All Things New

I work all day today and our pastor has invited the church over to his house tonight for a New Year’s Eve party. Seeing as I have no desire to get home after midnight and write a blog before I go to bed, I have decided to write a New Year’s Eve blog early.

As I start writing this blog, it occurs to me that this is the first full year I have spent in my new home. Now I’ve lived here for over a year, but 2008 will be the year I lived here start to finish. It will also indicate the year I really began taking classes in Seminary. Should all have gone well with my last class, which I anticipate, I should have 15 hours of classes done and be well on my way to graduation. This year also marks finally escaping my old job and getting a new position that I enjoy much much more.

There is this aspect of new beginnings that makes us want to try our hardest and begin anew as well. Many people will make New Year’s Resolutions. Exercise equipment will be bought that come February, will be gathering dust in a basement while the owner sits on the couch eating oreos watching Prime Time television.

Yes. Discipline is a hard thing for many of us.

I recently had this conversation with a friend and told him that if he wants to change his life, the time to do it is now. Discipline isn’t easy, but you have to do it. I have begun to turn off my computer much earlier in the day and just sit on the couch at night and read. Sometimes, I don’t really want to do it, but when I start, I find out that I am enjoying myself.

What the new year will be for each of us is up to us. I reckon though that most of us don’t want to go through life and have each year be essentially the same as the last. We’d like to say that this year, we really accomplished something. The only way that we’re going to be able to do that is simply by doing it. We must go out and accomplish something that we deem worthwhile.

Maybe for you it might be learning to exercise some. Maybe you’ve got extra weight you want to burn off. Maybe you want to learn to study more and go back to school. Maybe you were in school and you want to go back and finish getting that degree. Maybe this is the year the young man decides that he’s finally going to pop the question to the girl that he’s been dating for a long time. Maybe this is the year you’re going to begin to take your Christian walk seriously through prayer and Bible study.

I read Rev. 21 this morning and I plan on reading 22 tonight. I think these chapters are appropriate for a new year. It shows the end of the old and the beginning of the new. It means a chance to celebrate the newness. Now I’m not giving an interpretation of Revelation that is cyclic in that way. I do believe there is a final consumation of things coming. However, the words “I am making all things new!” brings a joy to us.

I hope to watch that ball come down, which is something I’ve always enjoyed on New Year’s Eve, and realize that this is a new year ahead that can be a year of exciting adventures and ways to make a difference in this world. What about you? Are you going to change something this year, or will it just be same-old, same-old?

Christopher Hitchens Speaks Out On Rick Warren

Yeah. I know. I’m interrupting my series again. I got presented with an article though that made me think I should. We all know Christopher Hitchens, the author of “God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” As soon as the topic of religion comes up, one can expect the usual from Hitchens.

And you really shouldn’t have to ask what I mean by that.

The article I read is here:

Now I’m not here to defend Rick Warren in his own doctrine. I’m here to defend where he speaks from essential Christian doctrine. I am not a huge fan of Rick Warren, but if he is saying something that I believe is true, I will defend it.

I encourage you to check the first link there where he talks about the mentor of Rick Warren as well which gives a reason for Hitchens being against Warren. Hitchens speaks of how Warren was publicly asked by a Jewish lady if she’d be in Paradise for being a Jew and he publicly told her no. 

Later, Hitchens makes this statement:

Will Warren be invited to the solemn ceremony of inauguration without being asked to repudiate what he has directly said to deny salvation to Jews?

Why should he Hitchens? If you want the honest truth. I agree with him. Before you think that’s anti-semitic, I’ll go farther than that and be clear. I also don’t think any Gentile gets special privileges before the Almighty. You see Hitchens, I don’t play favorites like you apparently think God should. (And yet, I bet you complain that God isn’t fair either.) I believe we’re all equally condemned and God doesn’t grant someone a special favor just because of their DNA. 

Now if a Jew is in Heaven, it won’t be because they’re Jewish, but because they accepted the Messiah. It’s the same reason for me. The only reason I will be in Heaven is because I accepted the Messiah that God sent, Jesus Christ. 

Later, Hitchens make the same complaint about Warren denying Mormons are Christians. 

Will he be giving a national invocation without disowning what his mentor said about civil rights and what his leading supporter says about Mormons?

Now I’m not going to support being against civil rights, but I will support the stance on Mormons. However, let me present this in a more humorous light.

