Thursday, January 29, 2009

Challenged in our Thinking

On Thursday mornings I meet with a group of area ministers. We have no agenda, it is a time to hang out with other guys and talk about what is on our minds. Sometimes it is about ministry issues, other times it will be about sermons, and other times we talk about life.

This morning we had a doctrinal discussion about hell, specifically about the nature of hell. For those who have followed Paul’s Ponderings for awhile might remember that the semester I spent in seminary at Lincoln Christian Seminary I did a research paper for Turning Points in Systematic Theology on the debate on the nature of hell: the traditional view or conditional immortality.

The traditional view can be broken down into the literal fire and brimestone view and the metaphorical hell is a bad place view, but the the scope of the paper I dealt with both views under the heading of the traditional view. The view of conditional immortality is the view that people are not immortality, that we don’t have immortal souls, that immortality is conferred on us by Christ Jesus, and thus those who have not put their faith in Jesus cease to exist. That is the very brief summary of both views.

Anyway the question of hell came up today and I, along with one of the other guys, began to challenge the thinking of the other guys with the conditional immortality view. To be honest I don’t know what view I actually come down on. For the purpose of the paper I wrote in 2005, I supported the conditional immortality view (more to be different than any other reason), but I find valid Biblical and historical support for both views.

I bring this up because I think it is important for us to be challenged in our thinking every once in a while. It is facing these challenges that we are able to better discern and defend what we truly believe. I think part of the reason so many people are weak in their faith is because they hear one point of view, and then they never bother to check out whether that point of view is valid. Thinking through the difficulties of life and faith help make us stronger people.

Remember the Bereans? This is what Luke said of them: Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11; ESV). These people, Jews as the ESV points out, took the time to make sure what Paul and Silas said about how the Old Testament scriptures applied to Jesus was true. Their faith and doctrine was being challenged, and because they took the time to struggle to discover the truth they were commended. I believe God still desires His people to examine their doctrines in light of what the Scriptures say.

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