For one to come to understand what is currently going on within evangelicalism they will have to realize that many of the younger leaders within the visible church have already had their theology warped by corrupt Bible college and seminary professors.
As a result we are seeing within mainstream evangelicalism a reimagined version of just about every piece of antibiblical theology i.e. doctrines of demons that seducing spirits have ever attempted to bring with them as they slither into the Christrian Church.
Let me just cut to the chase on this one: [Doug] Pagitt is a Universalist. What he was saying is real simple. He was saying when you die your spirit goes to God and judgment means that whatever was not right about you, whatever was bad about you, whatever was substantially lacking about you, gets all resolved. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Buddhist, a Hindu or a Muslim—doesn’t matter whether you’re a Christian really; we’re all going to end up in this wonderful, warm and fuzzy relationship with God. That’s just classic universalism.
At this point it’s important to remind you again that we are not talking here about a Universalism teaching men will be saved regardless of their religious convictions. Rather what’s under discussion is a Christian Universalism (CU), which does see Jesus Christ as the only way that all men will eventually be saved. There are various views but this CU is based upon a universal atonement of Christ on the Cross that sounds a lot like the following from Rob Bell, a friend of Pagitt’s, and quite literally the Elvis of the Emerging Church rebellion against the authority of the Bible:
So this is reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross, he was reconciling “all things, in heaven and on earth, to God.” All things, everywhere. This reality then isn’t something we make come true about ourselves by doing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making. (146, emphasis mine)
With the above in mind then the following from a teacher of CU, a “Gregory MacDonald,” will also prove helpful:
The title of my book, The Evangelical Universalist was deliberately chosen to raise eyebrows and stir up curiosity (and perhaps even animosity). It is my conviction that, weird as it may sound, there is a version of universalism that is thoroughly Christian and even counts as evangelical. Indeed I think of myself as precisely such an evangelical universalist. The view is very simply this:
(1) a universalism that maintains the creedal orthodoxy of the main Christian traditions (Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant). It affirms the Trinity, the incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension and return of Christ. It affirms the centrality of the Church and of baptism.
(2) a universalism that maintains a high view of the Bible. It affirms the divine inspiration of all Scripture and holds the Bible as authoritative for all Christian theological reflection.
(3) a universalism that maintains David Bebbington’s four distinctives of evangelicalism: (a) conversionism, (b) biblicism, (c) activism, (d) crucicentrism.
Evangelical universalists believe in one God, the creator of heaven and earth, in the goodness of the created order, the severity of sin and its terrible consequences, the necessity of divine action to effect redemption. They believe that salvation is found only through Christ’s work in becoming flesh, suffering the consequences of our sins on the cross, being raised to new life in the power of the Spirit, and ascending to reign in heaven.
It is perfectly possibly (though not essential) for an evangelical universalist to believe that people need to come to explicit faith in Christ to be saved (i.e., to be an exclusivist). They believe in final judgment and they also believe that many people will be thrown into “outer darkness” – into Hell. Yes indeed! Traditional Christian universalists DO believe in Hell! So what precisely is distinctive about evangelical universalism? Two things:
1. Evengelical universalists believe that it is possible to be saved from Hell. We do not think that, when it comes to salvation, there is such a thing as a point of no return. It is never too late to be the recipient of grace and mercy.
2. We believe that, in the end, everyone in Hell will turn and receive divine mercy through Christ. (Online source)
So this is the lens through which we will be looking as AM notes the striking similarity to the above views of the Christian Universalist as well as those e.g. espoused by Bell above and Pagitt to follow, which we’ve seen previously in Spencer Burke: I’m A Universalist Who Believes In Hell is thought within the Emergent Church. The below is from an interview Pagitt did with Ingrid Schlueter which ran on her Crosstalk program:
Ingrid Schlueter: So what you’re saying is that the question of whether the Gospel exists in other religions is a thrilling question that we should be asking.
Doug Pagitt: I think it’s the biblical question. Yes, I think it’s the right biblical question. I think, I find that you couldn’t read the New Testament without that question being raised and without the answers to it being the answers that we should be paying to; which is there is no culture or religion which holds God in complete isolation or purity. (15:25-15:56)
And then a bit later in the interview along the same line:
Ingrid Schlueter: So we could interpret what you’re saying as how is God at work; how is the Gospel present within Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism—all of the different religions of the world.
Doug Pagitt: Yeah, for sure because—I mean—Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, those are not—I me—they are the right way to say ‘em. They are “isms,”right; so they are a school of thought, and they are also embedded in a particular cultural setting. And so I think someone could say, “yes, I can see how God—how God is expressed, talked about, understood, through these schools of thought.” Which I find to be quite helpful and they’re not all in contrast with my Christianity. (17:05-17:47)
Next is an exchange between Doug Pagitt and Todd Friel when Friel was with Way of the Master Radio:
Todd: What’s… what’s going to happen to the… How is God going to judge the good Muslim?
Doug: Does it.. God’s going to judge the life and repair and restore and heal the life of everybody in the same way. There’s gonna be no difference between what God…
Todd: So the Muslim is ultimately not going to be… go to a bad place. He’s ultimately going to be restored with God when he dies?
Doug: No, there’s going to be no difference between the way God going to interact with you when you die and the way God’s going to interact with a Muslim when a Muslim dies.
Todd: So I wanna put… I wanna put this into my fundamentalist language. What I just heard you say is: There is no difference between the Christian and the Muslim afterlife. God is going to have a good place prepared for both of us.
Doug: No, I… No I didn’t say a place. See, here you go again.
Todd: Ok, a good thing, a good event, a good existence.
Doug: I didn’t say a place. What I said was, the way God’s going to interact with you is the same way that God’s going to interact with everybody. The same experience of all of humanity. God will… God will interact with all of humanity in judgment the same, no matter who you are, or what your parents have taught you, or what you believe. (Online source)
Note what I highlighted within Pagitt’s dream above because this is also consistent with someone who would hold to CU. In his debate with pastor Bob DeWaay a couple of years ago Pagitt explains what the Emergent Church is talking about concerning this idea of experiencing “the hopes and dreams of God for our world” and His interacting the same with everybody, which is expressed by Pagitt below as embracing “the other”:
We’re [the Emerging Church] not trying to slide anything by someone; we’re tyring to work very deeply, and connected to the story of God, and with God, in this world to try to express “what are the hopes and dreams of God for our world.”
Eightly—there’s an openness to the “other” [point 8 on his Powerpoint display]. To the other thinker, to the foreigner, to the outsider; it’s this call to love, not only God and neighbor—but to love enemy and to not be “freaked out,” and not to be so concerned about when “the other” is in our midst.
And I think that’s about the very understanding about the character of God; the acceptance of “the other,” and these [Emergent] communities tend to look [at it] this way. (Disc 1, Ch. 6, 15:13-15:51)
To give you further indication that we have left the building of the historic orthodox Christian faith in the following you’ll see from Dr. Samir Selmanovic that we are not talking about simply learning about another religion from someone who practices it. No, instead we are also emerging into a counterfeit Christianity where people of other religions are also thought to be in a saving relationship with God; again, a thought consistent with CU.
