Essentials


#1

Ok, I will admit to having gotten myself a little worked up (I’m over it now :smiley: ) over what I think is an asinine statement from Parry:

“Indeed, “evangelical” universalists regard Unitarianism as a fundamental betrayal of the gospel and the biblical revelation of God.”

What matters, it seems to me, is a life pleasing to God, loving Him and the neighbor, and even one’s enemies. Elementary, my dear Watson.

What would Parry, et. alia., think about a Spirit-filled, wise, loving, scripture-believing Christian who honors God but happens to believe that the Father is the only true God?

And more to the point - if God be for a person, happy with that person - who gives a d***, really, if they are betrayers of what others make believe is Orthodoxy?
Or does God only bless Trinitarians? If God has accepted non-trins, why would we call them betrayers? Or are non-trins NOT Christian, and not spirit-filled and not pleasing to God, even though their only sin is not believing in a politics-driven speculative philosophy from the 4th century?
Again this is so elementary.
Is our life more Spirit-filled, happier, better in any way because we have convinced ourselves we have better doctrine? In what was is the non-trin experience of God ANY different from God’s point of view?

All this rant to say: there are essentials of true Christian belief; trin or not-trin is not one of them. Understanding and obeyingwhat the scripture clearly teaches. IS essential

BTW - I’m NOT saying that good Christian portrayed above is me - far from it, I’ve got a long ways to go…
Rant over.
Peace.


Is God Completely Other?
#2

Ok… so what’s the greater context of this?

That asked… it is “IMO” an inherent problem of “evangelicalism” that no matter how broad one’s soteriological view might be e.g., “universalistic”, the evangelical mind-set by its very nature ALWAYS seems to fall prey to the “THEM / US” divide; sad to say. :confused:


#3

Parry’s comment was linked to in this Forum’s Statement of Faith.

I agree with your assessment.


#4

DaveB

I understand.

David E.

Could you expound on the 'evangelical mind set you mention?

Thanks

Chad


#5

Instead of saying ‘asinine statement’ in the OP, I should have said 'the content of the judgment itself is asinine."


#6

By that Chad I mean the “formulaic” nature of escaping hell and reaching Heaven, demonstrated for example in the assumption that “you must make Jesus your personal Lord and Saviour” and again according to a pet formula to get to Heaven postmortem. There ISN’T a single NT text that says to do this. There IS an evangelical interpretation brought to the text and THEN an understanding given thereupon. However…

It was GOD who “MADE” appointed and set Jesus as ‘Lord of all’ (Acts 2:36) i.e., it didn’t and doesn’t require OUR vote of confidence (acceptance) to establish this… God did NOT consult us nor seek OUR permission to “make Jesus both Lord and Christ”. I’m all for “accepting Christ” BUT WE DON’T “make Him Lord” – He already is. There are of course benefits when we take and make this reality “personal” but that’s another story.


#7

Dave,

Not personally being persuaded of Trinitarian formulations, I was the only moderator who contested using such non-Biblical language when we debated putting it in our site’s doctrinal statement. But I am puzzled that you are so shocked that an “evangelical” would say that Unitarianism betrays their tradition’s sense of the Biblical revelation. The Trinity and deity of Christ has been affirmed as a central Biblical basic by all branches of Christians East and West, by ecumenical movements, and the W.C.C., much less by evangelicals. Your certainty that it can’t be seen as a doctrinally orthodox essential suggests to me that you are not much hanging out with historic evangelicals.

I have never gotten the impression that Robin judges non-Trinitarians as non-Christians, as lacking the Spirit, or that he would disagree that love is ultimate. I have always experienced him as humble and gracious. Your accusation that it is asinine for him to affirm the overwhelming evangelical consensus about the Trinity sounds at least as much of a judgmental rant as I have ever heard him deliver. Regardless of whether the label ‘evangelical’ fits or not, we Christians need to be more inclusive than that. I’m glad that you have a place to vent, but I don’t think that to be assured that God embraces us (or that we have a “life pleasing to God”), we should need others to agree with our own formulations.

