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Unforsaken (An Agape Letter From Abba)

To whom it may concern,

You are mine, although I may not yet be yours. Whether you believe it or not, every soul is mine and I love each of them to the full. You are loved to the full. 

I have never, nor ever will I, forsake you. You may feel forsaken, but you are not alone. You may feel lost, but you are not lost to me. I know exactly where you are and I am coming to you to guide you home. 

I understand what it feels like to believe you are forsaken. My Son once felt similiarly. He could endure the physical pain of the cross, but the spiritual anguish was nearly more than he could bear. The sins of the world were, indeed, placed on his shoulders, but I did not forsake him because of it. Why would I?! He was within my will, after all. 

Nevertheless, as he became sin for you, he, for the first time, experienced its condemnation. It blurred his vision and he could no longer sense my presence, but I was there! I would never turn from him . . . he knew that! So, although he could not sense my presence, he released himself into my hands, in faith, with his final earthly breath. 

All this to say, Jesus was not forsaken so that you could be forgiven. No! He felt forsaken so that he could break the binds of sins deception for you. He defeated sin and, three days later, death. All that remains is for you to come home. I am always here, but you must forgive yourself and turn back home in order to see that this is true. I will never give up on you. You mean far too much to me to settle for anything less than restoration.

With a love that cannot fail,

Abba.

In Response to “The Case for Annihilation” from Renew.org

See the article to which I am responding here.

Annihilationism is the view that whoever and whatever cannot be redeemed by God is ultimately put out of existence.

In the very first sentence of this article, there are already philosophical issues. This statement presupposes that certain individuals cannot be redeemed by God. Many Christians will not see anything wrong with such a statement because that very thing must be presupposed in order to arrive at the prevalent doctrine of hell (ECT) or Annihilationism. This is precisely why many have not tested this presupposition.

Granted, it is not unthinkable to state that God cannot do some things because it is unanimously accepted by Christians that God does no wrong. However, it may be more appropriate to state that God will not do some things because they are against his nature. God will do no wrong.

So, lets put the premise stated above in this context. Can some people not be redeemed by God? Is he simply unable to redeem some people? Is it beyond his ability? If so, why is that? Is it against his nature to redeem some people? “Oh, but we have free will!” is the usual reaction to questions which point out the weak points of others’ presuppositions. Is God’s greater will for our lives limited by our will? To some extent, perhaps. But, since he sees the end from the beginning, would he will that which he knew he could not achieve?

Scripture assures us that he cares for our ultimate good. Perhaps this is why Scripture states that he works out evil for good. Seeing the end from the beginning, “In the beginning…” he declared creation good. No, he declared it “very good” with a full knowledge of what was to come. If he foreknew that a single person would be in torments forever and ever, could he truly state that Creation was “very good”? Annihilation may be one step up from the pits of hell, but it is not “very good.” Jesus is the Lamb of God who was slain from the foundation of the world so that it could be stated that he would reconcile all things in heaven and below.

If a Christian starts off with a faulty premise, the point of view which follows is bound to be faulty as well. ECT and CI both assume that there is some point in time that a person is deemed nonredeemable. (Seeing the end from the beginning, God knew who would be unredeemable long before the first beat of their hearts. Is it “very good” to will a single unredeemable soul into existence?) From the point of view of many Christians, it is the physical death of a person that deems them unredeemable. If this is true, what is it about the death that makes someone unredeemable? Has Jesus not defeated death? In one sense he has… Will he never defeat it to the full? If so, how is it that many believe so strongly that death will hold eternal power over the uncommitted? God either cannot save our souls after the death of our bodies or he will not save us hereafter. There is an all-too-obvious better option before us- God desires to save all; he is able to do so; therefore he will not fail in with this endeavor.

Throughout the Old Testament the Lord threatens the wicked with annihilation. To all who refused to comply with the covenant God had established, for example, the Lord vowed to “blot out their names from under heaven.”

