How would you respond?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by dan e., Oct 20, 2006.

  1. dan e.

    dan e.
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    I've been taking on a challenge to myself since I graduated college last Spring by reading some guys I wouldn't typically read, or agree with. I'm a part of an Acts29 church, Mark Driscoll's church planting group, and wanted to educate myself on the whole "emergant" issue. I've read plenty of Driscoll, and why he left the emergant camp, plenty ABOUT those who are a part of the emerging church, but never anything those guys actually have to say (except for blogs). I started with Brian Mclaren. I just finished his trilogy on "A New Kind of Christian", and am in the middle of "Generous Orthodoxy". Now that I've been reading some of what he actually has to say, I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND THE CONTROVERSY.

    Now I'm not advocating Mclaren's thoughts in any way. Although I do think he has some challenging remarks for everyone, but he definitely takes things too far. My question is regarding his discussion of hell in his fiction trilogy. He states that, although fiction, much of the content displays his thought process about these issues. One of the main characters, Neil, represents the messenger of this new kind of Christian. His arguments go against a literal place of firey torment for those who don't believe in Christ. Rather, he explains that this is a construct by modernism. The character repeatedly refers to the Ancient world, saying that their talks of hell never meant a literal place of punishment. Even Jesus never intended that meaning, but rather through centuries (and modernism) it was constructed in that way for the purpose of threatening nonbelievers with something literal with the intent of them believing. I thought his argument was interesting about modernism. At one point, he explains that modernism tends to think of things as right/wrong, real/fake, etc. This is part of the process in making it a "heaven or hell" type arrangement. Now, I am not even remotely entertaining the idea of Mclaren being right. However, I'd love to hear from some guys who understand church history in a little more detail than myself about hell. Especially in the Ancient world. Mclaren repeatedly insists that never in the New Testament was hell to be taken as a literal place. In fact, he mentions many of the places where it is spoken of, and his character Neil, always has some sort of interpretation that Jesus was not focusing on a literal hell in the afterlife, but turning the focus on peoples' actions in the present. He also explains the "evolution" (his word, not mine) of hell through Augustine, Dante, Reformers, etc. Any thoughts? Let me know if I need to clarify my question.
     
  2. 2BHizown

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    I think you'll surely find out if you stay on that road!
    To know pure doctrine, read pure doctrine and scripture!
    To be familiar with heresy and all the erroneous off shoots of wierd, strange unbiblical beliefs, as emergent church, ECT, and worse just continue on......
    For pure church history read Cairns or D'Aubigne.
    For pure doctrine read scripture or monergism.com or founders.org
    Dont get involved in the ECT and/or emergent unless as I said before you're facinated with all that God opposes!
     
  3. Jim1999

    Jim1999
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    What on earth is an Acts 29 church? Someone tore Acts 29 out of my Bibles, and that sort of gives me a clue.

    Run as fast a you can!

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  4. dan e.

    dan e.
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    The idea behind Acts29 that it is the church continuing after the book of Acts. Obviously there are only 28 chapters in the book of Acts. That is put in my own words, to find out more the webdsite is www.acts29network.org
     
  5. dan e.

    dan e.
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    also...i'm not really looking for books to read about this. i'm pretty well prepared to find good books, good authors, etc. i was asking you guys how you would respond. i'm also not interested in secluding my reading to only guys that i would agree with. thanks for the suggestions on books....but i don't believe that reading a guy like mclaren will turn me to the dark side. i think that my faith in Christ preserves my soul for eternity and reading other guys is helpful, and also respectful. by that i mean i'm not relying on hearsay concerning who's the most recent heretic and why. i'm hearing what others have to say, and i'm prepared to explain why i think they are dangerous. now......i'm really interested in some of your responses to my question, because i do know that many of you are very wise and would have some good things to say. any takers?
     
  6. Deacon

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    I just read "Generous Orthodoxy" myself and found it challenging.
    I was captivated by the opening chapters which implied that there was greater substance to follow.
    I ignored the annoying warning to put the book down.
    I should have listened.

    I was not impressed with his arguments.
    Where I don't think historical interpretations need always be correct, I'd need some substancial proof to consider a change.
    His arguments are weak and pale when held up to the light of Scriptural truth.
    The Bible had so many different writers that address the topic that at least one of them would have clarified this doctrine leading us into the direction that McLaurn proposes.
    I know that this is an argument from silence but with such an important subject IMO, it holds water.

