Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross (11)

ancient tombOn this Saturday of the week remembering in a special way our Lord’s passion, we are at that point between Jesus’ death on Friday and His resurrection on Sunday. On Saturday – all day – Jesus lay in the grave in which he was buried on Friday night before sundown. This too belonged to his humiliation and to his experience of the full reality of the consequences of our sin.

For the grave is the place of the dead, the place where the corruption of sin and death work to ravage even our bodies and return us to the dust from which we were originally taken. But worse, the grave (apart from Christ) is also a doorway into eternal death, the place where the sinner is destined to rise unto everlasting separation from God and the suffering of unending torment in the restless “home” of hell. The grave is a fearful place – apart from Christ!

But for Christ, the Victor over death at the cross, the grave is a place not only of humiliation and suffering but also of exaltation and blessedness. Jesus’ tomb is a place of transition, when he – because of His perfect sacrifice for sin on Calvary and His defeat of sin’s penalty (death) at Golgatha – moves from lowliness to exaltedness, from suffering to reward, and from death to life.

O, He is dead and buried alright! He is in the grave, the place of death and corruption! But only for the bare minimum of time according to the Scriptures (three days, only one being a full day)! And even then, death cannot touch Him, for His body experienced no corruption, no breakdown of tissue and decay (Psalm 16:9-11 and Acts 2:29ff.). If we may put it that way, surrounded by death and lying in death, Jesus is alive even in the grave (because He has the victory over death in hand), though on Saturday He has not yet burst forth out of the tomb of Joseph!

And so we, like Jesus did, eagerly await the dawning of the first day of the week. We know what’s coming – like our Lord did – and we cannot wait for Resurrection Sunday!

JesusKeepMeNear-NGuthrieWhile we wait and ponder this time of transition for our Lord, we post once more from the book Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross. Today we quote from chapter 18, which contains an excerpt from J.I.Packer’s Growing in Christ book (Crossway, 1994), where he is treating two phrases from the Apostles’ Creed, under the heading “He Descended Into Hell and Ascended Into Heaven”. I quote from the beginning of Guthrie’s selection of material:

Death has been called ‘the new obscenity’, the nasty thing that no polite person nowadays will talk about in public. But death, even when unmentionable remains inescapable. The one sure fact of life is that one day, with or without warning, quietly or painfully, it is going to stop. How will I, then, cope with death when my turn comes?

Christians hold that the Jesus of the Scriptures is alive, and that those who know him as Savior, Lord, and Friend find in this knowledge a way through all life’s problems, dying included. For ‘Christ leads me through no darker rooms than he went through before.’ Having tasted death himself, he can support us while we taste it, and carry us through the great change to share the life beyond death into which he himself has passed. Death without Christ is ‘the king of terrors,’ but death with Christ loses the ‘sting,’ the power to hurt, which it otherwise would have.

John Preston, the Puritan, knew this. When he lay dying, they asked him if he feared death, now that it was so close. “No,’ whispered Preston; ‘I shall change my place, but I shall not change my company.’ As if to say: I shall leave my friends, but not my Friend, for he will never leave me.

This is victory – victory over death, and the fear it brings (pp.105-06).

And then a little later Packer writes:

Suppose that Jesus, having died on the cross, had stayed dead. Suppose that, like Socrates or Confucius, he was now no more than a beautiful memory. Would it matter? We should still have his example and teaching; wouldn’t they be enough?

Had Jesus not risen, but stayed dead, the bottom would drop out of Christianity, for four things would then be true.

First, to quote Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:17: ‘If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.’

Second, there is then no hope of our rising either; we must expect to stay dead, too.

Third, if Jesus Christ is not risen, then he is not reigning and will not return, and every single item in the Creed after ‘suffered and was buried’ will have to be struck out.

Fourth, Christianity cannot be what the first Christians thought it was – fellowship with a living Lord who is identical with the Jesus of the Gospels. The Jesus of the Gospels can still be your hero, but he cannot be your Savior (pp.107-08).

All good food for thought as we got through this “transition” day between Good Friday and Easter.

Eich Is Out. So Is Tolerance.

Eich Is Out. So Is Tolerance..

