Fifth Sunday after Pentecost 2011 notes

Unitarian Universalists come-inters from Evangelical churches might be interested in Paul’s letter to the Romans, included in the lectionary readings today, which holds an extraordinary level of esteem in those churches and so might seem inappropriate in our setting. (I’m reading the Romans passage as 8:18-40.) But the letter has been a touchstone for those who believe in God’s complete salvation, and so I’m not going to attempt to write preaching notes on it. There’s simply too much there and it demands a delicate analysis. If you enjoy a good theological read, consider Jan Bonda’s The One Purpose of God: An Answer to the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment — which I need to pick up again.

Still, even without a close parsing, Paul’s understanding of the world (8:22-23, here KVJ) conceives of salvation in cosmic terms, and certainly not in cherry-picking certain persons out of a lost or hostile universe. And the language of childbirth undercuts a reading of particular favor.

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

But matched with the gospel (Luke 6: 36-42), a teaching of Jesus on equity and mercy, and includes “the mote in the eye” also has a tantalizing passage at verse 40: “A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher.” (NRSV) From this we have a hope that we grow in faith and discipline to be more like God. More creative, more loving, more relational, more giving and more saving.


By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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