Amazing Graciousness [How Sweet The Sound]

Amazing Graciousness [How Sweet The Sound] October 24, 2019
Image: Pixabay

Early Christians weren’t perfect. I know that.

For a long time I used to think they were, but the more I’ve read their writings the more I’ve realized not only their spiritual genius, but also their embarrassing tendency towards patriarchy, among other things.

Still, there is plenty we could learn from those early Christians.

For example, as I’ve been researching their beliefs about Hell I’ve come across a fascinating realization that I think most people overlook.

See, for the first 500 years of Church History, there were three distinct schools of theological thought on the topic of Hell: Eternal Torment, Annihilation and Universal Reconciliation.

However, even though there were three radically different perspectives on this topic floating around, the Church waited over 500 years to start dividing over this.

Along the way, these same Christians also got together on a few occasions to write down their mutually-held beliefs – the core of what Christianity [as they knew it] was all about.

These core statements of faith were called the Creeds, and to this day they are still the basis for what we can all agree on when it comes to Christianity.

However, what most Christians today do not realize is that those early Church councils that gathered together to assemble these Creeds were made up of Christians who all disagreed on the topic of Hell.

Not only that, these same councils were presided over by people like Gregory of Nyssa who was outspokenly on the side of Universal Reconciliation.

Think about that. Just imagine if Christians today got together to write down a set of doctrines they could all agree on. Do you think they’d all be ok inviting Christian Universalists to the table? What about allowing an outspoken Christian Universalist to lead the meeting?

Now, think about this for a second: Those early Christians not only gathered together without arguing over this doctrine of Hell – even though they all disagreed on this topic – they also left out any mention of Eternal Torment as a necessary belief for being a Christian.

Of course, that’s not surprising when you consider that many of those early councils were presided over by Universalists like Gregory of Nyssa. But do you know what IS surprising? The fact that those Christian Universalists were in the majority, and that they were in charge of those councils, and they never attempted to use that to their own advantage to shove their doctrine of Hell down anyone else’s throats.

Wow.

That really blesses me, and to be honest, it kind of makes me wish we could go back to that same attitude of amazing graciousness for one another today.

Wouldn’t it be great if we, like those early Christians, could see other Christians as our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ – even if they held a different view of Hell than we did?

I have to wonder why we can’t do this now. What is it that prevents us from agreeing that the Scriptures are not “clear” on this doctrine and allow everyone in the Body of Christ to make up their own minds about this issue without condemning them as heretics for holding a different view than our own?

[I know the answer to this, but I still have to ask the question].

Those early Christians weren’t perfect. They had their share of blind spots. But on this one point they were far ahead of us.

I wish we could love one another as they did.

I wish we could show grace to one another in the same way.

The truth is, we still can. There’s nothing holding us back except ourselves.

So, let us all stand. Let us turn to Hymn #144 and sing together: “Amazing Graciousness”

I recommend singing every last verse until we all know this song by heart.

Don’t you?

**

Keith’s next book, “Jesus Undefeated: Condemning the False Doctrine of Eternal Torment” releases Nov. 9, 2019 on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brad Jersak.

Are you an aspiring author? Keith is leading an Author’s Academy starting Nov. 4. Learn how to become a full-time author and crack the code for building your platform and marketing your books online. Details HERE.
Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife are returning to El Paso, TX after 25 years, as part of their next adventure.
 Keith’s Podcast: Heretic Happy Hour Podcast is on iTunes and Podbean. 

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TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Hell shall not perish…

    Except that that’s not what it says.

    Belief in Jesus is the core of being a Christian, not belief in Hell.

    The only reason why Hell has become a core ‘essential’ belief in the last few centuries is because without it, the main doctrines of the two main Western streams of Christianity (Calvinism and Arminianism) would fall apart.

    For more on this, take a look at Don Keathley’s ‘Hell’s Illusion’ series on YouTube. He goes in to this concept in the first episode. Well worth a look.

