The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Called a heretic for the first time... here was my response.

I was recently added to a debate page on Facebook entitled TULIP Debate, and shared some of my thoughts, then was deemed a heretic, by a guy named Wayne E Parsons, and threatened with an everlasting hell unless I ‘repented’ of not believing in an everlasting hell… it kinda got me down, so I decided it was best if I left… though I wanted to say something in parting before I left… been working on it all night (warning, it’s kind of long, but hopefully long and good, maybe kind of like a Sobernost post :laughing: ), and I just posted it on there a few minutes ago and then left the group… but I wanted to share all of it here with you guys, to see what you think of it… I would appreciate your prayers about all of this, for Wayne and everyone else on that debate page, and for me as well… and just want to say that I’m thankful for this forum, and for you. :slight_smile:

I feel a little less alone and less crazy because of the friends I’ve made here and elsewhere via the internet. :slight_smile:

Blessings to you all, and here’s my response to Wayne E Parsons:

Well, this is the first time I’ve been called a heretic, and I imagine that it very likely
won’t be the last… But I do believe that what I had to say did have a lot to do with
TULIP, as we are supposedly here to debate about it, and shouldn’t that mean we are not all here to just affirm it without question, and to tow the party line, but to in fact debate about it? :confused:
If not, perhaps this page should be renamed ‘For The Love Of TULIP’ or something along those lines. :confused: Whatever the case, I can’t pretend that I’m not questioning it, and in fact questioning the very heart of it, the L, or the ‘doctrine’ of Limited atonement.

Here’s another quote from my friend Gerry’s book:

'J. I. Packer, a Calvinist, is one of the most influential theologians of our time. He says to believe that Christ died for everyone logically leads to the belief that all will be saved. Is he right? Think about it.
If you believe, as Packer does, in God‘s limitless power and that man is helpless to
override His will, you must agree that God brings to faith all for whom Christ died, which for Packer is only the elect.

Calvinism, because of its wide acceptance and influence, lends great credibility to the
Blessed Hope because it shares with us the same view of God‘s power. Their theologians unwittingly offer strong arguments in defense of the Blessed Hope.

In essence, I share Packer‘s view that God does all His will. But unlike Packer, I maintain that Christ died for all. So, as Packer attests, since I believe in God‘s absolute power, and that Christ died for all, it is natural and inevitable that I would believe that God will save all.’

Perhaps that will give you some idea of where I’m coming from on that one…

I believe that Jesus died for all, and that the power of the cross is great enough to save all (and just to add, I lean more towards the Christus Victor atonement theory, rather than the substitution theory, though I do believe that what happened in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection had many layers to it, some we could see now, and others we have yet to be able to see), and that God through Christ will, in the end, after all judgment has come to an end, be victorious and triumphant, making even every enemy into a friend, and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, and all will be saved in Him and through Him and by Him, and will be home with Him, like the lost son was at home with his father, and God will be all in all…

And He can change people, Wayne. He’s changed and is changing me.

(A good quote here: "He does not save men by arbitrary force. He saves by their wills, through moral influence. God has resources in his universe, the all conquering agencies of love, to make the unwilling soul willing! He has light enough to make the blind see, and love enough to melt the hardened heart.” - Quillen Hamilton Shinn)

I waffled back and forth between being an agnostic and an atheist for years, and in large part, I think, because of the impression that I got from Christians, from people like yourself, who came off as downright heartless and mean in how they ‘shared their faith’, and their seeming lack of compassion and understanding just grated on me…
I found out later that not all believers in Jesus are like that, that there are those who
are more loving and more approachable, and so I saw that God was more loving and more approachable… for aren’t we meant to be imitators of God?

Wayne, to put it frankly, you seem to be only imitating the God that you believe in. :confused:

A God who would create people, and all in a broken and sinful state, hopeless and helpless without Him, and with the full knowledge that He is going to condemn many or most of them and torment them forever, or perhaps annihilate them, and either because He has elected them for that fate, or because He refuses to be gracious to all of them and give them all the faith that is needed to find the way to reconcile with Him and be at peace with Him, or because not everyone (or even very few are) is smart enough or wise enough or focused enough or strong enough or has will enough or has faith enough or has trust enough to say the right prayer or repent perfectly or believe perfectly or live perfectly or whatever it is that He supposedly requires from us in order to gain and/or keep His love and acceptance…

Basically, a God who is either cruel, and unwilling to save all even though He is, or so
we’ve been told, supposedly the One who is ‘compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love’, that, or a God who is simply not strong enough, who maybe wants to save all, but can’t, because their ‘free will’ is just too difficult to work around, even though He is, or so we’ve been told, supposedly the One with whom ‘all things are possible’.

