The Evangelical Universalist Forum

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

Hahaha, no probs dude. Blood pressure has well and truly returned to normal levels (if it was ever raised).

Interesting that in the scriptures, love is clearly defined and preached many times, while Christ’s exact identity is mysterious and open to interpretation. So, I wonder which is more important? :wink:


yes, one might say he brought home the bacon with that statement.
i’m ham-phatically in agreement.
let’s not hashbrown this out too much as the proof is in the black pudding

gosh i’m hungry…

A little hard boiled truth, from my scrambled brain! :laughing:

This is one of my conceptual problems with various forms of unitarianism, too.

Some unitarians understand we aren’t supposed to religiously worship any lesser lord or god than God Most High (and recognize that the texts strongly emphasize this, not incidentally), and so try not to worship Christ per se–but the texts strongly indicate we’re supposed to worship Christ personally per se, not only the Father personally in Christ or with Christ’s help (although the texts have some things to say about the latter, too.)

Other unitarians recognize that the texts strongly indicate we’re supposed to religiously worship Christ personally per se, but try to make out that it’s okay to religiously worship an idol that isn’t God because in this case God said it was okay to religiously worship a lesser lord-and/or-god, and even necessary somehow. But that runs quite self-contradictorily to God’s extreme stress elsewhere that only He Himself, God Most High, should be religiously worshiped and never any idol. (A stress that sometimes occurs during times when multiple persons of God to be worshiped seem clearly in view.)

We have at least one unitarian on the board who tries to get around both tensions by claiming the Son is exactly the same type of entity the Father is, and shares all His characteristics except for being begotten (but definitely not created). But if that isn’t binitarian theism (and this unitarian constantly stresses it isn’t), then it must be ditheism–and now we aren’t even talking about supernaturalistic theism anymore, but about something similar to high Mormonism: two (or three?) completely distinct Gods Most High, existing within a common overarching field of reality.

I understand and respect that proponents of each position think orthodox trintiarianism (or at least binitarianism) is logically incoherent. But their proposals, which are supposed to avoid theological incoherency, result in different incoherencies themselves–whereas I have gone to the trouble of having worked out in depth, starting from as close to scratch as possible, that from a logical account of metaphysics ortho-trin is the most coherent philosophy and theology.

I don’t expect other people to agree with that who haven’t gone through the logical exercise as meticulously, which is why I don’t become upset when non-trinitarians reject ortho-trin for being (they think) logically incoherent. I do however reserve the same right to withhold assent from alternatives that I find fatally incoherent!–and to point out those incoherencies, especially when they are proffered as being logically superior to ortho-trin. :wink:

(Also, by the same token, I become outright annoyed when trinitarian proponents cheerfully accept it despite themselves thinking the doctrinal set is logically incoherent–especially when they reject other notions for being logically incoherent or, worse, when they reject the notion of logical coherence altogether as a way of rejecting opposition that they think are being logically coherent!!)

Quite so, although I have never claimed that universal salvation from sin is impossible assuming some variety of unitarianism (or even modalism) is true instead.

I have argued, and still stand by the argument, that universalism follows better from ortho-trin than from any other theological option; and that it follows deductively from ortho-trin compared against any other basic soteriology branch (Arm or Calv, in Protestant or non-Protestant variations); thus that universal salvation from sin (with some minor option variants) and orthodox trinitarian Christianity (with some minor option variants) are uniquely important to each other, to a degree that isn’t true for less detailed theologies.

But that doesn’t mean universalism couldn’t be true if any variety of modalism or unitarianism turned out to be true. I just wouldn’t, and couldn’t, have the same degree of logical assurance about it: no other theology involves God intrinsically being the fulfillment of fair-togetherness between persons, as God’s own active self-existence.

