I am about to finish the book "If God Is Love: Rediscovering Grace in an Ungracious World" by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland. I've been deeply touched by the message. The authors wrote another book together, "If Grace Is True", in which they stated their belief in universal salvation. This book builds on that by outlining how such a belief can (and should) affect every aspect of our lives. One of the most important messages I have gotten is that a life of grace is lived, not by accepting Jesus as Savior, but by striving to live a life like his. The authors do not make this simplistic. They say, over and over again, that it is NOT an easy way to live. "Gracious Christianity is committed to the lifestyle of Jesus, cofident that living his way of life can usher in the kingdom of God." Some other quotes from the book:
"...beliefs matter. Beliefs are not harmless. They have the power to shape our world, for good or ill. Religious beliefs are especially potent, shaping how we think of and act toward God, others, and ourselves."
"When religion doesn't temper our selfishness and remind us of our responsibilities to others, religion is worthless, an exercise in self-justification."
"Grace is God's commitment to love us regardless"
"Grace is the unfailing commitment to love all persons, regardless of their beliefs. Only grace makes it possible for those who believe differently to respect and relate to one another."
And the one that touched me deeply...
"Empathy walks hand in hand with grace. As long as I guarded the gates of my life carefully, allowing only those who were like me into my relationships, my home and my heart, I could find reasons to be ungracious."
I know for many people the idea of universal salvation is akin to heresy and I understand why that is. For myself, I can remember wondering as a teen and young adult how it was possible that only the Baptists (the churches we did attend were mostly Baptist) would go to heaven leaving all of the other people out. How was it that my sweet, little grandmother, a Methodist, was not to be rewarded with eternal life simply because she attended the church next door?? Then, of course, I met and married someone of a completely different faith. That really turned my beliefs upside down, and I've been a seeker ever since! This book helped me put into words some of the beliefs that I've developed over the last few years, but most importantly it has called me to action. It has called me to Grace.