Friday, March 30, 2007

Book Review

"Speaking My Mind" (Tony Campolo) makes me sad. Why? Because he is clueless? Because he is right? Both.

Bottom of page 13, point 2: "It {evangelicalism} is more effective at marketing religion {than mainline denominations}."

I originally had a lot more points. But that really just covers it. Why doesn't Campolo speak about the difference between the soundly saved and "cultural" Christians? Why can't he figure out that "Christian" crusaders pillaging the middle east weren't real Christians? Why are the "Christians" he talks to continuing to live in sin? Why does he think "good" people might go to hell?

Frank Turk from Pyromaniacs has an excellent review.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Wikipedia has a good starter article on hermeneutics. The 10,000 foot view is, "How do you interpret the Bible?" Any reading requires interpretation. If I say, "I'm on fire", am I literally on fire? (if so, please put me out). Or am I making a metaphor? The Bible is the same way.

Mark 9:43 "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off". Did Jesus want us to cut our hands off? To pluck our eyes out (four verses later)? No, He is showing how valuable our souls are, compared to the body parts we know we value.

My hermeneutic is influenced by the dispensalitionalists I learned from. But I am currently reviewing my dispensational influences.
  • The main rule is context; words within verses, verses within chapters, chapters within books. Books are the best granularity. But all the books taken together do form a cohesive story.
  • Use the Bible to understand the Bible (kind of like how you allow a science fiction writer to write the rules for his universe). The result is a story more incredible than any fiction. This from a collection of books written by dozens of people over hundreds (if not thousands) of years.
  • Factor in the translation, and check the original language, as needed. Translations are usually pretty good, and more is better. The original language (keeping in mind the audience) is the ultimate source.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Hell is a Place on Earth

Part of being a cultural (read "Laodicean") Christian is having no hermeneutic (or even knowing what it means). That means you get to pick and choose what you like from the Bible. If the notion of Hell makes you uncomfortable, you can say that it's reserved for "really bad people". Or that it's a metaphor for suffering on earth.

Once you have a real hermeneutic, you actually have to deal with what the Bible says.

According to my concordance, Hell is used in the King James version 54 times (OT: 31 times, always Sheol; NT: 23 times, 10 Hades, 12 Gehenna, 1 Tartarus). Gehenna is always translated Hell (or hellfire). Hades is translated once as 'the grave' (1 Corinthians 15:55). The NKJV translates this Sheol.

In this post, I will focus on the New Testament references. The OT refs are more numerous and harder to separate from "the grave" which is the other main translation.

Is Hell a real place (separate from the common notion of it)? Jesus certainly speaks of it as if it were a real place. The story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:23) is in a style unlike the parables (which are clearly metaphors).

Hades appears to be a holding place for the unsaved (as opposed to "the bosom of Abraham", which is reserved for those declared righteous). Luke 16:23 makes it clear it is an unpleasant place. Other references speak of "wailing and gnashing of teeth". Revelation 20:13 says Hades will give up its dead for judgment. So, Hades is not a final judgment. Those judged are thrown into a lake of fire (Gehenna), along with Hades itself.

Gehenna is the lake of fire reserved for final judgment for the unsaved. It does not sound very pleasant. It is described as eternal burning, and worms. Jesus says it is better to cut off your hands or feet, or pluck out your eye than to go to this place. So, not somewhere you want to be. And given a previous stay in Hades, it is again true, that bad can always get worse.

That said, is Hell worse than anything on earth? Are the horrors of earth mere niceties compared to the eternal machinations of suffering in Hell?

Sunday, March 4, 2007

On Fear

Fear is more powerful than most people realize. Whatever you fear will control your life. I used to fear death. I lived my life in such a way that my exposure to risk of death was minimized.
The Bible makes it abundantly clear we are to fear God (Internet monk has a good series on this). If we fear God, God should be in control our life. And we will have reason to fear nothing else.

New Blog

This will be for my random thoughts and mumblings as I read through the Bible, and try to live "life more abundantly" (John 10:10).