7 Assumptions About Universalism That Are So Often Wrong

7 Assumptions About Universalism That Are So Often Wrong April 15, 2019
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Universalism is the belief that all will be saved and reconciled to God in the end, and while there are many varieties floating around out there, from those that have little to do with Christian theology all the way to Patristic Universalism (the sort of Universalism that was present within the early Christian church), sadly, when many Christians first hear about it, they make a litany of assumptions that are, for most Universalists, simply untrue. That is to say, much of what is believed about Universalism and the people who affirm it, are nothing but strawmen. And while strawmen are easier to attack then the real thing, at the end of the day, defeating a strawman is a meaningless endeavor.

To that end, what I’d like to do in this entry is mention 7 assumptions that are unfortunately made by those who, on the surface at least, seem utterly repulsed by the idea that God would save everyone. My goal in doing this is simple: If you are going to disagree with a position of any kind, at least understand the position you are disagreeing with.

Assumption 1: Universalism renders the Gospel moot

For Christian Universalists such as myself, the Gospel is far from moot. In fact, without the Gospel—the good news—we probably wouldn’t hold to the Universalist position we do. Instead, what we argue is that, while it is far better to know the truth now, that doesn’t impact the truth as such. As the writer of 1 Timothy put it: “For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” What I believe this writer is saying is that God is the savior of all people, and it is much better to know that now then not know it now.

Assumption 2: Universalism discredits God’s justice

Universal reconciliation and divine justice are not mutually exclusive ideas. The reason so many people assume they are is that justice is often assumed as retributive in nature. Punishment for the sake of punishment. But that doesn’t have to be the assumption, nor should it be. Indeed, since God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8–9)—meaning, God’s mercy is higher and wider and broader and deeper than ours—that means his justice (reconciliatory) is superior to our justice (retributive).

Assumption 3: Universalism overemphasizes God’s love

While the writer of 1 John makes it fairly clear that God IS love, full stop, many Christians want to add a “but” after that. This is unfortunate because it often makes God out to be rather two-faced: God is love, but he is also just; God is love, but he is also wrathful. But what if everything we said about God was through the lens that God is love? What if God’s justice is an extension of God’s love? And what if God’s so-called wrath is also an extension of God’s love? Well, that’s exactly what Universalists like myself argue for.

Assumption 4: Universalism has no place in Church history

To quote Dwight Schrute: False. Universalism was prominent in the early Church. Even Augustine admitted that. And while it wasn’t the only eschatological position held by the earliest theologians, it was a fairly popular one. To suggest otherwise is to simply not understand your church history (sorry Mark Driscoll).

Assumption 5: Universalism is not biblically based

As I said at the onset, Universalism comes in many shapes and sizes. Some are not biblically based while others are only derived from the Bible. For the earliest Christian theologians—folks like Clement of Alexandria and Origen—the Bible grounded their Universalism. And while it can be argued that the Bible presents two other eschatological positions—viz. eternal torment and conditional immortality (i.e., annihilationism)—it’s ill-advised to suggest it doesn’t also present a case for Universalism.

Assumption 6: Universalism gives license to sin

On the surface, this may seem true. If grace is emphasized, the fear is that people will just go on sinning because, well, they can. The problem with this thinking is twofold. First, just because we argue that in the end all will be reconciled and redeemed doesn’t mean that sinners won’t face correction. In other words, no one is going to walk through the proverbial Pearly Gates without undergoing some sort of transformation. And second, this is experientially false for so many Universalists. I’ll just speak for myself here, but since I’ve affirmed the doctrine of universal reconciliation, rather than feeling free to live a life oriented toward sin, I’ve felt freed to live a life oriented toward grace, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness (you know, all those delicious fruits of the Spirit). And while I mess up all the time—who doesn’t?—I’ve found myself at least desiring to do the will of Christ, more so than before I affirmed this doctrine at least.

Assumption 7: Universalism projects human feelings onto God

I understand the propensity to suggest that Universalism overemphasizes characteristics such as grace and love, but grace and love are not projections that come from the human mind. Not mine anyway. I don’t know what kind of life you live, but I am certainly not as loving nor as gracious as I would like to be, and certainly nowhere near as loving and gracious as I believe God is. I can be fairly retributive and, on my worst days, certainly wouldn’t mind if my enemies faced a little bit of hell at some point. So, to suggest that Universalism is a projection onto the divine is out and out laughable.

Now, at the end of the day, believe what you want to believe. If you believe that in the end some sinners will be forever lost to the flames of an eternal hell or done away with altogether, that’s cool . . . I guess. Just at least understand that we who affirm universal reconciliation do so for good reason. We may not be correct but that goes for all of us. We all have fallible minds and corruptible hearts. But if you don’t at least know our stance and instead assume way too much before listening to us, you end up looking like Balaam’s ass. And no one wants to be an ass, do they?

Matthew J. Distefano is the author of 4 books and a co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour podcast. He lives in Chico, Ca with his wife and daughter. You can read more about the author here.

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  • Mark

    Matthew, thank you for writing and sharing this article. I agree that many Christians make inaccurate assumptions about the type of universalism that Christians like yourself hold. Many also make similar unfair assumptions about my own view, which is conditional immortality (aka annihilationism). While I respect you and I try to avoid unfair assumptions, I still think universalism is not true. The main reason I feel universalism is not true is that I see conditional immortality as a far better fit for all the language, verses, and truths taught in Scripture. I’ve written on this quite a bit. Here is one of my most recent posts, written just this past week: https://parresiazomai.blogspot.com/2019/04/words-of-annihilation-plato-and.html

  • Thanks for commenting.

  • Eric Schramm

    Thank you for such a well written article.
    Can I ask what belief system mine are in?
    I used to be very evangelical, but I have given up those restrictive beliefs.
    I’m pretty much a universalist but with one exception.
    The Jews say our vision of it is too harsh. They say hell is a purification fire (like a blast furnace) powered by God’s love, not hate. It’s here to remove our ‘sins’ prejudices, hates, etc. so we can be the best, purest, most loving people we can. The Jews say it’s automatic and you will never stay there more than two years.
    My problem with that is that scripture says some people will stay forever. The Jews disagree with those verses.

    I think hell is interactive. It simply shows you what you’ve done from an outside perspective so you can see things clearly. This causes emotional pain that the writers only symbolically compared to flames. See your life from a new perspective and you turn from each ‘limiting factor’ and grow in knowledge. But some people would actively turn away from that information and close their minds to it. “I’m right. I won’t listen. You won’t change my mind!” Eventually they would “Cauterize their soul as with a hot iron” like Paul put it in the Bible.
    I believe in evil spirits. There are too many instances of “ooga booga” that I can’t explain any other way. What if they are people like us who permanently turned away from … love?
    Again, I’m not saying this HAS to be right, just that it’s my personal opinion. Is there an official religion that shares this belief?
    Thanks for listening.

  • It sounds similar to Patristic Universalism.

  • Peter Bateman Mockridge

    Easy confessions and absolutions lead to sin, not universalism. “I accept Jesus. All my sins are forgiven.” So I can go sin again, and be forgiven again.

  • What about the metaphysics of free will? Cannot one choose eternal damnation? And if not, then wouldn’t we have to say that at least metaphysically speaking, universalism is on par with TULIP predestination doctrine, at least in terms of free will?

  • ashpenaz

    Universalism is actually kind of harsh–would you like to spend a million years in a lake of fire? Or would you rather ask for forgiveness now? I think there are a lot of people who would say “Yes!” to that gospel message. Just because punishment doesn’t last forever doesn’t make it less painful.

  • I don’t affirm libertarian free will. I’m more aligned with David Bentley Hart, who argues that free will is primordially and teleologically oriented toward the good. In other words, freely choosing eternal damnation is no free choice at all, but a choice made from a place of enslavement.

  • I tend to agree, but we are then simply silencing the whole Camus/Rebel aspect of the free will discussion. I wouldn’t want to do that – I want that voice also to be heard.

  • Hearing all voices is certainly recommended.

  • Awesome article!

  • Iain Lovejoy

    I think most universalists would say you can choose “eternal” damnation, but what you can’t do is choose it eternally. Hell / rejecting God has literally nothing good in it and heaven / God literally nothing bad. You are free to defiantly say to God “I will never accept you and rather burn in Hell!” and God will leave you there as long as you desire, but God is still happy to take you back once you have discovered what confining yourself to the outer darkness and the complete absence of God is in fact like. You might say that the universalist would say that the one thing you are not free to do is renounce your own freedom.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    The issue is whether ultimately anyone has a stronger will and greater patience than God, or there is anyone whom God lacks the skill, capacity or love to get through to. A sinner who fails to repent despite God expending his best efforts for all eternity is a sinner who has achieved victory over God.
    There are some places in the Bible that suggest everlasting torment or destruction, but I don’t believe that there are any that actually require believing it: both Hebrew and Greek use words that are often translated as “for ever” when they really mean “for long ages” or “indefinitely”, and which carry no implication that there might someday be a change, much as we are happy to describe in English e.g. a job or a building as “permanent” even though we know perfectly well that at some stage they may come to an end or fall down.

  • Interesting argument!

  • Iain Lovejoy

    I’d like to claim it original to me, but it isn’t.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Except, by Christ’s own words, that attitude makes you a phony ‘christian’.

