Planning a Wedding on the Big Island, Hawaii

I never really fantasised about a destination wedding until I met my husband. Since I’m Australian and he’s American, we had to decide whether we would have two weddings (one in each country); ask one of our families to travel long distance for one wedding, or ask everyone in our families to travel and meet halfway. The halfway option worked best for us because it meant that all of our immediate family was able to attend the one wedding, have a holiday and finally meet one another. It also meant that our wedding photos included all of our closest family members.

We started planning our wedding late in 2014 and aimed to be married in November 2015. The first thing we booked was accommodation. Having never been to Hawaii myself, I figured that most weddings occurred on Oahu or Maui so I asked my Dad to look into accommodation there because he is a member of an accommodation club known as Wyndham in Australia and Worldmark in America. There wasn’t enough accommodation available for the number we expected on either of those islands, but Worldmark was able to offer accommodation on the Big Island.

P1200209 (2)If you don’t know much about the Big Island, it might surprise you to learn that as you are flying into Kona, you will see a lot of hardened, black lava rock. It is a mysterious site, very different from golden sandy beaches and green leafy coconut trees. However, after you hire a car and drive out of Kona vegetation gradually starts rearing its head towards Waikoloa Village and other areas of the island. The accommodation my Dad booked at Paniolo Greens exceeded my expectations. The dark lava rock gave way to the luscious green lawns of Paniolo’s golf course. The rooms have fully equipped kitchens, bathrooms, washer and dryer. A lot of them have balconies or outdoor eating areas as well. Paniolo offers a gymnasium, tennis court, spa, pool, and adjacent to the pool is a large recreation room with an outdoor barbequing area. You do not have to be part of Worldmark to book accommodation there and the rooms are fairly well priced.

To travel around the Big Island, you will need to hire a car. There are plenty of bus tours, but not a lot of public transportation. Using a Costco Travel membership is a good way to hire a car more cost-effectively. Costco Travel requires a US mailing address and rental car companies will need to see your Costco Travel card. Additionally, some credit cards cover rental car insurance so that you don’t have to pay significantly more when hiring your car, though you would need to research which credit cards this applies to.

After booking our accommodation and hire cars, we needed to book our wedding reception venue so that we could send out wedding invitations to family and friends. My husband and I looked into: Fairmont Orchid, Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, Islands at Mauna Lani, Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Hilton Waikoloa Village and Lava Lava Beach Club.

IMG_0792Some of the reasons we chose Lava Lava Beach Club are: tables would be on the beach with a view of the ocean, lighting was provided, food would be set up like a buffet and there was plenty to choose from, the price per person was affordable, we were able to cap the alcohol and since we did not reach our cap we were only charged for what was consumed.

We were initially concerned about the fact that it was a public restaurant so other people would be there eating, we would have live entertainment–for better or worse–there would be no dance floor and no microphones unless we hired them. But as it turned out, there was a large open space between our 5 tables and the restaurant tables which meant noise didn’t really carry. We held our speeches without microphones while the musicians were on a break and that worked out fine. We were also able to use that open space as a dance floor. So in the end I felt as though Lava Lava was pretty perfect! It cost us approximately $3250 USD for 31 people all inclusive.

0186Not long after booking the reception, we found a Hawaiian photographer, David O’Baldwin recommended by staff at Paniolo Greens and Lava Lava. We also highly recommend him. He was absolutely phenomenal on the day and the pictures turned out beautifully. We hired him for 2 hours, but because I was more than 30 minutes late to the wedding, he stayed overtime and gave us a discount on the additional time spent with us so that I would have every different photograph I wanted–and I had a list!0088

David has a great personality. When I arrived, I felt anxious about being late and he reminded me that it was my special day. He didn’t seem the least bit rattled by my tardiness; he was friendly and happy. This put me at ease and David kept up his beautiful manner for the next two hours. He was easy to contact prior to the wedding and was able to organise our beach permit so that we could have our ceremony at Anaeho’omalu Bay, a short walk from our reception at Lava Lava. This was an idyllic place to have our wedding with white sand, palm trees and an oceanic background. I made the beach entry way my aisle and our niece threw rose petals.

