Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How Could I Be Happy in Heaven With a Loved One in Hell?

Revealing Randal Rauser's identity in the previous post led me to read one of his articles, How Could I Be Happy in Heaven with a Loved One in Hell?.  A difficult question to be sure.  It has led many of us to be "hopeful Univeralists," people who don't assert that Univeralism - the doctrine that all people will be saved - is true, but hope that it is true.

But what if it turns out that Universalism is false, and that some people, including some of our loved ones, spend eternity in Hell?  How could I, assuming I was one of the lucky ones, be happy in Heaven?

In the final book of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle, author C.S. Lewis offered what might be a possible solution.  A group of dwarves, who were thrown into a small hut and presumably died, are now alive in Aslan's country (Heaven), but believe that they are still in the small, dark, dirty hut.  All efforts to convince them that they are not in the hut but actually in Aslan's beautiful country prove fruitless.  Eventually giving up and leaving the dwarves squatting in a small, grumbling group, people move further up and further into Aslan's country to enjoy all it has to offer.  They are happy, even though the dwarves are miserable.

Now what if, instead of dwarves, it had been someone's close relative, such as the children's sister, Susan?  Could they happily have moved on, leaving her in misery?  I suspect yes, since her misery would be self-inflicted.  All the dwarves and Susan would have to do is admit they were wrong, and Aslan's country awaited them.  Their stubborn refusal to admit they were wrong is no reason to deny happiness to others, even if they are close relatives who still continue to love the ones in misery.

So if Hell is such a place as described in The Last Battle, where the door is locked from the inside and could always be opened if the person were willing to admit they were wrong, then I think we could understand how people could still be happy in Heaven, even if those in Hell were loved ones.  And if it is true that in Heaven we will be made perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, then all will be loved by all of us, wherever they are.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Is C. Baxter Kruger a Heretic?

A fellowship that I used to attend has had a recent division over the teachings of  C. Baxter Kruger.  I read one of his books, most of which I enjoyed, but some of which gave me problems.  So I wrote to a professor of theology,  Randal Rauser, and asked him about the man.  His reply:

I've never heard of Baxter Kruger. However a 1 minute search shows that he has a book published with Regent College Publishing (my old alma mater) and the book has an introduction by Alan Torrance (Alan is a pillar of Scottish Presbyterian orthodoxy; I know him and he was one of the examiners for my PhD defense). In addition, Kruger studied under James Torrance (father or uncle of Alan; I forget which). James is another pillar of Presbyterian orthodoxy. 

In short, based on a 1 minute review I believe Kruger appears to be a solid theologian as I trust Regent College, Alan Torrance and James Torrance. If your acquaintances have specific charges that are documented, I'd take a look at them. 

I would say the burden of proof is on those who claim that Kruger holds heretical views.

UPDATE:  In a further email exchange, I mentioned that the main concern seemed to center around Kruger's views of the Atonement.  He replied:

As for penal substitution, the church corporate has never settled on a universally binding account of atonement to parallel the Trinity (Constantinople, 381) and incarnation (Chalcedon, 451). So I think your friends have a narrow (and incorrect) view of what constitutes orthodoxy and heresy. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Take a Bow, Eddie Current

When you go to all that trouble to fake a video, you deserve an encore, even if it's three years later.

Is This Video and Audio Proof of Explosions in WTC 7? On Second Thought, Probably Not.

If this isn't a doctored video -- and it doesn't appear to be doctored to me -- then we now have
 video and audio proof of explosions in WTC 7 just before its collapse.

UPDATE:  This site claims it's a fake, which would explain why the 9/11 Truth movement hasn't been using it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why Ebola Probably Never Will Go Airborne

My curiosity has at least been temporarily satisfied.  A Nature article (from Scientific American) explains that right now Ebola enters the body through cracks in the skin, or fluid  around the eyes, nose, or mouth.  But it doesn't have the proteins needed to form attachments to respiratory cells.

Now I'm wondering if we're seeing an admission by most of the experts that there is an edge to evolution.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Are Experts Worried that Ebola Could Become Airborne?

From this New York Times article:

 Officials said medical experts in the government were genuinely worried about the possibility of a mutation that could turn the virus into a more contagious sickness that could threaten the United States.

