The Light of Scrutiny

The Light of Scrutiny

Have you ever driven down the road to see someone honking and pointing at your car?  That happened to me the other night.  I stopped and looked my car over, expecting a flat tire or smoke or some other major problem.  It turns out that I forgot to turn on the headlights.  Suppose I were to get angry that some stranger had the audacity to point out a flaw in my driving methods instead of realizing that the stranger was only trying to help me?  What if I was so hung up on the fact that someone was scrutinizing me or my car, that I kept driving?  I could have caused an accident.  People could have been injured.  Yet this is exactly what happens when I try to discuss belief-opposing information with fundamentalists.  They are so caught up in the idea that I am challenging centuries of cherished beliefs that they don’t stop to consider there could be a genuine problem that needs to be addressed.  They are so accustomed to driving around in the dark and so entrenched in the idea that they have already got all the answers, that they flat out refuse to allow any formal, public consideration of opposing views to take place within the church walls.  It’s a damn shame.  Yes, I said damn.  If you are hung up on that, then this blog likely applies to you.

If there were cable TV in the pre-Reformation days, the Roman Catholic Church infomercial would look very much like those we see in religious programming now, except that instead of promising prosperity and healing to generous donors, the infomercial would be peddling indulgences, that is, little publications that declare “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs” as if any human being has the right or ability to make such an arrangement.  The implication here is that if one does not pay up, then he or she is inadvertently responsible for the torment of a loved one.  The shepherds and sheep in modern religious institutions would like to think they’ve moved past all that archaic and erroneous teaching – that Christians nowadays are too enlightened and reformed to fall into such blatant corruption.  During the heyday of indulgences, the ruling church/government alliance felt very threatened when pamphlets which highlighted corruption in the church became widely distributed, with the help of the newly invented printing press.  Reformers were shunned, persecuted, called heretics, and sometimes put to death, nevertheless, the message spread faster than the church could suppress it.  In response, the church/government created a major advertising and preaching campaign against the “new heresies”, the illegal 95 Theses, and similar writings.
Readers may wonder why I bring up all of this old history – the reason is that history is repeating itself.  It may be very difficult for someone whose habits and worldview revolve around a religious organization’s model of thinking and weekly activities to see the difference between fundamentalist criticism of Christian Universalism and Christian Universalist’s criticism of fundamentalism.  The nearly perfect analogy is the early Reformation days between Protestant Reformers and the Roman Catholic System.  I say “nearly perfect” because herein lies the flaw – the institutional church, at least here in the USA, does not have the power to put people to death or physically assault them for bucking the system.

When the Reformers pointed out the ways in which the religious leaders were fighting dirty, they were criticized for speaking against the church. Today, this can be compared to a modern-day Reformer being treated badly for pointing out that there are mistranslations as well as marginal misinformation in almost all modern study Bibles, and consequently, erroneous teachings being passed from one generation to the next.   What is wrong with taking the time to examine these claims?  I would likely be less convinced that the system is corrupt if the system included a platform for scrutiny.  But it doesn’t.  Anyone who scrutinizes is simply pushed out and considered “other”.

Thankfully, God is picking up where He left off during the Reformation.  One tiny step in the right direction might not seem terribly important until one continues in that direction for hundreds of miles. The new wine simply cannot be contained by the old wineskin. Does this mean I think everyone who shows up at church every week is an old wineskin? No. Does this mean I think that everyone in the religious system is as corrupt as the Roman Catholic church was in the pre-Reformation days? No.

I have a problem with the system itself. It perpetuates a line of reasoning that perpetuates a line of reasoning.  In other words, it is a system that allows for little if any spiritual imagination, as if we already have all the answers we are ever going to possess, as if there is nothing new to discover, no course corrections to be made, no errors to be weeded out of our thinking.  If I have a problem with individuals within the system, it is only with those leaders whose decisions empower the system to suppress the knowledge of truth. And even then, I don’t consider these people as the enemy as much as I consider them victims of the system.  They are used, changed, and corrupted by it.

No one has a right to be the spiritual police over anyone else.  That’s why you see so many Christian Universalists exiting the system – because it is extremely difficult for us to be who God created us to be in that atmosphere.  For example, read for yourselfthe way the Roman Catholic church responded to Martin Luther and those in agreement with his observations:

“those who are filled with foolishness”

“foxes have arisen seeking to destroy the vineyard”

“lying teachers are rising, introducing ruinous sects”

“They have bitter zeal, contention in their hearts, and boast and lie against the truth.”

