So I Be Written in the Book of Love

Yesterday I read this quote from Omar Khayyám:

So I be written in the Book of Love,
I do not care about that Book above.
Erase my name or write it as you will,
So I be written in the Book of Love.
One of my frustrations with Christian culture is its self-absorbed focus on getting to heaven.

I suspect that quite a few Christians think I'm going to hell. Consider a Reformed believer. I don't believe in the doctrine of election. More, I think the doctrine is morally odious, a heresy, an offense against the honor of God. So, given my feelings about the doctrine of election, I figure it's highly unlikely that I'm one of the elect. And if I'm not one of the elect then I'm going to hell.

But maybe not, maybe God has elected me and I just don't know it. But even if I was one of the elect I'd return my ticket. I'd give up my seat on the lifeboat to save some other soul. Why? Because that is what Jesus would do. If the doctrine of election is true please assign me with the damned. As Jesus was. I'm not interested in being saved over the screams of my neighbors.

But I don't want to pick overmuch on the Reformed. Because I suspect they aren't the only Christians who think I'm going to hell. The list of offenses here could get very long. The number of ways you can be damned in contemporary Christianity is pretty large. There's lots of ways of going to hell. Believe wrong. Worship wrong. Vote wrong. Live wrong. Fellowship wrong.

Still, I'm just not that interested.

That is why I was drawn to the Khayyám quote. For my own part, I don't care about the Book above. Erase my name or write it as you will. I'm just not that interested.

But I am interested in love. This is what draws me to the Christian faith. The vision of love I find in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Yesterday I talked about how suffering erodes my faith. In moments like those I ask myself, "What do I believe? Do I have any faith?" Truthfully, I'm not sure. But in one sense it doesn't matter. Faith has allowed me to move on to love. That is what remains.

This is the notion that Tomas Halik makes in his book Patience with God in his chapter discussing the life of St. Therese of Lisieux. At the end of her life Therese undergoes a dark night of the soul. And some have argued that she died without faith. But what Therese finds on the other side of faith is love. Love for God and love for humanity. Love comes to replace faith. Faith is the time of our infancy, our immaturity. Faith is meant to pass away, making way for the maturity and perfection of love. The goal is less about the Pearly Gates than having one's name written in the book of love.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

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62 thoughts on “So I Be Written in the Book of Love”

  1. So here's the deal...
    reading this scares the shit out of me. Seriously. Because this is exactly the trajectory I am on. I went for a silence retreat to just turn off all the questions and be with God a few months ago, and found myself walking a prayer path. before long, as I walked, I found myself reciting "faith, hope, and love" in rhythm with my steps.  I got to the labyrinth and made my way to the middle ... when I got there someone before me had taken tiny rocks and laid them on the large center stone in the shape of a heart.  And that's when it was a like a bright light shone in my heart, screaming "and now abide these three: faith, hope, and love.... stop fretting over your faith.  I won't lose you.  You've now moved on to hope - that is good.  Your faith is the root of your hope, your hope doesn't denounce your faith. Now leave from here and learn to walk in Love, for only there can you truly know Me."This was a very real experience.  Mystical?  I don't know.  I'm not supposed to believe in such things...and yet my heart leaps at it.  I'm clinging to those words for dear life, because so much around me right now is telling me this is all false.This comment is getting very long but I'll wrap with the fact that for me all this is expressed quite well in the new Death Cab for Cutie song You Are a Tourist.  I feel like a tourist in my church, in my faith ... in Christianity?

  2. If contemporary Christianity proclaims that a person can be damned because she believes wrongly, or worships wrongly, or votes wrongly, or lives wrongly, or fellowships wrongly then they are wrong.  Why do you keep using 'them' as punching bags.  It's a waste of time.

    "So, given my feelings about the doctrine of election, I figure it's highly unlikely that I'm one of the elect."

    Sounds like another one of those errors that 'contemporary Chistianity' believes.  Election has nothing to do with YOU.  You, on your own, could never love enough to 'get in.'  Please read the gospel, 1 Cor 15:1-4.

  3. But you keep going back to your "dilemma", as if caught in an act of compulsion. 
    You already know what you can not believe to be either worthy or true. 
    Why do you not move on? 

