Read These! Uncategorized Add comments Nov 272013 The #freesaeed campaign is getting huge! Join us on our Facebook page and save the day, Dec 4th! In online “must reads” today; Jason J. Stellman offers a refection on Thanksgiving that I will take to heart. Sarah continues writing about Advent and provides some thoughts and links for the season. Alex writes what can happen if we all come together on the 4th…well done! Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)MoreClick to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... 167 Responses to “Read These!” gomergirl says: November 27, 2013 at 10:26 am I invited a ton of FB friends… so far several have responded and in turn invited others. Keep it up. Babylon's Dread says: November 27, 2013 at 10:30 am We need to get big hitters to help us… think of who you know and ask them personally Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 10:32 am gomergirl, That’s how these things take on a life of their own…each person and their circle of influence is vitally important. What I love is that so far it’s growing from the ground up…and you are helping to do that. Thank you! Jason Stellman says: November 27, 2013 at 11:00 am Thanks for another shout-out, Michael. Really helps get a brand new site a bit of traffic! Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 11:04 am Jason, It’s provocative and thoughtful…and I like that. Besides, you have one of my favorite people in the world as a staff writer… Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 11:08 am Heavy is a good site. Ya, you sent them some traffic alright. “Misfits and Malcontents”….we’ll see if the Tent is really that big. Jim says: November 27, 2013 at 12:59 pm I’ll pass on the white guilt tomorrow. Sarah says: November 27, 2013 at 1:10 pm Invited most of my friend list and am pleased to see a lot of them responding. I will participate in every way possible. Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 1:13 pm Thank you, Sarah! Derek Thornton says: November 27, 2013 at 1:23 pm I’m with Jim on his #7. Jason Stellman says: November 27, 2013 at 2:08 pm Jim, I’ll pass on the white guilt tomorrow. Dass raciss, bro. Kidding aside, it’s not about “white guilt,” it’s about simply taking a moment to think about and acknowledge what went into creating the context in which we can be so thankful: And as far as how exactly this should all be expressed, that’s a question each person must answer for him- or herself. I will say this much, though: Even a passing thought, a silent prayer, or a brief acknowledgement of the sacrifices that were made to make us all so thankful is hardly an unbearable burden or undue expectation. Also, you have to flog yourself after dinner and watch Dances with Wolves on an endless loop. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm “Also, you have to flog yourself after dinner and watch Dances with Wolves on an endless loop.” LOL. Nah, just go to the local Injun Casino and lose your ass. That there’s called reparations. All better! Steve Wright says: November 27, 2013 at 2:16 pm Talk to a Native American who is also a Christian (and there are plenty) and they will express their thanks to the Lord for bringing “the white man and his religion” to their land to take them out of darkness into the Light. They will be critical of their own people, who in the name of heritage (and hate) make excuse and refuse to come to the Truth. When you have Okie roots, you tend to have some Indian blood not too many generations back. American guilt for the past wrongs of others is no more virtuous or special than Christian guilt for past wrongs of the Church.happens to be. If Jason does not let the sins of Catholicism that he personally has not committed stop him in his faith, then the sins of past Americans is not going to stop me from being thankful to God for the blessings of liberty we have here in this country. Blessings which certainly show as contrast to the evils of say, Iran. Steve Wright says: November 27, 2013 at 2:25 pm If you believe in the sovereignty of God, you can bemoan the nation’s sins, but NOT its existence. God obviously had a plan for Christianity to be brought here and to flourish in this land, and from here to then go out into the rest of the world in even greater measure. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm Steve makes a valid point. Lots of bad stuff in the RCC…except Pope Francis is cleaning house and dealing with corruption and abuses in his Camp…unlike other Christian* non-denominations. Derek Thornton says: November 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm One of my wife and I’s favorite tv shows of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They had a thanksgiving special called “Pangs” on one season. The best quote of the show was after people were getting all angsty over white guilt. and Spike gets mad at them. Spike: “You won. All right? You came in and you killed them and you took their land. That’s what conquering nations do. It’s what Caesar did, and he’s not goin’ around saying, “I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it.” The history of the world is not people making friends. You had better weapons, and you massacred them. End of story.” Martin Luther's Disciple says: November 27, 2013 at 2:32 pm First Francis got rid of Christianity in the RCC – that made the other housecleaning easier. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 2:34 pm “First Francis got rid of Christianity in the RCC ” Francis looks and sounds more like the Good Jesus of the Gospels than any other major religious leader out there right now, that I’ve seen. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 2:35 pm …if getting rid of corruption, idolatry of money, child abuse etc is “getting rid of Christianity”…then great, get rid of it. Martin Luther's Disciple says: November 27, 2013 at 2:36 pm I don’t know how you can say that. Jesus in effect said “believe in me” Francis said you don’t have to believe in Jesus. It looks like Francis is trying to outgood ‘good jesus’ Donn says: November 27, 2013 at 2:37 pm Michael, I was reading the other day about another American citizen in an Iranian prison. His name is Amir Hekmati. I am wondering if it would be good for us to use social media to pressure for his release, too? I love the idea of doing it for Pastor Saeed, but I think that we are doing it because he is American, right? Or is it because he is a believer? Martin Luther's Disciple says: November 27, 2013 at 2:38 pm Do you have any evidence he has done any of that? Look, if he even tried, you know the RCC higher ups (yes even higher up than the pope) would have him assassinated. Jason Stellman says: November 27, 2013 at 2:38 pm If Jason does not let the sins of Catholicism that he personally has not committed stop him in his faith, then the sins of past Americans is not going to stop me from being thankful to God for the blessings of liberty we have here in this country. You probably should read the piece before criticizing it, Steve. You’re disagreeing with things I never even said, and are echoing many of the ones I did. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm I don’t think so, and I’m not a catholic. I think he’s saying “hey, this is what Jesus is all about, not all this other garbage….let’s be more like the Good Jesus of the Gospels”…that’s the message I get from his tenure so far. He got rid of the gaudy throne for a plain wooden thing, he’s cracking down on child abuse, he’s speaking to big issues like the love of money and greed instead of nitpicking to death what sexual proclivities people have, he’s tackling the Power vs. the Weak which is probably the biggest theme of the Good Jesus and the Love Your Neighbor. I know you’re a Lutheran and you hate him, but he’s a darn good Pope so far, IMO. Martin Luther's Disciple says: November 27, 2013 at 2:44 pm Can you tell me what he has done to ‘crack down’ on child abuse? Not what he says, but what he has actually done?… or did you just hear that? Do you think he even knows what goes on in Idaho RCC backrooms with the kids? Martin Luther's Disciple says: November 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm I don’t hate popes – I liked the previous pope I will tell you what will be the test – if I see Francis say that Trent should be revoked – you know, the edict that sends all protestants to hell, then perhaps I will listen. But as long as he supports Trent, he is no friend. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm Well, Francis has publicly acknowledged there is a Problem. He has apologized for it. He has changed the laws in the Vatican making punishments harsher and stricter and he has used his influence as the spiritual leader of his Group to say “this won’t be tolerated any longer” etc and has cracked down internally and made the issue a priority. It’s become a major emphasis and he’s changed the tone from denial to taking some responsibility and doing something significant to address the issue. Martin Luther's Disciple says: November 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm So you are led to believe – but we will see. Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 2:53 pm Donn, I’m ignorant of that situation. If you have more info please post it for us. Derek Thornton says: November 27, 2013 at 3:08 pm The Amir Hekmati situation is far more muzzy than the one with Pastor Saeed. Hekati is accused of spying for the CIA. He confessed, albeit confessions in countries like that are suspect. He is awaiting a retrial right now. The situation with Pastor Saeed is straight forward. In jail for Christ. Period. Donn says: November 27, 2013 at 3:25 pm OK, Michael, here’s two links. One is from today, and one from yesterday. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=247319695 abcnews.go.com/Blotter/hope-american-arrested-cia-spy-iran/story?id=21030015 In fact, the first claims that Obama has raised the names of all three men mentioned in the first article to Iranian officials. That’s good news!! Solomon Rodriguez says: November 27, 2013 at 4:26 pm at the end of the day this is 2013 and I’m just thankful period. A lot of bad stuff took place in the set up of most governments, let’s just be real about it and then move on and live for today. If you are native american, I would advise to separate the wicked so call christians who killed in the name of Jesus from the true ones who don’t pick up the sword. brian says: November 27, 2013 at 5:32 pm I like francis as well, wrote him an email, Im sure he just got busy to respond right away. JP2, Benedict, and Francis are all universalists of one stripe or another. Some said Ratzinger was a doctrinal attack dog, very far from it, They did drop the anathema’s of trent for some Lutherans. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html Some of the Missouri synod still think the pope is the anti Christ and other such nonsense. But Traditional Lutherans and traditional Catholics are far closer than say traditional Lutherans and say most non denominations. I think most of the sane folks in the Roman communion either the higher ups or the laity understand that the ecumenical councils did contradict, horribly. Example Trent, Vatican one and Vatican two. Granted you can do some Catholic Answers Apologetic Hokey Pokey Dance (CAAHPD) and say they dont but, well they do. Billy Graham is also a closet universalist of some stripe and has been for quite awhile, I think he just got tired of all the exceptions and just realized God was big enough. That is just my opinion and my observation of all these gentlemen. brian says: November 27, 2013 at 5:35 pm I really hope the dec 4 thing actually makes what Alex wrote about happen. It would be a good thing for everyone involved, including the Iranian leadership. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm The end times folks see the fact that men who are so close to God (if God exists) like Billy Graham and a Pope Francis are more Universalists as a sign of the anti-christ. I see it as a sign that God isn’t necessarily what Christian* Fundamentalists tell us he is. Seems anti-christ, or at least the Christ of the Gospels, to not acknowledge the Love Your Enemies and Love Your Neighbor narratives that make up the Good Jesus. London says: November 27, 2013 at 5:55 pm I like the current pope as well. He seems more approachable, more warm, and humane than previous popes. I don’t agree with all he says or does, but I certainly like him more than I expected I would. He seems to be a good and compassionate man. Josh the Baptist says: November 27, 2013 at 6:38 pm Yes, Billy Graham is a closet Universalist, as long as you ignore about 10,000 public statements that he made over a 60 year period. I’m sure that pales to a doctored 30 second clip on youtube, but whatever. Seriously though, is this now a universalist blog? I see more about Universalism than I do about biblical Christianity. Probably two – to – one. I see much more talk about multiple gods than I do about the one true God. would this place still be good for the faith of a new believer? Derek Thornton says: November 27, 2013 at 6:44 pm Josh, Your statement on Billy Graham was exactly what I was thinking. My wife and I happened to see an old Billy Graham Crusade on local TV last Saturday and you couldn’t have heard a clearer explanation of the Gospel than what we heard. Universalist, yeah right. Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 6:45 pm Josh, I’m certainly not a universalist, but I have a real place in my heart for those who struggle with the doctrine of eternal damnation. Frankly, I don’t believe that we conservatives study or struggle with it enough. I love people who are drawn to Jesus and I’m willing to be patient with people that are drawn to Christ but aren’t ready to embrace every jot and tittle that I believe is true. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 6:51 pm Yes, the fact the Universalists or more liberal Christian* persuasions feel more comfortable expressing themselves on here and asserting their take is something I’m proud of. Don’t fear it Fundamentalist friends. It’s as valid an opinion from “the bible” as any other. Push back, debate, tell us why you believe what you believe etc, but don’t fear what you don’t understand. Dialogue is good. Derek Thornton says: November 27, 2013 at 6:52 pm Misrepresentation of people is big in RB’s book Josh. Look at how he always makes your words mean something they don’t. Josh the Baptist says: November 27, 2013 at 6:54 pm “Frankly, I don’t believe that we conservatives study or struggle with it enough” Speak for yourself, man. I think, study, and wrestle with eternal damnation all the time. If it weren’t in the bible, I wouldn’t bother. It is. I do. Calling Billy graham a Universalist is slanderous. At some point you have to take credit for the direction you blog has taken. Universalists, polytheists, and neo-catholics are given cover. Biblical Christians are discouraged. It is what it is. Your blog. Do what you want to do, but don’t pretend it isn’t happening. And don’t play it off as you are embracing, and I am not. God embraces us all, but His word isn’t filled with garbage. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 6:55 pm I think many folks agree that Billy G has moved toward a more Universalist position…at least all the Discernment ministries seem to think so LOL. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 6:56 pm RAWWWWRRRR go the Fundies! 😆 Josh the Baptist says: November 27, 2013 at 7:04 pm Michael, RB says Universalism is a valid biblical expression of Christianity. Agree? Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 7:04 pm Josh, When biblical scholars of the quality of John Stott believe there is merit in believing in annihilationism and deny an eternal hell, then I have to take notice. Stott is not alone in this. I am a biblical conservative…a Calvinist and a child of the Reformation. I believe that truth can stand up to challenges from all comers and I’m not afraid of different ideas. In the end, the best biblical argument wins for me. I would rather keep skeptics or those who are questioning their faith close so that something written might provide illumination while we practice the greater doctrine of love. Do I get tired of constant carping at the faith? Yes, I do. Should I work harder on presenting traditional views? Probably. That, I can take under advisement. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 7:07 pm In a profile of Billy Graham in the current issue of Newsweek, managing editor Jon Meacham asks the 87-year-old evangelist whether those who belong to religions that reject Christ as savior (Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.) and secularists will be saved. “Those are decisions only the Lord will make,” Graham replied. “It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there [in heaven] and who won’t. … I don’t want to speculate about that.” In the Newsweek profile, Graham explains his new thinking thus: “I believe the love of God is absolute. He said He gave His Son for the whole world, and I think He loves everybody regardless of what label they have.” Josh the Baptist says: November 27, 2013 at 7:07 pm There is a WORLD between Stott and Ricky Bobby. Annihilationism is NOT universalism. In annihilationsim, the moajority of the world still spends eternity apart from God. I agree with everything, except that ricky Bobby will receive, or allow anyone else to receive illumination. Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 7:08 pm Josh, That’s a good question. It will depend on what you believe are essentials of the faith. If someone believes in the incarnation, death of Christ on the cross, His resurrection, ascent and return and they believe in Him as the propitiation for their sins…which secondary doctrine will damn them anyway? I believe that universalism in it’s base form is serious error, perhaps even heresy. Some folks think the same about my doctrine of predestination… Josh the Baptist says: November 27, 2013 at 7:09 pm Ricky, he has a webpage with 60 years of archived statements. Even one’s specifically about Hell. What you quoted is the truth, and the same thing I said over and over yesterday. I don’t decide who goes to heaven and hell. Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 7:11 pm Josh, I believe the Holy Spirit still works here. The email I got from last Wednesdays article was wonderful. I don’t believe RB or anyone else can limit Him. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 7:12 pm Josh, do you agree with Billy Graham? You seemed to say the other day that you couldn’t judge who would be in heaven and who wouldn’t and you pointed to some generic belief in Jesus…then when pressed you presented a bunch of particulars and caveats and asterisks, then when pressed again you reverted back to the “well I am not God, I can’t judge a person’s salvation”….then pressed you waffle back to “well you have to believe that it’s the right Jesus, you have the wrong Jesus” etc etc. It’s quite a dance you do. Josh the Baptist says: November 27, 2013 at 7:12 pm I would say the first essential is that Jesus had a purpose in coming to earth. Universalism makes that a meaningless act. While I don’t think heaven and hell are “secondary” I have also said nothing about them being damned. It is heresy, if heresy still means what it has always meant. Derek Thornton says: November 27, 2013 at 7:13 pm More misrepresentation from RB. Cool story, bro! Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 7:15 pm “I would say the first essential is that Jesus had a purpose in coming to earth. Universalism makes that a meaningless act.” Quite the contrary. Here’s the flaw in that assertion: Was Jesus always the Savior? Or did Jesus have to become the Savior? Was God dependent on man’s actions or were man’s actions dependent on God? Was Jesus not the Savior…and then was forced to become the Savior when man did something outside of God’s control that God wasn’t prepared for? Josh the Baptist says: November 27, 2013 at 7:15 pm RB – I never changed anything I said yesterday. Give some quotes. I think they are still up. It is all dependent upon Jesus. That’s all I’ve got. Luckily, He’s enough. Josh the Baptist says: November 27, 2013 at 7:16 pm Jesus is always the savior. What is He saving us from? Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 7:18 pm Universalism is the culmination of the true Gospel and the true power of Good and Love and the true power of a true God who is sovereign over the whole of his creation. The only other options: 1. God picks and chooses winners and losers and picks most as “enemies” only he doesn’t love his enemies like part of the bible narrative asserts that he does. 2. Man is the supreme power and God is reactive to man and didn’t see the rebellion coming and was forced to make his son the sacrifice due to some sort of eternal contract that is more powerful than God. Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 7:19 pm Josh, The question that you asked me was if universalism was a valid expression of Christianity. To me, it’s an error, perhaps a heresy. However, we in the church militant say the same thing about many other distinctives that our traditions reject. Some people believe Calvinists are heretics. Some, believe the same of Arminians, Roman Catholics, or Orthodox. What I can do is present my best understanding of the text on these issues while focusing on Christ and His work as the main thing. Derek Thornton says: November 27, 2013 at 7:21 pm Is every thread going to be about RB being the Inquisition? Just sayin’ there are more important things than that. And more productive uses of time. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 7:23 pm “What I can do is present my best understanding of the text on these issues while focusing on Christ and His work as the main thing.” This is where Universalists agree. Christ paid the price. Here’s where Universalists disagree with the Fundamentalists: It’s not a Quid Pro Quo proposition, it is true Grace and true Love and true Mercy and true Love your enemy…not a “well if you sign here and agree to these terms and conditions and have a correct understanding of the correct Jesus with all your doctrinal and theological ducks in a row…then you’re in!” Universalists really believe that God is Love…and Love Wins. Josh the Baptist says: November 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm Michael, you aren’t presenting any texts, you are apologizing for universalism. Ricky Bobby just called it the true Gospel…on your blog. Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 7:25 pm Derek, No one has to engage him…if there are other things on people minds they should feel free to post them. I have also asked him to moderate himself so it is not a presence on every thread. I might just relegate these topics to a side bar so those that choose to can engage in them there. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 7:25 pm Let’s focus on Saeed please. We have many different flavors on here and I was merely asserting the flavor I more identify with and defending the position. Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 7:27 pm Josh, I don’t have the time (or the desire) tonight to enter into a full blown biblical discussion of universalism or any other topic. He spoke his opinion…and others, including you and myself have raised our objections. Josh the Baptist says: November 27, 2013 at 7:27 pm I can’t have my name on a blog that supports rank heresy without engaging it. Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 7:29 pm Here’s J.I. Packer on universalism; The problem of individual human destiny has always pressed hard upon thoughtful Christians who take the Bible seriously, for Scripture affirms these three things: (1) The reality of hell as a state of eternal, destructive punishment, in which God’s judgment for sin is directly experienced; (2) The certainty of hell for all who choose it by rejecting Jesus Christ and his offer of eternal life; and (3) The justice of hell as an appropriate divine judgment upon humanity for our lawless and cruel deeds. It was, to be sure, hell-deserving sinners whom Jesus came to save. All who put their trust in him may know themselves forgiven, justified, and accepted forever—and thus delivered from the wrath to come. But what of those who lack this living faith—those who are hypocrites in the church; or “good pagans” who lived before Christ’s birth; or those who, through no fault of their own, never heard the Christian message, or who met it only in an incomplete and distorted form? Or what of those who lived in places where Christianity was a capital offense, or who suffered from ethno-nationalistic or sociocultural conditioning against the faith, or who were so resentful of Christians for hurting them in some way that they were never emotionally free for serious thoughts about Christian truth? Are they all necessarily lost? The universalistic idea that all people will eventually be saved by grace is a comforting belief. It relieves anxiety about the destiny of pagans, atheists, devotees of non-Christian religions, victims of post-Christian secularity—the millions of adults who never hear the gospel and millions of children who die before they can understand it. All sensitive Christians would like to embrace universalism. It would get us off a very painful hook. However, no biblical passage unambiguously asserts universal final salvation, and some speak very explicitly about the lost ness of the lost. Universalism is a theological speculation that discounts the meaning of these New Testament passages in favor of what Universalists claim to be thrust of New Testament thinking: that is, that God’s retributive justice toward humanity is always a disciplinary expression of love that ultimately wins them salvation. It would be nice to believe that, but Scripture nowhere suggests it when speaking of judgment, and the counterarguments seem overwhelmingly cogent. Universalism ignores the constant biblical stress on the decisiveness and finality of this life’s decisions for determining eternal destiny. “God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done.’ To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil…but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good…For God does not show favoritism” (Romans 2:6-11). This is Paul affirming God’s justice according to the classic definition of justice, as giving everyone his or her due. All Scripture speaks this way. Universalism condemns Christ himself, who warned people to flee hell at all costs. If it were true that all humanity will ultimately be saved from hell, he would have to have been either incompetent (ignorant that all were going to be saved) or immoral (knowing, but concealing it, so as to bluff people into the kingdom through fear). The Universalist idea of sovereign grace saving all non-believers after death raises new problems. If God has the ability to bring all to faith eventually, why would he not do it in this life in every case where the gospel is known? If it is beyond God’s power to convert all who know the gospel here, on what grounds can we be sure that he will be able to do it hereafter? The Universalist’s doctrine of God cannot be made fully coherent. Universalism, therefore, as a theory about destiny, will not work. This life’s decisions must be deemed to be decisive. And thus, proclaiming the gospel to our fallen, guilty, and hell-bent fellows must be the first service we owe them in light of their first and basic need. “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks…to preach the gospel,” wrote Paul. “For ‘every one who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then can they call on the one…of whom they have not heard?…Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Rom. 1:14-15; 10:13-14, 17; see Joel 2:32). Isn’t Telling People About Hellfire Passé? There has been a strong reaction in Christian circles against imaginative presentations of hell, the endless fire and all of that. But people do need to know that lostness is a fact. My concept of hell owes much to C.S. Lewis, whose key thought is that what you have chosen to be in this world comes back at you as your eternal destiny; if you’ve chosen to put up the shutters against God’s grace rather than receive it, that’s how you will spend eternity. Hell is to exist in a state apart from God, where all of the good things in this world no longer remain for you. All that remains is to be shut up in yourself, realizing what you have missed and lost through saying no to God. In Jean Paul Sartre’s play about hell, No Exit, four people find themselves in a room they can’t leave, and they can’t get away from one another. What Sartre presents is the ongoing, endless destruction of each person by the others. Though Sartre was n atheist, his nightmare vision of this process makes substantial sense to me as image of hell—one aspect of it, anyway. The unending realization of God’s displeasure and rejection has to be in reality in hell, too. Can Someone Who Has Died Be Converted After Physical Death? Hebrews 9:27 says, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” When the writer of Hebrews speaks of dying “once,” he uses a word that means “once for all”; not once as distinct from two or more times. By happening once, the event changes things permanently so that the possibility of it happening again is removed. That is what the word means when it is applied in verses 26 and 28 to Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the Cross. The unrepeatable reality of physical death leads directly to reaping what we sowed in this world. This is what Jesus taught in his story of the callous rich man and Lazarus the beggar (Luke 16:19-31), and when he spoke of dying in one’s sin as something supremely dreadful (John 8:21-23). And this is