The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Does Julie think Jesus is God? How will Evangelicals react?

, Julie Ferwerda"]Is Jesus God?

Hey Westernlions,

I didn’t want to tackle this subject when all the other doctrines were crumbling, but God kept putting it in front of me. I ended up devoting about 2 months of daily study to the topic and looked at it from every angle I could (history, scripture, what other people have written). I came to the solid conclusion that the trinity is bogus and Jesus is not “the God.”

It’s so much to unravel but I’ll give you my conclusions and let you know of a resource or two that might be helpful. Beyond that, you can email me privately if you are interested and I will send you a compilation document of verses and thoughts I gathered during my study. Nothing official or even all that organized, but still worthwhile.

I have come to the conclusion that God is the Father from “out of” which the firstborn Son came (whenever I use quotes, this is literal translation from the Greek or Hebrew Scriptures). It is “out of” the Firstborn Son that all of the rest of mankind has been “generated.” Jesus never once claims to be “the God,” but only the “Son of God.” Paul says “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” (1 Cor. 8:6).

Divinity is spoken of Jesus as “a god,” but I believe this is a divinity based on His being “out of God.” In fact, Jesus includes others as “gods.” Gods can be rulers or express divinity, without being blasphemous of claiming to be “the God.” Articles are very important in the Greek studies. Definite articles “the” indicate supremacy in speaking of “the God.” Whereas all of the places referring to Jesus or others as “gods” have the indefinite article “a.” For instance look at the article usage in this passage:

The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be a god.” 34 Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, I SAID, YOU ARE GODS'? 35 "If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world,You are blaspheming,’ because I said, `I am the Son of God’? John 10:33-36

Anyhow, a couple great resources are:

When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity during the Last Days of Rome by Richard E. Rubenstein

When you look into it, pretty much every verse that is used to support the trinity can be debunked satisfactorily.

Julie :open_mouth: I’m all for asking difficult questions, especially of mainstream Christianity who have obviously made some huge mistakes in regards to the nature of hell, the love of God, etc! I’m also personally aware how when we have such a paradigm shift of thinking in taking up Christian Universalism, we naturally need to reevaluate everything else we’ve been taught.

However, it seems we’re holding now holding very different positions on the divinity of Christ? :confused: As we’re both keen on seeking the truth (like the Bereans ) and believe the Bible is an important primary source, I’m really hoping she will be interested in wrestling with this a bit more with Jason Pratt (an Evangelical Universalist & Trinitarian Theologian). I think it would make for a worthwhile discussion.

Just so you know, I’ve been friends with Julie for a few months on FaceBook & like the fact she’s keen to engage with difficult questions, even when she persecuted for it. I also appreciate her accessible book on UR called Raising Hell, however, if she takes on Arianism (?) she puts herself outside orthodox Christianity & Evangelicalism, as far as I know :frowning:

Thats the view I hold, Jesus is the exact image of God, He was birthed out of God. He is our God since all was created through and for Him, though He isn’t the Most High God, thats the Father. And when we become one with Him, as the two become one flesh, the glorification of His body, we will also be God, then finally God the Father will be all in all. I’m not so sure what that exactly means, but possibly we become reunited fully with the Father, but I still can’t conceive of it.

:astonished: THAT’S IT , now where did I leave my pitchfork :question: :laughing: .on a serious note and one which I was contemplating doing a post on is ‘‘universalists have an image problem’’ its hard enough to gain the attention needed for those inside traditionalism to give universalism [what I call ] a fair and unbiased hearing :exclamation: situations like this certainly don’t ‘‘help the cause’’ :exclamation:
I for one am very much like yourself there Alex [in that] I’m all for questioning a whole range of beliefs but for me that is going toooo far

Stuart what if the trinity is wrong? Should we hold to it just so that the rest of christendom will like us? I gather you are a trinitarian, and thats fine, and maybe it is true (there are a couple threads addressing it right now), but maybe its not. Even though I post on this topic, I am agnostic on it. I think there are good points to a few different viewpoints on this topic.

I understand what you’re saying about not winning friends from the non-heretic community, but if its wood hay and stubble, then let it be burned away with hell.

but IF its not wood hey and stubble , shouldn’t we defend it :question:

Oh wow. I appreciate that the Trinity is ambigious and that it may be wood, hay and stubble, but there goes any credibility she may have had with the evangelical community. Which is a bit of a bummer for UR – my old friends certainly wouldn’t approach the “unholy hands” of an Arian/unitarian. But Godspeed to her. I wish her the best in her Berean-mindedness.

