The other day (the one I wrote my last post on) I stumbled onto an issue, which seems to be a great debating point inside the church-world. My wife and I have done quite a bit of talking about that particular issue (if you want to read about it go here). The comments to my Facebook link are near 100 and are continuing right now (as I write… literally I just saw another notification about it).
This is a world I’m quite familiar with, the one where topics are hotly debated and heretics jump on the chance to have a fight with orthodox Christians (Orthodoxy simply means basic Christian doctrine, the reason orthodox doctrine are basic Christian doctrines are because without them – or even without one of them – we loose the gospel. Things like the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, God as Creator, the virgin birth, heaven and hell’s eternality, the dual nature of Jesus that he is both fully God and fully man among others). But I ignorantly forgot that not all Christians inhabit this world of debates about doctrines.
We don’t all sit around late at night on Facebook or creating websites to advocate for our orthodox or non-orthodox doctrines. We don’t all look at Hebrew and Greek and think, “Ah-ha my point is proven!” only to have the same person comment back for the millionth time. And you might be thinking that is a realm for pastors and kids that still live with mom and don't have jobs, or men in white towers (funny how those last two are in the same sentence).
Yet there is a small child-like faith out there that must be shielded from the wolves of false doctrine by pastors and the kids who love good solid biblical orthodox doctrine and men in white towers. And solid doctrine does not conform to what we want – even, or rather, especially if it hurts - that’s why it’s a shield. It’s cold and is not nice, but what it teaches us is warm and wonderful.
Doctrine teaches us about God, about his character and glory. Good doctrine will always make God scary and glorious, holy and beautiful, loving and vengeful, just and merciful, gracious and tender; it will always end in God getting glory and us getting grace (eternity with him) or exactly what we deserve (eternity in his wrath).
It is always under attack and always being slandered as, “traditionalism”, or “conservatism”, or “the old way of thinking”, or my favorite, “unbiblical.” There’s another swing in history happening, it happened the last time hell was being used to slander God.
Last time is called the Reformation, when the Catholic Church said hell would end if only you paid enough to the Pope; now it is the old re-hashed theory of annihilationism that is coming to town to attack the side of God’s character that is his infinite eternal just wrath on sin.
I’ll end it here for now, but it will be very interesting – I think – to see what becomes of the debate between the orthodox view of hell (the one the Bible clearly teaches) and that of annihilationism.