Have you been persecuted for your UR beliefs?
Here are some examples I know of:
- Peter Hiett, once the “golden boy” of his Presbyterian denomination, was tossed out of his denomination and church after he began teaching a stronger form of UR to his congregation than previously. At the time, the church was the second largest in that denomination in the Western U.S.
Well known Christian leaders, who would show up as guest speakers at that church, never show up at The Sanctuary, the unaffiliated church that Peter now pastors, where I believe they would undoubtedly be welcome, even if they wished to preach a biblical defense against UR.
At least one former staff member of The Sanctuary apparently had difficulty finding employment in a “regular church” since The Sanctuary was on his resume.
The largest megachurch in town purchased the building that formerly housed Peter’s Presbyterian church after that congregation subsequently became too small to support such a large building. In an apparent fundraising video shown to their membership, they publicly declared that they would cleanse the building of heresy that had caused the building to go empty. When in fact it was the truth of UR that had filled the building for years.
I personally fell out of fellowship with a man who had been one of my best friends for 22 years. He will soon be joining the pastoral staff of one of the largest churches in America. After encountering Peter Hiett’s teaching I began sending him links to sermons that were especially logical and Biblical in defense of the UR position. He says he never watched a single one as they might corrupt his faith. I went over a year then without hearing from him. When he recently did contact me and told me about his upcoming position with the mega megachurch, he confirmed he had still not seen a single video, even the 16 minute Hallelujah in Hell youtube.com/watch?v=F27jxwHDrzM video link I sent recently.
For a few weeks, I was a member of a local Tuesday night group, curiously composed of about half members of The Sanctuary and about half members of the megachurch that purchased the building where Peter’s church used to be. When it was my night to be the presenter, I was planning to show the newly released Hallelujah in Hell video.
The leader, who was a member of Peter’s former church but not of the Sanctuary, banned me from showing the video, though he himself had not seen it. He was concerned it would offend the megachurch members. So I resigned from that group. Interestingly, this weekend that leader attended The Sanctuary, where Peter happened to introduce several people who had traveled way across the country specifically to attend The Sanctuary after seeing Hallelujah in Hell on line.
So how about you? Any “persecution”? I was a bit surprised in listening to Robin Parry’s podcast last week that he did not seem to feel like the UR position is persecuted. At one point, I remember his stating that UR people are still considered within the umbrella of Christian orthodoxy. I thought of Mark Driscoll’s scene in the movie Hellbound where I remember his proclaiming that the UR position is absolutely unorthodox.
The concern going forward is how this persecution prevent the truth that is UR from going forward. At least 4 megachurch members did not get to hear it on the night I planned to present it but the real concern is for the millions.
There seem to be more than a few well known pastors whose message is UR sympathetic, and probably more so worship leaders, to judge by the words of their songs. But if they were to cross the line into UR advocacy, they would no doubt face the same end as Peter Hiett. They would lose their huge churches and prestige in the Christian world.
So I see expanding the UR message as a ground up proposition, starting small UR churches that can grow. An interesting thing I’ve noticed about The Sanctuary is that some of the members no doubt walked through the door UR agnostic, because they happened to live in the neighborhood. Now they are strong UR believers after sitting under the teaching. And many of those were non-church goers before walking in the door for the first time.To them UR is not a form of the gospel, it is truly The Gospel of Jesus Christ.