I think words like defend are part of the problem, we see these doctrines as something that we need to defend, which creates the war, and sides, next thing you know people are being burned at the stake. I’m not saying you’re doing that, or would, just pointing out what I think lead us down this path in the first place.

my point precisely waab. any and all credibility is now out the window

without belittling her by the way guys unlike some of the reviewers who claimed she hit the ball out of the park compared to
Rob Bell , I found her book to be a great improvement on ‘‘love wins’’ but I also found it unconvincing :exclamation: :astonished:
it certainly was much firmer with regards to the strength of her argument but it was NO home run :exclamation:

I realise some people are agnostic about the Trinity, or think it’s more loosely defined in the Bible than the creedal language, or even hold non-Trinitarian views like Modalism (or Aaron’s position if I understand him correctly?), yet they usually still say Jesus is fully divine, whereas doesn’t Arianism say worshiping Jesus as God is idolatry?? :neutral_face:

Sorry I don’t want to sound too exclusivist but shouldn’t Evangelical Universalism at least confirm the full divinity of Christ? Otherwise I suspect we will follow Unitarian Universalists in becoming Pluralists because “anything spiritual or divine is just as good as Christ” :unamused:

Personally I think EU is even more defined (e.g. eternal divinity of Christ, Trinitarian, Christocentric, Biblical, By Grace - basically fitting with Robin’s definition) than Christian Universalism, however, for the sake of peace, I try not to push this point too much.

Jesus is fully divine :smiley:

this is one of the many issues that relates to my ‘‘what is truth’’ post :exclamation:

That Ferwerda heretic chick has just gone too far this time eh? :astonished:

I just found this post tonight thanks to a FB friend. What is funny to me here (funny as in, ironic) is that you all are doing the same thing to me now that evangelicals do to me regarding my position on hell. You have this “either/or” position in your mind about what I’m saying about the divinity of Christ and make a bunch of assumptions. It’s easy to do when you’ve been in a box all your life (like me), and just can’t imagine an alternative. But I might fairly ask, how much time have you all spent in careful study and consideration of this topic? Or have you relied on what you know or have been taught?

Alex, I’m certainly not watering down the Gospel like you have suggested:

All I’m sayin’…how do you know until you’ve given me a fair chance? Aren’t you doing what you dislike others doing to you about your stance on hell?

LOL…I meant to also add that, first of all, Alex, I didn’t know I was within the confines of orthodox evangelicalism. Since when is UR considered orthodox?

And to “We are all brothers…” When did I ever have any credibility with the evangelical community? :smiling_imp:

You guys are really making me feel like the heretic that I am. I’m going to have to move to northern Idaho. :wink:

I don’t think believing Yeshua is fully human inevitably leads to pluralism. Is a narrowly defined “evangelicalism” that important?.. I’m largely an Anabaptist myself (a tradition that would prefer to distance itself from evangelicalism – or Protestantism for that matter – for extolling total depravity/grace to the detriment of obedience); I also noticed we had a Quaker (a non-conformist), and we have an Eastern Orthodox member, and as you noted, a few non-denominational non-Trinitarians. But I think we all generally believe that we need to change our minds, place scriptures as our most authoritative revelation, have Yeshua as our Lord and Saviour and be active with a Christ-spirit life. These four beliefs are said to be the pillars of evangelicalism, and most of us would adhere to them (perhaps excepting the Quaker and EO on revelation). I can’t speak on behalf of the board, but I don’t even need that much to preserve the bond of peace. Shrugs

That’s why I said “may have had”! :wink:

I seek the good God. I reject the common understanding of hell because it would be impossible to love such a God with all my heart.

In precisely the same way, it would be impossible to love a God who did not give himself to us and share our suffering. We praise those who give everything they have for the sake of their loved ones. Who could worship a God who did less? The incarnation as traditionally understood reveals the sacrificial love of God. He himself comes to us and bears the heaviest load. He doesn’t merely send a servant to do the dirty work.

Frankly, if you convinced me Christ isn’t God-with-us, then I would leave Christendom and seek the good God elsewhere.

First, the title of this thread is biased to begin with. Is it that concerning? (Bring on the flames…)

wow… are we really defining whether something is truth by whether it’s inside or outside ** orthodox Christianity & Evangelicalism**?
honestly, this is part of the problem. Surely, the only criteria should be whether the scriptures, in their original languages, support it. Anything else is circumstantial.

the cause??? How can proposing something like this, and opening it up to give people an opportunity to actually engage with it be harming the cause? What*** is*** the cause? Isn’t it discovering the truth?

Again, I guess I missed the part where we had to judge things based on the “credibility” it has with the evangelical community. Am I reading that right?? What about judging things based on the credibility it has in the bible?

Well at present, the apostle Paul would be commending her…

Alex, I have to ask, do you describe yourself as an evangelical universalist, or as a follower of Jesus seeking to discover the truth from the scriptures and then live according to that, whatever it is? There is a very big difference…

Not ***all ***of us Julie!!!

