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July 25, 2011

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Wayne Northey

Amen, Brad!

Larry, how about working on Brad's challenge? I've sure missed the friendship!

BTW: You may wish to read my novel about our West Berlin experience, and give me your observations. It's called "Chrysalis Crucible": http://chrysaliscrucible.blogspot.ca/

Brad Jersak

While there has always been a doctrine of divine judgment in Christian theology, including the teachings of Jesus, this judgment is not equivalent to eternal conscious torment across the board. One might move beyond Carson to read the Fathers themselves on this, who were certainly not in agreement that the references to fiery judgment were either eternal or always punitive or even always in the life to come.

So too with Jesus. His references to Gehenna are very much in the Jeremiah tradition linking Gehenna to literal destruction in this life (esp. of Jerusalem), which is why the NKJV translates Gehenna, not as hell, but as destruction. See on this Nik Ansell, 'Hell, the Nemesis of Hope?' at http://theotherjournal.com/2009/04/20/hell-the-nemesis-of-hope/

Still, I would agree that we must take Jesus language of judgment seriously, including the rather wrathful images in his parables that often suggest nothing restorative. But to read eternal conscious torment into them IS reading into them. Even if they do refer to the 'final' judgment of Rev. 20, one must remember that Rev. 20 is not the last word. In Rev. 21-22, the ever open gates of the City, the perpetual invitation to the waters of life, and the trees of life that heal the inflowing nations all leave us with mercy triumphing over judgement for the very same list of the wicked who were cast into the lake of fire.

As I read those texts, there is a genuine offer, not a unilateral guarantee, so I stop shy of automatic universalism. There is a hypothetical possibility that some could still resist such an invitation if it demands that they have their robes washed in the blood of Jesus. But are they consigned without hope to eternal conscious torment? The last chapters of the Bible sure don't say that. I wonder why they are so consistently ignored in discussions when the lake of fire is so often assumed as the lens through which to interpret Jesus' references to judgement.

Ken Silva

"One may legitimately ask: Is the doctrine of hell as “just eternal conscious torment”, and related “just war” and “just retribution”, arguably Christianity’s “deepest self-deceit”?"

No, the doctrine of hell has always been a part of the historic orthodox Christian faith because Jesus Himself taught it.

I will offer you'd benefit from this by Dr. D.A. Carson: http://vimeo.com/25464440

Brian Zahnd

The cartoon.

So orthodoxy is a comfortable cruise ship?

And those menacingly sneering at Bell are sharks?

Hmm?

I don't think that was the cartoonist's intention, but "hmm?" nevertheless.

BZ

Brad Jersak

Hi Wayne,

Just to clarify, I didn't intend an admonition in your direction. My concern is primarily with those who've become personally hateful in their attempts to drown out this conversation, and secondarily, with authors who are watering down the important scholarly work that needs to be done by rushing out spin-off books to try to take advantage of the sales rush in Bell's wake.

Wayne Northey

Thanks Brad. I feel necessarily and appropriately admonished by you (not for the first time!)... To paraphrase Doug Frank cited above: " In our very protests of [Gospel faithfulness], we find occasion for our deepest self-deceits." Sigh...

Thanks for your gift of wisdom and a gentle spirit.

Wayne

Brad Jersak

It seems everyone is jumping on the 'knee-jerk reaction to Rob Bell' bandwagon with their two cents lately, so this title, however good, probably won't make the stack of books by my bedside. Yet I did read Dixon's first book when in came out -- I must say, he stated the biblical and theological issues so fairly and clearly that without intending it, he was a key player in paving my way out of dogmatic infernalism.

In this sequel, maybe it's not fair to judge a book by its cover, or to assume the contents from the artwork. But we could at least judge the cover by its cover, right? I thought Wayne was quite creative in reframing the story that the cover art was telling.

For my part, I am more and more convinced that the term 'Orthodoxy' is being bandied about far too sloppily by those who conflate it with conservative modern(ist) Protestantism. Bell may rowing his boat away from the Reformed evangelical tradition, but that stream of Christian faith does not hold a monopoly on 'biblical orthodoxy,' does it? Calvin rowed away from that ship long ago. Through a thorough reading of the Patristics, one could even make a case that on some fronts, Bell et al are meandering their way back to the mothership. In any case, there are some important dialogues ahead among those who remember they are brothers and sisters in Christ. In my mind, the sharks represent meanness that would creep in to degrade honest discussions into inquisitions and accusations.

For that reason, I would love to see Wayne and Larry reacquaint to model how 'differences should not affect friendships, nor friendships differences.'

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