Things I Think

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101 Responses

  1. Matthew says:

    #10. I always thought that the Gospel of John summed up salvation nicely: Look. Believe. And be saved.

  2. Em says:

    1:- God is not willing any to perish
    2- there won’t be any blow hards in heaven … well.. maybe some who are mentally handicapped ?
    3- not my evangelicals
    4- ?
    5- yes, God hates pride … it stunts your growth at the very least
    6- we don’t really know what God knows about either person
    7- nobody reading the Bible could believe that, including evangelicals…
    8- amen ..
    9- l ooking about at those headed there should bring tears, too
    10- amen and amen agajn here, too

  3. Bob Sweat says:


    I seldom post, but I continue to be a faithful reader. Your Things to Think About today was spot on! More and more I am dismayed by the things I read from those that I once respected. I continue to find myself alienated from the evangelical world where I once lived.

  4. Xenia says:

    1. I truly hope that God isn’t as eager to populate hell as many Christians are…<<<

    I don't believe He is. God is not willing that any should perish. However, a deliberate rejection of God is going to send you to the hot place.

    2. The same people who claim salvation is by grace through faith alone are the ones who damn people for not passing their theological exam as well<<<

    Someone on Twitter was bellowing that RHE was surely going to hell. Someone else asked him what you had to believe to be saved. This guy listed the Five Solas. I tell you what, RHE was faulted for loving the wrong kind of people and excusing their sins. I would rather be guilty of that than being guilty of preaching, in a hateful way, a false Gospel, which the Five Solas represent. I am not saying the Five Solas are not true (I don't affirm them, personally) but I think preaching that a belief in them is essential for salvation is heresy.

    3. One of the most bizarre unspoken beliefs in evangelicalism is that when you saved you receive not only eternal life, but pristine theological knowledge and insight.<<<

    Yeah. Whatcha gonna do. It's what some people believe connects them to God.

    4. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, not to gather kindling…<<<

    Yep, as RHE said, (to paraphrase) she was more interested in washing feet than fighting wars. Me too.

    5. Behind all the damnations of the brethren is pride…<<<

    I am guilty of this myself for sure. To hear me talk, you would think I either (1) invented the Orthodox Church myself or (2) was the most spiritual Christian in the world for discovering it.

    6. To be honest, if Franklin Graham is going to heaven<<<

    Oh, I imagine he'll be in heaven. (Reference today's Thought #1).

    7. When the Reformation went out of balance on the subject of works, it reduced salvation to an issue of intellectual assent to a series of propositions…so you can live like hell if you believe the right things…I’m not buying that…<<<

    Pretty much what I said the other day. Jesus becomes a tool in the salvation toolkit, a cog in the systematic doctrine. Doesn't matter what we do, we are "positionally" A-OK. I have never heard the word "positionally" used in my years as an Orthodox Christian.

    8. I don’t think God is nearly as annoyed with people who ask questions as He is with those who think they have all the answers…<<<

    Yet it is also a good thing to finally settle, as I have discovered first-hand.

    9. Spurgeon…was right…<<<

    About that. 🙂

    10. I have assurance of salvation <<<

    I would not use that phrase, but I certainly have no plans of jumping off the Royal Path and as long as I stay on it, I'm with Christ.

  5. Jean says:

    Michael, did you add #7 to strike up a convo? 🙂

  6. Duane Arnold says:

    We spend so much time dealing with who’s right and who’s wrong that we forget other minor issues, like life and death…

    Many thanks, Michael.

  7. Michael says:

    Thank you all for the excellent responses.
    Bob…we miss you.
    Jean, everything I write is to start thought and conversation…

  8. Kevin H says:

    Bob, echoing the missing you at the blog part. And also, if you had been just 18 minutes faster on your posting, you could have been FIRST!

  9. bob1 says:

    Speaking of RHE…not one mention of her passing on CT’s web site. This is the third
    day after her death.