There were a few minor pitfalls with having a beach wedding:
1. The petals my niece threw, strictly had to be picked up after the wedding or we could be fined for littering
2. Beach-related chairs are permitted at Anaeho’omalu Bay, but commercial chairs are not. We used 4 chairs for our 3 parents and 1 grandparent and had the rest of our guests stand
3. Fixed structures are not permitted on public beaches so my husband was unfortunately not allowed to design an archway out of balloons
Basically this means we had no decorations, furniture, or other wedding related apparel at the ceremony. It was just 31 people on a beach with a few chairs. Mind you, again, the photos look gorgeous and I do not feel as though we missed out.

IMG_3999 (2)If you desire chairs and an archway then I recommend Lava Lava’s grass area which overlooks the ocean. It will mean additional costs to have your wedding on the grass, hire chairs and hire an archway, it will also mean you are not actually on the beach, but it might spare you the sand in your wedding shoes that I experienced because I was wearing closed in heals–a slight misjudgement on my part.

JD and I made our wedding invitations on the cheap. This is very untraditional and my sister was honest and said she was disappointed that she didn’t receive a printed invitation. We invited probably more than 100 people, half of whom were in the US and Canada, and the other half in Australia. We used two digital photographs from our elopement day and wrote the accommodation, ceremony and reception details on the photographs, then emailed them around the world. The main problem we experienced with emailing invitations was that not everyone gave us a response and we just assumed they weren’t coming, or followed up and asked them whether they were coming. I wondered if people did not take emailed invitations as seriously as posted invitations, but the fact that it was a destination wedding probably factored in as well–obviously this kind of wedding draws a smaller attendance.

I was somewhat nervous about organising to have my hair and makeup done, bouquets put together and a cake made without knowing exactly what any of these things would turn out like until the day of my wedding.

I contacted a few flower shops and had quotes from Kona Flower Shoppe and Hawaii Floral Express. IMG_0965The reason I chose Hawaii Floral Express is because my contact there, Lisa, asked a lot of questions in order to really understand what I wanted in my bouquets. She did an excellent job combining roses, gerberas, frangipanis, orchids and a few other flowers in multiple colours with the majority being pinks and reds, exactly as I requested. She also crafted starfish boutonnieres for the groom and groomsmen. The only thing she forgot to include was the basket for the rose petals that our niece threw, but we were able to find a suitable substitute. Flowers, rose petals, star fish and delivery cost approx. $485 USD and were delivered to our resort several hours before the wedding.

IMG_4055I received cake quotes from Short n Sweet and Kona Sweets. Short and Sweet was a little bit above what I wanted to pay so I opted for Kona Sweets and the cake Janel made was absolutely delicious. I requested a traditional (English style) fruit cake for our top layer, with marzipan icing, and my husband chose a coconut, carrot and pineapple cake with buttercream icing for the bottom layer. The cake was white with a few icing frangipanis on the side. I forgot to request that the flowers be coloured so that was my oversight. But we were very happy with the cake and it was more than enough for 31 people–our family finished it two days later. Our particular cake cost approx. $270 USD. It was delivered to Lava Lava on the day of the wedding and we paid nearly as much for a cake table as we did for a cake–c’est la vie (or as we Aussies might say: thems the breaks).

I searched for several different hair and makeup places and the one that seemed most reputable was Big Island Hair. IMG_0839
Rachel came to Paniolo Greens at 10:30am and we discussed my ideas for hair styles and natural looking makeup. It took nearly 6 hours for myself and two bridesmaids to have our hair curled and pinned and our makeup applied. It was estimated to take 4.5hours and I was between 30 and 45 minutes late for my wedding which was set to be at 4pm. Makeup and hair looked basically how I wanted them to, but if I’d had more time I would have made sure to take the lip gloss with me and reapply it and I would have asked for the top of my hair to be fixed as it ended up looking lumpy. I think that partly had to do with the humidity and also the fact that my hair is generally very straight and is not used to being buffy. I didn’t think to communicate this, and we ran out of time for making things extra-perfect. However, it was good enough. For 3 of us to have our hair and makeup done it cost approximately $775 USD.

