Jesus Needs New PR

Jesus Needs New PR


My thoughts on Mark Driscoll's hell…

Aaron sent me this link to me last night. I watched it. And then I re-watched it. And then I woke up this morning and watched it again.

And I’m just going to share a few thoughts…

Now, before I do that, let me offer a disclaimer:

A) I don’t know Mark Driscoll personally. But I’ll be very honest: Mark’s public persona rubs me the wrong way. Seriously, I think the man could be discussing nursery rhymes and I’d somehow be just a little irritated by it. And while I do think that some of my frustrations are warranted, I do realize that a part of the reason that Mark’s public “voice” gets under my skin is my problem (not his). So I think it’s only fair to confess that upfront.

Okay, now for my thoughts.

Arrogance isn’t faith. And Mark’s arrogance makes me cringe. Again, that could be me. Regardless, the truth is, standing up on a platform and yelling “Yes! Yes! Yes!” does not make “yes” the answer to the question. Mark’s certainty for who will go to hell only implies his perspective on the text. Millions of Christian people agree with Mark. And millions of Christian people disagree.

But let’s face it; shouting and stomping and swinging your arms around like you’re the one who gets to make these decisions doesn’t make your perspective correct. Mark believes that, if you don’t ask Jesus into your heart (or engage in some relationship with Jesus in some way, shape, or form), you will go to Hell. And he can present it as plainly loudly “lovingly” as he wants, but he doesn’t get the final say in such matters. Thankfully.

Passive aggressiveness isn’t faith. Mark brings a big ole elephant in the room by mentioning a “pastor… an author…” who goes on national television and doesn’t present Mark’s version of the truth like Mark thinks he or she (but mostly Rob Bell) should. But guess what?! Mark will tell you his truth! He’ll scream his truth! He’ll jump up and down and get all red-faced and tell you his truth!! And that makes Mark better than those wimps (psst: Rob Bell) who don’t scream and shout and frankly tell the world that Mark says they’re going to hell.

To support his belief, Mark uses John 14:6, the verse where Jesus is quoted as saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is where Mark and I agree. I believe wholeheartedly that Jesus is the only way to God. I believe that what Jesus did on the cross was a powerful (and yes, strange) miraculous event. But I also believe that it’s not my job or my right to limit that miracle, to put definitions around the “who” and “what” and “how” that miracle affects Muslims or Buddhists or atheists. Many of us Christians speak of an “irresistible grace,” but then we put fences up around that grace and protect it or we add stipulations to it and define it to fit into our worldview. Because our faith MUST fit into our worldview or it might change us or make us uncomfortable. In a way, we sort of make the grace we proclaim rather resistible.

But what about all of the verses within scripture that seem to imply a truly irresistible grace?

John 17:2: For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.
Luke 2:10: But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
In John 1:9, the gospel’s author writes: The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
Romans 5:18: Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.
Romans 8:20, 21: For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
Acts 3:21: For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets.
1 Timothy 4:9-11: This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things.

And I could go on and on. But my point in listing those verses isn’t to argue theology, it’s only to point out that there IS indeed biblical support for Jesus-centered redemption that is bigger and more merciful and gracious than what most evangelical theologies proclaim.

Do we believe that Jesus is good news for all men?

Or do we believe that Jesus is good news for all men who ask him into his heart?

Or do we believe that Jesus is good news for all men who follow some sort of evangelical equation that proclaims (in an earthly sense) that he’s a follower of Jesus?

Who are we to put limitations around the words “all men” or “all people”…

I’ve said this before, but I think sometimes the “evangelical God” we boast about is quite small. Or at least… how we talk about him is small.

Of course, Mark could be right. The God that we boast about, that we love, that we worship could be ready and willing to send BILLIONS and BILLIONS of people to the flames of hell. All in the name of justice baby! But then why does God ask us to care for the sick, the weak, the hungry? Why does he tell us to love one another? Why does he care about the relationships we pursue and value? How can we boast about a God who values unborn life but is fully willing to send 11-year-olds from India to eternal torment?

Now, I know all of the pat answers that evangelicals give to these questions. But rather than offering answers to these questions because our current faith so often hates unanswered questions, let the questions simmer a bit.

I’ll end with this (because this post is getting long!).

I’ve probably heard some version of this exact sermon more than 500 times over the course of my lifetime. People respond to these kinds of messages. They’re compelling and passionate and emotional. Why? Because ETERNITY is at stake! And any time somebody as direct and certain as Mark stands up and loudly proclaims “truth” as he sees it, people will respond. And I’m sure this talk moved people to make decisions for God. (And there’s nothing wrong with people making decisions for God.)

But are people responding because they love God?
Or are they responding because they fear Mark is right?
Are people responding because they believe that God offers a hope that will restore them?
Or are they responding because nothing sells God better than hell?
Are people responding because Jesus is the way, truth, and life?
Or are they responding because Mark says that followers of Jesus have nothing to lose and those who don’t follow Jesus have everything to lose?

Is that our good news? Is that any way to introduce somebody to the way, truth, and life? Does that put hell above Christ?! Hosea 13:14a says, I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.

Does that sound like a God that’s planning to send a multitude of people (the majority!) to Hell?

In truth, it’s hard for me to believe that.

I believe in a God who makes things right. I believe in a God who will leave the 99 to find 1 lost soul. I believe in a God who is my shepherd. I believe in a God who manifested himself through Christ to bring redemption to the world.

I believe I shouldn’t redefine that God.

Let’s face it; this spiritual truth that we seek through Jesus is not an easy equation that we can simply learn to factor, because equations don’t set people free. The kind of spiritual truth that sets people free isn’t the kind you chain yourself to and defend come hell or high water; it’s the kind that you never stop seeking, the kind that is considered and then reconsidered, questioned and then re-questioned, and it’s a kind that, in the end… might be wrong.

I tend to think that, more than knowing what’s absolutely true, having faith is becoming okay with what you don’t.

But then again, I could be wrong.



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Matt from OH-IO

posted March 29, 2011 at 10:58 am


Matthew,
I actually agree with Mark’s theology on almost every point (not exactly on the “those who haven’t heard the name Jesus” part) but I do agree, just because you yell and treat the one asking the question like they are dumb for asking it doesn’t make you more correct than they guy who tried to answer it with grace and class on GMA.

Mark may not be dodging the question like we accuse Rob Bell of doing, but he is changing the subject in the way that he only focuses on a couple of verses and yells them with passion so it because more about passion than it does about truth.



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Amber-Lee

posted March 29, 2011 at 10:58 am


I really like this, Matthew. I also appreciate your confession upfront, because that’s how I feel about Driscoll. I know I shouldn’t react so violently against him, but I do. Even if he was talking about nursery rhymes. Also, have you seen the video of his on Stay-At-Home-Dads?



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    Sonny Lemmons

    posted March 29, 2011 at 12:14 pm


    I’ve see his video on stay-at-home-dads. I’ve studied the video. I’ve analyzedbthe video, and the scripture he uses to back up s stance. Why?

    Because I am a stay-at-home dad.

    And it’s because of this bias that I bring because of the bias Driscoll brings against me that makes it VERY hard for me to hear or respect anything he has to say. I’ll be honest. I’m not saying that I would or do disage with his words. I’m saying that -like MPT here – I find it hard to see past the bluster and into the heart of someone who may very well be a caring, loving, and genuinely sincere person.



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Bruce

posted March 29, 2011 at 10:59 am


Amen…



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Jeff

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:00 am


Thanks for this Matthew. Very well put.



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Ric

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:00 am


“Jehovah’s Witnessism”



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    Noelle

    posted March 30, 2011 at 10:19 am


    I thought he said “Witticisms”. You know, smart and funny little sayings. The few Jehovah’s Wittnesses I knew weren’t all that funny. There must be some out there, but I’m not sure it’s what they’re known for



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Scott

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:02 am


Well said, Matthew. I loved the end. “Then again, I could be wrong.” That’s a big part of the issue I have with the whole thing. It’s the arrogance to proclaim loudly and obnoxiously, “HEY! MY ANSWER IS THE RIGHT ONE! AND IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IT, YOU’RE GOING TO LIVE OUT ETERNITY IN ETERNAL CONSCIOUS TORMENT!” There’s no room for discussion when someone is screaming at you that you’re going to hell.



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georgestull

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:02 am


Excellent Matthew…I agree. Your thoughts here are respectful and compelling with the usually MPT sarcasm. I appreciate you bro.



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@KevinSwitzer

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:03 am


YES YES YES!
I agree. I really dislike Mark Driscoll. I think that even if he and I agree on something, I’d disagree with him. I can see this conversation happening…

MARK: Where you do you want to go to dinner?
ME: Olive Garden
MARK: YES YES YES… I love Olive Garden and I love you!
ME: How about Applebees?



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shawn smucker

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:05 am


Thanks for this post. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit” Psalm 34:18.

Rethinking ingrained paradigms is never easy. Sometimes entire generations have to come and go.

I don’t know the answers to the questions you raise; sometimes I’m not sure if this generation is even ready to discuss the questions without using the plank in their own eye to bludgeon anyone within striking distance. But I think books and posts like this need to be written and talked about.



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fivebares

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:06 am


Not a big Driscoll fan, and often do see arrogance in his approach, but didn’t get that feeling here. Seems more like he’s just being adamant about his position. Now, that’s not saying I don’t think there’s more nuance and disagreement on the topic than he is displaying, and I appreciate your added thoughts on the topic. But regardless of whether I agree with a particular preacher, I understand when they get this bombastic about something they feel strongly about…



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Ross Christopher

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:08 am


great post. clear and grace-filled! thank you. i’ve begun a chapter-by-chapter analysis/discussion of Love Wins on my blog…please feel free to drop by and add to the conversation: http://www.continuedconversation.blogspot.com

grace & peace,
ross



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Shaun McDonnell

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:08 am


I’ll give you credit for “I might be wrong” but that’s it.

I wish I could live in a world where the Bible is no longer an absolute truth – where it is whatever the human race wants it to be.

I wish I could write-off my Christian-guilt by allowing those who do not seek grace the same eternity as those who don’t.

In other words, I wish I could take that wide path that you’re on where there are puppies, butterflies and giggling babies no matter what happens.



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    Wes

    posted March 29, 2011 at 11:15 am


    Just so we’re clear on what you’re saying, the “absolute” portions of the Bible only apply to the verses that Driscoll quotes, but not the portions that MPT quotes, right? Because I’m pretty sure MPT defended what he believed using the same book Driscoll quoted from….



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      Scott

      posted March 29, 2011 at 11:24 am


      Aaaaand boom goes the dynamite.



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        Wes

        posted March 29, 2011 at 11:39 am


        For the record, I’m not going on record as saying “Shaun, you’re wrong about your beliefs on heaven/hell.”

        What I am saying is that one can’t dismiss what MPT wrote as making the Bible “whatever the human race wants it to be” when he expresses that the reason he disagrees with Mark is because of what he reads in other parts of the Bible.

        Bottom line: Mark Driscoll acquires his beliefs from Scripture. So does MPT. And that’s ok.



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          JBen

          posted March 29, 2011 at 12:46 pm


          Well said Wes. I find myself feeling more and more this way every day.



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      Tim M

      posted March 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm


      And when we discuss absolute where it concerns the Bible, we should keep this in mind:

      there’s no such thing as a complete, original Bible, but many, many, many different versions of copies of copies.

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/22/my-take-there%E2%80%99s-no-such-thing-as-the-bible/



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    Grace

    posted March 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm


    Let’s take as a given that the Bible is absolute truth. The Bible wasn’t written in English, nor was it written 10 or even 100 years ago. Language and context have changed. When you talk about “hell” and “salvation” how do you know that what you mean by it is what the Bible means by it? Is “Sheol” hell? Hades? Gehenna? Are all three of those the same thing? I’m honestly asking.



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    Ginger

    posted March 29, 2011 at 1:01 pm


    “Christian-guilt” is an oxymoron.



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    Cody

    posted March 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm


    Shaun, you have every right to believe the Bible is absolute truth..however, you also need to respect that many, many Christians don’t see it that black and white. It can be interpreted many different ways, depending on who is reading it. No one is signing to a “wide path where there are puppies and butterflies.” But Christ called us to love one another unconditionally…we love whether people we meet are on the path to eternity or not. We love no matter what the circumstances are. That’s our calling. With more of Christ’s love in the world, maybe there would be more puppies and giggling babies. The wide path sounds better than the world does right now, so what’s so bad about it?



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EmilyTimbol

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:10 am


Loved this, could not agree more. So many people freaking out over Rob Bell’s book either didn’t read the parts where he says that God wants to save everyone Through JESUS, or they just chose to ignore them. Hell was never denied in the book, and people that preach fire and brimstone should take a lesson from Jesus, who only spoke with a sharp tongue to religious leaders, never sinners. Great, great blog.



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    James Williams

    posted March 29, 2011 at 12:51 pm


    Emily, you know I think highly of you, but I wish you wouldn’t use phrases like “freaking out”. Many, perhaps most, disagreeing comments toward Bell’s book were simply people expressing their opinions, and not freaking out at all.



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Kathy Baldock

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:12 am


great post. Not a fan of Driscoll AT ALL. He does not represent an ambassador of Jesus to me. No one comes to the Father but by Jesus–I do not proclaim to know the timing of that one. As a parent, I would NEVER toss my children into burning torment forever–never. And I am very flawed love. I have not figured this out, I just know that I have a mission on earth–love and serve and represent Him. I have not used the fire/eternal torment/ turn and burn tactic in decades. Love and serve.



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Liz

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:13 am


Mormons are in the same breath as Budhist

Mormon’s are going to hell???? Last time I checked they believe Jesus is the Son of God. WOW! Now if you don’t believe in Driscoll’s brand of Christianity your going to Hell. Heaven’s going to be pretty empty.



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    James Williams

    posted March 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm


    Mormons believe all men will eventually become Gods of their own universe. Not women, just men. This belief is similar to the lie the serpent told Eve (“you will be just like God”) when tempting her to eat the fruit. Also, there’s something about Jesus and Satan being brothers. Many Christians believe this means they are not worshiping the same God. So don’t be so surprised that someone thinks this.



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      Jennifer

      posted March 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm


      James, I’m sure you know this already, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg on the bizarre things that Mormons believe. I’ll leave it at that.



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      davepettengill

      posted March 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm


      I tootally agree James. Mormons also do not believe in the Trinity. They believe the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate Gods. That worthy men may one day become Gods themselves. They also don’t believe Jesus death on the cross provides full atonement for all sin. They believe there is no eternal life without Mormon membership. They believe that God the Father was once a man, but “progressed” to Godhood. So Mormons do not believe the same as Christians. They are not a different brand of Christianity like another denomination but a different faith.



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Bob Chapman

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:17 am


Am I the only one to notice that this battle is the pastor of Mars Hill versus the pastor of Mars Hill? Washington versus Michigan?

Both pastors are media savvy in their own way, using their own gifts. Both seem to write well and have good editors.

The big difference is one seems to have some theological education and an openness to question with assurance in, whatever the answer, God is. The other one’s degree came after-the-fact and was a roll-your-own degree earned in private study from a college willing to give him what he wants.

(Disclaimer: My partner works for an institution that has pastors for whom the roll-your-own institution was willing to create a doctoral degree program. This school seems willing to attach its name and legitimacy to whoever or whatever appears to be a rising star.)

MPT, maybe you and I need to go into even further deep repentance this Lent for letting our eyes see too clearly what is before them?



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    Matt from OH-IO

    posted March 29, 2011 at 11:35 am


    which one has the roll your own degree again?



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      Bob Chapman

      posted March 29, 2011 at 4:24 pm


      I have to correct something I said. Apparently there are two schools in PDX that allow you to roll-your-own.

      This has been reported about Driscoll: “He recently earned a master’s degree through an independent-study program he arranged at a seminary in Portland, Ore.” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/magazine/11punk-t.html?pagewanted=all

      I’ve read that Driscoll arranged his degree program in other places, too. From what I seen, they allowed Driscoll to consult and meet personally with professors to substitute for attending classes. I guess it wouldn’t do to actually make Driscoll sit in a class with others.

      Wikipedia lists Western University as the place where Driscoll received his Masters in Arts degree. He is also listed here: http://westernalumni.blogspot.com/2010/02/three-western-seminary-authors.html

      It was another Portland school that was negotiating with the pastors where my partner works. And, the pastors decided not to pursue that degree program.



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    Cent1

    posted March 29, 2011 at 12:46 pm


    I believe that Jesus wasn’t formally taught about the scriptures in any seminary and he knew them as good as anyone. I know a lot of folks that have college degrees and are dumber than a bag of hammers. So let’s not make formal education a yard stick by which we measure intelligence, wisdom or authority.



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      VorJack

      posted March 29, 2011 at 2:22 pm


      I believe that Jesus wasn’t formally taught about the scriptures in any seminary and he knew them as good as anyone.

      According to Luke 2:42-50, Jesus was practically born with his understanding of the scriptures. Those of us who are merely mortal might do well to hit the books.



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        Matthew Paul Turner

        posted March 29, 2011 at 2:43 pm


        Man, I just want to say that I always appreciate your perspective. Your comments are frank, respectful, and challenging. So thank you.



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          LRA

          posted March 31, 2011 at 12:11 am


          Yeah, Vorjack is awesome! He’s an archivist (librarian)in New York. Very knowledgeable and always quite even keel. He asks interesting historical questions that always make me think. I’ve followed him for a long while over at UF.

          :)



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      Bob Chapman

      posted March 29, 2011 at 6:02 pm


      I also know many Episcopal priests that have gone through what are now considered alternative methods of training. “Reading for orders,” a misnomer as it involves studying under the direction of others, is a very respected and noble route to go.

      This extends beyond church. Bill Gates does not have an earned college degree.

      That being said, not needing a college degree is very different from not being trained. Driscoll has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Washington State University. This explains his media savvy.

      Theology is something that you have to do more than read to learn. It involves being questioned and challenged. It involves finding out that we are all looking through a clouded window (through a glass, dimly).

      I hope Driscoll’s Master of Arts program was more like the traditional “reading for orders” found in the Episcopal Church–where the candidate for ordination is directed in studies–than what it was made to appear. Then again, Driscoll choose the school of his liking.



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Ben

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:19 am


Anyone else notice that Mark’s argument “Just because I’m yelling at you doesn’t mean I don’t love you” functions almost the same as “just because I hit you doesn’t mean I don’t love you”.

Nevertheless I have to admit my bias against Mark too, mostly because I have a strong reaction against proof-texting. Repeating words with emphasis isn’t the kind of exegetical work that really educates people.

Unfortunately fluff can seem pretty filling to a starving person.



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    Laura

    posted March 29, 2011 at 11:43 am


    Exactly! as someone who has been emotionally, spiritually, and physically abused, it’s no wonder I can’t make it through one of his videos without a nauseated feeling creeping up in the pit of my stomach.



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    Grace

    posted March 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm


    Absolutely. The whole thing is psychologically and emotionally manipulative and abusive. That would be true even if Driscoll were the most charming person on the planet.



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    LRA

    posted March 29, 2011 at 11:45 pm


    Yeah… any “God” who would say, “just because I’m sending you to eternal damnation doesn’t mean I don’t love you” is the ultimate abuser.



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Bob Chapman

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:21 am


Liz, you need to separate individual Mormons from Mormon theology. Mormon theology is pretty kinky, in a figurative and literal way.

By the way, Mormon theology denies Jesus is God. He is the son of God, but not God. Among other things, hang Arianism on it (along with Montanism, but why quibble points).

Not all that say “Lord, Lord” are going to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. At the same time, Jesus had sheep that the disciples didn’t know about.



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Cara

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:26 am


Someday I would like to see a video of a sermon where someone is loudly and aggressively preaching that we don’t know the ultimate answers to these questions.



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    Bob Chapman

    posted March 29, 2011 at 11:28 am


    Where is the Facebook “like” button when you need it?



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Ethan Hickerson

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:32 am


The problem I see with the idea of everyone getting into heaven regardless of belief is that it completely rids the cross of it’s importance, it leaves a gaping hole when the question of “Why did Jesus come to earth and do the incredibly hard work that he did” pops up, and it doesn’t make since to write and preach the great commission if it turns out that it’s not that big of a deal. Why did Paul go through so much suffering for people, if the message he’s sending to them isn’t really that important. They’re going to heaven regardless, right? So why go to them and escape all sorts of fatal situations. I just don’t see what you do with the importance of spreading the gospel with the mind set of “everyone’s covered”.

And I don’t agree with what you said when you mentioned that it was Mark Driscoll’s view of Hell. I understand what you mean, and that people interpret the bible differently,
but seriously,
what do you do when you read about damnation in the bible.
It’s there.
Do you skip over it?
When Jesus speaks John 14:6, and other religions are put down as the worship of false gods and idols in the bible,
what do you do with it?
I didn’t believe in Hell until I read the scriptures for myself, and thought, if I don’t believe in Hell, then I’m going off of what someone else is saying instead of facing what’s in the scripture in front of me. And since I’m a Christian, and publicly claiming this belief, then I must accept the bible as truth. If I don’t, then I shouldn’t call myself a Christian. No big, but really, if I don’t accept the text as truth, then why should I claim to be a believer in it?

Mark Driscoll isn’t the person with all the answers, and yeah man, his arrogance gets ridiculous.
I’ll agree with that, man

There are my thoughts.
Just how I feel.
I could definitely be wrong, though



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    Ben Greene

    posted March 29, 2011 at 12:08 pm


    Hey Ethan,
    I just want to say that I am not claiming to know one way or the other either but I have heard your point about the diminishment of the cross several times and I am confused. How does the idea that Christ will one day through the cross reconcile all things rather than He will one day reconcile just a select few diminish the cross? Doesn’t the vast conquering of death for all things magnify the beauty and power of the cross instead of making it less significant? Also, even if I did believe that Christ would one day save all, it would not reduce my desire to share Jesus with people. I still would believe that life that is full, and life that is lived fully (abundant) is found in Him. Just a thought as I wrestle through these things as well. Take Care.



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      Grace

      posted March 29, 2011 at 1:00 pm


      This is just what I was going to say. As an agnostic and former Christian, it seems to me that if Jesus did in face save the whole world (“for God so loved the world”) that would be far more amazing and far more better news than Driscoll’s version of the gospel is. In fact Driscoll’s version of the gospel isn’t good news at all, not for most people. It’s a faith based on the belief that the vast majority of people are destined for hell and there’s really not that much we can do about it.



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        LRA

        posted March 29, 2011 at 11:51 pm


        Good news! A Christian told a perfect stranger a story about Jesus and condemned the stranger to hell ‘cuz now he’s heard the good news but rejected it as silly drivel! Way to go, proselytizer!

        Really, if Christians believe that people who’ve heard the “good news” but rejected it are going to hell, then WHY KEEP TELLING PEOPLE ABOUT IT??? Why not keep silent and let people just go to heaven? If no one knows about Jesus, then technically no one can choose and no one can go to hell, right?

        So if you want to save people, stop trying to save people!



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          Green Eggs and Ham

          posted March 30, 2011 at 12:14 am


          You have some very pesky logic there. :D



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          Noelle

          posted March 30, 2011 at 10:24 am


          that’s crazy enough, it just might work



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          LRA

          posted March 31, 2011 at 12:13 am


          Hee hee! It’s always the crazy, crazy ideas that work, right?

          ;)



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      BMH

      posted March 29, 2011 at 1:06 pm


      I’m with Ben! If what Jesus did on the cross was to fulfill the covenant and open God’s family up to everyone, then that doesn’t seem like dimishment to me!



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      Ethan Hickerson

      posted March 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm


      I can see that. I can dig on what you guys are saying.
      I totally get that point,
      but it still doesn’t explain the sense of urgency that the apostles had for telling people about it.
      I disagree with the argument that people who don’t believe in Hell are just as if not more evangelical than those who do.
      I think the honest fear of people eternally suffering is what drives people to fight for the gospel in countries where it’s illegal. And I’m no expert in statistics, but I would think it’s common for people to associate those Christians who go to foreign countries and are sometimes killed for a message that they just have to tell, with evangelical Christians, who believe in Hell. I think the TRUE belief in Hell is what causes people to go out and tell people about Christ, no matter what the cost is.
      I can tell people all day that I believe in Hell, but it’s because of a slight disbelief in eternal damnation that keeps me from getting up and living like John and Peter in Acts 4, where it doesn’t matter where I am or who’s against me, I have to tell people that Christ is the savior and Christ is the ruler. But because of that slight thought of “Everyone’s gonna be fine”, I stay where I am



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        Grace

        posted March 29, 2011 at 3:31 pm


        Part of the urgency the apostles had was that they believed the kingdom of God was at hand – literally around the corner – so immediate repentance was necessary. They were obviously wrong about that. Incidentally, this kind of apocalyptic belief wasn’t unique to Jesus’s followers – there was a lot of apocalyptic sentiment in 1st century Judaism. Jesus was just one such teacher among many.



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          Ethan Hickerson

          posted March 31, 2011 at 12:24 pm


          why would you worry that the end times are coming though if everyone’s cool where they are?
          why would you care to tell people that the end times are coming.
          just let them be?
          What was the point of jesus coming and saving us (ALSO: what was Jesus saving us from if not Hell?) and before ascending, giving us the great commission if it really doesn’t matter if we tell people or not. there must be some reason Jesus pushed for us to spread the gospel so passionately



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hollie

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:38 am


I appreciate how gracious you are, but I don’t think you don’t need to disclaim your thoughts so much! Driscoll rubs us the wrong way for legitimate reasons. It’s not just that he’s abrasive or even incorrect, it’s that he’s downright harmful to the church – like when he repeatedly disempowers women. Not only is he sexist but he is so in the name of Jesus, and preaches that sexism from the pulpit. I don’t apologize for standing against that which I believe causes grief to God. So, when the same person says these things in this way, of course I’m a bit put off.

Even though none of us has it all figured out, I’d rather be loving and end up wrong than get it right with Driscoll’s brand of belligerence.



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Lisa B

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:39 am


Mateo–awesome. Now answer the real question: are you a universalist? ;) Come on over to the other side!–the water’s great over here! In fact, it’s a whole ocean.



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MainlineMom

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:41 am


So here’s the deal. I like this post, and it’s pretty much the same reason I loved your book Churched. Because you are honest and your heart shows through. I happen to agree with Driscoll on most points theologically and I like most of his sermons. But I agree that his arrogance is obnoxious. There is plenty about the man I dislike. For me, this isn’t about what we believe so much as it is about how we live. I understand wanting to defend our interpretation of scripture because we want people to believe in the right Jesus, not just someone else’s preferred picture of Jesus. But I also believe in humility and being willing to admit that we COULD be wrong about whether or not God will make all things right. I see both sides of the argument pretty clearly, I think, and I happen to fall on the side of Calvinism as much as my heart desires for everyone to be saved for eternity. But I do think that the love and grace of Christ should compel us to live in the here and now in such a way that Jesus IS irresistible to those around us. That certainly means all the things you mentioned, feeding the poor, reaching out to the unlovely, etc. Intellectually I may believe the Bible points to an exclusive God, but in my every day life I don’t want people to see that through my words or actions.