MoxFirefoxpicThis is another of those stories that will make you realize how intolerant and antagonistic our society has become toward those who support traditional marriage (Biblical, i.e., God-ordained and defined). This news item broke this week and it is just one more indicator of the fact that the pro-homosexual, anti-Christian crowd, for all its talk of tolerance and freedom, really only wants this for itself, not for those who stand for and support traditional values.

The fact that this man’s contribution “got out” because of an IRS leak only makes one more upset. With the continued slide into moral decay on the part of our country goes loss of freedom and privacy. We may expect more of this in the future. Signs of the times, these things are. Signs of Christ’s return – for judgment (on the impenitent) and salvation (for penitent believers). May our hope be fixed on that great day.

Here’s the story as posted April 3, 2014 at “The Foundry” (Heritage Foundation) – read the rest at the link above:

Mozilla Corp. co-founder Brendan Eich has resigned as CEO after a week of public pressure stemming from a campaign contribution he made six years ago. Eich supported the wrong cause; he supported California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

For some who favor the redefinition of marriage, tolerance appears to have been a useful rhetorical device along the way to eliminating dissent.

Eich, on the other hand, seems to have been quite tolerant. As Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker, commenting on the development, said of  Eich’s 15 years at Mozilla:

I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from him that was not in line with Mozilla’s values of inclusiveness.”

 

The outrageous treatment of Eich  is the result of one private, personal campaign contribution to support marriage as a male-female union, a view affirmed at the time by President Barack Obama, then-Sen.  Hillary Clinton, and countless other prominent officials. After all, Prop 8 passed with the support of 7 million California voters.

C.Trueman on Political Correctness – in the Church!

trueman-fools.inddThe final chapter in Dr.Carl Trueman’s collection of essays titled Fools Rush In Where Monkeys Fear to Tread: Taking Aim at Everyone (P&R, 2012) is also about the use of language and words (see my post of last week). With the heading “Is the Thickness of Two Short Planks a Forgotten Divine Attribute?”, this essay exposes the deceitful and worldly way in which modern Evangelicalism uses language to cover up sin. The two examples he references are sins against the 9th and 7th commandments – lying and adultery – and his treatment of what the church has done with the Biblical language for and definition of these sins will hit you right between the eyes.

There are many good quotes I could pull from this chapter, for Trueman pulls no punches! But I leave you with the last two paragraphs, because they will also help you understand why he chose the title for this essay that he did. Ponder the weight of these words – but especially the weight of God’s Word when He speaks to us about our sin.

Worse still, of course, are the theological implications: to think that I am an idiot is one thing. Many have done that; it’s not unusual and, sadly, I am sure there is plenty of evidence to suggest that I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer. But these people seem to think they can fool God with their slick talk and sound bites. Yes, believe it or not, they apparently regard themselves as cleverer than their maker. Like Adam and Eve sewing fig leaves together in the Garden, they believe that, if they use the right words, he just won’t notice the reality that lies behind their thin veil of semantic scamology.

In fact, they have squeezed God into a box that is so small he barely has the divine equivalent of two brain cells to rub together. Their a priori theological system has led them to assume God is as thick as two short planks, and that a bit of obfuscatory language and the odd specious euphemism will prevent him from holding them accountable for their lies and the filth of their personal lives.

To consider other human beings to be so stupid as not to see through the flannel about ‘theological leverage’ and ‘sins of relational mobility” (the two terms used in the recent past to refer to sins of lying and adultery respectively -cjt) is patronizing and offensive; but to assume God is a moron, as think as a brick, is frankly, dangerous. Make no mistake: unlike the evangelical and Emergent dupes out there, God is not mocked (pp.220-21).

Creation debate roils Bryan College | World

WORLD | Creation debate roils Bryan College | Daniel James Devine | March 7, 2014.

Creation vs evolutionIn a related story (to the quote posted earlier today) World magazine reported (March 7, 2014) on this significant development at Bryan College, a Christian college in Dayton, TN.

Of particular interest is the fact that the Biologos Foundation of Grand Rapids, MI, an organization leading the way in advancing the cause of theistic evolution, once again enters into the picture.

Here is part of World’s report. Read the rest at the link above.

In 1925, William Jennings Bryan defended a biblical account of the origins of life at the Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tenn. This year, a statement on the origins of life has triggered a crisis at the lawyer’s namesake, Bryan College, an 84-year-old evangelical, nondenominational institution.

