November 18, 2016

9am Plenary Wed 20 October 2010 Photo: Micah Chiang
Micah Chiang, Flickr Creative Commons

I’m all for charitable Christian disagreement between Christians of different expressions or traditions within Christianity. But Holey Moley, I’m starting to think that Calvinism probably shouldn’t be classified and grouped under the Christian umbrella.

I’ve also often wondered if John Piper really isn’t a Calvinist at all, but just trolling them to make their religion look so frighteningly horrific.

Case in point:

No, God doesn’t kill your children as a punishment for a parent struggling with porn. I mean, I can’t believe this even needs rebutting, but yes, this is actually something Piper recently said on a podcast.

On a recent episode of Ask Pastor John, a distraught father wrote in and asked about his wife’s recent miscarriage and his struggle with looking at pornography. Here’s what the man asked:

“Pastor John, did God cause, or would God cause, my wife to miscarry our child because I have a struggle with lust and pornography? I have a lot of guilt right now, and I don’t know how to think about God’s discipline and punishment for my sin. I’m very confused, please help.”

Piper’s answer was lengthy, and ultimately was, “I don’t know if God killed your baby because you looked at porn.” But the mere fact that Piper doesn’t know if his god would do something like this should be enough to reject his entire belief system.

While Piper claimed to not know for sure, he laid out the case that killing a baby because you looked at porn would not be outside of God’s character, who he claimed routinely kills people we love as a punishment to ourselves:

“May that discipline come in the form of harm, even death, to others that we love, as well as ourselves? And the answer is yes, it may…I would certainly say in my own life — now hear this carefully — I would certainly say in my own life, the most painful and humbling disciplining from the Lord has regularly been though the pain and suffering and sometimes death of those I love, rather than through any blows against my own body.”

Got that? The most painful type of punishment god dishes out is when he kills people you love. Piper also cited the views of Jonathan Edwards, and claimed that god will often punish a disobedient church by killing their pastor.

I mean, seriously? What type of god are we talking about here? This might be the angry volcano god who needs a virgin thrown in, but none of this describes Jesus.

Piper ultimately tells the grieving father that he just needs to stop wondering if god killed his kid over porn:

“So, what our friend must do in this confusion — he says, “I am confused.” Okay, so I am saying, what he must do in his confusion is stop fretting about whether his pornography was the direct cause of his miscarriage. He should stop fretting about that. He will never know for sure the answer to that question, short of some direct revelation. Whether he knew it was or wasn’t, the lesson remains the same…”

Piper reminds me of something I’ve long believed: the Calvinist doctrine of God is far closer to Islam than Christianity. In a Christian doctrine of God, God is restrained in what he can do– for example, he cannot lie, he cannot deny himself, etc. However, Islamic theology, it is believed Allah can do “whatever he wills” which is the same position of Calvinism– God can do whatever God wants, and we have no right to question the morality of any of these actions.

But this isn’t the traditional position of Christianity, and this is where Calvinism steps outside of our tradition and becomes closer to other religions.

Piper’s answer, as he has done on other questions such as genocide of entire people groups, reveals a fundamental flaw in Calvinism: that an all-loving God perfectly revealed in the life and character of Jesus can be the author of acts that would be unspeakably evil if done by any other agent who possessed morality and a conscience.

So, since Piper screwed up the question so badly, let me take a shot:

Grieving father: “Did God kill my baby because I struggle with lust and porn?”

Answer: Hell no. How totally depraved would someone have to be to kill an innocent baby over that? I mean, c’mon. That would be sick.


unafraid 300Dr. Benjamin L. Corey is a public theologian and cultural anthropologist who is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with graduate degrees in the fields of Theology and International Culture, and holds a doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the new book, Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, which is available wherever good books are sold. www.Unafraid-book.com.

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October 25, 2016

United States Supreme Court Building in Washington DC, USA.

What Franklin Graham Is Wrong About Today, Vol. 5

The election of 2016 is just a few weeks away (thank you, sweet baby Jesus).

Over the course of this election season, it has been interesting to watch the conservative Christian reaction to Donald Trump. What originally was a “hell no!” during the primary season, slowly became “he’s our only hope” in the general election.

I knew all along that the majority of the right-wing “never Trump” folks would eventually cave and find a reason to not only support him, but to do so unapologetically. With the help of folks like Franklin Graham, many of those who once plugged their noses over the idea of supporting someone they know in their heart is completely opposed to anything that remotely resembles Christianity, now have a reason to support him: the Supreme Court.

Graham has long been directing his followers to this issue more than any other. With several of the justices nearing retirement, the next president will likely appoint an above average number of individuals to the court, and the right is now seeing this as their great hope of advancing their cause. While they have spent years denouncing “activist judges,” they have now made exactly that a central justification for supporting Trump.

I mean, if we had a SCOTUS filled with justices largely appointed by Republicans, we wouldn’t have Roe v. Wade, right?

Wrong. In fact, the truth is the opposite: it was a majority Republican appointed SCOTUS that legalized abortion in the first place. The makeup of SCOTUS when Roe v. Wade was decided was as follows:

  • Harry A. Blackmun
  • William J. Brennan
  • Warren Earl Burger
  • William Orville Douglas
  • Thurgood Marshall
  • Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr.
  • Potter Stewart
  • William H. Rehnquist
  • Byron R. White

Only two justices voted against Roe v. Wade: Rehnquist and White. Rehnquist was a conservative appointed by Nixon, and White was appointed by Kennedy. So, what was the makeup of those justices who voted to legalize abortion?

Blackmun (R-Nixon)

Brennan (R-Eisenhower)

Burger (R-Nixon)

Douglas (D-Roosevelt)

Marshall (D-Johnson)

Powell (R-Nixon)

Stewart (R-Eisenhower)

One need not be a math major to calculate this one: 5 of the seven justices who made abortion legal in America were appointed by Republican presidents. Even in the time since Roe v Wade, we’ve had periods of Republican dominance of SCOTUS– at one point with 8 of the 9 justices were Republican! And yet, there have still been plenty of rulings that were objectionable to the right wing– including the upholding of Roe v. Wade.

So here’s my question: if legalized abortion was given to America by a Republican SCOTUS, and if it has been upheld by an almost unanimously Republican SCOTUS, why the heck is one of the major selling points of this election the idea that they’ll get more court picks so that they can finally overturn it?