0171 What do you wear at a beach wedding? My husband and both groomsmen and our page boy all wore khaki pants, a white button up shirt and white thongs (the Aussie word for flip flops). Depending where you buy from, you should be able to buy these items fairly cheap. We did, however, pay for alterations on the trouser legs. We bought our groomsmen’s outfits and bridesmaid dresses because we figured they were paying a lot to actually attend the wedding.

I wanted to wear a traditional, white wedding dress, and I bought my dress in July 2014 while I was in the USA. Australian wedding dresses are expensive, but bridal stores do have discount racks and occasionally you might find what you are looking for at a discounted price. I specifically wanted a halter neck dress which wasn’t very overly popular in 2014. One bridal store on The Horsley Drive in Fairfield, NSW, told me they could custom make my dress for approximately $2500, and that was back in 2013, if memory serves. My sister’s wedding dress cost closer to $5000 AUD back in 2008. Of course every bride should spend what she wants to spend on her wedding dress and that is no one else’s business, but if you have a tight budget, there are plenty of wedding dresses for sale on ebay, gumtree, and still white, and other websites.

I found that American bridal stores seem to have more variety in the lower price ranges than Australian stores. resize front of dressMy budget was around $1000 AUD (give or take a couple hundred) and I was determined to buy something while I was there, about to become engaged to my future husband. It took two days of shopping with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to finally find a dress that was basically what I wanted, except that I needed a longer length and the neckline required altering to halter neck. It was approximately $580 USD which, at that time, was little over $600 AUD. I ordered it, had my husband bring it to Australia when he moved here the following year, and then had the dress altered by a friend for $200 AUD. Dry cleaning cost $180 AUD after having taken it on and off several times during the alterations. I also had it steamed in Hawaii so that it wouldn’t looked crinkled and straight out of a suitcase on our big day. That cost another $100 USD, so I ended up spending just over $1100 AUD and just under $1000 USD due to different exchange rates at different times. I was more than satisfied.

0182I searched for ruby red bridesmaid dresses on ebay and found two that were just above the knee line for $25 AUD each. When they arrived, the bridesmaids weren’t sure whether they liked them, but after having them altered to halter neck, the dresses sat better on the girls and they were happy. I was even happier. The bridesmaid dresses that I looked at in Australia were around $200 and upwards. I was willing to spend $100 on each dress but couldn’t find anything I liked for that price in my local formal dress stores. I was even more thrilled that we were all wearing halter neck dresses as that was both mine and my husband’s preference.0315

One of our nieces in America was our flower girl. I described a few dresses that I thought would go nicely and we exchanged picture ideas over facebook. My sister-in-law found the perfect dress, mostly white with some burgundy flowers that went well with the ruby red shade of the bridesmaid dresses.

I needed to buy wedding shoes while I was having the dress altered, so that we could make sure it was the right length, so I ordered them online for just over $100 AUD. If I’d known that the sand would ruin them, I would probably have searched for open-toed flip flop style wedding shoes instead of closed-toed heals. But I did like the style of shoes and I have a few photos that show off the shoes. They lasted the night and I threw them out before coming home.0374

My bridesmaids and I went shopping for accessories about a month before the wedding and found some comfortable open-toed shoes for them, some (fake) gold earrings and bangles and spent well under $100 AUD. There were also white thongs / flip flops sold at Kmart for $2 AUD that I was able to buy for our flower girl and could have bought for our groomsmen if we hadn’t already ordered some online.

A few days before flying out my bridesmaids and I had our nails done and our hair dyed. The wedding was set a full week after having my nails done and they grew out a little bit but it wasn’t noticeable in the photographs. Having our nails done in Hawaii would have taken time out of site seeing and being with family.

