Peter Hiett’s Pastoral Concerns

The following is a list of reasons why one Reformed evangelical pastor has embraced the doctrine of the reconciliation of all creation.  Peter Hiett, former Evangelical Presbyterian pastor in Lookout Mountain, Colorado and currently pastor of The Sanctuary in Denver gives us his pastoral concerns and reasons for teaching the redemption of all to his congregation.

After he could no longer in good conscience confess two particular points of the Westminster Confession of Faith that limited God’s love and grace Peter was “defrocked” from his denomination nearly five years ago.

Here are a list of what he calls his “Pastoral Concerns”:

Some have wondered why I have bothered to raise these issues and speak on them publicly in the position of pastor. Here are a few…

1. I want us to live to the praise of God’s Glory revealed in Christ Jesus. I think we have underestimated the sufficiency and power of Christ’s work of redemption on the cross. In American Evangelicalism we do this in the name of “free will,” which I believe then diminishes the sovereign and gracious choice of God. In this way we claim merit for our own redemption. We thus “serve” God out of a carnal sense of “responsibility” (which is to not serve God), rather than serving him as an act of worship, which is the “chief end of man.”

2. I want us to not idolize ourselves and our “free will.” I am concerned that we American believers have come to view life as a great competition. We say that we are saved by grace, but what we mean is that we are saved by our “good choices” or the quality of our will. I don’t believe that we have “free will” until God grants us “free will” through his grace.

3. I want us to stop competing with each other and the world. When we view life as a competition and judgment as the finish line, when we compare ourselves to each other and measure ourselves against each other, when we judge each other and ourselves, when we suspect that God grades on a curve, we need losers so that we can feel like winners. We need failures to define ourselves as successful. We need scapegoats. We already have a scapegoat. One has lost that we all might win. If I have any emotional stake in any other human being suffering in “Hell” other than Jesus, I probably do not understand the Gospel.

4. I want us to preach biblically. I am concerned that we no longer wrestle with the biblical text and therefore end up preaching societal convention. My understanding is that we are to be “reformed and always reforming” as the living Word leads us in expositing the written word. Expository preaching has forced me to wrestle with numerous texts that I would have otherwise dismissed.

5. I want us to be honest. I have faith that the Truth sets us free and that we can only arrive at the truth by being truthful. I do not believe I serve the Kingdom by hiding my questions, but by being honest. I also believe in the “Priesthood of all believers.” All believers are called to wrestle with The Word. I do not need to protect the church from The Word.

6. I don’t want people to go to Hell. By “Hell” I mean both Hades and Gehenna (where the rebellious are consumed by the eternal punishment and Fire). I know that no one’s salvation is dependent on me, yet I believe that God has called me to participate in the proclamation and plan of his redemption. In the Gospels it becomes very clear that those who are most in danger of being cast into outer darkness are the “Sons of the Kingdom,” those who struggle with the extent of God’s Mercy in Christ. I don’t want anyone to be cast into the outer darkness whether for three days or several million years. Furthermore, I do not want them to be devoured by Fire on the Day of Judgment. I want all people to see the glory of God in Christ Jesus NOW, no matter how long “forever” is.

7. I want us to serve God out of Love rather than Fear. I am to preach the gospel as an act of worship, not because I arrogantly think that God needs me. I am to obey him out of Love, not because I’m afraid that He might torture me in Hell. To serve God out of dreadful fear is to serve God out of faithlessness. Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Fear is the beginning of wisdom, but perfect love casts out fear. I want us to be perfected in love.

8. I want us to love our enemies. This is immensely hard, yet it appears that we only love Jesus as much as we love “the least of these.” By asking the question “What if they all are saved?” we are forced to examine our hearts. I’m concerned that for some, possible redemption for all is viewed as terrible news, rather than gospel—great news. Are we hanging on to resentment, hatred, and un-forgiveness? Jesus said, “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your father in heaven forgive your trespasses (Matt. 6:15).”