  4. "Let a man do right, not trouble himself about worthless opinion; the less he heeds tongues, the less difficult will he find it to love men."
    Unspoken Sermons, "The Final Unmasking"

    Jesus taught repentance and love, and those can only be practiced here and now, and only through faith.

  5. You look a lot like Bono, MIchelle. 

    I feel your frustration and fear... but here's the best part, I think: when you get scared shitless, all it means is that there's less shit inside you. 

    I don't think you were made for fear. I think you can go with Beck on this one and just let it all dissolve away.

    Who or what did you last interact with? Did you do it consciously, with love? Then you're set. Nothing else matters. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. God didn't make you for fear. You were made to roll around in love and joy. That's it. 

    I personally love the passage Dr. Beck quoted there, and tend to feel that fear and a desire for control keep most ostensible "Christians" from ever actually believing it. But then, most of them don't really believe in Christ at all, anyways.

  6. Lots of room for more discussion on this point.

    I feel like the contemporary focus on "getting to heaven" is a pendulum swing from the focus on "not going to hell" that was/is probably prevalent in many Christian segments including folk Catholicism, Puritanism and others. The writings of Dante might have influenced a lot of thought about Hell. John Bunyan may have exposed more people to thinking about Heaven.

    You may be swinging the pendulum in another sense with this post. It seems selfless and righteous to be willing to "return your ticket" for someone else's sake. But when you follow that line of reasoning down to simple form doesn't it ultimately say, "I do not want what is good" ?

    If Heaven is the ultimate place, with the ultimate being, doing ultimate things, then we should have no ultimate desire other than to be there.

    So whatever one's views on salvation are, my hope is that salvation is seen as a reward because it grants us access to God through Christ. AND, that damnation is seen as punishment because it is ultimately separation from God.

  7. Philippians 2:5-8 we are to have the mind of Christ who being God forsook heaven, left paradise, emptied Himself of His rights as God and His place in Heaven to come to us, to be amongst us, so that He can show us the way to paradise. If God forsakes Heaven for our sake and we are to be like minded with Him then we should not be looking for our escape from this world, but love those who have not what we have. Just as God, in the 2nd person of the Trinity, did for us.

  8. You are quite right that the writing that we call 1 Corinthians is a letter written by Paul a few thousand years ago to a group of believers at Corinth.  What is referenced in the above comment as THE GOSPEL is the part of 1 Corinthians that Paul (under the inspiration of God) called THE GOSPEL.  Gospel can have either a general or a technical meaning.  For example, the book of Matthew, is called a gospel by most because it contains good news.  1 Corinthians 15:1-4 is THE GOSPEL in the technical sense since that is what Paul calls it.  Regardless of anything one may do, like loving others, if one believes these few verses, then that one is going to spend eternity with God according to Paul.

  9. What I hear in this post is not a response to Reformed theology, but rather your response to your own tradition, which you have described before as Arminian, and I personally would describe as "VERY Arminian" ... must you pound on the poor Reformed out there?  Besides, most of the people I know that technically fall into a "Reformed" tradition (Baptist and Presbyterian friends come to mind) don't know enough about their own roots to be "pounding-worthy". 

    Your assertion that "faith is replaced by love" is pretty opaque to me. After all, in the I Corinthians passages you cited, faith is one of those things that does remain ... even after the "perfect" has come. And I don't get how one is a mark of greater maturity than the other. 

    I have unfortunately had my share --- maybe more than my share --- of "dark nights of the soul". Multiple bouts with major depression have robbed me of the "feeling" of faith for long periods. I have had times when my definition of faith has been: The model of the world that I choose to act upon. Come to think of it, in those times "in the black hole", that has been the definition of love, too. If your time "in the black hole" lasts long enough, though, that definition becomes awfully sterile. It becomes harder and harder to push yourself to act in faith and love when every step has to be a conscious choice. And I suppose that's where hope comes in. Faith, hope, and love ... we need all three.

    Having entered the second half of life now, I am having to face that there are a lot of things I screwed up. A corollary to that is, I'm going to screw up a lot of things from here on out, too. I can either flagellate myself (been there, done that, got depressed) or admit that pretty much I did the best I could at the time. That I have not been "radically free" and I have often misused the freedom that I do have. 

    My conclusion? I need a Savior! There is a bit of creed that has stuck with me from my days at Southwestern (yep, we had chapel there too) ...

