[Updated – Please read end note]
Why I Am Here
And so here it is, my new website; and my first post explaining how I got here and why. I’ve been away for a while, but I’m back! And it feels so good! Praise The LORD!
I have made my mind up to come back to the age-old doctrine of “Universal Reconciliation” (“UR” throughout) or “Apokatastasis” as several early church fathers called it. Although I never really left this doctrine in my heart.
When you truly see Universal Reconciliation and Salvation in the scriptures and believe it. It is impossible to forget it or get away from the constant reminders in your heart of what you know to be true. Along with the irrefutable scriptures clearly declaring the doctrine of UR which are branded on your mind and spirit; refuting all the irrational contradictory teaching of eternal conscious torment (ECT). It would be like trying to make yourself believe that two plus two equals five; you’re certainly free to say otherwise, but you ‘know’ better!
A Rough Road Home
I wouldn’t blame anyone for never trusting me again. Since over the last 12-18 months I have changed so many times it would cause anyone’s head to spin! That’s what was happening to mine. I wouldn’t blame anyone doubting anything and everything I say – except what I am saying about UR. I have been a very unstable witness for Christ over these months to say the least… Changing with every wind of doctrine that came to memory… Honestly, I’m not at all sure what happened to me? Very strange indeed… I’ll talk more about that later. I’m as bewildered by it all as those who have heard me or followed my social network postings! I wish I could erase it all from the minds of all that heard me or read what I wrote, although to my chagrin I now see I was wrong at every turn; in much of it anyway… I am truly sorry to anyone I have confused, hurt, disappointed or mislead. Please forgive me if you can, if not I understand, I really do, I’m ok with that.
I praise God with my whole heart; He has allowed me to come back home to stay in the glorious victorious gospel of Universal Reconciliation! (UR) I mean this with all my heart because God has shown me the gift of this faith, understanding and knowledge is not to be taken lightly. I would never have known the truth had He not granted me the revelation and clear understanding of it; along with the faith to believe and confidently share it in so many ways in the past. God has shown me I did not come to this truth and all I was doing in my not1lost ministries of my own power, intelligence, biblically astute discipline or wisdom. I was being carried along by the grace of God all along! Looking back I may have begun to take a little too much credit for it in my own heart, although not being aware of it consciously. Although I was thoroughly enjoying it, I was working very hard and the load was growing daily. As my audience grew I became confronted with some difficult decisions because of the changes in atmosphere I was seeing in the UR movement. Some of these involved my core connections in my ministry, putting me in an unforeseen dilemma I did not see coming… It may have been more than my mental fortitude could handle…
Praise The Lord anyway! Hands lifted in the air! I’m back to stay! Although some from all my former associations on both sides may not appreciate my unavoidable unmitigated honesty. I’m going to be what I am and say what I believe without fear of who may disagree or be offended. Frankly, after what I’ve been through, I’m tired of trying to fit in or please everyone; go along to get along; which may have been what caused my mental collapse. Yes, I now believe that’s what happened to me for those of you who may know me and remember my past ministry coming to an abrupt halt; wiping out everything, purposely!