9. I want us to trust the heart of our Heavenly Father. “Jesus from the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” If someone were to tell one of my children that I had other children that I planned to torture in unspeakable torment forever and ever without end, it would create some serious doubt about my character in the heart of my child. It would also fill me with intense wrath for the person that said such a thing. However, if someone told my child that I had other children that I disciplined in Love (even severely), it would create an entirely different response in me, and my child. If scripture is not exceedingly clear about “unending conscious torment with the wrath of God,” we better not say such things. I know that it may be a way to “win” converts at evangelistic rallies, but I can think of nothing else that would infuriate me more as a father than to be misrepresented in such a way. Obviously, God is not determined by my anthropomorphic views of fatherhood; however, He calls himself “Father” for a reason. Perhaps “Hell” is not retributive, but remedial. That makes sense to a Father’s heart.

10. I want others to trust the heart of our Heavenly Father. I want them to trust Jesus. If I were to ask most unbelievers why they did not WANT to believe in the “Christian God,” I think the first answer given would probably be something like: “I can’t believe in a god that would eternally torture a junior high kid who died in a bicycle accident just because he didn’t say the sinner’s prayer or believe that God had forgiven him.” I’ve always explained God’s prerogative to do so in the way we evangelicals have been trained, but maybe we’ve been defending a picture of God that is not honoring to God and deceptive to unbelievers. God is a consuming fire. Yes, he will discipline us severely at times. But Yes, He is always Love. And He always loves you more than you are even able to love yourself.

Believe the Gospel!

Peter Hiett

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    8 Comments

    1. Theodore A. Jones says:

      “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13 Hiett desperately needs to understand that the word law in this statement is not a reference to the OT written code of law. The law was changed by and after Jesus’ crucifixion. Heb. 7:12 This law was put in effect through angels by a Mediator. Acts 7:53, Gal. 3:19. It is only those who have the faith to obey this law who are declared righteous by God. There are no exceptions. The conjecture of universal salvation is pure poppycock!

    2. glwadmin says:

      Hello Theodore, thanks for your comment. However It is impossible to respond to you personally not knowing your background. Whether you reside in the Arminian or the Calvinistic camp will require a completely opposite response to your comment!

      I would say that you have to square your opening Scripture with Paul’s other statements such as:

      “And to the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, His faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works.” (Rom 4:5,6)

      I’m just so glad that it is the faith OF Christ that ultimately saves us. “He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith.” His is the faith in which we will all stand and then bow the knee to and confess that He is indeed our only Lord and Savior… indeed our sole life and identity is found only in Him! “All the inhabitants of the earth will remember and return to the Lord…” (Psa 22) It is His faith in His own salvation that ignites our faith: “I am crucified with Christ …and the life I live I live by the faith OF Jesus Christ who loved me and gave His life for me.” (Gal 2:20 -The Greek says “the faith OF Christ”)

      And finally, I am so glad that it is not our thoughts about God that define Him (our 30,000 denominations…!) but His thoughts about us that define us–His image and likeness redeemed and revealed in Christ Jesus!

    3. Theodore A. Jones says:

      I think you had best better square your soteriological assumptive to what that man wrote. After all he says “Do not go beyond what is written.” 1 Cor. 4:6
      I am not affiliated what any contemporary religious perspective. Your concern of that matter is irrelevant. The fact that is relevant is that only a few ever find the gate into God’s kingdom and you are not in this class.

    4. Theodore A. Jones says:

      And neither is Hiett.

    5. glwadmin says:

      I am alarmed by the glib nature of your comment regarding your assessment of the state of both myself and Peter Hiett’s souls. Sounds eerily like Jonah of Ninevah, the Pharisees regarding the “sinners,” the elder brother of his father’s mercy…and also the angry vineyard workers.

