Universal Salvation

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

October 22

This morning I watched a video of a friend of mine who has a moderately successful social media/blogging career. I think it probably took her about eight years before it took off. It has only been her profession in the last year. The main thing I took from watching this thing grow was that in order to be successful you have to a) be patient, b) know who you are and what you do and do it, and c) network, be nice, and connect with others in the same area.

I have been patient, and to some extent, my writing on the internet has led to a moderate level of success— Yelping, working for my mom, a regular blog. Only recently I realized this thing about patience. It’s just life. I’ve spent a lot of time dying to get to some undisclosed successful place instead of enjoying the ride. No matter what, it takes time. Every overnight success has over a decade behind it, and if they haven’t been working that long, virality is akin to winning the lottery.

Knowing who I am, this, has been the biggest struggle. I’m all over the place, but again, over time, my skills, expertise, and desires have made themselves known. In many ways, asceticpaige.wordpress.com has become a place to write about spirituality and food. Mass and meals. But I haven’t made the blog my sole directive because my soul feels pulled in so many directions. It might be time to just let go and let mass and meals guide me.

It’s all very personal. I write so much about this. So much that no one sees. I keep it all so close to myself. So secret. Why? Maybe because I don’t want some people to know what I’m thinking and doing. That I’m not perfect. That I wonder. That I get mad. That I care. That I’m crazy. That someone will hate me? That someone will like me?

Who are these people I don’t want to know, anyway? My parents? Future employers? Current employments? That’s reason enough to keep to myself. But writing simply on food and spirituality. That is harmless, and that is something that I love and enjoy and think a lot about. I think this is the direction I will take my public writing. Focus on the food and the spirituality, and the occasional intersection.

Which brings me to today. The lectionary reading from Romans is very pleasant:

Romans 5:12,15,17-21

Sin entered the world through one man, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned; but the gift itself considerably outweighed the fall. If it is certain that through one man’s fall so many died, it is even more certain that divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift. If it is certain that death reigned over everyone as the consequence of one man’s fall, it is even more certain that one man, Jesus Christ, will cause everyone to reign in life who receives the free gift that he does not deserve, of being made righteous. Again, as one man’s fall brought condemnation on everyone, so the good act of one man brings everyone life and makes them justified. As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. When law came, it was to multiply the opportunities of failing, but however great the number of sins committed, grace was even greater; and so, just as sin reigned wherever there was death, so grace will reign to bring eternal life thanks to the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The idea of Jesus as the new Adam—this is nothing new. It falls in line beautifully with the gospel of Luke. So many times in Luke, there is this picture of a forgotten and unexpected character that does something good for someone or is the crux of the story. For example I’m thinking of the story of the persistent (annoying) widow from Sunday (Luke 18:1-8). It’s as if Luke is saying all through the Gospel, “If the bad can do something good, then how much more will God do good for us?” If whoever we consider the “bad” guys can figure it out occasionally and do good, then how much more good will God do?

If one single man can bring the fall of mankind, then how much more can God do to heal people-kind? The passage is full of hope. Now, I was not paying full attention in Mass, but the priest talked about how not everyone accepts this as true: that God will do good and “save” us. The next question is whether or not you need to accept this to be “saved”? That is, do I have to believe in God to be saved?

If your answer is “No.” Welp, okay then. We’re all good to go.

If your answer is “Yes.” Well, when does this need to be accomplished? Before I die, or at any point now or in the afterlife?

If the answer is “Before I die.” Okay. Well, how did you come to that conclusion? Eternity is a long time, and my life is a very short time.

If the answer is “Now or after I die.” Ok well, how did you come to that conclusion. Interestingly, I think a lot of people prescribe to this line of thought without realizing it. Some church fathers were for this sort of “universal salvation.” We can be saved now and after our bodies die.

Someone is probably annoyed now, but think of this “universal salvation” as love. If someone has never known love in this life, they will. We hope. Who am I to say how and when God saves? As far as I know, the Bible doesn’t say that to be saved I have to accept Jesus Christ into my heart before I die, though it may certainly help, not in God’s saving me, but in my life and in how I serve others.