Hitchens. I’d like to join a group of atheists and be a charter member. I just insist though in keeping my belief in God. Can I do that and be considered an atheist?

You would think that crazy of course since atheists all deny the existence of God. You cannot affirm the existence of God and be an atheist. That’s the way it is with any belief though Hitchens. There are some things you have to believe in order to be seen as a member of that belief system. You can’t say you are.

Imagine if you met someone who said he was a Muslim. He just didn’t believe Muhammad was a prophet. That person might think he is a Muslim, but he certainly isn’t since one of the core doctrines of Islam is the belief that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet. It doesn’t matter if you think the belief is true or false.

In the same way, a key belief in Christianity is that Jesus is the second person of the Trinity who is fully God and fully man and of one nature with the Father. This is not held in Mormonism. Their idea of the Trinity is three different gods in unity and Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer. Their idea of God is a god who was once a man and progressed all the way to godhood. Now this is certainly a unique belief system, but it is in no way Christian. 

Now in your original article, you have this paragraph:

In fact, you know Saul of Tarsus—Saul was a Syrian. St. Paul, on the road to Damascus, had his conversion experience, and so Christians have been here the longest, and they get along with the Muslims, and the Muslims get along with them. There’s a lot less tension than in other places.

Please note that Hitchens. Saul of Tarsus. Where is Tarsus? That’s right. Tarsus is in Turkey. Now Saul was in Syria when he had what we call his conversion, but that does not make him a Syrian.  A few minutes with a Bible atlas would have answered this question.

If the desire to bring up Warren being against homosexuality is brought up, why I will agree with that as well. I don’t just do it for biblical reasons. In fact, my argument against homosexuality relies on Natural Law doctrine. Now you can deny Natural Law if you want, but then you become a moral relativist and your whole book just goes right out the window. You’d have to show I’m wrong by Natural Law doctrine then, though I wonder who your Natural Law comes from.

In the second article, we also have this line:

As Barack Obama is gradually learning, his job is to be the president of all Americans at all times. If he likes, he can oppose the idea of marriage for Americans who are homosexual. That’s a policy question on which people may and will disagree. However, the man he has chosen to deliver his inaugural invocation is a relentless clerical businessman who raises money on the proposition that certain Americans—non-Christians, the wrong kind of Christians, homosexuals, nonbelievers—are of less worth and littler virtue than his own lovely flock of redeemed and salvaged and paid-up donors.

If that was the case, I’d disagree entirely. However, I, as a Christian do not see a homosexual or nonbeliever as less worthy than I am. We are all equally human. I seek to win them to Christ because they are so valuable. It’d be interesting though to hear what Hitchens bases human equality on.

My final plea in this is that to say Christianity is false is one thing, but please. If you’re going to attack Christianity, have it be on some sort of factual basis like the existence of God or the resurrection instead of simply “Christianity says a lot of things I don’t like.” That will simply end in what we call a desire for wish fulfillment, and we don’t need that as serious intellectuals now do we?

Errors in Trinitarian Thought: Analogies

Okay. Now I’m going to take a shot at my fellow Trinitarians. I think one of the great dangers we have is when we start using analogies. We don’t often come up with analogies for omniscience or omnipotence, but somehow, when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity, we think we have to have analogies.

Now I realize this has gone on in the past, but I don’t think that the early church fathers were trying to show analogies so much as types of trinities. When Augustine uses the mind as an example of the Trinity, I don’t think he’s making an analogy of what the Trinity is like so much as he’s showing that this is a type of Trinity in the created order and that could very well be the case because the God who creates is Trinitarian.

The problem is that so many of our analogies are either completely inadequate and give people the wrong picture, or even worse, they’re heretical. While we want to show people the Trinity that is there, we end up supporting heresies that the church spent centuries dealing with.

I’ve told how over the summer, my roommate and I had Mormons visiting us. At one point, one of them in trying to argue against the Trinity with me went to the baptism of Jesus and I was stunned. This is a passage you’re going to use to argue against the Trinity? That’s interesting….

And so he says, “How can they be three if they’re all one person?” I told him that’s now that the Trinity is. He was stunned now and then said the line that has remained with me and been a major impetus. “I thought all Baptists believed that. That’s what they’ve told me.”

I honestly want to scream at times.

I went back to my hometown shortly after that and was talking to my old associate pastor at the church I used to attend and telling him about that meeting. I told him that since they have a new senior pastor, they really need to get a series of sermons started on the Trinity because the church is woefully unprepared to deal with the cults and then I gave an example of the mistakes they usually make.