(And no, God loving not-God persons eternally from His overarching ontological perspective, while still entirely possible if ortho-trin isn’t true, does not count as the same thing: even our most sophisticated local unitarian exponent, Aaron, could not, and would not, claim that God actively self-exists by doing so, and would still do so even if God had never created not-God persons. Less than God being a fulfillment of love in fair-togetherness between persons, is still less than God being such an interpersonal unity of persons: it’s still less than trinitarian theism, or even binitarian theism.)

Hi Jason. Are you saying, if God is only one person, then he is dependent on creation to be love, otherwise he would have no one to love, so before he created, he was not really love. but if God was two or three persons it would solve that problem? Interesting point, if I am understanding you correctly…

One thing’s for sure…figuring out the Bible is not a cake walk and you can’t be chicken (fried?) to do it!

Though I’m personally convinced in my own mind at this point (always room for changing) one thing that gives me great confidence and reassurance is this thought: I might be wrong, but it no longer has the “consequences” that it used to. God has called me to a treasure hunt. I am not going to get it all right, and I am probably not even going to get much of it right. But He is not going to fault me for honest searching, trying hard to understand, or even for deducing wrong answers as long as I stay humble and continuously willing to change in response to His leading. It brings great comfort to realize that I no longer have the imagined power over the destiny of other humans, and I am FREE to question, FREE to grapple, FREE to piece things together in the way I believe He is leading me. I will not be faulted or punished for wrong ideas because, short of revelation, I am incapable of knowing. This is why brilliant people for centuries have debated and studied and preached completely opposing ideas on just about everything.

Having said that, there is one thing, as Michael Thomspon pointed out, that I will be judged by. Did I love? I’ll try to “steak” my claim on that principle first.

hear, hear!
if they try to put you in custardy over it, you can tell them it’s only a trifling matter next to showing God’s love!!

Almost. I’m saying that if God is only one Person, He cannot intrinsically be interpersonal love at all, even if He creates not-God persons to love and so (from His overarching perspective of action) loves them eternally. God’s loving of those persons would not be something intrinsic to His own self-existence such that He would still be interpersonal love had He never created.

God could love Himself and keep Himself thereby in existence as only one Person, perhaps. I have technical reasons for expecting such self-generation of the one rationally active Independent Fact would involve two distinct Persons, God self-begetting and God self-begotten. But even leaving that aside, God’s intrinsic love would by definition be selfishly involved in one and only one Person, not intrinsically an interpersonal love actively and eternally dedicated to fulfilling fair-togetherness between persons.

Whereas if binitarian theism is true, then even God’s self-love for the purpose of eternal self-existence involves actively giving everything between persons, one being a love for subordinate persons and one being a self-sacrificial love, neither of which could ever be possibly construed as acting for God’s own selfish glory at the expense of other persons. (So for example, I would have no problem believing Calvinism to be true, from a metaphysical perspective, or for that matter related versions of Islam, if I believed unitarianism to be true. Scriptural testimony could expand that expectation to something better, admittedly. I have often criticized Calvinists on exactly this ground, that their notions of God’s glory are at best only irrelevant to God’s existence as the Trinity.)

If trinitarian theism is true, meanwhile, then the first gift given by God to any person is God Himself–which I would actually put the other way around: the first conceptual action of God beyond self-generating existence would be to generate a Person of God that is not Himself involved in active self-generation, proceeding not begetting nor begotten, belonging to the self-begetting and self-begotten Persons, and being given by each of those Persons to each other.

This all has massive (and I would say unique) relevance to ethics; as well as massive (maybe also unique) relevance to the creation of, and communion with, not-God persons. I talk about these issues in eye-bleeding detail :wink: , in Sections Three and Four of my Sword to the Heart book. (An on-forum version of this, updated to 3rd edition, can be found in bite-sized posts by clicking on the relevant link in my signature.)

CL, I think you meant to say, a “truffling” matter… :smiley:

And Julie: it is because of the Trinity that I believe as strongly as I do in the love of God, including in justice as the fulfillment of fair-togetherness between persons.

Even if less could be true (which I don’t think is logically possible), anything less would still be less.

