Hi Mike and Michael
I have been listening to your Liturgist podcast for about four months and I was one of the first people to be a member of Patreon pledging $20 a month. Even though that is sometimes ten percent of my monthly income (I live very simply) I chose to do that because I think the work you are doing is vital. You create a space where people who have become disillusioned with Christianity or have never embraced it, can find a safe place where they can be open to having a relationship with Jesus. I apologize because now that I have zero income temporarily while I am traveling, I have dropped off your list of contributors. But I plan on supporting you soon.
If I had heard your podcast 44 years ago when I left the church, I would have been saved a lot of grief! As it was, even though I know I was seeking Jesus, almost everyone who called him or herself a Christian, and every church I explored, turned me off in some way. One of the biggest turn offs was the idea that a loving God would send someone to hell because of what they believed.
Fortunately, I miraculously finally surrendered my life to Jesus fifteen years ago in spite of the fact that the Christians I knew believed this. But I could never embrace the hell idea, and have since then become a Christian Universalist. I believe that the Bible clearly teaches that there is no hell where people go because they are not “saved.”
Which brings me to my main point in writing you. I want to encourage you to have a podcast about possibly the most controversial subject, even more than homosexuality, in the world of Christians today. It is a topic that most people don’t even want to bring up because they risk being viciously attacked by evangelical Christians.
I want to introduce you to a person who has written an amazing and inspiring book about Christian Universalism, Matthew Destafano. He is just the kind of person you all like to interview. Young (early thirties), highly tattooed, (his legs and arms are filled with them), courageous (he has been kicked out of his church, and his wife’s family for the most part have rejected him, his wife and children-plus he receives very negative hate mail), and very outspoken about his beliefs.
I had the joy of visiting him and his family in Paradise, California. After having a Facebook correspondence, I felt comfortable in asking him if I could come and stay with him and his wife and 5 year old daughter. I was ready to travel and have adventures getting to know and then helping people like Matt in whatever way I could. His immediate response was “yes!” And when I stayed there, I sensed so much love from him and his family.
Matt‘s passion is to help the world see that God looks like Jesus–and he is Love. The importance of non-violence is an essential part of that message. Sharing in a very unique way about something called Mimetic Theory, developed by Renee Girard, has shaped his thinking and given him a great way to explain why the God of the Old Testament was often misunderstood by the Israelites, (like when they thought God was telling them to kill every man, woman, child and animal in a city) and how Jesus came to set things straight once and for all.
Matthew is one of the most passionate, dedicated Christians that I have met. I feel grateful that I was able to meet him personally and share meals and share life with he and his family for a few days. I want to encourage you to get to know him. Here is a review I wrote, and another review by his friend at the Raven Foundation where you can learn more about Mimetic Theory.
I think that if you connected with Matthew, he could connect you with other Christian universalists who would be happy to cooperate with you if you wanted to make a podcast about this topic. I am hoping that just like the podcast about GLBTQ that you did, which helped me finally commit to the stand that there is no WAY that God would want to deny people with different sexual orientations their basic rights and joys of having family, or be in leadership in churches. Yes, that podcast was POWERFUL! I kept going back and forth, pressured by family and friends at church to think that homosexuality and other sexual orientations were sins–but you did such a fantastic job of presenting the case for GBLTQ that I just can’t go back.
I am hoping that the same thing will occur if you have a great show about Christian Universalism. Hey, maybe Rob Bell will join you on the podcast. He would be a great person to weigh in on this discussion.
Mike, after listening to almost all of the podcasts you and Michael have produced, I think you are going to be fascinated by mimetic theory. Or maybe you already know about it. I think you will both connect with Matt who shares so much in common with you both, including having a young child. He is a musician, also. He almost left the faith of his childhood. But fortunately, things happened that prevented him from completely abandoning his faith..
I encourage you to have a podcast about Christian universalism, and that you will include Matt on this show. I believe that your connection will be mutually beneficial in so many ways. And if you can help people to at least be open to the idea that there is no hell–this would help people to be more willing to be open to having a relationship with Jesus.