Wayne, let me open my heart a bit here, and be real with you…
I honestly don’t think you have any idea of how much I’ve wrestled with these things, what I’ve been through over the years… you don’t know the tears I’ve shed, and the screams in the night, you don’t know about how I’ve hit my head against walls and clawed at myself, because of all the inner turmoil, all of the despair and the darkness I’ve known, in contemplating these things, like everlasting hell, and the perceptions of God that went with it… and what you are saying here to me only reenforces how I feel about all of this.

If God is someone like you, Wayne, or like how you appear to be and how you seem to be implying that He is, then He is, at rock bottom, not someone that I can really trust, or someone that I can really love, someone I can give my heart and my life to… and it is not a matter of won’t.
It is simply a matter of can’t. I can’t do it, I can’t force myself to do it.
I know, I’ve tried. The only way I was ever able to have any real intimacy with God I think was when I ignored the whole issue of hell and everything that went with it, and just focused on His grace and His love, and admitted to a total lack of understanding about something that appeared to be a huge contradiction, before I came to believe what I believe now…

(To add, I mean I could love you if you were my enemy, but love God if He was my enemy? :confused: It is only through Him empowering me to love that I am even able to love, right?.. ‘we love because He first loved us’… if God is my enemy and hated me and couldn’t be trusted with my life and my heart, then the whole rug on loving anyone, including Him, would be kind pulled out from under me, I’m thinking… :/)

And there are many who have struggled as I have struggled, who have had the very
foundations of their being rocked to the core because of these things. Have you, Wayne? :confused:
I imagine you probably haven’t. :confused: Perhaps, as it appears, you’re just a mean kind of
person, so all of this stuff in some way maybe appeals to you.
Perhaps you relish the idea of people you don’t like suffering at the hand of God for all eternity. :confused: Perhaps you don’t really care what happens to ‘all those sinners’. :confused:
I would hope that this is not the case deep down inside of you.
I would hope that the fate of your family, and your friends, and strangers, and even of your enemies, matters to you.
That the fate of the whole human race matters to you…

It matters to me, and I believe it matters to God too, and to Him most of all.

I’ve come to believe that He’s just not like that, that the real God is indeed a God of
second chances, contrary to your stated opinion, and a God of infinite chances even,
because He’s not the sort that gives up on people, and I know this, because He hasn’t given up on me…

To all of my struggles, I believe that this is the sort of answer that God has given me:

‘I’m not a monster, my child, but a Father who cares, not a tyrant, but a King who
understands… and all those fears you have had about Me over the years?
All those cries and screams and tears you have shed in the middle of the night?
I have heard them all and I have shared in your pain, in your anguish, in the bitterness and in the gale, just as I have shared in it with my servant Jeremiah and with many, many others, for I am near to those who are brokenhearted and crushed in spirit… but you do not need to be afraid, my child.
Because what you’ve feared is simply not true.
I’m… not… like… that. You can trust me, with your heart, with your life, with
everything… and with everyone.
One day, all people, everyone, all those who have been born and all those who have died, will see Who I really Am, and they will rejoice, and they will be glad, and they will be home…’

What you believe is heresy, Wayne, I believe is hope, and real hope, hope that is grounded in Christ and the unfailing love of God, who’s judgements are ever just and is good to all and who’s mercy is over all His works and who is willing that none would perish and is mighty to save.

And if holding onto this hope makes me a heretic in your eyes, then, sad as that may be, it will not deter me in holding to it.
This hope also includes that one day you and I will be brothers, that we will embrace one another as brothers, that God will change your heart as He is changing mine, that you will one day see that these three remain, faith, hope, and love, and that the greatest of these is love, and that this is what life is really all about in the end, and not just about being right…

But until that day you will likely continue to see things as you do now, and we will be at an impasse, and we cannot be friends, let alone brothers. And seeing the number of likes on your comment in which you condemned me as though you were God Himself, I imagine that quite a few around here feel as you do, so I am not welcome here. :confused:

As to whether I’m for real, whether I’m really a ‘Christian’, that is really not for you to decide, as you are just a man like me. That is only for God to decide, Wayne, and not you. :confused:

I have experienced depths of anguish that would probably drive you insane if you were to be touched by them, that I would not wish on you or on anyone, and I have been touched by beauty and by wonder in ways that you probably wouldn’t understand or appreciate…

But I have got through those dark times with my mind still functioning, and those moments of beauty and wonder that I’ve known I can’t forget… and I have experienced quite a few miracles in my life, and answers to prayer…

It appears that even though I sometimes question whether or not I’m really a true and authentic follower of Christ, as much as I stumble and zigzag and stagger around, that God treats me as though I was one… and who am I to argue with Him? I think He knows better than you do where I’m at with Him, or where any of us are at with Him, don’t you?

