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

Saved from What?

“Have you been saved?” The evangelist thunders from the pulpit. “Jesus Christ desires your salvation and if you will repent of your sin and confess Him as Lord and Savior tonight then you will be guaranteed a place in heaven when you die!” The lights in the sanctuary begin to lower and the organist plays a slow-moving hymn. The evangelist calls forward those who “feel the Spirit tugging at their hearts” and people begin making their way down the aisle, kneel in front, and pray a prayer to receive Christ and salvation from eternal misery. 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

Our Loving God (Part 05) – Humble Glory

If you have come from a spiritually abusive background, you most often suffer with a view of God that is distant, harsh, and arrogant.  God was often depicted as this self-obsessed ego maniac who is hell-bent on forcing everybody to acknowledge how great He is.  We’ve been examining 1 Corinthians 13 to see what the characteristics of our loving God must be.  Already in this series, you’ve probably challenged some of the ways in which you’ve viewed God.  Here we do so again, because, contrary to the fundamentalist portrayal of God as arrogant and capricious, the Apostle Paul writes that love is not proud, does not boast, and that it does not insist on its own rights.  It’s not about oneself.  Yet, for those of us who were exposed to a spiritually vitriolic environment, it may be difficult to look at a verse like Isaiah 48:11, which reads, “How can I let myself be defamed?   I will not yield my glory to another,” and conclude anything but that God is a narcissist.  How do we understand the concept of God being loving and yet someone who, at the same time, seems to be obsessed with His own glory?  You’ll hear many Christians say, “It’s all about God, not you.”  Is this really true? Continue reading

Post-Evangelical: The Journey Explained

Every once-in-awhile I go back and read old posts in order to see the evolution of my own thought, among other things.  Recently, I went back to this post and reread what I wrote concerning evangelical Christians and why I no longer considered myself one of them.  This blog post has received the most hits of any article I’ve posted in the nearly two years this website has existed.  It has had, literally, hundreds of views since its posting in January of 2009.  I have to admit that I was a bit uneasy rereading that post.  Not because of anything I said in particular, but because of the tone.  I strive on this website to not post things that I have not let “settle” for awhile in my mind and emotions.  Clearly, that post was written in a time of high frustration with my evangelical friends in the Christian community.  The critique was a bit harsh, but not dishonest.  I don’t necessarily take back anything I said, but I do wish I had given it a little more time before I abruptly posted something that was highly emotional for me at the time.  I’ve written two posts under the series title “The Mind of the Christian Independent” which I hope have added some clarity as to my current method, but I wanted to offer this piece as a more mature version of the “Why I am no longer an Evangelical Christian” post.  I wanted to take a more level-headed approach to explain where I stand in relation to my former theological tradition.  The label I use for this position is post-evangelical (see the book review posted along with this article which will give you a fuller context for the thoughts expressed in this piece).  There has been a certain evolution in my definition of myself since leaving the evangelical community for good in 2008 and now that I’ve had more time to meditate on things (and realize the aforementioned article was more of a rant), I offer this article as a more full-grown explanation of my frustrations and spiritual journey. Continue reading

“Happily Ever Ever” (Part 01) – My Journey Out of Hell

I want you to be dead honest with me (and yourself) about something.  Does it bother you, at any level, that, according to traditional conservative theology, probably somewhere around 90-95% of people ever born on this planet are going to end up in Hell?  I mean, even a little bit?  If you really can be honest, you would have to admit that it does.  If it doesn’t, then either you don’t really believe it deep down, or you are a very cold-hearted person.  Think about it.  If you meet 100 people in the course of the day, 95 of them are supposed to spend eternity (that’s forever and ever and ever…) in a place devoid of all hope, all love, all grace, and which is the very definition of personal suffering.  How could such an idea not bother you?!?  Continue reading

Our Loving God (Part 04) – He Who is Patient and Kind

True love.  It’s what we all long for deep in the recesses of our being.  It is why we are stirred by stories of great sacrifice by persons for one another and inspirational forgiveness by those who are wronged.  We desire, whether we are consciously aware of it or not, to be loved with a love that knows no limits. Continue reading