Don’t you just hate it when someone says you are deceived or dishonest about one thing or another simply because they believe they believe differently? A portion of the lot actually believes that their “convictions” have been gifted to them through revelation via the Holy Spirit. A problem with this way of thinking is that there are many who believe similarly, yet believe differently. What makes one person or another especially favored by God in order for him or her to have the Holy Spirit on his side rather than on hers?
This mindset has become a disease in the mindset of the modern-day church and could account for the apparent divisiveness of many denominations throughout the world. To some extent, every denomination presupposes that they have a monopoly on the truth. Otherwise, what would have been the point of their formation?
Granted, some denominations realize that they are not perfect and are open to the slim possibility that they could be mistaken as far as less important matters are concerned. Certainly, some believe that there should be room to disagree without looking down on or separating themselves from other Christians. Yet at the end of the day, Christian denominations are divisive; even though some of them meet once per calendar year, in neutral territory, to counteract the tension that is all too evident between them.
Even though denominations are divisive by nature, each of them have certain points of agreement—they coexist in the same religion, after all. Therefore, they make it a point to agree on the essential doctrines of the faith; although many attempt to include secondary doctrines with actual pillars of our religion. Certain secondary theological concepts are held so high that many would sooner question the actual pillars of the faith before they would dream of questioning these “sacred” concepts. Naturally, these concepts pertain to sensitive subjects and remain so because most Christians are totally unaware of how to discuss them civilly.
The concept of postmortem judgement is one of these subjects. Congregations across the world have been told that there is only one Christian understanding of hell. Anything that strays from what is currently the orthodox view is deemed heretical, which scares away potential dialog about alternate interpretations and prevalent presuppositions. Many are afraid of potential error in their theological framework because they have been taught that a Christian must believe correctly to be “right” with God. Is this so?
Certain doctrinal acknowledgements are undoubtedly necessary. Or, I should say “they prerequisite faith in Christ.” A Christian must believe that God exists, first and foremost. So too must we believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead. Otherwise, our faith is in vain. Obviously, a Christian must be a follower of Jesus. Many would scoff at the statement- “There is little more than this that is necessary for our right-standing before God.”
I would never claim that secondary doctrines are unimportant, even though some are more important than others. Each doctrine’s importance, in the eyes of the church, has fluctuated throughout the ages. A portion of the church may inadvertently undermine “non-negotiables”, which is precisely why we should test all things and allow iron to sharpen iron. If we fail to test any secondary doctrines that we hold dear to our hearts, we will inevitably set ourselves up for all kinds of problems down the road.
Sometime ago, I was promoting my book on Facebook by was sharing information about a giveaway that I was running, through Goodreads, with the following comment:
Presuppositional Apologetics leads to Calvinism or Christian Universalism. It has led me to the latter.
It wasn’t long before someone responded with the mindset mentioned above, as follows:
I seriously feel sorry for you. CU is evil and makes God unjust, and is not presuppositional.
I understand the second accusation because I once believed similiarly. Back then, I knew little about the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation (UR). Therefore, I equated to a paradigm I understood- Unitarian Universalism (UU). I could understand someone thinking that CU was evil if it paralleled UU. I could also understand someone thinking that it was unjust in regards to Christian worldview. Yet CU & UU are drastically dissimilar. Evangelical Christian Universalism does not disregard the concept of postmortem judgement; neither does it propose that everyone will go to heaven at the moment of their death. Therefore, to the surprise of many, it does not negate the necessity of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is wholly dependent on his life, Calvary, and the subsequent resurrection. It does not disregard faith as a requisite for reconciliation. In fact, it depends on and emphasizes the grace of God much more than alternate paradigms by rejecting certain prevalent presuppositions that are anything but clearly supported by any portion of the Bible.
One of the primary presuppositions that CU rejects is that God has drawn a line in the metaphysical sands of reality that places a boundary around his ability or willingness to reconcile the uncommitted upon the final beat of their hearts. It denies that salvation is impossible after the grave because the Bible never explicitly stated such a thing. Many claim that the burden of proof is on the Christian Universalist because “the Bible doesn’t say that anyone can be saved after they die.” Yet, they have just as much of a burden as we, if not more so, for reasons stated above. An argument from silence is not proof of anything for either side.
Nevertheless, the Bible is not completely silent on this topic. Given the decree that all things will be reconciled, restored, and renewed, the implication that postmortem salvation must be a possibility is all but explicitly stated.
The subtitle of my book: Hell in a Nutshell- The Mystery of His Will, contains treasures that are all but discovered by the masses. It is almost like the church had been re-burying this revelation for reasons about which I can only speculate. It may be due to church’s deification of orthodoxy, which is also mentioned in my book. I believe this is the primary reason certain schisms have been maintained since the Reformation.
In my book, I examine the Augustinian and Arminian framework as it relates to presuppositions regarding postmortem judgement. I don’t want to give too much away, but the gist of it pertains to their central point of disagreement and to a particular option that neither group has considered—one that could possibly resolve their age-long schism.
The vast majority of Christian denominations fall into one of two categories/paradigms- Augustinianism (Calvinism) or Arminianism. Few would dare to question their points of agreement. However, this may be where their resolution lies. Once it is discovered, the two will finally be allowed to absorb into one unbroken body. Only then will we, as a whole, be fully equipped to carry out our ministry of reconciliation.
It is about time that we cease the friendly fire and join hand-in-hand to preach Jesus Christ- the Savior of the Entire World.
Until then, we should keep in mind the standard we all should uphold:
In essentials- unity; in nonessentials- liberty; in all things– charity.