Sunday, March 8, 2009
From Hell to Heaven in one morning!
Several weeks ago, I was getting ready to walk into a Christian church to worship. That's when I saw the sign promoting two authors of hard Reformed thinking--
that God has pre-ordained most humans to eternal damnation in Hell,
that Jesus didn't die efficiently for the sins of everyone,
that humans have no choice,
that babies are born evil,
that God plans
and determines all evil
events for his own glory...
I emotionally crashed, mentally gnashing my teeth; my stomach churned and plummeted. What despair!
Not because, I hadn't heard of T.U.L.I.P. before; on the contrary, I had studied American Intellectual History
at Cal State University, read many tomes on the Reformation and Augustinian and Calvinistic theology, etc.
What so shocked and depressed was to find this very bad, actually horrifically obscene, news promoted at my wife's church.
It seems that Reformed theology has taken over many of the large churches in the U.S.
My wife used to be a Quaker too, but she doesn't find unprogrammed worship fulfilling.
She likes songs and a sermon so she goes to an Evangelical church. I go with her often, as well as to the Friends meeting on the Central Coast. In some ways in the past, I got the best of both worlds, especially when I was able to attend both services on the same day.
But then damnation day slammed down hard!
To find that most of the leaders of her church actually hold to the view that most humans are predestined to Hell, that every infant is born evil...
It still grieves me right now as I write this. Where is the Good News?
If such Christianity is true, then there is no hope.
All evil and all destruction and all sorrow and all tragedy been determined way before the beginning of time.
Later that morning when I attended worship at Central Coast Friends meeting, in the silence I cried out to God.
Anguish tearing me apart, thinking of dear loved ones lost in wrong without hope according to these Christian leaders.
Countless millions of humans, children, youth, adults--most without hope.
But then out of the worshipfulness of the expectant waiting in our meeting, a woman stood and began to sing acappella with a fervency of joy and empathy
a wondrous song of communion.
She knew nothing of my travail and of my 'morning' in theological Hell or my endless despair.
But her hymn ministered deeply to me especially.
She sang the words of love and hope and good news and worship
and slowly the abyss of two hours before at the other church disappeared.
And Heaven came down into our midst
(to quote from an old hymn).
Thank God for Friends worship and the Good News of Spirit-led individuals from George Fox to Thomas Kelly to the woman who sang, and beyond.
In the Light,