Students and faculty at Bryan are upset at a move last month by the school’s board of trustees to “clarify” that the college believes Adam and Eve were historical figures created directly by God. The board says the clarification does not change the school’s historical position on origins. But some at Bryan believe the board’s action was intended to force out professors who may be sympathetic to evolution, and think it was unfair to do so at a time when faculty contracts are due for renewal.

…Bryan College’s Statement of Belief is an eight-point doctrinal statement adopted at the time of the school’s founding in 1930. According to the school’s charter, the belief statement cannot be amended or changed, and trustees, officers, faculty, and staff must affirm it once a year. The fourth point in the statement says the school believes “that the origin of man was by fiat of God in the act of creation as related in the Book of Genesis; that he was created in the image of God; that he sinned and thereby incurred physical and spiritual death.”

Last month, the board of trustees adopted the following “clarification” statement: “We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve. They are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life forms.”

Board Chairman John Haynes told me the clarification is not an amendment to the Statement of Belief, which may not be altered. “We are clarifying one point in the Statement of Belief, which has to do with the creation of Adam and Eve,” he said. “We’re saying this is the intent of that statement.”

Asked why the board felt it was necessary to make such a clarification at this time, Haynes simply said, “There seems to be some question as to the intent of the Statement of Belief. That’s the bottom line.”

An English professor at the school, Whit Jones, said the timing of the clarification had been a “puzzle” to many on faculty, but might have been sparked by recent writings from two of his colleagues: Kenneth Turner, a Bible professor, and Brian Eisenback, an associate professor of biology who graduated from Bryan College in 2002. Together, Turner and Eisenback are writing science education materials under a grant from The BioLogos Foundation, an organization in Grand Rapids, Mich., that promotes theistic evolution.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Creation and Evolution | Reformed Bibliophile

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Creation and Evolution | Reformed Bibliophile.

Yesterday on his books and reading blog Eric Young posted this significant quote from the late Dr. D.Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the historicity of Genesis 1-3 and the importance of this for the rest of Scripture, especially the doctrine of salvation. It certainly does speak to the on-going debate on creation/evolution in Evangelicalism.

I post the first part of the quote here and urge you to read the rest at Eric’s blog. May the “Doctor’s” thoughts also weigh on our hearts and minds and point us to the truth of God’s Word and of the gospel which we must maintain in our day.

DMLloyd-JonesWe accept the biblical teaching with regard to creation and do not base our position upon theories of evolution, whichever particular theory people may choose to advocate. We must assert that we believe in the being of one first man called Adam, and in one first woman called Eve. We reject any notion of a pre- Adamic man because it is contrary to the teaching of the Scripture.

Now someone may ask, Why do you care about this? Is this essential to your doctrine of salvation? Are you not falling into the very error of over-particularization against which you warned us at the beginning? I suggest that I am not, and for these reasons. If we say that we believe the Bible to be the Word of God, we must say that about the whole of the Bible, and when the Bible presents itself to us as history, we must accept it as history. I would contend that the early chapters of Genesis, the first three chapters of Genesis, are given to us as history. We know that there are pictures and symbols in the Bible, and when the Bible uses symbol and parable it indicates that it is doing so, but when it presents something to us in the form of history, it requires us to accept it as history.

We must therefore hold to the vital principle, to which I have referred earlier, of the wholeness and the close interrelationship of every part of the biblical message. The Bible does not merely make statements about salvation. It is a complete whole: it tells you about the origin of the world and of man; it tells you what has happened to him, how he fell and the need of salvation arose, and then it tells you how God provided this salvation and how He began to reveal it in parts and portions. Nothing is so amazing about the Bible as its wholeness, the perfect interrelationship of all the parts. Therefore these early chapters of Genesis with their history play a vital part in the whole doctrine of salvation. Take for instance the argument of the apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Romans 5:12-21. Paul’s whole case is based upon that one man Adam and his one sin, and the contrast with the other one man, the Lord ]esus Christ, and His one great act. You have exactly the same thing in I Corinthians 15; the apostle’s whole argument rests upon the historicity. Indeed, it seems to me that one of the things we have got to assert, these days in particular -and it should always have been asserted- is that our gospel, our faith, is not a teaching; it is not a philosophy; it is primarily a history. . .

