Something John Shore needs to Consider about ‘Reason’, the Image of God, and how it applies to God and Hell

John Shore, apparently uber-Progressive Christian blogger (never heard of him before, until just now), just wrote a post over at his Patheos blog (on the Progressive Christian channel) about God and hell. After lacing some suggestions together about why Shore believes that belief in the Christian God of love and hell (as eternal conscious torment) are incompatible he summarizes (and somewhat concludes) this:

To which I call bullshit.

You don’t get to claim that humans are made in the very image of God, and at the same time claim that God’s morality is completely different from human morality.

You see John needs this premise (above) in order to make the suggestions/assertions (instead of arguments) that he does about God and hell. He needs a way to set Scripture aside, this way he is able to simply appeal to human rationality and ‘reason’ (as he defines it). But all I can say in response to John’s “call” is so what? Who cares what John Shore or anyone else thinks about hell and God.

Just because there “might” be an internal coherence to someone’s logic, does not make that logic universally binding and absolute; not in the way John thinks it does! John smuggles things into his syllogism, into the premises that fund his conclusions about God, humans and morality. He smuggles in the idea that the image of God and how that gets cashed out is more straightforward than it is; and I think just focusing on this one smuggle by John undercuts everything else he has been suggesting about God, hell, morality and humans. John needs to flesh out what he means by image of God; where he gets what he means by image of God; and why he thinks that what he thinks about the image of God justifies his conclusions about God, hell, humans, and morality. John needs to deal with the concept of the image of God, itself a REVEALED category (something we find in the Bible, and in the Bible’s reality in Jesus Christ), and explain how the Bible itself supports his apparent belief that the image of God allows him to conclude what he does about God, humans, hell, and morality. John needs to talk about the noetic effects of sin upon people created in the image of God, and what impact that has upon our capacities to ‘reason’ about the things of God; i.e. as if there is a univocal relationship between our ‘fallen reasoning’ and how God then must apparently act in correlation with our ‘fallen unaided naked reason’.

John’s suggestions about God, hell, morality, and humans lives on a procrustean bed; and so it is only fair to say back to John: who cares what you think about God, hell, humans, and morality? Really all that matters is what God in Jesus Christ thinks about it. If you can’t make your argument from there, then, John, you have no argument to make. If you can’t get past basic anthropological problems (as I have alluded to above), John, then all you really have is an appeal to the people; which you know is no argument at all.

PS. It is possible to have a reasonable, theological, biblical discussion about Christian universalism, etc., but John has not come close to providing that. He needs to overcome much before he is able to do that.

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4 Responses to Something John Shore needs to Consider about ‘Reason’, the Image of God, and how it applies to God and Hell

  1. At least in the present instance, Shore’s verbal pugilism is not worth thoughtful comment.

    “Uber-Progressive Christian blogger…” Peter Enns, yes. John Shore, no. In the same way that what Paul Krugman says matters and what Chris Matthews says does not.


  2. stanrock says:

    Nobody even knows what the “imago Dei” means. As such, it’s really easy to use it as a logical wildcard; rhetorically useful, and conceptually-evocative, but useless as a firm premise upon which to build a cogent argument.

    As a believer in purgatorial hell, I agree with your assessment; I don’t want this kind of weak argumentation to popularly represent our case.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bobby Grow says:


    I’ve never heard of Shore before, but he claims to get over 245,000 views between his two blogs each month; that is a lot, and would place him simply by his reach into some sort of uber category (at least in re to pageviews, although not in re to material content if this one post I read from him represents any kind of measure).


  4. Bobby Grow says:


    I know who the image of God is: Jesus (see Col 1.15). In that case it means a lot, and from that frame we can actually say quite a bit, but only when we start from Jesus, as usual.


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