I want to thank Reformed scholar and author of the book What’s So Good About The Good News (a book that I have and continue to read), Neal Punt for stumbling by this site and offering the link on his site describing the theological differences between him and Rob Bell author of his latest controversial book Love Wins. As I have said, I have tended to lean to Neal Punt’s, Conditional Universalism or the terminology I like better Evangelical Inclusivism, where all persons will be saved except those who the Bible declares will be finally lost vs. all persons will be finally lost except those who the Bible declares will be saved. Here is the link and again I want to thank Pastor Neal Punt for offering it.
This video has probably been on many blogs by now. I just wanted to play catch-up. The video is from Rob Bell, U.S. pastors of the Michigan-based Mars Hill Church, promoting his upcoming book Love Wins which will be released on March 15th. Many ultra-conservative minded fundamentalists and evangelicals are pouncing this man by calling him a heretic and labeling him an outright universalist. Again, his book will be released next Tuesday, so it is actually difficult to conclude that he is an Absolute Universalist (everyone is saved, no one goes to hell) or he is like myself a `Conditional Universalist“(but I prefer the terminology Evangelical Inclusivist where persons are elect in Christ (i.e., “saved,” “justified’”) except those whom the Bible expressly declares will be finally lost). I think it`s best that one waits for the release of the book, reads the book and rightly forms a conclusion. I was also elated to hear that he has been in some way associated with the late great Dwight Pryor`s Center of Judaic Christian Studies organization. Some of his other videos, he shows an interest of the Hebraic heritage of Christian faith. Looks like this man ain`t going away anytime soon and will be probably be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come. To me, that`s a good thing.
Hat tip to James Pate. Some will be offended at this article and shout and scream, “God is sovereign and does what He wants! Who are YOU to question Him!” or “Our ways is not simply God ways.” These are just mere ploys to just to shut people up and stop them from using their heads. Nothing more. Blogger, Rachel Held Evans is absolutely defiant in this approach. Rightly so. She expresses her troubling thoughts of what some, especially in American Evangelical Christianity believe that famous Holocaust victim, Anne Frank is in hell just because she supposedly did not accept Jesus Christ as her personal Savior. All is I can say is that I can thank God I’m still a wider-hope Christian and I blame this dilemma on Augustine and John Calvin who constructed the most misanthropic theology that God is shutting the doors of heaven to many. I too with Rachel Held Evans reject the notion that God predestined Anne Frank to eternal wrath for His glory. Mental nonsense. For those who want to go apecrap on me, I still believe that there is salvation in Jesus Christ and no other. For those who God makes a righteous provision on the unevagneglized, it will be because of grace, not their works. To read Rachel Held Evans thoughts, click here. By the way, check out Neal Punt’s Evangelical Inclusivism for an alternative view on the unevangelized dead. He’s not a cultist but a man who subscribes to the essentials of historic Christian faith.
All of us (including myself) were stunned and surprised at the death of pop music star Michael Jackson since that warm but surreal and strange evening a week ago (hard to believe) this past Thursday. I could write an essay about Michael Jackson and his pop culture influence in my life. Seriously, I don’t know where to start. I can even remember the historic Worldwide Church of God’s “war” against Michael Jackson and the rest of the Jackson family. In my current affairs blog, The Way I See It, Anyway— I suggested that the historic WCG should have concentrated on serious objections to Michael’s abusive father Joseph (but the ministers would have loved to lick Joseph Jackson’s you-know-what. He was just like them!) . Back in 1984, at age 14 I remember when Mr.Waterhouse came for his visit to Toronto, Mr. Waterhouse ranted (as usual) about Michael Jackson “perverting” his vocal chords and will not “inherit the kingdom” unless he repents. Well, excuuuuse me!!! Did Mr.Waterhouse just kicked God off his throne and made a coup-d’etat??? No way, not a chance in the universe buddy (but ONLY and the word ONLY must be stressed,in Mr.Waterhouse’s mind he did just that). This is not to say Michael Jackson was a “holy saint” (in the stereotypical Catholic sense). We all know about his eccentricities (which sometimes frustrated me very heatedly at times) and his serious controversies (we know what they were and those controversies did also make me very heated too) but no one can dispute his transformational music of our time and that alone has to be strongly admired.