    In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

  10. Dr. Beck,

    It's been a while since I've commented here, but this post has struck a chord which brings me out of hiding. I'm not knowledgeable of the philosophers so much as I am of popular music, so I have to quote John and Paul:  "Love is all you need."

    Like you, and so many others it seems, my faith has been shattered into billions of pieces and scattered over the ocean. What I find myself left with is love.

    Ironically, I had to leave the church and lose faith to find love. I had to be numbered with the transgressors, so to say. Funny how that has opened my mind to who Jesus might really be.

  11. Your reflection, which I resonate with deeply, brings to mind the Bodhisattva in the Buddhist tradition. The Bodhisattva, while attaining enlightenment, forgoes release from the cycle of rebirth so that they can lead all sentient beings to enlightenment - such is their compassion.

    If I had to choose between saving myself or saving others, my understanding of the love of God in Jesus would lead me to choose the latter. However, I also believe that "it is in dying to ourselves that we receive", so I do not think that it is an 'either/or' situation.

    In fact, I would go as far to say that Jesus reveals to us that as long as we are preoccupied with our own salvation we will never come to God. Instead we are called to follow him, to love as he loved, to pick up our own crosses and to trust our lives over to him. It is a paradoxical truism that whoever loses their life for the sake of the Kingdom will gain it.

  12. Reading between the lines of this post, I'm guessing it to be a contextual continuation of the very previous post ... an UNDERSTANDABLE VENT in other words.  Therefore, I simply want to weep with you and especially the family of this boy - weeping with those who weep so-to-speak - no "wise" philosophical rationalizations, no pretentious parroting of scripture, no need to pry about the details of the tragedy.  Just the few of us here, whose "faith" on a good day also barely hangs by a thread, quietly putting our arms around the shoulder of another who has witnessed inexplicable tragedy, especially tragedy suffered by a child.  On dark nights of soul, when the flame of faith has seemingly extinguished, an aroma of love while reeling in the dark might be nice.

    Gary Y. 

  13. In my own spiritual chemotherapy, I have in the past few years began to put the love of Jesus more and more over everything.  This to the point where I've lost all ministerial credibility in my ilk, to where I'm often accused of "following man's intellect instead of God's ideals," and to where I'm pretty much written off as a heretic and doomed to hell.

    But I've found something much more precious.

    I have to admit though, It gets damn lonely out here in evangelical excommunication land.  Your words, Dr. Beck, comfort me more than you'll ever know.  Thank you.

  14. Michelle

    A. My trajectory sounds like a carbon copy of yours.
    B.  Your spiritual experience is incredible (I grew up Pentecostal so I'm comfortable with mystical.)
    C.  You quoted a Death Cab for Cutie song - my favorite band.

    Are you my long lost twin? :P

  15. honestly for me, it wasn't so much that faith was for babies and something to discard as we mature ... it was more like faith is the root, or maybe even the seed that died and germinated, but hope grows up out of that - breaking through the ground so to speak as a strong, tall center stem - and love is the flower.  or maybe that's just a really girly way of putting it :)  

  16. "If I ever become a saint--I will surely be one of 'darkness.' I will continually be absent from Heaven--to light the light of those in darkness on earth."  --Mother Teresa of Calcutta

    Dr. Beck, I don't know if you have ever read, "Come be my Light" the private writings of the Saint of Calcutta.  If you haven't, I would highly recommend it to you and to the readers of your blog. Her writings reflect a lot of what you blogged about today and yesterday. It was, for me, a great help in coming to understand those "dark nights of the soul."



  17. I think you put it very well. For me, the way I learned faith didn't turn out to be sustainable at all. I learned it as a way of being sure of things. But that was just a state of mind, and those who say "keep faith" actually mean "keep the state of certitude in the midst." But a state of mind isn't faith at all.    
    It's hard to talk about it, and find the right words. Life hits so hard sometimes, and I'm always afraid that if I try to describe it in too many words, they just ring empty. The way of loving through pain is such an immeasurable act of faith.  

  18. Thank you for this post. 
    I'm currently in a time of significant confusion and even anguish over how to know God, the way God communicates to us through scripture, how God acts in the world, and the various, often contradictory theological traditions that structure the way we understand God. 
    It brought such real relief to me to read this passage this morning and really hear for the first time that our knowledge and prophecies about God are incomplete and will fall away.  And that the way of love remains  - that way which is so frightening, but gives my mind and heart rest because of the "rightness" of it.