 Seems silly to me.

Even more, it’s actually the hight of hypocrisy on multiple levels. Conservatives have long blasted liberals for relying on government policy and regulation to address issues (say, gun violence), arguing that it’s “hearts” we need to change instead of laws.  Further, they’ve decried the use of judges in the U.S process of law when they disagree with rulings (aka, “activist judges”). Yet, when it comes to this single issue, all the previous logic gets summarily dismissed.

Whereas the Bible teaches that we are to place no hope in elected leaders (Psalm 146:3), the religious right is doubling down on putting hope in a conservative SCOTUS in order to get what they want. And it’s a false hope, because a conservative SCOTUS is who gave them the very thing they hate.

Franklin Graham & Crew can try to convince you that having a Republican SCOTUS is the key to the future, but what they’re not telling you is the key they played in the past. Neither are they telling out how unpredictable a justice can be once they put on that robe.

By making vacant seats on SCOTUS the primary campaign issue without double checking how Republican appointed justices have ruled in the past, the joke just might be on them.


unafraid 300Dr. Benjamin L. Corey is a public theologian and cultural anthropologist who is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with graduate degrees in the fields of Theology and International Culture, and holds a doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the new book, Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, which is available wherever good books are sold. www.Unafraid-book.com.

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October 21, 2016

United States flag with Cross indicating God and Country

What Franklin Graham Is Wrong About Today, Vol. 4

Franklin Graham is known for saying controversial things, but the other day he said something that wasn’t very controversial at all. He said that God has blessed the United States of America more than any other nation on earth.

This concept isn’t unique to Graham– I’ve heard it said a thousand and one times in my life. The idea that America is somehow God’s favorite, that America is the place God has blessed more than anywhere else, is widely accepted in Americanized Christianity.

But here’s the question: Is it true?

I’ve noticed over the years that many of us seem content to repeat ideas and facts we’ve been taught from childhood, and that we believe and repeat them simply out of habit– something I call generational theology or generational beliefs. Somehow, few of us seem to be encouraged to ask the all important question of whether or not generational theology actually true before we believe and repeat it.

But has God blessed us more than anyone else? Are we somehow God’s favorite?

Surely, the United States has enjoyed great wealth and prosperity– but this alone is not evidence of God’s blessing. In fact, to associate blessing with material wealth is to completely miss the New Testament concept of blessing. Certainly, in the Old Testament blessing was often associated with prosperity, but in the New Testament, instead of wealth and prosperity, blessing has connotations more in line with a state of happiness and contentment that comes from living out the teachings of Jesus.

However, even if an abundance of wealth were part of God’s blessing, it is completely possible to have an abundance of wealth and not be blessed by God. Is a man who robs a bank and gets away with it blessed by God, or a thief who enjoys his ill-gotten gain in spite of how he acquired it?

Yes, the United States is wealthy, but it is wealthy for a good reason: since its inception, American wealth and prosperity has been at the expense of… well, everyone who’s not white. The nation was born on stolen land, genocide, and slavery– realities that directly relate to our prosperity as a nation. We cannot divorce our wealth from the genesis of it all– one that was rooted in rebellion against God instead of Christian living.

Thus, our prosperity has nothing to do with God’s blessing, unless God’s “blessing” for us is really, really, bad news for a whole lot of others.

So, what about the New Testament concept of blessing being related to happiness? Did God bless us in that department more than any other?

Certainly not– we’re not the happiest country in the world, by far. When happiness is measured, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Finland seem to come out on top. You know, those socialist hell-holes that everyone is fleeing in droves to come to the United States.

While both the OT and NT concepts of God’s blessing fail to describe America, the idea that God has “blessed America more than any other nation” really fails in light of the biblical truth that God doesn’t play favorites that way. In fact, it’s one of the major messages of the New Testament.

When Jesus came on the scene of world history, Israel had a long history of thinking they were the bees-knees when it came to God’s favorites. Jesus’ first public speech actually ended in an assassination attempt, and one of those reasons was because he hinted to the fact that God’s “favorites” would be the very people who rejected him and denied him honor.

Further along in his ministry, Jesus very specifically commands his followers to love and bless everyone equally. The reason Jesus gives for this is simple: because that’s what God does. In fact, Jesus drives home the point by using the analogy of rain, and points out that God causes the rain to fall on everyone, not just some people (Matthew 5:45). In Luke he points out that this is true even for people who hate God, and that we are to bless our enemies as an act of imitating God who is “kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35). It’s as if Jesus wants to make it abundantly clear that God blesses everyone.

Finally, and perhaps most pointedly, we find the early church in the New Testament finally embrace this idea that God has not blessed one group of people more than any others. To that point in time they had believed exactly that– God had blessed and accepted Israel, but that Gentiles were out. Peter had a dramatic experience that caused him to see how broken that sort of thinking was, and it led him to boldly proclaim, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism” (Acts 10:34). It’s actually one of the most beautiful transitions in Scripture, because it’s the point where the group mentality shifted from, “We’re the ones most blessed by God” to the realization that, “Oooooooh. I get it now. God receives and blesses them, too.”

To claim that God has blessed America more than any nation on earth is the height of arrogance and biblical illiteracy. Viewing one’s self, one’s people, or one’s nation as being more favored by God is a destructive and toxic belief– one that Jesus came to deliver us from.

Instead of thinking we’re the greatest because God blesses America more than everyone else, we are invited to have the experience of Peter in Acts.

We are invited to look at those around us and to realize, “Oooooooh. I get it now. God has blessed all of them, too.”

So, no. God doesn’t bless America more than any other nation on earth– and that’s what Franklin Graham is wrong about today.


unafraid 300Dr. Benjamin L. Corey is a public theologian and cultural anthropologist who is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with graduate degrees in the fields of Theology and International Culture, and holds a doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the new book, Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, which is available wherever good books are sold. www.Unafraid-book.com.

Keep up to date with BLC! Visit his NEW site!

September 28, 2016

lepage
Maine DOE, Flickr

So listen, America.

We, the people of Maine, have some wisdom to share with you. I’m sure some of you are unaware that we even exist– we basically live in Canada even though we’re technically one of the 50 states. We live quiet lives up here, and most of us tend to like it that way. We are home to brilliant fall foliage, the famous Maine lobster, moose crashes (got plenty of those), and a coastline that is among the most beautiful you will ever see.