And as to the thought that God would eternally condemn me for not believing that He
eternally condemns people, I have a couple things to say:

First of all, many in the early church did not believe in everlasting torment, like Gregory of Nyssa and many of the other Church Fathers, for example, and were yet more often than not considered to be real Christians, real brothers and sisters in Christ, by those who thought differently… even Augustine himself, who was perhaps the biggest influence on Calvin, who got this whole TULIP thing started, conceded this:

‘And now I see I must have a gentle disputation with certain tender hearts of our own religion, who are unwilling to believe that everlasting punishment will be inflicted, either on all those whom the just Judge shall condemn to the pains of hell, or even on some of them, but who think that after certain periods of time, longer or shorter according to the proportion of their crimes, they shall be delivered out of that state.’ (De Civ. Del, lib. 21, c.17).’

He also wrote: ‘There are very many in our day, who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments.’ (Encheirid. ad Laurent, c. 29)

‘Tender hearts of our own religion’… ‘though not denying the Holy Scriptures’…

It appears that Augustine himself didn’t see those who believed in universal reconciliation through Christ as just a bunch of heretics… it appears that he saw them as fellow Christians that he just happened to disagree with, much as Calvinists and Arminians can disagree with each other, but can still tolerate each other…

Along with this, the two oldest and mostly commonly used creeds that the church formed, that are still in use widely today, don’t even utter a word about everlasting punishment or annihilation…

The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholic Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the Life everlasting.

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

And there is no evidence in Scripture that I know of that points to one having to believe in an everlasting hell in order to be a true and authentic follower of Christ…

And the whole idea that one must have all of their doctrines in a row in order to be one sounds like a form of Gnosticism to me, honestly, an elitist teaching that, basically, knowledge is power and saves us, rather than the Biblical teaching that God alone can save us, by grace through faith, which is His gift to us… it is not what we know that saves us, but Who we know, or, rather, it is the One who knows us better than we do ourselves who saves us, whether we know Him well or not…

Take the woman at the well for example… she was a Samaritan, who was in disagreement with some of the Jewish doctrine of the time, and Jesus even pointed out how she was wrong on some points, but He still treated her with compassion and with grace, offer Himself to her as ‘Living Water’, and she ended up being a passionate evangelist for Him in her hometown, and I’m sure that Jesus by no means frowned on that, nor rejected her because of her imperfect knowledge of things…

I believe that Christ called us to love our neighbor more than anything, to, basically, as was written in Micah, act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God…
I believe being a disciple has less to do with intellectually and/or emotionally assenting to all the right beliefs and ideas then it has to do with following Christ’s example.

Am I saying that salvation is by works? Not really. God saves us, we don’t save ourselves… but the journey of salvation has more to do with how we actually live and walk with God in our day to day life then it has to do with our knowledge…

And this is why it’s all about grace, because none of us are perfect in how we live and in how we walk…

I sometimes wonder if there are those who, rather than just accepting God’s grace and unconditional love, and seeking to live as much like Christ as they are able, while
trusting in His grace and His love, prefer to try to, either consciously or more often
subconsciously (so I may be guilty of this myself at times, I admit), make up for their
imperfection by believing all the right things, by getting everything figured out
doctrinally, and by making that, somehow, the way of salvation… as if lining your head up with all the right ideas would somehow win you brownie points with God. :confused:

Not that knowledge is necessarily a bad thing, or that it’s unimportant… I mean, we’ve gotta be able to believe that God is real and that God cares about us and that we can trust Him and that sort of thing at the very least in order some kind of meaningful relationship with Him… and our belief and trust in the person of Christ is very important as well… and there are other very basic things that most disciples of Christ should be able to agree on, like some of the things in the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed, that sort of thing, but I don’t believe that the whole issue of hell is one of those things, and I believe that our walk with God has more, or should have more, to do with love than with anything else… think of Paul’s beautiful passage on love in 1 Corinthians 13, which I referred to earlier in this post:

'If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a
resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It
does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no
record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always
protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are
tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’

‘If I can… fathom all mysteries and all knowledge… but do not have love, then I am

‘… where there is knowledge, it will pass away.’

‘And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.’

