Assuming you believe in the eternity of hell, how would you go about arguing for this position? Would you go to Scripture? Would you look back at what some historical theologians have said about the matter? Would you try to make some argument based upon your intuitions about justice and the heinousness of sin before God? The 18th century Puritan theologian, Jonathan Edwards, doesn’t take any of these routes. He makes a move that many people today would find quite shocking….
First let me give you the context. I am currently writing two essays for a book on Edwards’s miscellanies. The book will hopefully come out early in 2019. I will be writing an essay on the Trinity in Misc. 96 and Hell in Misc. 279. In Miscellany 279 Edwards makes an argument for the eternity of hell based on happiness/love/thankfulness. Basically its this:
The happiness of the blessed in heaven is eternal.
Knowing that God has chosen to make them vessels of mercy instead of making them vessels of wrath would make them happy at time X.
Without a “lively sense” of the opposite misery they would have faced had God not saved them the saints would not know that God has chosen to make them vessels of mercy instead of vessels of wrath.
In order for the saints to be happy eternally they need to know God has chosen to make them vessels of mercy at time X1, X2, X3,….X∞.
Therefore the lively sense of opposite misery needs to occur t time X1, X2, X3,….X∞.
Therefore the damned must eternally exist in hell.
Mind you this is just one of Edwards’s arguments for the eternity of hell. Personally, I think it’s a bad one. If the point of this argument is that the happiness of those in heaven is eternal and this is secured by knowing that God has chosen to make them vessels of mercy instead of wrath then there are certainly other ways in which God could have accomplished giving them a “lively sense” of the opposite misery they would have faced. For example, and this is absurd, God could have a daily showing on a really big screen TV viewable everywhere in the New Creation that shows the moment God judged the reprobate. That scenario is a bit absurd, but it would accomplish the “lively sense” Edwards is after. This absurd scenario would be compatible with annihilationism. Or perhaps if one takes a more Barthian stance on things maybe God could constantly present the saints with a vision of the cross, by seeing Christ crucified they would see the misery they would have faced had not Christ died for them. This again would be compatible with annihilationism.
Please don’t take me to be arguing for annihilationism here – I have elsewhere written defending the traditional doctrine of hell (Themelios). I’m just pointing out – this is a pretty bad argument for the eternity of hell.
The following are notes from Frances Young’s plenary talk.
Japanese Scientist “trained” them to make their way through a maze
A self-organizing organism that is greater than the sum of its parts
Emergence & feedback mechanisms – do we need to reimagine ourselves as constituting an organism that is greater than the sum of its parts?
Shares some common themes – but today we take up a feature that lies outside of Kelsey’s definition
Personal living body with an unsubistitutable identity
Rules out participation in Christ
“It is human kind that is some sort of corporate whole that exhibits the image of God. However just what this means is unclear.”
Corporate Personality (Whole of Humanity Represented both in Adam and in Christ)
Central to early Christian understanding
He took humanity that we might share divinity
Does he think of Christ’s humanity as that of a particular human man or humanity in general?
To grasp the sweep of his story we need to take account of his apologetic concerns
There is an oscillation in Athanasius’ work between Humanity and Soul
The Death of all was fulfilled in the Lord’s body – he somehow dies the death of the whole human race – its impossible to do justice to patristic thought without taking into account the corporate whole of humanity
Athanasius and the Corporate Whole
Passages reflect Platonist intellectual background – particular cases acquire a certain property by participating in its absolute form.
Because he is the TRUE Son – particulars can participate in this form
The body of Christ – passing through death and resurrection – is absolute humanity – renewed and recreated – the humanity of Christ is some kind of coproprate whole and Athanasius’ theological schema will fall apart without it.
Two-fold scheme – Solidarity in Sin and Solidarity in Christ
Charles Taylor and The Modern Sources of the Self
Contrast “modern” anthropology & this participation model
We no longer think of ourselves collectively
The term community has crept in but it is a way of talking about individuals who feel they are in the same boat – they think relationships are ultimately about themselves and their own personal commitment
“The Hunger Angel”
However necessary it is to counter individualism with the emphasis on our communal nature does not actually reclaim the human corporations that we find in the patristic sources.
See the book “Think like an anthropologist” – we are all interconnected – scientific study upholds a view of a universal human nature – the intertwining of narratives is a way in which the particular and universal interact
Back to Slime Mold
Through feedback mechanism individuals become part of a larger whole
By emergence we have the capacity to reappropriate something like the corporate personality of the patristics
The following are notes from Megan DeFranza’s plenary talk.
*Disclosure: The following views are not my own but I believe faithfully represent the views of the speaker as best I could catch them in my notes.*
Imago Dei: Theological Anthropology in a Hall of Mirrors
Current context makes TA interesting because our current knowledge of our self is constantly changing.