We’re simple people who don’t boast of knowing much that the rest of the country doesn’t know, but we do have some unique knowledge and wisdom to pass onto the rest of you:

We already know what it’s like to have a President Trump, because we have a Governor LePage.

 One of the smartest things we can do in life (well, up here we’d say “wicked smahht”), is to learn from the mistakes of others. And Holey Moley, we’ve made a wicked big mistake. Twice.

After years of our quiet existence, we elected one of the only leaders who can be legitimately compared to Donald Trump. This unlikely Governor took control of our state after a failed attempt to step beyond the two-party system. While the attempt was valiant and noble, throwing votes to 3rd parties and independents ended up in LePage getting elected the first time with just 37.6% of the vote in what was a 5-way race, and won him re-election with just 48.2% of the vote the second time around.

And let us tell you, it’s been a wicked headache for us ever since.

Like would be the case with a President Trump, our Governor has been so busy tending to his chronic case of diarrhea of the mouth that he has been completely unable to govern the state. Not only has his governorship been functionally a disaster for our state, it’s made us a national embarrassment time and time again.

While we’d all like to just get back to being known for our lobster, the rest of the country would do well to learn from our mistake. Let me just briefly fill you in on some of the things we’ve been dealing with.

Like Donald Trump, Governor LePage is a white supremacist who is constantly dividing us along racial lines. The examples of his racist behavior are so numerous that it would be difficult to detail all of them in a single post, so here’s a few highlights of what America can look forward to if our experience is any predictor:

Governor LePage recently claimed that Maine’s drug problem is the fault of “black and brown” people who come into our state to sell drugs and “impregnate white girls.” When he held a news conference to convince people his comments were not racist, he actually said that black and brown people are “the enemy.” He went on to claim that he had a binder full of the photos of all the drug dealers arrested in Maine and that 90% were black or brown– yet, when the binder was turned over due to a Freedom of Information request, the truth the binder told was that the majority of drug-dealing arrests were actually white people.

What else? Let’s see…

Oh, there was the time he refused to participate in an MLK celebration, and when he was called out on it he told the NAACP to kiss his butt. There was the time he was speaking with high school children and told one of the kids that he wanted to kill the child’s father. Or the time when he said he wants President Obama to go to hell. Or the time he said we need to bring back the guillotine and have public executions… Or the time he warned that asylum seekers in Maine were bringing in the dangerous ziki-fly, even though no such thing exists. Or, who could forget the time he called up a state lawmaker and left him a threatening voicemail riddled with homophobic epithets, warning the lawmaker that “I am after you”?

And I’ll tell you what, America, these are just the first few examples that pop into my head as I write this. The reality of what we’ve been dealing with in Maine has been such a predictable and consuming part of the daily news cycle, that it’s earned our governor the title of “America’s Craziest Governor.”

Sure, you may think voting for someone who “says what they’re thinking” is cute and refreshing, but you’ll only think that if you’ve been living outside of Maine for the last few years. For us, it’s not cute or refreshing at all, but is a daily reminder that it’s all fun and interesting to watch a person like this on the television, but is far less amusing when they hold executive power.

Governor Paul LePage has been so busy creating controversies, leaving nasty voicemails, and threatening to kill people, that he lost all ability to govern long ago. He’s barely able to work with his own party, let alone work with Democrats. The functional reality is that we don’t have a governor at all– we just have a Trump-like controversy maker occupying the position, keeping Maine in the news for all the wrong reasons while refusing to step aside so that the business of government can continue.

Beyond the reality that Governor LePage is unable to govern, I can’t think of a single person in Maine who thinks someone with Paul Lepage’s temperament should have access to weapons of mass destruction, or have one of the world’s largest militaries at his disposal. If you’ve lived in Maine these past few years, you’ll know that such an idea defies all common sense. It doesn’t even matter who the opposition in the election is– anyone would be a safer choice than someone who lacks self control as both LePage and Trump do. And when I say “anyone” I actually mean, anyone.

If you want to know what the next 4-8 years would be like with a President Trump, just google “Paul LePage” and read a few things that come up. People with uncontrolled temperaments might be amusing to watch, but they are completely incapable of effectively leading– we tested the theory, and know how it all works out.

Trust us, America. This is a really, really, really bad idea that has no immediate solution… it could be a loooooooonnnnnggg 4-8 years.

I can appreciate that people might get tired of the status quo and long for change, but please, America, learn a lesson from the people of Maine. We’ve already tried the whole President Trump thing, and it’s an absolute disaster.

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August 16, 2016

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via Matt Johnson, flikr

Rumor has it that Donald Trump may be secretly looking for a way to exit the presidential election. His campaign seems to be imploding as more and more Republicans jump ship before the whole thing sinks.

Some are even wondering if Trump is trying to lose on purpose– a reasonable question in light of some of his behavior that makes absolutely no sense if he does in fact, want to win.

I haven’t given much credence to conspiracy theorists– they seem to rub me the wrong way between chants of “911 was an inside job” and posting pictures of chem trails. In this case however, it’s hard to imagine that he actually wants to win when considering some of the crazy things he says and does.

Trump’s behavior over the course of this past year has led him to become perhaps the most vilified person in the country. Our newsfeeds are full of negative stories that he alone is responsible for, often recounting offensive statements that leave one scratching their head as to what he was thinking.

If something doesn’t change, and change quickly, Trump will go down as one of the biggest losers of all time. Beyond his inevitable Michael Dukakis moment, his actions are already damaging his business as well. If you’re Donald Trump, the situation is not good.

However, I have a solution for Donald Trump. As critical as I have been of him, there is one way– one speech– that could turn Donald Trump from most hated man in America to an absolute legend in the halls of American history. He’d instantly go from villain to hero in my book, and gain millions of totally unsuspecting fans.

If you’re listening, Donald Trump, consider my advice– consider giving this speech– because millions of us would be here cheering you on, and would become fans for life:

“My fellow Americans,

I am before you today because all great journeys must eventually come to an end, and my bid to become the next President of the United States is officially ending today. This has been an amazing experience, and I will always be grateful for those who guided me along in what will forever be known as the biggest reality television event in the history of the United States.