    Jesus said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” – John 14:15-21

  • Peter Bateman Mockridge

    Jesus had two commandments: love God, love your neighbor. What did he ever say about the trinity or even homosexuality? My point is that fundamentalism, which you seem to embrace, says that believing in Jesus (whatever that means) leads to redemption. I think that belief is an easy way out . . .

  • Peter Bateman Mockridge

    Are you serious? Why would universalism lead to a million years in a lake of fire? What did Jesus say about universalism? I can’t believe in a God who would consign a person to a million years in a lake of fire merely because he (or she) didn’t conform to some standard recorded by folks who believed in a three tier universal. Or in a God who consign Her children to an eternal lake of fire. No loving parent would do that.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Wrong! I am no longer an “Evangelical”. I severed ALL ties with ALL of those “Harlot of Babylon” fake-christian churches,
    ever since 2016, when 81% of them went over to the Dark Side and aligned themselves with TЯ卐m₽ >–> the Beast.

    Furthermore, loving Christ IS loving God and loving your neighbor too. That’s what my Lord and Saviour meant when He said:
    “if ye love me, keep my commandments”.

    Where does it say, anywhere in my post, a single word about the Trinity or homosexuality? Do you get a thrill out of adding your own words and interpretations to other peoples’ comments? Or are you just a troll looking for a argument?

    You might try taking a few moments to actually read and comprehend a person’s comment before you go riding away,
    all knee jerk, on your sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, high-horse.

  • Peter Bateman Mockridge

    Jeez, all I said is that you SEEMED to embrace fundamentalism. All you had to say was “I don’t embrace fundamentalism”. The ad hominems are gratuitous. I don’t consider myself a Christian; in the Jesus context, I consider myself a Jesusian. I value what Jesus taught, not what is taught about Jesus.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    You think because you added the word “seemed” that somehow dilutes your false assumption that I’m still now an Evangelical?
    I am a Christian! That means, I believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Messiah. I aspire to follow all of His teachings and commandments … as well as follow in His footsteps regarding how to treat others, especially those less fortunate.

    I value everything about my Lord and Savior: His teachings and commandments, His compassion and mercy, His example of love, His guilelessness, His sacrifice, Death, Resurrection and Ascension, His glory sitting at the right-hand of God, and the Holy Spirit’s influence in my life, teaching me all things and keeping me from falling.

  • Peter Bateman Mockridge

    In common English usage, the word “seem,” used as I have used it, is viewed as a qualifier and indicative of an assessment, not an assertion. I’ll leave it to you to distinguish between an assessment and an assertion – they are not the same. I am NOT a Christian, as I have noted; I respect and attempt to live by the two commandments that Jesus offered. I do not know what “believing” in Jesus means, except as defined by those claim to know the original intention of the various stories told about Jesus and the various adages, aphorisms and parables attributed to him by authors who did not live contemporaneous with him.

  • soter phile

    To uphold universalism, one has to evade certain scriptural texts, either by means of non-obvious spiritualization (e.g, the “fire” not as punishing but as purifying) or simply through a fiat rejection of bothersome verses.

    …As a theological author, I shudder at the thought of giving anyone false hope and false comfort, which in the Book of Jeremiah is a distinguishing mark of the false prophet. To me it would be spiritually hazardous to tell those who have consciously rejected Christ that beyond the present life there will be further opportunities to respond to Christ—opportunities of which Scripture says nothing.

    – Michael McClymond, author of A New History and Interpretation of Christian Universalism, a 1300pg history & critique of universalism

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    I’m not going to argue “original intent” about the authors of Scripture.

    Suffice it to say, “believing in Jesus” means not only attempting to live by His two Great Commandments:
    (“Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, strength and mind.” & “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”)
    but recognizing Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God and the one and only Messiah.

  • Peter Bateman Mockridge

    I’d suggest that believing that Jesus is the only way to know God is a trait of a fundamentalist. I believe that we are all children of God (if there is a God).

  • Al Cruise

    I would say your assumptions are correct. The real evidence can be found at deaths door. Loving and comforting those as they pass through that door has shown us a lot. Especially with those who are the least amongst us. The evidence is also universal, from all faiths around the world from those who comfort the dying. People lived and died long before the bible was written, and the western version (evangelical) of salvation is based on being born in the right place and time in history, and not of any real Spiritual substance. Richard Rohr’s new book , Universal Christ, is one of the best works on this topic to date.

  • Ron Richardson

    The author conveniently left out other verses that are like addendum’s to his quot from 1st Timothy 4:10, “For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” Of course God IS love and being so, along with being Holy, He could not engage in any evil acts, such as casting people into a fiery pit for not accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for them. Many Christians still today believe the imagery the ancient prophets used to describe hell, but hell is not a physical place, it’s a state of being. God is everything good and lovely. Everything in this physical existence we call good and lovely is absent without God. So, those covered by the “blood'”(Christianese) have their sins hidden in Christ and those who are not “covered,” have their sins wide open for God to see, so He can’t be involved with that person, so that person’s eternal spirit spends eternity without anything good or lovely because God’s simply not there for them. Now, back to the companion verses I mentioned. Firstly: Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” and Matthew 13:24-30, Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” What the Holy Spirit was saying through Jesus was that their are those who will not spend eternity with God, but most certainly all people have an eternal spirit that will not perish, but that Doesn’t mean that everyone will be prepared to meet God in the afterlife. God’s Word does two things: Firstly, and most importantly, it specifically states; John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.and again, John 6:37 All that the Father gives Me “will come to Me,” and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. So, there’s no way around accepting Jesus. Secondly; The Bible, once the spirit in a man has been awakened at the second birth(baptism of the Holy Spirit) God’s truth can start making sense, Psalm 36:9 For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light. This awakening not only helps prepare us for eternity, but also helps us walk with wisdom in this life. So, once you start connecting the dots, Proverbs 25:2 “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” you begin to understand that Universalism can not be valid simply based on one verse that states God’s nature love. It doesn’t hold up to closer scrutiny.

  • billwald

    I’m suspicious of people who tell me what God must do or can’t do.

    God can save anyone in/through the faith of Christ Jesus.

  • I’ve been called worse

  • Adam Benner

    Very thoughtful discussion. Appreciated the article!

  • edburley
  • edburley
  • Nimblewill

    Since coming to a correct understanding of Christian Universalism (I’m only hopeful) I have come to believe that I too may need to spend some time in the Lake of Fire.

  • Nimblewill

    Can I give anyone eternal hope, true or false. If our hope is in anything man says as opposed to what God does we are screwed anyway. The only way you can give me false hope is if I put my trust in you and what you say.

  • bluegrandma52

    Interesting article. Your beliefs are actually quite close to those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’ve been a member most of my life, and have grown in understanding and love of the gospel. We believe that all people have access to the saving grace of Christ, and that none will be left in ‘outer darkness’, except for those called the Sons of Perdition. Christ explained that, once a person has received the sure witness of the Spirit, and then denies it, they put themselves outside of grace’s redeeming power. But that is a very high bar to overcome. One would have to be as sure of Christ as they are of the noonday sun, and then knowingly and purposefully deny the sun is in the sky. I believe very few will come to that extreme, and only under very unique circumstances. As I tell people who assure me their deeds are so wicked that they’ll end up in Hell, “you don’t know enough to go to Hell.” We also believe that there are differing degrees of glory, as different as the sun, moon and stars in brightness (as Paul taught). But they are all glorious, and designed for the ultimate happiness of those who choose them. Our Father wants us to come Home; Christ provided the means through His Atonement, and the Holy Spirit teaches and guides us there. It is a very hopeful message, especially because we don’t believe that this life is the only chance humanity has to gain all the Father has. Christ went to the spirit world of the dead, set up His Church there among the faithful, and commissioned them to go to all the dead and preach the gospel to those who never had the chance to hear it (or understand what they had heard) and give them an opportunity to accept His offering for them. Those to whom much is given, much is required. It is important how we live our lives here, whether we are Christians or not, and each person will be judged by the light they honored while on earth. A devout and righteous Buddhist or Animist, or Atheist has the same access to glory as the most devout and righteous Christian. The choice is up to them whether they will choose Christ, in this life or the next.

  • soter phile

    Suppose we concede that if I had been born of Muslim parents in Morocco rather than Christian parents in Michigan, my beliefs would be quite different. [But] the same goes for the pluralist…If the pluralist had been born in [Morocco] he probably wouldn’t be a pluralist. Does it follow that…his pluralist beliefs are produced in him by an unreliable belief-producing process?
    – Alvin Plantinga

  • I guarantee that my beliefs are not close to the Latter-day Saints

  • Michael Flaherty

    I don’t know. But if there was a God that rigged the game so that only people born in the right time and right place had the potential to be saved from eternal conscious torment, he would have a pretty sick sense of humor.

  • Al Cruise

    Universalism is produced by God, not our unreliable belief systems.

  • Amy Zucker Morgenstern

    Some Universalists are Restorationists, believing that we suffer some kind of punishment before reconciliation with God, and others are “Ultra-Universalists,” believing this is not necessary. (And yet others, like me, are non-theistic Universalists, but that’s a whole other chapter.) Even a Restorationist doesn’t have to believe that we are tortured.

