Monday, December 29, 2008

Essential Principles of Christian Universalism

Essential Principles of Christian Universalism

In 1878, a group of Universalist ministers in Boston, (which included A.A. Miner, T. J. Sawyer, C. R. Moor, O. F. Safford, and A. St. John Chambre, and others) prepared a statement which embraced essential principles held in common by the Universalist ministers generally. This statement was:

We, the Universalist ministers of Boston and vicinity, observing the widespread agitation in the religious world with respect to the final destiny of our race, and more especially of those who die in impenitence and sin, and desirous that our views on this important subject should not be misunderstood, after much earnest thought and prayerful consideration present the following, not by any means as a full statement of our faith, but as indicating its general character:

1. We reverently and devoutly accept the Holy Scriptures as containing a revelation of the character of God and of the eternal principles of his moral government.

2. As holiness and happiness are inseparably connected, so we believe that all sin is accompanied and followed by misery, it being a fixed principle in the divine government that God renders to every man according to his works, so that "though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished."

3.Guided by the express teachings of revelation, we recognize God not only as our King and Judge, but also as our gracious Father, who doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men; but though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.

4. We believe that divine justice, born of love and limited by love, primarily requires "love to God with all the soul," and to one's neighbor as one's self. Till these requisitions are obeyed, justice administers such discipline, including both chastisement and instruction, and for as long a period, as may be necessary to secure that obedience which it ever demands. Hence it never accepts hatred for love, nor suffering for loyalty, but uniformly and forever preserves its aim.

5. We believe that the salvation Christ came to effect is salvation from sin rather than from the punishment of sin, and that he must continue his work till he has put all enemies under his feet, that is, brought them in complete subjection to his law.

6. We believe that repentance and salvation are not limited to this life. Whenever and wherever the sinner truly turns to God, salvation will be found. God is "the same yesterday, today, and forever," and the obedience of his children is ever welcome to him.

7. To limit the saving power of Christ to this present life seems to us like limiting the Holy One of Israel; and when we consider how many millions lived and died before Christ came, and how many since, who not only never heard his name, but were ignorant of the one living God, we shudder at the thought that his infinite love should have made no provision for their welfare, and left them to annihilation, or, what is worse, endless misery. And it is but little better with myriads born in Christian lands, whose opportunities have been so meager that their endless damnation would be an act of such manifest injustice as to be in the highest degree inconsistent with the benevolent character of God.

8.In respect to death we believe that, however important it may be in removing manifold temptations and opening the way to a better life, and however, like other great events, it may profoundly influence man, it has no saving power. Salvation, secured in the willing mind by the agencies of divine truth, light, and love, essentially represented in Christ -- whether effected here or in the future life -- is salvation by Christ, and gives no warrant to the imputation to us of the "death-and-glory" theory, alike repudiated by all.

9. Whatever differences in regard to the future may exist among us, none of us believe that the horizon of eternity will be relatively either largely or for a long time overcast by the clouds of sin and punishment, and in coming into the enjoyment of salvation, whensoever that may be, all the elements of penitence, forgiveness, and regeneration are involved. Justice and mercy will then be seen to be entirely at one, and God be all in all.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Shoe Incident: Warcraft Style

Or, throw the shoe yourself:

CNN Meteorologist says Man-Made Global Warming Theory Is Arrogant

The supposed "consensus" is breaking down, and more and more "deniers" are coming out of the closet. The truth is that we have little power to actually change our climate, and Al Gore and his fascist friends are merely using it as an excuse to impose their statist agenda.

It is the secular end time theory: The End is Near, it is all due to human sin, if we do not repent and change our ways we will all die.

In short: it's as much crap as the religious end time theories. Bunk. Hogwash. Call it any number of terms that mean BS.

Nice to see one more meteorologist thinks so:

CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers had never bought into the notion that man can alter the climate and the Vegas snowstorm didn’t impact his opinion. Myers, an American Meteorological Society certified meteorologist, explained on CNN’s Dec. 18 “Lou Dobbs Tonight” that the whole idea is arrogant and mankind was in danger of dying from other natural events more so than global warming.

“You know, to think that we could affect weather all that much is pretty arrogant,” Myers said. “Mother Nature is so big, the world is so big, the oceans are so big – I think we’re going to die from a lack of fresh water or we’re going to die from ocean acidification before we die from global warming, for sure.”

Let us hope we see the courage of the "deniers" continue to grow. The enemy is vicious, brutal, and relentless though:

Another CNN meteorologist attacked the concept that man is somehow responsible for changes in climate last year. Rob Marciano charged Al Gore’s 2006 movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” had some inaccuracies.

“There are definitely some inaccuracies,” Marciano said during the Oct. 4, 2007 broadcast of CNN’s “American Morning.” “The biggest thing I have a problem with is this implication that Katrina was caused by global warming.”

Marciano also said that, “global warming does not conclusively cause stronger hurricanes like we’ve seen,” pointing out that “by the end of this century we might get about a 5 percent increase.”

His comments drew a strong response and he recanted the next day saying “the globe is getting warmer and humans are the likely the main cause of it.”

First political correctness, and now this. Pretty chilling.

Congress Gives Themselves a Raise? WTF!?!

Here we are, in the middle of a recession, they economy is a mess, mostly due to their malfeasance, over-regulation, refusal to cut spending, corruption, and in general, allowing the advancement of socialism to continue unabated, and they DARE give themselves a raise?

A crumbling economy, more than 2 million constituents who have lost their jobs this year, and congressional demands of CEOs to work for free did not convince lawmakers to freeze their own pay.

Instead, they will get a $4,700 pay increase, amounting to an additional $2.5 million that taxpayers will spend on congressional salaries, and watchdog groups are not happy about it.

Well, nice to show that in terms of being disgusting, Congress is the gift that keeps on giving.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Very Funny Greg-a-logue From Red Eye

Funny piece about Keith Olbermann:

I Want This Guy On My Dodgeball Team

Love him or hate him, his Spider-man like reflexes can not be denied. Maybe his W-Sense was tingling...

Absurdities Exposed: Letters From a Universalist Minister

In keeping with my reprints of interesting Universalist writings, I found this:

NOTE: Originally, writings were personal letters to an orthodox Christian acquaintance by Rev.M.J. Steere in 1861.


Universalism proper contemplates one single truth, well worthy to swallow up all others, viz., the Bible doctrine of the final salvation of all men from sin; and this in opposition to their being forever annihilated, or forever damned.

Certainly, rational and scriptural as your penal doctrine seems to you, to me it involves the most alarming absurdities. Some of these latter I will now consider; and First. Your faith implies that "God, the Father," casts vast multitudes of intelligent, immortal beings, in his own image, and places them in this world of trial, either foreordaining that he will, or foreknowing that he shall, damn them forever. And this seems to me an absurdity.

The Creator dwells in his own self-sufficiency. Of course, he is independent of everything outside of himself, and, therefore, can have no occasion, in creating, or in dealing with his creatures, to seek selfish ends; a thing, which is alike forbidden, by the revelation of his essential nature. "For God is Love." Now that such a God should interest himself in begetting immortal beings, "of his own will, and in his own image, to feel his wrath forever — to be forever dying, but never dead, — to have their capacity for suffering forever filling up, but never full, does seem to me absurd in the extreme.

For, mark, no matter how long the creature's probation may be, ten minutes, or ten years, or ten thousand years, eternity equally follows; and the eternity of the creature's anguish was equally present to the Creator, when he set him up in being.

You may say, as an Arminian, — not as a Calvinist — that God did not foreordain the creature's ruin; but you will not deny that he endowed the creature with a susceptible nature, which, coming in contact with the world, into which he thrust him, he foresaw would work his certain ruin. And what you will not deny is, in the premises, all I ask you to admit. For, either way, the creature's endless misery was present to the divine mind, at the moment of his creation.

I do not intend dwelling long on this point. But permit me to ask if the doctrine in review, considered in its relation to the creating hand of God, does not appear to you absurd? so absurd, that, as you steadily contemplate it, your whole soul does not reel and stagger as with the very giddiness of skepticism itself? And here let it be borne in mind:

First. That it was optional with God whether to create the subject of foreknown, everlasting misery, or not.

Second. That, having created such a being, it is optional with him whether to sustain him in his anguish forever, or to permit him to sink out of it into nought.

Now to say that a God of infinite Love and Justice should sink under his endless curse, the beings whom he has thus created, endowed, and circumstanced!


Your creed implies that God, the Father, sustains a mighty being called Devil, filled with all malice against every thing good, in going about to effect the endless misery of his human creatures. And this all seems to me an absurdity. In discussing it, no question need be raised about the personal existence, origin or character of this evil being, further than to say:

1. That, whatever Devil there is, God the Father made. That, however he may have been originally created, and whatever evil character he may have since taken on, the Creator has not been disappointed in him.
2. That, whatever strength he now has to do mischief, the Creator gives him.
3. That the Creator can control him, or destroy him, at pleasure— which is, indeed, implied in the third of these propositions.

The Devil, then, is the offspring of God, no less than we. And it is in God that he, no less than you and I, "lives, and moves, and has his being." He, too, is one of the Father's great family of intelligent moral beings, and, as such, is bound to all the other members, by the ties of a lofty relationship.

Now that God should create such a being, foreseeing what he would be and do, what havoc he would make of his other children, and that, having created him, he should preserve and sustain him in his work of inseparable devastation through his realm, seems to us exceedingly absurd. And in view of it, we think the simple question of Crusoe's man Friday, "Why not God kill Debbil," was well put.

Nor can intelligent Christians ever see anything but absurdity in the notion that God the Father should create such a being, and give him the freedom of the universe for the everlasting destruction of his children. They, too, may well wonder why God does not, at least, shut him up, for the protection of the race on which he preys. We can easily conceive that, when such a being as this Devil enters Paradise, "damnation should follow." But we cannot conceive how it can be possible that, when the infant human race is nestling there in peace, a God of goodness should let him in!

We are indeed told, that the Devil shall yet be bound " for a thousand years," after which he shall be "loosed" again for a little season." During that happy time, of course, his havoc of human souls shall cease, and perdition's supply of anguish be cut off. But the loving Christian heart, in view of the souls constantly dragged down to the pit all around him, earnestly asks, "Why delays that happy hour? Why comes not the angel with the chain now? Why is not Satan bound to-day, this minute? Nay, why was he ever let loose? And when he shall, at least, be bound, why shall he ever be let loose again?

For the Devil and his works, as understood by your faith, are matters of the highest, deepest, broadest, longest, most overwhelming interest. I feel it so, as I consider what he has already done, according to your creed, for many of my ancestors and yours, and what he is still doing. When he, himself, first sunk into the pit, Milton makes him exclaim: "Farewell, happy fields, Where joy forever dwells. Hail, horrors, hail! Infernal world! And thou, profoundest hell, Receive thy new possessor!'"

And when I consider what multitudes he has dragged, according to your faith, dragged down with him, my gushing heart can but sympathize in the question of the simplest child of nature, "Why not God kill Debbil?"

But still you will, perhaps, seek relief from the terrible absurdity of your orthodox position, by reaffirming that God the Father did not create that evil one a devil, but that he has made a devil of himself. Be it so. And what relief is gained? Evidently none at all; for, first, no chance has happened to the Deity. The devil is only the being that God foreknew or foreordained in his creation. And, second, if the question why God created him were satisfactorily disposed of, the question why he lets him run, have free course, and glorify himself in hell, by dragging others down into it by millions, still remains unanswered, or answered only with a glaring absurdity.

But I must say only two or three things more relative to this matter. And First, we know that God so loved all the individuals of the human race, that he gave his Son "a ransom for all, to be testified in due time," according to the Scriptures.

And, Second, you, through your creed, virtually affirm that God created the mighty being, called "the Devil," let him loose, and now sustains him in working the endless ruin of the responsible masses whom he gave his Son to save; so out-generaling the Son of God that, while the latter, by the mightiest exertions of his love, succeeds in winning only "here and there a traveler," into the "narrow way" to everlasting life, the former succeeds in perpetually thronging, with his captives, the broad way to the black caverns of endless woe!

And Third, when asked how you will dispose of the dreadful absurdity here involved, you will say — I know not what. But for ourselves, we see no way of disposing of it, and feel bound to look, with not a little suspicion, upon whatever system of theology involves it. Such system, however time-honored, and however sanctioned by majorities, and by great and worthy names, should, to say the least, be accepted only after the most thorough examination, and under evidence the clearest and most direct from God.


The popular creed implies that it is only at the most appalling hazard, that a human being survives its infancy on earth; that, for it to die in infancy is to make its eternal salvation sure; whereas, for it to live to the age of accountability on earth, is to be exposed to endless woe, and, probably, to make that woe sure. And this, also, seems to me an absurdity.

Whatever may be the logical limits of any modern creeds, the salvation of infants is now practically regarded as secure, — afflicted parents are now everywhere taught to dry their tears on the funeral of their infant offspring, under the comforting assurance, that the flower that bloomed so sweetly upon their bosom for a day, withered, not that it should die, but only in process of transplantation to more genial skies.

Infants then are saved. And if the half and more, who breathe the vital air, die in infancy, then so many are saved, — saved, certainly and necessarily; and that, too, without the least possible spiritual peril or exposure. And thus, a great host is being gathered from earth into heaven, without any earthly probation at all. Such is the faith of the church today.

And now let us turn and look at the other half of our race, — that portion of it, which by dint of better constitutions, more care, and many prayers, survive their infancy — live on earth till they reach the hour of responsibility, — till they know the difference between moral right and wrong, and begin to act in reference to it.

Now, saying nothing about total depravity, or original, sin, it is believed, and very justly, that all these latter, become sinners. And becoming sinners, it is believed they are under condemnation to endless woe. And, further, it is believed that from this condemnation there is no escape save by a radical change of heart. And, finally, it is believed that no such change can take place, beyond the grave. Of course then, all sinners who do not experience that change on earth are lost forever. But, obviously, that change is experienced by only a very small part of adult persons who go from earth to the tomb. And, therefore, only a very small part of them are saved; while all the rest sink to perdition!

And thus, brother, according to your creed, it comes to pass, that, while infants are all saved, in Heaven, adults, — those who come to the years of accountability on earth — are nearly all lost. Perhaps you may query, whether the fact that relatively, so few experience radical regeneration, is so obvious. But it seems to me your mind shall not have gone over the present aspect of our race, and run back through the ignorant, barbarous, pagan past, before you will be satisfied, that, in the light of history and observation, nothing can be more obvious. For, if we know anything about the human race, up to the present time, we know that only an infinitesimal portion of them, have, in this life, been, in the orthodox sense of the term, regenerated, while all the rest have died in sin.

Now we submit, whether it does not seem very absurd, that the Great Father should deal so differently with those who enter eternity very young, from what he does, with those who enter it only, not quite so young! — that he should take the former directly to himself in heaven, while he leaves the latter, a little time longer on earth, so exposed to the play of passions which he himself ordained, amid circumstances of temptation, which he himself provided, that, for the thousands of years of time past, their absolute endless ruin should be the law, and their final salvation only the exception; so that, while very little children all ascend to Heaven, most of their parents sink to hell!

The absurdity involved here, seems to me no less than dreadful. Yet is it part and parcel of the popular faith — inseparable from it. So that if that faith is true; this absurdity is true; and if this absurdity is true (I speak in a paradox) what an appalling truth for a family circle, and (pardon me, but I mean it all,) what a temptation to infanticide. Take breath and read on, but find no fault with our illustration unless it is severer than truth.

A few years since, a fugitive slave mother, overtaken by pursuers, took the lives of her children, rather than see them remanded into slavery. We judge not her bloody act here. Some pronounced it heroic; others diabolical. It was certainly very dreadful. But the maternal perpetrator of the wild deed, comforts herself with the thought that her children are forever free in heaven.

Here is another mother who believes the popular doctrine of endless punishment. Her only child is yet an infant. She looks upon it, loves it, considers its exposure to everlasting death, if it grow up on earth, kisses and destroys it. This done, she comes forward to the communion table. Arraigned by the church for her unnatural offence, she excuses herself by saying to her pastor in the chair, "You have taught me that if my child die in infancy, its eternal salvation is secure; whereas, if it live to years of responsibility, it probably must sink in hell forever. I could not bear to see it thus exposed to endless woe! No, I could not, for it was the child of my love! And because I loved it, I have saved it. Yes, my sweet little one is now in heaven!"

And thus addressed, what can the pastor do, but either hold his peace, or deny his faith, or take refuge in mystery. If he says to the mother, "Verily, you have grossly sinned," she easily replies. "Be it so, seeing I have forever saved my child from sinning! It well becomes mothers to sacrifice themselves for their childrens' sake. This I have done!"

And if the pastor say, further: "God's great sovereignty must not be arraigned;" she easily adds, "Certainly not; I have not arraigned it, but done only what it demanded, at my hand, in view of my dear child's welfare! I have committed my child to God, in the only possible way to make sure of its salvation!"

And if the pastor further add, with gravity, "You have by this act shut yourself out of heaven," she readily replies, "Be it so, seeing I have shut my dear child out of hell! And yet, how is it that I should be sent to that dreadful place for using the only certain, or even probable means of saving my child from it?" Thus this infanticial mother might proceed.

And what, I again ask, in all seriousness, could her pastor and church do, but take her strange case into charitable consideration? What could they do less than this, when they considered that she had acted only in view of the plain logical consequences of the creed they had put into her hands.

Perhaps you will shrink from this illustration, as too dreadful! And it were too dreadful for any purpose under heaven, other than that for which it is introduced. And yet, in view of that purpose, it falls infinitely short of the fact — it is tameness itself! For, infinitely more dreadful is the thing illustrated! Only just think of it, — an infant, immortal, crossing the line of accountability at the imminent hazard of everlasting death! Think of it, did I say? It cannot be thought of more than in part. For the damnation of the popular creed to which the little innocent is thus exposed, infinitely surpasses all knowledge, all thought. Its perdition is a wide-spreading wilderness, dark with woe, which no imagination can traverse; a boundless ocean of sorrow, over which no thought can wing itself!

And how must the Christian mother, whose eyes are open to the subject, feel, as from day to day she hears the tramp of burning surf, nearer and nearer at hand, as her child nears the fatal line of accountability. How can she then but wish her child secure? And what can seem to her too unnatural or rash, if it but promise it a safe asylum? How can she but wish it in heaven? And should she, in the frenzy natural to her dilemma (for to such a dilemma frenzy is but natural), do as did the slave mother, mentioned above, would she not be, at least, as excusable? Nay, more? For what are the few years of hard bondage to which that slave mother could not bear to see her child doomed, compared with the endless bondage of black despair?

So your creed — so orthodoxy! And shall we not, as men of common sense, common candor, and common humanity, seriously suspect the truth of any exposition of the divine word which involves an absurdity so cruel, crushing, crazing; so dishonoring to our father God?

How true it is that on absurdities absurdities grow — each new one more glaring than that from which it sprung!


Your creed plainly implies, that men, both good and bad, may, and often do, determine the endless destiny of their fellow beings, by determining the length of their probation, virtually putting them into heaven, by cutting off all liability to lose it, or into hell by cutting off all opportunity to escape it. And this, also, seems to me an absurdity.

We have already presented one illustration of the above proposition, in the supposed case of the mother who made the "calling and election" of her infant sure, by taking its life. Another is found in a sad accident, which occurred at one of our New England seminaries a few years since. Two young gentlemen were in their room, amusing themselves with a musket, quite unconscious of its being loaded, when the one innocently shot the other, thereby determining his soul at once to heaven or to hell forever.

And still another illustration is found in the death of the drunken rowdy, who fell, at the head of the rum-sellers' mob, at Portland, a few years ago. The balls which, at the order of the resolute city marshal, laid him low, cutting off all opportunity for repentance, carried his soul directly to endless torment. Illustrations to our purpose are also presented in war. Two armies meet. Fearful are the imprecations! Dreadful is the carnage! Balls and bayonets are the swift instruments of everlasting death!

The soldier perishes forever, who might reform and be saved if permitted to return to his home of piety. At the hand of his fellow man, he falls lower than the grave. Nor may any tell how many of our revolutionary colonists are now, in endless despairs sent there by the hired Hessians of George the Third. Nor how many of those whose bones have been brought from the plains of Waterloo, as a fertilizer of British soil, are now in the endless despair to which they were consigned by British swords.

And this, especially, when it is considered, that, of all conditions, that of a soldier, in active service, seems least adapted to promote fitness for heaven. Of course, it is a mystery to us how orthodox Christians can advocate war, or their chaplains kneel mid guns, and swords, loaded and barbed with everlasting death! For these, in their view, are the terrible arbiters of souls' destiny, cutting off their probation, and thereby saying, as with the authority of the Infinite, You shall have no more chance to escape.

These are they that rise up in the place of God, and "shut to the door" against their victims forever. Alas! for the orthodox advocate of war! Let me do him the justice to say, that I think he believes in his creed less than in humanity and common sense.

But, further, our point finds illustration under the operation of the code duello, — that miserable product of dark ages, — that most foolish, meanest mode of settling difficulties — that wretched footman of chattel slavery, accompanying its desolating car, as it dashes into the fair fields of Christian civilization.

The duel settles more than questions of chivalric honor. Instance a case. A and B meet at a public house, drink, altercate, challenge, and accept, choose their seconds, retire and fight. The question of honor is settled by the death of B. And not only that, but the question of B's endless damnation also. The fatal ball settles both. For, while A blows the smoke from his pistol, and retires a victor, leaving the body of the slain to his surgeon and friends, its spirit, prematurely driven out, and thereby excluded all chance of salvation, is met by evil angels in the threshold of eternity, and dragged down into the pit forever.

Thus, according to your penal view, is a question greater than honor settled by the duel. And what does the highwayman do? He meets the moneyed worldling in the way, robs him of his treasure and his life, and throws his body into the thicket, or leaves it in the ditch. But is that all? O no! He also robs his soul of all chances to repent, and tosses it into the thick darkness of despair — buries it alive in hell forever!

So your creed. But the absurdity we are exposing finds a fuller illustration, in cases in which the murderer repents in prison, and finally dies, regretting that he sent the murderer into perdition. Such cases used to be, by no means, very infrequent.

We recently read of one, but have not the details now at hand. Let us suppose such a case, and see its bearing upon the subject in hand. A young lady, respectable, but not converted, is met and ravished, under a dark night, by a villain, who destroys her life to escape detection. Sent thus hurriedly to her God in sin, she is, by the conditions of your creed, of course, lost. No cycle of eternity but shall witness her unrelieved despair. Her soul is assassinated. Out of a dark night of time, she is hurled into a darker night of eternity. The brutal hand that cut her probation short off, thereby plunged her infinitely below the sphere of possible life, shut her up in woe, bolted the door upon her, threw away the key, and left her to pine in anguish forever.

So your creed! And now, leaving her there in her woe, let us turn to look after her murderer. As "murder will out," he is detected, arrested, executed. But, while in prison, blessed with a probation which he forbade to his victim, he comes to himself, heeds his spiritual advisers, repents, exhorts the multitudes from the scaffold, and swings from it into Paradise. And there, because he had much forgiven, he loves much, and never ceases to give thanks for the prison confinement through which the mercy of God reached him.

Thus in heaven the murderer sings. But the young lady, his victim, where is she all this time? Lost! lost! He may have time for repentance, but not she. That was forbidden her, by the red hand that plunged the dagger to her heart. Mercy may come to his prison, but not to hers. That red hand of his may live to be washed, and forever twine wreaths for the immaculate brow of Him whose wrath she must forever bear.

Now, brother, your creed, taken in connection with the history of crime, obviously involves multitudes of cases, similar to any and all which we have stated above. This, you will admit. And, admitting this, can you, as the heart of a man beats in your bosom, fail seriously to query whether that creed is not at fault? Can you be confident in that theology, which thus makes the frantic mother, the officer of justice, the warrior, the duellist, the highwayman, and the libertine, the arbiters of the eternal destiny of their victims; so that, in the case last stated, if it was the hard fate of the young lady to be abused, scared into frenzy, and murdered, it was her harder one to be, by her murderer's hand, consigned to the bottomless pit; while he, by the grace of God, which he denied to her, has space for repentance, and goes up to sing in heaven!

Be your own commentator upon what I have said. The notion that the Living Father has made the endless weal and woe of men thus dependent upon the frenzy, ambition, lucre, lust, and brutality of their fellow beings, well, "he that can receive it, let him receive it." But let him be very sure that he has an unmistakable "thus saith the Lord," on which to rest, a faith so at war with reason and all the humanities.


This green earth, and you and I walking over it! These spangled heavens, and you and I walking under them! Grand conceptions. How they overwhelmed the Psalmist, when'" at eventide," lifting up his eyes in the contemplation of the immensity of God's works, he exclaimed, "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him?"

But the Psalmist was, in this case, hardly peculiar. All thinking men are, sometimes, consciously rapt in Jehovah, as king David was. And when I, in my humbler measure, have been so carried away in thought, I have felt a strong sympathy with the man who, on being told that an aged neighbor, recently deceased, was probably in perdition, coolly replied, "I think the Author of this vast universe can find some better business than to be damning forever that poor old man!"

But, you will say, this is a strange opening for a familiar letter; and yet, if you will consider it well, I think it will not prove an unprofitable one. But to bring our thoughts into line again, we proceed: That a very large proportion of all who have lived upon and left the earth, up to the present time, have lived upon and left it, heathen. This is the fact. Your creed implies that they are lost. This is the seeming absurdity. Idolatry very early appeared among men. Its prevalence is attested by very early records, and from the dawning of historic ages down to the present time, it has been the law, and truer worship only the exception.

Very important, therefore, is the question, what has become of the countless millions of our great brotherhood who have died in idolatry? Paul would not have his brethren ignorant "concerning those who had fallen asleep," even though they had fallen asleep heathen. No more would we be ignorant of the condition of the multitudes of our heathen relation, who, after groping their dark and evil way on earth, have fallen on sleep. Well is it that the geologist deciphers the records of material paleontology upon the charred tablets of our crusted globe. But far better is it, that the religious antiquarian should inquire after the spiritual, which accompanied the material — after the millions upon millions of immortal spirits which have, from age to age, been leaving their bodies behind them, in the dust of the grave.

This question of the heathen's eternity is a vast one, everywhere stirring men up, either to the abandonment of the popular penal creed, or to such modifications of it, as require the abandonment of the stereotyped plates from which have been stricken off a thousand editions of it. This, as we have before said, is the creed. 1. Death does nothing to fit a soul for heaven. 2. No soul can be fitted for heaven after death. 3. Therefore all who die unfit for heaven are lost forever.

Under this view the heathen are disposed of in a syllogism, thus: 1. All who die unfit for heaven are lost. 2. The heathen die unfit for heaven, and therefore, 3. The heathen are lost. With so simple a word, are the heathen of all ages disposed of under the popular creed, — the creed which, probably, finds no more truthful expositor, than the Rev. Dr. Wayland, long president of Brown University, one of the clearest reasoners and thinkers of the age, and whose published works are giving him a just celebrity upon two continents. In his "Moral Dignity of the Missionary Enterprise," a discourse whose sublime completeness, makes it well worthy to stand at the head of a volume of discourses on missions, the doctor says:

"We have considered these beings, [the heathen,] as candidates for an eternity of happiness or misery, and we cannot avoid the thought that they are exposed to endless misery. Hence, you will observe, the question with us, is not, whether a heathen, unlearned in the gospel, can be saved. We are willing to admit that he may. But if he be saved, he must possess holiness of heart; for without holiness no man shall see the Lord. It is in vain to talk about the innocence of these children of nature, It is in vain to tell of their graceful my theology. Their gods are such as lust makes welcome. Of their very religious service, it is a shame even to speak. To settle the question concerning their future destiny, it would only seem necessary to ask, what would be the character of that future state, in which those principles of heart, which the whole history of the heathen world develops, were suffered to operate in unrestrained malignity? No. Solemn as is the thought, we do believe, that, dying in their present state, they will be exposed to all that is awful in the wrath of Almighty God."

Thus does this clear thinker and writer give the only fair and legitimate exposition of his creed, in reference to the heathen. All different ones set that creed at naught. To be consistent, we must either abandon the cardinal principle of that creed, or else believe that the vast multitudes of heathen who have, from age to age, swarmed up in the earth, and swept away into eternity, a broad deep rolling river of immortal beings, are now swarming in Hell; that they are there this moment, and there forever to remain, suffering all that is awful in the wrath of Almighty God!" — This was the thought which the doctor could not avoid without denying his faith. And, surely, it is "solemn," and can but make us shudder — shudder for the heathen, shudder for the honor of God, and shudder with the exclamation, "what if we had been born heathen five thousand years ago!!"

But is not this thought so solemn that it degenerates into an absurdity? Is it not so expressive that it expresses nothing; so overdone that it does nothing; so shocking to common sense that the heart, on reflection, cares little for it. For, surely if the heathen do, for want of the Gospel, go thus quickly down to hell, over the sulphurous gateway by which they enter, to come up no more, might well be written in emblazoned characters, which should shine out like live coals upon the dark, "CHILDREN of God, drinking the WRATH of God, for want of OPPORTUNITY to ESCAPE it!"

Do you not feel that the doctrine I reject, whether true or false, by the terribleness of its absurdities, sets all human language at defiance! Are not some of them such, that, shrinking from their contemplation, your only rest and safeguard against what is called heresy, is in putting an interdict upon your common sense and consciousness. Do not some of the absurdities noted in these letters meet you at every turn, and often confront you so boldly, that you are obliged to attempt to deal summarily with them, while at the same time, you are astonished that they will not more readily "down at your bidding?"

We close this letter, praying that, under the sure guidance of the word and spirit of God, you may find your way out of them; and that way I think you will have discovered, when you sufficiently consider Jesus as the exponent of the Father’s love.

---Found here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

RIP Bettie Page

One of the sexiest women who ever lived has left us. A true cultural icon, she inspired artists and imitators.

Heaven just got a little bit hotter.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Answers to 21 Anti-Universalist Objections

Answers to 21 Anti-universalist Objections

Steve Jones

Objection 1: If universal restoration is true, why be a Christian now?

Answer: We ought to follow Jesus, first of all, because it is the right and good thing to do. Second, that we might enjoy a purpose in our existence, an abundant life, a freedom from the tyranny of evil and an escape from the mundane offerings of this world.

Objection 2: If all will be saved someday, why evangelize?

Answer: See the answer to the first objection.

Objection 3: Without the threat of endless hell, some people won’t respond to God or seek to do good. If universalism were revealed true, many Christians would give up the faith and live ungodly lives.

Answer: Such people are unworthy of the Christian name. They obey God as slaves under the lash, not as children seeking to live in the Father’s love. I refuse to allow them to drive my interpretation of human destiny.

Objection 4: Doesn’t justice demand that some people pay for their sins forever?

Answer: No. The wages of sin is death — we’ll all make that payment. But if God wishes to pardon all, what slight is that to His justice? I am commanded by Christ to forgive all who have offended me. Is that an injustice? If not, then why would it be unjust for God to do exactly what He expects of me?

Objection 5: The Bible contains language of exclusion. Some will “not see life” or have “no inheritance in the kingdom.” Others will “go away into eternal punishment.”

Answer: Yes, but the Bible also includes language of universal inclusiveness. Paul said that “every knee will bow” and “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Objection 6: True. But for the wicked, that confession will not come from the heart — only from the almighty, subjugating power of Christ.

Answer: A coerced confession would not be “to the glory of God the Father.”

Objection 7: Still, doesn’t a lot of Scriptural language rule out universalism?

Answer: Evidently not. Only a few centuries after Christ, we have records of many scholarly Christians who spoke the New Testament language, used the same “exclusionary” and “condemnatory” phrases found in its pages — yet, they were open universalists.

Objection 8: If the authors of Scripture were universalists, why didn’t they just say it plainly? Why do they write things so apt to be misunderstood?

Answer: The Psalmist wrote, “All flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.” (Psalm 145:21) How much plainer can you get than that? The same kind of language occurs in the New Testament. It is true, however, that the Bible is not a universalist catechism or primer. The latter Scriptures give us a glimpse into the faith of the early church, but not a full explanation of everything Christians believed from the ground up. The New Testament is concerned mainly with (1) the proclamation of Jesus as Messiah, (2) the proclamation of the long-awaited kingdom of God, (3) the healing of problems in the early churches. It does not answer all our eschatological queries with unmistakable plainness. Besides that, Paul tends to be difficult to understand — even another biblical author thought so. (2 Pet. 3:15-16)

Objection 9: Aren’t you just projecting wishful thinking onto the Bible?

Answer: I may be. But a thing is not false simply because we would like it to be true. The Christian message is supposed to be good news. Why not embrace the best news possible?

Objection 10: What if you’re wrong about this? What if universalism isn’t true?

Answer: Well, then I’m wrong. Any person with an ounce of humility will consider this a real possibility about a given belief. No one is infallible. But if I am wrong, I would rather err on the side of mercy than wrath. I would rather be guilty of making God too loving than too condemning.

Objection 11: Doesn’t universalism minimize the seriousness of sin?

Answer: Jesus told us to forgive everyone who has sinned against us. Does that minimize the seriousness of sin?

Objection 12: What about sins that are “unto death” or that will never be forgiven?

Answer: It is within the power of God to punish these offenses without inflicting either eternal torment or annihilation.

Objection 13: If universalism is true, that means Hitler will enjoy the same eternity as the most pious saint.

Answer: Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. That was the belief of Paul.

Objection 14: Are you denying that “it is appointed for men once to die, but after this the judgment”?

Answer: No. Some may have to face a fearful judgment on the other side of the grave and endure some retribution for what they have done. The universalist hope is that they will be reconciled eventually, that God may be “all in all.”

Objection 15: Isn’t the idea of reformation after death unbiblical?

Answer: No. It is biblically obscure, but not anti-biblical. Early Christians practiced a proxy baptism for the dead (1 Cor. 15:29). They also believed that after his crucifixion, Jesus preached to the dead imprisoned in hades (1 Pet. 3:19-20; 4:3-5). The Bible never tells us that it is “too late” for any change once we have died (contrary to the warnings of so many evangelists).

Objection 16: Jesus said that “God is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.” (Matt. 10:28) Doesn't that pretty much refute universalism?

Answer: To say that God has the power to do something is not the same thing as saying that He WILL do it. For example, John the Baptist declared that “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Matt. 3:10) No one expected that to happen, of course.

Jesus' utterance is part of a send-off to his missionaries who were ready to preach the kingdom of God and face severe opposition. The point was this: Do not be consumed by the fear of men, but instead fear the one who truly holds the power of life and death. It need not be viewed as a definitive statement of “what happens when non-Christians die.”

Objection 17: Won’t people live carelessly if you teach such a thing?

Answer: I can’t help that. People live carelessly under the threat of endless torments, too.

Objection 18: Doesn’t universalism encourage the unbiblical notion of the “immortality of the soul.”

Answer: Some universalists believe in the immortality of the soul (as do many non-universalists). Some don’t. My opinion is this: The eternal life to come will be the result of the resurrection, the gift of Christ — not some undying component in the human personality.

Objection 19: Most Christians throughout the course of church history — and even today — would strongly disagree with you on universalism.

Answer: Majority vote does not determine truth. More often, it’s the other way around.

Objection 20: Calvinists tell us that God does not love all people.

Answer: He surely must. Jesus told us to love all people, even our enemies, and to do good toward them. God’s love is perfect and, therefore, must surpass ours — not fall below it.

Objection 21: Won’t the inclusion of everyone diminish the significance of salvation for the saints?

Answer: Why would it? Generally speaking, a big party is better than a small one.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Phillipians 2: 10-11

So when His name is called,
every knee will bow,
in heaven, on earth, and below.

And every tongue will confess
"Jesus, the Liberating King, is Lord,
to the glory of God our father (The Voice)

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (NIV)

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (KJV)

Here Paul is discussing how we should love one another and be servants towards one another, because Christ humbled Himself by becoming our servant unto death, and we ought to be willing to do the same for our fellow man.

But what does this last part mean? God exalts Christ above all so that everyone, on earth OR UNDER THE EARTH shall both bow and confess that Jesus is Lord.

Again, I take ALL to mean ALL. Every to mean every.

Even the people living at the center of the Hollow Earth. Everyone will confess that Jesus is Lord, which means, sooner or later, everyone is going to be at the party. See ya there :)