The Evangelical Universalist Forum


Have you been persecuted for your UR beliefs?

Here are some examples I know of:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 video link I sent recently.

  4. 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.

Trey, This topic has come up before on this site and various forms of advice and experience have been aired. Probably the main issue is just how important is UR overall in the whole world wide church scene? I am not asking whether it’s true or not, but making the assumption it is, how important is it? How much is it worth fighting for if that means falling out with brothers and sisters in Christ? For instance many Christians, even baptistic ones, now think christening of babies is a secondary matter. Not so many decades ago this was a real gulf but now it is much less so. How essential is UR to the Gospel? I think many Christians would tend to think that those of us promoting UR are preaching another gospel. Such people would well feel that they should not view any video or indeed any communication put out in support of UR. Actually my observation is that there is still a fairly low acceptance across boundaries particularly on the part of the more fundamentalist elements. This is not just about UR. I think inerritism would be another one even on this board. We are dealing with fear. We are dealing with entrenched opinion. We are dealing with poor communication. We are dealing with ignorance backed by party spirit. One thing is sure if you prod the snake it might we wise to use a long stick. Perhaps as some have said it migh be better to start new groups and churches, perhaps targeting for new believers and then see what effect this has over what maybe a longish period. Chris


First off, I don’t know that Robin was trying to say that UR isn’t persecuted. I know in another video of his that he was pleading for regard of UR as an acceptable Christian doctrine (as he did in the podcast), but even then he didn’t say anything about it being persecuted or not persecuted. At any rate, he’s in the UK, which is of course a whole different continent from here. :wink:

I think (but I’ve been out of the church scene for a while now) that UR seems to be getting more popular, especially with younger people. It’s scary though, for people to even consider considering it. I don’t know that they really want to persecute people, but they are AFRAID. They actually think they’re saved by believing correct doctrine. No, they wouldn’t admit that, but they do believe it. They’re genuinely fearful that if they don’t believe in hell, they’ll be in danger of going there. Nevertheless, I think a lot of people privately see UR as quite reasonable and a legitimate possibility, even while they’re afraid to say so. I DO know for a fact that far more Christian clergy than, say, ten years ago, have begun to believe in conditional immortality (annihilationism – CI) Hey! It’s a slippery slope, and I oughta know that. :laughing: They won’t be long in coming around, imo. Not of they’re honest with themselves and not if they can get over the fear of even considering other doctrines than those they’ve been taught.

I came to UR cold, from CI. I was in the act of sitting down in a comfy chair to read my new book about hearing from God (which I have yet to finish) when all of a sudden, I seriously heard from God. “That’s not good enough” (meaning CI). “It’s just not good enough.” (I had visions of the pathos of losing so many dear and precious and valued people to annihilation – how I felt about it – how Father felt about it.) “What if there are actual Christians who are universalists?” (as opposed to the pluralists I was afraid of) “What if they have answers for all your questions? Good answers!” I only sat down long enough to push back up to my feet, and I was headed for my computer. Within a few minutes I had found and joined this site, asked a couple of questions, and downloaded Robin Parry’s The Evangelical Universalist from Amazon. I read it all that night, and a little bit of the next day. Then I read one Jason recommended to me, then The Inescapable Love of God, then Hope Beyond Hell (which is a free download, and you should get it). Then I started reading books by infernalists just to make sure they didn’t have any arguments that would prove me wrong. (I still wanted to have the truth even if I didn’t find it to my liking.) If God can do that for me, He can do it for them too. I was strongly opposed to any belief in UR, though I also hated the idea of ECT. So, I don’t think the situation is hopeless at all.

Honestly, when I think of persecution, I think of Christians in Sudan being hacked up with machetes or crucified, or Christians in Iraq being beaten, raped, murdered, their children beheaded and their women sold as slaves by ISIS. That to me is persecution. I think that what Peter experienced is more fear than hatred (but maybe I’m wrong). It seems to me that’s what most of us experience with regard to UR, when we open our mouths at the “wrong” time. :laughing: We freak people out and they feel off-balance. Christianity today in the west is very knowledge/doctrine centered. It’s great to have correct doctrine, but a lot of us think that saves us. :open_mouth: THIS is a problem, because none of us are correct about all of our doctrine. How far wrong are you allowed to go? :unamused: If you get below a “C” grade on the finals, are you going to end up in ECT? So they reject anything to do with UR and flee from it as you might from a plague of Ebola. Some might, but I don’t think they really mean to persecute anyone. They’re just terrified.