I have been thinking about this and what happened to me about 18 months ago. I asked the LORD why this happened when I was so grounded in the doctrine of UR and doing so much in that belief with not1lost ministries. The LORD hasn’t directly answered me, but I think it may have been a test or trial to strengthen my faith and show me it was really him doing it all the time! Maybe I was getting a little puffed up and the LORD put me in my place, or just allowed me to mentally collapse and fall on my face, I don’t know? (Hint: the answer did come at least in part in the next post I did not know I was going to write at this time)
I’m so happy I have come back to my senses into this glorious truth and truly good news for the world! Jesus Christ IS savior of the world! Hallelujah ! This is really the only way of looking at biblical theology that really makes any sense at all to me! I’ve thought back over all the ways I have believed in the past and saw that I stayed with UR much longer than any other theology and with much more assurance and clarity than any others; which was about 12 years vs a few months at a time back n forth and back again in the others; becoming unsettled quickly each time. I had to literally force myself to believe any other way than UR, with no real solid assurance or peace about it like I have in UR; whether Baptist, Pentecostal, non-denominational, legalistic and Sabbath keeping etc. I think I just wanted to fit in somewhere more accepted in the world of Christianity. I was so tired from the mental battle I had been struggling with in my not1lost ministry due to how my associations had drifted into areas I could not agree with, yet still wanting to fit in, get along, and continue in our associations. I could not see how I could make it work any longer…
In The Beginning
You see, when I started out in the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation after reading and studying many of the works of writers teaching this doctrine in the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries, including several church father’s writings in the early church. The doctrine they taught was rock solid on condemning sin of every kind as I was accustomed to from my mainly fundamental Baptist/Charismatic background. Of course this should be unacceptable and uncharacteristic for a Christian believer although many are not on the same page as to the definition of what sin is… We know none of us are perfect nor can be in this life; nevertheless by the Spirit of God living in us we should be striving to overcome that lifestyle. We should be reaching toward the goal of pleasing God as is fully expounded in the scriptures. If not, there would be a price to pay – in hell; yes, hell, as a purgative process although not forever and I seriously doubt actual fire; considering the metaphorical style of the scriptures much of the time. This purgative nature of hell is fully developed in all the scriptures on the topic; in the original language at least. That is for sins we do not trust Jesus Christ for forgiveness by faith and repentance. Yes this should be followed by turning, as much as it depends on you individually, as best we can, from these sins through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit working in and through us. To God be the glory, amen! The doctrine of UR I had learned at the beginning of my studies was not any different on these things than any traditional church doctrine I had learned before. We will not be punished for what Jesus has covered by his blood on the cross which we have accepted forgiveness for through him; trusting in His death, burial, and resurrection for this. Otherwise we would be our own savior, which is preposterous as well as completely unbiblical. Nevertheless this is what I have been accused of in teaching what I had learned from these great men in the doctrine of Universal Salvation centuries and millennia before.
Winds of Change or is that A Storm Brewing?
As it has turned out, since coming into this ministry of UR it seems many have come into this doctrine and movement seeing it as a way around their sinful lifestyles and still be assured of salvation without repentance. It’s not a new mindset there have always been those who would try to use the grace of God as a license to do as they please regardless the church they may belong to. We all have our skeletons in the closet. This is not to forget or negate the damage being done from the errors pouring from the pulpits of the churches of America and the world as well as many other sinful examples being crammed in our faces day to day through the media and those that support such debauchery.
This greatly troubles me since it is giving this glorious truth a bad name to those who do not understand the full truth of UR. We have enough adverse reaction as it is from those who would try to stigmatize us in any way they can. Then to compound my frustrated anxious concern for our reputation, my former Bishop, who had lead a very successful UR ministry pastoring a mega church in Atlanta GA. whom everyone knew had re-ordained me at a huge special event Bishop Swilley had held at the church for the world to see. Then later to my shock and dismay, came out of the closet as a homosexual, after 25 years of marriage; he then got a divorce yet keeping a good relationship with his former wife and children. He is now a very well known Bishop thanks to the media covering the story on national news programs about him, his mega church and his coming out. Although when he first told the church and the world about it he seemed to indicate; in my understanding anyway, that he had no intention of doing anything relational about his sexual persuasion; then he started a relationship with another man which he made well known. Nevertheless, he lost it all in the end as well as many of his followers only to gain a new type of following.
So then I was dumbfounded and taken aback as to what to do about it all. So I tried to act in Christian love and forgive, go along to get along, then go on with my ministry. It didn’t work. I couldn’t get it off my mind or accept this. Since by nature this is an inclusive message and “seems” to fit this type of acceptance many were ok with it. But not for me nor is it biblical; which is my sole ground of faith and practice. (But read my next post…) This is not the Universal Reconciliation, universal salvation message I had learned from the beginning and the majority of UR pastors were teaching back then. Things were changing rapidly and I was having a very hard time handling it. Not that I’m any kind of Saint. I should be corrected and have been often. We must get back to the truth of repentance and sanctification through the Spirit as taught in the bible. If some biblical correction hits home as it has with me at times; take it like a man or women of God, ask for the help of the Spirit, believe the instruction in the bible concerning it, take up your cross and your bible and walk on by faith. But do not try to justify sin because it’s your sin. The Lord’s work in us as we work out our salvation, becoming more like Christ; that’s sanctification which the bible teaches. It’s not trying to make Christ like us as if He accepted our sin as part of us, No, it’s not part of us “in Christ” it’s part of us “in the flesh” which we are supposed to be trying to overcome. Many of the preachers of UR have completely left off teaching this or completely reversed it to my consternation and despondency; and that is the problem I was struggling with.
