Does GCI teach universalism?

Grace Communion International (GCI) teaches that God, in and through Jesus Christ, has reconciled all people to himself---forgiving them and including them in his love and life. Is this a doctrine of universalism? Dr. Gary Deddo, President of Grace Communion Seminary, answers below.

It's about a personal relationship! To understand how and why GCI's doctrine of salvation is not universalism, it's important to note that GCI views salvation as involving a personal relationship between two subjects--God and humans. Though both subjects must be accounted for, the primary one (and the source of the saving relationship) is the triune God who acts toward humans on the basis of grace. This understanding aligns with many passages of Scripture, including these: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16, ESV); “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor. 5:19, ESV); "[Jesus Christ is] the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John…

What about postmortem evangelism?

Can those who have never heard the gospel in this life, hear and receive it after death? Dr. Gary Deddo, president of Grace Communion Seminary, answers this question by explaining how Grace Communion International approaches the topic of postmortem evangelism and conversion.

First, let's be reminded that the nature, character and purposes of our Triune God, as revealed to us in Jesus Christ, are foundational to our faith. We believe that all people are created according to the image of Jesus Christ. Further, we believe Jesus is Lord and Savior of all---he died for all and God does not want any to perish. These foundational truths are explicitly declared in the New Testament by Jesus and his appointed witnesses. On the basis of these truths, GCI teaches that God will do everything to draw all to himself and enable them to receive all he has for them through Jesus Christ.

Understandably, some wonder about seemingly insurmountable barriers to this drawing and receiving. What about ba…

Format change for The Surprising God blog

Grace Communion International has transferred editorial responsibility for The Surprising God blog to its affiliate graduate educational institution, Grace Communion Seminary. GCS faculty member Ted Johnston, who formerly served as GCI publications editor, continues as blog editor. Though the comments feature on the blog has been deactivated, comments are received at Trinitarian Theology Forumand Trinitarian Ministry---GCI-affiliated Facebook groups where Surprising God blog posts are re-posted.

A Trinitarian view of preaching

The church proclaims the gospel by helping people, via Word and Sacrament, encounter Jesus, the living good news of God. In earlier posts, we saw what Trinitarian theologians have written about baptism and the Lord's Supper. Now we'll look at what they have written concerning preaching.

Thomas F. (TF) Torrance According to TF (in Gospel, Church, and Ministry),
preaching Christ is both an evangelical and a theological activity, for it is the proclamation and teaching of Christ as he actually is presented to us in the Holy Scriptures. In the language of the New Testament, preaching Christ involves kerygma and didache—it is both a kerygmatic and a didactic activity. It is both evangelical and theological. (p. 220) Faithful, effective preachers are thus both theologians and evangelists—concerned about Jesus Christ’s being and his doing, or as John Calvin often said, presenting “Christ clothed with his gospel.” TF comments:
[Calvin] meant that Jesus Christ and his Word, Jesus Chris…

A Trinitarian view of the Lord's Supper

This post explores the profound Christ-centered, Trinitarian meaning of the Lord's Supper as presented by theologians Thomas F. Torrance, Daniel Migliore and James B. Torrance. For a related post on baptism, click here; for one on the sacraments in pastoral ministry, click here.

Thomas F. (TF) Torrance In Gospel, Church, and Ministry(Jock Stein, Ed.), TF says this concerning the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper:
It is at Holy Communion above all that we see Christ face to face and handle things unseen and feed upon his body and blood by faith. It is there in the real presence of Christ that we grasp something of the wonder of the Savior’s love and redeeming sacrifice, and understand that it is not our faith in Christ that counts but his vicarious life and sacrifice, his redeeming life and death that count. It is at Holy Communion when the bread and wine are put into our hands, that we know it is not our believing that counts but  he in whom we believe, not what we do but what the Sa…

A Trinitarian view of baptism

In this post we'll look at how three Trinitarian theologians address the sacrament of baptism. All three understand baptism to be a proclamation that we have been saved by Jesus Christ alone and not through our own repentance and faith. All three view baptism as a participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus, in which our old selves have been crucified and renounced in Christ and we have been freed from the shackles of the past and given new being through his resurrection. For all three, baptism proclaims the good news that Jesus has made us his own, and that it is only in him that our new life of faith and obedience emerges.

Migliore on baptism In Faith Seeking Understanding, Daniel Migliore calls baptism "the sacrament of initiation into life in Christ," noting that "it marks the beginning of the journey of faith and discipleship that lasts throughout one’s life" (p. 282). He finds authorization to baptize in a couple of places in Scripture:
Jesus’ gre…