God’s Wrath vs. God’s Grace…….

The following is part 2 of a  series of posts which will subsequently be compiled as an In-Depth report here on RJsCorner came from my other blog RedLetterLiving.net.

If Grace is true“How can you believe that God’s grace isn’t sufficient, that many of God’s children will languish in hell forever, that they’ll never be restored to their Father, that evil will claim victory in so many lives? How can you believe that?”

Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-03-17). If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person

Some think the idea of universal salvation is a new thing but in reality it goes back to the founding fathers of the church. Origen and Gregory of Nyssa believed in the salvation of all people. But of course we know that the champions of God’s grace were often silenced by future theologians especially by those who followed King Constantine several hundred years later. Much like the old saying that “history is written by the victors”, much of Christian dogma was written by those who charged their opponents with heresy and got that claim to stick.

As I have mentioned before I am still wrestling with the idea of universal salvation. It is easy to show with pride how I am saved while so many are damned to hell for eternity.  Like the return of the prodigal son I don’t want to admit that some who have led totally broken lives will  somehow sit alongside me in God’s presence.

In the end I simply will not diminish God’s grace in order to sustain the belief of God’s wrath.  I want to finish the post with some final words from the book that took hold of me and shook me.

I insisted we were free to reject God’s grace. It never occurred to me that God might be free to reject our rejection.

Who is more powerful God or human will? I think I know the answer to that question….

Universal Salvation… If Grace Is True

Universal Salvation is not believed by many current Christian denominations but I became convinced to make it my worldview primarily by the book cited below. The following series of posts which will subsequently be compiled as an In-Depth report here on RJsCorner came from my other blog RedLetterLiving.net.

Gracae Book CoverI’ve never experienced a God of wrath. I’ve heard such a God preached. I’ve read of such a God. I’ve encountered wrathful people who claimed to be acting on God’s behalf. I’ve even allowed such sentiments to tarnish my view of God. Yet, in the midst of all these distortions, I never experienced a wrathful God.

The God I’ve experienced is the God of Jesus—a God of unlimited patience, infinite love, and eternal faithfulness. Jesus described a God who waits long through the night, with the light lit and the door open, confident his most defiant child will one day realize his love and turn toward home. Jesus revealed a God who loves the unlovable, touches the untouchable, and redeems those thought beyond redemption. He said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9). My earliest experiences were with the love of Jesus.

I want to start off this mini-serious around the book by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland entitled If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person with a quote from the beginning pages. Being I buy most of my books from Amazon I can review a few pages to decide whether I want to purchase the book.  When I read these words I knew this was a book I wanted to learn more from.

I must admit that most of my church experiences have not aligned with the assumption that God will eventually reconcile all souls back to him. Especially from my Protestant years, I was taught  that I was to fear a wrathful God who would send me to an eternity of pain and suffering if I didn’t do what the church leaders told me to do. I was told to fear the power and wrath of God or risk eternal damnation. I was told that God only viewed me as worth no more than a piece of snot but he loved me anyway.

I was told that all the bad things that have happened in my life was probably just God getting back at me for things I had done in my life. It was his retribution for not being perfect. But even with all this rhetoric about a vengeful God I, like the quote above,  can’t say that I have ever really experienced a God of wrath.  I have encountered wrathful people inside and outside the churches I have attended over the years. They insisted on telling me week after week that people like us, that is those who made a declaration of faith in the beliefs they espoused and attended their particular version of church were saved from God’s wrath but just about everyone else would not make the cut.

When I dared to go off on my own and study the words of Jesus without those fearful words being chanted in my ears I discovered a different God. Now I will admit that there are some words attributed to Jesus that I can’t yet understand (I will have to do another series on that topic) but the vast majority that I do presently understand is about a God of love. One who has an agape, that is unconditional and infinite, love for me and all those he created.  With this new view of God I am beginning to align with Mr. Gulley’s notion that God will save every person.  How he is going to do that is not up to me and my petty understanding of him.  I just know that he is an all powerful God and if he loves us as the Bible proclaims then he will eventually bring us all back to his fold.

Religion Does More Harm Than Good..

It is interesting to see another country where the majority thinks religion does more harm than good, especially since this one is our neighbor. I’m not sure what the statistics in Europe are but I suspect that they are similar to Canada’s.

More than half of Canadians believe religion causes more harm than good, a new poll has found. The survey by Ipsos found the proportion of people who held the belief had increased in recent years, from 44 per cent in 2011 to 51 per cent this year. Less than a quarter of people, or 24 per cent, believed that religious people made better citizens, down eight points from 2011, Global News reported.