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Travisharger

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:46 am


I agree it’s quite a paradox – while I have a hard time believing the majority will make it in the kingdom I also have a hardtime believing my 2 year old daughter will be tortured in he’ll for billions of years. At the heart I want to be an aniliationist but at the same time the god man that told us God loves the earth is also the one that introduced hell to the conversation.

The most frustrating part of bells book besides the cover has been the verses he didn’t discuss. Ones that say some surely will awaken to eternal condemnation – the question is who and why. I think it’s def broader and more complex than Driscoll makes it seem and yet still a reality we must not just brush off.

Btw I Also agree that Driscoll rubs me the wrong way. On one end I like the intensity but when he leaves no room for conversation in get irritated. Id rather disagree with a guy like McClaren 80% of the time than listen to a guy like Driscoll who I agree with 80% of the time.



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Jay

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:46 am


This needs to stop.

Its not an argument about Heaven and Hell and who ends up where when and why. Its not an argument about which Mars Hill is better and if if Driscoll yells his fundamentalism to much and is arrogant and if Bell is a Universalist who makes videos where he seemingly has superpowers (http://vimeo.com/10639312).

This whole thing the last month has been a debate about 1 thing: What do you believe about who God is. Everything else has been an argument about the symptoms and not the root cause of them, and I have watched enough episodes of House to know that if that keeps up the patient (the church in this case) is screwed.

All we have done (whichever side you fall on) is try to put God in a tidy box that allows us to grasp him in a way that allows us to sleep at night. For some that means a God who would never condemn massive amounts of people. For others it means a God who is just and because of that must do these things.

I look in the bible and see both of these things. We need to figure out a way to be one body in Christ and reconcile the fact that the bible describes two sides of the same coin and both are right and trust God to fill in the gaps.

This is not a post about the answers, just observations about a process that we should all agree has had wrong done on all sides while a world of unbelievers (who may or may not be going to hell) look on and shake there heads… not cool.



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    Sara

    posted March 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm


    Jay, stop reading my mind. It’s creepy.



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Todd

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:51 am


Amen Matt! I see the same God in Scripture that you do. And yes, there are most definitely many things that we are all “wrong” on. But not in way that diminishes God to less than what we perceive God to be, but in a way that fails to see that God is infinitely greater than we perceive him to be. Not sure if that makes sense, but if the “whole” of God fits into our understanding, than we DO have a very small God indeed.

But in then end, it matters little of how “right” or “wrong” we are. I have never come across in scripture God, on the day of the LORD, saying…”Depart from me, you had the wrong understanding of things.” We are not saved by our understanding, and if there is one thing that humility in the presence of God leads us to, its that we understand very little if at all.

There is a danger to “electism” that is rampant throughout Christianity. If one looks at Jesus’ response to those who thought they were elect…from the Pharisees even to Jesus’ own disciples when they tried to turn a man away for casting out demons when he wasn’t a part of their “group”…one find a Jesus who eradicates the notion of “in-ness”. Jesus never worked in the center, in the middle of a well established group…Jesus always worked out on the fringes. He dwelt with those on the fringes. He ate and drank with those on the fringes (Even being called a drunkard and a glutton in Matt. 11:19).

Jesus was born on the fringes, lived on the fringes, and died on the fringes (of religion, society and the city). Why, then, do we cherish the well-established group, the elect, over the fringes? Didn’t Jesus say that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first? And yet we boast in our “firstness”. Yikes.

Anyway, thank you for your blog post!



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Dianna

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:57 am


GAAAAH. I had a whole thing typed out, and it went WHOOSH, lost in the forests of the internet. I think too many of us were trying to post at once. :/

Anyway, here’s a redone version:

The big central part of all of this hullabaloo is power. The power of being right, the power of being able to say who is and isn’t going to hell, the power to hold the threat of hell over people’s heads. The power to yell and scream and bully and be arrogant and asshole-ish because hey, I’m speaking the truth in love and it’s your fault if you can’t handle it. (Sidenote: The only people I’ve ever heard use the phrase “speak the truth in love” have turned out to be jackasses to the nth degree – it seems to be more of an excuses to be an insensitive jerk than anything else).

But people like Driscoll, Piper and Mohler all have a lot to gain from Hell being widely believed. They get an audience of thousands on a Sunday morning, scared out of their wits that they might be “sinners in the hands of an angry god,” and so they keep toeing the line, they keep voting Republican, and they keep their mouths shut about their questions.

Because this stuff really does raise questions. And when you’re RIGHT, you can’t have questions that, by their very asking, say you might be wrong.

Example: At 2:10 in this video, Driscoll goes through all these different questions about believing in Jesus, trusting in Jesus, etc. And he follows it with, “If not, you are in the path of the wrath of God.”

Really?

The man who proclaims to be God is saving me both to himself and from himself?

That theology rips open the Trinity, separates the Father God from Jesus. It teaches us, subtly or not so subtly, that God is a monster to be feared, and Jesus is this somehow different thing we must cling to in order to be saved from this other part of him. It turns God into the abusive husband who smacks you into the wall in the evening and then brings you flowers at work the next day. It turns God into Jekyll and Hyde.

And to even question that, for Driscoll, is the profoundest heresy, because it takes away his ability to be right. And with rightness comes a lot of power – cultural, political and communal. If you don’t hold the threat of people’s eternal fate over their heads anymore, it’s a lot harder to get them to vote the way you want them. If you don’t have the threat of Hell, it’s a lot harder to scare people into the seats.

And I don’t doubt all of these people (Driscoll, Piper, et al.) believe wholeheartedly that they are doing God’s work. But I also find it hard to believe that they don’t also enjoy the power that comes with being one of the privileged elect who has the ability to tell others about their sin and that they’re going to hell.



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    Sean R Reid

    posted March 29, 2011 at 1:04 pm


    +1 to this.

    I think you nailed it with “power.” There are entire structures built on this line of thinking. Structures whose bases are so weak that the smallest breeze could knock them over. As such, the builders must vigorously defend their precious structures or risk being caught under the rubble.

    I don’t know if Driscoll is “right.” I don’t know if Bell is “right.” However, I do know that I respect Bell much more for being willing to say “I don’t know” than I do Driscoll for jumping up and down, loudly proclaiming his certainty.

    As I’ve said almost ad nauseum at this point, it’s identity politics, fanboyism and cheerleading. I find very little Christ in any of those (and I’m a rampant fanboy with an identity crisis who used to be a cheerleader, I know of such things!! LOL!)



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    Grace

    posted March 29, 2011 at 1:05 pm


    Great points, Dianna. Would you mind if I posted some of your comment on my blog (with due credit, of course)?



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      Dianna

      posted March 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm


      That would be no problem at all. It makes me very glad when people respond this way to what I have to say. Reminds me that I’m not alone in my thinking. :)



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    LRA

    posted March 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm


    Dianna, you and I may be on the opposite sides of the theist/skeptic fence, but good grief, girl… you da bomb!

    :D

    That was a great post!



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FDR

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:04 pm


sometimes when the Bible uses the word “all” it doesn’t mean “everyone on the face of the Earth”. If i ask all of you to come over to my house I am certainly not meaning the whole world.. So in some of the verses you list you have missed the “all” of it……



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Josephine Holmes

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:06 pm


AGREE!!!!! Thanks!!



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Toby

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:10 pm


I guess you could be wrong, but I’m not sure you are. Then again, I suppose I could be wrong :D.



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Ric Booth

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:11 pm


Excellent post, Matt. I might go so far as to say, fair and balanced. (but only because it is likely to make you groan)

Thank you for including some of the ‘all’ verses.

And is it just me, or is it confusing to hear a Calvinist say, “You have a decision to make!”



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    Maria

    posted March 29, 2011 at 1:00 pm


    “And is it just me, or is it confusing to hear a Calvinist say, “You have a decision to make!””

    It’s not just you. :)



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    Rachel Perry

    posted April 3, 2011 at 5:56 pm


    Ha ha! Well said.



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Derick

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:33 pm


Lot’s of good questions and thoughts here. The only thing I wonder is where is the flip side to your conclusion?

“Does that sound like a God that’s planning to send a multitude of people (the majority!) to Hell?”

The flip side would be the God that we knew in the Old Testament, the one who wiped out the entire earth (the vast majority of mankind) because of sin. The God who regularly wiped out the lives of the non believers/sinners in Israel during their time in the desert.

I’m not saying that you are wrong, not at all, I’m just saying that God is still the same God he was back then too. Christ, being the mediator, saves us from the wrath of the Father.

Who is going to be saved? Dunno, God looks at the heart. I haven’t seen one of those in a long time ;)

Great post man!



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JR

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm


Is arrogance the perception of people who are wrong on a subject about those who are right?

Just asking the question. I am often labeled as arrogant because I won’t change my opinion of supporting evidence to consider conjecture.



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Mel

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:38 pm


Amber-Lee and Sonny- I had seen his stay at home dad video and- I’m human and the wife of a stay at home dad- it made me HATE him. Is that fair? No. But you know what else isn’t fair? All the assumptions he makes about men who stay at home. I’m 6 years older than my husband an already had an established, well-paying career and do not do well sitting at home- as I discovered in my 7 week maternity leave with our first child. My husband is shy and wants to be a writer. He’s even a better cook than me. So to hear this guy and his wife bashing something they know NOTHING about just got to me.
So watching this was no different. My opinion is he’s a jerk. I’m human, that’s not nice, but he’s just too unrelatable to the general public. I’d never attend a church with a speaker like him. Oh and back on the stay at home dad thing- the father is to provide’



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    Noelle

    posted March 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm


    Our husbands should get together (though I can’t imagine mine letting me set up play dates). He’s also the stay at home dad for our 6 year old son (with Aspergers and ADHD) and 4 year old daughter (a fiesty fit-throwing redhead). That’s been his job since the first one was born. He does almost all the cooking (and for good reason. I’m no cook). And writes story after story, hoping to get published. My job more than supports a family of 4. I don’t see any reason to change things.

    I haven’t seen Driscoll’s take on it. Do I want to? :)



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      Sonny Lemmons

      posted March 29, 2011 at 4:15 pm


      NO. Unless you want to get angry, like my wife did. :)

      Wow. There are a lot of pro-stay-at-home-dad comments here. Does my heart good and makes me feel like I’m not living in the vacuum I feel like I have been (I, sadly, do not know one other SAHD in person).



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        Noelle

        posted March 29, 2011 at 5:38 pm


        Driscoll sounds like a real sweetheart. On this one I couldn’t get past the “Jehovah’s Witticisms” part. I’ve known a couple Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were nice and all, but not real funny.

        There are a lot of SAHDs out there. We planned it like that years before we had kids. He hated his job and made very little money. I knew if I survived med school and residency, I’d be able to support a family financially. However, it’s the kind of psychologically exhausting job with long hours that we really need one of us to run the house and raise the kids full time to make it work. I don’t know what we’d do of he had a traditional job. Who would be able to drop everything and go to the school when our son’s having an all-out tantrum because his routine changed. How could we juggle getting one kid to the ENT in the morning for her recurrent ear infections and then get the other to the child psychiatrist an hour away later in the day? Who would make sure we remembered to pay the bills? There’s too much stuff to mention. Dads don’t form groups and stuff like SAHMs do, so I can see the isolation. How old are your kids? Maybe it gets better when they’re older and you get to be soccer coach and see other adults



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      Sara

      posted March 31, 2011 at 10:03 am


      Noelle, Dricoll’s stay at home dad video will make you want to punch the wall. For the sake of those who need your hands to be healthy, don’t watch that video.



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James Williams

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:40 pm


Sorry you lost follower over this post, Matt. It’s a shame when good people cannot recognize that other good people might disagree. And for the record, I disagree with you on this. Yet I still kinda like you ;)

Since you posted some verses, I’ll just say that the ones you posted do not, to me, mean that all will be saved. They just mean that all will have the opportunity. Salvation isn’t exclusive: all are invited. Not all accept the invitation.

In contrast, I do see Scriptures which say “all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved” or especially “that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” are crystal clear.

If Driscoll interprets those verses as I do, and he truly sees it from the perspective of telling a guy in a burning house that their house is on fire, then I don’t see how that’s arrogant. He’s verbalizing his interpretation of Scripture in that video, and you are doing the same in this blog post. I don’t see how when he does it it’s arrogant.



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    James Williams

    posted March 29, 2011 at 12:42 pm


    That was badly worded. I need to hire a proofreader.



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      Matthew Lyon

      posted March 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm


      so god lights your friends house on fire, then calls you up and says “quick, take my only begotten fire extinguisher to your friend. wake him up and offer him the extinguisher. if he takes it, he’ll fight his way out, if he doesn’t, then i’ll cause his house to implode. i hope he takes the offer, i love him.



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        Green Eggs and Ham

        posted March 30, 2011 at 12:25 am


        God setting the catastrophe and then rescuing us from it sounds like Munschhuasen’s Syndrome by Proxy.



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          Noelle

          posted March 30, 2011 at 10:12 am


          too many posts to read all of them, but skimming to pick up James, Matthew Lyon, and Green Eggs in succession, always worth it.

          nothing like some Munschhausen’s by Proxy to drive home a point and work the spelling.

          Oh, and I agree.



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Mel

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:41 pm


Got cut off but if the father/husband is to provide, can he not provide by doing the things that allow me to work like take care of the kids and the house??? Come on….



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Jeff

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:41 pm


Love the post. I have nothing theological to say. I just wanted to give props to Mark D’s style of persuasion. My three year old uses the same debate tactics.

Driscoll lost me as a learner when I watched him aggressively go after a pastor for stepping down to seek the Spirit and rediscover what God has form him. Over and over again this guy does this. It’s not cute. It’s not cool. It’s not okay. He’s a bully. At my kids’ school they make bullies go stand in the corner…but in the church we celebrate them, buy their books, and declare them to be great speakers.

Also, was anyone else bothered by the flames in the background? Ummm…was that stage prop necessary? And if I’m the one going to hell and your the one who is going to be saved, shouldn’t I be standing in the fire and you should be on a cloud or something? If you are going to yell at me at least make the effort to coordinate your props with your preaching. = )

Great post.



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Amy

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:43 pm


Here’s what I think…the “all” in the verses quoted above refers to “all mankind.” Jesus DID reconcile all mankind, but I believe that mankind needs to accept that reconciliation. In reading/listening to these heaven/hell debates, I keep thinking back to the Old Testament story of the Israelites in the desert getting attacked by snakes (Numbers 21:4-9). God provided the means for the Israelites to be saved from their venomous snake bites, but they had to CHOOSE whether or not they wanted to look at the bronze snake on the staff. They have to CHOOSE their salvation. Anyway, that’s what I think. I could be wrong. :)



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Amber

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:43 pm


Why can’t God just forgive us? Why do people have to go to Hell?

Because if God weren’t just he wouldn’t be God.

If someone commits a crime, our sense of justice says there should be a punishment or a payment. We have all sinned, and our punishment should be death and eternal agony, but God lovingly and graciously sent his own Son to die in place of us.

If God is God, then he is just and righteous, and if that is the case, then there has to be a payment, which is his son Jesus Christ.

God’s outworking of his justice is not something we should be angry at; it is the most loving, merciful thing anyone could do.



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    Grace

    posted March 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm


    This is circular reasoning. God can’t just forgive us because God is just. God is just because otherwise God wouldn’t be God. That’s not actually a sound argument. It’s just an assertion that boils down to “whatever God does is just” – this is what puts literalist Christians in the unenviable position of trying to defend “God’s” instructions to the Israelites to commit genocide. Never mind that it’s really messed up to define justice as torturing people in hell for eternity for not happening to have discovered the right religion.



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Alise

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm


You know, even though I am firmly in the “I don’t know because I haven’t really studied this at all, but I hope that Mark is wrong” camp, I wasn’t that upset by the above video until the end when he got to praying. Because really, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a Luke 18:11-12 prayer almost verbatim in my life, but that was pretty damn close.

And today, when my best friend is mourning the loss of his first son at just 5 days old, and my heart is breaking for him and his wife, I don’t want to hear that the state of that sweet child’s soul is changing the subject. Because if God is big enough to spare that little one, I have no doubt that he’s big enough to save the little Hindu boy as well. Or the adult atheist man.

Or a doubt-y kinda’ evangelical chick with pink hair like me.



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    Sean R Reid

    posted March 29, 2011 at 1:25 pm


    I think you nailed it. Not because you pretended to have all the answers but because you didn’t try to put God into a tiny little box.

    Because if God is big enough to spare that little one, I have no doubt that he’s big enough to save the little Hindu boy as well. Or the adult atheist man.

    Ironically, I’m certain we’re more faithful in our hopes than we are in our certainty. Very well said Alise, I’ll admit to being jealous that I didn’t come up with it. =)



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RobB

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:46 pm


Yes Mateo, there are a lot of “verses within scripture that seem to imply a truly irresistible grace” like the onces you include in your blog post, but that does not mean that ALL of the people will get what God’s so irresistible grace has for them.

For example, General Motors makes cars for all men, and they wish that all men would buy their vehicles. But not all men will, some will buy theirs and some othesr will go get a car from someone else.

Those verses you mention work the same. God’s grace and desire is that all men are saved. But sadly, not all will take the gift. Some will and some will go get something from someone else.

In Jesus’ own words, if we don’t believe in him, we are fried:

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.



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    Sean R Reid

    posted March 29, 2011 at 1:13 pm


    What part of that says “we’re fried?” I’m not doubting that we’ll have the freedom to continue to deny the love of God. I think that will be the case in this world and the next. However, I think you’re stretching it a bit to take “shall not perish” and assume it means eternal damnation.

    The statement clearly offers life. It’s not written as an “either/or” proposition. Christ’s sacrifice was to bring eternal life. Which is, at best, a fuzzy proposition in which we do not have exact details but does appear to be something we should all want. To assume otherwise is reading your own interpretation into the text. It’s simply not there.



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      RobB

      posted March 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm


      The word “but” in the text means contrary, negative, opposite… so whatever is contrary to eternal life.



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Sean R Reid

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm


Synchronicity (and, coincidentally, inspired by discussions here):

http://www.badchristian.org/2011/03/28/members-only/

[...] when it comes to eternity, or what happens after we leave this mortal coil, the last place I want to be is with a bunch of self-important snobs. I’d rather be with the outcasts. The last time I read my Bible that seemed like a place where Jesus would be too.

I’ll gladly reject an exclusive membership in favor of unconditional love.

I want to like Driscoll. He speaks in a way that reaches me. His brash, unapologetic and in-your-face style is something that I feel like I “get.” It’s a style with which I’m familiar. The problem isn’t often how he says things so much as what he’s saying. I often wonder if hopping on the Piper-train didn’t derail (see what I did there?) what could have been a really thoughtful and powerful church. Now he’s just a younger version of hellfire and brimstone/carnival barker style pastors from the tent revival days.

He could have been “punk rock” but instead he’s just another corporate shill.



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Maria

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:52 pm


I love you for this post. I have been expressing similar (yet more general) sentiments on my blog, though not nearly as articulately as you have here.

For the record, Driscoll elicits a similar response from me. He could sing a lullaby and I’d cringe.



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OKCJrod

posted March 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm


FDR, thank you for the “all” comment! People shouldn’t confuse Calvinism with Fatalism (though some, admittedly, take a hyper-calvinistic view). People should start on how Holy is our God and then look to how sin relates to a holy God. Sola cultura or sola scriptura.



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Kevin Cole

posted March 29, 2011 at 1:06 pm


I am apparently the only person, living or dead, who’s never seen Driscoll do his thing. I know lots of people that have, but for me it’s all hearsay… I’ve never seen it.

Will God send billions to hell? He might. He told one person to sacrifice his son. He had his prophets do some freaky-looking things. He appears to take responsibility for causing (or at least worsening) some really bad behavior by a number of kings. He ordered the killing of not just men, but women, children and animals in a city or three.

I don’t pretend to understand, but “Would a loving God do that?” doesn’t seem a good argument here – or ever. I am a lousy judge of what a loving God would do.

The disagreement smacks of living not to go to hell, rather than living to love and serve God. What you live in reference to and why seems a prime indicator of spiritual maturity and wisdom.

Children behave well to avoid unpleasant consequences rather than to please their parents. As grown-ups we are supposed to behave well for higher reasons than that.

I think it likely that God is less worried about mechanics than maturity. Which may be why he instructs us to practice now what will be our natural behavior when we “finally arrive.” And yet the practice will certainly not save us…

Sounds like we’re back to faith versus works yet again. Back to NT instructions on dealing with brothers and sisters with whom we disagree. It’s a dangerous thing to attack someone’s lack of humility, whether or not they really are jerks…

Our most perfect understandings are still – after all – gross stupidity to God. Doesn’t hurt to remember that.



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BMH

posted March 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm


Based on what he says/writes, I find no reason to take Mark Driscoll seriously, ever. The only reason he matters is his fame, that a lot of other people seem to hang on every word he says.

He’s the Paris Hilton of preachers.



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Weston

posted March 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm


“for if God did not spare angels when they sinned but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment, if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men…-if this is so then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment while continuing their punishment .”
2 Peter 2: 4-9

This sorta clears it up for me. But I could be wrong.



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John Ferguson

posted March 29, 2011 at 1:17 pm


Great perspective. I’ve seen @pastormark speak and I agree he probably isn’t for everyone. My view is that everyone will be judged by someone who knows a lot more than I do. Paul talks of no-one having any excuse, but he also talks of Gentiles who ‘are a law to themselves’ and who effectively shamed the Jews.



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Jeremy

posted March 29, 2011 at 1:18 pm


It is interesting Rob Bell’s book has started so much dialogue from one spectrum all the way to the other side of the spectrum. MPT, this is well written, I believe it only leaves a few questions in my mind, if he came for all, what about those in Luke Chapter 9 who did not accept him, are they in hell? Or Christ saying in Matthew 7:14, “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Who are the few? And weather these questions need to be answered, I can’t say because it is a great mystery and God is way bigger than my little mind. It hurts my heart to hear these preachers slander other believers over who’s right amd wrong!



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Ike

posted March 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm


So quick to send people to hell. What a tiny God some of us believe in..
Who can presume to know the heart and mind of God.



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JLL

posted March 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm


Thank you. Driscoll is nauseating. I made the mistake of looking at his facebook page once (ok, a lot…) and the way people practically worship the man is just disgusting. When people are looking to Driscoll (or any pastor) for salvation instead of Jesus, I see a problem…



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Katie

posted March 29, 2011 at 1:34 pm


I loved this! Especially the line “How can we boast about a God who values unborn life but is fully willing to send 11-year-olds from India to eternal torment?”

After years and years and years of listening to sermons about the gnashing of teeth in the fiery pits of Hell, it’s hard for me to escape the deep lingering fear that it just be might be that way. But the thing is, I have a really hard time loving the God who sends almost everyone He ever created to eternal burning. And I may be wrong, but no one here really knows, so I choose to worship and love my God who can save ALL, whether or not they asked for it.



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Josh

posted March 29, 2011 at 1:36 pm


Bravo…well saidmy friend



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Kevin

posted March 29, 2011 at 1:36 pm


Thank God for Driscoll.

It always amuses me how easily we label somebody “arrogant” (almost always someone who disagrees with US), and in so doing place ourselves above them when we judge their motives.

Driscoll is right, of course, because he simply demands belief in the plain reading of Scripture. The stealth universalism of Bell (& MTPT?) is an anomaly because it requires the distortion of what generations of orthodox Christians have believed.

“That’s just your interpretation” is a tired argument. What else might be just Driscoll’s view? That there is only one God? That Jesus was sinless?

There are things about which the Bible is not really clear. Not among those are its clear teachings that only those who belong to Christ will live forever in Heaven.



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    Chris Morris

    posted March 29, 2011 at 2:30 pm


    Kevin, I agree completely. I don’t understand where this idea that “we’re not really sure who or who doesn’t go to hell” comes from…” The bible makes that pretty clear. Is it offensive? Yeah. The truth tends to be pretty offensive. I am also confused as to why we are shocked that a lot of people, most likely a majority, will not have eternal life. When has orthodoxy and belief in Jesus ever been “popular” to society, or attractive to everyone, or winsome to the world? Never. To insinuate that that will ever change is asinine. However, I don’t think that is what these “stealth universalists” are arguing. They are taking the most difficult portion of the bible to stomach and attempting to stretch so that they can sleep at night just a little better. Or maybe so that they can look at their friends who don’t believe what they believe and they can say, “Its okay, God loves you.” It’s like Piper said, instead of altering what the Bible says because its shocking; why don’t we see what the bible says, accept it as truth (hard to swallow or not), and then understand that it is there because sin is so egregious and deceiving.

    “Of course, Mark could be right. The God that we boast about, that we love, that we worship could be ready and willing to send BILLIONS and BILLIONS of people to the flames of hell.”

    What type of statement is this? It’s a terrible definition of God, His demeanor, and what Driscoll is arguing about the truth of hell and who will be there. It pictures the God of the New Testament as capricious, hateful, and uncertain of who will worship Him and who will rebel against Him. Is He up there counting our sins against us and weighing our futures and then one day decides? NO. Do we forget sovereignty? Do we forget election? Or are we arguing from an Arminian viewpoint? This statement makes hell seem far too harsh and not possible for a loving God. That’s okay though….Love wins, right?

    “But I also believe that it’s not my job or my right to limit that miracle, to put definitions around the “who” and “what” and “how” that miracle affects Muslims or Buddhists or atheists.”

    We know exactly how the cross effects those of different religions. IT IS YOUR JOB TO TRUTHFULLY COMMUNICATE WHAT HAPPENED AT CALVARY AND WHAT IT MEANS BY PROPER USE OF GOD’S HOLY WORD. The cross saves only those that confess through faith that Jesus Christ is their savior and only hope of reconciliation to God. Last time I checked none of those other religions admitted that. Can they come to Christ? ABSOLUTELY! Should we share the Gospel with them? YES!!! Will they come? I have no idea…I do know for certain that if they do not confess Christ as their salvation and reconciliation to God that they will go to hell. Sorry, if that’s too hard to hear. It’s what the bible says. Does it make me sad? Absolutely…we weep for the lost. If members of other religions are granted access to heaven without them ever confessing Christ then why on earth did Christ have to die? That’s a ridiculous insinuation. Note: I’m not saying you are saying this…but you have to see the line that can so easily be crossed here.

    What’s the point of this post? Is it to say you hate Driscoll’s attitude? That’s fine. Or is it to say that Driscoll’s point of view on Scripture is too harsh and too limited? There’s a HUGE jump between those two places. I’d appreciate if you cleared that up. You say you agree with Driscoll that Jesus is the only way…but then you fudge that argument by saying that your not sure is Buddhists, Muslims, and atheists are saved by the cross….are you wondering if there is potential for them to be saved? Or are you arguing that they can be saved and still be a part of those other religions….?