My sister helped me design my wedding order-of-service inexpensively on snapfish, and although we were fairly late in doing that, we had them express posted so they arrived before we flew out.

My mother-in-law created a wedding slide show with pictures of JD and I from childhood, through to our teen years and twenties, then photos of us while we were getting to know one another online, our meeting in person and getting to know each other’s families, and finally, photos of our elopement day when we legally married after JD moved to Australia. Our destination wedding took place exactly 9 months after our legal marriage. We were able to put music to the slides show, but knew we wouldn’t be able to show them at Lava Lava. So we took our HDMI cable and laptop to Paniolo Greens and were able to sit down with our families and watch the slide show the night before the wedding on the television in the recreation room.

IMG_4052My husband ordered 33 pairs of white sunglasses that said “Hawaii 2015” on the side and had them shipped to our resort in time for the wedding as our wedding favours / bonbonnieres. They were only $65 USD from etsyP1130194. They do not only come in white and can be custom made and individualised.

A week before flying out I remembered that I needed name placements for our reception tables. We bought 32 plywood hearts from The Reject Shop and blue and pink gel pens from a newsagency. I practised my cursive script and handwrote the names on the hearts that were later placed on the table, the day of the wedding. My grandmother handmade my garter – another thing I had forgotten about until a week before the wedding. Fortunately, Nana is a gifted seamstress.

IMG_4191I think the thing that helped me the most in organising our destination wedding was Pinterest! I pinned over 350 pins–over the span of about a year–just related to wedding planning alone. By searching for beach related wedding favours we came up with the idea of sunglasses. I chose my bridesmaid dress colour by looking at bridesmaid photos. I found Hawaiian and standard wedding cake designs and bouquets on Pinterest and was able to forward pictures to the people I paid to design my cake and flowers. Pinterest gave me the idea of a wedding “sand ceremony” and I was going to organise that in Hawaii, but ran out of time. I pinned hair designs, make-up shades, jewellery, dresses, shoes, different photography styles, researched beach weddings, destination weddings, colour schemes, archways–you name it, they have photos for everything on Pinterest.

We were also able to plan activities based on travel ideas for the Big Island, as well as Oahu where JD and I spent our honeymoon. I pinned another 250+ pins on Hawaii information and was able to send a rough itinerary to our wedding guests about visiting Rainbow Falls, Volcano National Park and going snorkelling with dolphins. To read more about our activities check out my travel blogs: “A week on the Big Island,” & “Six days in Oahu.”

A Week on the Big Island, Hawaii

The islands of Hawaii were formed out of hardened lava rock, so when you fly into Kona airport, black rock is all you can see for miles around. But don’t be disconcerted. The lava rock has become a playground for luscious, green jungles; rainbow clad waterfalls; and the Kilauea volcano itself!

P1200278 (2)The open airport takes some tourist by surprise. IMG_3725 (2)It has columns to hold up the ceiling, but not enclosed walls. Immediately outside of the airport there are shuttle buses waiting to take people to a range of hire cars places. Australians, beware that a lot of hire car companies will try to take you for a ride by charging outrageous insurance prices. Discuss car insurance with your travel agents and credit card companies before arrival. We found that as members of Costco international, the hire car price was discounted, and Barclay credit card company covered the most important details of our car insurance. As these are American companies, Aussies will need to look into what Australian companies can do for them.

