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    July 17th, 2012 @ 9:52 am by Kevin

    These questions come from my friend Joshua Tongol. I highly recommend you check out the many teaching videos on his web site.

    How FAR would you go with YOUR INTERPRETATION of the Bible?

    Is everyone a HERETIC, FALSE TEACHER, or DECEIVED simply because THEIR understanding of the Gospel is DIFFERENT than YOURS?

    Does your understanding of the Gospel imply an “US/THEM” mentality? Does it EXCLUDE others who don’t hold to YOUR EXACT INTERPRETATION of the Scriptures?

    What if an interpretation GOES AGAINST THE LOVE YOU KNOW IN YOUR HEART to be true? Would you say, “Well, it doesn’t matter what we feel. We must submit to the Scriptures.”

    If so, how far is too far?

    Does your doctrine in your HEAD GO AGAINST THE LOVE IN YOUR HEART?

leave a comment on this post (11 Comments)

  1. I applaud the creators/directors of the film for bringing this theological topic up and dealing head-on with it. Saying that, I would imagine that despite the inevitable controversy that will arise, most people will not change their mind. For me the decision to regard the debate as very low on the “totem pole” in terms of relevance for my own life, was a crucial turning point. As a former pastor of 26 years, graduate of two evangelical seminaries (M.Div/D.Min) and up to my eyeballs in pastoral care, I concluded that I am a universalist on the topic. I believe the doctrine was/is a natural progression of fear, untamed imagination, Medieval art and exploitative manipulation by sincere, but misled Christians who thrive on drama and crisis thinking. This doctrine has mythopoeic roots in essentially most world myths of religious nature. What bothers me most for myself and a needy world, is the rush to certainty that a place of eternal torment exists for our race: a race with no choice to be born, to exist. I have largely left Christianity behind due to the uneducated (the Bible has the only answers etc.), commercial/material based dogma that has dictated the emotional well-being of millions, perhaps billions. It’s absurd, rude, and well, crazy.

  2. As regarding people being lost, the Bible trumps ‘my heart’ any day. Have you not read any of the following?

    Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

    Isaiah 55:8-9 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

    Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;

    Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

    As for differing interpretations, the Bible interprets itself and while there are acceptable differences (Romans 14:5), there are things no honest reader can possible come away with…chiefly universal salvation or annihilation.

    Also, if all are saved in some sense, what does this (rhetorical question) verse mean?

    1 Peter 4:18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

    • David: what you seem to be forgetting here is the difference between the Bible and your interpretation of the Bible. You are suggesting that anyone who reads the Bible differently than you do is dishonest. I’ll respond with a quote passed on to me by Thomas Talbott: “We don’t read the Bible the way it is; we read the Bible the way we are.” Think about that.

    • David. Pretty much every scriptural text you have quoted has been prooftexted to mean something different from any basis in this discussion. The Bible is clear that we have consciences that are in tune with God’s laws and way. Holy Spirit has also been speaking to many peoples hearts…. and is saying something different from the pagan doctrine of eternal torments. God is leading many Christians into a different understanding of the Bible than you are espousing. For example the Isaiah 55 text that you have mentioned was written in context of God’s mercy. Go look at it carefully…. it’s saying that God is not like us. God would be merciful when humanity would not be. That text is far from an argument for the doctrine of eternal tortures. Quite the opposite in fact.

  3. I reckon I will actually answer the questions. 🙂

    Q: How FAR would you go with YOUR INTERPRETATION of the Bible?

    A: To the ends of the earth.

    Q: Is everyone a HERETIC, FALSE TEACHER, or DECEIVED simply because THEIR understanding of the Gospel is DIFFERENT than YOURS?

    A: Yes, but not based on the fact that the understanding is mine but that it is the Gospel. My agreeing with it does not help to confirm that it is the Gospel.

    Q: Does your understanding of the Gospel imply an “US/THEM” mentality?

    A: Yes. The Gospel implies an “us/them” mentality. That is, man/God mentality. The good news that God decided to save his enemies from Himself implies that His enmity against man is real. Romans 5: 1-10 says:

    1. God has enemies. 2. His wrath is against His enemies. 3. Christ died to save God’s enemies. 4. His enemies receive justification by faith and peace with God through Jesus.

