Category Archives: Theology

Edwards and an Argument for the Eternity of Hell (Miscellany 279)

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….

jonathan-edwards-preaching-facebook
Jonathan Edwards Preaching or Jonathan Edwards walking like a Zombie? Take your pick.

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:

  1. The happiness of the blessed in heaven is eternal.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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∞.
  5. Therefore the lively sense of opposite misery needs to occur t time X1, X2, X3,….X∞.
  6. 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.

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LATC 2018 – Hans Madueme: “Man’s Heart is the Seat of All Evils:” A Theological Argument for Dualism

Rough notes on Hans Madueme’s plenary talk:


Context

  • Philosophers and Theologians question the usefulness of dualism – in some circles physicalism is the standard position
  • According to some – physicalism makes most sense of the world, especially in light of the work of some neuroscientists – Both the OT and NT teach monism
  • Substantivalist accounts of the Imago Dei – lend themselves toward physicalism
  • In spite of these developments – traditional dualism has been and should continue to be the position of the global church20180119_113910

 

“Most laypeople assume our capacity to sin requires dualism – and I agree”

  1. Three accounts of physicalism that provide an attempt to say how moral responsibility is possible
  2. Look at biblical material of sin
  3. Argue that the biblical material requires dualism
    • Respond to one objection

 

Part 1

  • The hard problem of Consciousness
  • The “hard problem” on Sin
  • Three accounts: Green, Murphy, and Clayton

 

Part 2

  • Does Scripture have anything to say about human composition and sin?
  • Matthew 5:27-30 – The inner thought not the external act is the real location of the sin – there is an implicit anthropology here.
  • Romans 2:28-29 – Being outwardly Jewish is not sufficient – a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly – circumcision of the heart. This inward outward contrast is best understood with some form of dualism
  • Ezekiel 36 & Jeremiah 31 – The heart is understood metaphorically as talking about the inner person
  • Demons are immaterial creatures – and they are quintessential sinners – therefore one should think a body isn’t necessary for sin
  • Because we are embodied – sin has an embodied character but embodiment is not necessary for our sin

 

Summary

  • Physcialism can’t provide moral responsibility
  • Biblical data assumes doctrine of sin
  • One Objection – if one things theological determinism is true and still hold to moral responsibility, why not think physical determinism is true and hold to moral responsibility
    • First, theological determinism does not entail physical determinism
    • For the sake of argument lets conceded Calvinism entails physical determinism, this would be a problem if physical was all there is

 

Conclusion

  • Is this account too dogmatic? Is the problem that we have differing intuitions? But there are two main questions:
    • Does my Anthropology fit with current scientific findings?
    • Does my Anthropology fit with the dogmatic deliverances of the faith?
  • Most Christian physicalists acknowledge science cannot adjudicate the debate.
  • Not only is dualism more plausible given the reality of sin but also other doctrines: The intermediate state (Rev 6).
  • Does our theorizing actually preach, comfort the disturbed?
  • Our thoughts on this topic must also fit with our Christology

LATC 2018 – Adam and Christ: Human Solidarity Before God

The following are notes from Frances Young’s plenary talk.


Slime Mold

  • 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?

 

David Kelsey

  • 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

 

Athanasius

  • 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

LATC 2018 – Imago Dei: Theological Anthropology in a Hall of Mirrors

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.

Imago Dei

  • Substantival View: Rationality = soul
  • Functional View: “Let them rule” à “Let him rule”
  • Relational View: “Male and Female”

 

Relational Imago

  • 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

20180118_204435

Nashville Statement

  • 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
  • 69% homeless
  • 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

LATC 2018 – Nature, Grace, and the Christological Ground of Humanity

Rought notes on Marc Cortez’s LATC 2018 Plenary Talk


Christology as basis for establishing anthropology20180118_113512

  • 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

  1. TA must be rooted in the embodied humanity of Christ
  2. TA must be rooted in the eternal identity of the son
  3. TA must recognize the ontological and epistemological priority of Christ over Adam
  4. TA must be studied in such a way that does not completely bifurcate nature and grace (I did not fully catch this 4th point)

 

Claim 1

  • 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

 

Claim 2

  • 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

 

Claim 3

  • 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

 

Claim 4

  • 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

 

Conclusion

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.

LATC 2018 – The Christian Doctrine of Humanity

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!

 Plenary Speakers

  • 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

 

 

Books Read in 2017

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.