Before arriving on Hawaii island, my husband and I wrote a basic itinerary of the most important attractions we wanted to see. Our top three were: Volcano National Park, Rainbow Falls and snorkelling at Captain Cook Monument. We arrived on a Sunday and had our wedding planned for the following Friday. We’d heard about black sand beach, green sand beach, the botanical gardens, Thurston lava tube, Kona coffee, luaus and the possibility of swimming with dolphins, turtles, sharks, mantra rays etc. So there were plenty of options. As we travelled with 29 other family members and friends, I will write about some of the adventures that our group had. IMG_3775 (2)

The day after we arrived we decided to go to Rainbow Falls. There are a few words of warning that need to be given about these particular Falls. One is to bring bug repellent: pack it in your luggage in case you can’t find any to buy in Hawaii. The other is to keep an eye on your car. Apparently Rainbow Falls is notorious for car break-ins because the locals expect a lot of tourist vehicles to be parked there. My sister and brother-in-law had two of their tyres slashed after someone failed to break into their hire car. Fortunately the car was easily replaced the same day by the rental car company. Unfortunately, however, this took a large chunk of time out of our site seeing plans for that day.

P1200217Rainbow Falls is beautiful. The view is a stone’s throw from the car park. There are stairs climbing up to a closer view, followed by some jungle areas leading to the rapids that cascade down the falls. My brother, the dare devil, climbed on the rocks between the rapids and got as close to the falls as he could get. More often than not, the spray of the falls creates a rainbow that arches over the falls, giving it its name (mind you, rainbows are commonly seen at Niagara falls and probably many other waterfalls as well).

The falls are about a twenty minute drive from Hawaii Tropical Botannical Gardens. P1200451Several from our group made it to the gardens while the majority unfortunately missed out during the kafuffle with the slashed tyres. I hear that the gardens are magnificent and well worth seeing if you are already in the area. The gardens contain huge trees, colourful leaves and flowers, some of which are unique to Hawaii and the entire garden slopes down to the ocean which you can trek down to. Missing the botanical gardens is by far my biggest regret from our trip to Hawaii.

IMG_2411 (2)Visiting Volcano National Park was absolutely top of my list of things to do on the Big Island. There are many ways to see it and our group decided to split up; some taking adventure bus tours, others driving themselves. Those who waited until night time to see Kilauea were able to see and orangey red glow, illuminate the sky, just above the mouth of the volcano. IMG_4119 (2) Night viewings come highly recommended, but it was quite a long drive from our accommodation and my husband and I were able to make more stops by seeing it during the day time. Even in the day time there is smoke rising from the huge crater that leads down to the lava flow. We listened in awe to a tour guide talk about how the landscape is constantly changing and eventually they will have to relocate the visitors centre because the volcano is widening. He explained why it is no longer safe to approach the mouth of the volcano, and we were happy viewing it from the relative safety of the visitor’s platform.

P1130022 (2)Prior to seeing the volcano itself, after entering the national park, we found Thurston lava tube and took a walk through the brush, in the sprinkling rain, down into the tube. Having some of our nieces and nephews with us made the adventure more exciting. A lava tube is a large tunnel formed by lava rock, that feels similar to a cave. It is worth the visit if you’ve never been inside a lava tube before and, visiting the entire national park only costs a few dollars per carload. My in-laws had an American national parks pass so we could enter for free.

IMG_2438IMG_2444 (2)On the return trip from Volcano National Park, my husband and I hopped in his brother’s car with three of our nieces and visited Black Sand Beach. I was truly in awe of this beach. I don’t know what I expected but I was genuinely surprised that black sand felt essentially the same as white sand. I mean, logically, why shouldn’t it? I think I just suspected it was shards of rock and might be tougher on the feet, but it was surprisingly soft. There were turtles camped on the sand when we visited and I could see there would be a great opportunity to swim with the turtles at this beach. It is also easily accessible from the carparks.

The day before our wedding, 14 from our group went snorkelling with Dolphin Discoveries. The crew we had on the day were exceptionally good. Captain Dale was able to find a pod of dolphins for us to snorkel with, which was truly an amazing experience. My brother captured some great videos on his GoPro. We spent ample time with the dolphins out in the ocean before moving on to Captain Cook’s monument where we swam amongst coral formations with beautiful fish. The monument looks difficult to get to by land, but much easier by boat. It is one of the best places to snorkel on the Big Island.WP_20151119_036 (2)

Snorkelling gear was provided including flotation devices for less competent swimmers, but we had calm waters and I did not feel unsafe without the noodles, using the flippers and mouth gear. For all those, like me, who are concerned about needing to pee while on a 2-3 hour snorkel trip, FYI you will be peeing in the deep blue ocean if you have to go!