“[heresies] must be destroyed at their very birth”

“Some, putting aside [the church’s] true interpretation of Sacred Scripture, are blinded in mind by the father of lies. Wise in their own eyes, according to the ancient practice of heretics, they interpret these same Scriptures otherwise than the Holy Spirit demands, inspired only by their own sense of ambition, and for the sake of popular acclaim, as the Apostle declares. In fact, they twist and adulterate the Scriptures. As a result, according to Jerome, ‘It is no longer the Gospel of Christ, but a man’s, or what is worse, the devil’s.'”

“false, scandalous, or offensive to pious ears, as seductive of simple minds, originating with false exponents of the faith who in their proud curiosity yearn for the world’s glory, and contrary to the Apostle’s teaching, wish to be wiser than they should be. Their talkativeness, unsupported by the authority of the Scriptures, as Jerome says, would not win credence unless they appeared to support their perverse doctrine even with divine testimonies however badly interpreted.”

“We have therefore held a careful inquiry, scrutiny, discussion, strict examination, and mature deliberation with each of the brothers, the eminent cardinals of the holy Roman Church, as well as the priors and ministers general of the religious orders, besides many other professors and masters skilled in sacred theology and in civil and canon law. We have found that these errors or theses are not Catholic, as mentioned above, and are not to be taught, as such; but rather are against the doctrine and tradition of the Catholic Church, and against the true interpretation of the sacred Scriptures received from the Church.”

Notice how similar the language and complaints are to those on fundamentalist websites:

“It is a man-centered religion totally devoid of both clarity and biblical authority.”

“We have a duty not only to expose, refute, and silence Rob Bell’s errors, but also to urge people under his influence to run as fast and as far as they can from him, lest they be gathered into the eternal hell he denies. It won’t do to sit by idly while someone who denies the danger of hell mass-produces sons of hell…”

“Our Lord clearly expects His true disciples to be able to spot spiritual imposters and wolves in sheep’s clothing—especially those who are purveyors of deadly false doctrines.”

“guilty of promoting a false gospel”

“exposing another wolf in sheep’s clothing”

“This tree needs to be cut at the root now and kept from the public ear.”

This language is in no way limited to opinions stated on websites, this is how real people are treated every Sunday in the system. No one wants to live like that, going back week after week for more abuse.

Organized religion is nice and kind and organized and reasonable on stage or on mic, but go to the back rooms where the door is shut, the private meetings, the plans of deacons and elders on what action ought to be taken next to silence the spread of the Victorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, and you will witness cruelty, rudeness, confusion, and irrationality. I challenge anyone reading this, who thinks their church is exempt from this description, to go to your senior pastor and ask if I can come to your church to explain what Christian Universalists believe, why we believe what we believe, and do a Q&A session for opposition and rebuttal.  If you do this, your suggestion will be flat out rejected, and you will be eyed with suspicion from that point forward.  Why is this?  Because just as in the days of the Reformation, the error is considered correct, while the truth is considered heretical teaching.

Do you see how it works? The leaders control the conversation. The leaders act according to the system, protect the system, and perpetuate thinking that limits and stifles spiritual progress.  The system is designed to avoid important conversations.  It is even designed to avoid important conversations about avoiding important conversations.

This conversation is one that God has determined will take place, evidently, outside the church walls. If my suggestion about asking your senior pastor to let me come speak at your church is too scary for you, try this experiment instead.  Post 1 Timothy 4:10 in your Facebook status, send it via email, Twitter it, etc.  Just quote the verse without further comment and see what kind of push back you get.  The pressure you experience will be a small sample of what Christian Universalists or anyone who challenges status quo feels in the religious system.

There are those who understandably wish to level the playing field out a bit, by pointing out that Christian Universalists criticize and “cause division” in the institutional church, without ever stopping to consider that WHY.  What is the motivation?  We are concerned with destroying strongholds that enslave and starve God’s sheep. We don’t want to destroy His people, we want to see that believers have the ability to speak to each other, to teach each other, learn from each other, argue, disagree, or whatever – the leaders are clearly against the organic, dynamic, egalitarian church described in the New Testament.  The glorious freedom in Christ has been exchanged for the stratified, hierarchical, politically inclined model much like the Pharisaical system and the church of the Dark Ages.  The reason the leaders of this system protect it from scrutiny is that they subconsciously know that it can’t stand in the light of scrutiny.

