A Recent Email

Today, I felt led to share this email I received a few weeks ago. Please note I am only sharing this as the sender gave permission and seems to want to remain anonymous. As promised, I will not share the name or personal information, and I believe the info is generic enough not to be personally identifiable. I only edited the formatting to clean it up a little as either the contact form or my email had it kinda choppy. This seems to be in response to my post Confessions.

Comment:
I too have’nt attended a church service on a regular basis for a couple of years. I was in a church for over 20 years until 2 years ago. I have been a born-again christian for approx. 26 years. I take issue however with your statement that you like (approve of?) Rob Bell…this man claims there is no literal hell which shows me he has not read the true word of God at all; either that, or he sees in the word only what he wants to see. The other issue…not knowing if homosexuality is a sin.  You claim you just want to “love people”, yet you coddle them in the midst of a grave offense….anytime homosexuality is mentioned in the word, it is ALWAYS in a negative way. You think loving people is tickling their ears, obviously, when true love, God’s love, confronts sin and stirs people to repentance. You can “love” someone right into hell (yes, it does exist and it’s a literal place, not a figment of someone’s imagination). The word of God says so. Please get a backbone and reallly love people the way you claim to. My not going to church has caused me to desire purity even more in God’s eyes….it did not free me to “just be myself” with regard to His word. Remember, the bible says in the last days men will gather around those that will “tickle their ears”, saying what they want to hear instead of giving them the word of God that leads to life. Any sin is wrong, but to say that you don’t know if homosexuality is wrong is error; loving people is warning them and praying for them to turn to Jesus. Anything else is heresy.

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Response:
Hi (edited out name) and thank you for your email.

Please don’t take my word for anything that follows but research for yourself to see if these things have any significance.

Jesus also called divorce wrong and anyone who marries someone divorced is considered an adulterer (Luke 16:18). Yet, divorce seems commonly accepted today. I’m not saying we should shun divorcees, but we tend to make homosexuality our sin of righteous comparison similar to the Pharisee and tax collector. “God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men, extortionists, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector” (Luke 18:11). So when I say I don’t know if homosexuality is wrong, it’s because I don’t want to fall into the trap of comparative righteousness. No one is perfect and everyone has fallen short. Our call by Jesus is to love and not condemn. I understand what you are saying by confronting people with their sin in love, but is that the way Jesus approached those same types of people (tax collectors, prostitutes, adulterers)? He loved them first, set them free from their shame by forgiveness, then they were able to “go and sin no more.” We often seem to get it backwards today by trying to force people out of their sin first. We try to make people clean themselves up before they are worthy of our Jesus. In addition, God knows a person’s heart and how to get them out of that state better than we as humans do. Our job is to love them in the midst of it as Jesus exemplified during his ministry.

As far as Rob Bell, I don’t agree with everything he says, but I’ve studied the doctrine of hell and it has often been misappropriated. The words Gehenna, Sheol, and Hades were often translated from the Hebrew and Greek to state hell. However, even in Old English, hell meant “to cover or hide.” If you want to know more of my take on it, you can view my post here.

As far as the “last days” go, I’ve been studying the end times scriptures (eschatology) a lot lately. It seems we assume that these things haven’t happened yet. However, from what the Bible says, these things were to happen soon—for example, Revelation: 1:1 1:3 1:19 16:15 22:6-7 22:10 22:12 22:20 2:5 2:10 2:16 2:25 3:3 3:10-11 3:20 all use soon terminology in reference to the end of the age (aion), another word that has been translated poorly in many cases. As with the “itching ears” verse, this comes from 2 Tim 4:3. Interestingly enough, Paul seems to make mention of this same “soon” timeline in verse 1—“in view of his appearing and his kingdom.” It would seem that the apostles all believed what Jesus said, that some of them would still be alive when Jesus came in his Kingdom (Matt 16:27-28). I’ve also written much of my current thoughts of this here.