  19. "Regardless of anything one may do, like loving others, if one believes these few verses, then that one is going to spend eternity with God according to Paul."

    If you would agree with what you claim Paul says here David, I would have to say, "Sorry, but you just don't get it." The beautiful truth in Richard's blog has flown completely over your head because you are mired in religion. But take heart... Christ will free you. It's not a matter of if, but when.

  20. I was struggling with a manly "tunnel through a mountain which crossed a border between two countries" metaphor.  Wasn't really working (obviously).  Yours is much better - in a thigh-slapping, macho kind of way, of course...

  21. Hi Jim,

    Mired in religion???

    I am curious.  What do you claim Paul said there?

  22. Hi David,

    I had no intent to insult you, so please forgive me if you felt so, but you seemed to imply that you believed that the only way to heaven is to be a "Christian" (which by your apparent interpretation of those verses means to believe them or "you're out"). Christianity is a religion - a "tradition of men" that attempts to separate mankind into those who are God's children, and those who are not; and it does so by demanding that we adhere to what those "traditions" consider to be "essentials for salvation" --- in other words, "believe what we tell you to believe, or go to hell." Religion requires that WE accomplish our own salvation, rather than simply having the faith that GOD will accomplish His will for us -- which is to make us "new creations" ... the restoration of all things.

    Please correct me if I have misunderstood you, but it seems that you believe that "eternity with God" (heaven) is obtained only by believing that "Christ died for our sins" - the "traditional" Christian theology. If that is true then I will submit again that you are "mired in religion;" that you are caught up in its "performance-based"  requirements; that you do not have faith in God to accomplish HIS will, but are relying on yourself to exercise YOUR will "properly."

    As far as my view of these verses is concerned: I believe that if we do not believe that "Christ has died for our sins and that He was resurrected from the dead" then we will not have the peace in THIS life that comes from knowing that death is not a problem for God, and that our sins do NOT separate us from Him. These beliefs do not gain us life in the "hereafter" but start that life NOW, in THIS age; and that, I believe, is a huge difference. Without those beliefs we do NOT lose the promises of God to defeat death and give us new life, but we certainly do lose the peace and contentment that Paul is trying to give us NOW by admonishing us to have faith in those same promises. I believe that these promises are fulfilled in Paul's words in verse 22, and restated in conclusion in verse 26:

    For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. If anyone is lost eternally to hell - "the second death" - then these words mean nothing. I believe that they have great meaning. Our "belief" in Christ's death and resurrection gives us "aionios" life - life of the "age" (peace and contentment NOW) - not just the "next" life that traditional Christian theology tries to reduce it to.But that's just my opinion. I welcome yours.

  23. The formatting of that last paragraph was downloaded in error. The first two sentences are verses 22 and 26 of 1Cor. 15. What follows is my summary of them.

  24. Ergh.  I hate dovetailing off incredible articles like this to display my own stuff, but the conversations on this particular thread have really struck a chord with me.  I had to flesh out my thoughts last night on one of my blogs.  Might I ask a favor of a few of you and give it a look?  I'm not asking to advirtise - I'm asking in hopes that my thoughts are making sense.

  25. May I respectfully suggest that you miss Paul's point (and the entire Bible's point) of what it means to be "in Adam" or "in Christ."  One is in Adam through physical birth, but one can be in Christ only through spiritual rebirth (e.g. Nicodemus--John 3) by the Holy Spirit. 

    When Scripture speaks of hell, it specifies that it is reserved for those who reject the Jesus of the Bible.  Why is hell the punishment?  Because Jesus came to fulfill perfectly the requirements of the law (i.e. 10 Commandments) and offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin.  Since God Himself has made that the only way to heaven, those who reject his sacrifice are refusing the only sacrifice acceptable to God the Father.  

    Jesus most certainly did not come to earth, suffer, and die to offer us peace of mind.  He brought true peace for His followers, which is peace with God (Romans 5).  This is not peace of mind, as we might speak of it.  The peace in Romans 5 means that the wrath of God against sinners has been satisfied in Christ (there's our phrase again!) and because of that, we can now enter into a saving relationship with Him, having been declared righteous based on Christ's merits (perfect righteousness and death) and not our own. 

