Mike Williams became a rising star in Evangelical circles during the 1980’s as an “Ex-Gay” preacher who had been cured of (or “delivered” from) homosexuality. He was the poster-boy for the Christian agenda to eradicate homosexuality. Mike appeared on numerous prominent broadcasts including Pat Robertson’s CBN as well as TBN. He also became a well-known and highly respected Bible teacher in the Charismatic movement.
During that time, Mike tried desperately to make his Ex-Gay “testimony” true. From the time he was a child, he had taken his beliefs seriously. So seriously that they caused him intense inner suffering resulting in his first of three suicide attempts when he was just a teenager.
But ONE: The Gospel According to Mike (currently only $3.99 on Kindle) is not a book about being gay. It’s a story of grace trumping religion – and the theological breakthrough that allowed him to leave behind questions of “what is Lawful” forever.
Last year, Rob Bell made waves in publishing and spirituality alike with his book Love Wins (not to be confused with my friend Hugh Hollowell‘s Raleigh, NC ministry to traditionally marginalized people, also called Love Wins, which had the name first, sorta-kinda…). Bell asked questions about the nature and manifestation of God’s goodness that Christianity (and Western religion in general) has grappled with for ages. He was a heretic to some and a hero to many. In ONE, Williams – who has become a veteran grace teacher – goes perhaps even further than Bell, challenging interpretations of virtually every major Christian doctrine from salvation to damnation, while presenting Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection in a Scriptural context seldom seen in spirituality and practice. What’s interesting is Mike’s perspective that not only does love win – love already won.
Rooted deeply in a love of Christ and Scripture, with a disdain for the bean-counting, score-keeping element of organized religion that’s reminiscent of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians, ONE mounts Scriptural arguments against the doctrines that have propagated the fear of a still-angry God and eternal torment in the fires of hell.
Wherever one comes down on soteriology – the eternal-conscious-torment/annhilationism/inclusivism/universalism scale – what fascinates me are evangelical universalists like Mike Williams, Thomas Talbott, and Robin Parry – who make their case for the unconditional, persistent love of God in Christ not from the vantage point of some all-roads-lead-to-the-same-path liberal idea of the brotherhood of humanity, but from a precisely-made, patient, biblically-literate standpoint. One: The Gospel According to Mike (this is the official booksite, with an in-depth table of contents and more) is a worthy addition to this discussion – I’d say a must-read.
PS: Check out Gospel Revolution, Williams’ thriving online tribe.
Mike, I understand what you’re point about grace trumping religion. But are you saying that an “all-roads-lead-to-the-same-path liberal idea of the brotherhood of humanity” is to grace what “a precisely-made, patient, biblically-literate standpoint” is to religion? Or is it the other way round? Or something else?
Nicely written, Mike.