According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, 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

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Jesus Creed - Discussions on Hell (July 2014 - July 2015)

Universalism and Death (by Jeff Cook)

This post is by Jeff Cook, and I am committed to giving space to Jeff’s public ruminations because they are reasonable and give us space to think through challenging topics with rigor. Jeff Cook: I’ve become convinced this year that the traditional view of hell will not last as a dominant theory among scholars for [Read More...]

Repainting Hell: Jeff Cook’s Closure

Jeff Cook teaches philosophy at the University of Northern Colorado. He is the author of Everything New: Reimagining Heaven and Hell(Subversive 2012), and a pastor of Atlas Church in Greeley, Colorado. You can connect with him at everythingnew.org and @jeffvcook. One thing I admire about Jeff Cook is his willingness to put his thinking on the line for others to debate, [Read More...]

Repainting Hell: The Argument from Location (Jeff Cook)

A solid number of theologians and scholars over the past century have questioned whether the church has understood hell correctly. The most widely held view has interpreted “hell” as “eternal conscious torment,” but this view is not as easily justified through the scriptures or through reason as we might think given its prominence. I wish [Read More...]

Repainting Hell 3: Jeff Cook

Repainting Hell : The Argument from Desire  (Jeff Cook) As Thomas Aquinas once offered five ways to know a God exists, so too I hope to offer five ways to know that hell is not “eternal conscious torment.” Like Aquinas, my arguments will be philosophical in nature. Though I think there are many solid biblical [Read More...]

Repainting Hell 2 (Jeff Cook)

Repainting Hell: The End of Evil  (Jeff Cook) As Thomas Aquinas once offered five ways to know a God exists, so too I hope to offer five ways to know that hell is not “eternal conscious torment.” Like Aquinas, my arguments will be philosophical in nature. Though I think there are many solid biblical reasons [Read More...]

Does God’s Mercy Endure Forever, or Does it End?

Rob Bell asked the question if God’s mercy would endure forever so that people would have opportunities to turn to God in the afterlife (postmortem opportunity = PO) or if that mercy would end at death. Bell’s answer was a deft move in rhetoric: love wins, he said. Dante’s famous Divine Comedy disagrees for in it we [Read More...]

Repainting Hell: C.S. Lewis and N.T. Wright (by Jeff Cook)

One of the features of this blog I like is the inclusion of disparate voices. I, Scot McKnight, am not the only voice; RJS is another voice; John Frye, Jonathan Storment, and Jeff Cook are other voices. And others send me posts and we post them to give yet more voices a platform to create [Read More...]

Is Heaven Vital for Morality or Not?

You may well recall the famous scene in Les Miserables in which Jean Valjean comes clean in public to take the place of another who was in fact on trial instead of himself (Valjean). The scene poses the moral theory called altruism, that is, that one does what is good for others in a disinterested manner. It [Read More...]

God’s Love and Hell

Here’s how he begins the chapter, with a question: How can hell exist if God is truly love and will bring his world to the perfect comic end we explored in the first chapter? The answer? Well, what I want to argue is that hell can exist precisely because God is love. Because God is [Read More...]

The Importance of Heaven and Hell

No one in the world has thought more about heaven, hell and purgatory than Jerry Walls. He has an academic, but accessible, book on each topic and now he has brought all his thinking together in one far more accessible, rearranged book called Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: A Protestant View of the Cosmic Drama. Just a few [Read More...]

Judgment Day: God’s Home Makeover

The very claim Christians have always made is that at some day God will judge us all.Every.last.one.of.us. The great, last judgment. The question many have against that claim is this: Is it all that simple, that God will save the Christians and all the non-Christians will be banned from God’s good, eternal blessedness? Yet, I think [Read More...]

“God is on a mission to get the hell out of earth”

I have been reading Joshua Ryan Butler’s The Skeletons in God’s Closet, the first major section in which is a study of hell – and how it fits into the Bible’s narrative. Hell without a story becomes a torture chamber. Butler begins by clarifying the all too common view of hell: We get hell wrong because we [Read More...]

