The Arrogance of Evangelical Evangelism

Photo by Kristi McMurry David Platt, senior pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, teaches in chapel.

Photo by Kristi McMurry

This week a friend shared this video on her timeline. It features well-known pastor and author David Platt speaking about a recent preaching trip to India.

Though not at all unique in its content, falling in line with a fairly modern orthodox Evangelical worldview, the video succinctly sums up so much of what I and so many others resist in current Evangelical Christianity.

Platt seems to believe that “597 million people in Northern India will go to Hell” if he doesn’t convince them to say a magic prayer to get God to not be angry with them; that if he does nothing and they do nothing and a measurable decision for Jesus is not engineered, that they are all doomed to burn for eternity.

In other words, Platt in this way, has placed the forever destination of millions of souls squarely upon his and his brethren’s shoulders. (Yes, Jesus saves, but not without their help.)

At first the pastor confesses briefly questioning whether such an evaluation of the souls of complete strangers isn’t the very height of arrogance, but then assures himself and those working for him that not only is it not arrogant, but that silence itself would be the most prideful and unloving stance to take.

I wish he would have spent some more time assessing his initial concerns, because I think he was on to something.

We who claim Christianity need to take a good, hard look at a theology that is this confident of and comfortable with assessing the moral condition of masses of people with almost no understanding of their lives, other than they haven’t said the secret Sunday School word.

Yes, that’s what many of us learned in youth group, but do we really believe that this is the nature of God: that these hundreds of millions of Indians (and billions more around the world like them) are lost causes unless they appease God’s anger at them; an anger generated simply because they are objectionable to Him due to some sinfulness they inherited at their conception?

Is it our main confession of faith, that Sin is a birth defect that God allows and then holds against us, but can be persuaded otherwise if we only apologize for said birth defect? Is this really the best good news Platt and his tribe has for the world? More importantly, is this what we must agree to in order to be a card-carrying Christians in good standing? (I’m asking for a friend.)

If in fact (as he alleges) God has such contempt for the sin of the unsaved multitudes around the world, what kind of character does he ascribe to that God, who would put the onus of revealing this sole and specific Hell escape clause, on (largely white, male) preachers and pastors and evangelists?

If God so loves the world, isn’t God capable of speaking to that world without needing to pass words through our lips? Is God’s work on the planet and within people confined to what we deliver and sanction and allow? I sure hope not.

The arrogance in this Evangelical approach isn’t just that it allows flawed, failing men to speak exclusively for God (certainly somewhat arrogant in itself), but more so in the way it dispenses drive-by damnation upon the masses; how it claims to know in an instant and from a great distance, the moral condition of another human being, and to pass sentence accordingly. 

We can disagree upon and debate what Jesus did or didn’t say in the Scriptures, and about just what salvation is or how it works or is received. We can talk about whether or not the Sinner’s Prayer is actually Biblical or exactly what Jesus was inviting people to in the Gospel biographies when he said “Follow me.” We can go round and round about the Biblical arguments for and against the reality of a literal Hell or about the mysteries of the Afterlife.

We will and we should engage in all of these things, and yet if we do so without an unrelenting humility that questions itself again and again, we are in danger of becoming God ourselves; of believing we alone have cracked the code, that we own the Truth and we’ve determined exactly how it is received and rejected.

I have no doubt in David Platt’s authenticity.

I believe he sincerely believes this to be the nature of God and that because of that, silence for him is the greatest cruelty. I don’t think he is conning anyone or pulling a fast one or selling snake oil, and I believe he is genuine in his fears that certain Hell is waiting for those in Northern India and elsewhere whom he doesn’t reach—I just do not agree with him.

More and more I can’t help but feel a gravitational pull away from the kind of rigid, self-assured religion Platt professes and practices.

I am pulled toward the belief that God is far bigger than any of us can contain or understand or describe.
I am pulled toward a humility that refuses to have all the answers at any given moment.
I am pulled toward a respect for humanity that acknowledges the inherent value and belovedness of all people individually.
I am pulled toward faith in a God who can speak anywhere and to anyone without needing a middleman—and without needing me.

And in all these things, I hope I am moving closer and closer to the very heart of God.

In these matters I don’t believe either silence or speech are patently arrogant, but practicing either without the belief that one could always be less than fully correct—is the height of arrogance.

 

 

 

 

222 thoughts on “The Arrogance of Evangelical Evangelism

    • If that were truly my idea of Jesus then I’d be glad not to be going to live eternally with such an asshole. Thanks but, no thanks.

      • Regarding the millions in India that worship demon deities, call themselves god, practice occult, perpetuate the caste system…. There is a way for them. The Word teaches…”The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”

        Unfortunately for those that arrogantly call themselves gods…”Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, either were they thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their fools hearts were darkened, professing themselves to be wise, the became fools.” ” And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts and creeping things.” “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves, who changed the TRUTH of GOD for a LIE, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed. “…etc. etc.

        One need only call on Him. There is always hope.

    • Really? I initially thought you were using this image to point out the absurdity of this this kind of theology. You don’t really believe this do you? How can a God who is Love toss a pile of people into a pit of fire and casually stand with his back to their suffering…. I do hope I have misinterpreted your comment that accompanies this image and you don’t really believe this.

      • I don’t make the rules “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” John 14:6

        “The Truth doesn’t change with your ability to stomach it.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

      • I don’t see added to that “and I will throw you in a pit of fire and ignore your suffering unless you believe this”

        So sorry that your belief in God is based on the fear of you being one of those people in the fire. I think that must make God very sad.

      • @wendyccameron God doesn’t toss anyone into hell, it is our own selves that have the choice to accept salvation or reject it. God made a way of escape through the cross, through His own Son, that’s the loving part of God everyone wants to know. It’s not the accepting of Jesus and his perfect life and example that most stumble over, it’s admitting to oneself that we are not up to God’s standard that trips most folks up. Some, if not most, can never hang themselves on the cross in order to let Jesus be on the throne. Admitting that you are a sinner is the first step towards salvation. Romans 3:23 says, For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. David Platt is correct in his assertion of man. It is not arrogance on the part of David Platt, but arrogance on the part of those that preach otherwise. Putting man above God is arrogance, and that is precisely what the author is doing here. Satan made the same mistake, don’t follow his lead.

        • Jesus said… no one comes to the father except through me…. which means He decides who enters His rest. I believe Jesus demonstrated his love for humanity and came to be with us so that no one should perish. What I see in modern evangelism is the arrogance of those who have already decided how someone should know God and who have the audacity to say who does or does not know God. But it’s not up to us.

          Did the criminal on the cross get a strict warning he was going to hell unless he repented right then and there. Was Jesus trying to save Him by quickly telling Him the gospel before He died? Rather it seems the criminal on the cross ‘knew’ who Jesus was. The moment He saw Him and heard His voice He knew Him. The sheep hear His voice.

          How did Paul preach Jesus crucified? That line is from 1 Corinthians 1. He was making a point about humility how Jesus died an insignificant death crushed by the powers that be, in weakness looking like a failure. Jesus seemed foolish because he did not raise his voice or strike back against his accusers. He accepted his sentence, accepted his fate without protest, even though it was unjust. He was a lamb knowingly led to slaughter. They mocked Jesus on the cross because he would not show his power and glory. Paul was preaching how, Jesus, in His weakness was able to reveal his strength of character and reveal his compassion, faithfulness, love and caring for mankind.

      • Edward, I have a very difficult time believing that God created billions of people, the vast majority of who will end up burning for eternity because they didn’t know/believe in Jesus. That God could care less about all the non-Christians who have acted more like Christ than some Christians just because they didn’t say the magic prayer and accept Jesus as their saviour. To me this isn’t putting humans above God, it is lowering God to human ways. It makes God very small and powerless….my God needs to be bigger than that.

      • @ wendyccameron

        It makes no difference (sin-wise) if you lower God below man or raise man above God, it’s all the same to God, pride and arrogance. What you may be failing to understand is that God, in His love for us, killed His only son, because of our sins. He did that so that we could have a relationship with Him that was not impeded by sin. God’s love is not what most people think it is. It is not God saying you are OK sin-wise just because he is all loving. Rather, He performed the loving act of killing His only Son so that you would recognize the seriousness of sin and to see just how much he wants you. His Son was killed as a possible substitute for your own sins. The price that God has put on sin is innocent blood. Remember the spotless lambs? Those were a symbol of Jesus and His spotless life that will be sacrificed in order to once and for all, pay for the sins of the world. The payment has been made. The question is, are you willing to accept it as it stands? Everything is on God’s terms, that is why it’s called the narrow way. There is only one way in which God wants you to come to Him. It is done that way for a specific purpose. It is to ensure that your view and subsequent worship of God is what is should be. There is no room for anything else, and rightly so.

        Wendy, it’s not that God cares less for those that reject Him. He still loves them. But remember what love really is. It is a sacrifice (not a feeling). A sacrifice is us giving something up for the betterment of someone else. The only thing we have to offer God that we own outright is our free will. If God made love mandatory our lives would be robotic in nature and cold and stoic. It wouldn’t be worth much at all.
        Those that do not love God in return despite what He has done, do not see what is at stake. That is not a function of what others do or say despite who they claim to follow. Ultimately, it is how the individual sees and chooses to interact with God. God leaves that decision up to the individual, but the consequences are left up to God in His sovereignty. Remember that hell was not made for man, but rather for Satan and his followers (Matthew 25:41). If God has no problem interring angles to hell, who He also created, then why do you have issue with Him interring man to hell as well? Remember, God didn’t just throw them into hell for nothing, they rebelled first of their own free will because they refused to see God for who He really is. If your mistake is the same as theirs, why should your reward be any different?

