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Our Eternal Destiny: A Discussion about Universalism – Audio

Here is the audio from last month’s panel discussion between Joe Fleener and Bryan Winters on universalism and the Christian understanding of salvation:

[pk_icon_link icon=”download” icon_type=”dark”]Our Eternal Destiny: A Discussion about Universalism[/pk_icon_link] (please right click and save as)

The exchange took place at Bethlehem Community Church, Tauranga, with Bryan defending universalism and Joe defending the traditional Christian approach.

Special thanks to Rodney for organizing the audio. If you would like information on how to get a copy of the dvd, please contact him.

More about the speakers:

Bryan Winters has an Honours degree in Geography and Economics and has been a school teacher in New Zealand, West Africa and London. He now works in IT sales and consulting where he has worked in Australia, Singapore and New Zealand.

Joe Fleener holds a Masters of Divinity and has served as a fulltime Bible College lecturer in New Zealand in the areas of Old Testament, Church History, Apologetics, Christian Worldview and Ethics before entering his current role as Associate Pastor of Howick Baptist Church in Auckland. He blogs at the Kiwifruit Blog and you can follow him on twitter at @jfleener5.

The Difference Between Old Testament War and Qur’anic Jihad

Imad Shehadeh (Professor of Theology at Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary) puts forward several reasons why we should distinguish God’s OT command to kill the Canaanites from qur’anic Jihad:

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  1. It is limited to one time, not all times.
  2. It is limited to one land, not all lands. It judges sin to fulfill prophecy, not to adhere to a religion.
  3. It shows God’s holiness, not his power. Its goal is to bless the whole earth, not subdue it. It is God fighting for his people, not the people fighting for God.
  4. It is according to God’s trustworthy nature, not according to a capricious nature.
  5. It prefigures God finally absorbing the deserved judgment and wrath on all nations in Christ’s death on the cross. Judgment deserved became judgment absorbed.[/pk_box]

From his review of Allah: A Christian Response (Themelios Volume 36, Issue 2, Aug 2011).

 

Should Christians dislike the doctrine of hell?

Some wise counsel from Kevin DeYoung:

“It’s never safe to dislike the truths God has revealed. We should actually like what the Bible teaches. We may struggle to get there–we may not immediately resonate with the hard parts of the Bible–but the goal is to get to the place where we can. The law of the Lord should be our delight. We should tremble under the word of God, not begrudgingly accept it. Hell is a hard doctrine to embrace, but God sends people to hell for his glory…”

“…God is good and his ways are always right. It is a measure of our maturity that we not only affirm the truth of God’s word but rest in the goodness and rightness of it. Christians should have anguish in heart at the thought of eternal suffering, but we should also see the glory of God in the Bible’s teaching on eternal punishment.”

Read the whole thing here.

What Does Jesus Save Us From?

In this video, Douglas Wilson talks about the human predicament and why we need a saviour.

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How Pat Robertson was wrong and right

At a time when the world should be focused on the tragedy of the Haiti earthquake and how we can best help the people of the Carribbean nation, Pat Robertson’s insensitive comments are an unwelcome distraction. If he wasn’t so well-known, Pat Robertson could be easily dismissed. Instead, his claim that the Haitian earthquake was a result of a Satanic pact has caused Christians to both cringe and join in the outrage of others. If you haven’t heard, Robertson’s comments came on the Christian Broadcasting Network, where he explained to viewers:

…something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it, they were under the heel of the French, uh, you know, Napoleon the third and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil, they said, we will serve you, if you get us free from the Prince, true story. And so the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free, and ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor. . . the Island of Hispaniola is one island cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is, is, prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty, same Islands, uh, they need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I’m optimistic something good may come, but right now we’re helping the suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable.

Robertson has made many injudicious statements in the past, but this has to be his most stupid. It is a difficult thing to read into God’s intentions concerning specific disasters and it is never acceptable for us to pronounce why God has done something unless He has actually already told us. While the Bible reveals that God has often judged nations in the past, and has used natural disasters to implement that judgment, it does not follow that every natural disaster is an instance of His judgment. Our understanding of these events should be set in the context of Jesus’ response in Luke 13:

“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5 ESV).

Suffering should remind us of our own self-centeredness and finitude, and force us to reconsider our theology by the cold light of reality. John Mark Reynolds also makes some good points about the appropriateness of Robertson’s comments:

Robertson has been inhuman in two ways.

First, even if he were right, he has picked a horrid time to pontificate. When my friends is suffering from cancer, even if it is his fault, it is the wrong time to remind him that I told him he should have stopped smoking. It is ugly and useless.

Heal the sick, bury the dead, feed the hungry and then deal with root spiritual causes. Safe to say every nation, and Haiti is surely one, has made philosophical and practical decisions that help cause tragedy. We can talk about that when the people of Haiti have been helped by the Church.

Second, even if his theology were sound, he has stated it in such a way and at such a time that it will be misunderstood and will be mocked. He has pronounced a “truth” that (he must concede) would be hard for our culture to hear in a way and at a time that brings that “truth” into derision.

If Robertson were right in his theology and philosophy, his timing has fed his pearls to swine on a silver platter.

Recently Robertson faced major health problems and rightly asked for our prayers. It would have been wrong to be facile and associate his problems with sin. Robertson should grant the people of Haiti the same treatment that he demanded in the case of his illness. (HT: JT)

Melinda on the Stand to Reason blog also makes the important point that for all the ridicule that Robertson is receiving we should not ignore the fact that he is not wrong to remind us of the real-world consequences to religious beliefs. She writes,  “The consequences not only affect our lives now, but also have eternal consequences.  Religion is real and the choice is serious”. Melinda goes on:

“Pat Robertson had no grounds to claim he knew the earthquake was God’s judgment on the Haitians for voodoo.  He was right to point out that practicing voodoo is evil and results in a curse, as do all false religions.  People are truly lost when they follow a lie, and are truly saved when they follow the truth.  There are consequences to practicing false religion because the spiritual world is real.”

Proclaiming what God has done in space and time

This is why those churches that have banished pulpits or are “getting beyond” the truth question are going beyond Christianity itself. The proclamation of the New Testament is about truth, about the truth that Christ who was with the Father from all eternity entered our own time. As such he lived within it, his life, like ours, marked by days and weeks and years. He lived in virtue of his unity with the Father, living for him, living as the representation of his own people before the Father, his very words becoming the means of divine judgment and of divine grace. But in the cross and resurrection the entire spiritual order was upended, his victory reached into and across the universe, and saving grace is now personalized in him. The world with all its pleasures, power, and comforts is fading away. The pall of divine judgment hangs over it. A new order has arisen in Christ. Only in this new order can be found meaning, hope and acceptance with God.It was truth, not private spirituality, that apostolic Christianity was about. It was Christ, not the self, who offered access into the sacred. It was Christ, with all his painful demands of obedience, not comfortable country clubs, that early Christianity was about. What God had done in space and time when the world was stood on its head was Christianity’s preoccupation, not the multiplication of programs, strobe lights, and slick drama. Images we may way, entertainment we may desire, but it is the proclamation of Christ crucified and risen that is the church’s truth to tell.

David Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant, (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008).