Selmanovic happens to have contributed a chapter called “The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness: Finding Our God in the Other” in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, a fairly recent book edited by Emergent Church anti-theologian Tony Jones along with his pastor Doug Pagitt. In what looks like some form of CU Selmanovic tells us:
We have experienced great joy in God’s embrace of humanity through Jesus Christ…but Christianity’s idea that other religions cannot be God’s carriers of grace and truth casts a large shadow over our Christian experience. Does grace, the central teaching of Christianity, permeate all of reality, or is it something that is alive only for those who possess the New Testament and the Christian tradition? Is the revelation that we have received through Jesus Christ an expression of what is everywhere at all times, or has the Christ Event emptied most of the world and time of saving grace and deposited it in one religion, namely ours…
Can it be that the teachings of the gospel are embedded and can be found in reality itself rather than being exclusively isolated in sacred texts and our interpretations of those texts? If the answer is yes, can it be that they are embedded in other stories, other peoples’ histories, and even other religions…
God’s table is welcoming all who seek, and if any religion is to win, may it be the one that produces people who are the most loving, the most humble, the most Christlike. Whatever the meaning of “salvation” and “judgment,” we Christians are going to be saved by grace, like everyone else, and judged by our works, like everyone else…
For most critics of such open Christianity, the problem with inclusiveness is that it allows for truth to be found in other religions. To emerging Christians, that problem is sweet… Moreover, if non-Christians can know our God, then we want to benefit from their contribution to our faith. (191, 192, 195, 196, emphasis mine)
For more on the mythical message of Samir Selmanovic of the Emerging Church, with a reimagined Fatherhood of God, Brotherhood of Man and the emerging Global Family of Antichrist, we refer you to Samir Selmanovic: God Is Father Of All Religion. That the Emergent Church and their representative Samir Selmanovic have introduced a new form of liberal theology—a postliberalism—into evangelicalism, and possibly a reimagined form of CU, is also underscored by the aforementioned Bob DeWaay in the following from his very insightful article “Emergent Old Fashioned Liberalism”:
One of the most egregious examples of theological liberalism found in the book [An Emergent Manifestoof Hope] is in an essay entitled “The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness—Finding our God in the Other” by Samir Selmanovic. His inclusive view was made famous by Roman Catholic theologian Karl Rahner. It is called “anonymous Christianity” and is footnoted by Selmanovic. To illustrate his belief, Selmanovic tells of a tribal chief, Chomina, who refused to convert to Christianity as he was dying because he thought doing so would separate him from his people. Here is how this decision was interpreted by Selmanovic: “Moved by the Holy Spirit, people like Chomina reject the idea of allegiance to the name of Christ and, instead, want to be like him and thus accept him at a deeper level.”
He claims, “But Christianity’s idea that other religions cannot be God’s carriers of grace and truth casts a large shadow over our Christian experience.” The Holy Spirit, according to the Bible, testifies of Christ (John 15:26). The Spirit doesn’t lead people to reject the person and work of Christ as defined in the Bible so that people can somehow ontologically meet “Christ” through other religions, as the inclusivists like Rahner and Selmanovic claim. States Selmanovic, “The godliness of non-Christians is not an anomaly in our theology.” Our response to all this is simple: The Bible warns about those having a form of godliness but deny its power (2Timothy 3:5). (Online source)
Next we look at a quote from Doug Pagitt and Kathryn Prill in the book Body Prayer:
There is a rhythm to life. We find it in the ocean tides, in the rising and setting of the sun, in the beating of our hearts. And there is a rhythm of God—a rhythm that encompasses life, both the life we can readily see and the unseen life of the spirit. The rhythm of God beckons us, guides us, and dwells in us.
When we discover the rhythm of God, we find the heart of God, the dreams of God, the will of God. As those who are created in the image of God, we are endowed with this rhythm. We can find it, step into it, and live in it. This is the kingdom of God—to live in sync with the rhythm of God. (127, emphasis mine)
It now appears that Pagitt and Prill are right in line with mystics of all stripes who believe that through Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism all human beings “can find [the rhythm of God], step into it, and live in it.” And as we think this quote through you’ll see that it is a universal statement which would be true of every single human being because we are all “created in the image of God.” So if, “to live in sync with the rhythm of God” really is “the kingdom of God,” then according to Pagitt and Prill all of mankind would be capable of tapping into this inherent “rhythm of God.” Being that, as human beings, they all “are endowed with this rhythm,” which supposedly “dwells in us” this would have to apply to all mankind then whether they are in Christ or not.
And the prayer below from Pagitt and Prill amounts to a denial of the proper understanding of the Bodily Resurrection of Christ, and though unlikely this is what they actually meant, it even seems to hint at a belief in some kind of a quasi-reincarnation:
Jesus was not resurrected to what he was,
But was re-created into something new, the risen, glorified Christ.(Body Prayer, 52)
In my estimation there are some very, very serious problems with this kind of universal theology, and especially so, considering these teachings and materials from the people mentioned above are regularly used in youth group settings in more and more mainstream evangelical churches. Maybe; just maybe, it’s finally time someone needs to rise up as Dr. Walter Martin used to and meet with these people asking them to define their terminology once and for all.