I would like to introduce this blog with a prayer I wrote in my journal in August, 2008:
I know that I barely even know the tiniest bit about Your power and Your plans. You know that I have recently prayed and asked for the privilege of knowing Your thoughts. You have been so gentle to only give me what I am capable of comprehending. I know that there is so much more, but I am afraid to become more emphasized on the wonder of You than of Yourself, Who You are. Your works are great, it is addictive to be included in the supernatural nature of You, but I don’t want to allow my idol to be what You do. That is why I am thankful that You are careful with me… I am special because I am chosen by my Creator, but I am not chosen because I am special. If it were not for Your unmerited favor toward me, I would be lost so deep in the filth of my own sin. You keep Your promises of love toward me, even when I sin. I have moments of wickedness and rebellion, yet You do not discard me or write me off as a lost cause.
As the body of Christ, I confess our failures, our hatred toward one another, our pride, and our selfishness. Please help me to get it right, and help me to help my brothers and sisters in Christ to get it right. Our current state is shameful. You deserve… a faithful servant and a whole world that is bowed down and confessing “Jesus Christ is Lord.” The church has been scattered and confused because of unfaithfulness to You, and our disobedience to the two greatest commandments [love God, love others]. We have turned away from You and each other, all because we thing we know better than You. How stupid! It amazes me that You have such mercy, patience, and forgiveness toward 2000+ years of childish, ignorant, rebellious people. Yet there have been sparks of revival. Every now and then, someone comes along who recognizes their own depravity and believes that You are bigger than their sin. Every once in a while, someone stirs things up by the power of Your Spirit. I pray that this generation will be and is Your chosen generation, where those sparks are fanned into full blaze.
You have allowed Your bride to sink to such depths and be overtaken almost to destruction. Churches are dying all around. But I know that You have only done this so that we would see the error of our ways and feel the consequences of our bad decisions. On behalf of Your people, I pray that You will pour Your Spirit out once again, that sleeping Christians will wake up… You have not allowed us to be utterly ruined. You have set aside a faithful remnant in each of us individually and corporately. Lord, I am seeking Your favor on me and on Your church. Help us turn from our sins. Help us to know the truth about how we are to love You and each other. It is no wonder the world ridicules Your followers. We are a screwed up bunch. But we are chosen, and so I ask that You make a name for Yourself that will strike awe in the hearts of unbelievers. Let our religion be the true religion of loving You and loving each other. Break it down into practical language that everyone can understand, and bless us with teachable hearts that desire to be obedient to You.
Right now, God, Creator of the Universe, one of Your created ones calls out to You to hear this prayer. For Your sake, and for Your glory, look at your bride with favor. See our desolate state and have pity on us. Listen. Read. These words are not just ink and paper, they are offered to You in faith that You will return Your bride to a glorious state… I pray, “How long?” for your church. I an not asking You to do this because we are so great, I am asking You to do this because we are so desperate! You are merciful. Throughout the generations, You have shown local and temporary demonstrations of Your glory, the glory of healing and restoration that can only come from the One True God. I pray that You will show Yourself like never before in my life, in my family and friend’s lives, at church, in Umatilla, in Florida, in the United States, and in the world. Worldwide, lasting revival that continues…
The enemy has had enough fun toying with us, lying to us, tempting us, and undermining all of Your work. I pray that you will raise up a church that knows the authority it possesses in Jesus Christ, that does not grieve Your Holy Spirit or fight against You. But, Lord, we don’t have what it takes. I am believing You, that You will decide to turn the hearts of Your people back to You. We need You to work this miracle in us. We are helpless without Your Spirit giving us the will to obey You. Please hear my request and act on it. Do not delay. Send revival to us.
Oh Lord, give me insight and understanding. Let it be for me like it was for Daniel. Let it be that as soon as I set pen to paper [in prayer], You already answered [my prayer]. Let me be highly esteemed by You like Daniel was [Daniel 10:11]. I know he was a man, and therefore a sinner, like me. I believe that You can choose me like You chose him. Give me something to think about. Give me understanding. Is it the time of the end? [Here, when I write “the end,” I refer to Daniel 12:4, not the end of the world.] Fill me with mourning, if that’s what it takes. Instruct me to fast for three weeks. Please do whatever You want with me. But, enable me, because I am weak. Make me fall into a deep sleep with my face to the ground [Daniel 10:9]. Tell me that since the first day that I set my mind to gain understanding and humble myself before you that my words have been heard [Daniel 10:12]. Respond to me. Explain to me what will happen. Touch me and give me strength to handle all that You want to dish out… I pray that the people who know their God will firmly resist the enemy by the power of Your Spirit. You said “those who are wise instruct many” [Daniel 12:3] – this sounds to me like the early church. They fell by the sword, were burned, captured, and plundered. They received a little help with this [Constantine] and were joined by the insincere. The wise have stumbled. We are in the process of being refined, purified, and made spotless.