KEY:

* = Published in 2017
+ = This is the 2nd+ time reading this book

January

  1. The Social God and the Relational Self – Stanley Grenz
  2. Bodies and Souls or Spirited Bodies? – Nancey Murphy
  3. Same-Sex Attraction and the Church – Ed Shaw
  4. Body, Soul, and Human Life – Joel Green
  5. Neuroscience and the Soul – Thomas Crisp, Steven Porter, Gregg Ten Elshof

February

  1. Saving Calvinism – Oliver Crisp
  2. Did My Neurons Make Me Do It? – Nancey Murphy and Warren Brown
  3. Philosophical Approaches to the Devil – Benjamin McCraw and Robert Arp
  4. Being Human – Dwight Hopkins
  5. A Walk Through the Bible – Leslie Newbigin

March

  1. Creation and Humanity – Veli-Matti Karkkainen
  2. The Person of Jesus Christ – H.R. Mackintosh
  3. The Sentences Book Three: On the Incarnation of the Word – Peter Lombard
  4. On the Unity of Christ – St. Cyril of Alexandria

April

  1. Jesus: God and Man – Wolfhart Pannenberg
  2. Embodied Souls, Ensouled Bodies – Marc Cortez
  3. On the Incarnation – Athansius+
  4. The Way of Jesus – Jurgen Moltmann
  5. The Identity of Jesus Christ – Hans Frei
  6. Christ and Reconciliation – Veli-Matti Karkkainen
  7. The Unassumed is Unhealed: The Humanity of Christ in the Christology of T.F. Torrance – Kevin Chiarot+
  8. The Logic of God Incarnate – Tom Morris

May

  1. Martin Luther in His Own Words – Jack Kilcrease & Erwin Lutzer*
  2. Flesh and Blood: A Dogmatic Sketch Concerning the Fallen Nature view of Christ’s Human Nature – Daniel Cameron*
  3. The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture – Yoram Hazony
  4. Christ and Horrors – Marilyn Adams
  5. Christ the Key – Kathryn Tanner
  6. The Word Enfleshed – Oliver Crisp

June

  1. The Tech-wise Family – Andy Crouch*
  2. Embodied Hope – Kelly Kapic*
  3. The Struggle of Prayer – Donald Bloesch
  4. Knocking on Heaven’s Door – David Crump

July

  1. Uncommon Decency – Richard Mouw
  2. Beyond the Modern Age – Bob Goudzwaard and Craig Bartholomew*
  3. Enjoy Your Prayer Life – Michael Reeves
  4. Give God the Glory: Ancient Prayer and Worship in Cultural Perspective – Jerome Neyrey
  5. A Community Called Atonement – Scot McKnight
  6. Calvin and the Calvinists – Paul Helm
  7. Jonathan Edwards on the Atonement – Brandon Crawford*
  8. What are we Doing When We Pray? – Vincent Brummer+
  9. The Contemplative Pastor – Eugen Peterson

August

  1. Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letters to the Thessalonians – Gene Green
  2. Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation – D.A. Carson
  3. All That is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Theism – James Dolezal*
  4. I am Not but I Know I Am – Louie Giglio
  5. The Pastor: A Memoir – Eugene Peterson
  6. The Great Omission – Dallas Willard
  7. Death by Living – N.D. Wilson
  8. NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Thessalonians – Michael Holmes

September

  1. Atonement: A Guide for the Perplexed – Adam Johnson
  2. The Glory of Atonement – Charles Hill and Frank James III
  3. Cross Examinations: Readings on the Meaning of the Cross – Marit Trelstad
  4. Recovering the Scandal of the Cross – Joel Green & Mark Baker+
  5. Feminist Theories of Atonement – Linda Peacore+
  6. The Non-Violent Atonement – Denny Weaver+

October

  1. The Crucified God – Jurgen Moltmann+
  2. Prayer and Providence – Terrence Tiesen
  3. A Little Book for New Bible Scholars – Randolph Richards & Joseph Dodson*
  4. Was the Reformation a Mistake? Matthew Levering*
  5. The Metaphor of God Incarnate – John Hick+
  6. NIV Application Commentary: 1 Corinthians – Craig Bloomberg

Novemeber

  1. Responsibility and Atonement – Richard Swinburne+
  2. The Pastor Theologian – Gerald Heistand and Todd Wilson+
  3. Jesus the Eternal Son – Michael Bird*
  4. Atonement, Law and Justice – Adonis Vidu+
  5. Calling on the Name of the Lord: A Biblical Theology of Prayer – J. Gary Millar
  6. Unnamed Book on Atonement – Oliver Crisp*
  7. The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism – Carl Henry

December

  1. TheologyGrams – Rich Wyld*
  2. Walking Through Twilight – Douglas Groothius*
  3. Petitionary Prayer: A Philosophical Investigation – Scott Davision*
  4. The New Christian Zionism – Gerald McDermott*
  5. Immeasurable: Reflections on the Soul of Ministry in the Age of Church, Inc. – Skye Jethani*
  6. The Economics of Neighborly Love – Tom Nelson*