I told him how many people use the analogy of a man who is a father, a husband, and a son. That’s not an example of Trinitarianism though, but modalism. It’s one person who is simply fulfilling three different roles. For those who need to know, I’ll state for what comes next that I’m blunt.

He first told me that he thinks Billy Graham has used that illustration to which I said “Then Billy Graham needs to stop using that illustration.” Then he said “I think I’ve used that illustration,” and he got told “Then you need to stop using that illustration.” (Note: The same problem comes with the idea of water being liquid, steam, and ice.)

Why not simply go with what the Scriptures say instead of using analogies because if we’re dealing with God, we’re not going to find an analogy of the Trinity. It’s totally unique. Now we might find types of trinities here, but none of them can really be like the Trinity that is God himself. Analogies have tended to get people off of Scripture and focusing them on a false idea. I recommend simply sticking with Scripture.

Errors in Anti-Trinitarian Thought: Equivocation

I believe that as Trinitarians, we need to be precise with our language and one area that gets us in hang-ups a lot is that other people don’t understand the language that we use. It often leads to fallacies of equivocation. Now I don’t believe this is our fault individually. I do believe the church as a whole has some blame for not even articulating its positions enough and not being a witness to the world. I believe those of us though who have studied the Trinity cannot be held responsible if those we are arguing with on the doctrine have not and yet still wish to argue against that which they do not understand?

One I’d like to speak on tonight is when we say Jesus is God. So often when we get into arguments with Jehovah’s Witnesses, we will be arguing that Jesus is God. If you’re arguing for the content of that belief, that’s fine. If you use those words, you are only making the problem worse. Here’s why:

When you meet a Jehovah’s Witness, they think of God as Jehovah, the Father. When you say Jesus is God, they do not understand you to be meaning the second person of the Trinity. Instead, they understand you to be saying that you believe Jesus is God the Father, making you a modalist.

A number of people have gone after the Trinity using a syllogism and if you’re not prepared in Trinitarian thought, it really can throw you and if you are thrown by this, you might really want to look and see how well you know the Trinity.

Jesus is God.

God is a Trinity.

Jesus is a Trinity.

The problem is equivocation. When we say Jesus is God, we are using theological shorthand. It’s just a whole lot easier to say “Jesus is God” than to quote the Nicene, Athanasian, and Chalcedonian creeds all the time. We are assuming that most people understand that we have a Trinitarian framework in mind and that we are saying that Jesus is a person who fully partakes of the nature of God.

We are talking about the Godhead in the second premise. We are talking about a nature in the first. The terms are not being used the same way and at that point, the syllogism breaks down. That is essential in dismantling a syllogism. It must be shown that either one of the premises is false or that there is some fallacy and in this case, we have a fallacy.

This is also why I say that when we talk about the Trinity, we absolutely must define our terms. (Actually, that’s what we must do when we talk about anything.) The cultists that come to our door are too valuable for us to use bad terminology on. It’s not enough that we understand what we are saying, it must be that our opponents do as well.

Thus, when you debate the Anti-Trinitarian, watch for equivocating. Make sure they are not using the terms falsely and it’s okay to ask “What do you mean by that?” In fact, I would encourage you to do so. It could help you to stop a false presupposition at the start instead of having to deal with it after much time of argument.

Why I Like Final Fantasy

I was on the forum I work at last night with someone who was asking about music and wanting vocals. I recommended the Final Fantasy vocals with such songs as “Eyes On Me”, “Melodies of Life”, “Otherworld”, “Real Emotion”, and “1,000 Words.” 

For those interested in listening to the awesomeness of Final Fantasy Music, I recommend this site: It’s my understanding, and if I’m wrong I apologize, that the guy behind it is a Christian as well.

So getting back to my story, my friend was a bit surprised so the first thing I did was link her to “Eyes On Me” on YouTube, which was the main song in Final Fantasy VIII. After a few more songs, she was stunned at what she’d been missing.

She even said that these games are works of art, and I agree. Video games are modern stories that are interactive. Some of them are more detailed and beautiful than others. You probably won’t find the poetry in Super Mario Brothers on the original Nintendo that you find in a game like Final Fantasy IX for instance. 