If someone is prone to “rejecting” the Gospel over and over, maybe that’s because what they are being told is the Gospel, isn’t actually the Gospel? Because if the love of God is true and experienced, how can anyone reject that? I don’t think it’s possible. I hope. So, I have to conclude, that if I perceive someone to be rejecting God, it’s not actually God they are rejecting, but something entirely not God.

Now we’re running into the wall of free will. If I can’t say “No” to God, then do I really have free will? Well, do you have free will to choose who your parents are? Does a child have free will to be taken care of by their parents or not? Not really. Do I have free will to choose whether God loves me or not? I don’t think so. There is a beginning and ending to everyone’s free will.

If someone hands me a million dollars, no strings attached, do I have the free will to accept or reject it? Well, yes, but also no, because how can I? Why would I? Well, maybe it comes from someone I hate, or maybe I just hate myself. Or maybe the million dollars is presented in such a way, so distorted, it sounds nothing like a million dollars. There is so much context that drives that decision, and likewise how much more context is there with a decision about God.

There are tons of situations where I may feel like I have no choice in the matter. There are millions of people who are in these situations. Probably, every person on the planet, and yet, we hold on to our “free will.” Which we do indeed have, but we are not made to reject good things. All of us are made to be loved.


I Miss Certitude

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

October 16

Yesterday was RCIA, and the day before that, was church.

At CoC, I was overly complimented for my sermon, and I awkwardly didn’t know what to say. It made me wonder if I would make a good “Pastor.” It’s something that I’m out of practice at, but I think I would like. But then again, I wonder about being a teacher. I guess they go hand in hand. I was a bit caught off guard. I didn’t know what to do/say, so I just said, “Thank you.” For the moment, I’m not called to pastor. I’m just doing my thing: learn, grow, share.

Also, Bob said he’s giving my email and number to D’Esta (Pepperdine chaplain emeritus) because she is writing a book of CoC women sermons right now. I’m not intimidated at all…

Then in RCIA it was nice to sit and listen to people talk a little bit about their draw to Jesus. There were some questions that I hadn’t thought about for a while, like, what’s my favorite Jesus story? How do I see Jesus right now? What is it that I want from Jesus? Or even, Where did I see God this week?

I haven’t taken time to meditate on these things for a while or read the Bible in a big chunk. What struck me the most was the question, “What do I want?”

And this is where I pause, because, I don’t know. My first thought in RCIA class was “A job!” i.e., direction, vocation, calling, and more certitude. Certitude for me is really really really knowing, and knowing specifics, believing specifics. No doubt.

It’s strange the way once certitude leaves, it doesn’t really come back. I suppose you could be certain of something else? I don’t know what I want. And I get distracted easily from answering the question.

Spiritually Stressed: Caught Between Two Communities

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

October 8

I was told I can get on the preaching rotation in January. Okay. Hmmm. About that.

As expected, I’ve become spiritually stressed. This is understandable considering I go to Mass at least four times a week, RCIA, and Church of Christ. Soon into RCIA, I have felt pretty strongly that I do want to just do it. Get confirmed. Be, technically, Catholic. I just can’t imagine my life, going to Mass, and not, technically, be a part of it.

This morning at Mass, I remembered Jesus saying to, “become like a child” (Matthew 18:3). Now, Paul has something opposite to say about this, what whatevs (1 Corinthians 13:11). Anyway, children in the Catholic church usually get baptized first thing (babies), then do confession and communion (elementary), then do confirmation last (middle school/high school). It’s not fair to us adults. These kids get to take Eucharist for years before ever being confirmed! I don’t get it. Well, they have to do confession along with it, i.e. acknowledging their (elementary) sins, so okay.

I guess if I sneak into a first confession, then technically, I’m a-okay to take communion. But this whole “closed-communion” thing is dumb, and killing me.

