Category Archives: hell

Jesus, Christians, and Fear

It dawned on me recently that a great deal of my frustration with conservative Christianity is the role that fear plays in the narrative of the faith.  In their theology, their evangelism, and their politics, it seems to me, conservative Christians rely on and promote fear as part and parcel of the Gospel.  This perspective is deeply antithetical to the God whose most frequent command … Continue reading Jesus, Christians, and Fear »

How Should We Respond? When non-Christians ask us about faith …

Last week Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times reporter for whom I have a great deal of respect, published an interview he had with Tim Keller, a theologian and pastor I also respect greatly.  In it, Kristof says “… I deeply admire Jesus and his message, but am also skeptical of themes that have been integral to Christianity — the virgin birth, the Resurrection, the … Continue reading How Should We Respond? When non-Christians ask us about faith … »

Why do I believe? Part 13 — Not for Heaven’s Sake

Lots of folks, when they discuss the truth (or not) of faith, or when they try to sell Christianity to outsiders, spend a great deal of energy on issues surrounding the afterlife.  The crassest version, but one many of us have encountered, is encapsulated in the question “do you know where you’d be if you die tonight?”  The core message, of course, is that we’re … Continue reading Why do I believe? Part 13 — Not for Heaven’s Sake »

What IS a Christian, anyway?

I had a friend ask me today what my definition of a Christian is.  I resisted the question to some degree, as I remain extremely troubled by the obsession many have, with drawing lines to delineate who is “in” and “out” of fellowship, orthodoxy, or whatever.  I am not taking anything back that I said in my Word About Creeds.  Nevertheless, if I claim to … Continue reading What IS a Christian, anyway? »

The SBC: Pro-Hell, Anti-Bell — Still Wrong!

Well, it seems the firestorm ignited by Rob Bell’s Love Wins just won’t let up.  Now the Southern Baptist Convention has passed a resolution On The Reality of Hell (June, 2011), in which they reaffirm their belief in eternal conscious punishment for all “the unregenerate.”   My thanks to Rachel Held Evans for her highlighting of this resolution (of which I had not heard), and to … Continue reading The SBC: Pro-Hell, Anti-Bell — Still Wrong! »

Burn-them-all vs. Universalism: A false choice

A common phenomenon within theological, political, and other discussions that get us worked up, is that someone frames a question as “either-or” and then others jump onto that argument as “for” one side or the other…without anybody really stopping to consider whether the question itself was properly framed to begin with.  The recent controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins” seems to me a prime … Continue reading Burn-them-all vs. Universalism: A false choice »

So, do you trust the Holy Spirit, or not?

The recent debate around the blogosphere as to whether or not Rob Bell is a universalist, has got me to thinking.  There seems to be a substantial contingent within conservative Christianity, that is extremely dedicated to the notion of a hell where those who do not “believe” will suffer unending, conscious torment.  Many of these people–dear friends of mine, some of them–are not angry, vindictive … Continue reading So, do you trust the Holy Spirit, or not? »

No one comes to the Father but by me…

I am the way , and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. There are, I suppose, a variety of possible candidates, but today I submit John 14:6 as the single most blatantly misquoted saying from Jesus’ entire ministry.  Lifted completely out of context, Jesus’ statement is usually presented as “Exhibit A” for Jesus’ establishment of the exclusive … Continue reading No one comes to the Father but by me… »

McLaren – "A New Kind of Christianity" – Thoughts on John 14:6

Yesterday I discussed at length my criticism of Brian McLaren’s perspective on homosexuality, and to some extent sexuality in general, in his book A New Kind of Christianity.  Today I want to laud a point that McLaren has gotten absolutely right, in chapter 19 of the same book, entitled “The Pluralism Question: How Should Followers of Jesus Relate to People of Other Religions?”  Here I’ll … Continue reading McLaren – "A New Kind of Christianity" – Thoughts on John 14:6 »