Substantival View: Rationality = soul
Functional View: “Let them rule” à “Let him rule”
Relational View: “Male and Female”
Strengths: Women are fully included in the image // Men cannot image God without women // Recovering value of sexual/spousal love as an image of divine love
Weaknesses: Paradigmatic “other”/”Mother” = no room for real women, feminine diversity, female humanity beyond womanhood // Privileges “Spousal love” as paradigmatic of divine love, Devalues singleness // Spousal love become sexual love, sexualizes the Trinity, Devalues celibacy, asexuals, sexual dysfunction
Article 3 – Okay, an improvement on old views
We see the phrase “divinely ordained differences throughout the statement”, e.g. Article 5 – “anomalies” – “We should not sweep them or their differences under the rug”
Stories of Intersex and Faith
Showed a video of Megan Brukiewa and Jennifer Brukiewa
Megan had Androgen Sensitivity Syndrome // Intersex
Joshua Gallardo (Youth Pastor)
5-2% born intersex (same as % with red hair)
David Burkiewa – we looked for answers, the right answers, in the Bible – Wants to be able to talk about these things.
Reassignment surgeries often happen in infancy – sometimes with emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual effects
Jennifer – God has a very specific purpose for Megan, she was not a mistake
Nashville Statement 6
They acknowledge some people w/multiple sex markers
Tell us JC recognized this
Remind us – they can live a fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ
The authors draw a sharp line between those who are intersex and gay – but nowhere in the document are those who identify as transgender or experience gender dysphoria that they too are made in the image of God and can life a fruitful life pleasing to God – See Article 13 which calls “transgender self-conceptions” sinful.
Failure to acknowledge the fellow humanity/dignity of all is a weighty matter
Why it Matters
57% have family who choose not to speak to them
50-54% Harassment at School
60% doctor refused health care
Those who attempt suicide 41% vs. general population 4.6%
Telling the Truth About Sex and Gender
I am troubled about how Christians treat the “least of these” – vulnerability, those in danger physically spiritually emotionally, numerically
Binary (Male vs. Female) is typical – Reality (Male female – an area of overlap between) both in biological and Behavioral Gender Differences
Intersex and transgender represent the “least of these” as the minority group but also in terms of the vulnerable and harassed
What I do know is that the Good shepherd cares – this (Jesus) is the one whose image that we are called to be in
Rought notes on Marc Cortez’s LATC 2018 Plenary Talk
Christology as basis for establishing anthropology
Hedgie the Hedgehog
Why should Hedgie be seen as paradigmatic?
Establishing that JC is perfect human – how can we make the jump to making claims about true humanity….
Irenaeus as a conversation partner for thinking why JC should be the basis for our theological anthropology
Humans are made in the image of God
Jesus is the True image of God
How does Irenaeus unpack this? What are the implications? Four Claims
TA must be rooted in the embodied humanity of Christ
TA must be rooted in the eternal identity of the son
TA must recognize the ontological and epistemological priority of Christ over Adam
TA must be studied in such a way that does not completely bifurcate nature and grace (I did not fully catch this 4th point)
The very idea of an image requires an embodied form – the son must have a visible and determinate form
The body is intrinsic to the Imago Dei – Man not a part was made in the likeness of God. The perfect man consists of the comingling of soul and flesh
The fashioning of the human flesh is intimately connected to Christ – Humanity is patterned according to the pattern of the incarnate Christ
The imago is Christological in the sense that we see the reality that all persons are directed towards the Triune God
No biblical passages prove this but there is biblical warrant
What does it mean for I to claim that human nature in the manger is logically prior to the humanity in Genesis 1?
Means archetype of humanity exists eternally even though it has not been instantiated
Maybe it’s a divine idea – maybe Christ is the historical idealization of that idea
I never posits an eternal idea…. The archetype of humanity is always the person of JC himself (Does a Gnostic background inform why he never did this?)
Schleiermacher & James Dunn
Jesus just is the idea of humanity – the driving person behind the act of creation
This however may overshadow the son’s existence in eternity
The Son’s identity has been shaped eternally in virtue of the incarnation
Adam does not simply prefigure Christ – Adam was consequent on Christ – his humanity has been shaped by the archetype which is Christ
There is at least one sense in which Christ is ontologically dependent upon Adam
For JC to be fully Human he had to receive his humanity from Adam – to claim J could have received a different kind of humanity – would be problematic for our salvation – he would be instantiating a new kind of humanity rather than recapitulating the humanity which started with Adam
How come – looking at the ontologically secondary being (Adam) wouldn’t be a good way to figure out what humanity is all about?
I thinks we need to maintain C’s epistemological priority?
I says because Adam wasn’t perfect…. They are not yet complete and hadn’t fully grown yet
Even though Humanity was created in the image in the beginning we don’t truly see what humanity is until the advent of Christ
“Adam and Even give only a dim impression of what it means to be in the image of God.” – Boersma
Does this approach do justice to the canonical form of the biblical message about Humanity?
Don’t we already know what it means to be human when JC is born? The logic of cannon and creed seems to indicate we already know what it means to be human prior to the incarnation
We can know other things about humans….
