Myths and misunderstandings about Christian Universalism

There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings (and sometimes even outright lies) told about Christian Universalism and Christian Universalists that I’ve encountered whenever the topic comes up, both in person and online. Whether it’s due to simple lack of study or due to willful ignorance, I can’t say for sure, but whenever the topic of anything even slightly related to UR (Universal Reconciliation) comes up, somebody invariably reveals that they don’t understand what it is we Unies (Christian Universalists) actually believe by quoting a variation of one or more of the many myths and misunderstandings I’m going to cover in this post, or by simply sharing a Bible verse or two they think we’ve never considered before (or are just ignoring).

Before I get into it, though, it seem that there’s something most Infernalists (believers in Everlasting Torment) and Annihilationists don’t seem to be aware of when it comes to Christian Universalism. The fact is that almost no Christian Universalist was brought up that way, but instead pretty much all of us came to believe this doctrine after much intense study of Scripture. Nearly every single one of us first believed strongly in either ET (Everlasting Torment) or CI (Conditional Immortality, aka Annihilationism), and didn’t change over to believing in UR without first studying what the Scriptures have to say about the topic, both deeply and prayerfully and at extreme length.

So, with that in mind, here are some of the various myths, misunderstandings, and even lies about Christian Universalism and Christian Universalists that I’ve read and heard many times:

  • How could 2,000 years of Church theologians be wrong about Universalism?

Universal Reconciliation was actually the prevailing soteriology within Christianity for its first 500 years! While Scripture and Christian doctrine was primarily recorded in Greek, UR remained the predominant belief. It wasn’t until the Bible and theology books became more Latin that Infernalism began to become popular, largely thanks to the Latin word “aeternus/aeternum” being used to mistranslate Greek words related to periods of time with a definite (even if unknown) end, which then caused “translators” of many modern Bibles we read today to make the same mistake as well.

  • Universalists don’t believe the Bible, or just cherry pick the verses they want to believe while ignoring the ones they dislike.

Christian Universalists believe every verse of Scripture. We aren’t just ignoring Bible verses we don’t like, or picking and choosing the verses we want to believe (yes, there are people who call themselves Universalists who do just cherry pick Scripture, but they’re not really Christian Universalists so much as just theological liberals). Many of us, myself included, are fundamentalists (inerrantists and literalists) when it comes to Scripture. It’s not that we don’t like the passages you want to use to prove we’re wrong; it’s simply that we interpret them differently than you do (it could also be that we realize some of the verses are mistranslated in certain versions of the Bible), just as you interpret the passages we believe prove UR differently than we do.

  • This passage of Scripture proves that Universalism is false.

The odds that the Bible verse you think is the one that will finally convince us that ET or CI is true hasn’t already been considered and understood by us are basically zero. It’s actually more likely that we’ve spent far more hours considering just that one passage alone than you’ve spent studying all of Scripture in your entire lifetime (I’m not bragging here; if you knew how many hours, and even years, that many of us have spent digging through Scripture to figure out whether UR might be true or not, you might think we were insane).

So, yes, we know that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except by Him. And, yes, we’re aware of the narrow gate and that few enter it, and know about the sheep and the goats, the rich man and Lazarus, the lake of fire, the weeping and gnashing of teeth, the outer darkness, “the worms that dieth not and the fires that aren’t quenched,” and that “he that believeth not is condemned already.” Not only do we already know about all of these passages, we also agree with them completely, just as we do with every other verse in Scripture as well. We just happen to also believe that they might not be talking about exactly what you’ve assumed they’re talking about (or have been told they’re talking about by your religious leaders). Simply quoting those passages alone without also explaining why our own interpretations of said passages are wrong (as well as why the interpretations of each of the various passages we believe proves UR which we hold to are incorrect) won’t convince any of us of your current (and our previous) position because we’ve already spent far more time considering what they’re actually talking about than you likely have.

All this is not to say that we can’t be wrong. Perhaps we’ve completely misinterpreted all these passages and we were actually right back when we did believe in ET or CI, before we spent all those hours (or even years) studying the Scriptures to try to find the truth. But when someone tells you that they happen to believe in UR, please don’t insult them by simply sharing Bible verses you think they’ve never read or considered. If you want to prove us wrong, that’s fine, but first take the time to understand how it is we ourselves interpret those passages that we’re already very aware of. If you don’t, you’re wasting everybody’s time. If you really believe it’s important to prove UR wrong, go to the trouble of spending even a fraction of the time we ourselves have spent studying the topic so you can find out what it is we actually believe these passages mean. Only then could you possibly prove us wrong.

  • Universalists don’t believe in hell.

Okay, this one is actually partly true, because some Unies do and some Unies don’t. There are many “orthodox” Universalists who do believe that some “thing” or place called “hell” exists, although there are probably just as many understandings of what that “hell” actually is among those Unies as there are understandings of what “hell” is among traditionalists. But yes, there are also many Universalists (myself included) who believe in what most people refer to as “soul sleep,” who don’t believe a place called “hell” exists at all because we believe the dead are unconscious (we’re sometimes known as “Concordant” Universalists, and are different from the “orthodox” Universalists since we disregard tradition and go by Scripture alone) and instead believe that the word is a mistranslation of three different Greek words (and one Hebrew word). We all believe the lake of fire exists, however, even though there’s almost as much disagreement on what it is as there is on what “hell” is (please note: “hell” and the lake of fire can’t be the same thing since “hell” is said to be emptied and cast into the lake of fire in Revelation, at least in most English Bibles, and something can’t be cast into itself, so they’re obviously two different places or concepts).

  • If Universalism is true, why is that almost no churches teach it?

Speaking of the narrow gate, there’s no way a religion with as many followers as the traditional Christian religion has  — about a third of the human population of the planet — can possibly be the “narrow way” that few find, so a better question would be, “if everlasting torment in hell is true, why is it that almost all churches teach it?”

  • Universalists don’t take sin seriously.

I’d say we actually take sin more seriously than many traditionalists do, since we believe that God wants to completely remove all sin from existence, and that He indeed will.

  • Universalists believe in God’s love but forget His justice and wrath.

None of us have forgotten about the passages that talk about judgement or justice or God’s wrath. We just believe that an attribute like His wrath can never outweigh His essence, which is love. And we also believe completely in justice; we just don’t believe that justice requires everlasting torment. In fact, we’d say that we believe more in God’s justice than Infernalists do because we know that true justice could never mean never-ending torture.

Regardless, this argument could really be used against any Christian, since anyone who is saved is missing out on the same justice that traditionalists are afraid non-Christians might miss out on if UR is true, so it’s not really as helpful a point as they might think.

  • Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about heaven (alternately, Jesus spoke more about hell than anybody else did).

If you’re familiar with the original Greek text, you know that He never actually mentioned “hell” even once. But interestingly enough, if some of the more common translations of His quotes are correct, He was the first person to ever even hint at the idea that anyone might suffer forever in a place called “hell” (or is it the lake of fire? It can’t be both since they’re two different things), which means that for at least 4,000 years nobody — not even Israel, God’s chosen people — had any warning about everlasting torment in hell (or the lake of fire? Either way, the point stands). Yes, there is one passage in the book of Daniel that certain Bibles mistranslate as saying some will be resurrected to “everlasting contempt” but, aside from the fact that contempt and torture are two very different things, A) the Hebrew word mistakenly rendered as “everlasting” here is “olam” which is a word that refers to a period of time with a temporary duration, B) as we’ve also already covered, there’d never been a threat of a never-ending conscious punishment before this passage so there’s no good reason to assume it’s suddenly being proclaimed here centuries after the giving of the Mosaic law when no Israelite had ever heard of it before (for that matter, nobody prior to Israel was warned about it either; not even Adam and Eve were warned about it, much less anyone who lived from their time to the time Daniel was supposedly warned about it) and it isn’t even explaining who would be experiencing such a thing or why (or how to avoid it), and C) the passage is talking about physical resurrection on Earth anyway, not to spiritual existence in an afterlife realm while dead; the negative part of this passage is referring to those resurrected to life at the Great White Throne judgement before they’re killed again (which is why it’s called the second death) when their bodies are tossed into the lake of fire, at least from the “Concordant” perspective (“orthodox” Unies will interpret the lake of fire somewhat differently, but either way, everything else I said still stands).

  • Jesus came to save sinners from everlasting torment in Hell.

No, Jesus came to save sinners from sin and death, and death doesn’t mean “everlasting torment in hell.”

  • Universalists think that all roads lead to God.

No, we don’t. We believe that nobody comes to the Father except by Jesus Christ. We just also happen to believe that everyone eventually will come to the Father through Jesus Christ.

  • If Universalism is true then Jesus died in vain.

If Jesus didn’t die then nobody would be saved. That’s no different from saying, “if Infernalism is true then Jesus died in vain since some people will not go to hell.” Either way, we all believe it’s what Christ did that saves us.

  • Why should I believe this heretical doctrine you just came up with?

I don’t understand how anyone can say this when it’s been a belief by many Christians for some 2,000 years now, but somehow variations of this question or accusation is made time and again.

  • You’re trying to create your own religion.

Universalism is a soteriological position within Christendom, just like Calvinism and Arminianism are, and has been taught by many Christians for some 2,000 years, which means it can’t have anything to do with trying to create a new religion.

  • You think you’re a prophet and are adding to the Bible.

Seriously, some people have actually said this to me, seemingly under the impression that I came up with these interpretations of Scripture on my own, or even implying that I believe I was given new doctrines directly from God that I didn’t get from Scripture. Everything I believe about UR I learned from other Christians, and is based 100% on a Sola scriptura interpretation of Scripture. In addition, I happen to believe the gift of prophecy is currently paused, so I definitely couldn’t consider myself to be a prophet of any sort.

  • UR was condemned as a heresy at the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

No, it wasn’t: https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2020/05/31/did-the-fifth-ecumenical-council-condemn-universal-salvation/

Now, as a “Concordant” Universalist, I personally don’t hold any council other than the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 as authoritative, but regardless, it still wasn’t actually ever condemned as an official heresy.

  • If UR is true then something, something, Hitler.

Eventually, Godwin will always be proven right (yes, I know that’s not exactly Godwin’s Law, but I’m sure you get my drift). When discussing UR, somebody inevitably brings up Hitler in some way, and the answer to nearly all of their questions or points is almost always the same: Is your sin somehow less sinful than Hitler’s sin was? Are you somehow more deserving of salvation than him?

  • The justice of God demands a place like hell in which the wicked shall be eternally punished for their sins.

The justice of God demanded a perfect sacrifice for sin, and that sacrifice was Christ Jesus.

  • If you can’t show me a passage in Scripture that specifically says, “people will be able to leave the lake of fire,” Universalism can’t be true.

There are a few people who believe the fact that there isn’t a passage containing this exact phrase is a good argument against UR. They don’t seem to grasp that, if the passages we Universalists believe teach UR actually *do* mean that everyone will eventually experience salvation, it doesn’t matter if there isn’t a passage containing the exact sequence of words they’re asking for because, logically, if everyone gets saved, everyone will obviously have to eventually leave the lake of fire regardless, so no such specific phrase is required for UR to be true.

  • Universalism is not just. Do people like Hitler deserve the same thing that we Christians do?

Salvation isn’t something anyone deserves (if anyone deserved it, salvation wouldn’t be by grace). Nobody can earn justice or salvation by being good or avoiding bad or by choosing the right religion. If we could earn salvation by avoiding the sins Hitler committed, then salvation wouldn’t be by grace at all but would rather be by works. The fact that someone would even try to use this argument tells me they need to take some serious time to sit down and consider whether they have actually believed the Gospel themselves at all, and aren’t instead trying to earn salvation by works.

  • If Universalism is true, victims will have to live forever with their abusers/rapists/murderers/etc.

