Raven is the pen name used by Editor, Rich Koster. For over the 63 years of his life Rich has
been a teacher, minister, truck driver, and chaplain. He holds a bachelors degree in English from
Hope College and two degrees from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, and he has served
churches in Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, and Iowa. He became the Universalist Herald editor in
January, 2004. Contact him at: email@example.com.
In the Year 2525
Learn From the Children
NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP
NO ONE LEFT BEHIND
THE BATTLE WE FACE
THE TORCH OF INCLUSIVENESS
THE END OF IT ALL
In the Year 2525
We live on a piece of spinning rock sailing around a very hot star, itself in orbit around a huge
galaxy of stars, and our galaxy is just one of maybe billions of galaxies that are soaring through
space at incredible speed toward who knows where.
We are homo sapiens, a very, very new species of life on this rock, and our desire is that it be
able to support our kin for a good while to come. But we wonder, are we a bit much for this rock
to handle? Can we make it to 2525, much less 2125?
A picture of the earth taken from 300 miles up just a couple hundred years ago would probably
not have shown any evidence of our distinct presence. Indeed, about the only evidence of life at
all would have been the green forest canopy, correctly analyzed, and maybe the red algae
swarming in the sea.
We may sing, “This Is My Father’s World,” but the planet is now ours to take care of, at least for a
little while yet - if we can keep our dwindling resources from being completely exhausted. If not,
then we might be the most short-lived species of life ever to make its appearance on this fast-
We say we want to take the “long view”, and then at most we do our projections out a few
decades or so. But a true long view for surviving on this planet would will look out at least several
thousand years, like maybe to Year 6025.
Nearly everything we plan and do is short-sighted. It is as though we are playing on the sandy
shore of Thailand while a little way off a tsunami is gathering force. Our leaders are tragically the
most short-sighted of all, trying bravely to sustain an engine of production that is our own worst
We are caught in a trap of decreasing options and everyone talks about the “market” when they
should be talking more about the dirt and water and air that gives us things to market.
We talk about a return to nature. We ARE nature. We are in it and we are part of it, every
moment and everywhere. The universe is nature, and if there is such a thing as a “natural order”
its scope is at least the distance traveled by our galaxy . All the stars and all the gases and all the
comets and all the planets and black holes and white dwarfs are a part of nature. And if energy
and heat and movement were to be seen as elements essential to an ecosystem, then that is what
our universe is - a very large ecosystem.
So why do we get so excited about picking up some rubbish along a stream while so much of what
we do in life is to make more and more rubbish? How can we believe we are returning to nature
when we join a birding walk or sit side by side in two bathtubs overlooking a placid lake?
We must at least be humble and admit that we can no longer control the beast we have
unleashed on this rock. The beast is our own rubbish-making engine of production, overloading
the world market for a preposterously over sized mass of consumers that is spreading all over this
planet like something in SYFY and either exploiting or destroying just about everything in our
path. Like a devouring plague of locusts we are.
As in the film, Soylent Green, might one day we have to resort to devouring our own kind?
Yes, we are homo sapiens, the “wise man”!! We sit at our telescopes wondering if there is
intelligent life on some other planet, when we ought to be hoping there is intelligent life on this one.
I remember a cartoon I saw years ago, with two little Martians watching in the sky as the earth
blows up. One Martian says to the other, “Ah! There is proof there was intelligent life on that
Learn From the Children
I finally decided that the whole story as I received it is longer than I had room for, but it is such a
wonderful reminiscence that it begs at least to be summed up and reported.
You may have seen it by now, the story of how a special needs little boy was given the chance to
play baseball, then was called up to bat with the other team ahead, bases loaded, and two outs,
and he “hits” a game-winning home run.
But it was the players on the other team who “won” the real game that day. For when the
pitcher realized what was taking place he came up very close and pitched the ball underhand oh
so softly, so softly that on his second throw, Shay managed to get his bat on it and dribbled it
back to the pitcher.
