The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Essentials


#21

Dave, I fear you are turning a commonplace verb for lack of doctrinal conformity into a noun intended as an epithet. Calling Parrry’s statement asinine is not the same as expressing an intention to call him an asinine ass. Similarly, I doubt saying one formulation is a ‘betrayal’ of another doctrinal tradition, is the same as asserting an intention to call you Christ’s “BETRAYER.”

We need to assume the best about those with whom we enter into doctrinal debate, and not treat their rhetoric about their views as if it is personally directed epithets. If our relationship with God hung on agreeing or getting all our beliefs right, we’d all be in the soup. You are loved, and no one here wants to diminish you.


#22

Right-0, davo.
It’s not an argument for or against trin or non-trin that concerns me. Both of those are matters of choice and conscience, and from what I’ve seen and heard from people in both camps - there is no difference at all in the work God is doing in their lives. It does not seem to hamper or bless one way or another, which way one chooses as to that doctrine.

Working on tone…


#23

Great words Bob! :slight_smile:


#24

Yes, good words as usual Bob.
I’m not waging a doctrinal war; to what end would I, since bright minds and sincere spirits have wrestled with and argued the issue for an age or more, seemingly. I’ve knocked my head against that wall, and I think have learned my lesson. :smiley:

I was wrong to meet the harshness of the judgment with my own harshness of tone.
My content stands, however.

I love this Forum; it has its warts and all, but also plenty of strong lights and intelligence; and I owe a lot to the founders and admins and mods for investing their time and energy in this good work.

Still, the content stands; the tone not so much. :blush:


#25

It seems clear to me that Judas betrayed Christ, I have no hesitation in saying that. Perhaps it is also true that I have betrayed Christ many times in my life by my sinful actions. Neither of those statements exclude the possibility (and to my mind certainty) that Christ loves both Judas and myself. Whether He is pleased with a particular belief I hold is an entirely different matter and is unknown to us.


#26

Agreed.


#27

Speaking of essentials. This recent blog post reminds us of a spiritual Christian classic:

‘The Imitation of Christ’: antidote for media-addicted america

Remember when I said this earlier?:

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False Positives Highlight Deeply Flawed Website Malware Scanners

And a PC World article on Virus Total:

VirusTotal tackles the tricky false positives problem plaguing antivirus software

How much money does Google have to spend? Look at this BBC article:

Google ‘paid Apple $1bn in 2014 to keep search on iPhone’

And if you noticed I used OW.LY, BIT.LY and GOO.GL in this post, you win a high-five :laughing:

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#28

This thread has provided some good grist for the philosophical mill.

If we can put aside the rancor and misunderstandings - and please, let’s do that - I’d like to briefly discuss what I think is the fundamental problem, as I see it, with what I called the ‘harsh judgment’ - re Unitarians and betrayal.
This will NOT have a focus on persons, personalities, doctrines, nor an attack of any sort. High-toned all the way.

I want to suggest that the term ‘betrayal’ is generally perceived as a negative MORAL term. It would not normally be used where there had not been a pledge, a commitment, or an agreement that involved TRUST. Without those or comparable pledges, etc., there could not be betrayal.
I"Betrayal’ is a term of moral opprobrium.

I think I’m on solid ground thus far.
Next, I observe that to differ in one’s opinion does not normally carry the same moral burden as making a pledge. To differ, with justifiable reasons, is not essentially a value judgment. It is a recognition that an opinion that is made public, is open to public scrutiny, can be questioned openly and fairly, can also be rejected with no moral consequences. This was not true in Calvin’s Geneva - the interpretation of scripture by the magistrate carried severe penalties for those who disagreed. We do not live in that Geneva.

So, in what cases generally can a group that considers itself ‘orthodox’ make a moral judgment concerning those who differ in opinion and belief from that particular orthodoxy? Well, in the cases of ethical breeches, of what God/society have declared to be ‘wrong’; actions that have the character of damaging other people or society as a whole. I’m over-simplifying here, but keeping the kernel of truth intact, I trust.