Again, much is assumed. The natural reading of this passage suggests that this passage is referring to physical death. “The dead know nothing” passage is best interpreted likewise. The dead know nothing of earthly events. The only way we can honestly assume they were talking about annihilation is to assume they had a developed understanding of the concept. If I remember correctly, some idea of an underworld was much more prevalent during this age… Not to mention that CI fails to ask much about God’s nature beyond some end to suffering.

If I know anything about Christ, it is that he desires much more than an end to suffering for those who did not know God. Rather, he desires for humanity to have life and to have it abundantly. (Eternal life is to know God through Christ.) Divine Love wishes the best for the objects of his love; not the second best; with God, there is no “this is the best that you can get.” Is he who fathered creation unable to reconcile and restore his handiwork in accordance with God-given free will? If this is truly the desire of his heart, why would he limit his love, grace, and mercy to the span of our physical life?

At the end of the day, I reject CI for the same reason I reject ECT; it is not consistent with God’s grace, mercy, love, and justice to the full. In one way or another, each view places a bit more emphasis on at least one of those attributes.

Since CI admits that heaven could not be heaven when there is a torture pit in its basement, in closing, I would like to say that heaven could not be heaven without universal reconciliation. While I agree with its statement about ECT, it does not offer much of a solution. To annihilate someone I know and love would be to annihilate a part of myself… a part of my memory and maybe even a part of my very being. We are who we are because of the effect others have had on us. To truly annihilate someone would require God to wipe them out of our memories as well… and to do that would be to alter the very fiber of our being.

I can only hope that God is victorious to the full. Otherwise, we are in for a world of contradictions.

If you’d like to read more about the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation, I have written a book on this topic. Click here!

The “Test All Things” Podcast & Book Interview

I will be launching a podcast in the near future. It will be entitled the Test All Things podcast. Between each episode, there will be a Q&A session for the previous episode. I am looking for cohosts for each Q&A session. If you are interested, please contact me.

I will release one episode for each chapter of my book, beginning with chapter 3. If you’d like to cohost a particular chapter’s Q&A session, I will reserve it for you.

The first episode is an introductory episode and will not have a Q&A session. I am currently working on the content for Episode 2 (Chapter 3: Heretically Orthodox Faith). I will publish 2 episode per week. The first week will be three: introductory episode, main episode, and Q&A episode. If you reserve a latter chapter, it may be a while before we do it.

I will be seeking cohosts continuously. If you prefer a particular chapter, reserve it ASAP. Note: You will have an opportunity to mention any of your writings or projects. 

“Until next time . . . Shalom be unto you.” {closing phrase :)}

Also, I will be having a book interview with the Wandering Pilgrim’s broadcast on YouTube at 9pm EST. I have created an event in my author page where you can say that you will be attending so that you will be notified beforehand. To do so click here!

Return. You are forgiven!

“I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.” —‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭44:22‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This verse sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? It sounds so good that, when spoken in terms of universal forgiveness, a “good Christian” should automatically assume that it must be taken out of context or applied too broadly. Radical fundamentalists may even bash the version of the Bible from which it was taken. Why do Christians, for the most part, have such a hard time with the idea of inclusivism? Why did I?

As I think back on the time I passionately denounced the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation (UR), I realize that I assumed it was much like Unitarian Universalism (UU), which conflicts with much of what makes Christianity what it is. It, primarily, denies the exclusivity of Jesus. Although Christ is close-knitted with CU, I assumed that it was, at best, a slippery slope toward a rejection of important theological truths.

Although there are many factors that influence Christians to react as they do toward CU, some of the most troublesome factors have to do with its inclusivity. Most Christians would say that they would love for God to finally reconcile all things in heaven and on earth, but the vast majority of them brush such a notion off as wishful thinking . . . as “too good to be true.”

The problem here is that the world is so used to bad news that when an anomaly of good news finally occurs, we assume that there has to be some negativity lurking somewhere in its shadows. However, the Gospel has no shadows because its source is Light. Where there is light, there is no darkness; although there may be a shadow or two between it and its target. What is it that stands between the Gospel and those created in the image of God?