But when everyone expected an easy throw to first and the end of the game, the pitcher sent the
ball sailing high over the first baseman’s head, with Shay careening into the bag and then
heading to second amid shouts of “run, Shay, run!”
By the time Shay made it into second and the first baseman’s throw went sailing into left field,
everyone was yelling and shouting, all the boys on the field and the fans in the stands, all caught
up in this divine drama unfolding among them. “Run, Shay, Run!” they cried out in one mad
marvelous chorus, as the little boy who his whole life long had dreamed of playing baseball with
the boys now rounded third and came charging down the line into home.
“If you will just turn around and become like little children,” Jesus said, “you will surely enter the
dominion of the Highest and the Best.”
A similar drama played out on a high school softball field in Oregon as one of the shortest players
on one team hit her first ever home run, only to miss first base and then, in turning around, to fall
down with a severe ACL tear in her knee. Unable to get up and run, and with her teammates and
coaches barred from even touching her, the league’s best home run hitter, a player on the
opposing team, went up to the umpire and asked if it was within the rules for players on her team
to touch the fallen girl.
He said it was permitted, and so this diamond heroine and a teammate went over and picked her
up and carried her around the bases, leaning over just enough for her toe to touch each bag,
until everyone converged in a glorious celebration as the girl was set down again on home plate.
“Let the little children lead them.”
And finally, I call your attention to the poem on the previous page, just one of many marvelous
pieces of verse written by a very marvelous boy at the tender age of 10 years old.
Mattie J. T. Stepanek died of a rare form of muscular dystrophy just a few days short of his 14th
birthday, but after leaving us with a lifetime of poignant verse and showing a wisdom defying his
Well known country singer Billy Gilman put a bunch of Mattie’s poems into song in an album that
went to #15 on the Top Country chart,
and the poem on page 21 is one of them.
All of Mattie Stepanek’s anthologies of verse were national best-sellers, and his very special
friend, former president Jimmy Carter, told the 1350 persons gathered at the boy’s funeral, that
Mattie was “the most extraordinary human being” he had ever known.
As we think about what is right and wrong, and how we can make the best use of the time that we
have been given on this planet, it may be well for us to listen and learn from the children.
NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP
In my reading for this issue I came across an assertion, often encountered before, that religion
was born to answer these two questions from human cultures in all times and places: (1) why do
things happen as they do; and (2) what happens to us when we die?
What does happen to us when we die? I kept a little clipping from the Des Moines Register from
May 18, 2006, telling how on the day before the state of Texas executed a man who had killed a
mother and her son in 1997.
The fellow’s last words were to his mother and to God: “Momma, stay strong. Lord, forgive me
for my sins because here I come. A cocky faith? A strong faith? An unfounded faith?
I have no hard data for it but I am willing to bet that there are not many people on this planet who
believe that death is the last word on our lives. The belief in life after death is certainly endemic
among the common people here in this country - even among those who still call God “the man
A lot of people grew up kneeling by their bed and saying, “if I should die before I wake I pray the
Lord my soul to take.” The soul here seems to be defined as sort of like a mysterious little glob of
something residing deep within us, and when we die then God like reaches down and grabs it and
brings it up to heaven to be with Jesus.
Heaven! For those of us raised as good little Christian boys and girls, it’s hard to imagine a
universe without a heaven, or some place at least where we will keep on going forever like
spiritual energizer bunnies. But when we take a look at the universe as the big telescopes are
showing us today, it is even harder to imagine where that heaven might be.
A fourth dimension, perhaps? Beyond time and space, even beyond the far edge of the big
bang? Do we hover for a time just on the other side of the veil, able to see and to communicate
with our loved ones left behind? Do we “go toward the light”?
Evidence for life after death is presented by a community of scholars and thinkers who study the
reports of people who “die and then come back to life” - Near Death Experiences or NDEs.
A man named Kevin Williams is a member of that community and on his web site he makes the
startling claim that “NDEs will soon prove the survival of consciousness after death without any
doubt and this will bring greater love and unity to the world.”
