Arminianism: The Road to Rome

Arminianism: The Road to Rome

Augustus Toplady (1740-1778)

hymnwriter and theologian

Whose Voice Do You Hear? toplady3

“My sheep, saith Christ, hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish. O, most worthy Scriptures! which ought to compel us to have a faithful remembrance, and to note the tenor thereof; which is, the sheep of Christ shall never perish.”Doth Christ mean part of his elect, or all, think you? I do hold, and affirm, and also faithfully believe, that he meant all his elect, and not part, as some do full ungodly affirm. I confess and believe assuredly, that there shall never any of them perish: for I have good authority so to say; be- cause Christ is my author, and saith, if it were possible, the very elect should be deceived. Ergo, it is not possible that they can be so deceived, that they shall ever finally perish, or be damned: wherefore, whosoever doth affirm that there may be any (i.e. any of the elect) lost, doth affirm that Christ hath a torn body.”1

The above valuable letter of recantation is thus inscribed: “A Letter to the Congregation of Free-willers, by One that had been of that Persuasion, but come off, and now a Prisoner for Religion:” which superscription will hereafter, in its due place, supply us with a remark of more than slight importance.


John Wesley, A Friend of Rome?

To occupy the place of argument, it has been alleged that “Mr. Wesley is an old man;” and the Church of Rome is still older than he. Is that any reason why the enormities, either of the mother or the son, should pass unchastised?

It has also been suggested, that “Mr. Wesley is a very laborious man:” not more laborious, I presume, than a certain active being, who is said to go to and fro in the earth, and walk up and down in it:2 nor yet more laborious, I should imagine, than certain ancient Sectarians, concerning whom it was long ago said, “Woe unto you Scribes, hypocrites; for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte:”3 nor, by any means, so usefully laborious, as a certain diligent member of the community, respecting whose variety of occupations the public have lately received the following intelligence: “The truth of the following instance of industry may be depended on: a poor man with a large family, now cries milk, every morning, in Lothbury, and the neighbourhood of the Royal Exchange; at eleven, he wheels about a barrow of potatoes; at one, he cleans shoes at the Change; after dinner, cries milk again; in the evening, sells sprats; and at night, finishes the measure of his labour as a watchman.”4


The Quarrel is With the Wolf

Mr. Sellon, moreover, reminds me (p. 128.) that, “while the shepherds are quarrelling, the wolf gets into the sheep fold;” not impossible: but it so happens, that the present quarrel is not among “the shepherds,” but with the “wolf” himself; which “quarrel” is warranted by every maxim of pastoral meekness and fidelity.

I am further told, that, while I am “berating the Arminians, Rome and the devil laugh in their sleeves.” Admitting that Mr. Sellon might derive this anecdote from the fountain head, the parties themselves, yet, as neither they nor he are very conspicuous for veracity, I construe the intelligence by the rule of reverse, though authenticated by the deposition of their right trusty and well-beloved cousin and counsellor.

Once more: I am charged with “excessive superciliousness, and majesty of pride:” and why not charged with having seven heads and ten horns, and a tail as long as a bell-rope? After all, what has my pride, or my humility, to do with the argument in hand? Whether I am haughty, or meek, is of no more consequence either to that, or to the public, than whether I am tall or short: however, I am, at this very time, giving one proof, that my “majesty of pride” can stoop; that even to ventilate the impertinences of Mr. Sellon.


Arminianism at Home in Rome

But, however frivolous his cavils, the principles for which he contends are of the most pernicious nature and tendency. I must repeat, what already seems to have given him so much offence, that Arminianism “came from Rome, and leads thither again.” Julian, bishop of Eclana a contemporary and disciple of Pelagius, was one of those who endeavoured, with much art, to gild the doctrines of that heresiarch, in order to render them more sightly and palatable. The Pelagian system, thus varnished and paliated, soon began to acquire the softer name of Semipelagianism. Let us take a view of it, as drawn to our hands by the celebrated Mr. Bower, who himself, in the main, a professed Pelagian, and therefore less likely to present us with an unfavourable portrait of the system he generally approved. Among the principles of that sect, this learned writer enumerates the following:

“The notion of election and reprobation, independent on our merits or demerits, is maintaining a fatal necessity, is the bane of all virtue, and serves only to render good men remiss in working out their salvation, and to drive sinners to despair.   “The decrees of election and reprobation are posterior to, and in consequence of, our good or evil works, as foreseen by God from all eternity.”5