what Paul taught when he affirmed that, on judgment day, all will receive a destiny corresponding to their works. The New Testament is solid in viewing death and judgment this way. Modern theologians are not all solid here. Some of them expect that some who did not embrace Christ in this life may yet do so savingly in the life to come. Some link with this idea that a God of grace owes everyone a clear presentation of the gospel in terms they understand, which is certainly more than many receive in this life. Others, like the Universalists presume all humans will finally enjoy God in heaven, and therefore that God must and will continue to exert loving pressure, one way or another, till all have been drawn to Christ. The late Nels Ferre described hell as having “a school and a door” in it—when those in hell come to their senses about Christ, they may leave, so that place ends up empty. But this is non-scriptural speculation and reflects an inadequate grasp of what turning to Christ involves. How a newly-dead person’s perceptions differ from what they were before death is more than we have been told. But Scripture says nothing of prevenient grace triggering postmortem conversions. That being so, we should conclude that the unbeliever’s lack of desire for Christ and the Father and heaven before death remains unchanged after death. For God to extend the offer of salvation beyond the moment of death, even for thirty seconds, would be pointless. Nothing would come of it. What Does It Mean To Choose Jesus? The phrase “choose Jesus” might suggest it is like choosing the preferred dish form a menu—a choice where you opt for what strikes you as the best of the bunch, knowing that if your first choice is not available, as second is always possible. But coming savingly to Christ is not like that. When it occurs, there is a sense of inevitability about it, springing from three sources. First, there is the pressure of the gospel truth that feels too certain to be denied; Second, there is the sense of God’s presence forcing one to face the reality of Jesus Christ; and Third, there is the realization that without him, one is lost. This sense is generated by God’s action of making the first move, what we call prevenient grace (meaning the prompting of the Holy Spirit). There is no commitment to Christ-no “choice for Jesus,” if one prefers to say it that way—apart from this convicting divine action. The act of the heart in choosing Jesus Christ is not always performed in a single moment, nor is it always performed calmly and clearheadedly. At the surface level there are often crosscurrents of reluctance. C.S. Lewis, dissecting his own conversion story, wrote of “the steady, unrelenting approach of him whom I so earnestly desired most to meet.” He scoffed at the idea that anyone who is not a believer, no matter how religiously inclined, really seeks the real God and the real, living Christ, with their dominating, dictatorial demands for discipleship. (“You might as well speak of the mouse’s search fro the cat”) But in every real conversion, prevenient grace ensures a real change of heart through the irresistible Calvary love of Christ. Then you not only acknowledge the Savior’s reality, but you speak to him and embrace him and hand yourself over to him, not just because you know you should, but because you want to. Isaac Watts put it into verse this way: My dear almighty Lord, My Conqueror and King, Thy scepter and Thy sword, Thy reigning grace I sing: Thine is the power; behold, I sit In willing bonds before Thy feet. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 7:30 pm brian who is a well-loved regular brought up the “universalist” discussion and I amen’d it b/c I agree with his position. It evolved into a a back-and-forth and then you guys freak out as usual. Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 7:31 pm How’s that for engagement? Josh the Baptist says: November 27, 2013 at 7:33 pm I appreciate it, and totally agree. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 7:40 pm Packers stuff if full of fallacy and flaws in reason. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 7:41 pm I can unpack it and point out specifically the false dichotomies, errors in logic and errors in fact and deconstruct that sucker…but I’m guessing it would get me in trouble and get you a bunch of negative emails calling for me to be banned. Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 7:45 pm I agree with Dr. Packer…no surprise there. You can use it for an article on your site if you wish to dispute it. N.T. Wright gives an even more technical destruction of universalism at this link. http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/journal-issues/4.2_Wright.pdf Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 7:47 pm The place where I would love to sit down and have a discussion with Dr. Packer is on the fate of children, the disabled, and those who have never heard. I still believe there is more mystery there then we know… Derek Thornton says: November 27, 2013 at 7:49 pm #63 Someone always engages him. It is always only so long before he says something outrageous and someone says something. Moderation only lasts so long with him. And last time that was tried, he just ignored it. Let me be clear, I am not asking for a ban. It just gets old seeing the same thing day in and day out. I actually don’t espouse some of my views on here because I don’t feel like engaging with the Grand Inquisitor. But, Josh is right. Universalism is heresy. I don’t have a ton of things on the heresy radar, but that is one of them. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 7:52 pm Agreed Michael, I won’t take the bait from Derek and Josh. If I unpack it, it will be elsewhere. I’ll just say I disagree with Packer’s position and have a very well-though-out rationale as to why. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 7:53 pm I think we can all agree that Saeed being held in Iranian prison for being a missionary and helping Iranian orphans is a sever injustice. I think we can all agree that abuse and corruption in the church and wherever it is found is wrong and should be called out and corrected. Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 7:55 pm That N.T. Wright article is amazing…hadn’t read it before. Michael says: November 27, 2013 at 7:56 pm I’m worn out…off for the night. Derek Thornton says: November 27, 2013 at 8:09 pm Love all the cryptic “offline” remarks you allude to now, RB. Just the perfect touch of mystery! Golly, you really love the drama. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 8:12 pm Derek, nothing cryptic, simply if I unpack it I will write an article about it on my blog like Michael suggested above. I think most understood that from Michael’s comment and my response. Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 8:13 pm If I do address it at my blog, you and Josh are welcome to come over there and critique and/or present your take as much as you want. Derek Thornton says: November 27, 2013 at 8:20 pm Sorry, your reading comprehension skills got in the way of understanding what I was talking about. But, we all already know about that. I was talking about the “I am getting pressure offline” remarks you use now. Adding it to your checklist along with “dominating the thread”, are you? Plenty of tweets in the queue for the night for #freesaeed #SaveSaeed. Time to go to bed. Night all. brian says: November 27, 2013 at 8:44 pm Let me explain what I mean by closet Universalist, universalism looking at any theological line of reasoning has many nuances and shades of gray. It is a view in degrees. Josh if you look at Mr. Graham now and when he was much younger, there is a huge difference between his outlooks. Say during the Nixon days vs. now. I have known this to happen to some lifelong Christians in my personal life as they get older or the death of a loved one that may not have been a Christian or a person that commits suicide loosed a child, or young adult and son. I do not pretend that Universalism is in the theological spectrum of the historic Christian faith I E it is orthodox. I have stated that on many occasions. And no I did not base my observations about Mr. Graham on a two minute YouTube video, it is based on my observations of his public statements and a softening of his view of salvation. It does not mean that one stops thinking people do not need Christ or that Christ is not the central figure or even the only figure that deals with our salvation. It is that does just what he said he would do, redeem the entire world. It was not my intention at all to be slanderous towards Mr. Graham, I was actually complimenting him. He is not going to change his call after those many years but as you see, for example Mr. Graham’s view of Charles Templeton. Again, it was not my intentions what so ever to speak slanderous of anyone. Sorry if it appeared that way. Martin Luther's Disciple says: November 27, 2013 at 8:48 pm I don’t understand why everyone gets so frustrated with RB. I can accept that he believes his position – so do the Hindus, the Buddhists and the Jews – like RB they all deny the God of the Bible and have come up with religious systems made in their own image. Elijah dealt with the RBs of his day in 1 Kings 18. I choose not to take RB down by the river and slay him as Elijah did. I have no issue in saying that RB and I do not have the same God. My God is the God of the Bible RB’s God is some fantasy who is unable to act – who RB just happened to name jesus. As we all know, universalism is not Christian at all, just like RB’s polytheism is not Christian. So, I interact with RB just as I do any non believer in Jesus Christ – with compassion for his lost soul. brian says: November 27, 2013 at 8:54 pm You know MLD there are those that would say you are not a Christian because of say the Lutheran view of Baptism, and the Lords supper among other issues. But I appreciate the compassion part. Do you want to