According to a September 8, 2008 article in Time, “a fellow at New York City's Weill Cornell
Medical Center, Dr. Sam Parnia, is one of the world's leading experts on the scientific study of
Last week Parnia and his colleagues at the Human Consciousness Project announced their first
major undertaking: a 3-year exploration of the biology behind "out-of-body" experiences. “
One hoped-for result of the study is to gather solid scientific evidence that consciousness
continues even after the brain stops functioning. What they have learned so far is that
immediately after the heart stops beating and the blood stops flowing, “the cells go into a kind of a
frenzy to keep themselves alive. And within about five minutes or so they start to damage or
What people who have had a NDE tell us is that during this time when the heart has stopped and
there seems to be no brain activity, they still were conscious somehow, and they can report back
to us just what was going on “in their mind”.
Maybe we’ll have to change the prayer to “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul
to keep. And if my heart and blood stop flowing, I know the Lord will keep me going.”
Fairly lily-white was my young world. As a child up through 7th grade my school and town seemed
to have no people of color, and my only glimpses of African-Americans were those I saw along the
main road north into Grand Rapids.
That changed the moment we moved to a town where many black families dotted the countryside.
Some of the best athletes and prettiest girls were black. Not having been “carefully taught” that
they were “less than” or inferior, I accepted them as they were and enjoyed their friendship.
One of the best things about our new home was that it was surrounded by lots of fruit farms and
a boy could make good money picking cherries and apples and blueberries. I especially liked
picking blueberries, and early August would find me standing in a row of Rubles (7 cents a pound)
or Jerseys (6 cents a pound) talking to the people around me or throwing berries at unsuspecting
The first day on the job I became aware of an older black man named Chester. I grew to like him
so much that I would try to locate him on my arrival and then I would start picking the back side of
the bush he was on, as together we worked our way down the row. What I remember most was
Chester’s hair: short, well-groomed, salt and pepper. He had the most kindly smile and bright,
and he had the most interesting tales to tell. My years of “berrying” were made more enjoyable
picking with Chester.
The years passed and after college and seminary I moved far away. But one day I was back
home in Michigan walking with my wife down the street in South Haven, and we stopped to get a
“soft” ice cream cone. I turned from the counter and out of the corner of my eye I saw a very
disheveled black man with stooped shoulders and the reddened and teary eyes of an alcoholic.
An old remembrance came rushing back and I looked closer.
“Chester!”, I cried. “Chester, is that you?” The man turned and started walking away. I had an
impulse to run after him, but my better sense told me that he had somehow recognized me too,
and his sudden shame would only be increased if I did.
But as he shuffled away down the street, I watched him go with a deep mix of feelings. What had
happened to my old berrying friend in the years gone by? Or had I just seen him in his brighter
days, when he was able to get by on the little income from buckets of Rubles and Jerseys? What
had been his life during the winter months? Why had he been picking blueberries anyway, with
the meager income that must have provided?
A black girl in my class was in many activities, including the Student Council. It had seemed to me
that Jeannie was one of the more popular girls in school. But years later, she has yet to attend a
class reunion. Instead she talks about the subtle but insidious prejudice she often encountered
during her high school years.
I was stunned to hear her story! I had no idea, no idea at all. Maybe that is the way racism shows
up in my life: not noticing, not seeing, not paying attention. How many other instances of
prejudice and bigotry went sailing right before my eyes but I never saw? How many times had I
said a word or glanced a glance that was pity but not love. How often did I fail to do what I could,
to reduce the residue of racism still clinging to my soul? (p. 7) “None of us are clean”, Denzel
Washington’s character said in the movie, Glory. But we can get more clean as we get more clear
about the subtle ways we are part of the problem.
What can the idea of “universal salvation” possibly mean in the context of everything we are
learning about the age and the size and the make-up of the universe?