I wrote less and less and eventually completely stopped writing articles about the bible or any writing on my websites and blogs at all. I slowly stopped maintaining my websites. My social network presence gradually slipped into the background as I struggled in my heart and thoughts of this whole demise of the true message of UR. I was heartbroken. I felt abandoned and defeated seeing the overwhelming acceptance of this new view of UR emerging.
A Quick Review
Recently I looked back over my files where I save my writings, studies, blogs, and notes. It was overwhelmingly obvious the doctrine of UR would just flow out of me like a river. Hundreds, maybe thousands altogether of things I had written on the subject of UR! On the other hand after over 40 years of bible study I had only a handful of writings on more traditional doctrines and theology and those where not nearly as clear, confident, or convincing as the writings on UR! I had built several websites, made many teaching videos, and had a social following of ten thousand or more, all accounts combined; my websites were getting thousands of hits per week, sometimes per day. I was busy every day with it all and loving it, working with all confidence! I never had a hint of a thought about EVER changing my mind and thought it impossible to do so…
I even tried to start a church or ministry for teaching universal salvation in my local area. I would meet with friends and former ministry associates over lunch, in Offices, or just have coffee or sometimes breakfast. I gave out literature and books. I shared with folks as I would meet them out around town or Walmart or wherever. For some reason it never seemed to take off locally, not even a little bit. Nevertheless, I was doing well and knew The Lord was with me in it all.
Then EVERYTHING changed…
Here is an excerpt from my personal journal on the day everything began to change:
“I was very sure of myself and my ministry, until whatever happened this morning… I’m still not sure. Something cracked, broke, came loose, turned over, jumped out of socket, or came apart, suddenly, in an instant. I’m still batting my eyes in disbelief saying to myself “Oh Lord, what is going on!!!
I am afraid this may be the last step in a life of steps as far as my faith goes. I don’t mean I’m giving up or lost faith in Christ; I’ll never do that, I can’t even imagine that… even so, I’m not sure about anything anymore; especially myself. Someone once said never say never… I’m sitting here at my desk in my nice study surrounded by bookshelves full of books I’ve collected over many years, all kinds mostly about the bible and Christian doctrine. My desk is literally covered with various books. I have stacks of bibles two, three and four high surrounding me. I have pens and markers of every kind and color, notebooks, sticky notes, the best bible software you can buy; my huge Logos 6 digital bible study library with over 4000 books is best but I have several others too on my MacBook, an iPad with it too, you name it, if it has anything to do with bible study I have it all around me everywhere ready to use. This is where I start and end the day. I am blessed beyond measure. This morning was like any other morning. I got up, got my coffee, sat down at my desk with a short prayer to start off. I started reading my devotionals as usual then went into a longer prayer. Then back to my devotional reading and then it happened. What, I don’t know…
This morning something happened I really don’t know what. It was very strange to say the least. I started out by going back to my old prayer book I had used for many years; The “Handbook to Prayer” by Kenneth Boa. It is all scripture mixed in an interesting way that encourages different types of prayers as you go through each reading. I didn’t get past the first section “Adoration” before I stopped reading and praying and beginning to behave in an unusual mysterious way. I started picking up different Bibles and reading the same passages seeing how they sounded in each one. I would pick them up and hold them and see how it felt in my hand, how the letters looked on the page how the layout was. I was gazing at them seeing what they were made of, how well they were put together, and how each version was laid out differently with different type sets. It was like I suddenly went into a dazed dream state, I’m not sure of what I was doing…? It was all very strange… I’m very confused, why? And suddenly I feel inside me I’m not sure of anything. This is not me, completely out of character. LORD Help me Please, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.
Next day Journal entry:
Still trying to figure out what happened yesterday morning. Still very confused, it didn’t go away… I’m completely baffled. Something flipped a switch in my spirit, or a couple of switches and turned some things on and off. It’s like I went to sleep and woke up with a whole different perspective. It’s just that I don’t know what that perspective is except that it is different from the one I had just a few minutes before. Yes, it was that fast! I blinked and everything looked different. I am trying to work through this even as I write this. I’m afraid I may have had some sort of mental breakdown. Many things I can’t remember, I can’t seem to think, completely locked in my thinking… a little scary and very confusing. LORD help me please, in Jesus Name, Amen.