        • This has to be the most horrific, strange, complicated and confusing definition of love I have ever had the agony of trying to understand. How do we see things so differently? Let me guess: the devil has corrupted my mind.

      • I agree with you Carmenmelton. Edward, with respect, when I read your posts you sound as though you’ve just had a board meeting with God Almighty and he has given you exclusivity in conveying His message to us. Have you considered the possibility that what you are conveying is self-projection? I leave you with this further idea to consider: the epitome of arrogance is a belief that you are in possession of absolute truth. Have a great day!

      • Wow Edward, I appreciate you taking the time to respond but that is about the last thing I would call love. Love is accepting someone for who they are, the good and the bad, the things they do wrong and the things they do right, and then helping them to become the best they can be. What you describe is a God who says “I love you but only if you are exactly what I want you to be and if you aren’t I have no problem if you suffer for eternity” If that is the case, God set us up for failure, why give us free will? Oh right, he didn’t, we took it when we ate the fruit of knowledge. Well, if that is the case, God set us up. Why put one tree in the garden with specific instructions not to eat of it? Was his understanding of us, his creation, so limited that he didn’t know what would happen? (oh and for clarity, I do not believe that the garden of Eden is a literal story of the creation of this world).

        I also don’t believe in the substitionary theory (I think that is what it is called) of the death of Jesus. It makes no sense to me that such a powerful being as God would need a blood sacrifice to appease his anger at what he created. In my mind that makes God anything but love, love forgives without expectation of sacrifice on the part of the person being forgiven. Jesus didn’t demand the people he forgave do anything before he forgave them. Sometimes he forgave them without them even asking for forgiveness….if Jesus is the clearest most real example of how God IS…than the blood sacrifice makes no sense. Jesus sacrificing himself because he could not bare to hurt anyone even to save himself; that is what love is… And indeed it is a narrow road to walk always in Love…I don’t know of anyone who can actually do it. But that is the only way to truly honour and worship God….and that is what Jesus asks of us.

        • Beautifully said! I often wonder if the tale of the rich man trying to fit through the door being like trying to fit a camel through the eye of a needle can be stretched to portray a person rich in anger and hate who much unload himself of all that baggage before he can enter the kingdom of heaven, which I believe is, as Jesus said, ‘within you’. 🙂

      • Wendy, I appreciate your last post and the time you took to explain why you believe the way you do. I wish this forum was more open and lent itself better to the expression of thoughts and ideas more so than what it is.

        I can somewhat see where you are coming from in your definition/examples of God and his love for us. I was once there where you are now, or very closely so. I don’t agree with your statement “I love you but only if you are exactly what I want you to be and if you aren’t I have no problem if you suffer for eternity”. That’s not what I believe about God at all. I believe you very much misunderstood me. I believe that God loves us all unconditionally, period. But in order for us to love God back (and for God to know this to be a genuine love) it has to be our choice, hence our free will. But with this free will comes the crux of the problem, there has to be not one choice only, but two. We either choose God, or choose something else. Free will was there before Eve picked that fruit, she chose to go against God’s commands (along with Adam). With the option/necessity of two choices, there now has to be a consequence for NOT choosing God. Did God set us up for failure? No. Why not? Because in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had everything they needed to survive, without that fruit. It’s not like we only have one choice. To think so automatically sets one up for failure and then we can automatically blame God for that failure. That is not the case for us and that excuse will be thrown out by God himself as he knows all the situations he created. You will not be able to pull the wool over God’s eyes.

        As far as the blood sacrifice and why he requires it for sin, that only God himself can answer. I do know that with God, sin is a very serious matter. So much so that it requires blood, innocent blood. To figure out why would be to rely upon your own understanding and that would surely lead you to your own reasoning, and not God’s.

        1 Corinthians 1:17-21 says ” For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

        18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

        19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

        20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

        21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

        It may seem foolish to you on just why God did what he did the way he did it but that is God’s way and his decision to do so. Jesus didn’t sacrifice himself as an example for us. God sacrificed him for our sake. That’s REAL love there.

    • If Evangelicals are so narrow minded as to condemn millions of strangers to Hell then what kind of God do you worship? He must be one hell of a jackass.

    • But, who decides what the “narrow way” is, and is it exactly the same for everyone?

      God made each and every one of us unique and special, and therefore capable of giving and receiving Love, because you cannot love a generic person.

      So, we must each be walking our own journey through life. Therefore, while each of our paths may be narrow, they are also unique to us.

      If we all pursue the same path, then we are no longer unique, which means we are not special to God. And, pursuing such a path suggests that God cannot love us for who we are right now.

      • |But, who decides what the “narrow way” is, and is it exactly the same for everyone?|

        Jesus decides that for us in John 14 when he says “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. The only way to God is through the Son. No other options. Jesus is THE way to eternal life and to God. We definitely are all unique with different God-given talents, abilities, and quirks, but eternal life and salvation have never been about personality or individuality, but rather about faith, grace, mercy, wrath, and justice.

        • Tim, to say that Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” is an accurate quotation of scripture. (Or, at least it is an accurate quotation from one of many translations of the original late first or early second century Greek into English, which raises a whole set of issues in itself!)

          However, the real question is “what does that scripture mean”? To you, your understanding of that scripture is the only way to understand it, and that’s fine, because it is the only way that YOU understand it. But, you’re determination to force that understanding upon others is exactly the arrogance that John is talking about.

          And frankly, I spent around 20 years in Evangelical circles, hearing exactly the teaching as you just repeated back to me. It is not an invalid understanding, but as one explores the scriptures more deeply, and with an open mind, such an understanding of the Gospel raises questions and contradictions that are not resolvable unless one develops a more nuanced point of view, one that eventually leads to the revelation that the way “I” (meaning any individual) understands the Gospel is not the only possible way, and that in fact trying to limit the Gospel to a single and inflexible understanding is counter to the most basic principles of the faith; that we must always make allowances for our own ignorance and failings, for the infinitude of God, and for the working of God’s grace and love in each person on an individual basis.

          Given such a nuanced understanding of scripture, one comes to realize that attempting to force others to see the Gospel as “I” do is not what Jesus would have us do. Rather, we are called to lead others into developing a fuller understanding for themselves, which may well be an understanding that differs greatly from our own: the relationship is between them and God, not between them, us, and God. We have no right to bend their understanding to match our own, since our own unique understanding is based on our own unique relationship with God, not theirs. To insist that others believe exactly as we do is merely repeating the sins of many whom Jesus denounces in the Gospels.

          This is part of why I abandoned my former career to become a minister: not to tell others what God wants them to believe, but rather to help them to believe.

      • It does not matter whether the mass migration and the biblical stories are true. There is also nothing wrong with faith to fill in the missing pieces. What is objectionable is the failure to embrace the difference between “Truth/Facts” and “Faith.” Faith should always be accompanied by an “Open Mind” to alternative possibilities as the facts present themselves. We should all understand that “Faith” is there to fill in what cannot be known, not to substitute for the Truth, but to serve as a working basis for life until the Truth is finally provided to us.

        Here is why this is important. If one embraces “Faiths” = “Truth,” one ends up with a perspective that automatically conflicts with that of others who have different “Faiths” or “Beliefs.” Instead of being open to alternative possibilities, you end up with a closed mind, which makes assumptions that are totally dependent on that perspective and could be totally incorrect. Endless conflict ensues, none of which was the purpose of religion and faith. So, embrace your faith and believe. Those are fine human attributes. However, never forget that faith and beliefs are “Fillers” for what we do not understand, not what we do understand with certainty

        • Yes! As a wise person once told me, “Once you can prove something to be the Truth, Faith is no longer necessary.” Reputable scientists will change their claims upon finding new information while many religious communities will refuse to. That’s fine but their Faith does not necessarily = Truth. Belief doesn’t =Truth. I don’t have Faith that 2 plus 2 = 4. I know it to be a fact. I can’t prove I have a soul. For that I can only rely on Faith and Hope. For those things I cannot prove, it’s wrong for me to promote them as unequivocal Truth. I can say, “This I believe” but not, “This I can prove”.

    • Jesus didn’t just expand the circle, he erased the circle. His “way” is clear- love your neighbor. You follow him by following that way. Judging people in mass that we don’t know is not just drive-by damnation and arrogance, it’s also not following the way Jesus showed. The way to not have separation between us and God and us and our neighbor.

      • “He drew a circle that shut me out-
        Heretic , rebel, a thing to flout.
        But love and I had the wit to win:
        We drew a circle and took him In !

        From the poem ” Outwitted”
        ― Edwin Markham

    • No, Jesus did not say “Narrow minded is the way”! He did say, “Narrow is the way.” You might want to consult your Koina Greek translation for the meaning of this quote and dig a little deeper as to its actual meaning!

  1. Evangelism comes in many colours. Often it’s our actions rather than our words that mean more to people. Living a loving life ( as best I can) and being willing to share what faith has meant to me (when asked) is evangelism to me. That said, different people respond to different things. Some people come to faith by a run in with the bull horn guy on a street corner (I don’t get that personally but,,,) and others see a loving and unexpected gesture by a person of faith as an inspiration. God reaches people in all sorts or ways…not just through my lips!

