Universal Condemnation Because Human

Sometimes us Christians get so wrapped up in our own world we are no longer able to see ourselves and our message the way the rest of the world sees it. This is particularly painful when we want our message to be attractional rather than repulsive, and we have no clue that what we are saying is actually pushing people away from God, people who would otherwise respond to the love of God. Or if we actually get out there and spread the “Gospel” and find a fair amount of rejection we justify it all by saying, “Well Jesus did say if we cast pearls before swine they will trample on them so it shouldn’t come as any surprise our message will by and large get rejected. They just aren’t ready to accept the truth that they are sinners who fall short of God’s standard of perfection.”

Souls Saved at Evangelistic Crusades – Even More Souls Lost

Right after university I attended a Seattle mega-church that had two full-time evangelists on its staff whose job it was to hit the streets, or more likely Red Square at the University of Washington, and get as many people saved as possible. I always wondered why huge churches that could afford to have 40 people on staff couldn’t have at least one Evangelist on staff. This was the only church I knew of which had one.

One of our Evangelists told me that he averaged one decision for Christ per day.  That means that he probably talked to ten per day so his conversion rate was about 1 in 10. That’s pretty good considering most of us bring less than one per year into the fold, or even one in a lifetime. But what about the nine out of ten who didn’t convert to Christ? Are some of them less likely to become Christians because they were fed a line of hooey and were able to see it for what it was while the dear brother sharing Christ was clueless, absolutely convinced what he was saying was true?

Billy Graham preached to over 200 million people at his crusades and tabulated over 3 million decisions to “accept Jesus as personal Savior.” I’m guessing the vast majority of the people who attended his crusades were Christians so if 33 million were not Christians then that’s 30 million who did not respond to his altar calls. How many of them said within themselves, “He says God loves people like me but also says he would send me to burn in Hell if I don’t make this decision. Really? What kind of ‘love’ is this?”

As they ruminate on that thought on the drive home from the crusade how many conclude this whole Christianity thing is bunk?

They wouldn’t if the message they heard wasn’t bunk to begin with.

Bible Interpretation 101 – Read Scriptures in Context

Lost in our own world we use verses like this to “prove” nobody is good enough for God, which is what I call the doctrine of Universal Condemnation Because Human (UCBH). It’s used to create a problem that doesn’t exist so that a solution can be offered:

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) 

The problem is, it doesn’t prove Universal Condemnation.

Pastors, seminary teachers, and doctors of theology who quote this verse should have enough theological training to think it’s important to know the context of a statement before it’s used to prove something. To understand any scripture we should try to understand what the author was getting at so we don’t use his words in ways he never intended. That’s just basic Bible Interpretation 101.

That verse was not written to show people that nobody is good enough, on their own merits, to merit eternal life. It wasn’t written to get everyone to think God is too high and holy to look at his own creation and be pleased with what he sees.

It was written to show religious people that they too, are sinners, just like the people they looked down on. It was meant to knock religious people off their high horses, so to speak, to show that God is no respecter of persons. Paul was dealing with a heart issue, not explaining some new cosmic, spiritual law that went into effect when Jesus was crucified. He was going after God’s Elect who lived ungodly lives but thought they were righteous for these reasons: 1) they were God’s Elect, 2) they were descendants of Abraham, and 3) Moses gave them a law to follow which they thought they were following, though they really weren’t. Instead of upholding an idea of status or position granted apart from the actual goodness of the recipient, Paul was trying to prove there is no such status.

God Doesn’t Show Favoritism – Protestants Do

The same applies to the status we describe in various ways, most commonly: “I’m a Christian.”

Paul’s message was that Jews and Gentiles will all be judged by the same standard. Being a Jew does not exempt you from being accountable to God for your actions. He was taking aim at religious elitism and spiritual snobbery, just like Jesus did on numerous occasions.

Paul was not setting up a new class of citizens, called Christians, who could think that they are the new Elect and only they are acceptable in God’s eyes. Paul was not shifting Most Favored People status from Jews to Christians.

He was eliminating the status altogether.

He was confirming the revelation God gave to Peter that Jews could no longer think of themselves as clean and the heathen as unclean. In Peter’s words, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” (Acts 10:34)

Modern Protestant theology is all about establishing that God does show favoritism to Christians at the expense of non-Christians, is it not?

Who Told You That You Aren’t Good Enough for God?

The Bible didn’t tell you that you aren’t good enough for God. Religious people told you that.

The modern “Gospel” – You’re a sinner, God is too holy to accept you, you can’t do anything to merit a trip to heaven, you have to have faith in Jesus or you’re toast – was a great message for a Catholic monk like Martin Luther to preach to his fellow Catholics who woke up each morning trying to figure out how to get on the good side of God.  Those simple, illiterate people in the 16th century were told by their church that they had a sin problem they could magically solve through having sacraments administered to them such as Baptism, the Eucharist, and Penance. “Come to mass, do what we tell you, participate in the grace of God given through this channel, and you’ll be fine” was the message they got from Rome.

Luther removed the Church as the middle man in that formula so at least people could go hear other sources and even learn for themselves what the bible said from somebody willing to quote it in their own language. One of those was Luther himself who translated the Greek scriptures into German but the problem is they would also be hearing his polemic against Catholic theology which assumed a fundamental premise that even the best man stands guilty before God for no other reason than being human. At least the Catholic church left open the possibility that at least theoretically a man could go straight to God for forgiveness apart from knowledge of Christ. Luther closed that door of grace for the Protestants who followed him because that would undermine his thesis that salvation was through Christ alone, by grace alone.

Under the Influence of Calvinism

Driving while Under the Influence of Calvinism (DUIC) should be illegal. But we all do it. When we talk about eternal salvation we all tend to have this underlying premise that all humans stand condemned before God, for nothing other than simply being humans.

Think about that for just a minute. God creates mankind. Mankind sins. All men are condemned. God knew it would happen this way. He then waits until just 2000 years ago to offer any recourse for all of mankind, which isn’t going to be appropriated by all of mankind, or even the majority of mankind, so billions of people either end up getting snuffed out in the grave, at best, or at worst, suffer for all eternity in a fiery pit.

Who comes up with this stuff?

I know it isn’t God. God isn’t like that.

“Oh but Kirby, you just want to create a God that is palatable. You’re not willing to accept what God has to say about it!”

I’m not willing to accept how Calvinism and other forms of Universal Condemnation have influenced our interpretations of the Bible, that’s for sure.

By the way, when did any particular understanding or interpretation of the Bible regarding the state of man before God become “the Word of God”? To whom did God ever say, “Your interpretation is my interpretation”? Have we now a multitude of competing Popes all vying for the position of God’s Infallible Arbiter of Truth?

The arrogance of the Papacy has been passed on to the man with a Bible.

Universal Condemnation Because Human is Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound

Besides the modern “Gospel” being a solution to a God-Is-Too-Holy-For-You problem that doesn’t actually exist, it is losing ground in modern society. It’s our own special kind of self-inflicted wound.

Here’s why:

In 2017 I spent two weeks in several countries in Europe that are considered Post-Christian. I visited the site where Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the chapel door in Wittenberg, Germany, on the 500 year anniversary of that monumental occasion that kicked off the Protestant Reformation. It got me wondering if this is what America will be like in about 100 years. On any given Sunday in America about 20% of the people are in church. In Europe it’s more like 1% to 4%. Some say America is already a Post-Christian country. There certainly has been a decline in church attendance over the last 100 years.

Many in America are crying: “We must revive our Gospel witness, get more people saved, get them in the church, get them discipled, and produce reproducing Christians.”

The more I read my Bible, the more I believe the Protestant “Gospel” they think is the key to their survival will actually be their death knell.

The Modern Gospel is Spiritual Abuse

I came to this realization after returning from Europe and keeping my car radio tuned to the American Christian Network, the folks who bring us J. Vernon McGee, Chuck Swindoll (one of my favorites), and James Dobson, among others. For several weeks all I would hear were attempts to get the audience to believe that no man can stand before God on his own merits and gain any kind of acceptance or entrance to a blessed hereafter.

As I write this I just got through listening to a preacher on the American Christian Network brag that when each of his three kids were five years old they came to him and asked Dad to lead them in the Sinner’s Prayer so they could get right with God. I can only imagine the manipulation those kids went through for Mom and Dad to get them to a place where at the innocent age of five they thought God was so harsh as to reject them and they needed to do something to “get right” with God.

If the modern Gospel came to us from God then we would have to just accept it as it is but it didn’t. Because it didn’t come from God it amounts to spiritual abuse. Rather than attracting people to the benefits of walking in righteousness with God we are manipulating them into the Kingdom of God.

Our Gospel is Causing a Slow Death

The usual scriptures are quoted – out of context – to “prove” to people that they are on God’s bad side from the get-go and there’s nothing anyone can DO to merit eternal life – except of course pray the Sinner’s Prayer. Scriptures such as “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” as if that verse has anything to do with anyone’s eternal salvation.

This will be the death knell for American Christianity for two reasons:

  1. As more people get better educated, or otherwise learn to question what they are being told, fewer and fewer people will accept this “Gospel” at face value and without question. There is something deep down in people – something I believe God has put in there – that says that if God created humans to be the way we are, then he’s not going to judge humans for being the way we are, any more than Mom and Dad are going to throw their children under the bus for being less than perfect.
  2. As more people get better educated, or question what they are being told, or hear other ways of looking at things, fewer and fewer people are going to either trust a book written by who-knows-who to accurately speak for God or trust the person who’s telling them why they need to accept Jesus as their savior (or whatever message they preach) to accurately interpret those words in that book. There are churches like the Catholic Church that tell us that they have been uniquely empowered or gifted by God to accurately convey the heart and mind of God so we can know how to be right with God, but as history has unfolded behind us those churches have proven to us that they aren’t very good at it. Torturing dissenters speaks loudly to most people that they didn’t know God. The kind of information that would lead people to conclude those so-called spokesmen for God really aren’t gets more and more widely known as time goes on.

With each passing generation, each new generation will be less likely to simply just accept the false premise that God created humans to be human and that’s a horrible thing in God’s eyes.

Who’s the One with “Another Gospel”?

This is what happens when you quote “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” to someone to get them to realize they are not acceptable to God, and provide them with what you believe is the divine “solution” to this predicament. They wonder:

“Really? God made us in such a way we can’t POSSIBLY avoid sin, and now he’s going to damn the whole human race for it?” Whaaaaat??


“My eternal salvation is hinging on me believing what this moron in front of me is telling me about some historical event that happened 2000 years ago, an event that he read about in some ancient book? What if his understanding of this whole thing is faulty? Why should I listen to him?”


“This guy sure has some hubris for thinking his version of salvation is better than everyone else’s who say their version is the only right one. Why should I listen to either one of them?”

If they actually verbalize these thoughts then the one sharing the “Gospel” might retort with a few sayings of Jesus like, “You must be born again to enter the Kingdom of Heaven,” and then define “born-again” to mean believing a particular message and then “accept Jesus into your heart.” But the same problem is still there. The one sharing the “Gospel” is the one doing the defining, not God. The trust issue still exists. The evangelist has done nothing to restore confidence in the veracity of his words. But he needs to because modern man is not as gullible as they were in Luther’s day.

Your average person hearing the Protestant “Gospel” hasn’t spent enough time working through theological issues to think much about the context of Jesus’ sayings but deep down inside they know that the message they are supposed to be getting just doesn’t sit well. Rather than this message bringing them into the church, it moves them in the opposite direction.

Before America officially becomes a post-Christian nation the church needs to re-examine what it has been teaching. Before accusing Catholics or Muslims of having a works-based religion, or Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses of preaching “another gospel”, American Protestants must ask themselves if they aren’t the ones preaching “another gospel.”

Universal Condemnation Because Human – Why that Problem Seems to Exist When it Doesn’t

As I mentioned before, modern American Christians, among a lot of others, are preaching a “solution” to a problem that doesn’t exist. The solution is the message of the Cross of Christ. The non-existent problem that message is trying to solve is the problem of Universal Condemnation because of man’s sin before a holy God. This “problem” is expressed in various versions of a doctrine called Original Sin. And there are numerous versions of this problem.

Then there’s the Calvinist (Reformed) version, Total Depravity, using the same scriptures as the other Protestants. Both versions take those same scriptures literally and take them to be a Universal Condemnation of all mankind.

In order to get to Universal Condemnation Because Human, several assumptions have to be made, and all of them are wrong:

  • God’s holiness prevents his love from being extended to sinners. I’m not sure where this idea comes from but it should be obvious that God’s holiness never slowed him down.
  • God’s justice demands punishment for sin. This is a perverted view of justice which I address in God Really is Just – Justice Demands Forgiveness
  • All the scriptures quoted were meant to condemn all humans. This assumption comes from ignoring two of the most basic of hermeneutical principles that all Christians should be aware of, which are the principles of:
    • Reading Statements in Context, and
    • Not Confusing Universal and Eternal Application with Local and Temporal Application

In other words, no thought is given to who the audience is and why they are being told what they are being told. It’s just lazy, sloppy exegesis. Too many pastors and teachers do this on a regular basis.

If you are one of them, for the love of everyone Jesus died for – PLEASE STOP!

Universal Condemnation Because Human Makes God out to be an Unjust Tyrant and Monster

We have an 800 pound gorilla in the room, and he’s feeling ignored.

That 800 pound gorilla is a doctrine which in essence says that God hates his creation. And it’s not so much that we are ignoring him but it’s that we don’t even see him in the room. That speaks to the power of indoctrination, don’t you think?

We think that our doctrine says that God loves all humans but that’s only the stated message. Pardon me for being a bit crass, but there are times when it’s needed for emphasis.  The unstated message, the one that’s the 800 pound gorilla that we can’t see because of our indoctrination, is this:

God lovingly made you the way you are. But then he says, “F**k you!” for the way you are.

This is Protestant Soteriology, or Doctrine of Salvation, in a nutshell. This is what we are telling the world when we preach our perverted “gospel” that states “God loves you” but in reality says “God hates you!”

Pulling the Pin on Western, Augustinian Soteriology

Universal Condemnation Because Human is the starting point for both Protestant and Catholic Soteriology. It is the linchpin that holds together everything that is thought regarding the salvation of souls. Pull this pin out and Protestant and Catholic Soteriology falls to the ground.

Which is exactly what I intend to do, with God’s help.

Isn’t Catholic and Protestant theology all there is in the Christian Church? Am I working to destroy the Church?

Notice how I described Catholic and Protestant Soteriology as “Western”. There is a Soteriology that exists in the Christian Church which is Eastern, and has the most legitimate claim to represent a theology that was first delivered to the saints vis-a-vis Jude 3 which says:

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once and for all delivered unto the saints.

This is the Soteriology of a church with a huge global influence, the predominant church in places like Russia and Greece, but is little known to American Christians. That church is the Eastern Orthodox Church. The most that most American Christians know about the Orthodox Church is that they sell a baklava that is to die for at the Greek Orthodox Church bake sale, even though it’s so sweet it makes your teeth hurt.

The reason they are called “Eastern” is because in the early days of the Christian Church the Roman Empire was divided between East and West with Rome and the Roman Catholic Church which originated there in the West and the rest of the Church in the East. The Eastern Church, which are now the Eastern Orthodox Churches, resisted and opposed the innovations in the West, most notably the creation of the doctrine of Original Sin first developed by St. Augustine in the 4th Century.

So Catholic and Protestant Soteriology is Western Soteriology and Augustinian Soteriology. And I reject it and encourage all my friends to do likewise.

I say all this to say that I’m not all alone in what I believe. I have worked my entire adult life at discovering that “faith once and for all delivered to the saints” before it evolved into something Jesus and Paul would scarcely recognize. I consider the Eastern Orthodox churches to be allies in this great pursuit, at least when it comes to Soteriology, with me discovering what they have been teaching with minimal change for 2000 years.

To better understand what the Christian Church taught prior to the development of the Doctrine of Original Sin I highly recommend this scholarly work which is a compendium of numerous other scholarly works getting us back to what is truly orthodox regarding the topic of salvation. It’s a book called Moral Transformation: The Original Christian Paradigm of Salvation. You can pick it up for about 20 bucks at Amazon.

This post is one chapter in a book I am writing called Salvation by Being Good. You can see other chapters that I have posted on my blog and ones I have yet to post in the Table of Contents.

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