Initially, when I began my journey with Christ, I remained tormented with certain fears. I failed to realize that God was already pleased with me and desires for me to thrive within his pleasure and to allow that to produce the fruits that I was struggling to yield. I was afraid of displeasing God. Therefore, I was unable to grow in him. After seasons of pruning, I began to rest in his grace. Only then could I see the Gospel for what it truly was—the best news the world could ever receive; although many are struggling to receive it. 

With God, there is no “too good to be true.” In light, there is no darkness. In Love, there is no fear. To truly trust in God is to rest wholly in who he is—absolute good. Christians do not need to fear inclusive theology because God is inclusive. He created us, inclusively, in his own image. If he were exclusive when it came to the Gospel, he would not be one. If he were to cast any one of us away from his presence forever, he would then be casting a part of himself away forever; if he loses just one of us forever, he will have lost himself in the process.

Many have walked away from the light because of a faulty perspective and others have been chased into the recesses of outer darkness by doctrines of fear. Knowing the end from the beginning, the Lord is longsuffering. He has never desired for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. Therefore, he has paid the price to set you free. Not only that, but he has already swept away your sins like a cloud and scattered your offenses like the morning mist. There is nothing left for you to do but to return because you are forgiven. 

Regardless of what you have been told, God doesn’t need to be reconciled to you. Your thinking toward him is what is in need of reconciliation. You are forgiven. All that remains is for you to forgive yourself

Our Heavenly Father is ever beckoning: “Return, my beloved child. You are mine and you are truly missed!”

Hell in a Nutshell (Reviews)

Currently, I have seven reviews of my book on Amazon. If you have read my book and have not posted a review on Amazon and Goodreads, I would greatly appreciate it if you would post one, even if it is but a couple sentences. 
Amazon takes the number and frequency of reviews into consideration when deciding which books are recommended to their customers. 

If you have not read my book, please do so if you have an interest in promoting its message so that you can post an honest review. If you have any friends who are interested in this subject or who can benefit from being introduced to it, feel free to share the following link with them.

A Review of Hell in a Nutshell by Charles Watson Sr. (by Matthew Distefano at allsetfree.com)

There are a growing number of talented authors out there who are questioning the “traditional” Western notion of hell as eternal conscious torment (ECT). Charles Watson Sr. is one among these. In Hell in a Nutshell: The Mystery of His Will, Watson puts forth a very easy-to-digest book, while at the same time providing enough meat for any seasoned Christian thinker.

The book begins by weeding through some terms perhaps most Evangelicals have heard, but have never taken the time to fully understand—such doctrines as Conditional Immortality (CI), Christian Universalism (CU), and Unitarian Universalism (UU). Of course, what Watson offers here is a primer on such matters, and does so in order to “clear the air” of presuppositions that we may have about what we consider Orthodoxy and what we consider heretical. And he does a fine job indeed.

From here, Watson begins tackling some of the big issues that are argued over within Christendom. Concepts like divine justice, grace, and God’s love are explored and dissected, giving the reader more than enough food to chew on. And not only that, but Watson does such an admirable job that one cannot help but see how “the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation is simply the result of following God’s attributes where they naturally lead.” (72) Again though, Watson can only make such a claim because of his ability to address the faulty assumptions many Christians make about God’s nature and attributes.

What I enjoyed most about this book is that it is accessible and honest, without being overly verbose or pedantic. It is a book that could be given to any struggling Evangelical who is willing to sift through the assumptions they’ve made about God and the universe that has led them to conclude some of the human family will be eternally lost. But with vulnerability and an empathetic tone, Watson reminds us such will not be the case because God “will not damn anyone to ECT because his mercies are new every morning.” (20) And even though some Universalists “do not deny the existence of hell” (114), they just see God in such a way that his flames are “flames of unrelenting grace and perpetual mercy; that they are victorious flames of love that cannot be quenched until justice is brought to victory.” (114)

If you hold fast to the doctrine of ECT, but are willing to consider a vastly more merciful view of the Gospel, one that has a rich history tracing back all the way to the Apostle Paul, then I highly recommend this book.