You heard me right: What you just witnessed was the most epic reality television show ever. Long before I was a presidential candidate, I was a reality television star with one of the most popular reality shows ever. Today, I have proven that there will never be anyone who can come close to accomplishing what I have accomplished– my bid for the presidency created the most viewed reality television show in history, and I got every American to watch it with baited breath over what would happen next. More than that, this show was on every channel, every network, day in and day out. I got everyone to talk about it on social media. It was everywhere. It was truly amazing folks. No one has done this before. I’m still in awe with my success.

However, I did not do this as some self-serving publicity stunt. Yes, I proved I was the greatest reality show producer and star of all time, but that was all secondary to why I have spent the last two years of my life invested in this.

The truth is, I really care about the future of America. I really do. In fact, I don’t know that anyone cares more about it than me, because I went to greater lengths to illustrate America’s problems than anyone has ever gone. Ever. This reality show was specifically produced to highlight overlooked problems in America in a way that would be heard by all Americans, old and young. And I was brilliant in the way I accomplished this. That is why early on I named the show, Make America Great Again– it was a show about highlighting our problems, and making sure everyone watched.

First, I wanted to highlight something America’s founders worried about. One of the reasons our system is an Electoral College system and not a direct one-person-one-vote system, is in part because our founders feared that the average voter was actually too dumb to be trusted with a vote. In recent years there has been talk of doing away with this system, but I wanted to prove this would be a yuuuge mistake. The success of my fake candidacy shows that the fears of our founders were right.

In addition, I also wanted to expose the ignorance of the average voter in America because I truly believe we need a massive overhaul of the American education system. Listen, we’re way behind the rest of the world. We talk about how great we are but ignore all the actual data which shows that the education system in America sucks. My friends, we must elect leaders who will do the hard work to fix this. Trust me, I do want America to be great again, but there’s nothing great about our education system, and the fact that I was able to take control of an entire political party in a reality television stunt, proves it.

Next, I wanted to highlight the fact that America is no longer the home of the brave. There’s nothing brave about us. We’re so stinking scared of people who are different from us, that we’d actually consider building a huge, stupid wall along Texas, or sending starving refugees back to places where they’d be slaughtered. I mean, what the hell is wrong with us? America needs its bravery back, and the fact that millions of Americans allowed themselves to be frightened and controlled by a television star shows that we are in big trouble if we don’t address this quickly. Let me be clear: if we build a wall in Texas, the only wall we’d need to build would be one along the norther border. Seriously. I hate country music.

Then there’s the racism. I mean holy cow folks. America has such a big racism problem. The more my character said racist stuff, the more popular he got. And many of you didn’t realize the level of racism in America, so I paraded it before you and drew them all out of the woodwork. Before my character took the stage, people were less open about it, and so too many white people assumed that racism wasn’t a problem. I’ve always loved the bumper sticker that says, “protect free speech, because how else will we know who the assholes are?” and I wanted to accomplish that for racism in America. You can be ignorant no longer, folks– because you now know who all the racists are.

I also wanted to demonstrate that America is not invincible. We talk about how great we are, thinking that we’re God’s gift to the world or something, and think that our nation is somehow immune to societal implosions that have destroyed many great nations throughout world history. We are deeply vulnerable folks– I just demonstrated that it is totally plausible for an unhinged authoritarian with no self-control, no self-restraint, and no respect for others, to become President of the United States. Let that sink in people. America almost did the unthinkable– let this be a wakeup call moment. Had this not been a reality show, really bad things could have happened.

Finally, I invested my life into this reality show to demonstrate for the American people how stupid our two party system is. Why do we put up with this crap? There are 318 million people in the United States, and our two-party system put forward two of the most unlikable, untrustworthy people you could have picked out of 318 million! Folks, this is insane. I’ve sat back for years wondering why Americans so blindly accept being forced to pick between a turd sandwich on wheat, or a turd sandwich on rye. My candidacy and political success has demonstrated, once and for all, that it is time for us to reject a two-party system that forces us to eat a turd sandwich every four years. Seriously people, it’s time to change. I will never belong to either party again, and I hope others will have the courage to join me as we seek out new ideas, and a new kind of sandwich.

Yes, my bid to become President of the United States ends today. I consider it the most successful political campaign in the history of the United States, because I was able to highlight everything that is broken with America, and in desperate need of fixing. No other candidate has been successful in getting so many Americans from every way of life to engage these issues. No other candidate has exposed our fear, our racism, and our ignorance the way my campaign exposed. This has been successful beyond my wildest imagination.

No one has ever done what I have done. This was the greatest reality television show in history, and the entire goal was to make America great again by highlighting all those broken places inside of us that need to be addressed.

It was amazing, and I could not be more thrilled with how the show turned out.

Thank you all for watching– now go and do something about what this show taught you.

Oh, and one last thing, America: you’re welcome.”

So, Donald Trump: looking for a way out of this election? Looking for a way to not only avoid becoming known as the biggest loser of all time, but to actually exit the race as the greatest reality show producer of all time– one who will hold a place in American history that none other will ever share?

If that’s what you want, this is the speech to give.

(You’re welcome)

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August 12, 2016

2014-05-11 21.11.01

This blog was supposed to have a way cooler title.

I had longed for the day when I’d write this. I’ve had it written in my mind for about three years; it was originally to be called, “Our Family Just Grew by Four Feet!” and it was going to have a cute picture of four little feet.

And everyone on the Internet was going to say, “Congratulations, BLC! They are sooooo adorable!”

But that’s not the blog I’m writing today. What was supposed to be a fun announcement to the world has turned into a way for me to try to put some closure on this chapter of my life, and to begin a journey to someplace that hurts a little less. I’m not sure that’s possible, but I need to try.

So, here is our story… which ironically could better be titled, “Our Family Just Shrunk By Four Feet.”

A few years ago we decided to adopt again.

2014-05-07 15.15.43We had always known that adoption was our “thing” in life, but after spending a long season with our home converted into a would-be-hospital, after months of in-home therapy, attachment therapy, locking the knife drawer, gutting the house of potentially sharp objects, and a host of other things that unexpectedly became our life—including the pain of loss we had never really imagined– we weren’t sure what the future would hold anymore.

As we processed the painful loss and considered our future, we kept coming back to the belief that adoption was still part of our story.  We also realized we couldn’t let our painful experience derail us from the life we both knew we were called to live.

So, we began adopting again.

We told a handful of people in real life, but decided that we wouldn’t be public about our process. We needed some aspects of our life that weren’t windows that thousands of strangers could peer into on a daily basis.