I quite agree with all that, btw.

Although on the other hand, there are limits. Christ expected at least some of His audience–by context I understand these to be the religious experts, especially among the Pharisees–to be dying in their sins unless they confessed that Christ was “He”. That’s a theological claim. Of a very particular kind. {coughIAMhack} :mrgreen: But based on other information in the Gospels, including in GosJohn, I think that was a case of where He thought they were intentionally denying, for selfish reasons (including so that they wouldn’t have to face up to their sins, but also to shut down salvation of other sinners from sin because they didn’t want those other people to be saved!) what they otherwise were in the best position of anyone to have figured out.

So even then, it wasn’t about them not having the right gnostic doctrinal passcard. :slight_smile:

no, i meant trifling…as truffles are fungus and therefore not food (unless you mean chocolate truffles)…whereas trifle is delicious :smiley:

Really well put Julie. this was such a huge thing for me, to discover that God will make His plans come to fruition with or without my help, as He deems fit. Wow. What a relief.

And this notion of believers being free (as in, having the freedom in Christ) to work out their own salvation is so sadly lacking among so many these days, myself included until a short while ago.

Irony can be funny! Julie suggests the Bible doesn’t support traditional vocabulary for Jesus’ ontology. So how do universalists, regulary rejected with, “you have violated fundamentally required theological logic,” respond?

By sharing the Scriptures that we think warrant creedal language? NO, we seem to emphasize, “I know the ‘fundamentally required theological logic!’ She’s an Arian, and they plainly violate it! You need to realize that those who think seriously will agree with Me about what theological paradigms are plainly necessary!” :confused:

Hey everyone. :slight_smile: I admit I didn’t read all the posts here (too many!), but read a lot of them, and I think I got a general feel for the discussion. Also, I confess that I’m definitely not as well-educated about this topic as many of you here, but I figured I’d throw in my two cents. :slight_smile:

Julie ( this is your Facebook friend Matt Wiley, by the way, and I’m glad to see you here :slight_smile: ), I heard recently from my friend Phillip MacDonald on the GodsLoveWins site ( he’s a great guy, by the way, and he wasn’t attacking you by any means) said that you didn’t believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, and how that kind of bothered him, and I didn’t quite know what to think about that…
My only experience in the past with Universalism had been with those who denied the Trinity, like L. Ray Smith for instance, and I always thought it was kinda weird…
But now that I’m in a state of flux (well, if I’m honest, I have been in a state of flux from the day I was born), and reevaluating a lot of things, this is something I’ve been thinking about too.
What you said makes sense in a way, and maybe you’re onto something. Like others here, I’m somewhat agnostic about all of this, and open to the possibility that you’re right.
But I’m with AllanS about how I feel about the implications that Jesus isn’t God.
Personally, in my own faith and relationship with God, the belief that our Creator shares directly in our experience, in all of our pain and all of our struggle, including my own, is very important to me…
In other words, ‘the pain of man has become the pain of God’.
I wish I had the quote on hand, but I remember reading a quote by Philip Yancey in one of his books where he said something similar to what AllanS was saying… he basically said that if Jesus was only a man, or just a kind of stand-in for God, then the cross would be like a case of cosmic child abuse… but then he mentioned that verse about how ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself’… and that’s where Philip Yancey stood in response to this agonizing question, and that’s where I stand too, I think.
Anything is possible with God, so maybe He wouldn’t have to become a human being in order to share in our experience, but the thought that He would, just to show us how much He loves us, how He really is with us, so we have this story we can hold onto, that God entered into our world personally as one of us, is awesome, and is certainly consistent with His gracious and surprising character, wouldn’t you agree? :slight_smile:
That the Creator would take on the form of His creation is just beautiful to me… and to let us kill Him?
Who wouldn’t, if they really understood it, trust a Creator who loved us so much that He would let us kill Him, just to show how deep His love goes?
I don’t know if I’m making any sense… I know this is more of an emotional than an intellectual way of looking at things… but I can’t help it, it’s who I am. I just want to believe that somehow God was on the cross…
That our Creator has been in our shoes.
If the doctrine of the Trinity isn’t necessary for me to believe that, then I could let it go if I needed to, but I really just need to believe, for my own sanity and in answer to my own longing and my own loneliness, and the longing and the loneliness of all people, that God really does know and understand how I, and how we all, feel…
Along with this, the Trinity makes sense to me in how it says that there is relationship already happening within God, and we are invited to be a part of this relationship… that we are not relating to a singular Being (or in other words, ‘I’m lonely! I’ll make me a world!’), but rather a relationship of Persons, or a marriage of Persons.
Also, I notice a lot of things in reality are built in sequences of three, which has always intrigued me…
It may be that this is how everything is in some sense without the doctrine of the Trinity, so I’m still open to other possibilities… (though I was wondering… what is the Holy Spirit’s place in all of this?)
But I just wanted to share my thoughts on this.
And I wanted to add that I think you’re a really cool person, Julie, and I admire your courage and your humility as you look for answers and seek the truth. :slight_smile: And whether Trinitarian or Non-Trinitarian, to me you are still a sister in Christ. :slight_smile:
I also will say that I agree that love is more important than all of this in the end. Jesus said that his disciples would be known by their love. He didn’t say we would be known by our knowledge or understanding, by our doctrines or opinions, by how loudly we shout or how eloquently we speak, but by our love. Now there’s a huge challenge for all of us. :slight_smile:

Well, that’s my two cents. Blessings to all of you. :slight_smile:

Bob are you quoting someone else here? The quotes are throwing me off, without any reference.

Hey Matthew Wiley! So great to see your post. I love your childlike approach to life and faith (compliment)…you inspire me!! You are fresh, open, honest, full of wonder, and I just love how you go at things with nothing to prove.

I actually didn’t know that L. Ray Smith (Mr. Thorough) is not Trinitarian…that is interesting. I have found that you will find sincere, studious, loving people on both sides, and that is why I agree that we must give each other plenty of elbow room for dissent. However, I love that people are asking and seeking on this topic. Surely it is important, though not ultimately damning for either position :nerd:

You know what I love Matt? Hebrew perspectives, which is ultimately what has helped me work through these seeming irreconcilable differences. Did you know that the Hebrew understanding is such that there are two essences to God—a perfect, transcendent nature that is removed from and separate from His creation, but then there is an essence whereby He is in and through His imperfect creation, becoming perfect through/along with us. In other words, they say that this nature of God has the possibility of not being perfect so that He can be in and through us, becoming perfect. This, if I remember correctly, is the “El Shaddai,” or the female/motherly/nurturing nature of God. In that sense, He very intimately shares in our pain and struggle on a moment by moment basis. One of the best books I have ever read is by a Jewish Rabbi called, “The Secret Life of God.” Here is an excerpt about what I just explained above:

Another important thing I have learned from Jewish/Hebrew perspectives is that, on so many issues, Western-minded Christians are quick to choose an either/or stance. A good example is that many Christians say “either all of the Bible is true or none of it is (or we can’t trust any of it).” Or in this discussion case, if Jesus isn’t “the God,” then we must automatically assume there must be many ways to God or that His death was insufficient. Or “If the Trinity isn’t true, then I will abandon my faith because it will mean He isn’t love (someone said something similar in the beginning of this post).” I think this is often where we get off track in thinking it’s this or that when it’s actually, perhaps, neither option. The answer just might be something we hadn’t thought of. And it might be so simple a child would understand, yet also so simple that a scholarly person might scoff at/be offended it. :slight_smile: Not saying that always happens, but it does happen. Many scholarly people completely scoff at the notion of taking Romans 5:18 or 1 Cor. 15:22-23 with a simple, childlike belief that what it says is what it says, or that God is love, God is more powerful than human will or evil, and that the Good News is actually Good News.