The Final Prison Of All

I think I have seen from afar something of the final prison of all, the innermost cell of the debtor of the universe; I will endeavour to convey what I think it may be.
—George MacDonald


The following has been adapted by Charles Watson Sr. from George MacDonald’s Unspoken Sermons Series Two, The Last Farthing:


What can I say about this prison but to describe it, firstly, as the vast outside; it is the ghastly dark beyond the gates of the City of he who is its Light; it is where the evil dogs rage as silently as the dark, for there is no sound any more than there is sight. The time for signs and wonders has passed, during which every sense had an opportunity to interpret sign after sign; yet they were all misused. There is no longer sense, nor sign; there is nothing now to believe by sight, nor by touch, by hearing, nor by taste. All that remains is the abyss . . . nothing more than the secluded self.

The man has woken from the final struggle of death, in absolute loneliness — such a loneliness as in the most miserable moment of deserted childhood, which he had never known, until now. Not a hint, not a shadow, of anything beyond his own consciousness reaches him. All is dark, dark and dumb; there is no motion — not the breath of a wind, neither a dream of change, nor a scent from a far-off field; nothing to suggest the existence of anything besides the man himself. There is no sign of God . . . anywhere. For God has so far withdrawn from the man, that he is only conscious of the dregs of his own mental sensations. Woe is he!

In the midst of the world of old, he cared for nothing but himself; now, in the world of the dead, he is trapped in God’s prison — his own separated self. He has become one with outer darkness.

During life, he would not believe in God because he never saw God; now he doubts if there is such a thing as the face of a man — he doubts if he ever really saw one, if he ever did more than dream of such a thing. He never came near enough to a human being to know what human being really is — he cannot help but doubt if human beings ever were, or if he was ever even one of them.

After doubt comes reasoning upon the doubt: ‘The only one must be God! And since I know no one but myself, I must be God; for there is no one else!’ Poor, helpless, dumb devil! — he is his own glorious lord god! Yea, he will imagine himself as that same irresistible force which, apart from his own will and his own knowledge, there is no law by which the sun may burn or for the stars keep their courses. Apart from him, there is no strength to drive all the engines of the world; if there ever was one, beyond that which is fading from his memory!

His fancy will give birth to a thousand fancies, which will run riot like mice in an empty house: he will call it creation and he will call it his. With no reality to set them beside, nothing to correct them by; no measured order nor harmonious relations, no sweet graces of God’s world for him; for lack of what God thinks, what he thinks will be his reality. For what other could he have!?

Soon, misery will birth from his imagination a thousand shapes of woe, none of which he will be able to rule, direct, or even distinguish from real presences — a whole world of miserable contradictions and cold fever-dreams.

Human imagination cannot supply adequate representation of what it would be like to be left without a shadow of the presence of God. If God were to reveal it, man could not understand it: we do not know God, nor even ourselves, in the way of understanding. Even he who cared least about God, in this world, was never left as God could leave him. I doubt if any man could continue following his wickedness if God was fully withdrawn.

The most frightful idea of what could happen to someone would be to exist in some forsaken realm in which God was fully withdrawn — one, in which, God simply had nothing to do. The being could not be; for being which is caused would, of necessity, cease to be if the causation ceased. It is always in, and never out, of God that we can live and do. But I suppose that if a man is so abandoned that he feels utterly alone, whereas he only had himself, the smallest interchange of thought, the feeblest contact of existence, the dullest reflection from another being would be impossible. In such a case, I believe the man would be glad to come in contact with the most loathsome insect — it would be a shape of life, something beyond and besides his own huge, void, formless being!

(I imagine a similar feeling in the prayer of the devils for leave to go into the swine.)

He would be ready and willing to worship his worst enemy, just to be aware of him. For the misery would be not merely the absence of all being other than his own self, but the fearful, endless, unavoidable presence of that self. Without the correction, the reflection, the support of other presences, being is not merely unsafe, it is a horror — that is, for anyone but God, who is his own being.

