Some random, contradictory thoughts on Hell. Discuss.


Rothko-untitled-2Below, you’ll find a random assortment of 30 completely disjointed musings on Hell. Each paragraph is its own statement, in no particular order. This is not meant to be a discussion of where I currently land on this issue. I’d love to just get your thoughts. Respond as you like, below.

(1) In the past 10 to 15 years, the American Church saw a new emphasis on Idolatry as the foundation of sinfulness, rather than “Law-breaking”. I’m starting to see a new re-emphasis on Law-Breaking and Hell as punishment for this. And yet, the “Law” is always connected to God’s Image and Character, and so Law-Breaking is living by a wrong law, or image, and therefore is idolatry. We have an analogy for how a Judge responds to breaking the law, and this leads to the popular view of Hell since Medieval times. But what is the analogy for the response to transgressing an image?

(2) Can any Universalist tell me what the point of missions or Evangelism is in this life, if their perspective is true?
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When easy & simplistic proof-texting trumps the nuance & complexity of wrestling pastorally with the text


On Tumblr, a very, very dear friend posted this earlier, in support of the Doctrine of Double Predestination, which says that in eternity past, God predestined not only who would be saved (apart from their own works), but also those who would not be saved (apart from their own works):

“They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.” 1 Peter 2:8

Double predestination

#it’s biblical

In one of the most widely used Bible commentaries in existence, I found these words written about this verse, starting with commenting on the word “also” (which isn’t found in my friend’s translation of the verse). I’ve changed some formatting and some grammar to make it easier to understand. Enjoy:

“also” [as in "as they were also destined to do";  this is in the Greek, though Revelation 19's translation doesn't have this]—[this is] an additional thought; God’s ordination; not that God ordains or appoints them to sin, but they are given up to “the fruit of their own ways” according to the eternal counsel of God. The moral ordering of the world is altogether of God. God appoints the ungodly to be given up unto sin, and a reprobate mind, and its necessary penalty.

The phrase “Were appointed,” (Greek, “set,”) is an answer to the “I lay,” (Greek, “set,”) found in 1Pe 2:6.

God, in the active, is said to appoint Christ and the elect (directly). Unbelievers, in the passive, are said to be appointed (God acting less directly in the appointment of the sinner’s awful course) [Bengel]. God ordains the wicked to punishment, not to crime [J. Cappel].

“Appointed” or “set” (not here “FORE-ordained”) refers, not to the eternal counsel so directly, as to the penal justice of God. Through the same Christ whom sinners rejected, they shall be rejected; unlike believers, they are by God appointed unto wrath as fitted for it.

***The lost shall lay all the blame of their ruin on their own sinful perversity, not on God’s decree; the saved shall ascribe all the merit of their salvation to God’s electing love and grace.***

(from the “Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible)

What are your thoughts on this issue? How important do you think it is in the grand scheme of the Gospel?

Trusting in our theology vs. Trusting in Jesus {guest post}


bosch-christ-carrying-the-crossToday’s post is by one of my oldest and best friends, Whit Wilson. He is currently in his first year in a master’s in counseling program at Biblical Seminary, just outside Philadelphia. I hope you get to hear more from him as he continues his education.

In the first year of my current program, three classes are required relating to the use of the Scriptures in counseling. Class 1 focuses on an overall interpretational approach to Scripture, class 2 is on the Old Testament, and class 3 is on the New Testament.

This semester my cohort and I are in the New Testament class with an eccentric and somewhat unorthodox professor who enjoys challenging various long-held theological assumptions and beliefs with the goal of helping us freshly think through these issues (everything from gender roles to homosexuality to the afterlife). I can’t say that I agree with him on everything (or most things for that matter), but I have enjoyed his fresh approach and the way he encourages us to think critically about how we use and interpret the Bible.
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Weekly Must-Reads {03.21.11}


I will be spending most of this week at a conference in St. Louis (see below). Blogging might be a little light. I may try and sneak away at some point, but I can’t make any promises. For that reason, this week’s Weekly Must-Reads list is a little longer than usual. In it, we have articles about fat Christians, single Christians, disagreeing “liberal” Christians, and other writings about business and the media. People really seemed to enjoy the last list I posted. I hope this one also serves you all well. And remember: comment, comment, comment!

Liturgy, Music, & Space | Bifrost Arts

This is the conference that I will be attending this week (Facebook page). It’s being put on by an artist’s collective known as Bifrost Arts. They have some amazing music that you should all check out, including one of the most beautiful Christmas album I’ve ever heard. Also check out this video of some of the things they are doing.

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