Is it the time of the end? [Again, here, when I write “the end,” I refer to Daniel 12:4, not the end of the world.] It is an appointed time. Lord, let this generation be the one to see the appointed time! …Deliver Your people! The words have been sealed to the time of the end [Daniel 12:4]. Is it that time? I pray Lord that is is! All of the human race cries out for resolution… Some don’t know it, but it is in each of us. You said those who are wise will understand. Lord, let me be wise. Let me understand. Don’t send me on my way…
I know I don’t deserve it, but let me live to see all of this and to know and live according to the wisdom You give me. Lord, You said that You have determined times and places for each person. What do You want me to do? I have an intense desire to get in on Your plans, to pray for Your will to done on earth as it is in Heaven, and to join You in the work of Your Spirit in the name of Your Son. I want to look back on my life and know that You have used this unworthy vessel, made worthy by the blood of Jesus’s crucified body, to do amazing things in my time and my place, appointed by You from the beginning. I am writing everything down, because I believe You will and are showing me… the work of Your hands. I want to give You glory in such a way that no one who reads the words can remain unchanged in some way.
One of the reasons I wrote my prayers down on a regular basis was that God was telling me that I would need to refer back to them later, I would need to remember what it was like to not know His plan, because He would reveal it, and then I might forget how it happened. He told me that He was doing something new, but something old, and that my journey of discovery would be “a book.” For the longest time, I thought that this meant a published hardcover or paperback. I suppose that is still a possibility, but I’m beginning to wonder if this “book” is actually www.whatgoddoes.com. Time will tell. The point I’m getting at, though, is that I knew then that I was on to something with amazing spiritual significance. The more God opened my eyes, the more inclusive my prayers became. I wasn’t just praying for MY church or for local churches or churches in general, I began praying for this organic, dynamic, entity – the body of Christ. I wasn’t praying for my plans, I was praying for His plan of the ages, without even realizing that was what I was praying for. The walls of the churches were disappearing, and I was seeing the people trapped inside the system, the people who were starving, like me. And I even dared to pray for the whole world. The whole world! Sure, I had prayed for the world before, but I had always done it with a defeated frame of mind, because I had been taught from a very young age that most of the world would reject the “offer” of salvation and go to hell or be annihilated. In other words, when I prayed for the world, I prayed without hope, not believing that my prayers would make much difference. My prayers were becoming more daring. Sometimes I would finish praying and wonder if God was mad at me for asking too much, for expecting too much out of Him.
This blog series is inspired by a sermon called “Barbie God” by Pastor Scott Wiens. Usually, when I quote verbal or written messages by people who believe in eternal torment, these people accuse me of taking their words out of context. Since I will quote from “Barbie God” throughout this blog, I encourage you to click here and listen to the message in its entirety. That way you can be a fair judge of whether I have taken Scott’s words out of context.
When Scott was warning the sheep about how dangerous universalism is, he described it as “one of the most dangerous doctrines that’s now in another cycle.” I’d like to address the “now in another cycle” portion of his comments. I’ve heard pastors respond in all sorts of ways to Christian Universalism – the belief that Jesus actually accomplishes His mission to “seek and save the lost.” Often, pastors say, “Oh, this is nothing new.” Scott’s comment is very similar to this, and here’s how. Orthodox Christianity has systematically suppressed the idea that Jesus “is the Savior of all mankind, especially those who believe.” You can read about some of this history here. I wrote a blog about “shifts” in the spiritual question-asking/question-answering environment throughout church history, and you can read it here. Perhaps my “shifts” are similar to Scott’s “now in another cycle” idea. Here’s the kicker, though – we are living in an age that is remarkably different from all of human history:
…The third shift is happening now. Really it has been happening all along, only no one knew it, because anyone who dared speak up about it was quickly labeled heretic and put out of the church. This is still the standard approach in most congregations, but something else happened that the institutional church never expected, something that if they had known ahead of time they still would not have been able to prevent. Something remarkably similar in potential to the printing press, that is, the internet. Social media. The ability for people to easily and anonymously access information. We are living during a pivotal time in history. God is turning the institutional church upside down and inside out, shaking it to see what falls out and what sticks. The wineskin is bursting with Good News that really is good. People are remembering Who God is and what God does, how His plan of the ages involves calling out a “firstfruit” people for Himself, and that this firstfruit harvest is just the beginning of the entire harvest. The year of Jubilee is on the horizon – out of Zion’s hill salvation comes.