  • Amy Zucker Morgenstern

    As a modern day Unitarian Universalist, I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    Well, it is curious to claim that the bible agrees with universalism, when it does not. Just reading Romans 9 indicates this as well, as Revelation, and JC himself is quoted as saying he intentionally make sure some people can never accept him. You’ve made up your own religion, and it is nicer, but no more true than any other version of Christianity that is invented in the believer’s image. This god does have a sick sense of humor, if it creates humans to damn through no fault of their own.

  • fractal

    For those who have had a mystical experience, pluralism is not “belief”.
    It is an experience—one so profound, that it produces a new paradigm.

  • fractal


  • fractal


  • soter phile

    This is special pleading – a logical fallacy.
    a) it denies that others are also claiming to have had “an experience.”
    b) the logic of the critique holds – especially as one who admits to an experience-based faith

  • soter phile

    notably: Christianity is the only major religion which finds itself spread almost equally (roughly ~20% each) across five continents. Every other major religion finds itself thriving on its continent of origination & roughly ‘half’ of another continent.

    as for ‘rigging’ the game (whether one accepts Christian theology or not), it is worth noting that within that understanding, it was humanity that rendered our existence broken. as such, we are responsible for ‘rigging’ the game, not God. (you don’t have to agree with Christianity to represent it accurately; your critique is built on a caricature.) never mind that ‘universalism’ would be likewise ‘rigging’ the game – simply in our favor.

  • Bria Lapoint

    the belief that all will be saved prevents well meaning but misguided christians from harassing non believers like myself into going to church or becoming a christian. so even if you think its a false belief, it is a lot better than christians hounding unsuspecting people that arent interested at all hours of the day or night

  • fractal

    More blather.

    The mystical experience is not a problem—what the “deductive” mind does with it, is another story.
    As the experience begins to fade, it is easy to let your mind begin to TRY to explain it, make it “fit” with all sorts of previously held beliefs, and generally try to fit the square peg into the round hole.

    THAT is where mysticism can go wrong.

    But mostly, I am bored with your attempts to sound ever so educated, intelligent and logical, when defending your precious foundational belief system.
    You don’t know what you are talking about, but you sling around big words and pretzeled logic to defend your ignorance.
    It is a defense mechanism that everyone but you can see clearly.

  • soter phile

    a) Jesus rather directly commands Christians to the contrary (Mt.28:19-20; Acts 1:8; etc.)
    b) why should your belief that Christianity isn’t ‘good news’ be privileged over others’ beliefs?

  • fractal

    And Universalists don’t try to make laws FORCING the non-believers to adhere to their belief systems.

  • soter phile

    Dismissing established logical fallacies out of hand is “blather.”

    Note well: mystical experience doesn’t have to mean throwing aside your intellect.

    Irony: you claim that I don’t know what I’m talking about, but you are the one unaware of rather well-known fundamentals of thought. no, ‘big words’ do not guarantee I’m right – but it is self-defeating to argue I lack knowledge while simultaneously admitting you are unaware of basics of logical thought. (that is a readily visible defense mechanism.)

  • fractal

    You are like that obnoxious uncle that shows up for holiday dinners, and then makes everyone wish they’d just gone out for pizza and a movie instead.

    Nobody likes pushy people shoving their holy book down another’s throat.
    If someone wants to read about Christianity, they sure can.
    But proselytizing is rude, crude and pompous.

    Get over yourself.

  • soter phile

    Hmmm… so why are virtually all of the universalists here so defensive?

  • fractal

    I know what you are talking about, sweetness—I have more than my share of college philosophy classes on my transcript.
    I just your presentation is pompous, patronizing and IRRELEVANT.

    Why don’t you turn some of that deductive reasoning back onto your own foundational beliefs, and get a clue.

  • soter phile

    1) You want to privilege your beliefs over mine. You are doing the very thing you deny – yet simultaneously claim I’m the only one being ‘pushy.’ It lacks self-awareness

    2) Proselytizing is not rude, crude and pompous. As Penn Jilette (an adamant atheist) put it:

    I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward — and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me alone and keep your religion to yourself — how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.

  • Bria Lapoint

    well said!

  • Bria Lapoint

    I assume most people think that only their opinions matter. i mean, soter there said i mean insinuated as much. Also, people that get too pushy and agressive can have that same agression shoved back at them, in a more physical fashion.

  • Bria Lapoint

    No youre trying to twist things around to make it sound like you are some sort of victim. cut the crap, asserting that other people have opinions too, opinions you may not agree with nor like, is not for you to decide what is right for them. seriously. Its no wonder people leave christianity and give most of you dirty looks

  • fractal

    They aren’t—you are.

    You haven’t had the mystical experiences necessary to make the intellectual leap, but you keep on pretending you know what you are talking about.

    There is nothing “rational” about the experience of God, and none of your intellectualism’s will help—in fact, their nattering in your brain will block the grace!


  • soter phile

    I am critical of my own beliefs. I turn this same lens on it.
    Yet I’m not the one dismissing philosophical foundations as irrelevant.

  • soter phile

    you said: There is nothing “rational” about the experience of God…
    therein lies the rub. I’m not claiming God is only rational. Certainly He is more.
    But you are insisting on a mysticism that is only that… and thereby irrational.

    Yes, God transcends our finite minds. And yet he presents himself in a way that is intelligible.
    A mysticism that dismisses God’s own self-revelation is self-delusion.

  • soter phile

    No, not a victim. I’m pointing out your position is inconsistent.
    You want to assert your beliefs – while claiming I should not assert mine.

    That’s not a problem with any one faith. That’s a lack of self-awareness.
    And when added to a discussion on a ‘humble’ universalism, it’s deeply ironic.

  • fractal

    How narcissistic does one have to be, to assume their way is the ONLY WAY?
    You lack social boundaries, and blame it on Jesus—disgusting.
    Perhaps Rumi will make it clear:

    Whatever men chatter about these days, it is not love’s way.
    God gave blind men a stick, so that they may grope to a Jesus and gain sight.
    Look at all the blind men bashing each other with the stick of intellect!
    Some even swing the stick at He who gave the stick!

    How proud they are when they blacken a little page with writing.
    Their minds are so shabby that they must graft on a hundred other minds to make them work—and this they call “great learning”.

    They elucidate every sort of substance, but of their own substance, they are ignorant as donkeys.
    All their sciences together are but a little bunch of posies from our garden.
    All of their thoughts are but husks and leaves on a river of mind that flows from a secret garden.

    If an angel of Paradise should nibble his ear, he cries “Hey, what’s hurting my ear?”
    If the sweet basil of grace touches his face, he brushes it away saying, “Hey, what’s bothering me now!”
    He rides his horse from door to door, asking “Has anyone seen my horse?”

    Translation by Daniel Liebert

  • fractal

    A man who tells everyone else where to find their own personal revelations of the Sacred, hasn’t ever had one.
    If you had, you would know it is an inside job, and one that all the books in the galaxy won’t help you with.
    I bet you didn’t even bother to look at the poem I provided, did ya…
    Because proselytizing only goes one way with Fundys.

    I can tell you this:
    The experience of God is not contained in a book or in a philosophical discussion—that is your ego chattering.

    Claiming that your precious holy book should be everyone’s holy book and the ONLY holy book, is just more proof that your belief system is shallow and overly paternalistic.

    Personally I prefer to be the drowned gnat in God’s wineglass.
    That joy makes all your huffing and puffing about God sound like parrot patter.

  • fractal

    Pushing beliefs is also telling God what S/He is or isn’t, instead of LISTENING and being open to the experience of Grace flooding your nervous system.

    How can God be creative, when a person’s beliefs are set in stone?

  • soter phile

    you said: How narcissistic does one have to be, to assume their way is the ONLY WAY?
    You are hoist by your own petard. From what vantage point do you make that claim?

    In the old blind men & elephant story, you are claiming the position of the narrator/king – the only one with sight… which is an exclusive claim.

    Again, you are doing the very thing you deny. But since you don’t recognize that, you’ve added self-righteousness to it. We are both making exclusive claims – only I’m admitting it.

  • soter phile

    Refusing to listen to God is another way one’s beliefs can be obstinately set in stone.

  • soter phile

    you said: A man who tells everyone else where to find their own personal revelations of the Sacred, hasn’t ever had one.
    now your arrogance has moved to another level. you’ve rejected not only Jesus, but also Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, Confucius… Again, you are being incredibly exclusive.

    In all your clamoring to be sure to label me as arrogant, you’re not looking in the mirror.

  • fractal

    You hide behind your chattering mind, which is used to convince yourself that you know all about how to relate to God.
    I am telling you that your relationship with God has NOTHING to do with the rational mind.
    It is an experience of the “right brain”, and comes from the same place that desires, dreams, creativity and forgiveness dwells.

    With it, you see God everywhere and inside of everything.
    Without it, you never really FEEL God, but rely on what other people say.
    It isn’t going to get you where you want to go; perhaps that is why you are here reading this.

  • fractal

    Jesus points a path to God, and most everyone just starts worshiping the “finger of Jesus”.

    I am not rejecting anything.
    Just saying that finding God is an inside job, and while you can read about how others did it, and what they have to say about it—and find inspiration—ultimately you still have to find your own unique and individual way.

