What do I need of the bible? (5 of 6)


I have never seen “universalism” universally accepted in theological circles. 

If there are reasons others than these – please let me know:  too much grace freely given, not enough burden and sacrifice, too much all are welcome, not enough creeds and qualifications, too much unconditional love, too much freedom, too much free everything, not enough earned anything, not enough control (in everything).

Why preach a “God of Love” if neither God nor Love are universal?

So what do I need of the bible?

No Bullshit.

(is that too much to ask?)



“The stories I want to share : V” – 30th September 2015

He isn’t famous – other than in a very small part of a very small town. She doesn’t speak much English, but has a wonderful smile. Just another couple – just another country – just a different culture.  A different set of laws.  A different religion.

A place to spend two weeks downtime.  A place to have a holiday.  The place we met them.

Us being just another couple.  Neither of us famous.  Neither of us speaking more than a few words of Turkish.  With our different culture – our different country – different laws – different religion.

Our country is officially Church of England.  Their country is officially Muslim.  Their country borders Syria and IS.  Their country is outside the European Union.  Our country isn’t and doesn’t.  They have lots of sun.  We don’t.  And that is why we go there.

They work in the sun.  We laze in the sun.  They keep out of the sun.  We laze in the sun.  They hope for rain.  We hope for sun.  We bring all our personal prejudices and views on money with us.  They keep smiling whether or not we tip them.  They love children.  We get a little suspicious they have ulterior motives.  They think every foreign lady is fair game.  A lot of foreign ladies are fair game.  They know their Turkish ladies are not fair game.  We get confused over their double standards.  We think we are connecting.  They see a conveyor belt of moneyed summer people passing through their places of work.

There is so much to misunderstand. So many differences to trip over.  And we have. And we will.

Enough to make us consider and reconsider whether to leave all that behind us and holiday in different parts of the world.  To be that “conveyor belt of summer people”.  To keep moving.  Avoid the hassle of all that goes with connecting.  Having to compromise our freedom a little.  Having to include their way of doing things in our precious holiday time.  Forgetting that they are compromising more than us.  That they are seeing us as more than summer people.  That they too are “connecting” with all the hassle we give them.

This couple offer us their winter home each summer.  We accept with thanks. We connect.  And that brings the rest.

That brings compromise.  That brings hassle.  Enough to offset the connection.  The fun. The affection.  They regard us as special friends.  We do too.  And that amplifies the differences.  That exacerbates the “obligations”.  That carries responsibilities.

We went to Turkey this year thinking it might be out last visit as “friends” rather than tourists.  The Turkish culture of hospitality too demanding and restricting.  Too imposing on our two weeks of recharging time.  And we were not alone.  Others who have “connected” know that feeling.  The culture of never saying no.  Of offence at being turned down.  At the loss of face.  All their “ways of doing things” stuff so different from our own.

And then this year we all seemed to find a balance.

An acceptance of the differences.  An appreciation – again – of the similarities.  An acknowledgment that connecting was worth more than the hassle.  And with that comes freedom.

Freedom to connect.

Freedom to be who each is and always will be.  Freedom to enjoy each other for who we each are.  Similarities and differences.  Enough to bind with affection.  To unite in something approaching love.

And the hassle factor evaporates. The grind of obligation disappears. The doublespeak no longer necessary.  Honesty once again gentle and embracing.  No more counting who has compromised the most and least.  No more keeping score.  Yet, without either couple compromising who they are and what they.  Affection and connection can overcome those doubts.

And with that comes freedom.

Freedom to celebrate being different.  Freedom to be different.  And with that comes freedom to enjoy the similarities.  To enjoy each other.  To have fun.  Enough for us to seriously consider being “winter people” again …

To accept their invitation to spend a week with this family in their home out of season. Sharing their time and their preferences in their way.  Just us in their time.  Without the conveyor belt of summer people. And that is an honour and a privilege. If …

If the similarities and differences are truly bound in affection. If the differences are celebrated. If the similarities are the connection of trust.  That is freedom.

What changed this year?

Nothing.

And everything.

(thank you Susan Irene Fox for prompting this story)



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10 thoughts on “What do I need of the bible? (5 of 6)

    • I have bumped into bloggers who are considering suicide. Who might have committed suicide. Or who may have decided against it and decided not to blog anymore. Answers are never really available. It wan’t a mistake. But nor is it something I will analyse at length publicly with you here.

      • I have had dialogue with a blogger who held a gun in her hand then changed her mind because she claimed Christianity provided meaning whereas atheism offers nothing.
        She was diagnosed as suffering severe post natal depression and there is history of mental illness in the family.
        But then, god belief is a form of mental imbalance in itself, is it not?

  1. You asked about the acceptance of universalism. First, there’s a difference between universal salvation and universalism. This gets confused, which is why so many think William Paul Young (author of The Shack) is a universalist (which he is not; he believes in universal salvation). In other words, Jesus died for the whole world and God is not holding our sins against us anymore (2 Cor.5:19). That is universal salvation. It’s open to all. This is pretty clear. The rest gets a bit murky. Add to that, there’s also different kinds of universalism!
    But the point of contention with orthodoxy would be, while we’re forgiven, we must accept it (think of it like accepting a free gift from someone). Love requires a free will choice to reciprocate love. So, I think the main beef is that the New Testament is pretty clear that we must believe or exercise faith to benefit from what Christ has done.

    • Mel, thank you. Once again I glaze over with the differences. And once again there is a condition: this belief and this faith and this acceptance. All based on a literal and factual happening. Which brings us straight back to proof and evidence.

      And that “hamster wheel” is becoming less and less a “god” bigger than the confines of the bible.

      • God’s love is unconditional, but our benefiting from it depends on our willingness to receive it. This is why the heart (seat of our affections) determines the course of our life (Prov.4:23)

        And I agree we shouldn’t limit our relationship with God just on our understanding of the Bible, but we also shouldn’t throw it away and make our opinions more important than what the Bible is clearly telling us. Once we understand how the Bible is written, and why, we can see it as a brilliantly written document that goes beyond human wisdom, delving deeply into the deep issues of human nature.
        Having said that, we should receive each other’s understanding of what we’re reading with grace and love. 🙂

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