The “Hell” talk in particular, feels like an opportunity to discuss some EU or at least related topics, like postmortem salvation or the problem of evil continuing in Hell when God promised to have total victory over it. I wonder if there will be a Q&A session after the talk, or perhaps I could ask some questions on the public FaceBook page for the event.
The minister who has been meeting up with me to help me work through EU. Given the last 2 talks are* The End: Hell* & The End: Heaven, I’m guessing it will be a case of “in the end, you end up in either Hell or Heaven”, however, given he has just finished reading TEU, maybe he’ll surprise me
, I"]Evening introduction
Core of Christianity is about Jesus. God is completely in control and lavishly loves us. The Cross was the beginning of the End. New world already dawned.
Bible reading for talk
Matt claims that Jesus is the center of power. Hell isn’t a rival kingdom. The end isn’t dualism. Christianity is sometimes seen as a crutch, just wishful thinking. Hell shouldn’t be something anyone wishes for! We believe in it only because Jesus speaks of it in the Bible. Therefore, we dare not speak about. So why do we avoid talking about Hell? We naturally want to remove it.
John is painting the gruesome end to which God is bring evil. It’s hard to talk about it because it’s so vivid and full-on. Too brutal to contemplate. Default is to disbelieve it. Compassion kicks in for those we love. How can it be fair? Can God really be that angry at sin? It’s symbolism, but that just means it will be a lot worse then the imagery (Tim Keller). How can we live with it, daily meeting people going to hell? We just want to not think about it. However, we don’t want to live in denial, but in reality. Jesus had plenty to say on Hell.
The heart of the story isn’t about Hell, it’s about Jesus’ Judgement. This life determines our location in the next. And it’s decisive & permanent. Some people see this passage as a proof for inclusivism, but that’s weak because Matt is pessimistic about anyone being good enough. Anyway, it’s about Jesus & how people treat and care for His brothers - His people. Rom 2:16 Tells us there will be a day when God will Judge. Matt 25:46 (last sentence) shows it’s decisive, it’s final. Like bidding on someone, once the hammer goes down, that’s it. I’m aware that some take issue with the translation of eternal and see it as the punishment of the ages. So that it’s holding out hope that perhaps you can get out of hell and make it into heaven anyway. To be honest it’s a pretty thin argument. Eternal is actually what that word means most of the time in the New Testament. It’s used quite a bit in connection with the eternal God and stuff like that. If Jesus had wanted to leave any impression that the door was left open, that the door was just left ajar, the door was close but unlocked; He could’ve just used another word or just left that word out. But it’s a thin argument for another reason, if there’s one thing that is clear about the age to come (and this is right across the Bible), when God brings His kingdom, it will be permanent, it is ushered in by decisive judgement, and at that point everything will reach it’s final equilibrium.
Your life today really matters, it’s really significant. Your life heads for a forever that heads out to the horizon. Do you take it seriously.
Jesus answering the question that we often ask. “Where is this awesome kingdom you speak of? When I look around I don’t see it, but instead I see compromise and sin.” Jesus’ will end the compromise. Centre your life on Jesus as the mess will be short lived. The “weeping and gnashing of teeth” in this parable, shows us the deepest horror and permanent exclusion will be conscious. Jesus is in control not the devil. What do we do with this? Here we are stirred to compassion aren’t we? Tears at the thought of it. We teeter on the edge of disengagement because it become too grueling. How can this be just? How can it be fair? Why does it have to go on forever? How can anyone in heaven cope with knowing that there are people in hell? How is that bearable, let alone bliss?
The heart of this story is the tragedy at the death of an innocent and the wretched end for those who have that son’s blood on their hands. Here is a word against the religious, self assured and confident: Time and again you’ve blown it already. God has extended kindness, chances and mercy but you have sealed your wretched fate. The father in the parable trying to find even a kernel of good in the hearts of those tenants. We begin to see Hell as the justice of God to the people resolved to oppose Him, and spurned Him. We feel we haven’t done anything bad enough to deserve Hell, but if we compare ourselves to Jesus, we start to realise we do. We’re talking about an established pattern of life. My skin crawls at the permanence of Hell but just occasionally in life a get a window, I honestly wonder why on earth hasn’t God done something permanent about me already? I’m not asking you to own everyone else’s eternity, I want you to own yours. When I’ve been so sinful and look at how wonderful and good Jesus is, I start to understand hell. At those moments I can see that it’s fair for me.
Jesus didn’t come to serve but to serve, to give His life as a ransom for many. Matt 27:22-54 Hell of the Cross. Who is Hell for? It’s for those whom God’s anger burns against. Hell is God’s decisive judgement. Were it not for Christ’s death in our place, under His father’s wrath and anger, and exclusion, you and I would’ve face that wretched end. Which way will you turn, you’re at a T junction in life? Toward Him or away?I only accidentally scoffed once when he said “eternal” being “in the age to come” was a “thin argument”
I was very disappointed as they often have a question time after the talk, but the minister decided not to. I didn’t mind too much that I didn’t get a chance to ask a question but would’ve been really interested to hear what other people’s questions were. Unfortunately, it was already way past my bed time so I couldn’t hang around to discuss anything.
As you can see, the above is mainly Calvinism, mixed with compassion for those going to hell. I’ll make a few other comments/rebuttals tomorrow if I get a chance.
Wow Alex, feel like I was right there with you! I had to chuckle at the part, “and stuff like that.” Maybe those weren’t the original words? I didn’t see the Calvinism as much.
Seems what we mostly disagree on is why God is angry, what this means, and what justice is. I think the bible makes such a wonderful case for justice not leaving people in their sin, but actually restoring them.
