Daily devotions


David Wilkerson Killed in Car Crash

David Wilkerson, founder of World Challenge Ministries, was killed Wednesday in a car accident in East Texas.
Charisma News spoke with Dr. Wayde Goodall, founder of WorldWide Family, who first verified the news. Goodall was with Wilkerson's son, Gary, when he was informed of the fatal accident.
By late Wednesday night, Times Square Church in New York City announced the death of its founding pastor in a statement from Senior Pastor Carter Conlon: "Pastor David Wilkerson’s was a life fully given for the glory of God and souls of men. He was greatly loved and he will be greatly missed. Our prayers are with the family and we as a church body are committed to standing with them at this time of sorrow."

From Charisma news. Read more>


Can hope be wrong? On the new universalism

James K.A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy, Calvin College:
"This ain't your Grandma's universalism (if your Grandma was, say, a Unitarian). The (relatively) old universalism was a liberal universalism of "many-roads-to-God-who-is-a-big-cuddly-Grandpa" (or, more recently, Grandma). Such a universalism was generally embarrassed by Christian particularity and any claims to the divinity of Christ. Instead, Jesus was a kindly teacher like so many others pointing us all to that great kumbaya-sing-along in the the "beyond."

In contrast, the "new" universalism is an evangelical universalism, a Christocentric universalism. If all will be saved, they will be saved in Christ, because of the work of Christ as the Incarnate God who has triumphed over the power of sin and death (the new universalist Christ is a victor, not a redeemer)

Read more>


Cold Facts examines the Salvation Army - Part 6

 From TSA web-site in Sweden. Translated by Dr. Sven Ljungholm

On honesty and trust

When, after careful consideration and after thinking through the pros and cons on the issue of interviews, we eventually turned down the Cold Facts team’s offer an interview with someone from within The Salvation Army's leadership; we took for granted that our decision would be accepted and respected. The (our position) reason was that a pre-recorded interview is often crudely edited; edited and pasted into the program with words often used out of context, and SA leadership is not interested in contributing to such programming (drama).

# 1 Spontaneous Visit - The Salvation Army headquarters in Stockholm

On March 31, 2011, a reporter and a cameraman (Cold Facts – TV team) entered our headquarters unannounced on Nybrogatan seeking to meet with the ‘information officer’ or someone from The Salvation Army's leadership.

The receptionist asked if they had an appointment and she received a negative answer, and as a consequence they were not allowed in (any further), through the security door.

They then, (instead) asked the receptionist, "what is your view on homosexuality?", to which she replied that she did not want to answer any questions. The team remained in the entrance area staying inside the front door, but outside the security door and video taped everything that occurred inside, through the glass wall. They also asked the same question of a visitor who temporarily visited the premises, whereupon the simple reply was, 'I do not work here' and continued past them (the TV crew).

# 2 Spontaneous Visit – ‘they’ (TV 4) also traveled to London

On Friday, 1 April, a reporter and cameraman from Cold Facts entered The Salvation Army's International Headquarters in London. The same thing occurred there.

Cold Facts had on a previous occasion demanded an interview with the General or anyone within the senior international management who had earlier, via e-mail declined a request for an interview.

A reporter had also had a lengthy telephone conversation with the Communications Director at International Headquarters, Laurie Robertson, who reiterated several times that, ‘there will be no interview’, but (instead) he referred him (them) to The Salvation Army in Sweden, who have responsibility for operations in Sweden, and (who) will determine how they would respond.

When the film crew came to the IHK in London they informed the receptionist that they had an appointment with Laurie Robertson, which was not true.

When Laurie was confronted with the film crew from Cold Facts, it wasn’t long before they began asking him about ‘homosexuality’. (TSA position)

The point is that Cold Facts have received answers to all the questions about the Salvation Army's position on this issue in writing via email.

In addition they (our positions) are also available on our website, where we have previously published five articles about their investigative reporting and posted all the material openly on the website.

They claimed, among other things, that The Salvation Army in certain countries has contributed to the jailing of homosexuals. This is something that neither Laurie Robertson or any of us here know anything about and we wonder from where they are collecting this information. They had difficulty understanding (accepting) that there would be no interview with anyone at International Headquarters.

# 3 visit - the Annual meeting of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance

Cold Facts closely monitored the annual meeting of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance, among other things with a intent to secure an interview with Marie Willermark, although she had already declined their offer.  In that Cold Facts had announced their intention to be present many members chose to stay home even though they were officially registered to attend the annual meeting. In that sense, one could claim that investigative journalism intervenes in the democratic process, since the annual meeting would have been affected by reduced participation and engagement (interaction).
It's not surprising that not all people want to participate in a television broadcast, regardless of the content, and consequently refrain from attending (the conference). The Cold Facts’ film crew huddled outside the premises for nearly four hours and asked various questions of the visitors.

With reference to this intrusion and Cold Facts’ method of working, Tuve Skånberg Director of Claphaminstitute wrote a column in the magazine The World Today on April 11.

Link: http://www.varldenidag.se/opinion/kommentar/2011/04/11/Vem-ska-granska-granskaren/

Subsequent to the Cold Facts spontaneous visit to the headquarters here in Stockholm, I wrote this email to Cold Facts;

2011-03-31 from The Salvation Army

I heard that you sought me, or someone in leadership yesterday and that we were not available.

As you already know, please feel free to ask your questions by e-mail and that's also the (only) venue by which I will answer your questions. I'm really busy with other matters most of my working hours, so please use email or voicemail. It is the only way to reach me.

Someone told me that you asked both the receptionist and a visitor who left our building, “what is your view on homosexuality? "

I had not perceived or understood from the questions you posed to me to date that this very issue is of such focus to you. Why have you not told me?

And what further questions on the subject that I have not already answered might you have?

It would also be interesting to know what your program is supposed to be about, that is, have we done something wrong, something reprehensible or criminal?

Usually, Cold Facts takes on just such cases. I think that now, after nearly three months of contacts with me, that you ought to present the (your) true focus/concern, so that we can address this. I have been honest with you, but I do not see quite the same attitude on your part.

Or, as journalists say, What have you got to hide? :)


No response in three weeks - I sent a reminder

Nearly three weeks later, I had not yet received a reply to this email, so I sent a reminder,

2011-04-18 from Salvation Army
Hello (informal),

It has now been a few weeks since we heard from each other. Since I received no reply to e-mail that I sent on 31 / 3, I wonder again if you would like to clear up the questions that I raised, and if you know anything more about when the program will be broadcast.
Kind regards,

Answer from Cold Fact the day after, with our response to this.

The day after came the following e-mail and here is also our response to this.

2011-04-19 from Cold Facts and response from The Salvation Army


Cold Facts:
We are continuing with the program and it is expected to be broadcast in a few weeks. You have promised openness and transparency yet you still do not want anyone in leadership  to be interviewed. This is not acceptable in that you are an organization that receives public funding and is a major recipient of public charity. Shouldn’t the public know where you stand and why?