For him who was originally an idea of God’s, who was created in the image of God, his own being is far too fragmentary and imperfect to be anything like good company. It is the lovely creatures God has made all around us where we find, in them, God giving himself to us. Through them, we come to know him and are, thereby, rescued from a frenzy of aloneness—which is Self, Self, Self. The man who minds only himself would, at last, go mad if God did not interfere.

Could there be any way out of the misery? Will the soul that would not believe in God, with so much of his lovely world around testifying of him, come to believe in him once it is finally left in the prison of its own lonely, weary all-and-nothing? It would for a time try to believe that it was indeed nothing, a mere glow of the setting sun on a cloud of dust, a paltry dream that dreamed itself — then, ah, if only the dream might dream that it was no more! That would be the one thing to hope for.

Self-loathing would begin and it would grow and grow; and to what it might or might not come, no soul can tell — of essential, original misery and uncompromising self-disgust! Only, then — if a being be capable of self-disgust, is there not some room for hope — as much as a pinch of earth in the cleft of a rock might yield for the growth of a pine? There must be hope while there is existence; for, where there is existence, there must be God; and God is forever good — the giver of hope.

But alas, the distance from the light! Such a soul is at the farthest verge of life’s negation!‘ No, not the farthest! A man is nearer heaven when in deepest hell than he is before he begins to reap the reward of his doings — for, he is in a condition to receive the smallest show of the life that is, as a boon unspeakable.

All his years in the world he received the endless gifts of sun and air, of earth and sea and human face divine, as things that came to him because that was their way, for there was no one to prevent them; now the poorest thinning of the darkness he would hail, as men of old, the glow of a descending angel; it would be as a messenger from God.

Not that he would think of God! It takes long to think of God; but hope, although not yet seeming like hope, would begin to dawn in his bosom, and the thinner darkness would be as a cave of light, a refuge from the horrid self — of which he used to be so proud. A man may well imagine it impossible to ever think so unpleasantly of himself! But he has only to let things go and he will make it the real, right, natural way to think of himself.

True, all I have been saying is imaginary; but our imagination is made to mirror truth; all the things which appear in it are more or less after the model of things which are; I suspect this is the region from which prophecies have been uttered; and when we are true it will mirror nothing but truth. I deal here with the same light and darkness the Lord dealt with, the same St. Paul, St. John, St. Peter, and St. Jude dealt with.

Ask yourself whether the faintest dawn of even physical light would not be welcome to such a soul, as some refuge from the darkness of the justly hated self. And the light would grow and grow across the awful gulf between the soul and its haven — its repentance — for repentance is the first pressure of the bosom of God; and in the twilight, struggling and faint, the man would feel, as faintly as the twilight, another thought beside his, another thinking by something close to his dreary self — perhaps the man he had most wronged, most hated, most despised — and would be glad that someone, whoever, was near him: the man he had most injured, and was most ashamed to meet, would then be a refuge from himself — oh, how welcome!

So might I imagine a thousand steps up from the darkness, each a little less dark, a little nearer the light — but, ah, the weary way! He cannot come out until he has paid the uttermost farthing!

However, once repentance has begun, it may grow more and more rapidly! If God once gets a willing hold, if with but one finger he touches the man’s self, he will draw him from the darkness into the light as quickly as he is able. For that very reason was the forlorn, self-ruined wretch made — to be a child of God, a partaker of the divine nature, an heir of God and joint-heir with Christ. Out of the abyss into which he casts himself, refusing to be the heir of God, he must rise and be raised.

To the heart of God — the one and only goal of the human race, the refuge and home of all and each — he must set out and go, or the last glimmer of humanity will die from him. Whoever will live must cease to be a slave and become a child of God. There is no half-way house of rest where ungodliness may be dallied with, nor proven quite fatal.

Be they few or many cast into such prison as I have endeavoured to imagine, there can be no deliverance for a human soul, whether in that prison or out of it, but in paying the last farthing, in becoming lowly, penitent, and self-refusing — and so receiving the sonship, and learning to cry: AbbaFather!

