Fellow blogger and Christ follower, Jackson Baer, posted his coming out proclamation. His coming out announcement is about his faith in an all inclusive God. A bold move in Christianity, since the term ‘universalist’ is still so widely controversial. Rob Bell wrote about the wild concept of God’s love winning and was excommunicated by many in the Evangelical community. It seems the Evangelical church is quickly and boldly looking and sounding a lot like the government control Catholic church that Martin Luther fled from. Rachel Held Evans has made valiant declarations of what she sees wrong in Evangelicalism and has also been on the end of constant attacks from other Evangelical leaders.
free photo source Pix-O-Sphere
In all the years I was in fundamentalism and in a relatively small town, I naively believed there was just a few denominations of Christianity. After leaving and studying outside the control of the leaders I discovered there are over 35,000 denominations. The discovery made me laugh! How dare any church and it’s leaders think they have the golden truth of truth when there is obviously a wide variety of disagreements about what the stories in the Bible actually mean.
We’re often taught in Christianity that we need to judge others by their fruit and many are pointing out the fact that some doctrines are producing rotten fruit that leads people to be abusive. In many churches that teach God’s wrath, curses, and judgment we see more testimonies of spiritual abuse that often leads to sexual abuse. With all this chaos going on, I can understand why people have had enough and are running from the church doors with no desire to go back.
But there is hope.
“I am still a Christian in that Christ is my Savior though I don’t limit that saving power to only a select few.”
I shared my thoughts with several people, including my daughter who had to endure her life in strict fundamentalism. I have spoken to her many times about this since our departure and again just the other night. Even in the depths of my fundamentalist Baptist indoctrination, I held to the hope that God’s will truly was that ‘not one would perish’. My beliefs and faith included the hope that even in the last second of a person’s life, that the Holy Spirit comes to beckon them home and a God who has amazing grace, as the hymn teaches. I believed in a love so abundant and miraculous that no human would reject such a love. I believe God’s love is that powerful.
If God’s love isn’t powerful enough to win even the most sinister and cold-hearted of humans then he’s not strong enough to save anyone. If the power of the blood of Jesus really changed the maniac of Gadara then it’s powerful enough to save all. Yet, even though the Baptist tradition teaches a finality of our chances, we still get the message that God is a God of second, third, and fourth chances. As many chances as we need. He never withholds his grace for reconciliation.
Until you die, then forget it!
I just don’t believe that. Even though many Evangelicals believe in a literal tormenting fire pit, where even the most loving people will go if they don’t ‘ask Jesus to be their Savior’, I always held the hope that those Evangelicals could be wrong and God really does receive us all back into his arms. God wanted this so much that he allowed his own Son to die to pay the price for all of humanity.
For these reasons, as well as numerous others, I understand Jackson and embrace faith in an all inclusive God.
When I ponder the history of Martin Luther and the persecution they suffered in departing from the Catholic church, I can understand why it was important for them to be bold enough to not only depart, but to say why they did.
I sense the urgency in the declarations Rachel Held Evans makes. She believes in a loving God and is re-thinking the traditional teachings of the patriarchy. Yet, she still calls herself an Evangelical, as does Rob Bell. Imagine had Martin Luther spoke so boldly and freely while staying in the Catholic church. My husband and I tried making our declarations while staying in a fundamentalist church. It didn’t go over so well. Even though we were taught that Martin Luther was brave to take a stand for what he believed, we were called rebellious for standing for what we believe.
So here’s the truth that many don’t want you to know. You don’t have to stay in a community where you’re falsely accused, belittled, or abused. No one is required to stay loyal to an ideology from tradition. None of us need to live under a label. And all of us have the right and freedom to demand a change of definition of some words.
Evangelical isn’t a word that’s owned. If you believe being an Evangelical doesn’t involve abuse, patriarchy, hierarchy, slave wives and silent children then say so! I am a firm believer in the Indwelling Christ and I reject the abuse we see in Christianity. I reject a lot of the traditional teachings of the Christianity we have seen grow here in America. When Westboro Baptist Church and Mark Driscoll says God hates us I have no problem saying, “That’s not my God!“
The doctrine of eternal torment is an atrocious teaching and the fruit of following such a teaching causes people to grow arrogant and depressed. That’s not good fruit. It’s often heralded as being good for behavior modification, but behavior modification isn’t the kind of fruit that lasts. If it was, then the corrected behavior would remain solid when you tell people there is no eternal torment.
What I’ve often seen is this; people who change behavior based on eternal torment only to find out it’s not true go out and live destructively again. Sometimes that destructive lifestyle gets worse than it was the first time. A lack of belief in hell doesn’t ‘make’ people live badly. It’s what’s going on inside the person that leads them to make bad choices. The belief in hell just contains a person in double bondage. A two fold child of Gehenna. You can’t free a person by putting them in more bondage. The chains in the cemetery didn’t cure the maniac of Gadara.
Putting people in bondage is not the Gospel!
The Gospel frees us!
So why do people live destructively even when they’re told the Gospel is all inclusive?
Because they haven’t confessed the bondage they’re in. In their attempt to claim the freedom of the Gospel, they refuse to see the beam in their eye, the chains on their feet, and the straight jacket they’re still wrestling with.
Living a riotous life of drugs, alcohol, and irresponsible sex is not freedom. It’s bondage.
It doesn’t mean they aren’t loved or forgiven by God, it just means they would rather live in bondage.
They’ll live totally and truly free when their soul leaves their body, but they will have wasted their only chance at life on earth. An experience we only have one opportunity to have.
Even though many Christians despise us when we disagree with their beliefs, we have the freedom to do so. Be free to state what you believe. If you live in fear of speaking up, you’re still in bondage.
Tyranny reigns when people remain silent.
Failure of the Mega Church
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