The whole inconsistency of the Catholic community makes me feel less bad about a) taking eucharist sometimes (though I have largely stopped), and b) well, becoming Catholic. They are not perfect like everyone, and I like them, and they make sense (sometimes), and I want to share in this obviously broken and inconsistent community.

I am caught between two communities, and some days I’m being pulled towards one, and another day, another…

I was reading a little bit about Catholic communion, i.e. Googling “Can Catholics take communion in Protestant churches?” and “Can Protestants take communion in Catholic churches?” As usual, the answer from the Catholic church is, “No, but…” There is always an exception in the Catholic church. Which is hilarious. Writers who were holding hard and fast to the “Absolutely not,” seem to like to make gross and archaic generalizations about Protestants that are totally untrue. For example, “Why in the world would you ever share in communion with those super wrong Christians who all think that all Catholics are wrong and going to Hell?” Or, “All Protestants reject transubstantiation! So, obviously stay away!

I think while many Protestants have moved on from the schism, many Catholics are still holding fast. Seriously, I don’t understand how we hold onto 500 year old grudges and think they still apply today. Admittedly, I love how, even as old as some Canon law is, there is always an exception. And protestants? Well, we don’t really have canon law so much, so it doesn’t really work the same (at least in the evangelical tradition).

I know it’s not true of all Protestant churches, but to assume that a person in a Protestant church agrees with everything that church says, is not the case. But in canon law, and with more conservative Catholic writers, they do paint Protestants with extremely broad strokes. To Catholics it makes sense because Catholics are supposed to all think the same (I kid).

Then, in Evangelical world, it’s all about my personal relationship with God. Luckily, there isn’t any creed, or canon law from evangelicals saying I can’t do what the Catholics do, or believe what the Catholics believe. If my relationship with God takes me there, then amen, I guess.

The biggest problem between Protestants and Catholics seem to be Catholics thinking that all Protestants all think the same, and Protestants thinking that all Catholics think the same. People in these Christian institutions aren’t robots! I guess that’s why the exceptions and loopholes exist…

Paid to Preach

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

October 5

$200 for preaching?! Yep. That happened. I received a check in the mail from someone I don’t know, but it’s from the “Brookline church of Christ” checkbook.

I had no idea this was a paid gig. Several people asked me if I was getting paid, and I was like, “No. You don’t get paid to preach. You’re just like serving, and the church is poor.” Apparently not. Now, I know why people do this, and I know why one of the regular preacher’s wives was looking at me all sideways asking, “So, you’re preaching on Sunday…”

I received a very nice letter, along with my check:

Hi Paige,

I meant to give this to you at church Sunday, but I didn’t catch you before you left… so here it is. Thanks for preaching, I really enjoyed your sermon.


It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know, because I don’t know if I would have preached if I knew I got paid, and I don’t know if I would have said I’d do it again if I knew I got paid.

I mean, I know everyone who invited me to preach knows that money is involved, and no one mentioned it?! Why does money make it more intimidating? Maybe I should have done their usual post-holily conversation—at least that way they get their money’s worth.

I don’t know why it feels so weird. But I guess it makes sense. It’s probably more economical to simply pay someone to preach, than to have a full time preacher.

When I decided I would be okay preaching, I guess it was sort of an intrinsic decision (besides that whole power trip thing). Obviously, there is also extrinsic motivation (besides money) like breaking church of Christ rules, getting attention and hopefully praise for whatever I preach, being one of those girls that preach, being able to use my degree… There was still a lot of risk involved, it was very personal. I want to serve, and apparently they need some women to say “Yes” to preaching (and I don’t know why they don’t). Though Brookline does expect a certain caliber, they want people trained in theology, and many are not theologically trained in the churches of Christ. I’m glad I could help, and I said I would help again.

My Hobby is Jesus…

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

October 2

I was hanging out with my friend last night, and I was thinking about how my hobby right now, is basically, Jesus. I go to church about five times a week, RCIA, and then whatever else I can squeeze in. Then I spend time writing and reading about it.