Salvation Army:
We are extremely grateful for the favorable reception/ esteem which the public has/ holds for the Salvation Army and are happy that we can carry out all the activities thanks to the numerous donations that makes such a difference to many suffering/ vulnerable people. We report all income through standard acceptable procedures, such as audited annual financial reports.

Of course, our leaders are agreeable to granting an interview, but not on the conditions that you previously stipulated. Our conditions for making ourselves available are that our leadership be allowed to view the entire program in its final edited format, and that we be able to discuss (internally) with each other about the program and thereafter that (Commissioner) Marie Willermark be allowed to answer select/ certain questions about the program and that the interview portion be broadcast unedited and uncut immediately following your broadcast (as a part) of the program.

Cold Facts:

Our desire is still that someone from management/ leadership will participate in an interview, but since you chose not to do so we will send our remaining questions via email. We would be grateful for a quick reply.

Salvation Army:

You have received answers to any questions you have posed and we see no real reason for our leadership to participate in any interview and wonder what answers they would provide that you have not already received. But as I said, if you are interested in an interview based on our conditions, get back to us.

Cold Facts:

Why are you a member of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance?

Salvation Army:

The Salvation Army is not a member as a denomination (or as a religious community) in the Swedish Evangelical Alliance. It is an association of individuals and membership is personal. People and churches have met thousands of years to have a dialogue of how faith and one’s life experience should be applied in contemporary times and some members of the Salvation Army are also associated in this context.

Cold Facts:

Why will no one from leadership agree to an interview?

Salvation Army:

We have answered this question before. You have posed questions about this for four months now and I have answered (all) your questions. If there are any further questions then revert as usual via email. Note, we have reasoned (discussed internally) this matter and can see a solution under the conditions I have outlined above.

Cold Facts:

Why are you against abortion for women?

Salvation Army:

In all questions concerning life's beginning and end, we want to be in the midst of, and support people’s positions relative to respecting life as a sacred gift from God. We know that this can be considered a bit old fashioned, but we also know that many people in our country share our values. Valuing life as a sacred gift from God means that we are not opposed to abortion in certain cases.

Cold Facts:

Why are you opposed to euthanasia in health care?

Salvation Army:

Active euthanasia is illegal and a controversial issue in medical ethics. See above.

Cold Facts:

Why is it written in your instruction manual, "Junior soldiers 'promises' that children and young people learn that homosexuality is wrong?

Salvation Army:

The wording may be seen as being ‘different’. (clumsy/awkward) The material in its entirety is old and is now being reviewed and updated.

Cold Facts:

Several of your corps officers (Pastors) think it is possible to free a person from their homosexuality through counseling and prayer, what do you think about it?

Salvation Army:

Here you have probably experienced some personal opinions from some of our officers. A corps leader’s mandate includes the provision of pastoral care. In counseling there are deep, personal (private) and confidential issues. As communities, we point out that the one who gives spiritual guidance can only help a person up to one’s (their) own choice (acceptance), regardless of the subject of study.

How the grace of God appears/ presents itself to those who talk about their sexual identity, we can (neither presume nor) predict. It is an individual and often complex (issue) and must be treated respectfully in prayer and through sharing/ counseling.

Cold Facts:

Why are you working politically against giving homosexuals the same rights as others? (Eg, have you not been against gay adoptions, gay marriage and against including gays as subject to the law on incitement of racial hatred)

Salvation Army:

On the issue of gay adoptions, we share the view with many other organizations, including non-church organizations in our country. Our position on same sex marriage is rooted in our interpretation of the biblical view of marriage, which is defined/ limited to ‘one man and one woman’. In the case of gays and the law on incitement to racial hatred, I don’t believe we have made efforts against this (been a part of such a movement). The law on incitement to racial hatred should obviously apply to all people. We are constantly seeking to innovate and improve our way of communicating what God's good news, the gospel, means (says to us) in our time.

Cold Facts:

Why have you removed the text of the Salvation Army's attitude to homosexuality from your website?

Salvation Army:

A strange question. Do you mean that we do not have the right to change the content of our website? When working with a review of our positions on ethical issues a year ago, we removed the old ethics document from our homepage. The new one is not yet in place, however, you have already received it and know its contents (wording in its entirety).

Cold Facts:

Do you think the Salvation Army operates on democratic principles as an organization?

Salvation Army:

Our structure is similar to that one encounters in a number of similar associations/ organizations. The important thing is what we as a church and social relief organization have to (and can) offer to those applicants seeking our assistance, our members and worshipers. The Salvation Army works on the premise that members and volunteers have influence over shaping the programs (ministry) to fulfill our mission to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and indiscriminately meet human needs in His name.

Cold Facts:

Why aren’t Salvationists allowed to ‘play for money’ (gamble/ bet) or drink alcohol?

Salvation Army:

Gambling and alcohol use have evolved into major social problems and personal tragedy for many people. William Booth recognized this already in 1865 when he founded The Salvation Army, among other things to help victims of abuse to redress and transform their lives through salvation in Jesus Christ. This remains a major social issue even today with many organizations active in efforts to combat abuse. This has been true ever since the popular movements and temperance organizations began one hundred and fifty years ago. Salvation Army soldiers have voluntarily chosen a lifestyle that is in solidarity with victims of abuse (gambling and alcohol).

Cold Facts:

Why do you post all ‘our’ questions (to you) on your website?

Salvation Army:

The answer to this is quite simple. It is the only way to create transparency and highlight what issues (questions) you have and create a larger context than the (eventual) Cold Facts’ limited (restrictive) TV program duration can provide. You have (control) all the power to edit your future programs as you wish. The publication on the website is our attempt to create a balance to your TV program, so that those who are interested in us can see the preliminary work that was performed. Posting this in the only mass medium available to us might also be regarded as; 'fair play'. You have, in spite of four months of contacts, still not spoken about/ mentioned what it is we are really being blamed for, or 'accused' of!

Cold Facts:

Why will not you give a more precise account of how much you receive in state or local government grants?

Salvation Army:

We have chosen an accepted way to account for this, namely through our annual report and in providing more detailed accounting to those authorities requesting/ requiring it.

In addition, we have decided not to expend any more working hours in an effort to provide you with more detailed information for use in your TV program.

Bert Åberg
e-post: bert.aberg@fralsningsarmen.se
Translation from the Swedish: Dr. Sven Ljungholm


Headlines week 17

Why the King James Bible Endures
The New York Times - "The King James Bible, which was first published 400 years ago next month, may be the single best thing ever accomplished by a committee."

Second coming could be high-tech: US evangelist
AFP - "US evangelist Franklin Graham thinks the second coming of Jesus Christ could be a social media event captured by millions of mobile phones.
"The Bible says that every eye is going to see it" and that Christ will "come on the clouds," Graham, the oldest son of preacher Billy Graham, who used the media to make Christian evangelism a global phenomenon, told ABC News presenter Christiane Amanpour, host of "This Week."

