My Brother in a Box

My Brother in a Box

Recent happenings in the Evangelical world and the world as a whole have piqued my thinking to write about my brother, whom the last I knew, was in a box.

I quote from another of my brothers, Joe Cooper, who wrote in his book “Cooper History”, the following:

” If Lawrence Bernice Cooper had any honors, it would be that he sired eleven children.  they are Faith (b. 10/22/1946, d. 11/15/1946), Hope (b. 10/22/1946, d. 10/22/1946 – born dead), John Anthony (b. 1/15/1949), David Allen (b. 7/11/1952), Joseph Ray (b. 4/1/1956), Jannelle [sp] Marie (b. 6/28/1957), Marita Carol (b. 10/31/1960), Angela May (b. 11/26/1962), Paula Florence (b. 7/21/1965), Paul Lawrence (b. 7/21/1965, d. 4/30/1966).  As can be seen, Lawrence and Charity had two sets of twins.  Only one (Paula) survived.  At nine months of age, the lastborn, Paul, contracted quick pneumonia and died in a Terra Haute hospital.  It was an extremely sad time for the family.  Joe remembers how his father sat at his place at the end of the table and cried uncontrollably while he tried to talk to Myrtle Taylor.  Myrtle tried to console him but only time could do that.  Joe remembers Lawrence telling her as he sobbed, “I would rather have lost my whole farm than to have lost Paul.”  Myrtle responded by saying, “Oh now Lawrence, you would not!”  Lawrence thereupon replied, “Oh yes I would!  I would rather have lost my whole farm than to have lost Paul!”  Joe remembers to this day the agony and pain and misery in his father’s face.  It was the only time he saw him cry.

But pain was also felt when his first children were born.  They too were twins.  The date was October 22, 1946.  Charity screamed and yelled at thirty-year-old Lawrence to get her to the hospital.  Dad rushed her to the hospital and in the process collided with a city bus.  Hope was born dead.  Faith lived only three weeks.

But for those children who survived – perhaps that is the measure of Lawrence’s success in the world.  He worked hard in an effort to provide.  Not only did he farm his acreage, he also helped area farmers as a farmhand and grain hauler.  He was also an excellent gardener, raising more than enough for the family.”

I can add a little to that story my brother, Joe, may not know about….  I was the one at about 17 years old who drove my mother and brother, Paul, to the doctor when my mother first realized his sickness was serious.  I remember my father, Lawrence, telling me between the time Paul died and before his funeral, that my father had carried his son, Paul, my brother, out of the hospital that night in a little box.  My dad said in a chocking voice, “that is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life”….  I can remember now, that at my brother Paul’s funeral, it was the saddest thing I had experienced in my life at that time.  It was not an open casket funeral, to my recollection…

The last I remember, my brother Paul was still in that little box……

I think what prompts me to write about this is the virulent disagreement among some Christians concerning Rob Bell’s book, “Love Wins”.  In the book Rob Bell offers hope for humanity, that all is not lost, that in the end, Love Wins.  Only a few will “go to hell”  and hell is not permanent, and other such thoughts that to some smack of the label, “Universalism”, perhaps first attributed to the early Christian father, Origen.  The criticism and controversy began even before the critics actually read the book…  The mere thought of the labels “Universalism”, and “Post-Mortem Evangelism”, and other such labels that have been applied to some Christians for centuries, seem to have brought this criticism out quickly.

May I ask, Is Evangelical Christianity locked up cognitively in a box?

Although Love Wins is written from a populist style, not a scholarly genre, can we as Christians, and others who have different belief systems at least imagine that God could even think this way?

Mr. Bell claims in his book that he is not a Universalist, and his reasoning is essentially, as I understand it, that man, given free will, will of necessity have a free will choice to reject God.  The vast majority, however, will be won over by God’s love in the end.

I could write in detail and bring up scriptures that support Mr. Bell’s viewpoints, and well as other scriptures that seem to disagree, but predominately, my viewpoint is the same as Rob Bell’s.

I will only refer to some of the scriptures I am thinking of and quote them from memory to avoid bogging down this article for now:

“As in Adam, all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

“All things in heaven and earth, and under the earth will be put under His feet.”