  2. This reminds me of our “missionary impulse” as we sent missionaries to the Pacific forcing the native girls to cover up. I guess the good side was that virgins were no longer sacrificed to the gods of the volcano.

  3. I have been the victim of this “drive-by damnation” (love that term!) both as a Catholic, being judged at college as going to hell because ‘ALL Catholics are going to hell’ and as a non-Catholic because I’m not ‘Christian enough’ or the ‘Right Kind’ of Christian…whatever. The last straw was as I lay in a hospital bed on the cardiac ward and some Pentecostal nurse happened to witness my gay son give his boyfriend a peck on the cheek as they visited me. As soon as they left, (and I was at her mercy), she promptly informed me that my son was going to hell along with all the other gay people (wow, good thing she didn’t know he was also trans!). Imagine! She didn’t even know him….that he worked with autistic children, took care of his sick mother, and all the wonderful things about him that God knows. She took it upon herself to condemn him without even getting close enough to know what he smelled like for Pete’s sake. And we all do this so often about so many different things. I told her MY Jesus didn’t talk like that. And she informed me that the King James Bible is the only “True Bible”. I almost swallowed my tongue. I was so furious, laying there on my cardiac ward hospital bed. I reported her and she wasn’t allowed in my room anymore after that and half the pastoral staff of the hospital came up to apologize and minister to me during my stay. To this day I have a burning anger towards these kinds of folks who seem to have a BOLO for anyone they think isn’t ‘Christian enough’ and feel obligated to tell us so.

    • I am a transwoman. I have been called an abomination and a pedofile, a pervert, a D a hundred other things. What I am is a woman of faith, who believes her God created her for a purpose. I am on that path getting the education I need to be the tool of his purpose. I have enough no patients center with bigotry anymore. I have only one question for those who object to my existence : Am I hurting you in any way?

      • God did indeed make you as you are for a purpose. I understand transpeople as I are one, fully woman, fully man – but without the male part 🙂 Gender is in the mind/psyche. I didn’t fair well being 100% female not even in the “Church”. To become whole means to be balanced, 50/50 – a relationship with my other half. God gave me the eyes to see this, to see the damage I caused myself in not embracing my strength. Me, myself, and I are one.

      • @ Sabrina

        You ask a good question, “Am I hurting you in any way?” Here is the question you should be asking yourself; how am I hurting God? What if God whispered into your ear this phrase, “Why are you not being who I made you to be, to play the role that I set for you to play in My will and not your own?” To play a role other than what God assigned is disingenuous and only hurts you and not others. You wouldn’t go up to a painting that a master was starting on and throw our own brush strokes on it because you didn’t like it at that particular point. That would be very presumptuous and arrogant on your part. A painting is only finished when the master says it’s finished. We have to live in the uncertainty of what we don’t know through our faith. You have to understand where those who call you names are standing. I don’t condone their actions or words but put yourself in their shoes. They see your brush strokes over the ones that God has already started. We are all guilty of this in one way or another. To them it looks a mess and it is hard for them to understand what is what. Let God finish what he has started.

      • Hi Sabrina, thanks for posting your message; I’m sure you will help others. I am a gay Christian and on many occasions have been judged by other Christians who have very forthrightly told me that under no circumstances could I ever enter the kingdom of heaven. I have also been told that I have a deeply rooted psychological disorder which can be cured through therapy but that I choose not to be cured. I battled with the impact of these messages for many, many years of my life; I am now 51. Many years of sadness and depression and of believing that I wasn’t worthy of Christ’s love; this almost destroyed me. I don’t believe this any more, nor do I believe that the criteria for entering the kingdom of heaven can ever be deciphered through the application of human intellect on the Bible, however clever you are! Sabrina, I know God loves us and wants the best for us. My main message is this: we are called to love one another not to judge one another. We are called to look after one another, show compassion, respect and fellowship not discriminate, segregate and condemn. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt along my journey is that God’s love is immeasurable and we cannot fully grasp the immensity of it. I’ve also learnt that the human ego has a desire to control and seek power over others, and, unfortunately, this filters into the work of some religious leaders who use ego-based motives and intentions not Christian based ones to shepherd their flock. Sabrina, God loves us all without exception and is probably very troubled by the many human-made criteria which attempt to separate us from God. The most important aspect of Christianity, in my humble opinion, is being able to live out our day-to-day relationship with God in a real sense not in an intellectualised or ritualised way. God wants to get to know the real us and not the ‘us’ we think should come to God. God wants us to be open and honest about everything without reservation; there is no damnation in honesty, there is no damnation when we offer our hearts, mind, body, soul and spirit in their raw transparent and unadulterated wholeness. Anyone who tries to convince you that in order to be in the presence of God you must first fulfill a set of criteria is not speaking about Christianity but something else. For me having faith is about truly believing that God communicates with us in a real and personal way; yes God has personal messages for each and everyone of us! But, we are conditioned to believe (especially if you’ve had a religious upbringing) that only certain people deserve the privilege of this communication and that it is these same people who hold the key to God’s wisdom. Not true! It is through our day-to-day relationship with God that we can learn the most humbling and powerful teachings. God is real and out there waiting to hear from us. God is up-town, down-town, in your home, on holiday with you, in your car, in your sadness, grief and joy; everywhere! Once again, thank you for posting.

        • Hello. I can tell from how you write that you are a caring and thoughtful person. Sadly so many are hung up on their Biblical interpretations and their approaches are so dogmatic. But what is wrong is when they think they are doing God’s work by judging.
          I know what it is having experience Religious Trauma Syndrome for decades. I only know what Pulpit and People dictates and manipulation did to me. Thankfully I’m recovering well although it has taken years.

          As a family man with a lovely wife and grandchildren, I have no time for people approaching you in the way they have done.

          We are all on the same level irrespective of race, sexual orientation, faith.

          I went into Pentecostal ministry as a Pastor. I wasn’t thrown out. Sadly my mental health suffered after 40 years in that Group. My wise GP suggested I make a move away from it.

          Keep strong. Try to get out of your mind the dangerous fundamental christian approaches. They think they have the Truth. I thought that. Only what they think.

          Best wishes
          John Howell

      • To Edward- Your message is an example of what I describe as ‘ego-motivated faith’. Who are you to tell Sabrina (or anyone at that!) what they should or should not be hearing in their ear whether whispered or not! Your words are not compatible with Christ’s love.

      • Edward you are the kind of dirty little Christian who puts words in God’s mouth. Your kind are one of the major reason that I left the Church after 45 years. Grow up.

      • @ Sean

        Wow, sounds like I bruised your ego. I wasn’t even aiming at you. I normally try to leave my ego at home, it’s safer for everyone. You should try that as well. If my confidence in my beliefs have offended you, I’d like to apologize, but the cat’s already out of the bag.

        FYI…I was merely pointing out another point of view to another reader/responder, take it as you will.

      • @ Kit9

        So tell me, why did it take you 45 years to leave the church? Was it because you finally got tired of waiting for God to tell you what you wanted to hear or was it because you finally got tired of God telling you what you needed to hear? Just curious.

      • @ Edward

        Thank you for your response and advice. I’m more than happy to reflect on the possibility that my ego may have influenced me. Hope you have good day.

    • What a horrible experience. Drive by damnation is a selfish activity meant to make the “shooter” feel all righteous inside but with little regard to the victim. Speaking truth with love (and I’m not saying what she spoke was true but she felt it was) takes a caring relationship to truly be loving. I read once in a church bulletin, Pastor’s Corner, where the Pastor wrote about those in the church who feel it is their God given duty to correct everyone else. He said that if you don’t have a loving relationship with the person you are addressing then please just keep your mouth shut. There’s a lot of truth in that . Sorry this happened to you.

    • I dont like these lot either. I know their tricks, being raised in an abusive Apostolic Pentecostal situation. I resent people talking to me as if they know me and my past and how I had to struggle with just staying alive, anger issues and searching for god. They dont fecking know me and dont care; they only want to puff up their egos and thinking they’re ‘spreading the good news’.

      It isn’t good news for everyone; keep it to yourselves!

  4. Ugh, the picture above is so wrong. This you can believe but I believe in God’s Plan and His total sovereignty. We don’t know a fraction of what God does or who He is. No one living has “The Truth”, we only walk in the light we are given. If people would just reason through what they think they beleive they just might be surprised at what God shows them.

    • Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6

      If you see “ugh” when you see that image, that’s a reflection on you. Let out the “ugh” and embrace that which you find “wrong”.

      • A narrow, shallow, ignorant view. Jesus also commanded not to harass others because of their faith. What a selfish egotistical thing to post.

      • The problem with your quote from the Bible, is that you’ve limited the “how” you get to the Father through Jesus. Our God is big and great, we shouldn’t limit his methods by the limits of our knowledge and experiences.

  5. Thank you, Jon. This notion of ‘original sin’ as a ‘gift from God’ for which we must be punished without a secret formula invented by whites European males has always confounded me. Sadly, it is deeply embedded in our culture – not just the church, but in the culture – and is reinforced by those with little theological wisdom or humility but plenty of ego and driven by a need to save themselves by “saving” others.

    • I agree and often feel the acceptance of this kind of punishing, vengeful God is the creation of the worst of our human nature, so much of which we have overcome in abolishing slavery and promoting equal rights, etc. We still have a long way to go, but one day I hope our perception of a loving God will match the dignity and respect we give to each other, and vice versa. Apparently either God evolves, or we do. Anyone who pays any attention to anything in life knows which it is.

