immediate reactions.

24 May
Once upon a time, there was a billboard.  This billboard was the route of a major highway in south eastern Minnesota.  Pastor Lindsay passed the billboard today.  On one side of the board it said Heaven.  On the other side it said Hell.  There was an OR between the two words.  Heaven or Hell.  Below that was a phone number: [random three numbers] – FOR – TRUTH.  Then there was, in the corner, John 3:36.  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
Things like this make Pastor Lindsay’s skin crawl.  Things like this tend to be the version of Christianity most people know.  Heaven or hell.  Black and white.  Absolute.  Right and wrong.  Call them for the truth because obviously they have it and you don’t.  [This isn’t even addressing the ignorance and intolerance and everything else for which Christianity gets press.  Gross.]
The Lutheran in me twitches.  The liberal in me screams.  For a long time, I would have really questioned myself in regards to my immediate reactions.  Could I confidently say what I believed?  Are my liberal Lutheran beliefs off and crazy?  Will people tell me I’m wrong for being a universalist [belief in salvation for all] and thinking this billboard is off its rocker?  
When I was on the first call theological retreat a couple weeks ago, I heard a seasoned pastor – one that I greatly respect – engage in a discussion about something or other with another.  At one point, he said this: “If there isn’t universalism, I’m not sure I want anything to do with it.”
Phew.  My own beliefs affirmed by another.  [Unfortunately, I need that affirmation for confidence sake.]  I can be a universalist and be okay.  [But don’t tell ROG.  I’m not sure they’re ready for their liberal pastor to come out of the box.]  I can scorn this billboard for being so certain, and I can believe that God’s love is bigger than they [and I] know.  I can say that I don’t have all the answers and that’s okay.  No one does – especially those who claim they do.
Okay.  I don’t know if I made any sense at all.  It’s probably scrambled and odd.  But I’m done now.


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