I have not been beer buddies with bloggist of COG Writer Bob Thiel and I want to do an unusual move for praising Dr.Thiel’s from departing from what the historical WCG would say about a tragedy like this. Read his article about the Jackson tragedy plus the other celeberties lost that same week at http://www.cogwriter.com/news/doctrine/can-god-save-billy-mays-michael-jackson-farrah-fawcett-and-ed-mcmahon/. With saying that, I want everyone to know that I do accept orthodox Christianity (yes, I am a Walter Martin-Kingdom of the Cults type when it comes to the essential doctrines of Christian faith) but I do agree with Dr.Thiel that God will make a righteous provision for the unevangelized dead. Some of you might be familiar with a former WCGer, who has his own Christian apologetics site by the name of Robin Brace (UK Apologetics). He too, has embraced orthodox Christianity but like myself has rejected passionately (and rightly so) the Augustinian-Calvinist position of the unevangelized dead and has embraced the Patristic, ancient Eastern Church thought. Read his article here at http://www.ukapologetics.net/07/INC21.htm and this one at explaining theological inclusivism as opposed to exclusivism, pluralism and universalism http://www.ukapologetics.net/1theoterms.htm. While I may respect those who may have the exclusivist view on salvation, I think this Pastor Bill Keller of Live Prayer online church who declares that Michael Jackson’s spirit as we speak is in hell is simply in a spiritual jurisdiction he does not belong. That is simply, God’s perogative and as one of Pastor of a fellowship (post W/XCG mind you) told me, “Doesn’t ONLY GOD have absolute truth?” While mankind only sees the surfaces, doesn’t God really knows what is in any persons heart? Also what about 2 Peter 3:9? God does not want anyone to perish—shouldn’t that be the attitude of believers too? It may be tough sometimes but it’s an attitude that I think is worth it. You could see the article about Pastor Keller’s assertion at God Discussion at http://www.goddiscussion.com/6955/church-reactions-to-michael-jacksons-death/.
Also in another unsual move, I praise United Churchof God President Clyde Kilough’s video which was shown on Gavin’s site at http://ambassadorwatch.blogspot.com/2009/06/thriller-final-note.html. Again I must caveat with Gavin’s statement when which he said, “I did gag a bit at the end when he talked about encouraging “normal” childhood. He should listen in to the testimony of the lost generations of “church brats.” But, all said and done, it gets a 6/10.” Maybe if Gary Antion (who has some professional expertise in marriage and family counselling) did the tribute, I think I and Gavin might give him a 9/10.
Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, of “Shalom in The Home” fame on TLC was Jackson’s spiritual advisor. Rabbi Boteach articulated his emotions about Michael Jackson in life and death (and boy I can transparently identify with the Rabbi’s rollercoaster of emotions on Michael Jackson). Read this here at: http://www.shmuley.com/articles/details/master_of_an_empty_kingdom_the_tragically_short_life_of_michael_jackson/
As I have said on The Way I See It Anyway in my 39 years I have seen many episodes of let say, “the day when the music died”. I remember the death of Elvis in 1977 at age 7, been through the assassination of John Lennon in 1980 at age 10, the murder of Marvin Gaye in 1984 at age 14 and the tragic suicide of Kurt Corbain in 1994 at age 24. As long as you and I live and if Jesus Christ does not return to swallow death forever, I am very sure there will be episodes of “the day when the music died”. The good news is that Jesus Christ is the Victor of Death. He conquered His own death at Calvary and presented ALL mankind the offer to live forever. In that day, those who have accepted that opportunity will finally receive it. I firmly support CS Lewis assertion that in the day, there will be those who WANT to be with God and those who DON’T want to be with God. Those who want to be with God will say to God, “Thy will be done!” Those who do not want to be with God, God himself will say, “Thy will be done!” Christ’s death and ressurection on the cross provided the opportunity that Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon, Billy Mays and the recently departed Karl Malden of The Streets of San Francisco and American Express commercial fame these people don’t have live a short measly several decades on earth but to have glorified human bodies that is completely free from sin, disease and death! I am sure Karl Malden who lived to 97 this past Wednesday is looking for a new glorified body after the health problems he had in the final years of his life! Those of us who believe, need ever so vigilant and enthusiastic to know that in spite of recent events the Good News remains the Good News.