    I think it speaks volumes…she didn’t toe the line with the evangelical papacy. Even
    worse I guess, she let folks know that establishment evangelicalism isn’t the only
    game in town…

  10. Xenia says:

    Since New Life Church was a topic of conversation here a few years (maybe a decade) back, here is a pretty fascinating article about the changes they have made, towards a more liturgical and sacramental outlook. My son used to work at this church, and he confirms this to be true. I’ve been to both New Life Church (post-Haggard) and Holy Theophany Church, which is also mentioned in the article.

  11. bob1 says:

    Great to see you on here, Bob Sweat!

  12. Xenia says:

    Forgot the link to the article:

  13. Jean says:


    The issue of licentious living by Christians did not arise out of the Reformation, but was on the mind of St. Paul when he penned his epistles.

    This issue comes to the fore when the Gospel is given its proper place in salvation. But the Gospel is not to blame.

    The matter is made worse when the warnings against licentiousness in the Bible are taught as not applying to one’s ultimate salvation and/or to the justified at all. Neither one of those teachings was taught by the Lutheran reformers. However, I have observed such thinking in groups who teach OSAS on the basis of a sinner’s prayer.

    In Lutheran circles, faith is generally synonymous with “trust.” Trust is to be placed in the Gospel promises.

    St. Paul spoke of righteousness this way: “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness”.

    St. Paul, aware of the issue you have raised, continues later: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” It seems to be a re-occurring problem whenever the Gospel is unveiled.

  14. Michael says:


    We redefine sin constantly.
    I’ve seen so many excused of their greed, avarice, and lust for power because they hold the “correct’ doctrinal views.
    You can oppress the people of God in various ways as long as you condemn gay people first…

  15. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “When the Reformation went out of balance on the subject of works,” – I would like to know when that happened in the Reformation. All I know is that the Reformers, arguing against RCC doctrine said that your good works do not count towards your salvation – it is not 85% God and 15% you.
    I know nowhere in Reformation thought that they did not speak strongly and I mean very strongly for the works of the Christian.
    Help me out.

  16. Michael says:


    Very few people read the actual works of the Reformers.
    The result has been that “works” have been seen as the path to heresy by many who came after…

  17. Michael says:


    The CT exclusion is odd to say the least…

  18. bob1 says:


    Yeah. Odd.

    Lately this publication seems to be REALLY playing it safe. Don’t wanna ruffle
    any feathers. Sad.

  19. Jean says:


    I agree with your 10:25 am, and believe that is caused by two issues:

    (1) Many churches have stopped preaching the law (in its second or theological use) to Christians (possibly because they cannot possibly fall away), so they are not shown the mirror of the law for themselves, and

    (2) Preaching against the sins of your own congregation (which, by the way, is what they really need) probably does not rank highly in church growth strategies.

  20. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “The result has been that “works” have been seen as the path to heresy by many who came after…”
    This is an odd statement in that I find that everyone who has come after the reformation thinkers are almost exclusively those who preach, teach and publish ‘works to do lists’.

    I have never run in to one who claims you are theological safe by doing no good works.

  21. Bob Sweat says:

    Kevin ?

    Old age.

  22. bob1 says:

    Thinking about what I posted here makes me really, really, really thankful for
    sites like this where the search for truth isn’t hampered by financial concerns
    and who you’re in bed (metaphorically) with.

    A few decades back, the Wittenberg Door folks served a similar function. While
    they were hysterically funny, they were also not afraid to poke a stick at
    evangelical authors, insitutions, etc. who were taking themselves waaaaay
    too seriously.

    Thank you Michael and others for your boldness and perseverance.

  23. Michael says:

    Thank you!

  24. Anne says:

    I’ve only met Michael once f2f. I never met Rachel. Each of their blogs are the only Christian remnants I faithfully read as I “wonder and wander”. Her Lenten piece struck a deep chord this year. I will miss her voice tremendously. As undone as I’ve been about what her death means to her family and all of us who love her, I’m glad I’m enough older than Michael that perhaps I won’t have to face that grief as well. So take good care Michael!!