The sad thing is, shouldn’t they WANT the truth? Even if it means they’ve been wrong? And why be afraid? Won’t the Holy Spirit still be with them, exposing false teachers and so on? And even if they are “tricked” for a little bit, it would be in the honest act of pursuing the truth of who God is. Do they really think He’d send them to ECT for that? Sadly, they kind of do think that. :frowning: They’re worshipers of the book and worshipers of knowledge though they don’t know it. He’ll forgive them for that too, of course, but it’s sad they don’t trust Him any more than they do.

While its certainly not the persecution of death, like in some countries, I do have fear of being either kicked out of my church, or prohibited from teaching Sunday school or leading small groups, once I share my UR views with my pastor. I also fear economic repercussions, being a Christian counselor, who gets referrals from evangelical churches, that if pastors find out about my views, they would stop referring their parishioners my way. Being in a christian private practice, I also don’t know how my boss would react if and when he finds out.

I do feel that God is calling me to not “hide my light under a bushel”. I do plan to speak with my pastor at some point. And I hope to have a lot of private dialogue with him before making my views completely public. I do expect that there will be negative reaction. That’s not fun to think about. But I also think the world is waiting for UR. They are waiting for a God they can believe in. And that’s exciting.

The reason I posted this under Evangelism was to hopefully throw more emphasis on the solution than the problem, even though the original post was word long on the problem.

The idea is that, if we as a small group of UR believers, are interested in going into all the world and spreading this great news, we probably will need to do it through institutions of our own making rather than established institutions.

The “persecution” of which I speak is not anywhere of the severity of the massive martyrdom going on today, however it is ubiquitous within evangelical churches and culture, and that is the fastest growing part of the worldwide church.

So we need to grow our own institutions, whether they are churches or other entities. Spreading the Word that is UR may be a key component in eliminating the real martyrdom persecution that is going on.

Hmmm, you may be right. I’ve scoured the web for UR fellowships in my area of the UK and found none, and so I had no choice but to attend ECT believing churches. I don’t think there are any ‘UR’ churches in the UK that I can recall?? I remember praying about this and thinking how can this be right, if there are no fellowships to support other believers? My daughter had been praying about this too and something of a miracle happened recently. Her good friend attends an evangelical church that meets at a local school. My daughter attended out of interest and discovered by chance that one of the leaders believed in UR. Then a few weeks later she discovered that another of the leaders believes in UR, so that makes two thirds of the leaders (including their wives). The remaining two leaders who don’t believe have agreed for UR to be ‘put’ to the congregation, but more as a possibility rather than a done deal. The teaching is gearing up to help soften people to UR before it is fully disclosed e.g a recent talk was about Israel as the ‘first born’ and the ‘first fruits’ ( so does that mean God has other ‘sons’?). I hadn’t been attending any church for a while and when I found about this one I went along and sensed God wanted me to be part of it. I pray that the church doesn’t split over this, once people know. I will keep you guys posted.

Well, let’s see, I’ve lost the respect and friendship of a few, had family members say all manner of evil against me, was shown the backdoor of a church I was involved in, even my wife and children were shunned though they had not at that time come to believe in UR, someone tried to get me fired from the ministry I work with, and all this caused all kinds of problems in my marriage. So yes, I’d say I’ve suffered some persecution for having come to believe that Jesus does not fail to save anyone.

Concerning planting UR churches, some will be inspired by God to do so and others will be inspired by God to remain in their current fellowship, and others will be inspired by God to do something else. I’m thankful to be part of an interdenominational fellowship that embraces even me! Most in my fellowship are Infernalists, a couple are hopeful URs, and I’ve done left the reservation and believe that Jesus is savior of all, like scripture says.

So which is worse? The individual persecution of being a UR believer in an ECT world? Or the mass persecution of people by ECT churches/schools/institutions/denominations?

Hmm yes, good point Trey

Sherman has had it a lot worse than I have, but I was involved in a home fellowship when I “went over,” and when people know you well it’s a little harder for them to dump you – especially when they like meeting at your house. :wink: Of course – Sherman’s friends did know him well. I just don’t even know what to think about that. It’s, well, I’m sorry, but it’s un-Christian behavior, the way he was treated. Not that his friends aren’t believers, but they seem to have been lacking in some of the loving one another aspects. :frowning:

But how “they” treat unbelievers? Yes, that can be a real problem, especially amongst the more fundamentalist crowd and double especially among the fundamentalist Calvinist crowd. It’s probably the top criticism I see from unbelievers – the hell doctrine. And the answers they get are often quite appalling. Even the “nice” answers are offensive, but believe me – quite a few “Christians” (baby goats, imo – ask Jason what that means :laughing: ) are downright nasty to them. THAT is a problem.

