Editor's note: Graham Ware interviewed Brad Jersak on the Rethinking Hell podcast (listen here). The following is the written correspondence version of the interview (not a transcript) so it includes some questions and answers not covered on the podcast. Graham also asked additional follow-up questions on the podcast not recorded here.
Right now, you wear many hats vocationally. Instead of me reading your CV, maybe you could sum up what it is you currently do vocationally (besides being the author of 13 books)?
- PTM/CWR editor-in-chief (www.ptm.org);
- core faculty at WTC (www.wtctheology.org.uk) teaching NT and Patristics;
- currently working on a new children's book, a novel and a modern English version of Gregory’s ‘On the Soul and the Resurrection.’
After being discipled in Moravian Brethren tradition, and attending an evangelical bible college and seminary, you have had some changes in your theological convictions, presumably not just on the issue of hell. Can you perhaps share how those changes came about and perhaps where you sit now? Not because we're enslaved to labels and affiliations, but just to get a sense of where you're coming from as you approach a theological topic.
Actually, my ancient heritage included Moravian Brethren, but in terms of actual upbringing:
- Baptist (from birth to 22 years old) - our eschatology was dispensational, including the rapture, tribulation and final judgement to either eternal life or eternal conscious torment.
- Mennonite (married in, became a member and ordained minister - from 22 to 32) - the teaching was more Gospels-centered and included the peace tradition, which led to nonviolent atonement.
- While there, I also experienced a warm connection with the Vineyard and its Kingdom theology influence (rooted in Ladd).
- Fresh Wind (from 33-43) - we planted a church for the marginalized, with an emphasis on inner healing and a revelation of Father’s heart, by the end of which, I seriously doubted that eternal conscious torment was the final word for the majority of humanity.
- After 10 years of friendship (and catechism) with Archbishop Lazar, I was chrismated Orthodox and ordained as a reader. In that tradition, God is not a punisher and they don't buy into penal atonement theories. They also permit us to hope for ultimate reconciliation.