Showing posts from August, 2011

Will all be saved?

Rob Bell asks this question in his book, Love Wins. Doing so has produced accusations of heresy and a firestorm of controversy surrounding the topics of heaven, hell and salvation.

Is Rob Bell a universalist?
Despite accusations to the contrary, Rob denies being a universalist. He believes that no one can know what people will ultimately decide concerning God and his grace. However, Rob wonders if God's love might eventually overcome any resistance, as people open their hearts to God and embrace their salvation in Christ. Perhaps it is accurate to call Rob a "hopeful universalist."
Torrance on universalism
Regarding universalism, I find helpful the perspective of trinitarian theologian Thomas F Torrance. T.F. notes that, "whether all men will as a matter of fact be saved or not, in the nature of the case, cannot be known" (Scottish Journal of Theology 2 [1949] 310-18, quoted in In the End, God, by John A.T. Robinson, Wipf and Stock: 2011, p148). Torrance gives tw…

Is God's forgiveness conditional?

Are there things we must do before God will forgive us? Many answer 'yes,' often making two claims:
That God, being holy, stores up wrath against the sinner (here they typically cite Rom 2:5). Moreover, God will not let go of this wrath, through forgiveness, until the sinner repents (which to them, includes asking God for his forgiveness).That God will not forgive the sinner until they forgive those who have sinned against them (here they typically cite Jesus' words in Mat 6:14-15 and 18:21-35). I address the second claim in another post, so I'll focus here on the first. What I understand Scripture to teach (when read in the light of the gospel of grace), is that God's forgiveness of all humanity is unconditional and has already been granted.

First, I note a disconcerting paradox: Those who claim that God will not forgive us until we repent, often claim that we should forgive those who have offended us, whether they repent or not. I agree that our forgiveness of ot…

The journey with Jesus

In a recent You're Includedvideo, Dr. Alan Torrance beautifully and profoundly summarizes the Christian life as, "our sharing by the Spirit in the Incarnate Son's communion with the Father."

As noted frequently in this blog, the Son of God, our Creator and Sustainer, united himself to all humanity by adding humanity to his divinity in the person of the God-man, Jesus Christ.

Though not all people know of and thus personally experience this established union with Jesus, Christians do, and through the Holy Spirit they share actively in the Son's communion with his Father. Is their sharing perfect? No. Christians, like all human beings, are a work in progress. Therefore,I think it's helpful to think of this union leading to communion as a journey with Jesus. As I study Jesus' earthly life in Scripture, I see the journey as consisting of three basic steps (or, better yet, patterns of being and doing) that are grounded in and expressive of God's own life …

We believe (Nicene Creed, #2)

This post is part 2 of a series exploring The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (commonly called the Nicene Creed). For other parts, click on the corresponding number: 134, 56, 7, 8, 910, 111213.

This historic, orthodox Creed begins with a simple, yet profound assertion:

 We believe... 

The Creed defines the content of this belief in a way that has stood the test of time, being embraced by Christians of nearly every denominational stripe for over 1600 years!

According to Athanasius, who was an influential delegate at Nicaea, the Creed sets forth "the divine and apostolic faith" (quoted in The Trinitarian Faithby T.F. Torrance, p15). According to Torrance, it presents the "simple first principles of the Gospel" (p16).

The chief concern of the framers of the Creed, including Athanasius (see picture), was to clarify and defend what the Apostles taught concerning the nature of our triune God. The resultant, carefully chosen words constitute the heart of our Chr…