    And YOUR WAY isn’t the only way; Jesus’s way isn’t the only way.
    Buddha’s way isn’t the only way.
    Nothing exclusive about that.
    Too bad you are looking thru such a dirty lens, that is all you can see.

  • soter phile

    That is precisely what I’m not saying.
    This is not a left brain/right brain divide. (That’s a rather shallow view of mysticism, BTW.)

    But the deepest problem with your position is your insistence that your relationship with God has NOTHING to do with the rational mind.
    Not only are you basing this off your own anecdotal experience, but:
    a) it’s directly contrary to what Jesus (and others) said – namely God gave us our rational minds for a purpose, including knowing and beginning to comprehend who He is (including knowing our minds have limits!).
    b) you are using your rational mind to come to this conclusion. you haven’t been lobotomized. it’s a both-and, not an either-or.

    Transcendent? Yes. Absent of or utterly contrary to rational thought? No.
    Ironically, LSD trips fit your description above.

  • soter phile

    1) you said: Jesus points a path to God…
    No, unlike the founder of every other major religion Jesus did not do that.
    Moses pointed to a path. Mohammed pointed to a path. Buddha pointed to a path.
    Jesus claimed to BE the path: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (Jn.14:6)

    You don’t have to agree with Jesus to admit with integrity what he’s saying.
    To re-narrate his teaching as you do (esp. about himself) is a refusal to listen.

    2) Furthermore, you say: Just saying that finding God is an inside job… ultimately you still have to find your own unique and individual way.
    This is particular anthropology – one which the Bible utterly rejects. It believes humanity has the power within itself. That is not only merely regurgitating current cultural ‘wisdom’ (ironic for a supposedly ‘transcendent’ thought) but that ignores the empirical data/lived experience.

    Again, you are making incredibly exclusive claims with apparent lack of awareness.

  • fractal

    I certainly do advocate for the mystical experience as a more evolved spiritual approach.
    Like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, there is a hierarchy of Spirituality.
    And yes, simply worshiping totems or holy books as “THE WAY” isn’t very evolved.
    Mystical insight usually comes after Fundamentalist belief has grown stale, the “Law of God” transforms into the “Love of God”, and humanist acts just don’t answer the yearning in one’s heart.

    Mystical experience happens most often as one reaches for a deeper connection to God, after realizing that belief and rules just aren’t enough.
    It is a sign of moving closer to spiritual maturity, when one chooses to look inside and experience God thru the spark of divinity which lies within.

  • fractal

    If I don’t get it one way, I will get it another way; what works for a person at one stage of their spiritual growth, may not work at all, during a different stage.
    How could that not be true?

    There are more ways to God than there are rays of the Sun.
    Don’t you know?
    God too desires us, and will give us countless ways to know Her.

  • soter phile

    More evolved? Grown stale?
    You seem to have a cafeteria approach to spirituality: a little of this, a little from there…
    The only consistency there is self. Notably, a self-projected god cannot help you, much less contradict you. You have a Stepford Wife for a god. Isa.44 comes to mind.

    And yet you want to appeal to the ‘love of God’ (something relatively unique to Christianity, unless one is appealing to Aphrodite or an avatar) as opposed to the “law of God” (again, biblical categories). Cafeteria ‘build-a-god’ approach again.

    Tragically, that’s not very mystical – certainly not in the way you seem to invoke.
    Yes, humanist acts don’t answer the yearning within.
    No, Jiminy Cricket, spiritual maturity is not looking for a spark within. The Gnostics were wrong. And so are their modern descendants. ‘Follow your heart’ has left many in prison – some literally.

  • fractal

    There are numerous ways to look at that particular sentence.
    For instance:

    It may not be the words of Jesus at all.
    It may be a bad translation.
    That sentence could be the instructions to meditation—I can imagine Jesus saying:

    “Now close your eyes, quiet your mind, slow your breath, and repeat after me:

    ‘I am the Way, I am the Truth, and I am the Light. No one comes to God except thru the me—the realization of my divine Self'”.

    Jesus could be wrong.
    Jesus could be talking only to ignorant Jews who never had the luxury of hearing about the different religious traditions of the world—so he was talking about the faith of his people, not the world.

    And it doesn’t really matter at all.
    Do you actually think God CARES how we get to Her embrace?
    Did you bother to read the Rumi poem—or do you have spiritual blinders on whenever someone questions your spiritual approach?
    How about the video—watch that?

  • soter phile

    If I don’t get it one way, I will get it another way… How could that not be true?
    For someone claiming God can only be found mystically, and insisting I’ve missed him, this is an ironic question. Again, it assumes God is found within – and will necessarily be found.

    you said: There are more ways to God than there are rays of the Sun.
    Again, whether you intend it or not, this is an incredibly arrogant claim.
    And Jesus says directly the opposite. Are you wiser than Christ?

  • fractal


    You have never found your spark.
    It is there.
    Know yourself and you will know God.

    And I laugh when you say the Love of God is a Christian thing—what the heck do you think the Yogics and Sufis are talking about?

    Do you think you insult me with that old “Cafeteria God” routine?
    You don’t.
    Just more jive talk from the shallow.
    Tell me, where can one go and not find God?
    She is EVERYWHERE.
    Including and especially inside of yourself—you don’t dig deep enough.
    What’s the matter—afraid the devil is gonna git ya if you look within?

  • fractal

    I think you take yourself and your holy book WAY too seriously.
    Pitting your whole relationship with God on one phrase is rather quaint, but fine if that is what you need.

    No reason to expect the rest of us to do so—THAT is irrational.

  • Michael Flaherty

    20% on each continent? I don’t find that particularly impressive considering what is supposedly at stake. Even so, the division across time (from the first people until anyone had the possibility of deciding on the meaning of the death and resurrection) is even less evenly distributed. Further, if God created everything, then all possibilities, probabilities, and potentials were up to him. So yes, the game is his. If the rules of said game are ‘believe just the right thing or burn’, and ‘just the right thing’ is presented to a minuscule fraction of all humans, then the rules are distinctly unfair. This would be more worthy of Kim Jong Un than the God of the One who told us the parable of the Good Samaritan. But if that’s your belief, we will have to agree to disagree.

  • fractal

    You can talk about God all you want, with your rational mind.
    But that is NOT the experience of God.
    When mystics describe their experiences, none of them talk about logic or the “rational mind”.
    They talk about great waves of Love, insight and revelations that cannot be conveyed by discourse—poetry is as close as it gets.

    If you want to keep jacking off with your mental configurations, go ahead.
    When you get over it, try something that works, whether it is meditation, entheogens, singing and dancing or melting into nature.

    You will know it when it happens.
    Try not to get all pissy and negate it with your preconceived notions and brainwashed propaganda.

  • DuckyShades

    “Saved” is simply an example of limitation of human rhetoric. It’s a lowly word that simply describes our plight on earth, our hardships. Pretty much every branch of Christianity domesticates “God” into their own image. God is either love unconditional. Or he’s not, meaning there are conditions. The part about “retributive” justice is spot on. The fact that both Luther and Calvin were staunch lawyers should give a little insight into how the modern egregiously judicial evangelical God came to be.

  • Al Cruise

    Your belief system is based on been born in the right place and time. As some one who comforts the dying and speaks with others who do the same, here is a well known fact. Those who have conservative regilous veiws and believe strongly that those who do share their beliefs are bound for hellfire,
    often have very difficult and agonizing deaths. They often enter their final moments with great fear and express visions of horror. Jesus also verifies is irony in scripture.

  • Bones

    Lol is this what soter phile calls evangelism?

    Thats the thing with online evangelical trolls.

    Most of them are douche bags.

    Hell. Who wants to be like him?

  • soter phile

    Nope. I have a postgraduate degree in this field. The translation is accurate. The context is clear (never mind the litany of Jesus’ other megalomaniacal claims throughout the Gospels).

    Again, you seem to have a committed set of doctrines that you bring to the text, which you maintain regardless of the text. That is self-projecting. Ironically for all your claims of “quieting your mind” & “listening”, you are refusing to hear the original authorial intent.

    And then you said: it doesn’t really matter at all. Do you actually think God CARES…?

    Yes. That’s the explicit claim of Christ, the OT & NT, etc. Even from merely a basic literary perspective: you can disagree with the Bible, but it’s disingenuous to assert the content isn’t directly contradictory to what you are saying – much less to say “it doesn’t matter” when it clearly matters to you so much you are insisting on the primacy of your pre-existing grid.

    That’s not being ‘mystical.’ That’s insisting on a build-a-god self-projection.

  • soter phile

    You are pitting your “whole relationship with God” on an anecdotal (possibly hallucinatory) experience, meanwhile dismissing the vast majority of others’ experiences.
    You’re not really in a position to mock others as irrational.

  • fractal

    I have no doctrines.
    Really, I could give a rat’s arse what Jesus says about it—I know what works for me.

    And I could care less about your degrees in brainwashing and propaganda.
    You are rigid and hopelessly stuck in your mind-mud.

  • soter phile

    A troll steps into a discussion on apologetics & logic and asks where the rainbows are.

    A conversation over coffee is different than having an online debate over logic.
    Or do you venture into any philosophy department and object that there are no pretty colors?

    Funny how the label ‘troll’ is often invoked only bc one disagrees with the argument.

  • soter phile

    you said: what the heck do you think the Yogics and Sufis are talking about?
    even a cursory pass at comparative religions demonstrates we are talking about very, very different notions of ‘God’ & theology (by extension). It’s disingenuous (at best) to ignore the foundational differences.

    “Cafeteria god” is not something so shallow as an insult. It exposes your main problem.
    As Feuerbach said: “all such theology is just anthropology.” It’s making stuff up and calling it ‘god’ as a foil for one’s own desires, etc. That ‘she’ is everywhere you go… yes. And has no power whatsoever to change your life. It’s just a never-ending ‘yes’ to whatever you want, even when what you want is self-destructive. That’s not a God who loves you enough to say ‘no.’ It never could. It just agrees with you no matter what.

    Sadly, when you realize you really do need to change, a self-projected god offers no help.
    How could it? It’s the very same god that simply agreed with all the decisions that brought you to your point of need in the first place.

  • soter phile

    you said: I have no doctrines.
    you have committed beliefs about who/what god is & is not.
    that’s the very definition of the term.

    the only reason I mentioned my degrees is because you raised a red herring – as if Jn.14:6 (and Jesus’ many other statements) do not have 2000 years of scholarly ink spilled about it.

    you wanted to dismiss it out of hand. again, that sounds a lot more like the results of brainwashing & propaganda than examining the evidence & thinking for yourself.

  • VicqRuiz

    If you think you’ve ever “harassed” someone into becoming a Christian, I suggest you are deluding yourself.

  • Bones

    I’d be apologising too if I was you.

    You really are a sad advocate for whatever brand of reformed fundivangelicalism cult you belong too.

    But then you can’t see that.

    And not much logic either.

  • Bones

    Suppose you were born without a brain. You wouldnt have any beliefs.

    – Bones

  • Bones

    Lol speaking as another who has postgraduate studies in this field.
    You’re blowing out your arse.

    Anyone who has done a skerrick of modern biblical scholarship on the Gospel of John would know that the gospel of John is aimed at a community of Jews in the late first century (the world) which excommunicated the Christian Jewish community of John.

    Eg the teaching of being ‘born again’ was a Jewish teaching. No way Nicodemus didn’t what that meant.

  • Bones

    Yes, Christianity (specifically Catholicism) developed into a law court rather than a hospital for sinners.

    Evangelicalism is really Catholic Lite.

  • “I’ll just speak for myself here, but since I’ve affirmed the doctrine of universal reconciliation, rather than feeling free to live a life oriented toward sin, I’ve felt freed to live a life oriented toward grace, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness (you know, all those delicious fruits of the Spirit).”

    The same is true for me since the day I no longer believed. In my case, it’s the realization that we’re all in this together that motivates my kindness.

    Mainly what is want to say is that I really enjoyed this post. I’ve honestly never heard theses views before. Your points make sense, and the country I live in (the US) would be a much nicer place if more Christians were universalists.

  • Jan Alleman

    I used to be a fundamentalist Christian years ago. Since then my views have shifted much closer to that of the author in some respects. To see how this could work in practice is not hard. Just stop seeing this life as the beginning and end of all things. It is simply one stopover on a very long journey, and not everyone is at the same stage of their journey – you too were once where they are now, or you will get there one day. The destination, however, remains the same: unity with the eternal Creator. Nobody will get there before he or she has walked the full mile.

  • Ed Jansen

    This is an excellent explanation of universalism and one many can embrace. If there are consequences for the way we live our lives (which I believe you stated), then there is indeed retribution for the wrongful things we do; it’s merely self-inflicted, not God-inflicted. It’s hard for me to accept otherwise because, yes, God is merciful and God is fair and just. And if that is true, then we might consider the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory. For me, an absence of consequences for the ways we live out our lives (both good and bad) makes this short span of “70 years or 80 for those who are strong” meaningless in the scheme of eternity. Thanks for taking the time to offer an excellent explanation of the theology you embrace.

  • Roach Scientist

    So how does the universalist deal with all the Bible passages on hell, judgement, etc.?

  • Tenorbear2

    What a well written piece! I hope it gets into many hands. I especially like the reference to 1John – a book included in the New Testament that so many modern Christians who embrace a violent and judgmental ideology skip right over. The only thing that brought me up short was the bit about Clement and Origen using the Bible as a reference. They used parts of the Bible, whatever they had at hand and I can’t remember off hand what that was although I know Bart D. Ehrman told us in one of his 30 something books…. yipe! We can never forget that the book we currently call the Bible didn’t even take it’s current form until the Council of Trent in the 1500’s. Most who know anything about church history at all, or even care were told the Bible was compiled at the Council of Nicaea in the 300’s. I’m not a Universalist – after searching religion for the source of the human justification of genocide and hate for the better part of my life I claim a kind of atheistic Humanism. But it doesn’t surprise me one bit that those who claim that human perfection is love and that their God is love get pounded on by those who claim to have the authority to define religion. Authoritarianism just loves to ride it’s vengeful, jealous god right into a blood bath.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    Instead, the non-universalists would rather give false despair and false anxiety, instead of encouraging us all to trust in the love and mercy of God (which is what faith is). “Don’t have faith in God’s love, despair that He will suddenly turn on you for human weakness and condemn you to eternal torment for finite errors”. What kind of message is that? That God is a abusive parent? That God’s infinite love is limited and conditional?

    If Universalism is not true, then God is no god, but a devil.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    *sigh* I realized this is an old thread, but it popped up on Patheos’s sidebar. As you may have guessed by now, fractal, you are a person with two eyes talking to someone who has been blind his entire life and you’re trying to explain the sublimity of ultramarine blue to him. Until someone has had their own mystical experience, they will just dismiss other people’s experiences as “making it up”, “hallucinations”, “do less drugs”, “self-delusion”, etc. At best, I’ve had reasonable atheists admit “Well, I’ve never had an experience like that, sorry. Maybe if I had, I might be convinced, but until and if I do, I don’t have any evidence that makes me want to believe”. At worst, some fundies will believe that you’ve been fooled by the devil because your mystical experience doesn’t agree with the interpretation of the Bible that they were taught.

  • fractal

    Every time you use the word “ONLY”, you sound like a fundamentalist.
    I suggest you take a course in Comparative Religion at your local college.

  • fractal

    I agree.
    Psychologists tell us that, once having made up your mind, it takes at least 10X the amount of exposure to new information, to change one’s mind—humans are that stubborn.

    So, I figure I am chipping away at the shale of fundamentalism, and don’t really expect a revelation to hit this person at this time.

    And that is why I don’t try to be particularly “nice” about it; people need input of all kinds, including loud or “in your face” confrontation, as well as nurturing and connecting responses—no telling what is going to get thru the contrariness.

    And I also post for others who might be further along, and be inspired to think deeply. I certainly never heard a thing about mystical experiences in Catholic schools, except that a couple of saints had them—and that was quickly glossed over…

    But you are correct; a mystical experience is all-consuming and it is like finding a whole new primary color—you cannot “explain” it to others, but it is impossible to deny it, after seeing it.

  • Read some books

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Firstly, the word “ONLY” in my post is a quote straight out of the Scriptures. Guess your so-called “Comparative Religion” course didn’t bother to teach you that, eh?

    Secondly, I don’t need anyone, especially not anyone who is recommended by the likes of you, to teach me about “religion”.
    The Holy Spirit is my teacher and guide.

    My comments are not about “religion” … they are about Grace, Faith, and the Power of God unto salvation to everyone who believeth. – Ephesians 2:8-9 … and “believeth” means to “be living in” the Commandments of Christ.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    What’s interesting is that most older religious traditions have a framing for it, so it’s part of their shared experience, but the more authoritarian ones really downplay it as something that happened in the past to special saints, but let’s not talk about that–because the direct experience of the Holy Spirit upends all authority. The bishop or priest or preacher’s commands or instructions or official interpretation has no authority against the Spirit or the angel hovering over you showing you soul-to-soul, THIS IS WHAT GOD IS.

    “Doctrines of man” have no standing vs. the true word of God, and those who formulate those doctrines and whose power comes from being the official arbiters of those doctrines hate that. I’d say that’s why Catholic schools gloss over saintly mysticism, and really gloss over the fact that most of the mystical saints were regarded with suspicion by their contemporary church authorities, if not actively persecuted.

    Also, St. Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus is clearly a mystical experience, yet you will see people both in and out of the church claiming that it didn’t happen, or it was exaggerated for dramatic effect, or whatever. I suspect most of the people who don’t believe in any “Road to Damascus”-type conversions are people who have never had mystical experiences.

  • fractal

    Ostrich with head in sand.

  • fractal

    I think the biggest problem with mystical experiences, is that the chattering mind will subsequently try to explain the experience—and it uses old paradigms to do so, most often.

    That won’t work well, but it relieves the experience-er from doing any deep thinking or personal exploration.
    Putting words into God’s mouth that were never said, and proclaiming them dogma or revelation, is what happened to Paul the Fanatic.