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      Matthew Paul Turner

      posted March 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm


      What type of statement is this? It’s a terrible definition of God, His demeanor, and what Driscoll is arguing about the truth of hell and who will be there.

      It’s not a statement or definition about God. It’s a statement about some people’s perspective about God.



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      Sean R Reid

      posted March 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm


      Or are you arguing that they can be saved and still be a part of those other religions….?

      Let me translate: “How dare you say that the members of that other team are better than our team!”

      The current English translation of the biblical texts, based on what we assume are legit copies of the ancient manuscripts, are STILL up for interpretation. Scripture is ANYTHING but plain. You can proof-text all day long but it won’t make your interpretation a “plain reading.” Short of a toddler’s “Dick and Jane” book, you’re not really going to EVER find a work of literature that is “plain reading.” If you think so, you’re fooling yourself and you’ve failed English 101.

      Piper alters biblical text to fit his needs ALL.THE.TIME! Look at the recent debacle over his sermon regarding the earthquake in Japan. He blatantly rips lines out of context and strings together disparate entries and recreates a text that fits what his message du jour. He treats Scripture like a set of word magnets on a refrigerator.

      This is plain reading?

      I am also confused as to why we are shocked that a lot of people, most likely a majority, will not have eternal life.

      Have fun in your whitebread exclusivist club. However, if that’s what Heaven looks like, I’ll gladly suffer in Hell with the outsiders. You’re not speaking a harsh truth. You’re trying to be the gatekeeper of cool and making sure none of the “squares” get to sit at your lunch table.



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        Daniel

        posted March 29, 2011 at 9:00 pm


        *Have fun in your whitebread exclusivist club. However, if that’s what Heaven looks like, I’ll gladly suffer in Hell with the outsiders. You’re not speaking a harsh truth. You’re trying to be the gatekeeper of cool and making sure none of the “squares” get to sit at your lunch table.*

        Greatest paragraph ever!



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          Sean R Reid

          posted March 29, 2011 at 9:38 pm


          Thanks Daniel! Not sure I deserve it but I’ll take it!



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          Jordan

          posted March 29, 2011 at 11:11 pm


          I would assume that Kevin and Chris also have major reservations and problems with Martin Luther as well!

          He did kind of mess with what was considered “Right thinking” for many years with the Roman Catholic Church! Or do we just make exceptions for what we WANT to believe?

          Just a thought.



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        Bill

        posted March 30, 2011 at 7:17 am


        Wow you sound just like one of C.S. Lewis’ characters from “The Great Divorce”, when shown the way out of hell arrogantly refuse.



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    Jeremy Cushman

    posted March 29, 2011 at 11:12 pm


    You can live forever in heaven if you’d like; I’d rather have the resurrected world.

    “Clear teachings”? What exactly are those – and if they’re so “clear,” why doesn’t everyone believe them?

    And what are you going to do when you see someone who was clearly an atheist, a Muslim, a Hindu, or whatever else in the new world with you? You do not have a say over God’s will; God’s will has a say over you. Driscoll isn’t the gateway into eternal life with God; Jesus is. You aren’t – I’m not – Jesus is. And thank God.

    If He wasn’t, we’d be subjected to some religious system that never brought about anything genuine in the first place. We’d be subjected to a Driscollian legalism that demands you use your vocal chords to get your point across rather than reason. Driscoll quotes C.S. Lewis, but I doubt very much that he’d like him in person.

    And by highlighting Matt’s labeling of Driscoll as arrogant and thereby placing himself above Driscoll, aren’t you doing the same, Kevin?

    To be Christian is to often be hypocritical; Driscoll is – more often than not – the religious hypocrite he likes to condemn. He just hasn’t checked the mirror yet apparently. He’s got good sermons, no doubt; I think he did well with his “Cost of Discipleship” message. But when he starts screaming out doctrines and theologies, he overlooks how legalistic and religious he really is.

    Many churches in “third world countries” are often praying for the American church for this exact reason: we’re becoming too invested in religious elitism that we’ve missed the point of the faith.

    Love God, love others. Do this and you will live, Jesus says. Perhaps we would be wise to pay attention to the red letters if we so boldly believe in their truths.



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Greg Smith

posted March 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm


I’ve got to admit off the bat that I’m a big fan of Driscoll. Matt, you’re right that we need to be careful not to presume that we’ve got it all figured out. However, I believe that Driscoll isn’t speaking out of his own arrogance here, but out of confidence, firm belief, and affirmation in the tradition of the church of who will be in heaven and who will be in hell.
Before we go judging his view of God’s grace as narrow, we need to recognize that we are mired in our own cultural assumptions of what a “loving God” looks like. Simply because we can’t see how God can be loving and consign the vast majority of humanity to hell, doesn’t mean that it isn’t so and that God isn’t loving, it just means that it rubs against our cultural sensitivities. (I really recommend Tim Keller’s “The Reason for God” on this point.)
I love reading your blog because it is boring to just read those who I agree with all the time, and I appreciate your candor on not having it all figured out, none of us do. But we shouldn’t throw out tradition and the truth as taught by generations of solid believers by letting our cultural sensibilities arrogantly sit in judgement of God.



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Will Green

posted March 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm


I’ll probably comment more on this later, but for the moment, I’d suggest you’d watch the entire sermon before passing judgement. Much like the situation with Rob Bell’s new book, passing judgement on a work (even if you don’t like the guy writing it) after only viewing a short snippet of said work is generally a bad idea.

Video/Audio Link: http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/luke/heaven-and-hell

On the content of the sermon itself, I’ll simply note that of all the messages I’ve seen preached on Hell, this one was actually the first that hasn’t come across as a threat, but rather as an honest warning born out of concern and care, not arrogance or pride about being right.



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Rich

posted March 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm


I think all of us want to soften the idea of “hell”, but if we truly believe the word of God is the Word of God we don’t have the luxury of having our own opinions about everything we don’t agree with. Many who profess to be followers of Christ today simply think they can interpret the WOG anyway they want but they can’t if they are rightly dividing the Word of Truth. Doctrine is bigger than one person and one’s opinion, that is why we have the body of Christ with the ministry gifts and scholars and the orthodox body of truth. Mark Driscoll rubs me the wrong way too by his presentation style but I still must agree with what he is saying because it is scriptural. People are giving some critics of Rob Bell a hard time but let us remember Rob Bell has leveled a major criticism at everyone who doesn’t agree with his position. I am much more concerned that I am in agreement with the Word not trying to wrest the scriptures to my own destruction.



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Verdell

posted March 29, 2011 at 2:02 pm


i’ll give mark credit on this: he does cut through the emotional appeals that people use to avoid making their own decisions about christ. i appreciate that, and we could probably do more of that.

however, i find his demeanor, as well as the demeanor of most of the gospel gangsta boys (driscoll, piper, etc.) to be less than favorable. it’s okay to disagree…just focus on loving people and communicating the good news the best way you know how.

but my question is this: why is such a big deal if god already picked who gets in?



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    Janet Oberholtzer

    posted March 29, 2011 at 8:02 pm


    Because then it means we are all puppets.
    And because making a decision for someone else is NOT love, it’s force.



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David

posted March 29, 2011 at 2:19 pm


I find this whole argument very unsettling. It’s almost like people aren’t allowed to have an opinion without being an “idiot” in the eyes of their critics.

Using the Bible, Rob Bell asks questions but gives little to no definitive answers. In doing so, he is accused of being weak. Using the Bible, Mark Driscoll gives answers to questions but some don’t like it. In doing so he is accused of being arrogant.

Are Christians really so insecure? While I believe (closer) along the lines of Driscoll on the understanding of Hell, I find great value and discussion (even a hint of brilliance) in the questions that Bell poses. But we do need to be careful, theology isn’t as cut and dry as we would have it. God doesn’t exactly fit in the boxes we make. He’s much bigger.



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    Danny

    posted March 29, 2011 at 6:04 pm


    “Using the Bible, Rob Bell asks questions but gives little to no definitive answers. In doing so, he is accused of being weak. Using the Bible, Mark Driscoll gives answers to questions but some don’t like it. In doing so he is accused of being arrogant.”

    Thanks for pointing this out.



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    Sara

    posted March 31, 2011 at 6:38 am


    I agree with Danny. That’s a really good point.



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Kelly

posted March 29, 2011 at 2:32 pm


I listened to this sermon over the weekend. http://whchurch.org/blog/2253/tormented-by-the-flames. Greg Boyd presents an articulate and insightful interpretation of what “eternal death” means. Very much in line with the positions N.T. Wright and, what I assume (waiting on my copy of the book), Rob Bell both hold.

The sermon focuses on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. A lot of folks point to this as proof that Jesus taught the existence of an eternal, flame-filled judgment. Boyd points out a lot of things about this passage that many “eternal torment” proponents (for lack of a better term) overlook. For example, why is the rich man in hell? Jesus doesn’t say, “he never had a personal relationship with me so now he’s damned.” He’s suffering judgment because in all of his prosperity he allowed a man to starve to death right outside his door.

Will God judge evil? Absolutely. Does that judgment last forever? In a way, I think it does. Boyd says that the Jewish understanding of eternal death was more a “final” death. The wicked will not be raised to new life- death, “Sheol,” is their eternal state.

The “flames” that Scripture speaks of seem to be pointing to the final judgment of the earth. Boyd presents a compelling picture of what that entails.

I’m with you, Matthew. I used to listen to Driscoll but then found I had a real distaste for his style. Now I find I have a hard time making it through any of his teaching. I just can’t stand the blatant refusal to engage with someone’s genuine questions or the complete lack of recognition that there are (and have been for thousands of years) other interpretations of Scripture.



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Armando Lopez

posted March 29, 2011 at 2:42 pm


Wonderful post. I have nothing to add: you’ve said everything that needs to be said.



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Nathan Webber

posted March 29, 2011 at 2:43 pm


He is right. You are wrong!



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miguel

posted March 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm


i just find it ironic that he’s wearing “True Religion” jeans.



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Carl

posted March 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm


I agree with you about limiting God to a predictable nicely boxed reflection of my own imagination. I agree who is saved or not is his responsibility as we also have a responsibility. Ours is to be a witness, to testify, we can do so fully confident in his ability to be trusted with the outcome. What should the content of our testimony be then? How about this. What God has done in our lives and what he requires of us. What God would like to do in the lives of those who hear us and then what he would require of them in their turn. As for hell I believe it exists that people are in it and will populate it through eternity that no one with a proper understanding of it would want to be there or be able to glibly speak of anyone suffering it’s torments and that Christians are accountable for the way they handle it’s doctrine.



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Mike

posted March 29, 2011 at 2:55 pm


Are there any eternal ramifications to our life choices and actions while living on this earth?

If there are not, why would anyone want to live like Jesus and love everyone? What would be the point?

If there are, then wouldn’t the Bible be the place to determine what those ramifications are? For example, reading about what Jesus himself says about death and hell?



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted March 29, 2011 at 3:03 pm


    Are there any eternal ramifications to our life choices and actions while living on this earth?

    If there are not, why would anyone want to live like Jesus and love everyone? What would be the point?

    Mike, do you truly believe that the only thing that would compel people to want to live like Jesus (or follow Jesus) are the eternal ramifications of not making a decision to do that? Do you realize that such a statement/belief elevates “the punishment” above Christ? I would try to answer your question, but if this is what you believe, I’m not sure it would be worth our time.

    If I’m misunderstanding you, please let me know and I’d be happy to offer a comment.

    Thanks man.
    mpt



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      Jason Sagel

      posted March 29, 2011 at 6:05 pm


      I would be much more interested if you responded to the well written and logically sound posts, then pick on the others.



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    Green Eggs and Ham

    posted March 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm


    I am not a Christian. Threats of hell not only don’t convince me to be one; they actually turn me off. If you or God is holding a gun to my head and says “Jesus or Hell”, I choose Hell. Such a god is not moral.

    I chose to act morally because that is the right thing to do, not because I will get rewarded for doing so.



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      Dianna

      posted March 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm


      One of my really close friends told her that the one thing that had been keeping her from giving up her faith was the fear that she might be sent to hell. Then she realized she didn’t believe in Hell. For her, that was all her faith really had been – the avoidance of hell – even though she’d been raised in the church.

      We’re doing something wrong.



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        Grace

        posted March 29, 2011 at 7:26 pm


        Yes, this.

        And the thing is, this isn’t a strategy that will last forever. The more pluralistic the US gets in terms of culture and religion, the less sense this makes to people, especially younger generations. “Everyone who doesn’t believe exactly as we do goes to hell” sounds increasingly ridiculous to young ears, and it’s driving lord knows how many people out of the church (no bone in the matter, I’m already out. Just sayin’).



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      joel

      posted March 29, 2011 at 8:22 pm


      I am not a seat belt wearer. Threats of flying through the windshield not only don’t convince me to be one; they actually turn me off. If someone who claims to be my friend is nagging me saying “seat belt or face plant on the pavement”, I choose the pavement. Such a friend is not moral.



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        Grace

        posted March 29, 2011 at 8:45 pm


        Analogy fail. Asserting that God is like a seat belt… first of all, it seems a bit demeaning to whatever deity exists, to be honest. Secondly, you can say all you want that your specific idea of a supreme deity (one of many) is exactly like a real, tangible object known to exist and with demonstrable uses, but that just doesn’t make it so.



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          joel

          posted March 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm


          Sure, I didn’t take a whole lot of time to think of a rock-solid analogy, if it was even an analogy at all; I’m not sure I intended it to be, and certainly not one in any way that would imply that God is anything so pedestrian as a seat belt. I was simply trying to show how amazingly upside-down Green Eggs’s logic was to someone on the other side of the conversation who’s trying to warn people of danger, not bully them into anything.

          Perhaps a slightly better analogy, if you will, might be if he’s on a train flying down the tracks. I say, “Hey, I know you can’t see it from here yet, but there’s a bridge out ahead. The train’s about to take a header off a cliff, but this guy here’s got a rope and he can get you off safely.” To which he replies, “Oh yeah? What’s so special about him? And what kind of moral person do you think you are, trying to bully me off of this train? I’ll take my chances with the cliff, thanks.”

          I mean, accept the help or not, it’s a free choice. But it’s kind-of dumbfounding to see it characterized as holding a gun to your head.



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          LRA

          posted March 29, 2011 at 11:23 pm


          You need to read up on free will. Pay attention to the coercion part:

          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/



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          Green Eggs and Ham

          posted March 30, 2011 at 12:03 am


          Okay. Your religion says I have free will to follow God or not.

          The existence of free will is also given as a defense of the existence of evil and suffering. Suffering and evil exist because humans made free choices. Humans can’t be truly free if they can’t make unethical choices. (Why God needs all of us to be free to worship him is also beyond me.)

          Here is where my comment about coercion comes in.

          I am not free to chose God or not. I am being coerced to chose God or go to hell.

          I am not saying there needn’t or even shouldn’t be consequences of such a choice. All but the most trivial of choices have consequences.

          When a robber demands money or he will shoot me, I have a choice. I can refuse to give him my wallet. But the threat is so extreme; I really don’t have a choice. My consent is against my will. Hence, God is like the robber. He is holding a gun to my head.

          Both of your analogies fail because in neither analogy is God the rescuer. He is the one creating the danger in the first place. He is the one threatening me with hell, if I don’t love him.

          I could quote I Corinthians 13 about the nature of love and how the God who sends people to hell fails to live up to his own book, but that would be dog-piling.



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        Kevin

        posted March 29, 2011 at 9:36 pm


        Excellent. Well played, Joel.



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    Mark Hunter

    posted March 30, 2011 at 2:52 am


    “Are there any eternal ramifications to our life choices and actions while living on this earth?

    If there are not, why would anyone want to live like Jesus and love everyone? What would be the point?”

    Wow.

    Seriously, wow.

    So you only “live like Jesus” and “love everyone” for what you get out of it eternally? That’s why Jesus died??



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Aaron

posted March 29, 2011 at 2:56 pm


Good post, bro.
I agree with you. Driscoll might at times speak truth, but that gets lost imo because of his attitude and approach.
I spent my teenage years and four years at Bible college sitting under this kind of dogmatic, im-louder-than-you refusal to even admit that we don’t know all of the answers. So now when I hear that closedmindedness, I just automatically stop listening.
Yes, I believe that Jesus is the only way. But Driscoll takes that point and builds and builds on it, then presents it as a single truth. I believe what Jesus said, I just don’t necessarily believe what Mark interprets that to mean.
And as just a side note, it seems odd to me that Mark admits even he has questions about the unborn, and that is okay with him, but for Bell to question about the unreached is heresy.
Just makes me shake my head.



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cindyc

posted March 29, 2011 at 2:59 pm


David, you win my vote for the voice of reason!



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Lorelei

posted March 29, 2011 at 3:07 pm


Wonderful post, Matt! Thank you for writing so thoughtfully on this issue. I am reminded of a quote from Young’s “The Shack” where God says: “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.”

I simply can’t believe that a loving, just God would require everyone on earth to accept the same truth about Jesus in order to be saved. I can’t believe that if I had grown up a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Jew, etc. that I’d find Christianity so compelling as to leave my faith tradition (and in so doing, possibly leave my family and friends behind as well) in order to convert – especially if I found and loved God in the context of my own faith tradition. Why would a God who created such diversity expect that kind of conformity?

A pastor whom I love dearly once responded to a statement from someone in our SS class who suggested that a person who’d grown up in “the truth” and left it was surely lost forever, referring to John 14:6. The pastor replied, “Perhaps we’ve misunderstood that text. Maybe Jesus didn’t mean that everyone must believe in him as the Savior in order to be saved, but that He is the vehicle for salvation – that He acknowledges us. That He chooses to save us, regardless of whether or not we have accepted Him as our Savior.” We still have the ability to reject the gift He offers – but He offers it to everyone. That made so much more sense to me than the way it has traditionally been interpreted!



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    Sean R Reid

    posted March 29, 2011 at 3:31 pm


    Total +1 to this. I have a copy of “The Shack” on my desk that I’ve not read. Perhaps I need to be less of a lit-snob and give it a read. If there’s more lines like that in there then I’d be remiss not to.

    Also, +1 to your pastor. I love that sentiment. Sometimes we’re so busy making it all about us and who is “in” and who is “out” that we forget to make it about Christ.

    We need less bullhorn and more discussion. Sounds like that particular pastor has that figured out.



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    John

    posted March 29, 2011 at 8:38 pm


    I’m not sure that I should quote Young over what God has to say about sin. But that will not be the main point of my reply.

    “I simply can’t believe that a loving, just God would require everyone on earth to accept the same truth about Jesus in order to be saved.” You can’t believe that God would not suspend the law of gravity momentarily if someone falls off of a cliff? Or you can’t believe that pain and suffering even exists? Or that there could only be one “truth” because it’s not fair for groups of people who lived under a lie?

    What if God simply wanted the truth of who he is to be known so people would love him. Sounds pretty simple to accomplish. But what if some people didn’t want to love him? The ability to love demands a choice not to love. So those people (or creatures) wouldn’t want that truth of God to be known so others might join them in their hate (opposite of love). What strategy should they employ? All they need to do is make up alternatives. These alternatives don’t even need to be logical or rational! “Hey, this golden calf is responsible for getting you out of Egypt and defeating the Egyption army!” “Hey, you are enlightened and can be like god, or even be god!” “Hey, this will fulfill your every longing.”

    “I can’t believe that if I had grown up a …that I’d find Christiantiy so compelling as to leave my father tradition (and in so doing, possibly leave my family and friends behind…) If you can’t believe it you probably can’t believe what Jesus taught in Luke 14:25-33. Sin and lies can be a powerful force and has far reaching effects (this topic would be a huge blog post all by itself). Just because something is costly doesn’t make it untrue. But to address your direct concern, does that make God unloving?

    Why would a God who created such diversity expect that kind of conformity? I’m assuming in diversity you are referring to religious versus cultural diversity. But did God create the stories or falsehoods that mankind can pass on to each other, generation after generation? Isn’t this the story of the Old Testament, how individuals, families and nations wander from God? The Bible begins the story of man with everyone knowing who God is. It was mankind who wandered away from God, creating their own “diversity” and stories in their beliefs of who God is and who he isn’t and how he would want to be treated. God has gone to incredible measure to show who he is and what he would do to eradicate sin from earth, how he is slow to anger and abounding in love. Shouldn’t we seek to discover the truth of who he is in the way he wants to be known? Is there anyone more credible than Jesus? What did Jesus teach?

    Instead we argue if Mark is arrogant or raises his voice. But isn’t Mark calling us to consider the teachings and life of Jesus? Isn’t he claiming that “the truth” he is sharing is how he understands the truths that Jesus taught? Shouldn’t that be the topic of discussion?



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      Lorelei

      posted March 30, 2011 at 1:45 am


      No, I don’t believe God suspends the laws of gravity when someone falls off a cliff. Yes, I believe pain and suffering exist (who doesn’t?). I believe that the truth about God exists, but that no one on earth (including you and I) understands it perfectly. What do any of your questions have to do with my statement that I can’t believe a loving/just God would require every person on earth to convert to Christianity in order to be saved?

      Do you really believe that none of the members of other religions know and love and serve God? And do you also believe that God is incapable of saving them just because they’re not Christians?

      I, like you, believe that God goes to great lengths to show us who He is – so much so that He will use any means whatsoever to reach us with His love and grace. In this effort, I don’t think He is limited to using only the Bible and/or the Christian church to draw us closer to Him. I believe He can use the Koran to show us His love – or the Bhagavad Gita. Or the poems of Hafiz. Or the teachings of Buddha. Or the beauty of nature. Anything. And He can save anyone He desires to – and I believe He desires to save everyone. Every person still has the option to say “No, thanks!” to the gift – but the gift is offered to everyone.

      Jesus came to offer a new way of life, not to threaten eternal damnation. He practiced inclusiveness, not exclusiveness. He didn’t preach about Hellfire – He preached about the Kingdom of God. I believe the “good news” that He instructed the disciples to share was that God’s love and grace is extended to everyone, and that He wanted everyone in the world to hear it not because they’d burn in Hell if they didn’t, but because hearing it would bring them hope and healing. He knew the joy and freedom that a life spent loving God and living for others brings, and wanted as many people as possible to experience the true happiness of a Kingdom life – not just in the hereafter, but here on earth as well. For me, that’s the essence of the Gospel.



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Shane

posted March 29, 2011 at 3:10 pm


Well put David. There seems to be plenty of arrogance going around. Both sides of any argument are wrong when name calling.
This debate is healthy for the church as long as we can have actual conversations. In the end, when the truth is revealed, I have a hunch that both sides are going to be quite surprised. God is bigger than the boxes we put Him and beyond our understandings, reasoning, and sensibilities. His justice is true and right. His love and mercy are great.
While I was raised in very traditional evangelicalism and heard many fire and brimstone sermons, I know better than to give the pat answers from my childhood because they don’t bring peace or hope much of the time. I do believe hell is a real place and there will, sadly, be too many there. I also believe that heaven is a real place and there will be more there than many believe and teach.
The bottom line for us comes down to the one thing that it seems many on both sides of this debate can agree on. Jesus is the Son of God and the hope of mankind. There are many questions about Him and about the future and most of those questions will remain unanswered. After all, we live by faith not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Faith isn’t faith if we have all the questions answered and everything figured out.
For most people hope, life, and love are better motivators than fear.
As long as we realize that neither side of this debate can win with facts, the healthy conversation and asking of questions can continue. God is big enough to handle the questions and deal with our doubts and lovingly walk us through our journey with him.



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Lorelei

posted March 29, 2011 at 3:12 pm


Oh – and you’re not alone – Driscoll’s delivery style annoys the heck out of me, too. I don’t like being yelled at (even if you love me), and I detest being told the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over (you get the idea) . . . if you want to convert me, appeal to my intellect – don’t berate me like a child.



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Aran

posted March 29, 2011 at 3:54 pm


thanks for this mpt



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joel k

posted March 29, 2011 at 4:04 pm


Here is what I notice, and this is all too common every time someone wants to make the “non-Christians go to hell” argument. Mr. Driscoll essentially performs a proof-texting bait and switch. His argument is that all non-believers will go to hell. And, he proves this by citing two verses (John 14:6 and Acts 4:12) neither of which even mention believing or hell. The reality is that the Bible does not provide clear and concise guidance on the question that Mr. Driscoll is attempting to answer, and there is plenty of room for reasonable disagreement. Personally, I think that Mr. Driscoll’s argument is actually inconsistent with the a holistic reading of Scripture. The problem is that his approach with all the stomping, whining, and finger-wagging demonstrates that he is not interested in a discussion of what Scripture actually teaches unless you have already concluded that he is right. Very sad.



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Grace

posted March 29, 2011 at 4:10 pm


Thanks for this post. It’s encouraging to me to see Christians willing to admit limits to uncertainty, and willing to conceive of a bigger, more loving God.



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Grace

posted March 29, 2011 at 4:10 pm


Thanks for this post. It’s encouraging to me to see Christians willing to admit limits to certainty, and willing to conceive of a bigger, more loving God.



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Noelle

posted March 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm


Oh mpt, you may hate this Driscoll character more than I hate Dr. Phil. :)



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Andy

posted March 29, 2011 at 4:28 pm


I do know Mark Driscoll personally, and have had quite a few experiences that left bad tastes in my mouth. I would without hesitation say that I strongly dislike him as well and that my dislike colors my opinion. However I would argue that you, and most bloggers/authors/personalities are equally guilty of presenting just one side of an arguably multi-faceted issue, and frequently presenting it in just as slanted, angry, hostile a way. There is little difference between Driscoll jumping up and down, getting red faced, and knocking the opinion of Rob Bell and you devoting a couple thousand words to attack not only Driscoll’s doctrine, but the way he delivers it. Certainly it is frustrating to listen to someone with whom we disagree, and it is even more frustrating when we not only disagree but hear their voice as nails on a chalkboard. I get that. However, as you mention, passive aggressiveness isn’t faith, nor is it truth. In this whole Rob Bell debate (I say Rob Bell and not universalism because, in many ways, the debate has to do with his style as well, and not his doctrine… unfortunately) I have yet to see any interviewer or reviewer take the higher ground and not lower themselves to the level of people on the other side. The Relevant review was the closest. It’s difficult to be unbiased in your writing when you have a bias, especially when you’re not paid to hide your bias necessarily. But in the midst of all of the stone throwing at people who loudly disagree with you, you should remember that (just as much as Rob, or Driscoll, or anyone else) you too live in a glass house.

In an era of affirmation over information in media, we as the Body of Christ need to be careful to protect our ability to reason with one another of the finer points of our faith. To tune the other side out on certain theological issues is no different than Republicans assuring you that they are in fact correct because Fox News said so. It’s annoying, and it’s dangerous. If we lose out ability to bring these issues back to the truth of Scripture we lose everything. And bloggers who pander to one side, angrily berating the voices across the way, and advertising groups, blogs, websites, and books belonging to their opinion take these types of debates from the realm of the church to the realm of back page gossip journalism. It’s disappointing to see.