The point is that a moral judgment of betrayal has to be made on the basis of an ethical breech, harmful to others, disobeying God.
It is my belief that the unfortunate label of ‘betrayal’ was laid upon a group that had committed NO ETHICAL breech.
Moral judgments are not made because of a difference of opinion; especially among people of good will, and intelligent people who have justifiable reasons for their dissidence.

My suggestion is that the Statement of Faith be amended to show a recognition of the above argument, and tolerance on both sides concerning this issue.

And God rest Ye Merry Gentlemen! And Ladies!!


#29

I think I’ve made this point before :exclamation:. Why can’t we use the Clint Eastwood method for settling doctrinal disputes :question: :laughing:


#30

We could, I suppose, but this isn’t at bottom a doctrinal dispute.
But I would look stunning dressed as the High Plains Drifter.


#31

Dave,

I’ve agreed with you that the term, betrayal, can be loaded, and come across as harsh. But when I review Parry’s words in context, I don’t see him intending to assert a “moral” judgment, or to censor those with other views, or even to apply betrayal as a verb to non-evangelicals. I read him to simply be using this term to say that he believes that non -Trinitarian theology itself is contrary to evangelical’s tradition (which it is). His intention in that essay is not to make judgments on non-evangelicals, but to convince traditional evangelicals that many of their beliefs are compatible with embracing universalism. And even as a non-Trinitarian, I too would affirm that.

If the term “betrayal” appeared anywhere on our Statement of Faith page as a formal position, I too would find it problematic. But I don’t see that it is there. Thus I only see this as an issue appropriate to raise with Robin. Any suggestion of placing formal language that opposes his, or of deleting his term betrayal, could sound like a request to censor another member. And I’ve long stood here for the widest possible tolerance for differing views and semantics on our site. So my own preference would be just to allow you both to state your views.

Grace be with you,
Bob


#32

Ok, Bob, if you insist, I will let calmer heads prevail!! :smiley:

No, I would have been happy had he said that.
But it was a “fundamental betrayal” - not of tradition - but of the Gospel itself and the scriptures. I’m not going to argue any further about it, but words matter, and those are the words he used. And though it is not a part of the SOF, it is directly linked to; and I think many on this forum would agree with what he wrote.

Anyway, this dead horse is safe from me kicking it any longer. Yay!!
Thanks for the thoughtful perspective.

Jonny95 - are we ok??


#33

Yep, Dave, we may have exhausted this. But yes, the reality is that the evangelical tradition sees rejecting the deity of Christ as a “fundamental” contradiction of its’ interpretation of “the Gospel and the Scriptures.” And since that is all equivalent to them, of course many here would appreciate Parry’s point.

What I might add, is my perception that the proportion here who holds this traditional view is lower than it used to be, with more who question such views finding a home here. I can only conjecture that the vocal nature of non-traditional views here may explain why the range of participation has noticeably declined. It seems to me that those of us who have progressed to a place that appreciates being able to challenge traditional evangelical beliefs and rhetoric, may have to wrestle with the effect our rhetoric and judgments have on a site that was founded on welcoming an evangelical stance. For me, the upshot is that all of us need to be secure enough to avoid expecting everyone to state things as we would prefer.


#34

Agreed.

The forum has changed in the few years I’ve been here. When I first arrived, there was an agnostic moderator that noone had trouble with (nor I), another moderator who voiced his very low opinion of scripture and who wrote that Jesus was “kinda cool, he guessed” - I’m just saying that things were more ‘open’ and even those who denied the gospel or did not consider scripture authoritative in any way as compared to the artistic consciousness, were more welcome than any opinion from a fellow believer that was contra strict evangelical orthodoxy.

And that is the thing I was pointing to.