    Rob
     
  7. 2BHizown

    2BHizown
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    I will never for the life of me figure why people like to read what they know full well to be error. Its like rubbing elbows with Satan.

    Even at the mint they only teach the workers about what the real $ looks like and all its qualities, knowing that when they are well knowledgable about the real they can instantly spot the false! Why dwell in the false? Deliberately yet?

    I'd be just as comfortable reading the post in IIDB and I sure dont go there!!
     
  8. dan e.

    dan e.
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    nice of you to show your concern for mclaren's soul, by comparing his errors to "rubbing elbows with satan". i'm seriously looking for some thoughtful points against him, i can think of my own, but call me crazy for enjoying the learning process. perhaps you can give me your thoughts, so i can "rub elbows with jesus" (hint the sarcasm).
     
  9. webdog

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    So if you read Hodges and I read Macarthur or Piper we are both rubbing elbows with Satan? :confused:
     
  10. Deacon

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    When I'm comfortable with what I believe then I tackle the subject from another's perspective.

    I don't fool myself into believing that I know it all.
    Even when I think I am thoroughly convinced about a topic there are alway others that see it from a different viewpoint; you can understand this by reading the BB!
    I've softened my stance and once in a while changed my opinion about a subject after reading why they believe as they do.

    More often though it helps me to solidify why I believe as I do.

    Rob
     
  11. dan e.

    dan e.
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    Maybe some history buffs, or jewish literature guys can help me out here. is mclaren WAY off to think that the mentionings of hell were never meant to be a literal place of fire and torment? was the concept of hell constructed over time? i'm sincerely interested on what you all have to say. don't think i'm struggling with the issue, i'm just looking for some fellow believers' responses.
     
  12. 2BHizown

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    Wait.......You deliberately read error to get a change of perspective?

    Well, when I've been at a 'comfortable' spot I have gone back and dug into the word deeper to how and why; but to read error?

    I didnt mean to compare McClaren with Satan but........a little leaven.......

    The bottom line is we are all responsible to the Lord for everything, including our beliefs. We need to continue our dig and search as over time we can be influenced by the world subtly without even being aware! Staying in the word and on our knees asking for guidance is a help at maintaining truth and learning new and deeper truths; but not error.:godisgood:
     
  13. dan e.

    dan e.
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    one clarification...i didn't read mclaren for a change of perspective on hell. i actually began reading his trilogy because i knew it had to do with the emerging church issue. he is actually a pretty good writer, i enjoyed the story, and the issues he brought up i found iteresting. in the third book hell is the main topic of discussion between his characters.

    mclaren has actually gotten pretty deep in the word, moreso than most of the responses that i have gotten which have been mostly silly. i'm not at all saying he is right....i think his interpretations are weird. which is why i'm asking some of you all, how do you think he is wrong in his interpretations of hell in the new testament, and his claim that hell is not brought up in the old testament. i have been looking through a lot of the gospels where Jesus brings up hell. i'm taking my interpretations, and am trying to find out a little from some who may be smarter than me concerning jewish lit. and interpretation. primarily because mclaren's main point is that modernism has constructed the doctrine of hell the way it is today, and the ancient world never intended it to be that way. i find that odd. if you are concerned for my salvation, don't be. i don't agree with mclaren. if you want to continue and avoid the question by telling me how pagan it is to read someone who believes other than myself, than take me out to dinner and we can talk about that. (i generally like italian and chinese food, mexican too). otherwise...i'm anxiously awaiting some thoughts on mclaren's idea that early christianity never intended hell to be a literal place, but a figure of speech. maybe its a bad question, and is easier to talk about if you read the books. if so, just let me know and i'll get over it. :thumbs:
     
  14. Deacon

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    Another group that denies a literal hell is the Jehovahs Witnesses.

    The modern POPULAR conception of hell has been constructed over recent time...
    ...the red horned devil with a pitchfork delightfully lording over his flock of poor unfortunates surrounded by flames in the center of the earth.

    It's a modern myth.

    Biblical images of hell taken from historical images of places of corruption and torment.

    And sure I expose myself to err to learn from it.
    How can you condemn others for their err without listening to them first?
    Seems a little self-righteous to me.