Source: Majority of Canadians think religion does more harm than good | The Independent

canstockphoto17505783I have been brave enough to openly hold this position for about a dozen years now but was kind of surprised that so many believe as I do.  Before you start flaming I want to explain my feelings.  It is not that we shouldn’t be praising God for everything he created but instead about the versions of religion that have sprung up over the centuries trying to do that.

If you are a history enthusiast it is hard not to come to the conclusion that religion does more harm than good.  We see so many wars started around one person’s view of God vs another’s.  By far the majority of religions believe that their vision of God is the only true one. That belief is the foundation for the Sunni vs Shiite, Protestant vs Catholic, Lutherans vs Baptists (I could go on and on..) and even inside the splits within a particular belief.  Personally I know that WELS Lutherans think that ELSA Lutherans are just plain ungodly.

I have come to believe in what I call the Woody Guthrie view of religions and that is that we are ALL just part of one big soul. We are all searching for God and far too many of us just refuse to believe that it is that simple…

We are all in this together

 

Sunday’s Religion In America Series..

ISOA Banner  My intention going into the new RJsCorner was that I would use Sunday to sometimes post about things religious. With that in mind I thought I would start a new series about the founding of the U.S. by people escaping religious persecution in other countries. I probably have a couple of dozen of these type communities I have visited over the years of traveling across this country. This post will start us off on this direction.

canstockphoto18444062.jpgThese posts will probably be more about our country’s history than religious beliefs. They will highlight communities throughout the country that were started by groups of people  with a particular set of beliefs that oftentimes differed from sect they originally belonged to. So, it is hard to categorize them in one particular category. They will often be “Reports” in my journey In Search of America.

When most people, especially those from outside looking in, see Christianity they think of one homogeneous community with one set of religious beliefs. In reality that could not be further from the truth.  There are over 35,000 different versions of Christianity and that number is increasing year after year. There always seems to be reason for one segment of a sect to separate from another. To many, like Martin Luther, latch onto one particular sentence of the Bible and disregard much of the rest.

Of course my personal bias will show through in these reports. How can that be otherwise?  So, I want to tell you a little about my beliefs here. I currently do not call myself a “religious” person but I am an avid follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ.  To me it just seems that most, if not all, of the current religious denominations almost ignore Jesus’ teachings and instead fixate on some words invented by someone long after his death.

Closing this post, this will be an interesting series for me and I hope you will learn a few things from it.  In Search of America is a broad topic indeed and this is an important segment…

A Changing God…A God Who Loves Us All

I am certainly one of those whose idea of God has changed drastically during my lifetime. I started out as a kid in a Catholic school in the 1950s who was taught that only Catholics would go to heaven. It is certainly not that God is changing but instead it is my idea 2017-03-22_09-32-03.pngof what God is. I have gone from the beliefs of “Only Catholics” to one of Universal Salvation. I deem this change as progress, others more fundamental (stuck in their ways) will say it is heresy.

Looking at the ages, the concept of God has changed radically. He started out as something to be feared, who demanded blood offerings to keep his wrath at bay. Jealous, wrathful, impetuous, incendiary would be good descriptions of God at that stage. He was feared for his almighty power. At least in some circles, these traditional concepts of God are being laid to rest in favor of a more benevolent being.

When Christianity burst upon the scene via Jesus Christ much of the wrathful God was replaced by a loving and caring God who told us to love each other as He loved us. He told us much of what we believed was wrong. He used the phrase “You have heard it said, but I say to you..” Sadly, his messages are being muted to one degree or another by different versions of Christianity still today. But there are some, like one of my favorite religious authors, Philp Gulley, who have come to the conclusion that if God truly loves us all and wants all of us to be with him in eternity then he will somehow make that happen. I am now one of that fold for I think not believing that possibility is to take power away from an omnipotent deity.

love-god-in-sand-1314534-640x480.jpgEspecially in our day, many struggle to find meaning and tranquillity through spirituality. That, not established religions is what is growing today. According to an article in Christianity Today, one-fourth of young adults said that they wanted a break from religion; another 26 percent said church members seemed judgemental and hypocritical of others; 20 percent didn’t feel connected, and 15 per cent felt downright unwelcome. When you finally grab hold of the idea that God will reconcile all of us to him, all of this judgemental and hypocrisy flys out the window. You no longer need to separate yourself from those around you. You have finally reconciled that all of us are children of God and are to be loved. All of us.

I am convinced that someday in the future the world will finally see the goodness of all people and be at peace. I realize that this is a pious dream that is very distant from the original concept of Deity but I dream it none the less.