“If Jesus, the Lord of Love and Author of Grace spoke about hell more often, and in a more vivid, blood-curdling manner than anyone else, it must be a crucial truth.”
Hell is a very concrete teaching of Scripture, one which theology has attempted to find many loopholes out of. You really can’t deny it’s existence, however, when you read the Book.
What I can’t figure out is, who is in it?
“In 2003 a research group discovered 64% of Americans expect to go to heaven when they die, but less than 1% think they might go to hell.”
Talk to any Christian and they’ll inevitably talk about this guy they know who (put in a long list of horribly disgusting sins he does), but “he’s a Christian.” We celebrate over the latest athlete or entertainer who accidentally mentioned something about “faith” and regardless of any lifestyle evidence conclude that “oh but they’re a Christian.”
I’m certainly not encouraging people to conclude who is in hell, but I also don’t encourage anyone to decide who is in heaven either. Let me say this though: someone has to be there.
At Bible Study last night we were talking about using Scripture in ways it was not intended to be used, and or, changing the meaning of the verse to force an application into it. At which point I said something like, “Most theology is an attempt to find loopholes in what the Bible plainly says.”
I stand by that. This morning I came across this blog post about a seminary professor critiquing his mainly pastoral classrooms. In the post he says,
“There is a vast ‘scholarly’ coping mechanism out there that has evolved with the main goal of avoiding obvious conclusions.”
Indeed. It’s called “job security.” If everything was obvious we wouldn’t need people to tell us what to think.
“I go to Bible study on Wednesday mornings – I even teach sometimes – but I’ll still get up on stage and be much scarier than Marilyn Manson. It doesn’t mean that, as a Christian, you can’t be a rocker or an entertainer. It’s your lifestyle. I never use bad language. That’s not gentlemanly. Alice might slit your throat but he’d never use the F word.”— Alice Cooper
One way people think they are “keepin it real” when it comes to church is to spiritually say, “I just wish we could take the church back to the New Testament model.” Sounds wonderful and also shows a total disjoint with reality.
Seriously? Are ya sure?
Grace Digest points out an aspect of the early church in Acts 6:4. The pastors say they will devote themselves to prayer and the preaching of the Word, you deacons can do all the rest.
Would that model fly in your church? Wouldn’t you be upset if your pastor wasn’t there to coddle you in your latest “crisis?” Wouldn’t you be tempted to ridicule your pastor for doing nothing all week? Do you really want to be one of those who has to “do all the work?”
Oh, then there’s the bit about not having any possessions but having all things in common. Oh yeah, many of them were being killed and imprisoned, too.
I’m all for having the “early church.” I think the “late church” is very messed up and way off the path. But still, know what it is you’re saying when you clamor for “the Acts Church, man.”
In 1 Samuel 15, God tells Israel to destroy the bad guys and wipe out all their stuff. Instead, Israel keeps some of the stuff to sacrifice to God. Samuel confronts them, “What are you doing? God did not ask for sacrifice, He wanted you to listen to Him!”
How much of our “spiritual activity” is actually what God asked us to do? Here are a few examples, both of which are not necessarily without some tongue in cheek and yet still, where is it in the Bible?
1. Ladies’ Bible Studies: My experience with these (minimal considering I’m a man, but I do know some women) is that these are gossip/whine sessions. Furthermore, I know that my Bible (and probably yours too) says “And if they [women] will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home.” But, I know, your ladies’ Bible study practically saved your life and was one of the most honoring spiritual things you’ve ever done.
2. Children’s Ministry: Not one word about this in the Bible. Children are told one pretty basic thing in the Bible: Listen to your parents. It’s the parent’s responsibility to teach their kids spiritual things. Oh but, I’ve seen so much good come out of it and so many kids don’t have parents that teach them. Reminds me of our critique of welfare though: people don’t work because they don’t have to. Parents don’t teach because the church is.
Again, I’m somewhat facetious in this but still I’m just sayin. I keeps it real. Examine what you are doing. Is it really what Scripture tells us to do? If it is, then fine, I won’t dissuade you. Being busy in church is not necessarily a spiritual activity though.
There are some pretty basic things the Bible does tell us to do, make sure you do those.
I read this morning that cutting $6,000 of expenses a year is the same as getting a $10,000 raise, financially speaking (not the same because you have $6,000 less of something). That breaks down to this: Roughly speaking: every dollar you save in spending is like two dollars you’ve earned (or at least $1.50).
The reason why is because you have to pay taxes on a raise whereas cutting spending is not taxed, plus you also eliminate sales tax by not buying stuff.
A new study about Czech Republic avian ecologists (professional bird watchers) shows that the more a scientist drinks beer the fewer papers he will get published and the lower the quality of those papers will be (based on citations).
Conclusion: drinking beer lowers the quality of scientific work.
I find this interesting, what with me being a HUGE fan of Czech avian ecologists (go Zdenek Hubálek!), but it also struck me interesting how so many famous theologians are, and or were, beer drinkers.
Martin Luther, George Whitefield, John Calvin, the puritans (they forced a landing on Plymouth Rock primarily because they were running out of ale) and Catholic monks (many of whom brewed beer back in the day) all imbibed on Satan’s Kool-Aid.
Science is largely an intellectual exercise and drinking impairs intellectual reasoning, whereas, if you’ve read enough theology, you know that intellect left that arena long ago. Drinking beer helps you get theological papers published (ask Donald Miller
So, there’s the ticket you scuffling theologians out there waiting for your big break. Leave sobriety to the bird watchers and go tip a few back.