  • Lanny A. Eichert August 14, 2011 at 12:29 am

    If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, [even] the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6: 3 – 6

    Alice, indeed your words at the end of the first paragraph are not in keeping with godliness as I’ve before complained to you in other blogs, neither are they gracious. I think you should know what words of Scripture you violate while you claim the liberty and necessity to so do. Your language disqualifies you just as much as your doctrine, because you must realize every organization has a right and responsibility to protect itself. Their methodology is mandated in 1 Timothy 6: 3 – 6. Stop complaining building a straw men, leave what you don’t like, and join what you do like. Get real: meaning face reality; you will have to get over the hurt done to you sometime and the sooner the better.

    You do NOT have wholesome words, because “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants” still ends with a populated undissolved Lake of Fire without remedy of escape as a final revelation of the things which SHALL BE hereafter. So, really, ditch your Christian Universalists, convert back to the doctrine which is according to godliness, and turn to Biblically sound churches.

    • admin August 14, 2011 at 9:16 pm

      There is no such thing as a Biblically sound church.

  • Mary Vanderplas August 14, 2011 at 6:10 am

    I agree that churches should be open to considering alternative viewpoints that challenge existing doctrines and translations/interpretations of scripture on which the doctrines are based. And I agree that no one should be dismissed, shunned, or prohibited from speaking because s/he holds an alternative view that challenges accepted teaching. To the extent that church leaders and others are not open, thinking that we have nothing to learn, that we have all the answers, that our thinking and understanding of the truth are infallible and therefore above scrutiny, we hinder the work of the Spirit and need to repent.

    I have trouble, though, with your equating Christian Universalism and the plight of its proponents today with that of the 16t- century Protestant Reformers. Granted, they have in common experiences of intolerance and rejection/persecution for their divergent (and threatening-to-the-status-quo) views. And they share confrontation with ecclesiastical systems marked by abuses of power. Beyond this, though, I don’t see them as being one and the same. The Reformers were dealing with doctrinal errors and abuses in practice that threatened the very heart of the gospel of God’s free grace in Christ. Even if one accepts that the doctrine of eternal torment (which is not as widely held as proponents of Christian Universalism suppose) perverts the gospel of God’s love for all and desire to save all, I don’t see that Christian Universalism’s message is on a par with the message of the Reformers. Holding a doctrine of final judgment does not in itself preclude preaching God’s grace in Christ as a free gift available to all – the heart of the gospel. Moreover, while there are undoubtedly corruptions in the institutional church today motivated by greed and abuse of power for self-serving ends, I don’t think these can be legitimately compared to the selling of indulgences and other such practices against which the Reformers railed. None of this is to defend the institutional church or to say that there isn’t need for reform. Nor is it to excuse leaders and others for driving off those who would challenge its teachings and practices. It is simply to say that I don’t see Christian Universalism in the same light as you do: as God’s chosen means of bringing the Truth and Light to the world in the wake of the institution’s failure.

    I have trouble, too, with Christian Universalism generally, simply because there seems to me to be as much intolerance based on doctrinal certitude among its proponents as there is among those who embrace traditional doctrines. Ask a group of Christian Universalists to listen thoughtfully to the perspective of one who believes that there will be a final judgment and separation, and my guess is that there will be less than openness and willingness to engage in genuine dialogue. I know that when I have raised the issue of biblical texts that speak of final judgment, I have been met typically either with silence/avoidance of the subject or with a dismissive “well, they can’t both be true.” Perhaps if I sensed a willingness to wrestle with these texts along with texts that appear to me to speak clearly of faith and repentance as a necessity, I would be more convinced that those who identify with Christian Universalism are open to having their own firmly held (and not unreasonable) beliefs challenged and scrutinized. Again, I don’t say this to justify the unwillingness of those who hold traditional beliefs to listen to the perspective of universalism, but simply to point out that humility and openness are needed on both sides if there is to be any genuine dialogue.

