For several years now I have been attracted to Brian McLaren and his ideas of what Christianity should be. Brian is generally thought to be one of the leaders of the Emergent movement in Christianity. After reading most any of Brian's books, one would soon begin to ask: "Brian, are you a Universalist or would you consider yourself an inclusionist?"
I have seen Brian seemingly dance around this issue numerous times on numerous occasions. His response has left me unsatisfied. I've always liked his approach to the subject of "Original Sin". Just for clarity, I like Matthew Fox's idea of "Original Blessing" much better. Brian's approach seemed at least to me to be somewhere in between. But, I still felt that he needed to further clarify his position. I know Brian is not inerrantist. Still I wanted him to clarify, simply, so I could understand, where he stands in the world of modern/traditional Christianity. Finally, I think he has done that for me....for the most part. The following is Brian's response to being asked if he believes in Universal Salvation:
.............centuries of tradition have taught good Christians to make unwarranted assumptions - for example, that "salvation" means "exemption from hell," or that "judgment" means "sending to hell," or that "Jesus died for our sins" means "Jesus died as a penal substitutionary sacrifice to solve the problem of original sin." Instead, we're reading the Bible with different hypotheses - that "salvation" means "liberation, healing, correction, and restoration," that "judgment" goes beyond punishment to restoration and so means "confronting evil and setting things right," that "Jesus died for our sins" can mean "Jesus died because of our sins," or "Jesus died to turn and heal us from our sins."
That's why I think the old ...... system that divides people into exclusivists, inclusivists, and universalists offers people.............. three ways of being increasingly irrelevant and unhelpful.
My critics love to say that I'm evading (dancing around) the issue. I wish they could come to understand that it's much worse than that. I'm rejecting the whole paradigm that defines the issue as it does.
All of Traditional Christianity, as well as most of Universalist Christianity, Emergent Christianity, seem to me to be so sure of each's position (dogma?). I on the other hand, as a result of ten years of research, searching for answers (answers which were never offered me in my previous Christian experience), have come to the conclusion that I probably know, with certainty, less about God, whom I now call "The Ground of All Being", than I did when I started my quest. I am a believer; a "Believer in Exile" (from the church) until an epiphany gives me clarity of this seemingly unfathomable subject.
To read Brian's complete response to the question, please follow this link: http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/after-reading-why-did-jesus.html