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted March 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm


    Andy,
    I’m confused by your comment. Considering the majority of your comment is a rant against taking sides or voicing strong opinions about ideas and the theologies of people, why did you begin your comment with your opinions regarding Mark?

    And re: this statement…

    There is little difference between Driscoll jumping up and down, getting red faced, and knocking the opinion of Rob Bell and you devoting a couple thousand words to attack not only Driscoll’s doctrine, but the way he delivers it.

    I very much disagree.

    My “attack” (if you can really call it that–I mean, it’s a blog post) of Mark’s theology doesn’t damn anybody to eternal punishment. It causes nobody to experience fear and anxiety. And it isn’t “my opinion” in truth’s clothing.

    And really, what is wrong with challenging one’s theology? The debating of ideas, thoughts, and theologies is a practice that’s as much a part of Christianity as communion.

    And quite honestly, it’s necessary. And a very good thing.



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Leanne

posted March 29, 2011 at 4:29 pm


The argument that the Bible is so clear is really a weak argument. If the Bible was so clear, we wouldn’t have so many denominations. When it comes to any doctrine, we have experts on each side–men and women who love God, study Scripture, study Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic–and they do not come to complete agreement on Hell and what John 14:6 fully is interpreted as. I think it calls for some humility. yes sometimes, confidence is wrongly seen as arrogance. But I do not believe Driscoll is humble–his opinion is the last word, period. If he would simply state, “in my understanding, from my study of Scripture–I believe…..” he wouldn’t sound arrogant.
Personally, I have found Driscoll’s exegetical skills lacking. I believe he is sincere in his belief. I do not believe he is heretical. I just think he could handle Scripture with a little more humility. imho



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stephy

posted March 29, 2011 at 5:33 pm


I haven’t read every single comment (I’m at work and my boss is lurking) so this may have been mentioned already, but did anyone bring up how George MacDonald asked the same questions about hell?



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    Dianna

    posted March 29, 2011 at 6:40 pm


    I did a whole blog entry about how CS Lewis had the same philosophy as Bell (indeed, I would go so far as to draw a direct line from Lewis to Bell). I hate to shill my work, but if you’re interested, I’m the “Be The Change” blog linked over on the side there. >>>>>



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Danny

posted March 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm


I wonder MPT, what you would feel or what your faith would be, if God was a God who allowed people to go to Hell if it existed.

I see many people who oppose the existence of Hell claiming that some Christians need to believe in Hell. But it seems to me to be the opposite; for God to be the loving God that they see in Jesus, then Hell can’t exist. And I wonder, if it does, where does that leave their faith?



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted March 29, 2011 at 6:50 pm


    My faith isn’t dependent on hell existing or not existing. But… if we could prove it either way, I’m sure a lot of people’s ideas about God would change.

    And you know what’s sad? I’m not really sure that the average Christian (conservative, liberal, or otherwise) REALLY believes in hell. I mean, if we did, we’d be spend all of our extra times at hospitals and nursing homes making sure that every sick/dying person had one last chance to choose their eternity.

    Isn’t that right? I mean, if we REALLY believed?!

    Most Christians don’t really believe in hell.

    But that’s just an opinion.



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      cindyc

      posted March 29, 2011 at 7:16 pm


      One thing I can say about people’s beliefs in Heaven and hell, from personal experience: In my line of work, I have seen/been with/cared for hundreds of people who are actively dying–maybe in minutes, maybe in days, maybe in months. Not once have I seen a person in this situation refuse a clergy visit for prayers of redemption, no matter what their religious denominations or convictions were prior to being faced with inevitable, timely death. So I think you are correct in saying not too many people believe in hell on an average day, but when life’s circumstances force them to make a choice, it’s been my experience that they choose God.



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        Grace

        posted March 29, 2011 at 7:28 pm


        Or maybe they just want some comfort and reassurance when they’re feeling vulnerable and afraid? That’s not necessarily choosing God.



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        Matthew Paul Turner

        posted March 29, 2011 at 7:34 pm


        I don’t doubt that in the least, Cindy. I’m sure you’ve witnessed a lot beautiful healing.



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          LRA

          posted March 29, 2011 at 11:35 pm


          I doubt it! I think that’s a load of crap! No, many Muslims are NOT going to receive a Christian to pray over them in their room in a hospital. No, a skeptic (like me) may actually find it insulting for some chaplin to come in my room and try to get a death bed conversion while he’s dying. And someone’s *anecdotal* experience is often colored by their biases. Without an actual *study* I doubt this claim as much as I doubt the claim that prayer has any effect other than a placebo one. Sheesh.



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          LRA

          posted March 29, 2011 at 11:57 pm


          Sorry, Matt.

          Confirmation bias annoys me greatly.



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          LRA

          posted March 30, 2011 at 12:24 am


          And let me just add that when a person ignorantly declares that people always turn to “God” in times of distress, it is actually insulting to skeptics/ agnostics/ atheists to proclaim so and it is untruthful. Plenty of skeptics are moral and upright people who believe strongly in their convictions. To imply otherwise is wrong and demeaning.

          Yes, there are atheists in foxholes.

          http://www.militaryatheists.org/expaif.html



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          cindyc

          posted March 30, 2011 at 6:42 am


          Just a disclaimer here: For anyone who hasn’t already noticed, LRA dislikes me and has taken this on as a pet project in an attempt to discredit anything I say on this post. Because she does not agree with me, that apparently makes my opinion and life experiences invalid in her eyes. I do think that when others do things like this it simply highlights their own insecurities, which is unfortunate. Clearly, she’s not here to discuss anything, but simply to shove her own thoughts and opinions down everyone else’s throats, and be rude to those who don’t choose to let her bully them in to a corner. Which is ironic, since this seems to be the problem she has with so many Christians. Huh…go figure.

          PS: I do expect that she will respond to this with some other kind of pompous and obnoxious insults toward me, in a feeble attempt to “prove” she is smarter, better, and more correct than everyone else (but all this really proves is that she is more insecure than everyone else, and has a lot of time on her hands). Her behavior to me on this blog has demonstrated a social ignorance that far surpasses any I’ve ever seen.



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          LRA

          posted March 30, 2011 at 7:08 am


          Right Cindy… it’s not your IGNORANCE that is to bothersome to me, it’s you personally.

          Again, spreading misinformation as if it is fact is dishonest and wrong.

          Furthermore, telling people that you have witnessed deathbed conversions *every time* is also dishonest and wrong.

          Christians love to repeat the *lie* that there are no atheists in foxholes and that eventually, we’ll all come to fear death and then they’ll be proven right.

          How insulting!!!

          I’ve faced and accepted my own death. I believe that after I die, things will be like they were before I was born. As Mark Twain says, it will not inconvenience me in the least.

          So, yeah, I get really insulted when Christians spread lies about non-believers *always* converting on their death beds… as if we are cowards… as if we didn’t thoroughly think about what being a non-believer means… as if we lack the courage of our convictions.

          That is why I find you so insulting, cindy.

          Also, I would ask… where is this hospital that you work? Is it in a small town in which the majority of the population is Christian *already*? Because somehow I doubt that you are working at a hospital like Mt. Sinai in NYC or the College of Physicians and Surgeons (where I worked, FYI) where you would actually experience a diversity of people of all kinds of religions and other sorts of belief systems. So, when you say,

          “Not once have I seen a person in this situation refuse a clergy visit for prayers of redemption, no matter what their religious denominations or convictions were prior to being faced with inevitable, timely death.”

          I, frankly don’t believe you. I think you are speaking hyperbolically or lying. It is an insult to me and to people of other faiths.

          When was the last time you witnessed a Muslim coming to Jesus on his deathbed? Seriously? How about a Confucian? How about a person of the B’hai faith? How about a Jew?

          Keep lying for Jesus, cindy. Let’s see how many converts you get that way.



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          LRA

          posted March 30, 2011 at 7:15 am


          Oh, and I should add that typing out challenges on a computer hardly makes me a bully.

          Threatening people with eternal punishment is the true bullying situation. Trying to convert dying people by making them afraid is the true bullying. It’s disgusting.



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          cindyc

          posted March 30, 2011 at 7:40 am


          Not sure why you would think i was lying, or what you would think my purpose for lying would even be. Faced with death, I have never seen anyone refuse clergy for prayers of redemption, period, and I’ve seen hundreds of people die. And I work in a very large, well-known, inner-city and regional medical center, with a very diverse population–the word clergy is not specific to the Christian faith–we have clergy of all denominations. And yes, every person I have seen who claims disbelief in God has welcomed clergy in to their room when faced with death. Every single one. Whether you believe me or not is insignificant, as is your continued bashing of me. No one says you need to agree with me, but it sure would be nice if you showed respect for someone else’s opinions. Insecurity in yourself is the only reason for that. Why are you so insecure in your own beliefs that you cannot accept another’s opinion, and agree to disagree rather than hurling insults?
          Let me close with this: there is a huge difference between knowledge and wisdom–knowledge is gained in school, wisdom is gained by applying that knowledge to life experiences.



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          LRA

          posted March 30, 2011 at 7:58 am


          “And yes, every person I have seen who claims disbelief in God has welcomed clergy in to their room when faced with death. Every single one. Whether you believe me or not is insignificant.”

          No, it’s actually not insignificant. You are making a claim of evidence here for a particular way of thinking. You are stating that (1) non-believers lack the courage of their convictions and (2) your experience supposedly confirms that.

          You have not taken into account that (1) anecdotal evidence is actually crappy evidence because is is *regularly* subject to confirmation bias, and (2) You have not actually *recorded* these findings and that human memory is notoriously faulty.

          “as is your continued bashing of me. No one says you need to agree with me, but it sure would be nice if you showed respect for someone else’s opinions. Insecurity in yourself is the only reason for that. Why are you so insecure in your own beliefs that you cannot accept another’s opinion, and agree to disagree rather than hurling insults?”

          Let’s just get something straight right now. Disagreeing with you and calling for a higher standard of evidence than you have ever bothered to produce is not bashing.

          Challenging you when you make faulty empirical claims is not bashing.

          Trying to correct you when you spread misinformation is not bashing.

          Further, I am not required to show “respect” for harmful “opinions”, faulty empirical claims, or the spreading of misinformation.

          I am not insecure, but rather quite secure in the conviction that I’m a better critical thinker than you are. Your critical thinking skills stink, as evidenced by your repeated posting of misinformation.

          Rather, I think that your continued ad hominem posts about me actually provide evidence for the real insecurity in this issue. You can’t back up your claims with any sort of real evidence, and so you go on the attack, trying to imply that (1) I’m not a real scientist when I’ve actually published scientific literature (2) that I’m an unemployed cat lady when I actually work 12 hour days regularly (3) that I’m a bully when I’ve actually tried to hold you to a standard of evidence that is not only reasonable, but expected of people who expect to be able to contribute to the discussion of hard questions like hell.

          And I’ve got to wrap up… because I have a long day ahead of me. The fact is, you don’t want to be challenged. You are comfortable in your ignorance. Fine. Whatever.



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          cindyc

          posted March 30, 2011 at 10:29 pm


          …if the litter-box fits….



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          LRA

          posted March 30, 2011 at 10:58 pm


          Again, ad hominem.

          I have no need to assert my work schedule to you. You have nothing to contribute to this conversation. In fact, I’m really rather shocked that you are a Christian at all.

          By their fruits you will know them.

          Your fruits are sterile.



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          cindyc

          posted March 31, 2011 at 9:15 am


          Again, good thing I have some bandaids left to put on that wound of your judgment of my faith….I may even need a little bacitracin on that one! Seriously?

          Funny, you say I have nothing to add to this conversation….so that makes me continue to wonder why you would continuously comment negatively on every post I make–that again, has nothing to do with you–under every topic? Really? If I were so irrelevant to you I would think, hope, and pray that you would do me and everyone else the favor by not taking the time. It’s like a sore that you continue to pick. I move on to the next thing and you follow me to comment again. What’s your goal here? To get me to stop participating? To make yourself feel better about something you are unhappy about in your life? To use me as a target for someone else you are angry with? Seriously, enough. Please stop with the venomous comments and stop following me around from post to post. It’s getting really old and since you claim to be so busy, I’m sure you have much better things to do than constantly target me.



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          LRA

          posted March 31, 2011 at 9:29 am


          You know what… you are right. You are a complete and total waste of time.

          You refuse to learn or think critically. You lie. You spread misinformation. You make unfounded ad hominems.

          I should quit wasting my time on you!

          In the future, I may post *CORRECT* biomedical information when you blather on about your “experience”, but I will likely do so in a separate post not directly addressed to you and with links to *REAL* evidence.

          Goodbye cindyc.



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          cindyc

          posted March 31, 2011 at 11:47 am


          Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! I think this IS PROOF that God answers prayer–how nice of you to be a part of it!!!



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          LRA

          posted April 2, 2011 at 7:11 pm


          You wouldn’t know real proof (which is for math, btw)or evidence (which is for real science and not the crap you spew) if it smacked you in the a$$.

          But, again, I’m done with you and your stupidity.

          You are a text book example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

          So, goodbye, again, simpleton.



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          cindyc

          posted April 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm


          Geesh–I’m crying….
          On a more serious note, I really feel badly for you, LRA. I’m not saying that in a sarcastic or condescending way, more of in an “extending the olive branch” way. I really do get the impression from you that your heart is empty and you are looking for something you can’t find–something that doesn’t fill your heart, and I’m sorry for that. I feel this way because you use your education as both a mask and a weapon, and as a way to distance yourself while making yourself feel superior to others–it’s a self-esteem builder for you, and your identity within yourself. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t constantly be trying to convince others that they are wrong and your are right, and that the only right way to think is your way. That is insecurity. I believe there was probably an event, (or several), in your life that have forced you to develop this persona as a survival mechanism-a means of control in a world where you don’t really feel in control. It’s easy to do this on a DB, because you really have no face to face accountability with anyone. I truly hope and pray that you someday can be honest with yourself and face this, and also find something that makes you truly happy and fills that void.



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          LRA

          posted April 3, 2011 at 10:43 pm


          Wrong again.

          “Stupid is as stupid does.”

          Forrest Gump

          And hopefully, this is really goodbye for the last time.



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          cindyc

          posted April 4, 2011 at 4:23 am


          Interesting that the only way you can respond to a personal challenge is by more insults, which confirms my opinions about you. It’s interesting, yet sad, that the information on your blog (which you conveniently don’t link to here) is a bit different than what you post here–where the masses don’t know you and can’t hold you accountable. You find it ok with calling me a liar, stupid, etc. While here you display yourself as a scientist changing the world, on your own blog you describe yourself as wanting “gainful employment” while working as (I’m guessing from your refs to kiddos) a teacher. You claim to be a strong atheist, yet in “real” life you are going to church with your grandmother. All the while calling someone else a liar. I wish you only the best, and truly hope you find what you are looking for.



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          Matthew Paul Turner

          posted April 4, 2011 at 8:56 am


          Cindy,

          I realize that you and LRA see things differently. Which is fine! I haven’t read every comment between the two of you, so I don’t know everything that’s been said. But what I’ve read has gone a bit past debating and has become a bit too personal. I like you both and am happy that each of you visit my blog regularly. But can we keep the comments non-personal and on topic? :)

          Thanks

          Matthew



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          cindyc

          posted April 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm


          Matthew,
          I appreciate your comment. Let me explain– LRA has taken up following me around on these boards and making derogatory comments about me as a hobby–apparently because she does not respect my opinion. The sad thing is, I am unable to have any communication with another who I might learn from, as she takes it upon herself to interject with insults directed toward me. I have repeatedly and respectfully asked her to stop, to no avail. She has called me, among other things, stupid and a liar, in addition to directing profane language, at me. I don’t appreciate this disrespectful behavior. There seems to be no other way to get her to knock it off with me…hoping that worked!
          C



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          cindyc

          posted March 30, 2011 at 7:07 am


          So my experiences have led me to believe that we live in a culture where we won’t truly do something that takes effort and is difficult (like truly attempting to be like JC) unless there is something in it for us. Like avoiding hell in the face of death. It’s easy to pooh-pooh the notion of hell on a good day, but can anyone truly know what they will do or believe at the last hour? I have seen people (Jehovah’s Witnesses) choose to die when they could have lived if they’d have simply agreed to a blood transfusion–but they were strong enough in their faith to refuse, which they knew would result in death. Although I don’t agree with their theology, I really, really respect the strength they had in their faith, and I pray that if ever faced with a test of my faith, I would do the same. But I don’t really know what I would do. And that’s my point–we can say this or that, but we don’t really know! Neither Driscoll nor Bell is 100% right or 100% wrong, that is the only thing that I am sure of. Only God knows, so we just have to try to live the example set by Him.



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          Mark Hunter

          posted March 30, 2011 at 7:58 am


          cindy, how do you feel when Jehovah’s Witness parents willingly allow their infants, young children and teenagers die rather than be transfused with certain blood components?

          Are they right to do this just because the Governing Body of their religion interprets James’s words in Acts 15 differently from you and me?



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          Noelle

          posted March 30, 2011 at 10:02 am


          law’s on the kids’ side with this one. Under 18 and the docs fight for a court order. Over 18 and no blood for you



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          cindyc

          posted March 30, 2011 at 10:40 pm


          @Mark–no, of course not! Making a decision like that for someone else based on one’s personal faith is unethical. As I said in my post, I disagree with that theology, but I respect the fact that they are strong enough in their faith to do this. I think it’s easier and more convenient for some people to live their lives denying the existence of hell, but we can truly only know what we really believe when faced with death.



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      Tim

      posted March 29, 2011 at 8:54 pm


      “My faith isn’t dependent on hell existing or not existing. But… if we could prove it either way . . . .”

      If we could prove it? Really? You are apparently already following Rob Bell’s universalism / unitarianism. Are you also following his disbelief in the inerrancy / infallibility of Scriptures and his denial of the substitutionary atonement?

      Why grab unclear passages like Hosea 13:14 to try to make your point? Why not grab the passages that deal directly with hell as a literal place of everlasting torment & show us why those don’t mean what any normal reading of those verses would lead us to believe they mean? I’ll avoid the OT & just stick to the words of Jesus:

      Matt 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

      Matt 23:33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

      Matk 9:43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.

      Luke 12:4-6 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

      Matt, Just because your church burned a Barbie doll growing up to show you what hell looks like doesn’t mean that hell isn’t a reality. And just because Rob Bell isn’t a Christian anymore (and let’s call a spade a spade: anyone that denies the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ is NOT a Christian) doesn’t mean that you should run after his heresy.

      Peter addresses guys like Rob Bell who have lived and written in every generation for the last 2,000 years. 2 Peter 2 says:
      “there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
      For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly …. then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment…
      These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved….They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

      You should be praying for Rob Bell. Not praising him, defending him or mimicking him.



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        Matthew Paul Turner

        posted March 29, 2011 at 9:03 pm


        To each his own, Tim.



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          Tim

          posted March 30, 2011 at 11:19 am


          Matt,
          Is that really the best you can do on this one? You can’t deal with idea being framed, only the delivery of those framing the ideas?

          What was the saying that we used to hear as kids?
          Big people talk about ideas
          Mediocre people talk about things
          Little people talk about people

          Take a stab at the real discussion instead of just taking stabs at those framing the discussion.



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        Dianna

        posted March 29, 2011 at 10:07 pm


        I didn’t have time (nor the patience) to read this whole thing, but I have to comment:

        Inerrancy and infallibility CANNOT be used interchangeably.

        Inerrancy = no mistakes.

        Infallibility = trustworthy as spiritual guidance, even if there are some apparent mistakes (ie, the conflicts between the Synoptic gospels).

        Bell believes (I assume, from his writing) in the latter and not in the former.

        As do most credible theologians.



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          Green Eggs and Ham

          posted March 30, 2011 at 12:07 am


          Inerrancy gets you nothing more than a document free of controversy in regards to editing, redacting and tampering.

          Infallible? I don’t stone people for being gay or for eating shellfish.



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          Tim

          posted March 30, 2011 at 11:44 am


          Dianna,
          “Innerrancy” as theologians use the word, means that Scripture, in it’s original manuscripts, does not affirm anything contrary to fact. “Infallibility” means that Bible tells the truth about everything it addresses. You can see why I would lump those together. They are semantically the same.

          As far back as Augustine (354-430) & John Calvin (1509-64) theologians have written plausible solutions for problem texts. And more recently theologians like Gleason Archer, William Arndt (co-author of the Greek-English Lexicon that has become the standard in theological institutions everywhere) & John Haley have written compellingly that the handful of supposed errors are in fact misunderstandings of the text & syntax.

          Fundamentally, you have a problem that I don’t have: you look at the text & wonder where its wrong. And if you have to sort out it’s errors from it’s truths, then it isn’t trustworthy – for spiritual guidance or for anything else.

          When you believe what the Bible says about itself (“that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21) you are able to read it with confidence that what it says is true, trustworthy and “profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and for training in righteousness. (2 Tim 3:16)



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          Dianna

          posted March 30, 2011 at 11:20 pm


          Tim,

          I have a degree in theology. Thanks for trying to re-explain a concept I learned in Intro to the Bible freshman year of college, and repeated and used for all fours years of my education, in addition to two further years in a master of the arts lit program in which I wrote a thesis on the intersection between religion and literature.

          But here’s a refresher, from the ever helpful Wikipedia:

          Biblical infallibility is the belief that what the Bible says regarding matters of faith and Christian practice are wholly useful and true. Some denominations that teach infallibility hold that the historical or scientific details, which may be irrelevant to matters of faith and Christian practice, may contain errors. This contrasts with the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy, which holds that the scientific, geographic, and historic details of the scriptural texts in their original manuscripts are completely true and without error, though the scientific claims of scripture must be interpreted in the light of the phenomenological nature of the Biblical narratives. For example, Davis suggests “The Bible is inerrant if and only if it makes no false or misleading statements on any topic whatsoever. The Bible is infallible if and only if it makes no false or misleading statements on any matter of faith and practice.”

          Many reformed theologians, yes (the ones you cite indicate to me [an assumption I feel safe making as you so boldly made some rather uncharitable assumptions about me] that you yourself are reformed), use inerrancy and infallibility in conjunction. In the reformed usage, they always go hand in hand, but even then, they recognize a difference in the semantics of the words that essentially mirrors that of other theologians who are not reformed – except reformers just take them together rather than mutually exclusive.

          In the usage of any theologian outside the realm of reformed churches and in the vast majority of theological texts? No, absolutely not the same. They cannot and should not be used interchangeably in interdenominational theological discussion.

          Thanks, though, for thinking I “go looking” for errors in the Bible and that I somehow must be a disbelieving charlatan because I dare to point out a difference. Oh, did I put words in your mouth? Oops, my bad.

          (Sidenote: There is ALSO a huge difference between univeralism and unitarianism, and those should also not be used interchangeably. But I’m sure you’ve got an argument semantically for that too.)



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          Tim

          posted March 30, 2011 at 11:51 pm


          Dianna, when you try to use the “I have more education” billy club you should first make sure that the other guys isn’t going to bring a bigger club to the fight. I have three degrees in theology & am finishing up a doctoral dissertation on the genres of biblical literature -which is why I don’t make Wikipedia my go-to source for theological references.

          I must confess my use of the word “unitarian” was hyperbole, so I’ll retract it. Sorry for muddying the conversation by making an extreme statement. I should have said what I actually meant: tri-theistic universalism.

          As for the innerency / infallibility question, I have no mean spirit or “uncharitable assumptions” toward you – I just feel sorry for you. According to your definition, the Bible is untrustworthy when it addresses topics like history, science, language, mathematics or geography but suddenly becomes becomes perfectly trustworthy as it relates to your ability to know God and His ability to care for your eternal soul. In my mind, that’s not faith – that’s a non sequitur. How can a document that, according to your definition, is untrustworthy in every other arena be counted on for eternal spiritual truth?



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          Dianna

          posted March 31, 2011 at 9:03 am


          Admitting that it is not MEANT to address history does not make it untrustworthy in all other aspects. It is not a non-sequitir at all. It is meant as a spiritual book, a book of my faith. For me to take it as a historical novel, or a scientific textbook, or a mathematical one and to assume that it is accurate in all those things is to shift the genre. And in doing so, if I find mistakes, THAT makes it untrustworthy. But if I come in with the assumption that it is NOT a book meant to teach me science, then I have no problem with the poor science represented. If I come in knowing that John wasn’t writing a HISTORY book, then the mistakes apparent in John don’t faze me.

          But, if I come in saying it’s entirely accurate (inerrant), then I have to spend my time reconciling what John has to say with the rest of the Gospels. I spend my time working out apologetics related to why there are two times that Jesus got pissed at the moneychangers in the Temple, rather than just the one which John – the human author – moved to a different timeline. But instead of spending my time excusing the errors, I spend my time thinking about what the human author was saying, and why he put things a certain way, which leads to a deeper spiritual understanding.

          Me citing my education was telling you not to talk to me like a child, which you still insist on doing. Sorry I didn’t have access to my Stanley Grenz book of theology to provide you a better definition, but that was lost over the Atlantic ocean three weeks ago when it was shipped back from Japan. Oh, and I’m a teacher, so I know all about Wikipedia. I checked their source.

          You don’t have to feel sorry for me because I don’t kowtow to your narrowly defined theology. And your uncharitable assumptions – “Fundamentally, you have a problem that I don’t have: you look at the text & wonder where its wrong. And if you have to sort out it’s errors from it’s truths, then it isn’t trustworthy – for spiritual guidance or for anything else.” Yeah, that’s kind of an insulting assumption.

          At this point, you’re arguing for the reformed definition, which is only useful in reformed circles (which I am definitively NOT), and holding me to that standard, the standard which is not the accepted approach to Biblical criticism in many theological seminaries (including Truett/Baylor and Fuller). Sorry, buddy, you’re not going to convince me.



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          Tim

          posted March 31, 2011 at 10:57 am


          You can continue to try to take shots at what theological ilk you think I may come out of, but it has no bearing on the discussion. It is a red herring that you think would demonstrate that my arguments can be dismissed without being given thought. In short, is a cop out. I have seen a lot of it on this thread – legitimate arguments being dismissed because of who says them or how they say them. No wonder people outside the faith think Christians are so weak minded. But enough ranting. To the discussion at hand:

          You make statements about what the text was “meant” for when it was given, but you do not back those up to show that they are true. Instead, you paint the entire Bible with a broad brush (as if it is all one genre) & say it was all given as a spiritual devotional guide without acknowledging that some of the authors gave very specific purpose statements for their writing along the way.

          You say that it was not meant to be history, & yet some of it is written in the genre of history – look at the first 8 chapters of 1 Chronicles which records genealogy after genealogy & then says “so all Israel was recorded in genealogies and these are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel. What is it tell us? That both Chronicles and Kings were given as histories for Israel remember.

          If the Bible is not “mean” to have any historical value, then why do so many books begin with a date stamp (Ezra begins “in the first year of Cyrus the king.” Nehemiah begins “Now it happened in the month of Chislev in the 20th year.”) And if the Gospels are not mean to be historically accurate, then why did Luke begin his account saying that he had “undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that (had) been accomplished” and that he intended to write “an orderly account”?