So I believe that love matters more than anything else when it comes to being a disciple of Christ, and knowledge is only secondary… like Jesus said:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Am I making any sense here? :confused:

And lastly, why would God condemn me for believing in universal reconciliation? How silly is that, really? What will He say? ‘How dare you believe that I’m really all-loving and that I’m really all-powerful! How dare you take my promises at face value, and how dare you believe that I am willing that none would perish and that I am able to accomplish all of my will! You idiot! Get out of my sight!’ To which my response would be: ‘What!?’ :confused:

Or to put this another way, here’s another thought from Gerry’s book (I’ve been quoting from it a lot because it’s the book I’m currently reading, and a lot of what he has to say applies to all of this):

'Ephesians 3:20 states God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think. Do we believe it? Can we dare believe, hope, and pray for something this grand and wonderful—that God can and will accomplish all His will for humanity? Is His hand so short it cannot redeem all people (Is. 50:2)? Is the redemption of all not good and acceptable to Him (1Ti. 2:3)? John Wesley believed that God can convert a world as easily as one individual. Was he mistaken? The apostle Paul wrote:

I exhort…that…supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men…for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved.…Christ Jesus…gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.…I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without…doubting (1Ti. 2:1-6, 8 KJV). (See also: Mk. 11:22-4; Ro. 4:20; Ja. 1:6-8).

Does God not call us to pray and thank Him for the salvation of all, and to do so without doubting? Is He not willing and able? If we err by praying in such a lofty way, would this dishonor or displease Him? Our only sin would be taking His Word to heart. If I am to err, let it be for expecting too much of God, not too little. Let us dare to think and believe the very highest thoughts of God! What can be higher than thanking Him for the salvation of all people?’

Or yet another way of putting it, from my friend Julie Ferwerda’s book, Raising Hell:

'What if You’re Wrong? Isn’t it better to choose the safe side? If you’re
wrong, you could go to hell for teaching such blasphemy and causing
others to lose their souls?

In the worst-case scenario that I’m wrong, I can’t imagine Jesus (or my
Loving heavenly Father) saying to me at the resurrection, “Well, Julie, I’m
going to have to send you to hell because you thought my love was too
complete and too victorious. You really gave me too much credit for my
plan and my power. How could you have spread such false rumors about
me, admirable as they were? Not to mention, once you really latched onto
this notion of Me saving ALL, you started to love people too much!”
How ludicrous it is to me to even think of doubting God’s all-inclusive
plan and the scope of His love!
I say, if people are only turning to God as a way out of hell, it’s not a true conversion,
but only lip service, and God detests lip service (Matt. 15:8).’

So the very thought that God would throw me out for believing such a thing strikes me as rather nonsensical and plain mad. :confused:

Wayne, and everyone else here who is in agreement with Wayne and what he said to me and what he is saying to Robert and others here who believe what we believe, hear me out here…

If what you believe is true, then what a sad universe it is that we live in… you have to ask yourselves this simple question:

‘Is that really as good as it gets, and is that the best God can do?’

And if not that question, then this one:

‘Do I really even care about what happens to everyone, as long as I’m okay and the people that I like or love are okay?’

Aren’t we supposed to love our enemies, because God does?

Here’s another quote from Hope Beyond Hell:

'Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Ro. 12:21)

Does God operate in a way opposite to what He expects of us? The question is its own refutation. ―Love your enemies…that you may be sons of your Father; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and good; sends rain on the just and unjust.…Therefore be perfect, just as your Father is perfect‖ (Mt. 5:44-48). ―Do good to those who hate you‖ (Lu. 6:27).
Overcome evil with good? Be perfect, ―just as‖ your Father is perfect? Notice the words ―just as.‖ The prevalent theology makes God out as one who hates His enemies, overcomes evil with evil, does evil to those that hate Him, and blesses His enemies for a season only to torment them forever. Is this what we are to model? Does loving our enemies merely mean we extend a token love to them while we envisage and plan their ruin? Such a theology falls apart at the seams, casting a dark shadow on God‘s character. Not so with the Blessed Hope.
It portrays God as the truly loving Father He is.’

Now I know that it is by no means easy to love our enemies. Jesus said it is hard to follow Him in this… I’m certainly no master at it myself… but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try…

Now if you see me as your enemy, and God calls you to love even your enemy, then how is calling me a heretic and condemning me to an everlasting hell just for disagreeing with you a loving thing to do?
You may say it’s tough love, that you’re just ‘speaking the truth in love’, and I admit
that is something that is needed from time to time in some cases and is a real element of love, but honestly Wayne, I wouldn’t buy that. :confused:
I don’t believe you really give a big rip about what happens to me, and I wouldn’t be
surprised if you cared more about being right than about my eternal fate. :confused:

As for me, I believe that God loves you just as deeply as I believe He loves me, and that He will never give up on you.
Even though I think you’re wrong about a lot of things, and disagree with you about a lot of things, I wouldn’t go around calling you a heretic and an apostate or condemning you, as if I was God Himself, and threatening you with everlasting punishment if you ‘don’t repent’.
I don’t feel I would have any business condemning you even to temporal punishment, let alone everlasting punishment. :confused:

Such declarations I have no business or right to make, because that’s God’s territory, not mine, or yours for that matter…

Another thought… this is sort of what I would say, I think, to the conception of life and of God that you paint:

From C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair:

-For context, Puddleglum the Marshwiggle, along with 2 children and a prince, is trapped in an underground world by an evil witch. The witch uses her powers to try to persuade her captives to forget the world above, telling them that their idea of a sun simply stems from seeing lamps and wishing for a bigger better lamp, and their idea of a lion stems from seeing cats and wishing for a bigger and better cat. After a few moments, Puddleglum answers:-

“‘One word, Ma’am,’ he said… 'One word.
All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder.
I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it.
So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so.
Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things–trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have.
Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more
important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only
world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one.
And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right.
But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow.
That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.
So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”

And that’s kind of how I feel about it. Granted, Lewis didn’t believe in universal
reconciliation (though he was very open and sympathetic to it, having been a great admirer of the outspoken Christian Universalist, George MacDonald), but I can certainly resonate with his point here.

Jesus said ‘the truth will set you free’ but all the doctrines of everlasting hell and
limited atonement and double predestination and the like have ever done is leave me in chains of madness and despair, and that ain’t freedom, if you ask me. :confused:

In my mind, the Bad News of Great Despair for the Many is no match for the Good News of Great Joy for All People, and the latter licks the former hollow, and I know that makes me sounds like a pragmatist, but then I’m really not ashamed to say that I am a bit pragmatic in my thinking.

Think about it… we’re not dead yet. These things are all a matter of faith and not sight (at least not yet) anyway, so really we don’t know everything, don’t really know what’s beyond the veil of death for absolutely sure. We have our beliefs, but we have no absolute proof that all of our beliefs are right.

So it’s kind of like a wager, you might say. As for me, I’d rather wager on hope than wager on despair. I’d rather believe that God’s love is broader and higher and wider and deeper, that more and greater things are possible with Him, that His plan is just, well, bigger than you may think it is…

I’d rather wager on that then just settle for something far less, when the fact is that
nobody has it all figured out, and the door is left open for different possibilities, and
things are still open to interpretation…

You may think this is a crazy approach to things, but that’s where I’m at.

I believe that deep in my heart I for a long time really wanted to believe in the hope of universal reconciliation, and I ached for it, but didn’t believe in it, at least in my head, for years because I didn’t think I was allowed to go there, thought it was ‘heresy’, like you do, or that it was just too good to be true… but recently I’ve come to discover that there is a lot of good, strong evidence to support this hope, in Scripture, in reason and logic, in experience, and even in tradition, and I believe that this is the direction God has been leading me in all along, that this is an answer to many agonizing prayers over the years…

Of course you don’t see it that way, and probably think I’m deceived in one way or another, but then this is where I stand now, and I can do no other.

Wayne, I know that a lot of the things I’ve said here, if you’ve taken the time to read up until this point, may make you mad and make you want to pick apart what I’m saying, make you want to say this or say that… but just think for a minute. Think about everything I’m trying to say.

Granted, I’m trying to give a defense for the hope that I have, but I’m also trying to speak from the heart, to be real with you.

I am not a perfect person. I struggle with many things, I fall down, I fail… it is only
by the grace of God that I make it through each day, that I don’t fall apart at the seams or mess things up too much…

I’m not a scholar, never been to college or anything, but I’m just a 29 year old janitor
who lives with his mom and sister in a trailer, and is looking forward with some anxiety to turning thirty and getting married and moving out… and I’m just a flawed and fallible human being who struggles, prays, has fears and doubts, and hopes and dreams, just like anyone else…

You call me a heretic, you threaten me with an everlasting hell if I continue to deny its very existence… but Wayne, have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror, and I mean, really looked?

It’s like Frederick Buechner said: ‘… when I look in the mirror each morning what I see, at least in part, is a chicken, a phony, and a slob.’

I see this too when I look at myself in the mirror sometimes. What do you see?

Do you see someone who is perfect in every way, or do you see a man, just a man?

And do you think that God is proud of you when you go around calling people heretics and threatening them with hell-fire because they believe differently? Do you think God is honestly happy about that? Do you think He will reward you for that? :confused:

Whatever the case, though chickens, phonies, slobs we may be, I believe that God truly loves us… ‘while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’… and I believe that, even if you don’t, He is indeed a God of second chances, because all of us need second chances, and even more than that, because more often than not, we just don’t get it right the first time…

And perhaps I will not get this message entirely right. Perhaps I’m not saying everything in the best way I could say it, but I believe that God is gracious, and that He can use what I’m saying here to speak to someone, perhaps you, or perhaps someone else, in a way that makes some kind of positive difference…

I hope that you will understand what I’m saying, but there are no guarantees… it’s like this quote from Stephen King:

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them – words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”