    Also, I think it needs to be recognized that just because someone doesn’t embrace the doctrine of universalism doesn’t necessarily mean that s/he is lacking in tolerance or openness. It may be that the person simply does not agree that universalism reflects the biblical witness. To say, as you do, that “no one has a right to be the spiritual police over anyone else” – or, as it’s said in my church tradition, that there is freedom of conscience when it comes to scriptural interpretation – means being open to disagreement, and generous in one’s response toward those who hold opinions and interpretations that do not agree with one’s own. This need not mean compromising one’s convictions, but it should mean, I think, not making judgments about the other’s motives and not writing off the other as being closed-minded or blinded or whatever. I do think that careful study of scripture and listening to one another needs to happen, as you emphasize. But where study of scripture leads to different understandings, there needs to be a humble and gracious agreeing to disagree.

    I will order a copy of Julie Ferwerda’s book and consider seriously the claims that are made.

    • admin August 14, 2011 at 9:15 pm

      I don’t expect everyone in the institutional church to believe it. Actually, I expect that they won’t. What is totally unfair, and the point of the blog, is that the subject is not even allowed to be on the table for consideration, for a fair “test” so that people can “hold on to what is good”. If it is mentioned at all, it is mentioned as heresy, and is unaccompanied by opposition and rebuttal. Outside of the church walls, people are free to have discussions and remain friends despite disagreement. The same cannot be said within the church walls. Why is that?

      • Mary Vanderplas August 15, 2011 at 6:06 am

        You’re right. It is unfair and wrong. Churches often are more interested in holding onto and protecting cherished beliefs than in seeking and discovering truth – a sad fact that hinders its growth and potential for making a difference in the world and that causes many faithful people like you to leave. God, help it/us to change.

  • Lanny A. Eichert August 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    As the pastor is so goes the church. I’m speaking on the individual congregational level. The character of the program reflects the ideas of the pastoral staff. Pastor means shepherd and a shepherd protects sheep. Intolerance of anything that seems to be a threat to the sheep is his job. Remember the pastor must know his flock and how firm they are and whether or not they might be swayed from the truth. Just think of Paul’s distress over the church in Galatia which strayed by being persuaded to return to law works. Or think of the Corinthian church’s broadminded libertine morality. I mean, its like today’s softness toward homosexuality which God mandated in Leviticus 20: 13 be worthy of the death penalty in society, and yet some groups have ordained gay clergy, legitimizing the sin that’s equivalent to murder. Just to state God mandated in Leviticus 20: 13 death as the societal solution to homosexuality and all of its deviant forms is to be banned from many forums (I know, been there, done that*): now that’s the intolerance of the pro-gay people. Really? Don’t they also have a right to protect their forums? So really, if you want to be heard find a forum that accepts you. It is useless to hammer against a brick wall.

    *Alice, that was the Daily Herald Extra on-line newspaper I asked you to check out a long time ago. People complained I wasn’t loving and had no right to think I was Christian because I advocated peer pressure as proper to stem the tide, meaning since they are queer it is right to call them “queers” in hopes of driving them from their perversion and back to normal heterosexual affections, or at least driving them back into the closet where they then know they are abnormal and need fixing. Christian love seeks to fix the queers and make them normal (heterosexual) through faith in Christ. I found it amusing that I could type queer, but not queers: their censorship prohibited the word with an s.

    • admin August 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm

      In my case, the pastor fired me for posting blogs about universal reconciliation and then resigned shortly thereafter because he cheated on his wife with three women, two of them were his “sheep”. Tell me who is the sheep and who is the wolf in this case? You will know them by their fruit. We have one Shepherd, and His name is Jesus Christ.

  • Lanny A. Eichert August 14, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Thank you Alice for the sympathy card and I especially want to thank your mother for also sending a very enlightening card. She didn’t sign it John & Marie Dean, or just Marie Dean, but Marie Dean with Mary Vanderplas underneath her signature. If that factually means what I think it means, Alice, Mary is beyond doubt contrary to the doctrine which is according to godliness and beyond wholesome words.

    If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, [even] the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6: 3 – 6

    Please, Alice, SEE the way the Word of God describes her and again please do what the Word of God counsels you to do. Do you see it? Will you do it?

    Both your mom and Mary would have died under the Theocracy in Israel according to the Law and they are under that condemnation today that it, the Schoolmaster, might bring them unto Christ. God give you understand how to obey “from such withdraw thyself” that Christ might be preached to them.

    If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood [shall be] upon them. Leviticus 20: 13 and (in context) Romans 1: 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature.

    I wish it weren’t so and this is hard to handle, but it must be done.