“At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess”

And, concerning Hell lasting forever, “death and hell will be cast into the grave”

“there shall be no more tears”

There are many, many others…..

I have discussed lately some of these Scriptures with my Evangelical brothers in Christ….  Some of them have said, and will say, “no, that is not what those scriptures mean”  Some have even been provoked by even thinking such thoughts…  Good!

Let’s all, including myself, get our minds out of the box we are in…..  Can we imagine that God might even change His mind, and so to speak reprogram the future, in view of our willingness to think of all the good things He could possibly do, as the God of possibilities?  Can we think of some good news, not bad news?

Can we think of a God who comes to judge, opening up the book of life, and will predominately judge almost everyone, excepting those who reject his goodness, Not Guilty!?

Can we think of this God, who scours the universe, and the those cast into the sea, perhaps the sea of Japan, and those beheaded and the head cast to pigs to eat, the body thrown into the river, the women and men impaled upon a stake, herded into a barn to be set on fire, fed to lions in the Roman Coliseum, or, even my brother, Paul, put into a box and buried before he ever had an opportunity to hear the Gospel (Good News, I might add), and either accept or reject Jesus?  Or, how about those aborted, or born dead?  How about those before the cross?  I am reminded of Isaiah 45, that one of my close Evangelical friends thankfully brought to my attention which also confirms that “every knee will bow and every tongue will swear”….Among other wonderful concepts of the Goodness of God portrayed by the prophet, Isaiah…..

Well, what about my brother, Paul, will he, or won’t he?

Will he be in hell forever?

I was thinking of this quote from C.S. Lewis:

“Do you mean then that Hell – all that infinite empty town – is down in some little crack like this?”


“Yes. All Hell is smaller than one pebble of your earthly world: but it is smaller than one atom of this world, the Real World [Heaven]. Look at yon butterfly. If it swallowed all Hell, Hell would not be big enough to do it any harm or to have any taste.”


“It seems big enough when you’re in it, Sir.”


“And yet all loneliness, angers, hatreds, envies and itchings that it contains, if rolled up into one single experience and put into the scale against the least moment of the joy that is felt by the least in Heaven, would have no weight that could be registered at all. Bad cannot succeed in being bad as good is good. If all Hell’s miseries together entered the consciousness of yon wee yellow bird on the bough there, they would be swallowed up without trace, as if one drop of ink had been dropped into that Great Ocean to which your terrestrial Pacific itself is only a molecule.”

– The Great Divorce


To me, although not exactly the orthodox view of hell after Dante, this seems more like what I believe the Holy Spirit I personally believe I know would think about hell, if hell is not annihilation……  However, not having perfect knowledge, I yield to God’s Truth, whatever it is…

To me, to go to hell must be a choice, and to reject God who loves us must be a choice….  I believe hell is a choice we ourselves make, a choice we choose to live in now, and a choice we choose to inhabit if hell were to last through eternity.

Will the Scriptures be fulfilled by every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord, by force?  Or, will it be willing Love for Jesus, our Savior, once we see Him in the light of His glory?  Does Love win?  Or, does it not?

Which is it?

I am not God, and whatever it is, I Love God and believe He is just…

If I had my preference, I would like to see my brother, Paul, out of the box, again….  That would make my father happy too, and wipe away every tear from his eyes, forever….  unless he too is consigned to hell, as some who knew him believe….. (I do not.)  Will a father ever forget the ones he loves?  Will a Father ever forget the ones he loves?

If I had my preference, I would rather see some of my Evangelical Christian friends out of the box, again….  cognitively speaking…

I would like to see the whole world out of the box….  That would make me happy, and I really believe that would make my Father happy too!

For all, who have loved, and lost, let us hope together…  God is Good…


Grace & Peace,

John Cooper



Hopes and Dreams

Hopes and Dreams

Are all our hopes and dreams forgotten?

Maybe it was when we were young once…..

Maybe it was when we were old once, and contemplating no more hopes and dreams…..

Maybe it was when we imagined once that the world could change, be a Garden set in Eden, again….

Maybe we could dress and keep it….

Maybe we could see Adam and Eve again…

Maybe Cain and Abel….