      It might be good if you at least wished that none should perish as God Himself has confessed He does:

      “He is not willing that any should perish but all should come to repentance. ”

      I guess Origen and a great number of the early Church Fathers and the churches under them never found “the gate” to heaven either for they believed and taught that God was able to do everything that He intended to do: “destroy the works of the devil…every knee shall bow…reconcile the world to Himself…making all things new…until He is all in all.”

    6. Theodore A. Jones says:

      Yep. You’re right they didn’t have any idea of what the gate is.They were the fathers of your churches, but isn’t it written “Call no man on earth father”? Perhaps you should have considered His confine, aye? For doing things His way you don’t wind up with egg on your face nor the offal of your sacrifices that He intends to smear on your faces either. But the stiffneck misquote the scripture to cover their disregard of it.
      “The lord is not slack concerning His promise, The GUILTY shall not go unpunished, as some men (you & Pete) count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that ALL (which includes your sinning, lying, recalcitrant posterior) should come to repentance regarding the sin of His only begotten son’s murder. Now. Nut case. Dream up some other defense for your wholistically false doctrine. For isn’t it his prediction that the chaff is separated? God did reconcile the world to himself….for total destruction. And the only Way of escape is by the faith of repenting of the sin of His only begotten son’s murder. There are no exceptions.

      • glwadmin says:

        Theodore, I must apologize for reducing the Gospel to an argument. It is easy to get caught up in debate and while we are to engage our minds the Gospel is not an argument but a beautiful Story. I do not know you nor your specific beliefs about God but that is not necessary for me to know what God believes about you and has proclaimed over your life. After all, it is not our thoughts about God (30,000 denominations) that define Him but rather His thoughts about us that define us (Psalm 139).

        My first response should have been to proclaim the one eternal fact about your life that will never change and that is your immeasurable value as God’s image-bearer and likeness. “He knew you before He formed you” (Jer 1:5). You are His treasure and He loved you enough to give all He had just to draw you to Himself. He wants you to see yourself as He sees you redeemed and revealed in Christ Jesus: you are His beloved Son in whom He is well-pleased. Before the foundation of the world He had ONE thought and reference for your life and that was for you to be like Him, compatible for relationship and intimacy with Him. He loved us all at our worst, “while we were still His enemies.” Even when we are in darkness confused about who we are He is never confused nor will His love fail to “believe all things” that He purposed and redeemed for us in Christ!

        You are his most important treasure and His love for you began in the heart of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It was from an outpouring of love that you were first imagined in the mind of God. His image and likeness is still His only reference for who you are. Ephesians 1 says that you were considered “holy and blameless before the foundation of the world.” You were found in Jesus before you were even lost in Adam!

        His love for you is of the same quality as that of the Father’s love for Jesus! “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” He “sings over you” and “rejoices over you like a bridegroom” (Zeph 3:17; Isa 62:5). We love only when we understand and experience how much “He first loved us.”

        God has said He will never, never leave you. There is no distance for His very name is “God with us.”

        I do not want to become distracted away from the Good News of who you are in Christ Jesus. I must never proclaim anything different from what God believes about you: He says, “Son, everything I have is yours”! (Luke 15:31)

        I wish you grace and peace.

    7. Theodore A. Jones says:

      Jer.1:5 was a statement made directly to Jeremiah. It is NOT unilaterally inclusive of the world’s populace. If this assumptive poppycock of yours is a unilaterally inclusive factoid there would be no reason for Jesus’ crucifixion. You owe me no apology for it is not my words you have twisted. You twisted a factoid in your first defense and do the same again. No personage who has been born again of God twists the Scriptures to suite the perspective he has of himself. Let me get this straight with you. I am a chaff separator appointed to the task. Either correct you mind set by conforming it to what is written or perish. False teachers are a dime a dozen. Today there is no personage occupying any religious pulpit on the face of this earth that is not a false teacher. I have no regard for you nor your sentiments religious or otherwise. If your conjecture of Jer.1:5 being inclusive is correct then His statement “I never knew you” is the falsehood. But
      He cannot lie. So between the two of you who is the personage who is the liar?

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