    I'm not sure what it means to be "mired in religion" but I do know that we are to be clothed with Christ, dressed in His righteousness.  Otherwise all we have are our own filthy rags of sin, and the wrath of God remains on us.  Contrastingly, whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

  26. Thanks for this. It seems to me that any faith that doesn't make us a better person in this life is pretty pointless, and not what Jesus had in mind. In the long run, 'love never fails'.

  27. "May I respectfully suggest that you miss Paul's point..."

    Yes you may. And may I add:

    "No one can say, 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit." 1 Cor. 12:3

    We are not "reborn" by our choice but by God's. You obviously believe that God will not choose to "rebirth" all of mankind but only those who "choose" to be reborn themselves. To which I would further add:

    "You did not choose me but I chose you.." spoken by Christ himself to his arguing disciples.

    "Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."
    --- not in forced submission but in gracious acknowledgement.

  28. Ani, you have repeated the religion of Christianity perfectly. Thank you for that.

  29. Jim,“I had no intent to insult you,”I didn't sense any insult or offense in what you offered.I don't remember mentioning anything about a Christian or Christianity or religion in my previous comment.  One label that I don't think sticks to me is 'religious.'“ Please correct me if I have misunderstood you”Well, given that invitation I will try to clarify; but, I don't intend to correct you.  That sort of thing is above my pay grade.“you are caught up in its (religion's) "performance-based" requirements;”“ you do not have faith in God to accomplish HIS will”(you) are relying on yourself to exercise YOUR will "properly."I have to say 'I don't think so' to all three assertions.  My take:  Ephesians 2:8-9.  It is all about Him and nothing to do with me.  Nobody 'earns' a gift.  If anything I do 'get's me in' then I have something to brag about.  From what I understand, when people get to heaven (I don't actually believe that 'heaven' or 'hell' are 'final' destinations; but, that's a nit at this stage of the discussion) nobody will have anything to brag about regarding how they got there.  On the other hand, that says nothing about how important it is to  love one another now.Thanks for providing your take on 1 Cor 15:1-4.  If I understand you rightly, then the one who believes this passage has peace and contentment now while the 'non-believer' does not.  Further, neither the 'believer' nor the 'non-believer' end up in 'hell.'Two questions:What words in this passage lead you to this view?When does one become 'in Christ?'

  30. Jim,
    If reading this is impossible, let me know and I'll try to format it correctly.

  31. David, thank you for a gracious and enlightening reply. I can see that I did misunderstand your viewpoint and I apologize again for that. 

    I would most certainly agree with you that "it is all about Him and nothing to do with me." And a most hearty YES, that what is important is "to love one another now."

    "If I understand you rightly, then the one who believes this passage has peace and contentment now while the 'non-believer' does not.  Further, neither the 'believer' nor the 'non-believer' end up in 'hell.'"

    You understand me rightly.

    Just as we became "one in Adam" by God's choice -- His "curse" on mankind - the INHERITANCE of our sinful nature -- we became "one in Christ" by God's choice as well. He has given Christ's obedience (righteousness) to us just as He gave us Adam's disobedience.

    "God has locked up ALL men in disobedience so that He may have mercy on them ALL."

    "God sent His son to be the savior of the world... to take away the sins of the world." 

    "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them..."

    "When I am lifted up I will draw ALL men to me."

    He did not, and will not, fail to do so. It is just us who fail to believe it... yet.

  32. "What words in this passage lead you to this view?"

    I cannot form any view simply on the words of one passage (what some may call "proof texting") but on what I see the entirety of scripture pointing to as God's plan for His creation -- the restoration of all things. While the "traditional" Christian view of this passage assumes the literal acceptance of "believe or you won't be saved," I think the question really becomes not only "what does it mean to 'believe in Christ'?" but "what does it mean to be 'saved'?"

    As you have so rightly pointed out ("I don't actually believe that 'heaven' or 'hell' are 'final' destinations") the notion of "being saved" as ultimately meaning "getting into heaven" is not only counterproductive to a fruitful life now, but misleading to its meaning in scripture as well.

    To me "being saved" is much more than simply being "allowed into heaven." It is healing, restoration, redemption... freedom from the fear of death, freedom from the fear that our sins separate us from God. And the notion that our salvation (which you again rightly pointed out is a gift from God) is something we must "earn" is simply unscriptural. 