Is not this too the very language of modern Arminianism? Do not the partizans of that scheme argue on the same identical terms? Should it be said, “True, this proves that Arminianism is Pelagianism revived; but it does not prove, that the doctrines of Arminianism are originally Popish:” a moment’s cool attention will make it plain that they are. Let us again hear Mr. Bower, who, after the passage just quoted, immediately adds, “on these two last propositions, the Jesuits found their whole system of grace and free-will; agreeing therein with the Semipelagians, against the Jansenists and St. Augustine.”6 The Jesuits were moulded into a regular body, towards the middle of the sixteenth century: toward the close of the same century, Arminius began to infest the Protestant churches. It needs therefore no great penetration, to discern from what source he drew his poison. His journey to Rome (though Monsicur Bayle affects to make light of the inferences which were at that very time deduced from it) was not for nothing. If, however, any are disposed to believe, that Arminius imbibed his doctrines from the Socinians in Poland, with whom, it is certain, he was on terms of intimate friendship, I have no objection to splitting the difference: he might import some of his tenets from the Racovian brethren, and yet be indebted, for others, to the disciples of Loyola.


Papists and Predestination

Certain it is, that Arminius himself was sensible, how greatly the doctrine of predestination widens the distance between Protestantism and Popery. “There is no point of doctrines (says he) which the Papists, the Anabaptists, and the (new) Lutherans more fiercely oppose, nor by means of which they heap more discredit on the reformed churches, and bring the reformed system itself into more odium; for they (i.e. the Papists, & etc.) assert, that no fouler blasphemy against God can be thought or expressed, than is contained in the doctrine of predestination.”7 For which reason, he advises the reformed world to discard predestination from their creed, in order that they may live on more brotherly terms with the Papists, the Anabaptists, and such like.

The Arminian writers make no scruple to seize and retail each other’s arguments, as common property. Hence, Samuel Hoord copies from Van Harmin the self same observation which I have now cited. “Predestination (says Samuel) is an opinion odious to the Papists, opening their foul mouths, against our Church and religion:”8 consequently, our adopting the opposite doctrines of universal grace and freewill, would, by bringing us so many degrees nearer to the Papists, conduce to shut their mouths, and make them regard us, so far at least, as their own orthodox and dearly beloved brethren: whence it follows, that, as Arminianism came from Rome, so “it leads thither again.”


The Jesuits and Predestination

If the joint verdict of Arminius himself, and of his English proselyte Hoord, will not turn the scale, let us add the testimony of a professed Jesuit, by way of making up full weight. When archbishop Laud’s papers were exam- ined, a letter was found among them, thus endorsed with that prelate’s own hand: “March, 1628. A Jesuit’s Letter, sent to the Rector at Bruxels, about the ensuing Parliament.” The design of this letter was to give the Superior of the Jesuits, then resident at Brussels, an account of the posture of civil and ecclesiastical affairs in England; an extract from it I shall here subjoin: “Father Rector, let not the damp of astonishment seize upon your ardent and zealous soul, in apprehending the sodaine and unexpected calling of a Parliament. We have now many strings to our bow. We have planted that soveraigne drugge Arminianisme, which we hope will purge the Protestants from their heresie; and it flourisheth and beares fruit in due season. For the better prevention of the Puritanes, the Arminians have already locked up the Duke’s (of Buckingham) eares; and we have those of our owne religion, which stand continually at the Duke’s chamber, to see who goes in and out: we cannot be too circumspect and carefull in this regard. I am, at this time, transported with joy, to see how happily all instruments and means, as well great as lesser, co-operate unto our purposes. But, to return unto the maine fabricke:–OUR FOUNDATION IS ARMINIANISME. The Arminians and projectors, as it appeares in the premises, affect mutation. This we second and enforce by probable arguments.”9


The Sovereign Drug Arminianism

The “Sovereign drug, Arminianism,” which said the Jesuit, “we (i.e. we Papists) have planted” in England, did indeed bid fair “to purge our Protestant Church effectually. How merrily Popery and Arminianism, at that time, danced hand in hand, may be learned from Tindal: “The churches were adorned with paintings, images, altar-pieces, & etc. and, instead of communion tables, alters were set up, and bowings to them and the sacramental elements enjoined. The predestinarian doctrines were forbid, not only to be preached, but to be printed; and the Arminian sense of the Articles was encouraged and propagated.”10 The Jesuit, therefore, did not exult without cause. The “sovereign drug,” so lately “planted,” did indeed take deep root downward, and bring forth fruit upward, under the cherishing auspices of Charles and Laud. Heylyn, too, acknowledges, that the state of things was truly described by another Jesuit of that age, who wrote: “Protestantism waxeth weary of itself. The doctrine (by the Arminians, who then sat at the helm) is altered in many things, for which their progenitors forsook the Church of Rome: as limbus patrum; prayer for the dead, and possibility of keeping God’s com- mandments; and the accounting of Calvinism to be heresy at least, if not treason.”11


Arminianism From the Pit

The maintaining of these positions, by the Court divines, was an “alteration” indeed; which the abandoned Heylyn ascribes to “the ingenuity and moderation found in some professors of our religion.” If we sum up the evidence that has been given, we shall find its amount to be, that Arminianism came from the Church of Rome, and leads back again to the pit whence it was digged.