When Billy Graham suggested that “the celestial city” must be “up north somewhere”, he was
merely exhibiting a natural tendency we all have, to put homo sapiens at the center of everything,
as though the entire universe circled around this planet.
What we have learned is that all the circling taking place in the far-flung heavens is a small thing
compared to the vast onrush of it all toward some as yet indiscernible location way out near the
far edge of the expanding universe.
Consider this. It takes the earth just about 365 days to circle the sun, or about one degree each
day. But it takes the sun, with the earth and all the rest of our solar system, about 225 million
years to complete its orbit around the Milky Way galaxy!
Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is itself traveling
at a speed of about 1.3 million miles per hour toward “something” that evidently has an awful lot
of material “stuff” already. There are some astronomers who call it “The Great Attractor.”
The idea of Universal Salvation was born of the conviction that the Creator of the universe is in
the process of making everything new again, and that this means a new and glorious life for all
human beings ever born on the earth. (Romans 8:22-23; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Colossians 1:
But where do we put the emphasis? Is the whole creation being made new for the sake of a
handful of organisms on a teeny rock orbiting a little star in the Milky Way? Or is the destiny of
those organisms simply one side-effect of a total evolution of the universe toward harmony and
We have to say at least one thing about all the scientists and preachers who keep pushing the
idea of “special creation,” “intelligent design”, and a brief 10,000 years or so as the age of the
universe. They are putting us at the center of it all, as though God did, in fact, create this vast
expansive cosmos just for our own benefit.
That, it seems to me, is really the key to shaping a universalist faith for the future. In all our
thinking and debating, we need as much as possible to get out of this self-deifying
anthropomorphism that puts us at the center of everything.
I have been reading again the wonderful writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Even that long
ago, in the 1930s, this marvelous Jesuit paleontologist declared that it is absurd any more to think
that the earth is the only inhabitable planet in the universe, and we are the only living organisms
that have risen to the top of the chart.
Universalism, then, is by its own inherent logic a highly monistic portrait of the nature and destiny
of the universe, and we with it. It is all one piece, and every religious and philosophical dualism is
a false picture of reality.
The traditional Christian premise is that when we die our bodies remain here as part of the matter
that is the “stuff” the universe is made up of, while our souls “go to” another place called
“heaven”. But when we try to locate “heaven” somewhere “beyond” the universe, not only do we
run out of any words that make sense, but we also remove ourselves from this universe that itself
is moving toward what Teilhard calls the Omega Point when everything there is becomes the
“divine milieu”, i.e., a universe that has been fully and completely redeemed.
Any other portrait of the future that separates the destiny of human beings from the destiny of the
cosmos is therefore a false portrait. Universal salvation can mean nothing less than the full and
final evolution of the universe to a condition of material and spiritual perfection.
If the universe is not destined to become whole and perfect, then neither are we. And the
“blessed assurance” of faith can only be true if the evolution of the universe gives evidence that
we are all indeed going in the same direction.
Several years ago, when I had time to take part in the UUCF List Serve moderated by Julie
Leonard, I posted these words about the source and authority of my universalist faith:
Julie, et al.
My conviction about universalism is only fractionally from scripture, reason, and tradition.
And I even hesitate to use the phrase, religious experience, because that can so easily be
understood to refer to my experience of scripture, tradition, and rational theology.
What strikes me is that all scripture and all tradition are distillations from human experience, and
the paradigm that drives me is Emerson's maxim that my own experience is every bit as valuable
and contributing as any other human's: "The sun shines today also!" (Essay on Nature)
I testify to a personal revelation from God to my mind that we all have a common destiny when our
bodies die. I asked God for illumination about that question and I received it, and that epiphany is
above and beyond all the scriptural interpretation, systematic theology, and rational philosophy.
That epiphany did not answer the question of what that destiny is, or what languages and what
traditions might be explored to portray it.
And though I do have a lively hope in a transcendent community of all humanity continuing a
journey of growth in a future soul-space, that belief rises from a more rational reflection of
scripture, tradition, history, and logic. That is, God has not revealed that to me in the same way
God has shown we all have a common destiny, whatever it may be.
