Sheep Without Shepherds: This isn't Christianity

When I write on Christianity around here, I try to stick to the structural aspects of our worldview. I try to communicate the "big picture" of our faith so that we may use it to live each moment of every day. I talk more about the forest instead of just one tree.

But every once in awhile the need appears to look intently at a tree, so to speak. And today is just such a day.

I did most of my undergraduate work at ORU in Tulsa. And back in that day, Carlton Pearson was a luminary in and around the university. But a lot of water's gone under the bridge for Pearson since those days.

Pearson's recent turn to a universalist worldview, the subsequent demise of his church and his conversion to Unitarian Universalism is well documented on the web. So I won't rehash it here.

By the way, universalism is in general the idea that everybody will somehow "make it into heaven" and that all religious and philosophical roads eventually lead to a "better place" of some sort.

But check out this recent interview with Mr. Pearson. Try to determine exactly what, if any in Pearson's mind, are the distinguishing factors between those that follow Messiah, and those that don't.

To say I disagree with Pearson is to make a gross understatement. I couldn't disagree more if I tried!

By the way, Brian McLaren is going down a similar road - one that I documented in this article.

If you've read anything I've written around here or heard me teach on the Christian worldview, you know I use the "Big Picture" proposed by Judeo-Christianity as the filter through which I view the past, the present and the future.

I acknowledge that there are many worldviews, but if you've chosen Christianity, then that story is pretty much it. That story proposes that God has a particular will for the planet, and for us as his highest creation. In a nutshell, his will is to have a kingdom of people on Earth.

He has expressed this will explicitly all through the Old and New Testaments. And underneath all the explicit statements - there's the overall shape of the story from Genesis through Revelation. God is all about a kingdom on our beautiful planet.

Now, with that in mind - we may ask, "How, exactly, is God bringing this kingdom to be?". The Bible answers quickly and assertively, "Through covenants!"

If you want to understand the covenants (or contracts) that God has made with mankind - check out this article I wrote and better yet, read about the various covenants throughout the Judeo-Christian story in these passages and their contexts:

Genesis 2:16-17 (with Adam)
Genesis 6:18 (with Noah)
Genesis 17:12 (with Abraham)
Exodus 19:5 (with Moses and the nation of Israel)
II Samuel 7:12 (with David)
Jeremiah 31:31-34 (prophecy of the New Covenant)
Ezekiel 36:22-31 (more prophecy of the New Covenant)
Luke 22:14-20 (the New Covenant)

Read those contexts and you'll begin to understand the fundamental nature of a covenant. You'll see that a covenant is simply an agreement or a contract. God says, "You do so and so, and I'll do such and such."

Now imagine with me, for a moment, what would've happened if Noah had said:
"God, I LOVE this idea of me and my family being saved from the flood. I LOVE not dying a grisly death by drowning. THANK YOU GOD!

But oh, by the way, I'm not gonna build that boat you commanded me to build. No, I'm not interested in spending the time and money on that stinking thing!"
What would've happened to Noah? I say he'd have been taking a looooooong nap with the fishies!

What if we could get into a time machine, and travel back to speak with Moses. What if we said:
"Hey Moses - we LOVE the idea of being in "the people of God". We LOVE the idea of enjoying God's provision and we ADORE the notion that we can be a part of God's own people! SIGN US UP!

But oh, by the way, about those laws God gave you? Yeah, well... We're not gonna keep them. Is that OK with you, Moses?"
What would Moses say to us? I say he'd kick us in the patoot and he'd wish us the best of luck, perhaps with the Hittites or the Jebusites. But NOT with Israel.

That's just the way it is with a covenant. YOU MUST KEEP GOD'S COVENANT IN ORDER TO BE ACCEPTED IN HIS KINGDOM!

Yes, Christians break the covenant on occasion. And there's provision for such instances. But to promote the open and repetitive practice of sin - wow!

How silly - yes, even foolish - are these "shepherds" that say otherwise! I'm stunned at what Christianity is becoming!

Now back to Universalism.

If you want to say that you can practice covenant breaking and still have an inheritance in some "heaven" of your own design - you're free to do so! Knock yourself out. Be a universalist.

But:

DON'T use the Bible as your source (it doesn't teach that)
DON'T pretend to speak for Yahweh (he NEVER suggested anything of the sort)
DON'T call it Christianity. It's not. It's something else entirely.

It's another story indeed.

4 comments:

Lou & Ruth said...

This man in the video, has a very misguided view of hell. He appears to be emotionally invested in his position, with no biblical support. I am not sure you can equate a contract 100 % to a covenant, there are differences. Gay acts and desires are an abomination to God's biblically stated intent for creation. "Be fruitful and multiply" is likely one of the early clues, that gay behavior was not one of God's original purposes for humans on this earth. The leaders of most, if not all, commercialized 'christian' churches are so far out of position I often wonder if the wide gate is wide enough.

Lou Andrews

Ronnie said...

This is good stuff here Mike. I had to write a paper on Carlton Pearson in New Testament History and Literature. Am I an advocate for helping the poor? Absolutely. Would I go as far as letting a commercial about the severity of the poverty in Rwanda change the very fundamental beliefs on which (through the work of the Holy Spirit of course) I have built a very successful ministry upon? Nope. From my understanding, Oral Roberts himself, his mentor and good friend, pleaded with him not to make these changes to his ministry, and he did it anyways. He's most certainly taken a huge hit, but I wonder if he even second guesses the choices he's made...

Mike said...

Thanks for your comment, Lou!

My main point in comparing contracts to covenants is to point out that in both cases, OBLIGATIONS are ascribed to both parties. In each of the covenants I listed, God can easily be heard saying, "You must do this, and then I'll do that."

But every time (bar none) that I teach on Covenant, I start the class by asking "What's a covenant?".

And every time (bar none) the students respond "A covenant is a promise!".

And every time (bar none) I respond "Is that all?"

And every time (bar none) the students respond with quizzical looks and mumbling. That can only be caused by churches teaching that a covenant is merely God promising to bless or to provide for people in some way - no strings attached!

I believe that's caused all manner of mischief and mayhem in Christendom - leading to hordes of churchgoers living self-absorbed lives according to their whims and lusts (NO DIFFERENT than the rest of the population) and then expecting to "go to heaven when they die".

Thanks again for your comment!

Mike said...

Ronnie,

I'd bet he's second-guessed it. But he's in far too deep now. He's crossed too many borders and burned too many bridges (at least in his mind).

I'd also bet that this is really how he sees the Bible. I know it's hard to believe someone can twist it so far out of shape as to be unrecognizable - and then call it good - but I think he's given himself over to such a mindset.

I'm fine with people believing in space aliens or pink flying unicorns or whatever. The only problem comes when they try to call such a belief "Christianity".

Thanks Ronnie!