ENDNOTES:

1. Strype, u.s.
2. Job 1:7 with 1 Peter 5:8.
3. Matt. 23:15.
4. Bath Chronicle, for Feb. 6, 1772.
5. Bower’s Hist. of the Popes, vol. 1, p. 350.
6. Bower ibid.
7. Arminius, in Oper. P.115. Ludg. 1629. (See book for Latin.)
8. Hoord, In Bishop Davenant’s Animadversions, Camb. 1641.
9. Hidden works of darkness, p. 89, 90. Edit. 1645.
10. Tindal’s Contin. of Rapin, vol. 3 octavo, 1758.
11. Life of Laud, p. 238.

Accidental Discipleship

Change. All of us want to – need to – change in some way. We try all sorts of tactics, theories, imagesand drugs. All of which are shortcuts, focused on defeating the desires of our flesh. Too seldom do we seek God’s wisdom, thinking His way takes too long, requires too much effort.

But change is the wrong goal. It’s what the flesh wants and it’s a shortcut that will lead to disappointment or destruction. Knowing Jesus is the correct goal. In Him we are complete (Colossians 2:10). Whatever change is truly needed in our lives will be wrought by the Spirit of God if we abandon our plans for self-justification and pursue Christ. Not improvement, not change for the better, not relief from our pain; just Jesus.

Pursuing the wrong objective – a better life, defeating a habitual sin – is like attacking a heavily defended fortress (a stronghold) with toy weapons. We will be defeated. When we focus on the enemy, the sin, the stronghold that assails you – you are drawn away from the narrow path that Christ calls His brothers to walk. Only by keeping your eyes focused on your Guide can you keep from straying from the narrow way.

Christ is more than our goal. He is our creator, example, savior, teacher, brother, and King. All battles against sin will be – and can only be – won by making a determined, get-up-when-you-fall, faith-based pursuit of Jesus the Christ. When you or I fail to pursue Him, we grow complacent and disenchanted with Him. The allure of the flesh entices (James 1:14 & 15) and we fall – or jump – into sin. Why didn’t God stop us? Why didn’t He prevent it? He gave us His Spirit and His Son – and the choice to walk in Him or walk in the desires of our flesh. He gives us the promise that if we walk in Him, we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh (Gal 5:16). The flip side of that coin is also true: if we walk in the flesh we will not fulfill the desires of His spirit, but of our flesh.

Seek to know Him. Paul told the church at Corinth, “I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2) Christ alone – good enough for the Apostle Paul. Is He enough for you? If not, it’s not because He is lacking – it’s because you and I choose wrong and fail to be thankful for Him. Choose Christ – above all else – regardless of your emotions.

As Jesus was deliberate in coming to Earth (Philippians 2:5 – 11) to seek and save you and me, we who are redeemed by His blood must be deliberate in seeking His will, His Word – Him.

If a man expects to drift into spiritual obedience or maturity, he is mightily deceived. This is what Satan would have God’s children believe – that we can mature to Christ-likeness by going with the flow.

Remember: The path of least resistance makes both men and rivers crooked. Choose to pursue Christ and he we will make your path straight. (Psalms 27:11)

Prevenient Grace

Manfred:

I have come to see the argument over God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility as a key dividing line between true submission to God and actual worship of self. Those who cannot accept the hard teachings of God always come up with a man-pleasing alternative. From “natural causes” for the crossing of the Red Sea to “natural causes” for the resurrection of spiritually dead souls – our natural state is to deny God’s sovereignty. There is no neutral corner into which we can retreat. We who have been born again by the Spirit of the living God must submit to Him, though our flesh fails us and always tries to lead us astray.