But I can hope and pray that you or others here will understand, and if not now, then
someday, perhaps in another world, when God becomes all in all, when all of this debating will be at an end, when we will beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks, when neither nations nor individuals will take up swords again one another, nor will we go to war anymore… when God will spread out a feast for all people, a great feast with clear, well-aged wine and choice meat, when He will remove the cloud of gloom and the shadow of death that hangs over the earth, when He will destroy death forever and wipe away all tears from all faces… perhaps then you will understand, and we will all praise Him and see the beauty and wonder of it all together, and we will see one another through His eyes, and see one another as brothers…

But until then, as I said earlier, I believe we are at an impasse, and I know that I’m not welcome here… :confused: So with these parting thoughts I think I will take my leave…

I hope and pray that what I have to say here will speak to you or someone else here, and that as heated as it may become, whatever discussion that may result from what I’ve said here may be somehow fruitful, and in a good way.

Forgive me if I have misjudged you in any way, Wayne. I have spoken from the heart and plainly, but I don’t know you anymore than you do me, so I could simply be mistaken about some of the things that I’ve said of you, and I admit that, but then I’m just trying to be real with you, and let you know how I really feel, so I will let what I say here be said.

May God be gracious to you and to everyone here on this page, and may He bring all of you closer to Him and to His purpose for your life, and may you come to know Him better and have a closer walk with Him… and may we all find our way home, and may He embrace each of us in His loving arms…

‘For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
of whom the whole family in the heavens and on earth is named,
that He may give to you, according to the riches of His glory, with might to be
strengthened through His Spirit, in regard to the inner man,
that the Christ may dwell through the faith in your hearts, in love having been rooted and founded,
that ye may be in strength to comprehend, with all the saints, what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height,
to know also the love of the Christ that is exceeding the knowledge, that ye may be filled – to all the fulness of God;
and to Him who is able above all things to do exceeding abundantly what we ask or think, according to the power that is working in us,
to Him [is] the glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus, to all the generations of the age of the ages. Amen.’

Any thoughts on this?

Hi Matt

Sorry, have not had time to read through your whole post yet. But one thing I would say quickly is that you should have NO fear or qualm about being called a heretic by anybody – *especially *a Calvinist! No less a man than Thomas Talbott has written how he isn’t at all bothered by accusations of heresy – as I am not, either.

And if you want further reassurance, listen to the words of the great George MacDonald:

“But where an evil thing is invented to explain and account for a good thing, and a lover of God is called upon to believe the invention or be cast out, he needs not mind being cast out, for it is into the company of Jesus.”

Stay strong and true to the light God has given to you, Matt, and you’ll be fine, brother.

All the best, and Shalom


Thanks Johnny :slight_smile: Appreciate the encouragement, bro :slight_smile: Well, I better get some sleep, I’m exhausted.

Blessings to you :slight_smile:

I think it’s a very sensible, reasoned, impassioned approach. It has enough heart and enough head, without a hint on disingenuity. My only comment would be that it’s very long. I cannot imagine many forum people reading a post that long in it’s entirety. I would imagine they’d skim it for soundbites to clobber you with.

I probably wouldn’t have left, but would point out (as you did) that claiming belief in hell is necessary for salvation, is adding to the gospel. Not only that, it’s adding works to the gospel. How does that square with TULIP? Definitely a form of Gnosticism

I keep reminding myself that “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” I think this is true especially of on-line conversations and debates.

We’re all heretics and idolators, to one degree or another. We need to remember this and cut each other some slack.

I love Paul’s penetrating question: “Who are you to judge another man’s servant?”

Li-lah-li! Crash!

Hi Ed,

Welcome to the club! I was called a heretic long before I came to believe in UR because I believed that divorce’s could remarry. And before that I was called a heretic and lost fellowship with believers I had known from childhood because I came to believe that the baptism with the Spirit was for today and did not cease with the death of the first century apostles.

As to your post, it’ long but I enjoyed skimming it. Sadly, it’s likely few people will read through it, much less seriously consider what you have written. But maybe someone will!

Anyhow, do be encouraged, Jesus too was called a heretic and accused of being crazy! And Jesus did say that there was a double blessing for being persecuted for righteousness. And you know what, even if you are wrong in your beliefs, you are right to share what you really believe, openly and honestly! And it is a very sad state of affairs that people do not have enough humility to be open to others believing and acting differently than they are personally convinced of. I’d love to be part of a fellowship that was open to people believing differently, and discussing those differences openly, honestly, and passionately without being judgmental or negative towards one another, a fellowship where loving God and loving people was enough, where actions and deeds are more important than just professed beliefs, a fellowship that was truly trans-denominational, trans-ethnic, and transcending gender differences (more than gender equality, but mutual respect and valuing), a fellowship where passionate worship, light guided study, convicting prayer, and intimate fellowship is the norm! This is the fellowship of which I dream! Some day! How that would flesh out? I don’t know, but the seeds of that fellowship are planted in my heart and growing in my mind!