I will have to say, there are some assumptions I’ve had to make such as:
1. that when Jesus said soon, he meant soon.
2. that Jesus spoke in a way the disciples could understand (though their mindset had to be altered) and he wasn’t intentionally trying to confuse them or be evasive (Mark 8:17-18, 21).
3. that the apostles were inspired by the Holy Spirit to tell the 1st century Christians that Jesus was returning soon.
4. that neither the disciples, apostles, or Jesus would give false hope to the Christians that were under such severe persecution during this time.
5. that the Bible is a trustworthy resource that can (mostly) be interpreted within its’ own pages.

Again, I truly do thank you for you thoughts. You can throw all of this out as heresy if you would like and I would understand. A couple of years ago, I would have considered all of this heresy myself. In any event, I encourage you to research these things and not take my word for it. I admit there are things I can be wrong about, but as Jesus has led me, through the Holy Spirit, to study the Bible more to know Father’s heart little by little, it all begins to make sense as one overarching story of his love for us, his children.

Thanks and much love,

John

Additional notes not in the email: Please see “The Day of the Lord” post for additional references of #3 above. If anyone else would like, please send questions or comments through the contact form. I try to reply to all email but it may take some time depending on the depth of the question(s). As promised here, I will (try 🙂 ) not to take it personally and I will keep all personal info anonymous, only sharing the comments if requested.
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5 thoughts on “A Recent Email

  1. “Anything else is heresy.”
    and
    “A couple of years ago, I would have considered all of this heresy myself.”

    John I read this post and didn’t know what to do with it. Click Like? (why Paul – why). Pass by? (why Paul – why).

    This morning he pinged me to that one phrase: Anything else is heresy. This morning I “know what to do with this post”

    Thank you for adding it. Everything in this God stuff is “heresy” – because heresy is not “God” – heresy is Us and our definitions. Heresy is used as my “ace up my sleeve” – it trumps your debating point! Heresy is “me” and has nothing to do with “God” (or love or any of the good stuff)

    Let’s all be loving heretics!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly Paul. I had to get past my “aces” to really love people. I had to be willing to listen to their challenging points of view without calling them “hairy tick” :p or otherwise responding negatively. I’ve often found others have pieces of the overall puzzle that I was missing, and possibly would have never known if I had shut them down; even if we disagree about the majority of our stances.

      Much of what I’ve posted was easy to write yet hard to hit the publish button. I’m always wondering if someone will be offended. I’m always rewording to try to make it as unoffensive as possible. In the end, I feel called to write, though at the time (if ever), l may not know the various reasons.

      If I’m wrong, I hope people seek to lovingly correct me, though I didn’t come to any conclusions I’ve made lightly. Over the past couple of years, God has challenged my faith and had me dig into passages that seem often twisted from their original intent and distort his image. I was led to figure these out because no matter how deep I tried to bury them, they were still there and impeded my growth.

      I know there’s still a lot I don’t know. The testing of my default beliefs has helped me grow more than anything though. When my faith wasn’t tested, when I was just given a stamp of approval for reiterating and conforming to the local congregation’s views, I was spiritually stagnant. I try to encourage people to be challenged but at the same time, toss aside anything I present if it’s not for their walk. For me, it seems a faith not tested doesn’t grow.

      Like

      • “For me, it seems a faith not tested doesn’t grow.”

        When I think I know You, I know only me
        When I know I don’t know You, I know only me.
        When I think so much – I think only me.
        But when I listen –
        Then I may begin to know you.
        When I know I know how to listen –
        Then I know You
        And You
        Know me

        Liked by 1 person

  2. John, “He loved them first, set them free from their shame by forgiveness, then they were able to “go and sin no more.” Amen. Anyone who reads the gospels with open eyes and heart is able to understand this. If this was not true, we rely on our own will power, and Jesus would not have been necessary.
    The Truth is, He is necessary: His compassion, His forgiveness, His mercy, His grace, His faithful and never ending love.

    Liked by 1 person

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