    • admin August 14, 2011 at 8:56 pm

      What must be done? Are you suggesting I disassociate from my own mother? What do you know about her? What do you know about Mary? Who are you to make assumptions about them or their friendship? When did God appoint you judge and jury? Jesus said, contrary to the law, let him who is without sin throw the first stone. You throw verbal stones, Lanny. The very scripture you mean to use as a dagger demonstrates to me that you are the one who is “proud, knowing nothing.”

  • Lanny A. Eichert August 15, 2011 at 1:26 am

    I wish it weren’t so … Please, I beg you tell me it isn’t so, Alice. Tell me the assumption I made has NO basis in reality: that no lesbian relationship has occurred.

    I’d like to hear from Mary on this as well.

    I want what is best for all of you in the will of God and am willing to take the risk of sticking my neck out knowing what might happen.

    • Mary Vanderplas August 15, 2011 at 6:07 am

      If I believed that I am accountable to you instead of or in addition to God for how I live, then I might consider responding. But since I don’t, I won’t.

      Adding insult to injury is the fact that you’re doing this on this website, where speculating about and probing into someone’s personal life have no place.

      • Lanny A. Eichert August 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm

        Mary, “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 2: 19 and look at the context from 17 through 21, but especially “If a man … he shall …” of verse 21 in other words there’s hope for you if you do right.

        As marriage is a publicly recognized institution meaning that a husband and wife are recognized as just that in public, so are lesbians publicly recognized especially when they destroy marriages: they are also judicially recognized. No matter what the case, GLHTB are all “coming out” for public recognition and forced approval. Identifying homosexuality is no longer probing into someone’s personal life; it is as fully a public matter to be gay as it is to be married. The worse part of it even when gays were in the closet, it is still a public matter when homosexuality destroys a public marriage.

        If my assumption is correct, Mary, you may have been a marriage wrecker. Jesus said, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Mark 10: 9 It is as proper to address this family issue openly on this blog as it was for Alice to state her firing pastor’s affairs. What happens here with this issue may benefit many people. We are inescapably now involved.

        What are you going to do, Mary?

    • admin August 15, 2011 at 9:32 am

      What might happen, Lanny? What risk are you taking?

      • Lanny A. Eichert August 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm

        “though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” 2 Corinthians 12: 15 and look at verses 14 – 16 Yes, I risk being marginalized and hated by the entire Dean clan and everyone reading your blog. I risk loosing what I dream I might benefit your entire clan: the restoration of your parents marriage if that’s still Biblically possible and Mary’s salvation as well as a favorable view of the true God by all your clan members leading all of them to enjoy God’s salvation.

        Alice, do you recognize what has been the result of my direct question: “Tell me the assumption I made has NO basis in reality: that no lesbian relationship has occurred?” If you and Mary are able to tell me there is no basis, then I would be able to apologize for my assumption and drop this issue. I mean, what’s the difference between two student women living in a college dorm without sin and two working women sharing a house without sin. Even in Ann of Green Gables a brother and sister shared the same house together without sin. I also know of at least two situations were older men hired live-in housekeepers or roomers for company without sin. And kinker still is 1 Kings 1 : 1 – 4, but without sin. Yes, it is possible.

        The problem is that your mom and dad are divorced.

        • admin August 15, 2011 at 7:52 pm

          You will not be marginalized or hated. Isn’t that good to know? I know what it is like to be self-righteous and miserable, and I’ve also done time in God’s woodshed and been freed from the need to be the spiritual police of the world. I pray that God will help you in the same way. I’ll let Mary’s non-answer be my non-answer also. And you totally can’t compare the situation I named, because the pastor’s actions were public knowledge already – he wanted everyone to know so that he could be free from secrets and lies – no surprises, no slander, no foul.

          • Lanny A. Eichert August 15, 2011 at 8:23 pm

            Have you ever driven down the road to see someone honking and pointing at your car? That happened to me the other night. I stopped and looked my car over, expecting a flat tire or smoke or some other major problem. It turns out that I forgot to turn on the headlights. Suppose I were to get angry that some stranger had the audacity to point out a flaw in my driving methods instead of realizing that the stranger was only trying to help me? What if I was so hung up on the fact that someone was scrutinizing me or my car, that I kept driving? I could have caused an accident. People could have been injured. Yet this is exactly

            Exactly what? This is the perfect blog to address this family problem.

            Please, Alice, do something right.

            Please, Mary, do something right.

  • Rachel August 15, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Well someone may kick him in the shin for being ugly to mama Dean!