But I think you are right to approach it the way you do. I’m looking around for a more comfortable fit of forum; perhaps that would help the viewership issue here, where I did not know it was falling off.

Grace


#35

Of course :slight_smile: It was nothing personal at all - I just thought it was a silly throwaway line that was a little unhelpful, that’s all.


#36

However, Bob, rejecting the deity of Christ is not a defining characteristic of a unitarian (except in the case the modern position of the Unitarian-Universalist Association).

Jesus Himself was a unitarian. He said:

With these words, Jesus identified His Father as the ONLY true God, and with that little word “and” indicated Himself to be someone other than the only true God. Notwithstanding, Jesus was well aware of his deity as the Son of God.

Throughout the New Testament, the word “God” almost always refers to the Father alone, and NEVER to a Trinity.
In John 1:1, Jesus is called “God” not in the sense of being identified as the Father, but as being of divine essence (as also indicated in Heb 1:3, where Jesus is stated be be the exact imprint of the Father’s essence).


#37

Personally, over 40 years as a believer, having spent 15 years in “ministry” among many different churches, I have met so many beautiful believers from every persuasion.

Modalists, Trintitarian Pentecostals and charismatics, I met Andrew Buzzard(Biblical Unitarian annihilationist author)- wonderful brother I disagree with heartily on several things) and spent a good bit of time in his home and taught at the Unitarian Bible College in Atlanta as a guest speaker and singer(even tho i was and am not a Biblical Unitarian), and I’ve even met a few Bi-nitarians who just really loved Jesus a lot. Catholic Charismatics that I met when I was teaching Sunday School in the Nazarene church(the only church I was ever a member of) got me kicked out of the Nazarene church when they laid hands on me and I got filled with the spirit and began to speak in tongues. Then they kicked me out because I didnt accept the doctrine of the Trinity LOL.

For all my studies and conversations with learned men and women as teachers or as opponents or as fellow explorers, there are still grey areas for me concerning the mystery of Deity and the exact form of the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. And I have studied this with intense interest- not just for the truth of it, but also for the nature of the conflicts over it, which have been, historically- really abhorrent.

Basing soteriology in the understanding of the thing is mainly a Trinitarian and Modalist error. The sectarian odor of that is to me strong evidence that they each lie furthest from the truth in their understanding. I mean, it would be no different to me than basing soteriology on understanding the ages or the restoration of all things. Those who insist most strongly on eternal torment and annihilation are most likey to cast universalists into hell for heresy, because their understanding, being weakest, needs the most shoring up with the prohibitions of religious dominion.

In a similar way, I began to be encouraged about the dubious nature of the doctrine of eternal torment in “Hell” when I discovered its roots in Catholicism of the 4th and 5th centuries at the beginning of the Constantinian hedgemony- a dark and unscrupulous era of ambition and political infighting among apostate men with gnostic tendencies and a total disrespect for the priesthood of the believer. Thus began the quest that led me to UR and being an absolute heretic :slight_smile:

At least the Hellists have the King James translation to blame somewhat- but Trinity occurs nowhere in the Bible and the process of making it seem like biblical theology involves a lot of theories, opinions and assumptions established as facts- and I say that as one who sees aspects of the trinitarian view as correct. But while in the ministry in a certain denomination I was told that if I didnt believe the Son was co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, I could not be ordained, to which I replied, “Well, I am convinced by several verses He is definitely not co-equal, and I just dont know for sure about the other thing- and I dont believe you do either.”

But I think is it dissembling to say that the words “betrayal of the gospel” would not be heard as a bit of an ephithet by anyone holding a position towards which those words were spoken, because it is really only a betrayal of trinitarian theology, or evangelical tradition, which ranks nowhere near “the gospel” by any measure I can see, being the jaded old non-denominational independent I am :laughing: .

I hate it when I hear such sectarian terminology used by anyone to describe brothers and sisters in Christ, washed in the blood, reconciled to God and walking in the same process of sanctification in which I am, though we may see things differently.