  6. Arrogance is unbearable and your revolt is the only way to deal with it.
    We all have a certain amount of arrogance, putting the world right, getting on our soapbox. Religious faith can be extreme arrogance.
    I’ve developed a method of dealing with the arrogant and used it successfully for many years on Jehova’s Witnesses. I talk to them about their lives , hopes and fears avoiding religious discussion. They are often happy to escape argument; they relax and we enjoy a chat no strings attached. In this process I’ve discovered my own humanity and theirs.

  7. To me, its the fear of a literal Hell that drives this style of evangelism. “Evangelism”, or telling someone about the Good News that Jesus taught about, is good, by every measure. Its when our “Good News” proclaims not the love of God, but the fear of God, that it ceases to be good news.

    For me, the Good News is not “we are destined for an eternal nightmare in a burning lake, unless we call on God to save us!”,

    No.

    Its more like……. “God has his hand constantly outstretched to each of us, calling to us, and welcoming us to His table, His house, and His family. God is saving us from the various hells we already live in, teaching us to live a new life, different from the life the world has taught us (sin), and offering true, abundant life.”

    Jesus was the invitation come in the flesh. The example of God’s love, in the flesh. We sinned into him all our violent and selfish sins, and he showed us God’s heart of loving forgiveness, grace, and mercy.

    Granted, when it comes to evangelism that is counting the number of “souls saved”, the “fear of hell” message is more effective at garnering a “confession of faith”. Perhaps that’s why so many people cling to it as the go-to style of evangelism.

    Remove hell from your theology, and you will be amazing freed to see a truly loving God.

    Submitted humbly, simply as a viewpoint that has helped me mature in my faith, and my love for God. As John wrote recently, I’m learning to admit I may be wrong (and, in fact, its very LIKELY I’m wrong), and learning to live and love others who think differently.

    Thanks for writing, John. Good stuff.

  8. I have been reading your posts for about 6 months. Smiling and giving you a silent wink after each post. But with this post, I felt moved to say thank you! A little background on myself. My mom was very religious, which as a child in the South, means that you go to church a lot. I loved church when I was younger, but as I got older and started to listen to the pastor’s sermons with an inquiring mind I began to realize that the sermons were often filled with exclusion, righteousness and at times a bit of hypocrisy. So when I began to ask questions, most were answered with additional scriptures verses or with “these things you just have to take on faith.” Now, am I a super smart person? No, I’m not, but I needed better answer to questions I felt were important with more than an “oh, thats just what we believe, so you should believe it too.” Needless to say, I continued to get preached “at” rather than preached to. Once I left home for college and into early adulthood I decided I needed a break from organized religion. Then I had children and thought ok, maybe I should give this thing another shot. I wanted my kids to learn the Bible stories and all the great lessons about forgiveness and love that I learned as a child. I found a large non-denominational church (I grew up in a small rural methodist church) and gave it a spin. My kids loved it and the main pastor preached with an open minded attitude that was appealing. But, the main pastor doesn’t preach every Sunday, but I thought of course everyone had to follow the main pastors lead, right? Not so much. The last time I attended a church service the pastor taught a sermon that basically said there is only one way to get to heaven and thats “our” way. He even gave the reference that when you fly out of Atlanta there is only one way to fly and that’s Delta. I seriously started looking around the congregation to see if I was being punked. What about United, what about Southwest, what about JetBlue? I believe, that like your post says, no one should be condemned because they don’t believe exactly as I do! Because if that is the way it works – I don’t want to be part of something where exclusion is the only way to get to heaven. I wanted to end by saying – that when I read your posts, it gives me great hope that there are those who speak God’s words with not only an open heart but an open mind.

    • You say you needed better answers to questions you thought important. I have written a book that I believe gives a lot of those better answers. It gives biblical alternatives to the eternal conscious torment idea and focuses on God’s grace and love. I want to promote my book because I believe it is needed and will help people. It’s published by Amazon and Kindle, very inexpensive, and offered free periodically in the Kindle version. Learn about it online at Amazon Books. It’s titled “The Pardonable Sin–The Greatest Prophecy Never Heard” by Stanley C. Baldwin.

  9. To pastor Platt I would like to extend God’s infinite love, compassion, understanding and wisdom. And, offer what, to me, is one of the most powerful and cornerstone lessons from the Bible. However, before I quote, I would like to say that, ordinarily, I would never quote passages from the Bible as I genuinely believe this was not its intended purpose. Nevertheless, I think it may be appropriate on this occasion as it summarises a sentiment perfectly.

    “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

    You see you cannot fear and love Christ (God) simultaneously. so ANY preaching/teaching whether ‘evangelical’ or not, which intentionally evokes fear in order to usher someone to Christ is not compatible with Christ’s infinite unconditional love and compassion. A fear evoking sermon or teaching or preaching has its heart in human ego NOT in Christ’s unconditional love. The human ego here believes that it is on a par with God, essentially is God, and has the power to convert someone’s heart and bring them to accept something they have little or no connection with. With respect, this is ridiculous and is more of a human ego trip than grounded loving Christian fellowship.

  10. I have a friend who once told me “I came to Christianity through a fear of hell but I stay due to the message of love”. I have another friend who was brought up in a very fundy church and everyone’s mission was to bring new people to church on Sunday. She said the guy who brought in the most people each week was the bull horn guy who used to hang out on the sidewalks downtown and babble about hell. So who knows? We each respond to different calls so I try not to judge those who respond to different things than I do. I still cringe though when I hear the bull horn guys 🙂 I’m just happy that the denomination I belong to doesn’t hold bake sales or bazaars lol.

  11. I’m 54 with 30+ years under my belt as a believer. The longer I live, the more I realize our God is an incredibly big God, and I really know nothing in His presence other than that He loves me as I am. Your posts are challenging at times and I don’t necessarily mean that I find conviction within your words…but as I find myself challenged by whether I should unsubscribe or not, I realize I have not cornered the market on anything and I have so much to learn.

    I do have a suspicion though that the people who get to Heaven will blow my perceptions and expose my biases (as long as God’s grace gets me there).

  12. I’m a lapsed Catholic. But God damn it. I’m the most faithful lapsed Catholic of all time. My Jesus is a Hipster Jesus. He smokes weed and we’ll get a glass of wine together and party with Satan. http://atypical60.com/2015/08/23/my-interview-with-the-devil-josh-duggar-blames-satan-thats-what-he-said/
    Yeah. I’m down with both of these crazy guys. Personally, only the Supreme Being knows what it’s all about . I’m tired of this Evangelical shit. I’m tired of organized religion. I’m tired of Jesus in politics. Religious beliefs should be private. End. of. Story. That is end of story until I start my own church called “The Church of the Damned and Sinful”!

  13. I wonder sometimes if we are missing Jesus’ point when he said “I am the way, the truth and the light, nobody comes to the Father except by me.” Jesus had just told his friends that he would be leaving them but hey, it would be OK because they knew where he was going. They are afraid and confused and one of them responds that they have no idea where he is going so how could they possibly know the way. I wonder if Jesus’ response about his being the way, truth and light was not intended to be exclusionary but rather reassuring. Perhaps along the lines of “Hey guys, trust me. I may be leaving but I’m not asking you to find the way on your own. Stick with me and I guarantee that you won’t get lost.” C.S. Lewis once wrote to the effect that while Scripture says that there is no salvation outside of Jesus, it does not say that we must know him in order to be saved by him. I think that one of the most profound moments in the Book of Acts is when Simon Peter, who had been raised in a worldview that God only loved Jews, hears Cornelius (a Gentile and an officer in the army occupying Peter’s country) tell the story of how God’s angel had spoken to him. Peter’s response? “I see now that God has no favourites, but that in every nation the person who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him.” Note that Peter makes this statement BEFORE Cornelius and his household are baptized.

    • Yes, I also believe Jesus’ statement was not exclusive but inclusive. He wasn’t saying, you must “find me” to get to God, but that everyone on earth reaches God through the message and personage of Jesus (the Christ), whether they understand Him or not. He was talking about an ONTOLOGICAL truth, not a conditional one.

      • Sorry, I’m really trying here, but I think I’m looking at it from true beginners mind and your statements aren’t cohesive at all for, yet somehow they seem to contradict the message I thought I knew. Are you saying: 1) as long as we hear the message of Christ (that he came to save us) it doesn’t matter if we believe it or not? Or 2) it doesn’t matter if we hear it or not, we’re all saved? Or is it something else? I’m telling you, the language of Christianity to someone who isn’t easily swayed is so confusing. Every time I try to get clarity on what something means, I hear a different meaning. When I try to express what something means to me, I’m told it’s wrong. Somehow, only non Christians understand where I am coming from. This is deeply frustrating. Because in the process, so much opportunity for connection is lost.

      • First of all, Carmen, I’m sorry I caused you confusion. You are right that there are many different voices all clamoring that they have the “true interpretation” of scripture and everyone should listen to them. It is hard to know who has the truth, if anyone.

        Secondly, I should have said above that this is MY opinion on this scripture, and I don’t claim it as “the truth”. This is how it makes sense to ME right now. My opinion could change. My opinion of the truth of this passage does not change the ACTUAL truth of it as it was spoken by Jesus. I don’t know if we can actually EVER know what Jesus ACTUALLY meant until we can see Him and ask Him. All we can do is rely on the Spirit and come up with an explanation that meshes with the character of Jesus as we see Him on the cross.