  25. filbertz says:

    as long as folks continue to view Christianity as a system of beliefs instead of a sojourn of becoming, we will suffer the adverse effects of arrogance and judgmental condemnation. Thanks for a thoughtful list.

  26. Michael says:

    Thank you for the kind words…maybe we’ll get raptured together… 🙂

  27. Michael says:

    Thank you, fil!

  28. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The only thing that separates Christianity from all other religions (all false) is our system of beliefs.
    Jews, Muslims, Buddhists you name them are going to hell because of the wrong system of belief – enough so that we call others who claim Jesus as Lord, and who are great people (Mormons & JWs) as non Christian because their system of belief varies from what we have decided is the norm under punishment of hell from the writers of the Creeds.

    Don’t sell short our systems of belief.

  29. Michael says:

    The longer I go in life the more I’m convinced that all that matters is what we believe about Jesus…or what He believes about us. I affirm the creeds, but I still have a lot of questions…

  30. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    But what we believe is all tied to a system of belief – get it wrong and you are out on your butt.
    Even the creed writers come right out and say that.

  31. Jean says:

    “The longer I go in life the more I’m convinced that all that matters is what we believe about Jesus…or what He believes about us.”

    Isn’t that what the creeds primarily are about? And don’t the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds go into detail on who Jesus is?

    Regarding the second part, we know from Scripture what Jesus thinks of us… and, apart from the righteousness of faith, it doesn’t lead to life.

  32. Michael says:

    I don’t think we’ll be judged on our errors if we’re in relationship with Him…

  33. Jean says:

    Were the Galatian Christians who submitted to circumcision in the belief that it was required in addition to faith in the the Gospel to be in relationship with Jesus saved?

  34. JoelG says:

    “…or what He believes about us”

    I don’t know how to articulate what I want to say about this so I’ll just say amen.

  35. Michael says:


    If they had faith Christ they were “saved” despite their errors.

  36. Jean says:

    “Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.”

    From this and many other passages, the reformers coined the term “faith alone”

  37. Michael says:


    There are other ways to interpret Galatians.
    Your basic argument is that Christ will damn those who know and love Him for believing erroneous information in addition to trusting in Him.
    I think that’s sick and refuse to even consider it…

  38. Babylon’s Dread says:

    I don’t ever see all these condemnations of the dead. Apparently I don’t frequent those crowds. What I do see is incessant universalism.

  39. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, don’t you need to get the Jesus thing right before you are allowed in to have / be in this so called “relationship”?

    Aren’t we told there is a particular way / method to bring new disciples into the fold?

  40. Michael says:

    “What I do see is incessant universalism.”

    We need to exchange friends… 🙂

  41. Michael says:


    We would differ on what “right” is and how “right” you to have to be…
    Jesus showed up at my bedside when I was five years old.
    We’ve been in relationship ever since and He’s never mentioned a quiz…

  42. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, everyone is in relationship with Jesus – either as savior or as judge.
    If there is no quiz why isn’t everyone “in”? Why do even you make the Mormon or JW pass the creed test?
    Why is it not satisfactory for my Jewish mom to believe in God the way she wants vs the way God wants?
    What ever happened to the quiz at the pearly gates “what have you done with my son Jesus Christ?”

  43. Michael says:


    The creeds give us our basic set of doctrines to believe.
    What I never see you mention is the role of the Holy Spirit and the Father in salvation, nor does one ever get the feeling from you that Jesus desires all people to be saved and He’s actively seeking to save the lost.
    Your Jesus seems more like an irritated schoolmarm than a Savior…

  44. Jean says:

    “Your Jesus seems more like an irritated schoolmarm than a Savior…”

    Last time I checked, MLD believed in baptismal regeneration and paedobaptism.