know who makes more ardent atheists than Richard Dawkins http://www.answersingenesis.org Ricky Bobby says: November 27, 2013 at 8:54 pm Nah, MLD. I believe in the “God of the bible” too. The one that said “Love your neighbor” and “I give you a new law, love your enemies…as your father in heaven does”. You believe in a God that commands his people to commit Genocide and calls it good. Martin Luther's Disciple says: November 27, 2013 at 8:57 pm But RB, you lie – you said there are 2 gods, that makes you a polytheist and not a christian. You can’t get around your own statements. Look, at least I give you a better shake than most. I would suggest you were once saved but have walked away from the truth. A Calvinist or a CC guy would say you can’t lose your salvation and were never saved. I hold hope one day you would return. Martin Luther's Disciple says: November 27, 2013 at 9:06 pm This is something I don’t get RB. I used to be jewish well into my adult life. I came to a point that I did not think it was a true view of God – so I left. I didn’t try to keep one foot in judaism, I didn’t try to get jews to change their view of their religion – I left. Why can’t you do the same. Man up and just say I find christianity to be a false religion and the god of the bible to befalse or bad and I am going to make up my own . call it RBanity. Steve Wright says: November 27, 2013 at 10:12 pm You probably should read the piece before criticizing it, Steve. You’re disagreeing with things I never even said, and are echoing many of the ones I did. ——————————————————————— You fit right in, Jason. God knows if someone thinks your article sucks it must be because they never bothered to read it first. The next phase is, after reading, to claim one is not smart enough to understand the points being made. So I’ll skip that pleasure. If you want me to quote sentence after sentence after sentence where I vehemently disagree, and add my reasons why, well, I’ve been too busy on facebook with my “internet time” to devote that sort of time here. Maybe a little Habakkuk would do us all some good each Thanksgiving. brian says: November 27, 2013 at 11:30 pm http://www.godvine.com/5th-Grade-Boys-fb-gv-4309.html I get it is utterly disgusting a person should need this as we all should stand alone and impervious. Of course that is rhetoric but it is how I often felt in the faith, I am very wrong to broad brush or even micro brush the faith like this. As it was a very small but rather intense part of the faith that made me feel this way. What is on me, I gave them more weight than I should have or still do. I, at times, used it as a wedge for other agendas which is dishonest, But it is a raw nerve for me and I often go into defensive mode and that is a very very hard habit to break. It was not easy being a young Christian, having a new faith and getting so many differing versions of that new faith. It is on me for my rhetorical and broad brush statements, I am trying to tone it down. Even being the heretic I am, I love the church so much because at the darkest hours they, you folks were like this to me, you were willing to dress up like me I E walk in my shoes and give me grace. That is true in the real world as well. I am thankful for that. Happy Thanks Giving. brian says: November 27, 2013 at 11:30 pm comment in moderation. Derek Thornton says: November 28, 2013 at 5:39 am Put together a large collection of links to resources, news articles, and petitions. http://ruminationsonlife.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/a-compendium-of-links-on-pastor-saeed-abedini-nov-28-2013-freesaeed-savesaeed/ Ricky Bobby says: November 28, 2013 at 7:01 am Steve said, “You fit right in, Jason. God knows if someone thinks your article sucks it must be because they never bothered to read it first. The next phase is, after reading, to claim one is not smart enough to understand the points being made. So I’ll skip that pleasure.” LOL! Hey, I love the honest expression. No christianeze in that one 🙂 Ricky Bobby says: November 28, 2013 at 7:03 am MLD, but you haven’t left Judaism. You embrace their God of the OT that commanded them to commit Genocide as the true God. I embrace the Jesus of the Gospels, the Good Jesus, the Jesus they reject. stu says: November 28, 2013 at 7:59 am Just a spoonful of Habakkuk helps reality go down. You can read it with your diving gear on and even in your radiation suit. Ricky Bobby says: November 28, 2013 at 8:00 am MLD: Jewish Jesus: “Kill all the men, women, children and animals! Genocide!” Your Jesus: “Kill all the men, women, children and animals! Genocide!” then much later on your Jesus changes his mind: “No, strike that, I give you a new law, Love your enemies, don’t commit Genocide” My Jesus: “Love your enemies” Martin Luther's disciple says: November 28, 2013 at 8:28 am RB, The reason that I know that you have a different Jesus than even the one in the NT 1.) NT Jesus wants to throw goats into hell Matt 25) – is he an animal abuser or is he talking about people? 2.) NT Jesus said that the road / gate to him was very narrow … but the road / gate to what? let’s all say it out loud … to destruction is wide and many are going there. Where? Let’s all say it along with the NT Jesus … to destruction. 3.) NT Jesus, when asked by a dead man in – where,? hell – asked him to send Lazarus to tell his brothers the good news and warn about where? … let’s all say it along with the NT Jesus…hell – the NT Jesus said NO!!! So, you reject the OT God and you reject the NT Jesus. – and as I said, you have made up your God, named him after my gardener Jesus (Haysoos) and have gone your merry way – as a Christ denying polytheist. Ricky Bobby says: November 28, 2013 at 8:34 am MLD, rather you hold to a “Perfect Bible Every Jot and Tittle is Without Mistake or Contradiction or Error” position, which is self-evidently false. You are forced to embrace an Evil God/Good God position b/c your God is really the text of the bible instead of the true God who is outside the bible. The bible is man’s glimpse of God and is imperfect, just like you are, just like I am, just like preachers are today. The bible has been filtered through fallible men, it has man’s smell all over it, yet though imperfect (like court testimony is imperfect from human eyewitnesses) it does contain some truth and we get a glimpse of the true God, in addition to the Cosmos and or internal spirit. stu says: November 28, 2013 at 8:56 am Armed with a wonderful steaming coffee concoction of my own creation, and aided and abetted by Manheim Steamroller’s Los Peces En El Rio, I read Michael’s post of Packer’s thoughts on universalism. The guy’s good. But he didn’t get into my bent on why there must be a Hell. God has given humans just enough smarts to conceive of the eternal without knowing all that it is, and all that God is. God has given us emotions as a clue to his emotions. He gives us pain to be able to understand the pain of others. My question is this- How much pain is the God of the universe able to feel? (and) What is that worth? I can only understand the slightest bit of this by comparison. I can only scratch the surface and oh, how it needs to be scratched. Imagine a giant scale the size of Mount Olympus. On one side of the scale rests the baby Jesus. On the other scale squirms the entire human race from Adam to the last baby born. On one side is the pain the trinity experienced during the suffering, the curse, and judgment of the cross where Christ carried all sin and was separated- cut off from the Father (and the Holy Spirit). On the other scale is all sin not repented of and all the resulting guilt, shame, and pain. Which has more weight? Which has more value? The blood of Christ cries out for judgment of sin. If the analogy of this scale is lost on you the reader, maybe you prefer this- You on one side of the scale and every ant ever created on the other scale. Now which has more value? (The total number of ants on Earth has been estimated as at least one quadrillion. This is 1 x 1015, or one thousand million million.) Universalism is Santa Claus for grown-ups, and don’t we all want to believe in eternal welfare? Another thing that makes Packer’s missive so satisfying is that it accurately unpacks my statement on the other blog about my accepting Christ. I accepted his prevenient grace. Aaaaaahhh… There’s still a fly buzzing around in here. Good coffee. Happy Thanksgiving. Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 9:27 am Stu, When I read Brian’s writings about why he hopes beyond hope that there is truth in universalism my heart goes out to him and I have no desire to bludgeon him with my set of “correct” doctrines. He has spent his life working with the disabled, with those with limited comprehension and deep wounding. He hopes that there is a place in God’s mercy for them. I hope so too. Ricky Bobby says: November 28, 2013 at 9:34 am Michael, thanks for setting a good example with that gracious response. I wasn’t more of a Universalist at one time and had a similar attitude about it as Stu and the others. My mind is open due to much personal examination of the issues. Dunno for 100% sure if it’s right or wrong…but I sure “hope” in a Good and Loving and merciful God who truly does “love his enemies”…or most of humanity, the vast majority, are screwed, including most on this blog who may be wrong a particular doctrinal issue or two that if the Fundies are correct, might be necessary to avoid eternal torture. Martin Luther's disciple says: November 28, 2013 at 9:40 am RB, I have no argument with your view – I only object to you calling it Christian. Christians take god as revealed in the Bible – lock, stock and barrel. You have something else – and you are completely OK to do so … but it is not Christian. How is your view different from the guy who says that he is a Christian and believes that Allah is God and Mohammed is his true prophet? When you say “The bible has been filtered through fallible men, it has man’s smell all over it, ” you step even further away from Christianity by denying the work of the Holy Spirit in the revelation of God. Ricky Bobby says: November 28, 2013 at 9:41 am the only thing we can all really do is go with your Conscience and what makes sense to you after truly sincerely examining the very limited info and facts available to us. Rely on your Conscience/spirt and filter all the messages out there from all those who tell you “No, this is God!”