Thinking Out Loud

February 3, 2020

Autograph Book Theology

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:52 am

It’s hard to speak of the “Jesus People” revolution of the 1970s for more than a minute without talking about the music, but there was also a comedy troupe called Isaac Air Freight whose tours and recordings were synonymous with those times.

Their sign-off at the end of each performance was,

See you here, there or in the air.

I guess rapture doctrine wasn’t up for debate as much then. It was the same sentiment also expressed by Southern Gospel songs like “I’ll See You In The Rapture;” or “I’m Going Higher Some Day.”

Another version of the same is still used,

Christians never say ‘Goodbye,’ they just say ‘See you later.’

I want to attribute that to C.S. Lewis, but he receives much attribution for things he never wrote…

…In my pre-teen and early teen years autograph books were a thing. Our Middle School didn’t have yearbooks, so maybe that created the necessity. If the back page of the book hadn’t been used, you could be the one to write

By hook or by crook
I’ll get the last page in your book.

Your friend,
Charlie.

But the one that always got me was,

If in heaven we do not meet
Hand in hand we’ll face the heat.

At that impressionable age, it always confounded me that there were people who — every bit as much as my church friends and I said we were looking forward to the rapture — were looking forward to an eternity in Hell. Certainly Hell was something to be avoided, wasn’t it?

Maybe not for them.

Perhaps now, as then, Heaven is a bit of a bore and Hell is more of a party. Many are the stand-up comedy routines built on the premise that everyone in the audience is hell-bound.

Is that the reason why ‘fire insurance’ evangelistic programs are not highly successful? Set aside the findings that fear is a terrible motivator for producing lasting disciples, is it possible that some people are not only not interested in avoiding Hell, but are actually looking forward to it?



The aforementioned I’m Going Higher song. I had a general idea what I wanted to embed here, but who could resist a group called the Teen-Tones?

If you would prefer a more modern approach to rapture doctrine, there was always this from the 1980s band After the Fire

 

October 16, 2011

Rob Bell Pens Response to the Responses

In keeping with our policy of all Rob Bell news all the time, here’s the latest:  HarperCollins will release a paperback response to the critics in February 2012 simply titled The Love Wins Companion.

Bit of a cover similarity, don't ya think?

Here’s the 411 from the publisher:

For anyone who wants to delve deeper into Rob Bell’s bestselling Love Wins, the expansive and accessible Love Wins Companion offers scholarly support and critiques, resources for individuals, groups, and classes, and brand new material by Rob Bell himself. As Love Wins continues to become a touchstone for thousands of readers worldwide, controversy surrounds the book’s arguments. Author Brian D. McClaren wrote that with Love Wins “thousands of readers will find freedom and hope and a new way of understanding the biblical story,” yet USA Today observed that “Bell has stuck a pitchfork in how Christians talk about damnation.” Here, in The Love Wins Companion, Rob Bell offers commentary on the positive and negative attention his groundbreaking book is receiving, delivering a crucial supplement to one of the most important books since the Bible.

For those looking to go deeper with Rob Bell’s bestselling pioneering book Love Wins, this companion offers:

  • Insights and commentary by theologians, Bible scholars, scientists, and pastors
  • Deep analysis of all relevant Bible passages on heaven, hell, and salvation
  • Detailed chapter summaries, discussion questions, and Bible studies for individuals, groups, and classes
  • Excerpts from works throughout Christian history illustrating the variety of teachers also debating the issues Bell wrestles with
  • New material by Bell on his mission for the book and how people can take the next step

July 15, 2011

The Last Word on Hell

What an interesting time this is for Christian publishing.  Children’s experiences of heaven top bestseller lists (The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, Heaven is For Real, A Message from God) while the adults — sparked by Rob Bell — debate the existence and/or nature of hell.

The last word on this subject may belong to a book I’m currently reading.  It’s far too early for me to begin anything resembling a review, but Hell Is Real (But I Hate to Admit It) by Brian Jones (David C. Cook Publishing/August 1, 2011) seems to me to relate better to the misgivings many people, including Christians, have on the subject of hell.  At 272 pages, it’s also a much longer treatment of the subject than the current bestseller in the refuting-Rob-Bell department.

Jones is senior pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley in Philadelphia, a rather edgy east coast church.

July 6, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Wednesday link kangaroo

A kangaroo walks into a bar.

“Wow!” the bartender says; “We don’t get many kangaroos in here.”

“Yeah,” says the Kangaroo, “And at these prices, you’re not going to get many more.”

…I know it’s pathetic, but that’s always been one of my favorite jokes, and the link list seemed the best place for it.