        That being said, what I meant was, yes, I believe that ALL are saved. God saved us through Christ, and He didn’t and doesn’t need our “permission” or “decision” to do it. The key is AWARENESS. I can be saved, but if I am not AWARE of it, it won’t do me any good. Once I realize my “saved” state and all the that entails, my life is radically changed. But MY believe didn’t change what God did or how God feels about me – conditional truth. All of that is ALREADY finished – an ontological truth.

        Jesus IS the way that God saved the world. Jesus is the truth about God that tells us who God REALLY is. Jesus is the life that we can also discover inside of us.

        My HOPE is that eventually everyone everywhere at SOME point (even after death) will realize their salvation “in Christ” and bow the knee in love to Him.

      • Thank you 5€Father for expanding on that. Your perspective of Jesus makes more sense to me than most. It doesn’t really change my own perspective, which is fine, but at least I can see where you are coming from, and I appreciate it.

        My hope is that people will come to realize the innate value of all life, and recognize the divine love within us all, regardless of who/what/where our belief comes from or where it might lead. I wonder if we are, in essence, hoping for the same thing, just using different words?

      • I’ve been following John’s blog for a year now and waiting for an opportunity to share. The comments on this article seem to be the perfect time.

        I was a worship Leader for 16 years, a Christian from what seems like birth. I, like many here, had unanswered questions to scripture and searched most of my life. The two big one’s were: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” and “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many (Christians) will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

        My pastor asked me to teach on Worship (I’m not a speaker, but a singer/musician), so I put together a sermon on what I believed worship was and went outside to practice to the trees (LOL). As I was saying something about God’s love – I had (if you will) a Road to Damascus experience back in 2007 (words cannot describe) that gave me a glimpse into God’s plan. Many crazy things happened after that experience that lead me to study Ancient Hebrew word meanings for two years, 6 hours a day, 5 days a week – along with piecing together all scripture that would contain a word (that may get translated 50 different ways) so to get a better understanding of that word (line upon line, precept upon precept stuff).

        Loooong Story short, my understanding today (and it could change tomorrow if God reveals something different) is His plan to save ALL of His creation, each in his own order. That’s Good News!!! I was blown away by how easy this was to understand through scripture. It’s all right there. Why didn’t I see it before. As time went by and more research, I came to understand what God meant when He talks about blinding people and opening others eyes (there’s a plan and it’s a mystery). Google; Spiritual Blindness to read all the scriptures. With that said, we should not get angry at people like, Pastor David Platt or the comments by Edward on this blog – because God has not given them eyes to see(YET). It’s not their fault. They love God as much as you and I. I can sincerely tell you, I was right there with them most of my life and have a family heritage back to Martin Luther that concreted into my perception the doctrine of eternal hell, but it didn’t bare real fruit: Peace that passes understanding, joy, love for EVERYBODY.

        During these last 9 years, I found out there were many who had this understanding and read all their books. But, there is one in particular that resonated with me and confirmed all that I had come to understand. He wrote in such a loving manner, not condemning anyone and answering through much scripture. If you have a heart to KNOW GOD (what Jesus said was the meaning of eternal life), then read this 250 page book. It is more like a bible study and is a FREE download on his site (Free speaks VOLUMES to me as the church has become a money making corporate entity with book/gift shops right in the foyer of big churches ringing up sales). The hard copy book costs money ($2) only to meet the publishing costs.

        Here is the book and website: “Hope Beyond Hell” by Gerry Beauchemin (www.Hopebeyondhell.net)
        This link will get you straight to the Free pdf book: http://www.hopebeyondhell.net/pdf/Hope_Beyond_Hell_Abridged.pdf

        Much love to all

        Lily

    • Yes, I very much believe we ARE. That’s partly what Jesus was speaking to. You called it “divine love”. I would label it “the Christ within”. Jesus called it “the way, truth and life”. A Buddhist would have another name for it. It’s the ontological truth of that divine nature that we innately have, but choose NOT to see until it is revealed to us by spiritual means. It unifies us all in love, allowing us to see and accept ourselves and love each other, regardless of the labels they use to describe it or the process of finding it.

  14. There is a place for realizing our sin and there are consequences for our actions. And it is God who will hold us accountable. We can get away with a lot with people but not with God. As Johnny Cash said ‘God’s Gonna Cut you Down’ because some people are doing bad things and they need to stop. However that is not everyone’s life. So if God views us as His children and God has made His mercy known then our focus should be telling the story of Jesus not threatening everyone with hell no matter who they are. It’s like throwing fear at everyone to see who it will stick to. It’s a childish way to spread the gospel. Something a toddler would understand. But humanity comprises all sorts of people who need more than punishment-avoidance and obedience. As Paul said “I all things to all people. “

    • I have become all thing to all people that I might win some. For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

      I like this verse in the Bible not because Paul’s message is saying we can win others to save them (because I think that is the work or the Holy Spirit) but because we can know others. We don’t have to stay inside a homogenized church. We can mingle with those different from ourselves. That they might see our hope and so we can hold on to people even if they never acknowledge Christ in this life, it doesn’t matter to me, I don’t care what people believe but I want to hold on to them, I want others to know no matter what their belief is I care about them. The door is always open and one day we will all be pleasently surprised by how great and good and loving God really is.

      • oh I apologize for taking up so much space but I wanted to add that the saddest thing I witnessed several times with these “bull horn stop you on the street” evangelist types is how they so easily brush people off who don’t respond to their rhetoric, how they are bullish towards those who are either atheist or have another faith or how they give up easily on those who express a dislike for being pestered. It’s not an effective way to spread the gospel because it turns more people off than I have ever seen them help and they are especially rude and obnoxious at gay pride parades.

  15. I’ve never been too fond of this David Platt guy…he always has a bit of a snarky and arrogant edge about him regardless of what he is preaching. Always coming across as if he’s saying “well ofcourse christianity the way we do it,…what else could possible be it?”

  16. in the blink of an eye while I write this, a thousand babies will have been born (some healthy, some stillborn, some deformed, in the most unseemly ways) and thousands of people will have breathed their last (some surrounded by loved ones, some alone and scared, and pitiful) and millions will have eaten and shat and pissed and copulated and dreamed and laughed and cried, sometimes in pain and despair.
    Joy and love and bliss and tenderness and unfathomable passion and ecstacy have bounced around the firmament along with suffering and despair and hatred and unmitigated evil.
    The utter arrogance of some religious types in pedicating on what with happen to all these human beings (souls if you will) with all their vibrancy in the after-life (if such a thing exists).
    Jesus’ message is for the living, let the dead bury their dead, do good while there is it is light. Heal the wounded bind up the broken hearted etc.
    Humility asks us gently to cover our mouths, sit in silence and ponder the mystery of our god however she/he/it may be revealed and experienced.
    Thanks John for reminding us of this.

  17. I find John’s blogs thought provoking. Sometimes I want to thank him other times I want to whack him up side the head. Today I am just confused. I was looking for any reference to Matt. 13 where Jesus says “Go and make disciples of all the world. Baptising them in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. I do not see arrogance in Pastor Platt . I see a desire to do as Jesus commands. Now if he owns his own Jet and demands a 5 star hotel room in order to do this then I see arrogance. Otherwise he is living in obedience. I’m not judging anyone on their relationship with Christ. But Jesus did give us the responsibility to introduce him to others.

    • did Jesus say go and scare the hell out of people, make them have nightmares, tell them horror stories, put them in an anxious state of cognitive dissonance, break their spirit and make sure they convert at all costs even if they are not fully convinced ?

      • Jesus mentioned hell more times than he mentioned heaven. He did scare the *^%$ out of the Pharisees and all the religious hypocrites. If you actually believe what Jesus teaches about hell, it’s extremely frightening to imagine going there for eternity. Jesus says, it doesn’t matter your motivation for your faith. Fear is not a bad motivation. That’s the whole point! Fear of eternal life without God. Writhing agony for eternity. One thing he never did…break any one’s spirit. He gave spirit!

        • Sure there are warnings in the gospels (others may not agree with how you weigh the scripture ie In total, the word “hell” (hades and gehenna combined) is used about 10-12 times in all four gospels combined, and that’s it. Even when adding the teachings about the “outer darkness, fiery furnace, eternal fire prepared for the devil,” etc, it still isn’t even close. Christ speaks of the kingdom of heaven far more than he speaks about “hell.” )

          So if we put in perspective using fear it is the lowest common denominator for the lowest level thinkers.

          I spanked my child once when she was 8 mths old for turning the dials on the tv. It was dumb of me . I was blindly following what my church taught. She was only being curious. So I repented of that false teaching and raised my child protecting her from the words hell, sin and condemnation. Not spanking her but teaching her right from wrong. When she was old enough she read books and watched the news and I taught her about peace and love and cooperation between people. She turned out to be a considerate, compassionate, non-violent, critical thinker who is open and understanding to other points of view. I like that about her.

      • LgMarshall, does the goal of being with God not stand on its own merit? If we have to use the threat of hell to persuade people, and they only come to their belief out of fear, how can that belief be genuine? The same goes for the ultimate reward.

        I propose we throw out he notion of heaven and hell altogether. Then we’d know who really loves God. They’ll be the ones whose infinite compassion cannot be bought for an eternal price. More importantly, God would know. Except he already does.