Skeletons: Introducing Joshua Ryan Butler

I will tell you why I like Joshua Ryan Butler’s The Skeletons in God’s Closet: The Mercy of Hell, the Surprise of Judgment, the Hope of Holy War. Because he’s young and is sensitive to some of the Bible’s most sensitive issues (see the topics in that subtitle?), because he forges his way into these topics [Read More...]

Is the Lake of Fire Torture? Josh Butler

IS THE LAKE OF FIRE TORTURE? by Josh Butler, author of the just-out and excellent book, The Skeletons in God’s Closet. More about Josh below. Many a street preacher has used the “lake of fire,” an image in Revelation, to depict God as a sadistic torturer who likes to roast unrepentant rebels like kalua pigs [Read More...]

Evangelical Alliance Examines the Conditionalists

The Evangelical Alliance is the UK’s version of a genuinely evangelical and ecumenical organization. If I may, American evangelicalism has never been able to get along well enough to form such an organization (unless I’m mistaken). It seeks to bring together all of the UK’s evangelicals; it does not attempt to show how other (supposed) [Read More...]

Can Hell be Restorative?

Christopher Marshall, a professor at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, thinks so. While I’m not entirely sure he resolves the problems he generates, and he generates them as well as anyone I’ve read, his approach to the problem of hell (Rethinking Hell) is somewhere along the line of conditionalism or annihilationism or final radical [Read More...]

Terrance Tiessen’s Journey to Solve the Hell Problem

This post is by Terry Tiessen, and I use the post with his permission. I set out to write a blog post that grew rather large. So I have decided to split it into two posts, of which this is the first. Here I will relate the story of my long journey in quest of [Read More...]

Do All Humans have an Immortal Soul?

If you believe in the immortality of the soul, so it would seem, you would have to believe in endless punishment of the wicked or universalism. In the history of the church, belief in the immortality of the soul has been a constant. Not all, but most have believed God made humans immortal. While N.T. [Read More...]

The Bible’s General Trend and Hell

In the exceptionally useful anthology of scholarly pieces on conditionalism (or annihilationism) in Rethinking Hell (ed. C.M. Date, GG. Stump, J.W. Anderson), one of the most important contributions is by Harold E. Guillebaud, whose work is now harder to find (I find no copies available through Amazon). Guillebaud lays down some strong lines to open [Read More...]

The Clobber Text for ECT-ers

The clobber text for those who embrace eternal conscious torment is Revelation 14:11,with vv. 9-10 preceding it. Another way of saying this is that this is the defeater text for conditionalism; another way is to say this is the one text conditionalists have to use gymnastics to explain. Here it is: 9 If anyone worships [Read More...]

Book Review - Do We Need the New Testament?