Church Easter Dance Video gets 500,000 views
SBC - Watch the video

China places 500 under house arrest, blocks Easter service
Baptist Press - "As millions of Christians worshipped freely around the world Easter morning, more than 500 members of an unregistered Beijing church were under house arrest by the Chinese government and prevented from gathering together at an outdoor site, while another 40 or so were detained after they illegally tried to worship at the location."


Is Hell Dead?

"Bell, a tall, 40-year-old son of a Michigan federal judge, begs to differ. He suggests that the redemptive work of Jesus may be universal — meaning that, as his book's subtitle puts it, "every person who ever lived" could have a place in heaven, whatever that turns out to be. Such a simple premise, but with Easter at hand, this slim, lively book has ignited a new holy war in Christian circles and beyond. When word of Love Wins reached the Internet, one conservative Evangelical pastor, John Piper, tweeted, "Farewell Rob Bell," unilaterally attempting to evict Bell from the Evangelical community. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says Bell's book is "theologically disastrous. Any of us should be concerned when a matter of theological importance is played with in a subversive way." In North Carolina, a young pastor was fired by his church for endorsing the book.
The traditionalist reaction is understandable, for Bell's arguments about heaven and hell raise doubts about the core of the Evangelical worldview, changing the common understanding of salvation so much that Christianity becomes more of an ethical habit of mind than a faith based on divine revelation. "When you adopt universalism and erase the distinction between the church and the world," says Mohler, "then you don't need the church, and you don't need Christ, and you don't need the cross. This is the tragedy of nonjudgmental mainline liberalism, and it's Rob Bell's tragedy in this book too."

Read more in Time>


The week when everything changed - Part 3



The news that the women, who were to embalm the dead body, found an empty tomb spread quickly. The grief soon turned into an unimaginable joy. Jesus was alive and many met him but He was completely different. He was all God's promises fulfilled. We met His gaze anew and received the life that was ‘born again’. The grave entrance’s large boulder was gone. Not to release Jesus, but to allow in all of us who wanted to see that it was true.

It continues to be true.

Commissioner Marie Willermark
Sweden and Latvia Territory

Early Sunday morning, April 24

Today I have good news. JESUS IS RISEN! It is perhaps not a surprise for you, but this is the day of victory. From suffering and death to glory and resurrection.

Last Sunday we had a visit from all Salvation leaders from the Nordic countries and Eastern Europe. After the service at Riga 1, they had time to look at the Old Town of Riga. Here they are after the lunch:

Last Tuesday we were at a meeting with LEA (Latvian Evangelical Alliance): It is an organisation for the evangelical churches in Lativa.
Wednesday we took a couple of hours off and went for a walk at the Jurmala Beach. It is evident that summer is on its way.

Thursday the Easter celebrations started at the corps. We met to re-experience the passover in Egypt and Jesus´ last evening with his disciples. We were about fifty people gathering for this evening.
During the evening the Bible stories were retold. We were singing, dancing and tasting the different ingridients from the evening when Jesus had his last meal with the disciples. We did not wash each others feet, but we washed each others hands:
After almost three hours together we returned home full of impressions from the evening.

The day after we started our Easter road-trip together with Ewa and Johnny Kleman.
Good Friday we had the meeting at Riga 1.
Saturday we visited the most northeastern corner of Latvia, the outpost in Seda. On our way back we visited Skangal and Sarkani.
And today we have an early start to celebrate Easter Day in the most western part of Latvia, Liepaja.
Have a blessed week
Peter Baronowsky


What are they doing at the Training School in Riga????

Last week we had an "Open door to SFOT" for everybody who was interested. Among many other things this film was shown to present the daily life at the School.




The night leading into Friday was truly one of spectacles. The Jewish Council, with the high priest Caiaphas as the point man, had decided that Jesus would be hustled away. Jesus' popularity and salvation revivalism filled people with the courage to defy the unjust decree, and disturb the delicate balance between the Jewish priests and the occupying Roman’s power.

Worse yet was that Jesus began to acknowledge and affirm the people's tributes to the Messiah, the Son of God. The interrogation by the high priest was like a warm-up. The questions levied concerned whether Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, or if someone had heard Him declare it. Jesus handled it brilliantly; appeared to have His own preconceived plan with how to handle this and answered only if it served His purposes.

It was not proceeding anywhere near as splendidly for Peter. His resolve to come forward, stand up and defend Jesus crumbled completely. Three times he spat and spluttered, denying he even knew Jesus. The clergy though were not really interested in Jesus' response. He was to die and false witnesses were easy to recruit in return for a bribe.

The problem was to present Jesus, to have Him appear as a dangerous criminal before the Roman governor Pilate, the only person with the power to pronounce the death decree.

Pilate rose in the middle of the night, disturbed, despite his reluctance to interfere in a religious dispute. He tried to squirm his way out of a fate forcing him to condemn a man he believed to be innocent, and sent the prisoner to Herod, however, this did not lead to anything. Pilate tried to appease the incited Jewish faction, and staged a quick election on this year's ‘release’; would the person granted freedom be the rascal Barabbas or Jesus - but nothing succeeded. In addition, his wife said, that Jesus gave her nightmares.

What provoked Pilate the most was that Jesus did not seem to want to be free. The proud Roman took refuge in the power of language once again. "Do you not understand that I have power to free you or to crucify you?" It sounded like a trump card but Jesus' response had a very different impact. "You would have no power over me if you had not received it from above."


Inevitably Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion. Pilate thought his had been the last word when he erected the sign on the cross, in Hebrew, Latin and Greek, with the text "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews". The world would know! This angered the chief priests and this pleased Pilate a great deal

When the one we love is tortured to death through suffering and a lingering death it becomes unbearable. Between nightmarish and painful reality, we watched how an exhausted Jesus dragged His heavy cross. The soldiers provoked and taunted, men and women wept and lashed out, our own fear and grief caused us to wish for an immediate escape. And then the sledge hammers’ rhythm driving rough spikes, breaking skin and bursting through His veins. This is hell on earth.

Commissioner Marie Willermark
Sweden and Latvia Territory

Daily Devotions by Oswald Chambers

The Light That Never Fails - April 22
"We all, with unveiled face, beholding . . . the glory of the Lord . . . "—2 Corinthians 3:18
A servant of God must stand so very much alone that he never realizes he is alone. In the early stages of the Christian life, disappointments will come— people who used to be lights will flicker out, and those who used to stand with us will turn away. We have to get so used to it that we will not even realize we are standing alone. Paul said, “. . . no one stood with me, but all forsook me . . . . But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me . . .” (2 Timothy 4:16-17). We must build our faith not on fading lights but on the Light that never fails. When “important” individuals go away we are sad, until we see that they are meant to go, so that only one thing is left for us to do— to look into the face of God for ourselves.
Read more>


Join us on a Easter journey – the week that changed everything.

The week began with Jesus of Nazareth, with the regular disciple group, coming to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover - as usual. In short time we felt like statistics added in a sequence of events dictated by eternity’s God. We were sucked into a storm. We were drawn into a dark deep chasm. It seemed unreal.

