Monday, August 25, 2008

NEWS: Possible Christian Universalist Forum

Gene Pineda and a few others will be will be opening a forum site dedicated to Christian Universalism. The website, when it goes live, will be.

Gene would like to here from any interested in guidlines for the Forum.

One suggested list for a 'doctrinal basis' for the discussion group was the following:
1) Jesus Christ is the only incarnation of God
2) The teaching of the Trinity according to the Nicene Creed accurately interprets the Christian Bible
3) Christ is the only way to salvation
4. "The original manuscripts of the Bible are the canonical written Word of God and all of the teachings in the Bible are true."
5) Christ commands His followers to fulfill the Great Commission
6) Christ will gloriously return to earth
7) Christ redeems people from hell

It may be that there are some problems with this list so now is the time to add your bit.

Gene writes, "If no one is interested than I simply will not purchase the forum. But if people would like to have a more dedicated community then I'll give it a go."

So - do register your thoughts


Gregory MacDonald said...


Personally I would say that

"The conversation partners affirm

1. The faith of the Church as contained in the Nicene Creed
2. A high views of Scripture
3. The hope that God will redeem all humanity through Christ"

Item 1 deals with Christology and Trinity issues in a way that Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant believers can agree on.

Item 2 is sufficiently general to allow a range of views on Scripture but not all views.

Item 3 allows for dogmatic and hopeful universalists

I think the trick is to leave some room for movement so long as it is within the bounds of orthodox Christian faith and some kind of orthodox-compatible universalism.

Such are my own thoughts



John Walter said...

Please do this. I began investigating Christian universalism about a year ago and GM's book has been foundational in developing my understanding.

Might I gently suggest that perhaps GM's third item include a reference to saving people out of Hell so as to differentiate from inclusivists who belive none will go there.

Auggybendoggy said...

I agree with John. It seems that no. 3 by GM is vauge.

This is a major misunderstanding as
Most people think no 3. implies no one goes to hell.

So I agree with JW.

What I want to avoid is a open forum where when GM raises a viewpoint to question and some HARD CORE calvinist gets on and says we're all going to hell because we're not determinists.

I agree that adhering to the 3 articles will keep the forum focused.

I can't stress enough how much I want to hear more from GM and Talbott and possibly even see some dialouge from the FAMOUS circles like Joel Green, Tony Compolo or N.T. Wright to possible do a dialouge with either TT or GM and crew (us).

Please, anyone with advice, speak up and help out.



Anonymous said...

I'm encouraged to hear about this new forum and look forward to it going live. If people feel that some guidelines are necessary or helpful, then may I propose the following:

- We believe that a full-orbed theology must be Trinitarian, and determined by God’s final self-revelation in Jesus Christ.
- We believe that in Jesus Christ, God has reconciled all humanity to himself.
- We believe in the authority of Holy Scripture for faith and practice, and desire to be ever corrected by the apostles' teaching.
- We believe that theology is best done in the context of the community of God’s people and their engagement with Scripture, with one another and with the world.
- We therefore hold to the historic Creeds of the Church – the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian – as faithful expositions of the ancient and evangelical faith.
- We believe that the holy love of God revealed in Jesus Christ is unlimited, unbounded, and will not leave anything undone which such love desires.

Denver said...

Just dropping my two cents to say, "Go for it!" I think this forum has shown the hunger in many of us for a community like this.

This may seem shallow, but please make sure to choose a professional looking site layout. Some of those other Christian Universalist websites turn me off because they look so cheese ball (not to mention their lack of intellectual or Scriptural integrity).

Auggybendoggy said...

We have two options that I am aware of. There is the freebee PHPbb.

Here is a basic skin for the PHP

This link will allow you to browse the other skins:

I'm not a forum expert.
Being a wedding videographer I did my own website for my company.
(and now for my million dollar plug)
I'm not a web designer so be kind please. I completed it myself using no stock animations of pictures or videos.

Let me ask this guys/gals,
I would like to reserve the homepage to possibly display a statement of what the site is and what we embrace (believe).

Imagine a artsy flash animation which declares our beliefs.

If anyone protests this please say so and I won't even bother with it.
If no one protests it I will create like 20-30 seconds and post it up for evaluation. If no one likes it, we'll dispose and make the forum the home page.

Let me know

also check out the skins and we'll go from there.

The good news is the site is purchased.
Though there is nothing there.

I truly hope this works as I am planning big. I would love to have private discussions between guys like N.T. and GM or Talbott and Bruce Ware or John Piper.
LOL How bout James white (no one likes that guy LOL).

Thanks for the support everyon,

Gene (auggybendoggy)

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be much simpler to just set up a web-based group using something like Google-groups or Yahoo-Groups, or even something like the Google Sites. These are very easy to set up and run.

Just a thought.

Auggybendoggy said...

that could be done as well.

I prefer having our own site with the www. rather than a
type of address.

I don't know too much about the user groups control so I can't compare the two.

I do like forums interface far more than usergroups HOWEVER I only use yahoo usergroup and not google or any others.
In yahoo, it gets confusing.

In PHPbb or Vbulletin categories are made.
When you post a question concerning the atonement it receives it's own thread.
In yahoo their just one series of posts with tree links and it's hard to follow. The thread is shown on the bottom when you select a post.

I prefer the forum myself.
Other opinions are very welcome.


Q.SocNE said...

I would love such an environment to exist, but I wouldn't be able to participate if it had a statement of faith. I left evangelicalism largely because of suffering and hell. Christian Universalism would help hugely with those issues so I would really appreciate being able to discuss these things openly and fairly. By all means have a "Holy Huddle" area but an open area would be really appreciated.

I'll order that book right now :)

Stephen S. said...

I am, myself, more inclined towards a "code of ethics" or a doctrinal statement.

I think having it completely open to everyone would be a huge to effectively engage with more dialog partners and such.

The code of ethics would give who ever is in charge the ability to block anyone who is "less than civil"

just my thoughts

Auggybendoggy said...

I agree even though I'm the one who wants a semi-closed forum. To be more pointed let me express my goals.

I don't mind making an open forum for people to dialouge, learn or debate with us. But I do want a closed board that allows 2 guests (Joel Green lets say at fuller) to dialouge with GM or TT w/o ANYONE interfereing. After they close their discussion perhaps 1 question per person could be posed to Joel Green or something like that.

This would create a safe forum for JG and GM and others to discuss the issues w/o thousands of people trying to drop questions to them.

The open forum would be a regular discussion board where people could discuss why we believe what we believe. I like tenmaker who has a "arguments for" and "arguments against" Universalism. I feel this would be a good way to open up the site.

Introductions would also be nice to note where were from.

Please look at the skins and let me know which ones you guys like. is purchased and I'm almost done installing the forum.



Auggybendoggy said...

The forum is installed and I chose a pretty nice skin to start with.

So far so good.


Q.SocNE said...

Thanks, but I can't seem to register. I just have a messages saying, "We will be launching shortly".

I like the idea of having a more formal debate area, the Internet Infidels have an excellent model for that (IMO). There's a forum to arrange formal debates and then a forum for formal debates to actually take place. (NB: Very evangelical unfriendly link!)

Will check back often and register ASAP.

Gregory MacDonald said...

I have reflected on the merits and demerits of my vague item 3 and a more robust alternative on saving people out of Hell.

On reflection I still agree with my original suggestion.

I was vague on purpose. There are orthodox Christians who are universalists (e.g., Lindsay Hall) who do not believe that any will get as far as going to Hell. Andrew Lincoln also inclines in such directions (though he is a hopeful and not a dogmatic universalist) as did J.A.T. Robinson (before he went more iffy in his theology).

In my understanding, the idea was to have a forum for orthodox Christian universalists to discuss openly.

The problem is that if you get too specific on the mode of Christian universalism then you actually rule out possible contributors who are orthodox Christians and also universalists.

Whilst I am a strong believe in redemption out of Hell I would not favour making that a requirement for participation in the discussion. The original point of the restrictions was to limit the discussion group to orthodox Christians rather than to limit the kind of universalist they had to be within that camp.

So I think that whilst the classical position for orthodox universalists is a redemption from Hell position we need to leave that as one issue that could be discussed within the forum

What do you think?

James Goetz said...

Hi Everybody,

I just got back from vacation, and I'm glad to see progress with this.

Gregory said that he would like a forum for "orthodox Christians" who believe in or hope in universalism. On the other hand, I would like to see a forum for "evangelical Christians" who believe in or hope in universalism. That's why I suggested a statement of faith that reflects typical evangelical beliefs, apart from the statement about the possibility of redemption from hell. And I would have little help from a forum that didn't focus on evangelicals and universalism.

