The specter of universalism and a manifesto of egalitarianism

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[c] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

(1 Corinthians 15:20-28)

“In Christ all will be made alive”

In a Youtube video, an evangelical christian ministry claimed that its pastor debunked universal salvation in 60 seconds. In my opinion, 60 seconds is too short for an in-depth study of the historical, cultural and linguistic context of the passage. When one takes into account the time reference and audience relevance, one will realise the apostle Paul was writing to the followers in the first century AD, when the end of the old covenant age was imminent, as symbolized by the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in AD70. They were the firstfruits who awoke to the good news of who they were in Christ, while the rest of humanity shall follow in our own order, awakening to our true identity that we are all one in Christ, in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, and so on. This continues to set in motion the revolution Jesus came to bring – to open the eyes of the blind to see our true identity, to liberate those who are oppressed by the hierarchical power structure of the world system (aka principalities and powers), and so on.

“A specter is haunting Christianity – the specter of Universalism”

1 Corinthians 15, to me, is not so much about universal salvation as it is about universalism. My dictionary defines universalism as “something that is inclusive or promotes inclusivity, instead of sectarianism”. Drew Sumrall wrote an excellent introduction on this topic in his book “An Essay Toward Universal Revolution”, as shown below.

“A specter is haunting Christianity – the specter of Universalism. All the fundamentalist powers have entered into a holy alliance – forming a Moral Majority – to exorcise this specter. Where is the body in opposition to sectarian doctrine that has not been decried as schismatically inclusive by its opponents in power? Where is the religionist sect that has not hurled back the branding reproach of apostasy against even the more orthodox indifferent bodies, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?

Two things result from this fact:

1. Universalism is already acknowledged by all fundamentalist powers to be itself a power.

2. It is time that egalitarians should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the specter of Universalism with a manifesto of egalitarianism.”

My dear brothers and sisters, what is to come is already becoming. The seeds of revolution have long since been planted – autumn is upon us. What the fundamentalist powers have resolved to deny those outside their sanctuaries shall no longer be denied even the faithful – Pauline equality is ineluctable, for the abhorrent exhibition of the corrupt fiction of moral sovereignty has exhausted the pharisaical sectarianism of institutional hierarchy – liberation stands at the tyrannized exile’s door, and knocks.”

(Chapter 1 “On the Gospel of the Negation of Negation”, “An Essay Toward Universal Revolution” by Drew Sumrall)

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