I now believe I had a mental collapse or whatever it would be called because of all the pressure of conflicting beliefs struggling within me as I was trying to hold my ministry together while maintaining my integrity. Deep inside me I think I knew it could not work together with all the new changes in my former partners in the UR movement I see happening. I knew I was letting my ministry fall apart, years of work and relationships going down before my eyes. At the same time I could not make myself accept the compromises it would take to hold it together any longer. I could not handle it and blew a mental fuse.
After around 18 months of wandering in the wilderness of Christian denominations the Lord has graciously granted me my faith, understanding, knowledge and confidence in the message of Universal Reconciliation and Salvation back again. Oddly it came back to me while driving down the road one day about a month ago just as quickly as it left that horrible morning, Praise God! Don’t ask me how, I may not be at liberty to say… It was on an all day drive home ironically! Suddenly it was all back with the same clarity, confidence and assurance I had when I lost it! Oh about 6 months ago I had ‘tried’ to bring it back but only struggled with it and gave up since I had lost my ability to think clearly… I suppose God was showing me He is in control especially when it comes to revelation knowledge; I’ve learned we dont do that, only God does! Praise His Holy Name, Soveriegnty and Providence!
I came to realize I was going through some kind of trial and accepted it; although not knowing why.
Only now that I know what caused this – my mental and spiritual struggle with the direction I saw the UR movement going; and my trying to reconcile the two, keeping the peace and avoiding the opposition and confrontation I most likely would be forced into when I express my true feelings on these matters. And that from my own brothers and sisters in this faith. I did not want this and tried to avoid it to the loss of my own hard work and ministry accomplishments. I have learned my lesson and I am coming back ready to meet head on whatever opposition I may incur in the process. I must complete the ministry The Lord has called me to. I will be honest about my beliefs, and whatever I have learned the bible teaches on the subject – remembering from whom I learned it in the beginning from the visionaries who first promoted the revelation of the glorious gospel of Universal Reconciliation and eventual salvation of all – centuries ago. They would roll over in their graves if they knew what has happened to their message!
I will not stand back and say nothing any longer. As I said before, I will reiterate here: Praise The Lord anyway! Hands lifted in the air! I’m back to stay! Although some from all my former associations on both sides of these issues may not appreciate my unmitigated honesty. I’m going to be what I am and say what I believe without fear of who it may offend or disagree. After all I disagree with and am offended by them at times as well. Frankly, after what I’ve been through, I’m tired of trying to fit in or please everyone; which may have been what caused my mental collapse.
You Have To Be Honest, Especially With Yourself.
I’ve learned my lesson. I have to be honest about how I feel and believe about things with everyone, especially, being a minister, concerning biblical doctrines regardless of other’s reaction or acceptance. To be otherwise is trying to live a lie, a people pleaser, hypocrite; which I have learned; The Lord will not tolerate, bringing judgment and punishment here and now, especially on his servants. No I’m far from a saint myself and have my own issues as we all do and I’ll admit I’m still working through some of these things; nevertheless the truth in the scriptures will stand on it’s own. If that offends you, I’m sorry but not surprised; that’s all we here nowadays is how some group is offended by something… I suppose I’ll just join in, I’m offended by those who live unerstrained ungodly lifestyles and shove it in my face. I’m offended by those who teach doctrinal lies and they’re offended by what I perceive to be truth at the present time… It is what it is, and so on we go, I know in whom I have believed and am assured He is able to carry me through it all. I pray The Lord will not let anything like this happen again.
Help me Lord Jesus! Amen!
Dennis D. Caldwell
[Update: please read the next post “You can’t hold God in your hand” where it becomes obvious to me I really am still working this all out in my mind – and heart… These are very complex, sometimes delicate issues. After a lot of reflection I am beginning to see things I hadn’t seen at this writing; or should I say, had forgotten some things I once knew? Who knows where I will end up. So I continue on this journey sharing it as I go; which makes me quite uncomfortable as to if I should even be sharing this; but I feel compelled in the love of Christ. Therefore I continue in hopes some will be encouraged or helped in some way. Prayers are appreciated]