Escape to Reality is turning ten next week! To mark the occasion I could list the ten most popular articles, but that would be boring. I’d rather list the ten most inflammatory articles, the ones that lit a fire and got people talking. Think of these as ten candles atop the cake of nostalgia.
After my hometown was flattened by an earthquake in 2011, some said God was judging the city for its sins. Apparently Jesus’ sacrifice was insufficient. God deals with our sins by dispensing death and destruction. Of course this was nonsense, and I wanted to offer an alternative narrative. Sadly, I don’t think I made much of an impact which is why I found myself apologizing five years later.
Back in 2014 I wrote a short article explaining that God did not destroy the city that Jesus loved. I was immediately contacted by a well-known preterist. He wanted to know if I was attacking his ministry. Er, no. I replied. Who are you again? And what’s a preterist?
At the time I didn’t even know what the word preterist meant. But that reaction started me down a trail that led to my book, AD70 and the End of the World. It’s a controversial book because the end times is a controversial subject. Just say the word “rapture” on Facebook and you’ll start a bonfire.
Some years ago certain grace teachers began preaching a doctrine of universal inclusion. This teaching troubled me and I contacted several of them privately with questions. Are you sure about this? And what about these scriptures?
Only one of the teachers replied, but his responses confirmed my growing conviction that inclusionism was unscriptural. The above article was the first of several that I wrote on the subject. I hope to never write about it again. I grow weary of discussing the differences between inclusionism, universalism, and the gospel of grace. Happily, the controversy seems to have died down.
This 2013 article was the first time I wrote about hypergrace. It led to conversations with Michael Brown and other critics of the “modern grace message.” It also led directly to the publication of The Hyper-Grace Gospel in 2014. Hypergrace was a hotly debated topic from about 2009 to 2015, but it doesn’t seem to generate much heat these days. I like to think that the critics of the hypergrace gospel have been apprehended by the very grace they once attacked.
You would be amazed at how many people think God flagellates them in the same way the Romans and the Jews flogged the apostles. He doesn’t.
Any time you talk about tithing, you’re going to get a reaction. It makes no difference what you say, whether you are for it or against it, people are going to react. Christians have strong views on anything to do with money and they are not afraid to share them.
I expected a bit of blow-back on this one (and I got it!). What I did not expect was how many messages I would get from suicidal believers who are bound up with guilt and condemnation. There are some hurting people out there.
The number of people reaching out for help can be a bit overwhelming. Sometimes I’ll receive a comment on a discussion thread from someone who’s in a dark place and I am unable to immediately respond. At those times I am very grateful to those E2R readers who weigh in with grace and wisdom.
If divorce is evil, then remarriage is downright abominable – at least that’s what some people think. Not me. God’s grace is redemptive. It mends, it heals, it makes things new. If grace can’t be given to those who’ve been damaged by divorce, it can’t be given to anyone.
This was one of those articles that became an unexpected hit – not because it was good, but because many people are worried they have committed an unpardonable sin. Such people tend to be hard to convince that they haven’t! The grip of guilt can be hard to dislodge.
After Jesus, the most controversial figure in the Bible seems to be Job. That’s right. A person who may or may not have been real has split the church into two camps. On the one hand, there are those who think that God takes away our health and kids. Then there are those who don’t. Even if his words did make it into the Bible, Job was wrong.
Job was not included in the Bible because he was as wise as Jesus. His story shows us how God’s grace heals our hurts.
When I wrote this article in 2010, I had no idea that it would lead to more than 500 comments. Why is Job’s story so appealing? Because the guy is so relatable. Job had troubles? I’ve got troubles! We have all gone through hard times and wondered why. “God, what are you doing to me? Where are you in my hour of need? Why have you abandoned me?”
These may not be wise questions, but we’ve all asked them. We’ve all been Job.
That’s my anniversary list. Which article was your favorite? Or should I ask, which article stirred you the most? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Looking back on some of these articles now, I marvel at the reaction they got. I promise you, I don’t go looking for trouble. I am regularly amazed how things I think are not particularly controversial often turn out to be.
But I guess that’s what happens when you write about Jesus. He remains the truth by which people divide themselves.
E2R is nearly 10 years old! To celebrate our anniversary, email subscribers will be getting a free book. Make sure you are signed up before next week (it’s free)!
Where is E2R heading in the coming decade? Check out our audacious moonshots.