Defining Marriage – Joe Carter

Defining Marriage by Joe Carter | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

marriagepic-2Just last night I finally finished reading all the way through my March issue of Tabletalk. The last article in that issue is the above-linked one by Joe Carter, an editor for “The Gospel Coalition”. And it is an excellent article with a clear message on the matter of how we Christians ought to respond to those who are trying to redefine marriage in our current culture.

I believe this is a great followup to my previous post. I quote a part of what Carter wrote here, but encourage you to read the rest the Ligonier link above.

Some Christians may even concede that while the state doesn’t truly have the authority to redefine marriage, we should go along with the legal fiction for the sake of the gospel witness. Although such Christians may have the best of intentions, they are actually subverting the very gospel they want to protect.

In acceding to laws that redefine marriage, they are doing the very opposite of what Jesus calls us to do: they are hating their neighbors, including their gay and lesbian neighbors. You do not love your neighbor by encouraging them to engage in actions that invoke God’s wrath (Ps. 5:4–5; Rom. 1:18). As Christians, we may be required to tolerate ungodly behavior, but the moment we begin to endorse it, we too become suppressors of the truth. You cannot love your neighbor and want to see them excluded from the kingdom of Christ (Eph. 5:5).

What is needed is for the church to have the courage to speak the truth of the gospel: we cannot love our neighbor and tolerate unrepentant rebellion against God. We cannot continue with the “go along to get along” mentality that is leading those we love to destruction. We must speak the Word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31) and accept the fact that those who have fallen away may not ever return. We must choose this day whom we will serve. Will we stand with the only wise God or with the foolish idol-makers of same-sex marriage?

Wheaton Students Protest ‘Train Wreck Conversion’ Speaker’s Ex-Gay Testimony – ChristianityToday.com

Wheaton Students Protest ‘Train Wreck Conversion’ Speaker’s Ex-Gay Testimony | Gleanings | ChristianityToday.com.

marriagepic-1One of the hottest and most serious debates that continues in force in Evangelical circles at present is that relating to homosexuality. We are well-aware of (or should be!) what the unbelieving world world is pressing the church and the Christian community to do on this issue. And we also know how so many Christians and churches have caved in to this pressure and abandoned the clear testimony of Scripture on this sin. And the debate keeps getting closer and closer to us.

A week ago I pointed you to a powerful piece that Rosario C. Butterfield wrote as a followup to a chapel speech she recently gave at Wheaton College. She was responding to protesters who showed up to object to her views following her conversion from the homosexual lifestyle.

Christianity Today also reported on this protest and on the current debate among Evangelicals at present. It is worth your while to hear and see what is going on on Christian campuses today, because our own students are being exposed to these opposing views. And while homosexual supporters remain a minority, they are a very vocal minority, as you know.

Here is part of CT’s report; find all of it at the link above.

A recent student demonstration over a Wheaton College chapel speaker’s testimony on her religious and sexual conversion is the latest marker in the long-running debate over the way evangelical colleges approach sexual identity.

The protest focused on the personal testimony [listen/watch here] of a former leftist lesbian professor whose train-wreck conversion [CT's No. 2 most-read article of 2013] led her to become a pastor’s wife and Christian author.

Students Justin Massey and Jordan-Ashley Barney organized “More Than a Single Story,” the January 31 demonstration where Wheaton students sat on the steps of Edman Chapel and held signs that said “We’re all loved by God,” “This is not a protest,” and “I’m gay and a beloved child of God,” reports The Wheaton Record.

You Are What—and How—You Read: Rosaria Butterfield

You Are What—and How—You Read – The Gospel Coalition Blog.

SecretThoughtsButterfieldConverted lesbian Rosaria Butterfield, whose story and new book I featured here before, penned this amazing and significant article back on Valentine’s Day (Feb.14, 2014) for the Gospel Coalition website. It is a powerful testimony to the grace of God in her heart and life, and a powerful witness to the fruits of reading the right things.

Here is a portion of what she wrote. But please, read all of her article. And may it convict all of us of the truth of what she writes about the powerful effect of reading on our souls and lives. Indeed, you are what – and how – you read!