Fully agreed. I’ve spent years in a box. I’ve been discovering that initially, when a speck of light creeps through and you realise there’s more outside the box, you’re overjoyed. Then you see that the lid actually opens. Before you know it, you discover that almost everything you’ve ever believed is because you’ve been taught that by people who believe that. It has been a very scary experience for my wife and I discovering that so much of what we’ve been raised to believe has such scant biblical support. This is also not coming from some isolated ivory-tower position. These are issues that are being worked out in our daily lives right now.

Julie, I assure you there is at least one person on here (I suspect quite a few more lurkers) who is genuinely keen to be exposed to things which don’t fit. Being challenged on beliefs is essential, surely. If something’s the truth, it will stand up to questions. Why are people so worried/afraid of challenges to their beliefs?

Me, I have spent a reasonable amount of time studying exactly this topic recently, and while I’m not quite convinced, I feel the biblical evidence points far more strongly to Jesus not being God. Am I a heretic? Maybe. Maybe not.

I’d have to disagree with this. In theory, yes. In practice, hardly.

AllanS, this seriously scares me that you would think this. Don’t you mean “If the Bible doesn’t teach Christ is truly God-with-us, then I also will not believe that Christ is truly God-with-us”?

What you’ve written sounds precisely like someone saying they have a predefined thing that must be true, and if it’s not, then they’ll seek elsewhere until they find it :open_mouth: Where on earth is the notion of taking ***scripture ***as the authority for life and practice? You know I have incredible respect for your understanding of things, and your willingness and ability to think outside the box, but this sounds like a different AllanS to the one I know!

Pack your bags!!! :laughing:

Did you read Julie’s article? Or have you replied without doing that?

Surely even 1 Cor 8:6 is enough to give everyone pause to at least seriously look into what that might mean.

why doesn’t Paul write:

“yet for us there is but one God, the Father, Son and Spirit, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, the God-man, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him”

I’m not 100% with what Julie’s writing, but I’m finding it harder to just ignore things like this…

My replies are not meant to offend anyone and I’m sorry if they do. They’re meant to stimulate rational thoughtful discussion.

No, I didn’t say you were a heretic, in fact I complimented you on your willingness to investigate things, even in the face of persecution.

I’ve been trying to get your attention for a few days, but unfortunately FB is unreliable. I didn’t want to post a link to this thread on FB because I don’t want to take away from your book, or in anyway attack you.

I’m trying very hard not to. I don’t reject you, I don’t think you’re going to hell, I don’t want to silence you, in fact I still see you as a sister & friend, and want to talk with you. I’m simply concerned that the post comes across as Arian, which as far as I can tell makes worshipping Christ as God into idolatry, which means I’m sinning :neutral_face:

I realise I’m making assumptions (hence the question mark in the title) and that’s why I’ve been asking you to expand on the post :slight_smile:

For sure, that’s a fair point, I think we should be asking questions.

A reasonable amount, although not as much as you I’m guessing, or others here, like Jason.

I do trust what Jason & Robin say on the topic, not only as they have written books but because more importantly I know them well enough to know they do their homework. However, I still try to always check what people tell me, even if I respect them. Having said all that, I & they, might still be wrong :slight_smile:

I didn’t say you were watering down the Gospel. I’m just concerned that if Jesus isn’t the God, but just a god, that other people will say that their god is also an option. I’m guessing this is what happened with UU??

I really do want to hear you expand, which is why I’ve asked you on FB & here to have a dialogue.

Trying hard not to, but it’s hard to not offend on text forums (without facial expressions, body language, etc.).

It certainly can be as it complies with the ecumenical creeds & councils. For example, the Church Father, & universalist, Gregory of Nyssa is still considered orthodox.

We do, and it’s growing.

Sorry, that was not my intention at all.

For reaching the evangelical community with the truth of UR it might be… I’m also not saying those outside of evangelicalism aren’t Christians either.

I agree with these things.

What Paul is doing here, in one of the oldest NT credal statements, is incorporating Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) within the absolute monotheism of the Hebrew scriptures. He does this by adapting the Shema. There is a very good book by NT scholar Richard Bauckham called God Crucified on this subject (published by Eerdmans 1998), showing that the Christology of the earliest Christians was “already the highest Christology, a fully divine Christology entirely compatible with the Jewish monotheistic understanding of God.”
It is certainly good to dig into the scriptures, seeking truth and taking no established doctrine for granted - thank you Julie for encouraging this! However in my opinion, whereas ECT can easily be rejected without denying any claims central to orthodox Christian faith (as Robin Parry argues convincingly in TEU - see p.175), the same cannot be said of rejecting the high Christology of the NT. As for credibility within the evangelical community - this would be more important to some of us here than to others. Robin for one, seems to have the respect of a lot of evangelicals who may not be convinced by his universalist conclusions but respect the way he has arrived at them. Its harder to nurture that respect from those people if you are saying “anything goes”.