    The only way to be saved from the wrath of God is through Christ’s saving blood. To enter Heaven, absolute perfection is required. Either your perfection or someone else’s. I plea with those reading, to be saved you must believe in Christ and His substitutionary death and resurrection.

    Q: Does [your understanding of the Gospel] EXCLUDE others who don’t hold to YOUR EXACT INTERPRETATION of the Scriptures?

    A: I would certainly not exclude those who do not hold my exact interpretation of Scriptures, but their understanding of the Gospel must be the same. Paul said it well Galatians 1:9. I would say that declaring eternal condemnation to those who preach a different gospel is in the category of exclusion.

    Q: What if an interpretation GOES AGAINST THE LOVE YOU KNOW IN YOUR HEART to be true? Would you say, “Well, it doesn’t matter what we feel. We must submit to the Scriptures.”

    A: David Moore’s post above suffices.

    Q: If so, how far is too far?

    A: As soon as I start bringing the ideas of my flesh and misinterpret the Bible so that it fits those ideas, I have gone too far. (Eisegesis)

    • Ted. Your coming from a particular interpretation of the Bible. Go read what the founding fathers believed…. it is quite different from your interpreatation. The doctrine of penal substitution was unheard of in Christianity before Calvin. As well Romans chapter 1 and 2 clearly shows Paul’s understanding of God’s wrath…. it is allowing the person to go prodigal as in the story of the prodigal son…. this is very different than the Augustinian/Roman influenced interpretation that you are espousing. As well, while it can be argued that the unredeemed are God’s enemies…. nowhere in the Bible does it say that God is their enemy. In fact the Bible teaches that it is Godly to love ones enemies…. to bless them. That it rains on the good and bad alike (God’s love and mercy). In your post you’ve expressed several things that show a very different understanding of the Gospel than the early Christians believed. That is probably one of the reasons why a great number of the Ante-Nicene founding fathers believed in Ultimate reconciliation… while your post suggests that you can’t seem to see any validity this interpretation of the faith. From what you’ve written I believe that your understanding of the atonement, and how God’s wrath functions is based on pagan influences that have made their way into Christianity. I suggest you go and read the writings from the early Christians…. that were written before these influences made their way into the faith. Their views are quite different.

    • As well Ted. You are prooftexting the scriptures…. and coming up with an interpretation that is nearly opposite of what they are saying. For example in your interpretation of Galations 1:9….. go read Galations as a whole. It’s theme is clearly that a person is right with God through faith and the resulting blessing of Holy Spirit residing inside the Christian holding them right with God. This has nothing to do with having all of ones theological ducks in a row (not saying that ultimate reconciliation believers don’t have this).

      Also you had mentioned Romans 5…. Go read Romans 5:9 in the context of what Paul has written about God’s wrath in Romans 1 and 2, instead of simply prooftexting this text. It is saying that through Christ we will be saved from going astray (which God’s wrath allows). It has nothing to do with the eternal wrath that you are suggesting. Romans 5:1 says that the believer stands in grace through faith…. again this has nothing to do with having a correct or incorrect view of hell…. the believer is simply right with God through faith nommatter what his/her theological views are.

      Also in Romans 10 is says…. For if, being enemies we were conciliated to God through the death of his son, much rather, being conciliated, we shall be saved in this life. In other words all of humanity has been forgiven on the cross (conciliated to God on God’s end)….. the Christian accepts this and become right with God in his/her life. That doesn’t exclude the fact that God has already forgiven his enemies through Christ on the cross. The Christian is simply the person who accepts into his/her life what God has already done for all of humanity. Being that God forgave us on the cross…. including any “enemies” that he might have had.

    • Oh…. and at the risk of re-itterating. Galations 1:9 speaks of anathema, for a different interpretation of the Gospel…. it says nothing of eternal tortures. Also the interpreation that you are espousing is in fact the different interpretion…. based on Calvins view of penal substitution, which was unheard of for the first fifteen hundred or so years of Christianity…. and is still rejected by millions and millions of sincere Christians.

    • Thank you, Ted Jammers. (epic name, by the way) It’s good to see there are still a few self-righteous, judgmental fire-and-brimstone infernalists around who want others to go to hell because it seems right to us! (lol) Ironically the thing that would be consumed the quickest in a fiery furnace is a STRAW MAN and these types of posrts are usually chock full of them.

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