Universalism

Taking On Theology Pt. 1:Original Sin, And Why I Think Christians Have Misread Scripture.

Posted on June 14, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Original Sin, Personal, Religion, Rob Bell, Universalism | Tags: , , , |

Authors Note:  Before deciding to comment on this post, please read other posts on this blog.  I was going to hell (or not) before I wrote this post, and my personal opinion of a longstanding Christian doctrine is the least of my problems, assuming you have some brilliant insight into the veracity and mind of your God.  This post is meant to challenge the doctrine of original sin, and if you think it falls short-the comment box gives you a place to argue your case.

From What Is Clearly Seen…..

When I was a boy, my mother used to read “Bible Stories For Children” to me at bedtime.  The second story in the book was about Adam, Eve, and a talking snake.  It was a watered down but engaging version of the story of “The Fall” from Genesis 3.   When you are a child, you don’t worry yourself with talking snakes, or eternal curses.  What I took away from it is four simple things:

  1. When you are given an order, even if it seems stupid and unreasonable, you may not fully understand the reason why it was commanded, or the consequences

    She obviously grabbed the wrong "low-hanging fruit"

    of disregarding it.

  2. Peer pressure can get you in trouble.
  3. If a snake starts talking to you, you should really just walk it off.
  4. God should have made the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil bear walnuts instead of fruit, at least then it would have made it difficult to eat.  Or at the very least mangoes, because they taste like crap.

As I got older, and started becoming active in church, I learned that other people had interpreted the story entirely different from myself.  There were a few new lessons that I guess I was supposed to garner from Genesis 3.

  1. Women ruin everything.  They are incorrigible.  Men are the head of the household because just look what happens when you let women get their way.
  2. I am born evil.  Adam passed his evil homunculus down to every succeeding generation, making me and my progeny forever culpable from conception for displeasing God.  Way to go, Jackass!

Here’s the thing though.  I read that story in my storybook and in my bible.  I just was not seeing it at all.   So I read it again.  Still not seeing it.  I asked someone else.  They said “Ahh, read Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15, and it will all make sense.”  So I ran to my bible, thinking I had finally got the key that was going to unlock this whole issue.  I read Romans.  Then 1Corinthians.  Then Romans again.  Then I thought, “really?”.

I’m looking at the text, and I’m not seeing man as having a “curse of Adam”, or being born sinful, or depraved. I think there is something instructive about the comparison between the two, or else why would Paul draw the comparison.  Something is being taught here, I just want to examine what that is.   Let’s go verse by verse (All passages in red are from NKJ Version): (more…)

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The Anatomy of A Question: Rob Bell, Kevin DeYoung, and A Lesson In “Doubling Down”

Posted on March 7, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Religion, Rob Bell, Universalism |

This subject should make me giggle.

I should be sitting back basking in the splendor of watching the faith that I grew up in-the faith that I taught and brought to people for a decade- the faith that I left in no small part due to instances like this one- humiliate itself by drowning in it’s own hubris.

I’m not laughing….and I don’t know why.  Perhaps it’s because I have a friend who will be publishing a book on Universalism in the next

That's right...I asked questions!

month, and watching the vitriol makes me overly protective of her.  Perhaps it is because I’m not as good at schadenfreude as I want to think I am.  Perhaps it is because I see a faith castigating a pastor for something he didn’t even say- something that I myself considered strongly before rejecting it and my faith years ago.

Universalism, right or wrong, is the elephant in the room in Christian circles today.  Whether it is biblically grounded is beside the point.  I’m not here to argue for Universalism-I’ll leave that to my friend and her forthcoming book.  What I am arguing for is a faith that asks and answers the tough questions instead of publicly crucifying someone for giving these questions their due.  Especially when all available evidence suggests that this someone, pastor Rob Bell, does nothing more than use questions about Universalism in order to clarify traditional Evangelical theology in his new book  LOVE WINS.

Universalism is not a fringe idea.  It is an idea that is gaining traction among young Christians, again- biblical or not- it is based on “evidence that demands a verdict” (to glibly use another apologist’s words).  There are, without a doubt, bible verses that seem to support universal salvation.  There are, without a doubt, bible verses that seem to contradict universal salvation.  The facts bear witness that it is not a subject that RealChristians™ will get away from by simply yelling “HERESY” loudly over the voices of dissent.  Rob Bell knows this.  He is taking the issue head on.  He’s answering the questions of those Universalists, and from the reports of all those currently in the know, he’s telling them they are well intentioned….and wrong.

If you doubt that this is an issue that needs to be addressed, I direct you to the words of Dr. Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University (Chicago, Illinois).  In his recent post “Waiting For Rob Bell”, McKnight says:

(more…)

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Universalism, Rob Bell, and Why You Should Care

Posted on March 4, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Religion, Rob Bell, Universalism |

Some of you may have heard of Rob Bell.  If you are a professing Christian, there is a 100%

He even LOOKS like the Devil, or a guy I see at Starbucks all the time, I'm not sure...

chance that you have heard of Rob Bell.  If you are a RealChristian™, there is a 100% chance you think he’s a heretic who will burn in Hell.

For the uninformed in our audience- What, do you suppose, would warrant RealChristians™ bypassing the judgement of their Savior and being certain of his impending fate?

Is he an atheist?  Well, no.  An abortion doctor? Nope.  An evolutionist?  I’m not certain.  He must be saying that Jesus was just a really great guy? Not even close.

He’s a Universalist…..well, maybe.

Bell is a pastor at a Michigan church and a Christian author.  His new book, LOVE WINS: A Book About Heaven, Hell, And The Fate Of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell supposedly argues for Universalism- that heretic doctrine that God will bring every person into His

LOVE WINS

Kingdom.  I say supposedly because the book has not even been released yet.  Christians have decided that the provocative title and even more provocative publisher’s blurb (and promotional video) are enough to sentence Bell to an eternity of torment.  No need to read the book, say many Christians, we can judge the whole book based on a title, blurb, and video.

It is the intellectual equivalent of saying that Kurt Vonnegut is the worst author in history based solely on watching the trailer for “Breakfast Of Champions”.

(more…)

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