We were nervous as we began the process, but quickly became excited. Unlike our first adoption, where we did not know the identity of our children until right before we went to Peru, this time we knew the faces and names of our children from the beginning.

We were adopting Gracia and Janella from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

IMG_1908

While we didn’t expect it, adopting again began to be a healing process for us. It was encouraging and brought hope into our home for the first time in as long as we could remember.

As soon as we had agreed to adopt the girls, things started quickly falling into place, in a process that seemed like it would go quickly. It felt totally unlike the 2+ years it took to adopt our first daughters.

We believed. We had hope. We internalized it. Our home was finally experiencing a rebirth after years of difficulty and sadness.

This time it would be different, or so we believed. With each photo we got of them, each update from the orphanage, our dreams for the future were once again full of beauty.

The actual adoption process flew by, and before we knew it, we had judgment from the court: we were now the parents of the girls.

But then, in the midst of our joy and optimism, the world collapsed— again.

And when I say collapsed, I mean everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

2014-05-09 14.23.16First, an official in the DRC ordered immigration to stop issuing exit letters to adopted children—preventing legally adopted children from leaving the country. This became a seeming never-ending crisis, which resulted in actions and advocacy from the US Congress, Secretary of State, and media outlets across the country. There were even some adopted children who died while waiting.

Then the orphanage the girls were in abruptly shut down, complicating things.

And then this or that would pop up as something that needed to be acquired or finished– adoptive parents know that there’s always a host of things the pop up at every stage of the journey, even when you think it’s complete.

Along with the 2+ years of waiting out the government shut-down, and normal adoption issues that crop up, things seemed to continue to spiral into a mess of complexity. Between communication challenges with all the players in the process, families who contributed to adoption corruption by smuggling their kids out of the country without giving two hoots that their illegal behavior would only serve to harm those of us who insist on completing adoptions legally and ethically– even if that means failure– having waited over two years to receive some final documents that never materialized, and a host of other complications, we have slowly come to accept that this journey is finally over.

International adoptions are incredibly complex- no matter where you adopt from or what agency you use. When things go bad, there’s not always someone to tell you that it’s officially over. Instead, parents in our cases are often left to figure out when the end is the end. Like a failed presidential candidate who eventually has to acknowledge on his or her own that there’s no longer a plausible path to achieving victory, parents are put in the difficult position of being the first to acknowledge that it’s over.

Lately we have struggled to accept that such a moment came for us, and time now dictates we face it.

IMG_1614aWe’ve been living in denial about it for a while (or maybe just living in silence) only to have the pain of our wound reopened as we’ve watched so many of the other children released from the Congo. Perhaps one of the most painful moments was watching a US newscast of some children who made it out… two of whom were wearing dresses we gave our daughters a few years ago.

I still remember the day we picked those dresses out and mailed them to the orphanage. I’m sure they’ll forever be burned in my mind.

Yes, we’ve been living in denial, but there’s no room left for living in denial anymore, no matter how painful it may be to finally acknowledge that there is not a viable path to completion. Even with the all the difficulties that Congolese adoptions presented, most of the families in our process were able to complete their adoptions. But that moment isn’t going to be happening for us.

Another dream is dead. It’s over.

We’re now entering another chapter of wrestling with what to do when you’re not going to get to watch your kids grow up. And by some sick twist of fate, it’s not the first time we’ve had to ask ourselves this question.

Even as I write this I am finding myself confronted by emotions I hadn’t given myself permission to feel yet. There’s just so much grieving that needs to be done. And honestly, I don’t know if I have the energy to grieve anymore. I’m seriously burned out on being sad, and am craving a vacation from life.

Unfortunately, grief doesn’t let you run away from it. It’s one of those relentless things that follows you wherever you go until you sit down at a table and look it in theimage1 face.

And face it I must. Not because I want to, but because it confronts me without mercy.

I’m realizing my next chapter in life involves some long talks with grief.

There’s the grieving that the adoption is over. It failed.

There’s the grieving over the fact that we adopted 4 children in our life, but will never be able to parent 3 of them the way we dreamed we would.

There’s been the grieving as we sold their beds, and packed up all the bins of clothes we picked out saying, “Oh, this will look so cute on them.”

There’s grieving that I’ll never again know Gracia’s giggle as I bounce her on my knee while saying, “Trot, trot, to Boston, trot, trot to Lynn, you better watch out or you’re gonna fall in!” or what it’s like to watch her go from stoic to slowly opening up and smiling bright after an hour of being held and loved.

There’s grieving that I’ll never again get to hear Janella talk to me a mile a minute in Lingala as if I know what she’s saying. That I’ll never again know what she’s like after eating a bag of my energy gummies thinking they were candy (ok, maybe it’s good that’s never going to happen again). That the last time I sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed her back while she slept, was the last. Or that I’ll never again wake up to her slapping two slices of bread and a package of tuna on my stomach, as if to say, “Wake up and make me a sandwich.”

There’s grieving this idea that I’d have a room spilling over with lots of kids and grandkids at Christmas in a few years, a scene that’s not going to happen.

Then there’s grieving for our daughter, Johanna, who so desperately wanted siblings to grow up with, but will not.

There’s grieving the reality that this was it— there are no more adoptions for us, and there are no possibilities of biological children anymore. It’s like hearing the director say, “And that’s a wrap folks!” when you’re like, “But wait, this wasn’t supposed to be the last scene.”

The raw truth is that after all we have been through since 2011, we just don’t have the emotional capacity to walk the adoption journey again. It’s not happening– our window of life for adopting new children or producing biological ones, is closed solid.

Beyond the emotional capital, we don’t have the money anyway. We have lived very, very simply. We’re still waiting to be homeowners. We’ve frequently sold what weScreen Shot 2016-08-12 at 10.38.22 AM could to make payments to adoption agencies, investigators, USCIS… and there is nothing left to sell anymore. There’s nothing left to give. The financial numbers in adoption are no small change, even if we did have the emotional capacity to risk ourselves again.

Since 2011, it feels as if we have given every drop of energy, focus, and money we had, toward the cause of adopting and raising children. We sold anything we didn’t use. If we didn’t absolutely need it, we went without. We became experts on ELL and disability law. We learned so much about IEPs that it feels like we often educate the educators. We know the ins and outs on everything from equine therapy, attachment therapy, to the limitations of traditional talk therapy. Adoption, and all that comes with raising older children with special needs, became our day-in-day-out life.