Anyhow, welcome to the Heretic Club!

Thanks for your thoughts, everyone, appreciate it :slight_smile:

Thanks Jael :slight_smile: But you’re probably right… we live in an age of soundbites, and, alas, I’m not really a soundbite kind of guy most of the time , much like our beloved local historian, Sobernost :laughing:

I left because the atmosphere there struck me as pretty negative and unfriendly, and I probably would have gotten kicked out for some silly reason or another pretty quickly anyway (and hey, sometimes ya just gotta quit before ya get fired to make a statement :laughing:), and whatever the case, I’m not up for battling it out with a bunch of witch-hunters at the moment, got enough stress as it is, ya know? :neutral_face: But yeah, it does smack of Gnosticism to me, making agreement to a particular doctrine, making having the right knowledge, a requirement for good standing with God, especially when Scripture says nothing on any such requirement, or at least not anything pertaining to what we believe about hell or even whether or not we believe in it at all… :neutral_face:

Thanks for the feedback, Jael, and blessings to you :slight_smile:

Right you are, bro, none of us have everything right or have everything figured out, and we should try to be a little more compassionate and gracious with each other… it’s just when the other guy refuses to be compassionate or gracious, to show some respect and maybe a little love, that’s when I get ticked off :laughing:


Sorry if I overloaded your system, Jeff :laughing:

Thanks for the encouragement, Sherman :slight_smile: Good to know I’m not alone, and I’d like to be a part of the kind of fellowship you’re talking about and dreaming of. Sounds great to me :smiley:

Blessings to you, bro :slight_smile:

And blessings to you all :slight_smile:


Sorry Matt it wasn’t a comment on the length of your post :slight_smile: - it was a reference to AllanS’s quote from Paul Simon’s ‘The Boxer’ - I should have referenced the post above mine.

‘A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.’

Li lah li, (crash of heavily reverbed snare drum), li lah li li li lah li.

You shouldn’t leave. Blessed are you when you are persecuted FOR MY NAME. Rejoice!!

What better thing than to be called a heretic because you believe Christ died for all? And if Calvinists changed TULIP to TURNIP
(Redemptive atonement Never fails?) they’d all be EUs. As it is, they believe effectily that Satan won heaven’s civil war. This is a battle for the soul of our faith, for the identity of Christ. This is where the Spirit is fighting now. You must also fight.

But don’t be itchy-bay. “you’re so mean”. Attack not the person, but the cause of the meanness (“it’s easy to tell someone who believes Jesus is the Son of God, that Scripture is the Holy-Spirit breathed word, that Only Christ’s blood can cover our sin, that they will burn in everlasting hell, if you see GOD as so prejudiced that he would create a whole race of people (The Unelect) who were firewood from their birth. Makes India’s caste system seem compassionate.”)

And for Jesus’ sake, be brief. Consider whether you’re trying to reach people, or just unload your chest? Only in the Sermon on the Mount did Jesus say so much without interrupting himself to allow the beloved to speak or ask a question. Pontificating is not conversation - even if everything you are saying is heartfelt and true.

To clarify and avoid any further confusion . . .

The TULIP DEBATE group was (according to their “about” tab) established to discuss the fallacy inherent in TULIP.

I guess that means they’re Arminians, but I also saw someone there post on how both Calvinists and Arminians are wrong. Since this person also is among the quickest to condemn Universalists as heretics on their way to a fiery hell :laughing:, I suppose he must the the ultimate authority – at least in his own eyes.

But . . . it will likely make any further discussion with these folks a little bit easier if we understand that they’re not Calvinists, whatever else (and I haven’t figured this out) they may be.

Blessings, Cindy


Oh, I see :slight_smile: Didn’t realize Allan was quoting from a song… I actually like that song, just haven’t listened to it enough to recognize the lyrics at first glance. :blush:

Simon and Garfunkel is good stuff, if you ask me, by the way. :slight_smile:

The Sound Of Silence, I Am A Rock, Scarborough Fair, Kathy’s Song, Mrs Robinson, The Boxer (now I recall the Li La Li, CRASH :laughing: ), Bridge Over Troubled Water, The Only Living Boy In New York, etc… good stuff. :slight_smile:
Yes, us younger folk (I’m 29) can appreciate the older stuff :laughing:


Thanks for your comment, bro.

As I shared with Jael -

I agree that we should stand up and fight when called to, but then there is a time and a place for fighting, and then there is a time and a place for just walking away (with perhaps some parting words, like I did), and leaving the fight in God’s hands.

