Book Review: What The Hell: How Did We Get it So Wrong? Eternity, Grace, and the Message of Love

Jackson Baer

What The Hell: How Did We Get It So Wrong? Eternity, Grace, and the Message of Love

Denver, Colorado: Outskirts Press Inc., pp. xii.+139. Paper. $7.70

I want to thank Jackson Baer for promptly sending me this review copy from his own resources. The following review ends up being a bit critical of Jackson’s presentation, but I want him to know that I still respect him as a brother in Christ; even though I disagree with him. Ultimately, as you will read throughout the review, my disagreement with Baer—in regard to his book—is not as much with his conclusion (although I am not in total agreement with him, and I am not an Evangelical Universalist), but with his form and method of argument (or non-argument). I realize that Jackson Baer is not pretending to be a scholar, and that he obviously writes for the lay people amongst us; but even so, in the end, his method is more than I can bear (pardon the pun). You will have to read the rest of the review to find out what I am talking about. It is rather long (approx. 2700 words), but I wanted to be as thorough and fair to Jackson as I possibly could.

Jackson Baer is a former Youth and Teaching Pastor in an Evangelical church. He was released from his duties as a result of his belief that the doctrine of Hell does not include the Traditional teaching that it involves Eternal Conscious Torment. According to Baer, he wrote this book after spending four years of intense study to understand whether the traditional doctrine of hell was accurate, relative to the teaching of Scripture. Jackson Baer has an undergrad degree from a Bible College, is married with four young children. Baer is not an expert, a trained theologian, or biblical exegete; this reality should be brought to bear as the reader interacts with what Baer has put to print. The following is a review of Jackson Baer’s recently released (self published) book, What The Hell: How Did We Get It So Wrong? Eternity, Grace, and The Message of Love.

The book is made up of eleven short chapters; the total length of the volume is a hundred and thirty-nine pages. There are no footnotes, endnotes, or bibliographic material at the end of the book. The reader should understand that Baer’s book does not intend (it appears) to provide any global arguments, any engagement of recent or past scholarship (biblical or theological), any appeal to the original biblical languages, nor any sense of duty to accurately engage this hot issue in a way that reflects serious, objective, well thought out arguments. In other words, Baer’s book reflects more of a diary of his own personal struggle through the important issue of whether or not the traditional teaching of hell is viable. With that noted, let us enter into the body of Baer’s book.

Chapter 1 is titled, Stuck in Traffic: When One Hour Feels Like Forever. The title, straightforward as it is, identifies Baer’s primary purpose; he is seeking to suggest that time is relative, and thus the punishment of an eternal conscious torment in hell is not necessary in order for God to provide a just punishment for someone’s sins. Baer engages in anecdotal stories in order to “suggest” (versus argue) his point. At the end of this chapter Baer offers one more anecdote about how hell need not literally involve eternity in order to be hell. In the anecdote he is noting a plane trip he made from Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon; he gets stuck next to a chap who will not shut up. Baer uses this to describe how time and hell might relate to each other. We jump into the story as Baer is exiting the plane. He writes:

[I] didn’t want to bash this guy because he was obviously lonely. But as soon as he got off that plane all I could think was, “I’m free!” I felt like I had just finished a prison sentence and was tasting freedom for the first time in years. I was so grateful to be out of that seat. I said to myself as I walked into the airport, “That guy just convinced me that Hell is not eternal.” (p. 22)

Other than the humorous nature of this story; it serves to illustrate a very serious point that Baer is contending with. That is, that hell requires the belief that it involves an indefinite period of eternal conscious torment. Baer seems to want to suggest that hell can be temporal conscious torment, and still be hell. Chapter 2 is titled, You Speak Greek, I Read English. In this chapter Baer seeks to describe and argue how semantics, linguistics, and grammar work in the Bible. This is a key chapter for Baer, it is here where he attempts to relativize the biblical language of  words like eternal, fire, and more. Since Baer does not know Koine Greek (New Testament Greek), he relies on Young’s Literal Translation. The YLT translates the Greek word, found in Matthew 25:46, αíων, or aeon as ‘age-during’; instead of as eternal. Baer takes this translation as a repudiation of the normal translation of eternal; and thus he sees this as a way to understand this passage as denoting a quality instead of a quantity of existence. Or, that hell does not need to be understood as a literal place of eternal conscious torment; instead it could be a place of temporal conscious torment (so ‘age-during’ instead of eternal). I am giving Baer a charitable reading here (I think). Baer presses this as an opportunity to highlight how modern, contemporary translations are ultimately biased (and thus interpretations); and thus the serious Bible student (English speaking only) ought to refer to an “unbiased” translation like Young’s Literal Translation supposedly represents. Chapter 3 is entitled, Gehenna, the Grave, and the Invention of Hell. A very self-explanatory title; here Baer seeks to deconstruct the ‘traditional’ understanding of hell by explaining the way words like ‘Gehenna’, ‘the Grave,’ came to be interpreted as Hell. Baer argues that these words should be understood  in metaphoric ways, and  that it is a mis-translation (and thus interpretation) to translate these words with the signifier as ‘Hell’. His basic point is that this serves to mis-lead people into teaching that hell is taught in the Bible, when in fact the word hell is never used. He wants Bible students to refer back to the literal language (i.e. YLT), and thus disassociate ourselves from a doctrine that the New Testament in particular never teaches. Chapter 4, Good Dad v. Bad Dad, is a chapter that argues a fortiori of sorts; Baer argues that as a good earthly father, he will protect his children at all costs. Similarly he argues; that if this is true of earthly fathers, how much more must it be true of the Heavenly Father (p. 53-4). Chapter 5, entitled, What About The Old Testament, suggests that the God of the Old Testament is harsher than the God of the New Testament, and that the God of the Old Testament requires a works-righteousness salvation; while the New Testament is salvation by grace. Baer writes:

. . . The Old Testament is full of stories where people are sacrificing animals to atone for their sins. It’s a work based faith that required men and women to make a sacrifice in order to be forgiven from their sins. It also shows the darker side of God where He wipes out complete nations and seems harsher than most New Testament portrayals. (p. 69)

Baer continues along this line of thought; his method seems to be one where he is trying to provide a plausible account for how we should understand the apparent disparity between  the ‘harsher’ God of the Old Testament, with the God revealed in Christ in the New Testament. He seems to think the best way to understand the dealings of God in the Old Testament is to see them as metaphorical; he writes:

. . . Another thought is that many of the stories are simply metaphorical and didn’t actually happen. This belief might sound heretical to some Christians but it’s also a valid interpretation. (p. 69)

Baer then ties this into the way Jesus taught, parabolically. Baer seems to be suggesting that the ‘genocidal’ God of the Old Testament can be the God of grace in the New Testament; if we understand some of the ‘harsher’ language in the Old Testament as hyperbolic or parabolic. Thus the language should be understood in way that presents God as someone who is intensely adverse to sin, and not actually a mean, wrathful God—the kind of God who would condemn people to an eternal conscious and tormenting place known traditionally as, Hell. Chapter 6 is, All Merciful Now, Pent Up Rage Later? Here Baer asks his most pivotal question (according to him); it is: Why would God be forgiving here on Earth but extremely harsh and final in his punishment after death? (p. 77) In this chapter, Baer engages multiple passages of scripture—Ephesians 2:4-5; I Chronicles 16:34; Pslam 136; Titus 3:4-7; II Thessalonians 1:9; I Thessalonians 5:9-10; Matthew 18—to suggest (argue) that God’s mercy and grace far over-shadow God’s wrath and sense of justice towards sin. This chapter is Baer’s attempt to appeal to God’s nature, which as Baer would argue, means that God is not vindictive or wrathful forever; and Baer believes that the traditional doctrine of hell portends otherwise. Chapter 7 is labeled, When a Metaphor’s a Metaphor. Again, this is straightforward and self-explanatory. He tackles metaphor and its usage in scripture; he seeks to deconstruct the reality of a literal place called hell by ascribing it to the literary form of metaphor. Baer says it best when he writes of the dominical teaching of Jesus found in Mark 9; note, Baer:

[W]hen you are reading metaphorical language, you have to study it to see what the author was truly saying. In that same passage from the book of Mark, we see Jesus talking about being in danger of Gehenna (incorrectly translated as Hell) if you are not turning from those sins. This metaphorical language shows us that there is a punishment for sin and we are in danger of that punishment after we die. Did I miss the part about eternal torment and burning Hell for all of eternity? I didn’t miss it because it’s not there. Jesus didn’t say that, not even metaphorically, several times. That shows me that punishment for sin will not be pleasant but that there is also hope. God’s judgment is a serious thing to encounter. (p. 90)

Chapter 8 is titled, Aren’t We Forgetting Something? I Didn’t Ask To Be Born . . . . His basic suggestion in this chapter is that none of us chose to be born; so therefore, how would it be fair for God to then condemn us to hell? Baer intones that it is not fair and further, that this is incommensurate with God’s nature and demonstration of grace.  Baer writes, “Why would He not be merciful on judgment day, after a person’s time of punishment and correction? Why would he choose for someone to be born, live their life, and send them to Hell for eternity?” (p. 102) He follows this question, with many other skeptical questions about the fairness of God sending people to hell. You will have to read the book to find out what those are. Chapter 9, It’s Either Good News or It’s Not, continues to ask questions about God’s fairness; if in fact there is a literal place known as hell which lasts forever. His basic premise in this chapter is an “all or nothing” proposition; either the Gospel is good news or not. For Baer that means that everybody is included in the life everlasting offered by the Gospel; and not the eternal condemnation of hell (that would be bad news, and according to Baer negate the Good News). Baer writes, “If the Good News of Jesus Christ is only saving 10-20% of the world’s population, like most Christians estimate, then the news is good for a very small percentage of humanity and horrific for the majority of mankind. It’s either good news or it’s not.” (p. 110) The rest of the chapter follows this kind of “logic.” Chapter 10 is entitled, The Battle of Epic Proportions. In this chapter Baer engages the book of Revelation. Baer believes that “if” Revelation is an actual book that should be included in the Canon [he is ambiguous on his belief here, he appeals to the early Luther who questioned this book’s inclusion in the canon of Scripture (p. 124)—and then he questions the clarity of this book given its notoriously enigmatic history of interpretation (p. 129)], then it might teach that hell involves eternal conscious torment. But he elides this, again, by suggesting that the book of Revelation is a crux interpretum, and thus should not be appealed to in establishing doctrine. Baer seems to be appealing to the analogia scriptura (or fidei), where scripture should interpret scripture (the more clear interpreting the less clear); although he does not identify this, in explicit terms, as his approach at this point. Finally he closes this chapter by pointing the more motivated reader to PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), where he notes that, “PBS online has a great article on the history and facts about the book of Revelation.” (p. 129) Baer’s method in this chapter seemed to be to marginalize the clarity of Revelation, since if taken too literally it would seem to articulate that hell is eternal conscious torment. Chapter 11 is the final chapter of the book, and it is entitled, Restoring a 57’ Chevy. Baer uses this image [the 57’ Chevy] as a picture of what God does; he restores. Here, Baer, presents the Good News, the Gospel Message. Baer makes it clear that while he rejects the Tradition of the historic Christian Church on the doctrine of Hell; that at the same time, he still affirms the historic teaching of Christendom, that the only way to have a relationship with God is through faith in Jesus Christ! Baer is hopeful!

Strengths

The primary strength of Jackson Baer’s book is that it has the potential to cause Christians to return to scripture once again, and test to see if what Baer is asserting is true. Baer is able to write in a way that the reader will feel his heart, passion, and burden to get scripture right. Throughout the book Baer continuously references scripture after scripture; seeking to prove his argument from the holy writ. This book illustrates what it looks like for a non-specialist to engage a timely topic of our day in a heartfelt way.

Weaknesses

Jackson Baer, throughout his book, engages in fallacy after fallacy. This review has already run way too long, so I cannot illustrate this any further at this point (you will simply have to read the book to find out what I mean). He poisons the well, engages the genetic fallacy (over and again), sets up straw men, and probably the most prominent fallacy in Baer’s argument is ‘question begging’ (petitio principii). Baer overstates his case, many times, in order to undercut the traditional teaching of hell. In other words, he is so focused on deconstructing the doctrine of Hell, that he, in the process, tarnishes the integrity of the scriptures (even though he also wants to affirm that). Furthermore, Baer, undercuts the readers ability to trust modern biblical translations; again, simply so that he can make his point about hell (i.e. he believes that modern translations are more akin to interpretations, thus his appeal to a literal ‘translation’ “Young’s Literal Translation [which is actually a terrible literal translation]). There is also a prominent factual error that runs throughout Baer’s book; on pages 40, 124, and 127 he refers to the book of Revelation as apocryphal literature, instead of what it should be, apocalyptical literature—this error does not inspire confidence in the rest of Baer’s research. Finally, for this review, Baer runs rough-shod over any kind of scholarship. He ignores all of the history of interpretation, and only makes cryptic allusions to the history on this issue. This is a great oversight, and in my mind discredits the entire book (with everything else just noted).

Recommendation

As I wrote at the beginning of this review; this book would be more in the genre of diary, and personal reflection on how Jackson Baer has worked his way to his position on the traditional teaching on hell. If you are interested in understanding Jackson Baer’s road to a Christian Universalism, of sorts (he never self-identifies this way); then I could recommend this book to you on those merits. If you are seriously interested in reading a book that critically engages this issue, in a way that reflects careful thinking and argumentation; then I cannot recommend this book to you. For that I would recommend Gregory MacDonald’s (aka Robin Parry) The Evangelical Universalist. In fact, I would recommend that the author of the book under review here (if he has not), read MacDonald’s book. I think Baer would agree with what I have written here, after he does that.

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15 comments on “Book Review: What The Hell: How Did We Get it So Wrong? Eternity, Grace, and the Message of Love

  1. Bobby, ‘MacDonald’ has also edited ‘”All Shall Be Well”: Explorations in Universal Salvation and Christian Theology, from Origen to Moltmann’. It’s a very helpful volume too.

  2. Bobby Grow says:

    Jason,

    I know; I am going to request a review copy of that from Wipf & Stock. I also know that you have a chapter in that volume; which makes me want to read it even more (you don’t have a copy of your chapter handy, do you ;-) ? ).

  3. Christine says:

    A pretty thorough review. Thanks! I have not read the book, but if I may comment on translation issues, I don’t necessarily believe that the translation one uses matters as much as letting the scriptures interpret themselves. For example, when it comes to understanding what “eternal life” is, we know that it is to know God and Jesus Christ whom he sent because the scriptures tell us that in John 17:3. It is also something that is spoken of in the present tense, something that we are told believers “have”. Yet, when you ask most believers to tell you what “eternal life” is they will tell you it is the life that they “will have” after they die and go to heaven. I think the same holds true for the doctrine of “everlasting punishment”, which is the opposite (if you will) of “eternal life”. And are we not told that the wrath of God abides upon (present tense, again) them that believe not? That those who believe not are “condemned already” (John 3:17). Yet, one can “pass” from death (condemnation) unto life (justification) by faith, right? I study mostly from the KJV, as antiquated as most seem to think that it is, and I have no problem at all seeing the salvation of all men in its pages, so long as I don’t get hung up on what I am told the word “hell” means and I let the scriptures themselves define it for me. (Concordances are also very helpful, as they help you see how and when the same words are used elsewhere, but translated differently.) But even then we do not all reach the same conclusions. Just as those who believe in eternal torment might argue over whether or not literal flames and actual torture are involved or if hell is just a place of darkness and separation from God, you might find some Christian Universalists who believe the flames of Gehenna are literal and the torment very real, though temporary, while others see it more as a metaphorical fire for the purposes of purification, not torture. Others may mot even believe in post-mortem judgment at all, which is where I tend to fall, currently. Thanks for the review and kudos to Jackson for sharing it on his page, as well. ~All Blessings in Christ, Christine

  4. Bobby Grow says:

    Hi Christine,

    You make good points on the reality of eternal life; you’re right, it is participation in the Triune life of God mediated through Jesus Christ for us. But I don’t follow your thinking on judgment. There are multiple passages of Scripture (even the one you mention) that make future judgment (Heb 9.27) very clear. Its really not enough, I don’t think, to say that someone doesn’t believe in post-mortem judgment; the burden of proof comes in at the level of substantiating such a belief and assertion. One of the problems facing Evangelicalism, if I can be so frank, is the pervasiveness of normative relativism. Meaning that folks seem to believe that holding mutually exclusive positions about the same doctrine for example is sustainable. I don’t see any rigor in this kind of approach, and actually it rests on self-refuting self-implicating suppositions; i.e. the belief that what scripture teaches is available for multiple interpretations. It is not, and so we should not. And I mean we shouldn’t posit that it’s okay to assume that since this is how it is in Evangelicalism, that this is how it ought to be. In other words, it’s not enough to assert: ‘Others may mot even believe in post-mortem judgment at all, which is where I tend to fall, currently.’ Based on what? The burden of proof falls on those who hold to this belief, and as of yet, there is no credible exegesis that would allow such a belief to stand (which includes the Tradition of the Church of Christ).

    As far as translation issues; this is not a substantial point. Baer makes way too much of this in his book, and in fact this reflects a severe weakness, for my money, for his broader argument. These are the kinds of things one usually works through in 100 level classes in Bible College (like Text, Canon, Transmission, and Text Critical issues). That’s another problem with Baer’s book. It purports to be for the layman, but Baer presumes many many points—in shoddy, too quick ways—that are actually controversial in the scholarship itself; and in fact are not so easily written off (like the history of interpretation for example), as Baer does in his book. He also needs to supply footnotes to support his work (whether its for the layman or not). The issue he is dealing with in his book is a Dogmatic Systematic theological question, ultimately; and there has been all kinds of work done in this area. Jackson needs to be cognizant of that himself, and also let his readers know about the research themselves. He didn’t do that, and so his credibility amongst people who “know” is pretty much absent!

    I respect Jackson as a brother in Christ, Christine; but as I’ve told him through email correspondence, I think he published way too prematurely. He should’ve had his book run through the mill so to speak prior to publishing. He should have had theologians (ones who even agree with his belief, like Robin Parry) proof read it before he published. If he had, and was sensitive to critical feedback, the book we now have from Baer would not exist in its current form.

  5. Jon Sellers says:

    Bobby, thanks for taking the time to read and review this book. What this book represents and that you have so clearly identified is the way average everyday Evangelical Christians are being led to think. There is a huge amount of this thinking out there now – specifically a mistrust in the translations, a mistrust in the theological scholarship, an ignorance and disregard for the tradition of interpretation and an inability to argue with logical consistency.

    No doubt Jackson is complete sincere in his own faith in Christ and his current beliefs, but the fact that he could not make his presentation using the best tools of scholarship and logic available is indicative of the lack of training in biblical interpretation and thinking that is extant in the church at large. I find this problem everywhere in my own circles and it is frustrating to say the least.

    All the more reason for you and others to be teaching in the church and equipping the saints to think, and learn the tools available.

  6. Christine says:

    Hi again, Bobby,

    Part of me wants to agree with you when you say that mutually exclusive positions about the same doctrine are not sustainable, but the other part of me can only point to the same things that you did – that this is, none-the-less, the situation in which we find ourselves. If that weren’t so there wouldn’t be so many different Christian denominations. So I am just acknowledging that it is no different when it comes to Christian Universalism. There is more than one flavor, if you will.

    As I pointed out earlier, I don’t think translation issues are the biggest hurdle we face either. In fact, it’s probably a pretty small one to anyone who’s willing to study and who knows how to use a concordance. And I agree with you that there are some who make way too much of those issues. As I see it, the biggest hurdle we face is interpretation. And while I get that there can be only one truth, one correct interpretation of scripture, we know that this is not what we find. Again, this is why there are so many different Christian denominations. I’m not sure how you go about addressing that problem, though. Perhaps we will never all agree on interpretation. Perhaps that is even by design? Even Paul tells us that there must be heresies among us (1 Cor 11:19). The problem is that we let is cause division/schism in the body of Christ – quick to label someone “a heretic” and cast them out of the body of Christ, when it is really those who perpetuate this type of schism who are the “heretics”, according to scripture.

    I’m not going to be able to explain why I don’t believe in post-mortem judgment in a single comment here, but I will address Heb 9:27, since you brought it up and I think it is probably the most oft-used verse to support it. My issue with using that verse to support “death, then judgment” is that the passage is not speaking about our death(s), it’s speaking about the death of Christ… who came “once to die” (as is appointed unto all men) “and AFTER THIS the judgment”. This is why I believe Jesus said: “Now is the judgment of this world” and “I am come to send fire on the earth”. Judgment is predicated upon His death, a death that we have all been baptized into, which is how I see “the second death” (or our being “cast into the lake of fire”). Admittedly, I don’t come across many who have drawn the same conclusions I have, but there have been a few. And I certainly agree that “the burden of proof” rests squarely on the shoulders of the one(s) making the assertion. That said, when it comes to religious/spiritual matters, how often is it that one side of an argument ever convinces the other side to come over to their side? The fact that I might find my own arguments thoroughly convincing isn’t going to matter a whole lot to the discussion. That’s why I get so tickled when I see people claim that no one has ever “refuted” them. Truth is absolute, but our personal interpretations are quite subjective. Yet what it the alternative? To let someone else determine what the truth is for us? I don’t know what the solution is, but I know that I can no longer do that.

    As far as the book is concerned, I can’t really comment since I have not read it. But I will say that I think there has been a rush to publish these kinds of books recently. Not sure if it started with Rob Bell and maybe even The Shack. Could be that it only seems that way due to the publicity surrounding these higher profile book, as there were certainly many others published prior to those. ~ All Blessings in Christ, Christine

  7. Christine says:

    Just out of curiosity, have you read/reviewed “Her Gates Will Never Be Shut” written by Brad Jersak? I only heard of it today (published 2009) and when I was searching for reviews I found a review written by Robin Parry who said: “I consider Jersak’s book to be one of the best pieces of work ever published on the topic of universalism.”

  8. Bobby Grow says:

    @Jon,

    Thank you, brother; I know our hearts and motivations for Christian edification are very similar. Keep the faith . . .

  9. Bobby Grow says:

    @Christine,

    I don’t disagree with you about multiple denominations springing from what some have called pervasive interpretive pluralism within Evangelicalism. But that wasn’t really my point. My concern is the pervasive pragmatism that is prevalent in the Evangelical church. As you note, there is one purpose or meaning of scripture; so what is the control, what is it that will place a check on this rampant problem of my view versus your view? My approach is to follow the regula fidei or ‘rule of faith’, something akin to what Irenaeus followed; the Apostolic center of scripture’s witness (not to get too Barthian). I would contend that there is an inner-logic (theo-logic) to scripture; which finds its gravity and reality when it bears witness to Jesus Christ.This is what Jesus identified as the reality of scripture (Jn 5.39), this is what the early Patristic church understood; and I think it behooves us to prudently follow in these footsteps. Does this mean that there still won’t be variant readings and interpretations of scripture? No. But it does mean that the test for whether something is biblical or not resides in the personal theo-logic of God’s life in Christ (not in the magesterium of the church, no matter what denomination or tradition or confession). If this is the ‘rule of faith’, then we are bound to Christ alone, and the best of the Reformed sola scriptura, which is really solus Christus!

    As far as Heb 9.27. My doctoral research is on this very topic, and is a fundamental tenet of what we are calling “Evangelical Calvinism.” I.e. following the ontological theory of the atonement, which finds expression in the Incarnation and the vicarious humanity of Christ (pro nobis), for us. My only contention, though, is that unless one follows a pluralistic and fully actualised universalism; that your apparent position on Heb 9.27 does not make sense. Which would give us John Hick’s anonymous Christians, and faith in Christ would not be required. In other words, even if one holds to a Christian universalism he or she, in my estimation, still needs to follow the theo-logic present in the biblical witness relative to articulating there position. I don’t see how you are able to make a distinction between your universalism and a pluralistic version (vis-a-vis a Christian or Evangelical universalism); in other words I don’t see where “faith in Christ” is required as a condition for participating in spiritual union with Christ.

    Yes, I am aware of the various ways to index the universalisms; like: John Hick’s Pluarlistic Universalism,, J.A.T Robinson’s Christian Universalism, and then something like Robin Parry’s Evangelical Universalism. And then of course the broader categories of Hopeful, Dogmatic, and Hopeful-Dogmatic Universalisms. There is a continuum represented by the term ‘Universalism’, just like any position.

    Here’s some links that get at what ontological atonement is about: http://growrag.wordpress.com/2010/06/05/forensic-ontological-the-atonement/

    And Evangelical Calvinist understanding of election and union with Christ theology (one and the same really): http://growrag.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/carnalspiritual-union-and-the-universal-extent-of-the-atonement/

    http://growrag.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/evangelical-calvinisms-commitment-to-the-vicarious-humanity-of-christ/

    http://growrag.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/evangelical-calvinist-pre-destination-and-election/

    While all the posts I just linked for you are Dogmatic in nature, I believe that they all move and breath within the inner-logic or theologic of scripture that I referred to earlier. I have many more posts that engage your questions on hermeneutics, and the problem of pervasive pluarlism, so called.

    Pax.

    PS. I agree with you about the outpouring of Hell books in the wake of Bell’s opening number.

  10. Bobby Grow says:

    No, I haven’t read Jersak; maybe someday :-) .

  11. Bobby Grow says:

    My doctoral research is on the vicarious humanity of Christ with special attention to the theology of Thomas Torrance, to be clear (i.e. not on Heb 9.27).

  12. Christine says:

    @ Bobby,

    To be honest, not being familiar with all of the –isms out there, I have never heard of Pluralistic Universalism or John Hicks. I’ll have to do a bit of research. That said, I do believe salvation is in Christ alone and I am not sure how the way I understand the Heb passage would prohibit me from believing that Christ alone is the way, the truth and the life. I do believe that faith is required for eternal life (and few there be that find it). But I also believe that even “the dead” are “in Christ” (which I do not see as the corpses or souls of deceased Christians). And maybe that is what you are referring to when you refer to “actualized universalism”? (Something else I will have to look up. :)). I do agree with what you said about John 5:39 and solus Christus, however. It’s ALL about Christ! Amen! ~ All Blessing in Christ! :)

    Now I will go do some research and also check out your suggested links. Thanks!

  13. Bobby Grow says:

    @Christine,

    I just didn’t see you providing a proviso in your explanation for Heb 9.27 for the need for faith in Christ in order for that to be actualised in a person’s life. But I do agree with you that all are “elect” in Christ’s vicarious humanity (as archetypical humanity or the firstborn from the dead Col 1.15ff and the firstfruits of God I Cor 15). You should read Karl Barth and Thomas Torrance if you haven’t; I think you would like them given your understanding of “in Christ;” that’s why I like them anyway!

    Blessings.

  14. [...] is making in-roads within certain sectors of the Evangelical community like never before (as a recent book I’ve done a review for illustrates). Here Christian Kettler comments on theologian, John Hick’s kind of thinking [...]

  15. [...] with Jackson Baer, the author of the newly released book What The Hell (for which I did a review). I came across a great little video and discussion provided by NT Wright on the topic, and I would [...]

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