The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Perfect example of why young people are leaving the faith

Do you think young Adams question got the answer his heart deserved? I don’t. But this is how Christianity is losing the modern youth.

I can see what you mean. Do you think that it is unhelpful to teach kids about hell?

Imagine teaching children that God will punish and purify all who reject him with Holy fire until they are no longer deluded but willingly confess Jesus is Lord.
Some would say that is not enough to constrain sin in a persons life. They assert this would become an easy license to all kinds of living.
If thats the case then let us institute capital punishment as the only way to get children to obey the rules at school and in society.
Humans do not need to have the worst fear imaginable to provide any necessary degree of negative reinforcement, but in fact overly harsh punishment has been proven to evoke less respect and obedience throughout history.

I would argue that a child who has the Holy Spirit and no secret internal abhorrence to God because of the hopeless doctrine of ECT would be a whole and happy Christian and would in fact be less likely to leave the faith.

1 Like

Then why wouldn’t young people have been leaving the church for centuries?

Thats a great question. I can offer possibilities more than answers.
I have a theory that education and enlightenment in human rights as well as the freedom from authoritarian systems has brought the young people of our day to a wider sense of what defines absolute goodness.
It corresponds with the Kohlberg theory of moral development.
I wonder if humanity is abandoning the childish motivations for morality such as reward and punishment and is moving into an age of intrinsic goodness for its own sake.
All this is against the backdrop of historical atrocities by which people define the barbarism of the Old World and the equality and dignity of life in the modern age.

In a nutshell, people of past ages fell in line out of fear and dependance on more primitive systems of religion and government. I think there have always been free thinkers who found hell to be atrocious, but in todays intellectual world free thinking is exploding and Christianity is going to need to recognize that Medieval depictions of God are no longer working.

Is the threat of eternal torment? John said anyone who says he has no sin is a liar. I suspect that close to 100% of Christians have sinned post baptism. I also suspect that while most Christians throughout history may have lived very “pure” lives with regard to sexuality and alcohol, their hearts were full of anger and hatred for people who didn’t live up to their standards of purity.

Duh… thanks Steve

Yes I agree there is more of an attraction toward intrinsic goodness but also in general I think young people are following institutional things less in general , so I think the only kind of Christianity growing today is non-denominational which is the least institutionalized.

But of course we mustn’t discount the effect of good old fashioned hedonism. The foolishness of youth may be a strong lure out of church, but if they have a lasting philosophical objection that extends into their later life they are going to be far less likely to find their way back.
Then again we have a promise that where sin abounds grace much more abounds. God knows how to reach every generation and I mustn’t discount his ability to renew the churches relevance.

In fact I am hopeful that the rise of Evangelical Universalism might just be the thing that takes us into a new age for the church.

IIRC the divorce rate for evangelicals is about the same as non-evangelicals in the US.

I would not equate divorce with hedonism. Hedonism is a pretty simple thing. Divorce has many causes some of which even Jesus justified.

That’s fair. However, the unwillingness of many ET-believing Christians to work out their differences with their spouses certainly raises questions about the efficacy of the doctrine.

Either way, I think believing in ET would be a case where the cure is worse than the disease.

1 Like

Well there you go, in fact lets just say that its becoming increasingly clear that ECT is less of a theology Christians live by as it is something they can fight for to make themselves feel like they are really good kids in the eyes of their religion.
When they evangelize they soft pedal and hide eternal hell, but when they talk to Universalists you’d think that was the can at the bottom of the Campbells pyramid.

Look, before the internet, TV, radio, was church functions. That was the only game in town as pertaining to what to what young people did. It was their entertainment. We can accept this and either move forward or we can kick and shout about how young folks are ‘going down the wrong path’ and realize that we need to engage. And engage means to understand…

Good point MM.

Hey I was a Youth Pastor for 15 years. I hear ya. Our church spends a lot of money staffing and creating facilities for reaching kids and teens. By the way my youth Pastor and childrens pastor were brought into the Kingdom through our church and I have been able to share my Universalism with my youth pastor and he is on board. Kids pastor is His wife so I let him talk to her about it.

I think its been really good for the kids. Far more love driven approach to both moral and spiritual motivation.

I was suddenly reminded of an experience I had not long after I took the step into Universalism. A lady in my church came to me who coordinates our bus ministry for kids. She said “Pastor Mark this girl has a question and i feel like you should be the one to answer it.” So it was a Wednesday night potluck before bible study and the girl came over and she was about 10 yrs old. She sat down and said, “I read that God killed a guy and his wife for not giving what they said they would to the church. I dont think God should have done that.”

I looked at that girl and I saw our generation of youth wanting answers to questions about God that make sense to their understanding of what love should look like. I could not help but think of all the bad answers kids like this are getting from churches.

I looked at her and said, “Well I don’t fully understand why that happened. I do know the church just started and God did not want people lying to Him because that might catch on with others.” I said, “ But I do beleive that Ananias and Sapphira were believers in Jesus, if God took them to heaven after they died would that help you not feel like God had done the wrong thing?”
She smiled and nodded her head and ran off to play.

I may not have given a perfect answer, but I have to believe that she left there with her faith in a God of love in tact.
I don’t think I would have thought to answer that way before becoming a Universalist. Or more so had the spirit tried to lead me to say that the way I think He did that night, I might have resisted and said something safe and traditional and sent her away confused and discouraged.

Regarding the difficult story of the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, I like Richard Murray’s explanation:

She was 10 years old… she needed to know God loved them…She knows now. Perhaps the seed for Universalism was planted.

All we know from the book of Acts is that Ananias and Sapphira died after they lied. Nothing is written to the effect that God killed them. They may have died from fear when they were confronted.