      • Sorry, I have to laugh. I was a little evangelist even in elementary school. Was nearly expelled in the 3rd grade. My, I guess well-intended SBC preacher brother-in-law, decided I needed saving at 8 yrs of age. Being locked in a bedroom with a SBC preacher is no fun. Was more like an exorcism. Didn’t know what I had done so wrong or what I was repenting of… But I made up something! The next week I went to school and told half the kids they were all going to die and go to hell if they didn’t believe in Jesus AND their pets were going to hell anyway. Needless to say… I didn’t get invited to many birthday parties after that. But I didn’t give up! The next week I told my BFF Danny, who was Jewish, that he was going to die too. He punched me in the eye… Had a black eye for three weeks. My mom said, and words I live by to this day… “We respect each other’s differences”. And thank heaven for the UMC program… 6 yrs later I had such a sweet experience on a youth retreat with a wonderfully supportive youth minister. Letting go one oneself, the sum of fear, the cumulative shame, and need to figure out and understand… Releasing in trust to His love is such a precious experience. No… It is and never was intended to scare the hell out of someone. Appreciate your post.

      • Susan great story. Sounds like my daughter at that age. She wasn’t exactly instructed to condemn people to hell (at least not by her parents), but she pretty much made sure everyone knew that any minor infraction was worthy of it. She made herself and her classmates miserable. Now she has deconstructed all that and lives in freedom. She is a joy to all how know her. How the doctrine of hell have made us mean and judgmental. It’s time this old superstition finally die out.

    • And Jesus also said to leave people in peace. You aren’t supposed to harass someone because of their beliefs. Jesus (if he existed) was one heck of a wise, kind and socially advanced man. If only his followers were like him.

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  20. David Platt doesn’t believe in a sinner’s prayer. You probably should have made sure about that before attacking him and trying to make a point.

    • Fear Appeal – It’s a big red flag when someone tells us how ‘dangerous’ an idea is especially an idea that is non-threatening. They are spreading fear to unsuspecting people to get them on board with their agenda. The most insidious use of ‘fear effect’ happens when it is generalized and aimed at something which is non-threatening rather than at a real threat- thereby lowering a subject’s tolerance level so that they become unsure of how to distinguish between a real threat and something benign. Therefore they become reliant on an authority figure to tell them what they should fear. Why are people motivated to use fear effect? Is it harmful ? Is it ever helpful? Think about the disciples who came to Jesus and said there are people casting out demons in your name make them stop. and Jesus said “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after ward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward. Anyone who is for me is not against me.

      Good is good and we should be grateful to all people speaking well of Jesus and telling people the good news of His love for all.

  21. Kathy, you dont have to know you are on the way to be on it any more than you have to believe in gravity to fall over.

    Just because its in thw bible and reported as words of Jesus doenst mean it should be subject to a basic ‘So what?’ and sense check. There are many sayings of Jesus that were for specific people at specific times and some of the things he said could have been jokes or a cutting response to the individual. We just don’t know but, if we analyse scripture and dont see an understanding of God changing from Almighty, vengefulful remote deity to a loving heavenly father you are reading from the end to the start. The bible clearly shows revelation as to who God is and as to what church is and that it changes over time and it can only be right that our understanding should continue to change as our understanding of science and humanity changes.

    We can learn from the relatively modern evangelical teaching described in the article but there isnt really any excuse for being stuck there we can read or reason for ourselves. If we cant maybe work on that before preaching to others.

  22. Thanks, hopefully this is clearer

    Focus on particular passages may lead to misinterpretation of the whole. The bible (when read without focus on individual verses but in the context of the whole) clearly shows a progressive revelation as to: who God is as well as what church is. That revelation is ongoing and it changes over time. It can only be right that our understanding as to the nature of God and Church should continue to change as our understanding of science and humanity changes.

    We can learn from the relatively modern evangelical teaching described in the article re original sin and the need to evangelise but, there isnt really any excuse for being stuck there if we can read or reason for ourselves. If we cant maybe work on that before preaching to others.

    And as an additional thought:
    Disciples: – oh Wow Jesus, what do we do now?
    Jesus: – hey chill, enjoy hanging out with me, God loves you, you dont have to do anything
    Disciples:- yes but we need to do stuff.
    Jesus – just believe
    Disciples – yes but what do we do?
    Jesus – ok well, go and tell everyone the good news, to the very corners of the earth. Oh,and hurry up.
    Disciples – wow -where’s my coat?
    (disciples leave excitedly)
    Jesus smiles – then laughs.

    • Wonderful, Lindsay, I get it. I am still try to rid myself of a literal tradition which is deeply embed in my psyche. I know the Bible inside and out but thinking of it in terms of metaphors and a ‘revelation’ is fairly recent. I think I get glimpses of that. Most of what I write is a way to respond to what others are saying and in a way to get out what occurs to me and get some feedback or speak what is percolating in my mind and in my life as I experience it. (usually feedback is scarce so I appreciate your comment) Lastly that dialogue between Jesus and the disciples made me smile.

  23. Thanks, John, for a superb post. I especially appreciate where you said:
    “I am pulled toward a respect for humanity that acknowledges the inherent value and belovedness of all people individually.
    I am pulled toward faith in a God who can speak anywhere and to anyone without needing a middleman—and without needing me.”

    Amen. I’ve been trained as a chaplain. After almost ten years of chaplaincy work in the Chicago area, I wholeheartedly agree. People don’t need theological hair-splitting in an ICU ward or an emergency department. Instead, I can best serve by the ministry of presence, by accompanying them in their grief, anxiety, fear, and anger. Oh, yes–and praying, when I am asked.

  24. It’s easy to feel you don’t fit when you have been heavily involved with traditional church most of your life. Are you in the UK Kathy? There is a little Christian arts festival ‘Greenbelt’ which has been running for over 40 years now. I don’t go every year but whenever I do it feels like home, whereas church now feels quite alien. They have a varied line-up of artists, writers, thinkers and bands, not all of them Christian. I tend to come away with more questions but I like that.

    • Hey Lindsay, I was not involved in a fundamentalist church all my life. It was for about 8 years in my twenties. It was a very intense ‘cultish’ End Time prophecy kind of church. Many who left started a network to help each other get their stories out and provide support. I didn’t participate because I could not deal with the anxiety and dark mood it would put me in. In addition, for a long time, I thought I was the problem not the church. I stayed away from church participation for about 15 years before I considered going again. I tried a non-denominational church at first and have been to maybe 7 different denominations but can’t seem to get comfortable with an organized church service. So I guess I am not the best person to look at for an unbiased view of church and I probably said a lot of offensive things in the comment section in previous posts. Those thoughts are tainted by real experiences but obviously I need more perspective. I have found so many people commenting on this blog who have had similar experiences so that has been helpful. Perhaps people are afraid to say what they really think or they don’t understand. These days church for me is making dinner for friends, sharing some stories and listening to what’s going on in their life. We wrestle with questions about God, faith, and so on. 🙂 No I don’t live in the UK , the festival sounds very cool I will google it and check it out.

  25. Excellent essay. Pastor Pavlovitz covers the arrogance and absurdity of the evangelical view of the world: a world that needs saving because the evangelical’s god is so small and mean-spirited that he burdens every one of us from birth with a propensity to do wrong such that we’ll all end up suffering forever unless we say and believe some magic words. 

    • I learnt more about God and spirituality via science than any church. If it weren’t for chemistry and physics classes at uni, I’d probably be an atheist. I see god via Nature and the Universe. A being(s) which can create quasars and electrons makes more sense to me than a Bible, Qu’ran or Torah.

  26. Reading this essay and the comments that follow bring back a memory for me that I haven’t thought about in a lot of years. When I was in my early teens my Dad took me to an evangelical church. We weren’t evangelicals and went to another church. I believe he wanted to see a youth choir coming up from the U.S. That church service was the first time I really felt joy at being at church. I loved it! The choir was singing again that evening and I asked if I could return. Dad said sure. So I put on some nice clothes and walked 30 minutes or so to the church. That evening they had an alter call and I felt this urge to go to the front with the others who went forward. I was crying. As I knelt at the front someone came up and put their arm around my shoulders and told me to say “Lord, I’m a sinner”…that was it, I felt extremely uncomfortable and when they herded everyone who had come forward into the back room, I left and never came back. It was too much too soon. I was feeling something emotional and wonderful and then it was taken away in that one sentence. I just wasn’t ready for that stuff yet. I sometimes wonder how my life would have been different if another approach had of been used…like “God loves you” rather than “say Lord, I’m a sinner”. Who knows. I came back to faith nine years ago and am part of a loving evangelical fellowship and couldn’t be happier with what it adds to my life. I know I’m broken, a sinner but also a marvelous creation of God and I also know that it’s OK to be broken and that when I work with the spirit I can better myself…but I’m loved either way. 🙂

    • True! We are loved “either way”….God don’t make junk! God made sheep and He made goats…He loves them both! We know though that the sheep will go to His right and the goats to His left. A goat is stubborn, arrogant, pushy, etc. It’s the goat we have to learn to get under control…our ego, our anger, our pride, our selfishness. How do we learn to humble ourselves? Some need to learn the hard way; it’s how the light gets in.