Maybe Isaac and Ishmael…

Maybe Jesus and Barabbas….

Maybe Muhammad, Martin, and Abraham….

Maybe when we see all who have ever looked into the future, and had dreams….

Maybe they are not all forgotten….

The OMNI Presence of God


The OMNI Presence of God

I think about God a lot… I was thinking the other day about God and my thoughts went to Jesus on the cross…. Many believe Jesus is God, but how can a God who is one, be a God who is Jesus at the same time? This is a question that many may ask…. God in Jesus and the Holy Spirit is a dividing point between Jews and Muslims who are strict monotheists….

The passage I was thinking of in this regard is:

Eph 2:14-22

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.



Many who know me know of my inclinations toward Peace…. I am a part of Circles of Peace ( which is an affiliate of FOR, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the oldest Peace and Nonviolent organization still active in the world today… Perhaps my thoughts went to this passage while I was thinking of God, just because that is the way I am, the way I have become, in my journey with God….

Some would say that we are faced with a problem, or more than one, in this passage…. How can Jesus be our peace? How could Jesus just go around making peace like this, by fiat, so it may seem? How can different peoples become one? And, how can we be a dwelling place for God? For that matter, how can One God be alive and ruling the universe, and dead and be Jesus on the cross at the same time, let alone be the Holy Spirit, and be in us too, all at the same time?

How can two be one?  How can God revealed in three persons (hypostasis) Father, Son, Holy Spirit, be one?

OMNI presence, if you will, a way Greeks like perhaps Aristotle and Plato thought about God… A way of thinking about God that has filtered down into our Western concepts of thinking, although do not really understand it, being in only one place and time at the same time….

The Apostle Paul must have thought some about this matter also…. While speaking to the Greeks, he said:

Acts 17:24-28

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28’For in him we live and move and have our being .’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’


It seems we are all included… Jews, Greeks, Christians, Muslims, Everyman….. Included in the unfathomable love of God, who died for ALL, who wants to bring about Peace, not only vertically with God, but horizontally between all of us who live and move, and breath, and have our being…..

God, being OMNI present, and all of that stuff, can do it… He can be in you, in me, at the same time, otherwise, we would just evaporate into nothingness…

Then, after thinking of these things, I was thinking of how big a sinner once was, and still am, for that matter, just not quite so big as I used to be, maybe….

I used to be mean… I used to love to fight… In my teenage years I began coming to a greater understanding of the Peace and love of God for all mankind and even became a conscientious objector by the time I was 19 or 20, or so… I think one of the roots of my understanding of God came while I was a boy on our family farm in Illinois… I used to take a BB Gun out and just kill birds for the sport of it… I would take a 22 rifle out to hunt rabbits, just for the sport of it… One day while walking beside a field by burbling creek, I spotted a possum and decided to shoot it…. It did not just die all at once, as you see on TV when someone gets shot…. Nothing just dies all at once… Jesus did not die all at once… He suffered… I shot the possum… I shot the

possum several times… It did not die all at once… I thought maybe it was just playing dead and poked it until I was sure it was dead, taking what seemed to me like quite a long time to kill a possum… Now I did not need to kill that possum… I had no intention of eating the possum… I did not need the food… It gets worse…. I examined the dead body of the possum and found a living litter of baby possums in the possum’s pouch… they would also die.. They had no mother… They had no food… I felt really, really, bad… I still feel bad thinking of it. I can tell you today within just a yard or so of where all this happened… I can take you there and show you…. I am sorry… I was bad, very bad…

In time, I began to quit thinking like a boy, and began to think like a man, but these thoughts will always stay with me…

Now, when I think about God, I think about the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus… Who, has made peace with me, and with all mankind, and offered God’s forgiveness for all mankind, if we will receive it… Will some be lost? Probably, for this is a matter of a free choice to choose the peace God wants us so desperately to have, not only vertically, with Him, but horizontally, with all tribes and nations… Some may refuse this Goodness, but I believe with all my heart that it will only be a refusal after hearing the Gospel of Peace, and experiences the Peace we have in Jesus… He IS our Peace…. Let us choose Him…

Grace and Peace,

John Cooper