Is Christian Universalism a Slippery Slope?

When Christians are first introduced to the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation (UR), they are usually caught off guard. Since it challenges part of the foundation of the Atonement, as they know it, many are defensive of the Christianity that they have come to know. Since Scripture states that the wages of sin is death and that the second death is the Lake of Fire, many believe that Jesus came to save us from an all too real lake of burning sulfur; one, in which, people are tormented day and night — forever and ever. Therefore, when someone denies the doctrine of Endless Conscious Torment (ECT), Christians tend to either ignore the naysayers or they valiantly defend their doctrinal convictions.

When I started to doubt this doctrine, I was approached by several Christians, on many occasions, who felt like they were being led by the Spirit to tell me that I was stepping onto a very slippery slope and to warn me that I was in danger of backsliding. At first, I felt alarmed. Was I sliding down a frictionless slope toward heresy? It surely felt like it, at the time. I kept telling myself that I couldn’t accept CU regardless of how much it comforted my soul. It was heresy and I would not become a heretic.

However, as time went on, I realized that I needed to look into what actually makes heresy heretical. Did CU deny some essential truth of the Christian faith? Did it deny the exclusivity of Jesus? It must have—since it denied the reality of that from which Christ came to save us. He did come to save us from ECT, right? Is that not the death about which Scripture so frequently speaks? . . . Is it?

At the time, I was questioning so much of what I was brought up to believe. How far back had I slid? Had I crossed the threshold of no return? Could I escape this slippery slope of death? Just how close was I to the fiery pit that I was questioning?

Eventually, I began to realize that I was not backsliding at all, but following biblical instruction. Scripture commands us to “test all things” and to “hold onto what is good and true.” Was I following and trusting in a carnal, earthly kind of reasoning? Is there even such a thing? On the contrary, I decided to accept God’s invitation: to come and reason with him; rather than to blindly trust in what I was told is good and true.

Growing up, I was often reminded to beware of false teachers and to avoid strange theology, which sounds like great advice. Even though I was instructed to avoid false teachers, I was never taught how to identify them or their teachings. The company with which I surrounded myself identified strange doctrine as that which is unfamiliar or “unorthodox”; they assumed that one of the first steps onto a slippery slope included a willingness to entertain unorthodox ideas.

Backsliding definitely sounds like something we all should avoid, but what exactly is it that constitutes backsliding? Is questioning orthodoxy one of the criteria? Is it spiritually unhealthy to question the purpose of hell or any other particular concept? Does possessing great hope in the ultimate reconciliation of all things, which is a biblical concept, make one backslidden? Consider what Jeremiah had to say about this subject:

“’Your own wickedness will correct you, And your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing—that you have forsaken the LORD your God. And the fear of Me is not in you,’ Says the Lord GOD of hosts.”‭‭ —Jeremiah‬ ‭2:19‬

Firstly, where is the wickedness in questioning orthodoxy? Where is it in the doctrine of UR? I am not referring to the supposed wickedness in denying what many see as the “clear” teaching of Scripture. When the Bible speaks of wickedness, it always pertains to moral misdeeds, which leads to spiritual error. Questioning the validity of orthodoxy is anything but spiritual error because Scripture calls us to test such things.

Secondly, how are those who question orthodoxy forsaking the LORD? It seems to me that church authorities are the ones who feel forsaken. They are the ones fighting opposition, refusing to allow there be be diversity among their lambs. We who are committed to testing all things are not forsaking the LORD. If anything, we are trying to escape religious oppression so that we may walk toward a less distorted image of Christ. 

Finally, is the fear of the LORD necessarily in anyone who believes in a particular doctrine of postmortem judgement? What is the fear of the LORD, exactly? We know that it is the beginning of wisdom; but what is a fear of the LORD that gives birth to wisdom? Does it spring up from a fear of ECT — if not for ourselves, then for the uncommitted?