Part of the reason that the very first youtube video I ever created, Jesus Saves Everyone, says, “the internet belongs to God” is that God is using the internet as a means to open up the vision that was sealed shut in the book of Daniel:
And thou, O Daniel, hide the things, and seal the book till the time of the end, many do go to and fro, and knowledge is multiplied… at the completion of the scattering of power of the holy people…
In the past, people who were labeled heretic and put out of the church effectively “disappeared” from among others who might have benefitted from hearing what they had to say. In the past, it was very difficult for someone to look up scriptures in many different translations, find out where translations came from, study the Hebrew and Greek words, study etymology, and most importantly, study church history to find out who, what, where, when, and how the beliefs of the early church were lost in the unholy alliance between the church and Rome (and all its violent and oppressive consequences that persisted until just a few hundred years ago). But things have changed. Heretics don’t just disappear, because with social networks, their peers can anonymously look into the so-called heresy and form their own opinions about whether the church authorities should have reacted so strongly. Yes, thank God, things have changed. Now, people have many useful tools for Bible study at their fingertips. And if they dig into church history, they aren’t just reading church-approved or church-recommended sources. They can find out what really happened and why. In the blog, Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell, I write more extensively on suspiciously hidden or omitted information in orthodox study materials. I would like to believe that it is simply an oversight by orthodox authors and publishers, but my good sense tells me there’s a sinister power at work – the power of darkness. And I’m not talking about demons, here. I’m talking about ordinary, normally fair-minded people in high places going out of their way to make sure the average church attender doesn’t find out about certain information. Information that makes orthodoxy look stupid and corrupt. Only God knows whether this is subconscious or intentional. He can judge fairly, and, in fact, He may already have, considering that way back in Daniel’s time He already had in mind “at the completion of the scattering of power of the holy people…” Here’s an excerpt from the blog I mentioned:
I remember doing some early research on church history (this was going on before I realized Jesus succeeded in His mission as Savior of the whole world) and seeing that Origen taught universalism. I glossed straight past it. Do you know why? Because it was accompanied by an explanation about how Origen’s beliefs were condemned as heretical. That’s how my mind worked before God’s five year overhaul. I figured that if church leaders all agreed that his teaching was bogus, then it must be true. I never even bothered looking up the word, “universalism”, until years later. It wasn’t even part of my vocabulary.
Fast forward to the time when all the pieces were starting to fit, when I discovered how much political corruption was taking place in the upper tiers of the church heirarchy, when I knew that the people in positions of authority who had the power to decide if other people were heretics were not these holy, nearly-infallible leaders I had imagined them to be. I picked up the very same book, and read the very same words, but this time, I saw the reference in tiny print to see the notes section in the back of the book. So I turned to the back of the book and discovered that Origen’s teaching on universalism was not considered heretical until HUNDREDS of years after he died. Doesn’t that sound a bit suspicious? What took them so long? Furthermore, why was this information tucked away, instead of right there next to Origen’s name in the chapter? Were current Christian publishers not also wondering why it took them so long to condemn universalism? If so, why are they being so cryptic about it? If not, why not? This was a turning point in my research, because I began second guessing all the experts, checking and double checking everything they claimed. I didn’t trust them any more. I had to know and learn for myself, instead of taking their word for it.
If I had been born 100 years ago, it would have taken me a lot longer to find what I was looking for. But, like I said, things have changed. And I have some BAD NEWS FOR CHURCHIANITY (but it’s really good news for them eventually). You know how in the past, that pesky heresy just went away until it was time for another cycle? Guess what?! It’s NOT GOING AWAY any more. Here’s the latest media attention to the subject of Hell: http://www.hellboundthemovie.com/.
The house of cards is collapsing. People are finding out about how the system has kept them in the dark for so long.
It’s kind of funny. Someone posted a comment on one of my youtube vids that said, “Rob Bell, is that you?” Fundamentalist Christians accuse me all the time of being a disciple of Rob Bell. I always refer them to the date of my first youtube vid, so that they can see that Bell’s book, Love Wins, was published March 15, 2011. My first youtube vid was posted December 28, 2009. How easy it would be for the system, if this were a Rob Bell thing or an Alice Spicer thing. The system could just present it is if it were the insanely twisted views of a renegade heretic, everyone would believe the system, and that’s the end of that. But this isn’t about isolated spiritual weirdos in crisis – this is God doing a new thing, but its an old thing. And it’s happening all around the world. It isn’t going away. God finishes what He starts. He may take His good old time, but He will accomplish His purpose, even *gasp* without churchianity’s permission. He is rescuing His church from those who suppress the Spirit and inadvertently or intentionally become spiritual bullies. What is done in the dark is being brought into the light. The days of private conversations and private meetings with “heretics” are coming to an end. Get ready to abandon your beloved doctrine or defend it in the light of God’s glory!
Today’s religious system is the modern day version of the Pharisaical system, as is evidenced by the content of Scott’s sermon.
Christian Universalism is a dangerous doctrine, according to Scott and orthodox theology in general. I agree. It is VERY dangerous. Dangerous to the system. It isn’t dangerous to the church – the real church – the church that may or may not show up on Sunday morning in a building. God’s spies are everywhere.
Christian Universalism is a dangerous doctrine. The Pharisees said the same of Jesus’s doctrine (John 11:48-53):
If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”
Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
…So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
The system no longer has the power to take a heretic’s life, but there are emotional ways of “killing” people. I’ve replaced just a few words in John 11:48-53, to give you an idea of what goes on in those private meetings, when church leaders discuss the “heretic” who is trying to introduce “dangerous doctrine” into their little spiritual kingdom:
If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the bank will come and take away both our building and our jobs.”
Then one of them, named Rock Hart, who was Elder Deacon that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man is disciplined for the people than that the whole church be divided.”
…So from that day on they plotted to shut him up.