I do argue for a universalist viewpoint on the basis of scripture, tradition, and logic, but none of
those arguments are decisive for me personally.
My epiphany is.
The claim to personal revelation, I know,
is fine fodder for skeptics. And yet, I am
absolutely convinced that Emerson is correct when he exhorts us to “trust thyself. Every heart
vibrates to that iron string.”
The filters by which we come to know what we know are the filters that have served us in the past.
Relativity cannot be wished away.
But when both mind and heart concur in the
convictions that are harvested from our lives, how can we continue in our self-doubt?
I say it was an epiphany - and now yes, you may suggest that then it might have been no more
than a projection, the wish being father of the thought. Or perhaps the internal assurance of an
external process of logic and deduction - an “aha” as it were? No need to declare a divine
disclosure, a message from the Creator!
But no, my friends, I have had many “aha” moments that came purely from a process of rational
reflection. This one, I say, this one - my certainty about universalism - is truly of a different order.
In fact, it came to me at a time when everything in my heart and mind and life was pushing me
back toward the orthodox Christian doctrines.
And so I do trust myself. I trust my epiphany. My certainty of faith comes from God.
NO ONE LEFT BEHIND
Back in 1972 a woman in my little Presbyterian Church brought me a slim paperback book she
said her daughter was forced to read by a substitute teacher in her High School English class.
The teacher was pastor of a small rural Pentecostal church and the book included graphic scenes
of the unsaved being boiled in huge vats of boiling oil at the end of history, with the understanding
these people will continue to boil for all eternity -with the horrendous pain and no relief - and
remain alive and sensate throughout.
What sort of people get off on this stuff? And on a less horrific scale, why do so many otherwise
wonderful and kind people think they have to hold a belief that the vast majority of human beings
will be ‘left behind” by the Creator of the universe?
65,000,000 readers of the Left Behind novels advocating a Great Divide with a few lucky souls
going to be with God and the rest being left behind! How can we possibly compete? I am reminded
of a story inspired by something Loren Eisley wrote in his wonderful book, The Unexpected
Universe. The little vignette by Eiseley was expanded by Joel Barker and since heard by many,
telling of a young boy seen throwing stranded starfish back into the water.
The boy is asked, “There are miles and miles of stranded starfish on the shore. What possible
difference does it do throwing them back one by one?” Heaving another one out into the waves,
the boy replies, “It makes a difference to that one.”
So this is what I propose we do. Let’s make this our banner, our slogan, if only for this year 2008.
Tell at least one person, “No, they’ve got it all wrong. When all is said and done there will be no
one left behind.”
You don’t have to share my faith in a new life after death. You don’t even have to believe that
there is a God you can define as loving or kind.
All you have to do is to say a clear NO to any view of the future that splits us all up into the saved
and unsaved. To borrow a modern motif, if you find someone who believes that, just say NO.
Gal Beckerman in the Columbia Journalism Review (May/June 2004) reported that Tim Lahaye
and Jerry Jenkins had one primary purpose in their “Left Behind” series: “to detail ‘the gruesome
perdition ahead for unbelievers and the merciful salvation awaiting faithful Christians.”
Here is a picture of Jerry and Tim. See their bright smiles, their seeming kindliness. Can’t you
picture each one bouncing a sweet granddaughter on his knee? And yet their “beam me up”
theology would allow for the possibility that their own little child may one day stray from the path
and end up being “left behind” herself.
A dear friend gave me the most precious gift for Christmas, a lovely letter opener engraved with
the words: “All God’s Children - No one left behind.
My dear readers, all around you are persons whose minds have been infected with the virulent
premise that the Creator of the Universe is going to shut out from a future paradise the vast
majority of all the people born on this planet. Tell them it ain’t so. Tell them to really think it
through, and truly to understand what a terrible belief that is. Tell them they are free to hold a
different belief, one that resonates with the best and highest in their own souls. Tell them there will
be no one left behind!