  33. Richard - I have never posted, and likely won't again. But, in the midst of all this discussion, I just wonder if you are OK?

  34. Yes, I'm okay. Genetically, I'm wired for high positive affect. Theologically, though, I'm a Winter Christian. So I'm kind of an odd mix: A cheerful existentialist.

  35. I had no idea what you're talking about, so I Googled "Winter Christian" article.

    Sorry this is off topic, but now I have to know since I have a fascination with labels; would you consider David in the Old Testament to be a summer or winter Christian?

    I ask because I'm having trouble placing myself and feel I resemble David in terms of this model.  But I'm not sure if he was winter or summer.  The guy was kinda bipolar, a Minnesota Christian - really hot summers and really cold winters. 

  36. Tough to say. This is where levels break down. The main issue is the situational vs. dispositional distinction. I don't know how to tease these apart across the diversity of the David material in the OT.

  37. "I cannot form any view simply on the words of one passage"

    Good, I agree.  On the other hand, when you do point to particular passages, they are all the ones that appear to support the universalist view. I was trying to focus on this passage because Paul says 'it is THE Gospel' and that it is the only thing whose belief leads to salvation. You agree and then add that the meaning of salvation he had in mind was primarily 'peace now' because believers know that God will actually save all. Non-believers of the gospel don't have this understanding that 'all is actually well with their souls.' So, they still fret and worry about 'going to hell.' I must admit that this is a view that I have not run into previously.  Can you point me to any Scripture that actually says, in simple language that I can understand, that God plans to save every human being?

    One of the verses I think you mention is 2 Cor. 5:19. In case you might be interested, here is a non-universalist's view of that passage. I'd be interested in your views of where I am going wrong.

    Verse 19 states that the reconciliation is already done.   God has set everything right with regard to Him and the world.  This happened on the cross.  Then the verse ends with Paul saying that he has been given the 'message of reconciliation.'   In my view, that message is the gospel, 1 Cor 15:1-4?

    OK, now in verse 20 we have Paul pleading for people to be reconciled to God (through believing this message).   This shows me that whatever was done on the cross it is still necessary for each person to set things right with God.  And, that is to believe the gospel.

    So a question: What Scripture gives support to the view that if one does not do this while they have physical life, that they can still do this after death?

  38. Situational vs. dispositional.  Ah, that makes more sense.  Thanks for the clarification.

  39. Hi David, thanks for the open-minded and thoughtful replies. Is there some way we can connect directly through email? I do not want to "steal" this blog for our conversation. I am registered in Disqus, so perhaps we can connect through there.

  40. David, if you have not yet done so may I recommend reading Dr. Beck's views on universal salvation. You will find some great resources under Defending Universal Salvation
    Universalism: A Summary Defense
    Why I Am a Universalist Series (and Resources)on the right side of this page.

  41. Hi everyone,
    Thanks for all the insightful responses.

    Jana and I were talking about this post the other day. In that conversation I tried to summarize the post in the following way:

    The shift from believing to becoming.

    In the infancy and immaturity of our faith we think Christianity is about believing stuff. As we mature in the faith we come to understand that Christianity is about becoming more like Jesus. 

  42. Joshua, there are many of us out here who have been "written off as a heretic and doomed to hell." Sadly, as you have found, there are just too many "Christians" out there who are more interested in "saving" themselves than actually loving others unconditionally.

    Continue to choose to love. It's the better way. It's His way.

  43. "Can you point me to any Scripture that actually says, in simple language that I can understand, that God plans to save every human being?"

    1Tim. 2:3-6 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants ALL men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for ALL men—the testimony given in its proper time. 

    One of many. Hopefully we will be able to converse more easily through email.

  44. Jim,

    1 Timothy 2 sounds like a great place to hang out for a while.  I don't know how to contact you through Disqus; so my e-mail is cdweiner at comcast dot net.

  45. AND verses 9-11 tell us that there is a reward for Jesus. In some mysterious way God rewards Jesus for his sacrifice. God glorifies Jesus because of his sacrifice and all things in the end are to the glory of the Father.

    I have a hunch that in the mind of God there is little if any separation between sacrifice and glory. It is difficult or impossible for us to see it that way, but much of what I read in scripture points me to think that is a key point of everything God is trying to tell us. Perhaps in the end, we will find out that it is not our acts of love and sacrifice that get us to Heaven because we've earned it, but it is our acts of love and sacrifice that make us fit for Heaven because it is a place made up of love and sacrifice. C.S. Lewis would suggest that people who have not experienced love and sacrifice (grace) would not really like being in Heaven anyway.