  • James Elliott

    “Just imagine if Christians today got together to write down a set of doctrines they could all agree on ” Then we wouldn’t have theologians or denominations. For that matter there probably wouldn’t be devotional expositions either. It might be what the prophet envisioned about all nations gathering and being instructed by the Lord himself? (I don’t have the specific reference right now.) The problem, I think is not that we have different beliefs (even about hell). The problem is that we too often don’t submit ourselves to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and acknowledge that Christ is greater than our beliefs.

  • Herm

    What am I missing here? Where is it written that Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God in any way physical? What does an eternal torture by fire look like from a spirit perspective? Exactly what does it take to enter the eternal Kingdom according to the one Instructor? … allegiance to any Creed, doctrine, ritual, theology or membership in any Christian church (established by a baptism of water)?

    God, my Father and my brother with all authority in heaven (eternal spirit existence) and on earth (temporal carnal existence) does not subscribe to any doctrine or Creed of Eternal Torment, Annihilation and Universal Reconciliation. If any of carnal Man is not filled with the Holy Spirit, as is Christ and the heavenly Father filled, they are not born again as spirit children of God. If their physical body ceases to exist, they cease to exist, no longer aware or influential with any other.

    I can fully witness, upon learning to hate all creeds, doctrines and theologies that demand allegiance to institutions dedicated to the study of God, I have learned more and more from the Spirit of truth to, in everything, do first to all others as I would have all others do to me, equally as I love myself.

    What I am reading here seems like an argument relative to an eternal physical future for children of mankind if they can’t abide in the Law and the Prophets, the true word of God, who is spirit. The Kingdom of God supporting all of God, including the Father’s children, is spirit. The Kingdoms of Man, divisively making life a hell on earth for too many, are carnal and all will pass away to be forgotten.

    If all of us were united by the filling of the one Teacher, wouldn’t we be discussing to grow from the perspective of an eternal spirit rather than physically oriented rewards and punishments? Not all professing Christians see, to know, to accept the Spirit of truth to live with and in them forever, including the ordained intellectual spiritual “teachers of the law”. Caiaphas treated the Holy of Holies as a church ritual and did not know to accept the Holy Spirit remaining with the Son of God in his midst.

  • Herm

    Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
    Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

  • Nimblewill

    What blows me completely away is that Calvinists and Arminians seem to come together on the issue of Hell alone. Yet they are incomplete contradiction of each other. Calvinists say that God could save everyone but doesn’t want to while Arminians say that God wants to but can’t. I am a closet universalist. I hope there are many more of us out there.

  • Nimblewill

    There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

    “If their physical body ceases to exist, they cease to exist, no longer aware or influential with any other.”

    Is Christ in every man, woman and child or is there an occasion to coax Him in? Is salvation something that takes place or something we become aware of? Christ in us is the hope of Glory. Christ is being formed in us.

  • Herm

    You have a hopeful, loving “nimble will” of your own, but according to the Messiah’s very own quoted words, “Christ is being formed in us” is not an option of our Father’s will.

    This is Jesus speaking only to his disciples (students),

    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

    Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

    Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

    Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

    “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

    Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

    Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

    “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

    “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

    “Come now; let us leave.

    John 14:1-31 (NIV2011)

    Mankind is not the eternally beloved pets of God. Mankind, in the primitive likeness of God, has choice and responsibility to that choice. The heavenly Father’s choice (will) is that no one of Man, who cannot in everything do to others as they would have others do to them, will live (aware and influential) eternally to make his Kingdom a living hell.

    Your thought is nice, and I wish Christ could be in all of us (children of Man), especially since I do truly love my enemies, who I can empathize with. But to do so all of God would have to take the responsibility to the consequences of our choices away and institute pet like obedience.

    “Is Christ in every man, woman and child or is there an occasion to coax Him in?”

    No, though a likeness of God has been graced the animal species of mankind (which is spirit awareness and influence), children of Man must bee born again with and in the Spirit to live as a child of God. Their choice if their heart and mind of spirit (the image of God who is spirit) chooses to see, to know, to accept the Spirit of truth to be with and in them, as the Spirit of truth is in all of God, united as one by the bond of all love for one another.