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100 Responses

  1. Apparently things unsaid are as powerful as things said. He has heard something that makes sense to him.

    I am still smarting from a 30 minute diatribe about going to hell from John Mac. this morning.

    Indeed Dread

  2. Michael says:


    I was honestly unsure of the answer…and if I pass on anything to him I would rather it be whispers of the grace and mercy of God than shouts of condemnation.

  3. This is so difficult. I would want the answer to be “No,” or at least, “Well, that’s between him and the Lord.” But I’m not sure that what I would want is part of the equation.

  4. I have found that being Catholic really helps in these situations.

    Hashtag, JustSayin’

  5. Michael says:


    LOL…why so?

  6. Michael says:


    Exactly…and I want Trey to think through all the ramifications of his answer.

  7. Papias says:

    A good answer to Trey’s question may be “I don’t know.”

    I don’t know if someone who says that they are a Christian but also abuses their kids is going heaven.

    I don’t know if someone who commits suicide but everyone acknowledged that they belived in Jesus will be in heaven. I want to.

    I don’t know if someone who lives a moral life but makes no profession of Jesus is going to hell.

    I don’t know if a person who lives a horrid, sinful life, on their deathbed asks for Jesus to forgive them will be in heaven. I want to.

    I want to believe in the God in who’s mercy and grace extends far beyond my understanding and way past my own sins.

  8. Michael says:


    That’s basically where we’re at in the conversation…

  9. Michael,

    LOL…why so?

    Well it would take a long time to really unpack, but it all comes down to the idea — so central to Catholicism — that graces does not overturn nature but perfects it.

    When applied to cases like this, we would insist that the gospel puts a big ol’ exclamation point after every true and beautiful idea. So a pre- or a-Christian culture doesn’t need to be told that “Everything you think is wrong, and Jesus wants you to start from scratch.” Rather, the gospel affirms the truths they believe and just elevates them to perfection (much like the Son’s divine nature did not swallow human nature or destroy it, but elevated it to perfection).

    Actually, it’s not “much” like that, it’s exactly like that.

  10. Michael says:


    That’s fascinating and worthy of thought.
    It also raises the question why the Catholics didn’t walk this out when they first encountered these cultures…just saying…

  11. Ricky Bobby says:

    “I have found that being Catholic really helps in these situations.”

    Conscience doctrine.

  12. ( |o )====::: says:

    “the gospel affirms the truths they believe and just elevates them to perfection”

    so, as a “representative of Jesus” we have a task of affirmation and redemption, to affirm what is much the same as our narrative, and redemptive in offering a story previously unheard and dialoging with the other person to find mutual insights…

    …then stepping aside and letting Jesus do HIS work

  13. Ricky Bobby says:

    Catholics seem to have a sort of Zeitgeist thing built into their stuff.

  14. ( |o )====::: says:

    I’m thinking that just as we’re never static, our faith is active, alive, and engaged, and we learn from our mistakes, learn to partner, allow God to do His work in us through sources outside our tribe and tradition

  15. Michael says:

    I have to ponder Jason’s words some more…there is something there that my soul sings along with.

  16. Steve Wright says:

    Rather, the gospel affirms the truths they believe and just elevates them to perfection
    Jason. Dead serious quesiton. Is that sort of philosophy how the Catholics get to affirming with Muslims that they each worship the same God?

    (i.e. John Paul II “we believe in the same God, the one God, the living God.”)

    When you say “affirm the truths they believe” I know you can’t be saying that something is true just because someone believes it. So what exactly is affirmed in a lie?

    I’m not fishing for an argument, and will let your reply stand (unless it leads to another question).

    But I really am puzzled as to what you are saying, or why Catholic beliefs make Trey’s question easier to answer.

  17. Ricky Bobby says:

    Much more in agreement with G’s stuff and even Stellman’s to a large degree. Stellman is becoming more and more liberal theologically, Michael as well with his evolving view of hell. It’s good. Don’t be afraid.

  18. Michael,

    Yes, along with any church’s theories must come the admission that pretty much everyone in the old timey days was an intolerant racist. But I am thankful that the Church has made steps toward a more, ahem, enlightened posture towards outsiders today.

  19. I believe it was Jesus who said something like “No one can come to the father except through me…”

    I still believe that. With everything in me. It’s the reason I live.