    The last shall be first...

  46. Dark nights of the soul are not equivalent to depression. imho. But feel free to read the book ( and come to your own conclusions. :)


    Richard, as a Reformed
    thinker (and I use the word "thinker" loosely because I am not that
    bright), I am happy to count you as a brother in Christ and hardly think not believing
    in election dooms you to hell. I trust you say this in jest and not because you
    have a chip on your shoulder. I'm resisting the temptation to respond extensively
    (a Reformed thinker flaw). Instead I'll just quote A.W. Tozer because, whether
    your familiar with it or not, I think you'll appreciate it!

    "God will not hold us
    responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination and the
    divine sovereignty. The best and safest way to deal with these truths is to
    raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say 'O Lord, Thou knowest.' Those
    things belong to the deep and mysterious Profound of God's omniscience. Prying
    into them may make theologians, but it will never make saints."

  48. Thanks for this. A confession: I do have a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I sin a great deal when I characterize Reformed believers. I'm working on that.

    I just struggle mightily with my emotions when I encounter the doctrine of election. It's a mix of anger, disgust, shock, and incredulity. And those feelings, as feelings do, affect my charity.

    Have mercy on me, a sinner.

  49. I’m not a philosopher and I’m not
    a theologian. While I can hold my own in a debate, I find that that path is
    more about me and not about bringing glory to our Father in heaven.  Your thoughts on Reformed thinkers, good, bad
    or otherwise challenge me but do not create any angst in me (being a simpleton
    has its advantages). Thank-you for pondering things at a depth I could never
    achieve and then sharing your thoughts.

    Regarding Election: I was reading
    in 1st Samuel the other day - Then he (David)
    took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them
    in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached
    the Philistine. (I Sam 17:40).

    To my way of thinking that is what
    God did in reference to everyone who becomes a Christian. Is it possible that
    those five stones somehow, possibly by wiggling a bit, indicated to David that
    they were willing to be chosen? No, David sovereignly deciding which stones
    best suited his purpose. The choice of the particular stones was totally in
    David and not in the willingness of the stone. That is what it means when the
    Scriptures say, "God chose us." Just as David deliberately chose
    those five specific stones, and just as God chose one particular nation,
    Israel, out of all the other nations, so God deliberately chose specific
    individuals to be saved by his grace. One might say, "Yes, but we are not
    lifeless stones." That may be true, but we were just as spiritually
    lifeless and dead as those stones were lifeless. Our hearts were just as hard
    and cold as those stones, but the grace and power of God took out those stony
    hearts and gave us a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26).

    See you in heaven,


  50. I'm sorry to anyone else if I'm repeating this, but I freely admit that I have not read all the comments.

    Anyway, this MLP episode seems germaine ^_^

    If all my friends don't get a ticket, I don't want one either.

  51. Hi Rob,
    I appreciate all this, but believe you are working with a false gospel. Just my opinion.

  52. I wrote at length above so I'll simply say, we will never be like Jesus while we're fallen. At the second coming we will be changed but not before. Believing is the crux of Christianity. Trying to become, or doing, moves us away from grace and back under law.

  53. So, if you can love unconditionally, love your neighbor as yourself and love God with all your heart you don't need Christ. You seem quite pleased with your works, I've read your posts. As for me, I run to the cross without any offering.

  54. @ Rob C,

    Have you read Matthew 25:31-46? Or all of James for that matter? Or perhaps this rings a bell? “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter
    the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father
    who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in
    your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform
    many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" (Matthew 7:21-23) We're not making this stuff up you know. We are trying to be faithful to the text just as you are. We perhaps give different parts of the text priority, but our Christian faith is just as Bible based and just as faithful.

  55. "So, if you can love unconditionally, love your neighbor as yourself and love God with all your heart you don't need Christ."

    If you're doing that, then you've already got Christ. As far as my "works" are concerned (or yours, or anyone else's), they mean nothing.

    Eph. 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. 

  56. Certainly not. But it would seem that all you are doing here is looking for an argument. I'm sorry, but I will not oblige.

    Peace to you my friend.

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