We had a terrific time snorkelling. Afterward, we ate lunch at a nearby restaurant that serves avocado fries. They were delicious! Two of my sisters-in-law also went swimming with mantra rays the night before and loved it, so there are a lot of different snorkelling options for tourists to enquire about.

IMG_3999 (2)The following day, our celebration wedding ceremony was held in Anaeho’omalu Bay and I wish we could have spent some time at the beach there. It looked like another good place to go snorkelling–quite picturesque. Our reception was a short walk from Anaeho’omalu Bay, at Lava Lava Beach Club and exceeded my expectations with the added bonus of the forecasted rain holding off. If you’d like to learn more about my wedding on the Big Island, read my blog “Planning a Wedding on the Big Island.”P1130125

We returned to Anaeho’omalu Bay the day after the wedding for a trip on a glass bottom boat. Personally I found this a little on the boring side. Yes we could see coral and fish through the glass, but I’d already been snorkelling and having lived in Australia, the coral in Hawaii is much less colourful (no offence). However, it was fun for the nieces and nephews and was a short and relaxing trip.

IMG_3727 (2)I was super keen to have my haircut that day. After growing it for several years in the lead-up to getting married, all I wanted to do was have that hot, heavy mass, chopped off! So I spent the afternoon getting my haircut in the expensive Waikoloa Village. Waikoloa Village is a great place to shop, it is well manicured with beautiful frangipanis and orchids. There’s a large fish pond, plenty of food in the food court, some familiar American shops and other, more touristy shops.

For more ideas about what you can do on the Big Island, check out my Hawaii board on Pinterest.

What is Christian-Universalism?

There are three main schools of thought in Western Christianity: Calvinism, Arminianism & Universalism.

Calvinism – Calvinists emphasise the sovereignty of God. God is the Almighty; he’s all powerful, in control of everything and what he wills will be done. God predestines or pre-determines what is going to happen in our lives. The idea of predestination in Calvinism extends to what is known as “double predestination”. God chooses who will be saved and be in heaven with him. Therefore, God not only knows who is going to hell, but also predestines those people to hell on purpose. Jesus’ death on the cross only applies to the elect (those predestined to be saved), not to the reprobate (those predestined to damnation). This is a very commonly held, traditional belief in the American Church. It is not as common amongst Australian Christians, but it still exists here. In fact I had a Calvinist Bible College lecturer over the summer. I have a huge respect for Calvinism because its understanding of the sovereignty and predestination of God is very Biblical.

Arminianism – Most of the Australian Church tends to be more Arminian than Calvinist and Arminianism is strong in America as well. Arminians emphasise free will. Human beings were created with the capacity to choose to follow God, or not. Human beings are held responsible for all of their actions–God is not culpable–and if they wind up in hell, it’s their own fault. Jesus’ death on the cross was for the salvation of the entire world because God loves us. But if we reject salvation during our lifetime on this earth, there is nothing God can do about it. Arminians tend not to believe that God sends people to hell, but that people choose to go to hell by disobeying him and doing as they please. Some Arminians believe that God is the one punishing people in hell, but these days a lot more Arminians will say that hell is separation from God i.e. that God is not present there at all, and therefore people in hell are anguished because they regret their choices and are tormented by the devil and his angels / demons. I have a great deal of respect for Arminianism because I grew up in it. I agree that human beings have a will and I believe that Jesus’ death applies to everyone. I also commend the Arminian emphasis on the love of God and his ardent desire to save us.

Universalism – In my opinion, Universalism takes the best of Calvinism–the sovereignty and predestination of God–and the best of Arminianism–free will, salvation available to all and the love of God–and combines them. God is love and desires to save the entire world through Jesus. But human beings have a will and rebel against God, sometimes even rejecting him (or their concept of him) for their entire earthly lives. Yet, God is sovereign over salvation and has predestined all to be saved, so even though he works within the construct of the human will, God’s will is more powerful and he will save everyone in the end.