My hobby, is Jesus. Sounds so wrong.

It’s not easy. Great at first, but right now, I’m definitely in that phase of monotony. I seem to have forgotten what the point of me doing all this was. I went to RCIA last night, and so far so good, but I don’t know. Sometimes I just don’t feel it. Actually, that’s the best way to put how I feel. I just don’t feel it anymore. Or it feels different. Not bad, just nagging and annoying, and weird.

My friend asked me if I’m “allowed” to preach at one church and go to RCIA at another. I’ve thought a lot about it, and I think yes? What do you think?

As far as I know, in the Catholic church there is no rule against preaching for whoever. Technically, only priests are supposed to preach in the Mass, but they can also kind do whatever they want during the homily (like let someone else “reflect” on the the readings). And I have certainly witnessed some risqué things during Mass homilies.

As for the Brookline Church of Christ, they love to have more ecumenical/integrative engagement. So, I’m okay there.

However, my difficulties lie in how much I disclose. This whole endeavor is mostly a secret. On some level, I’ve convinced myself that the information is irrelevant to each group. Obviously, I wouldn’t lie if someone asked me if I preached last Sunday, but how is that going to come up in RCIA conversation unless I bring it up?

I’ve thought so far ahead about Easter, if I decide to be confirmed Catholic, what do I tell Brookline? Do I tell them anything? I know I would still be welcome, I could still preach, everything would be the same…

I must have some sort of internalized residual stigma, “Why?! On earth!? Would you be confirmed Catholic if you already consider yourself a ‘saved’ Protestant Christian?!”

Covering my basis, I guess. I joke.

I ask myself the same things…

Is it because I think the Catholics have something secret or more than everybody else? No.

Is it because the Catholics are right and everyone else is wrong? No.

Is it because I agree completely with everything the Catholic church teaches? Definitely no.

Is it because I feel lost and alone in my Protestant faith, and don’t know what to do with it? Maybe a little, but mostly no.

Maybe a little on that last one. It’s like, I dove into theology school with nowhere to go, and really no plans to go anywhere with it. As a Church-of-Christer, women can’t do anything, and they shouldn’t bother learning. I look at what the Catholic church does, and the people that are in it, and I think I fit in, I think I can do something there. I think there is space for me there.

And I want to believe that as I come into that space, in the Catholic church, there will also be openings in other Christian communities… That really doesn’t make any sense. It makes more sense that once you go through the Catholic door that all the Protestant doors close and vise versa… I don’t know why I think this.

Reactions to My Sermon

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

October 1

I received a text last night from Clint, the CoC preaching coordinator, that said, “Great job! Everyone was touched by your sermon! You will have to preach again!”

I don’t want to put myself down, but I have serious doubts about his sincerity. They could be saying:

“Great job!” (For your first time.)

“Everyone was touched!” (Because you gushed all over us about how great we are.)

“Preach again!” (Because I’m an overwhelmed married first year PhD student who needs as much help as I can get.)

I might be reading into it too much. Yeah, probably.

One Day Preacher, The Next, RCIA

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

September 30

One day I preach, the next I go to RCIA.

This is weird. How do I feel?

I enjoyed preaching, I think, but it’s not about me, and I don’t exactly know what people thought. It’s weird the way you put the words out there into space with little to no feedback. I mean, I got feedback from my friends, which is very good.


It was weird feeling like you need to talk to everyone and stay late, but I snuck out with Doug and had chicken and waffles and a Bloody Mary—AWESOME. Laid around, went to Mass at 5:30, hung out at Young Adult get to know you time, and then watched Breaking Bad. Going to Mass, it is totally refreshing to go to church somewhere else on a day that you preached.

I’m just not sure what to say about the whole experience because I’m used to bouncing my feelings off other people’s feelings. I’m not sure, but I think that Brookline CoC would totally have me again/put me on the once a month schedule, and I totally would. But I would honestly say, “If I’m no good, don’t let me do it again.”

My best friend and boyfriend thought it was good, but they’re biased.