          I am not promoting a hyper-literal approach to hermeneutics. I understand that the first few chapters of Genesis are poetry, that much of Daniel & Revelation are apocalyptic literature & that narratives or letters have to be handled differently than wisdom literature or prophecy because of the genre differences. I am just saying that where the author leads us to indicate that he is recording history, we should be able to embrace it’s historical veracity if we are to embrace its spiritual value. If we can’t trust the author’s integrity when he speaks of geography & culture (particularly when he lived so much closer to the lands, times and peoples than we do) then why would we trust his incorruptible candor as is relates to spirituality?

          It seems to me, that saying the Scripture is infallible (according to your definition) as it relates to spiritual guidance but saying that Bible is apt to be erroneous in every other category of thought is merely a short cut. It removes all the hard work of understanding & verifying the text & allows you to simply bask in the warm fuzziness of it’s spiritual “truth” while ignoring that it can’t be trusted in any other arena of what it teaches.

          But as you said, I am not going to convince you.



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        Mark Hunter

        posted March 30, 2011 at 3:02 am


        Woah, back up there a little…

        When Jesus said “hell” (news flash: he didn’t…) did he mean “eternal, conscious, torment for every who hadn’t invited him into their heart”?

        Please.

        Re-colouring the words of Jesus with hundreds of years of eisegesis from the Reformed box of crayons doesn’t equate to absolute truth.

        I’m sick to death of hearing the Reformed bash on about believing that hell is “eternal, conscious, torment” just because there are generations of “orthodox” belief leaning against it.

        So?

        Who decided what was “orthodox”? I want to speak to those guys. Did God personally appoint them as the guardians of his absolute truths?

        Or did they simply execute anyone who disagreed with them?



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          Tim

          posted March 30, 2011 at 11:14 am


          C’mon Mark,
          If you are intellectually honest & have read the Bible at all, you can’t say that Jesus & biblical writers did not refer to hell as eternal conscious torment. Just read the text:

          Matt 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the ETERNAL fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

          Luke 16:28 (Rich man to Abraham) “I beg you, father, to send [Lazarus] to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of TORMENT.’

          Romans 2:5-8 “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed…for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be WRATH and FURY.

          Rev 14:9-11 “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be TORMENTED with fire… And the smoke of their TORMENT goes up FOREVER and EVER, and they have no rest, day or night

          Rev 20:10-15 “and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be TORMENTED DAY AND NIGHT FOREVER AND EVER…. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened….And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

          Eternal conscious torment of those who reject Christ is not a construct of reformed evangelicals or even “orthodox” people. It is something that that has been embraced in every generation of Christians because it comes out of a plain reading of Scripture.

          You should try it some time.



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          LRA

          posted March 30, 2011 at 11:48 am


          And you worship this sadistic God who would eternally torture people???

          That’s messed up.



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          Tim

          posted March 30, 2011 at 5:59 pm


          LRA, your view of God as an angry judge is an understandable response to ultimate judgment – and to be honest, it is a pretty common response. In fact, when biblical writer John wrote the famous words “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him won’t perish but have eternal life” he knew that some people would not be able to reconcile a God of sacrificial love who is also a righteous judge. So he followed those famous words up with some that aren’t so famous: “God didn’t send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”

          John must have anticipated that we would get hung up on the notion of an angry God who sadistically wants to throw us in hell, because he immediately follows up with this: “God did not send his son into the word to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved”

          You know why God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world? Because the world was already condemned. If Jesus had shown up & said “you’re all condemned” that would not have been a new message – we all know that intuitively -all we have to do is look in the mirror as we age & we know that we are condemned to death. And we worry about what happens after we die because we know intuitively that we know that there is more to life than just this life. So John clarified: God didn’t send Jesus because he was ticked – he sent Jesus because he was in love.

          The idea that we are condemned already, is similar to what I tell people when I teach them CPR: if you come up on someone that is not breathing & has no pulse, what do you call them? A corpse. They are dead already. When you do CPR, you are attempting to rescue someone that is dead already. If they don’t respond, is that your fault? No. When God offered salvation to mankind, he was offering life to people who were dead already. He was offering rescue to those who were condemned already. So he is not a sadist who tortures people – he is a rescuer who is offering salvation to those who are already on their way to destruction.

          So when you read the Scriptures, you see a fuller picture that people don’t spend eternity separated from God in hell because of sin. God has a solution for sin. People don’t spend eternity in torment because of God’s wrath that has to be appeased. God has a solution for his judgment to be perfectly executed. People spend eternity separated from God because they haven’t believed in Christ & received the free gift of eternal life that he offers through Christ’s death & resurrection.

          Sin is not a problem for God & hell does not have to create fear in anyone’s heart – because it has all been paid for by the death of Jesus who “knew no sin” yet was punished in our place. The reason the Gospel is called “Good News” is because it is not a call to perform better, or live better to appease an angry God. It t is good news because it starts this way – God loved & God gave and all you have to do is Believe in Jesus to receive the eternal life of Jesus.

          What creates a desire in me to worship, then, is the realization that though I deserve judgment, God in his love chose to rescue me when I was his enemy. I deserved judgment and he offered me clemency. I deserved suffering and he offered me freedom. In my mind, what is “messed up” is why anyone would choose to ignore or reject his offer of love.

          I know there’s nothing I can probably say to convince you, but I didn’t want to ignore your comment and I wanted to at least make an attempt to explain how I can believe in both the righteous judgment of God and the loving mercy of God’s grace. Thanks for taking the time to read this.



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          LRA

          posted March 30, 2011 at 9:16 pm


          Thanks for taking the time to write it.

          I would never reject the love of the omni-benevolent creator of the universe.

          Now, if you could just provide definitive, absolute proof that there is a creator of the universe and he is Bible-God (rather than say, Krishna) and we’re cooking with gas.



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          Tim

          posted March 30, 2011 at 11:06 pm


          I’ll be honest: I can’t provide “definitive, absolute proof” (I guess there is a reason that they call it “faith”). But if you want to see reasonableness of believing in the “Bible-God,” then pick up Tim Keller’s “The Reason for God.” (You can see him talking about the book at Google’s headquarters on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kxup3OS5ZhQ) I’d offer to send it to you, but how would we swap contact information without all the crazies on the internet abusing our info? :)

          God said through Jeremiah “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with your whole heart.” And the apostle Paul said in Romans “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.” So if you put them together, you might find yourself searching for God with your whole heart by reading the words of Christ. That could lead you to reading the Gospel of John – since it starts out with God as creator & moves toward him being omni-benevolent. And you never know what could happen from there.

          I’ll be praying for you as you seek. Thanks for the dialogue.



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          Matthew Paul Turner

          posted March 30, 2011 at 11:22 pm


          LRA went to Keller’s church, Tim.



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          LRA

          posted March 30, 2011 at 11:49 pm


          I know! Isn’t that crazy! I did go to Keller’s church!

          I also went to Jack Graham’s church. And Ed Young’s church (and visited his dad’s church in Houston). And I went to Chuck Swindoll’s church.

          I went to lots of churches!

          I really did! :)



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          Tim

          posted March 31, 2011 at 8:44 am


          You think & communicate critically, logically, & sequentially – and no offense to the guys at Prestonwood, Fellowship or Stonebriar, but they don’t. (I have attended them all.) If you are in DFW & you want to talk things through with some folks that think in a straight line, try our friends over at Watermark.org. I don’t know if they still have an “explorer” group like they used to, but if they do, it is a place where you can bring all your honest questions without getting pat Sunday School answers.

          One more thought: I read a book last year that was pretty compelling. James Spiegel in ” The Making of an Atheist” briefly writes against the irrationality of atheism but then goes on to argue that most people become or remain atheists because they don’t want their moral choices hemmed in by a God that they would be responsible to, if they believed He exists. He wraps up with why he finds theism (& particularly Christian mono-theism) attractive. It may be one more piece of the puzzle for you, if you are interested.

          Ever read any CS Lewis, Lee Strobel or Josh McDowell on the rationality of faith?



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          Dianna

          posted March 31, 2011 at 9:11 am


          Um, Tim, most atheists I know arrived at their conclusions because of lack of proof for a God, not because they didn’t want their moral choices “hemmed in.” Indeed, the atheists I know are more moral than most Christians.

          And as much as I love my CS Lewis (who didn’t approach the Bible as inerrant, fyi), he’s not convincing for a lot of atheists. And I’m pretty sure LRA’s going to be insulted by your basically implying that she’s staying atheist so she doesn’t have to have morals. So, get prepared to be yelled at later, buddy.



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          LRA

          posted March 31, 2011 at 9:13 am


          Yes, I’ve been to Watermark with friends before (back when I was still a believer).

          Also, James Spiegal’s assessment of atheists sounds off to me. (1) Where did he collect this information… did he do a study or a poll or something? (2) Most atheists I know left the church on *moral* grounds. The “god” of the Bible (especially in the old testament) is a monster, people in churches are hypocrites, and preachers operate on power, not on love.

          I left the church for a lot of reasons, morality was just one of them. I am thoroughly disgusted morally with the Republican Religious Right. In fact, my morals are *better* developed since I left!

          Atheists, agnostics, and skeptics are quite moral people. We are not baby eaters, rapists, or murderers. A person is not moral *because* of “god”, a person is moral because s/he is born with empathy. We know from psychology that people who have a broken sense of empathy are sociopaths.

          In other words, morality is totally natural.

          I have read all three of the authors you mentioned. Lee Strobel makes a crappy case, as does Josh McDowell. CS Lewis is ok, but the fact is that you could make the most internally consistent, most compelling case ever in the history of religion and it wouldn’t matter…. your premise is that God exists, and until you definitely verify that premise, the remainder of the argument doesn’t matter since it all depends on that premise.

          I will remain a skeptic until I get solid evidence of God’s existence.



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          Tim

          posted March 31, 2011 at 11:32 am


          Spiegel looks at the writings of “new atheists” like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, etc & philosophers like Thomas Nagel (who said “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God, and, naturally hope that I’m right about my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t wan the universe to be like that.”)

          What I like about Spiegel is that he takes time to say that atheistic objections are correct in many areas. The critique of human failure in the context of religion is a legitimate objection (one that Harris & Hitchens emphasize frequently.) Is there hypocrisy from Christians? yes. Is there moral complacency among Christians? yes. Have Christians abused, oppressed, enslaved, insulted, tortured, tormented, killed people in the name of God yes. Have church people worked at times to thwart solid scientific methodology? yes. Spiegel calls these things “theistic malpractice.”

          He looks at what changed the minds of atheists like Antony Flew to become theists. He examines worldviews. He examines people’s written explanations of why they became atheists (if you are a George Carlin fan, some of his stand up made it into the book.) And he looks at Freud’s theory of sociological factors that lead to disbelief (like an angry, absent or abusive father) and Paul Vitz’s research (psych teacher at NYU) that backs it up.

          It’s a fascinating read.

          Do I think it will convince you to become a theist? No. But you seem like a thinking person who would want to have all the facts at her disposal. And you could easily read it in an afternoon.



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          Tim

          posted March 31, 2011 at 11:38 am


          One more thought: Have you ever watched debate between William Lane Craig & Peter W Atkins on “The evidence for / against the existence of God?” It’s the best arguments on either side & it is exceptional.

          I have a copy & live in DFW if you are interested in borrowing it.



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          LRA

          posted April 2, 2011 at 1:34 pm


          I’ve actually seen WL Craig debate an atheist (whose name escapes me at the moment) in person at the old Prestonwood.

          I’ve since seen many videos in which he’s talked and I don’t find his apologetics particularly compelling.

          Further, I actually worked in science for a number of years (in Eric Kandel’s lab and some other labs), and so anytime theists start attacking science, I get really annoyed. So, I’m wondering what a scientist by training (like Atkins) can possibly bring to a debate about God (unless it is to argue against theist attacks on science). The fact is that practitioners of methodological naturalism may also believe in philosophical naturalism, but it is still a philosophy.

          I’m not interested in whether or not theism or naturalism is correct via philosophical speculations. I’m interested in the actual evidence. If there is no evidence for a certain claim, then I’m comfortable just saying “I don’t know” and leaving it at that.

          Does that make sense?



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          Tim

          posted April 2, 2011 at 3:05 pm


          I think from what you have said, you would claim to be an agnostic & skeptic (you said “I’m comfortable just saying “I don’t know” and leaving it at that”) but you are actually using an atheist philosophical argument against the belief in God. The argument referred to as “Russell’s teapot” simply says that there is no reason to believe unless believers can produce hard empirical proof that there must be a God. As a philosophical argument, it is speculation & not superior to the arguments that theists use (ontological, teleological, cosmological, moral, anthropic, etc.) – which is incidentally, is part of why I am a biblicist instead of an apologist – because at the end of the day, no philosophical argument gives tangible proof for or against the existence of God (even those arguments, like Russell’s teapot that demand tangible proof.)

          Ultimately, two things led me to embrace the Christian faith – one is intellectual & the other that is experiential:

          1. Pascal’s wager: if I choose belief and I am wrong, I have absolutely nothing to lose. I live a life choosing to love my neighbor, I don’t carry moral regrets & through clean living I might experience the blessing in Ps 128 of getting to see my children’s children. If on the other hand, I choose disbelief and I am wrong, there is the potential that I lose big – not just in this life (through recklessly saying “this is all there is so grab all the gusto you can on your way through”), but in the life to come. (And now we are back to the topic that this entire blog started with.)

          The idea of having everything to gain through belief and nothing to lose appealed to me. So while you may say (and I’ll paraphrase) “I’ll hang out on the side of DISbelief until someone proves that there IS a God” I find it more rational to say “I’ll hang out on the side of BELIEF until someone proves that there is NOT a god.” Since there are only philosophical & antidotal arguments on one side or the other, I choose the safe side.

          2. The beauty of the person of Jesus. I grew up with Matt. We went to the same crazy ass churches. And by the time I left for college, I was done with Christianity – or at least Christians (which is the primary argument used by the new atheists to deny the existence of God – they think if he really existed he could get some smarter, nicer followers . . . which, let’s face it, at times looks pretty compelling). I would have thrown away my faith completely, but I had a problem: I was captivated with the person, words & work of Jesus (I hated his friends, but I couldn’t seem to ignore him – it was like a bad high school break up.)

          Because of the churches I grew up in, I had no notion of what the “life abundant” that Jesus promised looked like – I could only dream about it & read the book of Acts & wish for it. But somehow as I read Jesus’ words in the Gospels, I knew that he was offering more than just life after death, he was offering life in this life. I wanted that. After looking for life in relationships, and life in my work, and life in making a bunch of money and all the other stuff that seems like the best of what this short temporal life has to offer, I experientially found that nothing satisfied the appetite of my soul except for Jesus. And as I embraced him, I began to understand what the psalmist meant when he said in ps 16 “in your presence is fullness of joy & at your right had are pleasures forevermore.” Is it true that I experienced physical pleasure when looking for life apart from Jesus? You bet. But I also experienced regret & a painful sense that I was damaging my soul.

          In my heart, I have been & will always be a hedonist. The difference now from then is that now I chase the pleasures of the soul instead of the pleasures of the body. And nothing brings greater wholeness, peace and joy to my soul then Jesus. I can’t quantify that. I can’t prove that. I can’t put my experience on the table to be dissected. All I can do is try to explain it to you.

          As for the debate bt WLC & Atkins, much of it, as I recall focus on arguments from cosmology (first cause) and teleology (order in the universe). I think what makes it unique is that both debaters use a socratic method as they argue. So each argument feels like a math formula (if this & this, then that). For those of us who prize logic, it is great.



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          LRA

          posted April 2, 2011 at 7:26 pm


          Well, thanks for typing all that out, so I”m sorry if I don’t address it all…

          the problem of Pascal’s wager is that it is a false dichotomy…. seriously, whose religion are you supposed to believe or else be condemned? The choice isn’t Christianity or no, the choice is between various Christian sects and then also all of the other thousands of religions on the planet…

          Also, I’m not disagreeing with the fact that Jesus has some pretty genius stuff to say about human relations. That does not make him divine, nor does hell become a part of this equation just from what Jesus has to say. Other philosophers I admire include Confucius (sometimes, his anti-feminist stuff is concerning), Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Dhali Lama (although his stuff on reincarnation is not convincing), Bertrand Russel (although I’m not convinced of the ability of language to convey objective meaning), Thomas Kuhn (although he doesn’t necessarily include a Quinean account of knowledge when he concludes that knowledge is culturally constructed), Paul and Patricia Churchland (and I just spent a night drinking wine with Paul Churchland and he was AWESOME), well, and the list could go on and on…………..



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          LRA

          posted April 2, 2011 at 7:31 pm


          So, I guess I’m just trying to argue that my experiences are valid, and I don’t deserve to be condemned.

          Really, my ultimate concern is for human justice and for the reduction of human suffering. I think that human studies and human science is the best way to achieve this. Religion rarely provides anything but vague answers to such problems.

          Science (and social science studies), for me, are the answers. After all, how can people from 2000 years ago have any real insight into today’s problems?

          They can’t. And I care a hell of a lot more about modern suffering than I do about ancient, outdated tradition.



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          Tim

          posted April 2, 2011 at 11:02 pm


          LRA, hopefully you haven’t felt condemnation from our interaction. I’ll be praying for you as you search. If you are ever on the other side of the metroplex & want to grab a beer & talk metaphysics give me a shout.



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          LRA

          posted April 3, 2011 at 10:50 pm


          Well, Tim, to be honest, if you believe in hell, you’ve already condemned me.

          I’m a skeptic. I’ve turned my back on the church and on all things supernatural.

          I’ve decided that “I don’t know” is better than making stuff up. I’ve decided that many smart and genius people deserve credit for advancing the human condition, not just Jesus.

          So, according to many people, I’m going to hell.

          *sigh*

          I wish people were better educated and more critically aware than they are. I wish I lived in a place with people more like me. I wish people could just be comfortable with uncertainty and complexity. I guess I’m just a wounded idealist.



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      Danny

      posted March 30, 2011 at 8:05 am


      MPT,
      I agree fully with your sentiment that a lot of Christians do not live as if they believe Hell is real. That should be the saddest commentary in this whole debate.

      If Hell is real, proclaim Jesus.
      If Hell isn’t real, proclaim Jesus.

      I firmly hold that Hell is existant and eternal. I don’t like that belief. It burdens me and causes me to question a lot of things. But for now, it seems to be the only position I can stand on. I think even more questions would arise if I took the opposition stance. Who knows?

      Thanks for replying to my comment and sharing your thoughts. I genuinely wondered what you thought about the strength of your faith if God was a God who allowed people to go to Hell. Thanks for sharing.



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FDR

posted March 29, 2011 at 6:54 pm


I wonder why the early Christians preached repentance? Also why did Paul say

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe,[a] because our testimony among you was believed.”

I guess he didn’t read Rob’s book and Rob didn’t read much of the New Testament….



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted March 29, 2011 at 7:10 pm


    FDR,

    I believe in repentance, man. But repentance doesn’t guarantee our salvation or eternity. Repentance is us realizing our humanity and our ability to interact boldly with a holy God. Nothing in my post here refutes the need for repentance as far as I’m concerned.

    Thanks for the comment man!



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      Randy

      posted March 29, 2011 at 8:43 pm


      Repentance is “an about-face”; literally (Metanoeo) “to change one’s mind.”

      However, I think in this last comment, we must be careful to note that it describes a God who is not as monolithic as many would desire. As loving as God is…and I’m thankful He is…He is holy and a God of judgment and wrath “on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It isn’t a PC idea or culturally acceptable from a humanistic viewpoint, but that doesn’t erase the description, nonetheless.

      Certainly one can make an argument that repentance doesn’t have to include faith in Jesus. But, the early church, as indicated by the New Testament writings (like this cited above), understood that repentance and faith in Jesus for salvation went hand-in-hand.



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        Mark Hunter

        posted March 30, 2011 at 3:04 am


        Question, Randy;

        Was God’s wrath poured out on Christ, once for all time; yes or no?

        If yes, did he then fill up the wrath bucket again, holding it in reserve for the mankind he sent Jesus to save??

        If no, then maybe that’s why Jesus said “It is finished.”



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          Randy

          posted March 30, 2011 at 11:16 am


          Good questions, Mark. In answer to your first question…

          It pleased the Father to “bruise” the Son (Isaiah 53:10). Christ died once for all (Hebrews 9:12 & Romans 6:8-10). God made Him a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). This shows us the wrath of God being poured out upon His Son on our behalf.

          To access this satisfaction of the wrath of God for ourselves, we must place our faith in Christ. Without doing so, we are storing up God’s wrath for ourselves…as is indicated below.

          Romans 2:4-5
          Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

          John 3:35-36
          The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

          Jesus’s statement on the cross, “It is finished,” was His declaration that His work to pay the penalty for our sins was done. Thus, the door is opened for us to access the forgiveness and eternal life God offers through His Son.



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Robin

posted March 29, 2011 at 7:27 pm


I find it interesting that he trusts God with his miscarried child to be loving and just but not the people that have been born. I don’t know. I do believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that accepting Jesus and following him makes a real difference. But to me the GOOD NEWS is that GOD Loves us, he saves us, he is trustworthy, he is good, just, compassionate. I trust God to be loving and just with all of us.



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Chris M

posted March 29, 2011 at 7:43 pm


I find it interesting that Driscoll hates it when notable Christians are reluctant to emphatically declare that people who don’t know Jesus are going to hell. “They squirm or they change the subject.” Then in the very next breathe, on the subject of unborn babies, Driscoll does exactly that! He doesn’t answer the question. He avoids it and says that he trusts God to do the right thing. Isn’t that exactly what he’s criticizing others for doing? Perhaps they just trust God to do the right thing a little more than Driscoll does.



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    Rick

    posted March 29, 2011 at 8:43 pm


    I took that to mean he trusts that his miscarried baby is with God.



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      Mark Hunter

      posted March 30, 2011 at 3:05 am


      Really? Why would he trust that? What proof texts by means of explanation did he cite?



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        Rick

        posted March 30, 2011 at 6:26 am


        Doesn’t David, when his baby from Bathsheba die, say that he’ll see his son again someday?



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Brian Hall

posted March 29, 2011 at 7:58 pm


I have to agree with Driscoll. I think what Mark is preaching is totally biblical and on point. The bible tells us that in order to get to heaven, we must know Jesus Christ; John 14:6 says that “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” I know that things boil down to your view of doctrine (unlimited atonement, limited atonement, universal atonement) but I see the scripture saying that unless we know Jesus and put our faith completely in Him, we have no salvation.

Now, do I think that we can 100% say that one person is going to heaven, or another to hell? I think that is a case by case thing. Based on the fact that the scripture tells us that we will know Christians “by their fruit” that we can accurately say that an “agnostic” human trafficker is going to hell. Where is the fruit there? Whereas the practicing Catholic who believes that salvation comes from good deeds and taking of the sacraments, who takes care of widows and orphans and bears much fruit, is a much harder call for us to make.

I know Rob Bell and Scot McKnight and Brian McLaren have posed the idea that on the other side of eternity, we can in a sense, change our minds about what we believe. Basically insinuating that we can go to heaven after spending some time of “penance” in hell- rather, purgatory. In Bell’s new book, he talks about the parable of the rich man and the beggar. He quotes:

” 19 ‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 ‘The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'” (NIV 2011)

Sounds familiar right? What Bell seems to have conveniently left out however are the verse that immediately follow:

“25 ‘But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’” (NIV 2011)

It seems very clear to me that once you go to heaven or hell, it is permanent.

While I pray that you are right in the assumption that everyone will go to heaven, looking at the scripture and what Jesus himself said, it is hard for me to embrace that idea as one that stands up with scripture.

You haven’t lost a reader, in fact I find most of what you post to be highly thought provoking whether I agree with it or not. I hope I wasn’t ranting, just speaking to my understanding of scripture.



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Rob Davis

posted March 29, 2011 at 8:02 pm


interpretation, all the way down.



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Frisbee Guy

posted March 29, 2011 at 8:08 pm


For what it is worth, I’m standing up right now giving you a standing ovation! That was an amazing post!



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Anton

posted March 29, 2011 at 8:32 pm


Been thinking about this all day. Didn’t want to comment right away, to spare you from an emotional, rather than intellectual response.

First, I totally get where you are coming from on Mark Driscoll rubbing you the wrong way. I feel the same way about Rick Steves. That guy’s voice just grates on me. Second, although he does go on a “YES” rampage, I don’t think Mark’s point is that non-Christians are going to hell (although he obviously believes they are), it sounds like the thing he’s stressing more vehemently is that being religious isn’t enough to get you a ticket into heaven. And his audience are people who as a majority, call themselves Christians. Lastly, for all the verses you mentioned, there are verses like Matthew 8:12 or Matthew 13:42 or Luke 13:28, where Jesus talks about “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Leading the reader to believe that some people will definitely spend eternity in hell.

But then, I could be wrong too.



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    Grace

    posted March 29, 2011 at 8:57 pm


    In those verses Jesus doesn’t talk about “hell,” but about “Gehenna” – which was a physical place outside the city walls of Jerusalem. There’s no particular reason to read those verses as describing “eternity in hell” apart from a preconceived image of what the afterlife look like. Those passages are about who will or won’t have a place in the kingdom, and they’re powerful images – but they don’t actually say much concrete about what, exactly, it means to be cast out of the kingdom. It’s really a matter of interpretation whether “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” means “eternal torment in hell.”



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Chris Donato

posted March 29, 2011 at 8:37 pm


Not a Driscoll fan either. But also not a fan of vacuous unorthodox Christianity. You and Driscoll both peddle in it. As do I.

Speaking from personal experience here, but I used to be a full-on (trinitarian) universalist, and it just about killed my faith.

Run the hell away from it.



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Rick

posted March 29, 2011 at 8:40 pm


Maybe it’s just me, but I like loud preachers. Keeps my attention.

Oh, and I think Jesus’s priestly prayer in John 17 gives the sense that there are those who know God, & therefore have eternal life, and those who do not know God. Especially v3 & 9. Eternal life is to KNOW God.

Jesus isn’t praying for peace and comfort as he marches to the cross, he’s begging the Father to keep those of his flock from straying. For if they stray, they’re gone. Jesus doesn’t say, “God, even if they stray, we’ll get them in the end, right?” Seems to me Jesus is pretty urgent about this.

People who don’t believe God would allow billions of sinners to go to hell haven’t spent enough time pondering what it means to worship a holy God. Without Jesus the entire human population would spend eternity in Hell, right? My goodness, isn’t this oozing from every page of Revelation? Shouldn’t the question be, How in the world does God allow any of us to escape Hell??! How could he possibly tolerate any of us humans?!?

At the end of the day, I’m not God and He can do whatever he wants. In the meantime, I’m going to live my life as if what the Bible says is true. Not because I believe in a magic formula, but because I’ve met Jesus, am grateful for what he’s done for me, and am in love with him.



