, all worldly resistance and procrastination notwithstanding. We do not, therefore, invite people to be saved… Rather, we inform them of their salvation, and suggest that, since the new age of Jesus Christ is already here and imminently to be fulfilled, this is a reality they would be well advised to accept---right now. For in this new age of God’s ‘basilea,’ the retention of sinful bad habits will cause a marked degree of discomfort.” (Pg. 106-107)
He concludes, “our churchly identity must be one of an inclusive, unconditional, open, gracious community. Congregations must be places where people find forgiveness and reconciliation in Christ through the infinitely varied and empathetic working of the Holy Spirit, irrespective of their response to the gospel or the depth of their commitment to Christian discipleship.” (Pg. 140)
He adds, “We need to make room for disciplined disciples to share the leadership of the church, who will keep the church centered on Jesus Christ… there once was a time when our congregations were rich in such mentors. Many of us can remember them from our childhood and youth… Such mentors will be needed again if our ecclesial channels of grace become unblocked… We will find them again, however, only if we allow them to become our mentors, and let them share in the leadership of congregations…. not as those who are closer to Christ than the rest of us, but as those who are more seasoned in their obedience to Christ… as those who, treading the path ahead, are showing the rest of us how to work out our salvation.” (Pg. 145-146)
More about Christian discipleship in the modern world than about the doctrine of “Universal Salvation,” this book will interest many studying contemporary church issues.