The apostle Paul’s victims from before he got saved are going to be in this position, as will the Christian victims of any other abuser or murderer who eventually gets saved, so this isn’t the strong argument one might think it is.

  • Universalists just want an excuse to sin.

If someone is a Christian Universalist then they’ve already believed the Good News (Gospel) that Christ died for our sins, was entombed, and was roused the third day, and has hence already been saved, so it makes no more sense to say this to a Unie than it does to any Christian.

  • There’s no point in believing in Universalism because, if it’s true, it doesn’t matter if you believe in it or not, since everyone will be saved.

From one perspective (the most narrow of perspectives), yes, that could be said to technically be true. But from a broader perspective there are still very good reasons to believe in it. For one thing, if it is true, isn’t it better to believe (and teach) the truth rather than a lie (especially since the Bible so heavily condemns false teachers who teach lies)?

But even beyond that, belief in this doctrine helps bring serious peace of mind that almost no Christians truly have (if you look at various Christian message boards online you’ll see post after post on a daily basis by people who are Christians yet are still terrified that they’re going to hell for eternity).

But from a “Concordant” theological perspective, there’s another really good reason to believe in Universal Reconciliation, and that’s the fact that only Universalists get to join the body of Christ according to this viewpoint. Now, the basis of this conclusion is a long discussion that I don’t have the space to get into here, but to put it really simply, if Universal Reconciliation is the outcome of Paul’s Gospel as explained in 1 Corinthians 15, not believing it means one hasn’t truly believed the Gospel of the grace of God in its entirety and hence have not been saved yet (relatively speaking, meaning they haven’t joined the body of Christ) and will miss out on the next two eons (the Millennium and the eon of the eons). Yes, everyone will eventually experience salvation by the consummation of the eons, but in the meantime they’re might miss out on a lot (including potentially reigning over celestial beings, along with the rest of the universe, for those eons). But even from an “orthodox” Universalist perspective, if you don’t believe the actual Gospel of the grace of God (which would include the fact that everyone will eventually be saved) and teach falsehoods, there’s a good chance you’ll end up in the lake of fire for a time, which likely won’t be pleasant.

  • Universalists are false teachers who are leading people into an eternal hell.

People who say this make us out to be more powerful than God. I mean, God apparently can’t save people if they don’t choose to be saved, according to most Christians, and it seems He can’t even convince most people to get saved because He didn’t make them smart enough or wise enough or righteous enough to choose the right belief, but somehow we have the power to convince people to believe something that will cause them to not get saved, and to go to hell for eternity instead. It’s also interesting that preaching the Good News that Christ died for our sins, was entombed, and was roused the third day (which is the Gospel we preach) is the message that’s leading these people into an eternal hell. I mean, if believing that message causes eternal damnation, think about how the apostle Paul is going to feel when he finds this out. Imagine the egg on his face at the Great White Throne Judgement when he’s told he taught a false gospel.

I’m not sure how the belief that Christ was successful and will complete His objective of saving everyone could possibly lead someone to hell (or is it the lake of fire?) for eternity, though. If someone believes that, they already believe the Good News that Christ died for our sins, was entombed, and was roused the third day, which means they’ve already been saved, which means it seems unlikely that they’re not going to heaven, so somebody will have to explain how someone believing the Christian Universalist message could possibly lead someone to hell (if it actually even exists) for eternity.

  • Universalism undermines evangelism.

Plenty of Unies (myself included) try to spread the Good News as much as possible, so from that perspective it definitely doesn’t undermine evangelism. However, I’m guessing the person who says this is implying that UR means there’s less urgency to preach the Gospel. Whether this is true or not comes down to what one means by evangelism, as well as whether “becoming a Christian” is really all that important in the first place, and, really, what the actual Gospel that saves us actually even is. From my own “Concordant” perspective, I see the idea of having to become a Christian in order to be saved as religion rather than Good News. To put it simply, I see religion as anything that teaches that God will only look kindly upon us if we believe and/or do the right things before we die. The Good News (Gospel) of the Uncircumcision (Galatians 2:7), on the other hand, is not a religion at all, but is instead the announcement of the end of religion (it’s a proclamation, not a proposition). Religion, to me (and to other “Concordant” believers in the body of Christ), consists of all the things (believing, behaving, worshipping, sacrificing) the religious think they have to do to get right with God, but no action or belief on our part can ever take away our sins or make us immortal. Thankfully, everything necessary for salvation from sin and death has already been done, once and for all, by Christ. The Good News is that Christ died (actually died, including ceasing to exist consciously) for our (meaning everybody’s) sins, was entombed, and was roused from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This means that sin has been completely dealt with by Christ for everybody and, because of this, everyone (1 Corinthians 15:20-28) will eventually experience salvation and be resurrected (if they’re dead) and/or vivified (be made immortal) by the consummation (or end) of the eons (“God is the Saviour of all mankind…”); and if God has elected to give you the gift of faith to believe this Good News now, you’ve now joined the body of Christ and will experience a special, earlier salvation known as eonian life (“…especially of believers.” 1 Timothy 4:10), meaning you’ll have immortal life in heaven (or “the heavens,” which is really just outer space — Genesis 1:1) in a glorified body like Christ’s, where you’ll help reconcile celestial beings to God during the next two eons before the rest of humanity is also vivified (this last point is implied in Ephesians 1 and Colossians 1, among other places, and can be understood when one studies Scripture using systematic theology from a “Concordant” perspective). But in the meantime, while God calls members of the body of Christ to proclaim this Good News to those He calls us to proclaim it to, believing it isn’t essential to one’s ultimate salvation since our ultimate salvation was already taken care of some 2,000 years ago as I just covered, and God doesn’t intend to bring everyone to a knowledge of the truth in this lifetime anyway (while He’s saved everyone through Christ’s actions from an absolute perspective, He only elects certain people to be saved [from a relative perspective] and join the body of Christ — or to join the Israel of God instead, but that’s another topic — in this lifetime). So if someone doesn’t believe the Gospel, they won’t have the peace of mind that I have that God in Christ did indeed save them already, and they’ll also miss out on living through one or two future eons, but I’d also suggest that one’s concern that they might not become believers if they think the Gospel I just presented is true is actually less of a concern than one might think because, if they truly believe that they don’t have to become Christians simply because the above is true, not only have they already believed the actual Gospel (if they truly believe the above is true then they’ve already believed the Gospel) rather than the “gospel” the Christian religion teaches, but they’re now in the body of Christ as well. So, perhaps that does undermine “evangelism” from a traditional perspective, but not from the “Concordant” perspective I come at it from. I’m sure “orthodox” Unies have their own answer to that accusation as well, but that explains my answer.

  • Universalism undermines holy living.

No more-so than traditional Christian teachings about grace do.

  • The Hebrew word olam, as well as the singular Greek noun aión, plural noun aiónas, and adjective aiónios all mean forever or eternal or some variation thereof.

If these words mean what most people and Bible versions assume they do, they render Scripture contradictory, erroneous, and even nonsensical in many places. There are many more examples I could give you, but just to quickly demonstrate how these words can’t mean “everlasting” or “forever” instead of “a finite period of time,” if “olam“ means forever as the KJV (King James Version of the Bible) seems to imply it does, then slaves would have to live forever and could never die (or, if they did die, would have to remain as slaves for the rest of eternity after their physical resurrection if “olam” literally means “forever”), the Old Covenant could never come to an end (as, again, the KJV seems to tell us it won’t) and be replaced by the New Covenant (which it began to do when Christ died), and the land of Israel would have to be forsaken and desolate forever (as, again, the KJV appears to say it will be) rather than eventually become fruitful again (as the next verse says it will be, which shows that even the KJV translators must not have actually meant “forever” when they translated “olam” that way, unless they just weren’t paying attention, so it seems safe to say that a KJV-Onlyist who wants to remain consistent would have to interpret the “forever” passages figuratively and should actually believe in Universal Reconciliation). And if the Hebrew word translated as “forever” doesn’t actually mean “without end” or “eternal,” it stands to reason that the Greek words might not either, which is indeed the case, unless we want to believe there are three eternities, including a “past eternity” (even the KJV translators were smart enough to not render the word “aión” that way, but instead translated it as “before the world”) as well as a “present eternity“ and a “future eternity“ (which the KJV instead rendered as “this world” and “the world to come”), so these passages prove that the word doesn’t mean “forever” or “eternity” either, just like as the KJV’s rendering of “aiónios” as “since the world began” instead of “forever” does as well (so if anyone every tries to claim that “aiónios” absolutely means “forever” or “never-ending” or some other word or phrase that denotes eternity, just show them this verse which is all the proof one needs that it doesn’t since there isn’t a single version of the Bible [at least not one I’ve ever seen] that renders it as “forever” in this verse, and, in fact, most of them actually get close to its actual meaning of referring to eons or ages).

  • If aiónios doesn’t mean eternal then God will die.

The claim that when Paul called God “the eonian God” in his epistle to the Romans he must have actually been calling God “the everlasting God” because otherwise God would die is extremely misguided. As Martin Zender explained, “This verse isn’t trying to tell anyone that God lives forever. Everyone already knows God lives forever. Psalm 102:27 testified long ago that ‘His years shall have no end.’ It’s old news. The vital question is: Does God sit on high, removed from our struggles in time, or does He care what happens during the eons? He cares. Thus, He is the eonian God. This does not limit Him to the eons any more than ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’ limits Him to those patriarchs.”

  • If the punishment isn’t eternal then we won’t have eternal life either.

Properly translated Scripture speaks of believers having “eonian life” (meaning life in a vivified/immortal body during the next two eons) rather than “eternal life” or “everlasting life,” but it also tells us we’ll be made immortal. So we know that when the eons come to an end we’ll still be alive forever, not because of any passage that speaks of “eternal life,” but rather because of passages that speak about our impending immortality.

  • God is a gentleman who won’t coerce people into salvation, or force anyone to go to heaven against their will.

I’ve yet to see that particular passage in Scripture. But regardless, this is a straw man argument that isn’t something any Universalist believes God will do anyway. We don’t believe God will force anyone to be saved against their will, but rather that He gives people the will to want to be saved in the first place.

 

The reason I wrote the above is so that traditionalists who read it can learn about (and stop sharing) their misunderstandings of UR, as well as so other Unies would have something to point traditionalists to in the future if they want to as well when they come across these myths and misunderstandings. And if you want to learn more about what it is we “Concordant” Christian Universalists believe, I wrote about it in depth in an eBook I wrote a few years ago, which is available for free here on this website.

Should you go to church?

This post is a slightly edited version of chapter 7 and the Conclusion of my eBook about traditions taught in church that aren’t actually mentioned in Scripture. I wanted a blog post I could point people to in order to discuss the topic of what Scripture teaches about the ecclesia (another word for “church”), so I’ve created this post for that reason. Please be sure to click the links for the Scripture references, as well as for supporting articles that go more into depth on the topic:

As you almost certainly already know, religious leaders don’t only tell us that certain things are forbidden. They also try to convince us that certain things are required. If you do attend traditional church services and become a member of a particular assembly, you’ll likely sit through a number of sermons meant to make you feel guilty if you don’t give them a percentage of your money on a regular basis, sermons that completely ignore the fact that the tithe was meant solely for followers of the Mosaic law. Christians in the body of Christ (Jewish or otherwise) are not supposed to follow the law of Moses, and those who do try to follow any of it are under a curse of being obligated to follow all of it, according to Paul (that means no more bacon or shrimp, or clothes with mixed fabrics, or doing chores or running errands on Saturday).