Grace be with you,
Bob


#8

Thanks for your measured response, Bob.
I did rankle to think that, as Robin himself wrote, unitarian belief is - not an affront to a set of beliefs - but a betrayal of the very Gospel itself. And I repeat that I do think that the statement - not Robin himself ! whom I respect and have profited immensely from - is asinine, in its sense of ‘senseless’. I’m not calling anyone an ass. But it is senseless to name as a BETRAYER OF THE GOSPEL someone who disagrees with an interpretation, not of scripture, but of Athanasius or whoever.

I myself am not a unitarian, nor am I strictly ‘orthodox’ - a term which means whatever a person wants it to mean. But neither would I call anyone a betrayer of the very gospel of Christ unless I knew that person, or that person had stated some grossly distorted moral position.

I won’t be bullied, and calling me or anyone a betrayer of the Gospel - THAT is a rant.
Again: I’m not calling names. I’m pointing out a basic, fundamental problem in ‘orthodox’ attitude. I have fallen way way short of calling anyone a betrayer of the gospel.

I mean, which is the real rant?

I admire you Bob for your restraint, and no doubt I should not have used that one word ‘asinine’ though I did not mean it to apply to any person.


#9

Thanks for your measured response, Bob.
I did rankle to think that, as Robin himself wrote, unitarian belief is - not an affront to a set of beliefs - but a betrayal of the very Gospel itself. And I repeat that I do think that the statement - not Robin himself ! whom I respect and have profited immensely from - is asinine, in its sense of ‘senseless’. I’m not calling anyone an ass. But it is senseless to name as a BETRAYER OF THE GOSPEL someone who disagrees with an interpretation, not of scripture, but of Athanasius or whoever.

I myself am not a unitarian, nor am I strictly ‘orthodox’ - a term which means whatever a person wants it to mean. But neither would I call anyone a betrayer of the very gospel of Christ unless I knew that person, or that person had stated some grossly distorted moral position.

I won’t be bullied, and calling me or anyone a betrayer of the Gospel - THAT is a rant.
Again: I’m not calling names. I’m pointing out a basic, fundamental problem in ‘orthodox’ attitude. I have fallen way way short of calling anyone a betrayer of the gospel.

I mean, which is the real rant?

I admire you Bob for your restraint, and no doubt I should not have used that one word ‘asinine’ though I did not mean it to apply to any person.


#10

I’m going to ban myself from this forum for one week. I will accept pm’s if the spirit moves you.


#11

Betrayal of the gospel is certainly strong language, but if thats how someone feels, so be it. Most evangelicals would consider the idea of an evangelical universalist an oxymoron at the very least… but this is an evangelical universalist site.

For me, if I were to visit a “Pentecostal Universalist” site, I would expect to see certain foundations of pentecostalism expressed- but Pentecostals themselves would resent the attachment of their name to universalism.

Trying to dress the restoration of all things and ultimate universal reconciliation in orthodox costumery is a vain pursuit unless one is trying to appeal to orthodox believers. I have considered starting a “Fundamentalist Universalist” site- just so I could show fundamentalists that if the Bible is inerrant and inspired of God then the restoration of all things and ultimate universal reconciliation cannot be excised from the scriptures without denying their own premise, undercutting their own foundation, eviscerating their own paradigm and stumbling over their own stumbling stone.

The problem is when any doctrine gets elevated above the communion of saints who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and believe God raised Him from the dead, a sort of Gnosticism sets in, and certain esoteric concepts(that never seem esoteric to those who hold them) become the basis of fellowship and a circumcision of sorts.

Universalism is not a doctrine that will unify diverse believers. It is not the deepest foundation of the highest understanding(imo). Its milk. Paul didnt call certain Corinthians babes, and carnal, because they didnt understand the foundation doctrines. He called them babes because they were divided, and did not understand that their divisiveness was a violation and counterproductive to the purpose and mission of God in Christ.