I noted to my friend that I find Final Fantasy music very moving. The vocals are songs that I can carry with me and their connection to the story makes them even more powerful. I can picture the battles of Zidane for his love Garnet as I hear “Melodies of Life.” I can picture taking on darkness to save the world if I hear “Otherworld” from Final Fantasy X. (And heck, I used to turn on my PS2 every morning just to watch the intro to Final Fantasy X-2 that had “Real Emotion” being sung. Anyone who watches that video will immediately know why.)

This goes for even the instrumental music alone. The battle music has a way of sparking my soul for action. If you ever see me humming some tune you don’t recognize, it could be from a video game. It’s a way of me reminding myself of the adventure of life. Imagination is the portal that allows me to step into a reality beyond myself.

That’s what got me to where I told this friend the stories of the games. It is my conclusion that in some way, each of the main villains in Final Fantasy wants to be God or at least take on one of his attributes. In Final Fantasy VIII for instance, Ultimecia wants to compress time into one moment making her the only being in existence. In many other games, it’s the drive for power or immortality. In the very first one, the main villain uses the four fiends of elements in order to create a loop so he will live forever.

Now I don’t approve of everything in the Final Fantasy games, but I said they draw me into something beyond myself for a good reason. I’m a guy and like most guys, I like action and adventure. Take the mildest guy you can find and somewhere in him, I believe there is someone who is wanting to fight, someone who is wanting to be the hero, someone who wants to make a difference in the world.

The Final Fantasy series though seeks to tell the stories and while I cannot agree with the answers normally, I am thankful that at least the questions are being asked. In the world of Final Fantasy, naturalism is the odd worldview out. It is a wonder where right beside great technology of the time, one can find magic and wonderful creatures. These two aren’t seen as contradictory. The soldiers with guns and with swords both must be prepared to deal with flames firing from a wizard’s hands. 

The world would be more from a pagan worldview, and yet, I consider that a good thing. C.S. Lewis was once told by a friend that this friend feared England was returning to paganism. C.S. Lewis gave an answer that he certainly hoped it was. When secularism is in charge, there is no opening for the supernatural. The pagan, however, is essentially pre-Christian as pagans were the ones reached with the gospel in Gentile territory.

The worldview of Final Fantasy at least believes that there is such a thing as good and evil. There may be hard times deciding which side something falls on, but the reality is not questioned. There is also the belief that good will triumph, but that man is incapable of fighting that battle on his own. He will need more powerful help usually from creatures more powerful than himself. 

That is where I get into that idea of something beyond onesself. Every hero in Final Fantasy knows he’s caught in a battle bigger than he or she is. They are simply ordinary people usually who are out to make a difference. Now you’ll find some unusual abilities and gifts and legends amongst the heroes at times, but by and large, they’re the simple who are out there using their abilities to make a difference.

Isn’t that what many of us want? We want to go out and make a difference and if we cannot go out and do so now, we at least get an idea of what that could consist of. We may not be able to fly to a place like England today, but if we were to read stories about England, we could easily imagine what it would be like to be there and when we get there realize that it’s better than our imagination thought. (And I hope it is when I make it there someday.)

So do I love the Final Fantasy games? Yep. I have less time for them now, but I am thankful that I can sometimes get time to think about what it means to really make a difference in the world, but all the while realize that the game of my life that I play in hoping to make a difference every day, is far more exciting than any story that somebody else could write.

Thoughts Heading Home From Christmas

I mentioned last night in the blog that my family and I were watching Monk. Now my mother and my roommate and I were downstairs when the latest new one that was a Christmas episode also came on called “Mr. Monk and the Miracle.” My mother saw it and said “Oh! I remember this one this is the one where…” and she proceeded to tell a little bit about what happened.

I smiled and told her it was also one my roommate had never seen before.

We didn’t get to see the whole episode as we had to go pick up my grandmother, but I did end up on the way back home that day telling him what happened seeing as he had had his curiosity piqued. I thought about that later though and thought “I am thankful the greatest author of all leaves a lot of the plot open without telling us everything that’s going on.”

Sometimes, we all wish he would, but he’s a good author. I’m thankful he doesn’t.

On the way back, my roommate and I were both exhausted and I was doing the driving. Now we’d had a close call on the way there. We’d had to take an area of at the most I’d say 200 feet at a traffic light and cross two lanes suddenly to get to a turn-off. Downtown traffic in a major city is murder. It doesn’t help that I can’t really turn my head and I needed him to be my eyes for me.

On the way back, he fell asleep some of the way and I thought about that. I thought that he was calm enough and trusting enough with me that he could rest easily even though I, the best driver in the world, was not driving. Then I thought back on myself and wondered, “How often do I sometimes stay up at night or wake up at night because I’m worried about something in my life?”

It made me ponder that if only I could trust God as much as my roommate was trusting me then. Now I think I’m a pretty trustworthy guy, but I can assure you of this. I have far more reason to trust in God than my roommate could ever have to trust in my ability or in me in any way. I took that as an object lesson to work on recognizing that I need to trust God more and relax in him and believe that he is looking out for me.

One part of our journey was through the mountains and as we got to them, I thought about what a wonder it was. Somehow, sights like those dwarf us automatically. Yet I considered first off the biblical statement of how if you believe and pray a mountain be cast into the sea, it will be done for you.

Now I’m not going Word of Faith nonsense here. I don’t believe the mountain is literally supposed to do that, but I think the Lord was getting at how the greatest things that dwarf us so much are nothing compared to the power of God and if we trust in God, then he will take care of them. 

A mountain is an apropos example. It’s something great and majestic and you imagine what it would be like if you could get a mountain to be hurled into the sea. You would think that nothing would be impossible for you. Could it be Christ is trying to tell us that all things are possible with God so trust him in prayer?

The second thought was of how the medievals said that one man is worth more than the entire universe. I believe they were right, but you look at the mountains and you feel so dwarfed and then realize that God considers you worth much more than them.

I also watched as we left late in the afternoon to see the sky turn from blue to black as day became night. It’s an odd thing as you notice it happening, but at the same time, you don’t. You just look up and realize that it’s darker than before as the Earth is making its turn. Then you realize that it’s night.

I’ve been told that if you put a frog in boiling water, it’ll jump out immediately. However, if you put it in water and gradually boil it, you can cook the frog alive and until it’s too late, it won’t realize what is happening to it.

I thought if the church was like that also. I’m quite sure we are. We’ve had our moment in the sun so much that the world gradually grew darker and darker and we didn’t really pay attention and we’ve suddenly woken up and it’s night all around us. It’s a shame we haven’t paid attention. Is it too late for the church in America? My advice is to act like it isn’t.

Towards the end of the journey, I was counting on my roommate to provide the directions. He’s got an IPhone and if you don’t know, those have GPS capabilities. Well, I’m a control-freak in some ways I think. When I’m on the road, I like to know exactly what the next exit I’m supposed to go to is and how far away it is so I can start looking and calculating the distance and how long it’ll be. 

My roommate does not give such information, which I think is for the best for me and it taught me a lot about trust.

I had to trust him the whole way but as I thought about it, he had to trust me also. He was giving the directions, but I was the one behind the wheel and we had to rely on each other, which I think is a good definition of friendship as well. What benefit would it be for him to give me the wrong directions and how would it benefit me if I was to drive haphazardly? Of course, that doesn’t mean we each did it for our own benefit. Sharing a mutual goal, we both had to work together and that is also in friendship. I believe Aristotle said that one thing friends do is help each other on the path to becoming more virtuous.

As I got home that Christmas, I had a lot to think about. I had to think about God in ways that you can only realize I believe with the help of others. What does it mean to trust? What does it mean to be trusted? What does it mean to rely on your friends? What can be done to make a difference for the church?

I have much to think about, and I hope you have much to think about as well.

Thoughts on Christmas

I’m back home and I plan on writing on the thoughts that I had on the way home probably tomorrow. For now, I hope my loyal readers didn’t mind the absence of a blog yesterday, but I knew my family was wanting to see me and I wanted to go on and get home.

I’d like to write tonight on how Christmas has changed over the years for me and maybe some of you are in the same boat. I remember being younger and getting to bed at an early time on Christmas Eve night. (Well, as early as I could. We usually stayed up till about midnight opening presents at my aunt’s.) I wanted to get to bed so I could see all the cool stuff I got in the morning.

I don’t think patience is one of my strong points. I remember getting up in the morning and making sure that my parents got up and rushing them as quickly as I could so we could go downstairs and we could all have Christmas together. I can remember some of the gifts that I got for Christmas, but as I look back, it’s harder and harder. 

As I’ve got older, I look forward more to the reactions of other people when they see the gifts that I’ve got them. This year with my roommate, it added a new perspective as I’d see him open gifts that I’d told them that he’d like and seeing the joy that he had, as well as the joy at hearing that my mother had gone out and bought a chocolate cheesecake. 