Originally posted on Truth Unchanging:

Many have posited what they call the doctrine of prevenient grace which, according to their view, grants the power of “libertarian free will” universally. Most seem clueless about how they are using that term. The more intelligent of them will actually attempt to define what they mean by free will. They define it as “a person’s ability to choose other than he has chosen.” If I choose to eat chicken, I have equal ability to choose to eat steak. I have no issue with the idea that God has granted people the freedom of choice. Even the vilest sinner is free to choose to leave his sins and follow Christ if he wishes. If he should choose that option, he would do so because he had chosen to do so freely and apart from external constraint. By that, I do not mean that the human will is autonomous and acts…

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Indicatives and Imperatives

The Bible is full of commands, Old Testament and New. Perhaps no issue confuses people as much as rightly determining which commands are for New Covenant people and how they are to obeyed.  Early in the history of our religion, an argument arose that continues still today: does almighty God command man to do that which he is unable to do? When Augustine wrote a prayer asking the Lord to command what He would and grant what He commanded, Pelagius went bonkers over the thought that God must grant the creature the ability to obey what God commanded. His view was that man must inherently be able to do what God commands him to do, as it violated his sense of “fairness” for God to command man to do what man could not.

In our day, many people think Matt 5:48 (be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect) is a command we can perform. This perspective is fraught with an unreasonably high opinion of man, missing the point that Christ alone is perfect and we can only be acceptable in the Father’s sight by being found in Him – not by working real hard trying to be perfect.

To properly interpret and apply commands from God, one must understand the context (historical and theological) and getting things in their proper order – commands follow and are applied according to identity; imperatives follow indicatives. The command to repent and believe on Christ can only apply to and be obeyed by one who has been regenerated and raised from spiritual death by the Spirit of God.

While not anywhere close to a comprehensive lesson on this topic, it’s important to grasp it in order to see why what the preacher in the following sermon did was so wrong. This is not an uncommon error, but it’s one we must be on guard against – no matter who is preaching.

The title of this problematic sermon is good (available here): 4 Marks of a Hell-Bound Man. It sounds like a message about indicatives that reveal one bound for hell. But the way John MacArthur preaches this sermon is to present each of the 4 marks as something you can choose to do if you want to go to hell – “How is it that people die in their sins unforgiven? How does that happen? Unjustified, unconverted, unregenerated, unredeemed and bound for everlasting hell. Well, there are four attitudes that guarantee you will die in your sin, four attitudes. If you want to die in your sin then these four things will make that a reality.”  These four attitudes, self-righteousness, worldliness, ignorance, and unbelief are each presented with this assessment: “You want to die in your sin? Be selfrighteous, worldly, unbelieving and willfully ignorant.” Continue reading

The Little God Who Can’t

The Little God Who Can’timages

Is God unable to save everyone he loves?  Here’s more thought on a delicate subject.

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In reading about the life of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, one cannot help being struck by the enormity of what a failure it all was.  There were grand and glorious promises made to the Hebrew people about their life in their promised land, but the writings of Moses also contained prophecies about a crashing destruction that would come upon their nation in the end.  What was God doing?  Why would he create such a grand experiment in the life of humanity knowing that it would only end in failure and tragedy?  Was God unable to make such a great and elaborate plan a success rather than a failure?  The answer, of course, is made plain in the New Testament.  God’s full intention was to show and prove to all people that man has sinned against the God who made him and fully deserves eternal death.  It was and still is a hard lesson to learn.

In our world today man still has not fully understood what it was that the failure of Israel taught us — that man cannot save himself by being “good” and keeping laws — or even by making correct decisions. Even a large part of the Christian community today believes in a religious system that leaves the far greater part of humanity in a burning hell rather than “saved” because they have not “done” something to make themselves acceptable to God.

To many Christians today God is a failure. He means well, but He just can’t get what He wants. He supposedly wants to save the whole world of humanity from hell, but that obviously is not happening; and people that he (supposedly) dearly loves are being separated from him for eternity. Popular Christian belief today requires that a person must first hear the gospel, believe it, then repent and confess their sin.  Then they can become born again and go to heaven. The truth is , however, that for the first 4,000 years of human history there was no New Testament gospel as we have it today.  And even in modern times the greater part of the world’s population still has not heard it.

Has Israel’s failure to save themselves in Old Testament times now become God’s failure in our time?  The choice of heaven or hell is now (supposedly) in the hands of man. God is excluded from the contest (gamble). He wants everybody to be eternally “saved,” but the losses are terrible, and hell is filling up with unbelievers who do not choose God. What can God do? He is powerless. He made the rules and now He must abide by them. Will He grieve forever because people He loves are in a state of eternal torment? Is this the God we believe in?  Is something wrong?