Now that kinda sounds like a betrayal of the gospel.


#12

It’s a difficult one this because although you can argue that theoretical doctrines of God are not essential for salvation (which would be correct), you have to understand that for any particular group/denomination, there are going to be doctrines that they find jarring to hear someone deny. If a Trinitarian believes that Jesus is God, as well as the Father and the Spirit, then to hear someone not only deny that but actually affirm other basic doctrines of Jesus’ life is inevitably going to be difficult to hear. It would probably be less ‘harsh’ to the heart to hear someone deny that Jesus even existed than it would be to say he existed, died and was raised from the dead and yet was not God. It’s only natural for Trinitarians to react strongly to that, especially if they believe that the very word Christian requires at least a tacit belief in the divinity of Christ; that would also lead naturally to consequences on what they thought the gospel was - I mean, if we can all agree on something about the basis of the gospel, it’s surely that Who God is is THE key part of it. Any fundamental disagreement about that (and the argument over whether Christ is part of the Godhead is definitely something of fundamental importance) will always lead to strong opinions either way.

I’d also add that Parry’s statement is not strictly about Unitarians themselves - it’s about Unitarianism. If you believe that Trinitarianism is a fundamental and clear doctrine “of the gospel and the biblical revelation of God”, then I think it’s perfectly understandable that you see Unitarianism as a betrayal of that. That’s not to say that Unitarians cannot be saved or are being dishonest or immoral in their following of God or that a denial of the Trinity shows hatred towards God or anything like that. It’s just to say that an intellectual belief of theirs is a false portrayal of the reality of God (or at least how Trinitarians see God).

However:

That statement has basically undermined everything you’ve said in your OP. It’s understandable you’ve got worked up about it but you cannot possibly complain about some Trinitarians’ attitude towards a group like the Unitarians and then add in a pathetic, childish sentence like that. Accusations of intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy don’t go down well if you’re showing exactly the same attitude. We’re all in a position of trying to understand Who God is and statements like that really don’t help.


#13

See next post: :smiley:


#14

Here’s a good article on

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity
The Problems with Post-Modern Interpretation of the Bible

Please note - as part of what I shared in Christians and Technology - I’m making a ***radical ***change in my life.

I’m no longer using the IS.GD URL Shortener.

I am turning over a new leaf.

Instead of using the URL shortener IS.GD, I’ve decided to pick one or two, that come up on page one of Google for “URL Shortener”. So I will run with one of these - going forward:

GOO.GL
BIT.LY
OW.LY
I’m sure some will be happy to see this radical change I’m making. But if I re-post old links already created - I’ll run with IS.GD :laughing:


#15

Truth is truth, regardless.

It is very important to know the truth. It is important to not believe false things.

It is even more important to live righteously.


#16

Agreed. That’s why you can read my detailed questions on IS.GD - defending it like Perry Mason - in Christians and Technology. And it is my civic duty, to educate everyone on what a false positive is. Like I’ve said before. Just because one or two say “God created evil” - doesn’t make it truth. Or one or two - not in the top ten (and certainly NOT Google - by a long shot) - say they detected malware - doesn’t make it truth. But I really don’t want anyone dying of a heart attack, if they suffer a panic attack over IS.GD. :laughing:

And to prove a point. Go to sitecheck.sucuri.net// - which was offered before as “proof” and put in the Google URL shortener goo.gl/. It’s infected with malware. Explain to me how this is possible, given the money and talent at Google. Or should we question the company providing the information?


#17

Dave B,

Thanks for your wonderful response and clarifications. I certainly don’t think any ban is needed. I’ve always enjoyed your participation here, and yes, I can see how the language of betraying the Gospel can press our buttons. If I took it as “bullying” me toward a position, I would resent it too. Yet I’m afraid that the reality is that most evangelicals do see Christ’s deity and the incarnation as a basic building block of the Gospel’s story. So if we say that only the Father is God, it truly sounds to them that we have violated an essential.

