Au Contraire Mr. Edwards

Hand pointing at youDepending on your picture of the Most High, this may sum up your perception of Him:

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31, English Standard Version).

Perhaps the most famous sermon based on this sentiment is Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” For instance:

We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down?

No question, if you reject our Lord, your final fate isn’t going to be positive (when He gives you the separation from Him you want). But, let’s look at a biblical incident where, numbering Israel, David made God quite angry:

And when David arose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, “Go and say to David, ‘Thus says the LORD, Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.'” So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.” (2 Samuel 24:11-13)

Considering the options for punishment, would you agree God was quite cranky?

Yet, in the next verse…

Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man” (2 Samuel 24:14).

David may not have been as smart as his son Solomon (see 1 Kings 4:29-34), but he was pretty wise and “a man after [God’s] heart” (see Acts 13:22). He knew, given the choice of being put in man’s hands or God’s hands…the best choice…hands down (pun intended)…is the later.

Let not our theology say otherwise…

P.S. I have purposely left a lot of reasonable counter-arguments unanswered. Just an article to spur thoughts and discussion…

“Critique of The Final End of the Wicked by Edward Fudge”

SkullsWell, I thought my previous post was a little light on Scripture when it got to the section on hell. This one does a bit better….


Alan Fahrner
Theo 202 S04 Summer 1 06
Critique #4

Critique of The Final End of the Wicked by Edward Fudge

Critique

Although I personally think Edward Fudge did a fine job of presenting a case for the annihilationist view of the final end of the wicked, I am probably not the best person to judge. It is "preaching to the choir"—I held the same overall view even before reading his piece. [Read more…]

“The Destiny of the Unevangelized and the Nature of Hell”

FlamesI imagine it’s far from the first time John Piper gave his view of annihilationism, but within the last 24 hours he wrote this:

Annihilation is what the unrepentant want, not what they dread. It would be a reward, not a punishment. Non-consciousness knows no loss.

I’m not going to debate the merits of his logic, but it did cause me to dust off a position paper I wrote while working on my religion degree. So, without further ado… [Read more…]

Why I Am a Heretic

I am no longer going to update this post. Instead please see the Beliefs page to read the most up-to-date list of what I believe.

AKA, "What I Believe"

Guy preaching with a staff and a stone tabletI had an interesting conversation with a Twitter friend, and after he agreed to an uncomfortable implication of his belief system I commended him on being willing to admit it. I then suggested that someone else who held that same belief system would not be willing to make the same admission, to which he replied:

Yes, I believe he would. I probably wouldn’t just throw that out there in the public forum of twitter. He may not be comfortable with saying

To which I replied:

Why not? If it is true it’s to God’s sovereign glory isn’t it?

My response would seem a whole ‘lot more apropos if you understood what belief system it was in response to. 🙂

Either way, although I can understand choosing a proper forum for airing one’s beliefs, I kind of was taken aback at the idea that someone who has no problem debating for his theological worldview then wouldn’t be willing to lay all his cards on the table.

So, here are all my cards. Traditional Christians will find plenty to consider me a heretic, but I’m not going to do a bait-and-switch on you. (Most of this is from a post I did a couple years back on fahrner.us. All biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version. Oh, and I reserve the right to modify this post at any time, so if you want to beat me over the head with my own words, be sure to grab a screenshot. :-)) [Read more…]

Osama

Last night, just before turning my iPad off and going to sleep, it really felt like I should set my Facebook status based on the death of Osama bin Laden. This is what I settled on:

‎”Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die…?” (Ezekiel 33:11, ESV)

I look forward to a future where _nobody_ dies, but for now I am thankful for those who protect us from those like Osama bin Laden.

Followed by immediately adding this comment:

Although, I much rather everyone, including our worst enemies, be saved…as would our Lord: “…God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3b-4).

Now, I am not near as Christ-like as those quotes might imply. I am glad that there has been closure on this aspect of that evil day over nine years ago, and I am happy that a person who wanted to kill my family, friends, neighbors, and me is no longer around to try to fulfill his wishes.

But I do stand by those statements and, as unlikely as it is, hope somehow God reached Osama just before before a bullet ended his life and he’ll unexpectedly greet me when I arrive in heaven.

Finally, to those who might quickly suggest I am judging someone’s eternal fate—agreed, I cannot read any individual’s heart and only God decides whether we are sheep or goats…wheat or tares. Let’s just all throw political correctness and faux saintliness aside, be honest about it, and admit that if Christians and/or Jews are right, the most likely resting place for this infamous terrorist is with the wicked (whether it’s Rob Bell’s, John MacArthur’s, or some other version of hell).

And that fact should make us cry, not celebrate.

Wolf Control

Angry wolf

A little earlier this year Rob Bell, the popular founding pastor of Mars Hill in Grandville, Michigan, set off a bit of a web explosion by releasing a video trailer promoting his soon-to-be-released (at that time) book, Love Wins. The video didn't specifically say anything heretical, but it implied quite a bit in its questions and statements. For instance:

"Will only a few select people make it to heaven? And will billions and billions of people burn forever in hell?"

"……and so what gets subtly sort of caught and taught is that Jesus rescues you from God. But what kind of God is that that we would need to be rescued from this God? How could that God ever be good? How could that God ever be trusted? And how that ever be good news?"

"What you discover in the Bible is so surprising, unexpected and beautiful that whatever we've been told or taught the good news is actually better than that. Better than we can ever imagine. The good news is that love wins."1

Even in those few, separate quotes you can sense some fundamental orthodox Christian doctrines being questioned. The blogosphere rightly questioned whether his new manuscript was going to promote universalism, pluralism, and a lack of an eternal punishment (i.e. hell). The response was quick and harsh, as was the counter-reaction. One side immediately called Bell a heretic, the other side, just as judgmentally, condemned people for speaking up before the book was even on store shelves.

[Read more…]

Going Down in a Blaze of Glory

Text messages

How many of you use your cell phones for text messaging?

Do you text a lot? A little?

Do you get any automatic text messages? For instance, do you…like me…get the weather every day on your handset? For instance today…

[ Read them this morning’s forecast. ]

Along with the weather at 8:30 each morning, around 7:30 every night my cell phone gets a message with a Bible verse. Sometimes the Scripture choice seems very random…a verse that appears meaningless within the limits of old-fashioned "Short Message Service" (SMS) messaging of 160 characters1.

Other times it appears spot-on…something the Lord Himself could have caused to be beamed from heaven, through Verizon’s cellular towards, and to my phone.

And if you do the quick mental math, the timing of the daily Scripture means that one came through as I was leading Bible study this past Wednesday…and everyone had the opportunity of hearing a rather disconcerting…but cool…"Droid" as it arrived (since I didn’t turn the ringer off).

After we wrapped up our study, I read the message to those who were hanging around:

Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his. — Numbers 23:10

[Read more…]