…”No, you’re wrong, THIS is God!” etc etc. At the end of the day, no one really knows…other than God if he is real. Let God be God…not ink on a page in some cobbled together book that’s in a zillion translations which gives it entirely different meanings in many passages. Ricky Bobby says: November 28, 2013 at 9:44 am MLD, it’s as “Christian*” as anything other of the 9,000 to 30,000 flavors of Christian* out there. Lutherans pick and choose, too. You say “Sola Scriptura!” which is picking and choosing, whereas the Catholics you rebelled against (Romans 13:1) embrace another part of the bible, you know all the parts about Works and Faith. Everyone picks and chooses, there are no true Fundamentalists, only Selective Fundamentalists. Ricky Bobby says: November 28, 2013 at 9:45 am Sola Fide above which is really your interpretation and picking and choosing from Sola Scriptura. Martin Luther's disciple says: November 28, 2013 at 9:55 am Isn’t it funny – I said that I take the God revealed in the Bible lock, stock and barrel (perhaps that is too old a saying that a youngster as you do not understand) – it means everything … and then you turn around and say that I am picking and choosing. Stick to the person of God – what have I picked over? stu says: November 28, 2013 at 10:00 am Michael, Why in the world would you say such a thing? It’s not me who’s stu, it’s you. Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 10:06 am stu, Why in the world would I say what? That I hope in God’s mercy? Ricky Bobby says: November 28, 2013 at 10:08 am MLD said, “Stick to the person of God” OK, God is “Love” and God is “Good” and he isn’t evil and doesn’t command Genocide and doesn’t torture his enemies in hell forever, he loves his enemies like Jesus said in the Gospels. stu says: November 28, 2013 at 10:11 am Michael, You who posted Packer’s missive on universalism or me who responded to it. who is bludgeoning brian? Martin Luther's disciple says: November 28, 2013 at 10:13 am RB, You didn’t address the issue – you said I pick and choose – but you have not stated one item about the person of God that I picked over. Try again. Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 10:18 am Stu, I affirm what Packer teaches there because I think Packer is accurately reflecting the teaching of the Scriptures. I also believe that Brians heart toward those he worries are lost reflects the heart of God…and my need is not to tell Brian how doctrinally wrong he is, but to come alongside him in hope for God’s mercy. He knows what the Scriptures teach…his hope is that there is mercy not yet revealed. There are a lot of Brians out there… Ricky Bobby says: November 28, 2013 at 10:18 am MLD, I certainly did. I’ve stated my position very clearly and repetition won’t change the fact I addressed your questions. Read it again so I don’t have to post over and over explaining something I’ve already addressed and then ticking off the Group who says I post too much. Martin Luther's disciple says: November 28, 2013 at 10:21 am RB, No, I understand your position – but you said I pick and choose – but you have not given any examples of what I deny in the scriptures about God – that is your manner, not addressing the issue. stu says: November 28, 2013 at 10:22 am Then my question remains- Why did you post that to me? You make it look like I’m bludgeoning brian. The pot is calling the kettle black. Ricky Bobby says: November 28, 2013 at 10:29 am Nope, not gonna take the bait. The Double Standard on here is too strong. I pointed out that you pick and choose often and I could lay it all out (the Lutheran pick and choose positions, etc) but I’ll leave it at that. You can deny the fact you take some things from the bible and explain away or ignore other things, but it isn’t so. You guys pick and choose just like everyone else. That’s the last I’ll comment on that today. Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 10:30 am Stu, You made this statement that I assumed was directed at Brian. “Universalism is Santa Claus for grown-ups, and don’t we all want to believe in eternal welfare?” I was simply answering with the fact that I believe that many have very deep emotional and personal reasons for hoping in God’s mercy. Martin Luther's disciple says: November 28, 2013 at 10:36 am RB – you continue in dishonesty. You made the accusation on one particular point – I challenged you and now you are crying like a teenage school girl. stu says: November 28, 2013 at 10:40 am And I don’t?? Brian, I regret responding to Michael’s Packer post. I wasn’t thinking of you in my response. From now on I’ll keep my stupid pea-brained opinions to myself. Martin Luther's disciple says: November 28, 2013 at 10:40 am Michael, Now you have me confused – you state “I believe that many have very deep emotional and personal reasons for hoping in God’s mercy.” What was the cross all about? Obviously those going to hell rejected God’s mercy. Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 10:46 am MLD, My brother has severe Downs Syndrome. He is incapable of understanding even the most basic concept of the Gospel. He has not rejected the cross, he has no ability to do so. My hope is that God has mercy on him because of Christ. Martin Luther's disciple says: November 28, 2013 at 10:50 am That is why I was specific about those who REJECT. Salvation is given to all – it is an Opt Out situation. That is why I shudder whenever someone says “I accepted Christ” No, Christ accepted you. But some people opt out. Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 10:51 am Stu, Nobody has called your comments stupid or pea brained. Communicating on a blog is difficult and prone to being easily misunderstood. My whole point is that our doctrinal hard lines soften in the wake of personal experience. Martin Luther's disciple says: November 28, 2013 at 10:52 am I had better be clear – opt out is a figure of speech and the process is probably more complex – but people reject themselves out of the kingdom. josh the baptist says: November 28, 2013 at 1:23 pm Michael, you keep framing it that Universalism is hoping in Gods mercy. Does biblical Christianity not offer hope of Gods mercy? You ca find hope anx comcort in scripture. You dont have to make up your religion. In fact, the only hope is in thd God of scripture. All else is fairy tales. Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 1:31 pm Josh, There is no explicit scriptural basis on which to base the salvation of those who cannot understand the Gospel. They are much like those who haven’t heard the Gospel…but they cannot even hope to understand what they might hear. How can they exercise faith in that which they cannot understand? Universalism is one way that people with loved ones come to grips with this…I have another way, but both are based on implicit hope, not explicit Scripture. Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 1:39 pm It’s not like the church hasn’t wrestled with this for centuries. The “age of accountability” doctrine was created out of whole cloth because of the grief associated with having children die who had not yet come to faith. Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm In times past when infant mortality was a terrible reality all of the traditions that practice infant baptism were careful to be ready to baptize a newborn immediately lest the child die outside the church or covenant. Now, I think all of these constructions are as “unbiblical” as universalism, but I totally understand the heart and rationale behind them. josh the baptist says: November 28, 2013 at 2:38 pm Universalism is just another unbiblical construction the same way mormonism is. There is no hope for your brother or anyone else in universalism. Only in Jesus. Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 2:45 pm Josh, I challenge you to show from a traditional construction of the Scriptures where there is hope for the disabled who cannot understand even a minimal Gospel and thus cannot exercise faith. You affirmed when we were speaking of Native Americans and those people that have never heard that they died in their sins, did you not? What is the difference between those who cannot understand and those who will never hear? Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 2:46 pm I would greatly dispute that universalism is anywhere near the heresy that Mormonism is. Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 2:56 pm I don’t believe in universalism. As a pastor I’ve had to guide and console people who lost someone they loved all their lives while they deal not only with the loss, but with the reality that the loved one will go to Christless hell. It is agonizing. I cannot and do not give false hope, but I also hold out the hope that the divine worked in a way we had no knowledge of. josh the baptist says: November 28, 2013 at 2:57 pm I will gladly defend the biblical hope for the disabled. Iam on a tablet righr now, and this will take several pages. Ill get it to you after the weekend. Also, my mormon comment was not a ranking, just a reframing. Nonnie says: November 28, 2013 at 3:01 pm 2 Sam 12: 22 David said, “While the baby was still alive, I fasted, and I cried. I thought, ‘Who knows? Maybe the Lord will feel sorry for me and let the baby live.’ 23 But now that the baby is dead, why should I fast? I can’t bring him back to life. Someday I will go to him, but he cannot come back to me.” I believe that is the same truth of “salvation/grace” for severely disabled people who, like babies, cannot comprehend. I don’t have a verse for “adults” who have never heard the name of Christ and die without Him. But I do believe that the Lord knows who are His and He can and does reveal Himself. Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 3:10 pm This is not an issue for me in the Calvinist tradition. I believe regeneration precedes faith and both are gifts sovereignly given by God to whoever He chooses. Nonnie, that is a disputed verse…many OT scholars think David was just saying that he would die as well. I’m good with it either way… 🙂 Nonnie says: November 28, 2013 at 3:20 pm MIchael, I am guessing there are many disputed verses that deal with the grace and goodness of God, over the works of man. Derek Thornton says: November 28, 2013 at 3:20 pm When I read this quote in this book today, well it is obvious what I thought of when I read it. “Try having an intelligent discussion with someone who is accusing you of supporting genocide. It’s not possible.” ~Rand Paul, “Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds” Steve Wright says: November 28, 2013 at 4:02 pm I challenge you to show from a traditional construction of the Scriptures where there is hope for the disabled who cannot understand even a minimal Gospel and thus cannot exercise faith. ———————————————————– Isn’t this where some of our community chastise us for our focus on the letter of the verse and not the God behind it. In other words, the entire Biblical narrative declares our God as both just and loving. That is what the cross is all about, but likewise is a message from Genesis to Revelation. We also learn that God has gone to the greatest lengths imaginable in order for people NOT to go to hell. That may not be in your Calvinist view (and maybe it is too I don’t know) but it is in my view. So, I rest in those truths. God is going to be absolutely just, and in His justice there is not the slightest compromise to His love (or vice versa). These questions hint at the idea of God not being just. Equating hell with punishment only, and not justice. That bothers me and apparently a lot of others here. And I repeat what I have said before, the only person who can dispute Jesus being the only way is the person who has heard the claims and rejected. That eliminates the infants, the mentally disabled, and the folks living in the jungle somewhere So I rest in the justice and love of God – and stand firm for the one act in history where both were shown in their fullness…the cross. God apparently did not give us curiosity verses for our theoretical discussions Instead He gave us Himself, and a command to take the message to the whole world. Non-reject Bob says: November 28, 2013 at 5:27 pm MIchael: “It’s not like the church hasn’t wrestled with this for centuries. The “age of accountability” doctrine was created out of whole cloth because of the grief associated with having children die who had not yet come to faith.” “I challenge you to show from a traditional construction of the Scriptures where there is hope for the disabled who cannot understand even a minimal Gospel and thus cannot exercise faith.” OK Challenge accepted! Deut 1:38,39 context is the question of who of Israel can enter the land “‘Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter there; encourage him, for he will cause Israel to inherit it. ‘Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it.” Two points to ponder: 1. Is this applicable to a one time event? A. Yes, as far as those who will enter the land. No as far as the definition of “little ones” and their lack of knowledge of “good and evil.” 2. The context of little ones is very definable to those who were, according to scripture, underage and did not participate in the decision to not enter the land after the spies returned. What this does not answer is the question of application to those who are not God’s people and can the jump be made to non-Israel followers of Jesus who are “grafted in” according to Paul’s teaching in Romans 11. My answer is the practical application is God treats those (through out the scriptures) who have the ability to make choices with the measure of their capability to make those choices. Can a child or a mentally handicapped person understand the full nature of following Jesus as Messiah and Lord? No. But all people are held accountable for their actions and God measures justice accordingly. MLD did say it right, can a person who can’t understand pay price as those who reject? Rest and have peace God is just. Non-reject Bob says: November 28, 2013 at 5:29 pm Note: I would also add to study what a little one is verses a son in the terms of ages. Again the general idea here is the ability to decide and as MLD implied this includes the ability to reject. Non-reject Bob says: November 28, 2013 at 5:32 pm Oh and MIchael I will add that because a church tradition says something is so that doesn’t make it so. I believe the scriptures don’t define and age in which one enjoys the ability to “reject” Jesus as Messiah. This is a case by case basis and only God knows the ability of a person to do so. Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 6:56 pm Bob, That is stretching OT typology way beyond anywhere I would be comfortable with. You mileage obviously varies. Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 7:04 pm This is from the last discussion of this I got reamed for. Me: “If there is only “one way” and that way was not disclosed to multitudes of people they all went to hell in their ignorance.” Josh; “Are you going to tell me that those people did not deserve Hell?!? The context was those who never heard the Gospel. Now, today, I’m hearing a different tune, but getting scorched anyway. erunner says: November 28, 2013 at 8:28 pm All I can see from Scripture regarding those who don’t hear is Romans 1. As far as all of those who die never having heard the gospel and those who are incapable of understanding the gospel as well as the unborn who die or are aborted I don’t worry because I know that God will make the perfect decision regarding their eternity. Those I do worry about are those who have heard and don’t believe. They have believed a lie and I believe will be separated from God forever consciously. What also scares me is the fact I could be guilty of giving someone false assurance of their standing with God despite their beliefs. If there is nothing to be saved from (hell) and that all will end up in Heaven eventually (universalism) then I see no sense in Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. Further more I see no sense in sharing the gospel message. In the world thirty years ago we wondered how things could get worse yet look how wicked the world has become. At the same time things in the church have changed for the worse as evidenced by conversations we have that were considered non negotiable back in the same time. I don’t believe God’s word has changed and I don’t believe his standards have either. More and more it seems we’re trying to appease a godless populace and as time moves on I wonder what else will be up for discussion. Martin Luther's Disciple says: November 28, 2013 at 8:53 pm Non reject Bob, I don’t know if you understand my position or not – you said “MLD did say it right, can a person who can’t understand pay price as those who reject?” My position is that there are no persons who cannot understand. It’s God’s word itself that is the activating force NOT someone hearing the word then having the capacity to mull it over. John the Baptist, in his mother’s womb understood. To Michael, – if God has spoken to your brother, your brother has understood. Does God stutter? Does God speak in a language that needs to go into people’s brains? Steve Wright says: November 28, 2013 at 9:00 pm I think there is a definite teaching we could call “age of accountability” but I don’t think we can pinpoint it to a specific age, nor use any example like the generation in the wilderness to do so. But the Bible has multiple places where God speaks of those “unable to tell between good and evil” – and that can be the case for not just an infant but also someone who is mentally challenged or infirm. It certainly is not some newly invented idea by man wrestling with the issues of eternal justice. It is definitely a Biblical teaching, and of course, agrees with simple common sense and observation of the world around us. Man’s laws do not hold children guilty for crimes when they do not know better. Nor adults for that matter. Surely man is not more just and righteous than God. Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 9:01 pm MLD, I have no concern over my brothers soul. However, your question would usually be answered by this Scripture; “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:14–17 ESV) stu says: November 28, 2013 at 9:03 pm 1945-2015 The age of accountability. Martin Luther's Disciple says: November 28, 2013 at 9:09 pm Michael, I think that is what I said. Your passage says nothing about thinking or mulling it over – it just says hearing. You believe through the faith God gives you automatically when the word is preached. does anyone hear doubt that each time the word is preached that faith is dispensed along with it to the hearer? Martin Luther's Disciple says: November 28, 2013 at 9:11 pm Steve, I have never witnessed to anyone and told them that salvation depended on understanding the difference between good and evil Babylon's Dread says: November 28, 2013 at 9:15 pm I am not in the conversation here but I saw that Christianity Today did a hit piece on Ted Haggard to build up Brady Boyd. Seven years have passed and they decide to stir up offense with caricatured history. The Bible tells the worst about us but rejoices over those who fall and rise. When will we learn anything at all about Jesus? Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 9:17 pm BD, I’m trying to learn more every day… Michael says: November 28, 2013 at 9:18 pm MLD, That is a Lutheran construction, not a Calvinistic one. I’m with the Genevan… 🙂 brian says: November 28, 2013 at 10:48 pm I have read and reread all that was said, I do appreciate Michael’s kindness to me. I dont mind any push back to my posts I think about it. I am not a china doll and I wont brake. But I do thank people for being kind to me. I will be posting a response to try to clarify my position. I hope all of you had a nice Thanksgiving. Ricky Bobby says: November 29, 2013 at 9:11 am brian, love you man. If you and the disabled you’ve helped are going to be tortured in hell forever by a good and loving creator….then I’m certainly toast and will be screaming in agony for eternity with you. Martin Luther's Disciple says: November 29, 2013 at 9:14 am Michael, You are correct, it is a Lutheran construct to believe God’s words. Even the passage you quoted, God promises to deliver faith with the hearing of his word. Sorry to hear that the Genevan does not take God at his word. 😉 Measured Bob says: November 29, 2013 at 3:23 pm Michael: “You mileage obviously varies.” You’re right, it’s because I don’t see the scriptures as a wooden literal book of rules. Rather I (and others BTW) see the scriptures as a human record (preserved through time) of God’s work with His creation. But, as I said the particular scripture reference from Deut. can either be interpreted as a one time event for a small group of people or it is a reflection of the overall personality and nature of God and how He deals with His creation, humans/us. MLD, I/m sorry I didn’t quite get the idea from your post that “all” have the ability to reject, (“My position is that there are no persons who cannot understand”) and your reference to John the Baptist. Yes JB is a good example of the marking of a child from birth for the purposes of God. I believe you have made more than a few Calvinist/Reformed personalities shake their head in agreement by your reference. MLD, the difference is you teach all have the ability by the reference to JB while a reformed would teach it was God’s predestination as applied to JB and not necessarily to all. (PS I am in no way a reformed/Calvinist advocate, however I do fully understand the position(s)). I like my answer better, there is a justice towards the innocent that is applicable to their ability, “measure for measure I am thankful many of us live in a country where we can exchange these views in a civil manner. Martin Luther's Disciple says: November 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm MBob, Let me try again, my point is that no matter who the word is applied to, they can understand God’s word – infant or mentally disabled. What we can’t see from our end is a response. A response is not a big deal to me – this is why we don’t do altar calls or have people sign cards marking the date they ‘accepted Christ’. An evangelical gets the cold shakes if they don’t get a response. I used the John the Baptist example to show that infants understand. But I have a question for you – you said “I like my answer better, there is a justice towards the innocent that is applicable to their ability, “measure for measure. 1.) who are the innocent?I didn’t think there were any. 2.) why would an innocent person need justice? stu-pid says: November 29, 2013 at 5:03 pm Brian, Michael, the Benevolent Moderator assigned a personal motive to my post which I DID NOT aim at you, or anyone in particular. Then RB intercepted the post and ran it the wrong way for a touchback. I’m tired of defending my posts against the double standard here. I’ve invited you to my church and to my home. open invitation. See ya in heaven. God will sort out the rest. Michael says: November 29, 2013 at 5:12 pm Stupid, Now what double standard am I accused of? I wrote what I thought you intended and you’ve had an opportunity to clarify. How the hell is that unfair? Exploding Bob says: November 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm MLD I get this, “my point is that no matter who the word is applied to, they can understand God’s word – infant or mentally disabled. What we can’t see from our end is a response.” What you don’t understand about my point is the whole idea of life being more than just “believing” in Jesus so a person “won’t go to hell.” God gave us life here on earth from the beginning and along with it comes choices. In the Garden of God the choice was simple, don’t eat or disobey the voice of God and eat. You might also notice the first description of penalty based upon the crime (measure for measure) is very present and active in the Genesis. Eve clearly admitted her problem, “I was deceived,” while Adam knew he ate without deception and placed blame indirectly on God because he was given the fruit buy the woman whom God gave to him. When one compares the penalties measured out by God the following appears: – The Serpent who was more cunning than any beast is now more cursed than all the cattle. – The woman has just one verse of penalties and her major penalty is now having Adam as her master in contrast to her giving him the fruit. – Adam has the worst and most complete penalty, the land is cursed (notice only the land and Serpent are cursed directly) and it will not yield it’s fruit without great toil. All measure for measure, but why didn’t they immediately die as God said would happen? Unlike the whole idea of “spiritual death” I believe they die because they do not have access to the Tree of Life and its fruit. A brief review will show the Tree of Life is mentioned again in both the OT and NT and some traditions say the Messiah, Jesus, is symbolically the tree of life. So what about being “innocent?” I am speaking specifically about the idea expressed that God judges according to the crime and that measure applies to more than one’s ability to be in the book of life. I simple believe there is ample evidence in scripture God measures out blessings and curses based upon the individual’s capability to hear and understand His word. And Yes I agree with this part of your statement wholeheartedly, “What we can’t see from our end is a response” and may I addnor can we make a judgement as to what God’s response, or measure, will be except that it is 100% fair and just. As I said if any of us limit faith and salvation to either going to heaven or hell I believe we have missed God almost completely. Additionally I would submit we are also close to being guilty of nothing more than idol worship and promoting self interest in our faith. Oh well I think my head is going to explode with my shallow excuse for theological debate and I know the points are completely debatable and open for easy criticism. That’s OK with me. Blessings Martin Luther's disciple says: November 29, 2013 at 7:51 pm Bob, Here we probably part ways – you said “I am speaking specifically about the idea expressed that God judges according to the crime and that measure applies to more than one’s ability to be in the book of life.” I will take my chances at being wrong on this, but I think we are judged solely on who we are. Jesus says in John 3 that all mankind is already condemned – it is from this certain condemnation solely for being the sons of Adam, that we are rescued… thinking adults, infants, mentally disabled and even those such as me. Remember the context of my original post – to confirm to those who worry what happens to the one under the age of accountability (fake doctrine) and to those concerned about the mentally disabled – was to say, God speaks to them through his word and they hear and understand … just not the same as us – who actually fail to hear and understand.. 🙂 Steve Wright says: November 29, 2013 at 9:17 pm Unlike the whole idea of “spiritual death” ———————————————- I just ducked in here from the Saeed effort. Bob, do you not believe in the idea of spiritual death at all? Or just in context to the Genesis story? No time to discuss, just curious for a clarification…Thanks. brian says: November 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm I dont take any of the comments here personally in the sense as disparagingly I am looking at all this a corrective. I really do appreciate the compassion and back and forth it makes me think and it often drives me to my knees and read scripture more and try to get out of the way more. I have to admit a few times I got upset and even picked at nerves in my old faith community with less than pure motives. At times it was downright arrogant and spiritually abusive. I would put these people in a spot with a gotcha type verse / argument and when they reacted I played the martyr card. A very few times it was intentional in my old faith community. I had to own up to my own duplicity. But what I am doing here is different, I want to come to peace with God’s revelation and with Him. I hope that makes sense, I hope to post more on this if it is ok. I hope this is clarifying my motivation. Josh the Baptist says: December 1, 2013 at 5:02 pm Michael said: “This is from the last discussion of this I got reamed for. Me: “If there is only “one way” and that way was not disclosed to multitudes of people they all went to hell in their ignorance.” Josh; “Are you going to tell me that those people did not deserve Hell?!? The context was those who never heard the Gospel. Now, today, I’m hearing a different tune, but getting scorched anyway.” …Wow. How many misunderstandings are taking place here? Are you saying I reamed you for the last discussion?!? (2) Where have i ever said anything different than what I said there? Has there ever been a person born who did not need redemption? Other than Jesus? I do think there is a difference between those who haven’t heard and the disabled. But they are both born into sin, and both in need of a Savior. I can’t even imagine how that is the slightest bit controversial to say on a Christian blog. Josh the Baptist says: December 1, 2013 at 5:04 pm Brian, I think that is a wonderful response. Thank you for sharing that. 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