To use a sporting analogy, “We played hard, and we left it all on the field.”

I’m a person of many flaws and mistakes. Like a lot. And if there really is a hell, I’ll admit that I’m probably going there for good and just reasons.

But for all the shitty mistakes I made in life, I can say this with a clear conscience: I withheld nothing from God when it came to money, the command to care for orphans, or when he asked me to put my deepest dreams on the altar and walk away.

That part, I @%$&! did. 

And so, if hell is my final destination, this one part of me will go there with my head held high and my integrity intact.

We’re tired now. We’re burned out– both individually and collectively. We followed our calling with no regrets, yet our calling involved a level of loss and pain we didn’t quite budget for… and now we have to figure out what that means for the future, and how to navigate those uncharted waters. We’re pretty much on empty while being thrust into a new chapter in life.

We’re grieving another loss, and what the realities of all this loss means and represents for us as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.

And we’re just not sure where to go next.

We’ll have to answer the question, “What do you do when you’re not going to get to see your kids grow up?” Honestly, we hadn’t finished answering that question the first time, and I’m no closer to an answer than I was a few years ago.

A year ago I shared with you a moment I experienced while sitting atop Mt. Nebo where Moses died. In that moment I felt as if God was asking me to let go of some of my deepest dreams for life, and looking back, I suppose this was it.

And as hard as it sucks right now, I’m going to reflect upon the words of Jesus that I heard spoken to my heart that day: “Unless a grain falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 10.06.20 AMI don’t know what that fruit might or could be, but at this point, hope that God still brings life out of so much death is hope I must cling to– even when I’m not sure I believe it.

The anticipation and excitement of sharing “Our Family Just Grew by Four Feet” has now become grieving another loss, and there is no cool way to title the loss of those precious feet. 


unafraid 300Dr. Benjamin L. Corey is a public theologian and cultural anthropologist who is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with graduate degrees in the fields of Theology and International Culture, and holds a doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the new book, Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, which is available wherever good books are sold. www.Unafraid-book.com.

Keep up to date with BLC! Visit his NEW site!

August 2, 2016

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Courtesy Gage Skidmore, flikr

As I had expected, the #NeverTrump movement among evangelical Christians was short-lived. What was once a strong, “Hell no!” has slowly become a, “Well, we probably oughtta.”

Some prominent Christians have shifted dramatically between these two camps, with folks like Wayne Grudem now switching sides and arguing that voting for Trump is a “morally good choice.” Others, such as Bonhoeffer history revisionist, Eric Metaxas, have been on the Trump train early on. And then of course, there’s the folks in your Facebook feed who once thought Trump was inept and offensive, but now seem to think that the future of Christianity depends on whether or not he’s not elected president.

Honestly, I am not shocked at the evangelical flip-flop on Trump. Early on, I anticipated the #NeverTrump movement would last right up until the moment Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination, and that seems to be exactly what’s happening.

Those who are leading the charge are, of course, going to the Bible for support. As a Christian I wholeheartedly support this notion of turning to the Bible. Having two masters and a doctorate from solidly evangelical seminaries, I’ve spent enough time studying the Bible that I thought I would make a contribution in this effort to develop a solidly biblical case for supporting Donald Trump. It’s just the kinda thing I enjoy doing.

I have put considerable time and effort into compiling The Total and Complete Biblical Case for Supporting Donald Trump. I have sifted through every Old Testament and New Testament passage that could possibly apply. I’ve examined the Greek, I’ve gone to commentaries by respected scholars, and I have painstakingly compiled all of the biblical arguments and specific texts into one handy-dandy document.

I publish this Total and Complete Biblical Case for Supporting Donald Trump™ not to seek credit for myself. All the work involved was a labor for the Kingdom, and a desire to help educate my fellow Christians on these critical biblical passages and arguments. It was a labor of love.

My prayer is that my efforts will be used as a resource for Christian voters across this great land who want to ensure they know every possible biblical passage, and every valid biblical argument, that rationalizes their support of Donald Trump.

Feel free to print and post these Bible passages at your church, on the walls of your wedding cake business, post to Facebook, and of course, feel free to send this to that relative we all have. And you know exactly who I’m talking about. Yes, send it to them so they can be sure of which Bible passages specifically support their choice in Trump.

Anyone who is seeking biblical justification, need look no further.

Thus, without further introduction, I do present to you The Total and Complete Biblical Case for Supporting Donald Trump™ on the next page:

June 28, 2016

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(c) Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Donald Trump is a born again Christian– or so they say. And by they, I mean Focus on the Family’s Dr. James Dobson, who recently claimed that he had first-hand knowledge that Trump recently accepted Christ and that he was now a “baby Christian” in need of our prayers.

Of course, this demonstrates the amazing timing of the Holy Spirit and the wondrous ways in which God works. I mean, to become a born-again Christian right at the very moment when one needs the vote of the born-again Christian voting bloc? God certainly is mysterious!

Since folks like James Dobson are exhorting Christians such as myself to come around to Trump and begin to help, guide, and shape this “baby Christian”, I’ll do just that– because I happen to know a thing or two about being born-again. In fact, as a kid I was so scared of going to hell that I got reborn around 800 times before my 16th birthday.

As an adult with 8 years of seminary study behind me, and many years of being a Christian, I now see the idea of being born-again with more complexity than Trump may see at the moment. So, I’d love to help him understand what he’s committing to. Here are 10 things that Donald Trump probably doesn’t know about being born-again:

10. Your life should demonstrate a “before” and “after” that contrast each other.

At the heart of it all, it’s really this basic: being born again means something big in your life has changed, and that you’ve turned toward God. It is completely impossible to experience this and not live differently. If Donald Trump is truly born-again, the Trump of today will stand in strong contrast to the Trump of yesterday, because the former will be a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17).

9. Being born-again requires repentance and asking for forgiveness.

There’s certainly no way around this one that I’m aware: becoming born-again involves an element of being forgiven for our sins, and that means we have to be honest they exist and ask for forgiveness (1 John 1:9). However, Donald Trump has been rather forthright that he doesn’t believe he needs God’s forgiveness– so if he’s truly born-again now, we’ll see a far different stance on this than the old Donald had.