It is important what we do now in terms of being healed so no wonder the bible places a big emphasis on it. The natural result, however, of believing the way they do is the focus often becomes will I be one of the “good” ones to choose rightly in this ultimate task of life. It’s all about will I get it right. If life is all about us, the focus is us getting it right, it leaves little room for the point of this life being that it’s God’s grace that results in our coming to be right, or so I’m thinking. Maybe this life isn’t all about a test to prove whether we can pass, but God proving to us just how merciful he is as a father that is faithful to give kindness or sternness, whichever is needed?
I hope you’ll get to ask your question(s) and am interested too to hear the questions others will ask. Cheers!
No although fairly close I believe. He likes to use the phrase “and the like”, so that’s probably what he said. I re-listened to the entire talk and did transcribe some sections. I showed him and he said, “It’s pretty accurate, I reckon.”
After I turned off my computer and went to bed I reflected that it wasn’t actually overtly Calvinistic! e.g. no mention of predestination or election, etc.
Yes, I think you’re right, although I’m still trying to work out what is Just. i.e. by His own high standards what does He need to do (to maintain love, mercy & justice!)
I reckon he would agree it’s not us choosing God but God choosing us, although I don’t think that was clear in this talk
I will get a chance, particularly as I’m meeting up with him monthly.
For God so loved the world, he saved half a dozen. Some love, eh?
Interesting thing about election. Suppose I said, “You love apples and I’ve got a box full. Now choose one or more apples, but there’s a restriction on how you do this. You cannot choose on the basis of color, taste, smell, or anything else to do with apples.”
In this situation, your “choice” would be random. You might toss a coin to come to your decision. If you don’t like lotteries, the only other thing to do would be to choose them all.
Now we’re told grace is lavished upon the elect with no reference to merit or any other quality in said elect. So either God’s election nothing but a Celestial Lottery, or else he must choose us all.
Alex, Tom Talbott’s brilliant chapter on George MacDonald, which you posted recently, is really helpful and succinct in exposing this false version of “justice”, showing how God’s justice and mercy are one and the same, and drawing the inevitable conclusions from this.
It is great that you are in dialogue with your pastor on this. I’m praying especially theat you won’t let your frustration show!
Still one more talk to come, on heaven, right?
That’s an interesting idea. I’ll have to try that and see what response I get… mind you if God only cares about a few elect to demonstrate His mercy and wants most people in ECT to demonstrate His justice, glory or holiness, etc. then it doesn’t really matter who He chooses i.e. people don’t really matter, only God does and therefore “who cares if He saves Mary or Martha, or neither?”
“All Shall Be Well” is my bed time reading and so it won’t be long until I’ll get to read that chapter
It is great that he is willing to discuss this, and even more so because he is doing so out of love for me. I’m trying hard to be self controlled and patient, as I believe it’s the loving thing to do, and ultimately a good witness to EU and God. Thanks for praying for me though.
There is, I’m undecided about whether I should go. I’ve been going to bed as early as 8pm some nights to make up for Levi waking me in the night, so going to a talk that started at 8:30pm was draining, especially as it was hard to get to sleep afterwards.
I’ve just caught up on all the other posts and have a few minutes to write some reflections on this talk. I’ve know my minister (Bernie) since primary school but I still have a lot of respect for him and see him as a friend & brother. I agree with him on many things, however, in this particular talk there were a number of things I disagreed with. For the sake of brevity, I’ll mainly be commenting on where we differ not where we agree.
If God is completely in control, He can achieve all His purposes. If God lavishly loves us, He will not only want what’s best for someone but what’s best for those connected to that person (Matt 25:31-46 is one example of the connection between people, “what you do to to one of my brothers, you do to me”). Combining the two you get EU (wants to save everyone and does), not Calvinism (able to save everyone but doesn’t want to) or Arminianism (wants to save everyone but can’t).
The Greek reads closer to “disciple all the nations”, which from my postmillennialist perspective has me wondering.
The Greek doesn’t say “for ever and ever” but the “ages of the ages”. I think the fires of Sodom are described with the same phrase and they obviously aren’t still burning in the Middle East… Also “the nations” v8 who end up there, in chapter 15:4 end up worshiping God and in 21:23-27 end up entering the New Jerusalem.
The beings in ECT are still in rebellion, at least mentally and spiritually so there are rivals.
Crudely, the devil would have way more people on his side (even is they are physically powerless) than God does. Also if hell is eternal, it means there will always be evil to contrast the good, which is dualism…
Sadly there have been some who have used hell as a means of control, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they liked the fact it existed.
I believe Jesus speaks of hell but not ECT.
Again it is fortunate this isn’t the end of the road for these people e.g. 21:23-27 they end up entering the New Jerusalem.
Unfortunately with ECT, evil doesn’t end here, it just keeps on going in the confines of hell.
The default is also not to trust God and to be fearful of Him. e.g. Gen 3:9
I’m glad it does, although it should kick in for everyone, even our enemies, because we believe God loves everyone.
Justice is a complex issue. God defines it and is the only one capable of carrying it out. I believe God dislikes sin more than anyone, however, I also believe He wants to save/redeem/heal the sinner more than anyone, and therefore does.
Symbolism can also be dramatic/hyperbole to get a point across. e.g. “Hate your mother & father”. I’m not saying this is but we need to keep that in mind also, especially with things dealing with long periods of time. e.g. “I was caught in traffic forever”.
I can live with it, as I see even hell as an expression of God’s love, a, albeit excruciating, means of God bringing about restoration. e.g. it’s like childbirth, wow, that’s painful and I wish no one had to go thru it, but at least I understand it’s an unfortunately necessity and that sound thing good will come of it.