Parable From Hell

scot-mcknight1One of my favourite Bible teachers is Scot McKnight. I appreciate his historical study of Scripture, his respect for church history and also for his strong focus on helping the church be what God has called it to be in the 21st century.

He recently gave a short teaching at Fuller Theological Seminary in which he looked at Luke 16:19-31, which is Jesus’ well-known parabolic teaching on hell (or really hades).

In the short teaching, McKnight says that our focus on this parable is not really in line with Jesus’ main point. The text isn’t given so much to teach us whether God’s judgement entails eternal conscious punishment or that of annihilationism. Rather this parable teaches us something connected to the figure of Lazarus.

What is it? Watch the short teaching below. And just to say, as the teaching finished, tears began welling up in my eyes. Continue reading

Wrong Angle on God’s Judgment

I recently read some of the blog posts on the topic of God’s holiness and wrath by neo-reformed blogger, Tim Challies. You can catch all 4 parts here – part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.

First off, let me begin by saying I have great respect for Tim Challies, and other neo-reformed folk. Not so much because I agree with their every theological approach. But because they typically engage and interact with great humility. All could learn a thing of two from these brothers and sisters.

Nevertheless, there is a problematic trend that I tend to see amongst those of the neo-reformed paradigm when they address topics like judgment, God’s holiness and the ever-growing popular topic of hell. I am very familiar with the particular approach because I would have argued very similarly in past days. Continue reading

The Gates of Hades Shall Not Prevail…And Church Growth?

This morning, I picked up a copy of a book on one of the shelves at Cornerstone. The book is on church planting and is entitled Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century (second edition). Yes, I know, crazy that I’m reading a paper copy of a book these days. It does happen…a little.

Even crazier just might be the fact that I’m reading an American author on church planting. Planting churches is something deeply embedded within me, but in the past, I would have been quite closed to engaging with American thoughts around church planting and growth. It’s mainly because I have not been pleased with the normative approach in such discussions – a more capitalistic focus. But, in what I hope is an effort in growth in humility, I have begun to let down my guard to being so anti-American on things to do with the church. It’s somewhat hip to find yourself in such a camp today (even if you are a part of the American church). And while I don’t think I will find all the answers to church planting and growth in this book, I am convinced I can, and will, learn something from this book. Continue reading

Edward Fudge & The Fire That Consumes

Below is a video teaching of Edward Fudge at Lanier Theological Library in which he addresses the doctrine of hell. Fudge is author of the book, The Fire That Consumes, which presents a case around what is known as annihilationism. This particular view states that the ‘fire’ of judgment is not given for eternal torment but to do just what every fire was meant to do, that is consume (or annihilate) the wicked. It is in contradistinction to the more popular view amongst evangelicals known as eternal conscious torment that says all wicked will be tormented forever as part of God’s judgment. The fire-torment will never end.

I’ve not yet read this particular book, though I had to engage with the debate in seminary as my systematics professor, Robert Peterson, is one of the great modern defenders of eternal conscious torment. Fudge and Peterson debated things in the book, Two Views of Hell. And I am becoming more aware of the in’s and out’s of the two views: annihalitionism and eternal conscious torment. Not to mention the third view known as evangelical universalism or ultimate reconciliation, which is not a nothing-matters universalism, but that all will ultimately be reconciled to God because of the work of Jesus Christ. One of the more well-known works describing this third position is Gregory MacDonald’s (or Robin Parry’s), The Evangelical Universalist. The name, Gregory MacDonald, comes from two of the more well-known evangelical universalists in church history, Gregory of Nyssa and George MacDonald. Continue reading

Rob Bell’s Editor Speaks

Yesterday, Scot McKnight posted an article for discussion. It centres around a recent article published by Rob Bell’s editor at HarperOne, Mickey Maudlin.

The article by Maudlin starts off this way:

Nothing makes me more proud than to see a book I edited reach a wide audience. By that measure, I should be beaming over Rob Bell’s Love Wins. And I am. Not only has it spent fifteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list (as of this writing), Rob has personally heard from hundreds of readers about how his book has been “a cure,” “healing,” “a lifesaver,” or has allowed them to connect or reconnect with the church.

Still, I cannot shake a deep sadness about the book. Considering how corrosive the effects can be on those who have been told they are “special” or that they are “God’s voice for a generation,” I was pleasantly surprised at the beginning of our work together to discover Rob to be a great listener and partner, eager for feedback, a hard worker, fun, and deeply grounded spiritually. He knew what God wanted him to do, and not do, and what his priorities were.  At heart he is a pastor and an evangelist whose ambition is to overcome barriers to the gospel. In that way, he reminds me of Billy Graham. Continue reading