or How to be a Calvinist.
Welcome to the first of a three part experiment in reverse engineered theology. We start with a critique of Universalism and work backward from there. For today, part one we look at the following criticism leveled at Universalism:
What about Hitler?
The “what about Hitler” response, or “wah” for short, is a common one that almost any out-of-the-closet Universalist will have to come to grips with. The wah comes when you explain to your fellow religionist that you do in fact believe that God’s gonna do it* for everyone in some mysterious way. Your thinking of people like Gandhi being with God and their mind immediately focuses on the fact that you just let Hitler into their perfect little heaven.
They can’t imagine being in heaven with Jesus and Adolf Hitler drinking tea together. The reason of course is that Hitler was vicious, evil, destructive, and insane. And you the “Universalist” let him in. What kind of twisted heart do you have?
The wah is what comes from a deep abiding belief that somehow God is directly tied to your life “feeling” fair and just. Somehow Hitler and Gandhi should receive different treatment for what they did on this earth. In Eastern religious thought it is often referred to as Karma. It is the idea that somehow in someway its like we each get our lives looked at and that we get what we deserve.
However, the standardized atonement theory rejects this. They say take a look around at what’s going on, take a look honestly inside of yourself, and ask yourself if you couldn’t use some mercy. Of course! We, all of us fallen sinners, need way more mercy, and very likely need to show a lot more too. The church’s solution comes in the form of the good news that God provided for this mercy with Jesus. According to the church this is the good news, the gospel. And its not whether you deserve it, the good news is that its all about grace!
The church also presents that God has a technical problem with the whole grace plan. The problem is that God uses Jesus as a secret handshake. All redemption is tied up with the question of whether you know the secret or not. So it is a limited form of grace. However, its really awesome if you’re one of the one’s who has it. And maybe the coolest part is that once you get it, you have it for eternity.
One of the Christians who had it, was Adolf Hitler. One who did not was Gandhi. So it is often important to remember this one point when you have been asked a wah: Hitler was saved, baptized, believed, and the whole nine yard.
I pledge that I never will tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity… We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit … We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press -Adolf Hitler
The difference between all forms of limited atonement and universalism is not that the Universalists let Hitler into heaven. The difference is that that they keep Gandhi out. And of course the majority of everyone who ever lived.
What the speaker of the wah, (the wahher), hasn’t really thought about is that they are in fact defending the doctrine that puts Hitler in heaven while all of the Jews he systematically tortured and murdered are cast out.
If the wahher had taken the time to realize that this is the very doctrine they are defending it is unlikely that they would have asked “what about Hitler” in the first place. In fact, Universalists should start using wah ourselves. Wouldn’t that be fair after all? To all the exclusionists and other haters out there who disbelieve in God’s sovereign grace because of who it might let in.. WAH?
peace and grace,
P.S. Yes Universalism is open to the argument that we believe God will let Hitler in. But any non-Universalist has a lot more to explain for. I mean even if I believed in limiting God’s grace and that somehow some are left out, the moment I believe God chooses Hitler over the millions and millions of people he executed I pray that I become an atheist. I rather do my best in Hell with the executed.
* “IT” being the the religious position on salvation that says God so loved the world that there was an incarnation to effect the redemptive transformation that makes you lovable enough for God to love you once again instead of despise you enough to cast you into Hellfire forever and thus living off your own urine while demons poke you with pointy sticks.