I just returned from a well-known (and well-heeled) Christian college, where roughly 100 demonstrators gathered on the chapel steps to protest my address on the grounds that my testimony was dangerous. Later that day, I sat down with these beloved students, to listen, to learn, and to grieve. Homosexuality is a sin, but so is homophobia; the snarled composition of our own sin and the sin of others weighs heavily on us all. I came away from that meeting realizing—again—how decisively our reading practices shape our worldview. This may seem a quirky observation, but I know too well the world these students inhabit. I recall its contours and crevices, risks and perils, reading lists and hermeneutical allegiances. You see, I’m culpable. The blood is on my hands. The world of LGBTQ activism on college campuses is the world that I helped create. I was unfaltering in fidelity: the umbrella of equality stretching to embrace my lesbian identity, and the world that emerged from it held salvific potential. I bet my life on it, and I lost.

…Worldview matters. And if we don’t reach back before the 19th century, back to the Bible itself, the Westminster divines, and the Puritans, we will limp along, defeated. Yes, the Holy Spirit gives you a heart of flesh and the mind to understand and love the Lord and his Word. But without good reading practices even this redeemed heart grows flabby, weak, shaky, and ill. You cannot lose your salvation, but you can lose everything else.

…In short, we honor God with our reading diligence. We honor God with our reading sacrifice. If you watch two hours of TV and surf the internet for three, what would happen if you abandoned these habits for reading the Bible and the Puritans? For real. Could the best solution to the sin that enslaves us be just that simple and difficult all at the same time?

The Biblical Evidence for Hell & Special Interview with Jay Adams

TT-Feb2014My Sunday reading included the final feature article in this month’s Tabletalk on the subject of hell. “The Biblical Evidence for Hell” is written by Dr. Christopher W. Morgan, dean and professor of theology at California Baptist University in Riverside, CA. He has also written previously on this subject, including co-editing the book Hell on Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment

In his article Morgan focuses especially on the NT witness to the truth of hell, demonstrating that every NT Bible writer sets forth the reality of hell as a real place where sinners suffer everlasting punishment for sin. When you read his article, you will be left without a shadow of a doubt about the truth concerning hell in the Bible. Man may deny it or try to explain it away, but God has revealed it plainly in His Word. Which is why this solemn doctrine must also be preached. And Dr. Steven Lawson has a piece in this issue on that too, which I recommend (“Preaching the Wrath of God”).

Here is a portion of Morgan’s article; read all of it at the link given above.

Hell in Matthew

In the Sermon on the Mount, often known for its emphasis on love and the kingdom, Jesus teaches the reality and nature of hell (5:20–30; 7:13–27). In Matthew 5:20–30, Jesus contrasts hell with the kingdom of heaven and warns that hell is a real danger to unrepentant sinners. The fire of hell, the justice of hell, and the extreme suffering in hell are particularly stressed. The unrepentant are warned to use extreme measures to avoid being cast into it by God.

As Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount, He contrasts the kingdom of heaven with the horrors of hell (7:13– 27). Jesus cautions that hell is a place of destruction, depicted as the end of a broad road. Hell awaits everyone who does not enter the kingdom of heaven— even those who profess to know Christ but continue in sin. Jesus is Judge and King who personally excludes the wicked from His presence and the kingdom of heaven (“Depart from me,” 7:23). Indeed, those who fail to follow Jesus are like a house built on the sand that ultimately comes crashing down.

Matthew also recounts Jesus’ surprising warning that Jews devoid of faith are in danger of hell, which is portrayed as outside, darkness, and a place of intense suffering (8:10–12). Jesus addresses hell when He commissions His disciples not to fear humans but God alone, “who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (10:28). In Jesus’ parables of the weeds (13:36–43) and the net (vv. 47–50), hell is seen as exclusion/ separation from the kingdom of God, described in terms of fire and is a place of suffering. Jesus later describes hell as a place of “eternal fire” (18:8) and even warns the scribes and Pharisees of hell, characterizing it as inescapable for the unrepentant (23:33).

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JAdams-1One of the other profitable features in the February Tabletalk is the interview feature, this month with Dr.Jay E.Adams, the well-known founder of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation and other nouthetic counseling ministries. The interview is titled “Competent to Counsel”, taken from Adam’s popular work on Biblical counseling.