Studying humanity in general can and should provide some insight into humanity (learn about the Mona lisa by studying a replica) – move is complicated by falleness of humanity (someone wrote all over the mona lisa)
The developmental account does not denigrate the fact that we can know something about humanity from stages prior to the incarnation. (Studying Marc Cortez as a 7th grader can give you some info about Marc Cortez today). This means we shouldn’t neglect the study of Humanity in its history prior to Christ
Doesn’t lead us to distinguish between Nature and Grace
This developmental model provides some basis for interdisciplinary studies of human nature
In addition to understanding humanity through the lens of the natural – we are required to study humanity in the state of Grace too
Although Hedgie might be the cutest hedgehog to ever walk the earth – it seems reasonable to claim that not hedgehog forms the epistemological or ontological basis for all other hedgehogs.
On I’s view of the Imago Dei we have something very different with the embodied humanity of JC. We have the actualization in history – the archetype – of humanity. For I that is the only adequate ground upon which to base a theological conception of the human person.
This year LATC came back to Fuller Seminary. I will be trying to post my notes from the plenary sessions on this blog. However, this year I am helping to co-cordinate the event, so I may not fully catch all the talks or all the content of each talk!
Marc Cortez- Wheaton College Nature, Grace, and the Christological Ground of Humanity
Megan DeFranza – Boston University School of Theology Imago Dei: Theological Anthropology in a Hall of Mirrors
Hans Madueme – Covenant College “Man’s Heart is the Seat of All Evils:” A Theological Argument for Dualism
Ian McFarland – University of Cambridge “The Upward Call:’ The Category of Vocation and the Oddness of Human Nature
Frances Young – University of Birmingham Adam and Christ: Human Solidarity Before God
Every year, at the end of the year, I post the list of books that I read during the year. This year you will notice, the number has dropped down even more from the year before. This is mainly because I’ve been focused on other things. Also you will notice there were a lot of books read on atonement, prayer, and theological Anthropology. These are all related to my schoolwork and research. Finally, all of these are only the books I read to completion.
* = Published in 2017
+ = This is the 2nd+ time reading this book
The Social God and the Relational Self – Stanley Grenz
Bodies and Souls or Spirited Bodies? – Nancey Murphy
Same-Sex Attraction and the Church – Ed Shaw
Body, Soul, and Human Life – Joel Green
Neuroscience and the Soul – Thomas Crisp, Steven Porter, Gregg Ten Elshof
Saving Calvinism – Oliver Crisp
Did My Neurons Make Me Do It? – Nancey Murphy and Warren Brown
Philosophical Approaches to the Devil – Benjamin McCraw and Robert Arp
Being Human – Dwight Hopkins
A Walk Through the Bible – Leslie Newbigin
Creation and Humanity – Veli-Matti Karkkainen
The Person of Jesus Christ – H.R. Mackintosh
The Sentences Book Three: On the Incarnation of the Word – Peter Lombard
On the Unity of Christ – St. Cyril of Alexandria
Jesus: God and Man – Wolfhart Pannenberg
Embodied Souls, Ensouled Bodies – Marc Cortez
On the Incarnation – Athansius+
The Way of Jesus – Jurgen Moltmann
The Identity of Jesus Christ – Hans Frei
Christ and Reconciliation – Veli-Matti Karkkainen
The Unassumed is Unhealed: The Humanity of Christ in the Christology of T.F. Torrance – Kevin Chiarot+
The Logic of God Incarnate – Tom Morris
Martin Luther in His Own Words – Jack Kilcrease & Erwin Lutzer*
Flesh and Blood: A Dogmatic Sketch Concerning the Fallen Nature view of Christ’s Human Nature – Daniel Cameron*
The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture – Yoram Hazony
Christ and Horrors – Marilyn Adams
Christ the Key – Kathryn Tanner
The Word Enfleshed – Oliver Crisp
The Tech-wise Family – Andy Crouch*
Embodied Hope – Kelly Kapic*
The Struggle of Prayer – Donald Bloesch
Knocking on Heaven’s Door – David Crump
Uncommon Decency – Richard Mouw
Beyond the Modern Age – Bob Goudzwaard and Craig Bartholomew*
Enjoy Your Prayer Life – Michael Reeves
Give God the Glory: Ancient Prayer and Worship in Cultural Perspective – Jerome Neyrey
A Community Called Atonement – Scot McKnight
Calvin and the Calvinists – Paul Helm
Jonathan Edwards on the Atonement – Brandon Crawford*
What are we Doing When We Pray? – Vincent Brummer+
The Contemplative Pastor – Eugen Peterson
Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letters to the Thessalonians – Gene Green
Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation – D.A. Carson
All That is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Theism – James Dolezal*
I am Not but I Know I Am – Louie Giglio
The Pastor: A Memoir – Eugene Peterson
The Great Omission – Dallas Willard
Death by Living – N.D. Wilson
NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Thessalonians – Michael Holmes
Atonement: A Guide for the Perplexed – Adam Johnson
The Glory of Atonement – Charles Hill and Frank James III
Cross Examinations: Readings on the Meaning of the Cross – Marit Trelstad
Recovering the Scandal of the Cross – Joel Green & Mark Baker+
Feminist Theories of Atonement – Linda Peacore+
The Non-Violent Atonement – Denny Weaver+
The Crucified God – Jurgen Moltmann+
Prayer and Providence – Terrence Tiesen
A Little Book for New Bible Scholars – Randolph Richards & Joseph Dodson*