There are so many gifts that I can’t wait to see other people open them. That joy is a far greater joy to me. Now that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy receiving gifts, I do. It does mean though that being older and wiser, I see the wisdom of the quotation from Acts of Christ. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

Now that I’m away, Christmas has become more about family. It’s not in opening gifts that I will eventually not see as exciting as I do at the time, but it’s about the moments of seeing my mother’s face and having chats with my Dad again. This morning, my family and I watched Monk together on a USA network marathon, something we used to always do together.

Let it not be lost on us though what makes this day so astounding, as it easily can be. This is the day to celebrate that the Word became flesh. Heaven came down and visited Earth. God wrote a story and then made an appearance in his own story. The author stepping into it caused the calendar to be restarted.

The world is vastly different today as a result of Jesus. It has been said that if Jesus had never been, we could have never invented a Jesus, and I concur entirely. We have grown up with the message of the gospel though that in a sad weay, we have lost the shock value of it. There are so many things that we would be stunned to hear as people living in the 1st century Roman Empire that we think of in a more “Ho hum” kind of way today.

As a child, I did look and wonder what each gift was for me under the tree. May it be that we regain and never lose the wonder of the gift God gave to us.

Errors in Anti-Trinitarian Thought: Ontology Vs. Function

Unipersonalism is always the big mistake anti-Trinitarians make, but I believe this one would be right behind it. In the gospels, you see Jesus submitting to the will of the Father and the objection is that if Jesus submits to the will of the Father, then he can’t be fully God.

Other passages that will be used will be passages such as Jesus being given the revelation by God in Revelation 1:1. Jesus does what he sees the Father doing in John 5:19 and in John 6:57, Jesus says that he lives because of the Father.

As an orthodox Trinitarian, I can say amen to all of those easily and not blink with my Trinitarian thought.

This gets into the topic mentioned in the title that might be a word some people don’t recognize so I’ll explain it. Ontology is the study of being. The ontological status of a thing is what that thing is. My ontology is human. The ontology of a cat is that it fully possesses the nature of a cat. A horse fully possesses the nature of a horse. Etc.

Too often, Anti-Trinitarians believe that because one is a superior in a relationship functionally, then that must mean they must be superior in ontology. Anyone who is married and anyone who has experience in the work force or anyone raised by parents can see this. (That should cover all of us unless you were somehow raised by wolves and strayed onto a laptop at a campsite in the wild and you’re reading this post to which I say “Welcome to civilization!”)

In a marriage commitment biblically, the man is to be the head of the woman. Does that mean the woman is less human? No. She is to be subordinate to her husband yes, but that does not mean that he treats her as if she’s less human. She is fuly human. In fact, in Christian thought, she bears the image of God just as much as her husband does.

When you go to work, you probably have a boss that is your superior over you or maybe you’re one of those people that is actually the superior. Does that mean though that you are inferior to your boss in humanity or that you are superior to your staff in humanity? No. You serve different functions, but your ontology is the same.

When you were growing up, you listened to what your parents said hopefully and you had to do what they told you to. (Well, you were usually supposed to at least.) However, this doesn’t mean that you were less human. It just meant that functionally, you’re in a subordinate position. The position that you are in functionally tells nothing about your ontology.

In each of the passages going on, we see an interaction between the Father and the Son and when people interpret these in a position where Jesus is functionally subordinate, they think they’ve disproven the Trinity. (And statements like John 5:19 being used to disprove the Trinity just really blow my mind.)

Now some of you might be wondering about specific texts that I cited above. That is for later on. Before we get into the interpretation of the text, we’re going to look at the thinking that takes place and the assumptions that are brought to the text. I also intend to show errors in Trinitarian thought where some Christians make mistaken assumptions that they shouldn’t. That’s it for today!

A Further Defense of Hell

A comment on my thoughts in the After-Death on Hell has spurred me to write more of a defense of this doctrine. I do plan, of course, on getting back to the topic of errors in anti-Trinitarian thought. I will be trying to blog on Christmas Eve, but I will be away from a computer on that night and if I don’t get around to it before heading back home, I don’t get around to it and my readers will have to wait til Christmas night so don’t panic if you don’t see something new on Christmas Eve. Of course, it will be a Christmas blog.

However, at the start I will say that I don’t get teary-eyed at Hell, but of course, I think the point of Moody is that this should not be a thing of joy. I’ve gone through several painful things without tears, but they are things of deep sorrow. I am not the type to express myself in that way, but I will say to my reader that I find it appalling that some will look with a knowing glint at the thought of anyone going to Hell. 

Hell has been presented as a grotesque doctrine. I will say most of our ideas from Hell come from Dante, but I don’t think Dante was making a literal description of Hell. He was writing an allegory. After all, he has mythological figures in his Hell. However, he did have degrees in there as well as the righteous pagans seemed to be living pretty good lives there. I’ll also say that I do believe in degrees of Hell that are determined by the way one lives their lives here.

Now I am told to defend God’s transformation of sinners into hideous sub-humans. I don’t believe God does such a thing. I believe God is simply giving the sinners what they’ve always wanted. Death hardens you in whatever path you’ve been walking. If you’ve been following Christ, your after-death will show that to the degree you were following him. If you weren’t, the corresponding will be true. What Hell is is actually God giving people what they want. To the degree that they want a life absent of him and in defiance of him, he gives them that.

Interesting though is being told to defend this. To defend assumes that it’s wrong for God to judge the world the way that he does and the question must be asked at this point, “Why?” I have several people who argue against the concept of Hell, and I can certainly understand it, but the question I would ask is “What do you propose God do instead?” For the sake of argument, let us grant that God is who the Bible describes him as and he has revealed himself in Christ and it’s entirely true. If that is granted, what ought God to do with those who persistently choose to deny what he has revealed?

Now I’m told that I do admit that we are separate from God in this world so why do I want it to be worse? That’s an odd question. I don’t teach the doctrine of Hell as true because I want it to be true. For instance, do I teach that people must wait to have sexual intercourse before they’re married because I really want that to be true? After years of thinking and reading on it, I do see a great beauty in that and see it as the best way, but there are many times I will definitely say, “No. I don’t want that to be true.” 

So when I speak about Hell, I am not speaking about what I want. I am speaking about what I can gather from the biblical text and my own speculation on it. I state what I state simply because I believe it to be true.

Now what of the response to God? Will some hate him? I fear they will for there are many who already do. I am not saying our questioner does, but I also think our questioner will not deny that there are some who hate him. Even if they are convinced in atheism, many people hate what they see God as representing. This would particularly be the case with morality. If my view that I am defending is true though of God being goodness, truth, beauty, love, etc., while being personal, then to reject God is ultimately to reject those in the long run. This is why I also believe that the more someone pursues those things in themselves, the more that they will get closer to the source of those things.

Why would God imagine Hell the way that it is? Well, if he is good and just and loving and perfect and all-knowing, then we can say that there was no better way to do it. 

Now our reader is right. I will ask what is his standard of good and evil. I note that none was given. However, the one given is not the one I would hold to either. It seems to assume that voluntarism is the only view of morality from a theistic perspective. For those who do not know, it would be saying rape is evil because God says it is. If he had said that rape was good, it would be good.

However, I believe that God is good since goodness is that which is desirable for its own sake. Thus, the word has content and then we find that content applies to God the most in that he is the most desirable good for its own sake. People are to desire God for the sake of God himself. In desiring him, they desire goodness itself for God is goodness. What comes from him then is also goodness. This would include being as God is being and being is good. Thus, the moral law is not something outside of God nor arbitrarily decided by God but that which reflects God himself and the way the three persons that are God act within the Trinity. In order to impugn Hell, we will need a moral standard outside of God and also a reason why that standard should be accepted if it is not rooted in something eternal and immutable.

Now my stance in the Smallville parallel has been brought up and I understand it. However, the first objection I raise is that I have made a slur against the majority of people who have ever lived. I would like to know how my readers knows the majority of people who have ever lived are lost. I find it quite unlikely considering texts from Rev. 7 for instance about a great multitude no one can number.

However, I said that this is what I think Hell is like and I am willing to admit of degrees of Hell for I do believe there is some goodness to Hell as there is ontological goodness of people and of even fallen angels for they are good insofar as they have being. Unfortunately, the more one goes against their being, the less good they become. It doesn’t mean one becomes  a rapist or an anarchist, but it does mean that one is going against what they were meant to be. Christians are told that we are being conformed to the image of the Son and that’s the only image that can get into Heaven. The question is not if someone will be conformed. Everyone will be. The question is, “Into what kind of image?”