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    Danny

    posted March 30, 2011 at 8:35 am


    “Shouldn’t the question be, How in the world does God allow any of us to escape Hell??!”

    This is such a great question. The fact that God offered Satan and those that followed him no chance of redemption shows us that God didn’t have to save any of us.



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Bob Harkema

posted March 29, 2011 at 8:40 pm


Every believer becomes a part of His body, all are necessary. I am pretty sure what part Mark is.



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    kathy

    posted March 29, 2011 at 9:04 pm


    Is it okay to say ‘llol’? Too funy!



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    Patti

    posted March 29, 2011 at 9:15 pm


    @Bob. I don’t often reply to blog posts but this one made me spit out my drink. I totally laughed out loud. Sorry (well, kinda).



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kathy

posted March 29, 2011 at 9:01 pm


Thank you so much for this thoughtful post. It was just what I needed to hear. I attend Mars Hill Bible Church where Rob Bell teaches, and have had a very hard time being discerning and open with all the controversy surrounding this book. In the end, the book challenged some of my beliefs, and that is a very good thing.



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Dean

posted March 29, 2011 at 9:12 pm


Matt, I didn’t watch the Driscoll video. I know some people who follow him on Twitter, but I’ve never heard him personally. In your comments, you state,
“Does that sound like a God that’s planning to send a multitude of people (the majority!) to Hell?”

Of course, lots of things Jesus said are hard to swallow, but you listed so many Bible passages and didn’t list the obvious from the Sermon on the Mount:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many [perhaps billions] who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB).

Then you write, “In truth, it’s hard for me to believe that.”

It may be hard to believe Matthew 7:13-14, but it appears as if it’s Jesus you might not believe, rather than Mark Driscoll (again, never read him or heard him, so it’s not him I’m defending!).

The same passage in Matthew goes on to quote Jesus as saying “Not everyone who says to Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. . . And then I will declare to them ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”

Then, you wrote,

“I believe in a God who makes things right. I believe in a God who will leave the 99 to find 1 lost soul. I believe in a God who is my shepherd. I believe in a God who manifested himself through Christ to bring redemption to the world.

I believe I shouldn’t redefine that God.”

I have to say that I agree in not redefining God. That is why I don’t want to redefine the Jesus of the Bible. The same Jesus who raised the position of women, who dined with society’s outcasts, who chose to be involved in social injustices also is the Jesus who gave us the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, who described hell as a furnace of fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (just a few chapters past the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 13:36-43). I too think Jesus’ language sounds harsh and have trouble picturing Him like that, but I don’t want to redefine Him either.
I don’t want to presume to know you better than I do, but I suppose that when you hear a sermon of the kind you describe Driscoll as having given, you are taken back to your Indy Fundy roots and a church that no doubt did MANY things wrong. You’ve seen first hand children and teenagers “scared” into “salvation.” I plead that you would be careful not to jump out of that rut into a different one, each having “redefined” Jesus just as inconsistently as the other.
Honestly, having read so far into your comments, I was surprised to read that you believed Jesus was the only way to God. Of course, if He is not, then His death was unnecessary and cruel.

I think much of this (not your writing, but the broader concept behind it) comes from the misconception that “we are all God’s children.” In truth, we are not. Being God’s child is part adoption process (Eph. 1:5, Gal. 4:5 for example), part re-birth (John 3). “Born again” is not a Pat Robertson catch-phrase; it’s a quote from the mouth of Jesus as he spoke to Nicodemus. If we must be born again, then it stands to reason that being born into a human family is not the birth that makes us part of God’s family.

I realize that many who commented above will read and disagree with me, and I have little or no interest in a blog debate. I know that hell is an intellectual obstacle for many and I am sensitive to that in my daily life. That said, hell cannot be removed from the mouth or teachings of Jesus, regardless of how we feel about it.

If Driscoll was overbearing and scary in his remarks, then perhaps he is in the wrong there. I, however, do not want to be in the wrong about what Jesus taught and change his teaching to suit my current world view which, unlike Jesus, is subject to change.



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    Michael

    posted March 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm


    Dean,
    Thank you for this comment. It was well thought out and well spoken. Thank you for speaking truth



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Kyle Martin

posted March 29, 2011 at 9:27 pm


I am a stay at home dad so Driscoll already says I am a bad person!

These kinds of things give me crazy anxiety. When I hear Driscoll I understand what he is saying. When I hear Rob Bell, I understand what he is saying. When I hear people dog Bell (or Driscoll) I understand what they are saying. Then I just get scared.

What if Bell, Driscoll, myself and others are wrong. If Driscoll says Bell is Wrong, and Bell says maybe a lot of people are wrong, that opens my mind to the fact that all of us are wrong (ulcer)

When terms are thrown around like personal relationship with Jesus I think…I have a relationship with Jesus, but is it personal? Is it personal enough? I pray, I have been baptized, etc. Is that enough. I have friends that do not always call. I have friends that I can rely on. Do I have a good enough relationship with Jesus? Is it arrogant to assume that I do? Is it faithless to assume I don’t? (ulcer)



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    Sara

    posted March 31, 2011 at 9:26 am


    Kyle, I have ulcers too. I’ve recently taken up running and these questions just spin through my mind ultimately ending with the same thing- no answers, just saying “God, lead me to the truth. Help me to love everyone around me. Lead me to the truth.”
    (yesterday it was specifically, help me to love Mark Driscoll since his opinion on stay at home dads, which he and his wife seem to present as a Biblical command, made my blood boil. Especially since we plan for my husband to stay home with our first child.)



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Ally Spotts

posted March 29, 2011 at 9:38 pm


Watching this video and reading your post has rendered me really uncomfortable… and I mean that as the highest compliment. I’ll try to explain.

I have listened to hundreds of hours of Driscoll’s teaching. I heard a short clip one day on a friend’s computer about four years ago and it infuriated me so much that I went home and downloaded as much of his content as I could find, I think as a way of accumulating ammunition against him. Somehow in the process I heard the gospel message, and since then Mark’s teaching has contributed in a big way to my faith, my understanding of scripture, my doctrine, and my theology. I agree that his methods can be unnerving. But for me, for some odd reason, they have been tremendously effective.

I think part of why his teachings have been so helpful for me is that I often disagree with him, either in message or in delivery. And for me, there is something really powerful about a teacher or a leader who makes me perpetually uncomfortable.

Discomfort is a really good thing, I think, because it inspires us to grow. We are rarely challenged to do anything important when we are comfortable. Comfort makes us sedentary. Discomfort propels us to move.

It is for this reason that I really respect what you are doing here – bringing disparate voices to the conversation, adding your own, and then stepping back and asking people to answer questions for themselves. It makes me uncomfortable because it requires me to express and articulate (even privately) what I believe, which is a process that always reveals the holes in my own understanding.

But isn’t this what “faith” is in actual practice…? Isn’t faith the willingness to admit that we don’t have all the answers? I’m not talking about blind faith, I’m talking about an honest, awkward, uncomfortable process of discovery and truth…

I think you’re encouraging people toward that. Or, at the very least, you encouraged me.



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Preston

posted March 29, 2011 at 10:27 pm


I read this post this morning, agreed with your assessment of Driscoll, and disagreed respectfully with your stance on what I think is fair to consider the “dare we hope” argument for eternity. (Which, frankly, I dare hope quite often but then come back to a theological position that doesn’t accept my hope as the final answer.) So, all in all, another good post from MPT that I was glad to read and reflect on between the morning prayer, Bible, and coffee.

I came back this evening when I found out you were loosing Twitter followers over this, which is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

First of all, it’s an excellent post, even if I don’t agree with parts of what you say. Having now read “Love Wins,” I think you articulate some points better than Bell managed, so why would my disagreement warrant me running away from you? If I am certain of my position, and I am in so far as I wrestle with it respectfully before the Lord and let Him poke and proud my obstinate heart away from arrogance, sometimes successfully, why would I worry about “making you get it”? The same Holy Spirit in me is in you and that counts for something. Something very important that is not at all relativist but has everything to do with the daring faith in God’s graciousness toward those seeking Him.

Second, Driscoll has been under my skin for years now, so I’m completely with you. He’s brash, he’s arrogant, he’s often purposefully inflammatory, and he has forgotten that the Gospel is offensive enough on its own. I’m not much of a fan of Bell either, but for reasons that I do not see as immediately threatening to the teachings of the Faith as Driscoll, who places so much stress on distinctive roles and theological certainty and an understanding of historical Christianity that is so skewed into thinking that the Reformation saved the Church from the evil medievals (and I’m a Protestant) that it is a constant down spiral into personal satisfaction.

Do I agree with every single one of your points? No. But I can listen. I can listen and grow. And God willing, He’ll drag this stupid, arrogant sinner right before Him once more to wrestle it out again, to grow me, and teach me a better song.

On Friday I share links on my blog that are posts I found particularly engaging this week. This is going to be at the top of the list.



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Stephanie

posted March 29, 2011 at 10:33 pm


Lately it seems that anytime somebody hears that I’m a Christian, they immediately want to know if I think they are going to hell. I usually respond with a sincere “I am not God. It’s not my decision”. But I worry that my answer is a cop-out or luke-warm because I indeed do believe that the only way to the Father is through the Son. But I don’t believe I have all the answers. In fact, I earnestly believe that if I think of something, it’s not nearly big enough. And I’m not willing to risk missing the opportunity to share the gospel with somebody buy starting things off with “yep, you’re going to hell”. So, I was grateful to read this post.

What bothers me though, as I read these comments, is the Driscoll bashing. I know Mark. I’ve known him for nearly 25 years. I went to his wedding. I’ve watched him make mistakes and grow as a pastor of a church that God is doing great things through in an area that desperately needs to hear the gospel. I know he is not the most likable guy. I know he’s arrogant. But I also know he loves Jesus and wants everyone to know about Jesus. If God only used perfect people to preach the gospel, we’d all be in a world of trouble. I wish we could find a way to focus on the things that unite us and rejoice in the fact that people are asking questions. The subject of Hell is unpopular and controversial, I know. But can’t we use it to talk about Jesus instead of how much we don’t like Mark?



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    Bob Chapman

    posted March 30, 2011 at 1:45 am


    “I’ve watched him make mistakes and grow as a pastor of a church that God is doing great things through in an area that desperately needs to hear the gospel.”

    That is the same neck of the woods I live in. What makes it worse, the Driscoll franchise is moving to the city where I live, Everett, Washington.

    Driscoll is not delivering Good News (gospel). He believes that there are those damned to Hell, because that is what God wants. He believes that your acceptance of Jesus really wasn’t your decision, because that is what God wants. He removes all human responsibility, making our lives on earth no better than if B. F. Skinner is right.

    There can’t be Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit if it isn’t our choice to do it. To say “God made me do it” is just as much a cop-out as saying “The Devil made me do it.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SLifea3NHQ

    In trying to live a Christ-centered life, giving reason for the hope within me, I have to deal with what they likes of Mark Driscoll and Casey Treat has done. Most people won’t listen or pay attention because they recognize the crock being delivered by these superstars–pastors that can’t accept the truth of “If any man sin, he has an advocate with Jesus Christ the righteous.”

    I also don’t appreciate how Driscoll and his staff blames people like me for their problems with sexual relations and marriage. (See the shot of the Rainbow Flag in the expansion to Portland video on the Mars Hill website.)

    Blaming others and taking away personal responsibility is recognized for what it is around here.



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evan

posted March 29, 2011 at 10:36 pm


The thing is that Bell’s book is not the Bible itself. The Bible speaks of people who dont hear. It talks about people who will be blind. Bible has a parable where seeds are scattered and some seeds are wasted on the ground. And yes, each of us may be wrong. There simply doesn’t seem to be a large need according to Bell’s theology to follow Christ at all.



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Rachel Perry

posted March 29, 2011 at 10:56 pm


Great, thought-provoking post Matt!

My comments on Driscoll’s message/delivery:

Aesthetics first – I found it physically painful to listen to this message. Because of my surroundings, I had to listen with earphones. I kept trying to turn the volume down to a comfortable level where it didn’t sound like yelling…but where I could still hear what was being said. I never found that level – it was yelling or off. In the end, I had the volume on the lowest setting and the earphones 6 inches from my ears just to make it bearable…

Secondly I would venture to say that tone of voice is almost as important as the words being said. Two things I did not hear in Mark’s tone of voice (although both words came out of his mouth) are love and grace. I have found as I have become filled with the Holy Spirit, and have experienced the love of Jesus that even some of His words, written in the Bible, have taken on completely different meaning to me because I now “hear” them in a different tone. (If what I’m saying here isn’t clear, consider how easy it is to mistake the sentiment behind emails, text etc. verses speaking face-to-face.) I think it is important that we not only read the words of God, but that we also “hear” the “heart” of God. There are so very many verses (many of which you pointed out, Matt) that so clearly gush the heart of God – that He “…is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” that the few cut and dried verses (such as the verse Mark quoted ) should be tempered accordingly. At the very least, we should not be shocked if when we get to heaven we discover that God chose to pardon more people than the ones we thought should be pardoned.



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Rand

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:20 pm


It scares me to believe in the God that some of these people believe. A God that is so figured out, so lacking in mystery, so according to their image. I rather just focus on loving God and others as well as I can than blabbing theological BS that just spills condemnation and hurt over a dying world. Why don’t people want to hear about the gospel? Because of those Christians. It pains me that for the sake of the “truth”, love takes the back seat. It makes it harder every day to keep up with Christianity when the God that they have created is so plain, powerless and lacking any real identity or power other than the one that they give Him, or her, who knows.



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Brian H

posted March 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm


Great post thank you. It’s true we don’t know, but I’d rather love in love, than in fear.



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ethan

posted March 30, 2011 at 12:09 am


“The kind of spiritual truth that sets people free isn’t the kind you chain yourself to and defend come hell or high water; it’s the kind that you never stop seeking, the kind that is considered and then reconsidered, questioned and then re-questioned, and it’s a kind that, in the end… might be wrong.”

why would anyone want to take a test and wait for the results when the answer key is always changing? i believe that Truth (with a capital T) is something that you can chain yourself to and defend come hell or high water. Truth is not relative.



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LRA

posted March 30, 2011 at 12:35 am


The notion of hell makes the problem of evil a permanent one.



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Joel B

posted March 30, 2011 at 12:50 am


I study theology and philosophy academically full time. Write papers, read and re-read sacred texts and commentaries and essays every day. Dissect ancient culture sociologically and anthropologically. Sometimes all these studies pull me away from God, though. I have been dissecting the historical Jesus to pull out a claim for a very large paper but haven’t witnessed the spiritual Jesus in some time. Today, then, I decided to have a quiet time. The stress and pressure from growing up in the center spot light of the church makes quiet times almost impossible for me. But I read Lamentations, which is perhaps one of my favorite books of poetry of all time. Lamentations 3 described my absence from God perfectly. The author writes that he is the ultimate afflicted, and that the Lord has ground his teeth with gravel. Clearly, it seemed to me that the author was experiencing the wrath of God, and I feel that way too sometimes.

Whenever I read about someone’s doubts in the bible it helps clear my head, because I too have no answers to any of these big questions. I can’t wave my hands any say yes over and over because I know about the tortures of an unknown torment. It is verse 31 in Lamentations that gave me comfort and strength today, though. “For no one is cast off from the Lord forever.” In other words, you may feel entirely rejected, unknowing, full of doubt and uncertainty, afflicted, grieved, tormented, even, but God will not reject you. ever.

That being said I’m just as clueless as you, MPT. I do think, however, that applying mortal limitations to the ultimate and unlimited divine is a travesty, and I cannot partake: especially when it concerns an eternal rejection from God for the vast majority of the human race. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I am glad that I am not alone in my uncertainty



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Andrew Littler

posted March 30, 2011 at 2:20 am


I really like the part where Mark argues against distracting people (or something of that ilk, I do not want to watch 10 minutes of him again) and does that very thing.



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Will Hunsucker

posted March 30, 2011 at 2:35 am


Jesus’ message to those who did know who he was: ‘if you knew who I am, you would simply ask, and I will give you eternal life’. This was said to those who were considered the ‘hopelessly lost sinners’ of his day. Hell was not his message to ‘sinners’, but Life. …His strongest words of condemnation were to ‘the righteous’ of his day, the self-assured holders of divine truth and dispensers of divine judgment.

Facts to consider as we think through these things.

Great discussion!



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    Janet Oberholtzer

    posted March 30, 2011 at 4:28 am


    Good points!
    This is such a comforting line .. “Hell was not his message to ‘sinners’, but Life ..”



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Kevin

posted March 30, 2011 at 5:17 am


Oh please shoot me now… somehow I managed to listen to the whole thing (which was a feat in itself)… and I cringed at his self-righteous prayer at the end about the “false teachers and false prophets”, and his smug arrogance that he is obviously the one who is the faithful (and RIGHT) teacher of the Word.

My first thoughts were to try and listen to the message and not the messenger… but by the end I firmly believe that this IS about the messenger. The vast majority of people — right or wrong — are listening to the messenger and trusting in the heart and character of either Driscoll or Bell and believing that these men will tell them the “truth”.

At the end of the day, we tend to listen to people we like. (And that feels kinda scary for all of us.



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4forNik

posted March 30, 2011 at 5:30 am


So you liked Rob’s book? ;)



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vicky

posted March 30, 2011 at 5:35 am


I have to say that your post was both thought provoking and interesting, but you are definitely trying to make Christianity some nice comfortable religion. It is not. It is one of the hardest things to leave the world behind and follow Christ. Why should God allow any of us to go to heaven? Just because you helped some little old lady across the street or you really, really love your kids. What did you do for God that made you worthy of his kingdom? I know that I did nothing! I asked him into my heart when I was a twelve year old child, but that does not mean that I have always traveled in the way that I should go, it doesn’t mean that I have always left the world behind like he commands us to do.
I believe that Christ IS Good news for all, but what we do with that news is our own individual decision. God implanted in a us a desire for him, even if we never hear his name. Even if we never go to church on Sunday. We have that desire for him. Sometimes we are confused about that desire so we go after other things that lead us astray. No one said that loving God was going to be easy. If we accept him even without knowing his name he will gladly take us in.
You mentioned 1 Timothy 4:9-11 and yes, I believe he is the Savior of all men, but if we ignore him and pay no attention to him then why is He required to save us, if we will not first give our life to him? He gave his life for us. And ours is a much easier one to give.
Yes, I believe what Mark was saying. Why should God save every man on this planet, if half of them won’t give God the time of day? There are only so many 2nd chances.
It also goes on to say “who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe”
Yes, he is the savior of all men, if they choose to accept him. But without that exceptance they will certainly perish. If that upsets you than GREAT! Because we should be upset with that, but why aren’t we trying to lead others to Christ to help prevent them from going to Hell? Hell is real, why else would there be a heaven and hell? If there was no hell and if everyone was not going to go there. Then the whole point of Christ dying on the cross for our eternal life would be a moot point. There would be no need for his sacrifice. Especially as you said, God is a loving and all powerful God. What is there to be afraid of really?



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    Leanne

    posted March 30, 2011 at 7:11 am


    why is it Christ’s death and resurrection a moot point if hell doesn’t look like what mark driscoll preaches? or if hell exists or not?
    Has not Christ saved us from more than eternal punishment? Christ has saved us from our brokenness and sinfulness in the here and now, right? So if Christ’s salvation is for today and not just eternity, whether Hell is eternal or not doesn’t negate Christ’s sacrifice.



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      jasdye

      posted March 30, 2011 at 10:29 am


      I certainly don’t remember Jesus saying, “I’m going to die now on this wood so that you and your offspring and people you don’t know from futures you can’t think about will one day say my name in some prayer like a magic spell and I’ll keep you from spending forever in hell.”

      I do, however, remember him preaching an awful lot about the Kingdom and about life, which starts in the here-and-now.



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        JMH

        posted March 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm


        He also talked an awful lot about hell. More than heaven, by some counts. He certainly seems to think it’s permanent.



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          Leanne

          posted March 30, 2011 at 12:57 pm


          Yes, but he spoke of hell mostly to those who were religious and using doctrines to beat other people up with their holiness.



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          joel k

          posted March 30, 2011 at 2:27 pm


          In the ESV, word “hell” appears in the Gospels 11 times. The word “heaven” appears in the Gospels about 135 times. Based on this, I would say that your counts substantially off. Just sayin’.



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          jasdye

          posted March 31, 2011 at 7:14 am


          An ex-pastor of mine said that Jesus talked about hell more than any other subject. I guess that’s true if that’s all you can see…



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    Frances

    posted March 31, 2011 at 2:13 pm


    I LOVED this post. I saw Mark on a discussion on Nightline about “Does Hell Exists?” and that was very enlightening…not much his points or the “Hookers for Jesus” (real ministry name,BTW) lady that was on his side of the panel. Anyway, I have the same feeling about Mark;he’s extremely arrogant, and that I think has nothing to do with him being a pastor or a religious person, I think that’s just the way he is and his character, period. He obviously uses it for his advantage in the position he’s in.

    I bet my mom’s husband would LOVE this guy!



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Brian M

posted March 30, 2011 at 5:58 am


mpt, you write that “But I also believe that it’s not my job or my right to limit that miracle” re Jn 14:6. The thing is….you don’t have to….the text is self-limiting with the following qualifiers, “no one” and “except”. As a follow on, the question this verse addresses is not WHO is drawn (“Muslims, Buddhists, atheists”), rather HOW they are drawn and this is the point at which the author draws limits on how one gets to the Father….through Christ alone.
RE God sending people to Hell…..not sure I see “sending” in Scripture. What I do see, is a God who allows us the dignity of self determination and free will. If I do not want Him in this life, then He will not drag me, kicking and screaming into HIs presence into the next. That rejection of Him is not “overruled” by a cosmic force against my will….God honors our choices regarding Him for time and eternity.



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Steven

posted March 30, 2011 at 6:51 am


I will boldly say Yes! Yes! Yes! To all that you have said.

What you’ve said here is always refreshing to hear. May the depth of your understandig of God and who God is never reach a limit.

Godspeed.



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Chris Hyde

posted March 30, 2011 at 7:54 am


((((STANDING O))))



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macphoenix

posted March 30, 2011 at 8:01 am


I understand your dislike for this guy, put a TapouT shirt on him and he’d fit right with the most obnoxious UFC crowd.

I did however learn something from this. If I yell the same thing loudly with lots of dramatic pauses, it seem more important than if I just say it once.

I have a sneaky suspicion that 90% of bible college is how to be a convincing public speaker, and the other 10% is stuff about god.



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    James Williams

    posted March 30, 2011 at 9:42 am


    Driscoll didn’t go to seminary



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      Noelle

      posted March 30, 2011 at 9:55 am


      you don’t say



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      Bob Chapman

      posted March 30, 2011 at 9:59 am


      Driscoll has a Master of Arts in a type of theology from Western Seminary–although he does not have a standard bachelor’s or master’s degree used to be a pastor.



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        jasdye

        posted March 30, 2011 at 10:31 am


        Are you sure it’s not from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary? Cuz the whole “women are good for housework mostly” bit about him really gets right about there.



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        jackson55

        posted March 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm


        Mark wrote a paper and was given an honorary degree. I don’t believe he ever studied at, or attended, seminary. An argument could be made that he got tired of people pointing out his lack of formal Biblical training and figured out how to get a degree. Now, I’m not against non-seminary trained pastors; I think there are great pastors who come up through a more apprenticed model. But I think it’s important to know that when people say Mark’s got a seminary degree – that’s exactly what he has, and not a seminary education.



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joel k

posted March 30, 2011 at 8:05 am


I notice as I read many of the comments that those who agree with Driscoll accuse those of use who don’t agree with him as promoting a comfortable, politically correct, or otherwise unbiblically nice Christianity that is not in line with Scripture. The problem with this is that this is an emotional appeal that imputes a view that is not necessarily held by all of us.

I look at Driscoll’s message this way: He addressed the question “Will everyone who doesn’t know Jesus go to hell?” or phrased another way, perhaps more directly “will all non-believers (non-Christians) go to hell?”. He then answers unequivocally “yes, everyone who does not know Jesus will go to hell.” And, then he relies on two specific proof texts, neither of which say anything about knowing or believing in Jesus, and neither of which say anything about hell. IOW, these verses only support his position when he injects his own preconceived notions into them (i.e., that anyone who is not explicitly “saved” goes to hell and that the way to receive salvation in Christ is by adhering to Christianity). The problem is that neither of these preconceptions are stated in Scripture.

It is not a matter, for me, of making Christianity into a nice, comfortable, politically correct religion. Rather, it is about looking at what Jesus and the early Christians actually said and wrote, rather than injecting modern notions into them. When we do that, we find that many modern evangelical notions of personal eschatology and soteriology are simply not stated clearly in Scripture such to justify the strong and unyielding certainty that many evangelicals place on them.

That said, I am not comfortable telling non-believers that they must accept Jesus into their heart or they will go to hell, when that statement cannot be substantiated with the Scripture that I believe to be authoritative on such matters. I would much rather focus on the good news, which is clear in Scripture, that through Jesus we can have life and life to the fullest and that this is only way that I have found that makes such a promise.



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    Leanne

    posted March 30, 2011 at 8:30 am


    “I notice as I read many of the comments that those who agree with Driscoll accuse those of use who don’t agree with him as promoting a comfortable, politically correct, or otherwise unbiblically nice Christianity that is not in line with Scripture. The problem with this is that this is an emotional appeal that imputes a view that is not necessarily held by all of us.”

    Yes, we easily dismiss everyone who disagrees with us with these sweeping “judgments.” As if those who disagree with us do not study Scripture like we do. While I disagree with Driscoll’s handling of Scripture and wish he would come at Scripture with less proof texting, I do not doubt his love of Scripture or that he studies earnestly Scripture.
    Somehow we have to get past the sweeping statements which dismiss others to listen better.



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    jasdye

    posted March 30, 2011 at 10:34 am


    Yes! Amen!



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almightygod

posted March 30, 2011 at 8:17 am


It’s almost as if the Bible does not clearly teach a single version of Christianity. We know that humans of various backgrounds, locations and beliefs wrote the NT over a period of several decades, but there was some magic involved, too, right? I guess there wasn’t enough.



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JLL

posted March 30, 2011 at 8:48 am


I finally forced myself to watch this. I will save the question of hell for those more experienced and learned in scripture, but I do have a question. Does Driscoll’s preaching the gospel give him a free pass on being so d*amned obnoxious? His whole attitude and demeanor is a complete turn-off to someone like me, who is questioning everything I’ve ever been taught. If Driscoll were the only person presenting Jesus to me, I’d have to say “no, thank you–I’ll order off a different menu–I definitely don’t want what you’re having.” Is that just my problem, or will he have to answer for everyone he’s ever pushed away from the gospel because of his acting like a complete d*ck? (apologies for my language)



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ethan

posted March 30, 2011 at 10:07 am


FYI–Jesus didn’t have a degree either. Oh, and either did Whitfield, Spurgeon, or Edwards. Rectal thermometers also have degrees and you know where you put those. I think it’s crazy that so much stock is put into whether or not Driscoll has a degree that “matters”. You fools.