My own bias is that what is crucial in traditional belief about Jesus, is to trust that in him we really find a trustworthy picture of God’s character (that “God was in Christ reconciling the world,” or as Jerzak argues in “A More Christ-like God,” that God’s nature is most clearly revealed as self-emptying love and goodness). Thus my preference was that we as an ‘evangelical’ site convey openness to all who want to argue beliefs on the basis of Scripture (such as universalism; even if their interpretations are not traditional). Therefore I argued with the other moderators for using Biblical terms and texts for Jesus, just as we did for every other affirmation in our creedal statement, and not philosophical concepts of later centuries.

All of them liked that language and were gracious to me, BUT vigorously insisted that since the Biblical terminology was “ambiguous,” it was crucial to use creedal Trinitarian language and identify ourselves with historic orthodoxy. Part of this was because they thought anything less would raise red flags for the average conservative evangelical who we were inviting to consider a more universalist vision in Scripture. But much of it was clearly because they are more inclined than I to think that Scripture strongly backs up the Trinitarian formulation, and as I said, that that incarnational scenario is intrinsic to the Gospel message, and perhaps even essential to the mechanics of assured salvation.

Unfortunately I learned that if you and I concede that we are not “strictly orthodox,” I have to expect many to say that my position ‘betrays’ evangelical interpretations of the Gospel. My impression is that Parry himself is broadening a bit beyond his initial claims to be classically evangelical (except for his U.R.). I’m not familiar with the context of his old statement here. I suspect it was in the context of the kind of debate I sketched above over language of an evangelical statement of doctrine, and reflected concern that questioning a classic incarnation not turn off his own traditional constituency to universalism, as opposed to making a judgmental claim about the status before God of others of us who interpret such things differently. I suspect it’s a tricky balance to be The “evangelical” U.R. spokesman, and yet communicate as much openness as you and I would prefer. But hearing him at the recent Pasadena conference confirmed to me what an effective representative he is.

All the best to you,
Bob


#18

Actually, I thought Dave’s “pathetic, childish sentence” showed a great deal of insight.


#19

Thanks for the gracious responses, probably more than I deserve.

Jonny95 - I was not making a declaration that any trin has actually said so-and so - I was merely trying to point out that, if God blesses, loves is pleased with an individual, who are we to accuse them of the crime of betrayal?
I believe Hebrews 1:1-4 with all my heart. I don’t think that, because I won’t go further by adding the philosophical language of all-too-human councils to what the scripture plainly teaches (You, Father, are the only true God; God (the Father, obviously) was in Christ; one mediator, the man Christ Jesus - well we all know the drill) - because I do not add to the Hebrews statement and others with non-scriptural binding language, that I or anyone should be called BETRAYERS. That’s all I’m saying.
My childish question was no more than a question - if I am a betrayer, then I am betraying not only the gospel, but Christ, correct? Is that correct??
It was not childish nor petulant - it had a point - to follow out to its logical extension the simple declaration that Unitarians (or anyone who is not ‘us’)? Whoever we are as a group?) is a betrayer.
That’s it. I know it sounded bombastic, part of the reason being I’m trying to kick my dependence on depression meds, but putting the ‘tone’ aside, the content of my grievance is, I think, valid.
I am guilty of ignoring my own inner rules of posting before editing. I am sorry for the tone.


#20

So I checked it out… and I’m thinking it’s probably a case of ‘horses for courses’ as in any dyed-in-the-wool “evangelical” infernalist would probably and happily say in-kind regarding “universalism”. Especially when the power of ‘orthodoxy’ (in religious circles) is as powerful as it is. It then comes down to how comfortable (internally secure) we are in our own (considered by others) heterodoxy… which at the end of the day is what EU is to most evangelicals; even though secretly many in their camp would love it to be true.