Why do so many Christians believe that God desires so many broken souls to be enslaved and manipulated by such a fear? I cannot believe that it is so, not any longer. I have come to believe that the fear of the LORD is not a trepidation of postmortem possibilities, but a holy reverence toward he who formed our delicate souls. We who possess this great hope in UR are no more void of a fear of the LORD than are those who believe in ECT or Conditional Immortality.

The fear of the LORD may affect our understanding of postmortem judgement, but it does not constitute it. Given the criteria Jeremiah provided for being backslidden, one cannot say that questioning orthodoxy has anything to do with it. If anything, our desire to test theology, whether it is strange or not, reinforces our reverence toward God. As a Christian who believes so strongly in the cross, I cannot imagine a scenario beyond one in which Jesus succeeds in drawing everyone to himself. He is a God who keeps his promises, after all.

At the end of the day, if believing in UR places me on a slippery slope, I am sure that I will enjoy the ride! Christian Universalism is anything but heretical because it is built on a solid foundation — the unfailing love of God. The fear of the LORD may be the beginning of wisdom, but love is undoubtedly its end.

What do you think about “slippery slopes”? What does it mean to be backsliden? Share your thoughts below.

A Call to Action (Amazon Reviews)

Now that I have completed the publication stage for Hell in a Nutshell, I am actively networking. I was told that it is important to seek as many reviews as possible on Amazon in order to ensure a good placement in their recommendations section.

I appreciate all the support I have received from many in the CU community! If you have enjoyed my book and would like to see it get more attention, the best way to do that is to contribute a review on Amazon. I would greatly appreciate any review you can give, even if it is critical or only a few lines of praise.

Even if you have not read my book in full, you can still give a review of what you have read thus far. It would help greatly in the promotion of my book, just as it would help this beautiful message continue to spread like wild fire!

If you have a blog, you can request a free copy here. Shalom.

Doctrines of Fear

“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” —‭‭Matthew‬ ‭15:8–9

One of the largest dissimilarities between the Old & New Covenant concerns the distinguishing of God-given commandments from those given in the appearance of divine authority. During Jesus’ ministry, his followers were provided with the litmus test for determining the origin of religious commandments/doctrines:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” —Matthew‬ ‭22:37–40‬

The Torah consists of six-hundred and thirteen laws! Can you imagine how much effort one would have to put forth in an effort to fully abide by these laws? I cannot help but wonder what portion of this Law was given as a strict code for the people of God and what portion was just meant as good advice. Could some of these laws have been mistaken as the word of God rather than the word or “commandments of men”?

Today, there are far fewer “commandments” that Christians, in general, feel obligated to keep; many of which are usually accepted just as blindly as are particular doctrines. However, in order to keep some, many must avoid another—one which requires us to test such things. (1 Thess. 5:21)

The passage at the beginning of this article gives us the means by which we can determine whether certain commandments or doctrines are of God or merely the commandments of men. If any command or doctrine fails to abide by the law of love, then it is not from God. Love never fails. If anything, whatsoever, fails to live up to the law of love, then it fails; and if we are committed to any such commandment or doctrine, then we are destined to fail along with it.

Many claim that they are not ashamed of being a fool for God; that since God’s ways are higher than ours then we cannot hope to comprehend them. “We must side with God and not man,” they say.

What does it mean to be a fool for God? Does it require blatant irrationality in defense of doctrines that we hold dear? No! If we are to be a fool for God, we are to be one in that we love when situations do not seem to call for it. We are to love with our entire being, in spite of being spat on or of being nailed to our cross. If we are to be ridiculed, it should be because of our commitment to love—regardless of the context.

Yet when we dedicate our lives to commandments and doctrines that do not promote love, we then identify more with first-century Pharisees than we do with he who founded our religion—Jesus of Nazareth; we then, legalistically, follow the Law of the Old Covenant rather than the law that God has written on our hearts—to love the Lord our God with our entire being and to love our neighbor as our ourselves.

What are your thoughts on this subject? What have you learned on your journey with the Lover of your soul? I would love to read your thoughts below. Don’t forget to share!

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