  • soter phile

    Or… you & fractal are sitting in a dark cave, in which you’ve been imprisoned your whole life, watching shadows bounce across the wall and calling it a ‘mystical experience’. Meanwhile, I’ve just walked in from being out in the sun and invite you to come out and see…

    No, the point of divide is not over who has had the mystical experience (shall I list off Christian mystics? or would you merely find a way to dismiss them as well?).
    The question is who actually has sight.
    And note well: both parties are making exceedingly arrogant claims. But who is correct?

    In the end, you are forced to make an individualistic, anecdotal claim.
    Christians are claiming a public mystical event. Something no other major religion claims:

  • soter phile

    Funny how the original “Damascus Road experience” came to someone who went on to teach a lot of doctrine…

    If Paul’s mystical experience and writings (someone from within the camp) cannot call out your faith, who can?

  • soter phile

    Too bad the Pool of Bethesda makes such a claim of a late date impossible. Only someone with firsthand knowledge (pre-70 AD) would be able to accurately describe it.

    Never mind that John gets all the name modifiers correct. That is something that would be mathematically impossible – and something he had no way to anticipate we could check 2000 years later. (see video below)

    You might also want to peruse Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses – 500 pages of evaluating why the scholarship necessarily points to the NT Gospels as eyewitness accounts.

    Your “skerrick of modern biblical scholarship” seems to lack awareness that three rounds of the quest for the so-called ‘historical Jesus’ have only led to one sound conclusion: to depart from these earliest accounts is to create a god of self-projection, utterly devoid of knowledge of the only Jesus known to history.


  • soter phile

    for lack of a substantive reply, throw pejorative labels.

    and for someone who claimed above to have studied in the field, feigning ignorance on the meaning of apologetics is self-indicting.

  • soter phile

    claiming one’s metaphysical convictions are based on their setting is self-refuting.
    as I posted above:

    Suppose we concede that if I had been born of Muslim parents in Morocco rather than Christian parents in Michigan, my beliefs would be quite different. [But] the same goes for the pluralist…If the pluralist had been born in [Morocco] he probably wouldn’t be a pluralist. Does it follow that…his pluralist beliefs are produced in him by an unreliable belief-producing process?
    – Alvin Plantinga

    as for progressives comforting the dying, I am reminded of this old scene from ER (below).

    and Jesus doesn’t merely say ‘conservatives’ are bound for hellfire apart from him. He’s all too clear with Herodians, Sadducees, Samaritans – all people. Life is only found in the Author of Life – and Jesus makes clear there is no other author of life. There is no ‘peaceful’ severing of one’s connection from the Author of Life, no matter how much Zen or morphine one has in their system.


  • soter phile

    As I pointed out in our other conversations on the mystical – if Paul’s Damascus Road experience is your model, why reject all that (supposedly unnecessary!) doctrine he goes on to write after that? If you can’t hear from someone in your own camp, who can you hear from?

  • soter phile

    …said the projector.

    You won’t find universalism on Jesus’ lips.
    Compassion? yes. Hard teaching? yes. A call to all? yes.
    But no one in the Bible talks about judgment & hell more than Jesus.

    So who is wrong: you or Jesus?

  • soter phile

    1) 20% on each continent is not meant to be “impressive” (in the sense of ‘as if everyone agrees about Jesus’) – but rather demonstrates that Christianity rather uniquely transcends any one culture… something demonstrably unlike all the other major religions.

    2) God created free will – which was a good gift. We used it to render ourselves broken (Gen.3), but that is our fault, not his.

    3) as a result, we have severed our connection with the Author of Life. He is under no compulsion to do anything other than leave us to those results. The fact that he offers mercy despite our actions says incredible things about his character. Our sense of entitlement (as though he owes us something, or even owes all of humanity) only demonstrates how broken we are.

    4) no, the ‘game’ (a pejorative analogy) is not ‘believe just the right thing’. pretty amazingly, that is often not the case in the Bible. God’s people continually mess it up. Yet God keeps coming after us anyway.

    5) and – worthy of note – before any ‘rules’ are given (e.g., creation or 10 Commandments), God has already given the gift (e.g., benevolently created all of existence, rescued his people from slavery, etc.). no, the point is not the rules, other than the rules demonstrate his character. sin is not ‘breaking the rules’ as much as it is running back to slavery (Jn.8:34). And – to press your Kim Jong Un analogy above – that ironically makes humanity its own self-enslaving dictator. As CS Lewis put it: the gates of hell are locked from the inside.

  • soter phile

    So your version of parenting is “always say yes” even when the child runs into the road?
    Would it be unloving to yell “no!” or even tackle if necessary?

    Absolutely it is about a loving God. But ironically you have an unloving, self-projected god.
    What did it cost your God to love?

    It cost Jesus on the cross. It cost him to love.
    And he said Yes & No to us.

    ‘no’ to what we are doing that is self-enslaving (Jn.8:34) & killing us (Rom.6:23)
    ‘yes’ that he is willing to rescue us despite that… and change us as a result (2 Cor.5:21).
    that is not merely ‘unconditional’ (as if anything goes), but counter-conditional.

    it is not ‘infinitely loving’ to say “anything goes!” as anyone who has experienced injustice admits.
    a god of such universalism truly is a devil – and changes no one.
    as Jesus said: broad is the path down to hell…

  • soter phile

    a) such a high view of humanity (“eventually we’ll figure it out”) is not found in Scripture, nor does it match the empirical data (“to err is human!”).

    b) Neither is the notion that there are many opportunities remaining after death. if anything, the opposite is repeatedly said (e.g., Heb.9:27).

    c) freedom is the great idol of the West. quite ironic that the very things we call ‘freedom’ and often insist are our ‘rights’ are the very things Jesus calls enslavement (Jn.8:34). is it really that surprising that he points out apart from Him we can do nothing? (Jn.15:5)

    but again… that’s directly contrary to your thesis here.

  • Al Cruise

    No you are wrong. You cannot reconcile your doctrine as being the only way , and it’s subjectivity to be born in the right time and place in history. Your comments on this so far are just that, totally subjective and without any intellectual merit.

  • Michael Flaherty

    I appreciate your trying to clarify your beliefs. However, if there is a creator who consigns some of his creations to eternal conscious torment, even if they were never given the necessary information to avoid it, then that creator is evil. If all the conditions for this situation were created entirely by God (including what we can choose with our free will, where and when we were born, and what we are capable of understanding), it would necessarily mean that some people were created for hell. You can try to move the fault around, and dress it up with C.S. Lewis quotes, but my point remains.

  • Bones

    Lol, most of the population of Jerusalem was exiled after 70CE and yes they all knew about the Pool of Bethesda which does nothing to prove the book was written pre-70CE. Did they suddenly forget what Jerusalem was like? Did Caesar wipe away their memories? ‘John’ was after all a Christian Jew. We also know that Christian Jews weren’t kicked out of synagogues until the later first century.

    Of course you also have the allusion in John 2 and 11 of the destruction of the Temple which occurred in 70CE. Also the Sadduccees up and vanished in John which of course reflected life after the destruction of the Temple.

    Of course the foremost scholar on John the late Professor Raymond E Brown ascribed its dating to 90-110CE and gives a fascinating insight into John’s community.

    Jesus versus ‘The Jews’?
    In John’s Gospel, does the hostility between Jesus and ‘the Jews’ reflect an impassable divide–or just a family quarrel?

    The late Raymond E. Brown, a Catholic priest, is considered one of America’s premier biblical scholars. After his death in 1998, Francis J. Maloney edited Brown’s nearly-completed “Introduction to the Gospel of John,” from which this excerpt is drawn.

    “I have contended that a good part of the relations between Jesus and “the Jews” described in the Gospel (although related to conflicts that did arise between Jesus and Pharisees and Temple authorities in the late 20s) goes beyond what actually happened during Jesus’ lifetime. Rather, to a considerable degree the description reflects what happened to the Johannine Christians in their interactions with synagogue authorities. For example, they faced charges that they were making Jesus equal to God and thus were introducing another God alongside the God of Israel (see 5:16–18); they were put on trial before the authorities and other opponents in the synagogue; they marshaled arguments from the Scriptures and the Jesus tradition to answer the authorities; they were expelled from synagogues and reacted in alienated hostility toward their former coreligionists (ch. 9).

    Despite that community history, the Gospel gives us a literary presentation of the disputes with “the Jews” and makes those disputes the occasion of expounding a Christology for believers. John does not give an objective, dispassionate history of all the factors that entered the picture, especially on the part of the synagogue authorities. From the synagogue viewpoint, the treatment of the Johannine Christians may have looked very different.(56) The Gospel portrayal has been colored by Johannine dualism where there is only light and darkness, truth and falsehood, so that opponents are painted as blind and false. Surely there were sincere religious synagogue leaders who genuinely thought that what was said about Jesus was blasphemous (10:31–36) and thought they were acting against him and his followers out of conscience (as 16:2 surprisingly admits).
    Apologetic against Jews Who Did Not Confess Publicly Their Belief in Jesus

    By the time John was completed (ca. 90–110) the era of large Christian missionary inroads into Judaism has passed. Jesus had been preached to Jews both in Palestine and the Diaspora, and decisions had been made for or against Jesus. For the most part, the Jews who had accepted Jesus were now simply Christians and part of the church. If one agrees that the hostile attitude toward “the Jews” described above reflects pre-Gospel struggles, that is quite different from claiming that the purpose of the Gospel was to convert such “Jews,” or that it was a missionary document to Diaspora Jews.

    There is no indication that the Johannine writers thought that “the Jews” hostile to Jesus would read the Gospel or be preached to from it. Moreover, the violence of the language in ch. 8, comparing the Jews to the devil’s brood, is scarcely designed to convert the synagogue. Rather John echoes apologetics; indeed, some of the discussions between the Johannine Jesus and “the Jews” anticipate the classic apologetic that Justin addressed to Trypho in the mid-second century. If the Gospel entered into any continued dealings with “the Jews” in the evangelist’s time, it would have been one of countering Jewish propaganda rather than of persuading Jews with a hope of mass conversions.”

    Read more at https://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/2004/01/jesus-versus-the-jews.aspx#l40xwMe0P3uRBjej.99

    Too bad the nail in the coffin is that Nicodemus wouldn’t have known what being ‘born again’ meant.

    Especially when it was a Jewish teaching.

    “The proselyte who casts off the impurity of idolatry and turns to the God of life becomes a “new creature” (Gen. R. xxxix.; Soṭah 12b; compare Asenath, Prayer of). “He who turns away from uncircumcision and becomes a Jew is like one who turns away from the grave and requires cleansing,” was the maxim of the Hillelites (Pes. viii. 8). Hence arose the halakic rule that “a proselyte is like a new-born child whose family relations are no longer the same as before his conversion” (Yeb. 22a, 48b, 97b; Maimonides, “Yad,” Issure Biah, xiv. 11). It is therefore more than improbable that Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin (John vii. 50) and a leader in the synagogue (iii. 10), should not have understood the words of Jesus: “Except a man be born again he can not see the kingdom of God” (John iii. 3-10). On the contrary, this idea of a new birth and the term, “a new creature,” used by Paul (Gal. vi. 15; II Cor. v. 17; I Peter i. 3, 23; ii. 2; Clementine “Homilies,” xi. 26; “Recognitiones,” vi. 9; Barnabas xv. 7) with reference to Christian baptism, are directly borrowed from the rabbinical schools, as is also the expression, “Except ye be converted and become as little children ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. xviii. 3), which has the same meaning as the saying in John iii. 3 (compare Yer. Bik. iii. 65d; Midr. Sam. xvii. 1).”


    Either Nicodemus was an extremely dumb and stupid member of the Sanhedrin or it is not a historical event.

    Seems your propagandists have been found out to be just that.

    No wonder Christianity was a failure among the Jews.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Your inability to read anything and see what is actually there continues to surprise me.
    “Eventually we’ll figure it out” despite being in quotes does not appear in what I wrote and isn’t in fact what I said. I contend that we are all eventually saved because God continually works to save us and will eventually succeed, because he is God and is both infallible and has an infinity of time in which to do so. Without him we can do nothing indeed, but, fortunately, the Bible is quite clear that we are never without him and nothing can separate us from him, and says in many places all will turn to Christ and be saved.
    Hebrews 9:27 says nothing about what judgement after death will consist of, only that it occurs, something I agree with, as do most universalists. The issue (which you never seem to grasp) is whether anyone is sentenced to permanent punishment, rather than undergoing a process of being chastened and cleansed of their sin.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    My version of parenting is to stop the child when they run towards the busy road. It’s not to lock them up in a torture chamber forever because they have a habit of running toward roads. Eternal Hell and a loving God are mutually exclusive. Period. End of argument.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    What are you actually arguing? I’m not seeing a thesis or supporting arguments here, just some non sequiters.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    What are you talking about? Is it related to the discussion? Does it follow on from anything I’ve said, and if so, how?

  • soter phile

    I didn’t realize claiming that Paul was doctrinal was a thesis that needed defending.
    If Paul is the mystical Christian’s model for the Christian life, that’s a relevant fact.
    It directly undermines Fractal’s view that mysticism jettisons all such doctrine in favor of a experiential fideism.

    Note well: Paul clearly does not expect anyone else to have had that sort of experience – whether appealing to his uniquely apostolic credentials (since Christ appeared to him) or talking about being “called up to the third heaven” (2 Cor.12). And he certainly never says “if that hasn’t happened to you, well… you just won’t get it” – as you & fractal both continue to assert.

  • soter phile

    a) actually, the reference to the Pool of Bethesda is in the present – not past (i.e., “is” not “was”). that would be a rather germane thing to mention if written post-destruction.

    b) you assume these temple prophecies must have already been fulfilled – which is not what the text claims. you bring that bias to the text.

    c) you did not respond at all to the demonstrated statistics about the use of modifiers (video lecture) – which, while circumstantial, is a significant and direct problem for any claim of a late date.

    here is Daniel B Wallace on why the date should be early:

    There are a number of data which strongly suggest a date in the 60s, chief among them are the following.

    (1) The destruction of Jerusalem is not mentioned. This fits extremely well with a date before 66 CE.

    (2) The topographical accuracy of pre-70 Palestine argues that at least some of the material embedded in the gospel comes from before the Jewish War.

    (3) There is much primitive terminology used in this gospel. E.g., Jesus’ followers are called “disciples” in John, not apostles.

    (4) The conceptual and verbal parallels with Qumran argue strongly for an overtly Jewish document which fits well within the first century milieu.

    (5) The date of P52 at c. 100-150, coupled with the date of Papyrus Egerton 2 at about the same time—a document which employed both John and the synoptics—is almost inconceivable if John is to be dated in the 90s.34

    (6) John’s literary independence from and apparent lack of awareness of the synoptic gospels argue quite strongly for an early date. Indeed, this independence/ignorance argues that all the gospels were written within a relatively short period of time, with Matthew and Luke having the good fortune of seeing and using Mark in their composition.

    (7) Finally, there is a strong piece of internal evidence for an early date. In John 5:2 the author says that “there is in Jerusalem, by the sheep-gate, a pool (the one called Bethesda in Hebrew) which has five porticoes.” Without discussing all the interpretations possible for this verse suffice it to say that (a) the verb “is” (ἐστιν) cannot be a historical present, and (b) the pool was destroyed in 70 CE.35 By far the most plausible conclusion is that this gospel was written before 70 CE.

    In sum, we believe that a pre-70 date for the Fourth Gospel is the most probable one. Further, we believe that this gospel should be dated late in 65 or even in 66, for the following two reasons: (a) it is doubtful that it should be dated after 66, because otherwise the lack of an Olivet Discourse in which many of the prophecies were at that time coming true, is inexplicable; (b) the gospel should perhaps be dated after Peter’s death, as we shall see when we examine the purpose.

  • Bones

    a) no shit. Because the story is set in 30CE. None of it happened. John’s rewriting his war with the Jews into the Jesus narrative.
    b) They weren’t prophecies at all.
    They were merely describing past events. The events had already happened such as the Siege of Jerusalem.

    Do you really think the destruction of the temple was a judgement against the Jews?

    C). I see you avoided John’s discourse with Nicodemus.

    I’m not surprised.

    I’d ignore it if I was you too.

    It rips your argument to pieces and propagandists like Dan Wallace.

    No wonder Christianity failed amongst the Jews when it makes comments about them which aren’t true.

    John was a propaganda piece against Judaism (the world and the darkness).

    BTW this is the same Wallace who claimed to have found a first century copy of Mark.

    Well we knew he was bullshitting then and he can’t help himself.

    No honest biblical scholar dates John before 70ce and are unanimous in dating it in the late first century at the earliest.

    Of course Brown who spent his life studying John never resorted to lies and theatrics.

    And let’s look at Wallace’s ‘arguments’.

    (1). Except it does. See John 2:13-22 and 11:48.

    (2). Nope. Just proves the author knew Palestine.
    (3) which is what they are called in every gospel even those not accepted. Really is that an argument.

    Countering that is no mention of sadduccees who disappeared after the destruction of the temple.
    (4). The writer was a Christian Jew. I’ve already said that. Except his community was kicked out of the synagogue. How exactly does that prove an early dating?

    (5) p52 and Egerton are now being dated closer to 200ce and beyond. Does Wallace not know this?

    In this additional fragment a single use of a hooked apostrophe in between two consonants was observed, a practice that became standard in Greek punctuation at the beginning of the 3rd century; and this sufficed to revise the date of the Egerton manuscript. This study placed the manuscript to around the time of Bodmer Papyri {displaystyle {mathfrak {P}}} {mathfrak {P}}66, c. 200;[3] noting that Eric Turner had confirmed the paleographic dating of {displaystyle {mathfrak {P}}} {mathfrak {P}}66 as around 200 CE, citing use of the hooked apostrophe in that papyrus in support of this date.”

    (6). Actually theres quite a bit of scholarship on John’s dependence on Mark. Does Wallace just ignore that? The simple fact is John was writing for a different purpose.

    (7) which once again only goes to prove that the writer knew about it. Of course you would think that the writer, being a jew, would know that Jews knew about being born again?

    Just think all this time we’ve been told Jews never knew about being born again when it was a key teaching of Jewish proselytism.

    Wallace would probably ignore that too.

    So that’s it then.

    We’ll just ignore that Jesus and the disciples were never excluded from the synagogues but was a much later development.