THE BATTLE WE FACE
There all kinds of folks under the Fundamentalist Tent. Some I have shared in community
activities with delight and appreciation, and there are many who exhibit a level of kindness and
compassion that is in contradiction to the creed they espouse.
From a Universalist perspective I find it more helpful to distinguish between inclusive and
exclusivists, especially since some of the latter wear liberal or even leftist stripes.
But Michelle, I do wish to say that our opposition to some versions of fundamentalist Christian
exclusivist is grounded on legitimate concern for their effect on other persons, on our society, and
on the world human community.
When in terms of present or future destiny huge segments of a community hold views that infer or
declare a separation of humanity into two or more groups, then that has an impact on the life of
the world that transcends traditional liberal complaints about the attempted imposition of personal
Putting it more bluntly, when millions of Christians believe that many of the persons they see and
associate with every day will go to some never-ending torment and suffering when they die, that
has a profound impact, not just on their own behavior but on the cumulative effect of their
synchronizing synergistic involvement in society.
Moving through life side by side like an army of darkness they bring us all down. Their
consistently exclusivist convictions powerfully intrude on all the political and cultural arenas of our
Instead of emphasizing our common humanity they emphasize escape for the few. Instead of
expressing hope for collaborative efforts to improve the life of the world they spend their time and
energy trying to save themselves and others for the world to come.
Instead of reaching out to embrace people of different faiths, lifestyles, and world-views, they sit
beneath the cross of Jesus and call their brothers and sisters to become like them, think like
them, and believe like them, lest they are "left behind".
Against such arrogant and polarizing doctrines we must raise our voices in loud protests, fighting
such dark religious views with all our mind, all our heart, and all our strength.
It is much, much more than simply reacting when personally challenged by a fundamentalist
Christian, or feeling like our rights to religious freedom are being threatened. We are in a battle
for human minds and lives.
THE TORCH OF INCLUSIVENESS
Someone familiar with the history of the Universalist Church in America may wonder what I mean
when I suggest that our movement's brightest days lie ahead. Am I saying I hope to see some sort
of re-creation of the Universalist Church of the 19th Century, one that revives the original focus
on challenging the Christian doctrine that some or most people born on this planet end up at
death going to some place of eternal pain and suffering?
Well, no and yes. I am fully aware of that reasonable sentiment which suggests the victory of
historic Universalism lay not in the organizational growth and prosperity of the UCA but rather in
the absorption of its principal message by certain other groups and churches. And so, by this
reading, the continued triumph of the Universalist movement may then be envisioned, not in a new
group, and certainly not in a mutiny from the UUA, but in the wider and fuller acceptance of a
Universalist view of the nature and destiny of humankind.
So no, then, I don't see a new group or a mutiny in the ranks. But yes, I do see a revival of our
original focus on challenging the doctrine, whether Christian or otherwise, that there will be a
Great Divide of all people who ever lived on earth, with some going to eternal Heaven and the rest
going to eternal Hell. And, more important than that, I do see the Universalist movement as once
again picking up the torch of inclusiveness and once again holding forth the shining light of our
common humanity, our common spiritual connectedness, and our common destiny.
I believe this is going to happen because the need for that challenge is greater than ever. I
alluded to that need in my recent article on "The New Fundamentalism", and I wish to emphasize it
again here. What people believe does have an impact on how they live; and no matter how much
true love and compassion they hold in their hearts, men and women and children who go to
churches where they are continually told that all people who do not accept Jesus as Lord and
Savior will go to hell surely will reflect that teaching in their behavior toward other people.
I am reminded of a man in the church I pastored not far north of Kalamazoo. I loved the man! He
was a crusty old fisherman, LJ., who made his living netting for trout and walleye in northern Lake
Michigan, and then he had retired with his sweet wife, Florence, to own a resort on one of our
lovely Michigan lakes. Our children loved to go there and affectionately called the Strayers
"Grandma and Grandpa Gun Lake."
