Does ECT poison systematic theology?


I’m not wanting to be overly rude or insulting, and if it comes across that way, I’ll delete it!

Do you think this is a fair assessment? Would you add or remove any area?


I agree, unless there is something that we are totally missing about God. I had a friend the other day repeat over and over, “His ways are not our ways.” His argument was the we couldn’t know God.


If UR is true, then yes ECT perverts every aspect of theology - “IF” UR is correct. In like manner, “IF” ECT is true, then UR completely messes up every aspect of theology. If UR is true then it sheds a very different light on every subject considered than the “light” of ECT.


Hi Alex. I think that systematic theology IS the poison that has led to so much error. By applying logic to scriptures which were intended to be experienced in song, or the evolving Christology of Paul as he builds to a crescendo in Romans, or taking literally the picturesque historicity of Matthew, we tend to gloss over key exegetical principles. In fact, Systematic theology tends to focus far too heavily on the semantics and syntax of words and phrases (sometimes in the English translations only!).

 I try to use as many methods of filtering a piece of text as possible (I call this layering for want of a better word). One of the layers I have been testing with interesting results is considering rhetoric in the language of Jesus' day. Consider; Rhetoric was considered by the ancient philosophers to be the highest form of communication (good manners). It neither confronted nor offended, but appealed to the hearers own nature and culture (logos, pathos, ethos). "Have mercy on me" is not always a request for something; rather it is an acknowledgment of the status of whom it is addressed (consider; Luke 18:38-43).

Jesus was amazed when the centurion said to Him "Lord don’t trouble yourself, for I do not consider myself worthy to come to you (sincere rhetorical acknowledgement and humbling), contrasted with the statement of his usual demeanor of authority over others (giving orders). This amounts to a clear demonstration not in the centurions faith in the ability of Jesus to heal, but in the centurions utmost respect for Him and His authority (to the point of recognizing that to ask anything at all of Him would be a gross insult). The man with leprosy uses rhetoric (good manners, Luke Ch.5) not actually asking to be healed, the mother begs Jesus to look at her demon possessed boy (not asking to heal him; again good manners, Luke Ch. 9). Others who do not ask for healing are; the crippled woman Luke Ch. 13, the ten men with leprosy (although only one was sincerely addressing Jesus rhetorically),and the blind beggar in Luke Ch. 18. What do you think? Regards. Gary.


Hi Gary, you raise a valid point concerning systematic theology. I too prefer to study scripture from a Biblical Theology perspective. In doing so one much more takes into consideration the style of literature, the social and historical context, and, what I call, the authorial context (the style, calling, and knowledge of the author). And thus I do not use the writings of Paul to interpret the writings of Matthew, John, or Peter, and visa-versa.

Sadly, most fellowships are built upon a specific systematic theology. In order to be a member of the church one must 1) agree with their statement of faith (systematic theology), 2) agree to a certain conduct, and 3) desire to love God and one another together. I believe this is up-side-down. A healthy foundation is 1) a simple love for God and desire to seek God together; and 2) an agreement to conduct one’s self in love and respect for one another. If we do those two things, we can worship together, study scripture together, support one another (do all the one-anothers in scripture) though we radically differ on our personal systematic theologies. And maybe in the context of such solid relationships, we can all grow in our understanding of God.


Hi Sherman. You are spot on. The simplicity of Christians meeting together as equals, to sing , eat, testify, reason, etc, is the exact picture that Paul gives the Corinthian Church. In fact, while Christians are content to allow ill-educated authority figures to preach nonsense without question, we will get no closer to fellowship as equals. I have not been able to find a church (as yet) in Perth where this is not the norm. I hope that there will be a wave of “Bereans” testing whether what is said is true in scripture. I also hope that many more will come to be universalist in their thinking because without this knowledge they will still live in guilt, condemnation, insecurity, and legalistic bondage to their particular denominations. Until then, they will either try to repay Christ (gross insult to God), or try to appease an angry God with a stream of apologies. Peace and Freedom brother. Gary.


Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your systematic theology.”


I have heard this so much recently when people can’t explain why their view makes sense. My understanding is that when we can’t fathom God it’s because we don’t understand how wonderful he is, how he makes all things work out together for good, not how he is able to be seemingly unloving yet loving at the same time.

Alex, I have experienced feeling in my heart of hearts that ECT messes up lots of things. Most of the church seems united over their view though. I feel the same way about certain aspects of penal substitution. I have to remind myself that people see good in it because all I want to do is say, “How dare you say that about God and trash him like that to other people.” Of course, God does not need me defending Him and I trust he is able to work even in the instances I deem horrible.


One of the innumberable reasons that I am a Christian Universalist is that nothing else in theology makes sense without the assumption of universalism. Start anywhere you like, and eventually you’ll get to a point in which the assumption of universalism will lead you all the way home, while ECT or annihilationism leads to a collapse of the train of thought. Whether it’s God’s mercy, His justice, His omniscience, the Incarnation, or what-have-you, universalism makes Christian theology make thorough sense, whereas ECT and annihilationism make Christian theology make sense only up to a point.