I'm not sure what "a more contagious sickness" would mean, other than one that became airborne.  Can anyone think of an alternative meaning?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

If Ebola Goes Airborne...

...The more people who are infected with the current strain of Ebola, the more opportunities it has to mutate into a form that is infectious in the air.  This article estimates that 1.2 million people will die if that happens. I strongly suspect that the number of deaths will be far greater. Currently, there are over 4,200 cases of infections, and over 2,400 known deaths.

UPDATE:  And according to  this article, we could get to one million patients in 18 weeks or less, even if it doesn't go airborne.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Gentile Rejection of Jesus

There's a story in the New Testament about Jesus traveling to a region known as the Decapolis.
I never bothered to find out what "Decapolis" referred to until today.  It was a region just to the east of Israel where ten cities were established after the conquest of Alexander the Great.  They were mostly gentile cities, with Greek colonists.  As  Wikipedia tells us
The New Testament gospels of MatthewMark, and Luke mention that the Decapolis region was a location of the ministry ofJesus. The Decapolis was one of the few regions where Jesus travelled in which Gentiles (people who are not Jewish) were in the majority. Most of Jesus' ministry focused on teaching to Jews. Mark 5:1-10 emphasizes the Decapolis' Gentile character when Jesus encounters a herd of pigs, an animal forbidden by Kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws.

So here's the story in the Gospel of Mark: 
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Ger′asenes.[o] And when he had come out of the boat, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,who lived among the tombs; and no one could bind him any more, even with a chain;for he had often been bound with fetters and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the fetters he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out, and bruising himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him; and crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus[p] asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 And he begged him eagerly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; 12 and they begged him, “Send us to the swine, let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them leave. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
14 The herdsmen fled, and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus, and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it told what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine. 17 And they began to beg Jesus[q] to depart from their neighborhood. 18 And as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But he refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decap′olis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled.  (Mark 5:5-20, RSV)

So the author of the Gospel of Mark seems to make a not so subtle connection between the notorious non-Kosher pig and a place where demons prefer to live if they're exorcised from humans.  And given a choice between having someone who can get rid of demons or losing their means of making a living, the choice was obvious -- "We'll take the pigs." 
Interesting.  UPDATE:  Perhaps I should mention why I find this interesting.  We often hear that the New Testament is an anti-Semitic book, portraying Jews unfavorably, but Gentiles favorably.  Yet here we have a case where Gentiles, or at least those Gentiles who owned the pigs, aren't portrayed in a favorable light.  And given that a connection is made between pigs and demons, a not unfavorable light is cast on the Jews.  Again, interesting. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Let Us Never Forget 9/11...

On the 13th Anniversary of 9/11, let us never forget that the United States is one of many countries known to have used false flag terrorist attacks in the past.  We should ask ourselves if 9/11 was another false flag terrorist attack.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

C.S. Lewis on How the Messiah's Death Saves Us

C. S. Lewis offered his own theory on how Jesus' death saved us, which somone kindly copied here: Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Was the Messiah taking Responsibility for His Creation?

On October 23, 1983   suicide bombers killed 241 U.S. servicemen in Beirut, Lebanon.  There was controversy over why the buildings in which the soldiers were staying weren't better defended.  In December Ronald Reagan said that he took the blame and responsibility for any failures that took place in defending our servicemen, thus effectively ending any effort to assign blame to anyone else.  Even though Reagan probably had nothing to do with the negligence involved in properly defending our soldiers, his taking the responsibility gave the actual culprits a free pass.  As far as I know Reagan never suffered any of the consequences that would normally come from taking the blame for a tragedy of this magnitude.  He didn't resign.  He wasn't impeached and removed from office.  No criminal or civil litigation was ever brought against him.

But I'm not attempting political commentary.  Instead, I'd like to bring attention to the principal to which Reagan was appealing, and that we all accepted.  That principal is the idea that the person with the highest amount of authority has the most responsibility.  It is the same principal that people who don't believe in God use as part of their rationale:  If there is a God, then He is the one ultimately responsible for all the evil and wickedness, and the resultant pain and suffering, that take place in this world.  And perhaps there is something to that. 