Talk about what matters, not whether or not he has what you think is an appropriate degree.



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    Bob Chapman

    posted March 30, 2011 at 10:17 am


    Jonathan Edwards did have a degree from Yale, and studied theology two years after his graduation. Later, when he died, he was president of Princeton University.



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    Bob Chapman

    posted March 30, 2011 at 10:22 am


    Driscoll education does matter because of how he presents himself. He is not the “lead” pastor at Mars Hill. Instead, he is the lead preaching pastor. He writes books on what we need to believe. He claims to be a theologian.

    Compare this to Billy Graham. While writing books, including a book on how to be saved, he does not dive deep into theology. He only claims to be an evangelist.

    Billy Graham has been totally up front about his limited education, and why others are better at theology. Driscoll hasn’t.

    In thinking about C. S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, I think there will be long lines of people there to great Billy Graham when he gets to Heaven from all over the world. (And, Lewis said he wasn’t a theologian, either. Only an apologist.)



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    Dianna

    posted March 30, 2011 at 10:59 am


    As someone else already explained: a degree is different from training. When we say “Driscoll didn’t go to seminary,” what we mean is “He is not trained to be a pastor.”

    You wouldn’t want your kids to be taught by someone who wasn’t trained to be a teacher. Why would you accept spiritual teaching (arguably more important) from someone not trained to lead?



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    Leanne

    posted March 30, 2011 at 11:19 am


    No degrees are not necessary for teaching the Bible, but an education does help.

    One of my Bible professors always said, “yes, the Holy Spirit works through you, but give him something more to work with.”

    Also, most of the posts I saw were dealing with the issue at hand not Driscoll’s education. The lack of a master’s degree informs me on why Driscoll’s exegetical skills are lacking in areas. So I can be a bit more understanding of where he is coming from.



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    Kevin

    posted March 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm


    Thanks, Ethan. Funny how some who refuse to be dogmatic about the biblical doctrine of Hell get downright anal-retentive about the indispensability of formal theological degrees.

    BTW, I majored in Religion. Then I received an MDiv from a real live classrooms-and-everything seminary. I’m a doctoral thesis away from a DMin from Reformed Seminary. AND I WISH I WAS THE THEOLOGIAN DRISCOLL IS.



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      Leanne

      posted March 30, 2011 at 1:01 pm


      I am not sure anyone is being dogmatic about a theological degree. A degree or lack thereof informs people about the person and where they are coming from. Most of the comments on here have been surrounding the doctrine of Hell and what Scripture proclaims and the different interpretations surrounding the doctrine.
      The fact Driscoll doesn’t have a degree doesn’t make him right or wrong but informs me why he is dogmatic about his doctrine without acknowledging the theologians throughout Church history which has had different understandings of this doctrine. Driscoll pretty much washes anyone who disagrees with him on this point as a false teacher.



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James Williams

posted March 30, 2011 at 10:14 am


(Note: I posted a similar comment on Karen Spears Zacharias’ blog)

What’s funny is that many people who slam Driscoll will make this one point over and over: Driscoll acts like his interpretation is truth, rather than his interpretation. But don’t we all do that? Folks who read the bible see other things in Scripture that are important to them–for example, the fact that Jesus hung out with sinners. They point this out all the time, and never question whether someone could interpret those same passages differently. It’s a done deal. “Jesus hung with sinners, therefore we need to do the same.”

“Jesus talked about reaching the poor. No room for argument there. I’m very sure about this.”

“God is love.” There can be no disagreement about this.

My point being, we all have things we are sure about, and we have a tendency to find a way Scripture to back us up. So to talk about Driscoll’s stance being only his interpretation is kind of inconsistent, I think.



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    joel k

    posted March 30, 2011 at 10:36 am


    What you address here is two equally flawed ways of thinking. One is that form of relativism that says that there ultimately exists no absolute truth. The other is that form of absolutism that says that my notion of truth is the absolute notion of truth. I would criticize Driscoll of falling into the second trap: He is so convinced of his notion of Truth that he is unwilling and/or unable to see that the authority that he cites as proof does not support his notions. On the other hand, it is equally wrong to throw up our hands in despair and proclaim that there is no knowable and absolute truth.

    The way I see it, the proper way to approach these questions about which we have reasonable basis to disagree is to acknowledge that there is a truth that we seek to know but to acknowledge that we cannot be absolutely certain in our own understanding of what that is. The moment that we are convinced of our absolute certainty is the moment that we cease to be open to consider evidence that undermines our current belief system. And, that is a precarious place to be. Yet, you are right that we all do that from time to time.



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James Williams

posted March 30, 2011 at 10:36 am


Mindy Smith (as in “Come to Jesus”) is going to be a guest worship leader at Driscoll’s church on Easter. How conflicted are you about this, Matthew? :)

http://blog.marshillchurch.org/2011/03/30/meet-mindy-smith/



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    josh

    posted April 7, 2011 at 8:40 pm


    Clicked on your link.
    Did you notice the upside-down five-pointed stars in the background of the photo?



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ethan

posted March 30, 2011 at 10:37 am


since when does understanding theology require a degree? and why does his role in the church matter? again, none of the church fathers that we all hold so high had degrees in theology. we have placed this all importance on having a degree in our culture, and if you don’t have a degree in your area of vocation, than you are apparently not capable or trustworthy.

you guys are all getting caught up in the details that don’t matter. criticize the guy for the way he dresses, the way he talks and that he doesn’t have a degree that you think is appropriate? all the while not discussing the core issues at play–the fact that people are going to spend eternity in hell. degrees won’t matter at that point. (well, i guess they will in a lake of fire.)



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    joel k

    posted March 30, 2011 at 10:59 am


    “all the while not discussing the core issues at play–the fact that people are going to spend eternity in hell. degrees won’t matter at that point. (well, i guess they will in a lake of fire.)”

    My point is that Driscoll’s opinion on hell and how one ends up there is not consistent with the passages of Scripture that he uses to make his argument. And, frankly, I don’t believe that it is accurate. But, I am open to correction.



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      James Williams

      posted March 30, 2011 at 11:22 am


      I agree that the verses he chose do not back him up. But John 3:16 sure does. It doesn’t say “whosoever wants to”. It says “whosoever believes in Him”, then draws a distinction between living and dying, eternally.



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        Leanne

        posted March 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm


        ah, but does the perishing mean eternal suffering in Hell or does the suffering cease to exist when thrown into the Lake of Fire in Revelation like Death ceases to exist when it is thrown into the Lake of Fire? I say this because I have heard God fearing, God loving, God seeking people with doctoral degrees debate these issues and not agree in the end. They humbly say “this is my understanding.” But to say John 3:16 backs Driscoll is to ignore the fact there are plenty of good Christians, godly people who interpret this differently. This issue is not a simple either/ or that everyone wants to make it.



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        joel k

        posted March 30, 2011 at 12:08 pm


        Actually, I don’t see anything in John 3:16 that says anything about hell, let alone that non-believers go there. I suppose you are referring to the entire passage, which includes John 3:18, but even then, I don’t think that that says clearly enough what you think it does to justify the certainty that you place on your opinion.

        The bigger problem is that proof-texting is an abuse of Scripture. Scripture is not a collection of verses and short passages from which we can discern right and wrong. Rather, it should be approached as a complete whole. I am always skeptical of claims that “such and such verse clearly supports such and such position.” A better approach to Scripture is to look at various passages seem to say on a given question, to explore and exegete these passages, and to come to a conclusion that takes into account as much of the Biblical record as possible. The problem is that a sound hermeneutic approach does not lend itself to things like online discussions. However, the more I explore Scripture on this topic, the more I am becoming convinced that traditional evangelical teaching on this issue is not completely accurate.



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          James Williams

          posted March 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm


          Hell is not mentioned, but eternal death is.



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          Leanne

          posted March 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm


          Ok, but Driscoll is talking about Hell–those who have never heard of Christ as well as those who reject Christ all going to Hell. And he talks about eternal torment of Hell. So John 3:16 does not necessarily back what Driscoll is saying since it talks of eternal death not necessarily eternal torment.



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          joel k

          posted March 30, 2011 at 2:18 pm


          That, and John 3:16 doesn’t say anything about “eternal death”.

          One problem in this conversation is that the Bible uses several terms that are accepted by many people as synonymous. The problem is that this is an assumption, and whether it is a correct one is not entirely clear. These terms include hell, gehenna, Sheol, hades, death, eternal punishment, condemnation, and the lake of fire. My thought is that these may refer to different, but perhaps similar concepts. But, when we assume that they all refer to the same thing, without evidence that they in fact are the same can lead to poor hermeneutics.

          Case in point John 3:18, which says that “whoever does not believe stands condemned”. Condemned to what? Punishment? Death? Hell? hades? Or something else entirely. I can see why one would be inclined to think that Jesus is talking about Hell. The only problem is that Jesus doesn’t say that, so this interpretation is speculation. And, as I read the New Testament as a whole, I don’t think that this is the most fitting interpretation.



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      Lee Bailey

      posted April 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm


      those who “exchanged the glory of the incorruptivle God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds… crawling creatures…” were “exchanging the truth of God for a lie”
      For us to say that just because someone worships THEIR GODS makes them ok is against scripture.

      “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for through the Law comes the knowledge of Sin but now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been manifested being witnesed by the law and the prophets even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe. there is no distinction for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom 3:20-…

      We will no tbe made righteous by anything but faith. Does this faith have to be in Christ? Let’s see…

      Rom 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing and hearing the word of Christ”
      10:14 “how then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whome they have not heard? and how will they hear without a preacher?”

      seems clear…

      For doctrine of hell and what someone who truly believes Jesus looks like jsut read in the gospels where Jesus gives parables of the kingdom. You can’t miss it



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    Dianna

    posted March 30, 2011 at 11:14 am


    “and why does his role in the church matter?”

    Um. He’s a pastor with a massive congregation and national attention.

    He influences the thought and spiritual life of countless people in the American church.

    Please tell me you didn’t just actually ask that question.

    And see my comment above for why a degree, in modern America, with congregations numbering in the thousands, matters. It’s the training, not the piece of paper.



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jasdye

posted March 30, 2011 at 11:50 am


It’s important to be able to ask questions of God and of accepted theology. People like Driscoll don’t want us to. This strikes me as fear-mongering and controlling (not to mention his temperament). From my blog:

The Bible is God’s story with us. And as it is the finite and limited and suffering and broken humanity coming into contact with the infinite and great and holy God, it leaves us with many, many questions. Not nice questions. Not tidy questions. Not easily answered questions. And certainly not binary, yes-or-no questions.



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Jen

posted March 30, 2011 at 1:17 pm


Love this post. Thank you.



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Ian

posted March 30, 2011 at 5:23 pm


So I’ve been sitting on the sidelines of this whole controversy of Bell and his book and all the cries of heresy and all the hooblah and I have to say it is quite ridiculous. I don’t agree with Bell and while I’m reluctant to say it, Driscoll can seem to be arrogant at times, but let’s remember that no matter their theology, they belong to Christ and all the shots taken at either of them are NOT edifying or loving for that matter. Remember 1 Cor. 13:4-7 and especially from verse 7 “Love… is ever ready to believe the best of every person” (AMP) Also I don’t think it matters if Driscoll has a seminary degree or not. Did Jesus have one? Do you have one?
Now for the debate, I would like to point out some Scripture that I think is pretty clear on the matter of who has received salvation. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from ETERNAL death] to EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,” (Romans 1:16 AMP)
So in order to receive salvation from our sin, we must trust that Jesus put our sin to death on the cross. Simple, right?
So if we haven’t received salvation and we do take the punishment for our sin what happens to us?
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 NKJV)
What kind of death? I think we could all agree a spiritual death, since sin harms our spirit man.
“‘And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,’ says the Lord. ‘And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have trangressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be abhorrence to all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:23-24 NKJV)
So bad news. Hell is a real place. People will go there without accepting the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s our responsibility as the Church, the body of Christ, to get the message out and to do it in love.
“Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1) Our light has come! The Holy Spirit is inside us! Why are we bickering among ourselves and not ministering to a lost and broken world!?
“Then He said to them,’Thus it is written, and thus it was NECESSARY for the Christ to suffer and to rise from he dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.'” (Luke 24:46-47 NKJV)
Lets forget about all this who’s right and who’s wrong and who’s an ass and who’s not. That not what the Church ought to be doing. We need to be loving people with everything we have, being selfish in nothing. This is what Christ has called us to.

“The words of the wise are like prodding goads, and firmly fixed [in the mind] like nails are the collected sayings which are given [as proceeding] from one Shepard. But about going further [then the words given by one Shepard], my son, be warned. Of making many books there is no ed [so do not believe everthing you read], and much study is a weariness of the flesh. All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fer God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God's providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man. For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiates 12:11-14



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    Leanne

    posted March 30, 2011 at 7:11 pm


    I do not think your parenthetical additions to the Scripture are correct. We are saved from more than eternal death/hell/perishing/etc. So to put that salvation is from eternal death is to put too narrow of a definition on Paul’s words.
    And what do you mean by eternal death. Driscoll is defining Hell as eternal torment. That is not easily agreed upon among theologians from throughout Church History.
    You are assuming too much. The discussion here for the most part is saying the doctrine of Hell and eternal death is not as simple as Driscoll is trying to make it. To exclude people who disagree with him on this doctrine–because there are a good number of well respected, god fearing theologians who do disagree–is somewhat arrogant.



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      Ian

      posted March 31, 2011 at 2:54 pm


      The parenthetical additions are not from me. I used the amplified translation. If that upsets you then read out of a different translation.

      Also as I said, I believe his whole controversy is silly. Such sometimes heated and widely known divisions in the church do not paint the church, and thus Christ, in a good light.



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    Todd

    posted April 1, 2011 at 7:18 am


    I agree with your first comments on it not be of benefit to attack either Dricoll or Bell as they are both in Christ. I not only agree, but appreciate such a statement of truth. That is putting Christ above and beyond human theology and doctrine, as he should be!

    As far as your quoting Paul, I have a question. Who is Paul addressing in his letters? Who are his audience? Is he addressing the Jews, Gentiles, or already converted Gentiles? He is never addressing Jews. That much is clear. He speaks of them, but he is never addressing them. In Galatians he is speaking to an already converted Gentile population who entered into a new covenant with God through their belief in Christ Jesus and who are now undergoing circumcision and demanding that other Gentiles do the same. His point to them is that they never even entered that covenant through the law, thus trying to maintain a law that did not save them, but condemned them, was fruitless. Christ was the entry point, thus it is their belief in Christ that saves them and keeps them in relationship with God. In Romans, Paul is talking to a Gentile community who are having it out with the Jewish population in Rome. Scholars have suggested that there was a point, around the time of the writing of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, that Jews were being expelled from Rome and Christians were not feeling very obligated to show such Jews hospitality and aid, as they were save and the Jews were no longer. Regardless of the details why, Paul scolds these Gentile believers quite harshly with his “grafted branch” metaphor. But Paul goes further than that. Listen to what he says in Rom 11:26-29.

    “And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, ‘Out of Zion will come the Deliverer; he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.’ ‘And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’ As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

    He does not throw any conditions in there. He does not say, those in Israel who believe in Christ will be saved. He simply says that ALL Israel will be saved…that the Deliverer (Christ/God) will remove their ungodliness, or rather, will take away their sins. He also says that though they may be enemies of God in regard to the Gospel for the Gentiles’ sake (hmmm interesting), he says that they are elect and beloved of God for the sake of their ancestors. God will not abandon them, for he loves them. Not because of how great they are, or because they believe in his son (clearly they do not), but because he loves them and always has!

    Audience is everything when trying to understand scripture. When Paul says EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES will be saved, he is referring to EVERYONE he is addressing. Otherwise he would be contradicting himself here, and Paul was educated enough to avoid self-contradiction. There are a lot of great books on Pauline studies that point to not only his writings, but his social/political, economic, religous, historic and linguistic contexts. It takes that and then some to understand the greatest of the Christian missionaries and theologians.

    “The New Perspective on Paul” by James D. G. Dunn is a great resource in this regard. He exegetes Paul quite extensively and brings in a discussion on the particularities of the Greek language in which Paul was writing. There are other such books as well, but I definitely recommend Dunn’s book.



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ETS

posted March 30, 2011 at 7:02 pm


“I do realize that a part of the reason that Mark’s public “voice” gets under my skin is my problem (not his).”

“Arrogance isn’t faith. And Mark’s arrogance makes me cringe. Again, that could be me.”

Never thought I’d hear statements like this from you, MPT. And honestly, I’m glad I did.

Most of Driscoll’s critics, from what I’ve read, attack his character – not his theology. Regardless of the number of Driscoll clips, tweets or blog posts we read, most of us don’t know him and never will. So any character judgments are being made with some level of ignorance – usually a significant level.

I agree with Driscoll on most things theologically and usually disagree with his delivery. I literally cringe at times when Driscoll teaches. But I don’t know him and more importantly, I don’t know his heart. So I’m not going to speak negatively about his character with some level of confidence. At best, that’s ignorant. And honestly, quite arrogant.

Fortunately for Driscoll – and the rest of us, God knows his heart and ultimately, what we say about his character is not the final say. But I do believe we will certainly be judged about unjust judgments we make about others. So we should be slow to speak about things and people we don’t know about.



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Scott

posted March 30, 2011 at 11:00 pm


If my parents tell me I will
Be grounded if I stay out past curfew and I do that very thing and they ground me they do not cease to be loving.

Some of you honestly do not understand how love,justice and discipline work.



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted March 30, 2011 at 11:20 pm


    But Scott… if your parents locked you in furnace for 80 years for breaking that curfew, you might change your tune.

    Come on, we’re talking about hell here; we’re not talking about a grounding. Using human ideas like that to explain eternal topics like torment and gnashing of teeth isn’t fair.

    And I do understand love, justice, and discipline. I’m not sure you do.



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      ETS

      posted March 30, 2011 at 11:44 pm


      To think any of us ‘understands’ love, justice and discipline is a bit arrogant at best. These are concepts developed by a God who told us in His word that His thoughts are above ours.

      And even if I were to change my tune if my parents locked me in a furnace for 80 years, my perception is not the determining factor for whether my parents are loving or not.

      We do not decide who and what God is. God decides who and what we are.



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        LRA

        posted March 30, 2011 at 11:58 pm


        “And even if I were to change my tune if my parents locked me in a furnace for 80 years, my perception is not the determining factor for whether my parents are loving or not.”

        So, you’re just a door mat for abuse???

        We have judgment for a reason. It helps us establish boundaries. You think that what you believe is coming from “God” *directly*, but in fact, it is coming from other human beings who are fallible and would use and abuse you to gain power or other insidious ends.

        You need to retain your boundaries. Your boundaries are a moral judgment based on your experience. You know that when people abuse you, it is unhealthy. When people use “God” to abuse others (including the violent and vile threat of punishment well beyond the crime), it is because of power issues. You should protect yourself. Really!



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          ETS

          posted March 31, 2011 at 12:07 am


          LRA, just because I say something doesn’t make it true. Just because you say something doesn’t make it true. You seem to grasp that humans are fallible. Carry that thought all the way through and embrace the likely possibility that your sense of logic used to determine love, justice and discipline could be greatly flawed.



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          LRA

          posted March 31, 2011 at 12:19 am


          Ok. As could yours. What is your point?

          If you think *eternal* punishment is ever, EVER an appropriate punishment for *temporary* mistakes, then you have a funny view of justice.

          The only crime for which Hell is an appropriate punishment is to condemn a person to Hell.



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          Leanne

          posted March 31, 2011 at 4:25 am


          and that is a great point about eternal punishment for temporary mistakes. In the Jewish faith, out of which Christianity began, justice was to be appropriate to the crime–eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth (which was the law throughout ancient cultures and religions, not just the Jewish faith.) I have read how rabbis have an issue with eternal torment, Hell because it doesn’t fit with the justice found in the Old Testament and therefore, doesn’t fit with God’s character.
          Jesus came not to do away with the Old Testament but to bring the fullest meaning. Perhaps we need to look at Hell in the light of the OT too.



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          Jonny Five

          posted March 31, 2011 at 8:45 am


          Your point about an eye for an eye is interesting, because Jesus actually redefines the common Jewish teaching on this in Matthew 5:38-39:

          “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[b] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”

          In our human justice system (and Jewish law), an eye for an eye is appropriate, because we have no authority as human beings to bring punishment to criminals beyond what is “fitting.” Spiritual justice & mercy, however, do not fit into these confines. Jesus tells us to not seek human justice when personally wronged, but to rely on his justice. This does not mean there is no room for punishment through a legal system, but it does mean that God’s kingdom is different from any comparable earthly/human kingdom. Whenever Jesus says, “you have heard it said” you know that he is going to correct a misconception that had been taught in the past. Similarly, Jesus uses this language earlier in Matthew 5:21-22. In these verses, Jesus takes the opposite approach when describing God’s justice/mercy system. Above we see that we are to offer mercy when wronged. In Matt 5:21-22, we see where God’s justice comes into play:

          “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

          Saying you fool does not appear to us to be something worthy of hell on face value. But when we understand our true condition before a holy God it becomes more clear. God is just in justifying the wicked who have received Christ. But he is also just in dispensing justice to the wicked who are not in Christ. You see, we are all in danger of the fire of hell and all deserve this punishment. It doesn’t match up well with our Western understanding of what “fitting” punishment is, only because we do not see the depth of our wickedness. When we do recognize these depths, we are then able by grace to understand the depth of his mercy. Otherwise, his mercy doesn’t mean that much.



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          ETS

          posted March 31, 2011 at 9:04 am


          Yes, as is mine. My point is I recognize that about myself. I’m not sure that you do.

          I have a ‘funny’ view of justice TO YOU. You do not have a monopoly on justice or even significant power to define it at all. Honestly, I’m not that interested in my view of justice. I’m interested in further discovering God’s view as defined by Scripture.

          And one could say the only crime for Hell is the crime of condemning a person who condemns people to Hell. The circle goes on when human beings are allowed to make these decisions. Which is why I’m glad that they don’t.

          While I do not agree with your ‘only crime for Hell’ statement, I do agree with you that human beings do not have the power to condemn people to Hell.



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          LRA

          posted March 31, 2011 at 10:10 am


          “Yes, as is mine. My point is I recognize that about myself. I’m not sure that you do.”

          That makes no sense. You say that I can’t recognize that my sense of justice may be flawed? What?

          Which sense of justice? Virtue ethics? Utilitarian ethics? Kantian ethics? Feminist ethics? Ethics according to Rawls?

          Of course there are many takes on justice, including my own. My sense of ethics is based on an informed reading of the history of justice. It is the best formulation I could come up with. So, again, what is your point?

          “I have a ‘funny’ view of justice TO YOU. You do not have a monopoly on justice or even significant power to define it at all. Honestly, I’m not that interested in my view of justice. I’m interested in further discovering God’s view as defined by Scripture.”

          Again, your point here seems muddled. You don’t care about justice? You don’t care if your “god” is just? You just accept that to be true against your ability to reason?

          No, as I pointed out, there is *no* monopoly on justice. There is theory. But in *NO* legitimate theory of justice does a punishment extend beyond the crime.

          “And one could say the only crime for Hell is the crime of condemning a person who condemns people to Hell. The circle goes on when human beings are allowed to make these decisions. Which is why I’m glad that they don’t.”

          What??? Humans make decisions about justice and ethics all the time! What are you talking about?

          I have to add here, that discussions such as this one are important because supposedly humans have free will and supposedly we are supposed to line ourselves up with the right thing or risk punishment. My sense of morality tells me that “god” doesn’t do what is right, and so I have free will to reject what I see as wrong-doing. If “god” is going to “punish” me for that, then such a “god” is evil. Period.

          Why bother to give us free will at all if we aren’t allowed to use it to do what is right?

          While I do not agree with your ‘only crime for Hell’ statement, I do agree with you that human beings do not have the power to condemn people to Hell.



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          LRA

          posted March 31, 2011 at 10:18 am


          Oops! I didn’t address your last point. Sorry.

          “While I do not agree with your ‘only crime for Hell’ statement, I do agree with you that human beings do not have the power to condemn people to Hell.”

          First, you have the burden of proving hell exists. That is on top of the burden of proving that “God” exists and is the God of the Bible (rather than another religion), and is the God of your particular denomination that interprets the Bible a certain way.

          Then you have the burden of justifying why “God” is above his own laws. If “god” says it is evil to cause another to suffer, if the ultimate commandment is about love and mercy, then it follows that God being anything other than merciful, loving, and non-suffering causing is contradictory and therefore such a god is evil.



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          ETS

          posted March 31, 2011 at 10:39 am


          If you actually do recognize that your sense of justice is flawed, I stand corrected. Given that you do, why do you rely so heavily on that sense? Or protest so strongly against other perceptions of justice that in fact may be right?

          I care deeply about justice. But my limited understanding of justice is not absolute truth. God’s understanding as defined by Scripture is truth. And ‘in all of my getting,’ I try to get understanding. Given my finiteness, I understand that I may not ever fully grasp justice.

          I do not put my ability to reason about God’s ability to be sovereign. Like the Broadway play, ‘my arms are too short to box with God.’ He does not have to ‘prove’ himself to me. That would make me God – which is irrational and unreasonable, as my reason is flawed.

          “But in *NO* legitimate theory of justice does a punishment extend beyond the crime.”

          Again, you do not determine what is legitimate or not. Neither do I. No human being does. Our ability to reason is flawed.

          “Humans make decisions about justice and ethics all the time! ”

          And they are often wrong. Which is why we should ‘lean not to our own understanding.’

          “My sense of morality tells me that “god” doesn’t do what is right, and so I have free will to reject what I see as wrong-doing. If “god” is going to “punish” me for that, then such a “god” is evil. Period.”

          The logic in calling God wrong is completely rational for someone who thinks that they are all powerful, mighty, perfect, supreme, etc. – essentially God. It makes absolutely no sense for someone, like yourself, who admits that their ability to reason is flawed.

          I do not completely grasp free will nor will I pretend to. I believe that both God gives us liberty and that He is sovereign. Just because my finite mind wants to conclude that those two things are mutually exclusive doesn’t mean that they are. That is what being finite means.

          I don’t have the burden of proving anything. I just believe. :) God proves (I prefer the word reveals) Himself to us all day everyday. I have no power to make you believe or see it. I don’t even have the power to make myself believe or see it. I just do. And I pray that eventually you do too.

          In summary, I just don’t see the reason in someone who admits how flawed their own reasoning is in having so much faith in your ability to reason.



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          LRA

          posted March 31, 2011 at 10:55 am


          “God’s understanding as defined by Scripture is truth.”

          That statement right there is a judgment on your part.

          It is also wrong. Truth is a claim that is verifiable. You don’t have truth unless you can verify it.

          “God proves (I prefer the word reveals) Himself to us all day everyday.”