Click the image above to see 226 more pictures from North Carolina's Wild Goose Festival in June by photographer Courtney Perry

  • If you missed the Wild Goose Festival, photographer Courtney Perry has 227 pictures; you can even purchase copies.
  • John Starke nails it on How to Write a Great Book Review (Or How Not to Write a Bad One).
  • Speaking of which, Benji Zimmerman does a great review of Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle’s Erasing Hell the response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins. (Easier to read with a Javascript Black/White swap app.)
  • And Chan himself sits down with Mark Galli at CT for what appears to be an interview but is really more of a dialog.
  • Stephen Brewster was one of many syncrobloggers who joined together in June to talk about blocks to creativity.  He links to some of the other writers, too.
  • Frank Turk digs into the can of worms being opened by New York’s new marriage law.
  • Craig Groeshel, the guy with the .tv web domains, is now suggesting individuals and families take a few nights off each week to unplug.
  • A few days late for the 4th, but for our American friends, Louis Giglio reflects on the Declaration of Independence with Chris Tomlin on camera and some cheap shots at England’s Matt Redman.  (HT: Worship Blog)
  • Matt Rawlings brings his twice yearly top five books list, and his top 62 “geek” books list.
  • Also on books, Jon, our academic book-watcher on the left coast wants you to know about Christians at the Border: Immigration, The Church and the Bible.  Basically this is a Guatemalan professor of Old Testament studies discussing social policy.  Here’s the publisher’s 411, and a 9-pg .pdf preview.
  • Adam Young, aka Owl City, has a new video, packed with footage from the Back to the Future movies.  Check out Deer in the Headlights.
  • But we can take the animal video linking thing further with this Charlie the Hamster audio file. (HT: Stuff Fundies Like.)
  • Anne Jackson, transparent as ever, has reactivated her blog which has been dormant since March.  You can read her posts from June 17th and June 24th.
  • No link here, but my son Chris put this on his Facebook page:
    .
    The Parable of the Dry Stick
    .
    I was out for a hike a while ago and there was a stick on the path.  I gave it a kick, and all the bark broke off and scattered, leaving only the bare, white wood.
    .
    God then said:  “The world is full of people who will completely change, who are just waiting to be prompted, quietly hoping someone will disrupt their daily ennui.”

    .
     If you know one of those people, give them a proverbial kick.  Tell them their life can amount to something.  Invite them to join the adventure of discovering God.

Separated at Birth (and by a few generations) — Lyn Cryderman, author of Glory Land, republished as No Swimming on Sunday and Colton Burpo of Heaven is for Real fame.  The Cryderman book is a bit of a hard-to-find collector’s item but an excellent document capturing growing up in America in the Free Methodist denomination.  “I gotta home in Glory land that outshines the sun…Way beyond the blue”

May 24, 2011

Francis Chan on Erasing Hell

The hot topic of the spring of 2011 will forever be recorded as “Heaven, Hell and the Hereafter,” but probably the response of Francis Chan will be noted as one of the more heavyweight contributions, given the huge ongoing popularity of his first book Crazy Love.   The ten minute video clip below initiates that response and also serves to promote the July 5 release of Erasing Hell: What God said about Eternity and the Things We Made Up from David C. Cook.  I’ll get to that in a minute.

But first let me pause and point out a serious liability of the whole video upload thing.  Unlike a blog, where I have control of whose comments are posted, it would appear that YouTube selects “featured comments,” in this case choosing one for which I’m sure the uploader would not approve.  So let me encourage you to watch the video here, and to link your friends back here, not because I need the stats, but just to avoid a lot of nonsense.

I think what’s going to happen with this book is that a lot of people who are down on Rob Bell are going to say, “Finally, here’s a book to stop Love Wins in its tracks.”

And in case you miss it, I think what Francis Chan is saying is that we’re fighting over doctrine and missing the point that this is about the souls of real people some of whom we interact with on a daily basis; and saying basically, how dare you trivialize this or reduce this to a doctrinal debate.

May 11, 2011

Wednesday Link List

How about changing the name to “Linkerama”?  Just kickin’ around some ideas.  Looks like the links lynx is back!

  • What is about church life that gives us so much material for everything from Christian satire sites to cartoons?  This one is from Tim Walburg at ToonFever.com aka Church and Family Cartoons:

April 30, 2011

Eugene Peterson Defends Endorsement of Love Wins

Tucked away in a corner of the blogosphere since mid-March — until CT unearthed it this week — is this little interview with The Message translator Eugene Peterson on the blog Love and Judgment, a blog created to highlight perspectives on the Love Wins controversy.   Since Peterson is a highly respected Hebrew and Greek scholar, his take on Rob Bell’s newest title surprised many.   Here is the link to the article, as well as, below, some highlights:

…I don’t agree with everything Rob Bell says.  But I think they’re worth saying.  I think he puts a voice into the whole evangelical world which, if people will listen to it, will put you on your guard against judging people too quickly, making rapid dogmatic judgments on people.  I don’t like it when people use hell and the wrath of God as weaponry against one another.

I knew that people would jump on me for writing the endorsement.  I wrote the endorsement because I would like people to listen to him.  He may not be right.  But he’s doing something worth doing…

…There’s very little Christ, very little Jesus, in these people who are fighting Rob Bell.