Of course, a true biblical tithe is actually in the form of food, drink, or livestock, and only goes to the Levitical priests and to the poor (with the exception of the tithe that wasn’t given away at all, but was rather consumed by the tithers themselves). Unless your pastors are Levites who perform animal sacrifices, they have no scriptural basis for demanding it from anyone (no, not even Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek helps their case, unless perhaps one’s pastor is the king of Salem and they’re tithing of the spoils they took from their enemies in battle). There’s absolutely nothing in the Bible about the body of Christ having to give a tenth (or any amount) of their money to their religious leaders or organizations.

While tithing isn’t a biblical idea for today’s believers, what is recorded as having apparently happened among the body of Christ is people giving financial gifts to those in financial need. They didn’t, however, just give money to pastors who simply wanted to live off church members’ hard-earned money or keep the power running in a church building.

Those church buildings and pastors themselves, by the way, are also a big problem, since modern church services and the buildings they take place in don’t have any biblical justification for existing in the first place. The early church didn’t gather in chapels or temples specifically meant for Christian meetings. Instead, they met in homes. And a gathering wasn’t a few songs and then a sermon by a pastor. There might have been songs, and even a speech or two, but the early church gatherings apparently included a meal and discussions, not just a bite of bread, a sip of wine (or grape juice), and a sermon.

“The Lord’s Supper” for example, appears to have been a part of a real dinner meant to demonstrate the communion or unity of the body of Christ; it wasn’t just a little snack. To quote Aaron Welch, “there is no indication that Paul considered this an ordinance that had to be kept, a ‘sacrament’ that had to be ‘administered,’ or a ceremonial ritual that had to be periodically observed by the saints to whom he wrote.” This should be obvious since our administration has no elements or ordinances because we are complete in Christ, who is the end of all religion for those in His body, and returning to the shadows and types of rituals and rites in any way whatsoever would rob us of the full enjoyment of both our possessions and freedom in Christ. In fact, very few members of the body of Christ actually do partake of this meal anymore, partly due to the fact that many actually believe (for reasons that I won’t get into right here) that it was meant to end around the time of Paul’s imprisonment, and partly due to the fact that there are so few members of the body of Christ alive today that it’s difficult to actually gather together in person anymore anyway. Still, while practicing the Lord’s Supper as a ceremony would not be at all scriptural, choosing to share a meal together in a manner that demonstrates our communion with one another (so long as it isn’t a practice that’s enforced upon us, and we’re actually sharing the meal with everyone in the ecclesia rather than selfishly consuming it all before everyone has arrived), meaning that it helps us recognize that we’re all members of the same body, seems like the exact opposite of a religious ritual to me, and I see no problem with doing just that when gathering as a local ecclesia in one’s home (if one is able to find such an ecclesia) if the group so desires.

As far as the rest of the “church service” goes, it appears they had actual conversations and dialogue rather than just a monologue by one preacher. That’s not to say the occasional lesson or presentation isn’t helpful sometimes, but it isn’t the point of the gathering and can easily be done without.

Just remember that church buildings and the current structure of the Institutional Church’s weekend “services” didn’t exist until quite some time later, when Christianity became more formal and institutional rather than relational. To be fair, though, it’s not the buildings themselves that are the real problem; it’s the “organization” and lack of real, spontaneous, Spirit-led fellowship. Yes, you will almost certainly hear the word “fellowship” in most traditional church meetings, but you also almost as certainly won’t experience much (if any) there, despite how much so many pastors seem to love the word (it’s hard to fellowship with the back of someone’s head while sitting in pews listening to a sermon). But you can technically meet in a home and still be an Institutional Church, or rent a room in a building other than a home and be a relational, Open Church (as church gatherings that follow the pattern of the first assemblies are sometimes called). As nice as a home gathering is, it’s really the openness and fellowship that are the important factors. That said, if a local assembly owns a whole building that they meet in — even if they just call it a chapel or a hall — you should probably stay far away. Perhaps there’s a slim possibility of the rare exception existing, but in general, owning a building for worship and sermons seems to be a good litmus test for a local church, demonstrating that they likely know extremely little about biblical theology and what Scripture actually says. In fact, you’d be much better off spiritually (and even physically) in a strip club than in a so-called “house of God” (as many mistakenly call these buildings). At least in a strip club nobody is deceiving you about what Scripture teaches when they try to take a percentage of your money.

Speaking of teaching, the idea of a pastor or priest or any professional preacher who rules over a church (a word which simply refers to the “group” or “assembly” of believers in an area, by the way; it never referred to a building) isn’t in the Bible either. Local churches were overseen by a group of unpaid elders or overseers (or “bishops,” depending on your translation), not run by one paid man (that’s not to say that evangelists shouldn’t be paid to evangelize, but elders and evangelists aren’t necessarily always the same people). If you have one person leading (and basically performing the entire ministry in) a local gathering of believers, I would suggest not having much of anything to do with their gatherings if you value your spiritual wellbeing (and while not all clergy are dangerous or are con-artists [many are just confused], I’d suggest you do play it safe and be cautious when interacting with them, just in case, since a lot still are).

Also, just as a quick aside on the topic of spiritual things, the “charismatic” spiritual gifts that some pastors say one should have really aren’t meant for those in the dispensation of Grace today either (meaning for those in the body of Christ; they might still be active for some saved under the Gospel of the Circumcision, since they were basically meant as a sign for Jews anyway — even those in the body of Christ were mostly “speaking in tongues,” for example, as a sign for unbelieving Jews [who often required a sign to accept Jesus as their Messiah] — but for those under the Gospel of the Uncircumcision, they appear to have come to an end as Israel as a whole fully rejected the Messiah, quite possibly around the time recorded in Acts 28 [although, for the record, I should state here that I’m a Mid-Acts Hyperdispensationalist, not an Acts 28 Ultradispensationalist], as as evidenced by the fact that even Paul, whose simple handkerchiefs could heal those who touched them at one time, could no longer heal people by the time he wrote the final book of the Bible, and even suggested that Timothy take some wine for his stomach and other ailments rather than seek the gift of healing as those saved under the Gospel of the Circumcision were instructed to do). That’s not to say God can’t or doesn’t ever do miracles anymore (and it definitely doesn’t mean that God doesn’t still guide us through His Spirit), just that they’re the exception rather than the rule while the reason for the sign gifts has been temporarily paused (so, until the final Gentile meant to enter the body of Christ does so and God’s focus returns to Israel and the Gospel of the Circumcision becomes the preeminent [and, eventually, only] Evangel to be proclaimed on Earth once again [which means that if you’re reading this after the snatching away has occurred and the final heptad — meaning the seven year period often called the tribulation — has begun, then Paul’s epistles weren’t written to you and it’s time to focus on the circumcision writings instead]).

Aside from tithing (and “speaking in tongues,” depending on one’s denomination), there’s one more unbiblical tradition that religious leaders will condemn you for if you don’t do it on a regular basis, and that is regularly attending their gatherings, particularly on the day they believe to be the Sabbath.

Almost anybody who has ever stopped “going to church” for any length of time has been given a guilt trip and has been told that we aren’t supposed to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, completely misrepresenting the meaning of the passage in Hebrews they use for this purpose (while also ignoring the fact that this book wasn’t written to the body of Christ anyway). The word translated as “assembling” (episynagōgē [ἐπισυναγωγή] in Greek) here, just like its cognate (episynagō [ἐπισυνάγω] in Greek) in other passages, are never used to refer to “gathering” in the sense one would use when speaking of “going to church.” The only other place in Scripture where episynagōgē is used is when Paul was talking about the gathering of the saints to Christ at the snatching away when he wrote his second epistle to the Thessalonians. Combine that fact with the actual context of the rest of that chapter in Hebrews, and it’s clear that the writer is warning against losing out on the hope of being assembled together to Christ after He returns, and wasn’t speaking of “going to church” at all (although gathering with like minded believers, if you can find them, is still extremely beneficial, so please don’t think I’m saying that one shouldn’t gather with the body if one can find other members nearby), be it on the Sabbath or on any other day.

As far as what day the Sabbath is goes, this is one where various sabbatarian denominations are partially correct, while also being quite wrong about it at the same time. The Sabbath is indeed Saturday as they claim; it was never changed to Sunday (and Sunday is not the Lord’s Day either; the Lord’s Day, also known as the Day of the Lord, is an event that hasn’t happened yet, at least not as of the time this was written). But since those saved under the Gospel of the Uncircumcision are not under the Mosaic law in any way whatsoever, it doesn’t really matter to them what day the Sabbath is. In the very beginning of the church, believers didn’t pick one specific day to gather together when they did get together for fellowship; they could meet any day of the week (possibly doing so more than one day a week, and very likely often happening later in the afternoon or evening after work rather than first thing in the morning based on the fact that some were eating all the food and getting drunk before the poor could arrive at their gatherings). That said, there’s nothing technically wrong with meeting on a Sunday. In fact it’s often the most convenient day to do so on at this point in history since the Institutional Church has managed to convince most people that it is the new Sabbath thanks to the influence it’s had over our society, but it’s really not any different from any other day of the week so don’t feel any obligation to treat it like a special day.

And on the topic of esteeming certain days above others, be they new holidays invented by (or pagan holidays that were “Christianized” by) the Institutional Church (such as Lent, such as Easter, and such as Christmas, to name just three) or days that are observed by Jewish followers of the Mosaic law, while it might not always be a great idea, it’s not necessarily wrong to celebrate a specific day if it’s something one enjoys doing just for the fun of it (or if it’s something one who is weak in faith still feels they need to do). Just realize that none of these days are required for the body of Christ any more than the Sabbath is, and that nobody should be looked down upon for not participating in these “holy days.” And, of course, please be aware of the fact that Jesus didn’t actually die on a Friday, wasn’t resurrected on the day we call Easter on our modern calendars (which should be more obvious than it seems to be to most since it’s on a different day each year), and wasn’t born on December 25th either (while it doesn’t really matter when He was born since we aren’t told to celebrate His birthday in Scripture, there’s good reason to believe it was actually in September or October on our modern calendar). That said, if you’re going to celebrate Christmas or Easter, consider doing so mostly from a secular perspective, focusing on the chocolates and eggs and gifts and such. To do otherwise (meaning, to celebrate them as remembrances of Jesus’ birth and death) is to know Christ after the flesh, which is something the body of Christ is called to move past.

If you happen to be one of the chosen few who have accepted the truths of Paul’s Gospel and have realized that you need to reject organized religion and the teachings and practices of Churchianity, you’ll be left wondering what you should do instead. Well, first of all, it means that you get to sleep in on Sunday (or Saturday) mornings if you want to. Beyond that, however, if you can find a nearby ecclesia that actually believes what Scripture says, it might be a good group to check out. That said, many, if not most, of the members of the body of Christ have to go it fairly alone, or at least without a regular ecclesia to fellowship with, since it seems there are very few members of the body of Christ in any particular area. I should say that this is not a new problem; the ecclesia made up of the body of Christ has been extremely small from almost the beginning, and I’d be surprised to see this change before the snatching away occurs (it fell into apostasy and people separated from it very early on — some of these divisions and separations from Paul’s Gospel and the actual body of Christ becoming the so-called Orthodox and Catholic denominations we know today [a number of the so-called “Early Church Fathers” of these denominations, Polycarp and Irenaeus for example, were from the very province that Paul said “all” had turned away from him in during his imprisonment, which makes any of their teachings, and then any of the later teachings by those who accepted their teachings, suspect to begin with] — and it seems to have never regained its original size). So, if you can’t find any fellow members to fellowship with where you live, just keep studying the Scriptures. You’re far better off not participating in any church gathering than you are participating in Churchianity, so I’d suggest leaving the Institutional Church behind completely. Yes, it’s beneficial to fellowship with likeminded believers if you can find them, but you won’t find many of them in the traditional denominations, at least not if you happen to agree with the conclusions I’ve come to.