Regardless how clumsy, fraudulently, maliciously or unsympathetic someone behaved, eye contact with Jesus was always offered. We were greeted with an abyss of love, deeper than the shame we felt. A love that outshone the suffering He felt. It is difficult to maintain a steady gaze, to believe that Love while judging oneself. We all had a choice. Those who accepted His love remained. Those who rejected the offer to be forgiven were left (became) alone.


The week began on Sunday. Many people come to Jerusalem when the Jews celebrate Passover. Many had accepted healing and witnessed Jesus perform amazing miracles. It seemed quite natural when a spontaneous procession of honor path formed on the main street in front of Jesus. Cloaks were laid on the ground and palm branches swayed as songs of praise were lifted up. This was the humble King about whom the prophets spoke. We knew our prayer book well and the songs to Hosanna had never been as alive as they were at that time.


Monday's events were a contrast, but concurrently a natural consequence. The average, poor people's hopes and beliefs came into direct conflict with the rich and powerful. For us it was a wondrous sight. Jesus’ face shone with glory as He turned and flipped the tables and chairs of the moneychangers in the Temple (gates) upside down. The vendors’ concessions stands collapsed in heaps and there was true astonishment among those who lined their pockets at the expense of the people who came simply to offer a sacrifice and to pray.

It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.' (Math. 12:13 NIV) Pigeons were fluttering around, people shouting and coins being collected by the beggars. We now began to suspect that this week would not be the pleasant breakthrough to future advances we had believed.


On Thursday a mighty storm gathered, or better said, an earthquake. We celebrated the Passover meal, but this time with entirely new connotations as we read the scriptures, reminding us how God freed our ancestors from slavery in Egypt. The sensation, that the dreams and expectations of the kingdom of God among us were coming into fruition began to wane. This occurred both through small signs and actual experiences.

We heard Judas excuses and witnessed how difficult it was to meet Jesus' gaze. Jesus took the servant's hand-basin and towel and began to wash our feet. He explained the meaning of this, but the words flew around like flocks of sparrow not wanting to settle complacently in our consciousness. What impacted on my memory most was the sad; "In a short time you will see Me no longer. You will weep and wail. You will grieve. Now you have it difficult". But, over time it became as He had said. The Spirit that He promised us came and reminded us all of the promised good that was to come. "You shall see me again. Your sorrow shall be turned into joy. No one will take your joy from you ".


The night was very dramatic. It was as if heaven’s faithful love, and hell’s evil and betrayal came together and clashed in the body of Jesus. The conflict ended as we, suddenly awakened, saw Jesus identified by Judas in order that the temple guards could take Him in for questioning. Jesus accepted Judas’ kiss, as though he were a friend. A new calm and dignity fell on Jesus. From that moment He stood alone against the accuser and schemers, abandoned by His friends. He had a new sense of purpose. He was close to His Heavenly Father whom He talked so much about, but who we, until now had not really understood.

Commissioner Marie Willermark
Sweden/Latvia territory
(From FSAOF)


ROB BELL - Summary

I have written four blog posts during my reading of Rob Bell's book "Love Wins", and here’s my final commentary.

The criticism I have levied is not directed at Rob Bell. I do not judge Rob Bell as a person. Rob Bell is indeed a very likeable person. What could possibly make Bell less sympathetic though is when he rails against (jokes) and more or less mocks Christians, those with a more traditional view. But, as I said, I do not judge the person. On the contrary, what ‘we’ did, and what everyone is obliged to do, is to test and evaluate (judge) the message.

Rob Bell's book is about heaven and hell. But the concept of heaven and hell according to Bell is not primarily about the future, but (his) heaven and hell concerns how we experience our lives here and now.
-Heaven is defined as experiences of "joy, peace and love, in this (earthly) life" (p. 59).
-Hell is defined as the "failure to trust God's story (direction) of our lives" (p.173).

In the brief section where Bell deals with an eventual hell following death, it is a time-limited (temporary) hell with an opportunity to re-select heaven. And, writes Bell, the love of God is likely to melt the hardest heart, so that all will eventually choose Jesus.

Bell has no doubt drawn inspiration for these ideas from theologian NT Wright, who is a highly respected theologian. But N.T. Wright also makes some strange utterances. He says:
"Hell is that which is ‘ongoing’ in order that people say to God, in whose image we are created:
We do not want to worship you
We do not want our lives to be shaped by you
We do not want to be transformed by the love of Jesus, He who died and was raised again for us
We do not want any of these things
We want to remain who we are and take care of ourselves "

If hell’s reality is ‘to not worship God and to simply look after yourself’, I think a great many people would first of all like to continue to live in (this) hell for eternity. I see them driving around in fancy cars, dressing in fine clothes and living their lives in the fashion of a non-stop party. If that is hell, it's surely the most attractive place for many people to be. The hell that I read about in Jesus’ teaching in the New Testament has markedly more far-reaching consequences than that.

When one takes out the compass at an orienteering event and begins to run in a slightly different direction than the correct one, not much harm is done. However, if one continues to run in totally the opposite direction one will finally end up in completely the wrong place.

It is often said that, “the problem is not the Prophet but the Prophet's disciples”. In that Bell develops N.T. Wright's theories (pronouncements) there is the risk that the alternative course (path) takes us away from where we ought to be. And what happens when in turn Bell's disciples recounts Bell's thoughts?

I believe our decisions in life have eternal consequences. I believe that Jesus was serious when He so passionately urged us to be prepared and that some will miss the celebration because they weren’t ready. I believe that Jesus means ‘eternity’, when he says ‘forever’. Who will spend eternity where is not for me to judge. It is Jesus who will judge, and I am sure that He will judge fairly (a fair trial). I believe that Jesus will judge every man in accordance with the person’s life choices offered (and made) through life. But I do not know, and I do not have to worry about how Jesus will judge.

I could be wrong, and Bell may be right, when he says that hell is essentially (duration) time limited and with the possibility of reversing one’s decision. But I won’t take that risk. I dare not preach Bell’s doctrine - what if Bell is wrong! I do not want to hear in eternity: "Well, Peter told you it was not so bad with hell and that we could choose again."

Therefore, I continue to compel people to choose Jesus here and now. Jesus has called me to continue Jesus' teaching about the consequences of our choices in life. God does not want that any peope shall be damned. He wants all people to have eternal life.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life"

Peter Baronowsky

Translation from Swedish: Dr. Sven Ljungholm

Headlines week 16

Police Arrest Pastor of Megachurch in China, Says Rights Group
Christian Post - "Police arrested the senior pastor of one of the largest unregistered churches in Beijing on Saturday and have put many congregants under house arrest for trying to hold Sunday service outdoors, said a rights group focused on religious freedom in China."

How Easter Killed My Faith in Atheism
Lee Strobel in the Wall Street Journal - "It was the worst news I could get as an atheist: my agnostic wife had decided to become a Christian. Two words shot through my mind. The first was an expletive; the second was “divorce.”