  20. ( |o )====::: says:


    There is just something so compelling about God’s vital engagement with each individual which transcends the “shoulds” of his or her culture. I’ve never met a person who, when faced with their own need to reconcile the irreconcilable pronouncements of their faith tradition’s dogmatic requirements, ultimately gives that knowing look, that wise wink, and simply does and says what they understand to be the most loving integration of their required beliefs VS their actual life experience.

    I believe that in these moments Jesus is most active in the midst of the life of that questioning person because He’s simply not done with enticing them to explore and expand their mind and soul .

    So, the shaman you met would try to find a way to respect and honor Trey’s question, as does you, his dad, to actively engage Trey with Jesus as he was raised to know Him (The Great Spirit, The Living God Who Has Revealed Himself to all, aka Paul’s “Unknown God” who he spoke about)

    it’s so cool that Trey is asking the hard questions and so cool that you are the visible representative of the mercy and compassion of Jesus to him.

  21. Ricky Bobby says:

    “No one can come to the father except through me…”

    Well, is Rahab in heaven? What about “righteous Lot”? They didn’t hear the gospel and they didn’t have a correct understanding of the correct Jesus etc. They were essentially the Native American worshipping the Great Spirit.

  22. Steve,

    I’m not looking to hijack Michael’s combox, so I’d point you to this article to get a handle on the Church’s stance on the salvation of people from other faiths:

  23. Steve Wright says:

    Josh, like you…

    I believe the gospel is Christ crucified for our sins and raised from the dead. And that the gospel is the power to salvation. That Paul preached Christ crucified.

    And that believing someone of another faith (or no faith at all) is lost and in need of hearing and believing in Him is not the same as hate, racism or any other such thing.

    There was no nuance when the beaten, scourged, bloodied Savior was nailed on that cross to die an agonizing death for my sins.

    And there was no nuance when Jesus commanded, after the resurrection, to go into the world and preach the gospel. That those who believe would be saved, and those who do not would be damned.

  24. Amen, Steve. And THAT is a breath of fresh air.

  25. ( |o )====::: says:

    “No one can come to the father except through me…”

    I still believe that. With everything in me. It’s the reason I live.

    So, if we find that by Jesus’ agency, each of us who want to be with God, and some of us who never thought we would be are His, have come to The Father because of Him, then our job is one of clarification of that reconciliation

  26. Michael says:


    We don’t call them “combox’s” anymore.
    In other news, AOL shut down… 🙂
    You’re free to comment as much as you choose.

  27. Ricky Bobby says:

    Good stuff from Pope Francis. He must be the anti-christ.

  28. “clarification of that reconciliation”

    Because Jesus was incapable of explaining Himself?

    I’ll stick with His quote. You keep on “clarifying”.

  29. Ricky Bobby says:

    “Because Jesus was incapable of explaining Himself?

    I’ll stick with His quote. ”

    I give you a new law, love your enemies…as your father in heaven is perfect. –Jesus Christ.

  30. Michael says:

    I understand where Josh and Steve are coming from and I have great sympathy with that position.
    It does bring up the question of the fate of those who have never heard…
    What if…through natural revelation… those who never heard the traditional Gospel articulation came to the best understandings they could?

  31. Anne says:

    Michael, you referenced today’s TGIF as comparative manure on FB. Unless manure is now made of gold – I think not!

  32. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    Looks like your boy is a bottom line type of kid. Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes we don’t have time for subtlety I guess.

  33. ( |o )====::: says:

    Not that He was incapable of explaining Himself, He instead chose to outfit Himself with each of us, indwelling each of us, empowering and equipping each of us to be His ambassadors and representatives. He full well knew our human propensity for personalization, which is why He chose each of us to work together with Him (that whole word picture Paul liked to use called “body of Christ”)

    Jesus gave us, His followers, the ministry of reconciliation.
    He spoke stories and parables of reconciliation.

    He told us to be busy building bridges, seeking themes in other cultures where Jesus can be seen and experienced and our job is to clarify that and bring it into the experience of those we meet, at least that’s what Paul tried to do with those who worshiped “The Unknown God”.

  34. Michael says:

    Anne, that’s very kind of you.
    After reading Alan and Jason and Sarah and Noelle, I feel like an amateur again.

  35. “What if…through natural revelation… those who never heard the traditional Gospel articulation came to the best understandings they could?”

    Then preaching the Gospel is a curse. Let each man come to his own understanding? Again, not what Jesus said.

