October 19, 2018

My faith and how it is impacted by Scott Hutchison


If you are reading this, it means I finally published my essay on Scott Hutchison. Writing about Scott and his death has been an arduous process.

I have been sitting on the "finished" essay for quite some time, but have hesitated to publish it for the obvious reasons. It took me months to write, and I could have published it in early September, but I finally clicked "make public" on October 19.

Thank God I’m Full of Holes; What Scott Hutchison taught me about brokenness, love, God, and community

Before we get into more details, if you are new to Scott Hutchison and his band Frightened Rabbit, here is a YouTube playlist of the songs used and lyrics quoted in my essay:



Besides the obvious difficult topics of suicide and faith, the primary reason I hesitated to share the essay with the world--and most importantly my family and friends--is because of the apostasy. Not that I have renounced my faith in Jesus; because that is faith is stronger than ever. However, it is clear that that the renunciation of the traditional Christian view on the afterlife could lead those who know me to become upset or confused.

If you are upset with me, or worried for me, I hope you take comfort that--in spite of abandoning certain beliefs and theology--I feel closer to Jesus than I ever have at any point in my life. And that my faith and spirituality is far deeper--and honestly real and deep for the first time--after I renounced eternal hell.

Recently Dustin Kensrue (lead singer of Thrice and outspoken Christ-follower) expressed his doubts about eternal hell and other traditional Christian beliefs in a long Twitter thread. While I considered embedding them here, I don't want to shift the focus too much from Scott and myself, so I'll only give a link (read the whole thread, not just the first Tweet). I bring this up because the dozens of responses were shocking--well, sort of. The responses should be shocking, but honestly they are typical. People are worried that Dustin has lost his salvation or faith, when in fact, the things he brings up demonstrate that he is thinking deeper than he has ever done before.

I don't blame people for responding the way they did, because five to ten years ago, I would have responded the same way. I would have assumed Dustin was no longer a Christian. However, this demonstrates the flawed nature of this perspective; somehow the belief in eternal hell has become a requirement for salvation in certain churches. But the entire nature of Christianity should be that it doesn't matter what one says, does, or thinks--it all hinges on Jesus' forgiveness. As outlined in the essay, I was liberated when I discovered that my beliefs on the afterlife--along with a whole slew of other beliefs and theology--had no bearing on my relationship with God.

It may important for me to restate my belief that Jesus is God, and that while my view of scripture/the Bible has changed (inspired but not infallible), I strongly confirm both the Nicene Creed and Apostles' Creed. The concepts of heaven, hell, judgement, and forgiveness are mentioned in these creeds, but in ways that point me towards God's love and forgiveness for of all his creation.

I have a hard time explaining any of my "theology" any longer, and what I used to attempt to make systematic I now view as mysterious. If I have to give it a label, I would now say I am a "Christian Universalist."

My view on heaven and hell shifted after much contemplation, thought, and prayer--and what I feel was leading from the Holy Spirit. I then read a few books on the subject that confirmed my thoughts and feelings. I recommend both of these highly:

"Her Gates Will Never Be Shut: Hope, Hell, and the New Jerusalem" by Bradley Jersak

"The Evangelical Universalist: The Biblical Hope That God's Love Will Save Us All" by Gregory MacDonald