8. Becoming born-again is next to impossible if you’re rich, according to Jesus himself.

Honestly, I’m not sure how the Don got past this one, but Jesus said it was pretty much impossible for a rich person to become born-again. He famously said that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 9:24).

Many errantly teach that by needle, Jesus meant a gate where camels really struggled to pass and had to get on their bellies to do so, but there is no historical evidence that any such gate existed in first century Jerusalem. This interpretation is repeated because we are taught it, not because it is true or warranted.

Instead, it is far more likely Jesus was using an exaggerated metaphor. It is not possible for a camel to go through an eye of a needle, and it seems quite likely that Jesus believed the same thing about rich people and becoming born-again.

7. Being born-again means you’re dedicated to modeling your life after the example of Jesus.

The Bible says the ultimate proof that one is born-again is that they begin doing the things that Jesus did, and begin using the life of Jesus as the ultimate model for how we should live and love others (1 John 2:6). If Trump is truly born-again, we should expect to see him begin acting like Jesus, saying things like Jesus said, and loving people the way Jesus did.

6. Being born-again means you welcome immigrants.

In Matthew 25 Jesus warns that there will be many Christians who will face God’s judgment on the last day, and that they will be surprised when this happens. The reason Jesus gives is that they did not welcome immigrants, or care for the poor, among other neglected actions (Matthew 25:43). Thus, according to Jesus, if one does not welcome immigrants and care for the other oppressed groups mentioned in this passage, one is not truly born-again.

So will Donald Trump radically change his immigration stance? Will he nix plans for the wall? That’ll be a test to see if he’s really born-again.

5. Being born-again means one actively uses his or her resources to serve the poor and hungry.

Caring for the poor was important to Jesus– so important that he said Christians who don’t do this will face God’s wrath on judgment day, a fate for some Christians that Jesus describes as “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46). Thus, those who are truly born again-refrain from oppressing the poor and instead care for them, and advocate for them. In fact, later in the New Testament it’s argued that if one does not do this, the love of God is not in them (1 John 3:17).

Born-again? Great– we’ll soon see Trump busy caring and advocating for poor people.

4. Being born-again means you radically love your enemies.

In Matthew 5 Jesus says those who actually follow him are committed to nonviolent enemy love (v38-48). He even goes as far as to say that nonviolent enemy love is a requirement of being considered God’s children (v45) and that God’s Kingdom itself is nonviolent (John 18:36). He explains further in Luke that we are to live this way so as to mimic God, who Jesus claims is “kind to the wicked” (Luke 6:35). Thus, it is impossible to be born-again and not advocate that we love our enemies.

So, will Donald Trump reverse his positions on war, and torturing our enemies? Will he begin teaching Americans that we should find ways to love our enemies? Will he begin responding to his political enemies with love and kindness? If the answer is “no” than he wasn’t actually born again.

3. Being born-again means one rejects all forms of greed.

Greed is a desire for having more than one actually needs, and is one of the most frequently condemned sins throughout the Bible. In fact, Paul argues that it is impossible for greedy people (those who take more resources than what they actually need) to become born-again (1 Cor 6:10) or inherit God’s Kingdom. Thus, those who have been truly born-again carefully monitor themselves to refrain from hoarding wealth, or using/consuming more resources than what they actually need.

If Trump is born-again, we’ll expect to see him begin to give away much of his wealth to those who have less, and will see a Trump who lives far more simply and modestly.

2. Being born-again is evidenced by a deep humility that considers others more important than one’s self.

It is impossible to become born-again and not be humble. Paul says that salvation is not by works specifically so that no one can boast about it (Eph 2:9). He goes on to say we must be “completely humble and gentle” (Eph 4:3) and that our humility should be the kind where we view others as being greater and more important than ourselves (Phil 2:3). Furthermore, James argues that the mark of true wisdom is that one lives a life of good deeds, done in humility (James 3:13).

So is Donald Trump born again? If he is, you’ll see a drastic change in how he talks about himself in the coming days.

1. Being born-again means one rejects the need for political power.

Being born again is at the core, the beginning of a journey to be like Jesus. And what was the first test Jesus faced? The first test for Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness.

What did Satan offer him?

Political power, that’s what. (Matthew 4:8-8)

Turns out, the thing Donald Trump is trying to sell Christians in exchange for their vote, is the very thing Jesus rejected. This is an indictment against both the seller and the buyer– because the example of Christ is to reject this quest for the illusion of power.

So, did Donald Trump really become born-again, as James Dobson is claiming?

If he did, you’re going to see a radically different Donald Trump in the coming days; one that would be hardly recognizable, other than the hair of course.

 


unafraid 300Dr. Benjamin L. Corey is a public theologian and cultural anthropologist who is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with graduate degrees in the fields of Theology and International Culture, and holds a doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the new book, Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, which is available wherever good books are sold. www.Unafraid-book.com.

Keep up to date with BLC! Visit his NEW site!

June 21, 2016

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What happened in Orlando recently is certainly worthy of outrage and action. 49 people killed in cold blood, and many more lying in hospital beds wounded. Between the lives cut short, and the lives that will never be the same, Orlando should be a moment the nation does not soon forget.

Certainly tragedies, natural disasters, and acts of terror have a way of bringing the nation together—and this is good. Finding solidarity and common ground wherever it exists should always be celebrated. However, and I have to be honest—the conservative Christian response to the Orlando massacre has left me scratching my head at times.

In the wake of the massacre, folks like Franklin Graham have expressed both sympathy and outrage. In that sympathy and outrage however, it’s as if they have forgotten their own belief system and are using this as an “ahhahhh!” moment to point out the dangers of the Islamic religion.

For example, Franklin Graham correctly noted on Facebook that this was an attack specifically on the LGBTQ community. He went onto say that “Islam’s Koran spells out very clearly their hatred for gays, Christians, and Jews,” as if being anti-LGBTQ is something he finds repulsive as a conservative Christian.

And here’s where I honestly get confused as to where folks like Franklin feel they have the moral high ground or superior worldview when it comes to attitudes toward LGBTQ individuals. In the end, are the conservative Christian views held by these folks all that better? Does their flavor of Christianity offer a more beautiful alternative to the type of ideology the Orlando shooter may have held?

Sadly, no. And that’s what’s so odd about the conservative Christian response. Yes, they are correct to denounce the evil that led to such a horrific massacre. But no, they don’t have a moral or ideological alternative that gives them a moral high ground that’s perched high enough to pretend their religious views are all that better.