    • Lanny A. Eichert August 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm

      Rachel, Mamma Dean and Papa Dean are divorced and that’s not pretty.

  • Marie Dean August 15, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    I put Mary’s name on the sympathy card because you have been in dialogue with her on this website and also because she is a very dear friend of mine. Here are my short responses to your comments and questions: Yes, I am divorced. Yes, I am living with my friend. No, I am not living in a lesbian relationship. No, Mary Vanderplas is not a marriage-wrecker.

    Mary and I sent the sympathy card to you because we both knew of the pain and loneliness you would be feeling with the death of your beloved wife. Mary set aside all argumentation in order to join with you in your grief. Mary is a genuine, compassionate individual who takes the time to connect with a person’s pain, sometimes by responding with a phone call, sending cards, or providing counsel for those who ask.

    There is only one way you could draw the conclusions that you have drawn and that is if someone had led you to believe that I have backslidden and am living in sin. Beware of listening to gossiping words! Be assured that I am not living in sin as you assumed. And know that I love the Lord and I recognize God’s deep love through the knowledge of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I trust in the truth of the Bible with Jesus as the living truth. I believe in the Holy Spirit and the empowerment that is given to me through the Holy Spirit to live a godly life. A reverence and fear of God’s almighty sovereignty enables me to examine myself to see if I am walking with Him.

    I sought the divorce and labored for six months with many dark nights of the soul before going through with my decision. I had always believed, as you believe, that divorce is wrong; therefore, the decision was not made lightly. The problems that led to the divorce had built up over many years and had nothing to do with my meeting Mary. When I talked with Mary about what I wanted to do, she expressed concern and advised me to get a marriage counselor to help us. We did not. I will admit that at that point, my heart was hard. I wasn’t sure that I even wanted my marriage to work. And I feel the same now: I have no desire for the marriage to be restored.

    Mary and I started our friendship with long walks and deep Spirit-filled discussions in the Word of God. We often felt as if the labor of wrestling with the Word was blessed with enlightened breakthrough of understanding. We continue to have a rich and beautiful God-centered friendship, which I cherish.

    I hope this addresses your concerns. I want you to know that Mary did not put me up to this. In fact, she asked me not to write this, but I felt that I needed to respond to your concerns.


    • Lanny A. Eichert August 16, 2011 at 1:25 am

      Marie, thank you for doing what Mary and Alice won’t do. I remember a phone call Debbie and I made to you quite a while ago desiring to renew our friendship with you and Sean. I remember you told us you were divorced from John and that we’d be disappointed to know that you don’t believe any more the same way we do. In further conversation we learned you moved more liberal and less literal, but still claimed to be a believer. And that certainly did break our hearts. Eventually Debbie and I also had one contact with Sean by phone. Now Alice’s blog is also certainly to us (even before Deb died) a heart breaker for no secret since I’m that terrible fundamentalist. Now I must apologize to you, Marie, Mary, and Alice for my wrongful assumption of a lesbian relationship between you and Mary.

      Now even Debbie and I had our season for divorce and in my stubbornness I refused counseling, but the loss was more than I would have wanted to bare, so I eventually participated in what we lacked and I’m glad I did. Even James Dobson’s Focus on the Family recommends save your marriage at all costs over divorce. I’m guessing there is only a little time left to salvage your marriage and it still is the preferred best thing to do. Yes, I am going to say it is wrong to have no desire for the marriage to be restored. The only two places I would say otherwise is if there was habitual physical abuse or sexual abuse. The best thing I can say is that each one of you is responsible for the others happiness: Sean’s happiness is Marie’s responsibility and Marie’s happiness is Sean’s responsibility. Know that and serve each other. It is easy for a man to resent having to serve his wife, but when he learns to get over that resentment, he makes a fine husband because his heart will be in his service to his wife. I know, been there, done that.

      Marie, I don’t know your issues or Sean’s issues and I cannot put you two back together, but I can ask you to think about it favorably before it is too late and then do something.

      Haley Miles in the Parent Trap.

      • Marie Dean August 16, 2011 at 6:53 am

        I am not responsible for John Dean’s happiness, nor is he responsible for mine. The marriage is over and has been for some time (and even if it weren’t, we wouldn’t be responsible for each other’s happiness). You are right that you do not know the issues, which means that you have no business making judgments about the divorce or trying to get us back together.