    I’m sorry that the world is lost. I am beyond happy that God made a way. He didn’t have to. He could have let everyone perish. He made a way. A way.

  36. ( |o )====::: says:

    “What if…through natural revelation… those who never heard the traditional Gospel articulation came to the best understandings they could?”

    Yep, exactly.

    Doesn’t change our calling, but it puts it into perspective that we’re each part of a daily enrichment of others, living and modeling compassion as we understand it from Jesus in our own lives.

  37. Steve Wright says:

    I read Jason’s link – twice. It does not remotely deal with my question about Muslims and the Pope’s words, or about Jason’s comment about “elevation” to perfection.

    A ) Yes, Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, including every unbeliever. Apart from a limited atonement view held by some, that is hardly the Catholic Church going out on a limb.

    B ) Yes, I believe, and while this is more debated, it is possible for someone who has never heard the gospel, because they have never been reached, to still be saved by the blood of Jesus. I recognize many disagree, but many also agree with this position, so once more, this is hardly some unique take found in Catholicism.

    The issue at hand is the rejection of the truth and the substitution of a falsehood. Not just using some common ground for pre-evangelism. Yes, Paul sought common ground there at Athens to begin his message, and yes we can seek common ground when beginning a dialog with anybody of any faith or no faith at all (though the common ground will differ depending on whom we are speaking with).

  38. Steve- I think you’ve spoken unclearly. IF you really mean (B), why in the world would you send missionaries to unreached countries? That would be the cruelest trick imaginable.

  39. Michael says:


    If He made “a way”…but multitudes were not aware of that way…where does that leave us?
    As a Calvinist, I have an easy answer…as a man I have a harder time.

  40. “where does that leave us?”

    That leaves us with a Loving Saviour who saw a dying world and sacrificed Himself, so that we don’t have to die.

    Is this conversation really what this blog has come to?

  41. ( |o )====::: says:

    “As a Calvinist, I have an easy answer…as a man I have a harder time.”

    Michael, first and foremost, and thankfully, you have always been, are now, and remain “a man”.

    A belief system has no room for compassion.
    A father does.

  42. Steve Wright says:

    And to amen Josh’s point about evangelism – something possible does not mean something likely. Obviously the intent of fallen man is to go into idolatry – as Romans is pretty clear, and as history has shown.

    Man does have a general recognition of sin and need for atonement – and that is why the gospel is GOOD NEWS, and why it is an honor to follow the Lord’s command to go into the whole world and share the good news with everyone.

    So at the end of the day, it is theoretical to ask if someone who has never heard of Jesus is able to still be saved because the person asking the question obviously HAS heard of Jesus and therefore is without excuse.

    So in no way, just because we might theorize something as possible, do we conclude it is an error to preach the gospel, or that we are bringing damnation to the souls of men in sharing the gospel to those who have not heard.

  43. Steve Wright says:

    Josh, you asked your @39 while I was writing my above clarification. 🙂

  44. Ricky Bobby says:

    Josh said, “why in the world would you send missionaries to unreached countries? That would be the cruelest trick imaginable.”

    Why do you pray, take the sacraments, go to church, give to the poor and do good works, get baptized etc? Same reason you would send missionaries, b/c you believe it was commanded to do.

  45. ( |o )====::: says:

    “Lord, what of those other disciples, over there, the ones who don’t have it quite right?”

  46. Michael says:


    If thinking deeply about what we believe is where the blog has come to, then that’s a good thing.
    I haven’t drawn any conclusions or propounded an answer…because it’s not that easy for me.
    If there is only “one way” and that way was not disclosed to multitudes of people they all went to hell in their ignorance.
    That is a difficult doctrine to embrace, though it may well be true.
    I refuse to embrace it without complete examination…

  47. Ricky Bobby says:

    “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”–Jesus Christ, Universalist

  48. Thinking deeply is great.

    Encouragement of Heresy is bad.

    Look around, my friend. Where is this all headed?

  49. “If there is only “one way” and that way was not disclosed to multitudes of people they all went to hell in their ignorance.”

    Are you going to tell me that those people did not deserve Hell?!?

    Yes, Michael. This conversation is troubling.

  50. Michael says:


    I hope you don’t think I’m encouraging heresy.
    I simply want all of us to understand the gravity of our doctrines.
    Our traditional position on this matter puts the vast majority of historical humankind in hell because they did not hear the Gospel.
    That’s intense…and raises questions that we should have an answer to when asked.
    I’m not saying our traditional position is wrong…but I want to think it through thoroughly in all it’s implications.