Choosing or Submitting to Beliefs?
Dr. Keith Drury in Wesleyan Life - "When did I come to believe these doctrines? I did not decide them one by one.  In fact I never “decided” to believe these things—I submitted to them. I submitted when I became a member of The Wesleyan Church and submitted even more so when I was ordained.  I didn’t decide…I submitted"


Rob Bell - Part 4

Chapter 7- "The good news is better than all that…"
In this chapter, Rob Bell repeats the parable of the prodigal son:

-The prodigal son’s story is in itself about misfortune and to no longer be worthy of being called 'son'.
-The father's story of the prodigal son focuses on the son being precious, longed for and loved.
-The story of the son who remained home-bound is about himself; he worked as a ‘slave’ his entire life without getting the least little share from his Father for it.
-The father's story about the dependent son was that he was rich and always had immediate access to the father.

The prodigal son believed in his father's story above his own and was the guest of honor at the home-coming celebration.
The son who had remained at home believed in his own story (interpretation) more than the father’s, and felt himself an outsider and did not want to be present at the party.

Life is all about which story of one’s life we want to believe. Should we believe our own version of story about ourselves or do we believe in the father’s.

So far, it's a great story retold in a fantastic way. But then, this follows: This is all about heaven and hell. Heaven and hell are here on earth and it's taking place right now. The two sons were in the same home-coming celebration yet one of them experienced heaven and the other hell.

This statement is repeated several times in the chapter. "Hell is to trust in God's story of your life" (p. 170). It is we ourselves who create hell when we fail to trust God's story of our lives (sid.173).

If hell is just something that is simply here and now I think that it presents a sad and very poor perspective. The future hope of eternity is lost, and heaven and hell is all about how we choose to live our lives here on earth. What about all the songs of eternity with the God who has built previous generations of Christians? Is there no hope beyond living as good a life as possible here on earth?

What was the intent of Jesus dying on the cross? Was it because we were to believe (give more credence to) more in the father's story than on our own? We could have had sufficient faith in the father's story as well, without Jesus having had to die on the cross?

I believe that Jesus' death on the cross had a much deeper and more significant motive than to simply offer a compelling story: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16)

Chapter 8 - "The end is here"
In the last chapter Rob Bell tells of how he, as a young boy with his parents, prayed for salvation. Bell explains the significance the event had in his life.

Then Bell shares the many Bible passages and the seriousness in ‘choosing’; in making the right choices. He tells the story of the five virgins who were not ready when the time came and missed the festivities.

Bell writes:
"Whatever they told you about the end-
the end of your life
end of the world -
Thus, Jesus nudges us passionately to live as if the end is near,
today. "
(p. 197)

A very nice chapter, and one that I find somewhat difficult to fit into the book as a whole - but, again, a very fine chapter.

I'll be back with my final comment in the next post ....

Peter Baronowsky

This is not an attempt at a scientific analysis of Rob Bell's theology. This is a blog post. Blog entries typically express the spontaneous reaction to what we encounter in life. This is my spontaneous reaction when reading Rob Bell's book

Translation from Swedish: Dr. Sven Ljungholm


Early Sunday morning in Riga - April 17

Good Morning! Another week has gone and spring is almost here!

Tuesday morning Ruth and myself recorded an Easter program for Latvian Christian Radio. The theme was Isaiah 53:
"Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."

On Thursday we had a full day at the School for Officers Training, teaching about Postmodernism and the Emerging Church. It is always good to meet the cadets and the officers at the school.

Friday we had a new experience of the Latvian buraucracy. We plan to have open air meetings in one of the big parks in Central Riga. In this park there is a stage and seating for several hundred people. We had talked to the Riga central administration and they had no objections but they sent us to the Park administration. We talked to them and found out the the Friday evenings we had planned to have our meetings were available. So we went ther with our written application, explaining what we wanted to do during these meetings. We were let in to the person in charge. He read our application over and over again, every time checking the calendar and asking other people who happened to be in his office. After long time he put five new stamps on the document, signed it and sent us to another office down the corridor where somebody should write the contract according the permission which has just been signed. We went to the office and the man started to write the contract. It took one hour. Several times he had to go to another office asking for advice about how the contract should be filled in in the best way. When the contract was readey I signed it and the man went to another office to have it signed by the man who had authority to sign papers like this one. Then we left the office of the Park administration. Now we only have to take the signed and stamped application and the contract to the Riga Central Administration to ask for permission to have the open airs meetings. During these hours at the Park Administration I sighed and made a comment about the amount of time we spent waiting. Our secretary comforted me and said that all this problably make sense in some way. I think she is right. I hope that sense will be revealed to me some day.

But it is great. It seems that if we will receive the permission needed to have open air meetings in central Riga on six Friday evenings between 18.00 and 19.00. Welcome if you happen to be in Riga. The dates are May 6, 20, 27 and June 3, 10, 17.

Saturday we had invited to "Open door to SFOT". A day when everybody was welcome to learn more about life at our Training School. Participants arrived from all over Lativa. From Liepaja on the west coast till Seda in the northeastern corner of Latvia, close to the borders to Estonia and Russia.
Three cadets were available to aswer all possible and impossible questions:

Today, Sunday morning, we will pick up all Salvation Army Leaders from the Nordic countries and Eastern Europe for the Sunday morning service at Riga 1. The leaders have their yearly conference at an hotel outside Riga.

After that another week will probably come. It is Easter week. I pray it will be a blessed week for you.
Peter Baronowsky


How do you get into Heaven?

A lot have been written about heaven on this blog this week. Here is what it all is about entering heaven:

A man dies and goes to heaven. St. Peter meets him at the pearly gates. St. Peter says, ”Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in.”
”Okay” the man says, ”I attended church every Sunday”
”That’s good, says St. Peter, ” that’s worth two points”
”Two points?” he says. ”Well, I gave 10% of all my earnings to the church”
”Well, let’s see,” answers Peter, ”that’s worth another 2 points. Did you do anything else?”
”Two points? Golly. How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.”
”Fantastic, that’s certainly worth a point, ” he says.
”hmmm…,” the man says, ”I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart.”
”That’s wonderful,” says St. Peter, ”that’s worth three points!”
”THREE POINTS!!” the man cries, ”At this rate the only way I get into heaven is by the grace of God!”
”Come on in!”

Welcome and dedication meeting for Genera Linda Bond

See the welcome and dedication meeting for Genera Linda Bond live. Here is the link>


Rob Bell's LOVE WINS; A critique - Part 3 of 4

Chapter 6 - There are rocks everywhere.

In this chapter Bell expounds on the episode when the Israelites were without water in the desert. When Moses struck the rock, water poured out (of the cliff). Later, in the New Testament, Paul refers to this incident: "They drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:4).

Bell interprets the story of the Old Testament tribe as having encountered Jesus, without knowing that it was Jesus; without even knowing that Jesus existed. The title of the chapter alludes to Jesus’ presence being found in the same way in each cliff, and everywhere else for that matter.

Bell expounds on this “Presence” as being “an energy in the world, a spark, a current with which everything is in contact. The Greeks call it the" zoe ", the mystics call the "spirit ", and Obi-Wan calls it "the power " (p. 144).

