Happily Ever After (Part 04) – The Biblical Argument for Universalism: New Testament

The story of Jared and Tyler Duncan’s conversation about universalism continues.  This time, they will be taking a look at what the New Testament has to say about the doctrine. Continue reading

Signs of the Times?

This week, in an interview with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, the Reverend Franklin Graham, son of the famous evangelistic preacher Billy Graham, proclaimed to a national television audience that signs of the nearness of the end times were abundantly apparent in an increase of wars, famines, and earthquakes. Graham asserted that, based on his understanding of Matthew chapter 24 where Jesus speaks of these very events occurring during a time of great tribulation (what he interprets to be the end times), the second coming of Christ is imminent. It is popular belief in evangelical and fundamentalist circles that the many armed conflicts and natural disasters that occur today are divine “birth pains” leading up to the main events of earth’s destruction via God’s judgment and the return of Jesus Christ physically to this world. The only problem with Graham’s assessment, besides what I believe to be a mistaken understanding of eschatology (study of last things), is that wars, famines, and earthquakes are most certainly not increasing in frequency. Continue reading

“Happily Ever After” (Part 03) – The Biblical Argument for Universalism: Old Testament

Jared and Tyler Duncan continue their dialogue on the question of universal salvation, following the death of their grandfather who was an avowed unbeliever. In this segment of the story, the boys discuss the evidence from the Old Testament supporting the doctrine of Christian Universalism. Once again, I remind the reader that this is a blog post and is not meant to provide a comprehensive review of all related scripture passages or a discussion of all possible arguments in favor of universalism. In this dialogue you will get an overview of the basic case for this doctrine made from the pages of the Old Testament. Readers seeking a more in-depth treatment are invited to review the references at the end of the story for a list of resources to aid in your study. Continue reading

The Mind of the Christian Independent (Part 02) – Rubric for Truth

The previous post under this title is the basic framework for what I call the Christian Independent position.  The “independent” comes from the fact that I do not identify with any particular denomination or theology as of this moment in time (not that I don’t have theological beliefs, it’s just that I don’t identify with any major system).  It also represents the fact that I will never allow myself to be told what the “truth” is by any person, denomination, or group and expected to accept it as such simply because “they said so” or because they can point to bible verses they purport “prove” their position to be true.  It is in this independent-minded spirit that I claim the label.  I think for myself and if there is one thing I have learned in this whole process it’s Continue reading

Translating Christianese: Updating Our Language for the 21st Century

I went to a class at church recently where we were discussing some issues of doctrine and our denomination’s positions on them and Pastor Nancy made reference to something that has been percolating in my head for quite some time now. In discussing the idea of sin, she commented that she hardly ever uses the term, because it has become so loaded. I nearly jumped out of my seat and said “Amen!” She explained that she liked to use the word brokenness, because she thought it more accurately described the concept of sin. We are a broken people and in our brokenness we hurt ourselves and others. I like this approach and probably will begin to use it as well, although I have in the past year or so been using the word “selfishness” instead of sin. Continue reading