So I just want to reassure that, while I don’t have time to delve into my beliefs in a debate or discussion for a few weeks, I will say that I do affirm that Jesus is the ONLY WAY to the Father, and that I totally believe God is in and through His creation very intimately. If you read the book I suggested above (which I highly recommend), you will come away feeling so valued and amazed at God’s incredible valuing of human life and love for all His creatures, you will feel like you ate a pan of warm, gooey brownies. This rabbi is an orthodox Jew, and he completely affirms the salvation of all in his book. He offers amazing perspectives on God that you don’t hear in church, but that have been a part of ancient Jewish culture and understanding and that make total sense!

I think while we’re in this discovery process, it’s important not to lay down ultimatums on our faith. This completely shuts down the creative and necessary process that we must go through to learn the deeper truths. It is not as cut and dried as many we thought (haven’t we already seen that?). It goes very deep and very layered. We have to settle on a few basic truths (God is love, Love wins, and it is our calling to love God/love people) and let the rest be revealed in layers.

That would be a ditto Matt. You are a special guy and I know that God is working mightily in you right now. It’s exciting to see and be a part of!! Thanks for the unconditional love and encouragement.

Hey Julie :slight_smile: Wow, thanks for the compliment. :slight_smile: I don’t see many of those qualities in myself that you described, to be honest (well hey, there’s one at least! :laughing:), at least not all the time, but then again, maybe there are things about ourselves that we ourselves can’t see very clearly… or maybe it is hard to see that our true selves (in other words, who God made us to be), are better than we may have ever expected or even hoped for…
Whatever the case, I think Kaylyn (my fiancee) is more childlike than myself… but maybe she’s rubbing off on me. :laughing:
And thank you again for your kind words. :slight_smile:

Yes, I remember L. Ray Smith was a little overwhelming… and I thought my writings were long-winded. :open_mouth:
Yeah, I’m sure you’re right. :slight_smile: Phillip said he thought you were a wonderful person from reading your blogs, but just happened to disagree with you about the Trinity. Maybe you could dialogue with him about it on his site sometime, and try to make friends. :slight_smile:
You would probably like Phillip MacDonald. Check out his presentation on The Gospel on his website. The guy sure knows how to write. It’s beautiful. :slight_smile:
Here’s a link:
Sorry, tangent. :slight_smile: Anyways, the sad thing is there are also jerks on both sides. :cry:
For instance, someone can believe in an everlasting hell and be a loving person (I know quite a few), while someone else can believe in universal salvation, and be something of an a-hole. :confused:
Of course, one could argue in these cases that neither of them have really embraced what they ‘believe’ fully, or taken their beliefs to their logical conclusions, but hey, just a thought. :slight_smile:
And yeah, I totally agree. If we’re wrong about something, we shouldn’t be looking over our shoulder waiting for God to put the smack down on us because all of our doctrines aren’t lined up right.
I think that we as Christians sometimes put too much emphasis on what we believe, and by that I mean we think (subconsciously perhaps)that knowledge can save us (kinda like the Gnostics). Knowledge may be good, but it’s not enough.
It’s like Morpheus told Neo in the Matrix: ‘There’s a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.’
To apply this to our situation, let’s say that Jesus is the path (the Way :sunglasses: ), and that there’s a difference between knowing about Jesus, and walking with Jesus, or, to put it another way, there’s a difference between knowing about God, and walking with God…
Maybe God saves us through a journey, a journey He shares with us… namely, our life, and in the case of those who do not find Him in this life, then the next life, or the next age (whatever you want to call it)… and not by our mentally assenting to an array of beliefs about Him… we all see through a glass darkly. None of us have it all figured out.
And all of us, like Paul, are what we are by God’s grace, and, I might add, all of us will be what we will be by God’s grace as well. :slight_smile: I admit freely that I’m often a bonafide basket-case, inconsistent, a bevy of contradictions, and in real life (that is, offline) mediocre at best in my attempts to be like Jesus, but I’m tired of carrying around the belief that God will skewer me for being a mess that I just couldn’t clean up. :confused:
In other words, I am coming to believe that God is more patient with us than we are with ourselves or with each other. :slight_smile:

And oh my goodness, you must require great patience to read through such a long-winded response to a four sentence paragraph. :laughing:

Hebrew Perspectives? Sounds interesting. What you were talking about here kind of reminds me of The Matrix films, which I’ve been into recently…
I’m reminded of the interesting differences between the sentient programs in the film series, the Architect (who appears as a white man) and the Oracle (who appears as a black woman).
Check out the Matrix films and you’ll see what I mean. :slight_smile:
Obviously not a perfect parallel with what you were saying (the Architect is a soulless jerk while the Oracle is pretty cool and down-to-earth, and they are two separate entities…or at least seem to be), but still an interesting comparison. :slight_smile:
Who knows, maybe the Wachowskis intended the Hebrew perspective on God that you mentioned as part of their symbolism in those characters. :slight_smile: The Wachowskis are Jewish, after all. :slight_smile:
I ordered the book you recommended, and will be sure to check it out. :slight_smile:
Honestly I’ve never really read a lot of Hebrew perspectives on anything, except the Bible… so I’d love to explore that. :slight_smile:

I agree, Julie. None of us have all of this pegged, and the answer may not always be and may not have to be everything we had set down in our doctrinal creed, and anyways, shouldn’t we should stick with God even when we are challenged to think outside of our boxes? :slight_smile: I’ve had many dark nights where I felt like giving up… but God got me through those nights.
So God could get me through the anxiety of finding out that there’s more that I don’t know then what I do know. :slight_smile:
Like Peter, we can stick with Jesus even when He says things like ‘you must eat of my flesh and drink of my blood’. :slight_smile:
I still know where AllanS is coming from though, and Allan (if you’re reading this), I think it’s good that you want to search for ‘the good God’… what you said resonated with me, and kind of reminds me of Puddleglum’s speech to the Emerald Witch in C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair. :slight_smile:
And hey, that’s why all of us are here anyway, because God is helping all of us to realize how tired we are of believing that He’s basically bad, when He’s actually good. :slight_smile:
And you’re right, Julie, maybe the answer is something we haven’t really thought of. :slight_smile:

Honestly, the doctrine of the Trinity was never as important a belief to me as believing that Jesus is our Savior and our King and believing that God shares in our experience. I am open to either side being true, whether Trinitarian or non-Trinitarian, as long as what I stated above is still true.
I know that others here feel differently, and I understand that, but again, this is who I am.
I’m more of a poet than I am an intellectual. :slight_smile:
I honestly don’t care as much about man-made formulas that seek to pin down and explain the deeper mysteries of God then I care about knowing where I should focus all my questions and my longings and my cries for help, and knowing that God is somehow with me in the mess of my life.
I’ll definitely take a look at that book, Julie. Thanks for the recommend. :slight_smile:

Again, I agree Julie. :slight_smile: I think it’s a big mistake for any of us to think we’ve graduated in theology. :slight_smile:
And just reading the New Testament, with how Jesus turned so many things upside down for the Pharisees, if we should all wonder that maybe it’s a good idea if we keep ourselves more flexible. :slight_smile:
By closing our hearts and our minds to other possibilities, we may be closing ourselves off to God’s grace. :frowning:
It can be a good thing for people to stand for what they believe in, but it can turn ugly too, as we all know. :frowning:
So let’s try to stay flexible, and if we disagree, agree to disagree, and treat one another as brothers and sisters whenever and wherever possible. :slight_smile:

Thanks again for your kind words, Julie. :slight_smile: It’s hard to see, but hey, I don’t see everything. :slight_smile:
And you’re welcome :slight_smile:

Blessings to you, sister