The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The implications of Joshua Harris for unconditional election

Joshua Harris was a committed Calvinist pastor who posted on Instagram that he had lost his faith. Was he tricking himself about his faith? How can believers in unconditional limited election ever be sure they aren’t tricking themselves if even the most apparently solid Calvinists like Harris can fall away? Note that this is not a problem if unconditional election is universal.

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Josh Harris grew up in the same fundamentalist camp as me. I didn’t ever meet him, but he was a peer. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that we are so similar now. Some call it rebellion, but I know with myself that it has absolutely nothing to do with that. The world doesn’t make any sense through fundamentalist eyes.

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Yes, I hope he will eventually share his journey and what led to his rethinking. I noted in his announcement that he said he’s not a ‘Christian’ in the way he had ever understood that, yet that he hoped a reconstructed outlook was possible. And he stunningly closed with what he said he could affirm, by quoting one saint’s classic universal faith that ultimately “All will be well!” My suspicion is that like many of we fundamentalists, he came to grips with ugly aspects of that tradition in which he could not remain true to himself, and stay within it.

And Mcarans is right that a believer with limited election has no assurance that one won’t later choose to opt out of that Christian club. I hope Josh will share what factors he especially found to be deal breakers, and his continuing journey.


It would be great to know what aspects of his beliefs have changed and if anything in particular set off the chain reaction that lead to his statement on Instagram about deconstruction.

Bob Wilson, you are correct in pointing out what Josh Harris actually said instead of what the headlines said he said. The headlines, even in the secular media, said he lost his Christian faith. I don’t read that in his statement. I read that he was going through a period of deconstruction and that the version of Christianity he knew for so many years, he could no longer profess. And that he was looking for a new way to follow Christ. At least, that’s how I read it.

I’m a Calvinistic Universalist. I believe in unconditional election in a sense… in the sense that only so many people are elect for this life (the rest are elect for later). I’m not sure why people get tripped up over people falling away. Peter fell away and came back. Some say Judas did as well (our J.W. Hanson said so in his New Testament notes).

My question is, what constitutes a Christian as far as church membership goes. My church is the last liturgical Trinitarian Universalist church in the UUA. In our “denomination” we have atheist and pagan associations. That’s certainly NOT our congregation. What is the soteriological status of those who, lets say are Christians, and then become atheists? Do they still have faith in Christ underneath the layers?

I would say yes, it certainly is possible. I have seen people leave the faith and come back. It’s usually a process of deconstruction and reconstruction. But I think there should be minimum standards for people, especially clergy in the church. Not legalistic ones, but a simple acknowledgement of the doctrines of the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds and the Winchester Profession of Faith.

It’s understandable that the secular press saw it as losing faith because Harris said: “By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.” The possibility of the measurements that Harris has (probably TULIP or close enough) being wrong would not have occurred to them (and probably wouldn’t to many Christians TBH).

I see your faith rests on formulaic statements. We are long past this type of Christianity. Only large denominations would employ that, and those are shrinking as the non-denominational are taking over, which do not necessarily believe those creeds.

I’m an orthodox Universalist. If you don’t have creeds, how do you protect truth? My congregation has watched our Christian denomination slowly devolve into a hodge podge of pagan and un-Christian belief systems, partially because of the rejection of creeds. How do you protect Christianity in any organization then? Or do you believe we should just have house churches and nothing else? What about Christian colleges? Seminaries? Missions boards? Elementary and secondary schools? Don’t these things provide some value to society and to the church? And shouldn’t they be defined by creeds? I know without the denominationally-sponsored Bible college I attended, my life would be a lot different today… and not good.

Pretty sad post… I don’t think this represents the Christians on this site… Watching these Christians respond to the main post is disturbing. It is cheer leading, tribalism. False humility. Doom and gloom… EXTREMELY judgmental. Ultimately a huge turn off.


It is reminiscent of some of the pharisees and their followers in Jesus’s time.

I read about his case. He is deconstructing and I hope will explore and find a non-toxic form of Christianity.

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