(While I’m on the roll on the topic of The Unevangelized Dead, Divine Perseverence,Restrictivism and the like, I am posting my post about my thoughts about it from Gary Scott’s old blog XCG from June 28th, 2005—The Editor, Felix Taylor)
Like everyone else in cyberspace a few months ago, I looked at the new column from the Ambassador Watch website from Gavin Rumney called Third Thoughts featuring Jamaican journalist, Ian Boyne who is a proud and dedicated member of the Church of God, International which was founded by the late Garner Ted Armstrong. I commend Gavin, of course, for bringing to the table a whole range of religious perspectives in order to broaden ones understanding. Ian Boyne, had a lot of comments which I felt where very stimulating and lightened up a lot of sparks in my brain. I knew I had to express my thoughts in words and I am very glad that I have that particular opportunity! Some people saw Ian Boyne’s article as threat to their post-Armstrongite beliefs, I see this as an opportunity to articulate MY post-Armstrongite beliefs and why I believe them.
Does evangelical Christianity have problems? You bet it does! Do I believe Evangelicals have a corner on truth? No I don’t! Is Armstrongism superior to Evangelicalism? No way buddy! Ian Boyne’s declaration that it is, misses the mark in doing so! I will take Evangelicalism’s view on grace on the believer ANYDAY! I will take any day a God who is so in love with me, he will NEVER leave me nor forsake me in his offer of salvation. His grace is not fickle which means that if I keep do not keep pleasing him every five minutes, I will be automatically on His bad side. Imagine in a marriage the husband will say to his wife, “I love if you will cook for me tonight and I will love you again if you make love to me tonight, I will even love you again if you clean the house tomorrow morning” and so on and so on! That marriage is just performance-based; there is no real relationship, a getting to know you. The husband says he “loves” his wife but it is only conditional upon a performance. I am sure any wife in that position is going to have a miserable marriage wondering whether she will measure up to her husband, was she a good and faithful wife. The longer in that performance-based marriage, she will be tormented and will experience a mental breakdown because of her restlessness of trying to be that perfect wife.
Contrast that to a husband who passionate in knowing about his wife. I mean what goes on in her mind, her innermost feelings and desires. She may not be the finest cook and she is like Jessica Simpson when it comes to cleaning her bedroom but her husband is still in love with his wife, wanting to see her come through these things. He wants an active dialogue in understanding and appreciating his wife, always desiring the best for her and seeing her through this wonderful relationship. I pray in the not too distant future I will be in a marriage relationship (and may God lead me to an extremely beautiful and extremely intelligent woman soon!) and I pray that I will have a relationship in the latter scenario and definitely not the former scenario! I can only liken Evangelical view of grace (which really is the Reformation view on grace, if you really want to go way, way back!) is like a marriage relationship based on unconditional love and trust between each other. Armstrongism, is performance based religion in which God must be pleased every time with you doing something. Does anyone remember Herbert Armstrong talk about qualifying for the Kingdom? If I can only completely forget it but I can’t and I remember a pastor from the United Church of God trying to reinterpret the meaning but I’m sorry, you can say HWA meant something different by qualifying for the kingdom but everyone took it to mean that you had to perform for God in order that you will be suitable to enter His Kingdom. If you didn’t pray for an hour a day, God didn’t love you. If you didn’t go to church on Saturday regularly, God didn’t love you. If you didn’t go to Bible Study regularly, God didn’t love you, so on and so on!
Why does then Ian Boyne conclude that the “God of Evangelicalism, Adventism and Orthodox Christianity is not worthy to be worshipped”? The reason is that most of evangelical Christianity takes an Augustinian-Calvinistic approach to Exclusivism. For the layperson who’ll say, “Felix, what did you just say a minute ago?” Let me explain. In the 4th Century A.D., a theologian (who is called a church father) called Augustine, concluded that there is no salvation outside the Church. All unbelievers go to hell and thus you have the theological school of exclusivism. Enter the Reformation and one of its theologians, John Calvin who believed in predestination, God predestines both who are saved and lost. He also believed that Christ’s death was of all classes of men, not all men in general which formed the basis of Calvin’s doctrine of Limited Atonement, thus compounding this doctrinal school of exclusivism.
Most of Evangelical Christianity today accepts the exclusivist (or sometimes called the restricitvist) position.
I, like Ian thoroughly reject the Augustinian-Calvinistic view of exclusivism but I am still exclusivist. I believe that Jesus Christ IS the ONLY WAY to salvation. Your works or efforts have nothing to do with salvation. Every human being must respond to the gift of grace or be eternally separated from God. I, like British scholar, John Stott who said, “I have never able to conjure up (as some great Evangelical missionaries have) the appalling vision of the millions who are not only perishing but will inevitably perish. On the other hand…I am not and cannot be a universalist. Between these extremes I cherish and hope that the majority of the human race will be saved. And I have solid biblical basis for this belief.” Yes, I believe a righteous provision for the unevangelized dead is necessary for a moral God of grace. Some of those in the evangelical community will sadly misrepresent my belief as a “second chance”. Martin Luther believed at one point in divine perseverance but believed that those who spurned their opportunity in this life will not be having ANY second chances.
Also like Ian, I have a very strong interest in the Hebraic roots of the Christian faith. As late former Canadian WCG member Jesse Ancona would say about describing herself, “A Christian with a Judaic perspective.” I have those sentiments too. At the end of her life she was associated with the Messianic Jewish movement and the Church of God (Seventh Day), she saw no need to become a “Reformed Armstrongist”. Neither do I see the need too. I am also a strong stubborn pre-millenialist meaning that Jesus Christ will come before the millennium to establish His reign on earth for 1000 years to led the whole earth into an unprecedented time of peace, prosperity, health, wealth, a greener earth and freedom of the individual and unimagined freedom of worship of an ethical monotheistic God, unlike Herbert Armstrong’s sick totalitarian perverted fantasy called, “The World Tomorrow”. Armstrongism is a selfish religion and one of the wicked religions to ever walk the face of the earth. It cannot in anyway be reformed, repackaged or be made good. It must be exposed as a brew of witchcraft and manipulation on people’s minds. “Reformed Armstrongism”, “Armstrongism Lite”, and “Moderate Armstrongism” is ALL the same, it is like calling somebody a “moderate Nazi”. It is an ALL or nothing proposition because Armstrongism is really a religious ideology, not a theology and ideologies leave little room for the middle ground and refuse to see grey areas (if so, they are a disturbance and hindrance to the cause). There are many beliefs (and I am talking about non-essential doctrines) in the historic WCG, which one can believe without being an Armstrongite, for example one can still believe in the Sabbath (which the Seventh Day Baptists, Adventists and Messianic Jews believe) the Holy Days, dietary laws (which Messianic Jews believe) and even exclusive reckoning (Jesus Christ was dead and resurrected literally three days and three nights) which many scholars of various Christian denominations believe! You don’t need to belong to an XCG splinter to hold on these beliefs if one wishes to!
Ian does make legitimate criticism of those who radically embrace anything and everything of evangelical Christianity without any questions but I think the rush to evangelical Christianity is all about their view about and grace and salvation which again is far, far superior to Herbert Armstrong’s perverse idea of “qualifying for the kingdom” any day. May many more people in the bondage of Armstrongism experience the liberation of the true grace of God!
Another Editor’s note: It is 2008 and still looking, hoping and praying for that extremely beautiful and intelligent woman (who ever it is) to be my wife!!! LOL!!! :)