Gregory, I hope that I can convince you that there is a need for a forum that focuses on evangelical universalism as opposed to merely orthodox Christian universalism. I think that your focus of an orthodox Christian Universalist forum would have little impact on evangelicals. For example, saying, "a high view of scripture" doesn't imply the belief that all teachings in the Bible are true. And I would have only minimal involvement in a forum that doesn't take a stand that all teachings in the Bible are true. (I'm not saying that we hold to the "Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy", which I think is a distraction to studying the original context of the Bible.)

I think that it's worth while to exclude non-evangelical universalists for the reasons stated above. And I could elaborate on this if I'm asked specific questions.

What do you think?

James Goetz said...

Hi Gene,

Thank you for your initiative. I see how you started the first page of the forum. I like "A Forum dedicated to Evangelical Christian Universalists". As I stated above, I think that a statement of faith should reflect Evangelical Christian Universalists as opposed to merely orthodox Christian Universalists. And as you suggested earlier, we can eventually open it to others while the leadership remains Evangelical Christian Universalists.


Auggybendoggy said...

I think we are moving in the right direction. James is basically presenting our need for a atatement of faith (mission statement).

We're basically trying to establish the statement which calls out the needs of this forum.

Should the forum be dedicated or un-dedicated to Evangelical Universalists?

If we create too narrow of a platform, we might keep people within the orthodox community out.
Lindsay Hall, Andrew Lincoln, J.A.T. Robinson, probably guys like Neal punt and Rich Mouw

If we create too open of a platform, we might keep people within the evangelical community out. I think that your focus of an orthodox Christian Universalist forum would have little impact on evangelicals. Basically every christian who thinks were crazy.

I think we should all think a bit on this before we make a clear decision.

I will say that in no way do I wish to alienate GM or TT by creating a forum which does not appeal to them. I'm sure we all see it as a great priveledge to have them dialouge with us (I'm sure TT will dialouge with us in time).

On the other hand I will say this:
Does it not seem reasonable that if we created the forum dedicated to Evangelical Universalists that the names you provided would still join in by invite, while we are maintaining the purpose of a EU community.

If we open it more broadly than we risk losing the whole public for being a non-evangelical site.

Part of my Ideas originally was that we could invite (perhaps quarterly) theologeons of different views such as Neal Punt or Andrew Lincoln.

These quarterlys would allow only premier hosts such as Thomast Talbott and Gregory Mcdoanald to dialouge with these guests. In the end there could be a small bit of closing interaction by the members with the guest.

These guest would not have to be Evangelical Universalists. However, only members would be allowed into the private discussion between (GM and Andrew Lincoln for example) the host and guest.

This area could be called "Quartelry premier". We members could try to contact Joel Green, William lane Craig and others to see if they would come dialouge in such a platform.

I'm clarifying my ideas a bit because I want people to understand what I meant by "a closed forum". I did not mean ONLY EU can participate in posting.
But I did mean that there are some forums on this board which ONLY EU can participate in.

Now outside of this qaurterly premier is the open forum where non-members (though registered), could debate or inquire from members, issues with EU.

I don't want to create a forum that GM has no interest in : )

You might say in short, I want a community where we can educate and be educated in Christian Universalism and Share Christian Universalism to those searching.

truly I'm sorry this post is so long.


James Goetz said...

As we pray about and contemplate the purpose of the new forum, I want to quote a post from GM (4/30/2008) Responses to evangelical objections to the orthodoxy of universalism.

'So what do the "evangelical" universalists believe? Much the same as any other evangelical. They believe that God is triune and created the world ex nihilo; they believe that humans are created in this God's image; they believe that human rebellion separates us from God and deserves punishment; they accept the final authority of the Scriptures for matters of Christian faith; they believe that the Father sent his one and only Son as a human being (who did not cease to be divine) to live as our representative, to reveal the Father and to atone for our sins through his death on the cross; they believe that through his resurrection eternal life is available to those who trust in Christ; they believe in salvation by grace (not merit), through faith in Christ (not works); they believe in the return of Christ and the coming day of judgment; they even believe in hell!'


Gregory MacDonald said...


if it is an evangelical universalist (as opposed to an orthodox Christian universalist) forum that people want then that is fine by me. As my book title might suggest I am in that camp and would be happy to partcipate.

My personal preference would be for something broader because I think that evangelical universalists need to learn from others (given that we are new kids on the block). But Gene addressed that concern very well in his comment and I think the forum as he envisions it would be excellent.

Hope that helps.

There are still issues though as the term 'evangelical' in the title is a much contested term (as anyone familiar with the history, especially the recent history, of evangelicalism will know). Thus, for instance, precisely what is an evangelical view of Scripture? Do evangelicals believe in inerrancy? Well some do and some do not. Inspiration? Yes but there is no agreed understanding of exactly what that entails. Thus my vague 'high view of Scripture'. But I do think we could firm it up in something like the following way

'We believe in the divine inspiration of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and consider them authoritative for Christian faith and praxis'

That still leaves various contested issues open whilst also making the matter much clearer. More obviously evangelical.

I'm still not convinced we need to specify redemption from Hell though I am not against doing so. I think that we do need to clarify
1. The reality of divine judgement in Hell
2. the hope that God will ultimately redeem all humanity through Christ
Leaving these two side by side (as the Bible does) without specifying how both can be true (e.g., by redemption from Hell) leaves space for other proposals of how to best do justice to biblical teaching. I feel that this would keep it evangelical but not pin things down too tightly.

It also leaves space for hopeful evangelical universalists and also for those who believe that all humans will be redeemed but not fallen angels.

The advantage of keeping things minimal, even within the tighter evangelical remit, is that it gives us more to discuss in the forum.

Just throwing out ideas


James Goetz said...


First, thank you, GM. I give my full confidence in your last statement on the Bible. My two biggest concerns are statements about the monotheistic divinity of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible in matters of faith and practice. We could even shorten your statement if you agree that I didn't change the meaning of your statement. For example,

"We believe in the divine inspiration of the Old and New Testaments and consider them authoritative for Christian faith and praxis."

And we could add your two earlier statements.

"[We believe in the] faith of the Church as contained in the Nicene Creed."

"[We] hope that God will redeem all humanity through Christ."

I feel that these three statements meet minimal standards for both Evangelicalism and Universalism. And GM, I agree with you that we can learn from orthodox Christian Universalists that don't identify themselves with Evangelicalism. In fact, I read biblical history and biblical criticism written by atheists. For example, in some cases, atheists who are Bible scholars are great at understanding the original context of Bible verses, even though they don't believe that the Bible is the Word of God.

And the minimal statement of faith leaves room for the forum participants to work out the details, as suggested by GM. For example, I could respectfully dialog in the forum with anybody who tries to defend that the Bible teaches that there is no temporary hell or that salvation in Christ is automatic.

I also see the forum serving in apologetics and evangelism. For example, our God who saves doesn't unconditionally torment people forever for sins committed in a temporary lifetime. This is a big issue with many atheists.

And such dialog leads to other needs for guidelines. Forum moderators should be able to transfer respective posts to the appropriate forum categories. If somebody wants to tell us that we're going to hell forever because we don't believe that hell must last forever, then moderators can make sure that the respective post is in the category for Arguments Against Universalism. And we can have an Arguments Against Christianity category for atheists and others who oppose Christianity in general.

And moderators can have the right to remove highly disrespectful posts. We need some type of polite confrontation guideline. And we need to figure out methods to prevent spam.

Gene, you're obviously the financier, administrator, and chief moderator of the forum. What do you think of this?

What does everybody else think of this?

Auggybendoggy said...

The Forum is opened. I need one person to register if they have time.

I am going to take some time to work with this person in order to establish the adminstrator settings and control.

Obviously it will take some time before we establish the orginization of forums in the site.

For now I'm going to simply learn how to control the site. So it still will be some time before we actually go live.

During this time of setting up we can continue to discuss our direction. I say this because I want everyone to understand this is my first time administrating/moderating a forum.
So please be patient as I learn the controls.


Auggybendoggy said...

I want to make it clear this is NOT MY forum. My heart has grown so much since my introduction to TT and GM's opinions that I at times can just cry listening to songs and thinking about what God has done (try listening to phil collins "you'll be in my heart" and thing about the biblical story). This site is all of ours and I truly mean that.

Everyone who has been kind and responsible here on the forum is welcome to being a moderator and I feel I will need that help.

James had already revealed a bit about it. let me clarify a bit. It does not mean you have to go online for any amount of time. There is no demand for any moderator to do any work. Please don't become frightened of tons of work.

It does mean as James stated if a post with crass images, violent language or vulgar languge and so on is seen you have a responsibility to remove the post.
If you see a post on John McCain vs. Obama in the apologetics arena then it should be moved to politics.

I do think any decision that is to permanenalty ban should be done as a board of all moderators. Perhaps only 3 moderators in agreement is needed to perm ban.

I think we might be able to discuss these parts on the forum.
I will try (yes try, remember I'm learning and know as much as you do) to create a forum with the different parts we need to discuss: for example:
Staement of faith: (should we have one) what should it say
Forum direction: open to public, closed to public.

Rules: banning, what is tolerable and what is not.

Ideas: different things we want to see devolope as we launch this forum.

If anyone sees anything that needs to be discussed please let me know and I'll create the forum on the board and then we can discuss within that thread.

Blogs are very unilateral and don't allow us to discuss 7 topics at once.

So I will work on getting the forum up to begin discussing the different topics on the table, from within the forum.



Auggybendoggy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Auggybendoggy said...

strike my request on 1 registrant.

Please go to
click on the forum folder

register and then when registration is completed enter the only forum in the site.

The password is "bloggers".
(no quotes)

Hope to see you all there.
GM if you have Jason Pratts email please notify him as I would like him involved in establishing this.


Auggybendoggy said...

all who join the forum board.

Please note I have enabled the abillity to change your user name.

if possible could you please use the same name you use here on GM's blog.

In trying to take everyones input it's hard because I'm trying to gather an outline of what each person would like it to be. But if Denver states he wants a trinitarian site, and I place this in the forum board, and denver is now "jack sparrow" then I get confused that jack sparrow wants what denver wants.

So in the "user control" panel I believe you have the abililty to change the user name there.
This will end when we go live.


Roquefort said...

I think that it would be a shame if this forum were limited to those that believed in universalism. Why not foster genuinely honest dialogue? Why be so insular?

Auggybendoggy said...

We have decided to not restrict the forum board only to EU'ists.

So far it seems that we will hold a statement of faith but that will be worked on for some time.

One does not have to subscribe to the statement of faith to participate.

We'll be discussing whether there is a closed forum or not for EU'ists.

All are welcome!


Auggybendoggy said...

I want to get some thoughts on the Forum. So please any help would be appreciated.

Heres is a basic concept of how the forum works (for those who are new to online forums).
A forum board is broken down into forums. Each forum can have sub forums. This helps to categorize and keep things nice and neat.
Any registered member can create a topic for discussion within that subforum.

So heres what I have so far.

Forums and Subforums:

(FORUM)Featured Host:
this forum is for featured hosts to blog within the forum their thoughts for discussion.

(sub forum) Gregory's Corner:
Gregory would blog under this sub forum.
(sub Forum) Talbott's Corner: (if he is willing)

Evangelical Universalism:
Discussion Affirmative
Discussion Negative

Quarterly Premier:
Freatured host (Mcdonald or Talbott) dialouge with guests (like Joel B Green, Neil Punt,) on just about ANY issue, not just EU; atonement, eschatology, justification, you name it. Members at the end period would then post questions toward the guest or host.



Social Hall:
Introductions (members introduce themselves)
Member Announcments

Rules and Regulations: (not a forum)

Statment of Faith (not a forum)

(possibly a mission statment)(not a forum)

This is my first rough draft and I want people to possibly give some advice on better organization.

Just to explain in case it's not understandable.

The Forum Studies:
If you click on this forum link
you will go to a subforum which has 3 links.

If you read a book which you would like to discuss you would select books and start a new topic there.

If you read a article in Christianity today you would click articles and start a new topic there.

James Goetz and I will be working on a instructions page which will be one page to explain how to post, edit, delete and PM (private message), email.

Please help me with this part because organizing it from the front end makes editing later MUCH easier.


Auggybendoggy said...

OK heres the latest:

Featured Hosts:
Gregory's corner
Talbott's corner

Evangelical Universalism
Discussion Affirmative
Discussion Negative
General discussion on EU


Premier Quarterly
Featured Host dialouges with guest



Social Hall:
Member Announcement

The Theology forum and the Practices is the one I would like to hear back on please.


wendy said...

I would love to join the Forum.

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