LJ and Florence had two sons, and one was a born-again Christian with a heart-felt anxiety about
the eternal destiny of his father. Never mind that there was an emotional gulf between them, a
chasm of estrangement that cried out to be healed and closed over. And wasn't that the matter
they needed to deal with! But easier it was, for the son to keep Dad at arm's length and
commiserate about his fate after death!!!
So we had a Father-Son banquet and these two men were there together. As I was walking
around greeting folks the son motioned me over and in a hushed whisper he told me that he was
afraid his father was going to go to hell and what was I doing about that? I replied by saying that I
surely did not agree that his Dad was going to hell, and please don't even suggest such a thing,
and meanwhile why not try to get closer to him before he died.
I imagine the most humanist and agnostic streams of the UUA see absolutely no reason to
challenge and engage people who believe things like this son evidently did. Live and let live, and
let everyone follow their own spiritual path. If some people wish to hold such ridiculous notions in
their heads, why is that any of our business?
But I don't see it that way. For one thing, I have always seen the realm of ideas and beliefs as a
vital arena for discussion and debate, and if what we say has no effect on the person we're
debating it may have an effect on someone who is watching and listening, especially the kids, the
ones whose minds have not yet petrified.
Or do we want a whole new generation of children growing up to think that by the will of God they
alone are on their way to the promised land while everyone who has a different belief, or a
different lifestyle, or merely a different spiritual path, is on their way to eternal suffering? That kind
of thinking is what lead inevitably to hell on earth.
Raven is the pen name used by our Senior Editor, Rich Koster.
The End of It All
In a Letter to the Editor, Charles Henry asks, "Why a separate Universalist publication?" That's a
good question and I trust there will be some others who will quickly venture a response.
There are some who say that the decline of Universalism as a theological proclamation during the
20th century was offset by the quiet absorption of Universalist views among other churches and
spiritual movements. The assumption is that there are lots and lots of closet Universalists hiding in
Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, and even Episcopalian circles, to name just a few.
My take on this thesis is that if it is true then all these hidden Universalists need to come out of the
closet right now and join the fight against the Great Divide and Exclusivist theologies that quite
frankly are winning the day.
Another reader commented to me privately on what she saw to be some fairly conservative
Christian language in a certain Universalist website. While that is not the direction we wish to take
the Herald, we will certainly recognize as allies in this fight any group, any community, or any
spiritual leader who takes a clear position that all humanity shares a common destiny after death.
If you are a humanist who holds that we all die totally and finally, body and mind and soul, and
there is no future existence for anyone after death, then we count you as our comrade in arms.
If you are an evangelical Christian restorationist who holds that the crucifixion of Jesus was the
sacrifice for sin that ultimately brings eternal life to all people, then you are our ally as well.
Now if you think you see in the Herald a more lively interest in the Christian part of this campaign,
it is for good reason.
They are the ones we wish to save, the people we hope to convert.
Just saying that might certainly be enough to provide a clear rationale for a separate Universalist
publication. But then saying it is not the same thing as doing it, and we might be quick to admit
that there are other worthy goals that are reason enough to continue the Herald. Such as being a
support to the vocal Universalist remnant and celebrating our heritage such as it is.
Not long ago I ran across a fellow I had not seen in 42 years, since we were in Church School
together in a conservative Reformed church. Since then I had moved and he had not and the fact
was evident when I told him about my wife. You see, my wife is a Unity minister, and when I told
Darwin that she is, his quick response was, "Looks like you have some work to do.” Meaning,
you'd better get her to believe in Jesus or when the end comes you'll be in heaven and she'll be in
hell, and you sure don't want that, now do you? And I have no doubt my old friend was sincerely
thinking I would agree with him.
But he's wrong, of course! I am open to changing my mind on a lot of things, but never on my
conviction as to the end of it all. Whatever it is, final death or new life, we'll all be there.
Raven is the pen name used by Editor, Rich Koster.