      • Kathleen, so God made people as goats? ” A goat is stubborn, arrogant, pushy, etc. It’s the goat we have to learn to get under control…our ego, our anger, our pride, our selfishness.” So all of these negative traits are not junk or are they junk? are they from God or not? Seems a bizzare way to thin about people. This sounds wrong and illogical. The goats /sheep parable is better understood as a metaphor than a literal like for like reading, I think. Are you able to

          • oh so we are born sheep thereby readu for heaven at birth and approved by God. No need for the cross then why doesn’t God just scoop us up in our innocence. But that goes against the total depravity theory taught by some churches. So I guess you don’t subscribe to that brand of Christians thought. So how do we become goats then if we were born sheep? and how do we become a different species? how are we transformed from good to bad ? I thought the message of the gospel is taught that we are transformed from bad to good. Now I am totally confused.

              • okay you obviously cannot discern when someone is asking a sincere question brought on by mixed messages. The world is looking to Christians for something and we are coming up short on what they need.

              • Kathleen, I see this kind of dismissive casting people off behaviour from Christians all the time because they cannot go deeper with people. It’s disappointing

                • Oh I can go deeper and fly higher, but a logical mind cannot understand things of the spirit. The logical mind is a dis-ease that only the Holy Spirit can awaken in each of us. With hearing the tone of a person’s voice, seeing a person’s body language, knowing a person’s heart, I really cannot discern where you are coming from. This is truly between you and your Maker.

      • I’m neither a sheep nor a goat. I’m a human being with a brain and a heart. God(s) didn’t make us to live in fear of them! They didn’t make us sinfull. Original Sin is a lie! We have free choice: Good and order or evil and chaos.

  27. We are neither. Its the malady of being human. We have periods of assimilating to the world. We flow constantly from sheep to goat and back again. It is in our seeking Light that our best human effort is displayed. I can baa and butt within minutes apart. He shows the way always… I have to open my heart and let that light in.

  28. If you’ll forgive me. I was interested in y’alls discussion. Didn’t mean “butt” in. I’m at work but I will check in. I respect your comments greatly. Very thoughtful. Peace.

      • After following your comments all I can gather is that you’re an enigma. And, generally I prefer to stay on His side of the Mystery. My own understanding fails me. I do what I do not want to do…. but there’s hope for me today bc I haven’t butted anyone yet. Lol…

      • 🙂 have you met a born again drug addict ? A born again schizophrenic? Is there such a thing as a born again atheist? When Richard Dawkins conceded there could be intelligent design he rejected the idea of the Christian God or gods of every man made religion however he left the door open to intelligent life beyond earth. It’s as if he understands there is a God but does not see the one described by religion – much like the statue of the unknown god Paul saw in Athens. Perhaps for some people they know there is an intelligent power but they don’t accept the God limited by religious rhetoric.

  29. I’ll accept that. But “Oh Intelligent Design” just doesn’t seem to roll off the tongue like Abba. I find that some don’t care for Accountability, so it’s easier to call Him something else.

    I like your mystery. Your story… if I can follow along has taken you to many corners. But I’m betting tou know the way.

  30. It takes only a sliver of Light to flood a heart. And today, my bipolar sheep/goat self, strives toward a higher ChrIst Q. May it be so with you. And you must at some point tell your story… in utter fearlessness. And all in one place. This back and forth between posts has made me dizzy.

    Will see all of you on another of John’s
    awesome posts. Keep it going John… share His love.

  31. Excellent.

    In my view, another tragic flaw of this dominant Evangelical mode of thinking is that it places God in a very small box; if God does not convey grace in exactly the way we expect and in a way visible to us, then it doesn’t exist.

    The hubris is amazing. People would be better served by emulating Christ and allowing God the space that is his to work his healing redemption. Doing other otherwise refuses the work done by Christ on the cross.

  32. True. And I might add that healing comes from oft times very unexpected places through unexpected persons. I see this daily… I’ve experienced this daily. The marginalized “lost” healing the “elect”. He continues to transform me through encounters with others who are (in my judgments) more in need than I but I’m blind to my own desperate need for healing. Silly me, that’s grace, isn’t it 🙂

  33. You, sir, sound quite Catholic in your thinking. Hell is a rejection of God. How can one reject whom they do not know? I believe all who are saved are saved through Christ- even if they did not know him in their earthly life. Of course we should spread the Gospel- who wouldn’t benefit from falling in love with their Creator? But those of goodwill who through no fault of their own do not know him are left to the love and mercy of God- and that’s a great place to be. i love that the Catholic Church has said we can never know who goes to hell because only God knows their heart. I would NEVER feel comfortable claiming to know someone’s eternal punishment! Good article.

  34. It is really nice and easy to believe that God will redeem us all – but the Bible says that only few will be saved — look to Matt. 7:13-14, Matt. 22:14, Rom. 9:27, and Luke 13:22-27 for examples.

    There is arrogance in thinking that we ( White American Christians) are the only way for billions of people to learn about Jesus. The Lord says that if we were to remain silent, then the Rocks would cry out. Luke 19:40

    It is also wrong to say that faith only comes through the “sinner’s prayer” as that isn’t Biblical and God works in many ways. (the story of the roman soldier, the story of the Ethiopian man, the story of paul, etc)

    We have been charged with the Great Commission. It is indeed our duty to spread the Gospel. But not because God is solely dependent on us. He ultimately is the one that plants and grows faith in a person, and he can do so by any means he pleases. The Great Commission is his way of allowing us to be apart of his work, just how mothers allow their toddlers to help make cookies.

    We cannot pretend to know how God will judge people on judgement day. There will be people that served the Lord their whole life through their works that will not enter the kingdom, and there will be people who never uttered his name that will. What we do know, is there will be a judgement day and not all will be saved. ( Matthew 13:49, Acts 10:42, Matthew 25:46, Matthew 12:36-37, Psalm 98:9)

    So cast a wide net – and be fishermen of men. Matthew 4:19

    • He also said ” truly, truly I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me and whoever receives me receives the One who sent me”. I’ll not be so arrogant as to ask for credentials…. I’m thinking a smile, hug, or simple touch works wonders.

      • Susan,

        I believe you missed my point. My point is that we are not the ones to ask for credentials – Planting faith is not within our ability, it is God’s alone.

        Also – I agree with you, it is most times in the small acts that people see Jesus through us — Not in proselytizing.

        However, we cannot say that all will be saved, and we cannot say it is not our job to teach others about faith. That goes in blatant contradiction of the Bible. Those might not be things we like to hear, but the truth rarely is.

        I think the author is trying to hammer at a point that he didn’t directly bring up. Many times, Evangelicals not only want to see someone pray a prayer, they want to see an immediate change in the person’s lifestyle, they want to see a sinless perfect person – or at least someone striving for that. That is wrong and harmful. This is where christians start to judge each other – like when Shia Labeouf said he became a christian, but many said he wasn’t a “real christian” since he still used foul language. This is the wrong reaction. That is not our job. We are not to judge the merits of one’s faith. We are only to encourage one another.

        • I have an elderly friend in my congregation and when the subject of who is saved came up one Sabbath she said “It’s not my job to judge, my job is to love. The rest is out of my hands” Absolutely. You mention that evangelicals expect perfection from the moment one accepts Christs…I’d say maybe some do but there are people in all denominations who are legalistic, not just evangelicals. Following the rules is so much easier than loving…maybe that’s why they do it. I decided to be baptized when I finally realized that I don’t need to be perfect to take the plunge, I bring what I have to Jesus and we work together on improving me 🙂 Love always trumps judgment…in my books anyway (sorry to use the Trump word lol)

        • Kara

          We can say that God wants to save all. So why don’t you focus on that truth? That single phrase” God desires that all should come to know Him” encourages me more than anything else.

          Do you really think telling people they have to face the fact that many are not going to make it- would sound to them arbitrary? unloving? unfair? We can’t turn off our thoughts when we hear such things. It’s like when as a child at the most vulnerable moment your parent calls you a brat… you cannot un-ring that thought… especially if it is never countered with the truth that your parent loves you completely. Don’t you see how that idea plants a seed of doubt ?

          There is so much more to consider when taking these ideas out of parables and trying to nail them down as pure truth. It’s futile to dwell on and probably should be left for a Philosophy course where all points of view can be put in perspective. But most people are not in university studying ideas and paradigms of thought. All they hear is than one statement you said or Platt said and they have nothing to counter it with. So we end up closing ourselves off from people and creating a divide between us.

          Some people do not accept the call of God because they don’t get it (even Thomas a believer doubted the resurrection of Jesus) and some people do not accept the call of God because they don’t think God wants them so they don’t even try. This is where we can make a difference by sticking with them. If we demonstrate we want to be around all people even though they are not Christian it goes a long way to helping them see we are human as well. We have to stop putting ourselves at the head of the line when it comes to truth. We have enough truth visible around us. What we need as humans is love. Love that is believable.

          The big issue I have with Christianity and ‘ organized church’ and religion is all the stumbling blocks we set up to discourage or limit people from believing God loves them.

    • There is something creepy about thinking that not all people will be saved I would rather encourage everyone to remember Gods promises. We can all pray and we can all do good lets pursue those things for ourselves and for others while being grateful to God. and know that God wants all to know Him. Don’t let hearts which are already discouraged be further discouraged.

      • Well said Kathy. I know that to be the case with a friend I have at the moment. She’s frustrated with her literal self and can’t understand her lack of believing. We’ve just had talks and she is feeling more open. And receptive. I consider that progress. And I know He loves her. It would do no good for me to berate her inability. She does good. She loves. And the we need her. I can’t imagine God not
        being there for too. It is creepy. He didn’t give up on me… I can’t give up on anybody else.