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Radio Pastor Loren Henry Wilson

Responsibility, Inability and Grace

A great review of important issues that bear on the essential doctrine of soteriology – how is one saved? By John Hendrix. accounted-as-righteousness_t_nv

Responsibility, Inability and Grace

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me…” – John 6:37

The truth of God’s word is honored not in holding exclusively to one truth to the exclusion of another truth, but in believing the whole counsel of God. The Bible plainly teaches that man is responsible to obey the summons of God to repent and believe the gospel just as it plainly teaches that he is morally unwilling and unable to do so. These two seemingly contradictory assertions can be reconciled when we understand that, after the fall, God’s perfect standard for holiness for man does not change … so even the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Christ who justifies sinners, can only belong to us, not by nature but by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness. Jesus says, “no one can come to me [i.e. believe in me] unless the Father who sent me grants it.” (John 6:54) Again, the Apostle Paul says, “And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).

Furthermore some teach that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his regenerative grace, we believe, will and desire to believe, but do not confess that it is by the work of renewal by the Holy Spirit within us that we even have the faith, the will, or the desire to do all these things; If we make the assistance of grace depend on our own wisdom, humility, prudence, obedience, sound judgment or good sense, but don’t agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, we then directly contradict the Scripture which says, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), and, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).

The following chart shows that the Bible clearly teaches both man’s responsibility to believe the gospel and his inability to do so. The third column helps us to understand how those whom God has set his affection on infallibly come to faith, in spite of this inability and, most of all, how this gives all glory to God in the work of salvation: Augustine once said, “God bids us do what we cannot, that we may know what we ought to seek from him.”

(This chart is loosely based on a chart by Lamar McKinney)

The Responsibility of Man

The Inability of Man

Monergistic Grace of God

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matt. 11:28

No man can come to me, . . .

John 6:44a

. . . except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:44b

…whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16

…men loved the darkness rather than the Light…and will not come into the light…

John 3:20, 21

..”But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

John 3:21

Note: there are, indeed, those who come to the light — namely those whose deeds are the work of God. “Wrought in God” means worked by God. Apart from this gracious work of God all men hate the light of God and will not come to him lest their evil be exposed.

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

Isa 55:6

There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

Rom 3:11

. . . I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

Rom 10:20b

This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ…

1 John 3:23

“…the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.

Romans 8:7

you do not hear, because you are not of God.

John 8:47

“…and these whom He called, He also justified;

Rom 8:30

…and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

Acts 13:48

God…commandeth all men every where to repent.

Acts 17:30

…the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him

John 14:7

“…if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.”

2 Tim 2:25

. . . whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Rev 22:17b

So then it is not of him that willeth, . . .

Rom 9:16a

“…but on God, who has mercy.” – Rom 9:16b

…Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,. . .

Ps 110:3a

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

Isa 45:22

. . . Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3a

. . . The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest . . . see that Just One, . . ..

Acts 22:14

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

John 1:12

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Cor 2:14

But as many as received him, . . . were born, not of . . the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:12-13

. . . if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, . . .

ROM 10:9

. . . no man can say that Jesus is Lord . . .

1 Cor 12:3b

. . . but by the Holy Ghost.

1 Cor 12:3b

. . . make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, . . ?

Ezek 18:31

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: . . .

Jer 17:9

A new heart also will I give you, . . . and I will take away the stony heart . . .

Ezek 36:26

“If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Matt 19:21

“Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”


Matt 19:23

“Then who can be saved?” And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matt 25b-26

God knoweth we have nothing of ourselves, therefore in the covenant of grace he requireth no more than he giveth, and giveth what he requireth, and accepteth what he giveth.” – Richard Sibbes

John Hendryx
Monergism

It Was a LIE!

Any Christian with basic knowledge of the Bible knew it was a false tale – a lie – from the very Heaven

beginning. But how many professing Christians were taken in? We who claim Christ should not be such easy targets for deceptive tales that rail against the Word of God given to us.

Now, the publisher, author, his parents, and who all else who was involved in allowing this take the country by storm admit is was a lie! Of course, the Washington Post has the story – when has that paper not delighted in trying to bring disgrace to the body and name of Christ.

Read it before they take it down – click this sentence to open the story on the Washington Post web site.

Here’s how it opens:

Tyndale House, a major Christian publisher, has announced that it will stop selling “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven,” by Alex Malarkey and his father, Kevin Malarkey.

The best-selling book, first published in 2010, purports to describe what Alex experienced while he lay in a coma after a car accident when he was 6 years old. The coma lasted two months, and his injuries left him paralyzed, but the subsequent spiritual memoir – with its assuring description of “miracles, angels, and life beyond This World” – became part of a popular genre of “heavenly tourism.”

Earlier this week, Alex recanted his testimony about the afterlife. In an open letter to Christian bookstores posted on the Pulpit and Pen Web site, Alex states flatly: “I did not die. I did not go to Heaven.”