Bell continues the chain of thought that, just as the Israelites met Jesus in the rock, anyone can, even Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists can encounter Jesus, without knowing that it is Jesus; without even knowing that Jesus exists.

I doubt very much that this theory will hold up. All the spiritual energy we encounter in life and in different religions cannot, of course, be Jesus. In fact, the Bible says that evil spirits and false gods influence us. Can one worship someone / something one does not know or recognize? Is it reasonable to worship just anyone/anything at all? And if we can encounter Jesus in many different religions, was it necessary for Jesus to die on the cross? Are there different paths to the Father?

Here I want to be absolutely clear:
-Rob Bell does not say that there are multiple paths to the Father
-Rob Bell says that Jesus is the only way
-Rob Bell does not say that it doesn’t matter which religion one adheres to ...
.... But yet, is that not exactly what he’s saying ?

Rob Bell is seemingly deliberately ambiguous.

Bell has just released a video wherein he denies that he is a universalist (that all people are ‘saved’ in the end, no matter how they live their lives). Concurrently, according to many who read Rob Bell's book, they deem Bell a universalist.

Stephen Sward, who was for many years Chairman of the Swedish Evangelical Free Church, shares that he has now perused Bell's book for the third time, and confirms that Bell is a universalist.

How is it possible that so many people around the world write, subsequent to reading "Love Wins", that Bell is a universalist, while he himself denies it? Can’t they read properly? Do they not comprehend what he writes?

The reason is that Bell's style of writing expresses both ‘this’, but also ‘that’…  There are clear statements that suggest that Bell is a universalist and abstract statements that suggest that Bell is not a universalist. Bell's narrative art allows for both ‘one and the same’ but also ‘either/ or’. Yes is not a definitive yes and no is not a definitive no. It is clear that a presentation using such style creates confusion. If Bell thinks he has something important to drive home, he should endeavor to be understood. Instead it appears as if Bell purposely strives to be misunderstood. (ambiguous)

It is the same in this chapter. In reading the chapter, one can easily get the impression that the presence of Jesus is a spiritual energy. When, for example, participating in occult séances and asking for the spirits’ presence, Jesus' spirit can appear along with the other spirits without knowing that it is Jesus, or even knowing that Jesus exists. Is this what Bell wants to convey?

Or if you worship Allah or any of the Hindu gods, it may well be that suddenly you may be praying to, or worshiping Jesus, without knowing it. Even without knowing that Jesus exists. Is this what Bell means?

In intentionally remaining ambiguous Bell can afford to express whatever views he wishes without taking responsibility for those views. Then Bell can step forward; deny and distance himself from what he’s written. It is probably this that has caused such frenzy about a book that really has no clear (distinct) message.

To be continued

Peter Baronowsky

This is not an attempt at a scientific analysis of Rob Bell's theology. This is a blog post. Blog entries typically express the spontaneous reaction to what we encounter in life. This is my spontaneous reaction when reading Rob Bell's book.

Translation from Swedish: Dr. Sven Ljungholm


Rob Bell's LOVE WINS; A critique - Part 2 of 4

The first part of my commentary on Rob Bell's book, "Love Wins", is available here.

And here follows the continuation.

Chapter 4
The chapter title is: "Does God get what Got wants?"

Bell begins by quoting various churches’ creeds from their websites where it reads, among other things, that the Church believes that the unsaved will be separated forever from God in hell. And Bell wonders who would be attracted by such a confession of faith and counters it with the ironic commentary on the Church's confession: "Welcome to our church."
I believe that much of the problem with Bell's theology is evident. There is a true, genuine desire to communicate the gospel so that it becomes attractive to people in a postmodern world. But in his eagerness to make the gospel understandable and attractive the language is altered, and unfortunately also the content so that it easily becomes "another gospel"  as Galatians 1 strongly warns against.
Bell does not criticize the churches that believe in an eternal separation from God for having a false theology. He’s not saying what they believe is wrong. What he attacks is that they dare to talk about what they believe in even if it may be perceived as less attractive. Would it have been smarter to hold the faith but remain silent?

The main theme of the chapter is the question, "will God get what he wants or not?"  What God wants, of course, is that all shall be saved (1 Tim 2). And Bell asks: "How big is God? Is He big enough to fulfill (meet) His objectives?" And he continues rhetorically "Will this great, mighty, glorious God fail in the end?" The answer seems to be obvious, even if it is provided mainly in the form of questions (98).

When I read this, I want to shout: "No, God must not have what He wants!". I don’t know if anyone would have liked to say it to one of the six million Jews who, following a long period of suffering were killed during World War II. Does God really get what he wants? Or the mother who slowly sees her baby starve to death because no help is found to get food for either her or her child. Does God truly get what He wants?

Bell continues his argument that the God of the Bible is certainly not powerless or helpless and that God really is not one who gives up (pg.101).

But love, Bell points out, will never force anyone. Love has freedom at its nature. Then Bell writes that after death there a "second chance" will be given to those who did not believe in God in their life time (pg.106). How much time they will have, asks Bell, and he then answers, “as long as necessary".

And then Bell summarizes his exposition; if given sufficient time God's love wiil in the end melt every hard heart, and every sinner will turn to God. However, since love requires freedom, no one will be forced.

Will all be saved or will some suffer eternal separation from God because of their choices? Bell said that on these issues we have no answers.

And then Bell returned to his original question: "Will God get what he wants?" And he comments that it is an important issue that should be discussed further. But Bell himself doesn’t offer any answer to the question (if he has not already done so in his previous reasoning). But there is one even more important question: "Will we get what we want?" and to which Bell answer a concrete, yes, (pg 116) we will live in the outcome of our decisions.

This chapter has proffered many at present to reason in the blogosphere and in newspapers whether Bell is a universalist or not. (Universalism is the belief that all will eventually be saved). On this question Bell answers both yes and no. And presumably, he does so deliberately.

Chapter 5
The next chapter is called "Dying to live '(Dying To Live). And I think it's a really good chapter (or have I misunderstood what Bell meant?).

Bell speaks about different descriptions in the Bible that describes the effect of Jesus' death.
-One accused who is freed
-A relationship that is restored
-Something lost which is redeemed
-A struggle that will be settled
-A final sacrifice offered
-So no more sacrifice is necessary
-An enemy who is loved

Bell asks which of these images are correct, and answers that, to select a single image would be too "restrictive" to describe what happens on the cross (pg 129).

But it's not simply about Jesus' death. It's about what happens after death. And Jesus comes alive again. And this is the life principle. Through death to life. When we lose our life, we find it. That's what it means ‘to die is to live’.

As already said, a real good chapter.

Translation from Swedish: Dr. Sven Ljungholm

This is not an attempt at a scientific analysis of Rob Bell's theology. This is a blog post. Blog entries typically express the spontaneous reaction to what we encounter in life. This is my spontaneous reaction when reading Rob Bell's book.