 Let’s break it down:

 (A) By affirming the traditional conservative evangelical view of inerrancy, one would also have to affirm that God himself instituted the death penalty for homosexuality in the Mosaic Law (or at least, male-male homosexuality).

(B) By affirming the traditional conservative evangelical view of salvation, one would also affirm that LGBTQ people are not saved and thus cannot go to heaven unless they repent of being LGBTQ (as if that were even possible).

(C) If one affirms the traditional conservative evangelical view of hell, one would also have to affirm that all of the Orlando shooting victims are being burned alive at this very moment, and that their torture in the flames of hell will continue unabated for all of eternity.

So here’s my question: how in the world does holding these three positions provide one the moral high ground to pretend such an ideology is significantly better than the one held by the Orlando shooter? How can one claim that God commanded execution for LGBTQ people, but then say, “Hey look! Muslims hate gay people. Just read their Koran and see for yourself!” while still keeping a straight face?

I’ll save you the trouble and just answer it for you: It doesn’t. And one can’t.

Sure, if one held these three beliefs (as Franklin Graham and crew do) there’s still plenty of room to decry the murder of innocent people. However, there is not room for pretending that their religious worldview is morally superior in respect to LGBTQ people.

And this makes the conservative Christian response curious at best, and a gross example of using a tragedy to play into their war against Muslims at worst.

I have seen some conservative Christians argue that the Orlando shooting presents a major problem for progressive Christians because we have been known for loving and accepting LGBTQ people as well as denouncing Islamophobia. They incorrectly believe that we must now choose between the LGBTQ community and speaking against the oppression of Muslims in our country.

But progressive Christians aren’t the one with the moral conundrum. The ethical problem is actually for our conservative brothers and sisters, who must now figure out how to hold a belief that God views LGBTQ people as worthy of death, while denouncing a particular Muslim who happened to agree with them.

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June 20, 2016

Heaven or Hell, Two Blue Road Sign with text Heaven and Hell with bright and stormy sky background

It’s no secret- I’ve been a little hard on my Calvinist friends over the years (well, I only have 2 so there’s that). I’ve critiqued some of the crazy things their leaders have said. I’ve pointed out why some of their core beliefs are utterly offensive to me.

What can I say? Calvin and I have a pretty contentious relationship, if you could really call it that.

But for all my criticism of Calvinism, and my open distain for the way Calvinism distorts the image of God found in Jesus, I must confess: I think I am slowly on the road to becoming a Calvinist. I’ve tried to ignore all the signs. I’ve tried to deny it to myself and pretend it wasn’t happening. I’ve, I’ve… ugh. I’ve resisted it, but I am slowly losing my grip on my previous beliefs about who God is and who God is not… and as I lose my grip, I find myself drifting towards being the biggest Calvinist you’ve ever met.

Let me explain:

At the core of being a Calvinist is the belief that God hand-picks the people who will ultimately go to heaven and spend eternity in a paradise, where all the pains of this world are healed with perfect love. Calvinists will often describe the points of their belief system using the word TULIP, and this idea that God picks who will go to heaven is the “U,” meaning “unconditional election.” Essentially, God in his sovereignty selects people to extend his love and grace and mercy toward– and this act is unconditional.

Of course, Calvinism must account for the need of human beings to respond to God’s love and invitation, which brings us to the “I” in their scenario: “irresistible grace.” This idea of irresistible grace is that when God calls someone, when he invites them to come and experience his love, it is ultimately irresistible. God’s love pursues them to the ends of the earth– until they can’t resist anymore, and end up embracing love.

This also brings us to the P: perseverance of the saints. This is the idea that those who are chosen by God, who in turn respond to his love, can never be lost– it is a permanent salvation that cannot be undone by any slip up on the part of the individual. Thus, one can rest secure in God’s love, knowing that nothing they could do would earn them rejection by God.

Calvinism would be one of the most beautiful religions in the world if it were premised on UIP, but as far as I know, UIP doesn’t really spell anything. Where things get disgusting is when we add in the T and the L: every person is totally depraved and that Jesus only died to save a few people– not the whole world. The beauty of being chosen by God, being loved with a grace that’s irresistible, and being secure in a love that will never reject, is lost when we add in depravity and limited atonement.

A God who would pick people for hell before they were even born, is no one worthy of honor and praise– such a deity would be a monster.

In 5-point Calvinism, the Gospel is really, really good news for the few people God chooses to love and save, but is absolutely horrible news for the people God chooses to burn in hell– people who have no option or choice in the matter, because God himself created them for the sole purpose of sending them to hell.

That version of Calvinism is quite sick.

But 3-point Calvinism? This is where I find myself drifting lately.

To the idea that yes, God chooses who he will save, who he will heal, and who will experience his wonderful love– but that maybe God is so loving he chooses everybody.

The idea that yes, God’s grace is so wonderful and beautiful that it cannot be resisted– and that God will extend that irresistible grace to everyone… even pursuing them throughout eternity, until every last one decides to embrace love, and to walk out of hell.

The idea that yes, those who God has chosen can never be lost– that he is unwilling that any should perish, but that every last person who has ever lived would one day, whether now or in eternity, come to repentance– turning toward his love and his healing.

The more I travel the world, the more I find myself invited into people’s stories, and the more I learn how to love, the more difficult time I have believing in a god who doesn’t ultimately get what he wants: that no one would perish, but that everyone would experience his love and healing.

And even while I’ve written extensively on the theology of evangelical conditionalism (annihilation), and believe in the strength of my arguments, my heart believes it less and less as I learn to love people more and more.

I could be wrong in my drift towards the position of Universal Redemption (the belief that Christ will ultimately save all). But honestly, these days I’m more concerned with being authentic and transparent about who I am, and the journey I’m on, than I am concerned with being right.

And so, I confess: I think I’m becoming a Calvinist. Sort of. I doubt any self-respecting Calvinist would have me– but I’m thinking maybe Calvin was partly onto something.

I think I’m starting to believe that a God who is perfect love must pick everyone. 

I’m starting to believe that perfect love would not fail– that everyone who experiences it would find healing, and embrace love back.

I’m starting to believe that maybe, just maybe, everyone experiences irresistible grace and that God’s love will never, ever reject anyone in the end.

Because that’s the kind of thing that would actually be “good news.”

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