Do We Need the New Testament? A Review

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 6.14.14 PMJohn Goldingay. Do We Need the New Testament?: Letting the Old Testament Speak for ItselfDowners Grove: IVP Academic, 2015. ISBN 978-0-8308-2469-4.
Review by Michael C Thompson, doctoral student at Northern Seminary.
Every now and then a book comes along that grabs your attention just by the topic or, as in this case, the title. Do we need the New Testament? is probably a question which most modern Christians have thought about before, and perhaps has the potential to disrupt more than a few people in the pew. But here Professor Goldingay goes directly at the issue of whether or not the Hebrew scriptures have lasting value in light of the New Testament. Given his passion for what he calls ‘The First Testament,’ he is certainly the right person to have authored a book such as this, which finds its foundation on his conviction of a certain unity and continuity between the two Testaments (9).
At the outset Goldingay gives us his answer, and also issues a challenge, “Yes, of course, we do need the New Testament, but why?” (7). This takes the all-too-common discarding of the significance of the First Testament in many contemporary expressions of Christianity and turns it on its head. As the author highlights the importance of the First Testament, the reader is met with statements that will certainly give pause for thought. “In a sense God did nothing new in Jesus. God was simply taking to its logical and ultimate extreme the activity in which he had been involved through the First Testament story” (12). The underlying perspective here is that we cannot rightly understand the New Testament – most importantly Jesus himself – if we do not pay attention to what we have been given in the First Testament. Does such a conviction still exist in our churches today?
The challenge given by Goldingay doesn’t allow for a simple check-the-box acknowledgment of inerrancy, but pushes the reader to better understand the significance of the Hebrew scriptures as a part of God’s grand story and revelation. “God’s promises are not all fulfilled in Christ (in the sense in which we commonly use the word fulfill), but they are all confirmed in Christ” (26, emphasis original). This, of course, leads to the question that is found in Chapter 2: Why Is Jesus Important? In framing this part of the discussion the author states, “In none of the Gospels does Jesus tell his disciples to extend the kingdom, work for the kingdom, build up the kingdom, or further the kingdom” (34).
This pushes the reader to a reconsideration of who Jesus was and what it was that he did. It appears that Jesus came to announce the kingdom, and to draw people into an experience of the kingdom. Thus, the church is called to live in holiness and spread the knowledge of God throughout the world (46). “Implementing God’s reign is fortunately God’s business” (47).
From this the book goes on to explore the presence of the Holy Spirit in the First Testament, and the nuance of language that expresses the understanding of the Spirit in that context. In this fourth chapter Goldingay introduces what he calls Middle Narratives, smaller narrative units that express the Bible’s story (72). The Bible does not come simply as one overarching theme, but also incorporates other “extensive expositions of part of God’s story” (88). This helps the reader better understand the movement of scripture’s story as well as its interconnectedness.
Key to this reading also is Chapter Five: How People Have Mis(?)read Hebrews. This particular discussion is quite insightful, as Goldingay seeks to recalibrate what many casual readings of Hebrews get wrong. It centers on the nature of sacrifice. In keeping with the overall theme of the book, Goldingay pushes the reader to consider the importance of the First Testament as foundational for understanding what the New Testament says of Christ. The notion of a new and better covenant is a key element as well, and here the connection is made between the church’s role as analogous to Israel’s role (97). In the end it is the uniqueness of Christ’s sacrifice that is highlighted, in that he offers an eternal salvation, which is not found in the First Testament (100). Such a reading is vital for understanding the story of salvation.
Chapter Six identifies the loss of First Testament spirituality, a lament for that which goes missing whenever the church ignores its spiritual heritage. This section centers on the way the First Testament presents a worship that is intended to encompass the whole of life, drawing the community deeper into God’s narrative as found in the gospel. Goldingay asserts that in the forfeiture of First Testament use this is lost: “But in worship we have given up on those” (107). He believes that the way forward in this (Chapter Seven) is in recovering a sense of memory as part of hope and life. There are some good perspectives on Israel’s memory found in this chapter, as Goldingay identifies it as the means by which preserves history and ethic within the community, even when such memories conflict (124).
So, what about those times when the New Testament changes the ethical ideals of the First Testament? Chapter Eight addresses this question, and the notion that the New Testament presents a higher or better standard of ethic. “Jesus’ talk of fulfillment and his subsequent examples, then, point to one aspect of what is involved in interpreting the ethical implications of the biblical material” (141). Once more, the continuity of the biblical story becomes key to understanding these dynamics. There is a hermeneutical discussion about how the New Testament interacts with the First Testament, and this chapter has good examples of this as well.
The final chapter is a good summary of the method of theological interpretation from which Goldingay works in this volume. In a sense, this conclusion is the drawn-together theory his study as a whole. As such, he makes good and challenging statements to the process of biblical interpretation: “Theological interpretation is proper exegesis” (160). Goldingay admits that there is a diversity in the New Testament’s view of the First Testament, in that there are a variety of readings that can be identified throughout (161), and he strongly asserts that being christocentric is not the aim of the biblical story, or even of Christ. Rather, the story of scripture and the work of Christ is to be theocentric, which helps define the unity of the two Testaments (162f.).
In the end, this book is accessible to the pastor and a good deal of laypersons, though many in the church might not be ready to think about biblical interpretation quite at this level. But for those asking questions about the relevance of the First Testament to the church, this is a great tool to begin such an investigation. Foundational for this study is the understanding of the work of Jesus, not in bringing a new revelation, but in his life and message that give significance “in who he was, what he did and what happened to him, and what he will do” as the central figure of God’s grand story (177).
Source Link - http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/07/18/do-we-need-the-new-testament-a-review/