Uncomfortable conversations

OK, I admit it, I’m feeling smug. See, as a Universalist I always feel a little smug when someone else finally figures out that the most powerful force in the universe is love.

I’ve just finished reading Gulley and Mulholland’s book from 2003 titled If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person. Gully and Mulholland are two evangelical pastors from Indiana who finally spoke out publicly in this book as proponents of universal salvation — as universalists. While they have been savagely attacked for their views, their book is selling well, has even made it into paperback.

Needless to say, their universalism differs substantially from mine. Their God is entirely male, their book is the Bible, their vocabulary is that of conservative North American Christianity. As for me, it’s impossible to assign gender to transcendence, my books include Hebrew and Christian scriptures as well as the Analects, the Bhagavad Gita, and the I Ching, and my vocabulary is definitely Unitarian Universalist.

Yet while I found much in their book I do not agree with, I am glad to have found the book. As a Unitarian Universalist, I really am committed to opening up dialogue across faith boundaries. As a Unitarian Universalist living in this part of Illinois, I often have to try to explain my faith to evangelical and fundamentalist Christians — and these tend to be uncomfortable conversations for someone like me who doesn’t quote the Bible chapter and verse. I’m always looking for a place to meet such folks halfway — a place where we can at least start a conversation. Gulley and Mulholland’s book might just provide such a place.