What does Scripture really teach about sexuality?

This post is an edited excerpt from chapter 5 of my eBook about traditions taught in church that aren’t actually mentioned in Scripture. I wanted a blog post I could point people to in order to discuss the topic of sexuality in morality specifically, so I’ve created this post for that reason. Please be sure to click the links for the Scripture references, as well as for supporting articles that go more into depth on the topic:

Perhaps the best example of an unscriptural tradition when it comes to sin is the twin topic of sex and lust. You’ve almost certainly been taught that premarital sex is a sin, and the primary reason that most religious Christians are so confused about and against premarital sex is one little word: fornication. Depending on your English translation, you’ll find fornication criticized as a very bad thing that one should flee, and if you look fornication up in an English dictionary you will indeed find that it can mean sexual intercourse between unmarried partners (although that isn’t its only, or even its original, meaning). The thing is, the word translated as “fornication” in some versions of the Bible is the Greek word porneia (πορνεία), which does not literally mean “premarital sex” as many Christians believe it does (that’s not to say that premarital sex by certain people can’t fall under the umbrella of “porneia,” but that isn’t what the word itself actually means). Of course, some modern versions of the Bible now use the term “sexual immorality” to render the word porneia, but this isn’t any more clear than the word “fornication” is for most people since it’s just a broad and general term that doesn’t tell us anything on its own about what sexual acts would actually be considered to be immoral. Some of the translations of the word that might make things more clear for today’s readers are “prostitution,” “harlotry,” or “whoredom,” but even there one has to be careful not to confuse this with consensual sex work as these English words would currently be used, since the Greek word actually had to do with sex that women who were basically slaves would be forced to do, not with the voluntary trading of sex for favours (which had a different Greek word that one would use when referring to that concept: hetaira [ἑταίρα]). In fact, even the word “fornication” itself originally meant the same thing, and it should be understood along these lines when read in versions of the Bible that use this translation as well, since the word literally meant “to meet a prostitute under an arch” (the word comes from the Latin word “fornix,” which means arch or vault; prostitutes used to wait for their customers in ancient Rome under vaulted ceilings where they’d be safe from the elements, and “fornix” became a term for brothels, with the Latin verb “fornicare” referring to a man visiting a brothel, and so it seems clear that the word “fornication” would have to be connected to prostitution as well, particularly based on the rest of what I’ll be covering in this post). Whatever translation of this word one uses, though, the most important thing to ask is what the word means, and the best Bible scholars (see Vine, Thayer, Knoch, etc.) agree that the English meaning of porneia is closer to “illicit sexual intercourse” (or “unlawful intercourse between the sexes”) than anything else.

If we take the term “illicit sexual intercourse” literally, it means sexual intercourse that breaks the law. Generally, here in the western world, premarital sex doesn’t break the law, and it certainly wasn’t against the law among the Gentiles Paul wrote to when he told believers to avoid porneia either. And if one digs into the Mosaic Law, they’ll see that it also wasn’t ever spelled out as being illegal there. While there were sometimes civil consequences for premarital sex among Israelites back in Bible times without first getting the permission of (and likely paying a brideprice to) a woman’s father (sadly, women were considered to be property in ancient cultures including that of Israel, and were often basically sold from one “owner,” her father, to a new “owner,” her husband, through marriage), and deceiving someone into thinking a woman was a virgin when she wasn’t could also result in harsh penalties, premarital sex on its own was never specifically forbidden or called sinful in the Hebrew Scriptures. Of course, premarital sex (or sex outside of marriage) technically could fall under the broad label of porneia in some parts of the world (and still can today), but it could (and can) only legitimately do so in regions where this actually was or is considered to be illegal (such as in parts of the Middle East today, for example). Outside of those more conservative regions of the planet, however, it wouldn’t be considered to be wrong by the law and hence wouldn’t be a sin to do so since it wouldn’t be a crime.

So what sexual acts would be considered illicit (or immoral) when the word porneia was used in Scripture? Well, it would, of course, cover the specific sexual prohibitions that actually were mentioned in the Mosaic Law, at least it would for those who were required to follow said law (meaning Israelites [Gentiles were never under the Mosaic law to begin with, and members of the body of Christ definitely aren’t either, even if they happen to be Jewish, although the Mosaic law does still help us understand what actions God might consider sinful, as long as we interpret it carefully], and without even having to go any further, the passages I just linked to prove that premarital sex is not a sin all on their own: aside from the fact that God wouldn’t have had to go to the trouble of forbidding sex with animals or with the list of specific relatives He listed or even with other people’s wives if premarital sex really was a sin — all He’d have to have said is, “don’t have sex with anyone you aren’t married to,” something He never actually said anywhere in Scripture — God also didn’t add new sins to the list in the Greek Scriptures [meaning the books of the Bible generally referred to as the New Testament], so we always have to interpret anything spoken against in those books in light of what the Hebrew Scriptures [meaning the books of the Bible generally referred to as the Old Testament] said and meant, and premarital sex was never condemned as a sin anywhere in the Hebrew Scriptures). But it primarily spoke of sexual idolatry, referring to sleeping with temple prostitutes (Paul would presumably have also been speaking against the rape of the women forced to participate in prostitution when he spoke against porneia, not just the idolatry aspect of it, but the connection to idolatry was a large, if not the largest, part of it) who did so as a part of worshiping other gods (in Bible times, Satan used sex to lure people into idolatry; today, now that temple prostitution is no longer a thing, he uses it instead as the new circumcision), although it could also be used in reference to sexual practices that actually were considered illicit by the culture in question, practices such as incest, for example. This particular instance of porneia actually demonstrates quite conclusively that premarital sex was not considered to be a sin. If it were, the Corinthian believers would never have even considered letting things go this far; they would have stopped long before accepting, and seemingly even taking pride in, this relationship happening among their church members if Paul or anyone else had previously taught them that sex outside of marriage fell under the category of porneia-based sins, and he also apparently forgot to tell them it was a sin in this epistle as well when he was telling them to avoid such porneia, so one who claims it is sinful is just eisegeting their own preconceived moralistic bias into their interpretation of the word porneia in this and other parts of Scripture.

Of course, some try to argue that Paul did tell them to avoid premarital sex a couple chapters later when he apparently tells them, “and because of the whoredom let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her proper husband,” supposedly telling them to get married rather than have premarital sex, but that’s not what he’s actually trying to get at there at all. It would take a much longer study to get all the way into the full meaning of this chapter, but along with actually taking the context of the passage into consideration, there are also idioms in the original Greek text that aren’t obvious if you’re not aware of them (for instance, the phrase “not to touch” was a figure of speech that literally meant “not to have sex with,” only perhaps somewhat cruder [it should probably actually be translated with a four-letter verb]), so a more informative paraphrase of the first couple verses of that passage, that is more in line with the actual meaning of these verses, would be, “Now, about what you wrote to me, you said: ‘It is ideal for a man to avoid having sex with a woman.’ Whether or not that’s true, in order to avoid the temptation that would almost certainly arise to have sex with temple prostitutes instead, let every man continue having sex with his own wife, and let every woman continue having sex with her own husband.” Basically, this passage is talking about Corinthian Christians who had come to the conclusion that it would be more righteous or holy to avoid sexual intercourse with their spouses altogether (perhaps because of outside Gnostic influences, although we don’t know the reason for certain), but Paul warned them that they should not stop sleeping with their already existing spouses or they could end up inadvertently committing idolatry as their biology would very likely lead the men to sleep with temple prostitutes instead (because they were the easiest people to find sex with aside from with one’s spouse, since people generally didn’t have romantic relationships back then as we do today; marriage was more of a business arrangement until very recently, so outside of marriage and adultery, the easiest and most common way for a man to have sex in that time and place was with a temple prostitute), and the women could even end up committing adultery. Yes, celibacy is honourable if one can handle it (the reason for this isn’t because sex is somehow dirty or less than righteous and something that should be avoided in general, however; it’s because it helps one hold lightly to the things of this Earth so one can focus solely on the things of God instead of the concerns of one’s spouse, since the easiest way for one to have sex while avoiding idolatry was through marriage when Paul wrote that), but as the writer of Hebrews put it (even if this is a Circumcision writing, this is one of those trans-administrational truths that applies to both the Israel of God and the body of Christ), marriage (and sex in marriage) is just as honourable, and one shouldn’t defile their marriage bed by sleeping with temple prostitutes or by committing adultery (both of which would be temptations if a married couple stopped sleeping with each other). Contrary to what most have been taught, Paul wasn’t telling single people to find marriage partners rather than commit the supposed sin of having premarital sex in this passage (they generally didn’t have boyfriends and girlfriends like we do today anyway, so the idea of unmarried, romantic “couples” having sex probably wouldn’t have even crossed Paul’s mind); the context of this chapter and the previous chapter makes it pretty clear in the original Greek that he was talking to the already married in the first seven verses, telling them that the husbands risked going to temple prostitutes if married couples stopped sleeping with each other, which would be tantamount to idolatry because sex with temple prostitutes would necessarily involve worshipping other gods in the process. As for those who were once married and wished to remarry (the word “unmarried” in this passage almost certainly refers to widowers, based on the patterns through this chapter in the original Greek text, although it’s still perfectly valid advice for those who haven’t been married yet either), while he’d prefer for them to remain unmarried like him so they can focus on pleasing the Lord rather than a spouse, he does still say that getting married is better than burning with the desire to be married if they can’t control their desire for marriage (it’s unlikely that he was talking about burning with sexual desire here; based on the context of the topic of marriage in general throughout this part of the chapter, and the fact that he was saying it would be good for them to remain unmarried like him, it seems far more likely that he would have simply been referring to the desire to be married, particularly since sex outside of marriage hadn’t actually been condemned anywhere else in Scripture prior to his writing this, at least as long as it wasn’t illegal or idolatrous, and Paul wouldn’t have added new sins to the list of already existing sins mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures). And as far as those of us in this day and age go, at least here in the western world, there are other ways for unmarried people to have sex without resorting to visiting temple prostitutes, although if they are “burning” to get married, they certainly should.

In addition to these more literal interpretations of porneia, there was also a figurative meaning to the word (and its Hebrew equivalents in the Hebrew Scriptures), having nothing to do with physical sex at all, but simply being a metaphor referring to outright idolatry.

The one thing it never meant, however, is premarital sex, or at least by now it should be obvious that there’s zero reason to believe it did, despite the fact that your parents and pastor would probably prefer you believed it did. Of course, they likely only think they want you to. If they understood just how many STIs and unwanted pregnancies this teaching is responsible for, they might change their minds (unless they’re the vindictive sort who want those they consider to be sinners to be punished physically for defying their rules; there are religious Christians out there with this mentality). The idea that premarital sex is sinful causes many parents to actively make sure their kids don’t learn about protection and birth control, but since pretty much an equal number of Christians have premarital sex as non-Christians (the religious can’t fight nature and biology any more than the rest of the world can), only without any knowledge of how to minimize the potential risks, young people in conservative areas or with religious parents tend to end up with more diseases and unwanted pregnancies than those who don’t, and if you’re going to judge a doctrine or religious teacher by its or their fruit, it’s easy to see that the traditional “Christian” view on sexuality is rotten to the core.

Even with all that being said, many religious Christians will try to defend their indefensible claims about premarital sex based on Jesus’ comment about “lust” and “committing adultery in one’s heart,” attempting to convince us that this makes premarital sex sinful by default since you wouldn’t have sex without sexual desire (they like to use this argument to condemn masturbation and pornography too). However, because so few understand right division, not to mention what Scripture says in its original languages, they don’t realize that He was actually speaking about something else altogether in that passage from what most people assume. In fact, when you discover what “lust” really refers to in Scripture you’ll realize that it is actually often encouraged, and that it’s also time to reconsider your thoughts on porn as well (and, really, anyone who cares about women at all should actually be encouraging the spread and consumption of pornography because [contrary to the claims of the morality police who, as it turns out, appear to be wrong about basically all of their assertions about sexuality] when porn usage increases, sexual assault decreases, unless they don’t care about reducing sexual assault, which would be quite sad).

To put it plainly, to “lust” in Scripture, in its original languages (chamad [חָמַד] in Hebrew, with epithymeō [ἐπιθυμέω] being the verb form of the word in Greek, and epithymia [ἐπιθυμία] being the noun), doesn’t simply mean to have sexual attraction to someone, but rather it just means to “covet” or “desire” something or someone, and sometimes lusting/desiring is a good thing (the Lord’s statutes and judgements are to be lusted for/desired more than gold, and even Jesus “lusted/desired” according to the Bible. In fact Paul himself encouraged epithymia at times as well). What Scripture does condemn when it comes to epithymeō is coveting something that already “belongs” (so to speak) to someone else, such as someone else’s property (or wife, since, again, women were considered to be property back then, unfortunately), which is what the 10th Commandment is all about. But to enjoy the way someone looks, or even to fantasize sexually about someone, isn’t what is being criticized when epithymeō actually is spoken against in Scripture; intent to take someone else’s “property” without permission also needs to be there for the coveting to be wrong (otherwise, accepting something you desire as a gift, or even finding your own spouse sexually appealing, would also technically be wrong). So for epithymia over a woman to be considered “committing adultery in one’s heart,” in addition to needing to have intent to actually possess her, she would have to also belong to someone else already, which is, thankfully, not possible in the western world today since women are no longer considered to be property. And, of course, that passage only applied to Israelites, and even then only to some of them (it was a part of the Sermon on the Mount, which was all about elaborating upon the Mosaic law, something that never applied to Gentiles, and doesn’t apply to Jews saved under Paul’s Gospel either, so even if Jesus did mean what most Christians assume He did here, it wouldn’t apply to most people anyway). But even if those saved under the Gospel of the Uncircumcision did somehow fall under this particular point in Jesus’ sermon (which they don’t), the word “adultery” in that passage really tells us everything we need to know about the context of the passage; a man (even a married man) couldn’t commit adultery with a woman who wasn’t married (or at least betrothed) back then, since adultery in Bible times wasn’t defined the same way we do so today (adultery was a property violation back then, not a purity violation, which is why Jesus didn’t condemn women for desiring men, since a woman couldn’t own a man through marriage — a wife was always the property of a husband and never the other way around at that time), and it’s extremely important to interpret a passage of Scripture using the definitions of the time rather than basing our interpretations on modern definitions of English words (using modern definitions rather than the definition of a word at the time it was written is how we end up with all sorts of confused and unscriptural doctrines). It’s also important to note that nowhere prior to this sermon had sexual attraction or fantasy, or sexual desire in general, ever been condemned anywhere in the Hebrew Scriptures (or anywhere else in the Greek Scriptures either, for that matter). When one realizes all this, it becomes apparent that Jesus wasn’t creating a new law for Israel to follow, but was simply expanding on one His audience was already familiar with (the 10th Commandment), pointing out that for a Jewish male to covet his neighbour’s wife with the intention of having her would basically be the equivalent of breaking the 7th Commandment as well, but He wasn’t even hinting that finding other people sexually appealing, or admiring their bodies (or even fantasizing about them) was at all wrong. In fact, those who do try to force sexual desire out of their (and others’) lives are actually demonstrating a symptom of a far more pernicious form of lust than any mentioned already, one which affects (and infects) Churchianity to a fatal degree. This, of course, would be the religious lust of self-righteousness, so if a religious leader tries to convince others that simple sexual attraction and desire (or even premarital sex) is sinful, it would be wise to question any of their teachings since they’re demonstating how little they likely know about Scripture, and there’s a good chance they haven’t even been saved yet (relatively speaking, of course), since they likely don’t understand what it means to rightly divide the word of truth. Of course, another reason that religious conservatives are so opposed to “lust” (and anything even related to premarital sex) is simply basic erotophobia. Thanks to the horribly harmful purity culture that conservative Christianity has inflicted upon the world, too many people grow up with the idea that sexuality (anything from simple sexual desire to any form of sexual activity itself) is inherently dirty and shameful. Most Christians will deny this and claim that sexual thoughts and acts are only “dirty” or sinful when they’re outside the context of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage, but they themselves don’t realize just how deeply the effects of purity culture have rooted into their subconscious, eventually blossoming into full-blown erotophobia, which in turn forces them to have to believe that mistranslated and/or misinterpreted Scripture is true because anything else could allow the sexuality they so fear to enter their lives.

I’ve already mentioned this, but it’s also important to keep in mind that something generally has to be spelled out as a sin in the Hebrew Scriptures or else it’s very unlikely to actually be a sin. Neither Jesus nor Paul (or anyone else writing any of the Greek Scriptures, for that matter) were adding new sins to the list when they wrote or spoke about these topics, so the passages have to be interpreted in light of what came before. And since the Hebrew Scriptures didn’t call premarital sex a sin, but did call idolatry, adultery, and incest sins, it stands to reason that one or more of these have to be what Paul was actually talking about. Likewise, Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and since we know that A) “lusting” the way religious conservatives interpret the word (enjoying the way someone looks, and even fantasizing about them sexually) had never been condemned in the Hebrew Scriptures, and B) there’s no way that avoiding “lusting” the way religious conservatives understand the concept could ever be considered easy or a burden that is light in any way whatsoever (anyone who isn’t asexual or doesn’t have a hormonal imbalance — and no judgement to anyone who is or does — who is being truly honest with themselves knows I’m right), it has to mean something else than what most people assume (which it does, as I’ve already covered).

There is a lot more that can be said about this complex topic (which has admittedly been simplified a great deal here), but the bottom line is that modern religious Christians are following in the footsteps of the fourth century Institutional Church (who gave us many false doctrines that Churchianity never recovered from; so many of the errors of the Christian religion find their roots in that time period) and are making the same mistake of reading their own biases into the original text just as those so-called “Early Church Fathers” did, although it’s even worse today since so much time has passed and most Christians are now unaware that, in the first century, sex among the people Paul taught almost never took place between people who were considered equals, and this included sex within marriage. As already mentioned, the idea of a boyfriend and girlfriend, as we understand them today, in love with each other and sleeping with each other probably wouldn’t have ever entered into Paul’s mind since that wasn’t how relationships between the sexes generally worked back then, but there’s literally no reason to think he’d have a problem with consensual sexual relations between a couple in love today as long as no worship of other gods was involved, and it wasn’t actually illegal where they lived.

Premarital sex and lust (and porn) aren’t the only things religious leaders have insisted that people shouldn’t participate in, however, when it comes to sexuality. There are so many other traditional religious ideas that aren’t in the Bible but that you’ve no doubt been told you must abstain from as well. For example:

• Modesty means not revealing too much skin or the outline of your body. Modesty is the opposite of vanity, not nudity. Nudity was extremely common in Bible times, yet never called a sin in the Bible. God did not condemn Adam and Eve for being naked (in fact He created them naked and saw them as “very good,” and if nudity wasn’t inherently sinful before the fall then there’s no reason to claim it suddenly became sinful after the fall), but rather asked them who told them they were naked after they sinned and realized they were. He didn’t say, “Oh no, you’re naked! How could this have happened?!” since He made them that way and left to enjoy the garden that way. The reason they sewed and put on clothing was because they were suddenly ashamed, not because they were suddenly naked (and the reason God made new clothes for them out of animal skins was because the dead animals covering them were a type of Christ covering sin, not because they suddenly needed clothing — they already had clothing at that point, after all). The truth is that sin distorts our perceptions and makes people feel ashamed of their bodies, just as it makes them feel guilt and shame over all sorts of innocent things. Puritanism over our physical bodies is not a scriptural virtue, but it is a form of gnostic dualism, which is enough to tell us we should be avoiding that kind of prudishness. In fact, God even sent Isaiah out to prophesy naked, so obviously nudity just can’t be considered sinful. Modesty is still important, but it’s about not showing off, not about not showing skin or curves. When Paul called for modesty in the ecclesia, and asked women to dress modestly, he meant to dress “with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” It had nothing to do with their bodies and everything to do with their attitudes. Basically, he was telling them not to wear fancy outfits that would make them appear more important than those who weren’t able to appear as wealthy as them. Similarly, Peter wrote that “beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Nobody in their time would have looked twice at somebody showing a bit of skin, or even at being completely naked, and Scripture certainly didn’t condemn it, so neither should we. But Scripture is clear that we should not try to make ourselves look better or more important than those around us with expensive clothing and lavish hairdos, so true modesty (humility) is something we should certainly aim for. And as for the concern that not dressing like a prude might cause men to lust, we’ve already covered what “lust” really means, and that the idea of “lust” as religious conservatives understand the concept isn’t actually a problem at all, so if someone tries to use that argument, they need to go back and learn that.

Homosexuality is forbidden. Like the topic of porneia, this is a tricky topic, but whatever Scripture does say about homosexuality, at most one could argue that it might forbid anal sex between males outside the context of rape and/or idolatrous prostitution (which is always wrong, and quite possibly what it’s actually forbidding according to many scholars). Regardless of whether it does, however, it doesn’t say anything about love, romantic relationships, or other forms of sexuality between males, and it definitely never says anything about love, romantic relationships, or sexuality between females (the passage in Paul’s epistle to the Romans about idolatry that some mistakenly use to argue against homosexuality does not actually condemn women lying with women as many believe, and may in fact be talking about women lying with animals [an action that actually was forbidden in the Hebrew Scriptures] when the context of worshipping the creature in that passage is taken into consideration, although it could also be argued that it instead refers to women participating in a certain sort of shrine prostitution. Either way, the idea of women lying with women had never previously been forbidden in Scripture, so there’s no justification for claiming it was all of a sudden being forbidden at that point [again, Paul didn’t make up new sins that were never mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures] — and, of course, there’s also the fact that the actions mentioned here were actually “punishments,” so to speak, themselves; Paul’s point in this passage wasn’t that he was telling people to avoid certain sexual sins, but rather that the sin of idolatry would lead people to certain negative consequences). As far as males go, there are some who make persuasive arguments that it’s only idolatrous prostitution and rape between males that’s forbidden (much like the “porneia” issue between men and women), but I haven’t studied this issue enough myself to be dogmatic about it either way. What I will say, however, is that Scripture is very clear that it’s the anti-gay conservatives who are actually guilty of “the sin of Sodom” (which had nothing to do with homosexuality at all) today, and I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of these religious conservatives at the final judgement. Even if only indirectly, homophobic (and transphobic) conservatives are responsible for many homeless youth, as well as for numerous suicides, not to mention all the assaults against and even murders of people who are different from them when it comes to their sexuality and gender identity, and pretty much each and every conservative (whether they’re religious or not) is going to have to answer for their culpability in these horrors when they’re standing at the Great White Throne Judgement. Because even if they’re only indirectly responsible, they all still have a responsibility for all of this suffering nonetheless.

Abortion is condemned by the Bible as murder. Regardless of one’s feelings on abortion (and whether it happens to actually be wrong or not, which I’m not taking a side on either way in this section), it isn’t ever mentioned in the Bible; and since murder is a legal term, it can’t legitimately be defined as murder in places where it’s not illegal (abortion might involve killing, but killing can only be classified as murder if the killing is unlawful under one’s human government, or capital punishment and the killing of enemy combatants in war would also have to be called murder). Most Christians today also aren’t aware that abortion (at least if performed during much of the first two trimesters) was not actually considered to be wrong by most Christians throughout much of history (at least among Christians who hold to Sola scriptura). It’s only extremely recently that certain conservative Christians (mostly of the Roman Catholic variety) gained enough political power to sway nearly everyone to suddenly assume it was always thought to be a sin (not that we should base our theology on what religious Christians have historically considered to fall under the purview of “orthodoxy” or “orthopraxy,” of course, but it is still something interesting that anti-abortion Christians should be aware of), primarily because they wanted to punish women for enjoying sex and to ensure that they suffer long-lasting consequences for their actions (they’ll argue that it’s actually because they think abortion is immoral and that they believe in “the sanctity of life,” but the way they treat those who have been born reveals the real truth about them to the rest of us: that they don’t actually believe in “the sanctity of life,” in good morals, or in ethical practices at all).

Monogamy is the only acceptable form of romantic relationship. Honestly, nearly every Christian is likely aware of the fact that polygamy and other forms of non-monogamy were considered to be an acceptable practice for people by God in the Bible, with the possible exception of local church overseers and deacons (depending on how one translates/interprets those particular passages; there’s good reason to believe they’re actually just saying that an elder or deacon should have at least one wife, meaning they should not be single), but you’d never know it to hear them talk about it. God even told David that if he wanted more wives, rather than taking someone else’s wife all he had to do was ask God for more. So basically, those conservatives who claim they’re fighting to promote “traditional marriage” really aren’t (if they were, they’d be promoting polygamy at the very least), and if monogamy was actually natural, cheating wouldn’t be so common in so many relationships (yes, even in Christian relationships).

Swearing is shameful. I’m including this in the list because so much “swearing” here in the west is either sexual in nature, or is connected to shame about the human body and its functions. The Bible actually has plenty of profanity in it in its original languages. In fact, the only thing that looking down on profanity does is demonstrate what an unspiritual (and likely hypocritical) snob one is.

Religion Can’t Get You to Heaven

While I wrote an entire book that goes into great detail about the topic, I figure it might be helpful to summarize what Scripture actually teaches about salvation and the Gospel. The following is from a Gospel tract I wrote that I like to hand out around Toronto:

Religion teaches that God will only look kindly upon us if we believe and/or do the right things before we die. The Good News of the Uncircumcision (Galatians 2:7), on the other hand, is not a religion at all, but is instead the announcement of the end of religion (it’s a proclamation, not a proposition). Religion consists of all the things (believing, behaving, worshipping, sacrificing) the religious think they have to do to get right with God, but no action or belief on our part can ever take away our sins or make us immortal. Thankfully, everything necessary for salvation from sin and death has already been done, once and for all, by Christ. The Good News (or Gospel) is that Christ died (actually died, including ceasing to exist consciously) for our (meaning everybody’s) sins, was entombed, and was roused from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This means that sin has been completely dealt with by Christ for everybody and, because of this, everyone (1 Corinthians 15:20-28) will eventually experience salvation and be resurrected (if they’re dead) and vivified (be made immortal) by the consummation (or end) of the eons (“God is the Saviour of all mankind…”); and if God has elected to give you the gift of faith to believe this Good News now, you’ve now joined the body of Christ and will experience a special, earlier salvation known as eonian life (“…especially of believers.” 1 Timothy 4:10), meaning you’ll have immortal life in heaven (or “the heavens,” which is really just outer space — Genesis 1:1) in a glorified body like Christ’s, where you’ll help reconcile celestial beings to God during the next two eons before the rest of humanity is also vivified.

If you’d like to learn more, please check out my free eBook at https://christianheretic.com/nochurch/ where I go into much more detail on the topics of salvation and rightly dividing the word of truth.

Wrongly Dividing

When talking about the Bible, most people divide it up into two sections that they call the New Testament and the Old Testament. There are correct ways to divide the Scriptures, but this isn’t one of them.

First of all, the Old and New Testaments refer to covenants, not to books or to collections of writings (in fact, much of what we know about the New Testament or New Covenant is found in the part of the Bible most call the Old Testament). A better way to refer to these sections in the Bible are the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek Scriptures, based on the languages they were written in.

A second, equally valid way to divide the Bible, a way that few seem to be familiar with anymore, is between the 13 epistles written by the apostle Paul and the rest of Scripture. Paul came to bring Gentiles the Gospel of the Uncircumcision, while nearly all of the rest of the Bible (aside from parts of Acts) proclaims (or at least builds up to) the Gospel of the Circumcision, so a good way to label this division in the Bible is the Circumcision writings and the Uncircumcision writings. If you’re not familiar with this particular division, I write about it in depth in chapter 1 of my book titled Nearly everything we learned at church was wrong: What the Bible actually teaches about sex, hell, tithing, and much more.

I should also add that calling the Hebrew Scriptures the Old Testament is also somewhat antisemitic. Among other things, it implies that both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Mosaic law are not important or even still relevant. While the Old Testament or Covenant won’t remain relevant forever (both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures tell us that the New Covenant will eventually come fully into effect), and is even now ready to vanish, the Old Covenant and the Mosaic law are still in effect for Israel right now (at least in part). And the Mosaic law itself (which is what most people think of when they think of the term “the Old Testament”) won’t end for at least 1,000 years after the Old Covenant fully fades away and the New Covenant begins in earnest (at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom). Yes, at the end of the Millennium, when the heavens and Earth pass away and a new heaven and Earth are created, the Mosaic law will have served its purpose, but at this point in time both the Mosaic law and Old Covenant are still both here, at least for Israel.

Some More Questions

I recently shared some questions I like to ask people to determine whether they actually know much about Scripture or not, and whether they’re likely to have anything useful to teach me from a spiritual perspective.

I have a few additional questions, however, that are important for all Christians to ask themselves:

  • Can the Gospel of Grace be found in the books called Matthew, Mark, Luke, orJohn, in the book of Hebrews, or anywhere in the book of Acts prior to Paul’s coming to salvation?
  • Should one be baptized in water after they come to believe the Gospel of Grace?
  • Does God want the body of Christ to recognize either the Sabbath or Sunday as a special day?
  • Does following the Mosaic law help you live a more spiritual life after you have been saved, or make you a better Christian?
  • Do you have to give a percentage of your income to a pastor or religious organization?
  • Does “the ecclesia (or church), the body of Christ” fulfill any covenants, prophecies, or promises given to Israel?
  • Do people go to a place called heaven or hell immediately after they die?
  • Does anybody suffer forever in a fiery place called hell?
  • Is God made up of three persons?
  • Are all cases of premarital (or extramarital) sex and lust condemned as being sinful in Scripture?

If your answer to any of these questions was “yes,” and if you didn’t know the answers to my previous list of questions, it means it’s time for you to do some studying into what Scripture actually teaches (particularly in its original languages).

Missing Out

Thanks to bad translations (and even worse interpretations) of Scripture, there are many spiritual concepts that those in the Christian religion (and most of those outside of it) miss out on. There are so many important terms and concepts in properly translated Scripture that almost no Christian I’ve met is familiar with, terms and concepts that, when actually understood, reveal just how different the Christian religion is from Scriptural Christianity. Not only that, lack of knowledge of these things also keeps them from truly experiencing salvation itself, at least at first.

When I meet new people who call themselves Christians and who want to try to teach me something from the Bible (quite often these people are standing on the street in front of the mall, talking into microphones and/or handing out religious literature), I’ve reached a point where I now have to start asking them certain questions to determine whether they have the first clue about what Scripture actually teaches or whether they’re just wasting both of our time. If they don’t know the answers to at least most these questions, it’s invariably turned out that they also aren’t members of the body of Christ and don’t have much to tell me. That’s not to say that esoteric knowledge is required for salvation, but these are basic words and concepts in Scripture that very few members of the Christian religion are actually familiar with at all, while most people who have actually been members of the body of Christ for a few years tend to know about them.

I’m sure you’re wondering what the questions I have to ask these so-called teachers who are generally trying to get me to join their ranks are, so I present them to you now:

  • What does the term “the word of truth” refer to in Scripture? (Hint: it doesn’t refer to either the Bible or Jesus)
  • What’s the difference between the Evangel of the Uncircumcision and the Evangel of the Circumcision? (Yes, there is a difference)
  • What’s the difference between forgiveness (or pardon) and justification?
  • What is an eon, and how many of them does Scripture say there will be total?
  • What is the eon of the eons, and when does it occur?
  • What’s the difference between an eon and a dispensation?
  • What’s the difference between eonian life and everlasting life?
  • What was the disruption of the world, and when did it take place?
  • What is the consummation of the eons, and when will it take place?
  • What’s the difference between reconciliation and conciliation?
  • What is the dispensation of the Conciliation, and when will it end?
  • What is vivification, and how many groups of people still have to experience it in the future, and when will each of these groups experience it?
  • What is “the unseen?”
  • What, and where, is Gehenna, and who specifically ends up there as a punishment?
  • At death, the body, the soul, and the spirit each return to one of three separate “locations” (one to each). What are they?
  • What do the Greek words porneia and epithymia actually mean, and are they both always sinful?

If someone can’t answer at least most of these questions off the top of their head right now, there’s a good chance they haven’t studied the Scriptures in depth enough to actually be worthy of listening to.

If you don’t know the answers to these questions yourself, and would like to find out what they are, they’re discussed in depth in my free Nearly everything we learned at church was wrong: What the Bible actually teaches about sex, hell, tithing, and much more book (and in the supporting links throughout that book).

Nearly everything we learned at church was wrong: What the Bible actually teaches about sex, hell, tithing, and much more – Conclusion

Previous chapter: Church

Conclusion

I could go on and on about the multitude of ideas that those within the Christian religion are confused about thanks to the flawed assumptions they begin with, and a lack of desire to actually take the time to pick up a concordance and dig into what the Bible really says, taking their pastor’s word for it instead, but that should be more than enough to explain why I couldn’t ever return to a modern Evangelical or Protestant congregation. Of course, at this point the real question isn’t why I couldn’t return to a traditional church, but why you yourself might still consider having anything to do with such an unscriptural, not to mention harmful, institution (and why you would risk your soul within its “sanctuaries”).

Nearly everything in this book should really be considered “Christianity 101” that every believer should already be completely familiar with. However, I suspect that most of what I’ve written here is brand new for many who are reading it for the first time. Thanks to bad translations and even worse interpretations, Satan’s false apostles, deceitful workers, and ministers of righteousness within Churchianity (aka the vain talkers and deceivers who are leading and teaching the followers of the Christian religion) have hijacked the Bible, convincing billions that Scripture is actually a much more conservative set of documents than it really is, and have also managed to deceive billions into thinking that God is capable of allowing never-ending torture to occur, or is at least willing to leave the majority of humans to remain dead forever thanks to those who teach Annihilationism (with both false teachings causing people to reject God altogether thanks to the monstrous false image of God we’ve been told is the real God, although at least Annihilationists are capable of understanding that words like “hell” and “everlasting” are mistranslations, even if they don’t follow this understanding to its obvious conclusion). These lies, along with the other errors that seem to keep the majority of humanity (including many Christians) from experiencing eonian life, make the Christian religion the most nefarious cult there is (yes, that’s what the failure known as the Christian religion really is: an idolatrous cult of confusion, hypocrisy, false expressions, guilt, and erotophobia [which might be somewhat ironic considering the fact that this religion is in a constant state of porneia with evil spirits itself]). The truths of actual scriptural Christianity sets people completely free, but the conservative, “orthodox” teachings of traditional “Christianity” only enslaves people through its unscriptural rules, unnecessary shame, unloving discrimination, and threats of unending punishment (although it’s important to also keep in mind that, at least from an absolute perspective, it’s not ultimately the fault of those people who are leading the Christian religion that this is so).