Rob Bell's LOVE WINS; A critique Part 1 of 4

So, I finally picked up Rob Bell's book, "Love Wins", at the post office in Riga. It was several weeks since I ordered it on Amazon.com.

It is with a certain bit of anticipation that I start reading the book. I have read plenty about the book already. I have read the reviews, both the Swedish and international ones. The vast majority has been very critical and describe Bell's book as a clear deviation from the classical Christian faith. I'll try to read the book without any preconceived ideas, even though I have very real problems in accepting the teachings emanating from the Emerging Church movement.

Even in the introduction I suddenly understand why so many designate the book as deviating from traditional Christian teachings. It is simply because Rob Bell distances himself from classical Christianity. He writes in the introduction that the dominant Christian teaching on the dual outcome (end), heaven and hell, is completely misleading. Bell stages a frontal attack on the doctrine of the dual-outcome and writes that this erroneous doctrine has been announced as the central truth of Christian faith (page VIII).

The only argument for this claim that I can detect are the disconnected words (contextual error) from the Bible verse: "For God so loved the world ..." (P. VII). However, if one reads the continuation of the verse, we read that ‘love’ provides the explanation that relates to the dual outcome.
"... That He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

Oops, Rob Bell, it was hardly a good start to use a Bible verse on the dual outcome to argue that that very doctrine (the dual outcome) is not valid.

Chapter 1
In chapter one, he questions all traditional salvation teaching/preaching and presents many questions that in themselves can be very important to reflect on.

This chapter includes, as I said, a lot of questions but no answers. The answers are promised in the upcoming chapters. I look forward to these.

Chapter 2
Rob Bell:
The second chapter deals with heaven, eternity and the world to come. The message is that heaven, eternity and the world to come is not a different place (eternal location) and that it is not about life after death.

Heaven is not a place where we find ourselves after death. Heaven is about life here on earth when it transforms (improves) into something better. Heaven is when we feel intense joy, peace and love in this life (p. 59). When Jesus speaks of heaven, he uses it often as a name for God (sid.58). Eternity is not primarily about time without end, but more about the quality of life here on earth. The eventual-coming ‘eternity’ time is not something that comes after death, but something that is created here on earth.

My comment:
There is a lot of what Rob Bell writes in this chapter that I can agree with. I believe that eternal life begins here in the present time, when we are saved and accept Jesus. But I do not believe that eternal life relates solely to circumstances improving in ‘this time’. I also agree that we should contribute to the Kingdom of God coming here on earth and that we can get a foretaste of the coming world’s power. (Hebrews 6:5).

But is this really all Jesus has to offer? That we will have it better in the present? I find nothing in Rob Bell's exposition on heaven that speaks of eternity in relation to time parameters. None of us living on this earth will do so forever. I think it's a poor world-view. What does this say to all the martyrs of the past and present day? Is the message to them that they will have it better on the earth tomorrow? Ther’ll be nothing left in the morning! When Jesus said to the thief on the cross that he will be with Jesus in paradise today, did Jesus mean that he would have it better here on Earth???

And if heaven only exists here on earth why should we then pray "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"?

Chapter 3 - Hell
Rob Bell turns to abuses of Christian preaching and starts the chapter with some demonstrators wearing jackets; "Turn or burn". Bell uses several examples of how Christians describe hell as a place where you will burn and suffer (be tortured) forever. It's just that I never in my life heard such preaching. I have attended worship services my entire life, since I was ten years old, and have never heard anything like that being preached. So Bell bases his reasoning from something that I believe few have experienced (heard preached).

Bell speaks a lot about hell as something we experience here on earth, and to the extent we experience hell after death, it is a temporary state and not eternal suffering.

Furthermore, he says that those who talk about people going to hell are often those who care least about the hell that is going on right now (earthly experience), while the people who care about hell on earth right now, appear to be the least interested in hell after death. It is possible that there may be some truth in that statement, but I have for the most part experienced the opposite. Those who truly believe in hell after death are those who are most eager to save people from hell, both hell after death and the hell (experienced) in this life.

I work in a context where one of the articles of faith speaks of "the eternal happiness of the righteous; and in the endless punishment of the wicked." (Salvation Army Articles of Faith). Among the circle of people around me who signed on to this article of faith, work is carried out daily to provide food, clothing, warmth and care for people living in unimaginable misery. So there can be found much compassionate care and human concern among those who believe in an eternal hell after death.

I agree with Bell that many people live their lives on earth in an indescribable hell. I see them daily, and we are engaged on a daily basis in trying to alleviate this hell. But I think that Bell overemphasizes the hell we experience on earth and ends up in a type social gospel with very little focus on the eternity that follows death. The consequences of Bell's focus is that it’s likely that we spend all our energy on helping people during the years we spend on earth, but forgetting that salvation in Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life in fellowship with Jesus.

When I read the chapter, it is reminds me of William Booth's prophecy of the future where he says among other things that proclamations will include "heaven without hell." Hell is mentioned (appears) in Rob Bell's book, but it is redefined to relate mainly to the present time (earthly period) and to the extent that there is a hell after death, it is simply a transient phenomenon.

I will return when I had time to read more in Bell's book.

Lt. Peter Baronowsky
Regional Commander

This is not an attempt at a scientific analysis of Rob Bell's theology. This is a blog post. Blog entries typically express the spontaneous reaction to what we encounter in life. This is my spontaneous reaction when reading Rob Bell's book.

Translation from Swedish: Dr. Sven Ljungholm


Early Sunday Morning April 10

Good Morning!
Another busy week has passed by and it looks more and more as if spring finally is going to show up.

Tuesday we had our monthly gathering for all officers, cadets and managers. Those are very important days when we all meet for fellowship, information and sharing..

During this week we have also been able to send out information about the placemants for the cadets during their field training. The cadets have for a longer time been waiting to know about their nearest future. This weekend the cadets are taking part in a conference in Helsinki together with cadets from the other Nordic countries.

Tuesday we were visited by three ladies from Norrköping in Sweden bringing suitcases with things needed for our Social Center in Riga.Here you can see the visiting ladies together with the staff at the center unpacking one of the suitcases.
And some personal stuff::
Earlier this year we attended the funeral of Ruth´s last aunt Karin.She was 99 years old. Among her belongings we found a letter from Ruth´s grandmother sent to General Evangeline Booth. In the letter she is thanking for the silver star given to all mothers when their sons or daughters enter the School for Officers Training. In the letter she also tells about her life with seven children at the time when her husband died. One after the other they moved out and the only one who stayed in Ramdala was Karin who most of her life played the organ at the local Mission Church. Ruth´s grandmother tells that all seven of the children are serving God in different places and in different ways.Four of the children became Salvation Army Officers. Gunnar in America and Erik, Hertie and Mirjam (Ruth´s mother) in Sweden. Ruth´s grandmother really needed her children to stay at home and help supporting the family but one after the other said that God had called them to become an officer in the Salvation Army. Grandmother´s answer was allways "when God has called you you must go.