To me the only soteriological absolutes are Jesus, Son of YHWH, the one true living God, Born of a Virgin, Sinless and Obedient to the point of propitiatory death on a cross, Raised in bodily resurrection from the dead, exalted in the heavens as Lord of ALL, and submitted to as Lord by believers/disciples in love…

But it could probably be reduced further to

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

To add some systematic theology on top that statement is, imo, nigh unto sacrilege.


#38

Another thing I’ve seen in my days of vanity, wandering under the sun among the sons of men :wink:

When we get a revelation, we often already considered ourselves somewhere near the pinnacle of understanding and spiritual evolution, so we return with it to our tradition thinking… if only I can get them to see this- then we will REALLY be something.

But in the case of the restoration of all things and the salvation of all, it is not advanced theology OR advanced spirituality. It is just another step in the restoration of the milk of the “elementary principles of the oracles of God” and the foundation doctrines spoken of hebrews 5 and 6.

Being from any tradition, and now having also the understanding of UR, is more a reason to tear down deeply into what we thought our firm foundations were, more than a reason to just cap off what we had like adding a dollup of whipped cream to a slightly melted sundae.

The axe is being laid to the roots of the trees, and for far deeper reasons than misunderstanding the Godhead or being wrong about the doctrines of “resurrection of the dead and eternal judgement”. Christianity is falling into disrepair, not just because “as iniquity abounds the love of many is growing cold”, but also because it is so far from Jesus, Peter, Paul, James and John… so eaten up with tradition and fine points of systematic theologies that are fundamentally out of sync with “the mystery of His will, His kind intention which He purposed in Him, the administration suitable to the fulness of times, the gathering together of all things into one in Christ” as to be of an almost wholly opposing Spirit, simply bearing a few platitudes, laws and wearing Jesus stickers and t-shirts while totally missing what God is up to in the world.

IMO, at the core of that deeper understanding is the body of Christ, a Bride "coming down out of the heaven"s, and a thing many people think God is done with, but I think He is just starting to renew- the church.

How the word “essentials” doesnt call to mind more how we relate to one another in Christ as a body than exactly what we see about the fine lines of theological concepts sort of bogles my mind. The body of Christ is an “essential”. Jesus and Paul taught tons on it.

"That you may be one even as I and the Father are one, that I am in the Father and the Father in Me and I in you…

" until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."

These are things that I think are being ignored(speaking generally) because of unbelief and immaturity, not because God is really only building the ecclesia in the heavenlies in some spiritual way. I believe that as Jesus is the “bread of life coming down out of heaven” the Bride of Christ must “come down out of the heavens” and that is what the wedding supper of the Lamb is really all about. The invitations have been sent, but most are too important to come and celebrate the union of the Bride and the Lamb. They may not have enough oil in their vessels to follow the Voice in thru the night to get there anyway- but I believe this age must see the bride adorned in order to be fulfilled.

I might be totally wrong, and I guess time will tell. Personally, I dont think God is done with the book of Acts yet, and the chaos we see erupting everywhere is like the tohu and bohu into which He will speak, “Let there be light” in some awesome new way, and there will be light, and it will be good :slight_smile: And I hope the separation of the waters, and the dry land, and the fruitfulness that will emerge from the mists is a clearer representation of the gospel message carried by a generation of children and disciples in more love, power and wisdom than the old wineskins can stand.


#39

Thank you, Eaglesway! Your last two posts are much appreciated!


#40

Perhaps the Unitarians and Universalists can find common ground - over humor. Let me inject some. :exclamation: :laughing:

I found this interesting “essential” cartoon today :exclamation: :smiley:

And an “essential” joke from Please don’t feed the fears …… :smiley:

Note: Google URL shortener is my preferred one now - in most cases. In case of any questions, my answers are:

This is Google

This is what Virus Total (now owned by Google) says

The ball is in your court to prove otherwise :smiley: