This month an article I wrote defending the traditional doctrine of hell was published in Themelios 42.2. In this article I argue that despite being subject to a serious philosophical objection, an Edwardsean doctrine of hell is defensible. In order to defend this version of the doctrine of hell I suggest we start by thinking about Edwards’s doctrine of heaven.
Here’s a bit of the article:
Among recent trends in evangelicalism, one of the most prominent has been the resurgence of interest (especially within the “young, restless, and reformed” segment of the church) in all things Jonathan Edwards. One sees this in the vast quantity of recent books, blogs, and conferences dedicated to Edwards’s life and thought. These works have done much to lift him up as a pastoral, homiletical, and theological example to be emulated. The result is that certain Edwardsean themes and theological views have begun to exert greater influence upon evangelicalism, for instance: the importance of revival, preaching in order to change religious affections, the New Testament use of the Old, and even Trinitarian theology. One can certainly appreciate the positive influence that Edwards the exemplar has had upon the contemporary evangelical church. However, one aspect of Edwards’s theology that we may want to question the value of following his example is his account of the doctrine of hell.
Many Americans are familiar with Edwards’s account of hell through his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” in which he depicts one of the most horrific, ghoulish, and even terrorizing portrayals ever presented. In particular, his depiction of hell in this sermon is cited by many as evidence why we ought to abandon the traditional account. It has been said that Edwards’s doctrine is morally intolerable and that we should abandon it. Those who are interested in defending the traditional account and more specifically Edwards’s account have reasons for mining his works in order to find resources within it to defend not only his account but the traditional doctrine of hell as well. This essay aims to accomplish those two tasks.
You can read the rest (for free) here: Themelios
Theology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has been marked by two trends. The first is a revival of Trinitarian theology. This trend has attempted to place the Trinity at the center of theology and church life. The second is a turn towards the majority world. It has been well documented that in the 20th century the church experienced explosive growth in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, whereas the “Western church” has dwindled. From this growth in the majority world church we are beginning to witness a shift in how theology on the global stage is being done. In The Trinity Among the Nations: The Doctrine of God in the Majority World, editors Gene L. Green, Stephen T. Pardue, and K. K. Yeo bring these two trends together to produce a volume that “brings the global church to theological dialogue regarding kaleidoscopic understandings of the Trinity” (p. 2).
You can read the rest of my review in the latest issue of Themelios (41.2).
The new issue of Themelios is now out – you can download it for free as a pdf or (for a short time) free for Logos. In this issue you will find a lot of engagement with Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin. You will also find reviews of some interesting books like Thomas F. Torrance and the Church Fathers: A Reformed, Evangelical and Ecumenical Reconstruction of the Patristic Tradition and Advancing Trinitarian Theology: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics and of course my review of George Hunsberger’s The Story that Chooses Us: A Tapestry of Missional Vision.
Here is an excerpt but you can read the rest on the Themelios website:
“The Chinese character for crisis, we are told, is a combination of the characters for ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’” (p. 118). Many missiologists would agree that the church is currently presented with both. It will have to decide how it will face those dangers and opportunities. Over the last several decades missiologist George Hunsberger has written many essays in order to help the church face this crisis of missional identity and practice. The Story that Chooses Us collects some of these. Covering topics like calling, community, and formation, these essays contain a number of reoccurring themes that weave cohesively into what Hunsberger calls “a tapestry of missional-ecclesial vision” (p. ix). The overall scope of this project is wide and the topics addressed are diverse, yet these reoccurring themes bring a sense of cohesion. Instead of addressing individual chapters in this review, I will cover some of these themes (the current crisis of the church, the current shape of the church, the identity of the church, the mission of the church) and offer some critical thoughts about this collection of essays…..
In 2012 a group of scholars gathered at Princeton Theological Seminary for a conference titled, “Calvinism and Democracy.” The purpose of this conference was to reflect upon the neo-Calvinist legacy, to explore its theological roots, and to assess in what ways this tradition might provide resources for democratic criticism and renewal. The Kuyper Center Review (Volume Four): Calvinism and Democracy represents the published proceedings of this conference.
Although this collection covers a wide range of topics, there are two themes that tie all eleven essays together: (1) the notion that democracy today is facing a crisis. and (2) the fact that neo-Calvinism has always had a complicated relationship with democracy. Despite these unifying themes this variegated compilation of essays lacks coherence. Since there does not seem to be a strong organizing principle behind their arrangement, for the sake of the review I will divide them into three categories: historical essays on Abraham Kuyper, prescriptive essays based upon Kuyper’s theology, and essays examining other theologians.
You can read the rest of my review of The Kuyper Center Review (Volume 4): Calvinism and Democracy in the Journal Themelios.
Supersize Me is a documentary that follows director Morgan Spurlock on a 30-day journey during which he only eats at McDonalds. The documentary portrays the horrific effects that an all-McDonalds diet has on Spurlock’s physical and psychological well-being and explores the idea that fast food is highly to blame for America’s health problems. In essence, Supersize Me challenges Americans to open their eyes to see the destructive nature of fast food. In Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus, C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison make a similar challenge. They invite American Christians to open their eyes to see the destructive nature of “fast church.” When the church embraces “fast church” the results are similar to when people eat fast food; they become lethargic and sick. Sadly, though, the church has developed a taste for “fast church.” According to Smith and Pattison, the church needs to change its “diet” and begin to embrace a slower way of doing church…..
You can read the rest of my review of Slow Church in the Journal Themelios.