One of the most notable differences between Universalist Christians and Arminian & Calvinist Christians, is the belief in salvation after death. There are no verses in the Bible that indicate that our earthly life is the cut-off point for salvation. Hebrews 9:27 says “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement.” Yes I still believe that, but this verse does not say that there can be no salvation after judgement. In fact, 1 Peter 4:6 says “the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead.” The only reason to preach the gospel to the dead … is to save them.

There are different types of Universalists just like there are different denominations of Arminians & Calvinists. Some Universalists are Preterists and believe that judgement day has already happened and there is no futuristic judgement day. Some Universalists have rejected the Bible and simply follow their hearts. Some Universalists believe that God is the universe and that after death, human beings become part of the God-universe. Some Universalists are more monotheistic or even atheistic than Trinitarian, others believe that all roads lead to God and Jesus is not the only way. Some Universalists don’t believe the cross was necessary, others don’t believe in sin, many are unsure whether the devil and demons exist.

I love and respect my Universalist brothers and sisters who have different beliefs to me, just as I love and respect my Calvinist & Arminian brothers and sisters. But I want to let you know that there is a Christian-Universalism that is arising today that is very Biblical, absolutely Trinitarian and Christocentric. This means that we hold to the inspiration of Scripture, we believe that God is triune and that Jesus is the only way to the Father. I personally believe in a futuristic judgement day and I believe in hell when it is defined as the refiner’s fire. I still believe in the power of prayer, I’ve been baptised in water and spirit, I take communion, I worship like a Pentecostal, and I personally have no qualms with the concepts of sin, the devil, angels and demons.

I do, however, reject “penal substitutionary atonement” which means I do not believe that Jesus’ death was a punishment. And I reject traditional doctrines of hell, which interestingly are as much disputed as any other doctrine: some believe hell is eternal conscious torment, some of those believe God is responsible for the torture, others blame the devil, some believe hell is eternal separation from God, others believe hell is annihilation–complete and final death.

I fully accept and embrace as supreme, the doctrine of the love of God. God is love. God’s mercy is his love. God’s justice is his love. God’s judgement is his love. God’s wrath is his love. God’s hellfire is his love.

This year I intend to write much more about my beliefs as a Universalist-Christian. I want to compose a systematic theology that I hope will be helpful to Christians who are transitioning from Calvinism & Arminianism to Universalism. I understand that there are over 7 billion people on planet earth and that we all believe differently. What I believe is not exceptional, it’s just another set of beliefs. But I am compelled to share it because I have seen how much influence one person’s theology can have–for better or worse. Calvin and Luther changed the course of Church history during the reformation. Maybe some of what they believed was helpful to others and maybe some of it was not. But if they hadn’t said it, I would never have become who I am today. If God wills it, I pray I will have the same kind of ripple effect on the world and play my part just as they did–for better or worse.

If you have any burning questions right now, please message me privately or email elissaanne.author@gmail.com

Ephesians 2:8

I just read a discussion about Ephesians 2:8, one of my favourite verses:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith.”

The verb here εστε σεσωσμενοι is called a periphrastic verb and means not only that we have been saved, but that we are also being saved.

That makes sense to me because we are already saved from death in that we will resurrect, but we are still being saved from sin because it still causes a variety of breakdowns in relationships, it results in disease and abuse here on earth. Salvation is a process and we are still being saved from sin’s affects.

On top of that, this is a passive verb which means that you cannot save yourself, but rather that God is the one responsible for and powerful enough to save you.

As a Universalist-Christian this verse is really exciting because it shows us that God is the one who has initiated salvation and will bring it to completion. So my concern for friends who don’t yet experientially know Jesus, is something I have confidence that He will remedy. Just as He has saved and is saving me, He has saved and is saving the whole of creation

❤ ❤ ❤