Wretched Theology

February 25, 2011

As much as I don’t agree with the approach of Ray Comfort, he does strike me as a fairly humble and pleasant fellow. Meet Ray’s ugly stepsister, Todd Friel. Friel started out with Comfort’s “Way of the Master Radio” and eventually branched out on his own with “Wretched Radio” and a related TV show. Friel takes Comfort’s Kindergarten-level theology and adds to it heaping doses of self-assured condescension.

In the following clip, Friel’s target is William P. Young, author of The Shack:

What’s abundantly clear from the above clip is that Friel has no grasp of the distinction between universalism and inclusivism. Universalism holds that all will be saved. Period. Inclusivism, on the other hand, holds that while salvation is through Christ alone, it is not limited only to those who come to a knowledge of Christ. From the inclusivist perspective, it is possible for people who have not heard and accepted the gospel to be saved. This is why Young keeps bringing the interviewer back to the fact that salvation is accomplished through Christ’s work on the cross, not through a person’s choice.

Several times throughout the radio interview, Young makes it clear that he is not a universalist. He thinks some belief/acceptance of God is required. Yet, because he isn’t certain what that belief/acceptance must look like, he doesn’t purport to know with certainty the ultimate fate of every non-Christian. This is what gets Friel all hot and bothered. In his black and white world you either confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior or you’re doomed. He accuses Young of being slippery like the devil, when in reality Young just has a more cautious, nuanced soteriology.

Friel’s lack of theological depth is no more apparent than when he insists that if you don’t believe in penal substitution, you’re not a Christian. Wow. In one fell swoop, Friel has condemned the entire Roman Catholic church, the Eastern Orthodox church, and pretty much every Christian up until the Reformation. But that’s a topic for another day.

I’ll leave you with these words from Billy Graham:

I used to play God but I can’t do that any more. I used to believe that pagans in far-off countries were lost and were going to hell—if they did not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that … I believe that there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God—through nature, for instance—and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying ’yes’ to God.



  1. Friel has always infuriated me. He thinks he is so funny and smart, but all I think he really accomplishes is making people angry. And at the same time, as you so well point out above, he is clueless on so many basic ideas.

    And I LOVE that quote there from Billy Graham.

    I think I have found a friend in you. Keep writing, cause I’m reading. I am adding you to my Google reader.

  2. Thanks for the encouraging words, Jeremy. The subscriptions are mutual 🙂

  3. I just said a bad word. And one more. Chris, congratulations! You made me hate The Way of the Master even more. Didn’t think that was possible. What an utter douchebag! I didn’t really like “The Shack”, but I’m going to love it and defend it to the very end just because this guy disapproves.

    • I have to wonder what sort of Christian Friel appeals to. Perhaps the same crowd who enjoy Glenn Beck. Sometimes there’s a strong correlation between ignorance and arrogance.

  4. Arni is hilarious.

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