    Rob
     
  15. James_Newman

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    I think if you allow the bible to interpret itself, that idea will prove to be false. I am not familiar with Mclaren's writing, but he is certainly not the first to suggest that the warnings in the bible of fiery judgment are spiritual or allegorical in nature. But without appealing to some outside source that is supposed to prove that is how the original audience understood it, can this argument be made to hold up in the light of scripture?

    Often it is argued that since these warnings are usually spoken in parable, that they are not meant to be taken literally. This may sound reasonable, but the bible teaches the opposite. We can go to the old testament and see that when a parable is given, the primary warning or action is always interpretted literally, even though the actors may be symbolic. The first example I can think of in the bible is in Judges.

    Judges 9:7-15
    7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you.
    8 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.
    9 But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honor God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
    10 And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us.
    11 But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?
    12 Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us.
    13 And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
    14 Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us.
    15 And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.

    Now we have this parable interpretted for us.

    Judges 9:16-20
    16 Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands;
    17 (For my father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian:
    18 And ye are risen up against my father's house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;)
    19 If ye then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you:
    20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech.

    We still have the fire in the interpretation. Is this spiritual fire? No, it is literal fire.

    Judges 9:48-49
    48 And Abimelech got him up to mount Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him; and Abimelech took an axe in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it, and laid it on his shoulder, and said unto the people that were with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done.
    49 And all the people likewise cut down every man his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put them to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them; so that all the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women.

    Likewise the parabolic warnings of Jesus, we should interpret them in the same manner.

    Matthew 13:24-30
    24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
    25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
    26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
    27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
    28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
    29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
    30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

    Jesus gives us the interpretation.

    Matthew 13:37-42
    37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
    38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
    39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
    40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
    41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
    42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    The wheat = children of the kingdom
    The tares = children of the wicked one
    The fire = the fire

    'But what does the fire represent?' they ask. It represents fire. The interpretation of a symbol is not another symbol. It is literal fire.
     
  16. 2BHizown

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    Well, I'm not sure what all you did read that had influence of such nature but when reading God's word to us He is pretty clear about the description of hell! Now I know that many think this to be only an illustration and that hell could not be as described, as horrible, or as eternal. However, Nadab and Abihu didnt give full credence to what he'd told them either.
    Hell is as described in scripture! Much fiction today has such an effect on one to confuse the real meaning of what God said, soften it, make it more palatable, that He is only a God of love! Our God is a God of wrath and the folks who reject Christ, either blatantly or by failure to submit to all He said will be paying in hell as described for all eternity and we should tell everyone we know; Dont go there!!
     
  17. 2BHizown

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  18. lbaker

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    Dan,

    There's a book called "The Fire that Consumes" by a guy named Edward Fudge that you might want to check out for an alternative, and interesting, view of hell.

    Les
     
  19. dan e.

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    After reviewing some things, it does seem that there is warrant to say that much of the depictions of hell have been constructed...TO AN EXTENT. Not denying the literal place of hell, but rather the pitchfork, horns, etc. On a sidenote, I found it interesting the time in history that purgatory came up in the Middle Ages, possibly as a jusification for the crusades? I'm not sure, but either way, I think that is a construct of hell by the Catholics. What is the best way to talk about hell? I think that there is definitely a certain imagery used to DESCRIBE hell, but is not necessarily to be taken literally. This obviously doesn't deny it's existence, but attempts to use human imagery and language to describe a place not seen. For example, could the use of fire been imagery used because of Gehenna, where they burned garbage and some people, from my understanding. Just as agriculture was appropriate because it was something people would understand and relate to when Jesus taught in parables. Is the "fire and brimstone" an imagery that is still helpful in describing hell? I'm not sure what I'm suggesting, just thinking outloud. And curious if any believes that the fire, sulpher, etc. ought to be taken literally. Will there be people literally weeping and gnashing their teeth? Or is that to be used to attempt to portray the suffering, horrible nature of the place? Is the important factor to be that someone will literally BURN for eternity? Or is it more important to emphasize the horrible realization of being in eternity without the satisfaction of being in the presence of God. (If that statement seems too "light" in describing hell, than I'm not sure that fire and brimstone will do it) If the fear of fire overshadows the fear of God, maybe when teaching the texts on hell, an imagery to better explain it in our day ought to be used. I'm not sure....I can see how sometimes it is imagery being used, but sometimes how it can be taken literally. Or, are we missing the point if we focus on literal vs. figurative and not on the actual place of separation?
     

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