Clichés of Christian Universalism
by Seth Osenkarski
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I was perusing the internet the other day as I am ought to do when I get a little bored and I came across an interesting article: Nine (Final) Christian Clichés to Avoid. The author of this particular piece is Christian Piatt and he is a pastor and a Christian writer. I took a look at the rest of his blog and it is safe to say I don’t agree with much of his writings. This particular work on clichés seems to have riled up many Christians, in general, having some even call him an atheist. I do not ascribe to this quick race to judgment which people seem to reach when confronted with a difference of opinion. To me, one’s standing with God is between that person and God and no one else. What’s funny is when reading through all 29 clichés listed, I agree with a number of them. Most points of which pertain to questions of the afterlife; however, there were some egregious mentions I would like to address with a careful Word study.
The first issue I would like to address is the title of the article in reference to the word, Universalism. Universalism is the belief that all are saved under God, not just Christians. Christian universalism will sometimes espouse that Christ is not the only way to God. Many times, Christians will adhere to a more universal world view when they don’t want to offend people of other beliefs. As you will see, some of Piatt’s critiques of the clichés can sound universal in nature, whether he is a Universalist or not.
The first cliché I want to address is, “Do you accept Jesus as you Lord and Savior?” The article goes on to say that Christ rejected this title while He was on Earth and posits the question, “So why do we keep trying?” Let me tell you why we keep trying, it’s because acknowledgement of Jesus as Lord is how one gets saved. I guess he forgot about Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Also, Jesus Christ did accept the title, Lord, more than He ever rejected it. John 21:15, “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.” The apostle Paul even calls Jesus Christ Lord multiple times. 1 Corinthians 1:3, “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Maybe the author just uses a different Bible then I do that removes the word, Lord, when in reference to Jesus Christ. His other issue with the antiquated use of “Lord” in today’s society is not even worth addressing because Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”
The second cliché is “This could be the end of days.” First of all, I don’t view Christ’s returning as the end of days, but more like a beginning of triumph. Anyway, this is exactly the mentality Christians should have as outlined in the Word. We actually receive a reward for anticipating the Second Coming. 2 Timothy 4:8, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
“Jesus died for your sins” is the next cliché Mr. Piatt addresses and one sentence of his really bothers me: “But even if you buy into the concept of substitutionary atonement (the idea that God set Jesus up as a sacrifice to make good for all the bad stuff we’ve done), this is a abysmal way to introduce your faith to someone.” I agree that starting out with Jesus’ substitution is probably not the first thing which should be brought up in an evangelical conversation, the problem I have is that he hints on not believing in it. If that’s the case, all I can express is sadness because Christ’s sacrifice is one of the core concepts of Christianity as outlined in the Word. Romans 5:10-11, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”
“The Bible clearly says…” is the fourth cliché I would like to address. This is probably the author’s way of destroying any Biblical counter arguments to his list. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself by pointing that out. However, Piatt goes on to say that the “Bible isn’t ‘clear’ about much.” Well, I vehemently disagree with that statement. Probably 90% can be understood write in the verse. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The Bible is pretty clear about the beginning of creation which is one of the biggest points of human contention. Other ways of understanding what the Bible says are reading in the context and finding other places where a passage was used before. Don’t give me that baloney that only scholars can tell me what the Bible clearly says because if that is the case than how can the “foolish things of the world confound the wise.” God wants all men to be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of Him as it says in 1Timothy 2:4. If God was not clear in His Word then how can all have knowledge of the Truth?
“The Lord never gives someone more than they can handle” and “When God closes a door, He opens a window” can easily be addressed by one verse, 1 Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Another point, I see in Piatt’s article is that he never once addresses the existence of the devil. God does not cause bad things to happen and God does not tempt. James 1:13, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” The devil tempts and he devours people, Christians and unbelievers, alike. 1 Peter 5:8-10, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” If we don’t resist the devil, he will devour and destroy us.
The last cliché I will address is “Christianity is the only way to God/Heaven” and it’s a doozy. So many verses support this notion, no Biblical argument exists other than private interpretation. John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” His use of John 1:9 is a pathetic counter argument. Christ is the only way to God, but this is not actually the issue the author has with this cliché. No, he doesn’t want to offend anyone by saying that Christ is the only answer. Why not? What is more important, being right with God or being right with man? I don’t think I have to answer the question.
Piatt brings up another issue with exclusivity cliché, which is the supposed Pandora’s box opened about the people before Christ and those who have not heard the Word. The Word, unsurprisingly, closes the box before it can be opened. Revelation 22:11-12, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” See, there will be a judgment at the end which will entail all non-Christians judged according to their works.
Probably the thing I find most bothersome about these articles of Christian clichés is the fact that little Word is used to back up the arguments. It just seems so worldly rather than Wordly. I agree there are some things a Christian should not say, but saying something akin to “Christ is the only way to God” or “This is what Bible clearly says” does not fit in the category.
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