About a year ago, Steven HAuse interviewed me at Universalist National Memorial Church as part of his project to make a documentary — Love Unrelenting — about the theology and history of universal salvation. He gave me a head’s-up when he separately published the clips that didn’t fit into the documentary and then the film itself. But being sensitive about how I sound and look on video, and knowing that I would be sharing airtime with some of the leading figures of a revived universalist work, I just couldn’t watch it.
But I owed it to him to watch it, and used the cold weather to pull it up on YouTube; I’m glad I did. HAute set out the three usual Christian doctrines of human destiny: the “traditional option” eternal conscious torment, conditional immortality (also know as annihilationism) and universal reconciliation, and let proponents of each speak from their convictions. But the goal was to highlight universal reconciliation and so wrestled with the biblical, theological and ethical dimensions, introducing them in an approachable manner.
The audience is not Unitarian Universalists, or even our remaining Universalist Christians, but potential members of new generation of believers in universal reconciliation, many of whom come out of Evangelical backgrounds, and may or may not be interested in particular Universalist churches. (None I’ve seen express an interest in the UUA, and they often make the point to distinguish themselves from it.) The arguments and approaches are very familiar to any student of pre-1920s Universalism, which makes perfect sense as so many of those long-past Universalists would have walked the same path. Plus, it’s heartening to me to hear the same affirmations that God has both the desire and the power to save all; it can be lonely in this part of the vineyard. Like Simeon (today’s lectionary gospel), I know that this hope will never perish.
Also, I was cheered to see friends, colleagues, a seminary mate (not then universalist) and others I’ve corresponded with over the years. I saw for the first time footage and interviews from the Doujin (Dojin) Christian Church, Tokyo (Japanese language site): the last survivor of the Universalist Japan mission. In the extra clips, I saw for the first time video and interviews with Primitive Baptist Universalists. I am so happy and cheered. HAuse has made an incredible document; you should subscribe to his channel and watch these videos.