  51. Steve Wright says:

    Again, I repeat that Romans One sure deals with much of this discussion. And the picture painted does not seem to be one of simple ignorance. In fact, they are not ignorant at all. They knew, they rejected, they substituted, they sinned all the more.

  52. Michael says:


    We all deserved hell.
    If you can hold tightly to this doctrine then why do you not embrace the doctrine of Calvinistic election?
    How do people choose when they are given no choice?

  53. Ricky Bobby says:

    “Look around, my friend. Where is this all headed?”

    Appeal to fear. Fear-based heresy sniffer stuff. Very manipulative and generally the tactic to quell honest questions and seeking to test what is true and what isn’t. It’s the currency of the Fundamentalist, it’s how Religion can produce groups like the Taliban today.

  54. Steve Wright says:

    and raises questions that we should have an answer to when asked.
    The thing is…it was Jesus Himself, right there in the good old Gospels…Jesus Himself who spoke of the narrow and broad ways – and the few and the many that go to each.

    Can’t we just say what Jesus said? He said more people will be damned than saved. He said a lot of other things to, but to that there is no debate. The truth holds a minority view.

    I not only will not apologize for that, but I won’t spend a lot of time fighting it since Jesus is the One Who said it.

  55. Michael. “If you can hold tightly to this doctrine then why do you not embrace the doctrine of Calvinistic election?”

    I hold the Baptist view, which is certainly influenced by the Calvinist view. So if my views on some issues are close to Calvin, that makes sense. We are from the same family.

    “We all deserved Hell.”

    There you go. Everything you are wrestling with is answered in that statement. If we deserve Hell, and God is not obligated to save any of us, outside of His Perfect Will, then we should be thankful for The Way that God provided, rather than questioning why He didn’t provide more ways.

  56. Ricky Bobby says:

    Steve said, “Can’t we just say what Jesus said? He said more people will be damned than saved.”

    Hmm, you would decry a doctrine/theology based on Parable…like the Good Samaritan…yet you profess as proof text a Parable….

  57. Steve Wright says:

    And as an aside, I’m all for deep thinking. In fact, let’s encourage deep thinking when it comes to evolutionary teachings. Not just the atheistic ones but the theistic ones. Take the discussion to THEIR turf.

    But instead, few want to tread there, and those who do are often mocked. The Church for the majority surrenders to the secular thought of the day, but then chooses to have deep thinking about foundational, orthodox claims of the Christian faith that have been held for all of Church History since Pentecost.

    I don’t get it.

    But then again, I do….

  58. Ricky Bobby says:

    I guess if Parable is proof text according to Steve, then:

    “36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.””

    Anyone who shows mercy like the Good Samaritan goes to heaven according to Jesus.

  59. Michael says:

    I am not disputing what the text says…although I don’t believe that Romans 1 is a simple text to understand in it’s fullness.
    What I am saying is that if all those people went to a godless hell then we are making a statement that should make us shudder and weep and be people of incredible humility in front of an awesome God.

  60. Steve Wright says:

    And I would still like to hear an explanation as to why a Pope said just a relatively few years ago that Muslims worship the same God.

    Unless the explanation is simply “John Paul II made a horrible error in that speech and I am not sure why”

  61. “What I am saying is that if all those people went to a godless hell then we are making a statement that should make us shudder and weep and be people of incredible humility in front of an awesome God.”

    Absolutely!!! And all the more reason fro me to use my life sahringthe Gospel wioth others, and being thankful that God saved me.

  62. “John Paul II made a horrible error ”

    Pope’s do that? 🙂

  63. Ricky Bobby says:

    “What I am saying is that if all those people went to a godless hell ”

    There is a major problem with this statement…it asserts that an omnipresent “god” cannot be in hell, which is a contradiction and renders that version of god not omnipresent, not in all things etc.

  64. Ricky Bobby says:

    Psalm 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

  65. Steve Wright says:

    What I am saying is that if all those people went to a godless hell then we are making a statement that should make us shudder and weep and be people of incredible humility in front of an awesome God.
    Who is saying otherwise, Michael??!!

    Why does the Church sent missionaries, support Bible translations, plant churches around the world. And of course, PRAY for complete strangers around the world to be reached. It’s because the issue is of eternal consequences. The love of Christ constrains us.

    And that is also why the Church, some of us, get worked up when we see falsehoods as to the essentials of the gospel message being proclaimed. This is not ODM territory this is defending the faith that once was delivered to the saints.

    The truth can be shared pridefully, but it is not prideful to share the truth. In fact, pride shows itself in human reasoning that supercedes the clear teaching of Christ Who died so we might be saved.

    Lack of humility is fearing to be rejected or laughed at for the truth’s sake, choosing to coddle the unbeliever in his unbelief. THAT’s pride.

    May it not be.

    Yes, Trey’s question is hard, because it comes from Trey. I feel for you as his parent in that situation. We have all been there for one tough question or another. (Like a kid asking where babies come from.)

    But Trey’s quesiton is not hard to answer in and of itself, if we remove the age of the one looking for the answer. The Bible is crystal clear on the answer for one who rejects the truth of the Gospel, no matter what reason he may have for that rejection.

  66. Ricky Bobby says:

    “Why does the Church sent missionaries, support Bible translations, plant churches around the world. And of course, PRAY for complete strangers around the world to be reached. It’s because the issue is of eternal consequences. The love of Christ constrains us.”

    Why do Humanists seek to do good and have a Moral Code? Why does the Mormon do the same as you do? Why does the Buddhist seek peace?

  67. Michael says:


    My kid is smart.
    The first question he will ask is how they rejected something they haven’t heard?
    My answer will be my own…and I will tell him what the scriptures teach while holding out hope that in the deep mysteries of God there is more we do not know.
    The day that it’s easy to speak of anyones damnation I hope He takes me home.

  68. Ricky Bobby says:

    Steve said, “The Bible is crystal clear on the answer for one who rejects the truth of the Gospel”

    Yes, the bible calls them “Enemies of God” etc.

    And, Jesus says, “I give you a new law, LOVE your enemies, as your father in heaven is perfect”

    How do you “love” your enemies by torturing them in hell forever?

  69. Jim says:

    So Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. This makes RB right, if he really believes in universal whatever, because EVERY sin committed by EVERYONE has been atoned for.

    Both sides have their verses for limited/unlimited atonement. The tipping point for me is that God in flesh suffering for the sins of someone who will reject Him makes zero sense to me.

    “All that the Father gives me will come to me”-John 6:37

    “I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours”-John 17:9

  70. Michael says:

    I would hope at this point that I don”t need to waive my Calvinistic credentials at anyone.
    I hold to every doctrine of the historical church and all the creeds that accompany them.
    When I tell my son that millions are damned to hell his eyes will water and his soul will be in pain.
    Mine isn’t.
    That’s a problem…

  71. Steve Wright says:

    Michael, we are running circles. I’m not saying it is “easy” to speak of anyone’s damnation. In fact, that is a rather insulting conclusion to what I did say which is that the answer is clearly stated in Scripture.

    I would be shocked if the man that spoke to Trey had never heard of Jesus Christ and His claims so I think we are really mixing two issues here. At least just about every testimony I have heard from a Native American who receives Christ as Savior starts out with a testimony about his earlier rejection of Him – not an ignorance about Him. There are plenty of missionaries in this country trying to share Jesus with Native Americans.

  72. Jim says:

    I know where you’re coming from Michael.

  73. Steve Wright says:

    Jim, the tipping point for me is in two verses where Jesus is said to be a ransom for ALL people (using the Greek preposition for sufficiency, uper) and where He says to be a ransom for many (using the prep. anti, in the place of)

    His death is sufficient for all (and all means all), but efficient for those who would believe.

    I would hope that you do not equate universalism with a universal atonement.

  74. Michael says:


    There were Native Americans here long before any missionaries.
    If you don’t wrestle with this, then God bless you.
    I do.

  75. Steve Wright says:

    Good grief….after all I have written here INCLUDING my accomodation earlier which Josh took issue with…we end with that dismissiveness @75.

    Somehow just in this thread, faith and obedience to Christ and His clear teachings has been offset as akin to not thinking deeply, not wrestling, and not caring about those going to hell.

    I really can’t say much more that Jesus didn’t already say. And as someone who has given up his old life ever since Christ saved me at 25, so others can hear and be taught the truth, I’m tired of proclaiming and defending the truth being seen as somehow equated to a lack of care or thought on my part.

  76. Michael says:


    I’m not arguing over the clear teachings of Scripture.
    I’m trying to wrap my heart around the horrific implications of this one.
    That’s why I wrote this piece knowing full well what some of the responses would be.
    To me it was worthwhile to expose myself to those responses if it brought us all to a place of thinking deeply about them.
    My whole writing career has been about being honest with the readers and honest to God…and I honest to God hope there is something in the secret things of God that I don’t know on this issue.

  77. ( |o )====::: says:

    a universal atonement = a universal invitation to the banquet table.

    Our job isn’t to assume anyone is “out” but to be busy helping them understand how “in” they truly are!

    So we preach the good news of the universal atonement, letting all know their invitation to communion with God is secure and complete…

    “…so why wait in the driveway when there’s a party with a banquet and a gracious host who set a place at his table and even filled in your name card?!”

    having just been part of hosting a wedding I know the joy of such a celebration!

  78. Jim says:

    I agree with every word of #78 except “universal”. While I believe in election, I have no problem at all assuming the person I’m sharing the gospel with is among the elect. “Chosen” or not does not enter my thinking.

    I don’t need to be “right” about this issue, and sorta regret bringing it up.

    Look over there…Michael has a new post up!

  79. Michael says:


    A true child of Calvin will always assume that the one they share with is elect…amen to your comment.

  80. Ricky Bobby says:

    Well, I’m getting the guilt-trip laid at my feet once again offline. I’ll leave my other theologically liberal friends to try and speak some truth into the Group. My comments are not welcomed by the host so I’ll take his request to go elsewhere again.

  81. Christ died for the sin of everyone. Sin has not been the issue since the cross … belief is the issue.

    I have said it before, there will be forgiven sinners in both heaven and hell.

  82. RB,
    “Why do Humanists seek to do good and have a Moral Code? Why does the Mormon do the same as you do? Why does the Buddhist seek peace?”

    Because they are all trying to work their way to heaven … yes even the humanist.

    The Christian does such because he has already obtained heaven.

    btw, the Humanist steals his moral code from the Christians.

  83. As far as what I tell my children when they ask similar questions, I tell them the truth. I tell them that I don’t know the final destination of man’s soul. I explain to them that it is important to pray for people, and to tell people about Jesus…because we just don’t know.

  84. Michael,
    Everything you describe the native americans doing is explained by natural law. It is obvious to all by looking at nature that there is a God and the 3 things all people know about him
    1.) he is there
    2.) he is powerful
    3.) he is angry

    So, they all, everyone of them set out and try to make peace with that God so that he won’t squash them like a bug. It’s futile … but everyone could just throw themselves at the mercy of God and say “I can’t do it.” But they don’t and they just try harder – which akes them further away.

  85. Anne says:

    Moral codes have existed concurrently with judeo-christian codes throughout time in the world. Chuck Smith once said that if he were not convinced on his need for a savior, he would be a buddhist.

    I’ve often wondered just how much faith fits into a mustard seed.

  86. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
    How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:11-17, ESV)

  87. erunner says:

    I don’t find myself concerned for those who died without having ever heard the gospel. I believe this way because I know that God will make the absolutely perfect decision. I don’t worship a God who casually and without thought casts people into eternal darkness.

    I am concerned more about those who have heard and have chosen to reject the gospel message. I was reading through Jeremiah yesterday the chapters leading up to the 70 year captivity and it was so clear God was trying desperately through the prophet to reach a rebellious people who had chosen to worship other gods and turn their backs on the one true God.

    Even the priests and prophets along with the people wanted to see Jeremiah dead for not telling them things would be fine and they wouldn’t be in captivity very long as the false prophets among them were. False prophets were telling people what they wanted to hear but it wasn’t from God and the consequences were severe.

    What scares me personally is giving someone outside of Christ a false hope that there’s more than one way to Heaven. We have been entrusted with Good News to share with the lost and we shouldn’t be surprised if they choose to reject it.

    I have absolutely no problem with the fact that those who profess allegiance to a false gospel or another Jesus are headed for eternal darkness if they die in that condition. That scares me as I have a son who rejects the gospel and many I know do as well.

    I’ve talked with scores of people at my front door and other situations and it’s clear they reject my Jesus. They try to sound like they don’t but when pressed they admit they do.

    At times I take my salvation for granted yet shudder to think what might have been if I had been misled and ended up rejecting the Gospel.

  88. Muff Potter says:

    Michael wrote @ # 30,

    What if…through natural revelation… those who never heard the traditional Gospel articulation came to the best understandings they could?

    I believe the Apostle Paul speaks to that very issue in Romans Chap. 2. My take away from Romans 2 is that it may not be as cut and dried as many of us would like to believe.

  89. Ixtlan says:

    very late to this party and haven’t read the thread. I’m still working my way through some of the writings of Richard Twiss who was an Native evangelical who saw valid godly content in his culture. what to do with the many many who have never heard of Jesus Christ? Is there only one name given among men or one nature? That to me is the question. During the settling of this country, particularly the Indian Wars, neither white man nor native struck me as fundamentally christian. Perhaps none of them were; sure would be easier to interpret that way.

  90. brian says:

    I often ponder and dread Divine Providence, shall not the Potter do as He wishes with the pots. As of late I struggle with being compared to an inanimate object. I know that is not the thrust of Paul’s comment. We call him Paul, John, Peter, John the baptist, and Matthew, I cant even undo their sandals and they cant undo the sandals’ of Jesus. Two luminaries passed on the same day, that is not unheard of. But it struck me that JFK and CS Lewis died on the same day, near the same age. In my early christian experience both of these people are now and for all eternity are burning in writhing pain in eternal hell. And they had it coming. JFK was reportedly a womanizer and a papist, either would get him the express train to perdition. CS Lewis was a closet Catholic and even maybe tapdanced with evolution so he to is no rotting, burning and being eaten alive by worms to the glory of God.

    Now they are being punished in their spiritual body but one day they will be resurrected in their eternal immortal body to again enter into eternal anguish in a new form. I heard this on many occasions‎ and there was no more thought given to it that to say, pushing the walk button when crossing the street. Actually that required way more effort.

    I have never doubted my own total depravity, I admit that I am human, weak, lost, confused, and that I struggle. Others struggle as well, and no, despite my emotional rantings Christians in good conscience struggle with this and I agree Paul in Romans is clear concerning all of us knowing there is a God. I happen to cast a wide net, hoping that all I have worked with are included and if maybe there is a little more room, maybe me. Universalism is not the historic view of the faith, nor is Pastor Steve wrong in his posts concerning the historical exegesis of the faith. Of course Michael gives and shares his heart and RB, well I dance around the “pagan” fire screaming amen when he writes, I actually consider RB a far better Christian than myself; then MLD throws water on me to wake me up to another point of view. Is that not what a community does? Is that not grace? Boy that was a bad sentence.

    Personally I think JFK and CS Lewis it the gates at the same time and with the same bewilderment, then a sense of divine fear, than hope, then reconciliation. It may have taken place in a second, God is not bound by time nor space. God saw/ and gave the hope in JFK’s last rites and in CS Lewis’s struggles and writings. One life ended in natural causes and the other was snuffed out do to violence. Tolkiens and Lewis had an interesting relationship, though I love Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings far more than CS Lewis’s work. I find their responses to each other quite human, that gives me pause and hope as our Father quells such rivalries with His divine loving grace won for us at the Cross through the sacrifice of His divine Son. But what should be noted, Jesus did not die and suffer at the hands of God the Father, He laid His live down, of His own will. This is the wonderment of the Trinity, Divine uniqueness and Divine community, each of the Godhead looking towards the ultimate goal of restoration. I mean of CS Lewis and Tolkien along with Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther and many other such powerful figures whose sandals I am unworthy to untie.

    They all struggled, Lewis faced many fears, JFK looked into the face of a nuclear armageddon, thank God the other “heathen” blinked. Is that not the working of God, was not divine providence shown that day when we did not fire our missiles and plunge us into a thermonuclear war? Lewis struggled with his own “demons” I know the ODM folks I talked with online have him consigned to eternal perdition, Kennedy that was a no brainer he was a romanist and thus was on the express train. Never quite understood that part of the “good news”. I guess I liked John Paul 2, though I wished JP 1 lived longer but he was interested in cleaning house concerning the finances, um well nevermind. Then Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. You will forgive me but all of these men are “closet” universalists, as is Billy Graham and other older evangelical leaders even if they dont admit it. Then there is John Macarthur, he seems to be the other side, he wants to make sure very few are saved, as long as it is his tribe.

    I am a universalist for only one reason, most of the people I worked with throughout my life could not give mental consent to all the doctrines required to get into heaven from my understanding. I can understand God sending me to hell, well deserved, but them I cant. I read Romans 1-3 on a regular basis, I have no easy answer, I just hope. I hope in Him.

  91. brian says:

    pardon the spelling mistakes do to my vision issues I cant see text I apologize for mistakes.

  92. J.U. says:

    Like some on this blog, I too struggle with the issue of hell. Does a loving father keep a furnace in the basement for roasting his precious children?

    On the other hand the concept of “universalism” troubles me too. I’ll define my term, I might not have this right. I think “universalism” is that Christ died for everyone and everybody goes to heaven no matter if they accept Jesus or how they lived their life. Yet the bible speaks of a narrow way and Jesus told the apostles were to spread the word. You have to ask why the great commission was given if everyone gets a ticket to paradise. Where’s the “narrow road”?

    My personal theology is that hell may be here on this earth. I certainly lived through some and I know many others on this blog have suffered a hell.

    I know other Christians don’t believe the eternal torture idea either. When John the Revolator plunges Satan into the fiery pit, it may be allegory for total destruction.

    My personal belief is that hell is permanent separation from God. It is the grave. It is Sheol. There is nothing. That’s tough enough of a punishment for not following Christ. I guess my personal philosophy is that there is a carrot, but no stick.

    In any case, I believe in good works for their own sake. After all, if life on earth can be hell, then we all need to try to make it a little bit of heaven too.

  93. Andy says:

    I’ll get bounced for this maybe, but I feel compelled to say it. Why cause the young boy to not know truth? You didn’t tell him the truth. The truth is, that the answer is yes, if the man rejects Jesus Christ, the man will be in hell. That is not a message of condemnation, it is a message of truth.

  94. Michael says:


    I truly don’t want him to grow up with your attitude.
    He knows what the Bible says…and he also knows that there is mystery in our faith and we can hope and pray for people until the day they die.
    I want him to think deeply, with nuance, and with his heart, understanding that every doctrine has implications that we have to wrestle with.
    He’s only 11…with a heart for people and for God…and I’ll not do anything to cause him to harden toward either.

  95. PP Vet says:

    “I want him to think deeply, with nuance, and with his heart, understanding that every doctrine has implications that we have to wrestle with.”

    That works.

  96. Erek says:

    Is it Godly wisdom to be exposing your son to a healing/medicine man who is nothing less then a native American shaman ? From one father to another, what are you thinking? Totally foolish….

  97. Michael says:


    I was thinking that a real education involves learning about our history and exposure to cultures and customs other than our own.
    I was thinking that our faith is threatened by ignorance, far more than by exposure to ideas that are different than our own.
    I was thinking I want to think through these things with him, not leave him to deal with them on his own.
    I was thinking that my boy and I are sealed by the Holy Spirit and a shaman can’t unseal us.
    I was thinking that it’s harder to condemn people you know.
    I was thinking my kid would ask the right questions…and he did.
    I’m thinking he and I will do this more often…

  98. Erek says:

    @ M

    Do you think the Apostolic Fathers, lets say Peter or James planned a field trip in there day. Where they took there nephews, nieces or perhaps there own children to the local neighborhood sorcerer. So they can have the local sorcerer teach them about there customs, there beliefs, educate them on the history of sorcery, there pagan view of creation. And allow these children to watch and study the sorcerer, as he break out his worship objects and fetishes, to teach these precious ones.

    If you had the utter hellish experience of coming out of the spiritism or the occult. You would never in million millennia, never expose a child to such things. Especially being a Christian, our children are targets for the enemy. He doesn’t care about the unbelievers, so why ignorantly do his bidding?

    I don’t say this from inexperience but from experience about psychics, warlocks and similar. This lab experiment your conducting on your son, under the guise of education. Can lead your son a path of great confusion, spiritual warfare, maybe not now, but in the future, to the spirit realm that could later shipwreck him, or cause so much warfare he goes in spiritual depression or the like.

    Do the right thing and expose your son to the Holy Spirit and His Gifts, and keep him away from spiritism. This is not about debating over doctrine but doing whats right. And teaching your children that these things are innocent and or fun, think again

  99. Michael says:


    I’ll let you raise your children anyway you want to.
    I trust that the Author and Finisher of our faith is able to keep us His while we learn.

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