April 9, 2011

Billy Graham: The Generation after the Next Generation

Oh yeah! People come up and say, “The years of mass evangelism are dead,” and I say, “I don’t believe in mass evangelism,” and they’re like, “That’s what you guys have always done.” I say, “No, we don’t. We do personal evangelism, but we do it on a massive scale.”

~Will Graham, son of Franklin Graham

Christianity Today sits down Will Graham, an associate evangelist with his grandfather’s BGEA and assistant director of The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove.

It’s worth a look.  For example, here’s a change from everything you’ve been reading lately on hell:

I can’t speak for what Rob Bell talks about, but most people I come across still believe in hell. Now the idea of what hell is, that’s changing, but there are a few things we do know that the Bible says. One, that there is a place called hell. Just as heaven is real, so is hell. The whole reason God came to search out man was to save us from hell. The Bible says hell was never created for man. It was created for Satan and his angels that rebelled against God. Since man has decided to rebel against God, they were going to spend eternity in hell totally separate from God.

He also talks about other aspects to crusade evangelism, some new initiatives the organization has started, and comparisons to both is father and grandfather.

Read the whole piece at CT Online.

March 27, 2011

Howard Jones: What is Hell Anyway?

Earlier this week, I decided to go out on a limb on Christianity 201, my devotional blog, and introduce a few readers to Greg Boyd, pastor of Woodland Hills Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  But before I embedded Greg’s sermon on Hell — spread out over three videos — I decided to write what was probably the largest disclaimer I’ve ever done.

For that one however, I skipped the Howard Jones reference.   But if someone’s got the time, I think “What is Hell Anyway” would be a timely song parody…

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past three weeks, you’re well aware that a popular Christian author has caused there to be much discussion on the doctrine of hell.   Sample topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Is hell a physical reality or is it figurative language?
  • What determines who goes to heaven and who goes to hell?
  • Is hell eternal; does it last “forever?”
  • Are there people who initially reject Christ who will somehow “accept” Him after death?
  • How is the concept of hell consistent with the loving, gracious nature of God?

…and so it goes.

Who engages in these discussions?  Again, the list includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • People who have their minds made up, and militantly defend their position and refute all other views;  some of whom view themselves as somewhat ‘contaminated’ by merely listening to other viewpoints.
  • People who simply like a good argument; people who enjoy the endorphin release that comes with lively, passionate debate, or enjoy the ‘game’ of just asking the awkward questions.
  • People who are genuinely seeking answers; people new to faith; people confused by the variants of doctrinal positions.
  • People who are relatively established in their faith, but are interested in exploring how others interpret scripture and how that affects their beliefs in other doctrinal areas.
  • People who don’t regard their views on secondary doctrinal matters as
    “set in stone” and would be open to reconsider their position of the points raised by those of different opinions were persuasive.

I think we need to ask ourselves, “Which kind of person am I?  Do I just like a good fight?  Or am I truly seeking for some answers?  Or am I simply open to hear how those with different takes reconcile other doctrinal matters?”

At that point, I introduced the videos, which you’re welcomed to watch.  T.O.L. readers can leave comments here at this post.   Link here for the sermon videos.


March 24, 2011

TSK on Bellgate

Filed under: books, theology — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:57 am

A couple of assorted Rob Bell related sentences from Andrew Jones aka Tall Skinny Kiwi:

  • Sometimes I wonder whether the Christian church in our western countries has become, quite regrettably, a book club.  (March 18)
  • Tweeted by someone else:  “More offended by the ugliness of the Evangelical response to Rob Bell than by anything he’s ever written.” (March 17)
  • Rob Bell at 18 months: Universalist tendencies visibly apparent

    “Farewell Rob Bell” has probably become the most famous Christian tweet of all time, even though no one really knows what John Piper meant by it. T-shirts will be made. Bumper stickers. The Farewell Rob Bell Bible?  (March 13)

  • Becky Garrison:  I am commending HarperOne for a brilliant marketing plan that got their product out there in a very horrible market.  (Comment on post March 13)
  • They [the new generation of Christians] will desire a view of the end times that moves beyond a Jack Chick hell, a Left Behind rapture, and a Hal Lindsay burning-planet-ecology. (March 17)
  • Becky Garrison (again!): I’d like to mention that HarperOne has a slew of books coming out on this topic – Evolution of Faith (Philip Gulley), Desmond Tutu (God is Not a Christian), Speaking Christian (Marcus Borg) and whatever NT Wright is cranking out…  (Comment to March 17 post.)
  • It will be interesting to see how they [Bell and N. T. Wright] differ, if they differ at all. I notice that Wright’s book remains quite unchallenged by critics compared to what Rob Bell is about to put out. Maybe its weaker theologically and therefore an easier target. (Comment to March 9th post).

Tall Skinny Kiwi.  Bookmark it.  Visit often.  A breath of fresh air guaranteed.  (But maybe Becky should get her own blog.  Oh wait…)

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