  45. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, so you do hold to a quiz – the Creeds. So you are just as narrow and restrictive as anyone you object to.
    Hey, what if someone wanted to object to the creed quiz on the grounds that it was developed by the theologians in power at the time and came with the penalty of anathema to anyone who objects.
    As with my liberal friends in the ELCA, they would say we should cast off those hateful creed quiz shakles and open Christianity up to all regardless of their beliefs.
    Power to the people!!! See, you brought out my 1960s protest self. 🙂

  46. Duane Arnold says:

    Golly, here I was not watching the clock and I missed “The Lutheran Hour”. Not to worry, I see it is a repeat episode…?

  47. Tom Stipe says:

    The more I live and observe the “public” Christian life, the more I understand the monastic movements of church history.

  48. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, you really have a passive / aggressive streak about you when it comes to hate.
    Not one (I went back and looked at my comments and Jean’s) – not one mention about Lutherans or any doctrine that is particular to Lutheran theology that would induce a “Lutheran Hour” snide remark.

    Am I to assume that what I read from you and Michael is official Anglican doctrine and you don’t speak for yourselves?

  49. Michael says:

    You and me both… 🙂

  50. Michael says:

    One can never judge official Anglican doctrine as there isn’t any beyond a a few historic ones.
    Confessional Lutherans are always speaking from a confessional Lutheran view.
    You and Jean have established that you are confessional Lutherans.

  51. Duane Arnold says:

    Thank you Michael… and, MLD, it is always a repeat episode…

  52. Michael says:

    The confessional Reformed are the same…I know what they’re going to say before they say it.

  53. Michael says:

    Just to be clear…I don’t speak for anyone but myself.
    Disagreement doesn’t equal hate…

  54. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I admit that I continually engage in repeat episodes as the offending bad doctrine continues to pop up here.

  55. Duane Arnold says:

    “the offending bad doctrine” according to…. ?

  56. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane’s hate is not based on disagreement, but on his hate of a Lutheran voice as once again presented by his “Lutheran Hour” snide remark.
    I don’t care, he can hate who he wants when he wants. But as I have tried to caution him several times in the past – to no avail – Jean and I have never challenged his Anglican voice. We have never said “well Duane talks of that because he is Anglican.”
    We will carry on.

  57. Duane Arnold says:

    Some of us (and I will only include Michael, with his permission) simply think that it is “above our pay grade” to categorically state the eternal destinies of all on the planet. I think God has reserved that particular job for himself… In any case, one thing is certain – we will all find out in due time…

  58. Duane Arnold says:


    No hate, just mild amusement at this point. Yes, as certain as death and taxes, I’m sure you will carry on…

  59. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, none of this conversation today has been about who is condemned to hell. Where did you pick that up?
    The question I have been trying to get ‘is there a system of beliefs to call oneself a Christian?’ I asked this early on.
    It’s one thing to say “just believe in Jesus” – but what does that mean to the uninitiated?
    I once taught that just believing the Apostles Creed contains 110 theological propositions.

  60. Josh says:

    “Golly, here I was not watching the clock and I missed “The Lutheran Hour”. Not to worry, I see it is a repeat episode…”

    Come on…that’s funny ???

  61. Duane Arnold says:


    I would assume that you would teach the Creed in that manner…

  62. Jean says:

    I look at it this way: Jesus said make disciples by baptizing and “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”.

    The apostles wrote several epistles teaching doctrine, rebuking sin and teaching good works.

    If the Holy Spirit has given us four gospels and many letters, then in each one of these cases God himself places importance on Christians learning (i) who to believe in, (ii) what to believe, (iii) how a Christian should live, (iv) eternal judgment for unbelievers, and (v) how God desires to interact with Christians and the Church.

    If God thinks it’s important, then who are we to question His plan of redemption? Christianity is known as bookish/creedal/confessional because we are not a works based religion. We didn’t invent Christianity and we’re not going to reinvent it.