I should have mentioned in my previous post, that I haven’t experienced persecution or intolerance from fellow church members who believe in ECT. When I’ve mentioned UR, they disagree but not in a horrible way. Now I suspect if I was part of the leadership or took part in the service and spoke about it to the whole congregation, then there would have been a problem and no doubt I would be prevented from doing that. Most of the time, the churches I have attended NEVER mention ECT or hell even, so the skeleton in the closet doesn’t come out, but one time it did: at a local Baptist church I’d been attending for six months or so, a new member soon became active in the services and gave the lesson one Sunday. He did the very rare thing and talked about hell and how things we do in this life can have eternal consequences (for bad i.e. hell). I tackled him afterwards and was very upset. (No one else had a problem it seemed). I ended up not going for a while and the minister came round to see me. As we talked, I told him about my beliefs and concerns about that guy preaching hell, and the minister said ‘‘Have you read a book called ‘Love Wins’? I’d recommend it’’. (I had). So it would seem this minister was at least a hopeful URist but didn’t seem to have a problem allowing someone to preach ECT to his flock. :frowning:

Hmm . . . strange. Very strange. Although I understand that some of the early fathers of the church held UR in their inner circles – with the leadership – but considered it inappropriate to teach it to the masses, whom, they felt, needed the motivation for restraint provided by the fear of ECT. Geez. I know those guys were really smart, but I don’t know why you’d want to teach or even imply that a lie is the truth. I honestly don’t get that. You might get better results short-term, but what about the long-term implications? Like every time you talk to an atheist they throw up this ECT thing into your face and they don’t seem to care that you don’t believe that either. It spoils any chance of a meaningful dialogue in most cases. I think maybe, that back in the day when people were a lot more accepting of spiritual things, and accepted the idea of a god having the right to punish his people however he saw fit, maybe it worked out okay. But today, we’ve been Christianized to the extent that even atheists can see what’s ethically good and what’s bad from a Judeo/Christian worldview. (Only they often deny it’s a thing they get from the predominantly biblical worldview our western societies have been steeped in for many, many centuries, and implausibly postulate it as a result of evolution.) At any rate, I am beginning to think more and more that it IS in fact vital that UR spread to encompass the majority of the Christian community. Also that fundamentalist doctrines be seen as the heresy they so often are. Because they utterly DISCREDIT us with any thinking person.

Cindy- besides ECT, which fundamentalist doctrines are you referring to?

Basically ECT, Trey. But it’s sister doctrine, Penal Substitution (particularly in the legalistic way it’s typically seen) runs a very close second. Most western Christians don’t even know there are many atonement theories with far greater support from scripture. PS, brought to us via Augustine and later Calvin, causes people to misunderstand the gospel completely. Jesus didn’t die so that the Father’s wrath would be satisfied with the blood of His obedient and perfect Son. Barbaric! God can forgive anyone He wants to forgive. There are plenty of examples of forgiveness being given in the OT, and Jesus Himself forgave sins during His ministry. We may infer this was done with an eye toward the future sacrifice, but the only reason to do that is to eisegete our PS doctrine into those scriptures. Jesus came to save His people from their SINS – not from the penalty for their sins. So we have people “getting saved” for the “ticket to glory” or for the “fire insurance” rather than because they have gotten a glimpse of the Son and have fallen hopelessly in love.

Also the prosperity or health and wealth doctrine beloved in many fundamentalist churches. I do believe that God still heals people today and that He provides for our needs, but I don’t believe our material wealth (or even our physical health) is His primary goal. Sometimes poverty and even sickness can be very good for us. And it’s become a real snare to many third world churches in that people begin to worship the health and wealth rather than the Lord. When these things don’t come, and they often do not, their faith eventually gutters and winks out. That happens in first world countries also, of course, though perhaps not quite to the same extent. A person doesn’t have to be rich and have access to the finest of healthcare for him to make a god of health and wealth. It’s a snare equally to the person desperate to get out of a situation of terrible poverty and disease. What’s even worse, H&W combined with a rather twisted demonology has given us the “witch children” of Africa. If you haven’t heard about this sad, sad story, just do a web search. How shameful and how very, very wrong!

Then there is the “gospel” of nationalism or patriotism. And patriotism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but we need to remember who our true King is, and what our true country. We are ambassadors of Heaven, and it is primarily to Heaven we owe allegiance, and from Heaven we draw our identity and our hope of good. It is too easy to get caught up in the political system and work for an earthly solution to the problems of our nation. There are people called to this sort of thing, yes, and it can be a very necessary ministry – for example, the modern abolition movement. Nevertheless, we need to remember who we are and to Whom we owe our ultimate allegiance.

I’m pretty sure there are other things I’m not thinking of, but these come to mind. :wink: