So as I mentioned a month or so ago, I think I might be close to leaning towards possibly almost believing in universal salvation. I am currently reading If Grace is True
by Gulley & Mullholland, and for the most part I've been jiving with a lot of what they've had to say. That is until I got to the part where they talk about Jesus.
From what I gather, they don't believe or proclaim the divinity of Jesus. In fact, they say that is why Jesus discouraged people from spreading the news about him. They say that Jesus didn't come to die for our sins. They say that because God is a God of grace and love and forgiveness, there was never a need for anyone to die. They say that Jesus came to witness to and bring people into relationship with God and the wonderful grace of God, and it was because of our resistance to grace that Jesus ended up dying. They say it's appropriate, though, to still refer to Jesus as Savior because he is the one that has enabled us to be in relationship with God.
The authors use the example of one of their friends named Tracy who was in jail after admitting his guilt to a crime. While in prison he became depressed and suicidal and reached out to one of the authors, asking him to come and visit. The author began meeting with him weekly, praying for him and telling him of God's love and forgiveness. Eventually, Tracy began to believe in God and in the forgiveness that God offers, and said to the author, "Thank you so much. You saved my life." The author corrected him, saying that God is the One who saved his life, but Tracy replied, "I know that, but you were the one who showed me God's love." The authors claim that this is how Jesus is our Savior, not so much that his death was a salvific death but that for many it was Jesus who visited them in their dark moments and showed God's love. The authors claim that they don't believe that Jesus was fully human and fully divine, but that God was present in Jesus in the same manner that God wishes to be present in each of us.
This is kind of where my train derails from their track. I'm not sure that I can agree with that. I believe that Jesus was God incarnate, who came to live amongst God's people. I believe that Jesus was Immanuel, God with us. I don't think that Jesus needed to die, but I think that God chose for it to happen out of God's love for us. God sacrificed Godself, in the form of Jesus, so that we would all be gathered together. Are universal salvation and the salvificness (is that a word?) of Jesus' death mutually exclusive? Could it be that Jesus' death saves even those who don't believe? I don't know... just a thought.