  63. Duane Arnold says:


    Thank you for instructing us all…

  64. Em says:

    Jean @ 4:06
    “….we are not a wor k s based religion. We didn’t invent Christianity and we’re not going to reinvent it.”. AMEN

    that said, i don’t think we should identify as a “relugion” because of how the world defines that term… What other term could we use?

  65. Em says:

    Religion ! ! ! Don’t know what a relugion is. ?

  66. JoelG says:

    Jean / MLD,

    Does God hear my prayer even though my theology is in a state of flux sometimes? I appreciate the Lutheran tradition. But I simply can’t believe that some of the most loving people I know aren’t saved by Christ’s Work for them because they don’t subscribe to a certain set set of theological propositions. I could be wrong and need His mercy for this. But ??‍♂️

  67. Michael says:


    You already know my answer… 🙂

  68. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Not once ever, and I do mean ever, here in this conversation or in any other have Jean or I condemned anyone to hell or questioned anyone’s salvarion or stated that God does not hear their prayers
    That is the narrative in fact a lie some here like to perpetuate. Flat out lies.

    I hope I made that clear.

  69. JoelG says:

    Michael, yes. I love MLD and Jean and have found comfort in the Lutheran church. I have also found comfort in the current evangelical church I’m attending now. I know what Confessional Lutherans think of my currrent church. I just hope Jesus doesn’t feel that way. ?. And if He does, Lord have mercy on me, and other evangelicals…sinners.

  70. Michael says:


    The article focused on hell.
    No one has accused you of anything.
    This may have contributed to the confusion…
    “But what we believe is all tied to a system of belief – get it wrong and you are out on your butt.”

  71. Xenia says:

    Michael, yep.

    I remember talking to a Reformed person, who wanted to know if I was saved. I told him I believed in the Trinity, the virgin birth, the two natures of Christ, all the miracles of the Bible, that Christ died for us sinners and rose again on the third day and that if we believed on Him we’d be saved, all the basics. But that was not satisfactory. Since I do not believe we are saved by “faith alone” (or any of the other Solas) I was not saved, no sirree bob. I told him he made up his Solas.

    Well, these things don’t really bother me. I believed he was saved and it doesn’t matter if he didn’t think I was saved. I think for Protestants, the 5 Solas are a fine organizing principle which as an Orthodox Christian I am free to reject as a doctrine that defines proper Christianity.

  72. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    You even agree with my statement – if someone does not get even your system of belief correct, they are out on their butt. No adherence to the creed, the Mormon, the JW and the Oneness Pentecostals are out.

    You draw the lines also, so what’s the big deal?. The funny thing is, even speaking of hell, I think we would say one who claims to follow Jesus as a Universalist denying even the existence of hell is probably not a Christian.

  73. Michael says:


    That was really well said…’a fine organizing principle”…

  74. Michael says:

    “The funny thing is, even speaking of hell, I think we would say one who claims to follow Jesus as a Universalist denying even the existence of hell is probably not a Christian.”

    I would not say that at all.

  75. Xenia says:

    one who claims to follow Jesus as a Universalist denying even the existence of hell is probably not a Christian.<<<

    Boy, are you ever wrong.

  76. Duane Arnold says:

    OK, if no one else will say it, I will…
    “Jews, Muslims, Buddhists you name them are going to hell because of the wrong system of belief …”
    Such a sweeping judgment is way beyond our pay grade…
    I would suggest that we let God be God…

  77. Duane Arnold says:

    “I think we would say one who claims to follow Jesus as a Universalist denying even the existence of hell is probably not a Christian.”

    Well there goes Origen, C.S. Lewis…

  78. Xenia says:

    I have this idea that Guatama Buddha is in heaven.

    He lived and died before Christ. He was pretty much disgusted with Hinduism and mediated (thought hard) about a better way. He came up with Buddhism. Buddhism sounds a lot like Christianity without Christ.

    So Buddha dies and goes to Hades. 400 years later, Christ dies on cross and descends into Hades and preaches the Gospel to the captives, among which Buddha is numbered. I believe Buddha would have found Jesus and His message to be incredibly appealing. I would not be at all surprised if he was one of the thousands of captives that Christ set free.

