Randal Rauser: Five Reasons That Christians Unnecessarily Experience a Crisis of Faith

Given that Biologos has helped a lot with the evolution part of this list, I wonder if others would find these 5 things by Randal Rauser relevant to their own devotions with God. I think a good caveat is that it’s not wrong to hold these points seriously; but they are areas we can give grace.


See Dr Rauser’s succinct discussion on the link.

  1. Young Earth Creationism and a worldwide flood
  2. Literal-historical readings of biblical genocides
  3. What about those who have never heard?
  4. Penal Substitution
  5. Eternal Conscious Torment

Some really great question to ask and ponder on, especially the last one, which has been a thing I wrestle with from time to time along with the genocide of the Canaanites as told in Joshua.


I too like the last one especially. I respect that there are different views on eternal conscious torment, but it gives me pause when it is treated as essential to a gospel presentation (i.e. “Profess to believe now or else!”)


The story of Jonah gives me hope there are second chances after death.


This is a problem not only with the Book of Joshua, but with the biblical ‘big story’ as a whole. It seems like the big story of the OT is about Israel being punished collectively by God for failing to keep his commandments.

That’s not to say every individual book is like this, the Book of Jonah is a good example of a book which subverts this, probably on purpose.

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I’ve noticed that universalism is massively growing in popularity. Perhaps this is a good thing.

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ProDee… How do you figure that? Jonah is not really portrayed as having died. He got swallowed by some large fish and then vomited out of the fish’s mouth — and preached to a national group that had been the enemies of his own nation.

It is true that Jesus used the Jonah story to compare with Jesus’ own death and resurrection experience…but presumably Jesus was alive during His three days in the grave…

The Bible says :“once to die and then the judgment” – so it is hard to see how there could be second chances after death…

Well, Reggie, this supposes that the concept of judgment for sin or disobedience is “genocide.” The Bible seems to teach that God has a real problem with people sinning–so much so that it has separated us from Him. The need for atonement is a prominent theme (consider the meaning of Passover, the temple sacrificial system of the Hebrew Bible, etc) and ultimately the reason for Jesus’ being born as a Baby in a tiny village on the edge of an empire. Remember the verses: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life. …Those who believe in him are not condemned but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:16, 18—read v. 17 and 19-21 for context. NRSV)

I dealt with these first before becoming a Christian.

  1. Started as a scientist. YEC was never on my radar.
  2. I see no reason why they are not historical. However I accept evolution and so I am already understanding that massive amounts of suffering and death is unavoidable. That is just how life is.
  3. This is only a problem with the following absurd premises
    a. Gnostic gospel of salvation by knowledge.
    b. God is confined to Christianity, because He has turned everything over to Christians to speak and dispense salvation on His behalf.
  4. I reject this utterly as medieval in the worst way – an invention of medieval western Xtians taking one metaphor for the atonement literally.
  5. I reject this as something which God does to people but I see plenty of evidence that people do this to themselves.
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Not if it’s not true. That smells more than a bit like an ad populum fallacy. Jesus rather speaks against it.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

Rauser writes that this can also refer to a judgement to the Refiner’s fire rather than infinite punishment or annihilation.

But this does not include (or I would think not) those who have not understood (from children to those who can not understand) or who have not heard. The verse is somewhat prone to mistaken application. I wonder what you think of this video


Thank you

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Yes, but we don’t (can’t) know what the judgement is.

We know that judgement is a fact and not very comfortable for those who did not repent.

In Jonah we see God speak another fact: Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!

No (second) chances to repent. No “if’s”. Fixed event (judgement).

Nevertheless the people of Nineveh repented hoping on the goodness of God (3:9).

3:10 - When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

It’s one of those seldom moments God relented from a fixed decree.

The idea (hope) is that when sinners stand before His throne and beg for mercy God may relent as well. God is unchangable and likely His mercy and it was always His express wish that all would repent.


I think it is rather one of those moments in scripture where predestination and free will are side by side (like in Romans 8 and Ephesians 1) and it seems contradictory.

If someone could show me from Jesus’ own words where it might be deduced he is a universalist, I would sure look at it. Otherwise, universalism is a watered-down Gospel and likely to be lethal. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

I wonder what the name of that logical fallacy is.

Jesus did not say that the Earth was round, therefore Earth roundism is a watered down gospel and likely to be lethal.


I agree with you that what Jesus said does not agree with universalism and I don’t believe it either. The arguments I have heard for it, like Bell’s “Love Wins,” are seriously flawed. But I will acknowledge that there have been church fathers who have gone this route and that it is a minority in the spectrum of Christian belief. I also don’t think it badly distorts the gospel. I just don’t think it is correct, or at least I think there are good reasons to be skeptical.

AND… I think there is far more danger in this attitude that salvation depends of believing the right things… more like a Gnostic gospel of salvation by knowledge than the Christian gospel of salvation by the grace of God.

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That is the fallacy of ignorance – ignoring all the places where he did say the earth was round.

(I’m glad you don’t believe in universalism.)

So you dodge the point with that lamest of excuses. Easy enough to change the example…

Jesus did not say that 3+3=6 therefore this is a watered down gospel and likely to be lethal.

Jesus did not say that animals evolved therefore this is a watered down gospel and likely to be lethal.

Jesus did not say that the Earth was billions of years old therefore this is a watered down gospel and likely to be lethal.

Jesus did not say that the King James Bible was scripture, therefore this is a watered down gospel and likely to be lethal.

It is a logical fallacy to claim that just because Jesus did not say something it is therefore a watered down gospel and likely to be lethal. The argument is UTTERLY absurd and I suggest you acknowledge that fact.

You missed my analogy. He said in multiple places that universalism is not true.

Second chances =/= universalism.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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