Now someone might object that they are living a good life. They just choose to deny Christ. This is also where we are told our righteousness is as filthy rags. If Christianity is true, then to deny Christ is not a mild act, but the worst kind of evil that can be done. Do we see the figure in the gospels of Christ as a liar or not? Of course, if someone wants to deny the historicity of the gospels, which I’m sure they do in some sense to be non-Christian, then I will be prepared to go there. 

Again though, granted the Christian framework, if Jesus is who he said he was, and one denies that, then they are saying that Christ is a liar. He was not who he claimed to be. Note I am saying that based on the historicity of the gospels. If one wishes to accept Christianity as true for the sake of argument, then it would follow that to deny Christ is the worst sin one can do.

Ultimately, it becomes the sin of saying “I see a way has been provided, but I will not accept the sacrifice of the Son of God. I will go my own way.” God has established the way to him though. He has established one. To deny that one way is ultimately to call him a liar as well. When Christ says no one comes to the Father but through him, I believe him. Apart from the agency of Christ, no one will see God. 

It must be noted in all of this also that to say we believe it to be true does not mean we like it. It means we believe it to be true. We believe it to be just, but that does not mean we delight in the justice. I can even believe some things are good and not like them. I can believe it good that an ailing loved one has gone home to be with Christ, but from my perspective, still not see that as good. I think of my friend who passed away recently who has gone home to be with Christ. I’m sure his family realizes that it is good for him now, but that they are suffering as well. I think they should be. We all lost much when he passed away. The point is that something being right or wrong does not depend on whether we like the something or not.

Well, there’s my further defense of Hell, and I hope it helps.

Mere Humanity By Donald T. Williams

Last night, I finished a book I was reading and frankly, I wasn’t impressed. Aside from the quotes I got from some sources, I was thinking that I didn’t really learn anything new and I felt like I was reading something more of a fundamentalist persuasion than an intelligent critique of a view I disagree with.

What a refresher it was to start the next book on my list.

I saw this one at the apologetics conference. The subtitle is “G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien on the Human Condition.” Anyone heavily into apologetics must read the apologetics works of Chesterton and Lewis.

From the first page, I believe I was caught up in this book, which really disappoints me that I didn’t find the time to read today. Of course, I was having Christmas with some friends so I suppose that is justified on some level.

The thoughts I was reading last night were so intriguing and the more I came to know my nature as a human, the more I came to appreciate the glory of who God is. The title in no way is meant to idolize humanity, but one can’t help but think of Psalm 8 and say “What is man that you are mindful of him?” Indeed. What is man?

He starts off his journey with the question of “Is Man A Myth?” Narnia fans will hopefully recognize the title as it was on Tumnus’s shelf when Lucy came to visit him in “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.” Williams tells us that ironically, the question could be asked of our age also. 

What does it mean to be a human after all? Will reductionistic fallacies end up destroying us? Williams points out how we know more about the physical make-up of a baby in the womb than ever before, and yet, never have we been more uncertain about what all that information is supposed to inform us concerning.

The Chesterton chapter is particularly fascinating as he discusses how Chesterton in “The Everlasting Man” wanted to bring about the idea of man as an animal to its conclusion and see if the people of his day (And ours for that matter) could live with such a conclusion.

One line I found particularly interesting told of how Chesterton had a friend who had seen an airplane rising off and what a wonderful sight it was, but not nearly as wonderful as the sight of a man rising upon a horse. 

It was such a marvelous thought! Truly, there is something incredible about us learning the physical laws enough that we can use them to our advantage, but a horse is different! A horse is a free-will entity that we eventually figured out that we could domesticate. A horse doesn’t naturally have a way to be controlled by man, and yet, we have come up with one. However, most of us probably see men on horses and think nothing of it and see an airplane and consider that the real marvel. We should salute the Wright brothers for the good they brought the world, but I wish we knew that first guy who decided to ride a horse.

For Chesterton, there were two things that were unique as the book tells us. There is the creature called man and there is the man called Christ. In another saying prior to the Chesterton chapter we are asked, “Is man a myth?” We are told perhaps not, but there was a time when a myth became a man. 

As of now, I am on Lewis’s chapter on the Abolition of Man and I still believe this is going to be one of the best books I’ve read. Will a full review of it come up on my blog later on? Probably. For now, I can’t recommend enough that readers of my blog get your hands on this book.