        I know that you don’t agree with my daughter Alice on many issues of theology and of course you are entitled to your fundamentalist beliefs. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything Alice says, I am very proud of her for her work on this website. And I am happy because I know that she is a devout Christian who believes that God’s love and mercy toward sinners are much wider than most of us grew up believing. I couldn’t be more pleased and proud that she is doing what she’s doing: writing about God and inviting others to join in the conversation.

        While I appreciate your concern for me and my family, I really wish you would back off from trying to make us into what you think we should be. I will not be discussing my family matters with you any further on this website.

        • Rachel August 16, 2011 at 11:49 am

          Mama Dean, You conduct yourself with such grace. I will try to use your lovely example when dealing with rudeness. I love your whole family so much. Thank you for being you.
          Respectfully, Rachel

          • Marie Dean August 17, 2011 at 10:30 am

            Thank you for your loving support and kind words.
            Mama Dean

  • Lanny A. Eichert August 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

    I stopped and looked my car over, expecting

    The end. So life goes onward, mistakes and all.

    • Lanny A. Eichert August 20, 2011 at 3:58 pm

      Alice’s mom is wrong to say I have no business making judgments about the divorce because God has made it His business to tell us:

      For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for [one] covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. Malachi 2: 16

      The Bible student doesn’t need to know the spousal issues, just the Word of God. On the basis of the Word of God as his authority, the student of the Holy Bible has every right to proclaim that divorce is contrary to the will of God. Therefore it is wrong to have no desire for the marriage to be restored. That is as simple as 1 + 1 = 2.

      Also as simple as 1 + 1 = 2 is that each spouse is responsible for the others happiness. Marriage is NOT 50 – 50, but practically it is 100% – 100% and that’s because the two become one flesh: God said so and that’s His intent for our happiness. God had said that it was not good for a man to be alone so He made a helper perfectly fit for the man and joined the two together. Not only do spouses complement each other, but they also share the same “dreams” together. We are to make each other’s creativity happen, not hinder it.

      What happened when they don’t. Self-absorption.

      That is NOT the model God Himself has made of Himself to us. Read the prophet Hosea to understand God’s example to us. If God would NOT divorce Himself from national Israel, neither will He condone human divorce.

      Contrary to Rachel’s comment of Marie’s grace, Marie is very bitter and hard as nails, as is obvious to even a casual reader. Is Marie nearly the same as the Biblical name Marah, which means bitter (Ruth 1: 20). The grace of God could make Marie sweetness if only she’d turn her eyes upon Jesus and look full into His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

      He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19 What a promise of victory: “he will subdue our iniquities.”

      For all posting: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled Hebrews 12: 15

      • admin August 21, 2011 at 1:49 am

        Lanny, I thought that after you made a pompous ass out of yourself a few days ago, we might see a more kind and humble Lanny. Looks like you are back with a vengeance, and this time you want intimate details on the divorce. Thank God none of us actually needs your approval. “Now did come the salvation, and the power, and the reign, of our God, and the authority of His Christ, because cast down was the accuser of our brethren, who is accusing them before our God day and night.” And since you seem to be so into quoting scripture as justification of your meddling and accusing, you might want to pay attention to the warning in Matthew 7, for people who are overly concerned with correcting the behavior of others: “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” Seriously, Lanny, get over yourself. What you are doing is just plain ugly.

  • Lanny A. Eichert August 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Alice, swing to another tree. I never asked for detail, but only wrote of BASICS. Not only is your mom bitter and hard, so are you and it shows throughout your blog site as I previously complained to you on more than one occasion. So the root of bitterness springing up troubles you, and thereby many are defiled (Hebrews 12: 15) through your mom and you, blog siite and all. That is NOT good. It is NOT God’s will. That is reality. Face it. Do something about it.

    Would I love you and everybody by telling you and them “it is okay to be bitter” or better yet, I should just ignore your bitterness? It is so obvious, wouldn’t I be at fault not to address the issue? Aren’t others watching and wondering why the obvious is not addressed? Am I my brother’s keeper?

    • admin August 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm

      I’m not bitter 🙂 I love my Dad and I love my Mom and in some distant, Spirit-inspired way, I love you, too, Lanny. Just take a deep breath and thank God that you are not responsible to live everyone else’s lives for them. Each of us will answer to God for what we do or don’t do, what we say or don’t say. God knows how to correct me. Peace to you as you deal with things that irk you in God’s time and God’s way.

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