    Also no other Jewish group referred to other Jews as ‘the Jews’ as a term by which they had separated themselves. Something happened in John’s Jewish community to consider non-Christian Jews as living in darkness and children of Satan – the enemy

    To sum up Wallace is an embarrassment when a lowly post grad can see his answers are shite.

  • Bones

    Since when do visions prove Doctrine? Sounds like something a Mormon would say.

    And yeah Doctrines and creeds solely exist to separate the wrong from the right.

    Because that’s what it’s all about.

  • Bones

    By reading them in context eg the context of first century Judaism.

  • Bones

    Soter pile’s loving God will torture you forever for that.

    And he’ll say its because its what you want.

  • Bones

    Jesus didn’t say that at all.

    I notice you completely ignore the parable of the prodigal son or the loving father.

    Have you ever noticed how your god and the god of the pharisees are exactly the same?

  • Bones

    It’s more a story to try to prove Paul’s credentials.

    And not many believed him.

  • Bones

    Once again Paul making shit up to prove his credentials.

    Where is this ‘third heaven’ he was called up to?

    Because Jews believed there were 10 heavens and paradise was in the third.


  • Bones

    Muslims are making claims as well.

    Guess what?

    You’re both wrong.

    Maybe one day you’ll step into the light.

    Do you still hate gay people?

  • Bones

    “So who is wrong: you or Jesus?”


  • Bones

    What a shame you can’t use your rational mind that God gave you.

    Instead you just accept any nonsense your Conservative masters tell you.

  • Bones

    Actually that’s not clear at all eg see Jesus’s discussions with Samaritans and pagans eg syro-phoenician woman

    He obviously wasn’t much of an evangelical that jesus.

  • Roach Scientist

    Would you elaborate?

  • Bones

    Much of the judgement and destruction referred to in the gospels was about the destruction of the temple in 70ce and god’s supposed judgement on the temple.

    In Jewish belief, Gehenna (hell) was also a temporary place only for the very evil who stayed in it for a year.

    Gehenna means Valley of Hinnom (outside Jerusalem) which was where it was believed one of the gates to the Underworld were. It was a terrible place in Jewish legend where child sacrifices were supposed to have been made.

    It’s quite a nice place now.

    The thing is this whole belief about hell chopped and changed as Jews added influences from controlling cultures eg babylon, Greece.

  • Roach Scientist

    But what about Revelation?

  • Bones

    Revelation is anti-Imperial Roman War literature. Nero is the Beast (666=Nero) and Imperial Rome is the harlot – Mystery Babylon, which rules the world.

    It calls for vengeance on the occupying Roman forces which destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. The great battle of armeggeddon is set there because the Roman army was based at Megiddo. As such it really has little meaning for us today even the symbolism of death and hell being thrown into the lake of fire.

    Death isn’t a thing. Its an absence of life. You can’t destroy it.

  • Roach Scientist

    Ok. Thanks.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    It’s more like Fractal and I were discussing the effects of taking the right turn at Waubamik instead of the Hurdville Road, and you suddenly pop up with “Hah! I’m in Sudbury!” without bothering to tell us how you got there or any of the stops in-between. Or that you were going to Sudbury instead of exploring back roads out of Parry Sound.

    It’s very confusing when you leave out all those intermediate steps, because we’re not privy to your personal journey from point A to point B. It may be perfectly obvious to you, but we’re not you, we didn’t take your journey, so we didn’t see the track you were following. Or where you were going, and you didn’t explain it.

    BTW, your final note IS pertinent: St. Paul does not expect that anyone else who has not had that kind of experience to understand the significance of it, so he does not use it for establishing his credentials or the correctness of his teachings(except when he sarcasticly points out that he could boast about more significant mystical revelations than Appolonius or the other bad teacher he was railing against did, but he wasn’t going to). Instead, he uses what I suspect is standard Talmudic reasoning and argument, with a lot of common sense (“Don’t act crazy at our gatherings, or outsiders will think we’re a bunch of nutjobs” and “Your babbling in tongues is not useful if you don’t translate it”) .

    …what does Disqus have against cut & paste? It always messes up my posts when I paste something in.

  • soter phile

    you’re both wrong. maybe one day you’ll step into the light.

    ironic how much you sound like the caricature you claim conservatives to be.
    exclusive. arrogantly self-assured. claiming sight you say others do not have.
    labeling others as self-righteous bigots… when the definition more aptly fits the labeler.

  • soter phile

    You can’t go on “seeing through” things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. To “see through” all things is the same as not to see.

    – CS Lewis

  • soter phile

    no, 3 heavens – as in atmospheric, space, & the transcendent existence of God (beyond material creation).

    it’s almost as if you forget Paul himself was a 1st century Jew, trained under Gamaliel, and writing other Jews (alongside Gentiles).

    never mind that he shared the same culture, setting & ethnicity – which you do not.
    but it’s a hallmark of modernists’ ethnocentrism to think they know better than the original hearers.

  • Bones

    Lol, now having a bit of a sook because the shoe’s on the other foot.

    Do you still hate gay people?

  • Bones

    Bahahaha….nice try but that is not the Jewish understanding of heavens. What you have done is read into it a modern western understanding of heaven which has been influenced by science (because heaven isn’t a real place – so has to be another dimension/spiritual place).

    The Jewish understanding of heaven is as follows:

    The Biblical authors pictured the earth as a flat disk floating in water, with the heavens above and the underworld below. The raqiya (firmament), a solid inverted bowl above the earth, coloured blue by the cosmic ocean, kept the waters above the earth from flooding the world. From about 300 BCE a newer Greek model largely replaced the idea of a three-tiered cosmos; the newer view saw the earth as a sphere at the centre of a set of seven concentric heavens, one for each visible planet plus the sun and moon, with the realm of God in an eighth and highest heaven, but although several Jewish works from this period have multiple heavens, as do some New Testament works, none has exactly the formal Greek system.

    Seven Heavens
    In the course of the 1st millennium CE Jewish scholars developed an elaborate system of Seven Heavens, named:

    1. Vilon (וִילוֹן) or Araphel (עֲרָפֶל) The first heaven, governed by Archangel Gabriel, is the closest of heavenly realms to the Earth; it is also considered the abode of Adam and Eve.
    2. Raqia (רָקִיעַ): The second heaven is dually controlled by Zachariel and Raphael. It was in this heaven that Moses, during his visit to Paradise, encountered the angel Nuriel who stood “300 parasangs high, with a retinue of 50 myriads of angels all fashioned out of water and fire”. Also, Raqia is considered the realm where the fallen angels are imprisoned and the planets fastened.
    3. Shehaqim (שְׁחָקִים, Shechaqim): The third heaven, under the leadership of Anahel, serves as the home of the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life; it is also the realm where manna, the holy food of angels, is produced. The Second Book of Enoch, meanwhile, states that both Paradise and hell are accommodated in Shehaqim with hell being located simply “on the northern side”. (cf soter pile’s modernist understanding)
    4. Maon (מִעוּן): The fourth heaven is ruled by the Archangel Michael, and according to Talmud Hagiga 12, it contains the heavenly Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Altar.
    5. Makon (מִכּוּן, Makhon): The fifth heaven is under the administration of Samael. It is also where the Ishim and the Song-Uttering Choirs reside.
    6. Zebul (זִבּוּל): The sixth heaven falls under the jurisdiction of Sachiel.
    7. Araboth (עֲרֵבוּת, Aravoth): The seventh heaven, under the leadership of Cassiel, is the holiest of the seven heavens because it houses the Throne of God attended by the Seven Archangels and serves as the realm in which God dwells; underneath the throne itself lies the abode of all unborn human souls. It is also considered the home of the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Hayyoth.

    These were real places above and around the Earth and represented Jewish cosmology. (Because ummm Paul was a Jew)

    Which makes me wonder who the modernist is here?

  • Bones

    “The one most people have heard is the one I mentioned before – the one about our being let off because Christ had volunteered to bear a punishment instead of us. Now on the face of it that is a very silly theory. If God was prepared to let us off, why on earth did He not do so? And what possible point could there be in punishing an innocent person instead?” Cs Lewis, Mere Christianity. P. 44

    “If people do not believe in permanent marriage, it is perhaps better that they should live together unmarried than that they should make vows they do not intend to keep. It is true that by living together without marriage they will be guilty (in Christian eyes) of fornication. But one fault is not mended by adding another: unchastity is not improved by adding perjury.” — Cs Lewis, Mere Christianity.. p. 83

    “…when the consequence is drawn that, since we are totally depraved, our idea of good is worth simply nothing… may thus turn Christianity into a form of devil worship.” CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain

    (“I disbelieve that doctrine”) because: (1) “If we were totally depraved we could not know ourselves to be depraved”; (2) “Experience shows that there is much goodness in human nature” CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p.66.

    “Naivety, error, contradiction, even (as in the cursing Psalms) wickedness are not removed. The total result is not ‘the Word of God’ in the sense that every passage, in itself, gives impeccable science or history. It carries the Word of God. CS Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms Pg 94”

    “I have the deepest respect for Pagan myths, still more for myths in the Holy Scriptures” CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, P.71

    ““I have therefore no difficulty accepting, say, the view of those scholars who tell us that the account of Creation in Genesis is derived from earlier Semitic stories which were Pagan and mythical.” ~ CS Lewis, Reflections On The Psalms, p.110”