A friend of mine is convinced Jesus is coming and the world is ending next Christmas (or is it two years from now? I forget).
She is also convinced all will be saved.
The source of her conviction is private revelation, of the kind that gets one committed to the psych ward.
Yet there is a kind of mushy universalism out there, isn’t there? And a total loss of the sense of sin, of falling short, of needing a Savior that makes us assume that as we are we and all our loved ones are of course fit for heaven.
Then I pick up the next book on my “Books which should have been reviewed long ago” pile and it is Ralph Martin’s The Urgency of the New Evangelization: Answering the Call this little book packs a powerful punch. It is a concise version of Ralph’s longer study on evangelization and the problem of universalism– Will Many Be Saved?: What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization which I reviewed recently here. The question of whether hell will be highly populated is considered here.
Now Ralph and his colleagues Mary Healy and Peter Williamson offer a concise and effective summary of the arguments. This book should be read along with Sherry Weddell’s excellent Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus by all priests and seminarians.
The most insidious cancer in the Christian church today is universalism and semi-universalism combined with indifferentism. Indifferentism is the lie that it doesn’t really matter what church or religion you belong to. Universalism is the lie that everyone will be saved because God is so merciful he will not send anyone to hell. Semi-universalism is the commonly held lie that there may be a hell, but there probably won’t be very many people there. All of these beliefs are clearly contrary to the plain words of Scripture.
Ralph writes clearly and concisely with abundant quotes from Scripture and the documents of the Church. He tells us what the New Evangelization is, answers the question “Why Bother?”, discusses the laity’s role, the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s power. He then goes on to outline the simple message of salvation: human beings are sinners separated from God from sin and they need salvation or they will go to hell.