Creative Team Building and Leadership Resources - In our Elements

In the Wake of 9-11

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Fellow Passengers: This week’s Promise Passage* (Deuteronomy 22) transports me eleven years back to the tragic attacks of 9-11, and the ensuing search for answers as to why this happened, why there, and why then. A consensus answer points to the oft-repeated notion that the minority radical/fundamentalist wing of Islam is, like other forms of religious fundamentalism, anti-modernity, especially the modernity of the “west”, and the twin towers were obvious symbols of this modernity. Barbara Ehrenreich and others have pointed out a basic flaw in this argument, namely, that contemporary fundamentalist radicals do not reject the modernity of airplanes, modern weaponry, modern technology, or modern money. She writes persuasively that the real bugaboo for the terrorists is the modernity of women. At its root, misogyny is behind the attacks. A cursory look at the kinds of societies fostered by these fundamentalists when they come into power confirms her theory. Women do not fare well. According to Ehrenreich, global economic changes that bring women into traditional male workplaces where they assume traditional male roles of breadwinner is threatening. Beyond that, for women to become sexually liberated is more than the radicals can handle. The terrorists are themselves terrified, horrified by the change, the loss of identity, and they strike back, in an effort to put women back in their place, where they can be both veiled and violated to satisfy the needs of the fragile male psyche.

The 9-11 attacks on modernity, i.e., on women, is nothing new. While misogyny has always been an underlying prejudice throughout history, there have been periods where its more intense forms have risen up like a beast from the sea, whenever the culture at large has been undergoing change. Historians have documented particular periods of intense attacks on women whenever huge cultural sea-changes were taking place. The witch-trials and burnings happened during such times. Looking farther back, we can see how the Deuteronomic history matches up with this dynamic. As the covenant community experienced intense social changes during the 8th and 7th century monarchies, and the accompanying displacement and exile, traditional gender roles were thrown into chaos. An intense cultural and religious argument emerged. While the prophetic voices envisioned communities of equality, with women’s voices rising, Josiaic reforms included an intense push-back against women. To be part of God’s vineyard meant fidelity to gender roles, divisions of labor, and power dynamics between men and women. Mandates to not sow two kinds of seed in the vineyard had a larger interpretation, not to allow the cultural seeds of change to take root in the community. We read some of that here in today’s passage, as men and women were mandated not to confuse their gender-specific dress codes. A harsher example comes with the penal codes around rape. If a woman was raped within earshot of the city, both she and the rapist were put to death, because she didn’t shout. If an unbetrothed woman was raped out of earshot, she was forced to marry the rapist, in order to preserve honor.

We don’t have to look around the world at radical fundamentalist Islamic regimes to document the rise of misogyny in our world today. The clash between liberation and oppression presents itself in every religious tradition and culture. Branches of radical fundamentalism are present in every religious tradition, stubbornly clinging to a vine of domination and control. Such branches are present here in our own country, visible in the statements about rape emerging from some of our political leaders. From the idea that women can prevent pregnancy in a “legitimate” rape, to the idea that birth defects in children are God’s punishment on women who have had abortions, we can recognize the same threatened spirit of male dominance, the same terror that creates terrorists.  For those who have been grafted onto a different vine of faith, a vine that produces fruits of love instead of fear, compassion instead of control, deliverance instead of domination, the task is to continue celebrating the Way that welcomes liberation and equality. Today, on the anniversary of terror, we can resist fear-laden worldviews by celebrating heroic women of 9-11, women who indeed “wore men’s clothing”, the uniforms of police and firefighters and EMT workers. We celebrate Brenda Berkman, a NYC Fire Department Captain who saved many lives that day. We celebrate  Terri Tobin, NYPD Deputy Inspector who sustained serious injury after being buried beneath the rubble, but nonetheless helped evacuate 100 people once she extricated herself from concrete debris up to her waist. We celebrate the heroism of those who lost their lives in the rescue effort: NYPD officer Moira Smith, last seen evacuating people out of Tower Two; Captain Kathy Mazza, first female commander of the Port Authority of New York, who used her sidearm to shoot out glass walls, enabling many to escape, and Yamel Merino, one of the first ambulance drivers to arrive, who chose to rush into the building instead of manning the ambulance, last seen caring for a survivor just before the first tower collapsed. May their spirit continue to animate our efforts to live the Way of Jesus, the Way of freedom, the Way of love that conquers all fear.

How about you? Where does this Promise Passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment, and share with friends on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, email, etc.



  • September 11, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Stan, I know your intention was not to remove the guilt of radical Islamic terrorists in the cruel and senseless acts of 9-11. I’m supposing that it is your claim that it had more to do with their issues with women than their religious beliefs around martydom? They are filled with hate, that is for sure. According to your beliefs, however, we will see them in heaven. Correct?

    Comment by Joey

  • September 11, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Joey, thanks for the question and opportunity for clarification. You are correct in your opening statement; my intention was not to remove the guilt of radical Islamic terrorists. And your follow-up supposition is almost correct; it’s not that the actions had more to do with issues of women than with religious beliefs around martyrdom, it is recognizing misogyny among the roots of those erroneous beliefs, as they are in the erroneous fundamentalisms within any other religion. You are right, they are filled with hate, as are a minority of people within every faith tradition. And yes, given that I believe the Pauline theology that “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess” and that God will show mercy to all, and given my belief in Jesus’ own words that his being lifted up on the cross would be sufficiently powerful enough to draw all people to him, and given my belief in James’ theology that tells us there is no hierarchy of sins in God’s eyes, I therefore find it safe to conclude that we are as likely to see these terrorists in heaven as we are to see Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin and Virginia GOP delegate Bob Marshall there. Mercy for all (including you and me, Joey, thank the good Lord!).

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    We will only see Islamic terrorists in heaven if they accept Jesus Christ as there savior..that goes for all people good or bad, they must accept Jesus Christ and repent (turn from) there sins.

    Comment by Bill

  • September 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    This is indeed a powerful interpretation of the cause of terrorism. I am not a biblical scholar. However, I taught the adult Sunday School class at my former church for three years using the Seasons of the Spirit Curriculum which follows the lectionary. As I see it, terrorism has its roots in the want for power and control. We, both men and women, as part of the human condition, want to control the other. Once we recognize what is happening and turn to the teachings of the Hebrew prophets and Jesus, who knew the prophets well, we learn to love. The terrorists, some of whom are Muslim, fail to see that the Qur’an considers Jesus a prophet and upholds his teachings. As for who goes to heaven–that is a mystery. I like the quote: “The kingdom of heaven is within you.” The big question is –Can we love those whom we consider terrorists? Can we pray for them? Can we seek to understand what drives their hatred of us? Can we forgive? Yes, and can we pray for those folks who seek to follow Todd Akin and Bob Marshall instead of Jesus? As we pray for them, we must ask for help for ourselves to continue on the path of peace. We, too, can go astray by jjudging others. Remember terrorists have been brainwashed and their hatred is not all their fault.

    Comment by Janet Davies

  • September 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    We only begin to truly appreciate the sweetness of Christ and His work on the cross when we begin to understand the eternal torment that He saved us from. God and His judgements are just. We all fall short and deserve no less than hell. The Bible (Jesus in particular) is not silent on the punishment of hell. It’s just that man in his arrogance doesn’t like what God has to say about it. It is very true that God is love, but He is also just. The wicked are punished with everlasting punishment while believers are rewarded with everlasting life. Thank God for the grace offered to all but accepted by few.

    Comment by Joey

  • September 11, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    I am glad that I am not given the power to decide who resides in heaven. I suspect I would play favorites and non-favorites, and “grace” would have little to do with it.

    I am trying, and trying, and trying, to be glad that my only responsibility in all this is to pray for enemies and people that hurt others.


    Comment by Marc S. Mullinax

  • September 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Janet, thanks for your insightful comments and the challenges you raise, regarding the difficulty of loving our enemies. Keep up the great peacemaking work!

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Joey, I certainly appreciate fully the sweetness of Christ and his work on the cross, without it being predicated on God being the master of an eternal torture chamber where unsaved children burn in torment. As for Jesus’ teaching about hell, I affirm that he had a “go to hell” attitude several times in the New Testament, and he reserved that harsh word for two sets of people – the religious fundamentalists of his day (Pharisees) and the rich folks who begrudged any of their hard-earned money going to the needy. Jesus was giving them the clear word that the kingdom of heaven was not for them, and that they would need to repent of the greed and hubris before gaining entrance, and it might just take some hellish consequences for them to come to repentance. Again, I get this straight from scripture, such as Jesus’ preaching to the condemned souls in hell after his crucifixion, his own teaching about the cross drawing “ALL PEOPLE” to himself, and Paul’s teaching about every knee eventually bowing, and every tongue eventually confessing. Which tells me even the rich young ruler, and the “goats” who had ignored the poor and had not welcomed the stranger, will eventually be a part of the Kingdom. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    once again your interpretation over the last few days says it all…………priceless!

    Comment by Jim

  • September 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Once again Stan you have the courage and blessing of great discernment of the truth even when the blind fools want to taunt you. I know it does not really bother you (it does me a little but not too much). And I thank God for giving you the gifts you use so wisely. Priceless in the true sense of the word is what I think of the the truth you have shared over the last few days.

    Comment by brother dave

  • September 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    priceless….and very inspiring to say the least. I’m just not sure which one is more inspiring! George Carlin, who was an atheist and despised God, the one about abortion, or the one about the buddhist, baptist and hindu, doing the best they can do. Or the universalist view of scripture,oh don’t worry about John 14:6 or the rest of those passages talking about Jesus being the only way.

    Comment by Jim

  • September 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    It kind of reminds of goldilocks and the 3 baptists!

    Comment by Jim

  • September 11, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Fear, anger, bitterness, hatefulness may be fruits of something but not the fruits of the spirit that Jesus revealed in his life. I am sort of regretting that I stoked the fire of those fruits. Why don’t we move toward some other fruits like joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    Comment by brother dave

  • September 12, 2012 at 5:48 am

    One thing is for sure every knee will bow,and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!!!! But if you don’t know Him as your personal savior you will hear these words depart from me for I never knew you,after those words you are bound for Hell!!! Oh by the way Hell is real!!!!!!!! So please repent and turn your eyes upon Jesus!!!!!!

    Comment by Daryl D

  • September 12, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Amen and Amen!

    Comment by Jim

  • September 12, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Marc – just realized I had missed your post as I read through the thread. Thanks for the insights. How’s life there in South Korea? Glad to be connected to you here in the virtual world. As far as the decision on who gets to heaven, I’m glad, like you, that I’m not the judge, and that no other human is. I’m also glad for the truth of the old hymn (which, like many other hymns, helped shape my theology) – “When we ALL get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be, when we ALL see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!”

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 12, 2012 at 6:46 am

    Dave, thanks for the encouraging words. And don’t fret about those who want to poke and jab and try to play the comic (though they’re not quite up to George Carlin’s standards). Everyone works with the light they have, and the sad part is when people refuse to let any more Light in, and choose instead to see and judge the rest of the world by the little spark they have. I appreciate your desire to get back to the fruits of the Spirit. I have found, as I described in a previous post, that the practice of centering prayer is a good way to let go of the frustrations nay-sayers bring into the world. The Gospel is bigger and wider than they or any of us can imagine.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 12, 2012 at 8:39 am

    The sad part to me are so many people fall for these false teachings. People need to open up their Bibles and read it for themselves. It says in the last days people will follow everything but the truth,and boy are we seeing that today!!!! Turn to Christ today,for we don’t know how much time each of us has left.

    Comment by Daryl D

  • September 12, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Daryl, as one who turned to Christ as a child and continues to turn to Christ every day, I affirm your evangelistic zeal. Would that all turn to the Way of love for enemies in place of guns and violence, contentment in place of greed and whining, and welcome for the stranger in place of discrimination and deportation. And don’t be too sad that people are believing Paul’s words, the Psalmist’s words, and Jesus’ words about universal salvation. I do hope that people will, as you encourage, open up their Bibles and read Psalm 139:8, John 12:32, Romans 11:32, and Philippians 2:9-11 for themselves. It’s the Truth! You, too, can believe it.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 12, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Sorry brother,no such thing as universal salvation. Salvation comes from knowing Christ as your personal savior,following the teachings of Christ,and picking up our cross and following Jesus. If we seek Him daily through prayer,and the reading of His word we will be with Him in heaven. If we choose a differant path then He will not tip the scales in our favor and hell will be the reward!!!

    Comment by Daryl D

  • September 12, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Daryl, we agree that salvation comes from knowing Christ as your personal savior. It’s the only Way. I just happen to agree with scripture that ALL eventually come to this knowledge and this Way of love and contentment and welcome, including the rich young rulers who go away sorrowful because they have many possession, and Pharisees who traverse land and sea to make converts to fundamentalism, only to make them twofold children of hell, and the powerful Agrippas who are almost persuaded in this life, they will all be one day fully persuaded to confess Christ as Lord, and thus gain entrance into the Kingdom. Read the Word, Daryl (see above references) – it’s all there, words of Jesus in red and words of God in black!

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 12, 2012 at 11:13 am

    God is love, but he’ll send you to eternal torture in a pit of fire! Man, that’s the most logical idea any human has ever conceived, ya know? I can’t get into a scriptural battle because I don’t read the Bible and don’t remember much, aside from blatant contradictions, from my Sunday school days. However, nothing rubs me the wrong way like the idea that a loving God would send “his children” to Hell for lack of sycophantic obedience. That’s just sick. And that’s NOT love.

    Comment by Jessica

  • September 12, 2012 at 11:14 am

    I will go even further and say that if you think THAT’S love, then you need therapy…. or maybe just a hug.

    Comment by Jessica

  • September 12, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Or maybe 10 hugs. Or maybe you just need to be tied to a chair while tiny kittens and puppies are unleashed on you.

    Comment by Jessica

  • September 12, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I don’t know, but you need something, and it ain’t your brand of religion, which attempts to instill fear and guilt and shame. NOBODY needs that.

    Comment by Jessica

  • September 12, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I have read it bro,you might want to go back and study a little bit more from what the whole book says and not so much what stan wants it to say!!!! As far as God sending people to hell,He doesn’t we make that choice when we accept Christ or reject Him. Where a lot of problems arise is when we try to think on God’s level instead of just listening and following the command He gave. God did create the whole world without our help so as far as that goes we can’t question God we must humble obey!!!!

    Comment by Daryl D

  • September 12, 2012 at 11:31 am

    By the way if you need a King James Bible,I will bring you one. Its Awesome!!!!

    Comment by Daryl D

  • September 12, 2012 at 11:33 am

    God is love that’s why he sent Jesus to die on that cross!!!!

    Comment by Daryl D

  • September 12, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I AM LOVE. No really, I am! I’ll prove it to you! I will send my son to be nailed to a cross, to hang and suffer and die an agonizing death! Can’t you tell that I’m the embodiment of LOVE now?! You can’t? Oh, okay. Wait, I know! Now, I’ll send all of my other children (who don’t obey me) to be baked in an eternal oven! Now THAT is clearly the essence of love, right? I AM LOVE! OBEY ME OR I WILL MAKE YOU REGRET IT EVERYDAY OF YOUR ETERNAL LIFE IN A FIERY CHAMBER OF HORRORS! MUAHAHAHAHA! I AM LOVE. I AM LOVE. I AM LOVE.

    Comment by Jessica

  • September 12, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    One day we will all stand before God we will be judged and our only chance for heaven is if we have accepted his gift which is Jesus Christ. Which I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t He came and died in our place due to sin,he lived a perfect life and showed us how to live forever here and in heaven!!! Freewill I guess sometimes people just can’t see.

    Comment by Daryl D

  • September 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Daryl, where in the Bible does it say that people “choose” to go to hell, and that it is not God who sends them? Your KJV will correct your errors, there, as it clearly states that Jesus sends people to hell; they don’t up and decide to go there. It’s the same KJV that speaks of the refining fire, that says that even if we make our bed in hell, God is there, that speaks of Jesus preaching to the lost souls in hell, that says that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, and that has Jesus claiming that if he be lifted up on the cross, he will draw ALL to himself. Not “Stan’s words”, but the good old King James. I know you want to make it a pre-requisite that people believe that a loving God would create an eternal torture chamber for unbelieving children to suffer torment throughout eternity. It’s fairly easy to see why people would reject such a view. Fortunately, your own Bible contradicts your view many times over. So does the old Broadman hymnal: “When we ALL get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we ALL see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!”

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 12, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Jessica, I like your ideas! I think the Daryls of this world do a lot better when surrounded by hugs and kittens. He’s a good hearted person, just doesn’t always connect the dots when it comes to his theology. Don’t let it keep you from basking in the Light of God’s grace and love.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    When you chose not to accept the gift from God which is Jesus,you chose hell,what do you think Jesus meant when he said deny before man and I will deny you before my heavenly father. That would be at the judgement or it wouldn’t carry any weight,for if there was no hell,what do you think Jesus was talking about. Oh I know maybe Jesus wouldn’t talk to the person in front of God. Keep reading bro maybe you will get it someday.

    Comment by Daryl D

  • September 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    stan, as a cousin and friend you need to listen to Daryl, Bill and Joey. They are trying to keep you from making a horrible disaster.

    Comment by jim munsey

  • September 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    And what terrible disaster would that be, Jim?

    Comment by Jessica

  • September 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Daryl, of course Jesus denies people who deny him and his Way. Our only difference is that it is a temporary state of affairs, unless you want to make Christ out to be a liar when he said that his being lifted up on the cross would indeed draw all people unto him. Once they are no longer seeing through a glass darkly, and are unencumbered by the wiles and allurement of the principalities and powers, people will be able to and will choose to accept the grace gift. And God’s will (that none should perish) will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. And Jim, unless you and Bill and Daryl and Joey are spending your leisure time knocking on the doors of your neighborhood and pleading with all the little children who are of an age to understand right and wrong, in order to snatch them out of an eternity of torture, I frankly don’t put much stock in your “belief.” If, instead, you have spent time watching professional wrestling or baseball, or gone to a beauty pageant, or relaxed in a hot tub, while there are souls on the brink of hell all around you who might avoid that eternal torture through your fervent witness, then how much do you really worry about these souls?

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Since Jesus is the final authority on this matter, lets see what He says. Matt. 5:22, 7:19, 23:14, Mark 9;43,44,47 just to name a few. There are others, we must repent and believe on Jesus to be saved.

    Comment by Jim

  • September 12, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    I do believe in witnessing Stan. Fortunately God guides me to live out the Christ filled life in the ministry grounds I walk each day. I have so many opportunities to share my faith at work and I thank God for a growing boldness. I hope you share concern for the lost. I’m not even sure at this point you believe that someone can be lost. Do you believe in witnessing? I am really not sure the way your beliefs have changed over the years. Yeah, I’m sure you will call it something like progressive enlightenment through more accurate discernment of the scriptures. Some will be right and others will be wrong. I stand with the Bible preaching men of God. I really wish we shared more in common in the basic tenets of our faith. My faith has grown over the years but never changed course as yours has. It is really puzzling and concerning to me. May God open our eyes to see the truth of His message.

    Comment by Joey

  • September 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Yes, Jim, everyone will eventually repent and believe on Jesus. Since he is the final authority on the matter, I believe him when he says that when he is lifted up he will draw all people unto himself. I believe Paul when he says one day everyone will repent and believe. Now remember, Jim, that we are in a dialogue here, which means that before you ask other questions or go and send people off to search your scriptures, you need to address the questions that have already been raised to you. I trust you can handle that simple ground rule.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 12, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Joey, I’m glad that you witness in your workplace. What about those neighborhood kids? Do you ever watch a tv program or sports show instead of witnessing, when there are kids on the verge of going to hell right down the road from you? I don’t mean to be blunt, but if you really believe people who haven’t made the confession of faith are just a car wreck away from an eternal torture chamber, I would think that you would put a priority on pleading them to say the sinner’s prayer before it’s too late, instead of pursuing leisurely activities of the world. As for witnessing, yes, I bear witness every day to the gospel of Jesus, and invite people into the abundant life of grace made possible through the cross. I am always deeply moved when a person, such as a prisoner in the jail, decides to turn away from a life of violence and addiction and turn his life over to that radical Way of love and grace. Leading people to Christ has always been the highest honor for me; that is something that hasn’t changed since our days at Gashes Creek. I simply now understand the Way of Christ and the implications of discipleship and the abundant life much more fully than I did when I was a youth, partaking of the milk of the word. The good news has only gotten better and better through the years, as I’ve come to understand more and more the biblical witness to that good news.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 12, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    I don’t spend all my time knocking on doors as you say. The Holy Spirit is my guide. I was made to glorify God. My relationship with Christ tells me that I am doing just that. Sure I fail from time to time. When He points out failure I confess it and ask for help at doing better. It’s all in His strength anyway. I spend precious time in prayer and meditation over His Word. The Holy Spirit is the only teacher I need. I don’t intend to change you or please you. I am completely comfortable in my beliefs. One of us is seriously wrong. May the good Lord bring correction as a gift. God bless.

    Comment by Joey

  • September 13, 2012 at 4:25 am

    Yes I follow your rule, I am not the brightest crayon in the box, but I will do it for you. So in Hebrews when it says things like it is a fearful thing to fall in the hands of the living God or it is appointed unto man once to die then then the judgment. You better make peace with God here and now, there will be no other chance after one dies. Jesus spends alot of time talking about hell for it not to exist.

    Comment by Jim

  • September 13, 2012 at 5:34 am

    Although the Bible may contain some truth, there are truths to be found outside of it (outside of your Christian bias). For instance, Dr. Ian Stevenson, chairman of the department of psychiatry at the University of Virginia, spent 40 years of his life researching the often objectively verifiable recollection of past lives in young children. Out of the 2500 cases he studied, 1000 were verified.

    The verification process involved tracing the children’s memories back to their previous families based on biographical and geographical information given by the child. Dr. Stevenson was even able, at times, to identify birthmarks on the child’s body consistent with how the child recalled dying. Many of these cases involved children claiming that their current family was not their “real family” as soon as they were old enough to communicate. They frequently remembered information about their names, the names of their families, the things they owned, how they died etc. in their past lives.

    No one, and not one religion, has all the answers. Don’t limit your ability to discover truths by being too obstinate and prideful to think outside of your conditioning.

    Comment by Jessica

  • September 13, 2012 at 5:52 am

    Stan, you are right, we all could do more but even now we are contending for the faith as we let the 6 or 7 people who read your blog that repentance and faith in Jesus is the only way. so we are trying!

    Comment by Jim

  • September 13, 2012 at 5:58 am

    Also, if you talk to hospice workers or do some research into the near-death experience, you might find that, in the vast majority of cases, people share the same beautiful experiences across the religious and cultural spectrum. Whether Hindu, Christian, Agnostic, Muslim etc. people talk about seeing a Light and feeling the most profound sense of peace and love and unconditional acceptance. This experience is not limited to Bible thumping evangelicals. Believe what you will, but the evidence speaks to Stan’s interpretation of universal salvation.

    I believe that we truly belong in “Heaven” (the Other Side) or whatever you wish to call the Spirit world, and we all return to it after our incarnations. Based on the lessons we may still need to learn, we may choose to incarnate again in the physical world to better learn these lessons.

    I’ve come to these beliefs, not through rigid adherence to any religious dogma, but through research and personal experiences, and by keeping an open mind (questioning everything, but not immediately ruling anything out).

    There are great moral lessons to be gleaned from the major world religions, if you can sift through the darkness, but I think it’s a crying shame when people allow themselves to be stunted by their hubris and refuse to look beyond their religious upbringing.

    Comment by Jessica

  • September 13, 2012 at 6:07 am

    I don’t have a lot of ‘spare time due to working 12 to 14 hours a day(you do remember what work is don’t you?) But while I am at work I share the Gospel and when I am at home I do the same thing as well as read and study God’s word. I feel it is important to tell people the truth and that is Jesus is the only way and that all other ways will lead you to hell! One must confess Christ to TRULY be saved!!!!

    Comment by Daryl D

  • September 13, 2012 at 6:37 am

    ….case in point.

    Comment by Jessica

  • September 13, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Jessica, God gave you breath and another day of life so you can turn to Christ and follow Him. We live in the dispensation of grace but that door is going to close soon. John 3:36 says the wrath of God abides on them ALREADY. GRACE STANDS IN THE WAY OF HIS JUDGMENT BUT YOU DON’T KNOW WHEN THAT TIME WILL END. Stan, if he let people like hitler and others who hated him into heaven, it would not be heaven very long. Repent of false teaching before its too late.

    Comment by jim

  • September 13, 2012 at 7:00 am

    Jim, thanks, but I don’t buy what you’re selling.

    Comment by Jessica

  • September 13, 2012 at 7:03 am

    you’re not rejecting me, you’re rejecting Jesus the one who died in your place and there remains no other sacrifice for I hope that works out for you.

    Comment by jim

  • September 13, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Jessica, read about voltaire’s experience when he died and how he said christianity would vanish away. after he died his home was turned into a bible printing shop. quite a story, stan may want to write about that.

    Comment by jim

  • September 13, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Joey, in a way, I understand and am glad that you don’t spend time being concerned enough about the lost children in your neighborhood to knock on their doors and witness, and you interpret the work of the Holy Spirit to afford you the distractions and diversions of college basketball or Nascar or hot tub vacations or whatever you spend time doing. Worrying about what might happen to the children on your street if they die today, and being compelled to knock on their doors to try and spare them that fate really would be too much of a burden for any human to bear. So, for your health, it’s a good thing that you’ve found a comfortable space to live in, where you can hold it all together, your belief in a literal torture chamber where millions of dying children the world over, including those in our neighborhoods, are cast to burn for eternity, and your belief in a Holy Spirit that lets you off the hook so you can enjoy the good life of Duke sports or whatever. It will be even more fun now that Notre Dame, a Catholic school, is thrown into the competition. Thanks for bringing me along to a better understanding.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 13, 2012 at 7:20 am

    Daryl, the question posed to Stan about whether he remembers work or not was a low blow and unfair to Stan who does a whole lot of solid, productive, helpful work in the world. Stan keeps his autistic nephew several days a week to help an overburdened family, does foster care, is active in the church and community, writes blogs, organizes and goes on mission trips etc., and these things are just the tip of iceberg. So, before chiding Stan for not remembering what work is, stop and think about what your intention is, and whether it’s Christlike to judge and attempt to injure with unfair personal attacks.

    Comment by Jessica

  • September 13, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Jim, I’m curious, where did you get your numbers on my blog readership (the “6 or 7 people” comment). I do run Google analytics, and if you’d like to know the real numbers, I’d be glad to let you know. Or was that just another one of your attempts at a rude put-down? Really, Jim, your witness to however many people read your comments would be far better served if you occasionally demonstrated the fruits of the Spirit. As for judgment and Hebrews and other references, yes, it is a fearful thing to face the refiner’s fire. It is not pleasant being chastised, but the effects, as far as we can read in the Psalms and Prophets and pastoral epistles, are wonderful beyond compare. As far as Hitler making it into heaven, I’m guessing people had the same question about Saul of Tarsus making it into the Kingdom when the news first came – after all, he had been a ringleader of the persecution, breathing threats and murder against the believers. Heaven will be heaven with all us sinners there, because of what Christ accomplished on the cross. Read in Colossians: “Christ forgave us ALL our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” I don’t see any qualifiers there, Jim, for the kinds of sins that were not nailed to the cross and forgiven. Or read in Hebrews: “Christ has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages TO DO AWAY WITH SIN by the sacrifice of himself.” Again, no qualifiers, no exception clauses. He took away your sin, Todd Akin’s and Bob Marshal’s sin, Hitler’s sin, the Libyan extremist’s sin, King David’s sin, the rich young ruler’s sin, my sin, ALL of them were done away with, the debt cancelled, not because we said some creed or statement of faith, but because of what Christ did. Jesus paid it all. All to him we owe, and thanks be to God for the opportunities he affords us to accept that gift, here and now, and if not, beyond the experience of the refiner’s fire when the dross will be melted away eternally, and what’s left will be golden praise, with every knee bowing and every tongue confessing in a unison of worship.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 13, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Jim, in essence, Voltaire was right. Given enough time, all of our ideas, all of our posturings, all of our theologies will perish, for everything in the physical world is transient. That’s an immutable law of nature. Just like every other species, human beings, in their current form, will cease to exist, at some point. So, too, willl our ideas have an expiration date. This is inevitable.

    Comment by Jessica

  • September 13, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Daryl, I’m not sure what is hanging over your head and compelling you to have to work 14 hours a day; I will pray that one day your debts will be clear and you will have more free time to enjoy life. If you ever need some assistance in budget management and the ideal of living within our means, let me know. It’s all rooted in learning to be content. There are two ways to be wealthy, I hear: one is to have lots of money, and the other is to have few needs. I prefer the second. Anyway, I apologize if I inferred from past conversations and posts on your Facebook site that you spend a lot of time watching and keeping up with the Steelers and Yankees and professional wrestling and partisan politics, when you could be knocking on the doors of your neighborhood pleading with children to be saved from the fate of an eternally burning torture chamber maintained by the hands of a loving and just God. I understand from your post above that you must have given up these meaningless diversions, and spend all your time witnessing and praying and studying the word. I stand corrected. As far as your childish put-down about my “remembering what work” is, I learned long ago, when I was employed in a program called LifeWorks, that one of the most important things in life is to discover a calling that enable you to engage in work that doesn’t feel like work, where, as one author put it, your deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger. In that regard, the work I do now, writing, keeping a special needs child, cooking and doing housework, facilitating retreats and workshops, playing music, doing church work of various kinds, really doesn’t often feel like “work” in the sense of drudgery, and therefore, you are quite right in surmising, even if you surmised in the wrong spirit, that I have forgotten what “work” is. I hope you’ll discover that kind of vocation some day, too. It’s a wonderful thing.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 13, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Jim, thanks for the Voltaire reference. It’s been a long time since I read Candide. I think I’ll read it again. All I really remember is that last part, where the narrator says something like “we must cultivate our garden.” Which reminds me that the potatoes need digging, the basil needs to be made into pesto, and the cilantro into salsa. All of which seems so much more meaningful and productive than arguing with you. And I think you’d agree, if you like food from the garden, much more enjoyable as well. I hope you’ll come visit sometime and I’ll fix you a good garden dinner.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 13, 2012 at 7:58 am

    sounds good, btw, voltaire’s house was turned into a bible printing press after he declared christianity would be gone in a generation.

    Comment by jim

  • September 13, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Let’s check out 2nd Thessalonians chapter 1 verses 7-10 then turn with me if you will to the book of Revelation chapter 20 verses 14-15 read with me. ‘And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.this is the second death.(this part is real important)And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. So it should be clear now after reading these passages that hell is real,and not everyone makes it to heaven. So please if you don’t know Christ as your personal savior let today be the day you take that step!

    Comment by Daryl Dotson

  • September 13, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Yes, Jim, I caught that the first time.

    Comment by Jessica

  • September 13, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Stan btw I have to give you credit for your childish put down as well making it sound like I was to dumb to know that the words in red were for Jesus and God’s words were in black. also I hope that all your flowers,walks and keeping up with left wing politics are not getting in the way of your real important work as universal icon!!!!

    Comment by Daryl Dotson

  • September 13, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Yes, Daryl, your references clearly state that the lost – the worldly, the greedy, the violent, the hateful, the prejudiced – all those who have rejected the Way of love and peace and contentment and welcome – will experience the judgment of hell. Our difference is over the purpose of that experience – the Psalmist and the Prophets and the Pastoral epistles all are in accord that it is a refiner’s fire, a means to cleanse and redeem, and one day, having come through the fire, all those on bended knee, confessing faith in Christ as Lord of their lives, will have their names written in that Book of Life, in fulfillment of Jesus’ words and his sacrifice: “If I be lifted up, I will draw ALL people unto myself.” I can only conclude that this is why Jesus went to hell between his crucifixion and resurrection, to free and save and redeem those lost captives there and fulfill his promise. And I can appreciate your evangelistic zeal, Daryl,which I share, in my hope that the people captive to hate, to greed, to violence, to prejudice, to discrimination, to addiction, will assent to follow the Way of Jesus, the Way of transforming love for all (including enemies), peace, welcome, contentment, of freedom.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 13, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Daryl, sorry you misinterpreted my comment as a put-down. The “words of Jesus in red and words of God in black” is an old, old, line, meant to convey our shared belief in the inspiration of scripture in a somewhat comical way. It’s not meant to imply you were somehow dumb. My apologies for the misunderstanding. No offense intended. And, back to childish comments, what exactly are you trying to communicate in your last line, “I hope that all your flowers,walks and keeping up with left wing politics are not getting in the way of your real important work as universal icon!!!!” Where does that come from, Daryl? I encourage you to strive a little harder to demonstrate some fruit of the Spirit in your posts.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 13, 2012 at 9:54 am

    So your comments are comedy and mine are childish? You were quite cleaver in your last post with the line ‘And now back to childish comments’ As far as fruit of the spirit goes trying to help people understand the true Gospel so that they don’t risk going to hell forever I think that would rank very high on the list. As for this thread its looking like a dream battle between Ali vs Tyson both sides believe in their heart their right,if you are right no harm no foul we all make it.But if I am right in the way I read the Bible then what? Not such a wonderful ending for those without Christ is it?

    Comment by Daryl D

  • September 13, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Daryl, to answer your initial question, yes, the line about the words of Jesus being in red were not meant to demean you, meaning, they weren’t meant in a childish put-down sort of way, as opposed to your comments about knowing what real work is and taking walks among the flowers and being a “universal icon!!!” which are, to be perfectly honest, childish. And, as far as the fruit of the Spirit is concerned, nothing in the Biblical list of those fruits says anything about warning people about the risk of going to hell forever. Here’s the list, from Galatians 5: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” As for your hypotheticals, what if your insistence on the literal torture chamber where lost children burn for eternity is keeping people from considering accepting Christ as their personal savior? The hypothetical questions cut both ways, you see. A God who loved the whole world and sent his son to live and die and live again to provide us the grace gift of the abundant life for eternity seems to me to be a much better message of evangelism, than the confusing message of a loving God who nonetheless administers a torture chamber. I can understand if you’re not having a lot of success in getting many folks to buy that. Don’t lose heart. Keep studying, keep praying, do your best to imitate Christ, and we’ll all get along just fine.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 13, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Stan, please read my last post again and tell me how it drew the arrogant and judgmental response you delivered. It is beyond me, my brother. I will now exit these discussions permanently. God bless you.

    Comment by Joey

  • September 13, 2012 at 10:52 am

    I am having great success preaching the gospel many people have come to know Christ through my wittnessing,I am just sorry you are not getting as many as you could if just preached the true gospel. Keep studying and praying,remember it took Christ blinding Paul to turn him around maybe he will do the same for you!

    Comment by Daryl D

  • September 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Well, I find your message of a loving but wrathful and torturous God who casts people into lakes of fire for lack of obedience quite repelling and nonsensical, Daryl. Stan’s message of universal salvation through grace and goodness is attractive and welcoming, and it has allowed me to open up to the positive messages that Christianity has to offer me, which is a miracle considering the vehement disdain I once had for religion. So, there.

    Comment by Jessica

  • September 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Joey, I am sorry that you found my response judgmental and arrogant. To answer your question, looking back on the thread of the conversation, here is what I was responding to: first, you responded to my post with a series of questions around my understanding of Islam and of heaven. Fair enough. I responded. Second, you accused me of arrogance in “not liking what the Bible has to say” about hell. I responded by what I do understand and believe the Bible to say about it, an interpretation consistent with the Psalmist, the prophets, and the early church fathers. Third, you posted a comment calling into question whether I believe there is any such thing as a lost person (which I have pointed out repeatedly that there are), and whether I believe in witnessing (which I’ve pointed out repeatedly that I do), and you included the sarcastic line, “Yeah, I’m sure you will call it something like progressive enlightenment.” Your next comment stated that you were completely comfortable in your beliefs, did not need to please me (something I have not asked for or expected), and you prayed for God to bring me correction. And so, for you to then get bent out of shape and read my last response as somehow judgmental is a bit puzzling, given what I was responding to. My response was in fact a serious statement about the cognitive dissonance one has to carry around with them at all times, when they try to maintain a belief in a literal hell that their neighboring children could be sent to at any moment, without an accompanying “all hands on deck” emergency effort to spare them that fate. I understand that such a belief, if thought through thoroughly, would indeed be too much for any one human heart to bear, and so your ability to compartmentalize your life, and have room for diversionary time spent on meaningless play and sport, is, in fact, a coping mechanism to preserve mental and emotional health. I apologize if this observation comes across as judgmental and arrogant. It is simply a response to your line of reasoning throughout this thread of dialogue. I do appreciate reading in an earlier thread your comment of appreciation regarding my passion for Christ. I share that appreciation for yours as well, even if we diverge on some doctrinal matters. I continue to count you as a life-long friend, and pray God’s blessings on you and your family.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Daryl, in fact, I have had my Damascus Road experience, as I see the world very differently now than I did when I only saw it through the cultural lenses of my childhood. My eyes have been opened to the unspeakable gift of God’s grace and the wideness of God’s mercy.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks for the good word, Jessica, and keep the faith! Love is all you need.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Jessica,I once was blind but know I see! I pray that someday you will see!! So,there.

    Comment by Daryl D

  • September 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Stan,are you sure it wasn’t a John Lennon road experience?

    Comment by Daryl D

  • September 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    That’s the spirit we’re shooting for in this dialogue Daryl, you’re making real progress.

    Comment by Stan Dotson

  • September 13, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    stan, I thought it was a funny line about 6 or 7 readers, so don’t get offended. I poked fun at myself earlier and you didn’t comment on that. Humor is good for you! As far as this post goes, you are in deep doctrinal error,but you are ok with that, so i will leave well enough alone. But no reputable bible teacher will agree with you on your stands, but there again that is ok too. best wishes and I am going to go. Tell Jessica, Dave, and you I love you all

    Comment by Jim

  • September 13, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Jim, thanks for the clarification. Humor aimed at others is generally not as well-received by the target as is self-deprecation. I have a good sense of humor, but there’s a time and place, and inserting a jab and poke in the thread doesn’t further the dialogue. There are numerous reputable Bible teachers who share my interpretations, by the way; they simply aren’t reputable to you, because you disagree with them. And, I do want to thank you and others for continuing to read the posts and sharing your views; it does my daily count of readers a lot of good – the analytics always spike when you guys jump into the conversation! Love to you and your family as well.

    Comment by admin

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