Below is just a small part of the interview. Through the rest of this interview I encourage you to learn more about this man and his fine counseling work.

Tabletalk: Over the course of your life, what have you found to be your most significant ministry focus? Why?

Jay Adams: As I look back on sixty-plus years of ministry, I suspect that the ministry focus on exegesis has more than anything else been the most significant one. It was my interest from my seminary and college years and has been ever since. That’s why I majored in Greek. I have wanted to know for myself what God’s Word teaches, not what someone else says about it.

Secondarily, I would mention the importance of sound systematic theology. A combination of these two disciplines, in particular, kept me from going off base when I began counseling and began to write about it. Few who have focused on counseling apart from such a background (and such concerns) have been able to maintain a steady, true, doctrinal foundation for doing their “biblical” counseling. This scripturally oriented basis for ministry of all forms is what has made the difference throughout the years.

More on the Defense of Hell – February “Tabletalk”

TT-Feb2014As we noted two weeks ago, the February issue of Tabletalk is devoted to the solemn and sobering subject of hell. Since the doctrine of hell has come under fire throughout the history of the church, and more recently in the modern era, “TT” decided to focus on this Biblical truth and defend it against its attacks.

The second main article in this month’s magazine is by Dr.Robert A. Peterson (professor of systematic theology at Covenant Seminary in St.Louis) and titled “Annihilation or Eternal Punishment”. Dr.Peterson lists and then answers six commonly heard arguments raised against the Bible’s teaching on hell. We ought to know the arguments of the enemies of the gospel, and we ought to know how to answer them from the Scriptures. I recommend you read his article so as to be better informed and better armed. Below is the beginning of Peterson’s article; read the rest at the link provided here.

Annihilationism is the view that lost people in hell will be exterminated after they have paid the penalty for their sins. Its proponents offer six main arguments.

First is an argument based on the Bible’s use of fire imagery to describe hell. We are told that fire consumes what is thrown into it, and so it will be for the lake of fire (Rev. 19:2020:10141521:8)—it will burn up the wicked so that they no longer exist.

Second is an argument based on texts that speak of the lost perishing or being destroyed. Examples include unbelievers perishing (John 3:16) and suffering “the punishment of eternal destruction” (2 Thess. 1:8).

Third is an argument based on the meaning of the word eternal. In hell passages, it is claimed,eternal means only pertaining to “the age to come” and not “everlasting.”

Fourth is an argument based on a distinction between time and eternity. Annihilationists ask: how is it just of God to punish sinners for eternity when their crimes were committed in time?

Fifth is an emotional argument that God Himself and His saints would never enjoy heaven if they knew some human beings (let alone loved ones and friends) were perpetually in hell.

Sixth is an argument that an eternal hell would tarnish God’s victory over evil. Scripture declares that God will be victorious in the end; He will “be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). We are told that this idea seems hard to reconcile with human beings suffering endlessly in hell.

I will answer each of these arguments in turn….

The third feature article, “Hell on Trial”, is penned by English preacher, teacher, and apologist Dr.John Blanchard. This is also the title of a major work of his on the doctrine of hell. I give you here the opening of his article too,a nd encourage you to read the rest at the link provided.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930), the Scottish physician and author best known for his creation of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, once wrote, “Hell, I may say … has long dropped out of the thoughts of every reasonable man.” He would get a lot of support for that statement today, and not only from those outside of the Christian church. The idea that untold billions of human beings, including many who would have seemed decent, law-abiding citizens, will spend eternity exposed to God’s unrelenting anger, is simply unacceptable to many people. Even some holding high ecclesiastical office have rejected the idea. John Robinson (1919–1983) the liberal bishop of Woolwich, whose book Honest to God reduced the Creator to “the Ground of Being,” said of the idea, “[God] cannot endure that … and he will not.”

By far the most persistent attack on hell comes in the form of a question: how can a God of love send anyone to hell? The British philosopher and theologian John Hick (1922–2012) argued that hell was “totally incompatible with the idea of God as infinite love.” The argument here is perfectly straightforward: sending people to hell is not a loving thing to do, so a God of love could never do it. How do we answer that?

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