According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Debating Hell in Evangelic Circles

I may temporarily follow this conversation to see where it goes but I would much rather post a couple good articles about biblical theology pertaining to Hell, Sheol, Hades, etc, than follow two evangelicals debating their positions. That said, forgive me for my curiosity. In the end I may simply delete these pertinent blog articles in favor of the aforementioned. Till then let's follow for awhile and see what comes....

(ps. Mark Galli's CT article says nothing new and rings with the ever true statements that when God speaks to us it seems always "surprising" to our minds and hearts even though tried-and-true doctrines have been known and critiqued. Still, its nice to hear fellow believers lead off with the acknowledgement to "Spirit illumination," for that appeals to my understanding of man's humility to all things "God.")

skinhead
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Mark Galli to Jeff Cook to Francis Chan
 
Scot McKnight
May 26, 2011
 
Mark Galli, senior managing editor at Christianity Today, responds today to Jeff Cook’s post yesterday. Mark has written a book that will be out shortly that responds to Rob Bell with the title God Wins: Heaven, Hell, and Why the Good News Is Better than Love Wins.

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"In the End, We Can Trust"

by Mark Galli, senior managing editor, Christianity Today

In a recent blog post here, Jeff Cook took aim at a video by Francis Chan, the author of a forthcoming response book to Rob Bell’s Love Wins. I took note, naturally, since my response book, God Wins, is coming out in the next month as well. I’ll admit I was self-centeredly looking for “ammunition” that would set my book apart.

But after reading Cook’s critique, I found myself in the awkward position of feeling compelled to defend an author whose book will be in “competition” with mine! But it appears the Chan and I are both partial to one biblical argument.

Let’s begin with the critique.

… it seems to me that those who affirm the traditional view of hell need to do more than say “this is what the Bible says and we’re just repeating it.” Everyone involved in the debate about hell right now is saying “the Bible says”. What those who affirm the traditional view must show is why that view is worthy of devotion.

There is a way of saying, “The Bible says…” to shut off all conversation. I doubt if Chan is saying this, and I certainly don’t say this. Cook is right to critique a Biblicism that would do this sort of thing.
In addition, Cook is on to something when he implies that we need to do more that merely repeat the Bible. We are called by Jesus to preach the Word, not merely read the Word. So that requires explanation of some sort. Some of those explanations will help us understand more deeply biblical teachings that are unpalable in our age. But sometimes we won’t be able to do that because the mystery is so deep.

The problem with the wording of Cook’s conclusion is this: It suggests that our job is to try to justify the ways of God. But of course, it is not our job to show people why God or his truth is “worthy of devotion”–as if there were a reason above and apart from God that would justify his truth to us. Instead, his truth comes to us unbidden, sometimes in the starkest of terms—“and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” Who can possibly unravel the mystery, and yes, offense, of this “simple” biblical truth? So the truth often comes to us in terms that defy our ability to grasp it or explain it in ways that shows it worthy of belief, let alone devotion.

While the paradoxes of divine justice make us balk in our age, it has been the paradoxes of the Trinity or the Incarnation or grace that have caused other eras to demand that these shown to be worthy of devotion. But to succumb to this demand is to let our presuppositions run the show, when it is biblical revelation that is in charge of the business of theology. When we succumb to this demand, we invariably end up with an extra-biblical explanation that undermines the faith (tri-theism or modalism, Arianism, etc.)

The truth of the matter is that the faith will always be a stumbling block, for different reasons in different eras. In many instances, all we can say is “The Bible says…” as long as we do not mean the Bible as a magic book but the Bible as the revealed Word of God.

This does not mean we should not ask the toughest of questions. We have that freedom in the grace of God to do so. Many biblical characters are shown doing just this, to the point of insolence sometimes! But note how, in the end, even the Academy award-winning questioner of God, Job, concludes the matter:
“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. (Job 42:2-3)
At the end of the day, the Christian is not called to have answers to the deepest theological perplexities, nor to justify the ways of God to man, but to point to Jesus Christ on the Cross. There we see God as both perfectly just and perfectly merciful. How he solves that which we only see as impossible dilemmas, I do not know, but with a God of pure justice and pure mercy, all things are possible. And after we’ve asked our questions and mightily wrestled with them, we can feel free to leave things we do not understand, things too wonderful for us, in the hands of a good God.

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