Personal Beliefs

My personal beliefs are profiled here; not everyone will agree with them.


The word translated "eternal" in relation to hell in the New Testament does not mean eternal in the original languages, but rather means an "eon," or "age," -- a long, indefinite period of time. My view of the duration of hell does not embrace an unconditional universalism, an unconditional eternal hell, nor annihilationism. My view could be summarized as follows: In principle, separation from God can be final. A person could so misuse his freedom that he might lose his freedom to respond to God. He could turn his back on God for so long that he might no longer hear God calling him. Therefore, to deny the possibilty of an eternal hell would be to limit man's freedom.

However, we have grounds for believing that God does not alter His saving activity toward those who have died. For instance, 1 Peter 3:18-20 and 4:6 strongly suggests that the apostolic mind thought that change is possible in the life beyond. Thus, the ancient practice of prayers for the dead does not have to imply a belief in purgatory; it could be done on the basis of the belief that God, directly and through those who serve Him, continues to seek those who have closed themselves off from God. If this is true, then the door to hell is locked only from the inside. For these reasons, I believe that the door to repentance is never closed -- neither in this life, nor in the next.

The Light of Christ, and those who have never heard of Jesus

My personal beliefs are akin to the traditional Quaker, Wesleyan, and Arminian view of the Light of Christ as being in all people, but that all people do not recognize or follow this Light. The Wesleyans call this light "prevenient grace." I believe the Bible teaches that those who have never heard of Jesus Christ will be judged on the use they make of the light they have. Romans Chapter 2 and Titus 2:11 support this belief. God is infinitely more just, loving, and merciful than any human being could possibly be; I am glad He is in charge of everyone's final destiny rather than some people I know -- including some Christians.

The Atonement

Or, more scripturally correct, "The Reconciliation": Briefly, my view is most compatible with Gustaf Aulen's "Classic View," -- that Jesus Christ engaged all the powers of darkness, sin, death, and the devil, and by His life, death, and resurrection won the victory for those who believe in Him; this is the "Christus Victor" view which was held by the Church for the first 1000 years. I summarily reject the Calvinist doctrine of Penal Substitution which sees the atonement mainly in terms of punishment and as a legal device; I also reject Anselm's "Satisfaction Theory." Thus, my views of the Atonement, or Reconciliation, are most compatible with the ancient Celtic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Anabaptists and Quakers, and some Wesleyans/Arminians. I also do not view the Atonement of Jesus Christ in terms of the Jewish priestly sacrificial system of the Old Testament.

Inerrancy of Scripture

The doctrine of the inerrancy of scripture is a controversial one; I believe one reason for this is that there are several definitions of the doctrine. Another reason is that some are intent on shoving their definition down people's throats. One large Protestant denomination has been torn apart over this very controversy. For these reasons and others, I avoid this term; I prefer to simply affirm that the Bible is true and trustworthy and is the written word of God which bears witness to the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ.

Vestments and Clergy Dress

I prefer that clergy should not wear anything that laity cannot wear. I prefer this based on my belief and understanding of the priesthood of the believer and the equality of every believer. Therefore, I would hope every minister would wear only a white alb, and a stole, if desired, when leading worship or otherwise officiating -- or a suit, or casual clothes, as the minister prefers. 

These are some of my personal beliefs; I may add to those that are detailed here. Again, not everyone will agree with these personal beliefs, but this should not be a cause for disfellowship.

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