Unfortunately, this means that most who have made it all the way through this book will not be sure what to believe (or will think it’s so foreign to what they were taught growing up that they’ll just reject it out of hand, which could just mean that God hasn’t chosen them to be a member of the body of Christ, or at least hasn’t called them yet). However, for those chosen few of you who do dig deeper and then realize that you need to reject organized religion and the teachings and practices of Churchianity, you’ll be left wondering what you should do instead. Well, first of all, it means that you get to sleep in on Sunday (or Saturday) mornings if you want to. Beyond that, however, if you can find a nearby ecclesia that actually believes what Scripture says, it might be a good group to check out. That said, many, if not most, of the members of the body of Christ have to go it fairly alone, or at least without a regular ecclesia to fellowship with, since it seems there are very few members of the body of Christ in any particular area. I should say that this is not a new problem; the ecclesia made up of the body of Christ has been extremely small from almost the beginning, and I’d be surprised to see this change before the snatching away occurs (it fell into apostasy and people separated from it very early on — some of these divisions and separations from Paul’s Gospel and the actual body of Christ becoming the so-called Orthodox and Catholic denominations we know today [a number of the so-called “Early Church Fathers” of these denominations, Polycarp and Irenaeus for example, were from the very province that Paul said “all” had turned away from him in during his imprisonment, which makes any of their teachings, and then any of the later teachings by those who accepted their teachings, suspect to begin with] — and it seems to have never regained its original size). So, if you can’t find any fellow members to fellowship with where you live, just keep studying the Scriptures. You’re far better off not participating in any church gathering than you are participating in Churchianity, so I’d suggest leaving the Institutional Church behind completely. Yes, it’s beneficial to fellowship with likeminded believers if you can find them, but you won’t find many of them in the traditional denominations, at least not if you happen to agree with what I’ve written in this book.

Bottom line, to those of you who are inspired to do so, pull out your Bibles (preferably a good literal translation [such as the Concordant Literal Version, for example]; if you’re going to really study Scripture in depth, don’t use a translation as badly flawed as the King James Version — although I believe God did arrange for various bad translations of Scripture to be made in order to reveal to us who actually cares about the truth, and so we can be rewarded for digging beneath the surface for the gold of that truth, it doesn’t mean they’re particularly useful for deeper study), concordances, and Hebrew and Koine Greek dictionaries, fire up your search engines, and start studying to “shew thyself approved.” Be warned, however, that if you do come to the conclusions I have about Scripture, you’ll likely be called a heretic by the “orthodox” members of Churchianity, and even shunned (if not worse) by many of them. But to that threat I simply repeat the words of A. E. Knoch: “Heretic” is the highest earthly title which can be bestowed at this time.

[Postscript

If you’ve been clicking the supporting links, you’ve probably noticed that I link to Grace Ambassadors quite a bit throughout this book, and with that in mind I should probably repeat what I said in the Introduction, that I don’t necessarily agree with absolutely everything that everyone I link to believes. While the Grace Ambassadors website (and their pastor, Justin Johnson) has some great teachings on many Scriptural topics, and recognizes that there are two Gospels taught in the Bible, they unfortunately haven’t yet come to understand the full implications of Paul’s Gospel (they still believe in the Roman traditions of human “free will,” everlasting torment in “hell,” the immortality of the soul, and the trinity) so my belief is that they’re not actually in the body of Christ themselves. That said, their site had some of the best articles available online to introduce people to the topic of the two Gospels (along with various other related topics), so I still decided to link to their articles very liberally. Whether that’s for the best, I leave to God to judge, but I do pray that Justin Johnson and his assembly will come to understand the fullness of the Gospel of the Uncircumcision soon, not only because it might make them one of the strongest assemblies teaching the full truth of Scripture out there, but also simply for their own sakes (so they can experience eonian life themselves). In the meantime, please do be careful to keep in mind what Martin Zender (whose website and videos I also link to quite often, and whose teachings I do highly recommend, even if I don’t always agree with him 100% of the time either [although I generally only disagree with him when it comes to politics, which is basically the least important topic there is]) refers to as “the Five Pillars of Truth” when reading anything on their site, so you yourself do fully understand the full Gospel of the Uncircumcision:

“1) a recognition that Paul’s gospel is to be segregated from the gospel to Israel as heralded by the terrestrial Jesus, and Peter

2) a knowledge that God is working out His purpose through a series of time periods known as eons

3) belief in the sovereignty of God, which requires a disbelief in Human Free Will

4) an understanding that death is non-existence, and that Jesus Christ, in fact, died

5) belief that, through the cross of Christ, God will reconcile all things to Himself”

If you keep these things in mind, you’ll be able to understand how one is actually saved (both from a relative and absolute perspective), and who the actual members of the body of Christ are when reading that and other Mid-Acts Hyperdispensationalist websites I’ve linked to (such as the “For What Saith the Scriptures?” site by Shawn Brasseaux and the “Wielding the Sword of the Spirit” site by Matthew McGee) in this post where the writers understand some of the basics of Paul’s Gospel but don’t yet believe it fully (I suspect a major reason for this on some of these sites is that the authors are KJV-Onlyists, a mistake that keeps many from seeing some of the deeper truths in Scripture, although another reason is simply a refusal to fully let go of all the traditions and practices of Rome, just as so many other Protestants and Evangelicals have also declined to do).

While their viewpoint won’t keep one from eonian life the way the views of those who reject all “Five Pillars of Truth” listed above will, there is a second group of writers I link to in places who sometimes teach a different error, one known as Acts 28 Ultradispensationalism. This teaching has caused no end of confusion among the body of Christ, and has also stolen the blessed hope of the snatching away from many, so it’s important to recognize it when we see it and realize that the dividing line is indeed mid-Acts (the correct view generally being known as Mid-Acts Hyperdispensationalism) rather than Acts 28 (or Acts 2, as most dispensationalists mistakenly believe).]

Nearly everything we learned at church was wrong: What the Bible actually teaches about sex, hell, tithing, and much more – Chapter Seven

Previous chapter: Politics

Church

As you almost certainly already know, religious leaders don’t only tell us that certain things are forbidden. They also try to convince us that certain things are required. If you do attend traditional church services and become a member of a particular assembly, you’ll likely sit through a number of sermons meant to make you feel guilty if you don’t give them a percentage of your money on a regular basis, sermons that completely ignore the fact that the tithe was meant solely for followers of the Mosaic law. Christians in the body of Christ (Jewish or otherwise) are not supposed to follow the law of Moses, and those who do try to follow any of it are under a curse of being obligated to follow all of it, according to Paul (that means no more bacon or shrimp, or clothes with mixed fabrics, or doing chores or running errands on Saturday).

Of course, a true biblical tithe is actually in the form of food, drink, or livestock, and only goes to the Levitical priests and to the poor (with the exception of the tithe that wasn’t given away at all, but was rather consumed by the tithers themselves). Unless your pastors are Levites who perform animal sacrifices, they have no scriptural basis for demanding it from anyone (no, not even Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek helps their case, unless perhaps one’s pastor is the king of Salem and they’re tithing of the spoils they took from their enemies in battle). There’s absolutely nothing in the Bible about the body of Christ having to give a tenth (or any amount) of their money to their religious leaders or organizations.

While tithing isn’t a biblical idea for today’s believers, what is recorded as having apparently happened among the body of Christ is people giving financial gifts to those in financial need. They didn’t, however, just give money to pastors who simply wanted to live off church members’ hard-earned money or keep the power running in a church building.

Those church buildings and pastors themselves, by the way, are also a big problem, since modern church services and the buildings they take place in don’t have any biblical justification for existing in the first place. The early church didn’t gather in chapels or temples specifically meant for Christian meetings. Instead, they met in homes. And a gathering wasn’t a few songs and then a sermon by a pastor. There might have been songs, and even a speech or two, but the early church gatherings apparently included a meal and discussions, not just a bite of bread, a sip of wine (or grape juice), and a sermon.

“The Lord’s Supper” for example, appears to have been a part of a real dinner meant to demonstrate the communion or unity of the body of Christ; it wasn’t just a little snack. To quote Aaron Welch, “there is no indication that Paul considered this an ordinance that had to be kept, a ‘sacrament’ that had to be ‘administered,’ or a ceremonial ritual that had to be periodically observed by the saints to whom he wrote.” This should be obvious since our administration has no elements or ordinances because we are complete in Christ, who is the end of all religion for those in His body, and returning to the shadows and types of rituals and rites in any way whatsoever would rob us of the full enjoyment of both our possessions and freedom in Christ. In fact, very few members of the body of Christ actually do partake of this meal anymore, partly due to the fact that many actually believe (for reasons that I won’t get into right here) that it was meant to end around the time of Paul’s imprisonment, and partly due to the fact that there are so few members of the body of Christ alive today that it’s difficult to actually gather together in person anymore anyway. Still, while practicing the Lord’s Supper as a ceremony would not be at all scriptural, choosing to share a meal together in a manner that demonstrates our communion with one another (so long as it isn’t a practice that’s enforced upon us, and we’re actually sharing the meal with everyone in the ecclesia rather than selfishly consuming it all before everyone has arrived), meaning that it helps us recognize that we’re all members of the same body, seems like the exact opposite of a religious ritual to me, and I see no problem with doing just that when gathering as a local ecclesia in one’s home (if one is able to find such an ecclesia) if the group so desires.

As far as the rest of the “church service” goes, it appears they had actual conversations and dialogue rather than just a monologue by one preacher. That’s not to say the occasional lesson or presentation isn’t helpful sometimes, but it isn’t the point of the gathering and can easily be done without.

Just remember that church buildings and the current structure of the Institutional Church’s weekend “services” didn’t exist until quite some time later, when Christianity became more formal and institutional rather than relational. To be fair, though, it’s not the buildings themselves that are the real problem; it’s the “organization” and lack of real, spontaneous, Spirit-led fellowship. Yes, you will almost certainly hear the word “fellowship” in most traditional church meetings, but you also almost as certainly won’t experience much (if any) there, despite how much so many pastors seem to love the word (it’s hard to fellowship with the back of someone’s head while sitting in pews listening to a sermon). But you can technically meet in a home and still be an Institutional Church, or rent a room in a building other than a home and be a relational, Open Church (as church gatherings that follow the pattern of the first assemblies are sometimes called). As nice as a home gathering is, it’s really the openness and fellowship that are the important factors. That said, if a local assembly owns a whole building that they meet in — even if they just call it a chapel or a hall — you should probably stay far away. Perhaps there’s a slim possibility of the rare exception existing, but in general, owning a building for worship and sermons seems to be a good litmus test for a local church, demonstrating that they likely know extremely little about biblical theology and what Scripture actually says. In fact, you’d be much better off spiritually (and even physically) in a strip club than in a so-called “house of God” (as many mistakenly call these buildings). At least in a strip club nobody is deceiving you about what Scripture teaches when they try to take a percentage of your money.

Speaking of teaching, the idea of a pastor or priest or any professional preacher who rules over a church (a word which simply refers to the “group” or “assembly” of believers in an area, by the way; it never referred to a building) isn’t in the Bible either. Local churches were overseen by a group of unpaid elders or overseers (or “bishops,” depending on your translation), not run by one paid man (that’s not to say that evangelists shouldn’t be paid to evangelize, but elders and evangelists aren’t necessarily always the same people). If you have one person leading (and basically performing the entire ministry in) a local gathering of believers, I would suggest not having much of anything to do with their gatherings if you value your spiritual wellbeing (and while not all clergy are dangerous or are con-artists [many are just confused], I’d suggest you do play it safe and be cautious when interacting with them, just in case, since a lot still are).