          Where? I can’t see, hear, smell, taste, or touch God… so, no, God does not “reveal” himself. And if you say that nature or some such thing is some kind of evidence of God’s existence, you are making the (flawed) argument from design.

          If you say that you just “feel” God, then you are making the (flawed) argument from literature (such an argument could be applied to any literary work that causes feelings) or the “pathetic” fallacy (means assigning feelings inappropriately to objects).

          The fact that you “believe” is based on your judgment. Your judgment may be flawed.

          My lack of belief is based on evidence. I remain skeptical until clear evidence presents itself.



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          joel

          posted March 31, 2011 at 11:59 am


          “Then you have the burden of justifying why ‘God’ is above his own laws.”

          Should parents be bound by the rules they impose on their children who don’t yet have the capacity to understand the reasoning behind them or make appropriate situational judgement calls? Consistency is in order, yes, but there are plenty of times rules are imposed that we know are consistent but for which the only explanation possible for that child at that time is, “because I say so.”

          And yes, I am comparing us to young, immature children. If there really is an all-powerful, all-knowing God who can create the vast complexity of this entire universe and yet knows my name and yours and cares about us, then comparing us to children relative to such a being is rather a compliment.



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          ETS

          posted March 31, 2011 at 12:09 pm


          “It is also wrong. Truth is a claim that is verifiable. You don’t have truth unless you can verify it.”

          That is your definition of truth. One conceived from a flawed, finite mind. One that thinks that it in and of itself can determine right or wrong. Again, truth is defined by what Christ, the truth, said it is.

          “Where? I can’t see, hear, smell, taste, or touch God… so, no, God does not “reveal” himself.”

          Again, to you. Your perception is not reality. It’s just your perception. You do not have a monopoly on revelation.

          “The fact that you “believe” is based on your judgment. Your judgment may be flawed.”

          I know that my judgment has the potential to be flawed. That doesn’t mean that it is. I will continue to have faith in what I see to be proven just like you will.

          “I remain skeptical until clear evidence presents itself.”

          Again, you do not have a monopoly on clear.



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          LRA

          posted April 2, 2011 at 9:09 am


          Sorry it took so long to get back to this, but I was super busy.

          Look, I’m just going to end by saying that “truth” has a certain set of meanings, and to redefine those meanings any way you see fit actually makes “truth” meaningless.

          Truth is an epistemological concept and has been throughout the course of history staring with the ancient Greeks. Truth is one of the components of knowledge: justified, true belief. We can only be said to have knowledge if (1) we can justify it (2) we can verify it (3) we can logically believe it.

          To say that some unverifiable claim is “truth” is false. Such a claim is *speculation*. Period.



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          ETS

          posted April 2, 2011 at 9:41 am


          Truth – like Christ – existed before the ancient Greeks and whoever else you credit as defining the concept and it will continue exist afterwards. Being an academic, you understand that secular definitions evolve over time. Thankfully Biblical truth does not. Given that, it will be interesting to see what you believe truth is 5 years from now. I’m sure some new ‘historical expert’ would have come up with a new definition for many unbelieving intellectuals – which is only a part of the intellectual community – to put their faith in.



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          LRA

          posted April 2, 2011 at 12:31 pm


          *sigh*

          Ok– your comments have confused me somewhat up to this point, but I see what is going on here…

          You are making the false dichotomy of truth/relativism.

          (1) social construction =/= relativism

          (2) the meaning of truth as an epistemological concept has been around for 2500 years (since ancient Greek philosophy starts in the 5th century BCE) and so, it seems silly for you to say that it’s going to change in 5 years (for me or anyone for that matter)… btw that does, in fact, *predate* Jesus.

          (3) no, you do not have any special privilege to claim absolute truth of a concept that you yourself adopted because you *CHOSE* to based on your *JUDGMENTS* based on information that was communicated to you by other *PEOPLE*

          You can keep claiming otherwise, that does not make it true or meaningful. Sorry, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles.



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          LRA

          posted April 2, 2011 at 12:38 pm


          That is to say, you would have to *demonstrate* the truth of any claim that you made about Jesus for it to have any ring of truth.

          Faith =/= truth. Faith =/= confidence in speculation with out any demonstration of said speculation as true.

          If you said “Jesus predates the Ancient Greeks”, I would say, were is your evidence for such a claim?

          The evidence is that Jesus was born around 4 BCE. Any claim as to Jesus’ existence prior to that (in some supernatural realm) is *speculation*.

          That is the point.



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          LRA

          posted April 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm


          Gah! That should read: Faith = confidence…



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          ETS

          posted April 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm


          No the bottom line is that you and I define truth differently.



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          LRA

          posted April 2, 2011 at 7:05 pm


          No, your *speculation* will never count as truth. Period. I don’t care how you twist the definition or meaning of truth, anyone with any kind of logic sense will not agree with you.

          You are basically trying to argue for a truth that allows astrology, crystal healing, new age chiropractic advice, occultism, alchemy, and any other sort of nonsense to be considered as truth.

          Are you really willing to include astrology and alchemy into your definition of truth? If so, you are not only going against Biblical scriptures, but also good epistemological practice.

          Sorry, but you just can’t win this one.



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          ETS

          posted April 2, 2011 at 7:09 pm


          There you go again thinking you have a monopoly on logic and speaking for the masses. I’m so glad you’re not God. Not to me, at least.

          And you’re right. I don’t win this one. He already did.



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          LRA

          posted April 3, 2011 at 3:46 am


          Well, if you are satisfied with being non-sensical, so be it. Words have meaning, despite what you are arguing. I’m not speaking for the masses, I’m stating that words have meanings for a reason… they communicate ideas.

          To say that “truth” is your unverifiable claim is non-sensical and makes the word “truth” meaningless. Truth may as well equal drivel. That’s just silly.



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          ETS

          posted April 3, 2011 at 8:08 am


          I promise you that I am MORE than satisfied with being nonsensical in your eyes and according to your definitions of sense, truth, logic, reason and identity – which I realize that you recognize as THE definitions.

          A logical wrap-up of this conversation would allow one to see that these two people have different definitions/understandings of truth. LRA has a problem with ETS thinking there is any other definition for truth than the one she follows, as she believes that it is a definition accepted by the powers that be. ETS understands – and expects – LRA to think the way she does, but disagrees with it.



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          LRA

          posted April 3, 2011 at 10:39 pm


          Well, I’ve decided that my truth is that the sky is not actually blue on a clear, sunny day, but rather is it actually magenta with fluorescent green polka dots.

          How dare you question my version of truth!!! You think you have the truth, but you are just a meanie who can’t stand the thought of anyone else questioning the “sky is blue on a clear day” tyranny!!!

          Well, my “God” tells me that the sky is magenta with fluorescent green polka dots, so that is what I’m going to believe!

          My “truth” is THE TRUTH.



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          ETS

          posted April 3, 2011 at 10:46 pm


          How dare I question your truth, but you can question mine?!

          WOW.

          :D



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          LRA

          posted April 3, 2011 at 10:57 pm


          OH COME ON!

          Seriously!

          You know that such a claim is ridiculous!

          We can all see that the sky is blue on a clear day (with the very, very rare exception of people with achromatomia).

          That is the point.

          If your “truth” isn’t verifiable, the it just ISN’T truth. The word “verifiable” has the Latin word for truth (veritas) in it…

          Think about it. Please.



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          Bob Chapman

          posted April 3, 2011 at 11:59 pm


          There are facts. There is truth.

          Then there is the perception of the facts and truth that each of us have.

          At one time accepting the existence of phlogiston was scientific truth. That is, until someone found out more. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phlogiston_theory

          Sir Isaac Newton assumed mass was a constant, and he started the field of mechanics in Physics and was one of the developers of Calculus. Another developers of Calculus, Leonhard Euler said mass wasn’t a constant, and wasn’t able to develop mechanics the way Newton did. Today we know that Newton was wrong about mass being a constant.

          It is hard to say what fact or truth of today require modification as we learn more.

          So, while the truth is out there, we see it darkly through a frosted glass.



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          LRA

          posted April 4, 2011 at 8:29 am


          I totally agree. We do the best we can with the evidence we have. At no point, however, can we ask questions like “Is there a creator God” and rather than appropriately answering “I don’t know” just start making stuff up.

          Truth is a philosophical concept (epistemology, philosophy of language), while facts are scientific.

          The point is that saying something like, “There is a creator God who lived for a time on Earth in fleshly form and his name was Jesus” has no more going for it than “There is a creator God who lived for a time on Earth in fleshly form and his name was Krishna.”

          Neither statement is verifiable. Is either statement truth? One might be. Both might be. Neither might be.

          We have no way to know. That is the point. So when someone claims the former to be true and the latter to be false, I ask, “On what basis?” If the answer is “because I say so (faith)”, that is not only not a basis for the establishment of the veracity of the statement, but also it is, in fact, a *speculation* on the person’s part, and that has been my point all along.

          Faith is *speculation*. It is a guess. It is assuming something to be true without verification of it.

          Faith is *not* truth. If that was the case then everybody’s faith would be “true”, whether they believed in Jesus, Krishna, or Amateratsu.



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          Lee Bailey

          posted April 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm


          Your sin might be temporary, but you are sinning against an eternal God who justly sends anyone who has even one sin to hell.

          “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point, he has become guilty of all” Jas 2:10

          We all deserve to perish and be thrown out with weeping and gnashing of teeth. Read through the gospels and check your heart towards Christ’s powerful speech. No one deserves God ever. WIthout faith in Christ by hearing the word and being granted repentance, we cannot be saved because we will not have faith. Rom 1:17, 10:17 2Tim2:24



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        Matthew Paul Turner

        posted March 31, 2011 at 7:15 am


        We do not decide who and what God is. God decides who and what we are.
        Then I suppose that ends this discussion. Let’s go home.



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          ETS

          posted March 31, 2011 at 9:07 am


          It really should, but it won’t. That truth didn’t end the discussion before Christ came, when He came, after He left and it hasn’t ended it now.



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          LRA

          posted March 31, 2011 at 10:20 am


          Truth? How do you have the truth? You have only speculation.

          If you have the truth, then you ought to be able to verify it.

          Where is your verification of said “truth”?



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          ETS

          posted March 31, 2011 at 10:40 am


          I have the faith that Christ is the truth.

          How do you have the ‘truth’ that what I have isn’t true? ;)



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          LRA

          posted March 31, 2011 at 10:57 am


          I don’t. I have skepticism.



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          ETS

          posted April 2, 2011 at 9:50 am


          I can respect that.



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        Shane

        posted March 31, 2011 at 7:19 am


        A Calvinist’s clusterfuck…



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Kevin

posted March 31, 2011 at 9:04 am


Why does it have to be so angry?

I was reading in ACt 10 yesterday. Peter has just realized that God is actually working even if Peter was not present. When he show up to share Jesus with Cornelius he realizes that God was already talking with him. He makes this observation in 10:34-35

“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is WELCOME to Him.”

… by one who is more authoritative than Driscoll and doesn’t need to yell to be taken seriously … the Apostle Peter



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Kevin

posted March 31, 2011 at 10:33 am


blah, blah, blah to this string of conversation



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Steffanie

posted March 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm


It is just sad, when people take parts of the Bible to defend their point. Read it as a whole before you start reacting on anything. Yes, God is a god of love, but indeed God is also a god of wrath.

He loves everyone, and of course doesn’t desire to condemn us. He wants us to be with Him. Why do you think He gave His only Son?
People chose to be condemned. God never condemns us. We condemn ourselves. But every single verse in the Bible is God-breathe.. Every single word is Truth… How can you explain to me “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one else comes to the Father, except through me.”

Are we just going to ignore that? And make the Bible user-friendly? I don’t know about you guys. But I am after the Truth.



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    Todd

    posted April 1, 2011 at 6:35 am


    I, as I am sure Rob Bell and many other theologians, have read the entire Bible several times over. Rob Bell addresses the relevant Biblical passages regarding Heaven and Hell and exegetes them responsibly in light of accurate socio-political, historical and religious contexts. He also brought in the language differences between Hebrew/Greek and English.

    To read the Bible and ignore those other aspects will inevitably lead to a very skewed and confused view of the bible. Eternity does not mean forever in the ancient Jewish world. So, as Rob Bell accurately points out, when we see “eternal” punishment, it does not denote a linear and endless period of time, but rather an period, era, age of intense experience.

    If you read the book, and I hope you did, you will see that Rob Bell does not deny Hell, Heaven or the wrath of God. He AFFIRMS their existence. His interpretation is completely Orthodox. Look up Clement of Alexandria. He was one of the persecuted, early church Fathers. Rob Bell is doing nothing new here, rather, he is pointing his readers to an older, more ancient way of understanding the Biblical texts than the current way, newer way.

    The ancient world thought cyclically, not in the Western logical/linear way that we do. Jesus’ stories, as do all of the Biblical stories, work in circles. It is a different way of thinking and approaching the understanding of texts. For instance, people start off in a covenantal relationship with God. They forget said relationship and start distancing themselves from God. God’s wrath/judgment fall upon such people…they in fact have brought such wrath/judgment upon themselves. But do any of the stories end there? No. God leads them through their own consequential condemnation back to living in a covenantal relationship with God. They have come back, full circle.

    This happens over and over and over again in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, including Revelation. God’s wrath and judgment is restorative, not punitive. Punitive wrath/judgment serves no point but to exact vengeful justice upon the offenders. But we all know that we are all offenders, even as “SAVED” Christians. God’s wrath to us as parental punishment is to our children. It serves a purpose to restoration and reconciliation.

    That’s Rob Bell’s point. As Bell says, we can, and people often do, choose Hell over God. And God gives us what we want. If we want Hell, we get Hell. Rob Bell is very clear on this. But to say that Hell is “forever”, a word never used in Jesus never used when speaking of Hell, is quite not Biblically founded. It just isn’t. Eternal was never understood that way by Jesus, his contemporaries or his predecessors.

    Thus, it is not about wanting a nicer Bible, or more user-friendly message, it’s about understanding the Bible in a theologically responsible way that takes into account the socio-economical, historical, language, and religious contexts so to come to a closer and more accurate reading and interpretation of Scripture. That is what Rob Bell is doing, and for him to be called a heretic and outed for doing it says a lot about some of today’s “Biblical” teachers.



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      Rachel Perry

      posted April 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm


      Hi, thanks for your post. I found it very informative. I have a question…just out of curiosity because I am not familiar with this view of eternal not being understood in biblical times as synonymous with forever. What, if anything does this change about the notion of eternal life (in Heaven, for instance?) Thanks in advance.



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Nate

posted April 2, 2011 at 4:32 am


Can I add something I believe you are missing in your Theology?

1. God NEVER “leaves” as you submitted 99 for 1. The word says he shall NEVER “leave nor forsake” us. Christians, Non-Christians and All! WE choose to leave him.

2. I believe with this whole Emergent Church movement, Christians, Non-Believers and all are looking to try to “understand” God as if we are on some kind of intellectual equal. There are going to be MANY things that NONE of US will EVER understand until we get to Heaven (those who’ve accepted Christ and love as he loved us). LOVE, being probably the greatest commandment he gave, which is the hardest, no doubt.

To love EVERYONE, regardless of who they are. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with their lifestyle or theology. It just means to treat them as you’d expect God/Jesus to treat you!

3. I don’t remember the exact words or vs, but it does plainly/clearly say that FEW will enter the gates of Heaven. The road is narrow and straight! I take the term few as I believe so many others do as the minority of this world. Sad indeed, but those are God’s words. God will spew out of his mouth the luke warm. If I understand that right, then that tells me Christians (luke warm Christians) will also not enter the gates.

I could be misreading your post and what it is you are trying to convey, but I agree with Mr. Driscoll. There are no mean intentions here, but just one who happens to agrees with the video.



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted April 2, 2011 at 10:19 am


    Nate, LONG before Emergent was a church term, Christians not only were trying to “understand God,” many believed they “understood him.”

    Mark Driscoll is one of those kinds of people in my opinion.



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      Nate

      posted April 2, 2011 at 11:45 am


      Can I also add that Jesus doesn’t need new or any PR, but in fact we need Jesus. Jesus doesn’t need anyone to do his will, it WILL be done regardless of the choices we make. 99.9% of the problems on Earth have to do with our FREE will!

      No debating that ;)

      Too many are trying to revolutionize the Bible and add some kind of new spin to it to make it relevant. God doesn’t need his word to become more complicated by error prone humans to add to it. The Bible has become this subjective document kind of like our US Constitution in which everyone wants to put their spin on it. Where has that lead us? Just look at how people twist and turn a law into loopholes!

      I think we need to just approach God with a child like approach. Isn’t that what the Bible says? Let God handle the justice part for those spreading false doctrine. He is the final judge!

      All we do when we right articles criticizing Pastors is cause more confusion for Christians. The Holy Spirit will give us discernment on the truth!



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        Matthew Paul Turner

        posted April 2, 2011 at 11:48 am


        The title of my blog, Nate, is satire.



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        Matthew Paul Turner

        posted April 2, 2011 at 11:49 am


        All we do when we right articles criticizing Pastors is cause more confusion for Christians. The Holy Spirit will give us discernment on the truth!

        Oh and by the way… those two sentences contradict each other.



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          Nate

          posted April 2, 2011 at 11:58 am


          Didn’t realize you were a Pastor, and I didn’t write an article, just a response ;)



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          Matthew Paul Turner

          posted April 2, 2011 at 12:45 pm


          I have no idea what you’re talking about, Nate.

          Uh…

          ;)?



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        Bob Chapman

        posted April 2, 2011 at 11:55 am


        “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” 1 Corinthians 13:11

        Oh, you foolish Internet Denizens!



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Kevin Burge

posted April 4, 2011 at 9:00 am


I do not know Mark Driscoll, though I did listen to his sermon.

How can anyone study the Bible and come away with a conclusion other than that salvation is through Jesus alone through faith in Jesus, alone?

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know *you* _the only true God_, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Mark 8:38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of *MY WORDS* in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

The God of the Bible has consistently demonstrated a concern for His name, in both Old and New testaments, that the men of this world would identify Him and glorify Him, by His name, in connection with the works and doctrines (teachings) attributed to His name, so that He could not be mistaken for the false gods of this world, which are the inventions of man.

Nobody who dies believing in “Allah” or “Buddah” will be saved, as if these names are simply another name by which we know the Christian God, another “face” of the same mountain; as if there are not a mountain of contradictions in the teachings of these false gods.

Read the Bible, and consider how often this phrase is repeated: “and they shall know that I am the LORD” (many times)?

Of Jesus, the Bible says:

Phil 2:9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him *the name that is above every name*, 10 SO THAT at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

How can we glorify and honor God as God, if we do not acknowledge Him as the God of the Bible, the Only True God. Paul spoke of men who acknowledge “an unknown God” (unnamed) or simply a “Supreme Being”. They will not be saved through this acknowledgement.

Rom 1:20-21 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, *have been clearly perceived*, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 *For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him*, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

The God of the Bible has clearly revealed Himself. Whoever does not acknowledge the God of the Bible as the one true God, has denied him, whether they acknowledge that there is a god, or not. This is not unreasonable.

It as though some think that “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” could be simply fulfilled by loving SOME indiscriminate supreme being (whose teachings wholly contradict the Bible).

Try telling your wives and husbands that you love woman or man, and see if that satisfies them, or if they are offended.

Men will spend their entire lives “making a name for themselves” (a vain effort, here used for illustration). Would you feel honored if men honored other men for the things you said or did? Which of you has not felt maligned when another takes credit for your labors? Can we die maligning God and hope to live?

Rev 22:3-4 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4They will see his face, and *his name* will be on their foreheads.



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    Bob Chapman

    posted April 4, 2011 at 5:18 pm


    Paul says it so much better than I can in Romans 2 (NRSV):

    Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things….Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?…

    All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.

    Paul says it right there in the last paragraph. It has nothing on whether you have heard it, but whether you do it.



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      Kevin Burge

      posted April 5, 2011 at 3:02 pm


      Actually, if you keep reading, it has nothing to do with whether you heard it, or do it, because everyone who does not keep all of the law, is damned. Paul did not say they keep ALL of the law, only that they acknowledge the perfect law of God without having ever heard it, and keep some of it.

      So, you correctly understand that the “the doers of the law will be justified”, but you wrongly assume that those who have not heard the law, actually keep it…….ALL. They keep what law they do have while ultimately “their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them” at the judgement – accuse or excuse what? Their failing to keep the law.

      Gal 2:15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 *yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law* but through faith in Jesus Christ… so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

      So, all religions that have any form of the law of the Christian God, only affirm that God’s perfect law exists, and, if they keep some portion of it, it will be accounted as a form of righteousness to them, but it will not save them.

      Mat 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

      The only saving righteousness is the righteousness of Christ imputed to you through faith in His atoning work (which repudiates our every good work as filth) on the Cross.



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        Bob Chapman

        posted April 5, 2011 at 11:17 pm


        In the first place, to make the point you are trying to make, you have to compare apples to apples. Or, Romans to Romans to get what Paul is saying in Romans.

        Are you trying to say the Epistle to the Romans is a well thought-out, critically reviewed theology text? A book where inconsistencies and wrong world choice would have been handled in the editing?

        Or, was the Epistles to the Romans a text dictated by someone concerned about theology–but was known for running off at the mouth in long, convoluted sentences. (Note that you have to jump to Galatians to help your proof.)

        I have no doubt that Paul, in general and particularly in Romans, believed everything depends on the grace of Jesus Christ. At the same time, Paul said continually to behave, as it is in our behavior we show that we show our salvation.

        Those gentiles, a law into themselves, were showing God at work in them. Are you having trouble with this translation: “…their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.” To repeat, Paul said “…will accuse or perhaps excuse them…”. Both options are there.

        If you are writing a text on Christian soteriology, you will (of course) take everything what Paul wrote into account, as well as all the other Biblical writers. Even so, you have to be careful not to build your soteriological system with bits an pieces from all the books at the same time. Those bits and pieces weren’t meant to be used together like that.

        I would be like trying to build a single mash-up car with individual pieces from GM, Ford, Chyrsler, Toyota, Nissan, and Kia. It is better to take complete cars from all of those manufacturers to define in general what it means to be a car.



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          Kevin Burge

          posted April 7, 2011 at 7:33 am


          While I agree that it’s best to look within the immediate context to determine the intent of a passage, I don’t really have any problem at all with quoting from multiple texts to demonstrate a consistent thought in Scripture. It’s not like the apostles did not do this very thing when quoting the Old Testament, even in the same breath. Peter says,

          Acts 1:20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,

          “‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’;

          and

          “‘Let another take his office.’

          Acts 1:20 contains two quotes from two different Psalms used to justify no small matter: who would stand in Judas’ place as the twelfth apostle. What ultimately matters is whether the scriptures quoted uphold the Truth, not whether it conforms to your hermeneutic method.

          As for whether Romans is well-thought out, and critically reviewed: I am not the judge of that. If we must pick and choose the parts of scripture that are authoritative, acting as Editors of the text, then the whole lot is worthless (for any concrete purpose), because we have no standard by which to judge between what you say is authoritative, and what I say is authoritative, and what we end up with is a akin to a highly trafficked crime scene where the evidence points no conclusive direction at all — a road to nowhere; where all that we CAN DO is “whatever is right in our own eyes”, that frequently repeated condemnation of man.

          If we must sit as editors of the Bible, then each one of us is the purveyour and first apostle of our own religion, no matter how much we borrow from others, nor how many people follow us. Each man is the author and finisher of his own faith; and when you die, your religion dies with you, either totally forgotten or left to others to reinvent in their own image.

          So, as to whether the Bible can be trusted as a reliable, objective standard of absolute Truth: this is neither the time, nor place, to discuss such things. I say this, fully expecting to die with unanswered Bible questions.

          To live without the some tangible authority external to me, I cannot imagine.

          1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life — the life was made manifest…

          Regarding the Gentiles of Romans 2: Paul no where says that the Gentiles actually keep (all) the law. As to their conflicting thoughts “excusing” them at the judgement: do not take “excuse” to mean “justify”. Yes, they will be making excuses based on their performance of their law when they are judged, just like those in Mat 7:22. Paul is not suggesting they will be justified and enter into life.

          To answer your objection again, in the context of Romans, Paul says this a few verses later:

          Romans 3:9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, *both Jews and Greeks*, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

          “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

          18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
          19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

          You have rightly said that the Gentiles “are a law unto themselves”, and it is by this law, that they too have knowledge of sin; therefore everyone is without excuse. So, whether Gentiles walk after a semblance of the law, or not, makes no difference at the judgement, because the righteousness that saves is not through any observance of the law:

          Rom 3:22 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law… the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.



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          Lee Bailey

          posted April 14, 2011 at 2:54 pm


          I believe that what you’re saying is absolutely true, but in Rom 3 Paul says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. He is saying that no one kept the law. “because by the works of the law no flesh will be justified in His sigh, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.” This gives a clear reason as to why we have the law. Then he says that the righteousness of God s through faith in Jesus Christ for all thos who believe, for there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” He says that Jesus is displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.” How can someone believe if they have not heard? I wholeheartedly believe that if someone perfectly keeps the law, they would be made righteous, but Paul says that person, other than Jesus, does not exist. Was not even Noah only made righteous because God had favor (hebrew for grace) upon him a verse earlier and right after Moses says no one is righteous?
          “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness” Please do not look at half the picture, because the only true works I have ever seen in my life come from having a peace that because Christ has died for my sins and revealed God to me on HIS OWN, I now am given a freedom from sin and CAN LIVE TO RIGHTEOUSNESS. I am still not perfect, but I see God grant me repentance often, and it is OUR CALL as BELIEVERS to take the gospel to those who only know of the law that has been revealed to them so that they would have no excuse and would be justly sent to Hell. I am not better than any of them. So since we have freely given can we not GO and TELL THEM who are far less fortunate. To be truly blessed is to be given faith that Christ has done EVEYRTHING for our righteousness by GIVING us faith and repentance (2 Tim2:24) and TO PASS THIS ON IS THE BLESSING.

          Rom 10:14 “how then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?”

          10:17 “Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ”



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Joshua Wypij

posted April 5, 2011 at 9:49 pm


It seems to me that there are people to emphasize so much on the GRACE that Jesus had… and not the truth… (john 1:17)
But honestly.. it’s a balance..

Too much truth and no grace = fundamentalists

the opposite is just as bad.



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Dave

posted April 6, 2011 at 10:17 pm


I feel like he forgot to say “Let’s tell them that Jesus loves them”.
I don’t know. I think that’s kind of important when speaking of Jesus.



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Griffin

posted April 26, 2011 at 9:25 pm


I think the best thing we can do in this discussion is to put our hands over our ears while reading the book of Romans and scream as loud as we can. Especially chapters 9. 11. 1. 2. 3.



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Is California Psychics Legit?

posted July 11, 2014 at 4:33 pm


Keep quiet and wait around during your session. However, the Loss of life card has numerous meanings,
some of them positive. Even so, if you want to make a distinction this is a good time to make an effort to get
in form.



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