    • Thank you Kara, for bringing back that sickly feeling to my stomach, that reminder of why my former tradition makes no sense because no one really knows anything true except that most of us won’t make it to heaven because you say the bible says that God said so. And it’s my choice not to believe it, so I’m basically asking to go to hell. That’s what you think isn’t it? If you believe it, it’s true but if I don’t believe it, it’s still true?

      This is exactly why I have traded in my Christianity for my innate trust in a deeper, indescribable understanding of Love&God. I know it’s deeper and more real because I have seen it, heard it, felt it, lived it. But I’m probably delusional and NOT one of the lucky few going in that narrow gate. I mean, statistically speaking. What a relief it must be, to believe otherwise.

      I just can’t buy it anymore. We were equipped with common sense, intuition, and instinct for good reason. These things cannot be the enemies to salvation. Mainly because the concept of salvation itself is questionable in my mind, and God gave me this mind. And God doesn’t make junk, right? No, only people do that.

      As someone gifted with both spirituality/intuition and logic/reason, why has no angle been able to persuade me that you have chosen rightly and I have not? My point is, rejecting your assessment of the overall eternal destiny of the world does not mean I have rejected God.

      Anyone who thinks they really understand their place in this life, with God, or counts themselves among a perceived chosen few, is delusional. We all need to just keep going because this journey is far from over.

      • Carmen
        I love this line, “We were equipped with common sense, intuition, and instinct for good reason. These things cannot be the enemies to salvation.” I think I will keep it. Thanks for your eloquent thoughts. You have an ability elevate the level of this conversation. We need that.

      • Thankfully, among the 46,000 plus denominations that call themselves Christian, there are many that believe in universal salvation and do not believe in substitutionary atonement or original sin. Now the fundamentalist hounds may howl at this but, that is just how it is. My sainted Irish mother used to say that God cares more about how you treat others, not about how correct your doctrine is….God doesn’t care if you know ‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin’, though thousands waste their lives debating it.

  35. On another thread I posted a video “I Used To Be Perfect” (so I won’t again) but there was portion in it that fits with our discussion here. George Knight is a well known Adventist Pastor and he left the church for six years because he had strived to be the “perfect” Christian but felt he had failed. In that six years he never went to church or even prayed, he was done with faith. At one point a friend from his church days came to visit him and ended up spending the entire day with him. Knight said that his friend never once brought up his leaving the church. His friend didn’t preach to him or try to convince him that his path was wrong, he just stayed with him. Knight said that that day he felt Jesus and returned to the church and today is one of the most well known Pastors in our denomination. Evangelism doesn’t have to be shoving the “truth” in someone’s face!

  36. Jesus said: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8

    David Platt takes this to heart, thus spreading the gospel of Love that is Jesus Christ all over the earth and warning people of the consequences of dying without knowing Christ. You call that arrogant… Shame on you.

    The Bible also says there will be false teachers, (antichrists). That’s what whoever wrote this blog is. People: Read your Bible, not this blog!!

    • Roger,

      I’m sorry to disappoint you. I’m a 19-year pastor in the local church who believes that scaring people into accepting Jesus isn’t how you help them understand or experience the love of God. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit too and that is what pushes me to do this work even when it is uncomfortable and at great personal cost.

      I’m the oldest of four children, a father of two and have been happily married for nearly two decades. I like to cook, to write music, and to care for people who are hurting. My life’s work is loving people well regardless of who they are and that includes everyone. If you would like to caricature me that is fine.

      If coming here without knowing me an throwing around alarmists religious words like antichrist is something you feel comfortable doing, I’m going to question your motives and challenge you that you’re probably not reflecting Christ as much as you believe you are. I’ll also contend that this is as arrogant a posture as one could assume.

      Feel free to message me privately and we can set up a time to talk about why I believe what I believe.

      I hope you will learn that dropping couple of Bible quotes and warning people about Hell isn’t helping and in fact it’s exactly why people are saying no to the Church: not because they are immoral, but because they are seeking respect and decency without name calling.

      People are smart enough to read the Bible AND this blog and to discern what is valuable and worth holding onto without you yelling at them.

      Blessings to you,

      John,

  37. If you are a Christian, be a friend to all those around you and demonstrate the love of Jesus person to person not by warnings and threats or accusations or going on and on about how awful the world is because those sort of things either discourage people or it will turn them into self righteous converts who think that they need to prove something by the number of people they convert. Most people are struggling in the world whether they are struggling to make ends meet, raise their kids, feeling lonely or isolated or find themselves in trouble. The last thing they need is to have their anxiety heightened by thoughts of dying without knowing Christ. It’s very easy to throw words and scripture around like seed falling everywhere but it makes more sense to help people cultivate a life of hope and well being through your faithful presence in their life. Everyone can be there for someone and through your kindness and association with Jesus they will know Him because they know you. Being kind to someone is the most powerful witness.

    • May I ask you a question… please?
      What do you know? I mean really know.
      Beyond the brain-know to the heart-know.
      Beyond the hurt-know or the label-know.
      If you could shut this room up… Turn off the world for 10 minutes and speak with no fear of “what’s expected”. What would you say about Jesus? His purpose for being in the world. His purpose for hanging there. And what that means to you. If you don’t care to answer directly then perhaps you can direct me to where you want me to find your answer.

      I know what I know. But it’s easy for me to get lost in all this. I don’t want to get lost. Thanks.

      • Star and Anchor, thanks for asking

        For me it’s been about having a relationship with Jesus. First we have to trust Him and get rid of all the garbage we have been told about Him. Such as: ‘God is angry with us’ when He is fiercely passionate for us. He is not against us— He is for us. Once we believe God loves— always— then we can begin, otherwise we are spinning our wheels.

        I know that Jesus did everything He could to touch the lives of people He met, to reveal the truth about Himself, to heal those who needed healing, to demonstrate His gentleness and His wisdom. When he went to the temple and overturned the tables, was He angry? or was He burning with a deep passion for the people being cheated by money changers? When He called the Pharisees vipers, was he only hurling an insult? or was He using a correct symbol of how the religious teachers of the day poisoned the hearts and minds of people?

        through suffering on the cross He deeply identifies with the suffering of humanity under the weight of a system we are born into which has chained us, in sin, from birth. Those who have gained power through violence and over throwing others for personal gain, comfort and pleasure and those trampled under the feet of oppression and suffering. He loves us all and forgives us all and wishes to free us from our individual prisons.

        even when you feel depressed, even when you have done something wrong or acted like fool or made a mistake, know that God desires you as a loving and attentive parent always,

        what about yourself? How do you answer your own questions?

        • Kathy, I appreciate you responding. I want to say, my question had no malicious intent or ulterior motive behind it. I’m at work but I do want to respond to your like questions. Hopefully I’ll have a chance late this evening. Peace.

        • Btw… I just did an interesting thing. I suppose I was looking for your experience… So I substituted each “we” and “us” with an “I” or “me”… Or inserted one. I liked that 🙂 Now I hear you.

          • Oh okay I guess I was answering you from the perspective of what I believe about Jesus purpose while on earth.

            Basically my experience is I have a relationship with Jesus and I am getting to know Him. Knowing Jesus helps me know God and helps me love others as myself so my life is made up of daily experiences.

        • I spend a quite a bit of time with these questions. For me, what I “know”, when I cut away all the noise, truly is based on my experience. I have to start with me in order to be a truthful witness and to have that ripple effect.

          I marveled at how far I had distanced myself from Him… Not the other way around. It’s a long way from a throne to my hardened heart but He loves me enough to make the daily commute. Im grateful and know I can make the short distance to love someone right in front of me. I know He came so that I can not only have life but give life.

          Call me a cross gazer if you will. This is deep in my heart. But I don’t let its shadow block the brilliance of His rising, His hope. There’s a poster on a window at the church I’ve attended. Its of a child putting her finger paint print on a cross. I know that my print is there too. That I didn’t get a bye on that. I know its the very reason I can even have an experience.

          And what does that mean to me?… Honestly everything. You said He reached you. Yes. He reaches. And I know He never ceases reaching. I know now I could never be too lost. No one can be too lost.

          I know He loves my errant, foolish, mistake-making self.

          Was good talking with you. Appreciate your answer and comments. I can tell you’re quite knowledgeable. You have a lot to offer others. Peace.

  38. Oh gosh I just needed a laugh… ur instructions exceeded my IQ. Its only 150. Give me break. 🙁

    I was just reading the comment that John was bad. Grrrr. I’m disappointed someone would say that. Why would someone say that? When is love bad? I find John to be a person who says things many people are to afraid to say… and should. I’ve consulted my Holy Spirit and He thinks John’s a good guy. And I don’t have to agree with everything or everyone on here. Frankly, some of it and comments go over my head. But then again my head doesn’t drive my Christ-likeness. My heart does. I’ll follow it bc He renewed it. Be kind mister.

    Thanks… I’ll try ur instructions. Need a dislike button too.

      • Shuddup….

        I’m tired. Going to lay down for a while. The guy made me angry. That tells me I’m tired when I let a written word irritate me like that. Hope to catch y’all later. Lead with Love… hearts will follow. Peace.

  39. I understand your desire for humility but was Jesus humble in his proclamation of the Gospel? I don’t think he was at all. In your opinion, he would probably look quite arrogant as he chased people out of the temple with a whip and called the Pharisees vipers and told others that unless they obeyed him they did not love him and would not see the kingdom. Humility is needed in the Christian life but when it comes to the truth of Scripture Christ calls use to be bold. He is the way, the truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father(God) but by Him.

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