Also, just as a quick aside on the topic of spiritual things, the “charismatic” spiritual gifts that some pastors say one should have really aren’t meant for those in the dispensation of Grace today either (meaning for those in the body of Christ; they might still be active for some saved under the Gospel of the Circumcision, since they were basically meant as a sign for Jews anyway — even those in the body of Christ were mostly “speaking in tongues,” for example, as a sign for unbelieving Jews [who often required a sign to accept Jesus as their Messiah] — but for those under the Gospel of the Uncircumcision, they appear to have come to an end as Israel as a whole fully rejected the Messiah, quite possibly around the time recorded in Acts 28 [although, for the record, I should state here that I’m not an Acts 28 Ultradispensationalist], as evidenced by the fact that even Paul, whose simple handkerchiefs could heal those who touched them at one time, could no longer heal people by the time he wrote the final book of the Bible, and even suggested that Timothy take some wine for his stomach and other ailments rather than seek the gift of healing as those saved under the Gospel of the Circumcision were instructed to do). That’s not to say God can’t or doesn’t ever do miracles anymore (and it definitely doesn’t mean that God doesn’t still guide us through His Spirit), just that they’re the exception rather than the rule while the reason for the sign gifts has been temporarily paused (so, until the final Gentile meant to enter the body of Christ does so and God’s focus returns to Israel and the Gospel of the Circumcision becomes the preeminent [and, eventually, only] Evangel to be proclaimed on Earth once again [which means that if you’re reading this after the snatching away has occurred and the final heptad — meaning the seven year period often called the tribulation — has begun, then Paul’s epistles weren’t written to you and it’s time to focus on the circumcision writings instead]).

Aside from tithing (and “speaking in tongues,” depending on one’s denomination), there’s one more unbiblical tradition that religious leaders will condemn you for if you don’t do it on a regular basis, and that is regularly attending their gatherings, particularly on the day they believe to be the Sabbath.

Almost anybody who has ever stopped “going to church” for any length of time has been given a guilt trip and has been told that we aren’t supposed to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, completely misrepresenting the meaning of the passage in Hebrews they use for this purpose (while also ignoring the fact that this book wasn’t written to the body of Christ anyway). The word translated as “assembling” (episynagōgē [ἐπισυναγωγή] in Greek) here, just like its cognate (episynagō [ἐπισυνάγω] in Greek) in other passages, is never used to refer to “gathering” in the sense one would use when speaking of “going to church.” The only other place in Scripture where episynagōgē is used is when Paul was talking about the gathering of the saints to Christ at the snatching away when he wrote his second epistle to the Thessalonians. Combine that fact with the actual context of the rest of that chapter in Hebrews, and it’s clear that the writer is warning against losing out on the hope of being assembled together to Christ after He returns, and wasn’t speaking of “going to church” at all (although gathering with like minded believers, if you can find them, is still extremely beneficial, so please don’t think I’m saying that one shouldn’t gather with the body if one can find other members nearby), be it on the Sabbath or on any other day.

As far as what day the Sabbath is goes, this is one where various sabbatarian denominations are partially correct, while also being quite wrong about it at the same time. The Sabbath is indeed Saturday as they claim; it was never changed to Sunday (and Sunday is not the Lord’s Day either; the Lord’s Day, also known as the Day of the Lord, is an event that hasn’t happened yet, at least not as of the time this was written). But since those saved under the Gospel of the Uncircumcision are not under the Mosaic law in any way whatsoever, it doesn’t really matter to them what day the Sabbath is. In the very beginning of the church, believers didn’t pick one specific day to gather together when they did get together for fellowship; they could meet any day of the week (possibly doing so more than one day a week, and very likely often happening later in the afternoon or evening after work rather than first thing in the morning based on the fact that some were eating all the food and getting drunk before the poor could arrive at their gatherings). That said, there’s nothing technically wrong with meeting on a Sunday. In fact it’s often the most convenient day to do so on at this point in history since the Institutional Church has managed to convince most people that it is the new Sabbath thanks to the influence it’s had over our society, but it’s really not any different from any other day of the week so don’t feel any obligation to treat it like a special day.

And on the topic of esteeming certain days above others, be they new holidays invented by (or pagan holidays that were “Christianized” by) the Institutional Church (such as Lent, such as Easter, and such as Christmas, to name just three) or days that are observed by Jewish followers of the Mosaic law, while it might not always be a great idea, it’s not necessarily wrong to celebrate a specific day if it’s something one enjoys doing just for the fun of it (or if it’s something one who is weak in faith still feels they need to do). Just realize that none of these days are required for the body of Christ any more than the Sabbath is, and that nobody should be looked down upon for not participating in these “holy days.” And, of course, please be aware of the fact that Jesus didn’t actually die on a Friday, wasn’t resurrected on the day we call Easter on our modern calendars (which should be more obvious than it seems to be to most since it’s on a different day each year), and wasn’t born on December 25th either (while it doesn’t really matter when He was born since we aren’t told to celebrate His birthday in Scripture, there’s good reason to believe it was actually in September or October on our modern calendar). That said, if you’re going to celebrate Christmas or Easter, consider doing so mostly from a secular perspective, focusing on the chocolates and eggs and gifts and such. To do otherwise (meaning, to celebrate them as remembrances of Jesus’ birth and death) is to know Christ after the flesh, which is something the body of Christ is called to move past.

Next chapter: Conclusion

Nearly everything we learned at church was wrong: What the Bible actually teaches about sex, hell, tithing, and much more – Chapter Six

Previous chapter: Morality

Politics

Regardless of one’s views here, however, whatever the Bible might actually say about morality within the body of Christ, it’s limited to the body of Christ, contrary to what so many in the Institutional Church seem to believe. Trying to force those who are not a part of the body of Christ to live a supposedly “Christian life,” by legal means or otherwise, is not even slightly justifiable. Nowhere in the Bible is it even hinted at that the body of Christ is called to influence (or force) our cultures to be more conservative or follow religious laws. In fact, the only thing we’re asked to do regarding the government is to obey the secular laws and to pay our taxes (even when these laws harm us and should not exist in the first place [slavery is a good example of this. It’s not that Paul was supporting slavery; it’s simply that he was exhorting believers to obey the law even when it’s extremely unpleasant — although those who are not members of the body of Christ should certainly do what they can to make the world a better place where possible, including fighting to completely eliminate slavery], and when the authorities making said laws are ungodly). Yes, in a democracy we the people technically help determine the secular laws to a certain extent, but there’s still zero excuse for trying to create laws based on religious morality (especially when we consider the fact that most religious morality isn’t at all biblical, as already discussed), or for trying to turn one’s nation into a theocracy (the world will be a theocracy in the future, but not until Jesus returns to the Earth). And culturally, there also isn’t any reason to go around putting down non-believers for doing things that go against one’s moralistic sensibilities (particularly, again, since most of the things the religious think are sinful aren’t actually even slightly sinful to begin with), for trying to pressure the rest of the world into acting the way conservatives want them to, or for any number of the cruel or unnecessary actions that too many of the religious seem to feel obligated to perform against those in their communities and countries. Actions such as trying to get people fired, kicking people out of their homes, or not being willing to sell things to people, all based simply on who they happen to be attracted to or what gender they identify as, for example; or actions such as trying to enforce prohibitions against consuming certain beverages or plants, or at least enforcing prohibitions against purchasing such things on certain days of the week (to name just a few of many examples). Any attempt to legislate religious morality, or to pressure the rest of the world into following one’s conservative leanings, will do nothing but drive people even further away from the faith one no doubt wants them to embrace, and will also continue to cause everyone to misunderstand what Christianity is actually about (hint: it’s not about trying to be as big of an asshole as possible towards those who don’t believe and act the way you do, as so many conservative “Christians” act like they think it is).

This is an important factor for parents to keep in mind too, by the way. Raising your kids to be good citizens who live loving, quiet, respectful, and peaceable lives is important, and they should certainly be brought up with the training and instruction of the Lord so that they’ll understand what they need to know about God and Scripture, but trying to force people to live “godly lives” misses the entire point of Paul’s teachings. You can’t stuff the Holy Spirit into somebody (and if God hasn’t predestined your child for eonian life, you aren’t going to be able to convince them to “get saved” anyway), and trying to make people (children or grown adults) live according to religious rules will only cause them to sin and rebel all the more, as Paul makes quite clear (that was the whole purpose of the existence of the Mosaic law, after all). And even if Churchianity was correct about what is right and wrong (which they definitely aren’t), getting people who aren’t already Christians to live “righteous” lives and stop sinning isn’t going to get them saved, or make them any less lost, unless you believe that salvation actually is by works, so it just doesn’t make any sense to begin with to try to force the rest of the world to live by religious standards since it won’t help them in the long run anyway (at least not according to the most common soteriology of Churchianity).

History is very clear about all of this as well, of course. When religious “morality” gains control of government, people suffer. There’s almost nothing scarier, or more antithetical to freedom, than a theocracy or theonomy run by humans (remember, it is for freedom that we have been set free; it wasn’t so we would put ourselves back under religious bondage). When religious conservatives run governments without a liberal and secular hand to restrain them, people are censored, fired, expelled from their homes, imprisoned, tortured, and even executed simply for their beliefs (or lack thereof), as well as for the most innocent of actions. If someone challenges the religious status quo or does things considered sinful in a theocratic society, religious conservatives become extremely evil towards such heretics, apostates, and infidels (and even today in more secular countries you find religious conservatives trying to take or keep civil rights away from people who might live differently from them for no reason other than the fact that these differences might not line up with their religious beliefs). This is one reason I like to stay far away from religious conservatives in general (or at least only meet with them in public places). Perjury, assault, torture, theft, and killing are a major part of the heritage of nearly all conservative religions, including the Christian religion, and I have no doubt that many of them would bring that legacy back into practice if they could. That’s not to say all religious conservatives would do this if they had the opportunity, but I still wouldn’t want to take that chance. And regardless of their propensity towards violence, I have no doubt that most of them would definitely (and happily) fight against freedoms and civil rights for people who are different from them in various ways, particularly when it comes to sexuality, and I see no good reason to have much to do with people who would be so heartless and cruel.

Religious conservatives sometimes talk about a culture war, and they are right, there is one happening. The problem is, they’re on the wrong side of this battle, having exchanged the truth for an attempt at holding political power (although Daniel warned us that the conservative Christian religion [along with all of the world’s other false religions, although it seems that some of the other religions will actually outlast the Christian religion somewhat based on Daniel’s prophecy], will be utterly destroyed eventually, and that God will kill many within this religion during the great tribulation, so they do this at their own peril). Conservatism is basically about greed, hunger for power, paranoia, racism, sexism, homophobia (among other forms of erotophobia), and just having a lack of empathy towards one’s neighbours in general. All of this ultimately leads to people trying to control the lives and actions of those who might be a little different from what they consider to be “the norm,” and religion only makes conservatism worse since it leads people to believe their harmful mindsets and actions are sanctioned (or even commanded) by God. So if you’ve ever wondered why some people remain wary of religious conservatives (“Christian” or otherwise), it should be pretty obvious at this point.

All that being said, I should add that I’m not claiming liberalism will save the world (or even your country). Scripture is quite clear that no human government can ever do that. Still, liberalism is actually about compassion, empathy, and taking care of those in need (basically, the exact opposite of what conservatism is about), and those living under truly liberal governments (and not just liberal governments in name only) tend to have much better lives in general than those living under more conservative governments do, so I’d much rather be in a more liberal part of the world (which, thankfully, I am) any day of the week. And, of course, as we’ve already discussed, members of the Christian religion are wrong about basically everything, and since pretty much all members of the Christian religion are conservative, it stands to reason that there’s literally no way conservatism can possibly be correct if nearly every single member of this religion holds to it. At the end of the day, however, members of the body of Christ are aliens here on this planet, since our citizenship is in the heavens, so the politics of Earth really aren’t meant for us.

Next chapter: Church