When I was nineteen years old, I stopped attending the church that I had been baptized and raised in. Since all of my family attended this church and I’d been a devout member, this caused a bit of a scandal at the time. Though my family accepted it-after all, it wasn’t like I was leaving Christianity altogether-they were no pleased. The church that I joined was not Baptist-that was strike one. The church identified itself as non-denominational. However the pastor was a product of the Baptist church and was very critical of Baptist doctrines. Theologically the church had a strong Calvinistic bent(adhered to TULIP). The pastor relentlessly attacked the ‘once saved,always saved’ doctrine and the concept of the ‘sinner’s prayer’.
Both ideas were incredibly popular in local churches at the time, so taking a strong stand against them made this church a lightning rod for criticism. The pastor was accused of being a false prophet and the church was called a cult. However the Pastor turned the criticism on his attackers, accusing them of heresy and stating that those who followed their doctrines would all be thrown into the Lake of Fire, in spite of the fact that they called themselves ‘saved’. This particular point really pissed my family and former church members off. The fact that I could attend a church where the pastor condemned other Christians as hell-bound heretics totally offended them.
Looking back on the whole episode, their offense is very ironic and amusing to me. After all, we are talking about a group of people who sincerely believed that “Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man can come unto the Father but by Christ”. We are talking about a group of people who believe that all who “blaspheme the Holy Spirit” by refusing to accept Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for them will spend eternity in hell. We are talking about people who feel no shame in telling Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Agnostics, Atheists, Deists, etc-basically anyone that does not accept their claims-that they are worshiping demons and will suffer the consequences. Yet these same people became so offended with someone else giving them a taste of their own medicine and talking about them in the same way that they talk about non-Christians. Cute, very cute! It just goes to show: exclusion doesn’t feel very good when you’re the one being excluded.