  79. Xenia says:

    * meditated

  80. Michael says:

    Xenia’s 7:03 might be my favorite comment ever…

  81. Xenia says:

    Virgil, ditto

  82. Duane Arnold says:

    Issues that the Fathers struggled with for 300 years… solved! It’s a miracle… or not.

  83. Michael says:

    Now, these are not things I preach…these are things I discuss with people who I know love God, theology, and history.
    They are holy speculation,not set dogmas…

  84. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well Jesus said there is a hell. The words of Jesus seem to carry less and less weight around here.

    I have no idea what the pre Christ Buddha may have thought, but I do know that his followers today worship a false god – in fact in most cases no God at all.

    I guess universalism is alive and well.

  85. Michael says:


    The words of Jesus carry great weight here…a particular interpretation of His words, not so much.

  86. Dave Lindsay says:

    Wow – a lot of good ones today but #8 was the one that really hit me as the TRUTH!

    Keep preaching it brother!


  87. Michael says:

    Thank you, Dave!

  88. Xenia says:

    his followers today worship a false god – in fact in most cases no God at all.<<<

    True. I was not talking about modern Buddhists.

    But you knew that.

  89. Xenia says:

    I am not a universalist, by the way.

  90. bob1 says:

    “I think we would say one who claims to follow Jesus as a Universalist denying even the existence of hell is probably not a Christian.”

    Well there goes Origen, C.S. Lewis…

    Not to mention Karl Barth, John Murray and I’m sure more.

  91. Steve says:

    Are people actually saying that Rachel is in hell if so, who except possibly John MacArthur?

  92. bob1 says:


    Reformed Baptists, right?

    This is what can happen when you believe a “doctrinal deep dive” always leads
    to the real truth.

  93. Michael says:


    That’s just a sample…fundamentalists of many stripes had a field day with this…

  94. bob1 says:

    RHE was faulted for loving the wrong kind of people and excusing their sins. I would rather be guilty of that than being guilty of preaching, in a hateful way, a false Gospel…

    Yes, exactly.

    This is my favorite write–up about her

  95. Jean says:


    “Does God hear my prayer even though my theology is in a state of flux sometimes?”

    If you are baptized, God has placed the Triune name upon you. We access to God in prayer according to the relationship established by God’s name.

    You are “baptized into Christ” and “have put on Christ.”

    You have “been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God.”

    Those are not my doctrines, thoughts or words…

    When God looks down on us, what does he see? “the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven; “the kingdom of his beloved Son; “a holy nation.” It’s ONE Church militant.

    Denominations, non-denominations, traditions, etc. are human institutions or distinctives; they carry no weight in heaven at all. They are not bad things; I think they can be very good things, so long as they are not misused or misunderstood.

    In answer to your question, “yes” God hears your prayers. Not because you merit his ear, or because I’m the judge of who God listens to, but because (1) Jesus and the Spirit intercede for you; and (2) you have God’s promises written in his holy Word.

  96. filbertz says:

    Jesus was faulted for loving the wrong kinds of people and excusing their sins, too. Not bad company to keep. 🙂

  97. Em says:

    Excusing sins doesn’t sound quite right to me… Showing grace to a fellow sinner can be done without “excusing” what we know to be behavior unacceptable to God…. To me and FWIW excusing means i am saying, “oh, that’s okay – you can’t help it.”
    Well, it is not okay and, yes, you may not e able to help it But i can show grace without ajudicating. .

  98. Xenia says:

    Excusing sins doesn’t sound quite right to me<<<<

    Sure, me neither, which is why I was never enthusiastic about her books.

    I did find RHE to be a lovely person and I completely understood her flight from evangelicalism as I myself made a similar flight. But I didn't agree with a lot of what she had to say. But that's a conversation for another day, IMO.

  99. JoelG says:

    Jean… thank you.

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