Joshua Tongol: Not Afraid To Question Religious Beliefs

 Joshua Tongol

Continuously questioning deeply held doctrines and tipping over sacred cows, Joshua Tongol challenges himself and others.

This is part of a series which I'm calling "Interesting Voices".  You can see the whole series here.  They run the spectrum from conservative to progressive, little known to well known.  They may or may not already be familiar with mirror-reading. I may or may not agree with them theologically, but regardless, I think they are interesting voices speaking to the Christian community today.  The purpose of the series is to both raise awareness of mirror-reading and to introduce you to these voices.

I first heard of Joshua while he was at Biola University.  He was the vanguard of a movement of healing and revival on the campus there at the time.  Since I had recently attended Biola and had also recently discovered the Charismatic side of Christianity, I had an immediate affinity for Joshua. 

Some may be uncomfortably with his in inclusion in my "Interesting Voices" series because of how far he's drifted from evangelical or even orthodox Christianity.  If he is a Christian, he would define it differently than most.  In fact, that's one of the points of frustration for those that seek to debate Joshua.  His paradigms are so different than most, one needs to define almost every theological term when talking with him and then you may even have to define the terms that define the those terms!  I may not agree with Joshua theological, but I decided to include him in this series because I think his journey is interesting, and because I'm not afraid of those who aren't afraid to ask questions.  I hope you aren't afraid either.

I've embedded quite a few videos below, which I don't normally do, but since much of what Joshua does is video based, I thought it would be appropriate to include a selection of videos and let Joshua speak for himself.

After graduating from Biola University and Talbot School of Theology, Joshua moved to the Philippines to be a missionary.   He has gained a following from his work in the Philippines and from his numerous videos and sermon jams.  You can watch him speak about his background below, but I'll just say that he's shifted from Pentecostal, to a cessationist/apologist, to a charismatic Christian, to radical grace, to law of attraction, to, well, I'm not sure where exactly he's at now.  He may not be either. And so his journey continues.  The videos below chronicle some of that journey.

Healing

Here is one of his first videos and he speaks about how he was healed from back pain as well as GERD:

You can also watch Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4. His story was also featured on 700 Club Asia.

After he experienced healing, Joshua had a passion for others to be healed.  Here's one of the first videos that records one of those healings:

Check out this other leg growing out

Another healing that happened during an encounter at the mall:

Radical Grace

Joshua eventually embraced what is sometimes referred to as the radical grace movement.  Here's a sermon jam where Joshua talks about radical grace:

Some of his other messages on radical grace include:

Superabounding Grace Sermon Jam
The Grace Revelation Sermon Jam
The "Dangerous" Grace Message

Questioning Doctrines

Joshua went on to question other doctrines.  Penal substitutionary atonement is often one of the first to be questioned.  That is also the case with Joshua:

Next, Biblical inerrancy begins to falter for him:

Recently, Joshua interviewed Peter Enns on "Why Defending the Bible Does More Harm Than Good":

Ultimately, radical grace isn't enough for him and he becomes a universalist

His first book "So You Thought You Knew: Letting Go of Religion" is the culmination of much of the questioning that he had been experiencing. Below is a chapter from the book:

Love Hermeneutic

Much of his theology is driven by what I call his "love hermeneutic".  Joshua determines what is right and wrong by whether it is loving or not.  And we know intuitively whether something is loving.

New Thought

Although he still embraces healing, he began to question the dynamics of it.

Eventually, he embraces New Thought and/or Law of Attraction.  This is something that I feel the Church as not really grappled with relative to it's growing popularity.  Joshua attempts to integrate it with his Christianity.  

Here are some video of Joshua talking about New Thought ideas:

How to Use Thoughts, Words, and Feelings to Create the Life You Want
The Power of THOUGHT & The Secret Laws of The Universe!

This marks a major shift in the ministry of Joshua as we see him move away from a Christ based message to a New Thought based message.  He soon produces his 2nd book "The Secret to Awesomeness"

Questioning Christianity

Recently, Joshua has really begun questioning Christianity altogether.

On his podcast, The Flipside, He's had some atheist or borderline atheist guests on recently:

Joshua Tongol and Mirror-Reading

It's difficult to pin Joshua down on a Bible verse.  If there is a verse in the Old Testament that doesn't support his position, then he'll say it's not valid because it's in the Old Testament, and we're no longer under the Old Covenant.  If there is a verse in one of the epistles that doesn't support his position, then it's not valid because we really should listen to only the words of Jesus (e.g. Red Letter Christianity).  If there is a verse that Jesus speaks that doesn't support his position, then it's not valid because Jesus spoke it before the New Covenant.  But ultimately, because of his "love hermenutic", he can invalidate a Bible verse simply because he intuitively knows it's wrong.

There's only one point that I'll tackle in regards to mirror-reading.  As mentioned above, Joshua excludes some words of Jesus from being relevant to us because spoke them before the New Covenant.  However, the Gospels are not just a historical record of the life of Jesus.  They were crafted to address issues in the Church AFTER the New Covenant was established.  If some words of Jesus were not relevant because he spoke them while the Old Covenant was in place, then why did the Gospel authors write to the Church about it?  If they wrote about it, it must have been relevant.  If you haven't already, be sure to check out my video on mirror-reading narratives.  It's one thing to disagree with a Bible verse, it's another to disagree with it because of a misunderstanding of why the Gospels were written. (Edit: My comments regarding Joshua's approach to the Bible are based on what he has previously articulated and do not represent his current views)

Questions For Joshua Tongol

I’ve listed a couple of open questions to Joshua below. I welcome a response from Joshua, whether as a guest post, a response on his own blog or simply in the comments below.

1. What are your thoughts on mirror-reading?
2. Do you want to respond to anything that I've written above?

Questions For My Readers

What do you think of Joshua? Do you agree with his take on things? Who else do you think is an "interesting voice"?