Last week, Conciliar Post ran a Round Table discussion what happens to human beings after physical death. Below are my reflections for your consideration.
Just a couple of weeks ago, someone posed this very question—what happens to people after death?—while I was teaching a Sunday school class on the Apocalypse of John (the book of Revelation). We were reading and talking through Revelation 20:12-13, which reads: Continue reading
Few people have shaped contemporary Christianity more than Billy Graham. Though not as active, popular, or visible as he once was, Graham’s decades of evangelism, writing, and preaching continue to influence Christians around the world. Even in retirement, Graham continues to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. It was thus with eagerness that this reviewer engaged one of his latest books, The Reason for My Hope: Salvation (Thomas Nelson: 2013). Continue reading
In at least some contemporary circles, the topic of the afterlife and Hell are hot topics (pardon the pun). This is especially true within numerous Christian communities as they react to the perspectives of various pastors and scholars on hell and the state on non-Christians after death. It seems safe to say that most Americans know something about the concept of hell—that fiery place of torment that you go to if you’re not up to snuff with St. Peter (or something like that). And while numerous religious perspectives conceive of something similar to the Christian conception of hell (think of Hades for the ancient Greeks), what many people don’t realize is that the hell commonly conceived of by Americans isn’t really based on Biblical portrayals of someplace called hell. Indeed, much of what we think about hell and its prince, Satan, comes not from any scriptural text, but instead from the epic poetry of John Milton. In this post, we will examine some of the Hell portrayed in Milton’s Paradise Lost. Continue reading
Can God really be good? Will God really judge all non-Christians? How can you believe in a God who commanded genocide?
These are questions which many people—many Christians—struggle to honestly answer, queries which have caused people to walk away from the Christian faith, problems that have eroded many hearts and minds. And, lest we be seen as overly dismissive, these are significant and important questions, questions which need understanding and (when possible) answers. To help us think through such questions, Joshua Ryan Butler has written The Skeletons in God’s Closet: The Mercy of Hell, the Surprise of Judgment, the Hope of Holy War (Nashville: Thomas Nelson: 2014). Continue reading
A while back, a friend wrote me and asked, “How do you justify [and explain] the people who died before Christ came [i.e., Abraham, Moses, David]?” This struck me as an important and insightful question. In our rush to talk about and theologize heaven and hell, we often pay little attention to people who would have lived and died before the time of Christ. So how do we think about those people? One place to being thinking about this topic is the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus from Luke 16, which has been used to reflect on questions of salvation and Paradise since at least the time of Ephrem the Syrian (4th century). Continue reading
John Piper’s latest book, A Godward Heart: Treasuring the God Who Loves You, stands as the latest example of his ability to pen books worthy of being enjoyed by Christians across denominational lines. Many have long found Piper’s preaching, teaching, and writing useful, important, and worthy of reflection, and this newest offering does not disappoint. This purposefully eclectic book contains fifty meditations from Piper on a number of topics, ranging from seeking the Lord and the Grace of God to Idolatry and Racism. Piper’s back-cover “Whether you are just discovering the divine richness of Scripture or have long been a passionate student, you’ll find a deeper understanding of God and renewed insight for your journey” appropriately sums the scope of this book. Most of Piper’s reflections on these topics are very good and thought-provoking, and he blends scripture, history, and theological reflection well throughout. Going in I expected more scriptural exposition, but thought Piper did an admirable job drawing upon a variety of sources for his reflections. Continue reading
In Heaven and Hell: Are They For Real? Christopher D. Hudson seeks to provide answers to some of the most common questions regarding the afterlife. Books engaging heaven and hell have been fairly common since Rob Bell’s Love Wins, and Hudson offers another work from the broadly evangelical camp by drawing upon scripture, personal experience, and the perspectives of popular scholars.
Heaven and Hell is divided into (unsurprisingly) two major sections: the first addressing questions on heaven and the second concerning itself with hell. In the heaven section, questions are considered dealing with the moments after death, what life in heaven looks like, what heaven looks like, who is in heaven, and the like. The section on hell deals with questions such as how real hell is, if going to hell is a choice, what hell looks like, the final judgment, and contemporary challenges to the belief of hell. Continue reading