I also received a video were our second oldest grandson (11 years old) played in his second concert with the Brass Band. The concert was held in Denmark and the grandson is number two from the left at the rear. His father, who happens to be our oldest son, is seen in the middle playing soprano cornet.

Today (Sunday) our second oldest son plays the final game in the top Floorball division in Norway,

Saturday we had a day off and went down to Lithuania and we saw good news. We saw that several storches had returned after the winter. Spring must be on its way!

Have a blessed week!
Peter Baronowsky


Former Punk Rocker-Turned Pastor Calls 'Love Wins' Dangerous

What happens after death? Throughout life most individuals entertain the notion of heaven, hell, and who goes where. Philosophers and priests, atheists and agnostics endlessly offer theories and argue the merits of each. Since answers unavoidably stir up a range of emotions and disagreements, this subject must be approached with caution, sincerity, and civility.
This is what writer and former pastor, Jason Berggren, passionately strives for in a recent article "Love Wins, Christianity Loses, and God Lies." With respectful conviction, Berggren responds to the bold conclusions made in the book Love Wins, which asserts there is no Hell, God will eventually allow everyone into Heaven, and that any views to the contrary are “venomous and destructive.”



I also can’t see the logic in you interviewing people from (THQ) as you have, of course, already met those in charge of the operations/institutions themselves (in the field).

What are the other questions you want answered that you have not already written to us about?

You certainly make a different assessment (demand) of the subjects you want to interview; (so) am I free to choose (determine) how we want to use free speech, or is it only on your terms?

I see a hint of a threat when you write: “So far we do not intend to mention this reluctance on your part in our report, but further delays in responding will lead us to reconsider this”; How am I to interpret this?

2011-03-16 from Salvation Army

I will return here to answer your emails from the 11 / 3 where you return to certain issues. Thank you also for your clarification on certain points.

With reference to contributions (subsidies-support) from governments and other organizations it is obviously not at all controversial for us to share detailed figures. However, it is a very cumbersome process to resource data at the level of detail you request. Neither The Salvation Army or TV4's accounts come under the public information act and for this reason we choose to stand firm and share the data we (have already) decided to share earlier and which is found in our public annual financial statements.

As I said earlier, I reply to all questions received via email and if you can narrow the questions you have about the social service work and the future of The Salvation Army, and how we are to survive as a church and social services provider, you will receive a response. In other words, not only those 'areas (issues) we would like to address'.

With regard to questions of our ethical position, you have already been provided answers in the form of our ethics document, which is now (officially approved by TSA) adopted, and the wording (position) on response to those seeking help and SA soldier's criteria that I have previously sent to you. That's how we see it.

2011-03-31 från Frälsningsarmén
With regard to an interview with leadership, we have carefully considered the matter and have decided to decline your offer.

Feel free to check back via mail if you have further questions and I will answer them via email.

2011-03-31 from Salvation Army

I heard that you sought me and/or others in (SA) leadership yesterday and that you learned that we were not available. As you already know, feel free to ask your questions by e-mail and that's the format by which I will answer your questions. I'm really quite busy with other matters the majority of my working hours, so please use email or voicemail. It is the only (practical) way to reach me.

Someone told me that you asked both the (THQ) receptionist and a visitor who left our worship hall, “what is your view on homosexuality? "

That this very issue was of key focus (issue) by you had not been perceived or understood based on the (actual) questions you posed to me so far. Why have not you told me this? (been more forthcoming?) And what further questions on this subject have I not already answered?

It would also be interesting to know what is the purpose/focus of your (TV) program, that is, have we committed some wrong, something reprehensible or some criminal act?

Typically, Cold Facts take on just such cases.

I believe that, following nearly three months of contact (communication) with me that you ought now to present your probe’s key concern(s), so that we can address it (them). I have been honest with you, but I do not see quite the same level of integrity on your part.

Or, as journalists say, ‘What have you got to hide?’  :)

Kind regards,
Bert Aberg
Stockholm (From fsof.blogspot.com)



We are eager to answer your questions in the least complex and unambiguous manner possible, and as I have said before, I will make certain that you are provided the answers to your questions if you mail them to me beforehand. In that there are many complex issues I may need to discuss and seek information and input from several people who are best placed to provide the correct answers.

Check back if you have any further questions about our organization.

2011-03-07 from The Salvation Army

I herewith return with answers to your questions.

The new ethics document is the framework that now applies and provides guidance, and I would again refer you to this. It is impossible that in a (somewhat brief) document to address all individual situations that may arise relative to the beginning and end cycles of a human life.

Everyone is welcome to visit and participate in (our religious services and to avail themselves of our social services and fellowship meetings) With regard to your questions about homosexuality, we want to say, EVERYONE is welcome who wants to be a member with us or visit our services, and we have several different types of membership. But when it comes to being a Salvation Army soldier, we refer to the (foundation of our faith) the Bible's position on marriage: intended for a man and a woman. A Salvation Army soldier voluntarily commits to a distinct lifestyle, which among other things inckudes our view of marriage and sexual relations.

We know that some of our beliefs can be considered to be out of step with the rest of the Swedish society's (cultural) values, but we base and sustain ours on traditional Christian principles and this is how we interpret it. For us it is important not to make any distinction with regard to seeking help, worship, visitors, donors, members, or the 'civil servants- adherents' in our organization.

We also know that our organization is made up of many people who have a wide breadth of perceptions. IF any of us have been resistant to any LGBT person who sought help from us, it is against the Salvation Army's basic premise to treat everyone equally without discrimination, regardless of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national origin. This is a basic human right!

On your question why we are reluctant to be interviewed it is solely because we do not know (your intent) and what the program will contain or what will be its focus, and our own past experience (negative?) with programs of this nature.

Check back if you have further questions.

2011-03-10 from The Salvation Army

We have been accommodating and open with you. I have answered all the questions you asked. Sometimes it has taken a little longer, because we also have other duties. Also, you have not expressed any urgency.

In the case of an interview with upper management, I have responded earlier on this. Moreover, what further questions do you want answered by the leadership that have not been answered before?

If you have further questions, feel free to email me these.

The Work Ethics document has been a long process, and which I answered you on March 3rd. Because of the leadership change in January and February the process was drawn out out and the latest document was adopted by the Board on 22 February this year.

With regard to questions about 'grants from government agencies and other organizations', we have decided to present them in exactly the same format as found in our Annual Report.

As for questions about our Red Shild Stores’ activity it’s only for you to email me your questions, and you will have answers to all your questions.

In your desire for filming in our stores (facilities), we have responded earlier, that the shooting may not take place out of respect to the people who work there.

Our store statistics will be published in the Annual Report for 2010 which will be available in May-June.

When it comes to openness and transparency, there’s a big difference between what we show you and your own behavior. I see a pretty big difference between the questions you pose to us in writing and the questions you pose to our people during the interviews.

You said you wanted to show our 'broad and comprehensive operations', but the questions were largely about LGBTQ and much to do about Muslims. You are not being completely honest, I would say.

Bert Åberg
TSA Sweden  (From fsaof.blogspot.com)