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Everyone Belongs to God

June 24, 2016 | Dr. Jay T. Smith

I’ve been reading quite a bit lately—no surprise to anyone who knows me. But recently I have been reading something that simply happened across my desk, Everyone Belongs to God, by Christoph Blumhardt, a 19th century German Lutheran, Pietist, and founder of Christian Socialism in Germany. He became renowned as an evangelist and faith healer. Although he became involved in politics in the late 19th century, he later gave that up to focus on preparing for the coming of God’s kingdom. Blumhardt’s thesis is surprisingly simple and powerful, like the gospel itself: everyone belongs to God. Living in the 21st century, this phrase struck me as a bit naïve. In an age where the very idea of God is marginalized, trivialized, and even euthanized, the concept that “everyone belongs to God” seems out of place, if not completely unintelligible. But it is a message that brings hope.

Looking for Hope

And so I read on. In this political year, in this terribly lost country, I need hope. I need hope that God has not abandoned us, that we have not been left to our own foolish devices, and that there is a future for the people of God, the imago Dei. Maybe you are like me. Maybe you have similar thoughts: Our times seem hopeless. Peace seems impossible. There is little or no love for neighbor. Blacks, whites, Latinos, straights, gays, the religious, and the secular are in a constant state of civil war. Disorientation feeds hurt, and hurt fuels hatred. Hatred spawns uncontrollable violence. We need hope. We need love. We cry out in prayer.

Why Everyone Has Value and Worth

Our answer is simple. Everyone belongs to God: blacks, whites, Latinos, Arabs, Asians, straights, gays, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex belong to God. Everyone means EVERYONE. We belong to God and God belongs to us. If everyone belongs to God, then everyone has value and worth. Everyone deserves love and acceptance. Everyone deserves an opportunity to live and to love one another. God makes this possible. Science doesn’t make this possible, philosophy doesn’t make this possible, and religion certainly doesn’t make this possible. God isn’t religion and religion isn’t God. God is the ground and source of all that is. God is beyond any one religious expression, yet a clue to God is seen in all true devotion.

A New Reality for Humanity

Blumhardt understood that Jesus ushered in a new reality for all human beings. He sought to see the Kingdom of God—the Kingdom of Peace—come through love, prayer, and persistent social action. He sought the leadership of the Spirit in the reconciliation of people to God. This is what Yellowstone Theological Institute seeks. We believe everyone belongs to God. We believe there is something in everyone that is worth investing in, something that is worth redemption. If we can see that everyone belongs to God, then maybe—just maybe—we have true hope.

Dr. Jay T. Smith

President and Bridger Professor of Theology & Ethics

Dr. Jay Smith leads the Yellowstone Theological Institute as its president. Dr. Smith has served as minister of youth, music and as senior […]

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