If you are one of those followers of Christ who pickets and holds up a sign that says: “God hates !” (you fill in the blank), you might consider that you may be acting hateful, unloving, and quite frankly… unChristlike! I know this is an emotional topic, so please hear me out. Maybe you’re following the wrong crowd in your activism, and you could be showing a great deal of misunderstanding in your actions. Odds are you might not know what hate means in the Bible. Let’s put our signs down for a moment and talk.
Maybe you’re not the kind to stand in line and hold a sign, but your heart is held captive by the same hate. You might think “God hates ”, and maybe it even comes out in conversation. I know from experience the shame of taking a stand on some issue and of finding out later that I was off-base. That is likely a universal experience for all of us.
There is no doubt or dodging the fact that the Bible says that God hates.
“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”
This is a very familiar expression which comes from the inductive reasoning Duck Test. The test supports the idea that our inductive reasoning can determine a person’s identity through the observation of his habits, practices, behaviors, etc. Many Christians love this form of inductive reasoning because it provides little categories that they can lump theologically loaded concepts neatly. They like to quote the Biblical expression, “you shall know them by their fruits,” … as their very own “Duck Test.”
Most Christians are very comfortable living and speaking in categories. You know what I mean…I’m sure. We talk about us versus them, outsiders versus insiders, lost versus found, in versus out, heretics (them) versus the theologically sound (us). One category that we dwell in most often is the safety of the categorical distinction between believers and unbelievers.
Maybe you haven’t paused long enough to consider how pregnant and pre-loaded those categories really are.
When many Christians use the term believer, the pregnant assumption is that they are talking about a person who has believed in Jesus, who has been given eternal life, who has been forgiven of all of his sins (past, present and future), who is saved for all eternity, who has been justified by God, and has been regenerated by the Spirit of God (or born again), and who has the Spirit of God dwelling in them. That is triplet-sized pregnancy!
Likewise, when many Christians use the term unbeliever, the pregnant assumption is that they are talking about a person who has not believed in Jesus, who is spiritually lost, who remains in his sins, and is doomed to spend an eternity in hell. Of course, there are many other negative things that are included in the term unbeliever. I’m not trying to avoid any of them. If you want, you can re-read the first paragraph and simply say to each one of those descriptions that the unbeliever is not like that.
I don’t think it means what you think it means…
This was the word which was used repeatedly by Vizzini in the Princess Bride. But Inigo Montoya responds correctly when he notably said, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” Montoya was correct…Vizzini was using the word incorrectly. Words are funny that way. The Greek Stoic Philosopher Epictetus wrote, “First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.”
In the English language that is often difficult to do.
We talk about things like English Muffins, which have no origination in England. We speak about hamburgers which have no ham; in the same way we eat eggplant which has no egg. We talk about parking on driveways, and driving on parkways. We say that a house can burn up…as it burns down. I could go on…but I am sure you get the idea and can agree. The English language may be one of the most difficult to learn, understand, or interpret.
Communication, written or spoken, is riddled with inherent complications.
I hope the title of this blog got your attention. I know it will certainly turn some heads at the church I pastor, but hopefully everyone gets the tongue and cheek coupled with a serious matter! In my world there has been much talk floating around (you know how talk “floats” in our circles) and concern that I have become a Universalist. To properly discuss this issue, first of all, a good working definition is needed. Let’s use this simple definition to guide us:
Christian Universalism is the teaching that all human beings, regardless of their spiritual condition or the life that they had led while upon earth, will go to heaven when they die. Sometimes, this is also known as universal reconciliation.
In response to the assumption that I am a Universalist, according to this definition, I whole-heartedly reply: No… at least not yet!
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