I brought up the tragic story of the Beirut bombings because I am wondering if this principal can help us understand the meaning of Jesus' death. The story that followers of Jesus tell is this:  Jesus was the Son of God, who had been the agent that God used to create the universe.  If that story is true, and if our principal is correct, then Jesus was ultimately responsible, or at least co-responsible, for all the evil and wickedness that has taken place in this world.  If so, then should we understand Jesus' death as his admission that he was ultimately responsible for all the wrong that had happened in the world?  And was his death his way of suffering the consequences that should come from admitting that responsibility?   If that is the case, then just as the people under Reagan got a free pass, then are we also being given a free pass?  Is this Jesus' way of telling us, "I've got you covered."  By the way, the word "atonement" in the original Hebrew means "covering."  When followers of Jesus talk about being covered by his blood, is this what they mean?  If so, then this would seem to be very good news, indeed.  We get a free pass from God because his Son has taken the responsibility for all the things that we have done wrong. 

Of course, if the story is true, there is even better news than that.  For the followers of Jesus claim that death could not contain him, and that he rose from the dead on the third day.  And they say that he promises to raise us from the dead and give us eternal life if we will have faith in him and try to obey his commandments.  And they say that his commandments are to love each other the way that he loved us.  If we hurt someone, to make it right.  And if we are hurt, to forgive.  And not to look out for our own welfare, but for the welfare of others.  And they say that just as he was quick to forgive all our past sins, he is quick to forgive all our present failings (of which there will be a multitude).  

So if Ronald Reagan got it right (for once?), maybe we now have insight to what Jesus accomplished long ago.  Worth thinking about. 


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Seeing the Messiah as our Ark

A common view among Christians is that we humans were on trial before God, who demands justice, and who found us guilty, and that Jesus stood in for us and took on the sentence of death in our place.  To many (including me) this sounds a bit quirky.  If we are the guilty ones, why punish somebody innocent in our place?  How does that fulfill justice?

I suspect that a better understanding of how the Messiah's death saves us can be found by considering the story of the flood and Noah's ark.  God's judgment was that our evil world should be destroyed, along with everything evil that is in it.  The means of judgment was a worldwide flood.  The ark was the only thing capable of going through and surviving the flood.  Thus, anyone in the ark was saved. 

If we apply that picture to the Messiah, then he was the only one who can go through the punishment of death and survive.  Anyone "in" him will also go through death and survive.  Thus, the Messiah had to suffer death and be raised from the dead, so that we can be united with him in death and likewise be raised with him to new life.  

But how are we to be united with the Messiah?  Is it only for those who believe in him?  What about the rest of the world, who have never heard of him, or have been raised in a different religion?  Are they to perish?  

There is a difference of opinion among Christians about those questions.  My own view is that those who are trying to live their lives by goodness and justice and mercy, are living by faith in the Messiah, who is the essence of goodness and justice and mercy, whether they know him personally or not.  I suspect that they will find out that they were on the Ark the whole time.  

Meanwhile, those who claim to believe in the Messiah, but do not try to live their lives by goodness and justice and mercy, will find out that they were never on the Ark.  

Oh Lord, help us to live our lives by goodness, justice, and especially mercy, that you will be merciful to us on the last day. 

ADDENDUM:   I need to add that it is only my opinion that that those who try to live their lives by goodness, justice, and mercy will be on the Ark.  There are no words in the New Testament from Jesus or his followers that guarantees that.  I can tell you that if you believe on The Lord Jesus and be baptized and continue trying to follow him, in terms of goodness, justice, and mercy, you will be saved.  If you decide that you will not believe in Jesus, I am not allowed to give you any assurance that you will be saved.

ADDENDUM 2:  If someone said to Noah, "I refuse to get on the Ark, but I try to live the right way," I don't think Noah would have been comfortable telling them they would survive the flood.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Myth of the Gaps

A good post by James F. McGrath on why Jesus-Mythicism is unconvincing:  Myth of the Gaps.

Also read his Mythicist Eisegesis in 1 Corinthians 11.

UPDATE:  And Jonathan Bernier has a post on Mythicism worth reading:  Putting the Myth in Mythicism.