I remember going to bed each night as a child, unsure if God liked me or not. I knew he loved me (...I mean, He had to) but I figured Hell was for the people he didn't like. Being a Christian meant trying to go as long as possible without sinning. Then affterwards, you ask forgiveness and hope that it was a good enough apology.
This seems a little paranoid, maybe even a little crazy, but this thought stayed with me until my 20's in some degree. Why did I feel that way? I'd say I was taught a sub-par theology.
I grew up "Church of God" (pentecostal) and we were in constant battle with those Godless Southern Baptists (no offense to all those Baptists out there). For us, there were two possibilities. You were either saved until you backslide from sinning too much (Church of God) or you were saved no matter what you did, ever, because you got saved when you were 6 years old (the Godless Southern Baptists).
FYI: I don't think Baptists are Godless... anymore. Please forgive me!
From my point of view, the Baptists were sending people to Hell with all that "once saved, always saved" stuff. Think about it... if WE were wrong, and we really were fully secure in our salvation, no harm no foul. If THEY were wrong, millions of people were going to hell over it. So really, we were being logical, hahaha!
After college, things look a lot different. Yes, there is a middle ground. I expressed in my last post the possibilities of Exclusivism, Inclusivism, and Universalism. The element that connects them all is the mystery of grace. I use to think that you could lose it. Then the idea that, hey... maybe God is up to more than we first thought... is a very freeing idea.
I don't think the "Good News" was a warning of impending punishment to all who didn't think that it WAS good news. I think Good News means exactly that. It is something new. Kinda like... "Hey guys! We use to think death was the end! Guess what? Jesus overcame it! Woohoo!"
That should never have been a message that sent me to bed scared outta my mind each night. God is reconciling the world to himself. That is a good thing, no matter how you cut it.
Does God scare you? Did he ever? Leave a comment. Tell me about it!
Posted by Michael James Stone