And honestly, I’ve got so many things on my plate right now and so many things to think about in my life right now that really I’m not up for getting dog-piled by theological police. :neutral_face:

You may wonder if I’m just chicken, and chicken I may be, but like I said in the post, I believe that God loves us and won’t give up on us even when we are chickens, phonies, and/or slobs…

Perhaps I did go a bit too much on the offensive with Wayne personally, and you may be right about that, but then again you haven’t seen his comment to which I was responding (should have posted it here along with my post, but I think I was too brain-dead from writing so much that it didn’t occur to me to do so, and now I’ve left the group, so… my bad :blush:).

And from getting a general vibe offa the guy, and how his comment made me feel, I’m thinking that I was cutting him quite a bit of slack and was holding back and trying to be gracious even when I could have just called him a few choice names, given him a piece of my mind, then left and had done with it. :neutral_face:
But I figured that speaking from my heart and trying to be real with him, while also trying to be gracious, was a better way of responding, so that’s what I tried to do.

And as for the length? Guilty as charged. :neutral_face:
I have very little skill as condensing my thoughts into a few words most of the time, unless I try to write a poem, which I have an easier time condensing my thoughts into, but then few would likely understand it, and not many appreciate poetry these days anyway, it seems like, and I’d guess that Wayne would likely not be among those who did. :neutral_face:

And you’re right, I should ask whether or not I’m trying to reach people or just unload… :neutral_face:
Before I sent the message, I prayed that it would touch Wayne or whoever else may take the time to read it, and asked some friends to pray for the same thing, but it may be true that my motive to begin with may have been to just unload, or at best, to reach people and to unload… of that I may likely be guilty, and you’re right to question me on that.

And I admit firsthand that I’m a crappy listener much of the time, especially if I find what the other person is saying to be mean-spirited, hardhearted, or downright oppressive in nature, in which case I either get my back up or tune it out, or hopelessly tedious and boring, in which case I can’t really focus and get easily distracted by more interesting things… and this is an area I need a lot of help in, and I would appreciate your prayers, that God would help me to be a better listener.

And you’re right that pontificating is not conversation… getting up on a soapbox isn’t going to help things much usually… but all I can say is that Jesus was/is far better at communicating then I am, and who I am right now is who I am right now, and I know I’m weak in a lot of areas and often a scaredy-cat and probably more sensitive than I should be, that I talk too much and don’t listen very well and I have a long way to go in being conformed to the image of Christ… but then I hold onto the belief that God loves me and understands me anyway, and can help me, gradually, to change and become more and more like Christ…

If writing and posting what I said or if leaving the group was a mistake, then I hope God would forgive me for it, or that He’d turn my bad into some good…

Whatever the case though, I appreciate your honesty and straightforwardness and for calling me out on some things that maybe I need to be called out on.

Blessings to you bro, and peace


Yeah, I noticed that after I left the group :blush:

But then again, my guess would be that Wayne is a Calvinist himself (though I could be wrong about that), and anyways, most of what I said would still apply I think, even if he was an Arminian (or something else :question:).

But then this should be a reminder that I should always make sure to check and read carefully the group description and rules and all of that before I start posting on any page like that in the future. :blush:

Thanks for the reminder, sis :slight_smile:

Hey Matt

I popped over to FB to see what the response might be to my having posted this article: … heres-why/ from the “Hellbound?” movie site. I wanted them to understand where we’re really coming from.

So I couldn’t find them on my list, and I thought, “Well, they must’ve kicked me out.” I searched the group and nothing came up at all. Did we cause them to disband, d’you think? Honestly, a nest of hatefulness like that seemed to be will hardly be a loss. Or maybe they’ve gone secret. :wink: I’m afraid the club will be pretty dead once they finish trashing us, if that’s the case.

I just thought you’d be interested, Bro.

Love, Cindy

Yeah, I can’t find it either. :neutral_face: I’m thinking they probably kicked all of us out, at least those of us who have joined in and have been open about what we believe, and then made it a closed group. :neutral_face: Ah, such a rich display of Christian hospitality… :frowning:

Good post by Kevin on his site though. :slight_smile: Thanks for sharing, sis :slight_smile:

Blessings to you :slight_smile:

Hey, great new picture there, Jeff!

The group is still there, and I’m still a member. But I don’t think I’ve said anything there. I’m not very much into debating people who aren’t interested on some level. Maybe I’ll say something sometime – if I think of something brilliant. :laughing:


I’m sure you will, Sonia :slight_smile:

Matt - this is really good stuff; and very well expressed. Great to see you standing up to the TULIPS from Amsterdam rather than tipitoeing through or even round them. I see you are a chip off the old block for not writing in soundbites! Och well - we can’t all be crisp and punchy like an iceberg lettuce with anger management issues!

All very good wishes to you